Tea, tarot cards, magic, and new book announcements await over at my new home on the world wide web: http://denisedyoungbooks.com. I’ve decided to go self-hosted. A few things you’ll find over at the new site:
A blog filled with offerings on magic, including my upcoming Magic Mondays series, which will feature musings, spells, Pagan-focused DIYs, rituals and more to awaken your inner goddess and god, and Tarot Tuesdays, which will explore the spiritual wisdom and meanings of the tarot cards. I will continue to blog about finding authenticity and simplicity in this crazy modern world, of course.
I’m launching my indie author career with a four-book novella series. Follow the Willow Creek Coven witches as they find magic, romance, true love, and wisdom in this earthy, mystical, sensual series–launching May 2019.
More offerings are pending but include videos featuring Pagan poetry and guided meditations, free fiction, featured guest authors, and more!
I am so thankful to everyone for their support of this blog over the years. The magic is continuing, but in a beautiful new home. Please pour yourself a cup of tea and follow the URL breadcrumbs to a land of faerie delights. 🙂
A clear February night. I gaze up at the stars. I don’t know many constellations, but I can pick out Orion and his belt, bright pinpricks of light staring down at me.
A summer afternoon. I sit out on my patio, curled up in a chair, a notebook in my lap. The dog sits in the grass, perhaps gnawing on a stick. Birds chirp in the trees. I bring out my Tarot deck, whisper questions to the goddess and god, seek answers in the form of the beautifully illustrated cards.
An autumn day. A leaf breaks free of a branch, caught in the wind, spirals down toward the earth. I’m reminded of a childhood superstition–that if you could catch a freshly falling leaf before it touches the ground, your wish would be granted. I still believe. In faeries. In wishes. In the power of belief.
A creative life is a magical one. Stories whisper from the ether. Brushstrokes reveal hidden worlds. Songs draw emotions out of us. Plays and films and TV shows and books transport us to other worlds.
I am learning that one of the most important things we can do with our lives is to embrace and celebrate the magic. We don’t even have to call it magic. Call it any other name. Beauty. Wonder. Joy. Spirit.
Let’s make space for it to speak.
TENDING THE CREATIVE FLAME
This week was a hodgepodge of writing tasks. I made some changes to my author website, finished revisions on chapter two of Spellfire’s Kiss, and wrote 1,375 words in Spun Gold. I also got a revise and resubmit for a short story, so I switched gears and dug deeper into the story. I feel like it’s much stronger, but I need to do a read-through and polish it before I send it back to the editor.
TENDING THE HEARTH FLAME
In hearth and home, I’m redecorating our living room with some unique art I found on Etsy. We’re really wanting to revamp this space, so we’re taking it one element at a time until it’s where we want it to be.
TENDING THE SACRED FLAME
I want to find a way to incorporate my magical practice into my everyday life. So far, lots of walks in nature and pausing to enjoy the beauty around me. Sunset walks with Leo have yielded some majestic views, and the cardinals have been flitting merrily through the yet bare trees. I’d like to bring some daily meditations into my life, along with getting back to work on my book of shadows.
What about you? How do you celebrate the magic of the everyday?
Funny thing. I never stopped believing in magic. That desire to taste mystery never left me. It lived inside me when, as a young child, I reenacted Little Red Riding Hood over and over in front of the fireplace in our living room, before a captive audience of parents who must’ve been very tired of the tale. It lived inside of me when, as a tween, I wandered the forests of home, dreaming up stories and sowing soul-seeds that would one day grow into the stories I write today. And when, as a teenager, most throw such things away, I found myself beginning the pages of novels I would never finish, tales that blended fantasy and happily-ever-afters.
In college, I wrote poetry, because genre fiction was forbidden, and I couldn’t stop penning lines about magic. But as a poet, they let me write about magic, because in poetry everything is imagery and metaphor and so I could once again taste the way those sweet words burst again my tongue—like wild strawberries fresh from the vine, those words.
And then came decision time. I chose graduate school. And not just any graduate school. I chose the children’s literature M.F.A. program at Hollins University. And there, I spread my wings and wrote the fantasy stories I’d longed to write.
