Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Solstice at the Cottage

The winter solstice and the celebration of Yule marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night.  The days get shorter and shorter in the winter and this day marks the mid-point the that some call the first day of winter, or more accurately, midwinter. After the solstice, the days will begin to get longer again.

Many people celebrate in many different ways, pilgrimages to sacred sites alligning with the rising sun like Stonehenge or New Grange, many do big group rituals and parties, or solemn solitary observances of the rebirth of the sun. Yesterday I celebrated quietly at our new small town cottage.

If you follow my social media you might know that we recently moved our home and studio from the country house of Aelfheim to the 115 year old small town house, Oak Haven Cottage. We love our charming new home and workspace, but between the move, illustration deadlines, and making sure our Etsy orders continued to go out regularly, I haven't had much time to blog.  I thought the quiet peace of the winter solstice was a perfect time to catch up here.
Miss Freya likes it here too, she's having a moment of zen, doing a little doggie yoga on the couch under the light of the Yule Tree.
At sunset I lit a candle that I crafted myself using recycled wax, magical oils, herbs and positive intentions. I placed it in a pretty glass tumbler with gold decorations and surrounded it with holly, ivy, and oak. One of my favorite Yule observances is to light a vigil candle at sunset to burn all through the longest night, symbolically keeping the light of the sun during its longest rest.  I had some interesting dreams through the night, all guiding me into the newly growing light ahead.
Our Yule tree is decorated differently than usual. My standard traditional decorations are in the very back of our storage shed, and tons of random stuff is piled in front and in top of it. I could have dug it all out, but in an effort to simplify, I opted instead to "make do" with some red and gold dollar store decorations this year. I found some bells to represent the ringing in of good vibrations. Various stars on the tree represent magic and the five elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. Glittering pine cones hold new life within and remind us of the vibrancy that remains even though the darkest night and the coldest winter. 
After I lit my vigil candle, I went outside to see the sunset and look around, connecting with the spirits of the land. I walked around observing quietly in the early evening on this sacred sabbat.
The light glowed merrily from the window of the attic studio, Dan was up there working on orders for our Etsy customers, I would go up and assist him shortly. The big white oak offers its energy to this turn of the century house. I wonder about the past residents and imagine their faces gazing out of that window, how the sights have changed over the years.
My cauldron of sage has taken up residence on the front porch, it's still got some life in it here at midwinter, I wonder if the green will last until spring.
We have no outlets outside, so solar lights frame the doorway. I like the symbolism of gathering the sunlight all day so that the lights glow with that energy at night. As a bonus, my electric bill doesn't increase because of adding holiday lights, very earth friendly. I'm planning to get more strings of solar lights for next year! 
This fairy is camped out by another solar light in a garden bed. I think she's wondering if there are bulbs or other annuals beneath the earth resting and dreaming of the coming spring. I'm looking forward to discovering what wildflowers will spring up in the yard, which birds will browse at the bird feeders, how the sunlight will fall so I can decide where to plant a a few things in the spring and summer. 

Until then, I'll spend time getting to know the rhythms of small town life.

Blessed Be,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A New Deck Project for Mickie and Dan!

I have a big announcement:  I have a new contract to illustrate and co-author a brand new tarot deck for Llewellyn! Who is my co-author? Some of you might be familiar with him, Dan Mueller, the new member of the Llewellyn family of authors! 

Contracts for a new Tarot deck, one for me and one for Dan! 

Many of you know him as my husband, or as the craftsman who produces, manages, and ships my art products, but many people don’t know, Dan is a hell of a writer.  He was writing short stories back when I met him, and we even worked together briefly on several test pages for a graphic novel style adaptation of one of his stories.  With tons of AP English and creative writing classes under his belt, his wordsmithery had remained previously unreleased, but not for long.  When the concept for this new deck came about, we spent hours brainstorming ideas, pouring over the concepts for cards, and the next thing I knew, I had a writing partner! Happily, after they reviewed our sample art and text the good folks at Llewellyn agreed, and we’re now joining forces on this new project. Wonder-Spouse powers unite!! 

