Full Witch Reading List

Books to blow your Beautiful minds

Full Witch Reading List | Whisper & Howl #readinglist #fullwitch #whisper&howl #self-care #greenbeauty #sacredfeminine #tarot #astrology

Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of poignant, insightful, lovely and enlightening books that have led me down the Full Witch path. I’ve created a list of some of the best books on topics from sacred feminism to green beauty. I am linking to them on Goodreads rather than Amazon, to encourage you to seek them out in small, local new and used bookstores or your public library. I will continue to update this list as my mind is blown by new reads.

The Sacred Feminine

And of course, sacred feminism.

YOGA and Other Wisdom

Astrology

Self-Care

This is a category that would be called Self-Help if that particular heading didn’t hold strange and sad connotations. These books are manuals for self-love, empowerment, compassion and power. Most follow a format I find incredibly useful: personal stories, examples from clients/friends, tactics and techniques. All have changed my life in a powerful, positive way.

Green Beauty and Natural Health

Tarot and Other Oracles

 

 

DIY Miracle Grains

Treat Yourself to this DIY for soft, radiant skin

Oh, December! I have never had holiday stress until this year, and it is hitting me HARD. This is the first holiday season I’ve had without my Dad. It’s a huge time for my close, loving family, with Thanksgiving (traditionally a feast at our homestead, prepared by Dad), and Dad’s and my littlest sister’s birthdays book-ending Christmas. This season has deepened my sense of loss and heartache even as I am grateful for my family, friends, and the long nights that provide time for the rest I so badly need. It’s also a time when I have spent loads of money on gifts for others and myself as well as on going out with visiting friends. This year, however, I am especially money-poor. I’ve decided to do a Spending Fast at least for December, meaning I spend money on absolutely nothing that isn’t a need (as defined by me–details in a later post).

What this all means is that I am desperate for rest and rejuvenation, preferably of the spa treatment type, and that I must use the resources I already have and be creative with gifts and everything else this month.

So it is a very good thing that I have a cabinet full of ingredients for DIY skincare! I recently had some ladies over to make our own bath products and tried making and using Miracle Grains for the first time. This weekend, treat yourself to an easy at-home facial using this wonderful DIY beauty product. Miracle Grains has only 6 ingredients, is simple to make, and keeps well. It smells wonderful and feels delightfully different. Whip up a big batch and package it in little jars as gifts for friends–or keep it all for yourself!

Miracle Grains DIY | Whisper & Howl #diybeauty #naturalbeauty #diy #spa #whisperandhowl

This recipe will create a batch of dry “grains” that can be mixed with water, honey and/or rosewater to create a facial scrub/cleanser, or left on for several minutes as a face mask. I’ve used it both ways and love it. I recommend mixing the paste in a small bowl, as it is hard to do it in your hands! For an extra luxurious treatment, paint the mixture on your face and leave it to dry. The brush on your face feels magical. As a mask, this would be lovely to use after a steam facial!

Miracle Grains 

(Recipe from Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar)

Ingredients

• 1 cup oats, finely ground
• 2 cups white clay
• 1/4 cup almonds, finely ground
• 1/8 cup lavender flowers, finely ground
• 1/8 cup rose petals, finely ground

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. An electric spice or coffee grinder works well for the oats, lavender and rose petals. I had almond meal on hand from Trader Joe’s. For convenience, store a weeks’ worth of the grains in a container next to the sink, but keep the remainder in the refrigerator or other cool place to preserve their freshness.  A spice jar with a shaker top also works well as a storage container.

2. To use, mix 1–2 teaspoons of the cleansing grains with enough water to make a paste. Gently massage onto your face. Rinse off with warm water after washing, or leave on as a mask until dry and then rinse. Follow up with a toner and face cream or moisturizer for radiant, healthy skin.

I’m going on a mini-silent retreat this weekend while I undertake Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. What are your plans for this first weekend in December?

