River Magic on Tour! (Virtually)

May I offer you a whimsical diversion from all the stress of 2020? Perhaps you’d like to join me on a virtual book tour with Storytellers on Tour this week! It’s a socially distanced celebration of my novel River Magic!

As you can see from the schedule above, there will be several amazing stops along the way! I want to thank everyone who signed up to participate and show some love to my debut novel! I can’t tell you how much that means to me!

You’ll definitely want to stop by Whispers & Wonder today for the kickoff!

This book immediately piqued my interest, and not only for the promise of a wonderful coming-of-age tale, but I’m excited to read a story that highlights paganism written by a pagan herself. 

JUSTINE BERGMAN 

In addition to sharing River Magic’s cover art, blurb, and some character designs, she’s also featuring my first foray on Youtube as an author! Yes, that’s right. I recorded myself reading an excerpt of chapter one. I hope you enjoy hearing some of it!

Several people have asked how to get autographed copies of River Magic. Well, I’m giving away three for free (US and Canada only)! Check out the giveaway at the bottom here. If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you already have two entries! Just input your username into those fields. Don’t forget to follow the other bloggers and bookstagrammers for wonderful content!

Thanks for joining me on my book tour!

River Magic: a Love Letter to my Pagan Community

My debut novel, River Magic, is available in e-book and paperback today! (Photo from Image Apothecary)

Blessed Samhain!

River Magic, my debut novel featuring modern Pagans and a friends-to-lovers romance, is officially available today! I can now say I’m a published novelist.

Wow. That’s something I’ve been striving toward since I was very young. It’s been a long journey of self-doubt, drafting, revising, wading into the publishing industry, reclaiming my dreams, then manifesting them through hard work and magic.

Of course, I’ve also had a ton of support from my family, friends, and, yes, my Pagan community.

River Magic started as a completely different story–a completely different genre–about six years ago. It didn’t feel right, so I paused and asked myself, “What is the story I need to tell?” It was around this time I began reading books by Alice Hoffman and discovered the genre of magical realism. I realized that I wanted, needed, to tell a story about contemporary Pagans. There had to be magic, ritual, and spirits as we generally perceive them, and there had to be romance. The main character, Lacey, finds her spiritual home in modern Druidry, and introduces it to one of her oldest friends.

(Did I mention it’s a friends-to-lovers story as well?)

As I wrote, I reflected a lot on the experience of becoming Pagan. I listened to others. I continue to do that and distill it in my fiction to reflect some of our reality, our challenges, and triumphs–especially as Pagans in Upstate NY.

As I neared publication and reread my story without the intent to edit, I realized…this book is like a love letter to the Pagan community I know.

Today is Samhain, but we are currently experiencing an upswing in the pandemic. I have not celebrated with my grove, in person, for nearly a year due to weather and health issues last winter, then Covid-19. I miss them to the point where it aches. Rereading River Magic reminded me of the many wonderful Pagans I’ve encountered over the years who guided and inspired me. No one character is based on a single person I know, but their influence came through in the supportive, inclusive, safe environments Lacey belongs to.

It’s not that the Pagan circles I’ve experienced are perfect. My own grove certainly has room to improve! I have (and will continue) to explore some of that in the series. Lacey, like me, is lucky to have the people and places she has. Not everyone finds this. I want to show what’s possible.

And I miss it so much. I miss the rising energy as we sing together. I miss the power of creating a communal offering then solemnly watching it burn as we stand around the bonfire. I miss the laughter and tears, the trust, the communal learning, and the potlucks. My gods, the potlucks… More than anything, I miss the ability to share space with others and feel comfortable and understood–deeply, understood–without awkward explanations. I miss just being with my extended, spiritual family.

If you bought a copy of River Magic: thank you so much. Truly. I’m touched by your support. I hope you enjoy it! If you are a Pagan reader, I hope it wraps you up in a cozy, familiar cloak. If you’re not, may you gain some insight into the Pagans in your life. (Just remember we’re a very diverse bunch and I couldn’t possibly represent all of us!)

You can order River Magic as an e-book or paperback from Shadow Spark Publishing. For those who don’t live in Upstate NY but want an autographed edition, you can buy one here, or (if you live in the US or Canada), enter a giveaway facilitated by author Dan Fitzgerald! The link is at the end of his interview with me. Enter soon! The giveaway closes at midnight tonight.

