Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Relaxing before the New Year

Good Morning,
I freshened up the blog layout and design today... It seemed like it was time. I think I am on holiday overload from doing X-mas arrangements since October at work.

The Shabby Cottage theme appeals to me on many levels. I suppose it's because it looks fresh and new. I have blogged about a Witch's Cottage before, and I will confess that the relaxed style of shabby chic decorating and a cottage/ antique look just makes me smile. It always has- hence my book Cottage Witchery.

There is something so right about making your home into an enchanting sanctuary. No matter where you live- or what your budget. You just need creativity and a touch of magick. This book will show you how to do that and so much more. Oh, and yes, the book is available on Kindle.

I also updated the lunar information for 2012 for my "Full Moon Magick" online class. So that updated class has its lunar info all ready to go for 2012. Also if you order any of my online classes before February 2nd, I will include a free Imbolc Spell. This Moon Magick mini-class is a very affordable little online course.

The Full Moon Magick class fee is only $22.00 dollars. You can check out all of my budget- savvy online classes and sign up for one on my website www.ellendugan.com
Just click on the Online Classes tab at the top of the page. The payment is made through Paypal. Which is simple, and secure.

This is the time of year when we want to snuggle up at home by the fire with some hot chocolate, and unwind from the holiday craziness and just be cozy. So indulge yourself. Enjoy the lull before the next round of parties and celebrations and think of all of the enchanting possibilities waiting for you in the coming new year.

Blessed be, Ellen

Monday, December 19, 2011

This Witch Can Cook!

Well, the holidays are upon us and the winter solstice is only a few days away... I actually had the day off yesterday and I spent it in the kitchen baking up a storm.  I broke out the cute apron I bought at BBCMS in Birmingham this fall when I was there doing an author event for Practical Protection Magick. The apron is black and orange with lace and silly ball fringe. Embroidered on it is two crossed brooms, a witch hat and the phrase, "This Witch Can Cook!" 

That bib apron is so 1950's retro and silly that it appeals to my sense of humor. I think it's the ball fringe around the bottom that got me... how can you not smile at that?

First on my baking list was cranberry orange bread and banana nut bread. I bake these in mini tins and give them as gifts to my family every year. Its an inexpensive way to give a thoughtful gift, and my relatives look forward to my baking gift boxes every year.
Also, I think that there is something so festive about cranberry orange bread. And as the orange is aligned to the Sun I always feel it is appropriate at this time of year. There is nothing like adding a little fresh orange zest and some cranberries to your basic quick bread batter.
Banana nut bread I just have a thing for... ever since I stayed at a B&B in Salem Massachusetts several years ago. The Salem Inn used to serve it for breakfast with fresh fruit. I just experimented at home with a basic recipe and doctored it up until I had one my whole family liked.

There is one cookie I typically make only at Yuletide- Jam thumbprint cookies. I tried this recipe for the first time because well, I am a Barefoot Contessa fan. I saw these on her cooking show and thought... That looks good. This year I made them with both apricot and blackberry jam. I think they look like little suns, don't you?
For the recipe follow this link to the Food network website. www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/jam-thumbprint-cookies-recipe/index.html
I will warn you now... these are some dangerous cookies! Besides the fact that they have almost a pound of butter in them- they are some of the tastiest shortbread cookies I have ever baked.  So I make them, enjoy one while they are warm, and freeze them immediately so I don't end up eating them all before the holidays. These cookies have become a family favorite.

I did not get around to wrapping my presents yesterday, as I spent hours in the kitchen instead. I'm going to work on that chore this morning. In the peace and quiet with NO football on the television. I like football and enjoyed watching the Patriots smack down the Broncos yesterday... But sheesh. It's the football on all damn day- that really gets to me.

I don't have to go in to work until this afternoon today, so my master plan for the morning includes brewing up some tea, cranking up my iPod and hitting the "Yule" playlist and wrapping gifts listening to my favorite holiday tunes.
Enjoy your week and the coming holidays everyone!
Blessed be, Ellen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tis the Season! Or The Designer of Witchery

Good Morning,
With the full moon on Saturday and Yule just around the corner my coven is coming to my house to celebrate the Esbat and Yule this weekend. So, The Hubs and I have been working on our holiday decor and it's now all finished just in time for this weekend's kickoff to the holiday gatherings with the coven.

Here is something simple anyone can do in their home. I took two matted and framed Briar, Yule Greeting cards, hung them on the wall, and then added those peel and stick wall embellishments.
We have a couple of new things we are trying this year for our indoor decor- like the new mantle and some fun LED lighted branches... And folks always seem surprised at our lavish decorations for the winter solstice... There is a reason folks accuse me of being a cross between Samantha Stevens and Martha Stewart.

