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

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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.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I was talking to a friend about his current trial he’s going through with Coyote and he suggested other totems (such as mine, Crow) may be gentler. I said, "All totems can be complete and utter dicks if they don’t like what you’re doing. I’m pretty sure even rabbit can be a dick. It’s more a shamanic trial/rite thing verses an individual totem thing.  What they take from you will differ, however, and what they want you to learn will differ. The point is to communicate in a way you understand and if it appears you don’t understand, they’ll hit you harder and harder until either:
a) You change
b) They get bored and wander off
c) They kill you"

And then I thought, whoa! That’s some godslave kind of talk. I suppose, first off, the (c) part should be caveated with, if you don’t do something with perhaps other deities to stop your would-be assassins.

I've talked about god-slavehood before but I think I was mistaken for having no self esteem because I think the gods don't care enough about me specifically to make dramatic forceful efforts into my life. What I was trying to convey was that I am realistic about my place in the universe. I may or may not write some books. I go to work. I love a lot of people. I try to be a good person. I don’t really feel I have an earthshattering impact on this world. I also think like 90% of the populous is like that too.  I’m not really downing myself, I just don’t think many of us are all that special though I love you just the same.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

First off, they're going to be ugly.  Well, I think they are honestly.  They're ugly until you get Amish good at dipping candles which is a lot of time and energy I don't have. But!  They work beautifully, burn beautifully and take in magic like a sponge.

To make at least four candles you will need:

* 1 cup Beeswax pastilles  

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Etiquette Lesson: I'm Addicted to You, Don't You Know That You're Toxic?

This is something that’s been rolling around in my head for a long while. I’ve noticed that when wounded and likely broken up (this applies to friendship and relationships) people have a tendency to call the other person in the situation toxic. In our post-pop-psychology world, people like to grandly say that they’re keeping toxic people out of their lives.

To me, this only devolves one way:

“You’re toxic!”
“No, you’re toxic!”
“No, YOU’RE toxic!”
“No, YOU’RE toxic!”
“You shut up!”
“No, you shut up!”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Are You Innovating in Your Practice?

Innovation is something I struggle with in magic.  Because on one hand, I have strong feelings about not trying to turn one's washing machine into a nuclear reactor.  On the other, at some point everything was someone's UPG at one point. Where is that delicate line in the sand where you're being innovative in your own personal practice that stops just before you're invoking Oya and Yemaya in a closed circle because they're both orishas so they must work together well, right?

Sidebar: Gordon and I had an interesting discussion during his visit. People are quick to be like, oh no you mustn't ever ever invoke Deity X from Y pantheon and Deity Z from B patheon! To me that's never made sense and I couldn't figure out why. I mean, yeah, they don't know each other and may find each other offensive but it's not like they've been to a million dinner parties together and had enough time to really work up a good hate-on for each other in all likelihood unless their customs run against each other's. Gordon pointed out that when you invite two deities from the same pantheon, they likely already have an established feud whereas deities from two different pantheons (besides again, offensive behavior but even that most people/deities are willing to put up with a certain amount if it's cross-cultural) haven't had time to really get into it with each other. It's the difference between a dinner party (two deities from two different cultures) and a family dinner (two deities from the same culture. Which is more likely to flip a table and start beating the crap out of each other? Family dinner, obv. I think it's why Erzulie and Aphrodite work pretty well together for me but Oshun and Yemaya, less so (for me at least, as with everything, YMMV).

The easy solution here is, as always, do basic research. Is one deity a vegetarian and the other demands a blood sacrifice from an animal? Not the best dinner party combination ever. Feuding sisters? Don't put them in a locked room together because if they turn on you, you're toast, bro.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Damn the Man, Save the Empire

Liv Tyler wasn't always an elf.  Robin Tunney wasn't always a witch.  Renee Zellweger wasn't always Bridget Jones.  Once, they worked at a record store together in that hazy fun that was the 90's.  

I came of age during the 90's.  I remember when my parents would leave my sister and I home alone we would listen to their records, lying on the floor on our tummies for hours, singing along until we heard the garage door open and we would put everything away quickly so our parents wouldn't get the wrong idea that they could ever possibly own anything that would be considered cool to us.

There aren't as many record stores now.  Or music stores for the matter.  We can bemoan what was or accept that things have changed.  It's a different world now for retailers.  But just because we shop more in our pajamas at home sipping on St. Germain (just me?  Okay.) doesn't mean that we shouldn't still support our independent business owners during the holidaze.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I find that Samhain really kicks off the start of holidays with a bunch of people jammed into a house that you wish you could escape. Sadly, I am far too masochistic to take the far more reasonable misanthropic solitary approach to the holidays, so to my grove I go, pumpkin in hand! I find food helps make up for personal social akwardness, it acts as a pre-emptive apology. “Sorry I can’t feign interest in the boring topic you have trapped me into conversation about. I made you a pumpkin!” At the very least, I can always be grateful that Samhain is hosted at our Señora Druid’s house, enabling me to leave before I  turn into a pumpkin and/or say or do something that brings dishonor to my family. Oh and I don’t cook like this for every Sabbat because that leads to heavier drinking and high covenmate expectations which should both be avoided. This is my big “ta-da” for the year.
 
