Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Bewitching Garden of Buckets

Well, winter has decided to mess with us here in the Midwest again. After days of temperatures hovering near 80 degrees Fahrenheit, just in time for the Vernal Equinox, everything blossomed and was gorgeous. Then the weather took a turn and dumped four inches of snow on us over the weekend. For the most part the blooming magnolias, forsythia and early plums shrugged the snow off and bounced back… even those damn Bradford pears. (I hate those trees- the most over planted tree in the Midwest- they are multi-trunk trees and very prone to wind damage and breakage. Plus the STINK when they bloom).

Yes, I know the Garden Witch is bitching about a tree- how shocking! Ask any nurseryman, wildlife biologist, or horticulturist about those trees. They are cheap, unattractive, hybridized to death and over planted. There are so many of them in the Midwest that they make everyone’s allergies go crazy when they bloom. Back in the day, I worked on a tree farm and had to tag thousands of those babies in a field- yeah thousands. To this day I can ID trees in the winter and early spring BEFORE they get leaves. What can I say? I have led an interesting life. But anyway when the Bradford Pears all bloom- they smell like a dirty cat box. Yuck!

Here at home, it looks like I am growing upside down 5 gallon plastic buckets in my magickal gardens. Here is a picture- of the garden of buckets this morning. Classy, eh?
I covered up all my foxgloves, my wolfs bane, some astilbe, and yarrow….and anything else that looked tender that might not survive a shot of ice or below freezing temps. I am worried about my lilac and all of my hydrangea shrubs… they are just starting to pop leaves.

You can see to the left of the picture my Oakleaf Hydrangea is showing hints of green leaves. But all of the shrubs in the gardens are too large and I have too many of them (I have eight different hydrangeas) to cover them all up….
The past weekend’s snow insulated the plants- but sleet and ice- that’s going to do some of them in for sure.
So I was also out there in my PJs and a hoodie this morning casting protective spells over the garden. And no. I am not posting pictures of that! With a little luck, we will just get a hit of snow and no ice. Plus its supposed to start warming up by tomorrow and staying that way. 

The weather man says we should be back in the 50’s by Friday- the same day I’ll be flying to DC for the Saturday, April 2nd author event at Turn the Page Books. http://www.ttpbooks.com/
My host for the weekend, Joyce  is going to take me to DC on Friday to see the cherry blossoms! Of course I have asked to see the Botanical gardens in DC. So fingers crossed that the weather cooperates otherwise I imagine we will hit a museum or something.
Come to think of it the Smithsonian is in DC….. Hmmmm I wonder if they have and Egyptian exhibit? Anyway, I rarely get to “see” any of the area when I travel for an event- so this is a big treat and I’m very excited.

For luck I’m posting a picture of one of my hydrangeas from last year. This one is an heirloom- the original plant was over 100 years old. I got this as a start from my husband's Grandmother, about 25 years ago... Its a beauty, isn't it? Here's hoping it is a s tough as I think it is.
Come on garden of witchery! With a little luck and whole lot of magick- you can pull through this latest batch of spring/ winter weather!

Blessed be, Ellen

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Release Event for Practical Protection Magick

Good morning, its going to be a crazy weekend. Finally an event to kick off the release of the new book. The event is on Sunday afternoon, March 27 from 1:00- 3:00 pm. At Main Street Books, in Saint Charles, Missouri this Sunday.
To celebrate the release of the book, I will be giving a free lecture on “Psychic Protection and Hauntings”, followed by a book signing for  Practical Protection Magick.
This is a new lecture, and it’s going to be fun. Main Street Books is a gorgeous independent bookstore, in the historic riverfront district of St. Charles. So come on down and enjoy the lecture, get your book signed and do some shopping in the historic district. Which is well known for its many haunted locales. (I’ll be talking about that at the lecture too!)
I know that a local paranormal team will be coming to the lecture, Mound City Paranormal, and I hope to see lots of other folks there too! So if you are anywhere around the St. Louis area, I hope to see you at the event. Here is a link to the bookstore, for directions www.mainstreetbooks.net

