Spinning Gold Caretaker Carousel with Jen Rue

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles,

It is time to go for a ride with the next luminous Spinning Gold Caretaker, Jen Rue of Rue and Hyssop!

Jen is a magical woman who crafts glorious herbal goodies and brings her infectious joy, spirit of wonder, and good cheer to everything that she does. She isn’t afraid to get real, rowdy, and her relationship with our plant friends and allies is one of the deepest and most sincere I have ever come across. Spinning Gold is blessed to have her as part of our course caretaker community! And now, let us hear what Jen has to say about all things faerie…

1. What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale from childhood? Why?

As a child I liked any tale where animals talked and interacted with humans. I was so sure that animals wanted to talk to me, and that I was merely moments away, at all times, from being spoken to by a cat, dog, bird, or any beast I stumbled across.  I rather liked the tale of the frog prince. I wasn’t really looking for a prince of my own as a child, but I was smitten with the idea that I could form a friend out of a frog with a simple kiss. Though I caught my share of tadpoles and small frogs, I can’t recall ever kissing one – I think the old wive’s tale that kissing frogs would result in warts, is what thwarted my curiosity in that area.

2. What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale these days? Why?

This winter I spent an inordinate amount of time at the river that runs along the edge of my town, talking with the swans that overwinter here, and in the evenings I would linger over some of the many variations of the Swan Maiden tales. I am bewitched by the idea that I could put on a robe of swan feathers and take flight as a remarkable white bird. I am still not finished with swans, I think.

3. What is it to live an enchanted life?

Life is is not an easy adventure. It can be terribly painful, and there is such loss. It can disappoint, and it can be unkind. But it is astonishingly beautiful too. It is truly breathtaking. It offers so much joy if we will just get out of our own way and look and listen and taste and touch, and take time to really experience what we are living. I had a difficult winter this year. But even in my bleakest moments, I was absolutely fascinated that I could feel such pain. I was enraptured by an experience that could offer such staggering feeling. Living an enchanted life means finding enchantment in everything – even the not so nice things. I see magic everywhere. In dandelion seeds, in the storms that roll in over the hills, in making my nieces laugh, and in my own tears. To me, it’s all this amazing life. It’s all magic.

4. How do you spin gold?

I was fortunate to grow up around people who, though they didn’t understand my imagination and sight and strangenesses, encouraged me to seek wonder. Wonder in nature, in stories, in play, and in everday activities like gardening, baking or housework (though it took me a long time to find the wonder in cleaning the bathroom). Today, I find that I blend some kind of enchantment into every part of my life. I toss herbal blends on my floors and sweep them up. I create room sprays that infuse my space with scent and energy. I mow sigils and runes into my lawn before cutting it. I sing charms over the mixing bowl when I’m baking. My gardens get offerings and prayers and sweet whispered words of encouragement. I used to draw sigils on my nieces when I hugged them, before they left for school, to help them through their day. I don’t know that a day goes by that I don’t find or weave some sort of magic. It’s become the best habit I have. I’m always spinning…

Ready to add you story to the mix? Join us for Spinning Gold – registration closes on August 18th.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Spinning Gold Caretaker Carousel with Sara Magnuson

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles,

As many of you know registration for Spinning Gold is open through August 18th. In celebration of the very successful first year of the course I want to introduce you to some of the people who helped make it happen. They are the Spinning Gold caretakers and they assist me in holding the space for our beautiful Spinning Gold community. We asked each of our Caretakers four questions and now we get to share their fantastic responses. Best part? You can play too – I would love to hear YOUR answers to one or all of the questions below!

We begin with the lovely Sara Magnuson. Sara is a student, friend, and colleague; someone I have been honored to know for years. She is co-owner of Candlesmoke Chapel and creator of the fantastic Animalia program – if you want to know about how the natural world and especially our fellow creatures speak to your spiritual practices and path then Sara is THE person to talk to!

 

1.) What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale from childhood? Why?

Kartusch by Stephen Cosgrove (part of the Serendipity Series for children) Why? Because I love reptiles and furry creatures! Kartusch is a blind snake that helps woodland creatures, known as the Furry-Eyefulls, learn the value of stillness. As a child, I identified with the frantic nature of the Furry-Eyefulls and my love of reptiles allowed me to hear Kartusch’s wisdom.

 

2.) What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale these days? Why?

Most recently I’ve been obsessed with comic book/superhero stories, specifically Green Arrow! I see comics as modern folk/fairy tales because they have such a depth of imagery, emotion, and wisdom. Green Arrow is my favorite because he doesn’t actually have “superpowers,” but rather is a skilled archer, fighter, and technician. Like Batman and his utility belt or Iron Man and his suit, he is a “regular man” who has worked diligently to master specific crafts and skills. Comic book characters also have their faults and are not depicted as perfect people by any means. They struggle constantly with their desire to fight for justice and the consequences of their actions.

