The Only Tarot Book You'll Ever Need - A Review

Today I'm reviewing The Only Tarot Book You'll Ever Need by Skye Alexander and Mary Shannon


Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Cover


Author Links - Skye Alexander
Author Links - Mary Shannon
Amazon Book Link
Amazon Author Link - Skye Alexander
Amazon Author Link - Mary Shannon
Good Reads Book Link
Good Reads Author Link - Skye Alexander
Good Reads Author Link - Mary Shannon
My Good Reads Profile
My Facebook Page


Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am an contemporary witch.  I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 412,000 views.


As always I'll start with a review of the physical book.  This book came to me as a soft cover a little larger than standard size.  This makes it a little clunky for reading on the go.  The cover is textured and brilliantly illustrated with the Tarot suits on the front cover.  The pages inside are very smooth without any texture and it supports a decent size index for the subject matter.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Cover


My one complaint about soft cover books is the way they always tend to bend open after only a couple of uses. I much prefer hard cover books due to this.  On the reverse however, (pun intended) the book lays beautifully on a table or other flat surface.  This makes it a breeze when laying out your own tarot cards or using the book as a reference while practicing your reading skills.

This is one of many books I have reviewed for this author.  You can find more here.

This author takes us through learning the Tarot in seven chapters.  She gives us the basic history of the Tarot and what is contained within.  Each section is illustrated and in chapter three we are giving instructions on connecting to the unknown and how to develop and trust your intuition.  Something so many of us could really use a refresher on, be tarot or life in general.


Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

As with most, she jumps into interpreting the major and minor arcana, then breaks down the suits for us in an easy to understand format. Because this book isn't for a specific deck, the author references the names and imagery on the cards to help the reader follow along.  Some authors will tend to over complicate this section by making them too wordy or use a $100 word when a .50 word will do.  This author lays out the information in an easy to read format which I believe will benefit the novice and versed reader alike. She then dives into tarot spreads and how to use the read those spreads in chapter six.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book


Finally she wraps up with using Tarot in your everyday life. Using it for your own spiritual guidance or creating your own deck and spreads.

Over all from start to finish a fantastic look at  the Tarot from all levels.  Giving you everything you need to get starting in working with one of the most popular divination tools on the market today.


Wellness Witch - A Review

Today I'm reviewing Wellness Witch  by Nikki Van De Car.  This post includes not only my review of the book but also a giveaway.  Be sure to enter the drawing for a copy of this amazing book.  I'll be selecting 3 winners, who will receive a copy directly from the publisher!  But first, let's talk about the book.


Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Cover




Author Links - Link
Amazon Book Link
Amazon Author Link
Good Reads Book Link
Good Reads Author Link
My Good Reads Profile
My Facebook Page


Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am an contemporary witch.  I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 412,000 views.

As usual I'll start with a review of the physical book.  This book was colorful and presented with lovely illustrations by Anisa Makhoul.  Its a good sized book to toss in a backpack or gym bag and includes a hefty three page index front and back. The pages are not textured as some books do and the font is easy on the eyes.

I have reviewed several books by this author and you can find a few of them listed here

This book is divided into sections called The Internal, The External and The Home. Each section has individual chapters for Healing, Soothing and Empowering that particular area. For example, the soothing chapters for each section include entries for healing bath rituals, charms for restful sleep and a recipe for lavender chamomile cupcakes. The author takes us on a journey of self healing by explaining that often the most powerful form of witchcraft is that which we do for ourselves. Self care is something that many overlook in the magical realm.  Recently I attended a panel discussion on separating yourself from your magical communities as a part of self preservation, or healing if you will.  Each of the speakers had their own personal situations that led to a separation and a time period specific to each when they could return to the groups they left and one even was still apart from it. Self care is imperative to a healthy life.  Work/Live balance is key.   Even if that work is magical work.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Wellness Witch
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Wellness Witch


The introduction of this covers our basic magical garden and our magical cupboard. Plants, crystals as well as essential oils are covered at a very high level with only 12 herbs, 7 crystals and 8 essential oils being included for their healing and soothing qualities. As one would expect lavender oil, amethyst crystal and rosemary hold a prominent role in healing and soothing the body and mind.

