Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Value of a Coven-Sister

My coven met last night for our Imbolc celebration. We met at Ember’s house and what a lovely time we had. So we celebrated Imbolc, and ate a late dinner. Sarah brought an awesome salad, Ember made yummy vegetable soup, I brought a bottle of wine, and some fruit, cheese and crackers, Charlynn brought spiced wine, Jen, bless her, made a wickedly good cheese cake and brought along a bottle of dessert blackberry wine. So we shared dinner together, and had a couple glasses of wine and caught up with each other. One of our members had to work at the last moment and was unable to attend, but 5 out of 6 were there and Yule seemed very far away as we sat and visited and enjoyed each other’s company.



Our coven rituals are always written by whoever is hosting the gathering and we take turns throughout the year. (That way everybody shares in the responsibility. With each of us taking turns it gives us a nice balance and some variety to the rituals themselves.) Typically we choose the dates for our coven gatherings for the entire year at the Yule gathering. We all sit down with our calendars for the coming year and figure out who’s taking what day, where and when we will gather together to celebrate the Sabbats and we also try and work in a nice balance of full and dark moon gatherings as well.

Last night Ember hosted. So she was in charge of the ritual, and it was a lovely one. You guys are going to love all the gorgeous rituals that she wrote in her first book “Magical Candle Crafting” when it comes out in March through Llewellyn Worldwide! Here is a picture of her first book-

Yeah, I am VERY proud of her, and proud of all of my coven sisters.

Maybe it’s just one of those Witch things- but I feel closer to and have a stronger bond with my coven sisters than I do to any of my relatives. (Not counting my husband and children of course.) To me, family is not so much about bloodlines. Its about love and the people that you let into your heart. Those individuals are your family.  Sarah brought this up last night, and I think that this particular old saying is very true, “One genuine friend is more valuable than a thousand relatives.”



When I link hands with the women in my Coven and we raise energy together, it’s sheer force astounds me every single time.  So to me the real value of a coven sister is that not only are they my dearest Witch friends, they are also the family of my heart.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Find the "Perfect" Witchcraft Teacher

Everyone wants to find a “perfect” teacher. They can even visualize the ideal individual… This teacher of course has rock bottom prices for their classes, will be on call 24/7, answer every possible question the student may have, tell the student exactly what to do in every situation, be gifted with the patience of a saint, have the wisdom of the ages at their very fingertips, posses the humor of a stand up comedienne,  and probably look like the teaching staff at Hogwarts.

So all joking aside… how do you find a good teacher? Well ask yourself a few important questions first.
1.)    Who is the instructor and what are their qualifications?
2.)    How expensive is the class?
3.)    How far will I have to travel to attend this class?
4.)    What is the instructor’s teaching style like? Would I be comfortable in their class?
5.)    Would I prefer an online class as opposed to a public class?
6.)    Am I willing to devote, my time, money and energy to this on line/ public class?
 
An important thing for occult students to keep in mind is that, all teachers have their own teaching style. Some are dry and “professorial” for lack of a better word. A few magickal teachers are so charismatic that they draw you in and dazzle you. While some instructors are casual and unstructured. Others are quiet, serious and thought provoking, and there are those lecturers who teach best by combining serious and or practical information with a serving of humor. So you will need to figure out what teaching style would be most complimentary for you as a student.

One of my best writing friends is an amazing lecturer. Seriously. When I sit in one of his in-person classes and am blown away at how lyrical, elegant and smoothly polished his classes on the occult are. They are deep, thought provoking and spiritual. He can lead a meditation in a public class and you are simply transported. It’s damn impressive. (And I don’t impress easily.)
As a matter of fact the last time I sat in on one of his classes when it was over, I looked at him while we relaxed over dinner, and said. “It amazes me how you so smoothly lecture to a class. It’s elegant. I wish I could draw students in the way you do. ”
His response to me was, “Really? I always wished I could make people laugh and have fun in a class they way you do.”

So you see, even teachers are always looking to be inspired and to find better ways to connect with and to teach their students. It takes weeks, and many hours of work on the instructors part to set up good online classes and/ or  "in public" classes. I know the last online class I created, "Herb Magick" challenged me as I wanted it to be a good and thought provoking class on herbalism. Writing the newest class taught me many lessons. I guess that old saying is true, You teach best, what you most need to learn.

A good teacher is always learning, and will push themselves to improve. You should look for that quality. Several years ago when I first began teaching public classes, I discovered right away that humor kept my students interested, and attentive. So slowly over time I let my teaching style evolve. I speak in public the same way I write. Honestly, with humor and I am very blunt, (Yeah, yeah, I am sure you are all shocked by that admission.) I prefer to use real-life situations and examples when I teach, not just dry information.

