The Witch Boy: A Graphic Novel Review

Greetings beloveds!

Ohhh I am excited to share this find with you all today. Recently, I visited St. Louis to see my best friend. So of course I requested that we visit some local bookstores. We only made it to one but Left Bank Books was a great choice. Reminiscent of traditional bookstores you are bound to find something that piques your interest there. I love books. The look, the smell, the knowing that I am going to be transported to another world or learn something new is a feeling that I am always chasing.

I wondered through the shop knowing that I was in for a treat. As I moved through the children’s section a staff recommendation caught my eye. It was The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag. Now of course a book about witchcraft always makes it past the first glance. Then I read over the synopsis I was intrigued. The Witch Boy tells the tale of Aster a 13 year old boy who lives in a magical community where boys are shapeshifter’s and girls learn magic to become witches. Aster has an affinity for witchcraft though and spends his time not so secretly learning spells. As a threat begins to grow against his community, Aster’s conflict between what he knows to be true for him and what is expected of him grows. Accompanied by his non-magical friend Charlie, a girl who is figuring out her own place in her community, Aster realizes that his truth may be the key to overcoming the danger that his family faces.

This graphic novel was AMAZING! It was a quick read as an adult but I could see younger folks pouring over the images and the story for hours. The illustrations are vibrant, fun, and diverse. You’ll find that you are able to identify with various characters not only through their behaviors and personalities but also physically. As we realize the importance of representation I love how normalized difference is in this work. Different types of people, families, gender, and spirituality are not highlighted- they just are.

I would definitely recommend this graphic novel to anyone who is looking for a witchy fun read for themselves or their children.

Let me know what you think of the work when you check it out!

-Kamilah Rose

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Clear and Cleanse: March Introduction

March Planetary Placements

Greetings beloveds,

March is finally here and it’s time for us to begin cleansing our energy before spring. Thus this month we will be featuring articles on cleansing foods, movement, and rituals. To help you get started with this process there will be journaling prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Also, keep your eye on this space for information on the full moon in Virgo, new moon in Pisces, and another full moon in Libra. We are finishing out the western astrology cycle for the new moons, astrology cycle, and season. This is the perfect time to release and prepare for what we would like to grow over the next year. To help you prepare for this transition, we’ll be sharing the Spring Equinox 2018 readings for the general energy, love, masculine, and feminine.

We’ll also be sharing information on the Goddess of Life and Death Igbo/Nigerian Goddess Ala. I hope you’ll all check in to see what she has to share with us.

Lastly, get ready for a review of the film Alpha and a movie/book review of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.

This will be great month and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

-Rose

Enchanted Book Reviews: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden Part II- The Sacred in the Mundane

Enchanted Book Reviews

Greeting beloveds,

Today we return to The Bear and the Nightingale to move further into the mystical components of this book. To read my first part of the review that covers the synopsis of the book click here. I would also like to post a SPOILERS ALERT here because I will be digging deep into the topics of this work and that means using specific details that are vital to the story line.

To begin I want to delve into the mundane acts that are made sacred through the intention behind them. In Arden’s book, we first see this theme when Vasya as a young child, steals a honey cake from Dunya and runs off into the winter forest. She first meets up with her brother and then further into the depths of the woods. We then find her perched on a tree branch offering a bit of her cake to an unseen being stating “I know you sleep when winter comes but couldn’t you wake up? See I have cakes?”. This unbeknownst to us is our first glimpse into Vasya’s world filled with spirits and guardians. The cake is offered to woo something to wake from its slumber to come and see Vasya as she sits by herself.

Vasya, we find, is a peculiar girl according to most in the book. Born of her mother who is supposed to have been the daughter of a witch. Vasyas’ spirit came into this world while her mother’s departed. Vasya as the scrawny awkward girl reminds us of the strangeness associated with otherworldly topics and subjects. We accept them in our lives although we may not fully understand them. Vasya performs in a similar way. Unlike others during this time, Vasya maintains her curiosity and open mindedness to magic and mystery. Maintaining the old ways are not a chore or duty but a form of enchantment and entertainment. More importantly they represent her unseen connection to her mother and those who came before her. Vasya is unique in another way as she can see these spirits and speaks with them whereas for the majority of others they know them only through faith in the stories they have been told of the spirits existence. Eventually we begin to find out more about these guardians of the world around her. From house, water, forest, and stable spirits we see that the world around us is teeming with power and life

