Charms, Hexes, Weeknight Dinner Recipes, Glamoury and Unsolicited Opinions on Morals and Magic

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Deborah Castellano

Deborah Castellano

Deborah Castellano is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches&Pagans magazine.  She blogs regular at her blog, Charmed Finishing School. Deborah's book, The Arte of Glamour is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Her craft shop, La Sirene et Le Corbeau specializes in handspun yarn and other goodies.  Her Craft shop, The Glamoury Apothecary specializes in handcrafted items for your magical/occult practice.  Both can be found on Etsy.
Persephone Knew What She Wanted, Do You?

Lover, tell me if you can/ Who's gonna buy the wedding bands/ Times being what they are/ hard and getting harder all the time. . .

I. Christmas Prepping: Like Apocolypse Prep but Way Less Fun

Right before Christmas, I can never sleep.  It's like my body knows how close it is to the Solstice and wants to be awake for the return of the light.  I try to console myself -- with food, with intoxicants, with television.  My house was a mess, the boughs that I have in mason jars are dying and my house is undecorated.  

...
Last modified on
0

 

...
Last modified on
0

My girl, Mary Magdalene

As eager as Old Christianity has been to paint Mary Magdalene as part of the oldest profession, New Christianity is equally eager to say that she’s totally legit.

I say the truth was probably somewhere in between.  I doubt she was a street walker but could she have been a temple priestess who wasn’t hung up being chaste?  Maybe.  It would make the fact that she seemed to be pretty educated plausible.  Plus the boys were probably jello that she was Jesus’ favorite so calling her a ho to take her down a peg isn’t exactly uncommon practice even in modern times.

...
Last modified on
3
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Linda Armstrong
    Linda Armstrong says #
    Thank you so much for this informative article; I really enjoyed it. Since I was a very small child, I have had two spiritual lea
Everything Is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

My circle sister, Donna got hit by a car while she was taking a walk down a residential street with her husband.  She died on Wednesday, February 5th.  How do I make sense of that?  How does Donna taking a walk with her husband + Jason Lutz not paying attention for a moment = we will never see Donna again?

I don’t know.

If we perform magic, shouldn’t we know?  Shouldn’t my circle have been able to save Donna?  What is the point of this if we could not have saved Donna? I think it’s very easy when things are going well to say that if you are alert enough, canny enough, good enough at magic that you can lessen the pain of all situations.

...
Last modified on
6
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    So sorry to hear about your friend. The loss of my baby brother when I was 13 (and a Christian) led me to doubt that any such loss
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I feel your pain, too. There doesn't seem to be any religion, whether mainstream or far out, that can keep its practitioners from
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    I am sorry for your loss too. I hear your anger and confusion; I felt the same when my husband was in a horrible, life-threatenin

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I had been slowly acquiring archery equipment since Christmas.   While Katniss was admittedly and unashamedly the tipping point for me, there have been others.  Buffy.  The Amazons from Xena.  I wanted to know what it would be like to be able to kick ass.

Buffy is not interested in excuses.

I took my intro to Archery class and it was a stark moment of clarity for me.  Not in a I AM MOMENTS AWAY FROM KILLING AND EATING MY OWN PREY AND BECOMING A PREDATOR sort of way.  More in a, girl this is going to be a looooooong journey. Our class was taught by a perky geeky girl wearing a red shirt with the Chinese blessing cat playing with string.  She was relentlessly upbeat while she drilled safety issues into us, all the while managing to be incredibly assertive.  Her calm demeanor had a steel undertone from being Olympic trained in competitive archery and the Vice President of the NJ Archery association.  She would decide who would be allowed range privileges.  She was a little younger than me and I was deathly afraid of her.

...
Last modified on
3
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Your instructor's whispered words were a balm to my traditionalist soul. I was a devotee of the recurve bow going as far back as
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    I thoroughly enjoyed this. And your point about priorities? Yeah, ouch. I needed to hear that. Don't know that I WANTED to.

