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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Rue and Hyssop -

Three Cats And A Broom -

Something Wicked this Way Comes: 13 Points About the Evil Eye



The “evil eye” or mal ojo as we call it here in San Antonio, is a pan-cultural idea that encompasses a host of beliefs regarding negativity, bad luck, and misfortune. Quite a few scholarly articles have been written on the evil eye but here is the low down stuff you absolutely need to know. The first thing to recognize about mal ojo in our current time is that we can carry it with us. in us and not even know it. Anytime we are seeing incorrectly–with envy or pride or lust or selfishness we could rightly be said to be suffering from the evil eye–our eyes are literally being taken over by an evil force, call it energy, call it spirit, or simply bad will. In traditional spiritual work the best cure for one who has the evil eye put on them is a limpias–a spiritual bath, and that is the best way to cure oneself of incorrect seeing too–it is a time of cleansing and reconciliation to the self and your true purpose, it can be a time of recommitting to the work you have to do in the world. May it be so.

1.) The evil eye is everywhere. In every culture that is. The belief that people can intentionally or unintentionally wish you ill or harm is found throughout the world and throughout time. Usually people focus on the beliefs surrounding the evil eye found in Judaism, the Mediterranean countries, and Middle Eastern countries like Turkey or Iran, but plenty of beliefs about the evil eye can be found in Western European, Central and South American, and African countries too.

2.) Most often the evil eye is believed to be given to someone unintentionally. There are plenty of cases of people feeling that someone has deliberately decided to try to ruin their life through negative thoughts, malevolent prayers, or outright destructive workings. More frequent, however, is the belief that someone called down the evil eye through their own jealousy and was not really trying to harm the object of their attentions.

3.) Symptoms of the evil eye vary from time to time and place to place–but many of them include a general idea of “drying out.”  Water is generally associated with life and life giving forces. When we are too dry we are not as generative, fertile, prosperous, or healthy.

4.) Children and older people are traditionally believed to be the most vulnerable to the evil eye as are women who have just given birth.

5.) Salt is a world wide curative for the evil eye and is also seen as protective against it. So are the colors blue (featured in many of the apotropaic charms we find for the evil eye today) and red–which is favored as a cure and protective color against the evil eye in parts of Africa, Italy, and the UK.

6.) Sugar is second only to salt in its curative abilities as the evil eye is believed to make someone’s life bitter as well as dry. Sugar brings moisture and sweetness to the situation.

7.) Along with sugar and salt, Spiritual Cleansing, is seen as another essential step in both warding off and combating conditions resulting from the evil eye.

8.) The evil eye does not necessarily only come from other people. Many traditions believe that it can be cast on a person by spirits who are displeased or offended for whatever reason.

9.) Rue is the herb most popularly called on to address and combat cases of the evil eye–perhaps because of it’s tiny eye-shaped leaves.

10.) Blessed water/Holy Water can be used to wash someone down who is believed to be afflicted with the evil eye. Start at the head and work down to the feet then dispose of the water at a four way crossroads.

11.) Gold jewelry is a potent ward against the evil eye in many countries.

12.) Conditions brought about by the evil eye can be chronic/repetitive or acute and isolated events.

13.) In Western Europe one old and favored trick to use, is to immediately turn your clothes inside out and walk backwards or in a widdershins (counter clockwise) circle.


Shuffling the Deck: The Devil You Know

The Devil is such a compelling figure and one to consider from so many angles. In the Tarot he surprises us by showing up right after the stabilizing force of the Temperance card. Let’s find out what this particular tarot teacher has to say.


Card: The Devil
Number: 15
Planetary Ruler: Pluto/Saturn
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Season: Late Winter
We have just come through Death and found a place of balance and revivification with the Temperance card. Just as we think we are making some progress, Old Scratch shows up to cause mischief and mayhem…or does he?


* Slavery and Bondage
* Addictive Behaviors and Chronic Negative Thought Patterns
* Love of the Wild
* Rebellion
* Obsessions and Compulsions

In the Tanakh (The Hebrew Bible or what Christians call the “old testament”), the term Satan is almost always accompanied by the definite article “the.” As a result, some translators believe that the term refers to a function as opposed to a specific being. This function of “the Satan” is perhaps best illustrated in the Book of Job where he is described simply as “the adversary.” In Christian contexts Satan becomes the Devil. The word is derived from the ancient Greek diabolos which literally means “to slander” or “the slanderer.”