As we move into the Internal section of the book, the author takes us through the healing, soothing and empowering exercises. From growing Kombucha to creating a psychic power tincture the others provides a step by step guide to creating a sense of balance in those internal areas of our lives. My personal favorite begins on page 46 and covers the instructions on a divination tea recipe and a guide on Tasseography or Tea Leaf Reading.  I have not attempted this form of divination and frankly have never seen it covered in a Witch 101 style book, so this was a new experience for me.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Wellness Witch


The External section offers suggestions to tap into the strength required to deal with those things outside our own bodies. Massage oils, massage instruction and even a fire ritual.  My favorite part of this section is the "Finding Your Voice Lip Balm". Just from the title, without a spell included I could see myself stirring the ingredients together, sealing my intention in the mixture. Then when applying before I leave my home for a meeting or before engaging in any speaking engagement, reinforcing my intention to strengthen my voice.  Carry my message to the masses. By far, in my opinion one of the best pieces of this book.

The final section is dedicate to the home.  It offers an array of wellness practices to help transform the home into a sacred place. A place that the author promises will protect, recharge and purify you.  I recognized many of these practices from my own home.  They mention on page 100 about adding bells for your door, which as many witches have practiced across the decades, offers tones and vibrations to invite near energy into the space.  Making your own with clay, as the author suggests is a great way to bring your own energy directly into the bell or maybe take a bell from a second hand store and paint, write or draw sigils to set your intention. 

Wind chimes on page 110, the author tells us is a way to cleanse the energy. I have several sets around my home as well as out in the property to hear the spirit of air as it moves through my space.

Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson


Finally, incense!  What would a witch be without this powerful and moving ingredient.  I have several types of incense for different occasions. I personally love Nag Champa and Quan Am for daily use and a beautiful cone called Song of India for ritual.  The author however, provides a recipe for a different type of incense.  This is a way to invite visions or prophecy. Basically you take the herbs and sprinkle them over an open flame after taking the necessary preparations and welcome any visions that come about.  The author provides a list of herbs that are safe, and please remember not to use anything poisonous.  When in doubt, leave it out!


Overall, this is a great book on getting started into self care. So many witches (and mundanes for that matter) fail to take care of themselves before trying to help others.  You cannot pour from an empty vessel so be sure to take the time you need to heal yourself.  I found this book to be full of great tips that I had not heard of, as well as some affirmations of some of the changes I have implemented over the last few years to protect myself, my space and my magic from the ill effects of negativity and energy drains. I absolutely recommend this book for the beginner and the seasoned witch alike.



Drum Roll Please!  The wonderful publishers of this book have offered to award a copy of this wonderful book to three of my fans!  Please use the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win.  I will draw the winners this Friday.  You'll have 24 hours to respond with your mailing address to receive your copy.  Please be sure to add Confessions of a Modern Witch to your trusted senders so you don't miss that email!

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Your Guide to Mastering the Craft - Wicca - A Review

Today I'm reviewing Wicca: A Modern Practitioner's Guide - Your Guide to Mastering the Craft by Arin Murphy-Hiscock.


Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Cover




Author Links - Link
Amazon Book Link
Amazon Author Link
Good Reads Book Link
Good Reads Author Link
My Good Reads Profile
My Facebook Page


Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am an contemporary witch.  I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 412,000 views.

As usual I'll start with a review of the physical book.  This book is small and will fit nicely into a backpack or tote.  I received a hard copy to review and the edges and pages feel good in the hands.  The color is a soft pink and I can see where a more vibrant dust jacket might be included in the book store versions.  If you're looking for photos, pick a different book. This book is cover to cover with words written in a font that's easy on the eye as well as informative.  That's not to say there are not tables.  The author did include a table, an extensive bibliography as well as one of the best indexes I have seen to date.

This book includes an introduction to the history of Wicca and covers topics such as creating sacred spaces, casting circles and simple rituals as well as power words in ritual and even a section on drawing down in the (I'm sure intentional) 13 chapters; which makes me hasten to call this an introductory book.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book



The author beings with a history of Wicca. The first sentence sets the stage for the entire book. The author writes: "It is inaccurate to say that Wicca is an ancient religion" and goes on to discuss Gardnerian Wicca created by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s.  She further explains Neo-Paganism, traditional Wicca and Electic Wicca. Of course including an overview of the Wican Rede as an ethical code for practitioners. She covers the basic belief system including respecting nature, working as a solitary and covens as well as a tolerance for the beliefs of others.