Kyle's Cardinals Baseball tree-2011
First off I am a floral designer- so any excuse to "design" and I'm off and running... I have a glue-gun don't make me use it!  When friends and relatives ask for my help with their own holiday decor- I am always tickled to dive in.
Which is why my adult children's friends are blown away by their apartments and their own trees at the holidays. I did put together a Cardinal baseball tree for my son Kyle. As promised here is a picture of his tree in his apartment. We even found little ornaments that look like old fashioned lights that have the Cardinals logo on them. The "Tree skirt" is the Rally Towel that Kyle got when he and his brother went to the final playoff game that sent the Cards to the World series this year...

Meanwhile back at the Garden Witch's house... the mantle in our living room got a makeover this year. I wanted gold and glitz and something more Pagan themed and the Hubs wanted pine cones and natural. Then I found a fabulous garland with long needle pine, acorns and gold dusted pine cones and sparkly oak leaves... Sort of an Oak King theme! And best of all it was 60 percent off! So I added another plain garland to it to beef it up, wrapped in some lights, and ta-da! new mantle for the holidays.

The Yule tree in the living room is all decked out with its red glittery bow and big sun for the tree topper.. Here is a shot of the living room at my house all done up for Yuletide. We use a slim-line tree in our living room- it saves space stays far enough away from the wood stove and we can still load it up with ornaments.
Ellen's living room at Yuletide
The fall kitchen curtains are down and my regular curtains are back in place- So, here are a few pictures of our kitchen... and yes- if there is a shelf- I decorate it.
The big kitchen window's garland (To the right) is all red ornaments and lights and a few gold and red bows.
The little shelf (just below) is full of my more witchy theme holiday tins and collectibles and silk holly, ivy and poinsettias. 
At the current time there are five decorated trees in my house. The large one in the living room, the 4 foot table top in the family room, the 3 foot at the end of the hall and a tiny one in the guest room and a celestial mini tree in the master bedroom. Here is the little celestial tree.
Ellen's mini Celestial tree

'Tis the season! Go forth and decorate! Add something enchanting to your home for the Yuletide season and enjoy yourself. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and that they gave you some ideas to add to the Yuletide decorations at your own abode.
Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snarky or Scrooge?

Well, the tree is up and trimmed out for the winter solstice, the mantle is decorated and to complete our day of Yuletide festivities- last night the Hubs and I went to a local University's production of A Christmas Carol. 

Oh my, perhaps I am more of a purist than I thought...  I should have known when I thumbed through the Playbill and saw the directors note that listed they had "adapted and changed" the play... that it would be different. It was very different. And for a bunch of reasons... it kind of ticked me off.

Yeah, yeah community theater... and the children cast in any roles seemed to be pretty good, so were the actors playing Bob and his family. But there was some badly over acted parts... and I kept wishing for the amazing Patrick Stewart as Scrooge in the made for television version of A Christmas Carol... and damn but I missed him terribly.

Ghost of Christmas Past and Patrick Stewart as Scrooge
In the, er.... interesting version we saw last night. The Ghost of Christmas Past kept aging... weird. She started as a little girl, then a woman, then finally an old Crone who was loudly gasping for breath... Then she dramatically wheezed and died on the stage...  Thud and she was dead.
Okay, that was different.

But hang on a second- It's supposed to be the Ghost of Christmas Present that ages... and I almost lost it when the Ghost of Christmas Present came out and was a woman with a Jamaican accent.

To be fair she was a lovely black woman in a red cape and a bonnet and she was a fair actor... but the audience as one went, "Huh?". And I just could not wrap my mind around the deviation from the original story. That, and I LOVE the traditional Holly King/Ghost of Christmas Present... I was so disappointed not to see him.

And maybe I'm turning into a purist when it comes to plays and a classic like A Christmas Carol. So did we enjoy the play? Kind of. Was it fun to go out and do something to get in the spirit of the Holidays? Absolutely.

I have nothing but respect for the actors and the crew of the production... however I think that that grad student/director should not have messed with the classics. They are called the classics for a reason you know.

At least it gave us plenty to chuckle about on the way home. "Ay mon." Said the Jamaican Ghost of Christmas Present.... Oh I really don't think so.

Maybe I'm being too snarky... or maybe I'm just a Scrooge when it comes to directors messing with the classics.
Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Decking the Halls...

You know for the past several years I had not worked outside the home. This fall I picked up a job as a floral designer for a local Craft store and well... now its floral design all the time. And Gods help me I am seriously thinking about overhauling my Yuletide decorations.

We hung up the outdoor lights on Friday night. Yeah, yeah, working on Black Friday was not enough insanity for me... I talked the Hubs into hanging up the icicle lights on the outside of the house. He swore that he had plugged them in before we hung them up and tested them and wouldn't you know it? We no sooner got them all in place. Flipped the switch and ta-da! one of our strands of lights was halfway blown out. 

Back up on the ladder he went. Much grumbling and swearing commenced and finally I offered to take him to dinner and we could go to the store and grab another box of lights. So being fashionable, glam, and sophisticated folks- we went to Taco Bell.