The feedback and reviews so far have been very positive and I am happy that the book is helping so many people. Here is the review on Practical Protection Magick from New Age Retailer Magazine.
"St. Louis’ famous “Garden Witch,” Ellen Dugan, has kicked it up a notch with this latest addition to her successful books. This time she’s writing about negative thoughts and/or energy deliberately sent from one person to another. She tells us these psychic attacks are real, then tells us how to recognize them, disperse them ethically, and protect against their return. She stresses that protection magick is a necessary part of practicing the craft and a powerful way to deepen magical skills and enhance one’s magical life. She encourages us to bring our inner “warrior witch” out of the closet. The book is dense with practical information about a wide range of topics: psychic strengths and weaknesses, curses and hexes, psychic and emotional vampires, magickal strength, and ghosts. The book is written in her usual direct and lively style and contains those garden touches we love. This just might be my favorite Ellen Dugan to date."
—Anna Jedrziewski, Spirit Connection New York, New York, N.Y. (New Age Retailer Magazine)
Hope to see some of you on Sunday!
Blessed be, Ellen

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Casts it’s Spell…

I hope everyone enjoyed the full moon and the Vernal Equinox over the weekend. My coven gathered together on Saturday night and celebrated the full Storm Moon, complete with a thunderstorm. We did not get to see the full moon because of the clouds. However, when I got up at 6:30 am the morning of the equinox, I checked my western facing kitchen windows to discover a huge looking yellow full moon setting in the western sky. So I still got to enjoy the moon.
Last night the Hubs and I headed down to the Missouri river banks and watched the moon rise above the river. The moon was slightly lopsided, but still humungous looking and a orangey-yellow as it rose. It was impressive.

This morning when I checked the gardens I discovered that one of my forsythia bushes is in full bloom! I love forsythia in the spring. Its so cheerful after the long winter. In the language of flowers forsythia signifies that the bearer is: "Good natured". Which makes sense to me, as its hard to be moping when you’ve got bright yellow blossoms staring you in the face.

Yesterday in honor of the Vernal Equinox, I planted a few violas in my faerie garden birdbath. The birdbath has been turned into a little faerie garden…. The water dish was way too deep for the birds anyway so I mounded up the soil and planted perennial creeping plants in it, and every spring I add violas. There are some crystal clusters and a tiny faerie and a ceramic mushroom added to the garden to give it a faery tale look. Violas are so cheerful, and they smell terrific! Here is a picture of the Faerie/ Birdbath garden from last spring.

Violas are a great little flower to plant at this time of year… and about the only thing I would consider planting this early in a Midwest spring. Violas can withstand some snow and like the chill- even though our temps were in the 70’s yesterday, and are supposed to be in the 60-50’s this week it can still swing back to the freezing point at night for a while.

Violas are an enchanting flower, they are sacred to the Goddess Aphrodite/ Venus, and the God Eros/ Cupid and these little colorful flowers have many intriguing folk names… such as Johnny Jump ups, Kiss-me-at-the-garden-gate, and Heart’s ease. They are rumored to mend a broken heart- hence the folk name and in the language of flowers they whisper the message: I’m thinking of you.  According to floral lore Cupid/ Eros accidentally hit the viola/ pansy with one of his arrows... and so ever after the flower smiled. Take a good look at those happy "faces" on the violas and the pansy. Yup, they are still smiling.

If you would like to learn more about the enchanting language of flowers or garden magick check out my books, Garden Witchery and Garden Witch’s Herbal. Both of these books were award winners, and you’ll love them. So go get outside and spend some time in the early spring garden. See what enchanting lessons you can discover. Conjure up your own witchery and celebrate the seasons as they change!
Blessed be, Ellen

 Garden Witchery                                                            Garden Witch's Herbal

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don’t Blame it on the Moon…

Our upcoming full moon on Saturday March 19th has been blamed for a lot of natural disasters lately. Which is pretty silly if you ask me. It’s not the moons fault! The news coming out of Japan, and the floods in the East Coast of the United States are tough to watch, no doubt about it. But lately I’ve been seeing all these random articles blaming the moon and the upcoming “Super Full Moon” for all the natural disasters and various weather problems!

