River Magic: A Rituals of Rock BayNovel 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.)
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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!
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!
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
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!
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
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.
Each Thursday, I share three things that have informed or inspired me. You may notice I’m late this week. Yeah…Going back to work on top of editing novels is rough. So we’ll consider this “Several Things Saturday!”
An Introduction to Lugh
Irish Pagan School has another offering for you! This time, it’s a course about the Irish God, Lugh! It may seem late to you. “Wait, wasn’t Lúnasa earlier in the month?” Not only can you learn about the deities all year outside the holidays associated with then, but Lúnasa is actually a month long harvest! “Lúnasa” is also Gaeilge (modern Irish) for August! So you’re good to go.
Stone, Root, and Bone Issue 4
The 4th issue of Stone, Root, and Bone is out! You can purchase this beautiful polytheist ezine here. There are excellent pieces within, both fiction and non-fiction! Though I do not have any work in this issue, I’m still very excited to support the publication. Hagstone Publishing is going on hiatus now that they’ve gone through a year of quarterly issues. No matter what they choose to do next, I’m proud to have been a part of this amazing project by and for other polytheists!
From the Desk of the Ditzy Druid
Later today, I will send out my latest newsletter with updates on my upcoming novel, River Magic! It’s a fictional story about contemporary Pagans, including a grove of Druids, who live in Northern NY along the St. Lawrence River! There’s romance, ritual, and even a mermaid! In this issue, I’ll share the latest character artwork. I’ll always make it available to everyone a week later, but you’ll want to be in the know, especially next month when I reveal my cover! So sign up, my lovelies! You can catch River Match October 31st of THIS YEAR!
Each Thursday I share three items that have inspired or informed me. This week, I’m sharing some things for Pagan Parents: information on a religious education program, a craft activity, and an adorable onesie.
Little Oaks: A Religious Education Program for Young Pagans
Fellow ADF member and parent, Rev. Jan Avende, is putting together a curriculum for polytheist families. Little Oaks, available through her Patreon, could serve as excellent spiritual supplements or even assist groves and other circles in planning activities for the little ones. Jan has a background in education, so this could be just the resource some of you are searching for!
Recycling and Coloring to Learn About Deities
Another ADF member has created deity coloring pages from a variety of Indo-European cultures for the younger set to enjoy. You can see the latest update here, but the page is in German, so you may need a translation. The idea is to glue them around toilet paper rolls to create figures for youthful altars. Even if the idea of recycling toilet paper tubes comes across as disrespectful, you could glue them onto other items like oatmeal containers. Either way, maybe this will inspire you and your little ones on a rainy day.
Mini Mystic Onesie
I recently received my “Witches Against White Supremacy” tshirt from Bébé Vaudou. It fits great and feels amazing. Now the designer has a new article of clothing in 100% cotton: this adorable “Mini Mystic” Onesie! If you or someone you know is expecting and appreciates whimsical outfits for their little ones, check out her shop! You’d be directly supporting an artisan in the magical community.
An instagram prompt asked what inspired me to write my story. I decided this topic deserved a blog post because it’s very much entwined with why I write in general and what I share with my readers here.
Let me begin by saying I wanted to be an author since I was younger, but nearly abandoned the dream in college. I was discouraged with my prose and haunted by a sense of inadequacy. So I just…stopped.
I started this blog over a decade ago when I moved to Northern NY. I wanted to record my journey as a Pagan and Druid in the North Country. I also wanted to provide information for newcomers to the path. At the time, I was working through the Dedicant Program, a self-paced study through my Druid tradition, Ár nDraíocht Féin. Naturally, my blog became the perfect place to share my progress. Once completed, I delved into some more advanced courses, but graduate classes and pregnancy slowed my Druidic studies. It was also around that time I decided my energy was best spent simply sharing my experiences and artistic pursuits rather than attempt to provide original, scholarly essays. In my continued quest to better understand Irish lore and culture, I realized there were more qualified individuals for that task.
Before I had my daughter, I did a lot of sewing. I still keep a gallery of my work on my site for your viewing pleasure. This all started when I wanted a representation of a Goddess on my altar. I put the skills I’d learned making teddy bears to use and coupled it with a deep love of nature and mythology. Once I found myself nursing Bee more often than not, my creative outlet cried out for release, only I needed something that didn’t require both hands, a lot of movement, or so many sharp bits. While Bee snuggled against my chest in a wrap or in my left arm, I typed out the beginnings of what would become River Magic. This occurred around the time I began reading books by Alice Hoffman and I woke up to the concept of magical realism.
Everything came together, and I found my old dreams of authorship blossoming anew. I’d been floundering with an idea for an urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I realized the genre wasn’t working for me and the story I needed to tell. River Magic, and my other fictional writing, draws on my experiences as a contemporary Druid in Upstate NY, actual folklore, my relationship with the land, real life problems, and a touch of magic that so many of us in the Pagan community encounter. It’s fictional but informed by real belief systems and lore grounded in our reality. Soon, you’ll be able to enjoy it yourself.