Category Archives: News & Reviews

Many Branches: Starry Eyed with Amelia of the Midheaven

Amelia Quint is an amazing astrologer who knows the stars like I know my trusted Rider Waite Smith tarot deck. She is also super nice, approachable, and able to bring all the astro talk down to earth in a very hands on and practical manner–and she does it all with style! These are some of the reasons that I have collaborated with her in the past and had her as one of the featured guest teachers for Star Magic. I am now so pleased to bring her to my lovely readers. Give her a warm welcome and settle in to do some star gazing!


Find Amelia on the World Wide Web: 

Amelia Quint, author of The Midheaven, uses divination to help movers, shakers, and risk-takers dream new and exhilarating possibilities. Her rock-and-roll-meets-the-boardroom approach creates a space where insights and creativity flow with ease. She believes that while astrology and tarot set the stage for personal transformation, the real magic lies in their ability to inspire people to take charge of their destiny.

1.) On your site you say that you use divination to “help people take charge of their destiny.” I love that so much. What does it mean to you and how do you see it working practically?

One of the most common questions I’m asked in both astrology and Tarot readings is “When are things going to get better?” Though some things in life are out of our control, I think taking this approach takes away your power. My favorite thing to do as an intuitive reader is to show my clients that they ARE powerful and have the ability to change their situation!

In practice, “taking charge of your destiny” is all about knowing yourself. Your birth chart (a map of the planets and stars at the time of your birth) will give you insight into where you’re naturally talented, and what potential stumbling blocks to sidestep. And of course, Tarot is a perfect way to delve into the heart of any issue or crisis you may be experiencing. Really both astrology and Tarot come down to a sense of radical self-understanding. When you know yourself intimately, you can create an action plan to move forward with confidence.

Lots of people come to me when they’re going through a difficult astrological transit. They start out feeling hopeless, but once they are able to put a name to their struggle, it becomes much easier for them to face it down. The archetypes of Tarot help in a similar way. Knowing really is half the battle! Once people have a name for their circumstances, they’re able to own what’s happening and make the best of it. To me, that is really the beauty of divination!

2.) You work with both Tarot and Astrology–do you often combine them in your work? If so, how do you find the two disciplines work together?

Yes, I do combine them! I tell people all the time that studying Tarot will deepen your understanding of astrology in a huge way, and vice versa. During astrology readings, I’m always thinking of what Tarot card might correspond to their situation, and with Tarot clients I always take a look at their birth chart to see if there are any major transits happening. The traditional correspondences between Tarot and astrology play a big part in my readings too, especially with the Major Arcana (for example, Venus and The Empress). I take a very holistic approach to both disciplines and move pretty freely between the two, because I think that they each have so much to offer!

3.) The name of your business is The Midheaven. What is the Midheaven and why do you love it?

The Midheaven is a traditional name for the tenth house of the birth chart, which rules our public life and contribution to society. The Latin phrase for the Midheaven (medium coeli) literally means “top of the heavens,” and that is what I want everyone to reach for in their life. My goal is to inspire others to seek out the highest expression of themselves, with stars and cards as a guide!

4.) Favorite Astrology question? Favorite Tarot Question?

My favorite astrology questions are about how to bring more abundance and joy into your life. Working with the benefics (the Sun, Venus, Jupiter, and more) is fabulous! Also, many of my clients have come to me during a Saturn Return, which is a notoriously tough transit. I love seeing these beautiful people transform adversity into opportunity.

I love checking people’s charts for psychic potential too. Everyone is intuitive, and helping people tap into that part of themselves is so much fun!

Honestly I enjoy all types of Tarot readings, but I seem to have a knack for love and relationship work! I think my Mercury in Libra helps me keep things compassionate and balanced for everyone involved.

5.) If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

Be audacious! Audacious, one of my favorite words, comes from the root meaning “to dare”. I love this and live by it! Dare to know yourself deeply, dare to love passionately, and dare to stop taking crap from people. And most importantly, dare to ask for what you want. The universe will respond, and so will more people than you think!


Many Branches: Something Witchy this way comes with Sarah Anne Lawless

Many of those in my audience already know our latest guest in the Many Branches series–Sarah Anne Lawless. She is an occult author, witch, herbalist, and artist living in the Pacific Northwest. Her blog is well known in the Pagan community and beyond. Her knack for crafting a brilliant flying ointment is one that I can personally attest to, and her devotion to her Gods is inspiring. Please give her a warm welcome!

bio-pic-2In her own words: A professional artist, writer, and herbalist, Sarah’s work has been published in various books, magazines, and online in The CauldronHex MagazineWitches & PagansWitchvoxSerpent Songs, and Hoofprints in the Wildwood. She is a carver, painter, and illustrator working in the mediums of bone, wood, ink, and paint creating original artwork, talismans, and ritual tools. Sarah is an animist, initiated witch, and wortcunner with a love of otherworldly beauty, folklore, mythology, poisonous plants, wildcrafting, wild places, and bones.

Find Sarah on the web at:

her website:

Facebook: Black Arts Foundry

Twitter: @forestwitch


In the occult and magical community you are known for making excellent spiritual products, your writing, and your fine artwork, but you are also one of the few voices out there talking about working with animals and zoological talismans in an ethical and sustainable manner. This subject is a bit controversial but one that I think the magical community needs more familiarity with. What led you to begin working with animals and animal parts in a ritual setting?