First and foremost, we see from the Jewish and Christian contexts of the terms Satan and Devil, that the function of the Devil is that of a challenger or adversary. This aspect is carried over into folklore where characters like “Old Scratch” show up to create mischief and mayhem and figures like Krampus-a pre-Christian German figure especially active during the holidays–is the foil to “Good St. Nicholas.” Whereas St. Nick awards children who have been good, Krampus punishes those who have been bad. The image that we see emerging from these depictions is a figure whose job is to exploit us in the areas where we are most weak. Some believe that the Devil does this because he is inherently evil, but others find that we prove our worth and mettle by facing temptation head on and acknowledging where we may be enslaved; enslaved to bad relationships, addictive behaviors, or simply chronic thought patterns that will not subside.

Capricorn, the astrological sign that is affiliated with the Devil card, gives us another aspect to consider. Capricorn and the Devil share the ruling planet of Saturn. In astrology, Saturn is often conceived as a planet dictating discipline, restriction, and a rigid adherence to one’s strict ethical and moral code. In Greek myth, Saturn is Kronos, the God of Time who continually procreates only to devour his children in fear that his throne may be usurped. The Devil is also the Horned Goat associated with Pagan Gods like Pan and Cerrunos–the Celtic Lord of the Animals. In this guise the Devil is viewed as a Christian overlay on a pre-Christian Deity who symbolized wild lands, wild behavior, and protections of and for the wild.

In the RWS version of the card we see a horned figure with the torso of a man and the shaggy, furred legs of a goat. This image is the traditional Satyr image of half man/half goat we see associated with the Devil throughout the Western world. An inverted pentagram rests between the Devil’s horns. The pentagram was first popularized by metaphysical and mathematical teacher Pythagoras and has many mysteries associated with it. Far from a symbol of evil, the pentagram right side up actually connotes adherence to the four cardinal virtues and high esteem for the immortal soul. In it’s inverted position, the pentagram indicates a disdain for these trappings of religion and civilization. At the feet of the Devil are two figures who look familiar to us because we first met them in card #6–The Lovers. In this card, however, our prototypical Adam and Eve have sprouted their own horns and, most alarmingly of all, they are chained to the great beast’s throne. When we look closely at the chains, however, we see that the collars around both the man and the women are large and spacious and easy enough to slip right on out of. This gives us the clue that the Devil is actually a challenge for us–to examine what chains bind us, name them, and then free ourselves of them once and for all.

When it shows up in a reading, this card usually indicates that something is binding you right now. It is your job to figure out what that is and do something to free yourself. It may also indicate that an addiction you have had up to this point and believed you could handle on your own is getting the better of you. It is time to seek out help. In some cases, this card encourages you to never underestimate the person(s) who challenge you most. For others, this card is a clarion cry to rebel against an unjust system and often indicates a “return to nature” or a romanticization of all that is wild, free, and unfettered by man-made civilization.


Sacred Journal Prompt: Is there a Devil in your life right now? Who or what is your own personal adversary? What are the chains that are binding you and how might you go about setting yourself free?

Build an Altar: Depending on what the Devil card says to you, you can create an altar that is meant for banishing work.  Put items on the altar that you wish to be free of–overloaded credit cards, cigarettes, liquor, that abusive friendship–and then take practical steps to let them go. Place this altar in the West and work at it as the sun sets in the sky.

Honor the Wild: If the Devil is not posing as an adversary to you right now then perhaps he is reminding you of what is wild, free, and unfettered. What in your own life is wild? Does something need to be unchained a bit more? Take a walk in the woods and consider these questions.


Optimize your Omens

Faerie Godmother by Brian Froud

I wrote in Christmas 2012 about paying attention to the 12 days after Christmas–also known as Omen Days–but this is a quick reminder to do it! This is a wonderful and fun practice to participate in that leads to an increased awareness you can bring with your throughout the new year!

The Omen Days are an ancient practice around the ecclesiastical celebration of Epiphany. They were popularly known as the 12 days of Christmas and during each day one was encouraged to pay special attention to signs and omens around them in the belief that what they perceived would be a good indicator for their next year.

