Ahhhhhh we are sooooo excited to share this with you, Coven!
The Celebrate the release of the launch of ‘The Modern Craft’ Edited by Claire Askew & Alice Tarbuck we have partnered with Watkins Publishing to offer 3 lucky Digital Coven followers one of their ‘The Modern Craft’ Book Lunch Bundles.
How To Enter:
The bundles include a copy of the book which is released 14th June 2022. To enter please leave your details below (Don’t worry we won’t use them for anything else) to enter the prize draw. To get a futher entry please visit our instagram to take part in our Instagram giveaway.
Two books are on offer in a prize draw so Just fill out this form to enter. You can get a second entry into the competition by following digital coven over on Instgram and commenting on this post what The Modern Craft means to you.
An eclectic and radical collection of essays on witchcraft practice and the ethics of magic, The Modern Craft gives that much-needed modern context to timeless wisdom. It offers a fascinating snapshot of Powerful voices on witchcraft ethics and contemporary occult practice viewed through an intersectional lens.
Touching on a number of timely conversations, essay topics include:
the ethics of decolonization
meditations on what it means to honour
Mother Earth during the Anthropocene
the reclamation of agency for workingclass & queer witches through spellwork
This weeks #WitchesAtWork interview is the Olivia, the owner of Ostara.
We are super excited to speak to one of our favourite social media and #WitchesAtWork to follow, The Fabulous Oliva AKA Ostara. Soooo many questions and we highly recommend you spend a few moments deep diving into her fantastic tiktok viral (and national media coverage earning) introduction to whimsigothic videos and, saving the best for last…the beautiful products on the newly launched Ostara Shoppe site. Ahhh so fabulous! Anyway, let’s jump in….
First, tell us about yourself!
My name’s Olivia, and I own Ostara, which stocks magickal wares for your hearth and home. I’m a Taurus Sun, Capricorn Moon and Virgo Rising, so an earthy homeware shop is perfect for me! I believe your home should be a solace, a special space in place and time where once you step over the threshold, you can be at peace. Creating a safe, comforting environment is an art, and I want to help my customers achieve this through carefully selected heirloom pieces.
And now what you do and your career journey up until now
I’m from the North, and moved all around the country from the age of 21 working in Film and TV. I then settled in London, where I continued to art direct and design sets for high end shows, films, and commercials. During the pandemic, my husband and I decided to pursue a slower life by the sea, and moved to Kent to renovate an old Edwardian house. I then decided this was the perfect time and place to leave the film industry and follow my dreams to open Ostara! Seeing so much waste and consumption in the film industry left a bitter taste in my mouth. I wanted to slowly, carefully, handpick items for my shop, choosing heirlooms for peoples homes that have a deeper meaning and symbology to each piece.
What is witchcraft to you?
Witchcraft to me is simply stepping into your power as a human being. Trying to see and feel the beauty and miracle of nature, trying to live a deeply embodied life. Connecting with ancestors is very important to me, and understanding where you came from, and the environment around your ancestors – what shaped your blood line. Learning folklore, mythology and traditional stories can help you have a deeper understanding of human nature and I love learning from them.
I also deeply believe in being of service to whatever greater good you believe in. I’m a triple earth sign – so I passionately care about Mother Nature! My shop Ostara is part of that – I don’t want to contribute to the fast fashion, over consuming nature of interior decor trends. I want to save items from landfill, from going to scrap, and to breathe new life into them, so they can live a new life in someone’s home. Filling your life with knowledge and reverence doesn’t have to stay contained within your practice – it can be displayed in your home too.
How do you use witchcraft in your day to day life?
I suppose it has to do with my idea of being of service again. I am a total gardening geek, and I garden as an act of service to Danu, Gaia, Mother Nature. I plant food to honour my ancestors, and learn herb lore to keep the knowledge alive. I use tarot, the Wild Wood deck, and am constantly trying to learn as much as I can about astrology – there’s just so much to learn!
And professional life?
I only do ‘spells’ very very occasionally, and it’s usually a more direct, ritualistic way of connecting with my ancestors to receive wisdom and advice. These very occasional rituals are usually asking advice to do with my career, as this is the only area of major life choices where I struggle with decisions in my life! When it came to leaving the film industry (which was incredibly stressful and damaging to my health) I believe I was being shown signs to leave for a long time. When I directly asked, I got the answer I was waiting for – it just didn’t come in the way I was thinking! But I was still very grateful for the nudge in the right direction.
How have you used witchcraft to support in shaping your career?
When leaving Film, I had an idea of what I might like to move into, but just didn’t feel the confidence. Leaving a career of 10 years is hard! I knew what I loved doing, I knew I had a passion for interiors, but I didn’t know how to tie it all together. Using tarot was brilliant in shaping my decision to open a store.
Does your work know about your practice?
I think now they do! I want my store to be different in that it offers homeware or furniture that come with a deeper meaning behind each piece – whether that’s the traditional symbolism behind the wood that’s used to make the piece, or another bit of folklore attached to it. That’s why I spend so much of my time researching not only antiques and vintage homewares but mythology and folklore. I want my customers to know that they’re buying from not only a reputable source of ethically gathered antiques, but a genuine lover of magick and folklore.
How do colleagues/clients respond?