So what’s all the fuss about this particular full moon, anyway? The fuss is that the moon will simply look larger in the sky on Saturday night, and it will be a little closer to us than it usually is. That’s it.

The technical term for this, is the full moon will be at lunar perigee. Which means the moon will be at its closest point of its orbit around the earth.

On March 19- 2011 the moon will be a distance of just 221,567 miles from the earth. This is the closest it has come since 1992.  While this is a closer than average pass, we should keep in mind that each month as the moon orbits the earth it has a point where it is at perigee.
At perigee the moon looks about 12 % bigger in the sky. Here is an illustration of the full moon at perigee and at apogee. (The closest and farthest points in it’s orbit.)

While March’s full moon is closer than normal, its nothing out of the ordinary-- as both a full moon and new moon at perigee happens every year.  On Saturday the moon will simply be at perigee and it’s in the full moon phase. Which is a fabulous opportunity for spell casting.

As Witches and magickal practitioners, what we should be asking ourselves is…. How can I tap into that lunar energy? Well here’s a thought… get your happy ass out there under it and soak some in!
Also as the full moon at perigee will occur on Ostara eve- the night before the Vernal Equinox, here is a great opportunity to link some full moon magick into your Sabbat celebrations.
Think about it, all the intensity and magick of the full moon, and its closer to us on this night- plus the energy of the new spring season. The energies of growth, birth, prosperity and opportunity are just out there in the natural world ...and waiting for a clever Witch to tap into them and to direct these energies out to create a positive change.  The possibilities are endless.

My coven will be meeting on Saturday night to celebrate both the full moon and Ostara. We’ll be dying eggs together which will be fun, and then having a ritual to celebrate.  Afterwards we’ll share some food (I’m going to make a spinach quiche- egg dishes seemed appropriate to me) and we will feast, drink a little wine and enjoy the moon, the magick of the Sabbat, and each other’s company. 

If you are looking for some ideas for your own Sabbat celebrations check out my “Spring Sabbats” online class. It covers the history and magick of Ostara and Beltane and the full moons in between. There are reading assignments and homework and of course spells and magick all focusing around the two spring sabbats.

Or consider my “Full Moon Magick” mini class. This affordable moon magick class has lessons and reading assignments, and of course it covers all twelve of the full moons of the year, and it also has a ritual for a blue moon and a lunar eclipse. That way you have a total of fourteen lunar rituals to use throughout the year.
Also if you order any of my online classes before March 20th I will include a Winter to Spring Psychic Protection Spell, absolutely free. You can sign up for the online classes on my website just click on the “Online Classes tab” then choose from the seven online classes I offer.

Oh and YES, I am still doing online Tarot readings. I offer a full reading and a mini reading. You can sign up for a reading on my website. Click on the “Special Offer-Tarot Readings” tab. Here is the link to my website http://www.ellendugan.com/

The Vintage image above I found online- its a Witch on a broom- with a basket of eggs!
Its the Ostara Witch!  I thought she was wicked cool.

So, be sure to use this week to study, plot and plan your upcoming Full Moon and Ostara/ Vernal Equinox celebrations. Personally I’m going to pull my spring decorations out of storage today and get some spring mood going in my house. I have a big wreath with a yellow satin pentagram woven in the center of it. The wreath is covered in silk daffodils and lilac blossoms. I want that on my front door today.