 
Stuffed Pumpkin Recipe
 
1 box cornbread mix
3 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 shallots, diced
1 pack Italian turkey sausage
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 large aluminum roasting pan
Olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
 

Make the cornbread according to the directions on the box the night before. Cut cooled corn bread into small cubes. Leave out overnight.

 

Delegate. Carving open the top of the pumpkin is a huge pain the butt. Find another sucker who doesn’t mind potentially losing fingers to the surly pumpkin. Make sure the diameter of the opening is almost as large as the top of the pumpkin. A cheese pumpkin puts up a bigger fuss than a regular pumpkin on being carved so make sure your special helper uses a very sharp implement.

 

Scoop out pumpkin guts. Cheese pumpkins have less seeds and less guts. Have your special helper pick out the seeds.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    That sounds wonderful! Yum. I'm going to adapt a veggie version for the hubby and me. I've been putting pumpkin in everything, but

I. Conversations With My Husbands

I guess I just must be a daredevil / I don't feel anything until I smash it up / I'm caught on the cold, caught on the hot / Not so with the warmer lot / And all I want is a confidant / To help me laugh it off / And don't let me ruin me / I may need a chaperone

I write amazing blog posts in my head, but this last month has been brutal enough to have my hands go still over the keyboard. I keep writing in my head though. Writing and forgetting. Writing and forgetting. Jow and I go around and around about How to Prepare for The Future like the least sexy, most neurotic version of Ouroboros possible. Not how I planned to spend our first month of marriage but when has that ever mattered? In the background: a new schedule, older children, exhaustion, less free time, worries about [family member x], fretting about [social circle member z], a complete inability to feel like I'm getting anywhere with anything, tiny progresses amounting to nothing.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As some of you know, I’m not afraid to talk about cursework to college students. Everyone likes talking about cursework. It’s exciting, it’s sexy and it shows that you’re not afraid to get all honey badger on someone’s ass.

I maintain that it’s not a great idea to talk about personal cursework/occult fight club publicly but it’s a good idea to know a bit about cursework in my opinion.

1. Are you being cursed?

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Honey pots are used traditionally in Hoodoo to bring money to you and also to potentially sweeten someone towards you (such as an ex you’re trying to win back, your boss, a new love interest, the judge in a court case). I find honey pots to be an inexpensive “slow and steady” way to keep generating income.
 
I started to say you don’t need a strong background in Hoodoo to use a honey jar, but like all magical practices that depends on what you’re going to do with it. If you want to use it to draw money, that’s pretty basic and can be done by just about anyone. If you’re starting to get into sweetening specific people toward you (i.e. using it as an influencing tool) and potentially bending them to your will. . .Well, you better know what you’re doing, champ, because I’m sure as hell not going to help you out of a mess (and honey,that kind of work is called a messfor a reason). I am not at all opposed to using a honey jar for that purpose, but you need to really be able to assess your magical prowess accurately so that you know if you can really handle any kind of fallout that may come from your working (again, like with any other working) should it go wrong (and in some cases, should it go right!).
 
How to Make a Honey Jar to Attract Income
 
Ingredients:
 
A small hinged-lidded glass jar
 
Honey (you can use other sweetners, dare I say even sweetners like Equal or Splenda but I always use honey, preferably local)
 
A pinch of Irish Moss (steady flow of money)
 
A pinch of Chamomile (to hold onto your money)
 
A pinch of Cinnamon (to attract money quickly, it’s a “heating” herb)
 
Small green taper candles
 
Money drawing oil
 
A small piece of paper bag
 
A pen
 
A pin
 
Matches (or a gas stove)
 
1. Write out your petition on your piece of paper bag. Write what you’re trying to draw to you (a new job, a raise, job security, a second income stream, paid artistic gigs, etc.) but make sure your pen doesn’t leave the page. Neatness doesn’t count here, continuity does. Fold it up tightly towards you (to bring the money towards you).
 
2. Put the petition paper in the jar. Put the herbs in the jar. Pour honey over the herbs and paper until your jar is full. Seal the jar.
 
3. Pray over your jar. Psalms are typically recommended, if that’s your bag rock out. If not figure out what is. (I usually pray/enchant/put my will into it and end it with “Please do this in the name of God Herself.”)
 
4. Etch into your candle your intent. It can be words, symbols, runes, again, whatever’s your bag. Dress your candle by putting a little bit of oil on it and rub the oil into the candle *towards* you.

5. If fire scares you, make sure your sink is cleared for this part. Put the honey jar into your cauldron or sink and light the candle. Melt a few drops onto the lid of your jar. Stick the candle onto the melted wax on top of your jar. I find it best to let it burn out in one go which is why I recommend small candles.
 
