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Nimue Brown really captures my feelings on the subgenre of magical realism. It’s the closest I’ve come to describing my fiction writing.

Druid Life

A guest post from Laura Perry

I’m a writer, and a portion of what I write is fiction that qualifies as magical realism. My most recent novel, The Bed (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/the-bed), definitely qualifies. I’ve had a few people question that term, suggesting that it’s a contradiction. After all, according to mainstream society and “common sense,” magic isn’t real.

I’ve written before about Pagans who practice magic but don’t actually believe in it, a habit that can lead to very unpleasant side effects (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/single-post/2016/02/10/Pagans-who-dont-believe-in-magic-but-use-it-anyway). Mainstream society puts a great deal of pressure on us to conform to the materialist viewpoint that anything that can’t be experienced through our five physical senses or detected via scientific instruments simply doesn’t exist or is, at best, some sort of hallucination. So it’s an uphill battle against cultural pressure just to consider the possibility that magic is a real thing.

There’s a…

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Locally found or made magical objects. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

Valentine’s Day brings a focus on relationships. Though I don’t observe the holiday with my husband (my daughter is obsessed with it), I’ve spent the week thinking about my connection to the land. Perhaps it’s the lingering winter and my desire to garden and forage again, or maybe it comes from my discipline kicking in when I don’t want to trudge through frigid snow with offerings.

My spirituality is very much concerned with the earth, and so it makes sense that most of what I work with is locally grown and made. Whenever I go through bouts of “distance” with my path, I always restore it in the garden or forest.

When I took the recent Imbolc course on Irish Pagan School, author and teacher Lora O’Brien discussed her issue with pipe cleaner Brigid crosses. My grove has done them in the past – mostly because they’re easier for the little kids – yet I’ve always preferred using actual wheat or local grasses. O’brien really hit the nail on the head for me when she described the plants, traditionally reeds, as a way to connect with the symbolism of the goddess and holiday. She was really critical of adults (without any mobility issues) taking a shortcut that is normally so rooted in nature’s seasonal changes, yet she tempered this with compassion. We are all learning. To paraphrase, she challenged those without access to reeds or something similar to begin planning for next year to secure a local source. (Provided you have permission, it’s a sustainable source, etc)

In Northern NY, where the windchill was -20 last night, now is a perfect time to contemplate the warmer half of the year. What do we need to do to deepen our relationship with nature? What are your long term magical goals, and what allies do you need to cultivate? What tools or offerings do you wish to procure for the upcoming holidays? When will the plants be ready to harvest? What do the spirits you wish to work with desire in return?

When I look back at some of what I’ve gathered, it fills me with warmth. Rowan branches collected on a nearby island following a storm. Stones from rivers and lakes right here as opposed to a distant pit and mined by child laborers. Beeswax candles from local keepers. Mugwort wands from my own garden. I’m excited to strengthen my bonds with the spirits of this place, but it must be done thoughtfully.

Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

A warm cup of tea on a cold day. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

Kitchen Magic With My Daughter

Bee is showing more interest in both cooking and magic, so showing her how they can mix is a no brainer! Tonight I taught her how to boil water in the kettle (with supervision, of course). She likes to make things for other people, so I suggested she prepare me a cup of tea while I bake. I instructed her to focus on the water and send a happy wish for me into the beverage. Watching her concentrate was adorable, and she was so proud of herself!

spring equinox river magic excerpt

A dusting of snow fell the morning of ritual, but the group was determined to meet outside among the trees. They gathered at the trail they recently walked in Alexandria Bay. Crimson buds dotted some branches, but the lack of leaves gave their Vernal Equinox an ironic, wintry character.” – Excerpt from RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips

Writing Community

Over on Instagram, I’m participating in a couple writing challenges. It’s been a great way to make new connections in the writing community. It comes with so much inspiration, feedback, and support! I’m so grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts, especially the excerpts from my writing. Furthermore, I was touched this week when two more wonderful people stepped forward to beta read my manuscript! As the cherry on top, many others sent me messages of encouragement and excitement as I strive toward my dreams. I’m pleased to inspire others. The writing community is such a vibrant and beautiful place.