After dinner, we went back into the store where I worked. (Wanted my employee discount.) Took a lot of "What... you didn't get enough today?" comments from my co-workers and we picked up a new box of icicle lights and some garland for the front porch post. Home again, plugged in the new strand of lights, did some adjustments and now the lights are up on the house!

The lit and decorated garland in the kitchen went up on Thanksgiving day... and at the moment I am eyeballing my living room mantle decor. It is usually some of my Santas and simple stems of greenery. But I have been seriously considering doing an elaborately lit garland with flowers and lots of ornaments... in a red and gold Solstice theme.

And probably my insanity for floral design and decorating should be treated.
Maybe Martha Stewart or David Tutera has a program.

For years I have been collecting sun, moon and star ornaments. I have dozens of golden suns that go on our tree every year. For a while the Yule tree was gold and blue. Now it's gold, red, soft green and white. I am not looking to change the tree, but the mantle... well all bets are off this year.

To make matters worse, my son Kyle showed up at my work yesterday and announced he'd really like me to put together a small white and red tree for his apartment. (As in St. Louis Cardinal Baseball theme.) You know World series Champs and all that...
Ah, a challenge! And how well he knows me. I'm already hatching ideas.
About a year ago, he moved into a spacious 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment with his older brother... and it never occurred to me that all of my oldest sons decorations are his, and not theirs.

Sure when they moved in and I took one look at their mantle and promised to put something together for their fireplace for the holidays. I decorated that mantle as a holiday housewarming gift. Its a very manly outdoor winter looking. It is rustic twiggy/pine cone/ evergreen and it goes with their hunting and fishing theme tree.

So I imagine today Kyle and I will get that red and white mini-tree started. I'm thinking white tree/ red lights with white cords, cardinal birds and white and frosted red glass ornaments... and you see? It is a sickness.
Stop me before I stop myself... LOL!

While we are out there shopping and looking for items for his tree, I will also be on the lookout for something celestial or magickal that will inspire my own mantle redo this holiday season. I'll keep you posted and let you know what I find.

Ah yes, I am spending my day off doing more floral design... it is nice to let this other side of my creative self out to play.
Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Yuletide...

Good Morning!
I imagine it's probably becuase I have been cranking out holiday floral arrangements for weeks at work... and of course listening to Holiday music, that I just changed the blog over to a vintage Yuletide theme. But if I may, "It's beginning to look a lot like Yuletide, Everywhere I go..."

Yup, tis the season. And I don't want to hear anybody whine, bitch or complain that the Pagan elements of the Winter Solstice holiday are lost.. No they are not! They are everywhere! Blissfully getting the last laugh on the unsuspecting decorator who wants to add something, "old fashioned to their holiday decor."

Seriously you just have to stop moping and look. Holly, ivy and mistletoe anyone? Boughs of pine and variegated white and green holly, sparkling lights, and those decorated pine trees- that were banned from most churches up until the 1950's because they were considered to be ... wait for it... too Pagan!

First off there is the Holly King/ Santa Claus or Father X-mas- call him whatever you want... Have you ever taken a really hard look at old Victorian holiday cards? Those are some pretty Pagan-friendly Santas. Like this fellow on the left. Crown of holly and a Yule log. Hello, Holly King. Check out what folks are calling a "Woodland Santa" these days. Looks like a cross between Odin and Santa to me, all rustic and dressed in fur and carrying a tiny pine tree...

Oh, and guess what my fellow Witches and Pagans? We are not the only ones wondering where to find a little something meaningful for our holiday homes. I spent the past week taking a fiendish delight in cranking out blue and white and silver table top arrangements. Why? because a little girl and her brothers walked up to me at the floral counter and asked why the store did not have any Hanukkah crafts or decorations.

Out of the mouths of babes... There is another winter celebration/festival in December this year too. And I was so busy adding ivy, mistletoe and fairies and Pagan looking woodsy Santas to my designs, that I sort of missed the forest for the trees.

I promised the kids I would start making some blue, white and silver arrangements. So I cranked out a bunch of arrangements in the past few days. Now the next time those kids and their mother's come in they will have plenty to choose from. Happy festival of light.

The darkest days of the year are upon us now... the leaves are all falling and frost and snow are on their way. But the light will return and the sun will be reborn. The symbols and signs of our winter solstice celebration are everywhere in nature. Sometimes you have to look again, and remember.
Blessed be, Ellen

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking a page out of one of my own books!

It has been a while since I posted any new blogs. Samhain came and went and my part time job became a full time job about 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  Then I got cut at work, I got stitched back up and kept working but it did slow me down. The stitches came out yesterday and my thumb is healing nicely.

Lately, I have been looking around for a class to take this winter so I can keep working on loosing more weight and toning up and I may have found one. I'll go tonight and check it out. I have been invited to sit in on a class and see what I think.

In the past I have done boot camps, a couple different belly dance classes... this time I thought I'd try something new and a little- okay a LOT- outside of my comfort zone.

