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Witchy Update with Elysia Gallo

This article was written by Elysia Gallo
posted under Paganism

Are you getting Witchy Update for the first time? If so, you may have signed up at PantheaCon, and we thank you for your interest. If you've never heard of PantheaCon, it's a great Pagan festival held indoors in San Jose, California - yes, in February it can get a little chilly even in San Jose! But I love it because it doesn't require me to sleep in a tent - I've always been a city girl at heart, no matter how much I love a good bonfire. Plus there were nearly 3,000 witches, pagans and mages in attendance, some 70 vendors (sparkly things!), and a mind-boggling list of presentations, concerts, rituals and activities.

Llewellyn hosted a panel discussion (emceed by yours truly) called Ask the Authors: Pagan Writers Merry Meet and Greet. It was truly amazing to have some of the best and brightest authors all onstage together answering audience questions: Z Budapest, Raven Grimassi, Stephanie Taylor, LaSara FireFox, Christopher Penczak, Donald Michael Kraig, Grey Badger, John Michael Greer, Mary K. Greer, Joseph Ernest Martin, Michelle Belanger, Ruth Barrett, Amber K, and Azrael Arynn K. It was really something! The questions quickly got very interesting and opened a discussion everyone wanted to chime in on. I wish I had been able to podcast it for you all to enjoy - maybe next time. Thanks to everyone who was there!

It was also there that I made the official announcement I will now announce here in the Witchy Update as well: Llewellyn and BBI Media (publisher of fine magazines like SageWoman, PanGaia, and newWitch) have launched our first ever Pagan Fiction Contest! Please click on the link for details. We're looking for short stories with Pagan content or themes to be published in an amazing anthology. If it really takes off, it may be the first in a series. After all, I've been hearing from a lot of you who want more Pagan fiction on the shelves at bookstores. Ask and it is given!

And the fun never ends...here are our new titles. Hot off the presses are three amazing books you'll want to check out. First of all, this April we have LA Witch by Fiona Horne. Following her (some would say infamous) appearance on the Tyra Banks show, Fiona has continued to tackle the mainstream press and media. First she had a two page spread in Star, a glossy gossip magazine read by 9 million people, and then she was on Fox's "Morning Show with Mike and Juliet." Again, Fiona rose above the rather simplistic notions TV hosts seem to share about witchcraft (Juliet said, "When you hear 'witchcraft,' I think many of us think 'freak! Freak!'") and eloquently explained the basic tenets and philosophies of a witch. Not an easy trick given their mindless banter! And honestly, this is why the media is so interested in her. There has to be at least one "celebrity" witch to serve as a point of reference for the masses who can also deal effectively with these types of people, and Fiona fits that bill with her good looks, rock star background and experience starring in and producing television shows. She also has a new witchy CD out called Witch Web - you can listen to samples on her MySpace page. All the publicity aside, her book is solid. She easily shifts from chatting breezily about Hollywood parties to the actual fundamentals of witchcraft and putting together a coven to work with. The topics range from practical concerns like a coven petty cash fund and organizing magickal outings to more esoteric topics as group meditation and astral travel. There are also lots of fun ideas for magickal gatherings like a Witches' Tea Party or Enchanted Spoon Making. It's a fun and enjoyable guide for beginners.

Then in May we have a real heavy hitter, someone the witchcraft community has known and loved for decades - respected elder Zsuzsanna Budapest (better known as Z). Llewellyn is re-releasing an updated version of my favorite book of hers, Summoning the Fates. This is a great guide to the "fate dates" in every woman's life. If you've never heard of Saturn returns, or you have and you need to know more (don't we all!), this is the book for you. Besides some astrology basics to serve as guideposts, Z uses folk tales from her native Hungary, poetry from Latvia, personal stories, lovely rituals and conversations with the Goddess herself to create a truly spellbinding book. If you too are a long-time fan, I suggest you check out her author event page - she is hosting an amazing women's retreat for Mother's Day weekend at a beautiful spa all decked out in Goddess imagery, the Isis Oasis. She says, "This promises to be a celebration of life, complete with rituals, workshops, sisterhood and socializing! Come, mothers and daughters, gather in sacred space for a wonderful weekend of laughing and learning!" At just $385 per person, which includes lodging, gourmet meals, workshops, and spa amenities, it sounds like a real bargain, especially if you're already in California! (And no, you don't have to bring your mother if you don't want to.)

Also in May, we have a book by a promising new author, Clea Danaan, titled Sacred Land: Intuitive Gardening for Personal, Political and Environmental Change. This is something that many of our readers have expressed an interest in - leaving as little a footprint as possible on our beautiful mother Earth. Clea teaches ethical organic gardening and shopping, ways to get your community involved, and how to listen to and work with your land and its allies - from birds, bees, ants and bats to gnomes, faeries and goddesses of the land. It's a beautiful book (printed on recycled paper) filled with interesting and inspiring facts, "sacred sisters" who have left an important legacy in their communities and the world at large, and practical tips for working with water constraints or pests in an environmentally sound way. I couldn't put it down when I first read it, and I don't even garden!

So I wish you a very happy month of May and a beautiful spring. Get out there and get involved in the magickal beauty of life!

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