 

3.) What is it to live an enchanted life?

Perspective. What I feel makes my life enchanted is not living in a bubble; remembering that we’re all looking at the world through our own eyes and we’re all trying to find our way. The most enchanting thing in the world to me is how we’re all connected – people, plants, animals, rocks, wind, water, lightning, everything!

 

4.) How do you spin gold?

The gold I spin takes many forms! I’m a maker, a writer, a teacher, a sacred artist. Ultimately, spinning these threads together, I am of service. Creating a sacred tool that just happens to be exactly what someone needs right now; finding out my written words changed someone’s perspective; hearing the tone in a student’s voice when our work together has opened a long-lost place in their heart – this is what pure gold looks like.

What is your favorite question? How would you answer?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Best Fairy Tale Resources

Divination and Dreams

D

ear Miracles: It is no secret that I love fairy tales and folk stories. I grew up on a steady diet of magical tales and mythic art, and my love affair with fairy tales has only grown deeper and more comprehensive over time.

Why do I love fairy tales? I love them because they take on the biggest questions and the most difficult conflicts in simple and accessible language. I love them because they are portable – you can take them with you anywhere! – and you can tell them and re-tell them again and again. And I love fairy tales because they reveal worlds that are just as real and vibrant as our own.

Myth and fairy tales give shape to the magic that is all around us, not only in the rocks and wind, in streams and trees, but also in the places we would least expect to find it: in urban landscapes, in the broken and forgotten and hectic places. When my students ask me what book I would recommend getting a deeper understanding of this or that aspect of the sacred arts, nine times out of ten I refer them to a fairy tale or piece of mythic art, and so teaching through fairy tales has become a mainstay of my work.

Given all of that, there are many resources out there for people who would like to learn more about the stories they grew up with and perhaps in the process learn new stories too!

Websites and Blogs

Terri Windling ~ one of my favorite sites and blogs period, Terri Windling is a writer, artist, and book editor. Her blog Myth and Moor is frequently updated and features gorgeous art and wonderful articles dealing with a wide variety of mythic art topics. She is also just a really lovely person!

Midori Snyder ~ another daily go-to for me, Midori Snyder’s blog In the Labyrinth features great book reviews, mythic art, and tales of her own creative work. Midori’s writing is so beautiful, I always learn something new when I visit her online home, and like Terri, she is just a delight!

Endicott Studio ~ featuring the Journal of Mythic Arts. While no longer active, the JoMA site hosts hundreds of great articles of fairytales, myth, and folklore, penned by some of the best authors and artists working in the fields today.

Sur La Lune ~ An online compendium of fairytales from around the world, cross-referenced and featuring art from many of the stories. Invaluable resource

The Interstitial Arts Foundation ~ they are dedicated to featuring and serving artists without borders, what we call in the tradition of the sacred arts working in the liminal.

These are but a smattering of the sites out there with fabulous information, most of them have links to other sites, which I encourage you to explore for yourself.

Books ~ there are hundreds of fabulous collections of fairy tales and books written about fairy tales and folklore too, but for the beginner, here are a few of my favorites.

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition translated by Jack Zipes

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm All-New Third EditionTranslated by Jack Zipes

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales edited by Maria Tartar

American Indian Myths and Legends edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz

African Folktales edited by Roger Abrahams

Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Beauty – a retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

Briar Rose – Jane Yolen

The Wood Wife – by Terri Windling

The Innamorati – by Midori Snyder

Coyote Speaks – by Ari Berk and Carolyn Dunn

Faeries – by Brian Froud and Alan Lee

Good Faeries/Bad Faeries – by Brian Froud

Brian Froud’s World of Faerie – by Brian Froud

And no list would be complete without a mention of Baba Studio’s Fairy Tale Tarot (out of stock, but beautiful nonetheless).

There is also Goblinfruit, an online poetry ‘zine that is simply breathtaking.

And finally, two magazine recommendations for you: Faerie Magazine and Fairy Tale Review

What are your favorite fairy tale resources?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Many Branches–Going Bright with Candlesmoke Chapel

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles,

I’m so delighted to introduce you all to two more of my favorite Sacred Artists. Joseph and Sara Magnuson are friends, colleagues, and collaborators who make beautiful and truly magical spiritual products. From sublime ritual oils to sweet sugar jars and of course their stellar candle services — these two run one of the most authentic spiritual supply businesses I have come across in years!

In their own words: 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.

Find them on the World Wide Web:

www.candlesmokechapel.com
www.etsy.com/shop/candlesmoke

1.) Candlesmoke Chapel fills many different roles, but one of the things that you two do beautifully is creating 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 help 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 seem 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 bottle 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 are 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 the 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 different 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, but 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.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.