Dec 8, 2014

A Few of My Favourite Things 2014 Edition

We have come upon the final "guaranteed delivery by Christmas" days of the miracle that is online shopping.  I myself, will be pummeling my little post office with an armload of packages that have come to be known as "The Massive Holiday Chocolate Migration," and so I thought I'd share a few of the things that have made my heart soar this year, in case you would like to get those awesome folks on your gift list something special.  There is still time to snap up most of these items - as always, check with the shop proprietors to ensure holiday delivery.  Or just order something for yourself as a "holiday survival" reward!

If you'd like to see what I recommended last year, go here.

Assorted Awesomeness

I love snail mail in a huge way.  There is nothing that makes me happier than finding a hand-written note in my mail box.  I've been a huge fan of Vanessa's postcards for years, and if you've ever won a book from my October giveaways, you will have received one of her cards with your prize.

It may sound odd, but a stack of beautiful postcards might be the best gift ever (if you are shopping for me). There is something perfect and simple about a postcard - just enough room for a fond thought and a good wish.  She has a wonderful selection of art prints and fun labels at A Fanciful Twist too.

Cat Fish Creek Candles is an Etsy shop that was pointed out to me by the lovely Dana, and I'm completely smitten.  A few hundred different beeswax candle designs, ensures that you will find something that catches your eye. Designs range from animals and holiday themes, to food and spiritual symbolism.  As for me - I really need this happy little sheep in my life!

Mischief and Magic

Magic-maker Jacquelyn Tierney created these mugwort sticks from her own beautiful plants and offers them up in two perfect sizes.  I can't think of a better stocking stuffer for a gardener or a witch.

"Fifty-Four Devils: The Art and Folklore of Fortune-telling with Playing Cards" was featured last year, but I'm going to list it here again because the author, Cory Hutcheson, is donating the proceeds of his book until the end of the year to the Peter Paddon Memorial Fund. It is a fantastic book and a great gift for anyone who enjoys cartomancy, and you get the added benefit of donating to a good cause.

Carolina Gonzalez is the proprietress of Camino De Yara, an enchanting shop of charms, magical herbs, and ritual services.  Carolina's products are superb and her selection of herbs is impressive (including rare plants only found in the Canary Islands where she lives).  Because of the distance, shipping from the Canary Islands may not get to you by Christmas, but do bookmark this fantastic shop for your future magical needs.

The Wildwood Tarot is a deck I picked up earlier this year, and I'm lost in it.  I've been using it mostly as a meditation aid, but I imagine at some point I'll get around to doing full readings with it. We are still in our courting phase, I think.

Bath and Botanicals

Adirondack Aromatherapy creates some of the most stunning soaps I've ever seen.  I'm currently scrubbing down with her "Theives" variety, but I'd like to try them all!

King's Road Apothecary is a delightful shop full of incredible goodies created by the talented Rebecca (whose blog Cauldrons and Crockpots is top f*cking notch). Aside from wanting to be her when I grow up, I also really dig the products I've purchased from her.  My current favourite is not even something I buy for me - her "Busted Joint Ointment" helps my mother with the arthritis pain in her hands, and for that I'm a customer for life!

As a last gift,  I'm going to mention my friend Hob's new blog "The Orphan's Almanac" - not just because he is a wonderful writer, but because right now (and for the next 8 days) he is having a "12 Nights of Krampus" celebration, and you can win something awesome each day. Make sure you get your entries in before midnight when Krampus comes and the gift is gone!

*photos are copyright to, and property of, the shops listed below them and are linked back.

Nov 29, 2014

Leaving November Where It Lies

How swiftly November came upon us, and not even a proper courting before the land froze solid, thawed, and then chilled again.  I was walking in the tamarack a brief month ago, and now I can't even drive up the hill without encountering a few feet of snow.  Autumn seemed so rushed to leave - such a fleeting lover.  My lips were barely kissed with warm rain before the winds came and tore every leaf from its job, waving at passers by.  So short-lived were the oranges and the flaming reds. The Summer held on so long this year, that Fall only had time to give a sly wink and then moved on.

I've taken much of November as catch-up.  I work two jobs in October every year, and with putting the gardens to bed, running wild with the book giveaways all month long, and of course the usual cat, niece, and parent herding, I was a bit ragged by Halloween.