The reason for this possible new class is two-fold. One, my friend and fellow author Jeanne Adams recommended it...
And the second, is that I am damn sick and tired of being grabbed and or pounced on when I am in public.

Recently I was physically accosted after a public event by a "fan" and this person would not let go. They were too busy telling me loudly what they thought of me. Because and I quote "Their high priestess told them to." While a crowd of onlookers gleefully watched- and did nothing.
I had a choice of yanking away and having them toss red wine all over me, or speaking to them quietly and calming them down. I chose the 2nd option. 

Sure, I could have made a scene and started shouting myself, but I chose to act like a lady. No point in giving them more attention- it was what they wanted. So I was classy, quiet, but firm and eventually I was able to remove myself from the situation. 

My husband, friends and I had gotten separated as we left the event- and by the time my husband figured out something was amiss, I was walking away from the person, and back towards him, rubbing my arm, and muttering under my breath about seriously hiring a freaking bodyguard.

Then just a few days ago while attending a class, as I went to leave, I got grabbed by the arm again.
I hate to admit it. I froze.
I could not believe this was happening again. Once again someone was up in my face and had their hands on me without my permission. This time they were not being spiteful but it was still too close and they did not let go.

I spoke to this individual as politely as possible- as I was once again surrounded by many people who were watching me interact with this "fan"... and who were all doing nothing. Just enjoying the show.

Eventually the person let go of my arm and I was able to walk quietly away. What the hell? Just because I am an author does not mean people should feel free to grab a hold of me, yank me by the arm, and tell me all of their problems.

So, I think it's time to take my own damn advice. A page out of one of my own books, if you will,  and do something a bit more pro-active.
I start tonight.
Blessed be, Ellen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Witchy Movies just for fun- not training films...

Samhain is just around the corner and in honor of that I thought I would chat about some of my favorite witchy movies. Now repeat after me, "These are NOT training films." But they are a lot of fun.

First my favorite Halloween movie of all time, Hocus Pocus. There is nothing about this movie that is politically correct but it is hysterically funny...and it is a good time.
Mary, Winnie & Sarah, "Hocus Pocus"
You gotta love Bette singing "I put a spell on you". And of course, "Amok! Amok, amok, amok amok..."
Grandma Aggie and Marnie, "Halloweentown"

My next favorite is Halloweentown 1 and 2. Disney first aired these on television several years ago... I bet they would be shocked to discover how many real Witches treasure them.
When Grandma Aggie tells Marnie, "Magick is really very simple. All you have to do is to want something, and then let yourself have it!"
Love these little movies, and who doesn't cheer for a girl who feels different and then discovers she is a Witch after all?

The we have The Craft. Dark, and a bit over the top and boy it is a delicious movie, so long as you consider it a horror/comedy/witchy movie... then you're all good. I love this movie I even have the special edition DVD with deleted scenes- cause I'm a Witch-nerd.

Next we have everybody's favorite Practical Magic. Gorgeous scenery and sets, romantic and silly story, but of course we must remember that "There is a little Witch in all of us."
True the book it was based on is much darker, but the movie is a classic, especially at this time of the year.And don't we all long to have a kitchen and a greenhouse like on that movie set? I wrote a blog this winter about a witches cottage... and I used pictures from the set of this movie.

For something different there is a movie about male Witches as well. The Covenant. I enjoyed this movie and I thought it was clever how they twisted in the early American Salem Witch Trials... an interesting and modern take on a Witch movie. The special effects are impressive and the guys are not too hard on the eyes.

Finally a witchy movie that I adore because it is a Tim Burton film and because Witches are portrayed in a more natural light, is Sleepy Hollow.
 Katrina is a great character and we see her casting spells and working magick for healing and protection.
Of course you do have her wicked step-mother also being a darker practitioner... but the scenes with Ichabod's mother, a "child of nature", who was also a Witch are haunting, ethereal, and enchanting.

The sets are creepy and cool, the acting fantastic and the costumes are worth drooling over... Show me a Witch who hasn't seen that movie and thought, "Wow I want a silver velvet cape like Katrina's with red roses embroidered on it..."

I made a silver cape this year for a party, and to have as a ritual cloak. I think over the winter I'm going to add the roses...
Katrina's enchanting cape, from "Sleepy Hollow"
So go pick out your favorite Halloween/ Samhain theme DVD and enjoy it this week with some traditional hot cider and popcorn. We all need a little time to recharge before the various Witches' Balls, parties, Coven celebrations and of course Samhain/ Halloween day!
Blessed be, Ellen

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bewitched and Busy!

Back from the Greensong Grove Samhain festival in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was great. Sold all my books that I brought, some of my Garden Witch jewelry and a couple of Garden Witch Pentacles. Samhain is rushing closer and I am loving it! Even though things are crazy busy- they are also bewitching.