In my mind, there needs to be a way for the students to connect the magickal topic of the class with their own lives. So, I also incorporate a lot of humor. That is just my personal style. If my students laugh and have a good time while they are learning, then I feel that I have done what I set out to do. They absorbed the information, they will apply it into their life and best of all, they will remember the lesson. To me if a student says “I learned so much and it was fun!” then I feel I have done my job well.


So when on the quest for the “perfect” teacher. You may also want to consider becoming a “perfect” student. Decide for yourself how much time, money and effort you are willing to devote to taking a class. Pick a topic that you will enjoy and whether its an online class or a public in-person class, do the work, put some effort into it, and see what you can learn.
After all the only person who decides whether you have failed or succeeded in your magickal studies…. is you!
Blessed be, Ellen

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My newest Online Class "Herb Magick" is available now!

Anyone who knows me knows I have a passion – some would say obsession- for herbs, magickal herbalism and gardening. Even in the depths of winter I dream of gardens and herbs. My newest Online class “HERB MAGICK” is up and ready to order! Here is the class description. It took weeks of work but finally, its good to go!
“A brand new class for Ellen's online students. This class focuses on the practice of Herb Magick. It discusses herbal correspondences, magick, the Hermetic laws of vibration and correspondence, the flower and faerie folklore of herbs, the do's and don'ts of gathering for spell craft and the fact that herb magick is a major magick. Also there is information on the Language of Flowers included. There are reading assignments, a quiz, and several days worth of homework for this class. Also included are herbal correspondence charts, and suggested reading for further study. The class fee is $30.00 and will be emailed to you in Rich Text Format. The class is sent typically within 1 - 2 days as soon as payment is verified.”. Payment is made through PayPal. And on my website http://www.ellendugan.com/    Go to the “Online classes page.”

The required text for this online course is Herb Magic for Beginners, by Ellen Dugan. Published by Llewellyn Worldwide. The text does not come with this course and may be purchased ay any major bookstore or online through Llewellyn Worldwide at www.llewellyn.com or at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/ 
Keep in mind the book has new cover art. So you may come across two different versions of the cover. Either version of this particular book will work for the online class. (They are the same inside- after all.) Here is the original version of the cover art- and just below the new version. Remember- its the same book.


I should point out here that the "Herb Magick" class is designed to be worked at ANY time of the year. There are options for gathering fresh herbal materials for folks without a garden or even during the winter months. (I’ve got that all covered in this online class!) I think this class has more homework than any other class I have put together, so the students will be happily studying, and conjuring away for a nice long time.

I hope you will all enjoy the class. As for me I’m going to enjoy my snowy and chilly weekend, looking at gardening magazines and plotting for spring and what plants I want to add to my own Garden of Witchery. Which is right now- as you can see from the photo I took just above- sleeping away under the snow.
Blessed be, Ellen



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Witch's Cottage

So what does a witch’s house look like anyway?  Is it gothic and grim or is it more like the movie set from Practical Magic? You gotta admit the sets and interiors of that movie are amazing. Who wouldn’t love to have a conservatory like the one in the movie? All those apothecary chests, glass bell jars, and cloches. Personally I want the kitchen, with all the creamy white glass fronted cabinets and dark old floors…. Combine that with the garden gone wild conservatory and I’d be thrilled. Here are a few pics of the movie set below.


To my amazement I found entire websites devoted to the look of the “house” from that movie and Victorian Magazine even did a spread on the set of the movie back in 1998. It often amuses me when I have someone to my home for the first time they are always a little surprised that we live in a ranch style mid-century home in the burbs. Now my gardens are my pride and joy and they are expansive, but the interior of our house, is a casual gardeny-cottage style with a bit of shabby chic thrown in- wherever I can get away with it. And guys it's pretty normal looking.

Our living room for example has mushroom colored walls, and the couch and loveseat are a sage green. While the tables in the living room are an eclectic mix of farmhouse antiques, and distressed shabby chic looking wooden furniture in old green or antiqued white finishes. I am the crazy person who painted a solid maple coffee table vintage green, had the husband sand off part off the paint, distress it, and then add antiquing patina… Its cool. We did something similar with the television cabinet. Painted it white, distressed it, then added antiquing glaze and crystal old style knobs. Oh and yes, I do still have the 100 year old wooden garden gate hanging on the living room wall. I wrote about the acquisition in my book Cottage Witchery.