Lighting up the night like a mirror in the sky!
A deck of 78 cards takes about 24 months to complete, so hang in there.  The subject and title is top secret at this point, but I think you guys will be really pleased with this new project we’re teaming up on just for you! I know you're wondering what the theme of this tarot deck is going to be. well, it's kind of innovative, so I can't reveal it's secrets at this time, but we will let you know as soon as we can. For those of you who know Dan personally, no, it's NOT a J.R.R. Tolkien Tarot deck, nor is it a Dune deck! 
A spectral snake conjured out of thin air.

Dan and I have a great mental shorthand, he describes things and I totally get it. He can interpret my roughest sketches to know if I'm getting what he's describing, so it's working out to be a great partnership. 
Smudge to purify your space.
He and I dug through tarot symbolism and meanings together like mad and came up with a great deal of the concepts for what each card will look like already.  Most of the first chapter is done, so that leaves me currently working through the art for the major arcana while Dan and I write through the text for each one as they're completed.  He's doing the lions share of the writing at this point which leaves me time to work on the art. I've included a couple detail shots of the cards for you to get the tiniest glimpse, we will keep working diligently so that hopefully we can have this project completed for you as soon as possible.
This one should brighten up your day!

I hope you enjoyed this really sneaky sneak peek!

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Announcing "The Witch's Mirror" by Mickie Mueller

Last year around this time I had an opportunity to submit a proposal for a book in Llewellyn's Witch's Tools series, a book about magical mirrors! I was intrigued. I have used mirrors in my practice from time to time, both black scrying mirrors and silver mirrors to reflect negativity away, multiply abundance, or boost candle magic; so I dug into the topic wholeheartedly.

As I worked on writing the proposal and eventually the manuscript, lots of connections with mirrors came to mind. I remembered all those nights playing Bloody Mary with my friends, the time I used a mirror meditation to help me recover from a difficult divorce, I even thought about my grandfather who was a highly respected craftsman of telescope mirrors in his day. Mirrors he crafted were in telescopes in every state in the United States. I thought he would approve of my project.

The Witch's Mirror is available for pre-order and will be out June 8 2016 Click here for the Amazon listing. 
Click here for the Barnes & Noble listing Isn't this cover a hoot?! I'm so pleased with how it came out! My fantastic editor Elysia Gallo and I came up with the basic concept and gave our ideas to cover illustrator John Kachik and let his creativity reign supreme. I'm delighted with the results!  As an illustrator myself, it was important to me to hand him the concept and then step way back and respect his process, seeing the magic he worked, it was well worth it.

I had a lot of fun working on this book, I can't wait to share it with you.  I've included folklore and pop culture regarding mirrors, spells for just about every purpose using mirrors, mirror washes and condensers, meditations, where to find magic mirrors, even instructions on how to make many of your own mirrors for specific purposes.  Even if you've never used mirrors for magic, you will find some kind of wonderful use within these pages to inspire you to look at mirrors in a whole new way.

This is an actual mirror that I made as part of this book, and yes, I have included instructions for making your own, it's easier than you might think to create this oeil de sorciere, a special kind of convex witch's mirror!

The Witch's Mirror is the fourth book in Llewellyn's The Magical Tools Series proceeded by The Witch's Broom by Deborah Blake, The Witch's Wand by Alferian Gwydion MacLir, and The Witch's Athame by Jason Mankey.  I have enjoyed the honor of illustrating the interiors of all of these books, and I'll be illustration my own, and the rest in the series as well.  The beautiful cover art for all of these books was created by the talented and inspiring John Kachik, and the book cover design is by the amazing Lisa Novak.
A scrying mirror I made ages ago, it ended up in a good home of one of our Etsy friends.