For me it started with collecting feathers and escalated from there and I’ve found that others who consider themselves bone collectors often say the same thing. Taking home a feather you found on a forest walk isn’t really so far off from taking home a sea-washed bone or a small skull picked clean by scavengers. Once people find out you’re a bone collector they will suddenly start calling you about bones, feathers, or dead animals they found and ask what to do with them. Then people will start showing up on your door step with boxes of bones and any friends that hunt for food will start giving you bird feet, wings, and sometimes even organs that they don’t want to waste. Often people don’t want to use or give me the animals they find, they just want to know how to bury it safely and give it a respectful send off to the spirit world. A bone collector can find themselves taking on the role of an animal funeral director.


I think the reason why many find my use of animal parts in magic controversial is because, though the use of zoological remains is still common in modern rootwork and the magical traditions of Central and South America, it is not common in modern witchcraft despite all the documented historical links and traditions. Many people are so far removed from nature, husbandry, and dirty hands-on folk magic that they find the use of zoological remains to be appalling and unethical without trying to first understand the context and history. Many assume that bone collectors such as myself are actually killing animals to use their parts in magic when this is very much not the case. You can find hearts, tongues, and feet at the butcher and you can find bones, skulls, teeth, claws, and hides from taxidermists, tanners, farmers, or hunters who don’t like to waste any part of an animal that’s been hunted or raised for food.


Another reason I think this practice is controversial is because many people assume you are using a dead animal’s parts solely for cursing and other black magics, when again this is simply not the reality. Indigenous cultures who’ve held onto their animistic beliefs and traditions use animal parts in a sacred manner – they are used to better connect with animal spirits and the whole of nature itself. Feathers are often used to fly prayers to the spirits so they may hear them. Teeth and claws are used for protection against harm and to give one strength. Organs are more often used for healing and offerings than anything else – anyone with a grandmother who still buries dead fish in the garden for the fertility of the plants may best understand this. In rural areas of North America you can still find farmers hanging deer antlers or bull horns over their barn door. They may have forgotten why, but once upon a time it was the belief that doing so would protect your livestock and also ensure their health and fertility.

Modern butchery and hunting practices are wasteful and unethical for treating animals as soulless resources. By doing this work and using animal remains in a sacred manner in our spiritual traditions, we make those animals sacred. By showing them respect even in death, we make their lives have the same value as our own.


You are well known for crafting various flying ointments, often using ancient recipes. Why flying ointments and when did your love affair with them begin?

I first took notice when nightshades I had not planted started to grow in my garden plots and containers. Instead of weeding them, I researched them and became fascinated. This led me to growing other varieties like henbane, belladonna, datura, and brugmansia. I had a lot of fresh plant material on hand and at the same time I realized that no one I could find was making and using flying ointments today. Considering that flying ointments were one of the very few genuine direct links to the ancestral magical practices of preChristian Europeans, it puzzled me greatly that modern witches and pagans weren’t using them. Later I discovered this was largely due to fear of the plants as governments had been churning out frightening propaganda against them for centuries and our modern governments continue to spread the fear through misinformation. Tales of wild hallucinations and near death experiences come mainly from youths not seeking a spiritual experience, but who simply wanted to get high and who used these plants without research, proper preparation, and with no regard for dosage. They were using these sacred plants at a toxic level instead of in the much safer ways our ancestors would have and have consequently given these plants a much maligned reputation.


I mainly work with plants in the solanaceae (or nightshade) family. Though many would believe we no longer use them today, the constituents of these plants, such as atropine, are actually considered “core” medicines on the World Health Organizations “Essential Drug List.” Aside from the nightshades’ long history with witchcraft, they are also some of the oldest and most potent medicines used by humanity. How could an herbalist fascinated with ethnobotany not fall in love with plants that were both powerful spiritual allies and incredibly potent medicines? Though my original intent was to use the solanaceae and artemisias for spiritual purposes, the more I worked with these plants, the more I found people came to me for their medicinal uses as well.

And so, after A LOT of research and careful testing, I started to make ointments with the plants I grew along with dried European mandrake roots. I found them to be very useful in aiding in dream work, spirit work, and trance work along with being excellent topical pain killers for relieving migraines, sore backs, and other muscle and joint pain. I started making them for shamanic and pagan groups who wanted to use them for rituals and ceremonies and I started bringing them to my own rituals and teaching workshops on these plants. With all my experience, I learned that much of the fear and propaganda surrounding nightshades and flying ointments is simply not true and that those of us who have learned their history and proper preparations should pass on our knowledge so it is not lost to future generations as it has been to generations past.


A lot of folks in the magical community struggle with that to call themselves. You have referred to yourself as an animist, witch, and spirit worker. What do those words mean to you and what is your advice for someone who has not figured out what the right title is for their work and beliefs?

