Witches&Pagans Book Review

Grovedaughter Witchery by Bree NicGarran

Every once in a while you run into a book and find yourself thinking, “Wow, I wish I’d had this book when I was starting out!” NicGarran’s book is one of those; it’s basic in the best possible way: fundamental, taking nothing for granted, with an emphasis on doing your own research. It’s written very clearly, and the author’s patient and practical tone is very helpful. There’s a strong emphasis on safely dealing with “real world” elements such as fire and dangerous plants.

This is not to say that this book is for beginners only. I really appreciated her discussion of the scarcity and endangered status of some magical plants. The book covers a wide range of spell purposes and formats, with a good balance of “how to” and “recipe” sections. Many of her innovations could expand the toolkit of any experienced spellcrafter. The reference material is useful, too; there are listings of plants by magical use, plus sections for the “go-to” purposes like warding and hexing.

NicGarran’s system is heavily herbalism-based; in that and in many other ways it resembles folk magic systems from a wide variety of cultures, with one major difference: there are no goddesses or gods, no spirits, no prayers. The author views witchcraft as practical spellcraft, and presents her system without any religious elements. She presents a strong framework that doesn’t require religious, spiritual, or astrological/lunar elements.

This is a really impressive work. NicGarran has built it from the ground up and tested every spell and charm that she’s created. I’m not much of a magician (though my spouse is), but I do occasionally need to do some spellwork. I’m going to keep this one on my shelf, as I have a feeling it will end up being very useful.

Review by Hugh Eckert
Witches&Pagans magazine, Issue #35, January 2018


The Grovedaughter’s ACTUAL Garden

Behold my lovely plantbabies! The greenery is really booming, thanks to a few days of good sun.

I’m growing more veggies than herbs this year, which is a change from my usual plan of a variety of herbs for witchery. Last year’s crop was sufficient to stock my jars for a good while, so this season I can focus on edible things.

In addition to my must-haves of Basil, Catnip, and Sage, I’m also growing green beans, peas, two varieties of spinach, and four varieties of chili peppers. Everything has sprouted except for the large-leaf spinach and the peas. I have high hopes for a good yield this year, since I got a nice early start on my planting.

Now if I could just stop eating the baby spinach and sweet basil….

Check out my new Patreon page!

Bree NicGarran on Patreon

Times have changed, and so has the craft. The old texts are all well and good, but with the modern proliferation and incredible variety of practitioners in the community, there needs to be new material to support the new generation. Witches are looking for new angles and fresh ideas to supplement their practices, and that’s what I’ve chosen to write about.

My first solo project, Grovedaughter Witchery, was a brand-new take on the Witchcraft 101 book, with a focus on accessibility, secular inclusion, responsible crafting, and solid practical advice. It debuted to rave reviews and a weeklong stay at the top of the Amazon’s top sellers list for the overall Witchcraft category. Readers and reviewers alike have remarked on the practicality of the text, and the oft-repeated phrase that turns up is “Where was THIS when I was starting out!” A review in Witches & Pagans magazine (Issue #35 – Natural Paganism) praised the book as a friendly and conversational read, calling it innovative, accessible, and useful for practitioners of all experience levels.

With the help of patrons like you, I hope to make writing my fulltime job, so that I can keep creating amazing books like this one. I’ve got several projects in the works right now, and all of them promise to be great additions to the library of the working witch. All I need is time to focus on research and creation, and your contributions help support me and keep the lights on while I work toward my next publication.

Thank you very much for all your support thus far and for your continued encouragement as I move forward with my writing. Please feel free to email me with questions, tag me in social media, and spread the words to your witchy friends and family. Every little bit of recognition, visibility, and positivity and every cent of your donations is appreciated more than I can possibly say!

Love and Best Wishes,

Bree NicGarran

The Grovedaughter’s Year – First Robin Day

(This is my personal lore and may or may not match with anyone else’s view of the seasonal rotations or deities associated with such things.)

When I lived in Pennsylvania, we used to mark the day that we saw the first robin after the new year. Up north, it was usually sometime in February or early March, but apparently here in Virginia, late January works just fine too.

(We have the January Thaw here, where there’s a couple of random days in January that are unseasonably warm before another cold front blows through and freezes things solid again. Thanks, Global Warming.)

As a witch, I’ve started celebrating First Robin Day as one of the first signs of spring. It’s a simple thing, mostly involving opening windows and airing the house, and scattering a cup or two of birdseed for the robin and his winged brethren.

It’s also a day for self-care and re-awakening of the self. First Robin Day is a good day to do a bit of cleaning, to re-evaluate goals for the coming months, and to get a bit of fresh air. Pay attention to your health on this day and take time to do something that makes you feel awake and alive.


Brighid, tending Her fires through the winter snows, sends a messenger to see if the world is ready to be awakened yet. With the red-breasted messenger comes a rush of warmth from the forge, which stirs the wintering world and causes it to turn over in its’ sleep.

The robin returns to Brighid and twitters, “Not yet, not yet. But soon! Very soon!” The Lady smiles and goes back to the forge until Her feast day of Imbolc (Feb. 2) or the Spring Solstice (Mar. 20-21), whichever is soonest after the robin’s first flight.

On Imbolc, Brighid may walk abroad herself. If Imbolc is sunny, She will gather more wood for the forge, resulting in six more weeks of winter. If Imbolc is cloudy, She will stay in to tend the fires and spring will come all the sooner for Her efforts.

By the Solstice, the wheel has turned. Brighid takes over for the winter gods in the beginning of March, and She sets to work waking the earth and bringing things into bloom.