May your full moon at perigee and Ostara celebrations be enchanting ones!
Blessed be, Ellen

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tarot Readings and Madame Zolta

We all have a picture in our head of the perfect tarot reader/ Fortune Teller, I have always imagined she would be called Madame Zolta…

Zolta is  kinda my alter ego. (I created her when I was a kid and she’s pretty cool.) In my fantasy she has a smoky voice and dark mysterious eyes. Her age is impossible to distinguish and she has a direct, clear and  all too knowing gaze. She is calm, mystical and serene and knows all the answers to life’s mysteries. Of course she tells her fortunes in a colorful gypsy caravan and wears beautiful flowing clothes, glittering rings and golden bangle bracelets. Naturally she wears gorgeous silk scarves and over the years, her raven curls have never been blemished by one strand of gray hair….

Then there is the reality. Ellen is a green eyed Witch with brown hair. She is a middle aged clairvoyant with a smart mouth and a wicked sense of humor. Ellen lives in the ‘burbs in the Midwest in a mid century ranch style house, surrounded by her gardens, and prefers comfortable and serviceable clothes while she works.  We don’t mention the gray hair. What gray hair?

In the past few months I have been getting more and more requests for tarot readings. Its been a long time since I offered tarot readings to the public- well besides in Montreal at the Yule fair last year. And honestly I sort of miss doing them.

So this week I put up a “Special Offer” tab on my website and I for a limited time I’ll be offering full tarot readings online. Just today I added an online mini-tarot reading. You can sign up for these just like you would any of my online classes. On my website www.ellendugan.com and it goes through Paypal. No muss- no fuss.

I thought this would be fun to offer to the fans and I’m going to do the readings for as long as my writing and touring schedule will allow me. (For the next month or so.)  I use the Mary Hanson Roberts deck for my public readings. Why? Because it's pretty.

As a clairvoyant, working with Tarot cards are not strictly necessary for me- but they are fun. I like the visual images and they give me a jumping off point for a reading. Besides I learned early on that clients do NOT like it when I just stroll through their head and pull out things with no props and no tools other than me holding their hand.

I think that’s why I started jokingly calling myself Zolta when I was a kid- it made people laugh and they stopped being afraid of just how accurate I was. Anyway, today if you sign up for a reading you’ll get Ellen and Zolta only comes out to play when I let her.  Those jingling bracelets get on my nerves anyway!

Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring Enchantment is in the Air!

What is it about spring, that entrances us so? When I took a walk earlier this week I was thrilled to discover daffodils breaking the groud and crocus blooming. There are buds swelling on the trees and I wake to birds singing in the morning. The robins are back in the gardens (though a few hung out all winter - more are back now). And the days are getting longer and best of all enchantment is in the air.

I managed to get out in the front gardens on Friday and rake and clip back two of the front perennial beds. I uncovered hyacyths and tulips just emerging and stood there and grinned over them.... I still have one more large shady bed and one medium sized perennial bed to clean out for the front gardens. 
Thats not counting the twelve other beds in the back yard and side yards. The iris/ lily garden is probably next on my list. Once the weather warms back up-- I'll be out there busting ass again.
While I was busy out there on Friday, the robins followed me around hoping that I would uncover worms, and the squirels scampered about- probably upset with me for disturbing the stashes of acorns.

At the moment I am trying to talk myself out of buying any pansies for my hanging baskets and containers. Its a bit early. I should wait for a few more weeks... but its hard. I suppose I will have to content myself with gardening magazines and keep plotting and planning, in the meantime...

In other news, "The Spring Sabbats" online class is my most popular class at this time of year. This online class covers the Sabbats of Ostara and Beltane. There is also some moon magick included for spring as well as a bonus spell for Walpurgis Night.  The "Herb Magick" class is running a close second, as I imagine folks, like me, are getting the urge to garden right now.
For now I will content myself with the crocus and cheer on the earliest daffodils in my neighborhood.

Interstingly in the language of flowers the crocus symbolizes that you will remain young at heart no matter what your age. The crocus has the planetray correspondence of Venus, and the elemental association of water. Magickally the crocus may be used in spells for freshness, new beginnings, romance, health and joy.