It is not until we meet the domovoi that we begin to see the purpose behind feeding the spirits that watch over us. The domovoi is described as “small and squat and brown with a long beard and brilliant eyes,” (86, Arden). The domovoi in Vasyas’ home cleans up soot from the large kitchen stove, clears plates, and mends clothing left out for him. In return, the household members would leave him bread and milk to eat. Once Vasya’s stepmother Anna arrives though clothing is no longer left to be mended and bread and milk are hidden in corners as offerings. For Anna is like Vasya and can see the spirits who watch over their land. Unlike Vasya though, Anna believes that these spirits are demons. She finds solace only in the church where the spirits do not come. As she has been taught to be frightened of these beings she does not see how they assist her family and land to function. She does not see their worth but believes they are evil. Anna represents the power of fear. The domovoi specifically does no harm to her or anyone. He simply assists in caring and protecting the hearth (home). That is his job and he wants nothing for it other than to be fed as a member of the household. Yet, Anna cannot see the purpose of the domovoi because she is blinded by her fear of that which she does not understand. We find though that Anna also is unable to understand herself as she thinks she is cursed to have to see these spirits. She does not see the value in herself and her gifts just as she refuses to see them in the spirits around her. This not only leaves Anna open to corruption but as she does not honor the spirits leaves her home and land unprotected as well.

It is only after an encounter with the frightened and angry Anna that Vasya first realizes how unique she is. Vasya comes to realize that although she and Anna can plainly see the spirits around them that everyone else cannot. Instead of being frightened though Anna simply accepts this as how the world is. She sees that the spirits are harmless and in the case of the domovoi and others, helpful. Anna and Vasya represent the dualism of fear and ignorance versus acceptance and knowledge or wisdom. Vasya is in tune with the world around her. She works with the spirits as she knows that without them her world would not function as it should. This is not because she is young and naïve but because she knows that there is real evil out in the world and it is not the spirits that she interacts with. In fact, she is aware that the spirits such as the domovoi protects her, her loved ones, and family from real evil.

We see then the everyday rituals that Vasya does such as putting out food for the house spirits which maintains the connection between the mundane world and the spiritual world. Not only in leaving out offerings for the spirits but in speaking and engaging them. Vasya treats these spirits as members of the family. She includes them in most of her actions from taking care of the home, the farm animals, learning to ride the horses, fishing, and caring for the land. They are a part of her world and her interactions with them are as normal as breathing. In our current society, maintaining spiritual rituals can be seen as strange, fanatic, or looked down upon. Especially when one practices a form of spirituality outside of Christianity, one’s rituals and practices may be seen as foolish, bizarre, or at the extreme end evil. Yet, as Vasya shows us these ways of interacting with the energetic spirit world can be quite simplistic. Setting out food, lighting candles, incense, prayer, meditation, and libations connect us to the energies around us. The molecules break down combining with our bodies and the energy around us. Yet maintaining these practices is an energy consuming task. It is what we pay for the protection and care that we receive from the guardians who watch over the world around us. It is an energetic exchange. As with all exchanges when one part is not maintained the other diminishes as well.

We see then the transition of the burden of these rituals from community to individual practice when belief systems change. In this case, the village would partake in maintaining the old ways with their offerings and festivals. Yet, as Christianity became the prominent belief system these ways were seen as pagan and put to a stop. As others could not see the spirits it was easier to make this transition than for Vasya who had grown up around them and knew of the guardians purpose. Again, Vasya did not fear these spirits. She was not swayed by the church that did not teach love and acceptance but fear. As the spirits began to starve the village began to decline. Crops not growing as they should, homes burning in fires, children becoming lost in the forest, cold harsh winters. The Church, lead not by the Christian God who loves but by the Russian God of fear who was well known among the old ways, used this as evidence that the old ways must be abandoned as God was punishing them. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The God of Fear was getting exactly what he wanted. Vasya, grown up now, had to carry all the burden of feeding the house spirits because no one else was willing to believe anymore in the old ways that were very real. Right now, the divine feminine, empaths, and caregivers of our society are carrying the burden of balancing the energetic exchange. These beings and energies that had very real consequences when not balanced.