“Mercury in Gatorade”

 

My friend Artemis Fox in Watertown recently started a Pagan podcast called “Fire Burn Cauldron Bubble.” He and Luna Hawks are three episodes in, and their most recent episode was particularly interesting. Cheekily titled “Mercury in Gatorade,” they interview astrologer @illexxandra about the notorious Mercury in Retrograde. I learned a lot! Be forewarned, this show is for adults. They occasionally swear, so you may want to save this until the kiddos are in bed! There are a couple audio issues in places, but they don’t detract from the content. You can download or subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Libsyn.

Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

1) Hagstone Publishing recently released a little interview with me. In it, I share one of the most significant, spiritual moments of my life. It actually inspired part of my recent short story, “Through the Brambles,” which you can find in issue 2 of “Stone, Root, and Bone” magazine. It’s part of their “Meet the Authors” series. I’m thrilled to be included, and it’s been fun reading about my fellow creative polytheists. I know it’s not the greatest photo, but it’s the first I shared with Hagstone when I participated in the Plant Spirit Challenge last summer. I really need to hire one of my photographer friends to get some decent shots.


2) I spend an inordinate amount of time inside slouched over a keyboard as I write, revise, and edit. For my own sanity and health, I need to get outside. Many of my characters are polytheists, so it’s important to me that I stay connected with my spirituality and remain authentically tied to my stories. My short walks are meditative affirmations on what I do and why. They provide me an opportunity to breathe in fresh air and make offerings to the land. The last time I made my circuit, I caught myself admiring the brown and gray remnants of our pollinator garden. Many people seem to cut their gardens back. The dead, dry ends of spent flowers offend them, I suppose. Perhaps they clashed with their Christmas decor. I’ve learned to leave them. The seeds provide food for wildlife, and they may propagate and fill the garden out more in the spring! The stems and leaves also provide nesting materials for hibernating insects and then birds when it’s time to lay eggs. I love my gardens in all seasons!

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3)Pagan Parenting with Waffles! Due to illness, transportation issues, and other conflicts, my grove canceled our public celebration. Though I was sad to miss my grovemates, and uncomfortable due to a health concern, I soldiered through and made the most of the special day! We kept our tradition of weaving Brigid crosses (Cros Bríde) and adding on to our Brigid cloaks (brat bhríde). We did those activities on Brigid’s eve. On February first, I gave my daughter the choice of pancakes or waffles for breakfast. As you can tell from the photo, she chose the later. She was enthusiastic about helping. The night before, we talked about three as a magical number, so we stirred three times for each of the Kindred and prayed for their blessings. We then discussed the importance of discipline with magic, and I did the old “visualize the apple” lesson. Big ritual with other druids is wonderful, but my path is also about those small, quiet moments with family – with my daughter. Teaching her about folk magic and carrying on our ancestral traditions is so beautiful. It warmed my heart.

Three Things Thursday

Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

  • Preparing for Imbolc
    In preparation for Imbolc this year, I signed up for a virtual class called “Imbolc in Ireland” by Lora O’Brien of Irish Pagan School. It was the first time I paid for one of her courses, and I really enjoyed myself. I haven’t completed the meditation yet (the class went a bit late, and I had to go for family dinner), but I can access it anytime I want. I plan to try it tomorrow night. The class was a great review for someone who has already read a bit about the holiday and Brigid, but I also learned more traditions, more of the linguistics behind the holiday name, and had great discussions with others of like mind. I highly recommend you look into the site if you haven’t already!
  • Lost Tooth!

    My daughter lost her first tooth! My family has opted not to do the tooth fairy tradition as others since, you know… giving body parts to the Good Folk doesn’t seem like the smartest idea! We’ve discussed it with our daughter for months in anticipation. We explained that other parents do this, kind of like Santa, and she’s already used to our stance on that. Instead, we’re going to plant the teeth to go back to Mama Earth. My daughter wants us to put them in a pot where she can plant flowers for now. That said, she’s still asking me for a dollar… So…

  • Writing Update
    I’ve been slow in my writing and editing this week. I just haven’t felt well. That said, I plunk away on my keyboard each day to do what I can. Since my short story, “Through the Brambles” came out in Stone, Root, and Bone last week, I gave myself permission to relax a little. My body needed it. On a related note, one of my beta readers sent me more feedback on my manuscript! She’s eager to read more. It keeps me going!