After graduate school, I found myself strongly drawn to adult and new-adult paranormal and fantasy romance and have since shifted toward those genres, combining my two great loves: fantasy and romance. I fell hard for the magic and the swoony kisses. I’m fascinated by faeries and beings who are larger than life—dark elves, fierce warriors, witches who worship the wild earth.
I write what I love, and what I love is a blend of fantasy and romance. Sometimes I lean more into the romance. Sometimes I lean into the fantasy side of things, and the romance is a golden thread woven into that tapestry of magic. I explore the magic of the earth, of gemstones, of plants, of the moon, of the forests, of the cottage garden, but most of all, I explore the magic that sleeps inside each of us, waiting to be reawakened.
Many of us have forgotten that magic. But I have clung to mine. Through the ups and downs of my life, it has sustained me. It has called me out of the darkness, a candle burning in the window of an inn on a long and winding road on a night when the rain falls in sheets and the wind howls like a banshee.
Magic is the heart of each of my stories because magic is my heart.
What about you? What genre do you write in, and why?
(Click here to learn more about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.)
This is the fourth and final post in my series on the four elements. Previous posts covered earth, water, and fire.
A single kingfisher’s feather floats to the ground. A hawk circles, its sharp eye searching the ground below for prey. The smoke of incense dances toward the sky. A foggy morning gives way to a summer day, complete with a clear, blue sky stretching on toward the heavens. Each day is framed by the splendors of sunrises and sunsets.
The element of air is linked to communication, intellection, new beginnings, and creativity. Air signs are often “ideas people,” fascinated by the future or possibilities. People who are strongly connected to the air element are often creative, practicing some form of art, whether their medium is cooking, writing, painting, or a musical instrument. Because air is associated with sound, communication is also a key component of this element. But because air is ever-shifting and constantly changing, it can also be associated with a lack of being grounded (“pie in the sky” thinking), daydreaming, or flightiness. Someone with too much of the air element in their life can seem disconnected from reality, full of ideas but lacking a practical plan to complete them.
What do you picture when you think of air? I imagine curtains wafting in a fresh spring breeze, clothing drying on the line, a bird soaring to impossible heights, and humans’ fascination with flight. Finding a bird’s feather, whether belonging to a turkey or a blue jay, can set our imagination going. In fact, I often use feathers to represent the air element when I do magic work.
Air brings in freshness to complement earth’s stability. It fuels fire’s passions. It rounds out water’s undercurrents of emotion with the ability to communicate and express those emotions. If you need “a breath of fresh air” in your life–whether it’s a relationship, a project, or your day-to-day comings and goings–consider bringing in air symbols to your surroundings. This can be a piece of jewelry (an air gemstone or a pendant featuring a bird, feather, or wings), a wall painted an air color, or an object associated with this element. Whether we need inspiration or are seeking to articulate an idea or vision, air allows us to accept change more readily and express ourselves more easily.
Balancing the 4 elements to bring harmony into our lives
Most importantly, the four elements are all about balance. When our lives have too much earth, stagnation takes root. We resist the change that is as natural to our lives as the cycle of seasons. Too much fire leads to aggression. Too much water makes us overly sensitive or emotional. Too much air brings us too many ideas and not enough follow-through–we’re all thought, but no action. Every room should have some representation of each element. If one element is lacking, imbalance and disharmony often follow. That’s why, on every magical altar, each element is represented and honored.
For example, as a Sagittarius, I have the passion of a fire sign. Because there’s a lot of air influence in this sign, I’m also very creative and intellectual. But sometimes I need more water to temper my pursuit of my goals with a sense of harmony and emotional balance; water can “cool off” the sense of urgency or impatience with which fire signs often grapple. The earth element is essential because it allows me to ground my air-and-fire-inspired goals with a practical plan and to nurture this body that I often take for granted.
What, if any, elements are lacking in your life? Which element do you need to draw in more?
Associations with the air element:
Cardinal direction: East
Zodiac signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Colors: sky blue, violet, yellow
Gemstones: lapis lazuli, sapphire, topaz
Herbs and spices: lavender, marjoram, mint, parsley, sage
Plants: clover, elder, maple, pine
Fantasy creatures: angels, fairies, sylphs
Altar items: feathers, incense, wand
For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources:
This post is the third in a series about the four elements. Previous posts explored the symbolism behind the elements of earth and water.