When I call myself an animist, I am referring to my religious philosophy just as others would call themselves a polytheist or a monotheist. I do not worship gods, but instead see all things, all of nature, as being imbued with spirit, anima, life force. Interacting with and honouring the local animals, plants, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, and larger land features is what matters most to me in my spirituality – the local spirits, great and small. Within animism there is also room for ancestor reverence and so I also honour those who have come before me, both my own blood ancestors as well as those who lived upon this land long before I was born. Animism is believed to be one of the oldest forms of spirituality in human history and still permeates surviving forms of folk magic, folk religion, and common superstitions.

When I call myself a witch I am referring to the practice of witchcraft, not a religious path. It is the folk magic I do, the early modern witchcraft lore I study, and the rituals I put into practice.

When I use the term spirit worker, it is to reference my work with spirits, both is in this world and the other worlds of folklore. It is my dream work, trance work, and the rituals I perform to interact with spirits – usually plants, animals, or ancestors.

I don’t personally believe in putting too much stock in labels and finding the right one as everyone has their own definition of a term, some using the archaic meaning and some using a modern derivative. It is far too easy to waste a lot of time trying to find a label that fits all we believe and do, when we could instead spend that time actively practicing and developing our own beliefs to suit our individual spiritual needs. I think it is a better use of our time instead of trying to fit into a role someone else has defined and be constantly fretting over it.

I wrote a whole article tackling this subject last winter as it comes up over and over again in spiritual communities: “Ducking Pigeonholing.”

You art is gorgeous, tell us a bit about how you got started and what your current favorite artistic project is?


Thank you! I got started in art at a young age. I was always drawing and painting. I took art classes in every year of school because it was something I always enjoyed. I had a lot of support from family who kept me well supplied with paper, ink, and paints. I even used to illustrate stories I wrote and bound them into little homemade books. Today I’m lucky enough to be in a position to get paid for my art and to illustrate the writings of others as well as my own. Falling more under the umbrella of a folk artist, I’ve been able to explore just about any medium I’m interested in – woodcarving, bone carving, pyrography, textiles, calligraphy, and jewelry to name several.

Right now I have a bit of an obvious obsession with drawing plants and skulls. I hope to do more pieces with plants and animals native to my beloved Pacific Northwest in the near future.

If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and passions so you can live your life in joy and wonder, but at the same time be honest with yourself about how you’re going to pull it off in a practical manner.

Many Branches: Plant Love with Kiva Ringtail Rose

DSCF5129Herbalist, author, and wild creature, Kiva Rose lives in a canyon botanical sanctuary within the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. She is also the co-director of the HerbFolk Gathering, held each September in the mountain Southwest, is co-editor of Plant Healer Magazine, and maintains an herbal blog, The Medicine Woman’s Roots.

Find Kiva on the World Wide Web:

Plant Healer and The HerbFolk Gathering
The Medicine Woman’s Roots Herbal Blog



Who/What is a Plant Healer? Why this term instead of a term like Herbalist?

A Plant Healer is anyone who works with the plants for the purpose of healing. We chose this term in part because of its simplicity and because of the way it keeps the focus on the plants themselves. I am an herbalist because I love the plants, and feel called to matchmake between plants and people, hopefully facilitating new and deeper relationships among humans and herbs that brings healing for us, as well as inspiring us to take better care of the earth in the process.

One of the many contributions you have made to the plant loving community is a return to the notion of “folk herbalism”. How is folk herbalism different from what might be considered more “mainstream herbalism”, what are folk herbalists bringing to the table that has been missing in the community?

Basically, folk herbalism is technically defined as herbalism being practiced by non-professionals or lay people, often utilizing regional or handed down knowledge and perspectives. However, given the wide range of practitioners that currently identify as folk herbalists, I think it makes sense to broaden the definition to include professionals and non-professionals alike who practice an herbalism not currently accepted as valid by the Western biomedical industry and our culture in general.

Folk herbalism has always been here, and has long been represented by an incredible spectrum of practitioners. I personally use the terminology because I value both inclusivity and diversity within the healing community. I especially like the fact that folk herbalism embraces such a wide range of ideas and practices without insisting upon a false or forced homogeny.

You run a clinical practice, care for a beautiful wilderness area in Southern New Mexico, teach, write, publish some of the finest books and magazines on the plant path, and organize festive conferences and weekends of education for plant healers, you are also a mom and devoted partner…how do you do it all and what are your personal favorite herbal allies?

Thank you, Bri! I’ve found that it’s my nature to cycle through focusing on what most interests me at the time, and I find that working on so many projects allows me to move from seeing folks to creating art to writing to land restoration to teaching to solitary and family time in a way that allows me to feel both fulfilled and to keep many projects going at once. Also, my wonderful partner, Jesse Wolf Hardin, does an enormous amount and keeps everything on track and on schedule!

Many of my absolute favorite plants are from the genus Salvia, I adore all that I’ve met thus far! I’m very blessed to have two native species growing right here in the canyon where I live and many more nearby. Working with the less well known Sawtooth Sage, Salvia subincisa, was a profound experience in my early herbal studies. While I don’t know of anyone else working with this plant, it is a profound relaxant nervine that is specifically indicated when tremors are present with anxiety. It’s also a wonderful ally for those who have such sensitive nervous systems that even Lemon Balm can seem too stimulating. Back when I was first studying and practicing herbalism, I was also recovering from many years of insomnia, addiction, and abuse and dealing with a very fried and overstimulated nervous system. The Sawtooth Sage helped to heal my nervous system and allowed me to sleep and relax in ways I hadn’t experienced in decades. I especially like it combined with our local Skullcap for tension, anxiety, and insomnia.

