Favourites of 2016 – Books, Blogs and Podcasts

my-witchy-favourites-of-2016-1

My Witchy Favourites of 2016

As this is the time of year for giving, I thought I’d give you a list of my absolute favourites this year.

Blogs

Druid Life – Nimue has this wonderful way of looking at life, and her blog is packed full of wisdom.

ThisCrookedCrown – If you’re looking for witchcraft resources, there is no better place to look than here.

Tumblr

I recently restarted my Tumblr, and have found many super cool blogs.

DuskenPath – My go to resource on astrology magic, energy work and sheep photos.

SpiritsCraft – Sara is super good at making ancient stuff really easy to understand.

Podcasts

Gordon White/RuneSoup Sometimes, on my day off, I sit with my rag rug and just read/listen to everything on this site. So many fascinating topics.

New World Witchery – they normally talk about witchcraft, but recently they’ve done some ghost and horror stories for the Hallowe’en season which I LOVED. I mean, their other episode are awesome too, but ghost stories, man.

Books

Top 5 Pagan Books  I still stand by these books as being the best I’ve read in 2016.

The Encyclopedia of Crystals, New Edition – As far as a beginner or reference text for crystals goes, you can’t go wrong here.

Courses

Living by the Moon – Still only $7. Great course.

Products

Vitamin D Capsules – Apparently, something like 60% of the British public have lower Vitamin D than optimal. According to my GP anyway. I managed to finally absorb enough Vitamin D out of the prescription only ones I had to take, and now I only need over the counter ones. Have a word with your doctor before you start taking them, but they’ll probably do you the world of good.

Harry Potter Colouring Book  – This is really fun. It’s got a mix between large patterns and detailed pictures of the characters and scenes from the movies.

 

(Some of the links in this blog may be affiliate links.)

 

Dealing with Burnout

dealing with burnoutDealing with Burnout

Fallow times come to us all. We cannot be at the top of our game all the time. There are several reasons why we might be dealing with burnout, and so there are a few solutions. The best thing you can do for yourself is wait and rest, however. Burnout happens when we push ourselves to hard, and pushing through it is pointless at best, and can be disastrous at worst.

When I urge people to consistently put themselves first, this is why.

Even if your sole purpose in life is to help people, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

It is difficult, and sometimes impossible to help other people when your soul is hurting. Some pain we can work through, but the worst pain is the one we don’t even feel.

Society tells us that by being anything less than 100% all the time we are being lazy, and it’s precisely this attitude that causes so much mental illness and emotional distress amongst our population.  This attitude causes burnout, and we feel we must remove the burnout, instead of this attitude, which creates a sick self fulfilling prophecy.

Let’s look at some of the more common causes.

Exhaustion

As described above, the most common direct cause is simply that of doing too much. Or trying to do too much – humans cannot multitask. Science has come forward in the recent months to explain that multitasking is actually detrimental to getting things done. Doing six things at once only means that small progress is made in six things, rather than actually completing one or two tasks which happens when you single task.

Throw out your To-Do list – half of what’s on it you don’t need to do. Yet more of it you can delegate to colleagues or family members.

You need to work smarter, instead of harder.

But first, you need to rest. If you’re thinking about work – you aren’t resting. You are still giving work (or whatever you’re burnt out on) that energy. If you are constantly thinking about work on your day off, you may as well have gone to work for all the rest you’ve got.

Give yourself a respite, and a sacred space to be

Time Out

Sometimes, especially with spiritual work, you can be put into a sort of ‘Time Out’ if you refuse to listen to your body or to signs you’ve been given.

This is simply a waiting game. There is a lesson to be learned while you’re in Time Out – a sort of ‘sit there and think about what you’ve done’ kind of thing.

You’ll be let out once you’ve learnt your lesson. I promise. Be good, now.

Lack of Passion

Sometimes we lose passion for what we’re doing, and discipline keeps us going. But discipline can sometimes take us too far – if we’ve lost passion, it becomes supremely difficult to keep going. What was once easy for us is now a trial, and it’s easy to just try and work harder to try and get the same amount and quality of work done.