 

“Women go there to dance. They get all ready in the mirror with their friends. They’re like, ‘I just need to go. I just need to dance. I’m serious, tonight — no guys. Screw guys. I just need to — I’ve had a rough week, and I just need to dance it out. I just want to stand in a circle around our pocketbooks and shoes and just — I just want to dance. Dance!’” – Dane Cook

“Girls love 80s parties. I could tell them that Osama bin Laden was holding a party, and they’d refuse to attend. But if I told them Osama bin Laden was holding an 80s party, they’d be like, ‘. . .well, what time?’” – Nick Swardson

...
Last modified on
0

As a Hearth Witch, there’s more to your life than just, well, magic. Besides dealing with the daily grind with aplomb, it’s also your job to assist with loved ones’ milestones, both happy and difficult. As most of this aspect is non-magical, this is where we all tend to falter a little (or a lot).

When someone very close to you dies, it's relatively easy to know what to do - be a hot mess and go through the motions of putting together whatever kind of funeral rite the deceased/survivors would like to have. But what about when it's not your sister but your sister's father-in-law's brother?


I think a big part of this problem is that the first world is very shielded from death. I know people in my age group (thirty something) who still haven't lost someone close to them and . . .I can't relate to that at all, honestly. One of my first memories is at age six losing my grandma and seeing my dad cry for the first time. I lost my dad at 18 through a very long, painful battle with cancer and the hit parade sort of goes on from there. I've been to significantly more funerals than weddings, the piece de la resistance being my engagement year of my first marriage where I put seven people in the ground, the last being my cousin Anthony a week before the wedding. He was only five years older than me; his widow was my age.

So, having a vast array of funeral rites in every stripe and color that I've attended, I've had plenty of time to be appalled. With a less clear sense of acceptable etiquette in first world societies, some think it's okay to do anything from read, text, have a toothpick in their mouths, pants that reveal one's boxers, etc during death rites. Sadly, I’ve seen that all happen and it’s not a comfort to the grieving to say the least.

If you've had the fortune to not have to go to many wakes, funerals, memorial services, etc., that's a blessing. But it may make you unsure what to do in that setting when you do need to go. Perhaps you’ve only been to one or two death rites and it hasn’t been for anyone you knew and/or you weren’t close to the grieving. In that case, you likely know to slap on a suit, shut off your cell, briefly pay your respects and then go about your business. But it can get stickier if  you’re close to the grieving but not to the deceased.

Tips on How to be a Standup Person During the Grieving Process:

It is always the right thing to do to send a sympathy card. It doesn't matter if you were fighting with the person who passed or their loved ones or if you're not sure how close you are to the deceased or the grieving. It's very hard to offend someone by sending a sympathy card.

Pick a card with an appropriate sentiment. This might sound confusing, but if you aren't close to the bereaved or the deceased, a more generic card is appropriate. If you were close to the deceased or the bereaved, you may want to pick a card with a more personal sympathy sentiment. If you're not sure what to say, it is always appropriate to say, "I'm so sorry for your loss. I am thinking about you and your family in this difficult time." Grieving people are preoccupied with their grief; they're not grading you on your creativity. Don't over think it; just send the card. They probably won't remember what was said, just that you were kind enough to think of them in their difficult time.

Inquire with the family about the arrangements. If they say it is a very small service for close family and friends, don't be offended. Everyone grieves differently. Inquire if the family is receiving donations to the deceased's favorite charity, mass cards (if Catholic) , or flowers. If yes, then find out the funeral home's information so that you may get the proper information to do so. If no, simply send a card to the family, as outlined previously.

Generally, there is some sort of wake, shiva, or calling hours for people who want to pay their respects to the family or the deceased. If you do not consider yourself very close to the family or the deceased, but still would like to pay your respects (and your respects are welcomed by the bereaved) , you would attend the most public part of the death rites. For example, the wake, the shiva and the memorial service are the most public events. Often, the funeral is the most private part of the rites and it's typically by invitation only. 

It is very important that you are dressed properly for this. Many times, the death of someone comes as a surprise which is why it may be helpful to have an outfit for death rites that is always ready to go. Dress in a dark color and make sure all of the lines of your outfit are conservative. Women, no cleavage, knee length if wearing a skirt. Men, no white socks, no "fun" ties. Suits for both genders are always appropriate. I personally always have a long black skirt, an appropriate neckline black short-sleeved top, and a black wool cardigan with pearl buttons. I always wear this for death rites only (I find that it helps me to not have the death energy on my other clothes, but that's a personal choice. I also don't like having psychological associations with death on my other clothes) .  I dry clean it/hang it up immediately after and don't touch it unless I need it. It's always appropriate year round and it's one less thing for me to stress about. 

