Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

You will see as this blog progresses that I have a major thing for fairy tale retellings. But there are already so many variations of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, that it’s always nice to see something new pop on the scene. Russian fairy tales seem to be the next big source for modern fables and I am here for it. The Bear and the Nightingale played on several myths I remember from my Russian Folklore class, while building a world and story all its own.

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Setting Up a Witch’s Altar

Many practitioners of witchcraft and/or paganism elect to use an altar as a focal point for their magic and worship. Here is where you work your spells, perform your rituals, and express your spirituality. It should be set up in such a way as to bring you joy and to help you ease into a meditative state when you sit (or kneel or stand) in front of it. This post is meant to give you some ideas of how to make your own altar and to give a look into my practice through the physical objects that set my spiritual atmosphere.

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Author Spotlight: Amy Tan

Last autumn, I was lucky enough to attend a book signing by Amy Tan, promoting her new book Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir. As one of the big names writing about Asian American experiences, you may know her as the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Valley of Amazement, or even Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat. I use this “author spotlight” heading to profile authors I’ve met, new authors, diverse authors, or authors I just think everyone should know about. Below I will discuss some of the themes in Tan’s books and life that relate to diversity as well as some fun facts to paint a picture of her as more than just “that second-generation Chinese American who writes about moms and daughters.”

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A Primer on Working with Crystals

Crystals are what lead me to witchcraft and Wicca. They are cheap and small, and can be used for complex spells or simply carried around in your pocket. You can combine them with other ingredients like herbs and candles, or let them cover all your magic needs. If you are new to working with crystals, or just want to see someone else’s approach, I’ve laid out a basic primer below.

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Chapters and Charms is Participating in Bloggiesta

This winter, I am participating in my first Bloggiesta! Bloggiesta is a blogging initiative that plans cool marathons and mini-challenges for bloggers to improve their own websites and engage with others doing the same. Continue reading “Chapters and Charms is Participating in Bloggiesta”

Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

The Scarlet Pimpernel goes on the shelf as my new favorite classic. Written by Hungarian-British Baroness Emmuska Orczy in the early 1900s, the novel contains romance, action, mystery, humor, and grandeur, all with the compelling pacing of the YA novels I devour like candy. The “Scarlet Pimpernel” is the alias of an English Gentleman who works in disguise to save French nobility from their bloody fate during the Reign of Terror, making this one of the first works to establish the trope of a hero with a secret identity.

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Guest Post at The Gothic Library

Check it out! I’ve written a guest post for a really cool literary blog called The Gothic Library. The Gothic Library blogs about classic novels from the Gothic era as well as the modern genres that sprung from them, as well as any books that appeal to dark-minded readers. (It also happens to be written by my sister.) I’ve contributed a guest post entitled “Fiction as a Window to Witchcraft,” which traces some of the literary experiences that piqued my interest in Wicca and real life magic. You can read the blog post here.

How to Hold Your Own Croning Ceremony

These dark days of winter are the perfect time to honor the age-advanced woman in your life. Winter is the domain of the crone, the final aspect of the triple goddess. While many people dread getting old, it is also possible to celebrate it as a mark of wisdom, experience, and maturity. A croning ceremony is like a coming-of-age ceremony (think bat mitzvah or quinceañera) but it marks not the transition from child to adult but rather adult to elder. I performed this ceremony for my mom around her 50th birthday, and I believe it helped her embrace this new stage of her life. Continue reading “How to Hold Your Own Croning Ceremony”

Diverse Reads of 2017

Every year, inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I strive to read as many books as possible that support and represent minority groups traditionally left out of the publishing industry. In 2017, although I did not set any numerical reading goals, I did make an active effort to seek out works with LGBT representation, disabilities representation, and/or by authors of color. These works ended up comprising one quarter of all the books I read last year – a much heftier proportion than in previous years. Below is a list of some of the books I read. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own diverse reading! Continue reading “Diverse Reads of 2017”

My Path to Witchcraft

Hi all, for one of my first posts, I figured I’d tell you about how I came to witchcraft and what it means to me. I have been practicing witchcraft since 2009 and have been designing my own spells and rituals for almost as long. I have lead some group rituals for a pagan/Unitarian Universalist club in college but generally find my practice to be so personal I prefer to do it alone. As you may know from my About section, I am an eclectic solitary Wiccan who is also Jewish (they don’t conflict for me—I could write a post about that if you’re interested). So here’s the story of what lead me to this path…. Continue reading “My Path to Witchcraft”