In 2013 you launched the Bramble and Rose–a wonderful shop where folks can order perfumes, elixirs, balms, and oils, tell us about the Bramble and Rose and what inspired it?

Originally, The Bramble & The Rose was created as an outlet for my passion for creating botanical perfumes and body products, and my desire to share the medicine of aromatics with a wider audience. As time has passed, I’ve slowly been expanding it into a more complete woodland apothecary that includes elixirs, bio-regional incense, bitters blends, and certain single herbs abundant in my area. I’d been asked for many years to make more of my herbal preparations for sale, so I’m happy to fulfill this desire from the community while sharing many of my favorite plant allies!

Part of the profits from The Bramble & The Rose go to paying for the materials used to create the herbal formulas I provide to local clients in my tiny mountain village at little or no charge.

If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

To keep your work at its foundation, and to focus on not straying from the source that ignited your passion to begin with. To work as healers of any kind we need to avoid being drained by what we do, and a bit part of that is being able to receive vital nourishment from the earth and work at a roots level. I know that, for me, it’s very easy to get caught up in what needs to be done, and to neglect the simple, sensual delights that first drew me to herbalism. By remembering to play with the plants, experiment with new remedies, and spending wordless time on wild land, I am sustained and replenished in a circle of healing I am honored to be included in.

Find Kiva on the World Wide Web: - Plant Healer and The HerbFolk Gathering - The Medicine Woman’s Roots Herbal Blog

Encounters with AIRR: Dr. Johannes

Though I have only met him in person one time, Dr. Johannes always stands out to me as bringing the best qualities to light both as a root worker and a person. I know him to be incredibly honest with his clients and never willing to allow people to think that magic alone will see them through. His knowledge and scholarly interest in various kinds of folk magic is impressive in breadth and scope, and he also is one of the few members of AIRR based in Europe! Please give him a warm, Milagro Roots style welcome!

JohannesWhat is your philosophy on magic and root work?

Magic, root work, and spells, like any other kind of medicine, requires more than a pill. It requires a person able to give an accurate and proper diagnosis. Seeing the clients situation and the right keys to deliver what they want is crucial to successful spells and remedies. Spells without divination is often like shooting in the dark.

What are your favorite types of cases and why?

My favorite types of cases are study spells for kids and un-crossings. I cannot help but love the result when a kid, suffering from various difficulties suddenly get a kick out of learning and are able to pick up knowledge with joy. The reason why I love un-crossings is the immense gratitude I get from people whose lives have been a mess due to crossed conditions and the joy they express when curses are removed and their lives are changed.

If you could give prospective clients one piece of advice, what would it be?

My advice would be to twofold – first: think about what the next step would be if a spell is successful. Let´s say you get your cheating ex. back due to a reconciliation spell. Or you get that raise due to a money drawing spell. What it the next step? Will that ex stay for long? What will you do with the money? Never assume anything about the future. Plan it. This requires good guidance, so praying for such guidance should be a habit. The second is to always follow the advice of your root worker if you have been given baths or things to do yourself. Never compromise with a ritual. If you do not want to rise at sunrise to do that bath or if you do not want to get your hair wet then your work is weak and so is your desire. We all know that clients like that are the most likely to mess up a spell. It is like a sick person eating candy instead of the given medicine.

Find Dr. Johannes on the World Wide Web:

Trolldom Facebook Group: Traditional Nordic Folk Magic

Encounters with AIRR: Devi Spring

What is your philosophy on magic and root work?

devi-springI believe that magic needs be healing at its core – it should be bringing and reestablishing harmony and balance. You can certainly attract or redirect a certain force towards yourself using rootwork, but you need to be properly prepared to truly receive the blessings in order for them to take root and manifest.

Most clients that come to me wanting to change something about their lives – more luck in love, increasing their financial security, greater mental/emotional happiness – have experienced a certain undesirable condition for some time, and under repeated circumstances over a long period of time. So I feel a greater portion of magical work should be focused on identifying, acknowleging, and then working to heal the things within yourself that is allowing the unwanted patterns to recur within your life. Very often by changing a core belief, altering habituated reactions and approaches, or finally facing a trauma that has caused a soul-deep injury with associated armoring, the whole energy around a situation and person will dramatically shift finally allowing the positive manifestations they have been long hoping for.

So my approach to magic and rootwork is very much based in personal healing and empowerment of the client. I do my best to listen between the lines of the problem clients are presenting to me, for what the deeper issue at work is. I imagine that my extensive background as a Usui Reiki Master has colored my approach, as in that healing work the headache a client comes in with is very rarely the actual problem – it may be the perpetual stress from work, or supressing the pain stemming from a toxic relationship that is causing the headache. I would, of course, treat the headache to relieve the immediate discomfort, but I would need to identify and begin to work to untangle and heal the root cause of the headahes so that they would not recurr. It’s the same in my rootwork practice.