Now that two of my kids have flown the nest, with the third making plans for her own lair in the future….. I am going to be able to indulge myself a bit more with the interior of our house. My new office is pretty basic at the moment. I’ve only finally gotten a room of my own for it back in November, so its coming along slowly. This spring I will change out the curtains, buy a decent reading chair and get the shabby chic witchy look I have been dreaming of. Cue theme song for Practical Magic here….

For now the walls in my office are a pearly white, the rug is neutral and the curtains are left over from my son’s previous apartment and are navy. But hey they are in good shape and best of all they were free. (We swapped. I bought he and his brother new curtains for their new place- he gave me his gently used navy curtains.) I do have all of the covers of my books displayed on the wall above my desk, and all four of my COVR award certificates are also framed and displayed. I have a big Goddess poster framed too. So besides a desk, a bookshelf and a table/ file cabinet the “office” is pretty standard… but soon that will change.

If you are curious and want to add some magickal atmosphere to your own abode- check out my book Cottage Witchery. With this book you can easily conjure up some natural magick for your own hearth and home. You'll find inspiraton, spells, and lots of witchery to keep you happily casting away.

So, since I can’t garden at the moment due to winter, I am dreaming of redecorating my home. (And yours!) I wonder… maybe we will start a new trend. Perhaps there really will be a decorating style called Cottage Witch Shabby Chic!

Blessed be, Ellen









Saturday, January 15, 2011

The "Charm" of Winter

Okay after being cooped up in the house for a few weeks the crappy winter weather is starting to get to me. This is the time of year the Garden Witch (that’s me) starts to sulk. The garden is sleeping away under the snow and spring is still two long months away….

Yesterday I was so stir crazy that I bundled up in my Under Armor cold gear, and braved the lack of sidewalks in my snow-covered neighborhood. I walked on the parts of the streets that had been cleared and did two miles dodging icy patches. All the while being alert for oncoming traffic.

Once I walked up to the local park – which had the walking loop all clear- and I was able to turn up the volume on my Ipod and  hit it. I saw some families out sledding down the big park hill. It was a good day for it as the temperatures were in the mid thirties and there was (for once) no wind.

Walking outside in the winter time for me is always risky. Why? Well because if its windy or too cold I tend to get a sinus infection- That’s how I got one in December. Plus If I even see ice anywhere- there is a good chance I’ll fall. It’s a reflex. I see that ice and somehow- even if I’m on a dry textured surface- I slip. Grace is not my middle name. I have hopes to be elegant and graceful in my next life…


So that leaves me watching the thermometer, and hoping the temps hit around 36 degrees Fahrenheit, with no wind. Then I’ll layer up and try and go for a 2 or 3 mile walk. The high school track is snow and ice covered so no jogging laps for now. Which leaves the park and the walking loop or workout DVD’s at home. I refuse to spend a ton of money on a treadmill- I hate them and I prefer to be outside when I exercise so I have something to look at like trees, flowers, or birds, while I’m walking or jogging. 

I honestly do prefer to be outside when I am working out. So winter is always a challenge for me. (And my typically sunny disposition.) Ahem.
I should probably join a gym or something but it would only be for three months… would they let me do that? Oh and I fully admit that I can’t stand having people watch while I work out. If I wanted an opinion I’d join a gym.
Oh wait… well ha!

I do enjoy watching the birds in the winter at our birdfeeders. I like a merry crackling fire in the woodstove, I do enjoy building an occasional snowman. But how in the hell people live and survive in places farther North I have no freaking idea. They must be descended from the Vikings. Oh wait a minute my Grandfather’s mother was from Denmark. Maybe I need to call on Freya and embrace my inner Danish Viking woman.
Lets see...
Freya, hear the call of your daughter,
Help me to avoid falling on frozen water...

Nah, thats a bit Snarky, even for me. I'll have to come up with something pretty, more befitting of Freya and do that instead.  
So, do I have anything good to say about the snow, ice, the cold and winter?
Ummm give me a moment. I’m thinking that over.
Can I get back to you, say in the Spring?

Blessed be, Ellen

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Full Moon Witchery- and the Online Classes

Good Morning,
Maybe it's just one of those things, but I personally start to feel the tug of the full moon about a week before it actually arrives. I woke up this morning and wondered why I felt so sulky when I realized that with all of the clouds from the recent snow, that  I had not seen the moon in a while.
My internal "clock" thought we were about a week or so away from the full moon phase and as I shuffled into my office this morning, I looked over at my Witches' Calendar to check and noticed that in fact, the full moon is a week away.

Which reminded me to update my newest class files. So, I went to my full moon mini-class files to update the lunar eclipse information (dates) for 2011 and I sat and thought deep witchy thoughts for a while. The moon, while unseen at the moment still pulls and directs us all, especially if you are a Witch or magician. And I could really feel her direction this morning.