Perhaps no element is as contradictory as fire. It provides the warmth necessary to heat our homes and prepare our food, yet it is capable of tremendous destruction. It is associated with both passion and rage, with the ability to create and destroy. Smoke can be blinding and suffocating, but the torch’s light can be illuminating and comforting. Fire is also the only element that cannot exist on its own: It needs fuel and air.
Much of the language associated with creativity calls to mind the fire element: the spark of creativity or kindling an idea. In the forge, we can create weapons and tools. Where water is associated with emotion and love, fire is associated with passion and romance. Where earth is associated with stubbornness and stagnation, fire is associated with anger and action. Most fire signs are intense. Whether outwardly aggressive or inwardly focused, most fire signs know what they want and pursue their passions with intensity. They can have tempers, though their flares of anger can also be short-lived. Fire is also associated with courage and strength–a willingness to fight for what is right. When harnessed properly, the energy of fire can inspire us to creative acts or empower us to stand up for ourselves.
Like water, fire is an active element. While too much fire in your life can result in anger, rebelliousness, intensity, or aggression, too little fire can result in weakness, submissiveness, or inactivity. Call on fire whenever you want to spark creativity in your work, stir up passion for your goals, or fire up your love life.
Associations with the fire element:
Cardinal direction: South
Zodiac signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Colors: copper, gold, orange, red
Gemstones: amber, fire opal, garnet, hematite
Herbs and spices: allspice, basil, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, witch hazel
Plants: ash tree, calendula, chili peppers, hawthorn, holly, oak
Fantasy creatures: dragons, phoenix, salamanders
Altar items: athame, candles
For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources: “Celtic Magic” by D.J. Conway. Llewellyn Publications. “Herb Magic for Beginners” by Ellen Dugan. Llewellyn Publications. “Feng Shui Home” by Gill Hale, Stella Martin, and Josephine De Winter. Barnes & Noble Books.
In the first post of this series, we discussed the nurturing qualities of the earth element. In today’s post, we’re talking about water.
Water, governed by the moon and the goddess Venus, is generally associated with emotions, love, and spirituality. People who are water signs can be moody and emotional, but also sensitive, generous, and compassionate. In dreams, bodies of water are said to symbolize the unconscious mind, and the state of the water represents the dreamer’s psyche. Cloudy or muddy water represents a lack of understanding of unconscious desires and urges or being overwhelmed by negative emotions, whereas clear waters reflect that the dreamer is in touch with his/her innermost desires or fears and is in a receptive state of mind.
Water can be a clear, still pond or a wild, raging river. It is a dynamic element, in contrast to earth, which can leave a sense of being “rooted in place.” Just as earth provides a nurturing sense of stability, water is also healing, but in this case, in the sense of cleansing. Water can soothe wounds, washing away negative energy. In nature, storms can be intense and powerful, but also cleanse the atmosphere (take a moment to imagine the cool, refreshing scent of a forest after an intense rainstorm).
Water energy is necessary in every home. It provides a feeling of love and connection and helps to add a sense of movement in places where there can be stagnation. Water represents purification and receptive, feminine energy. Consider adding a mirror (a water symbol) to a corner or an object made of glass (another water symbol) to spaces that could use more water energy. Beautiful symbols of water energy abound. Consider using a glass dolphin statue as a paperweight or adding a bowl of seashells to balance out a room.
Do you ever feel like you need more of the water element in your daily routine? If so, how do you welcome water energy into your life?
Associations with the water element:
Cardinal direction: West
Zodiac signs: Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio
Colors: aqua, blue, silver, white
Gemstones: aquamarine, moonstone, pearls
Herbs and spices: chamomile, feverfew, thyme, vanilla, yarrow
Plants: birch, elder, lotus flowers/water lilies, seaweed, roses, rushes, violets, willow
Fantasy creatures: nymphs, mermaids, undines
Altar items: chalice, bowl, or cauldron filled with water; glass objects; mirror; seashells
For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources: