PBuP: 05 On Resting, Generosity and Pinterest

Today I’m talking to Samantha, from This Crooked Crown.
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.
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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. I do free readings each Tuesday on my twitter, public meet-and-greets on Sundays, and give away readings for charity. I like 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 spend 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.
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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 a lot of energy-based work. It’s absolutely my number one tip to being happy, having a successful business, and following your dreams.
Siobhan’s Advice
You need to take time off, and actually take in blocks of time worth a damn. Don’t take loads of ten minute breaks instead of a day off. Doesn’t count, doesn’t work, and you spend more time messing around instead of working OR relaxing.
If you can’t work out where the time goes, try RescueTime. It’s free, and tracks exactly what you’re doing on your computer. The paid version also tracks what you are doing off the computer, too. You can also set goals with it, both the ‘Do this’ and ‘Don’t do that’ kind. You can get alerts, block distracting websites, and so much more. It basically does the work of about eight different apps all in one.
I’ve managed to get back about eight hours of working time last week without really trying. It’s amazing, I don’t know how I worked without it.
(It is an affiliate link, which means is you buy the paid version I get a commission, at no extra cost to you.)

Top 5 Best Pagan Books

Top 5.jpgThese are in no particular order, one, because they are all very good, and two, because they deal with such vastly different subjects it would be unfair to rank them. (Also, the first link in each, the actual name of the book is a link direct to that book on Amazon where you can buy it. It is an affiliate link which means I earn a tiny commission from Amazon should you buy anything through that link.)

  1. Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21Century edited by Nimue Brown. Full review here. I’ve chosen this one, because it features so many varied  viewpoints on what it is to be Pagan, that there isn’t a person on the planet who won’t learn something new or be offered a new way of looking at the world when they read this book. This book has articles not just from writers, but from other prominent Pagans, activists and clergy and both. This is a must read for anyone who feels like they’ve lost their way – there are so many ways out there, you can find one to suit you or create your own.
  2.  A Druid’s Tale by Cat Treadwell. Full review here. Cat shares what it’s like to be a Druid as she sees it, and it’s a wonderful tale, full of inspiration and lessons. Useful not only for people on a druidic path, but for anyone considering a clergy or professional religious role in a great many religions, I think.
  3. A Deed Without a Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft by Lee Morgan. Full review here. Winnning the award for longest title on my bookshelf, this book has really opened my eyes to folklore and folk magic, and allowed me to investigate historical material more thoroughly. This is a book I go back to, time and time again, for things even beyond witchcraft – I’m doing some research for some folklore articles I’m writing, and yet again this book turns out to be useful.
  4. Pagan Dreaming: The magic of altered consciousness by Nimue Brown. Full review here. It’s several months on from my first reading of this book , and I still can’t believe just how much it’s helped me. Following it has not only given me greater clarity and an actual relationship with my dreams, but has also given me my health back. Being able to to properly analyse not only my dreams but also my sleep has allowed a doctor to finally find out why I am tired, and now I have my life back. This is the only book I’ve ever read which emphasized and explained that to work with dreams you need to work with sleep, and how important sleeping actually is. I would recommend no other book on the subject.
  5.   The Book of English Magic by Richard Heygate. This book is not really designed for practioners, or for academics, which is why I love. It is a tour of English magic from as far back as we can reach, to the Chaos Magic of the 1980s, and contains just about every flavour of English magic I can think of. There are also interviews with all kinds of magic users, from witches to magicians to Wiccans, as well as simple tutorials to try out all kinds of magic. My copy is almost falling apart from overuse and it’s full of notes and scribblings too.

Like books? Visit my book review blog Mercurial Review to get all of my posts about books from around the web.

Book Review Monday: Candle Magic

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Buy it here: Pagan Portals – Candle Magic: A witch’s guide to spells and rituals

This is the best sort of handbook, it builds literally from the ground up, containing spells and exercises suitable for any ability level.

It shows you why and how each sort of candle is used, so you can progress onto creating your own spells, rituals and practices with candles using them in a way to suit you, rather than copying them exactly.

I’ve worked with candles for nearly eight years now, and there was plenty of new to me information in here, so I would certainly recommend it to you at any point of your journey with candle magic.