With the first full moon of 2011, only a week away, the timing for updating that eclipse date information seemed appropriate. After all it's a Wednesday- a day for communication, and a waxing moon phase- for increase. I like it!

I started offering online classes almost two years ago, because I kept getting requests for them from fans. Once I started- the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. So I added more classes. Every once in a while I get a random letter from someone telling me that I should not charge for online courses... and how they are all offended by that. Which is immediately followed by a request to send them a class for free. (Nope not kidding.)

I once had someone get up in my face, and demand to know how could I "dare" to charge for classes. My response was,  If you went to the community college, you expected to pay for your courses. You did not march up to yon local proffesor and stomp your foot and tell them that it was against the rules to have to pay for their time and effort in creating a class and teaching it. Then I stood there and smiled. The person in question just made a sound sort of like a balloon loosing air... and skulked away.

Truthfully, my criteria for doing online classes was and still is, pretty straightforward.
First, they had to be kept at an affordable price, (The class prices range from $22.00 dollars to $45.00 each.)
The classes had to be user friendly and work-at-your-own- pace, and finally any class I designed had to be a topic that I enjoyed or was passionate about. Plus I thought it would be a good idea to link the classes straight back to my books that the readers already enjoyed.

Currently I offer six different online classes. The  Four Elements of Witchcraft, Advanced Natural Magick, The Autumn Sabbats, The Spring Sabbats, Natural Magick for Hearth & Home, and most recently I added the Full Moon Mini class.

The Full Moon mini-class features lessons, and a full moon ritual for each of the full moons of the calendar year. January through December. There is also a Lunar eclipse ritual and a ritual for a Blue Moon. Which brings the total up to fourteen lunar rituals in all.
The required text for the Full Moon mini-class is my, Book of Witchery. This class is only $22.00 and like all of my online classes- is emailed to you in Rich Text Format within 24 hourts of payment being verified through PayPal.


So, here is your chance to be all set with lessons, full moon magick and witchery before the first full moon of the year. Also, just for fun, if you order any of my online classes before February the first, I'll add a free Imbolc Ritual as a bonus.

Oh and yes, I am still working away on that future online Herb Magick class. I hope to have that one up and ready to offer by the end of the month. I'm thinking the class price will be thirty bucks, or under.
How do I come up with the class prices? Well it all depends how many pages the class ends up being. Which is the reason the Natural Magick for Hearth & Home class is $45.00 dollars. The amount of information that comes with that class is massive. So I adjusted the price accordingly.

If you are intersted in checking out the online classes I offer please vist my website http://www.ellendugan.com/ and click on the "Online Classes" tab at the top of the page.

Well, I better hop on my broom and fly outta here. My daughter's birthday is today and I need to bake her a cake and get her presents out.
Have a great Wednesday everyone and Blessed be,
Ellen








Monday, January 10, 2011

The Darrin Stephens Syndrome

What is the "Darrin Stephen's Syndrome" you may ask? I first wrote about this problem in my book Natural Witchery. Basically it is the phenomena that occurs when the spouse of a Witch finds it embarrasing/ uncomfortable or inconvienent to be married to a Witch... Unless they need something.
Just like the character Darrin in the classic television show Bewitched.

You know how this goes.... "Oh sure honey, I don't mind you being a Witch. Let's just not tell anybody about it."  As in-- don't wear, or say, or do anything that could possibly make folks think you might be different. Please keep your "colorful" friends quiet when they are at the house or better yet, please don't do ritual out in the yard during daylight hours.

Now there is just this one thing... I really dont mean to encourage you... this will just be our little secret... but do you think you could cast a spell for me for: a job, a raise, a new car, so my boss will get off my back, etc.....

This syndrome can also apply to relatives too. Not just spouses. Over the years I have been hit with the "Do you think you could do a spell to help me with...." Selling the house quickly, boosting my chances of fertility, finding a good romantic partner, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Or worse if the Witch casts a helpful spell for thier spouse/ family member and then the spouse/ family member is pissy about the results, or the speed of the results. Or questions the results. I have even heard of the recipients of the spells who will then sneer at their partner/ relative and make fun of them for having tried (at their very own request) in the first place.

Why it's not like they needed any magickal help... they can get that job, raise, promotion, and sold that house in less than 2 weeks, etc... all on their own. They were just humoring the Witch after all...
Can we say "Hypocrite"?



I get asked about this situation a lot. Best advice I can give you here is this:  Never offer to do magick for them again. And I do mean never. This is a tough situation, because now you have hurt feelings and are also dealing with betrayal. So don't make it so easy for these folks to approach you and then to request magick in the future.