Like a good granddaughter does, I visited my grandparents' graves on All Souls Day, and washed the stones and left flowers and a treat for my grandfather. He usually gets my homemade cookies, but this year I found some Eccles cakes in a shop and knew that it was the perfect offering.  His mother used to make them, and we all keep the recipe sacred in our family.  I'll make some at Christmas and be sure to take him another treat.

I had a lovely chat with my friend's 92 year old mother about her celebrations of All Souls in Bangladesh.  When they lived in the area, there had been a large Catholic contingent, and the celebration on that day stretched through the town.  People would come singing out of the little hill settlements, and down along the roadways, and everyone would meet at the cemetery to clean the graves and lay flowers and candles.  Afterward there were prayers at the Catholic church and feasts later at homes that hosted hundreds of people passing through.  My friend's birthday is on November 2nd and she says that those birthdays growing up in Bangladesh were the happiest of her life.  She felt honoured to have a birthday on All Souls Day.

The souls themselves have lingered as Autumn moved on. The 'thin-time' seems to be always, but it is perhaps a more pronounced feeling as Winter approaches.  The sounds of the vitality of Summer and the buzzing of the earth have been quieted in sleep.  This slipping in to hibernation tends to offer up the space for the softer voices to be heard, leaving no buffer against the silence, save the growing bustle of the holiday season.  And what else are the holidays for, really, but keeping the fires lit and the spirits lifted to weather the long, cold months ahead.  Even as we celebrate we keep an eye to door, lest the wolf, Krampas, or Marley's ghost find their way in.

"There is an old tale that Herne the Hunter,
Sometimes a keeper in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the wintertime, at still midnight,
Walk around about an oak with great ragged horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine* yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner:"

* milk cows

The winds are battering The Valley this week.  The ice has come early, and settled in.  The Wild Hunt is riding and the Old Woman of Winter is sending the deer into the lowlands looking for food. The meagre offerings left in my front flower garden will not sustain them for long, but they are wise and know of the silly woman who talks to deer and leaves seeds and nuts out for birds, and extra helpings hidden under the trees just for them.

And so, as Autumn gives up its last breath and is defeated before the rash advance of ice and snow, I will leave November where it lies, with a quick kiss on its hastily turned cheek.  It gave me but a moment's rest before the excitement begins anew in December, and for that I am thankful.

I hope November leaves you safe, well-fed, and warm, with the good cheer and stamina to enjoy a December as restful or raucous as you like.

My late November-December reading choices: 

"Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead" by Claude Leconteux
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
"Acadian Christmas Traditions" by Georges Arsenault

*quoted text from Shakespear's Merry Wives of Windsor

Nov 3, 2014

A Note of Thanks and the Final Great October Book Giveaway Winners

Before I draw the last three names, I want to take a moment to thank you all for stopping by this past month (plus a few days).  October was a strange and wondrous month, and it wouldn't have been half as lovely without reading all your comments.  I have bumped into the nicest people on the internet!  I very much wish I could have given each one of you a book (and a big hug).

I'd also like to thank the authors for signing their books as a little extra touch for you, and a special shout-out to Signe Pike, who donated a book and some fun extras, and to Deborah Blake who sent out some bookmarks and cute promo cards that I tucked in to many of the packages that went out - you guys rock! And some very big love to Red Wheel/Weiser who sent me two books from their amazing 2014 lineup, just for you!

And as a side-note for those of you who received books, just in case you are curious - the note cards enclosed were from A Fanciful Twist.

I also want to thank, from the bottom of my little green heart, the kind folks who have directed others to Rue and Hyssop.  These names came up as either having directly sent people my way, or having mentioned my blog somewhere on their site, which led people here - not surprisingly, this is a list of people I adore too:

Magaly Guerrero - Pagan Culture Blog
Sarah Anne Lawless
Lamplighter Blues
New World Witchery
Aidan Wachter

And now...the three people receiving a copy of Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook are:

Rebecca Powell

Liz Davenport


Congratulations!  Please send me your mailing address and I'll send those off to you!  (rueandhyssop AT gmail DOT com.)

