Wiccan Holidays: Ostara the Spring Equinox

Welcome to the first in my series of posts on the Wiccan holidays known collectively as the Wheel of the Year. This month we celebrate Ostara, which marks the spring equinox. It occurs roughly around March 20 every year. Note the similarity in sound to Easter, which takes place around the same time.

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Wiccan Holidays and the Wheel of the Year

This post marks the beginning of a series of witchy posts, spread over the course of the year, describing the Wiccan holidays that I observe and the rituals and activities that go with each. The eight seasonal holidays, known as sabbats (yes, this is a cognate of Sabbath and Shabbat) fall on the equinoxes, solstices, and midpoints in between each, dividing the year into roughly equal sections of a month and a half each.

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Why I Read YA as an Adult

Recently, I have been making an effort to diversify and expand my reading interests beyond just the usual sci-fi/fantasy YA series. I’ve discovered some delightful books I would not have otherwise experienced and learned many new things, but at the same time also reaffirmed the value and enjoyment that I find in YA and rarely find elsewhere. There’s something about the casual infidelity, ubiquitous abuse, and general ennui that suffuses adult works that makes me long for the hopeful fighting spirit of YA novels. While I still feel a twinge of embarrassment when admitting in intellectual circles that I read more YA than “literary” works, I stand by my reading choice because it makes me happy. Here’s why:

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Chapters and Charms is Doing Bloggiesta Again: Spring 2018!

Last month’s mini bloggiesta went so well, I’m going to participate again for the full-length spring bloggiesta, March 19-25. I hesitate to bog my readers down with so many non-content posts, but there’s lots of work that goes into building up a new blog and perhaps you all may be interested in seeing the process. And I’m hoping stating these on the web will help me hold myself accountable.  Continue reading “Chapters and Charms is Doing Bloggiesta Again: Spring 2018!”

Kabbalah Cards: An Alternative to Tarot

Every Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), my mother, sister, and I gather in person or by phone for a ritual of our own devising: our annual Kabbalah card reading. Kabbalah cards function similarly to tarot or oracle cards, except they are rooted in the Jewish mystic tradition of Kabbalah (a.k.a. Qabala or Cabala). What I most like about these cards is that rather than providing divinatory predictions, they give instead meditative insights with which to frame your approach to a question or situation.

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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”