Today I’m gearing up for Samhain, and the Halloween parties and the St. Louis Witches Ball.
In fact I got up early so I could add a stick to my mask for the Witches Ball-(so I can hold it and not strap it on my face) and to work on book project number #14. Here is the mask before I add the stick and ribbons... My dress is short and purple this year for the Ball... I found this mask and it had no feathers and I loved it!

In the next few weeks I’ll upload pictures of all of our costumes from the parties and the Ball so you all can see them. The costumes for this weekend’s party was inspired by seeing the Addams Family Musical  a few weeks ago. That’s all I will say for now…..

Plans for our Gothic Party are coming along- in fact my husband did finish his toe-pincher coffin for our party. We will both be going as vampires for our own party. My three grown kids have come up with some pretty clever costume ideas as well this year. But you should have seen the ladies flinch when I was at the fabric store on Monday and they asked me what I was going to make with several yards of red crushed velvet. I said, deadpan. "I'm lining a toe pincher coffin that my husband made with this fabric." Their mouths all dropped open and they flinched in unison. I only smiled and resisted the urge to say "Mwha ha ha..."

Today is supposed to be my day off- however they need a few extra set of hands in the floral department at my new job so I volunteered to come in this afternoon. Right now we are cranking out winter holiday floral arrangements like crazy. And yeah, I come home covered in glitter every day.

In the meantime here are a few pictures of my home- decorated for Samhain. I hope that you are enjoying this most bewitching season of the year!
Part of the mantle display in the living room...
Here is the other side of the mantle....
The kitchen shelves- Yes, the kitchen shelf pretty much stays like this year round- except for the pumpkin...
Display at the end of our hallway- w/o flash I wanted it to look more enchanting!

So get busy and bewitched and decorate for Samhain and Halloween. I hope these photos will inspire you to add some witchery to your own home for the sabbat.
Blessed be! Ellen

Monday, September 26, 2011

Charmed, I'm sure!


Things have been crazy busy lately, which is why I have not posted any new blog entries for a while. Not only am I hip deep in several book projects I also went back to work as a floral designer. A job opportunity fell in my lap a few weeks ago- about 24 hours after I had worked a prosperity spell… and sometimes when the Goddess steps in and intervenes, you say “Thank you.” And dive into the opportunity.
I have not worked outside of the home for six years, and its been an adjustment. But the extra paycheck will really help us out. Writing, reasearch, editing and doing your own publicity, setting up author events and so forth is a full time job. Add 20-30 hours of working outside the home and things are going to be hectic until I get used to the new routine.

On top of that I started my own little Garden Witch Online-store on my website. We began with a series of online classes- and then this past summer we began selling our handmade Garden Witch Pentacles, and those have taken off. The pentacles are sold to individuals online through my website-- and now they are even sold in various witchy retail shops.  In Florida they are in the  “Practical Magick” store, in New Orleans at the “Witchy Living” store , and of course in Salem, Massachusetts you will find them at “Pyramid Books”.

Then one day, I got the idea to make witchy charm bracelets. I have a friend Joyce, and she designs jewelry for another author based on that author’s best-selling fictional books. One day we got to talking and the next thing you know we were both plotting out a few pieces of magickal jewelry based on my witchery books. And so a line of “Garden Witch Jewelry” was conjured up!
Wearing charms as jewelry is not a new fad… it is actually an ancient practice. The Egyptians wore various trinkets and charms for magickal use, as well as to connect them to their deities. So did the ancient Greeks and Romans. Medieval knights wore charms into battle for protection and even Queen Victoria wore a charm bracelet- and made this jewelry all the rage with the aristocracy, back in the day. In the 1950’s and 1960’s American teenagers collected charms and added them to bracelets to record special events in their lives. If you grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s it’s a good bet that your mother started you with a charm bracelet. Mine did. And I of course started one for my daughter as well.

Classically the term charm is defined as: something worn or carried on one’s person for its magickal effect. The word charm also means: 1.) To compel with a magickal force. 2.) The chanting of a magickal word or verse; incantation.
While a charm bracelet is defined as: the practice of wearing charms to ward off negativity and bad luck. An amulet.

With that in mind, my friend sent me photos of various magickal charms and I chose the ones I liked the best, and then I decided which charms would go where on each bracelet. It was important to me to have a pentagram on each bracelet and a representation of both the God and the Goddess. I also asked for green glass leaves for one bracelet and then the jewelry designer came up with Swarovski crystals to add sparkle to the second bracelet. So we designed these together! Here the two designs plus their descriptions just below.

Garden Witch “Charm” Bracelet

Garden Witch Charm Bracelet $30.99 plus shipping
Description: Gunmetal charm bracelet with lobster clasp and five pewter charms, the Goddess of Nature, a flower, a pentagram, the Tree of Life, and a Green man. Each charm is separated by a delicate green glass leaf. Standard 7 ½”  size.