This is symbolic of the imbalance that we are facing in our world today. The mundane aspects of our life are no longer viewed as sacred. We consume without thought of the energy that has been used to create these products, food, and social experiences. One must balance the energy that they receive by feeding those who give to them. This includes the workers who grow, build, and create the materials we consume. So yes, be willing to give an offering of sincere thanks, monetary tips, or other forms of recognition to those in customer service. Energetically feed your caregivers so that they are able to continue to care for you and you must demand the same in exchange from them. It must be an exchange and it must be balanced. When it is not then we experience the negative fallout. Unpleasant social interactions, chronic negative experiences, and scarcity mindset are the consequences of not caring for those that care for us. Of rejecting the sacred that exists in the land, the food, the water, and each other. The further the scales become unbalanced the higher the energetic cost that must be paid.

In the case of this book, the payment was a life. A blood sacrifice became the cost of the offering. Think of how much easier it was simply to give milk and honey or other forms of nourishment to the guardians of the land. It took so little to maintain a balanced relationship between the characters of this book and the world around them but fear and ignorance took them outside of their equilibrium. We saw this when due to the lack of offerings the decline in the crops made it We are now in our world in a space where milk and honey are not enough to balance the energies of our land. Blood is being spilled to the spirits of fear, ignorance, hatred, and destruction. When one does not one to recognize that our world is more complicated than good and bad this hinders us from developing the discernment needed to make wise decisions. To know what will protect and secure our world. We must begin to acknowledge the world around us as a spiritual place. As an energetic place.

If we begin to acknowledge the sacred in everything then we will begin to recognize the importance of life and the need for balance. If we do not equal out this balance then we will see more blood spilled. May we return to the time of offerings, ritual, and practice. May the milk and honey flow so the balance may be restored.

-Rose

Reflections: The Door to Growth and Expansion

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Photography by Dee Hill – Makeup and Hair by Vivienne Vermuth

Greeting beloveds,

Can you believe it’s already summer? 2017 seems to be moving so quickly as we enter into the time of expansion and nurturing. June was a bit of a whirlwind month but slowly that energy of clearing has begun to settle down. This allows for us to peek our heads out of the rubble and see what we have left to work with. This is quite appropriate at this time since before you move into harvest season, there has to be a chance to actually allow for growth.

In embrace of this summer energy, here at The Bliss Institute we will be diving deeply into another form of divination this season with a new Tarot series. Each day will feature a different tarot card with its meanings, astrology, numerology, and reversal information. We will also be expanding to include guest posts in this series in order to offer a more inclusive perspective on this broad subject of tarot.

We will also complete the first book review of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden through exploring the connections between masculinity, the shadow, the Goddess, and blood mysteries. Then we will break down the very popular Law of Attraction in our 12 Universal Laws series. Lastly we will, as always, include posts on nutrition, relationships, and the home related building connections to manifest abundance.

What I am most excited to introduce here will be the beginning of our Life and Death Goddess work. This is a huge endeavor that has been a calling of mine for about the past 4 years. When I first starting working with the Dark Goddess, I had such a limited view of what that meant. I didn’t correlate at that time the relationship between the void and the capacity to create anything. This is what I want to share with you all is the magic of the cycle of death and rebirth. How we all move through this shadow journey and can the space provided during these times to tear down all that does not serve us in whatever way suits you best. For some it is fierce, intense, extreme and for others it may be gently persistent like water upon stone. July will introduce us to our first two Goddesses of Life and Death:

latest (83×182)Izanami-no-Mikoto the Japanese Goddess of Life and Death

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Ala the Odinani (Igbo) Deity of Earth, Fertility, and Life. Ruler of the Underworld

This is a very exciting time and I cannot wait to engage in this growth with you all.

-Rose

Enchanted Book Reviews: The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden Part I

Enchanted Book Reviews

Greetings beloveds,

This is the first of a new series here at The Bliss Institute on magical books. Books are an old love of mine that captured my heart since I was a child. I now wish to share this love with you all. So I felt it was appropriate to start with a book that I actually started reading in Barnes and Nobles with every intention of just checking out the first chapter. 10 minutes later I was hooked and purchasing Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.  A free sample can be read through the link but I will summarize the beginning of the story for you here.