Special note: Sometimes, the deceased has special preferences such as she hated black and preferred bright colors, he was a teenager who always wore ripped jeans and his friends wore ripped jeans at the wake to show support, she had a beautiful gothic wardrobe and would have liked to see everyone in their gothic finery, etc. Tread carefully with this! If you are close to the grieving and know for a fact that they want you to wear something out of the ordinary to show love for the deceased, do so if you would like to. If you are not close to the grieving (and note, I said the grieving, not the deceased in this case) and don’t know what they would like you to do, error on the side of caution and wear something conservative. If you see a lot of people wearing something out of the ordinary at a death rite, chances are there’s a reason, so don’t get judgey about it.

Keep yourself grounded. It may be helpful for you to have a hematite stone or a small pouch of salt on your person. A family piece of jewelry can also do the same thing for you. It's okay for you to be sad and feel grief too! The tricky part is managing your own grief while still assisting the bereaved. Processing your grief with someone else prior or after the death rite may help you. Doing something you find comforting after the death rite may help too. Personally, what keeps me somewhat sane is going out the night before, drinking two or three martinis, having a big piece of red meat, and smoking a few cigarettes. All the things that could kill me bring me a strange sort of peace in dealing with death.

If it is a religious rite, do a quick Google search on what is typical for that religion so you know how to act appropriately. Following the lead of the bereaved at the rite is the best course of action. Some families prefer quiet and some prefer to be more boisterous to remember the deceased. Again, everyone grieves differently. Obviously, this is not the place to try to impose your personal religious views on others. If you don't feel comfortable participating in any of the religious rites going on, just sit quietly. If you want to say a little prayer in your head in your home religion, feel free.

If you are close to the bereaved family or to the deceased and invited to attend the burial, follow the instructions of the funeral director for the procession. Find out beforehand if the cemetery is far from where the death rite was held.  Program your GPS ahead of time.  Make sure you have enough gas beforehand and that you've used the restroom so that you can follow the procession without needing to stop elsewhere. 

Help the living. This is probably the hardest step. Often, if we ourselves are somewhat removed from the grieving process such as if it was an acquaintance, or a loved one's deceased we didn't know very well, once we work through our own process (which will be faster than the bereaved's) , many of us want to go on with the business of living. For the bereaved, just because it's been a month or two doesn't mean that their worlds still aren't shattered. This is where being helpful is critical. The transition back to daily life after the acute grieving stage is very difficult. The modern world expects people to go back to "normal" after a few weeks - working, taking care of the house, paying bills, taking care of themselves and their children, etc. Despite these expectations, it is very difficult to manage this after the first few weeks.  

...
Last modified on
1
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Eva
    Eva says #
    Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions. I am always in a quandary what to say to people who have experienced loss. The overal

You only know what I want you to/ I know everything you don’t want me to/ Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine/ You think your dreams are the same as mine

I. Depression

There is nothing about me that’s okay right now.  I’m falling asleep by 9p to get up at 6a to work anywhere between 2-12 hours at my day job and then I come home and I try to write something for my blog or my novel because I can’t concentrate enough right now to research.  I have three shows this weekend in three totally different venues (ladies who lunch/church ladies/people who like to recreate the middle age through clothing, fights and craftsmanship) so it’s going to be a total headtrip going from “Oh darling, these scarves go for $200 at Neimans.” to “No, my dyes aren’t period.  My artwork isn’t either.  I know, women didn’t wear corsets on the outside.” to “Your granddaughter would love a special perfume oil that her friends don’t have!”

...
Last modified on
3
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Alay'nya
    Alay'nya says #
    Dear Deborah - This is beautiful. Absolutely awesome. And tremendously real. Also, you are going through this time best as a p

 

Depression Comes Before Acceptance

Better you die than I.  - Katerina Petrova, The Vampire Diaries

Full disclosure: I'm writing this wearing a Nightmare Before Christmas t shirt and grey leggings (breaking my leggings are not pants rule).  I have not yet brushed my hair or teeth.  However after I write this, I will try to not look like I've escaped from an asylum and will be continuing to clean out my house and pickling and cordialing all the things in preparation for my birthday jamboree in a few weeks.  If I'm snowed out for my birthday, there will be sonic screaming.