Bracelet of Witchery

Bracelet of Witchery $30.99 plus shipping
Description: Gunmetal charm bracelet with lobster clasp and five pewter charms, a cat, the Moon Goddess, a pentagram, a Green man, and a crescent moon/ star. Each charm is separated by a either a single pewter star  or Swarovski crystal star. Standard 7 ½”  size.

You can order the bracelets on my website at www.ellendugan.com Please note that shipping for the jewelry is available only in the United States.
While you are there, please check out the six different and affordable online classes that I offer, as well as the very popular  Garden Witch Pentacles that my husband and I make together. Here they are pictured just to the left. There are four designs of Pentacles. The Five Elements, Autumn Leaves, The Red Rose and Morning Glories.
Garden Witch Pentacles
Also Joyce, at The Cotton Thistle, is hard at work designing up coordinating pentacle neckalces for us as well. The new necklaces should be available within the next few weeks.

If you like, you may work the jewelry charm from my book “Book of Witchery” and enchant your new charm bracelet. The specific spell is found on page 135. 

So, go ahead and order a Garden Witch Pentacle or a new magickal “charm bracelet” of your very own, or as a gift for your friends. These would make lovely Samhain or Yule gifts, or even as a memento of an initiation, or on attaining a new degree within your coven.

You’ll be charmed with these witchy items, I’m sure!

Blessed be, Ellen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Autumn Equinox- The Season of the Witch Begins!

Hello, autumn is in the air here in the Mid-west. For the past several days we have had the a/c off and the windows open to let in the cooler air.  In the morning when I get up before sunrise to go jog or walk, I have been wearing workout pants, long sleeve shirts and hoodies. Oh, its so nice to get a break from the brutal summer temperatures we have had this year. Now, If we could just get some rain in my part of Missouri. Its been dry for far too long. However, I have been starting to notice that some trees are beginning to show a few leaves with some autumn color.

The butterflies are starting to migrate south and my chrysanthemums are setting buds and getting ready to bloom in the next few weeks. My tomato plants are making their last push for producing fruit, and my pumpkins… well no matter how much I have watered them I think the heat may have done them in. Right now nurseries are temptingly full of mums just starting to open… Oooh I want to plant some more mums in the gardens in a big way.

My favorite season is about to begin!  I adore the autumn. Spring runs a close second, but there is something about the autumn that I find to be especially enchanting. Way back in 2004 when Llewellyn approached me and asked me to write one of the Sabbat series books, I jumped at the chance. The funny thing was when my first book Garden Witchery first was contracted in 2002,  I had said to my husband, “Boy I wish I could have a crack at doing one of the Sabbat books. I would love to do the Autumn Equinox sabbat…” He smiled at me and told me that as a new writer, maybe I should slow down, and not get ahead of myself.

So I sighed, dreamed my writing dreams, and let it go. When I sent in a proposal for Cottage Witchery in 2004, to my surprise my editor at the time, Natalie, said to me, “We really liked the Cottage Witchery book, but I want to talk to you about something else…” That something else was a request to write a new version of the Autumn Sabbat book. So I was contracted for two books, on the same day.

I still think this book has the prettiest covers of all 12 of my books Well okay, I haven’t seen the cover for “Seasons of Witchery” yet… "Seasons of Witchery" comes out in May or June of 2012. But I stand by Autumn Equinox being my best cover. Last year I even found a seasonal flag for the fall that looks very, very similar to the cover art of my book. You betcha I snagged it!

Here is the official description of my book, Autumn Equinox: The Enchantment of Mabon: "Mabon, Feast of Avalon, Cornucopia, Harvest Home, Festival of the Vine . . . there are many names for this magickal holiday that celebrates the autumn equinox, the first day of fall. Ellen Dugan takes a fresh look at this "forgotten" Sabbat and demonstrates how to make the most of this enchanting season.
Featuring craft projects, recipes, enchantments, and valuable information on harvest deities, Autumn Equinox offers countless ways to bring fall magick into your life. Learn to create witchy wreaths, cook seasonal foods, put together a homemade centerpiece, make herbal soap, and practice spells and rituals using easy to find, natural supplies. This new addition to Llewellyn's Sabbats series also provides magickal correspondences on harvest deities, herbs, plants, and foods for those who want to create their own autumn spells and charms."
Oh and yes, this book IS available on Kindle! (Actually all of my titles are on Kindle!)

So while we all start to enjoy the fall season, the cooler weather and (hopefully) some autumn rain, check out my book, Autumn Equinox. This book is not just a one day book, as in, (Okay, I looked at in on the day of the sabbat- now I will put it back on my bookshelf until next year- kind of book.) There are ideas and plenty of fall-theme magick included to take you through the entire bewitching season, from September through November.

So enjoy those cooler temperatures, the longer nights, the blooming mums and the autumn decorations! Put up a scarecrow in your yard, start a leaf watch and pay attention to the signs of the autumn season as they emerge!