This tale takes place in old Russia and follows the Vladimirovich family as the spiritual old ways are steadily being replaced by the Christian Church. The first chapter entitled Frost, sets the scene in the Vladimirovich family home where the children of Pyotr Vladimirovich are settling in for the evening. The lady of the house Marina requests a story from the family keeper Dunya who assisted in all things to maintain the Vladimirovich family. Marina coming in from the cold of winter requests a story about Karachun once known as the God of Death but now is the Frost Demon King Morozko. Dunya is reluctant to share this tale as speaking of the Frost King is known to draw his attention but after some gentle prodding indulges Marina with the tale.

Dunya shares a story of a young girl whose father remarries upon the death of her mother. Eventually the new mother wants to be rid of the her husbands daughter and convinces her father that it is time for her to wed. The step mother presents that the girl will wed The Frost King. Appalled the father objects as he knows that this is no match for a young girl and will most likely result in her death but is eventually convinced by his new wife. They then take the daughter out to the woods and leave her there near a tree telling her that soon her husband will arrive. The young woman waits, the cold creeping deeper within her until a horse arrives with a man upon it. With him comes a biting cold as he asks her repeatedly if she is comfortable. The young woman repeatedly replies that she is quite comfortable even as she begins to freeze. Her kindness and polite responses gain the Frost Kings favor and he returns her home with gold and jewels. The step mother thrilled at this decided to send her own daughter to the Frost King believing that her daughter would gain even treasure from the King. The daughter though, like her mother is arrogant and spoiled. When approached by the Frost King she is rude and insolent. Thus left to freeze which is where the father finds the daughter days later. Upon seeing her frozen daughter, the step mother dies on the spot thus ending this particular tale.

This is the start of The Bear and The Nightingale.

The story continues following Vasilia, Vasya, the daughter of Pyotr and Marina from her birth to her cresting womanhood. Through this tale you will find a vibrant telling of the affects felt when transition of a fundamental part of one’s culture is quickly changed. A tale of a young girl who through blood, experience, and destiny is connected to the metaphysical world around her in a way that few others at that time still are. She stands for the link between the power held within the individual which is broken when taken from the community into a hierarchal system created outside of itself. More importantly, Vasya displays for us through this vivid tale provided for us by Arden, that the line between light/shadow, good/evil, life/death is arbitrary and blurry. Arden takes us on a thrilling journey with Vasya to save her family and world from the brother of death who had been waiting for his chance to rise.

I found Arden’s book to be an entertaining text that touched on deeper topics than I had expected. I hope this little bit piques your interest and you read the story for yourself. If not perhaps Part II, where I will discuss the role of shadow integration, masculinity and the actualized Goddess will draw in.

Til then with love,

-Rose

Reflections: Summer Solstice, Tarot and Books

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Greetings beloveds,

We are officially at the midway point of the Gregorian calendar. Wild how fast time is moving now a days. May was full of growth, inspiration and connecting with our divine purpose through our ancestors. I had such fun writing up the different aspects of ancestor reverence. From creating space within your home, to traditional foods, movement, and divination, our ancestors live on all around and within us. May we never forget the importance of those who have come before us, our impact on the world now and the world our descendants will create.

June promises high temperatures, bright colors, living foods, and the joy of summer solstice. With a new season comes new insights for the next three months in terms of general energy, feminine, masculine, and love. Check in regularly for posts covering each of these areas. We’ll also be completing our current divination toolkit project on astrology by covering the meanings of the planets and houses within western astrology.

Then at the start of summer we will commence with our next divination toolkit project covering the tarot. We will start with a brief overview of the history of tarot, then review each major arcana and minor arcana card each day. This will be a great opportunity for you to review and improve your knowledge of the tarot in a fun and easy fashion.

Lastly, June will feature our first witchy book review on Katherine Ardens’ The Bear and The Nightingale. I love to read and can’t wait to share some of my favorite fictional witchy focused and adjacent texts with you all. If you have any suggestions feel free to include them in the comments.

That’s all for now! Happy June my loves.

-Rose