Also stop volunteering to do magick for them. Which is hard, as most Witches want to help their friends and loved ones. Its a reflex. We want to help so we start thinking spells. Witches like to fix problems, to comfort, to heal and to give advice. So with that being said, allow me to give you some hard earned advice here.

You are NOT the equivalent of a magickal drive thru window. Just because someone asks for a spell, does not mean you have to say yes. (Just say "No" to Spell-Beggars!) Start asking what their motivations are and why they are really coming to you....
Most importantly learn to embrace the phrase, "Allow me to dissapoint you." It is a powerful one.

Set some healthy boundaries my Witch friends. And. Stick. To. Them.

Otherwise you are going to start feeling like Endora and wondering how you can make them miserable with the very magick they have made fun of.... Mwha ha ha.
Blessed be, Ellen

Friday, January 7, 2011

Need a Witches' Night Out!

I was woken up this morning by the phrase NO mother wants to hear by a child standing over their bed. "Mom, I feel like I'm going to throw up..."
With this mere phrase any mother can snap out of a coma-like sleep and spring into action faster than a cheetah. It matters not, gentle readers, whether your child is three years old or twenty three years old.

The "child" in question was my soon-to-be 23 year old daughter and she was mostly upset because she was supposed to go to work today and she never, ever misses work.
So, I did what all mothers do. Jumped out of bed, asked if she had a fever- she did not. Offered white soda, urged her to go back to her own bed, from where she called her boss, and got a garbage can to put by her bed just in case. (As she was a fascinating shade of pale green.)

She promptly fell back to sleep,and I was wide awake and wating for the adrenalin to wear off... So I made myself some hot chocolate before I considered killing someone, and reminded myself that there was a good chance I would be getting out tonight for a movie night, with the girls from the coven.


I feel the need for retail therapy, and a break. So I will probably head to yon local mall today and get the hell out of the house for a while. Sometimes working at home is wonderful and sometimes it can make you stark raving mad. Take a wild guess which category I am currently in.

Also as I am back on a strict diet- lost two pounds last week -(yeah me!) I am of course craving dark chocoalte. I do have a recipe of my own concoction for fat free- sugar fee hot chocolate.
It's 1 and 1/4 cups of skim milk. Zap in microwave for two and a half minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of coccoa powder and two packets of nutrasweet. Whisk and enjoy. Guilt free.


So wish me luck on my get-out-of-the-house-adventure today. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the coven movie night will work out as well. Now I have to settle down and try and get some work done. My calico cat is hogging my desk and has her chin resting on my arm as I type meanwhile the unfinished online Herb Magick class is tapping its foot at me...
Blessed be, Ellen

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to Work and Witchery!

Well, the new year is here, my sinus infection is almost over, and I'm back to work and witchery! For the past few days I've been working on finally putting together the "Herb Magick" Online class. I started it in November and then well... life got in the way.

With one of my kids moving out on his own, the rearranging of the house, painting bedrooms....Moving my daughter into a larger bedroom, me taking over her old bedroom to finally have an office.With a door that shuts! (As opposed to being tucked into a corner of the little breezeway)- A room that had four, count 'em, four doors! Not to mention the holiday season... It's been pretty crazy here at home for a while.

So I'll be working away at the Herb Magick online class for the next few weeks and hope to have it ready to go before Imbolc. Just me the computer, my books, and my herbal witchy experiments! Sort of like this.....

As you will soon discover I have a passion for vintage witch everything. So I am going to indulge myself on this blog and add some fun and vintage images from time to time. Above is pictured Veronica Lake from the 1940's movie, "I Married a Witch". 

In other news the proof pages for Practical Protection Magick, are all finished and headed off to the printer in the next week. The book should hit the store shelves by early March. You can pre-order it now at http://www.llewellyn.com/ or through http://www.amazon.com/

In the meantime if you need a fix and want to read something new of mine. Check out the Llewellyn 2011 Witches' Calendar. I have an article in the back of the calendar this year entitiled, "Your Furry Familiar". Its about the magick of working with your dog or cat.
Or take another look at my award-winning book, The Enchanted Cat. Its filled with spells, magick and information that you can use to deepen the connection you have with your feline familiar.


Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Improved Blog

Hello,
Just began setting up a new blog today. I thought it would be a good way to keep everyone posted on my new books, online classes and tour dates.

My newest book, Practical Protection Magick will be released in just 2 months! It is pictured just to the right. Watch for it in March 2011.

I will be playing around with this blog for a while until I get the hang of it.
Keep your fingers crossed.... this should be fun!

Blessed be, Ellen