My Review of “Paganism for Beginners” by Althaea Sebastiani

A photo of the book amidst various magical allies: homegrown herbs, a beeswax candle, a freshwater mussel, a painted stone, yellow thread, rocks and minerals gifted to me, a bell, a deer jaw, a tiny Brigid cross, an acorn, and small athame. Photo by M. A. Phillips

Paganism for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Nature-Based Spirituality for Every Seeker is a much-needed addition to Earth-based spiritual literature. While there are other books on this topic, prolific author Althaea Sebastiani has breathed new life into the genre of “Pagan 101.”

Bright and colorful, the text is a joy to hold and see. I initially purchased the e-book, but was lucky to win a hard copy! I’m extremely glad I did because I will hand this to my daughter when she becomes a teenager (should she want that). The average English-speaking adolescent should understand the straightforward but friendly content. (For any struggling readers, there is a newly released audiobook!)

As a broad introduction for beginners, Sebastiani’s book is naturally light on specifics for each tradition, but she provides enough basics to place a seeker on the right path. She is forthright that Paganism is varied, so readers are encouraged to research the specifics. The author paints a general picture, providing a framework and base vocabulary of holidays, tools, and techniques. Defining Paganism is a daunting task, but Sebastiani skillfully weaves the common threads together into a delightful welcome mat.

Truly, the book is welcoming. When I said this is a much-needed text, I meant it. One of Paganism for Beginners‘ strengths is the emphasis on inclusivity, anti-racism, and respect for living cultures and the spirits. It is a common theme in much of Althaea Sebastiani’s growing collection of work. To place this message directly in view of beginners is critical.

While the seasoned practitioner may not find much new or surprising, I believe it’s a valuable read all the same. Revisiting the basics is reaffirming, and now I can honestly and emphatically recommend the book to all newcomers.

You can order a copy for yourself through the author’s website here. While there, check out her other publications and courses.

River Magic: Cover Reveal and Pre-Order!

Tada! Isn’t she beautiful? I’m delighted with what the Shadow Spark Publishing team created. They even wove some actual river magic into the cover using images of the St. Lawrence River over some mysterious silver scales. 

River Magic: A Rituals of Rock Bay Novel by M. A. Phillips

Budding clairvoyant Lacey Moran seeks to understand her dreams and find her life’s purpose along the St. Lawrence River. If only her visions of silver arms and Cian O’Connor’s blue eyes were easier to understand! The pieces begin coming together when she encounters a mermaid in the river, joins a group of Druids, and opens herself to romance with an old friend.  

Can Lacey overcome her doubts, or is she in over her head?


River Magic is an adult magical realism novel set in the beautiful 1000 Islands region of Upstate NY, featuring contemporary Pagans and a friends-to-lovers romance.


You can pre-order the e-book now through Shadow Sparks Publishing! The paperback and e-book will release on October 31st! (It is currently on Amazon but will become available through other platforms soon.)

Finding Balance

Leaves on moss and mud from the Crooked Creek Preserve. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

The Autumn Equinox occurs at 9:30 AM tomorrow where I live, but, truthfully, Autumn has been settling in the North Country since Lúnasa concluded. The trees have been shifting for weeks. (We take this very seriously in New York State. We even have a map to help us determine the best times to view “peak foliage”!) Goldenrod and asters resumed the mantle previously held by Queen Anne’s lace and black eyed Susans. The apples on my neighbor’s tree have been blushing since August.

School begins in early September. That, along with the environmental transformation, is always one of the biggest signals to Summer’s end in my eyes. And my goodness, what a transition that has been…

The Equinoxes are, astronomically, about balance. The amount of daylight and darkness is equal (more or less). Once we cross the threshold, we begin the steady march toward the longest night of the Winter Solstice.

I’ve been considering balance a lot these days, especially how to balance my career (the big pay check) with my new passion job (being an author). What’s more, sometimes I worry that I spend more time doing those things than practicing my Druidry! It helps when I pause and consider how my Druidry, and all the values it espouses, weave into my other roles.

Druidry is my foundation. It roots and guides me. All my other obligations and hobbies are my branches. My spiritual practice feeds the branches, providing the nourishment and structure for them to flourish. Occasionally, I have to drop a few branches, but that only strengthens the health of the overall tree–me!

So when I feel spiritually dethatched, “out of balance,” if you will, I return to my roots. What do the virtues show me? How does the lore relate to what I’m working through? How am I serving the deities and the land? How am I honoring my ancestors? Considering these helps me realign.