Crafting balance and harmony within the client themselves is my primary focus. If I can facilitate their personal healing journey, often the negative condition will clear itself. While they embark on the core work of personal change, I work with them to help alleviate the symptoms and negative effects of their current condition, helping to attract the types of energies & good fortune they want to start claiming. Spiritual cleansings, uncrossings, and road openings are always a big part of this stage of things. I am there to help guide the deeper healing processes as we clean the slate and make way for new abundance.

What are your favorite types of cases and why?

devi 2

Until a client is in a place where they are ready to do make the personal changes that will permit the more sweeping shifts in their position, I find magic can often bring only temporary changes.

I work best with clients who are willing and able to be proactive in the work – setting time and energy aside to do the work that is indicated for them, really taking control of their lives. I love crafting custom items like fixed oil lamps, bottle spells, mojo bags, conjure packets and the like that clients then take on and use to start shifting things within their lives and themselves. It’s so enjoyable for me working Spirit into those items, knowing someone with great resolve and in a place to really utilize them well is going to be receiving the Divine blessings that they can help provide. While these fleeting windfalls of good fortune are valuable, they are unable to really anchor into a person’s life for the long-haul. So my favorite types of cases involve clients who have come to that place where they are truly committed to making a change in their life. They can listen and hear the information that the divinations, and my own intuitive advice brings forward to them, and are willing to take steps to begin doing the deep work. We can then both follow and rejoice in the impressive shifts that begin occuring!

I also really enjoy being able to introduce clients to spiritual allies, such as saints and archangels, that will have their back and aid them going forward. Learning how to develop a relationship with a spirit, and to be able to reap the benefits that such a relationship brings, is a wonderful boon. Coaching people through that process, especially when a spirit has communicated to me that they specifically are eager to aid a person and have a spiritual partnership with them, is extremely rewarding. As often as possible, I do my best to forge a new spiritual support system for my clients, to really give them the best chance at long-term success and truly meaningful spiritual empowerment.

If you could give prospective clients one piece of advice, what would it be?

Look at how you can craft greater balance and peace within yourself, and you will find that the outer manifestations of that in your life as a whole will begin to increase exponentially. Invite Divinity to aid and support you in those efforts, and you will be blessed even further.


Find Devi on the World Wide Web: = my etsy store front where all reading and product sales are done = my main informational website (look for a major overhaul in 2014!) = my blog with lots of practical work and articles on magic and rootwork

@HoodooDevi = my Twitter account with lots of personal quips, as well as sale annoucements

In Memoriam


I woke up this morning to this devastating news…that our dear Dr. E has passed beyond the veil. I always liked Eddy for his fun yet serious, kind yet full of integrity approach to all things not just religion, not just magic or spirit work but all of it. I believe that all who were lucky enough to meet and spend time with him in person felt his love and warmth encompass them, I know that I did.

I remember watching him and the care he took with his mother Vicky, seeing what a good son he was and how that in turn made him such a good man. I know that many, many, many of us are raw with his passing…so sudden, so very, very sudden and so to you, and to us I offer up a prayer to one I know he loved too:

La Senora de Guadalupe, blessed and bright Lady, we come to you today with open hearts and open hands asking for wisdom and understanding but above all compassion and healing in the wake of loss and grief that flows over our community. Loss of a friend, a brother, a son, a lover, a colleague, a teacher, creator, mentor, and counselor to so many who had need, how many lives he touched may we remember and honor that. Guadalupe, one who shines forth in your dark and blessed beauty, give us succor in our time of sorrow, for you know sorrow so well and the openings it creates, so that we might love deeper, be kinder, work with more truth and integrity and in so doing keep our dear one close to our hearts forever, amen.

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Many Branches: Setting Roots with Jen Holmes of Rue and Hyssop

So you guys know by now that I seriously love every single one of the people I profile for Many Branches but Jen holds a special place in my heart. First of all, her gardener’s salve truly kicks ass. Secondly, she is not only a dear friend and colleague, she is one of my students and she brings magic wherever she goes. Finally, she has one of the kindest, most down to earth voices, in the entire Pagan blogging community–not an easy feat for a bunch of dirt loving folks! Enter into her wild garden of delights–you will be sure to find a magical treat or two!

jen 2Jen (Rue) Holmes is the lime daiquiri-wielding hostess of the blog Rue and Hyssop, a wandering little adventure in Paganism, gardening and herb-craft, folklore, silliness, and the joys and trials of trying to maintain some semblance of a daily practice. Jen believes firmly in sharing your harvests, daily laughter, and in wearing as many strange hats as you can find.

Jen can also be found at her shop, Three Cats And A Broom, where her gardens in the verdant valley hills bring you herbal goodies to delight your bath, body, and home.



Why Rue and Hyssop–do these plants hold special meaning for you and if so what is it?

Picking a name for my blog was no easy task. I was going to be writing about my journey and all that it entailed – the garden experiments, my travels, the ups and downs of my personal practices, and the things that were bubbling away in the cauldron. I didn’t want to mislead anyone. The blog was always about my adventures in Paganism, but it was important for me to present it through the lense of my real life, and not try to come off as someone I wasn’t. It had to be real. Although I don’t discuss my uber-personal stuff (who I’m dating, my familial issues, and other too-close-for-comfort tidbits), I do lay it all out when discussing my struggle with keeping up a spiritual practice, or how I’m working through other issues like fear or self-esteem. It’s the kind of thing I appreciate in other bloggers, so there was no chance that I wasn’t going to be genuine.