Unpacking Embodiment

Unpacking Embodiment | thoughts on body issues at Whisper & Howl #whisperandhowl #bodyissues #fullwitch #tarot

I did a Tarot spread last night with these questions:

  1. What is coming forth now?
  2. What is trying to come forth?
  3. How can I get out of my own way (so it can come forth)?

I was surprised by the cards I got, which were:

  1. Judgement
  2. 5 of Cups
  3. Knight of Swords

Roughly, this means that ideas/feelings/issues/etc from the past, possibly that have already been “dealt with” are coming forth; that I will feel disappointed and there will be a need for self-forgiveness; and that the energy will be swift, or perhaps that I should just deal with it swiftly.

I had no idea when I went to bed what this meant, but in my dreams (which I can’t really remember), there was something about “unpacking” and I woke up thinking “I need to unpack this,” and then when I really really woke up I thought: BODY ISSUES.

This is me, unpacking.

I’ve said recently I don’t have “body issues,” and that is mostly true (inasmuch as anyone can not have them). Mostly, I just decided that I don’t have time for that shit. I see pictures of myself from times in my life when I actively did not appreciate or like my body or the way I looked, and I always looked fine–or even great!–and I decided that I am not going to waste time or energy feeling shitty because of the way I think that I might appear to others.

Because that’s it, really, isn’t it? It’s not about how we look to ourselves. Generally, outside of badly lit photos, I think I look beautiful. I am more comfortable in my body than ever. I like and feel good in my wardrobe, I don’t much care about sizes, and I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time. I am more in tune with my body and what it feels and needs than ever before. And yet…

I’ve been feeling lonely lately. When I feel lonely, I think about why I am alone. Now, I truly know in my soul that:

  1. I am not alone. There are many people who love and support me, and who think I am wonderful. I am filled with love for my friends and family and with the love they show me.
  2. There is someone out there for me…we just haven’t met yet. And might not for years. But I know he’s there.
  3. I sincerely don’t have the energy to get involved with anyone right now, even though I would enjoy some flirting and attention and all that comes along with that. I don’t think I’ve kissed anyone in at least a year.

Of course, that is just a disclaimer, because I certainly find myself doing the WHY ME?! What is wrong with ME?! Thing. Mostly I just remember that my astrologer told me I have a “strong relational path,” remind myself that I haven’t met the right person, and go about my lovely life. But I always have the underlying, miserable, nagging thought that I’m just not pretty enough. Or not thin enough. There are other things I can spiral into but this one is just so easy. It’s my go-to self-loathing statement.

Why do I feel this way? I want to say that I am a perfectly average, well-dressed, pretty woman, but that doesn’t matter at all. Everyone deserves love! It is out there for everyone. Saying those things about myself inherently implies that I deserve love because I do fit into a standard of beauty, albeit not the super model standard, or the manic pixie dreamgirl standard, or the bookish hipster standard (all of whom, incidentally, are thin and beautiful and have perfect bangs and work out a lot or don’t need to work out and can eat anything they want and are genetically blessed). I want to say, there are plenty of unattractive people who are happily loved!–but that, too, acknowledges this standard and somehow defends its existence by naming it.

My point, I think, is that I still equate deserving love with fitting a patriarchal standard of beauty and womanhood (or girlhood, if I’m honest. There’s not a lot of room for women in patriarchy.). Even if I know the standard is bullshit. Even if I want to crush the patriarchy. Even if I sincerely believe that every single human on this earth deserves love regardless of any physical factors. Even if I do think I’m pretty swell and look beautiful most of the time and even if I don’t really give a shit what other people think about what I look like because I do have some confidence in my own looks. When the loneliness hits, it needs justification, and “not pretty enough” is it. Also “not thin enough.”