The season of the Witch is beginning!
Blessed be, Ellen

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Personal Goals, Magick and Anger

A few years ago I made a radical change in my life. I lost 60 pounds and kept them off for three years. I was so proud of myself and happy with my new style of healthier living. Then  something happened that threw my carefully laid plans and all my hard work for a loop. Menopause. I had been dealing with peri-menopause for the past couple of years and then the classic menopause symptoms began this year. Hot flashes, irregular cycles, then none at all, mood swings, fatigue, my hair texture changed, my complexion changed, and then the most dreaded of all menopause symptoms. (Cue scary music here.) Weight gain.

Well crap. Fifteen pounds back on my frame and it happened so damn fast that it freaked me out. Asked my doctor about it and she said, and I quote, “Welcome to menopause. You’re lucky it was only 15 pounds. Most women gain 25 to 30 pounds. Keep up with that working out and you won’t gain any more.” I left the office feeling deflated and for a few months I figured- Okay, this is just the way its going to be now. It was really depressing. And I admit it- I felt sorry for myself and wallowed in that for a good three months.

Then something wonderful happened. I got mad. Why should I just accept that “Oh this is the way I’m going to look now- because of menopause.” The pretty new clothes I worked so hard to get into are now tight and uncomfortable... But oh well, its just menopause. Wow, I’m so unhappy with all the dramas and delays with my current project. Oh well I’m just stressed out, bitchy, and off kilter because of menopause. It became my go-to excuse. And then something magickal happened...

I got angry. Wicked Witch, table for one please! So, I embraced my anger and really looked at all the BS in my life. Took myself to task for the way I was letting other people and their actions affect me. Yeah the hormonal changes weren't helping but damn it was I a Witch or not? And then I asked myself: Why was I letting the dreaded “M” word rule my life?

Everyday felt like a roller coaster and I decided to try and work with the ups and the downs instead of just white-knuckling it through the mood swings and the physical changes as I was taken along for the ride.

So during the month of August I started thinking about what I wanted to do about it all. It took me a couple of weeks and some dark chocolate- to work everything out in my head and I started the ghastly process of going back to a strict diet. I do know how… I did it three years ago, but by the Goddess you forget- or you block it out- just how much of a pain in the ass the first weeks on a portion controled- healthy diet are. You have to wrap your mind around food in a completely different way, and that takes time. But It's begun. Things can only get better from here.

I am a stereotypical Virgo- and I do best with a plan and a goal in mind. My goal is to loose 5 pounds in the next two months. So my pretty purple dress I bought for the Witches Ball will look even better on. It fits beautifully now, but 5 pounds lost would be great. I figure that’s a realistic goal as I have been warned that loosing weight now will be twice as hard than it was before, because of the hormonal changes… but damn it. I am going to give it my best shot.

Keeping my theme of "You can do this- you have done it before!" firmly in mind I pulled out my book, Book of Witchery and worked my own ritual for weight loss. The ritual is on pages 32-35 if you want to take a look at it. This was the ritual I had created for myself three years ago and it worked so well then that I included it in that book. Seemed to me it was time to remind myself to think and react like a Witch. In other words: “Do the work and back it up with Magick.”

I called one of my best Witch friends yesterday and he and I talked on the phone for about an hour. We traded war stories about writing, touring, and teaching. We laughed our asses off. He made some good suggestions for me to try on a magickal level as I work through “The Change” and  I am going to implement them.

We also talked about anger and how it can color your magick and sneak into your life, so I am working on that as well. I always tell my own students to be business like when casting spells and to not cast if you are experiencing wild swings of emotion, or anger. Well, maybe I should put a rider in there: “Unless you are going through menopause- then all bets are off.” Ha- ha. (Yes I am joking, please don’t shoot me an email reminding me about the rule of three and karma…)

So here we go, a Witch trying to loose weight and dealing with menopause. That’s enough to make most folks run for the hills in terror…

Wish me luck- I’ll keep you posted on how I do.

Blessed be, Ellen
PS. There is a smaller version "A Spell for Fitness and Health", in 7 Days of Magic. On page 22.
For the "Book of Witchery" I expanded the spell and turned it into a full out ritual.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Season of Morning Glories

There is something bewitching about the late summer when the mornings are cool and the air is heavy with dew and humidity. The garden is shifting from the floral explosion of summer to the quiet of autumn. The tall garden phlox is fading, the coneflowers are going to seed- much to the delight of the goldfinches, and the brown-eyed Susan’s are making bright yellow clumps in the perennial beds. The ornamental grasses are lush, and the mums and sedum are plumping up, and getting ready to bloom in a month or so. This morning as I prepared to head out for my 2 mile morning walk I cut through the side gardens to discover that my morning glories were blooming.
Morning Glory Pentacle and morning glories in Ellen's garden
I admit to having a thing for morning glories. Especially the older heirloom varieties like ‘Grandpa Otts’. That deep purple variety with its five markings on the blossoms just makes me smile. Morning glories are also the birth flower for those folks who are, like me, born in the month of September. My affection for these magickal flowers is the reason that one of the Garden Witch Pentacles I designed feature morning glories. Morning glories are protective as is the five-pointed upright star in the center of the pentacle. Combining these symbols together strengthens the power of the magickal tool.