The following three chapters cover creating a sacred space, casting circles and spells and energy work.  To me the most important of these is the chapter on grounding. So many witches start out their practice without being in a stable mindset to attract the type of magic they're looking to attract. While I admit I do not practice Wicca, in my own craft intent is the key to any ritual. I need to be in the correct frame of mind to either welcome energy or disperse it. My mindset is where it all begins and ends. Without proper grounding, my ritual is destine to fail.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book


Chapters five through seven address the ritual itself.   From providing a list of simple ready to go rituals for purifying, banishing, consecrating, dedicating and blessing to using witch's tools such as the cup, the pentacle and the athame to enrich the ritual, the author guides the reader through the ins and outs of the modern rite as we see it today.  She covers relaxed ritual as well as the formal ritual which may be used on special occasions such as sabbats and esbats.

Chapter eight is all about the wheel of the year with entries for quarter and cross-quarter days. This section is where we find our table which outlines the month with the old English Moon, the Colonial American Moon and the Cherokee Moon representations.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book


Chapters nine through eleven address rites of passage as well as the power words in ritual.  It includes daily prayer exercises and chants in ritual practice.  Chants are great ways to connect with the energy or power that one is dedicated to. Isis or Hecate (or even our modern musicians) love to hear their name repeated and chanted. I have written several chants to Hecate but one of my favorite is not my own creation.  Below is one of my favorite chants, often referred to as the Goddess Chant.



Finally the last two chapters address something, in my opinion, that is a bit more advanced. First in chapter twelve see learn about drawing down and aspecting deities. My first introduction into paganism, witchcraft and magic was Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon. This is where the energy of the moon is called forth and asked to possess the speaker. Generally something that is done by a seasoned priest or priestess of that deity. Invoking is serious business and shouldn't be toyed with. Think of this as a channeling type event, you're asking an energy to inhabit your body and speak through you. Care should be taken before moving into this step.  The author does provide alternatives, which is great to see.  The final chapter gives us a real world look at Wicca today, including online communities, living Wicca today and adding it to your daily life.


Overall, this is a great book for those looking to share their practice with others. This is a high level look at what Wicca is and how to begin practicing. I love the bibliography, as no book can be the be all end all of a subject.  The author references names like Scott Cunnigham, Raymond Buckland, Edgar Cayce and Dorothy Morrison just to name a few. This is a great addition to any novice or advanced witch alike. I could see this as a great gift for the newly initiated as well.





Amenti Oracle Feather Heart Deck & Guide Book - A Review

Today I'm reviewing Amenti Oracle Feather Heart Deck and Guide Book by Jennifer Sodini.  Illustrated by Natalee Miller.



Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Amenti Oracle

Amazon Book Link
Amazon Author Link
Good Reads Book Link
Good Reads Author Link
My Good Reads Profile
My Facebook Page


Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am an contemporary witch.  I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 412,000 views.

Starting as usual with the physical attributes of the book, I have to say this is one of the softest books I have held.  The deck comes inside a covered box with the soft cover book laid on top. The book is a bit smaller than I would like but understandable considering the delivery.  The print is a bit small for my 50 year old eye and working to hold the book open was a bit of a struggle. But I did manage to be able to hold it, although awkwardly.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Amenti Oracle


The art on the cards is pretty amazing. It seems to be a cross between 1920's pop culture and 1990's flash.  The author gives us the background of the inspiration for the deck and includes a personal note on how it impacted her.  There are five options for reading the cards, from a standard one card draw to the more elaborate "As above so Below" draw.  The majority of the book is of course, definitions of the cards.  They are the 42 Ideals of Ma'at. I won't list them out here but I can say I found a special connection to "I live in Truth" and "I speak with Sincerity"

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Amenti Oracle


I generally have a difficult time with giving a fair evaluation of Tarot and Oracle cards, but the author helped me out quite a bit with a simple definition of the two. I had not really considered this until reading her piece on it.


"If the tarot serves as the blueprint of the spirit in structure and the archetypal elements that encompass the universe mind or consciousness, the oracle may be viewed as something of a Rorschach test, a peek into the subconscious mind and the language of dreams."

That indeed sums up exactly what I find when I use oracle cards and the approach I'm taking in working on my own deck.  I'll be publishing my own creation dedicated to the Goddess Hecate in the not too distant future.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Amenti Oracle


Overall this is a really nice deck. The art is fun and whimsical at times and feels very bold and modern. The descriptions are easy to read and the author provides an excellent backstory for the cards. I think this is a nice set for any oracle collector or devotee of Ma'at to have in their collection.