7. If you’re on the ball, repeat steps 3-5 weekly. If you’re a slag like myself, monthly has sufficed so far.


Done with your working? The proper way to dispose of it would be to thank it for all its hard work and to release it from its work to go onto other things and leave the honey jar at a crossroads or to bury it. Would I be incredibly tempted to thank/release it and then upend it into my compost heap and recycle the jar as it’s kinder to Gaia? Yes. Is that the “proper” thing to do? No. Would I likely do it anyway for this particular working? Yes.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Art of Career Occultism

Witchcraft gets romanticized a whole lot.  Just look at my picture of the Charmed sisters.  They're off solving problems in mid drift tops living in a huge house, learning about love and sisterhood.  My first reaction is much like yours, it can be summed up as sigh.  But.  If it wasn't for Charmed, my mother and I would be locked in the same stalemate we had been locked in since I was 22.  Charmed made modern Witchcraft accessible to my mom and made her less afraid of whatever I was doing.  

Romantic witchcraft isn't reserved for non-Pagans though.  In Paganism, being able to be a career Witch/Occult Shop Owner/Pagan Writer/Special Shaman Who Talks to Ponies/Whatever has become the dreamy eyed ideal.  And why shouldn't it be?  There's enough of us now to actually support career minded people who want to support themselves off their Craft.  I know a few people who I'm incredibly jealous of who are doing that very thing.  It's not exactly a new concept, communities generally supported an occultist who lived on the fringe of society/in the weird house at the end of the block for ages.  

Let me ask you, how do you see a career occultist?  Do you see her as someone who gets up and does sun salutations, writing in her dream diary over herbal tea and an organic scone, sauntering through a field with an animal companion as she chooses herbs to harvest while wearing something fabulous and floaty, coming home to her gorgeous dedicated workshop for afternoon sketching for new designs?  Because . . .if so, you're going to be greatly disappointed as to what's actually the job.  

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tom Terrific
    Tom Terrific says #
    I find it difficult to keep separate the idea of devoting oneself to the occult as a career and that of being a priest or priestes
  • Deborah Castellano
    Deborah Castellano says #
    I don't really see myself as clergy really so it's not really an issue for me. But I know there are people who do both, hopefully
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    Ah yes, as a fellow Etsy seller and writer I can definitely relate to everything you say here! The occult marker is a difficult n

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So before we get too glue gun intensive, it occurred to me that you don't know me very well yet.  

Things You Need to Know (in no particular order):

1. I also blog at Charmed, I'm Sure.  I talk about charms, hexes, recipes and general hearth witchery related items there.  

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  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    I'm looking forward to your book! Like you, I'm also thinking of starting a second Etsy store for the "Crafty" things I'd like to
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Welcome from a fellow Pagansquare blogger and Jerseyite!

You will need:
 

  • A candle in a glass container (usually found in the Goya section of the grocery store)
  • Your choice of essential Oils
  • Cosmetic Grade Glitter
  • Cardstock
  • Strong glue
  • Small piece of paper, string or yarn and pen
  • Other decorations such as herbs, crystals, markers, flat stones, stickers, whatever your inner Martha is dictating
  •  A small pot
  •  1/4 cup water
  •  Your stove


Fixed candles are traditionally used in Hoodoo spellwork for anything from getting a job, blessing a new home, working a love spell or putting a hex on someone.  They're easy to use and very effective.  Often, saint candles are used for this kind of thing but it's not unusual to see fixed candles that utilize other images instead.

1. Figure out what your magical goal is.  Make sure it can summed up in one sentence.
 
2. Find or draw the appropriate image for your spellwork onto your cardstock.  Make sure the cardstock can be wrapped around the candle.  Find coordinating essential oils, color of glitter and coordinating miscellanous decorations for your candle.  I have fixed candles in my shop if you're looking for inspiration. 
 
3. Put your pot on the stove with the water.  Put the candle in its glass container in the pot standing upright.  Heat on low for about 10 minutes or until the wax starts melting.  Using a potholder, take the candle out of the pot and add your herbs, oils and glitter to the candle, keeping the candle upright.  Let it cool.
 
4. Make sure your candle is dried off and glue the cardstock image to it.  Decorate the outside of the candle.
 
5. On your piece of paper, you're going to write out your petition (i.e. your one sentence magical goal) without letting your pen leave the page.  If your pen leaves the page, start over.  If you are trying to bring something towards you, roll the paper towards you.  If you're trying to get something to go away from you, you roll the paper away from you.  Tie the paper to the candle.
 
6. In Hoodoo, Psalm 23 is used for basically everything under the sun.  If psalms aren't your thing, I find a heart felt prayer while placing your hands on the candle and pushing energy through your hands into the candle works just as well.
 
7. Light your candle.  Ideally, you'd keep it lit until it burns out but if you can't do that, use a candle snuffer to snuff it out before bed and light it again whenever you're home until it burns out.  Observe what the candle does periodically for clues and omens on your work. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Deborah Castellano
    Deborah Castellano says #
    @Elani - Thank you! I really like your posts! @Beth - Yes! It's great to see you! I've been following your blogs @Marion - T
  • Marion Wilhelm
    Marion Wilhelm says #
    Nice work. Welcome.
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    It's great to see you here Deb! (It's Laure from Philly. )

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