For more information on garden magick, and other magickal spring flowers check out my books, Garden Witchery, Garden Witch's Herbal and Herb Magic for Beginners.

Spring is in the air! (Don't forget that this season is linked to the element of air and the Eastern quarter!) You can smell the spring on the breeze and see it beginning all around you. Light some spring green candles, plant some pansies, enjoy your daffodils and tulips as they break the ground and begin to grow tall, straight and true.  Call the season into your life and promote, new wisdom, and abundance.
Enjoy this time of enchantment and Blessed be!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Confessions of a Klutzy Belly Dance Student

Last night was belly dance class night. My instructor sent me a text… and asked if I could come earlier to class as one of the students of the 4:30 class was also coming in earlier due to a schedule conflict. My instructor knows I enjoy the longer workout so I happily trooped, or  troupe-d off to class.

I am in a class that is more workout oriented in style… it focuses on repetition, and fine tuning the movements … but thankfully it has very little choreography. Not that I don’t try. Apparently I am severely allergic to choreography. I try like hell to remember dance moves that come one after another and my mind just scrambles. I start to figure it out and then the class goes up to real speed and… forget it.

A few weeks ago all the classes got lumped together on a Sunday, and it began with the workout style I am used to. Then it switched over to a new dance the performing troupe is learning. Holy crap it is fast, and I was a disaster while 8 other women (other students and the performing troupe members) effortlessly danced along to the music in a choreographed routine. Me, I went the wrong way, got lost, turned around and strained my knees.

Mortified, I hobbled off the floor. Sat there a moment, and then quietly went home and left them dancing away… Once I got home I limped in the front door, and loaded up on ibuprofen, icepacks, and Aspercream, Oh the indignity of it all!
I belong on the belly dance short bus. I go one way they go another, they spin I stand there…. It is NOT my forte. But I sure as hell admire the people who can do choreography and who perform.

I started taking belly dance class about 3 years ago… with the idea that it would target the mid-section of my body (it does) and that hopefully, possibly I would gain some flexibility and grace and loose some of my hopeless white-girl dance moves. (Which I actually have. I gained some moves- but tragically not the grace.)

I should confess that I am also considered hopeless with a veil. Oh I try like hell, but one memorable class a year or two ago, we were all working with veils and I managed to take out 3 people at once during the routine. Seriously. True story. I whacked two women in the head (Sorry Karen and Sherry) and stepped on my friends veil- she is much shorter than me, and as Jen was trying to move forward, it pulled her straight backwards and down she went, butt first on the floor.

Once the instructor stopped staring, at the amount of carnage one woman with an orange veil could cause, she began to giggle and to this day whenever I see that damn orange veil, that veil that I took out half the class with… I shudder. The last time my instructor recommended I practice with veils in the classroom I asked her if she had emergency services on speed dial. She thought that was hysterically funny. I was completely serious.

Last night my instructor sat down with me as we stretched out after a excellent workout and she gently asked if I would like to try and learn some choreography one on one. Damn the woman is persistent . I’ll give her that. I recommended if she kept the pace as slow as the performing troupes sword routine- without the swords or the kneeling, if she did that, I might be able to pull it off.

Dear gods. Me dancing with a sword? No. And a Hell, no! at that.  Surely me trying to learn to dance with a sword balanced on my head is one of the signs of the apocalypse. So no, there is no sword dancing in my future. Even my husband blanched at that thought. But maybe… just maybe I can pull off learning some very slow paced choreography. Something with no hopping or fast spinning that won’t kill my knees? We’ll have to see what she comes up with.

This morning after last night’s class, I am really sore along my ribs, sides and abdominals. Which I am happy about- because that means I worked out that part of my body hard. I busted ass in belly dance class! I like it. Simple, easy to remember. Maybe I should have that put on a t-shirt or something. Either that or:

“Warning: I am considered lethal with an orange veil… approach at your own peril!”

Blessed be, Ellen