However, this is worst thing to do. You need to reignite the flames of passion for your work – or find a different path. Try and remember what drew you to the work in the first place – is there still time in your working life for that? Or have you progressed so far you no longer even do the things you wanted to do? Are you stuck doing paperwork instead of the goals that you had set for yourself? Or has the industry simply changed and you no longer enjoy it?

Taking steps to increase the amount of joy in our lives goes a long way to help failing passion. New books, movies, long walks, museums are all ways to get the brain to fire again.

But the key part is to listen to yourself – what is really making you unhappy? Can you change it, or get rid of it?

And remember, it’s okay to walk away from something that once made you happy. It doesn’t make you happy anymore, so it is no longer right for you. Don’t cling to a dream that has flown.

Lack of Support

If no-one understands your path, it is hard to walk it. Instead of trying to convince your family and friends to support you, find those who will. The Internet is vast place, full of support groups for just about every job, business or hobby.

And if your family/friends are really getting you down, it’s okay to walk away from them too.

A book I found really useful in clearing a lot of my To Do list and avoiding burn out in the first place, was The 4-Hour Work Week. Amazing things happen when you realize how much work actually doesn’t need to be done – or not done by you!

Dealing with burnout becomes a lot easier when you don’t get burnt out so often in the first place!

You can subscribe to my email list here, and visit my Etsy shop here, or check my services pages for more from me.

Interview with a Witch: This Crooked Crown

thiscrookedcrownInterview with a Witch – ThisCrookedCrown

Today I’m talking to Samantha, from ThisCrookedCrown.

1) Why did you choose to start your business? Why choose witchcraft and divination as a base? What drew you to it?

Because I love it! I love witchcraft and divination; it’s one of my major passions and something I could never grow bored of. Starting my own business came about when I was unable to work in the mainstream workforce anymore due to medical reasons. Once I hit on the idea of starting my own business, I went with two of my major passions – divination and witchcraft. It just evolved from there.
I’ve been practicing witchcraft and divination for over twenty years now and never really experienced a time where I didn’t believe in magic. For me, discovering that witchcraft didn’t exist in the realm of fantasy and people still practiced it was really eye-opening. It meant that there was so much more to the world than what I’d been taught and there’s so much possibility! I love sharing that awe with my clients.
thiscrookedcrown

2) How do you balance what you give away for free (in terms of tutorials and spells, free readings etc) with what you charge for? 

I like to make generosity part of my business. I offer free advice and consultation on my blogs and to clients. I love offering resources like free spells and tutorials, free readings each Tuesday on my twitter, public meet-and-greets on Sundays, and give away readings for charity. It’s great to give back and help out as much as I can.
Balancing what’s given away and how much time I spend on non-paying work can be difficult but I try to break up the amount of daily work I do as 2/3 paying work versus 1/3 non-pay (donations, free spells, etc.). Monthly number crunching helps keep things real and makes sure that I stay on track.
3) How much time do you spend on blogs and social media, and how do you make that pay off, so to speak? What’s your social media strategy?
I’m a lurker! I’m always on social media but I like to sit back and see how people interact with each other. I find that really fun and really fascinating. I’m spending roughly two to three hours a day on various social media and sometimes twice that much when I’m setting up things like my daily tips on facebook.
I try to update at least one social media platform a day. If I’m not on tumblr then I’m posting to boards on pinterest, tweeting on the go, or updating my instagram. I have a posting schedule of what to post and when but I like to keep it flexible. If I make it too rigid, it’s no fun anymore. Social media’s really great to get more people interested and drive more business to your doors but it’s really just a lot of fun to interact with the people that are reading my work.
thiscrookedcrown

4) What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is starting a Pagan business, or hoping to improve their existing one? 