My Trip HexFest - Behind the Magic

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
This year I was lucky enough to attend one of the most exciting magical festivals in the south, HexFest.  This is an overview of my first night in New Orleans and the workshops I attended.



Friday - Arrival and Graveyard Tour

I arrived in New Orleans Friday morning at around 9:00 am local time. I flew Spirit Airlines (how fitting) and had a relativity good flight. It is a very economical way to travel, I managed to get a round trip ticket for the price that the other carriers one way was.  The flight crew was pleasant and the plane well kept. This was my first flight in over 10 years due to an experience I had flying in a plane where I had to request a seat belt extension due to my size at the time.

My switch to a whole food plant based lifestyle has allowed me to not only conquer my flying phobias but also introduced me to an entirely new food experience. You can find more information on WFPB and my journey at Real Rations.

Spirit Airlines - On the way to Hexfest
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


I took the airport shuttle over to the hotel and met up with Sorita d'Este to begin our Nolo adventures. We ended up walking around the French Quarter, checking out shops and galleries.
Site Seeing before Hexfest
Renee Sosanna Olson & Sorita d'Este
Photo Credit  - Renee Sosanna Olson


We made our way to the Graveyard tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1,  where the tomb of Marie Laveau is.

Tomb of Marie Laveau
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Tomb of Marie Laveau
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Tomb of Marie Laveau
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Tomb of Marie Laveau
Renee Sosanna Olson & Sorita d'Este
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson



Sorita d'Este
St Louis Cemetery No. 1
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Renee Sosanna Olson
St Louis Cemetery No. 1
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson



Nicholas Cage Tomb
St Louis Cemetery No. 1

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Sorita d'Este
St Louis Cemetery No. 1
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Sorita d'Este
St Louis Cemetery No. 1
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Sorita d'Este
St Louis Cemetery No. 1
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

You can find additional info on the cemetery here.  The tour guide and the staff were fantastic. They even helped us locate the tomb of a friend to pay our respects to the dead.


Lunch

We struggled a bit finding good food for ourselves when we first arrived in Nola. Sorita is vegan and I am whole food plant based, which I set aside for the weekend and chose to simply look for vegan dishes instead.  We stopped by Green Goddess before the cemetery, which had great reviews on the Happy Cow app but while we were there, they were prepping about 20 grapefruits just a few feet from us and I couldn't smell a single one. It made me sad. I should have been able to smell that grapefruit oil across the room.  Instead we opted to head over to The Gumbo Shop on Saint Peter.

I have to say it was the spot I spent my entire weekend eating.  They had a white bean, a black bean and a vegan po'boy that was simply amazing. I know that there was oil, but I gave myself permission to eat freely for the weekend and decided to try all the new things I could.

They have a separate menu for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. You can see their full menu here, minus the vegan options.  It is just a sheet of paper laminated. I would love to see a little more attention paid to the menu and presentation. These dishes are fantastic and I think some may pass up this opportunity due to presentation. Maybe even just add them to the regular menu??

Vegan White Bean & Rice from The Gumbo Shop
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson




Checking into the Hotel - Andrew Jackson

The main hotel was booked full so I stayed just around the corner at the Andrew Jackson. It was a beautiful hotel with a courtyard for chatting and having breakfast as well as relaxing (if you could) in the evening heat.  I loved my room. I had a king size bed, which I could have added five more people to, and a huge bathroom.  It was furnished with nice old furniture and even a few mirrors which I checked for ghosts!

The Andrew Jackson Hotel
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
The Andrew Jackson Hotel
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

The Andrew Jackson Hotel
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
The Andrew Jackson Hotel
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Ghost Hunting - The Andrew Jackson Hotel
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Ghost Hunting - The Andrew Jackson Hotel
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Friday Evening  - Riverboat



Riverboat Ritual - Hexfest 2019
Renee Sosanna Olson & Sorita d'Este
Photo Credit  - Renee Sosanna Olson

The riverboat evening was fantastic. Sorita and I road over in the shuttle and waited outside with hundreds of magical people to board the Creole Queen. It was so very hot. I chose to skip the complete black and wear something a bit lighter after my day in the sun.  The boat was beautiful and the food delicious. We sat in the upper deck and enjoyed a wonderful vegetable medley, fresh salad and a wonderful vegan white bean dish. Which reminds me, I need to ask Christian who catered, because it was amazing.  Our meat eating witches and warlocks had a beautiful spread which included traditional New Orleans staples as well as a beautiful looking bread pudding for dessert.

