Written By: Meg Crawford
Academic and long-time Muses pal Dr Caroline Tully has delivered a popular array of juicy in-house workshops spanning everything from an introduction to Thelema through to ancient Mediterranean witchcraft, the latter of which stems from her niche area of study.
In February, Dr Tully’s dropping in again to run another compelling workshop, this time exploring the Minoan Snake Goddess. In the lead up to her workshop, Dr Tully gives us an insight into her magical origins and fascination with the Minoans.
When did you first discovered magic and what made it so appealing?
It was in the holidays after year 12. I won’t say what year, because you don’t need to know how old I am, but let’s just say it was in the eighties. I ended up at this person’s house, looking in their bookshelf and saw all these books on magic and just thought, “what is this?”.
What was interesting to me was that magic seemed to promise amazing results. I wanted to follow up and see where it led. I’d never heard about it prior to that, and up to that point I wasn’t particularly interested in spirituality. I’d had a friend year 12 who was really into spiritualism and ouija boards – I didn’t know anything about either, but I did think her interest was ridiculous. I remember once we were doing a ouija board and she got a particular message and freaked out. I just rolled my eyes and was bored, so I thought I wasn’t interested in spiritual matters, but in fact I was.
But the thing is with magic is that it’s not just a spiritual thing. To be honest, it promises empowerment and effectiveness. Those were tempting things, although I didn’t consciously register that at the time. I just registered magic as an interesting system of knowledge that seemed really intriguing and about which I needed to know more.
Who were the ancient Minoans and what do we know about them?
“Minoan” is a term that came from the archeologist Arthur Evans who discovered the Palace of Knossos on what’s now called the Greek island of Crete in about 1899/1900. The name refers to the Greek myths about King Minos, the labyrinth and the Minotaur. While a lot about the Minoans is unknown, we do know that their civilisation became increasingly sophisticated. For instance, starting from around 1800 BCE, the Minoans had already built huge palaces, although there was an earthquake in which they were knocked down. The rebuilding started around 1750 BCE. The first palace period is called the Protopalatial period and the second the Neopalatial period. The snake goddesses date from the first period where they were preserved in deep, rectangular containers found later in the second palace.
What can we look forward to in the workshop?
I’m going to introduce the Snake Goddess, we’ll do some snake exercises, examine the historical evidence and look at the Snake Goddess forgeries, as well as go into evidence for other types of Minoan religion, some of which also involves snake iconography. We’ll also talk about the postures represented in Minoan artwork, and do some exercises with them – the point of the postures was to stimulate certain visions.
Why is it valuable for modern pagans to investigate ancient practices and religions?
It’s a cliche, but we’re really quite divorced from nature. Even saying “nature” sounds like a romantic cliche, but it’s really not. Right now, the ecosystems of the world are threatened, and extinctions are going on and on. The people in charge of the planet scoff at that, not thinking that they’re part of the environment.
The Minoan relationship with the environment was wildly different – the elites in Minoan art are often depicted in intimate religious relationships with aspects of the natural world. The idea is that they’re communicating with it because the natural world was considered to be prestigious. I just think it can never hurt for us to be more in tune with the real world beyond buildings, beyond phones, beyond the Internet, beyond the TV. The thing about the Minoans is that they were a bit more earthly compared to something like Thelema, which is a bit more starry. The Minoans were unashamedly green.
Tickets to this workshop are selling fast with only a few spots left.
Get your ticket online www.musesofmystery.com or in store now.
Minoan Snake Goddess Workshop, Saturday 23 February 2019, 11-1.30pm, $70.-
CRAFT: HOW TO BE A MODERN WITCH
By Gabriela Herstik
Review by Monique O’Meara
‘We’re waking up. And with our eyes to the moon we recall the eternal truth. You are a
Witch. You are made of Magick. It’s time to remember.’
For many of us, entering into Witchcraft for the first time can be an experience of self-
discovery. It’s a beautiful and spiritual mark on the path to a new awakening, and regardless
if you call it your religion or simply just your practice, it all means something greater than
just spells and potions in the end. For many of us, our craft becomes our identity. This is the
message Gabriela Herstik is voicing in her very first book, ‘CRAFT How To Be A Modern
Herstik has written down the very basic understanding for newcomers of witchcraft and has
done so in a well-constructed tone. Her voice is both informative and enlightening. However,
I personally don’t affiliate with the title of her book ‘how to be a modern witch’.