Take time off! It’s very easy as small business owners, especially in a niche like ours, to work all the time. You put in more time then you get more money, right? But it weighs on you until you begin to grow bitter or resentful. Taking time off seems counterproductive at first but it’s healthier, gives you a chance to have a life outside of work, and boosts your motivation and inspiration. It gives you a chance to reset your spirit and recharge your batteries which is critical when you do a lot of energy-based work. It’s absolutely my number one tip to being happy, having a successful business, and following your dreams.
(Ed: It’s been lovely to have Samantha on the blog, please make sure to follow her and ThisCrookedCrown – all her social media links in the appropriate paragraph above. You can subscribe to my email list here, and visit my Etsy shop here, or check my services pages for more from me.)

Interview with a Druid – Nimue Brown

interview with a druid

Interview with a Druid – Nimue Brown

In today’s Interview with a Druid I’m talking to Nimue Brown, author, druid, and quiet activist, about doing the Pagan Business thing for the right reasons. This is one of my favourites Interview with a Druid (or Witch, etc) that I’ve ever done.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Druidry and Meditation

On Knowing What to Write About

It depends on what I’m aiming to write – if it’s a blog post, it’s a case of what have I learned recently, or what’s annoying me! Some things come as a response to what’s needed – so I’m looking for radical ideas for my quiet revolution column at Pagan Dawn in an ongoing way, I’m thinking about alternative responses to the seasons for Sage Woman blogs, radical poetry might go to Gods and Radicals, miserable poetry goes to a local event.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Druidry and the Ancestors: Finding our place in our own history

When it comes to books its a slower and less coherent process. I tend to have some long term interest in something before I get to the point of wanting to write a book about it. Usually there will be a combination of reading other people’s ideas on a subject, exploring a practice or an idea for myself, and it flows from there. At any given time I’m reading and exploring in a number of areas, some of which go into books, some don’t, and its not usually obvious when I start whether I’ll take it to fiction or non-fiction.

Sometimes both – Druidry and the Ancestors(non-fic) and Intelligent Designing for Amateurs (fic) both started life in my reactions to Ronald Hutton’s Blood and Mistletoe.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Pagan Portals – Spirituality Without Structure: The Power of finding your own path

On Writing

I think the first thing to say is that being a writer does not pay my bills and probably never will – this is true of a good 95% of authors. Most of us have second jobs. Some of us manage to align those second jobs with the writing work, but that’s not always the case.

It’s certainly true that being an author in this day and age tends to mean spending more time tying to draw attention to your work than you spend creating the work. I give talks, now and then, I take books to events (easier for people who have cars, I suspect), interviews (!) I write articles and columns and blog posts and lurk around on social media trying to find ways to say ‘you could buy my book’ without boring people to death. I’m not a great self publicist, I’m much happier when I’m talking about other people’s books. I find it easier to be excited about other people’s work.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Pagan Dreaming: The magic of altered consciousness

 On a Writing Career in the Pagan Field

My first advice would be to drop the ‘career’ notion. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the Pagans who earn enough as professional Pagans with writing as part of the mix, to be wholly self supporting. Even best selling Pagan authors tend to have a second job – it’s realistic to think you could be working part time and being professionally Pagan part time. So, don’t do it for the fame and riches! Do it because there is something you feel called to share, because you’re inspired, driven, passionate about something.

Then at least there’s the job satisfaction, even if you aren’t getting any money out of it. Most Pagan events can’t afford to pay most speakers more than their travel costs. I know there’s a widely held belief that authors all rake it in JK Rowling style, that people charging for teaching are exploiting the community and all that. The truth is that many of the Pagans you’ve heard of are either paupers, or have a day job. I won’t name drop, but as an author, reviewer and member of various things, I’ve talked to a lot of famous Pagans along the way and I know something of what it costs them to do the work. If you’re looking for a career, this isn’t going to provide.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21Century

Stay tuned for more Interview with a Druid!

(You can subscribe to my email list here, and visit my Etsy shop here, or check my services pages for more from me.)

 

 

10 Tips for Your First Professional Tarot Reading

10 Tips For Your First Professional Tarot Reading

 

professional Tarot reading

So, you think you’re ready for your first professional Tarot reading. But you’re still nervous – is reading professional Tarot different from reading for friends? How do you give the best professional Tarot reading and walk away with a happy client?

Here are ten tips for your first professional Tarot reading to make it the best one ever!