My Autumn Equinox looks very different from those of previous years, but time outside to reflect and celebrate the season is a constant for me. I hope you are able to reach down into your roots and nourish your various branches so that you remain a strong and steady tree. Blessed Equinox!

Professor McGillicuddy’s Flammable Notions and Sundries: a Review

I recently received a box of divine smelling goodies from the new Professor McGillicuddy’s Flammable Notions and Sundries*. Crafted by a practicing Pagan of twenty years, the creator lovingly began making seasonal incense for his circle’s celebrations. With an emphasis on local and ethically harvested ingredients, I could immediately appreciate the shop’s values and mission.

A business card for Professor McGillicuddy’s Flammable Notions and Sundries beside the Mabon insence and signs of autumn from my garden and yard.
Mabon incense from Professor McGillicuddy’s .

With the Autumn Equinox on the way, I was eager to try some of the Mabon loose incense blend of red sandalwood, pine, locally-grown rosemary, cinnamon powder, white oak, and apples, dried to powder. I contemplated the shifting seasons and my grove’s upcoming ritual while I enjoyed the crisp, uplifting scent. It’s not too late to pick up this delicious smelling offering!

Professor McGillicuddy’s Full Moon incense.

Before that, I tried the Full Moon loose incense blend. This had a pleasant, floral scent of orris root, lavender, myrrh resin, calamus, jasmine oil, rose oil and Gardena oil. This will, no doubt, transport me back to evenings in the garden beneath the lunar mirror come winter. At the time of my writing, this blend is currently not listed, but I will definitely buy more of this for future rites once it is.

Red Rose Infused Tealight from Professor McGillicuddy’s.

Professor McGillicuddy’s also makes soy tealights! I’m a big fan of making my own tools and growing my own herbs, but I also have a dozen other responsibilities, so I always appreciate ordering candles and incense from artisans who happen to be fellow Pagans. These dainty rose candles smell and look divine.

In addition to these, I was also sent some Samhain loose incense, Yule loose incense, and a white sage infused tea light. I have not been able to utilize these in my workings yet. They all smell wonderful, and you’ll no doubt see me share photos or reels of them on my Instagram.

I hope that Professor McGillicuddy’s will eventually move to using tin or glass containers, but I understand how cost prohibitive those materials are for new shops. In the meantime, the plastic jars are easy enough to clean and reuse with my own herbs or art supplies. Besides that, I thoroughly enjoy the blends I have and am excited for future products!

*I received these samples in exchange for an honest review.

RIVER MAGIC Cover Teaser!

Whenever I visit the river, I’m reminded of the magic that inspired so much of my book. I’m excited to share the story with you. For now, enjoy this cover teaser! She’ll loosen her robe on September 30th, but newsletter subscribers will get to see her first! Make sure you subscribe here.

🧜🏻‍♀️🌊🔮

River Magic, a magical realism novel featuring modern Pagans and a friends-to-lovers romance, will cast its spell on you October 31st from Shadow Spark Publishing! Keep an eye on my website, newsletter, Instagram, Facebook Page, and Twitter for announcements and giveaways!

A cover tease of River Magic from Shadow Spark Publishing!

Mugwort Harvest

The mugwort was finally ready for harvest today. Considering I have meetings early tomorrow morning, I decided to gather before the moon reaches her fullest. As I worked, a sort of poetic prayer took form. I actually paused to scribble it out. I hope you enjoy it.

Plucked with finger
Snipped with love
Pruned with sing-song
Sung above

Drop of red blood
Splash of tea
Magic flower
Come with me

Plunged in water
Bound up tight
Dance with me in
Lunar light

By M. A. Phillips

Three Things Thursday: Local Bookstores, Kitchen Magic, and my Sacred Porch

Each week, I share three things that have informed or inspired me. This week, I’m gushing over a local bookstore, a podcast episode, and creating ritual spaces in unlikely places.


The Little Book Store in Clayton, NY – Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020.

The Little Book Store

When I moved to Northern NY a decade ago, Borders was still at the mall. Since they’ve closed, I’ve missed browsing shelves of stories and unexpected gems I never knew I needed. Sure, I can go to the big box store in Syracuse or Utica, and of course, there’s Amazon…but there’s something special about having a shop close to home. So, imagine my delight when I learned that someone was taking a chance and opening a book store in one of my favorite places in the world–Clayton, NY. Enter The Little Book Store, an adorable boutique for book lovers along the river. For all my readers who live in the region, please do everyone a favor and take a day trip to visit and do business. We want them here! Not only that, but the owner is eager to stock my book, River Magic, once it comes out! They are very supportive of local authors which is amazing!


