Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Product Reviews on Witchy Words!


Since my review for Sabbat Box, I’ve been asked by several shops if they can send me free samples to review their products.  The answer is absolutely yes as long as they meet the following guidelines:

  1. You must be a small business.
  2. It must be pagan-owned.  Any denomination is fine.
  3. No state-side illegal ingredients, please!
  4. Tea is fine, but I really prefer no other food stuff out of safety concerns.  And as much as I’d love to review homemade dog treats, I just can’t risk it. It’s not just a poison concern, but the fact that both my dog and I have a significantly restricted diet thanks to genetic issues.  Thank you for understanding!
  5. You must be willing to ship to the US.
  6. Bonus points if your item is sabbat-related given the theme of my blog.
  7. You must be willing to accept that I will do an honest review.  I will point out both the strengths and weaknesses of your product and tell my viewers whether I like it.  While I appreciate the free goodies, I cannot and will not sacrifice the trust of my readers for it.
  8. If I absolutely do not like your product, I will send you a personal message letting you know rather than posting a negative review here at WW.  I don't believe in dragging any small business through the mud.

Finally, while I'd love to offer a multitude of shopping options for my readers, I don't want that to become all that I blog about.  I'd prefer to limit product reviews to four a month, which means I may not be able to do an immediate review.  I will do reviews in the order in which they're received and space them out with at least seven days in between.  This actually works to your advantage too, as multiple product reviews in a row may not get as much attention as individual, well-spaced reviews.

If all of the above are fine, feel free to contact me at artist@mdartist.com.  Please let me know when you ship so I can keep an eye out for it.  I will let you know as soon as your product arrives!

Thank you again, everyone!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sabbat Box Review: The Fires of Beltane


Loot Crate is for geeks and gamers.  BarkBox is for dogs.  Club W is for wine lovers.  Sabbat Box is for pagans.

I suppose that's the easiest way to describe what Hugh Carey's latest venture is, and it's certainly a hit!  Sabbat Box is a subscription service that offers a box of sabbat-related items for all varieties of pagans every 45 days - just before each sabbat.  Many of the items included in the box are from pagan-owned small businesses and each box offers a substantial savings, meaning a Sabbat Box subscription could help your pocket in the long run.  And just like businesses they support, the owners of Sabbat Box are small business themselves.  Hugh and his husband Tom, owners of Eclectic Artisans, manage the subscriptions, hand-packing each box individually and mailing them out to happy pagans all over the United States.

With its sabbat themed boxes and small business emphasis, Sabbat Box was a perfect fit here at Witchy Words.  So when Hugh contacted me about doing a review, I was absolutely thrilled.  Boxes were mailed out last Thursday and, just two days later, it arrived on my doorstep!


Today I give you the first Sabbat Box Review from Witchy Words!


Obviously, the minute I found it on my doorstep, I had to get it inside and open it up.  The first thing I noticed once I broke the seal was the amazing smell from the box.  There was no mistaking that this collection was meant for a pagan.  In fact, my desk smells like the box simply because I have the informational card sitting with me.  It's pretty impressive!


Speaking of the information sheet, it's the first thing you'll see upon opening the box.  This little card is packed full of information about the sabbat, a list of correspondences, and websites, blogs and podcasts that may help you on your journey.


On the backside of the information sheet, you'll find details about each item inside your box.  This side is particularly pertinent as it will let you know how you might use your items, how long they may last, what small businesses you're supporting and your total savings.  It's pretty nifty to keep on hand as you unpack your sabbat items.


And, once you break the seal on the tissue paper, here's the official box chalked full of sabbat-related goodies!


One of the first things I noticed was the box of loose leaf tea.  Tea is a huge part of our household.

Nah, really?
Because of this, I was especially thrilled about this item.  The loose leaf tea is made by Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, a small pagan-owned business who creates small batches of tea with local ingredients.


This particular blend was created especially for Beltane from green tea and jasmine.  Most tea has solar, masculine properties and promotes energy, which it derives from the caffeine.  Jasmine is associated with the moon and the feminine, and promotes spirituality.  Because Beltane is the meeting of the feminine and the masculine, this tea is perfect for the sabbat.

We couldn't wait until Beltane to try it, so we fired up the kettle!


Unfortunately, the informational pamphlet doesn't give instructions for how to make the tea, which may trouble some of the more inexperienced recipients.  If you're not familiar with loose leaf tea or specifically green tea, I would suggest bringing your water to a boil and, while it cools off slightly, adding one tablespoon of loose leaf tea per cup of tea you plan to make to your infuser.  Gently pour in the hot water and let it steep for about two minutes.  The best part about loose leaf tea is that you can often get anywhere from two to three uses from the same blend, so don't throw it out once it's gotten wet!  Make a few pots to sate your tea cravings.

Green tea is going to have a light taste, and the jasmine is going to add a bit of a floral undertone.  Don't expect it to be in your face with flavor - that's not the point of this type of loose leaf tea.  If you'd like to add some sweet to it to bring out the jasmine, I highly suggest adding a small amount of raw honey to the cup and giving it a good stir.

Overall, we were very impressed with the tea.  Neither myself or my roommate are huge green tea fans - Tony likes a good Rooibos and I'm a black tea drinker.  However, I do have a selection of green teas in my cabinet, including a green tea and jasmine, and I thought this blend was far better than what I already owned.  Fantastic!