After dinner we mingled out on the deck under a beautiful Nola moon while Christian sang of the magic and mystery of Marie Laveau.  Brian officiate the opening ritual setting our intentions for a brilliant weekend of magic, mischief and pedagogy.

Make your Witch Face
Renee & Sorita
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Witch Faces
Renee & Sorita
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Such a Wonderful Time
Renee & Sorita
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Event Venue - Bourbon Orleans Hotel
The first day I found myself sitting outside the ballroom of the Bourbon Orleans waiting for the vendors to unpack their magical wares. I ended up walking away with a beautiful piece.  You can find yourself something amazing by friending up Sandra Wright on Facebook.  This is the garnet and silver necklace that demanded I bring it home with me immediately.

Garnet in Sterling from Sandra Wright
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
So beautiful.  I highly recommend connecting with Sandra and finding something that to speaks to you as well.


The ballroom was upstairs and the workshop rooms were downstairs.  The first day was a flurry of activity. They were having the Red Dress Run on the same day and the crowd outside of some of the classrooms were a bit rowdy. My understanding is this is typical for New Orleans.



Red Dress Run Crowd outside HexFest 2019
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson



And while we're at it, let's do some Ghost Hunting....

Ghost Hunting  - Bourbon Orleans Hotel
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
More Ghost Hunting in the Andrew Jackson
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson

The workshops I attended are below with a review and/or photos in no particular order.

The Cone of Power with Jason Mankey
This was a fantastic workshop. Jason was there bright eye'd and bushy tailed ready to lead the class. He may think otherwise but he did a great job presenting. It made me very interested in this topic considering our current political climate and I could see how we could really use some action like the witches used against Hitler.

Magic Happens
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson


Hekate: Unveiling the Queen of the Dead  with Mulysa Mayhem
You know I had to attend this class. I have admired Mulysa for many years online and appreciate her directness and her knowledge of not only our mutual goddess but also her work in tattooing. I find that tattooing is a great sacrifice and with the letting of blood and the marking of the skin it calls out to all around you exactly who are you are.  Both Sorita and I joined Mulysa's talk and found it thorough and full of insight.  The packed room, also showed that not only is Hecate becoming more popular in today's pagan circles but Mulysa's perspective on the subject is sought after as well.


Sorita d'Este, Mulysa Mayhem & Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Credit - Attendee


Magical Weapons with Sorita d'Este
The Magical Weapons workshop was fantastic. Seeing the historical illustrations related to wands, swords and knives was great. It has convinced me I need to decorate my home in daggers!

Weapons of Magic with Sorita d'Este
HexFest 2019
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson
Weapons of Magic with Sorita d'EsteHexFest 2019
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson


Drawing Down the Moon  - Jason Mankey
Another fantastic workshop at HexFest was this one. It made me, a person who does not particularly accept the idea that there are/were ever supreme beings, ask the question on my Facebook Page - Can I invoke a deity with just one person?  Even my sister was surprised by this post.  The descriptions of the energy felt in this process was truly magical. I have felt at times that I was lost in the ritual chant and music of the moment while participating in Rite of Her Sacred Fires.  I would love to be able to harness that moment and call it back again and again.

If you haven't had the opportunity to hear Jason's perspective you can find his books here.

Drawing Down the Moon with Jason Mankey
HexFest 2019
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Money Drawing Magic with Sen Elias

This class was truly fascinating. He provided solid tips for taking control of your own financial well-being and provide a takeaway that one only needs to put out the energy and call upon that return to have success and financial independence. He provided a look into his personal life and how he worked his magic to become the success he is today.  You can find him across the web and of course at Crescent City Conjure in New Orleans.


Sen Elias - Money Magic at HexFest 2019
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Sen Elias - Money Magic at HexFest 2019
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson



Sybil- Speaking for the Gods with Sorita d'Este
Always a deep passion of mine, oracles and fortune telling is to me something that is not quite magical but then not quite mundane either. This workshop provided a lot of insight on what I already felt my workings with Hecate would be from not only a magical level but also in my very public works with the Covenant of Hekate. I would like to add as well, when I played many of my role playing games, I often picked the name Sybil.  This was well before my instruction on the Oracles of Delphi and any introduction into magic at all.  This workshop was the exact moment when all I had been thinking about fell neatly into place and solidified my direction for the upcoming year.