Stay calm

There are four types of Tarot clients.

  1. Excitable clients who wants a giggle and a laugh
  2. Nervous clients who may be frightened of what you may show them, or it’s their first time
  3. Skeptics
  4. Clients who’ve had more readings than you’ve given

All of these types (and more than likely ones that don’t fit in neat boxes) will smell weakness like a weakness-smelling thing. You gotta fake it till you make it, and then fake it a bit more. Public speaking is never wholly comfortable, and telling someone their fortune is always scary because you never quite know how someone is going to react.

They’ll react a LOT better if they trust you, and no one trusts someone whose mouth is running away with them, or who looks timid and closed off.

Head up, shoulders straight and remember that they believe in you enough to pay for this.

Stay silent

This here is a rule for life. Sometimes you’ve got nothing to say, so stay silent. If they ask why you’re quiet, just tell them the truth – you’re thinking!

If you must fill the gap because your client is antsy, tell them why it takes a while to grab the thread of a reading – all those possible symbols and meanings.

Don’t fill the gap with rubbish and half formed theories. It makes you look unconfident at best, and incompetent at worst. Start when you’re ready.  It’s okay to pause and relook at the cards halfway through. You want to deliver a good  professional Tarot service, not a lightning fast one.

Be upfront about what is expected from them

A lot of Tarot clients are nervous because they don’t know what to expect. Not everyone has even heard of Tarot.

Spend some time explaining things to them, either before they book a reading, or before the reading begins.

Are they allowed to touch your cards? Do you want them to remove conspicuous jewellery and accessories? Are they allowed to ask questions once you’ve started? What do you want them to do, and how do you expect them to behave?

Be aware of differing religions

Not everyone is of the same religion, and just because your client is another reader, don’t expect them to believe exactly the same things you do! Even when you are of the exact same religion, realise that people’s experiences with the divine or spirits will differ. My experience as a Tarot reader is influenced heavily by my experiences as a modern witch. That experience will differ completed to an atheist, a Wiccan, or a Hellenic Recon!

And that’s okay.

We clearly all either believe in Tarot or are open-minded towards it,  just be aware that not everyone will be happy to hear they have an angel following them, for example.

Be upfront about what you can’t or won’t do

Sometimes, what you can read on depends on your local laws. Other times, it’s best to stick to a strict code of ethics. This can vary from reader to reader, but you must tell your clients before they book to avoid disappointed clients and possibly even a lawsuit!

Legal Issues

To avoid lawsuits, there are a few things you should avoid doing at all costs

  • Reading for children. This usually counts as anyone underage, so for the UK it’s 18. Anyone under 18 can be classed as a ‘vulnerable person’. I don’t care how mature they are, if you are taking theirs or their parents money, you can be sued for doing this, if either your information is inaccurate, or you are perceived to have caused distress, or you are accused of being a fraud. And even if you give the best reading in the world, you can still be sued for it, because they’re classed as vulnerable.

 

  • Other sorts of vulnerable people, which can include those with mental disabilities, illnesses or in a vulnerable or distressed state of mind. There is no easily tickable box here, so err on the side of caution. If you feel uncomfortable, you can turn people away purely on the fact you feel they aren’t ready. If the person seems of right and able mind at that point, there’s no reason you can’t read for someone who’s, say, depressed. However, if they’re talking about suicide or something like that, they need a helpline or a therapist, not a Tarot reader. You can also always refund money if you think you shouldn’t have read for someone.

 

  • Never read on medical or legal issues. It puts you in two sticky situations – one, any medical or legal issue that someone is asking a Tarot reader is major enough to cause serious distress, which makes them a vulnerable person, and two, if they take your advice and something goes tits up, guess who’s ass is on the line again? Yep, it’s yours. Even with the ‘not a medical or legal professional’ disclaimer that you should have, I still would not recommend reading on these subjects.

It’s also perfectly okay to have a personal blacklist. I won’t read for questions about death, the dying or other sorts of spirits. I won’t do it for personal reasons, and it’s okay for you to have your own blacklist, whatever that looks like. So long as you tell your clients before they book.