Food and Folk Magic with Gwion Raven

The latest episode of New World Witchery, “Food and Folk Magic with Gwion Raven,” enchanted me. Cory interviewed author and witch Gwion Raven about his new book, The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together. Kitchen magic is a major part of my practice and inspiration for writing. Much of what Raven discussed resonated with me. He spent some time discussing privilege and how any food can be sacred. As someone who spends much of my energy working to grow my own food, shop local, and buy organic, I appreciated this reminder. If you love stirring spells into your cooking, you should definitely check this out. I added his book to my TBR list!


Homemade, wildcrafted incense offerings on my porch. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020.

My Sacred Porch

With all the writing and editing I’ve been doing (not to mention preparation for a new school year during a pandemic), I’ve been feeling a bit detached spiritually speaking. That isn’t to say I wasn’t doing anything. I kept up my regular daily offerings, but aside from that, each day was an exhausting rush. With the new lunar cycle, I’m working to be more forgiving of myself, but also more mindful. One thing I’ve done is make an offering on the porch where I do a lot of work. It felt right to thank Brigid for her continued inspiration specifically in this special spot. I also made offerings to the land spirits I share this space with. I want to make this a weekly practice of simple gratitude. The front porch has really transformed into a beloved sanctuary for me! Just being there calms and inspires me.


Thanks for reading, lovelies! I hope you enjoyed. I’m sorry I haven’t been more prolific on my blog lately, but most of my spare time and energy is going toward The Rituals of Rock Bay series! Remember, you can catch my first book, River Magic, from Shadow Spark Publishing October 31st! In the meantime, please sign up for my monthly newsletter for regular updates and special treats. You can read the last two offerings here. Be well!

Three Things Thursday: Flowers, Grass, and Sculptures

Each week, I post about three things that have inspired or informed me. Lately, I’ve been using this day to “pay it forward” and recommend artists or authors to support. This week, I’m only going to feature one artist, then I want to share a couple quick things about the land I work with because it’s been too long since I’ve posted a garden update!


Wild Sculptures in the Thousand Islands

A sculpted crow by Will Salisbury at the Thousand Island Art Center in Clayton. NY. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

Though the pandemic is keeping most of us from museums these days, the Thousand Islands Art Center in nearby Clayton, NY installed an outdoor exhibit featuring the spectacular metal sculptures by artist Will Salisbury. Locals may be familiar with some of his iconic pieces such as the Three Crows which can be viewed on route 81 driving away from Alexandria Bay. There’s also the magnificent muskie statue at Frink Park in Clayton, NY. My husband and I recently went for a date along the river, and enjoyed strolling through the Art Center’s grounds. If you live in the North Country and are looking for some socially distant culture to engage with, I highly recommend this whimsical installation!


Garden Update

Sunflowers and broom corn – photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

We’re veering toward the end of August! I’ve been insanely busy with writing work, but I make a point to go outside to tend to and enjoy my garden each day. This is the best year I’ve ever had. When friends and family ask how I did it, my answer is three things: hard work, good soil, and a positive relationship with the land. I don’t think my garden would be so happy without my attention to sustainable practices like composting, companion planting, organic pest management, spaces set aside for pollinators, and regular offerings to the local spirits. What a glorious thing it is to celebrate the month of Lúnasa with sunflowers and broom corn taller than my husband!


Wild Grain for Imbolc

Wild grasses going to seed. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

Every year in August, I make a point to pick some of the grasses that have gone to seed. I do this in preparation for Imbolc. Though Brigid’s holy day is half a year away, I know that, if I wait, crafting Cros Bríde (Brigid’s Crosses) will be a challenge. While in Ireland it’s traditional to gather green reeds as January transitions into February, everything is under layers of snow and ice that time of year in Northern NY. Rather than use pipe cleaners, I’d rather mark the occasion in a way that keeps me intimately connected with the cycles of the land I live on. Thus, during the month of Lúnasa, I reflect on and prepare for Lá Fhéile Bríde. The holy days are not solitary sign posts. Rather they are akin to the warp on a loom, and the weft of our lives weaves in and out of them all, over and over. Sometimes, I see other Pagans lament that they feel little to no connection to Lúnasa. My suspicion is that they aren’t as connected to the land or culture that births the holiday. Perhaps, in sharing how I’ve linked these high days in my own practice outside of Ireland, it will inspire some of you.