Like books? Visit my book review blog Mercurial Review to get all of my posts about books from around the web.

 

Book Review Monday: the Gray Witch’s Grimoire

Buy it here: The Gray Witch’s Grimoire

 

Disclaimer: What I know about Wicca or Wicca-infused witchcraft, I could write on the back of a postcard; so I’m gonna write about the two things that I did like, and they are important to so many Witchcraft traditions.

First, is gender. I literally do not see why we have to give rocks, plants, and other non-human creatures human genders. It doth not compute. And also, why are only male and female used when there is a plethora of human genders to actually choose from? It’s a practice based in misogyny, or that rarer form of misogyny which looks at first glance like feminism but is actually misogyny. Anything ‘receptive’, ‘passive’, ‘open’, ‘kind’ is given the label ‘feminine’ and anything ‘aggressive’, ‘relentless’, ‘closed’, ‘strong’ is given the label masculine. This is wrong.  I am a firm believer of ‘Say What the Hell You Mean’. If the energy of a thing is passive, say it is passive. If it is open, say it is open. And that’s what I liked about this book, that in correspondences it did describe energies by what they were actually like. It did also describe them by gender, but a step forward is a step forward and I’m not going to spit at that.

 

The other thing is the issue brought up by the title, and that is morality in Witchcraft.  Now, I hate that this is still a thing I have to say but witchcraft is not Wicca. Wicca is its own thing, and witchcraft is an umbrella term for spiritual practices involving the uses of things like sympathetic magic, much like Pagan is an umbrella term for believing in multiple Gods or a form of spirituality vastly unlike the Abrahamic religions. And we can argue about who is or who isn’t Pagan later, let me get back to the point.

Wiccans, and Wicca-flavoured Witchcraft if that’s your thing, are beholden to a certain set of rules. This is the ‘an if it harm none, do what ye will’ stuff, and the Threefold return stuff. Not only has that been misinterpreted so wildly that a sad amount of people believe that non-Wiccan witches are beholden to these misinterpreted rules, but the misinterpretation can hurt Wiccans too, which is why this book exists. In the pursuit of ‘harming none’ some people have tried to obliterate a lot of magic that doesn’t fit some weird white fluffy box , even though that magic doesn’t actually break any Wiccan rule – it’s just odd, or spooky, or, in some bizzare cases, actually helps the wielder gain something because that’s a deeply selfish act or something

. If that’s the sort of stuff that you are interested in from a Wiccan or Wiccan flavoured perspective, I do recommend this book. As far as I’m aware, the information is sound, but I’m not Wiccan.

Like books? Visit my book review blog Mercurial Review to get all of my posts about books from around the web.

Book Review Monday – A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food by Rachel Patterson (NO PUMPKINS!)

Buy it here: A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food

Hooray for magical food that isn’t USA-centric! If you don’t like or can’t get bloody pumpkins and yet want to learn to cook seasonally and magically, look here.

This is not just a cookbook, it also has guides to eating seasonally, brewing magical recipes, and has massive correspondence list for all kind of edibles. (It’s my favourite sort of correspondence list. No, not ’cause it’s food although that helps. It’s because Patterson explains why x thing has y qualities. )

But I’ll start with the recipes first.

This is a more British/European centric cookbook, although I don’t think it sells itself as such. But the distinct lack of pumpkins is refreshing.

There is a mix of recipes, some more traditional ones we’ve stopped eating, some more modern ones, and some that reflect Britain’s multicultural diet. There’s also a Gluten Free one, but if you’re experienced in food for any dietary concern you might have, you should find the recipes easy to adapt, as the magical ingredients are listed, along with why  they have been chosen.

Although this book is not about wildcrafting, in the seasonal/sabbat food sections it does detail several plants you can wildharvest from according to season. Of course, consult a proper wildharvest book or website to make sure you can identify the plants you wish to pick, and also consult any people you know who harvest from the wild in your area (30 miles or so). I know for a fact that in my area chestnuts are only available for the fortnight that ends September and begins November, but the list is a good place to start.

Hooray for a big long correspondence lists that you can freestyle from, hooray for recipes for every taste, hooray for reasons behind why you did that, and HOORAY: NO PUMPKINS.

Like books? Visit my book review blog Mercurial Review to get all of my posts about books from around the web.