Here’s a collection of witchy news– most of it recent, or new to me and perhaps news to you, dear reader. 1. The Face of a Witch, Reconstructed. Perhaps the only face of a Scottish witch known to us, Lilias Abie died in prison before she could be burned, most likely a suicide. Records show that she held out, refusing to give names of other “witches” during her ordeal. Though her skull went missing, it was photographed and it was using these photographs that the digital reconstruction was created. Read more about this brave woman and the fascinating process in the Telegraph article here.
2. Esben and the Witch. You need something to listen to while reading this round-up, you do. How about Esben and the Witch and their most recent album live at Roadburn? Listen & and support the band at their bandcamp page.
3. A round-up of 13 Witch Movies (For Halloween). Good Housekeeping is getting spooky with this list– how many have you seen? Now that Suspiria and Roald Dahl’s Witches are scheduled for remakes, which Witch movies would you like to see remade?
4. What does it mean that Allure Magazine is now publishing articles on How to Harness the Magical Power of Each Moon Phase “regardless if you identify as a witch or not”? Is this a good thing or a bad thing that this kind of work (on the surface at least) has gone totally mainstream? Before I get too down on it, Allure has also offered up this well reasoned list:
7. A Witch Trial Memorial unveiled in Essex. It’s exciting to note this memorial was crowdfunded, initiated by director Jon Worland. This suggests possibilites for the myriad sites in Scotland that need a more permanent, sympathetic marker to bear witness to the thousands of women (and men) like Lilias Abie who were tortured and killed in the witch trials.
Next week, Etsy is celebrating 13 years of supporting handmade businesses by hosting a site-wide sale, and I’m participating by offering 15% off my entire shop from June 18th-22nd. No coupon is necessary. (Custom orders and made to order designs are not included in the sale).
I’ve had a handmade shop on Etsy for over 8 years of their 13 year history, and before that I was an Etsy customer. Back then, things were small– crafters and artisans offered a few of their wares and there was definitely a feeling of unique, experimental sharing. Many of the shops I visited were like me– making things on their kitchen tables, photographing them with a dinky point-and-shoot camera.
As Etsy grew, many businesses, like mine, grew with the site, and the decision-makers at Etsy seemed to be makers themselves, or at least understood the unique dilemmas makers face when running a business– Etsy supported us and we blossomed. Many of us were able to support ourselves by selling our work; a truly marvellous thing. I met other shop owners who remain friends to this day and we continue to support each other in myriad ways. There was a community of sellers sharing knowledge in Etsy Teams, and we celebrated each other’s work by making Treasuries– visual collections of selected pieces that would sometimes be featured on the front page, leading to great exposure for everyone, and a constant source of inspiration and friendship.
Of course nothing stays the same. The CEO of Etsy changed, and those of us who made a modest living had to hang on for dear life– despite Etsy’s “Quit Your Day Job” blog posts, those of us who had done just that knew that it harder for us succeed. Etsy had opened its doors to resellers and drop-shipping, and suddenly we had to compete with people who were not making their goods at all but buying them from the 3rd world, often from sweat shops employing child labour.
Etsy has had a crisis of identity: the front page is no longer curated by Etsy members via the Treasuries. Long time Etsians have noticed the site looking more and more like eBay. Also since Etsy has gone public on the stock market it must now answer to share holders rather than makers, and this has changed everything.
I have learned a great deal on this rollercoaster ride with Etsy, but these are the biggest lessons:
Be ready to spend at least half your productive hours creating a business. This involves trying to anticipate Etsy’s continued changes as you think on your feet.
Lastly, loyal customers are like gold, and if you have read this far, I know you are one of them. Every day I am filled with gratitude for the customers who continue to return to my shop, year after year. Without you, I wouldn’t be here!
This month I have introduced lovingly selected altar supplies at both Feralstrumpet.co.uk and Etsy— they join my miniature witch balls. Carefully prepared and selected ritual salts, incenses, sprays as well as fossil and mineral specimens will be on offer.
Today is the New Moon, between two powerful full moons this month. I chose this time to visit one of the sacred spaces on the North Sea near me– the Needle’s Eye at Tarlair, not far from the Pictish hill for of Cleaved Head. This natural arch is part of the Pre-Cambrian shore of the North Sea here, formed over 600 million years ago. It is indeed a place of the jotuns. I visited at high tide to bring in as much sea water as I could carry in order to extract some ritual salt which I’ll offer later this week. My ritual sea salt comes in a tin with a tiny piece of sea glass & a limpet shell spoon.
I have also carefully selected fossils, mineral specimens as well as Witches Stones (Mare stones, Odin Stones or Hag Stones) gleaned on the beaches of North Yorkshire and Scotland.
I have created a Shadow Work incense at the New Moon Eclipse which includes protective Bladderwrack sustainably harvested at the full moon as well as other foraged and ethically sourced resins and herbs. At the coming blue moon I’ll create an Esbat incense as well which I will offer in April.
I’m also proud to be the only shop in the UK and Europe to offer Nicole Piar‘s beautiful Spirit Cats Deck. I regularly use this deck for daily inspiration or to clarify longer Tarot readings. The whimsical, ethereal art work and lively stories on the reverse are soul-gladdening. A must for any esoteric cat lover, and makes a wonderful gift for a witch with many familiars (we all know one!) or a friend or comrade who could use a boost that is neither patronising nor glib, but truly buoyant.
20% off everything at feralstrumpet.co.uk for 24 hours with code LOVEDAY18
V Day always has me wistful for its Roman counterpart– Lupercalia– a festival of purging fevers and she wolves. Surely there is something worth celebrating on this day besides cupids and St. Valentine? Let’s call it Self Love Wednesday. (I confess I’d always liked the empty tissue boxes decorated as post boxes on our desktops in grade school, and counting up the hearts afterward. Maybe I just like getting post, even if it comes in a heart-covered tissue box! Won’t you be my Feral Valentine?)
We are the niche-est, you and I, so I’ve compiled some super special gift ideas to inspire you. The benefits of shopping small during the holiday season means you can find unique gifts that are as special as the people in your life.
For the Flash Knitter— a custom stitch marker set in their favourite colour. Opt for a simple marker keeper or a beautiful necklace so the set doubles jewellery.