...
Last modified on
2

 

Deborah Castellano’s Dark Arts List Five (Once More With Feeling)

...
Last modified on
2
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Raheli EverydayMagicPodcast
    Raheli EverydayMagicPodcast says #
    This is a great balanced view. Sometimes a more moderate path can be effective rather than proclaiming D.U.M.E on someone. I think
  • Lee Pike
    Lee Pike says #
    Yes! THIS!! It is all about weaving effective magic. I want all of the witchlets on pagan Tumblr to read this.

I like that I look like a slightly shy serial killer here.

(Warning!  Contains some Sleep No More minor spoilers)

I was doing the thing I swore I would never do.  I was already covered in someone else’s blood, there was grave yard dirt in my ballet flats, the taste of tears in my mouth and I was gingerly feeling around a dead goat, getting goat’s hair all over me.  O Hecate.  You and your damned ring quest.

...
Last modified on
0

Everyone loves to trade early Occultist/Pagan stories.  The corrupt teachers!  The Chthonic beings you summoned just because you could before you could even hold an anthame!  Ostracization for petty crimes committed in your youth!  In fighting!  Coven drama!  Sexism!  Racism!  Getting your car keyed!  Illicit sex with elders and barely legals!

 

Oh it’s just so scandalous and juicy!  I love hearing all of it!

...
Last modified on
2
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Gathering in our circles to celebrate the Gods and to promote fertility has been an important part of the survival of our clans an
  • Deborah Castellano
    Deborah Castellano says #
    As I lean more towards not having children than having children, I have to say I don't really feel like I've missed anything to be

Cordial Recipes

 

Many "traditional" cordial recipes don't use simple syrup. I don't like super sweet things, but I have found that if you don't have the simple syrup in your cordials, it's too bitter. I like to be able to drink my cordials with or without a mixer. Champagne or seltzer are good mixers in general for cordials.
Simple Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Boil on medium until it is a syrup. Makes approximately 1/4 cup syrup

...
Last modified on
0

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The New Jersey Finishing School for Would-Be Glamour Girls & Boys

"Waiting to get my nails did and a lady just walked in wearing a floor length mink coat over a track suit.  Also:  SO MUCH JEWELRY.  ALL THE (YELLOW) GOLD JEWELRY.  New Jersey, I love you.   Never change."  - a text received by me from Ms. K, the ex-opera singer at 4:14p yesterday.

I can never sleep this close to the Winter Solstice.   I run in my sleep like a dog, turning fitfully and dreaming about missing teeth.

Not even the nouveau riche have whimsical, dreamy (and expensive!) perfect bedrooms. I would know, I've changed diapers in enough of them.

 

...
Last modified on
2
Etiquette Lesson: Keeping Your Boundaries

In this modern first world life, maintaining your boundaries can be a constant struggle – the friend who calls at 3a on the regular crying about her messy love life, the mother in law who wants to be a little too involved in your life, your sister constantly claiming she just wants to do one thing like go to the doctor’s with the lure of hearing the baby’s heartbeat and then ropes you into going on two or three errands after.

Okay, the last one is totally my problem. But, boundaries are a big issue because it requires a lot of balance, some quid quo pro and not getting bogged down by all teh feels.

First, it is vital for you to do some hacking and slashing in your life. Are you part of any organizations that you’re only lukewarm about, but they take up a lot of your time and energy? They’ve got to go. With loved ones, it’s often not easy to just cut them out of your life for a whole mess of reasons.  Hopefully one of those reasons is "because I love them and they are part of my support structure when they are not being a complete and utter pain in my ass".  

...
Last modified on
4

A., my bff since about sixteen, has been trying to drag me out of my Autumn doldrums of apathy and over work by making me do cool Autumnal things on our weekly Wednesday get together. We carved pumpkins and drank pumpkin liquor, we drove to the spookiest cemetery we know and now this week, she wanted to watch The Craft.