Practice on a friend

I’m sure you’ve practiced your skills on friends before, but ask a friend to sit through a more ‘professional’ reading and give you some honest feedback. Perhaps convince a friend of a friend to sit for you and give you that feedback in exchange for a free reading, so you can ‘blind’ read on subjects that you don’t previously know about.

It’s okay to have a cheat sheet!

There’s nothing wrong with having a handy sheet with some keywords on it in case you suddenly draw a blank, or wonder if you’re reading a card correctly.

However, there’s a difference between quickly glancing at a sheet to confirm a hunch, to fumbling around in your bag for a guidebook or grubby bit of paper.

A nice laminated or decorated sheet somewhere around the table looks fine, and you can just say ‘Just checking a hunch,’ grab the paper, read it, and move back on with the reading. It’s as simple as that.

Be prepared to answer questions about Tarot

Your clients will be at varying levels of Tarot knowledge, so expect different questions and be able to answer them. A good background on what Tarot is, where it comes from (it’s not where you think), and how to use it. Extensive knowledge is not required, but it is a good asset. You love Tarot, so why would you not research stuff?

Be prepared to answer questions about every occult subject under the sun – also know that ‘I don’t know’ is an okay answer

People are at different knowledge levels of Paganism/witchcraft/Tarot etc, so expect them to expect you to know Everything about Everything. Don’t assume that just total newbies will ask you stuff, or get stuff wrong – I know readers of 30+ years’ experience not know the difference between Wicca and witchcraft.

Before the Internet, you struggled to find information about non-Christian religions, so misinformation was rife, and there is a certain publishers who will literally publish anything, regardless of whether it’s true. So, rumours abound, and it’s good to get a handle on a few of the common ones.

Again, you can’t be expected to know everything, but expect to be asked. ‘I don’t know,’ is a perfectly acceptable answer. There’s also ‘That’s interesting. I’ll look into that,’ which is useful whether or not you genuinely do find whatever your client has said interesting.

Listen to the client.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had someone come up to me and complain about a Tarot reader or psychic telling them they’re going to become pregnant, when they’re infertile or in a committed relationship with someone without the correct genitals for that whole shebang.  Or their husband will leave them for the other woman when he’s actually dead or something like that. Heard it all, and I wish I hadn’t.

Even on the small things, listen to the client when they’re in front of you. They probably know their own lives better than you do! If someone is correcting you, that’s good. That means you weren’t wrong on the other stuff, and now they trust you enough to engage, correct you and ask questions and work with you, which is precisely what you want from a client, especially repeat ones. No Tarot reader is going to be 100% right. I think the best of us could probably aim for 80% with hard work and effort. But never take a correction as an insult, and always listen to the client. If you’ve told them their sister will betray them, and they say they haven’t a sister, consider the cards might be referring to a close female relationship, rather than a sister. Don’t let it throw you.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your professional Tarot readings further, try my 5 Tips for Pro Readers.

Make sure you get your free Tarot Workbook before you leave!

What’s your best tip for a great professional Tarot reading?

Interview with a Witch – Demoiselle Étrange

interview with a witch demoiselle etrangeInterview With a Witch: Demoiselle Étrange 

In this week’s Interview with a Witch I’m talking to Valerie from Demoiselle Étrange, about the different streams of income you can use to build your business.

interview with a witch demoiselle etrange

My Story

“I wanted to share my vision of magic; in a simple and modern way.

I like logic in spirituality and believe it is possible to be connected to nature in your everyday life.

My personal blog became an online store and slowly turned into a full time project, with classes and services.

Our classes are offered on downloadable PDF files, since most of our clients are from Europe.

It is more convenient that way!

These classes are the results of our research and studies on various theme of the craft.

We love to gather information and simplify, so it is easier to understand the theory. We also prepare exercises so our students can put their knowledge into practice.

Our mission is to turn magic into something logical and accessible. Our goal is to help people develop their inner power and connect with nature!”

interview with a witch demoiselle etrange

As well as their website Demoiselle Étrange also has an Etsy shop.

“I love making amulets, gris-gris and talismans!