There’s a lot I want to say here about the Divine Feminine and Shakti and embodiment. I don’t know if I can get it all out. I am starting to feel embodied. I don’t think most of us do. I think we have bodies-as-containers, bodies that allow us to get through our days and hold our minds. I don’t think most of us truly inhabit our bodies, these wonderfully creative, active, sensual, loving, feeling vessels for our souls. Instead, we objectify ourselves. We view our bodies as status symbols. Like having a fancy car, important job, expensive clothes, and diamond rings, we use our bodies to fit into a hierarchy. We fulfill the standards of beauty to signify our worth.

Bodies are messy. They get dirty. They are beautiful and magical and challenging and perfect. They are loaded with all of our emotional past, our karma, our shaktis, muscle memory, energetic memory. They hurt because we hurt. I want to be more embodied. I want to truly live, breathe, love, move, create, and BE in my body, with my body. I don’t want to think, “I’m not enough.” I want to know deep in my soul that I am exactly enough, that I always have been and always will be. I’ll meet someone one day who agrees and we can be enough together.

Crush the patriarchy.

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: 3 Things To Try

What makes a full witch weekend? How about a seasonal adventure, making glorious noise, and embracing your own natural beauty? Here are 3 suggestions to add some witch to your weekend.
Take a Mini Road Trip | Have a Full Witch Weekend: 3 Things to Try, from Whisper & Howl

take a Mini road trip

When I lived in Indiana, my friend and I decided to take a little seasonal drive out into the country. We found a small town that was having their annual autumnal Apple Butter Festival and headed off. The festival was really just some arts-and-crafts tents set up around the courthouse and a few trucks selling funnel cakes and soda, but it looked like the whole town was out there enjoying the warmish Fall day. We sampled a lot of apple butter, then stopped by the tiny historical museum in the old Carnegie library, grabbed free coffee in styrofoam cups and looked at old photos of local life.

On our drive home, we passed another festival and decided to stop. This one was in the evening, more of a county fair with the same low-end crafts and fried food, with the addition of a hot air balloon and some high school dudes playing covers of old rock songs. It was a little slice of Indiana life.

Every year, when I see signs popping up to advertise Fall Festivals and county fairs, I ache to get in the car and see what’s happening in all the little towns. This is a great time of year for mini road trips. Every corner of every county seems to have some type of local celebration. This weekend, do a little research, grab a friend and set off on a tiny adventure to see the leaves and ingest some local flavor. Chances are good that you’ll find an apple cider donut or two on your travels, and that makes everything worthwhile.

 

Lift Up Your Voice

Choose howl over whisper this weekend! Head into the woods and raise a ruckus with your instrument! Scream in the car, sing in the shower! Make some noise!

Sound is powerful. Feel your power.

Want to share your voice with others? There are so many ways to sing in a group. Check out a kirtan at your local yoga school or ashram, or gather friends for chanting. Go to church and hear your collective voices echoing through the nave. Check out a pop-up chorus. Have some friends over and jam. Visit an Irish pub and join in on the chorus.

 

Treat Your Skin

It’s hard work being a face. You get smothered with makeup, scrubbed with drying soaps, touched with greasy fingers and subjected to all of the many toxins of our modern world. This weekend, give your face a break! Try going make-up free for a few days and let your skin breathe. Give yourself a DIY Steam Facial or try double-cleansing. Brew up some tea, slather on a mask and stick some cucumber slices on your eyes. Be the decadent human you know you can be–all in the name of healthy, beautiful skin. Trust me, your face will thank you.

 

I hope you have a wonderfully witchy weekend!

Already have plans? Let me know what they are and perhaps I’ll include them on another full witch weekend!

 

31st Birthday Resolution

After much consideration for the past few months, my 31st Birthday Resolution presented itself to me in July.

For the 31st year of my life, I am GOING FULL WITCH. 

What does this mean, you might ask?  Let me explain.

Three Fates, painting by Emily Balivet

Three Fates, painting by Emily Balivet

GOING FULL WITCH

This doesn’t mean Halloween witch, or Wiccan witch, or Goth witch (although I fully embrace deep, dark lipstick on a regular basis).  I love those things but this is something…different.