I suppose Herstik’s take on the word ‘modern’ is referring more to the numbers of young
woman who are joining and following witchcraft today. Those who are discovering
witchcraft within the ‘modern age’, as we see it. But really, no matter what year or century
you were born into, the time when we connected to our craft was modern to us all then as it is
now, the only difference being time changes. That doesn’t mean witchcraft or being a witch
suddenly becomes a ‘modern’ thing. While I agree, this is no doubt an age of technology and
new-age mechanisms, which can sometimes have an influence over our practice, the terms
Witch and Witchcraft are far from modern and should always be recognised as such.
Strangely enough, Herstik uses the word ‘modern’ and then retreats to quotations about our
traditional roots of witchcraft and leading back to our ancestors. Which is it?
Granted- Herstik is insightful and well detailed in her teachings throughout CRAFT, showing
a wide range of knowledge on divination practices such as tarot and palmistry, to working
with crystals, astrology, herbs and even your own clothing for witchy aesthetic and spell
work. You can guarantee an easy read of the topics she covers with the use of charts,
diagrams and pictures displayed. As to do with spell work and rituals, she covers the basics
of some easy moon Magick, glamour spells, alter cleansing and preparation, day to day
blessings, enchantments and more.
I can ultimately say I was pleasantly surprised by Gabriela’s voice in this book- despite her
‘modern’ approach. Looking at it, first glance, I would not have picked it up personally had I
been in my local bookstore. I still wouldn’t say I’d own a copy of this book myself and I
don’t believe many experienced witches would either, nothing will come as a surprise to
them in CRAFT. But for the newcomers of witchcraft, listen and learn from this book. It will
help greatly for those of you who are unsure where to begin and how it all works. If she had
written this book when I was thirteen and just coming into witchcraft myself, I would have a
lot to thank her for, and I hope for the new witches of today, they will too.
‘Magick doesn’t look the same for everyone’. – Gabriela Herstik.
Enjoy Herstik’s – Inner Witch book. Both are available at Muses of Mystery. Online and in store now.
Written By: Meg Crawford
What is Lammas?
According to the pagan calendar or Wheel of the Year, the passage of a year was marked by various festivals linked to the cycle of seasons. Today’s pagan community continues to observe these festivals.
Lammas – also known as Lughnasadh or Lunasdal – is the festival celebrating what was traditionally the time to harvest. Representing a peak of crop maturity and growth, farmers would reap the benefit of what they’d sown in the preceding months. In other traditions, the festival can be more a celebration of Lugh, known as the Celtic Craftsman God or God of Light.
While many of us are probably not literally harvesting at this time (although, you might be…), it is still an opportune moment to reflect on your efforts and their rewards, and practice gratitude for the same. Plus, if we’ve been blessed with bounty, it’s time to share.
Given that winter is around the corner, it’s also a time to enjoy the remaining longer days and light.
It’s also time to start preparing for the future and get organised, put disputes to rest, mend bridges or end relationships amicably.
When do we celebrate Lammas down under, and is it different from in the northern hemisphere?
In the Southern Hemisphere, we celebrate Lammas from 1-2 February. On the flip side of the world, the festival is celebrated on 1-2 August.
What events are associated with Lammas?
Traditionally, Lammas is a time for the first harvest of the year – often the first grain or corn harvest. It is also a good time for sport, paying debts, resolving disputes, blessing rites and weather magick.
How can I honour Lammas?
Try some of these ideas:
- bake bread or pretzels (or, maybe just eat them);
- make a grain wreath;
- make a corn dolly;
- revel in the outdoors while the weather is still good – go camping or picnic;
- set up a Lammas alter with items that could include sickles and scythes (or representations of them), oats, mint, fresh fruit and veg, and sheaths of wheat. Make it colourful – think Autumn hues of red, yellow and orange; or
- bless your home.
If your celebration focuses more on Lugh, you may wish to adorn your altar with symbols or tools of your trade, craft or skill.
How do you celebrate the festival at Muses?
We love to get hands-on during all celebrations of the pagan Wheel of the Year, and Lammas is no different. You’ll each have the opportunity to craft something beautiful (we’ll talk you through it and there’s not requirement to be good at art or crafty per se).
Then, we eat… On that note, we’d love it if you would bring along a snack or something tasty to share. Feel free to whip something up yourself, but that’s by no means compulsory.