 


Magical Sigil Dance by Laura Tempest Zakroff.
I have no photos of this class, because we stood and danced the entire time. I would have never taken this class but for Sorita's encouragement. It was the best decision of the weekend. We spent time learning about our feet and our happy armpits. It was a moment when I learned that even in this new body I have, I can be as magical as I want to be. I cannot really explain how amazing it was, but I did find a few links that maybe can help you see how much magic is in this force called Tempest.  If you have the opportunity to see her preform, I highly recommend taking the time.  It is something you won't want to miss.  I found this great intro on YouTube.


Laura's PodCast  - Link 
Laura's Shop - Link


Hekate Serpent Magic with Sorita d'Este
When I first discussing becoming a Torchbearer, a long black rat snake circled into my garage quickly as it arrived, passing through a threshold area before making its way out the door. This even cemented my decision to become more active in the Covenant of Hekate. I knew this workshop would bring some new information into a connection I had already made with the goddess. While not solely based on Hecate, Sorita provided a look at how the serpent had been included in mysticism and magic for centuries. We began the talk with a breathing exercise that really changed the entire tone of the room.  We toned and centered and then were able to participate in a wonderful discussion. I even picked up some tips for serpent healing magic as well.

Sorita d'Este - Serpent Magic HexFest 2019
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson



Appalachian Magic with Byron Ballard
This was what kicked the return of my accent into high gear. Byron Ballard, known as the Village Witch, gave a wonderful talk on working with the magic around you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided that I must see her speak again.

Byron Ballard - HexFest 2019
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Panel Discussion — Stepping Away from the Circle: Sacred Sabbaticals for Sanity
Featuring Dorothy Morrison, Lady Rhea, Mulysa Mayhem, Sorita d'Este, and Thorn Mooney

Wonderful talk from some experienced voices in the witchcraft community. Each sharing their own personal experiences of the times that you just need to step away from the group and practice self care. The open discussion and range of experiences was fantastic to see. Overall an amazing experience to see that what we may feel is something that we are the only one dealing with, is something that many experience.

Panel Discussion - Leaving the Community HexFest 2019
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson







FOOD



Take out for Sorita at The Gumbo Shop
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
White Beans at The Gumbo Shop
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson







White Beans and Rice at The Gumbo Shop
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson
Giant Strawberry from Rouse's Market
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson























Rouse's Market
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
My Haul from Rouse's Market
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Vegan Po'Boy from The Gumbo Shop
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


Notes to the Venue:
I loved the way that coffee and water was available in the hotel lobby.  I thought that it could have been a bit more clear as to where the HexFest workshops were taking place. I also noticed a few people couldn't find the restrooms that easily.

While I loved how close the venue was to my hotel and to local shops, the Red Dress Run made two of the workshop presenters nearly deafened by the noise.  While we cannot control what goes on outside, perhaps an amplifier or maybe a microphone to just bring their voices over the noise outside would be beneficial to the attendees.

To attendees and the venue, I would suggest a door marker that tells when a class has reached capacity. I attended several where the room monitor had to get up several times to let new arrivals know the class was full.  A little sign on the door could nip that in the bud.  Attendees: If you're late for the class, please skip it. I found the constant interruptions in Sen Elias' class to be on the verge of a complete distraction.


Final Thoughts:
After spending a full week to digest my trip, I can say I had a fantastic time. If you're someone who is looking to spend some time with your favorite authors or maybe you want to immerse yourself in the magical city of New Orleans, HexFest is the way to do it.  I found myself sitting across the table from Jason Mankey enjoying a meal, with Sorita d'Este to my right sharing an Old Fashion. I was completely "fan girl" the entire weekend. I road home watching Dorothy Morrison chat with the bus driver and having a deep conversation with Byron Ballard about the condition of our river back home in NC. Most of all, I spent the weekend with my dear Sorita.  We laughed, we joked, we danced.  She called me a tiny little fae!   All of these interactions completely impossible without the magic that is HexFest.

You can find more information on HexFest and even register to attend HexFest 2020 here.



I'll close with a few more of my favorite photos from New Orleans.

HexFest 2019
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
  
HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson






HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson


HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

HexFest 2019 
Photo Credit - Sorita d'Este