Do stop by and visit the authors/publishers that were featured this month, and perhaps grab yourself a little treat for Yule!  Thank you all again for making my October brighter!  

Oct 30, 2014

The Great October Giveaway - Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook

It might be the Virgo in me, but I love a good calendar that is organized and fun to use.  This datebook is one I've had my hands on each year, since my best friend's mother bought me a copy about five years ago.  It is informative - listing astrological events, moon info and more, and it's got a selection of articles from authors you might recognize as well.

Llewellyn says:

"Today's busy Witches can stay on top of it all—the magical and the mundane—with Llewellyn's Witches' Datebook, now featuring enchanting illustrations from award-winning artist Kathleen Edwards. Add a little magic to each day and keep pace with the ever-turning Wheel of the Year with this indispensable, on-the-go tool. You'll find fun, fresh ways to celebrate the sacred seasons and enhance your practice—inspiring Sabbat musings (Deborah Blake), tasty Sabbat recipes (Diana Rajchel), Moon rituals (Magenta Griffith), and flowers (Tess Whitehurst). For spellwork, there's astrological information and daily colors. Also included are in-depth articles on play-day magick (Melanie Marquis), automatic writing (Sybil Fogg), relaxation (Elizabeth Barrette), seduction magick (Suzanne Ress), and more."

I have three copies of the 2015 Witches' Datebook to give away!

So many of you have been playing along all month, so I know you have this all down by now!  If this is your first kick at the pumpkin (we don't kick cats around here) then head over to the giveaway information post here, and then pop back and let me know how you connected with me.  If you've left that info before - you're gold!

I'll draw the three names from the hat on Sunday, November 2nd at 9pm Pacific/Midnight Eastern time.  (Don't forget the time change!)  Best of luck!

Photo and quoted text are copyright Llewellyn Worldwide and used only to promote the datebook.

Winners - The Witch's Broom

Deborah Blake's charming books are going home with:

Renee Olson


Congratulations!  Please pop me a note with your mailing address and I'll get your books out to you!

Fly your broom back this way for the next giveaway...coming right up!

Oct 27, 2014

The Great October Book Giveaway - The Witch's Broom

Our next giveaway is this little gem from author Deborah Blake, "The Witch's Broom - The Craft, Lore & Magick of Broomsticks."  Deborah has been a busy witch this year, and has put out not only this fun book on broom lore and magical uses, but also a witchy fiction novel called "Wickedly Dangerous." As if that wasn't enough, she has written the follow up to her fiction novel, "Wickedly Wonderful" - which will be out in December - as well as two non-fiction books coming out in 2015 and she is working on a tarot deck. 

I love the size of this book - compact, and chock-full of history, charms, spells, and a few other witches even stop by to talk about their brooms too.  Here is what the jacket has to say:

"Take a magickal flight into the history, tradition, and modern uses of broomsticks. Whether sweeping the floors or helping with spells, rituals, and crafts, the broom is a more versatile tool than you ever imagined.
Join Deborah Blake on a journey through the ages, exploring why broomsticks and witches have always been an inseparable pair. Enjoy broom lore, insights from well-known witchy authors, and instructions for buying or making your own for special occasions. From besoms to broomcorn, The Witch’s Broom is the perfect guide for adding a new facet to your magickal practice. Have a nice flight!"

I have two copies of "The Witch's Broom" to give away.  You've got until Thursday, October 30th at 9pm Pacific/Midnight Eastern time to get your comment in below.  If you are showing up late to the party, you can read how it all works on this post, then let me know how you found me out here in the wide web world.  If you've done that dance before - no need for a do-over - you're covered!

Picture and text from "The Witch's Broom" is copyright Deborah Blake and Llewellyn Worldwide and used only for the purpose of promoting this book.

Winners - Listen to Them Whisper

The hat was rather over-flowing this time around - y'all love some Mama Starr!  I think she's fabulous too.  Do check her out at Old Style Conjure if the spirit moves you.

The two book are going to:


Aine O'Brien

Drop me a note, if you please, at rueandhyssop AT gmail DOT com.

I wish I could send you all a copy!  But hang in there - there are still more books up for grabs. The next giveaway is coming up right away...