Book online here or in store and find out more. Saturday 2 February; 11am-1pm; $35
Written By: Meg Crawford
Ahead of her sold out Hoodoo For Beginners workshop on Saturday 12th January, 2019, we quiz Gaby – tarot reader, reiki healer and guest workshop facilitator – about her magical path to the practice.
Where did your interest in magic start?
I actually have a bloodline of French Gypsies who were performers and horse trainers. “Gypsy” has been a dirty word all over the world, but I wear it with pride. Also, I practiced what I can now identify as Reiki as a child, without even knowing what it was. It was only when I studied Reiki as an adult that I found out it was actually a “thing”, not just something that I did.
On one side of the family there was also a lot of herbalism – gypsies were like the first chemists – and my grandmother was very superstitious, which we all absorbed. Plus, as a child I had a lot of visions, which were later validated. It’d be things like telling my mother that my sister was crying and it turned out that she’d just had an operation in another country and was crying, calling out mum’s name.
How did you come to the practice of Hoodoo?
For me, Gypsy notions and Hoodoo come together beautifully, because they’re very similar. There are many aspects of gypsy lore in Hoodoo and vice versa. Even before I started, I just liked the word – I always saw it differently from most people, who are freaked out by it. I was always very curious.
What can we expect in the workshop?
I’ll be going through Hoodoo from the ground up, starting with its history. Amongst other things, we’ll be doing candle magic with oils and talking about scrying with candle wax. At the end, we’ll be making sugar dolls, which involves writing a petition on paper and then sugaring it. It’s quite literally for relationships that you need sweetening. The rest is a surprise, but one of the most important things I want people to walk away with is the idea that they can go out and feel liberated to do it themselves.
Do you have any books that you’d suggest for Hoodoo newbies?
Yes! Try these as introductory texts. These titles can be found at Muses Of Mystery.
- Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones (2004) by Stephanie Rose Bird.
- Everyday Voodoo (2010) Beth Dolgner
- The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook (2011) Denise Alvarado
- Working Conjure: A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic (2018) Hoodoo Sen Moise
- Old Style Conjure: Hoodoo Rootwork and Folk Magic (2017) Star Casis
Gaby also stocks her own brand of Hoodoo products, Blue Moon Healing at Muses of Mystery.
Book a tarot reading or reiki healing with Gaby at Muses of Mystery on Mondays and Fridays. Contact Muses of Mystery to make a booking.
Light Magic for Dark Times
By Lisa Marie Basile
“My goal isn’t to placate you with squeaky-clean false positivity… Instead, I aim to help you find
small, realistic ways to gain strength, autonomy, and joy.”
Basile’s spell book speaks directly to the socially conscious young women living through our
often tumultuous age. She has stepped into the darkness, and emerged with wonderful volume
of spells, rituals, and practices to help shine a light into the shadowy parts of day-to-day life.
Many of these rituals are simple, requiring only a few common components, and your time. This
makes them perfect for the beginner witch, or those who (like me) feel they are constantly
wrestling with a pages long list of ingredients! The book’s total list of required materials is less
than a page – so if you have access to coloured candles, a few carefully selected crystals, and a
handful of fairly common household items, you’re probably already set.
However, for those of us who do like to get fancy, the structure of the spells are solid. There’s
plenty of room to add things – into crystals, essential oils, or herbs? You could easily substitute,
or add your own flourishes.
Much of Basile’s magick is focused on magick as an act of self care. Within you’ll find pages
such as “A Poppet Practice for Body Love”, “A Self Love Spell for Those with Chronic Illness”
(one of my favourites), “A Spell to Recharge After Attending a Protest or Doing Social Justice
Work” and “A Ritual to Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome.” I know I can personally relate to the
feelings and issues touched on by these spells – but they aren’t things I’ve done nearly enough
spell work around.
This book has inspired me to find fresh ways to include small acts of magick in my everyday
life, but is also a book I’d feel comfortable gifting to a newer witch. It’s written in a way that is
accessible and easy to grasp, but isn’t an introduction into witchcraft, or any specific school of
Of course, I can’t review Light Magic for Dark Times without mentioning how stunning this book
is. Inside the hardbound cover, this volume is littered with simple line drawings, and is
beautifully formatted. Each page is truly a joy to look at!
So pour yourself a cup of tea, wrap yourself in a blanket, and get stuck into this gem!
Review written by Emily