An invitation to return to a simpler time of earth-based spirituality and ritual living, through writings from a small forest-farm in the Appalachian Highlands.
This book looks at the agricultural year as a starting space for a deepening of earth-centered spirituality. It gives a set of backstories to ease the reader into a time between the pre-industrial era and the modern one, into a place where the fast-moving stress of American life can be affected by a better connection not only to the natural world but to the elegant expression of the year as expressed through seasonal festivals and celebrations.
The chapters are broken into four seasons, with the quarter days a highlight within each, and feature simple skills that accompany each marker in the year. Author H. Byron Ballard offers advice on spiritual and physical immersion into the seasons that applies to readers from all areas: rural, urban, and suburban.
This is also a deeply practical book, including insights into the following:
- Farming & gardening: composting, manure, soil preparation, pests, seed-saving
- Food: cooking, preserving, foraging, the summer kitchen, mushrooms and mycelium
- Fiber arts: knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, decorative cut-work, and embroidery
- Sewing: treadle machines, electric machines, hand sewing
- Household crafts: candle-making, soap-making, broom-making, sharpening tools
- Health: medicines, tending the dying, death and death rituals
A glossary is included for any unfamiliar terms.
About the Author
H. Byron Ballard is a teacher, folklorist, and writer. She is senior priestess and cofounder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple and the Coalition of Earth Religions/CERES, both in Asheville, North Carolina, and writes as The Village Witch for Witches and Pagans Magazine, where she is also a regular columnist. Visit her at myvillagewitch.wordpress.com.
Amy Blackthorn has a certification in aromatherapy and incorporates her experiences in traditional witchcraft with her horticulture studies. Amy’s company, Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, creates tea based on old Hoodoo herbal formulas.
“H. Bryon Ballard has written a completely original book, designed to reconnect Pagans to the land and to the Wheel of the Year. Part lyrical philosophy, part guidebook, and part instruction manual, Seasons of a Magical Life will stay with you long after you have read it.”
— Deborah Blake, author of Everyday Witchcraft
“The gentle art of engaging with the everyday through time and space is wonderfully gathered up here by Byron Ballard, showing us how we can reconnect with the continuity of ancestral life through our own daily actions. Sheer magic.”
— Caitlín Matthews, author of Singing the Soul Back Home and Diary of a Soul Doctor
“In today’s quest for authenticity and elder wisdom, we are blessed to have the wise voice of one of the most authentic witches I know: Byron Ballard. By authentic, I mean someone who is truly living it, and willing to share the hard-won wisdom of her life. Ballard practices all that she teaches, living the magical life with the land she loves, and spreading the love of that land wherever she travels to inspire us to love our land. As the proverbial Village Witch, she weaves the strands of poetry, science, history, farming, medicine, and magic into her holistic vision”
— Christopher Penczak, co-founder of The Temple of Witchcraft and author of The Plant Spirit Familiar, Spirit Allies, and Sons of the Goddess
“Our world needs elders speaking their truth and sharing their wisdom teachings. H. Byron Ballard is such a global elder, unafraid of using her voice. Seasons of a Magical Life demonstrates an earth-based spirituality which seamlessly weaves together land and soul, building fences and seeking solidarity, tending bees or chickens, and the practice of laundry as a meditative practice. Brava!”
— Imelda Almqvist, author of Natural Born Shamans, Medicine of the Imagination, and Sacred Art
“A cozy stroll through H. Byron Ballard’s forest-farm, Seasons of a Magical Life offers inspiration for a down-home yet revolutionary Pagan, animist path.”
— Christine Grace, author of The Witch at the Forest’s Edge and co-host of the Betwixt & Between podcast
“This deeply personal work may be Ballard’s best yet, as she reconnects the reader with their own lands, spirits, sunshine, and storms. The philosophical blends seamlessly with the practical, as Byron takes you juneberry picking or teaches you the hidden history of her homeland. This is magical lore and regional animism and is as likely to lead you down paths of biodiversity and permaculture as altars and charms. This is a book about what it means to be a magical human animal in a living and enchanted world.”
— Cory Thomas Hutcheson, author of New World Witchery