“Rue and Hyssop” was a perfect fit for me. It served a dual purpose – it was a play on my at-the-time public name (Rue) and highlighted my interest in herb-craft, as well as providing a bit of symbolism for me, a girl who came from a bible-based upbringing (hyssop being a prominent biblical herb) who grew into a woman on a magical-based path (rue being a beloved charm, most notably for the Strega). As for the herbs themselves, they are a cherished part of my garden. Even after working with them for years, I still find wisdom to glean from them.

I think you are one of the brightest voices in the Pagan blogging community–why did you start blogging? As a pagan blogger what would you like to see more of?

That’s a really generous compliment, Bri, and one I’d like to keep working at deserving. When I started blogging almost five years ago, there was not an easy-to-find Pagan community locally. Fortunately that has changed, but I could never regret that it sent me searching online for like-minded people who shared my love of getting dirty in the garden and the wilds, who were fascinated by folklore, and who embraced and celebrated the land and the seasons. I’m thrilled to have met so many wonderful people in the blogging and Pagan communities, and I’m beyond flattered when anyone stops by to read or comment at my little spot on the web. I’m especially surprised at the volume of readers I have that wouldn’t consider themselves Pagan, but who stop by because we share some interest or concern that brings our separate journeys closer together.

I’ve found that this year, the Pagan community seems to be struggling a great deal with divisiveness. This isn’t new, I know, but there seems to have been many opportunities for people to say “we don’t know everything, let’s explore this together,” that instead, have become derisive. The magical and spiritual communities whose boundaries we wander over and through boast some of the most learned, creative, generous, and gifted people on the planet. I truly believe that we can find better ways to express ourselves and our explorations of our chosen path than to knock someone else down to show that we can wield the verbal sword impressively. Having said that, I am often in awe of the strength, kindness, and wisdom of those I’ve met in the blogging community. I’m confident that the people with these traits will outshine the ones who prefer to squabble, and my hope is that we’ll see more bloggers, podcasters, authors, and magical businesspeople stepping out into the public eye and showing the world a diverse community that can work together.

You make wonderful herbal remedies that are both healing and magical–how did you get started in this work and what are your favorite things to make?

When I was ten, at the height of summer I walked through a field of clover barefoot. The bees gorging on clover-nectar took exception to my intrusion and I was stung. My grandmother immediately noted that a stinger remained in my foot and cut a potato in half and placed it on the wound. Within a short time, the sting lessened and the stinger fell out. To me, that was the most magical thing I’d ever experienced. Within the year I was weeding her gardens (very non-magical, if you had asked me) and I was forever bitten – or stung – by the garden bug.

After relying far too many years on over the counter drugs for common complaints such as colds, sleeplessness, or skin concerns, I turned to herbs to help combat these issues. I’d always grown veggies and culinary herbs, but medicinals were new to me. I grabbed a handful of books and found some organic seed companies and never looked back. My current passion is replacing the chemical-laden cleaning and beauty products in my home with my own organic herbal alternatives. And, of course, I grow a few plants specifically for magical use too.

My current favourite creations are the herbal-infused oil products. There’s just something about seeing those plants suspended in golden oils, releasing their invaluable treasure. I put together a herbal salve that is crazy-healing, as well as a massage oil, and I’m working on a facial oil that should be coming out soon. I’m testing it right now and I’m loving what it’s doing to my skin!

What projects are you working on in 2014? What would you like to learn more about?

I’ve been operating my business as a hobby for the past few years and it’s been fun. When I look to my future, I see myself growing and wild-harvesting plants and making herbal creations full time, so there are some big decisions to be made this year in as far as putting a plan into action to see that outcome.

My herbal studies are always ongoing – I was gifted with about a dozen herbal books this year and I’m enjoying working through them. I’m always playing with and testing new herbal creations. Some will make it to the shop and others may end up being more private runs. I made some sample scrubs for a local spa and they’ve ordered them for their permanent line now.

The thing about plants is that you can spend a lifetime studying them and still have only scratched the surface. The same thing applies to spirituality and magical work – there is always something to discover and experience. I’ll never be finished learning.

If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

I’ve spoken of this often lately, but it’s because I’ve really been living it. Find one thing to be joyful about every day. We’d all like to win the lottery, or be a size 2, or hit it out of the park in the IQ department, but even if we are not feeling like our best selves, or life is not being generous with the “good stuff” we can still find something to be joyful about. Just one thing. Really dig it. Smile. Dive into that chocolate bliss. Become intoxicated by the scent of that flower. Giggle mercilessly at your crazy cat. There’s always something to squeal about. It will keep you young, I promise. And people will wonder why you are always smirking.

And be kind. It’s not that difficult.

Find Jen on the World Wide Web:

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Encounters with AIRR: Susan Diamond

I will never forget the first time I walked into Susan’s beautiful Santa Cruz shop Serpent’s Kiss. It is an utterly magical space and the lady who runs it is lovely, warm, and so welcoming to everyone who comes in. I love so many things about Susan and she is such a multi-talented worker and reader. Her wonderful shop and delightful presence add light and love to our community!

In her own words:

Born in NYC, I have had exposure to a diverse cross section of many magical cultures from an early age. I learned the secrets of divination and sympathetic magic as a young child from my matrilineal grandmother, receiving my first tarot deck at age 7. On my Father’s side I inherited the witch blood from my Italian ancestors. Communicating with our dead ancestors was a part of daily life in my family.

My training in the magical arts has continued throughout my life. I have had many wonderful teachers along the way in Conjure, Astrology, Witchcraft, Shamanism, Reiki, Palo, Ifa, Faery.

Nearly 15 years ago I decided to open a shop in response to a desire to bring earth based spirituality & magic back to its roots. Since then I have also created a learning center for alternative faiths and magic so that others may learn and grow.

Recently my community has honored me with the distinction of “Best Psychic” in Santa Cruz County. I was awarded the “Santa Cruz Goldie” in this category for 2012 and 2013.

In my shop, Serpent’s Kiss, I offer my services as a tarot/psychic reader, magical consultant, astrologer, root worker, initiated palera, and shamanic practitioner. I have extensive knowledge of crystals and herbs and ritually prepare many of the items at my shop (candles, oils, incense, sprays, mojo hands, etc.)

As a founding member of AIRR I have have been blessed to work with a community of skilled practitioners.

I am also cofounder of with author/worker Orion Foxwood, and I am a partner/member of Conjure Crossroads along with Orion, Starr Casas, Sindy Todo, and Shimmering Wolf.

As Conjure Crossroads we promote the healing and helping benefits of conjure while demonstrating unity across conjure cultures and diverse spiritual practice. We coordinate and present at 2 major events, one in New Orleans, Folk Magic Festival, and one at my shop Serpent’s Kiss in Santa Cruz, called Conjure Con.

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What is your philosophy on magic and root work?

I believe we all have the ability and the right to create the life that we desire both spiritually and materially. Through our spirit alliances, all is achievable. Those alliances may be made with our ancestors and other spirits of the dead, the spirits of plants, animals, minerals, forces of nature, deity, angels, faery, the planets, etc. as well as through our alliances with those that understand how to communicate with, capture, and navigate through, the spirit realm, be they Shaman, Witch, Root Doctor, Priest or Priestess.

What are your favorite types of cases and why?

I don’t think I have a favorite necessarily, but I do get great joy in seeing a client discover their true vocation and embrace it and be prosperous doing what they love. The person who is truly content expressing their natural talents in the world is like a magnet attracting all other things joyful, including right relationships with lovers & friends. I also feel great satisfaction in correcting a wrong doing. Successful justice work, including court case work, is highly gratifying to me and I have a natural affinity for it. I also love helping folks connect with their ancestors. It is a shame in our modern culture that this is so difficult and not a natural extension of our upbringing. But I suppose I wouldn’t call that a “case.” It’s more like my devotional work.

If you could give prospective clients one piece of advice, what would it be?

You can have anything that you want as long as you are willing to give up everything that you have.
I know that sounds a little bold, and having what you want rarely requires giving up “everything.” However, it is exactly our boldness, and willingness to release the ties that bind us to our unhappiness, that leads us to our truest desires. Our biggest obstacles involve hanging on to that which no longer serves us. Cleansing and releasing is the first step in creating. And it is the most important step in all magical practice.

Find Susan on the World Wide Web:

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Many Branches: Going Bright with Candlesmoke Chapel

Candlesmoke Chapel is a husband and wife collaboration dedicated to crafting high quality magical and spiritual goods. We’ve been crafting our own supplies for years and are proud to offer our products and services to others. Our work and studies include traditional witchcraft, hoodoo, genealogy, folklore, and herb lore. We are always working to better our own lives and are committed to helping others achieve their desires through the use of magical and spiritual practices.


1.) Candlesmoke Chapel fills many different roles, but one of the things that you two do beautifully is create homemade spiritual supplies–how did you get started in this work?

Both of us have been interested in and studied various paths and traditions our whole lives. After many years of learning and practicing, we found ourselves drawn to the principles behind conjure and rootwork. This became a jumping off point for us, so while we don’t practice conjure and rootwork exclusively, we find that the tangible aspects of working with candles, roots, herbs, oils, incense and washes speaks to us. We believe that having these items to physically work with helps to focus one’s intent and purpose.

In working with these types of items, we’ve been in and out of every botanica and occult shop we’ve come across. Even though there seems to be lots of options out there, we weren’t always satisfied with the quality and the general feeling behind most of the products we found. So we decided to make spiritual supplies for our own personal work, and quickly found that they were powerful and effective. We started giving items to friends as gifts and doing work for people we knew for free. The feedback we received was awesome and we’ve just kept growing!

2.) You also offer readings through Candlesmoke Chapel–what is your favorite subject to read on and what question would you like to never be asked again?

We’re going to answer this question separately because we each do different types of readings…

Joseph – I read with the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot and my favorite kind of readings are open-ended, general questions. I love it when the client just says, “tell me what you see.” This gives me the opportunity to really open up to the cards and the client’s energy and look at any and all possibilities. I really enjoy all the readings I do, but if I had to pick I’d say the most difficult readings are the third or fourth go-around on the same issue; when the client doesn’t like the answer they got the first couple of times and they keep wanting another reading to see if something different will present itself. These are difficult because I know they’re unhappy with their situation, but I won’t just tell them what they want to hear.