Announcement – Witches&Pagans, Dec. 2017

Make sure you visit the Witches&Pagans store on the BBI Media site to subscribe, or check your local bookstore or newsstand!

The new issue is set to mail out very soon, and you can subscribe to the magazine here.

Bree NicGarran

Fantastic news, witchlings! A review of my best-selling book, Grovedaughter Witchery, is set to be published in the December issue of Witches&Pagans magazine!

I’ve read the advance copy of the review, written by one Hugh Eckert, and I can tell you – it’s a review that ANY author would be proud to have attached to their first solo effort. It’s a red-letter day when words like “impressive” and “innovative” are used to describe a book by an indie author in the pagan circuit.

Please join me in supporting the magazine by picking up a copy next month!

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Holiday Wish Witchballs

For health, wealth, and good fortune in the new year.

  • Juniper Berries
  • Allspice Berries
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Honeysuckle
  • Bay Leaf
  • Oats or Oatstraw
  • Sea Salt

Mix as you see fit and pour carefully into glass or plastic ornaments. Ribbons, glitter, jingle bells, and craft gems make excellent additions for an aesthetically-pleasing charm. Decorate and distribute to your near-and-dear as gifts.

Happy Holiday Witching! 🙂

The Annual Christmas Debate

As we approach the winter holiday season, I invariably end up with something in my inbox to the tune of “What’s this Christians Stole Christmas thing I keep hearing about?” This year is no exception. And here is this year’s version of my seemingly-endless, whiskey-fueled attempt to set the record straight.

” I keep seeing reference to Christians stole Christmas? Is there a link you can point me too? I’m just curious as I’ve heard this for years. “

HOLY MOTHER OF MITTENMICE, CHILD. Back away slowly, you know not what madness you toy with. It is an unholy can of worms which opens each year around this time and believe me when I tell you, there are many of us who dread it like the clomping hooves of Krampus upon our doorsteps. It is a wraith of woe and suffering which visits us not once, but SEVERAL times each year, resulting in much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The whole mess makes me want to deck the halls with barfed-up holly and when I see those posts start to make the annual rounds, I always need a little Christmas right this very minute. If by “Christmas” we mean “copious amounts of Irish whiskey.” It makes a witch wish fervently for a silent night.

-sigh- Well, the lid’s off. Best get this over with.

There is an annual debate…and I’m using the term very generously….which centers around the juxtaposition of Christmas and Yule, the key points of which generally hinge upon the inability of some pagans to tell the difference between cultural integration and outright theft.

Key terms in this debate are “syncretism” (the blending or amalgamation of cultures, traditions, and philosophies over time) and “conflation” (the merging of two or more similar or related ideas into a single concept, not always correctly). It is largely the latter that is the cause of our pain, namely in the mistaken assumption that since Christmas and Yule occur at the same time of year and share a number of traditions and symbols that they must be the SAME holiday and/or that the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus is entirely adapted or “stolen” from older pagan festivals.

Which is about as correct as saying that because there is a Dublin in Ireland and a Dublin in Pennsylvania, both sharing a large population of Irish people, a similar climate, and a surrounding of dairy farms, that they therefore must be the same town and/or the more recent settlement’s ways were maliciously purloined from the elder.

If you’re already frowning and saying, “Wait, that makes no sense,” you’re beginning to get an idea of what several of us have to deal with every winter solstice. And every Halloween, every Easter, and more recently, on Walpurgisnacht as well. It’s maddening and headache-inducing, and trust me when I tell you, the battles get ugly.

The short version of the stance held by witches who are students of academic history (rather than whatever Llewellyn is limping to the barn with) is that Christmas and Yule share festival traditions and symbols because of generations of coexistence and cultural blending between the Church and the pagan country folk. Christmas is as much a secular holiday as it is a religious one, and many pagan traditions became secular traditions during the process of conversion. This is particularly true of symbols and celebrations connected to solstice festivals. Ergo, over time, formerly-pagan secular traditions were adapted and adopted into the secular festivities associated with the Christmas season.

Yule, as we know it in modern paganism, is largely adapted from Gerald Gardner’s interpretation of the older Norse holiday of the same name. In Scandinavia, Christmas and Yule are celebrated as one and the same. In fact, the word for Christmas in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, and Icelandic is some permutation of Jul or Jól. (It’s their word and their festival, they can conflate the two as they see fit. Are you gonna tell them no? I’m certainly not.)

The trouble arises when witches who are students of authors who were students of Gardner (or at least his writings) claim with the majestic authority of having-no-one-around-to-say-them-nay-back-in-the-1980s that Christians, the ostensible enemy of all things pagan, are still persecuting us in the present age by daring to have a holiday with shared history and traditions to one of our own. Ravenwolf and Buckland, we’re all looking at you. Glaring, even.

(Please note that despite similar timing, traditions, colors, and symbols, nothing is EVER said of Yule and Hanukkah being conflated, which illustrates the other part of the problem: some pagans just seem to need the crutch of perceived Christian oppression in order to feel validated. And so they see fit to ruin everyone’s holiday cheer by complaining about problems which are either hundreds of years dead and gone or which never existed in the first place.)

There’s SO much more to it than this, but it begins to delve into minutiae and I’ll just wind up writing yet another book. Suffice it to say, it is far wiser and far more in keeping with the spirit of both Christmas AND Yule to offer each other peace and goodwill, rather than bickering over who really owns the religious version of intellectual property rights to decorated evergreens and flying reindeer.