I unapologetically love The Craft. I love everything about it- the soundtrack is amazing (it's almost all covers, though I didn't know it at the time - "How Soon Is Now", "I Have the Touch", "Dangerous Type", "Dark Secret" and "Witches Song" would shape me in ways that I didn't understand until later), the wardrobe is all the best parts of the 90's and the lines are awesome ("Everything I touch turns to shit," A. and I would wail to each other in secret high school notes). Fairuza Balk is a Real Life Wiccan who went on to own a Real Life Witch Store of her own and in the 90's, it was the first film that I saw that took any care to even attempt to get a witchcraft consultant (Pat Devin) from an actual person who does witchcraft.

Was it perfect? Of course not. It's sort of like Practical Magic in that once we get past "The Lime in the Coconut"/Midnight Margarita scene I lose a lot of interest until the last scene. Here, once the dead sharks start showing up on the beach, I get very ehhhhhhh about it. Are there big character development issues? You betcha!

...
Last modified on
8
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Roy
    Roy says #
    Yes. I own The Craft on DVD and streaming, I have the soundtrack in multiple formats. It was after watching this movie that I made
  • J'Karrah
    J'Karrah says #
    Roy said: " I saw the protagonist draw on The Same Power Source as the antagonists. None of this "Magick evil" crap. Instead the m
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Oh man. This really took me back. I re-watch this movie sometimes, and it still gives me a little thrill. In high school in the 90

You want a truly humbling experience? If you are a Pagan/Occultist and have a practice that is not indigenous to your ancestry, go to a shop where people who are indigenous to the practice shop.

I had thought I got pretty slick about doing that – being respectful and being able to conduct myself, only minorly getting the stink eye and generally still winning over the shop employees by the end of my purchase. I felt like I knew what I was doing when it came to Puja by now, I had been practicing for several years and taught by several people. So when my friend said he found a new Puja shop that did flowers too, I was like let’s do this!

I didn’t know that it was a video store too which threw me off a little (my “usual” Puja place was a kitchen supply/Puja supply store which for some reason went together better in my head) and the shop keepers were snipping and sewing flowers at the speed of life.

...
Last modified on
7
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Cat
    Cat says #
    Very well put - and thought-provoking, thankyou!
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am *really* not looking forward to joining a Greek Hellenistic ritual one day. For one, I have already seen in videos they do a

My gods seem to never tire of irony and Law & Order-esque Lenny Briscoe quips.  In the last few weeks I've received many really lovely compliments from my fellow Pagan blogosphere compatriots and friends.  They say how inspiring I am and how I encourage glamour in every day life.

If this was a Martha Stewart pictorial and not my actual life, you would see me smiling graciously in a field of wild flowers, my spinning wheel in the foreground, my husband looking on lovingly while I had some of said flowers woven in my hair, wearing something from Anthropologie, holding a mason jar full of sour cherry cardamom cordial that I would be serving to all my family and friends.

I have been doing my best to learn (Sub)urban Homesteading over the summer as I breezily decided I would do.  It hasn't been perfect, I'm learning, but I have been working on it.

...
Last modified on
4

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I think everyone wants answers through their spirituality for the bigger questions. Why are we here? How do we know the gods exist? Do we have souls? What happens after we die?

With larger, more unified faiths, there’s usually a pat answer (except for Judaism as far as I know). Heaven. Reincarnation. These religions also tend to have clergy where one of their jobs is to give you answers to these questions.

While Pagans have clergy, we don’t have a unified lengthy training program. Many of our clergy need to have day jobs to support themselves, which is a different topic in and of itself, and many Pagan clergy members don’t set themselves above their fellow Pagans.

...
Last modified on
0
An Except from the New Book, The Arte of Glamoury by Deborah Castellano

The Arte of Glamour is available for purchase through Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

The Arte of Glamour has a mission: to help you find sustainable wonder in yourself, your spiritual practice and your life. Written with a dry wit and a keen understanding gained from years of working with magical ritual, the salt of the earth suggestions will encourage you to delve deeper into your ritual practice. Filled with tips, tricks, spells, a ritual format and a small book of spirits, The Arte of Glamour insists on beauty as something important in both spirituality and everyday life. Foreword by Gordon White.

Excerpt from Chapter Four: The Arte of the Ladies

...
Last modified on
1

Additional information