In the language of flowers morning glories remind you to “greet the new day”. Which I think is pretty appropriate.  Magickally, morning glories are naturally enchanting. The flowers and foliage may be worked into any type of protective spell. The vines may be used for bindings and banishings. Instead of using ribbon or string to bind a representation, you wrap it up in morning glory vines. The morning glory has the astrological association of Saturn making it ideal for protection magick.
Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory

Today I ship out the first batch of the Garden Witch Pentacles that I began selling online last week. At the moment I am in talks with two stores for them to feature these pentacles in their shops. I never imagined I would have wholesale orders for these but hey, why not?

If you are interested in purchasing a hand made pentacle for your very own, hop over to my website www.ellendugan.com and click on the “Garden Witch Pentacle” tab at the top of the page. Choose your design and order away. There are four designs to choose from. The payment is made through Paypal. It is secure, quick and simple. Each of these are made of 1 inch thick solid pine. Pine itself is a wood associated with the earth element- as is this magickal tool. The pentacles are cut by hand, sanded, wood burnt, by my husband- and then I hand paint, stain, seal and sign each one. It's a team effort. Brie the calico cat oversees the painting of each pentacle. (My challenge is to keep her from dipping her paws in the water I use to clean out the paint brushes.) Here are the four designs just below.

Garden Witch Pentacles! 5 Elements, Autumn Leaves, Red Rose, Morning Glories
I hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer. Each night the sun sets a little earlier, and nature gets ready to put on her colorful finale for the season. Greet each new day with a little magick and enjoy the summer while it lasts!
Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust?

The phrase “perfect love and perfect trust”, is tossed around a lot in Witch circles. But What does this actually mean? In a ideal world it means that you work with a circle or group of fellow practitioners with affection, while possessing complete and utter confidence in them. That they will be honest, will have your back, that they have your best interests at heart, and that you will have no reason to fear any magick that may occur while in ritual together.

The words “perfect love and perfect trust” are also used as an answer. At an initiation ceremony. The seeker is blindfolded, and bound at the wrists and led into a ritual circle by their sponsor or mentor. The initiate is stopped at the threshold of the circle by the point of an athame, and challenged with  the following line, “It is better to rush upon this blade, than to enter the circle with fear in your heart. How do you enter?”  Classically the answer is, In perfect love and perfect trust.

Have you ever really stopped and thought about the phrase “perfect love and perfect trust”?  Because, there are times when you have to question and you should challenge authority, and not simply follow. Just because your High Priest/ess, friends, business colleague, boss, project leader, or local Witch community leader tells you to trust and to follow them blindly, does not mean you should start channeling your inner lemming. 

This goes for the mundane world as well as the Witch world. If all of your instincts are screaming that something is wrong at your job, and that things are not as they seem, and that someone else has hopes that you, or your project will fail. Or that it would benefit their own projects or job to stand by and watch you fail… Then you should listen to that inner voice, telling you that something is wrong.

If your stomach flips, or your gut tightens, while that inner voice is saying indignantly, “Hey, that is not right!” That is your survival instinct. Ignore that inner voice at your own peril. Bottom line? You should TRUST your own instincts and LOVE yourself enough to believe in your right to question authority, and/or to stand up for yourself.

Why should you gift someone with your trust if they have done absolutely nothing to earn it?  Why should you continue to trust an individual when they lie over and over again?  Why should you continue to believe in someone when you begin to see that this person has their own agenda? And who would be so foolish as to find themselves in that situation?

Well, we all would. We all hope for the best and wish that the people we work with in both magickal or mundane settings will be honorable, truthful and trustworthy.

Perfect Love is a fragile entity. It takes just the right environment to grow and to blossom and to thrive. With care and time- it does become strong. Perfect Trust is a hopeful thing, but it can be brutalized and or trampled on by other peoples egos, politics, agendas and jealousies.

Trust and love must be earned. It is never to be demanded. Trust is a gift and it takes time to unwrap it. Why would you give away your affection or your trust to another- just because someone else tells you that they are reputable, or a professional? Answer: You should not.

When it comes to Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, here is my advice: Love yourself enough to trust in your own decisions. Trust that the instincts you posses will help you to avoid, or to minimize problems both personally and professionally. And when in doubt, stop and consider the players, their agendas, and the overall situation, and then start asking questions. Don’t stop until you uncover the truth.

No one can demand that you “love” them or that you “trust” them without proving to you, by their actions, that they are worthy of that honor. Without love and trust there is no respect.

And perfect love, and perfect trust, has to be earned.

Respect yourself enough to ask questions and to stand up for yourself. You are worth it!

Blessed be, Ellen