If you're not a fan of drinking tea, remember that this is also a collection of herbs and can be used as such.  You can mix it with oils to anoint items, charging them with the properties of the tea, or burn them to release those properties to the universe.

But enough about the tea.  On to the other items!


Llewellyn's Beltane was the next item in the box that caught my eye.  I have a significant library, but I can't say that I own this one.  This little guy is a great starter book for anyone just dipping their toes into paganism and learning about the sabbats, which makes it a wonderful addition to the box.  If you're not very familiar with Beltane, this will give you a 101 rundown of everything you need to know.  If you have a more advanced understanding of the sabbats, this item may not peek your interest.


If you're wondering where the wonderful smell comes from, this would be it.  The incense included in this set is HEM'S The Sun, and its bold aroma is going to stick with you for a while.  Everything in the box is going to carry this wonderful scent for a long time to come.  Incense is used to set a certain tone to a ritual and to fill a space with its energy.  You can also use the smoke from the incense to charge items with purpose.


No incense is complete without something to catch the ash.  Even better - this incense holder was specifically hand-painted for Beltane!  While mine is primarily red, the picture on the information sheet shows four other colors for the holiday.  This means that each box carries a little personalized touch, giving you something different and exciting each time.


In addition to incense, the box includes a vial of essential oil by Sun's Eye called "Fire of Passion."  This external-use only blend is created by yet another pagan-owned small business!  Patchouli, its primary base, is a particularly feminine, earthy herb that balances out the masculine incense and incense holder of the box.  Perfect!  You can either fill a room with its scent through a diffuser, or use the it as a perfume or anointing oil.  If you plan to do the latter, please be careful!  Essential oils can be strong and should be used diluted and with great care.  To dilute, you can add it to a plain carrier oil, such as olive, coconut or grapeseed, or thin it out with alcohol or water.  Obviously, if you do the latter, give it a good shake before using it.  If you plan to dilute it, you only need to add a few drops of essential oil to your dilution of choice in a separate container. 


The box also included this small parchment poster of the Wheel of the Year, which cross references dates, astrological signs and includes a bit of information.  The reason why this size was chosen was so that it could easily fit into your Book of Shadows, Grimoire or other such personalized reference book.


The last item, and perhaps the biggest, is this Energy and Will candle handmade by Coventry Creations.  This guy lasts 40 hours and includes the right oils, herbs and magickal charge to bring about vitality, vigor and strength, whether it be physical, mental or emotional.  Its color corresponds with these traits and links it with the masculinity of the sun.  If you'd like to further personalize your candle before burning it, try carving your intent into the wax or perhaps even charging it yourself with with your own oil and herb mix.  Remember: Clockwise and up draws to you, while counterclockwise and down banishes.

The box also includes two coupons - one for the Sabbat Box store and one for Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends.  I do not have them pictured here because they include member-only codes, but they'll certainly come in pretty handy!


Overall, I was incredibly impressed with Sabbat Box's first box!  Admittedly, when I first saw Sabbat Box, I wanted to order it so badly but I was also hesitant.  As a semi-naturalistic pagan, I was concerned the box might be too heavily Wiccan- or deity-focused.  It would be easy to accidentally fall into that trap.  To my delight, the box includes items for which most pagans would be able to find use!  In addition, most of the items in the box are consumables - not in the sense that you eat them but in the sense that you can actually use them.  For the better part, they're not going to sit on a shelf or altar and collect dust.  I like those kind of items too, but knowing that I'm going to actively come back to the box again and again makes having a subscription that much more worthwhile.

For this particular box, I did notice a very slight over-reliance on the masculine and the sun, something I typically save more for Midsummer.  The Energy and Will candle will find more use towards June in my house, and the sun emblem matches my altar candle holder for the solstice perfectly.  For me, Beltane is about the meeting of the feminine and the masculine energies, but that's my own personal interpretations of the sabbat.  While you can't cater to everyone's individual definitions of the sabbat, this box does its best to represent a broad definition and certainly succeeds!  The best part is that the items in the box that I felt were more for the solstice will still find use and thus it still made this box a fantastic value.


Of course, it's also important to me to get my familiars' approval of any magickal items I bring into the house.  All four got a chance to check out the Sabbat Box, each doing so of their own accord.  And the verdict?


Breakdown:
Total MSRP of items inside: $49.83
Total savings on this box: $9.88
Total shipping savings: $7.95
Total savings: $17.83
Seven pagan businesses supported.


Special Discount for Witchy Words Readers
at Eclectic Artisans:
$5 off of a $50 purchase
Coupon code: witchywords
Enter it in at checkout!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Slight Schedule Changes: Beltane / May Day Master Schedule 2015


Greetings fellow Witchies!

You may remember the schedule for Beltane / May Day posts that I made a few days ago.  In it, I had set Sabbat Box to be reviewed on the 23rd and my May Day altar to be posted on the 20th.  I'd set those dates to give the Sabbat Box plenty of time to arrive.  However, it landed on my door step today!  In light of this, and the fact that there are items in the box I'd like to use for my altar, I'd like to switch the two.  Here is the new Beltane / May Day 2015 schedule!



May Day Altar 2013
Sabbat Box: Beltane Review
May Day Altar 2015 (Coming April 23rd)
Alternative Views: Phaedra: Raising Pagan Children in an Interfaith Household (Coming April 25th)
Circle of Fountains May Day Celebration and Ritual 2015 (Coming April 27th)
Liithi Lushede Coven Public Beltane Ritual 2015 (Coming May 4th)

Thank you so much, everyone!