Sara – I read with the Animal Medicine Cards and my favorite kind of readings are about how people can move forward with something in their life. I love questions about feeling stuck in some way and guiding the client to the animal spirits and energies that they can learn from and call upon to bring themselves up to the place they want to be. I love helping people see the connections between other living creatures and themselves and watching that “aha” moment when the client sees how it all comes together. Like Joseph, I enjoy all the readings I do but, due to the nature of the cards I use, the most difficult question I get is “tell me what my spirit animal is.” People are usually asking this question without a real understanding of what that means and they’re typically not interested in doing the inner work necessary to discover this themselves. It can be challenging to explain to someone who doesn’t want to look within themselves that no one can tell you what your spirit animal(s) is/are.

3.) Talk to us about bottle spells–how do they work and what you do guys love about them?

We love bottles spells and especially sugar jars! The idea behind any type of bottle or container spell is to create a magical battery. You’re creating a small space that is super-concentrated with ingredients suited to your purpose. Immersed in that super-concentrated space is a paper with your desire written on it, your handwriting on the paper adding more power to the purpose of the container. Add some personal concerns, like a strand of hair, and this can be some powerful stuff! We create the jar for your purpose, you add your written paper and personal concerns and we provide you with instructions on how to work the Sweetening Jar on your own.

There are tons of different types of bottle spells and we focus on Sweetening Jars, specifically sugar jars. They can be made with many different kinds of sweeteners, but our preference is for sugar because it tends to manifest movement in a situation more quickly than something like honey. There’s also a physicality involved with shaking a sugar jar – seeing the magical ingredients tossing about; hearing the sound it makes and getting into a rhythm like a musical instrument. Our Sweetening Jars currently focus on romantic love situations, but we’ve done custom jars to help create a peaceful home and to help draw more clients to a business. There are lots of situations that can use a little sugar!

4.) You are a married couple doing awesome work together-are there any particular challenges or benefits that you find in working together on all your different projects?

One of the biggest benefits for us is that we’re passionate about the same thing. We’ve seen lots of situations where one person can’t be very open about what they’re doing, or even has to hide it, because their significant other doesn’t get it or isn’t into it. Yes, we’re a married couple, but we’re also best friends – and who doesn’t love hanging out with their best friend! There’s also two sets of eyes on everything we make. It’s invaluable to have someone else that you trust to smell, touch and test a new creation; it’s the in-house quality control department. Luckily, we have a very honest relationship so the quality control department takes no BS! We openly and honestly give each other our feedback without worry of hurting any feelings. The best benefit is getting to collaborate; we love putting our minds together to develop new products and services. Even though we’re walking this path together, we each have differing sets of knowledge and our own ways of looking at things. If one of us doesn’t know something or can’t figure something out, the other one can almost always find the solution. The only real challenge for us is arguing over who gets to use the big work table and who has to clean up!

5.) If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

Trust yourself. Completely block out what anyone else thinks and do what you feel called to do. Keep doing what you feel passionate about and practicing what you believe in because it will shine through in everything you do. Not only have we learned this lesson in our own work, we also run into these issues with our clients. This advice is not just for someone following a path in life, but also for those who are working to change a situation. It’s not just about big-picture, life-choice questions and even applies to the little things. After you get a reading, or use a product, trust yourself. Block out all the extraneous stuff and do what you feel called to do. Practice what you believe in and the right path will appear.

Find them on the World Wide Web:

What I’m Loving Right Now

Just in time for the Holidays–because I am good to you that way–a little list of what I love right now…

Covering my (Legal) Ass with Small Business Bodyguard-I invested in this program on the recommendation of my dear Tarot Compadre Theresa Reed and I am so glad that I did. In fact I liked it so much I affiliated with them too. I actually like reading legalese but this program is made for people who cringe at the thought. It is also made for YOU if you do any kind of business on or off line and have not (yet, right?) made the time to consult with an actual, you know, lawyer. Small Business Bodyguard is so worth it because of all the Kevin Costner references the amazing legal orientation it provides and because of the excellent forms and templates that would cost thousands in legal fees if you chose to have a lawyer draft them up. I think this program really speaks for itself but because many of my friends work in the Sacred Arts/Metaphysical Industry it is EVEN MORE ESSENTIAL to have it on hand. And if you buy today, on Cyber Monday you save some serious coinage. Click here for the deets-you are welcome.


The fact that Free People’s Blog is talking about Tarot and that Tarot made a Vogue gift list–we are coming out of the shadows my friends!


The Wild Unknown Tarot–I continue to fall in deeper love with these cards every day!


Goodies from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab-anything, everything.


Spiritual Swag from Candlesmoke Chapel-because Joe and Sara know what they are about.


Heidi Rose Robbins’ glorious new book.


Lotus Wei–gorgeous site! Magical work! I’m in!


Jewels from Sapna Mehra, because every lady needs a little sparkle!


Subscriptions to Mystic Medusa-she is just a phenom when it comes to the Stars and Celestial bodies.


Joanna Powell Colbert’s new book A Crown of Candles


The Miracles, Magic, and Mojo Telesummit-which is FREE!


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