A “cottage witch,” according to Witchipedia, is “a witch whose magickal practice focuses mainly on the home.” Add to that 36 sustainable rituals to nourish your mind, body, and intuition and you have the ingredients for The Modern Witch’s Guide to Magickal Self-Care, the new book by local cottage witch Tenae Stewart. What follows is a recent email Q&A.
What is the most misunderstood aspect of your spiritual practice and what would you like others to know about it?
Tenae Stewart: Witchcraft is becoming more and more visible in mainstream culture but there are still deep misunderstandings about it. Christian belief about witchcraft is often that it’s “of the devil” or evil in some way but in reality, witchcraft is about being connected to nature, about understanding yourself, and about being aware of your own power. It’s a path to becoming more in tune with yourself. Most witches do not believe in the Christian devil, let alone work with him. The reason that witches have been feared for so long is because we represent the power of the divine feminine to both create and transform — a power that manifests in men, women, trans and non-binary individuals, and people of all genders — and that power has threatened the status quo for literally centuries.
Can you give a brief definition of magick vs magic?
TS: Many witches use the “magic with a k” to describe spiritual magic as opposed to tricks or illusion. Magic typically refers to stage performance, while magick refers to a spiritual experience, though those definitions are not necessarily universal and plenty of witches do use the term “magic” to describe their practice.
Self-care should be part of everyone’s vocabulary especially in this moment — What are some tips from the Modern Witch’s Guide you would recommend to those of us who are a little drift right now?
TS: One of my most important tips would be to keep it simple. The biggest thing that keeps us from committing to our own self-care is doubt and self-deprecation. When we doubt that we will have enough time to complete the task or ritual we’ve set for ourselves, we have a tendency to ditch our self-care practice as a luxury. When we can’t live up to our own impossibly high standards, we figure why bother doing anything at all? To alleviate these stories that we tell ourselves, keep your practice simple and focus on your most essential needs.
In the book, I share my method for creating a strong foundation of your most essential self-care practices, which I call the Five Pillars of Divinity. This system is designed to help you focus on what’s most important to you by creating practices that fit into five categories: mind, body, intuition, nature, and devotion.
What first attracted you to contemporary witchcraft and how has your practice evolved into your profession? I was first attracted to this path in my teens, intrigued by the idea of marking life by the moon phases and the seasons, which I already felt so connected to. I began practicing about a decade ago at the beginning of the 2010s. I practiced on and off throughout college and even had a blog about witchcraft back then, but always struggled to commit to my path. I actually took an extended break from my practice for about 2 years but after losing my home in a wildfire, (the Valley Fire of 2015), I realized that I really need some spiritual support to carry me through the grief and loss I was experiencing at that time. I recommitted to my path after the fire and started a blog as a hobby to keep myself accountable as I began to explore my spirituality again.
That blog, The Witch of Lupine Hollow, evolved over the years into my current work as a professional witch, astrologer, and spiritual coach. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be making my living helping people create daily rituals that support and fulfill them and embody their inner witch, I would never have believed it but I’m so happy to have stepped into this empowered, more in tune version of myself.
Any funny/interesting anecdotes?
Astrology is one of my favorite modalities and things to talk about so here’s a funny one: I work with goddess asteroids, as there really isn’t a lot of divine feminine energy in traditional astrology, especially in the planets. These are asteroids named for various goddesses and give us more nuance in the chart. Right around the time I was discussing this book deal with Skyhorse Publishing, I realized that Ceres, the asteroid of self-care, (named for the Roman mother goddess of agriculture), was transiting my north node, the point on the chart that indicates destiny and soul purpose. I knew then that this book had to happen and was meant to be! I even included a section in the book for finding Ceres in your own chart and what she means.
How can others work with you?
I offer private written astrology readings and a monthly sacred circle online, as well as private mentoring options. My astrology readings focus on what I call “Essence Codes,” which are combinations of different parts of your chart and the archetypes connected to them, to understand the essence of who you are as a witch, a priestess, your self-care needs and more.
The monthly sacred circle is called The Starlight Coven and is a wonderful community space for support and conversation and for learning about the moon phases, seasons, astrology, and different types of magick. The Coven includes a digital monthly magazine, a live virtual workshop each month, live virtual rituals for the seasons, daily text messages for inspiration, access to our private Facebook group and an entire library of past workbooks and recorded trainings. It’s such a fun, supportive space! I also offer private one-on-one mentoring to support my clients in building a complete magickal self-care practice from the ground up. www.witchoflupinehollow.com/starlight-coven