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Fairies in various human-like and animal-like forms feast in a forest together

Ancestor Feasts in an Interfaith Family

New Moon nights are ancestor nights for me. This tradition is primarily based on the Grimms’ folktale “The Moon,” in which four travelers purchase the moon from a distant kingdom and bring it back to light their own, only to ultimately take a quarter with each of them to their graves. This causes the moon…
Cover of the novel River Magic by M.A. Phillips

River Magic: Interview with Author and Druid M.A. Phillips

Folklore, mythology, and even contemporary fiction have a way of showing us ourselves — our beliefs, our hopes, our fears, our values — in ways that no other medium can. In stories that feature spirits, we engage in conversations about how we relate and respond to the world and the many beings that surround us.…
Ancestors and spirits of the dead return to the graveyard as a rooster calls at dawn. This is a painting by Arthur Rackham.

Bad Ancestors: Folklore, Ritual, and Responsibility

Ancestors. It’s a powerful word, but a difficult one for so many people, especially in these times when it is nearly impossible to avoid looking critically at the people who have made us. We see their flaws, their pain, the pain they caused others. Many of us turn away from them: through casual disinterest in…

Review: Paganism for Beginners by Althaea Sebastiani

Paganism for Beginners celebrates the diversity of pagan belief and experience, and encourages the reader to seek out their own truths and personal paths.
fools

The Witch, the Seer, the Fool

Every now and then, I go on a hunt for knowledge about a certain Someone: a name, an icon, a place, ancient practices and worshipers. In the past, I’ve always ended up where I began: uncertain. I feel deliberately called to these hunts, spurred by a mysterious yearning that wells up in me. In my…

On the Twelfth Night: the Coming of the Christmas Witch

The last night of the Yuletide is approaching, although when exactly it is depends on whom you ask. For much of Europe, it’s the Eve of Epiphany, January 5th. On this night, Perchta descends from the Alps to visit homes in Bavaria and Austria. In Italy, the Christmas Witch called La Befana leaves gifts for…

Halloween Night

It’s Halloween, and I’ve been doing all sorts of Halloween things today in preparation for tonight. We’re expecting a big storm, which is thrilling but puts a damper on trick-or-treating. But I’ve got other plans — movies, treats, and games for the kids; divination for the grown ups; purification and warding for the house. I’ve…
Brown leaves on the the ground

All Hallowed: A Contemplation for the Darkening Time

Our dead are in the soil, in the water. Their voices are in the wind. Hear them howling against the window, voices thin as cobwebs, dry leaves? Let them in, warm them, bring them comfort. Their bodies, laid into the earth or burned in the funeral fire, have broken down like the leaves crunching beneath…

Amid the Storms Before Walpurgisnacht: A Benediction

The rumble of Thunder is the beating wings of a golden eagle; lightning is his radiating shriek. He storms through the sky, frightening away the spirits of cold and want and disease that cling stubbornly with frozen fingers, washing the land to make way for the witches of the valleys and mountains. Five nights from…

Becoming Animal: Tutelary Animal Spirits

Shortly after we bought our first house seven years ago, I stepped outside into the backyard. The light was bright gold; the air was crisp but not cold. When I turned around toward the house, I saw that slugs had crawled across the screens of the back porch in the night, leaving behind their delicate,…