Wishing you all a bright and blessed Imbolc! I look forward to sharing more with you next week.

Hot of the Press!

Issue 2 of Stone, Root, and Bone came out today! I haven’t finished reading my contributor’s issue, but my friends, it is gorgeous! When I got to my story, “Through the Brambles,” the image of the deer above brought tears to my eyes. You see, one of my closest spirit allies is the white tailed deer. Seeing them like that, accompanying my second ever paid publication, was a nod that I’m on the right path. There are deer in my story, but the publisher could have used other graphics. This was perfection to me. I’m so grateful to Hagstone Publishing for including me along with several other talented authors and artists.

To top it off, I started my day with this encouraging tweet:

 

Comments like that are mana potions for authors. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

You can buy a copy here for $5! All authors are compensated with actual money or free advertising (provided it matches Hagstone Publishing standards). When you buy, read, and review Stone, Root, and Bone, you’re supporting independent publishing by polytheists for polytheists. If you’re interested, here’s their recent call for submissions for issue 3! I look forward to reading work from you!

Three Things Thursday

In an effort to update my blog more regularly, I’ve decided to try a Three Things Thursday series. For the moment, I think I’ll just post three things relating to my practice – thoughts and reflections for the week, anticipation and plans for upcoming events, a toast or boast, mini review, etc.

  1. New Goal – Learn to Read Tea Leaves
    As the old year swung into the new, I had an interesting dream in which I read tea leaves for someone. I woke unable to recall my “client” or their fortune, but I clearly saw that I was confident in the matter. As a passionate fan of tea, I do find it shocking that I haven’t delved into tasseomancy sooner. When I still lived in the Mohawk Valley, my friend and mentor in our circle presented an introductory workshop on reading tea leaves, but that’s where I left it. I’m changing that this year! One of my allies must be pointing me in that direction, because I recently saw there’s a new book about the subject coming out in May. I’m very curious what your suggestions are in the meantime!
  2. The Ongoing Saga of Reducing Plastic in My Life
    As someone on an Earth-centered path, I strongly believe that we all need to adjust our lifestyles. This is going to look different for each of us, but those baby steps are necessary as we all push for greater societal changes. Between reusable bags, opting not to use plastic straws, and bringing our lunches in reusable containers, we’ve made some progress in our home. I recently learned about Tru Earth laundry strips and had to try them. Unlike most laundry detergents, these solid strips come in a paper envelope via mail subscription. No plastic! You tear them in half and they dissolve in your laundry. I know many people make their own detergents, but I’m not there yet. (Hence the baby steps! I’m pretty hard pressed to do the dishes on top of my other hobbies and responsibilities…) Two months in, and I’m really pleased. My clothes come out clean and smelling fresh!
  3. Writing Update
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    I hope you’ll forgive me for continuing to plug the upcoming issue of Stone, Root, and Bone. It’s coming out this weekend! You can still pre-order your copy from Hagstone Publishing for $5. If you already ordered one, I know I speak for everyone involved when I say THANK YOU for supporting independent Polytheistic writers and publishers.

    In other writing news, feedback is trickling in from my lovely beta readers! It’s so uplifting and encouraging to know that they are enjoying my manuscript. It’s a contemporary adult novel about Pagans with elements of magical realism and romance. They’ve given me some helpful considerations that I’ve taken to heart in my editing (and some revisions), but just knowing that they love the story keeps me going! Today, one of them sent me an email that made me so fuzzy!

    “I am loving the story and getting frustrated and anxious for things to resolve between [the characters]. The pace moves along quickly and I am enjoying it so far.”

    Yay! I hope to share it with all of you in the future!