I’ve been overwhelmed with the response from my customers – I’ve had orders from all over the UK, Europe and America! I hope that people enjoy the unique blend of quality vintage and magickal flare to each piece that I source.
There are a few exciting bits and pieces brewing for the future – one of which is establishing a bricks and mortar shop for Ostara to dwell in. I can’t wait to be able to let people see, touch and hold their items before they buy. And who doesn’t love a good witchy shop?
Witchcraft Around The World: The fabulous Tanja, shares her insight into Walpurgis Night.
We love learning about all different type of Witchcraft here at Digital Coven and today we have the fabulous Tanja, sharing her insight into Walpurgis Night.
Take it away, Tanja!
Greetings fellow witches! You may or may not be prepping to celebrate Beltane this weekend, so I thought I would make you familiar with what I like to call its “German goth counterpart”, – Walpurgisnacht, or the Night of the Witches, which takes place on the night of the 30th of April.
As you may know, Beltane is the pagan festival held halfway between the spring and summer equinox, celebrating the blossoming of trees and flowers and the days getting warmer. It takes place between 30th of April and 1st of May and therefore traditionally includes May Day celebrations which span across many different cultures – Celtic, German, Hawaiian and Greek, to name a few. They include dancing around a May Pole, making flower crowns and crowning a May queen (not to be confused with the customs of Midsommar – neither the Swedish festival nor Ari Aster’s horror masterpiece).
The Fire Festival
Beltane, from the Gaelic Bealtaine, can be roughly translated to “bright fire”. On the eve of May 1st, Pagans would gather to light bonfires and dance around them – since fire typically stands for purification and new beginnings, this ties in with Beltane’s themes of renewal and summer returning.
Like on Halloween (Samheim) and Midsummer, the veil between the realms of the living, dead and spirits is supposed to be especially thin this time of year. It is therefore no wonder the night became associated with witchcraft, its literal Dutch translation being “Heksennacht”, the night of the witches, which in German folklore became associated with a night where evil witches gather to plan their mischievous schemes.
The History of Walpurgis Night
For this negative association, we can thank the Catholic Church – as pagan beliefs did not fit in with the Christian religious ideals, during the Middle Ages they attempted to stamp out any other religion’s customs, including those of Beltane, throughout Europe. Walpurgisnacht i.e. “Walpurgis Night” derives its name from the Catholic missionary turned Saint Walpurga, who was celebrated for succeeding at putting an end to “pagan sorcery”.
Ironically, the image I associated with Walpurga until researching this date stems from a popular German children’s cartoon about a teenage witch – In this, she is the leader of the coven and looks like this:
As someone who grew up Catholic, that doesn’t look very pious to me, which goes to show that Walpurga today is associated way more with witches than she would have liked. Sorry, gal!
To give her credit, Walpurga actually did see to it that the pagan rituals didn’t completely die out: She was canonised on the 1st of May, and therefore, likely by accident, Christian and Pagan customs became entwined. Pagans could continue their celebrations without fear of being condemned, by doing it under the guise of honouring Saint Walpurga (article).
So, these practices could be continued quite freely in Medieval Germany, until the 16th century, which saw a massive hysteria about witchcraft followed by one of the most gruesome and bloody witch hunts in history taking place in Germany.
During that time, hysteria led people to believe that witches would gather on Mount Brocken, the highest peak in Germany’s Harz Mountains, to have orgies, dance, and meet with Satan to discuss how they could bring the most mischief and evil to the coming year (no, really).
According to some legends, witches would gather in the valley and then ride up to the mountain’s peak – not just on broomsticks, but even on cats or goats!
In an attempt to protect themselves from evil spirits and witches, locals would gather on April 30th to light bonfires, burn straw men and make loud noises to chase away evil. The joyous pagan rituals for fertility and summer returning therefore morphed into a gathering driven by fear. Well done, Catholic Church!
Luckily, those superstitions began to gradually die out and Walpurgis Night celebrations carried on but became more light-hearted, as people would gather around the fire, celebrate, and sing folk songs. The festival might not still be part of the German Zeitgeist today had it not been for Goethe’s famous poem Faust, published in the 19th century, which sees the protagonist travelling to Mount Brocken and taking part in the witches’ celebrations.
This poem, loathed by German highschoolers throughout the country, re-popularised Walpurgisnacht and is likely to thank for why it is still popular today.
Modern Day celebrations
Today, Walpurgisnacht remains part of German popular culture, with many other stories about the Witches’ mountain gatherings having sprung up in the century following Goethe’s Faust.
As for the celebrations, most that remains of them is the lighting of and gathering around bonfires, although this is now being celebrated under the new motto of Tanz in den Mai – “Dance into May”. Turns out, pagans, legendary witches and normal human beings alike love a bit of revelry and dancing around a fire! Due to the first of May being a bank holiday, Labour Day, people still traditionally like to go dancing at clubs which do “Tanz in den Mai” themed nights. I have taken part in many of these club nights and regardless of alcohol levels, the night has always felt special to me. Maybe there is something to the veil between the worlds being more permeable. Or maybe I just feel very seen as a witch on this holiday which is, in a way, dedicated to us.
You can stay in touch with Tanja and find her shitposting and creating other digital content about drag, queer and witchy stuff on Instagram @tanjaktx and Tiktok @tanjatix
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