This is me being totally open to exploring all the earthy, natural, divine, strange, left-handed, taboo, mushy, divine aspects of womanhood.   Another way to name this would be “Exploring the Divine Feminine,” or “Going Full Goddess,” but witch sounds better.  It reminds me of the many ways that women have been persecuted and disempowered throughout history for daring to practice natural medicine, midwifery, and spirituality based on the sacred feminine.

“Witch” also lends that wild and weird quality that is, semantically at least, empowering me to get a little freaky without reservation and without worrying about being judged.  I’m buying crystals, guys.  I’m chanting, burning incense, signing up for Full Moon Goddess teleconferences, reading all kinds of cards, communing with my spirit guides, setting intentions.  I am absolutely wearing dark lipstick, and I might wear a giant flower crown out in public for no reason at all! (What?!  That’s crazy!)

The point is, I’ve been doing these things for a little while and I keep adding practices and researching different ways of being, and I’m just going for it.  I’m allowing myself to do whatever is interesting in the name of sacred womanhood.  There’s not a religious sect I align with (although I am a yogi and leaning towards the tantric and bhakti paths).  I’m not following any gurus.  I’m going to do what I want, learn, and teach.  If you’re interested in what I’m doing, follow along.  I’ll share anything that I stumble on, fascinating and probably also mundane.

Blessed be, y’all.

 

 

Treat Yourself: DIY Steam Facial

You know when your vacation is over and you realize you need another vacation just to relax from the first one?  My recent trip to Asheville was supposed to be full of hiking, reading and getting in touch with my inner Goddess but…nope.  I crashed with my awesome friend Kara and it quickly became apparent that this would be more of a drinking, eating, shopping, non-sleeping kind of vacation.  Suffice it to say that my body is still recovering.

Fortunately, I have learned over the years to build in time post-vacation to gently ease back into regular life, and yesterday I took full advantage of this by performing one of my favorite, simple self-care rituals: the steam facial.

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

This easy practice is relaxing and great for your skin.  Facial steaming has several benefits:

  • Increases circulation in the face
  • Increases perspiration, which helps to release toxins from the skin
  • Softens debris in pores and lifts it to the surface of the skin, where it can be more easily removed
  • Feels really indulgent
  • Can also help loosen up gunk in your sinuses and lungs

Do-It-Yourself Steam Facial INSTRUCTIONS

The hardest part about this is gathering the ingredients.

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

Ingredients

3 parts comfrey

2 parts rose petals

2 parts chamomile 

2 parts calendula

1 part lavender

I have most of these things laying around the house or in my garden, but if you’re not a secret witch then you may need to buy them.  I collected mine from various health and/or whole foods stores and co-ops.  Mountain Rose Herbs is an amazing resource for all things natural.  I like to keep a jar of steam facial herbs on hand for emergency self-care sessions.

Water

Cooking Pot

Large Towel

Something to listen to

Comfortable place to sit with your face over a pot for 15 minutes

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

Instructions

  1. Set water to boil in a medium pot, something large enough to put your face over comfortably.
  2.  Mix steam facial ingredients.  You can mix a small amount for one batch, or a larger amount for future use. Store in an air tight glass jar.
  3. Find a good playlist, mantra or podcast.  I highly recommend Jordan, Jesse, Go!, a comedy podcast with which I am obsessed.
  4. Once the water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat, add herbs and cover for a few minutes so they can steep.
  5. Bring the pot over to your comfortable sitting place.  Sit.  Turn on music.  Place your head over the pot and a towel over your face and let that sweet, hot steam dissolve all your problems for the next 15 minutes.
  6. It can get really hot under there, so you may need to come up for some cool air or lift the towel every now and then.  That’s cool.  Don’t burn your face!
  7. When you’re finished, splash your face with cold water or apply a face mask of your choice.

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

Feel great?  I hope so!  I know I do.

What is your favorite way to recharge when you need a vacation from your vacation?