Each of them are inspired by other cultures and traditions, each of them has a story of its own!

The best part of my job is to keep on learning, while sharing and bringing some magic in someone’s life!

interview with a witch demoiselle etrange

It is not for everyone! Even today, people have misconceptions and judgements about the practice.

I think it’s important to have a down-to-earth approach toward people who don’t know much about it, so they can understand better.”

Siobhan’s Advice

Don’t think of your business simply in terms of what you have to sell, whether that’s a book, a candle, or a piece of jewelry. Consider other revenue streams, some of which you build onto what you already have with not much trouble.

Not all of them will work for you, but one or two may slot easily in to what you already do: sell courses, have third party adverts on your website, affiliate marketing or sponsored posts, e-books, Patreon, teaching or speaking. The list is endless.

And advertising needn’t be a dirty word – there are models where you can choose who advertises on your site and how, so you can choose business who you are happy to support and build that advert in a way that suits you and your followers. The best thing to keep in mind when you consider adverts and affiliate marketing, is only to promote the things that you would recommend to other people if you weren’t being paid to do it. 

Want to be featured on Interview with a Witch? Leave a comment below!

More from Demoiselle Étrange:

Website

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Pinterest

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(You can subscribe to my email list here, and visit my Etsy shop here, or check my services pages for more from me.)

 

5 Tips for Professional Tarot Readers

 

tips for professional Tarot readers

Five Tips for Professional Tarot Readers

Know Your Strengths

Are you better at distance or in-person readings?

Which would you like to concentrate on?

Which subjects do you prefer to read on? Which won’t you read on?

What are you best at?

You need to clarify this for yourself, so you can focus your efforts on providing the services you are good at.

You also need to spell this out for your potential customers. You can’t give everyone what they want. It’s better to serve a small audience well, than serve a large audience poorly.

You want repeat custom, not bad feedback, right?

Curate Your Content

No Tarot reader can read on every spread under the sun.

Even if you could, no buyer – especially someone new to Tarot, is going to be able to sift through 50+ spreads to find the one they want.

Most readers could stand to lose about 20% of what they offer. Are two of your readings/products very similar? Lose one or combine them.

Make sure your descriptions describe precisely what each spread (or product, or type of reading) is, does, and what it’s for.

What’s Your Style?

Another reader once told me she had all of her banners and promotional material made pink, to make her appear softer and kinder.

She worked in the MBS side of the Tarot world, so her readings were simple, and soft and kind, working more about building up the client in a therapy like way. Obviously, she wanted the attract the sort of client that likes that sort of reading.

However, personality wise, she had a very commanding presence and was quite brusque and appeared quite stern at first impression. This did not encourage her preferred clients to purchase from her.

So, she had all of her physical promotional material made pink. She said this was to soften her harsh aura, but whether you agree with that or not, your branding says something about you.

What does your shop, website or promotional material say about you? Do you like or agree with it?

What’s In it For the Buyer?

Most buyers couldn’t give a toss about all the fancy Tarot facts you know. If they did, they would buy a book on Tarot, not a Tarot reading.

What’s in it for them?

What, precisely, are they buying for their money? What can you tell them?

Why should they pick you, and not another reader?

Nobody really cares if you’re the Sixth High Priestess of Saturn’s Third Moon, if that isn’t going to get them a better product for their money.

The Law, and Third Party Guidelines

Make sure you are always acting in accordance with the law, and operating within the terms and conditions of any third-party websites you are hosted on, like Etsy or eBay. Etsy can and will shut your shop down without warning if they suspect you’ve been breaking the rules. And that’s fine, because it’s their site, and you agreed to their terms.

I don’t need to say that getting into trouble with the law could be so much worse. The law regarding Tarot reading and similar activities differs from country to country, and probably state to state or area to area in larger countries as well. Check your local laws, and check them again.

The deck pictured is the Wildwood Tarot and you can buy it here (affiliate link): The Wildwood Tarot

Did you enjoy these tips for professional Tarot readers? Please leave me a comment with yours!

Make sure you get your free Tarot Workbook before you leave!