Begin the process on December 26th which corresponds to January 2014, continue through January 6th which corresponds to December 2014. You can do this in as spontaneous or deliberate manner as you like. Last year I simply paid close attention to what was happening around me and kept a log. But you could also pull a tarot or oracle card or work with another divination device of your choosing to get a more streamlined message. Keeping some sort of written record is obviously useful because you may not remember what your omen for January 6th was by the time you hit December 2014.

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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Venus in Retrograde


So…today/tomorrow lovely Venus, the planet ruling love, romance, sex, and relationships of all kinds is going to start her retrograde. Quick reminder: retrograde is when a planet appears to be going backwards in their elliptical orbit. The most famous retrogrades are the three periods of Mercury in retrograde that we experience every year; a Venusian retrograde is a different animal all together.

Typically this is a time when deep romantic relationships are either made or broken–if there has been a someone in your life that you have been ambiguous about (or they you) then expect some rapid clarity and decisive action with respect to that situation over the next month. Often old lovers and exes may also show up…especially if there is unfinished business to deal with. Of course, all partnerships you have and deep emotional ties are fair game for review and re-assessment, two activities that are present in a retrograde no matter which planet is reversing their celestial tracks.

From a ritual perspective this can be a beautiful time to work on reconciliation work that is favored to succeed, have deep talks with your object of affection, and made final decisions about whether you should stay or go in your current partnership. Because of the decisive element in this retrograde it can work well for break up work too. For married couples and those in deeply committed relationships, use this time to consider what is working and what might be improved in the coming year…and above all make time to be together in all ways that feel pleasurable and luscious. Honey jars are a perfect way to celebrate a Venusian Retrograde but if an ex shows up where they are not wanted, don’t forget about protecting yourself from the ugh vibes!

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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Encounters with AIRR: Chad ‘Balthazar’ Barber

Balthazar as he is known in the magical community is another fantastic member of AIRR that I am delighted to introduce the Milagro Roots community to.  While Balthazar and I do not know each other personally that well, I have heard nothing but glowing recommendations about him from clients, personally approve of his dapper style and professional bearing, and can attest from the conversations I have had with him a sharp, thoughtful, intellect that is no doubt a boon to those he serves. It is with great delight that I introduce him to you all!

In his own words:

To those who ask what it is that I do for a living, I like to say that I am a professional folk-magician and medium. I was born and raised in South Africa but I now live in Amsterdam (Netherlands); a city with a long and remarkable occult history. In addition to working as a professional folk-magician, I serve my local community free of charge as a medium at popular public spiritist services. While my style of working is firmly rooted in African American conjure, it has undeniably been influenced by Caribbean, European, and South African folk magical traditions. I am a baptized catholic in addition to being a Kardecian spiritualist (Kardec was a catholic), which is why you will also find me working with saints, communicating with the dead, and using holy water and scripture to change conditions. Some of my specialties include: love and reconciliation work; uncrossing and block-busting; ancestral work and money conjure. I am also an avid blogger and writer and have contributed to prestigious publications such as At the Crossroads published by Scarlet Imprint, as well as the Conjure Codex published by Hadean Press.

Find Chad on the World Wide Web:

His AIRR page
His Website 
His Blog


What is your philosophy on magic and root work?

I found that the real art of magic is not simply creating a change – that’s the ‘easy’ part. It’s doing magic that sticks. In aid of this, I have distilled my personal approach down to a few aphorisms that seem to hold true for my own practice, and help create results that stick.

1) Successful magic is 99% divination and 1% conjuration.
2) Treat both the cause AND the symptom of the problem.
3) Combine your spell with practical work on yourself.
4) Go to church.

(If some of these points sound a little cryptic, I unpack each point in this blog post.) But what it all gets at is that a holistic strategy – one that focusses on multiple aspects of a client’s process – seems to bring the most satisfying, and lasting, result.

What are your favorite types of cases and why?

My favorite type of case is where a client comes for, say, a love spell but they see a whole lot of extra additional benefits come out of our work together; including (but not limited to) personal growth and spiritual development. This seems to be a wonderful side-effect of a holistic approach, especially when the client is open-minded and receptive. Another great thing about this is that these clients soon enough start feeling like family because we are working so closely together.

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

I would offer the old English proverb: “softly, softly catchee monkey.” Don’t panic; don’t get hasty; and don’t try and force things. Patience always gains the day.

Luck ,
Chad ‘Balthazar’ Barber

Member of AIRR: Independant Association of Readers and Rootworkers

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