Like the rest of the books in this series, there are brief contributions by other authors who talk about their personal uses of each tool and The Witch's Mirror is no exception.  I was so happy to have Raven Digitalis, Melanie Marquis, Blake Octavian Blair, Natalie Zaman, Lisa Allen Calantriniel, Charlynn Walls, Autumn Damiana, David Salisbury, Michael Furie, and Judika Illes all share their personal uses of magic mirrors in the "Reflections of Real Witches" segments sprinkled throughout this book.
This is one of my Witch's Mirrors, it lives above my old wooden art table. It belonged to my grandpa and before that it was on his family farm where he grew up. So what is its magic you ask? It has three purposes, one is that it multiplies the magic that happens on top of my art table altar, the second is for feng shui since my back is to the front door it reflects behind me keeping power at my desk. The third thing this mirror does is remind me of where I come from and brings the energy of my ancestors forward with me in my path in life

I still have to create the illustrations for this book, I have lots of mirror crafts to show you; jewelry, enchanted mirrors, candle holders, mirrored items and more.
Occasionally I make these one of a kind hexenspiegel charms and sell them in my Etsy shop.  A hexenspiegel is a special mirror carried on the person or displayed in the home to shield the user from the evil eye and all forms of negative energy, and yes, instructions for creating your own hexenspiegels and enchanting them are also included in The Witch's Mirror.

The art of looking glass magic puts you in touch with your own spirit and gives you new ways to manifest abundance, protection, glamour, healing, and divination among many other magical uses. Would you like to know how to find, create, and use magical mirrors for scrying, spells, amulets, and more? With the secrets of the witch's mirror at your fingertips, gaze into your own magical mirror, what will you discover?

A portable mirror can also be enchanted for all kinds of magic it's really a versatile powerhouse for any kind of spell work.

Watch for The Witch's Mirror in bookstores everywhere June 8, 2016,

or...be among the first to explore the secrets of The Witch's Mirror when it comes out and pre-order here: http://www.amazon.com/Witchs-Mirror-Craft-Magick-Looking/dp/0738747912

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials: Mabon

It's the Autumn Equinox, and amongst the many things that I'm acknowledging gratitude for today is the box full of books I illustrated that came in the mail from Llewellyn last week! Today I thought it would be appropriate to share the Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials book Mabon by Diana Rajchel!

I currently have a crystal grid set up, so instead of my usual seasonal altar, I added my Mabon items around the grid so as not to disturb it. Included is an electric candle and wrap made by my mom, you can see more of her work at FrogBirdsHouse.etsy.com 

Apples hanging out among the crystals will become some kind of dessert later.

This is the chapter opener for the "Old Ways" chapter where Diana discusses old Traditions celebrating the harvest.

Last year when I was working on these illustrations I was cracking up watching the squirrels running across the yard harvesting acorns, so I had to include one in the "New Ways" chapter opener.

I loved her description of the scarecrow from the crafts section, this guy was fun to draw with his dismayed expression.

The lovely Demeter with many other magical correspondences grace this page.
I love the crow on the cover, the cover art was designed by the talented Kevin R. Brown.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into Mabon from the Llewellyn's Sabbats Essentials.  Think mindfully about all that you're grateful for today, thank the Universe, and appreciate all the little things in life. The world is a magical place!

Available at Barnes & Noble Mabon from the Llewellyn's Sabbats Essentials
Available at Amazon Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials book Mabon

Blessed Be!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Llewellyn's Midsummer Book on my Midsummer Altar

Midsummer, it's the longest day of the year, the point when the sun is at it's zenith, the Summer Solstice, and a magical in between time, this year it falls on June 20th.  It's also called Litha. I've got my Midsummer altar all set up and ready for honoring this significant stop on the Pagan wheel of the year. Even though it's been a rainy week, (forgive my low-light photos) my Midsummer altar is brightening up the place and radiating out Summer energy into my home when I need it the most.
My Midsummer altar all dressed up with my God and Goddess candle statues.

I'm so happy to have my copy of Midsummer by Deborah Blake, the latest release in the Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials series.   I've discovered that these little books are simply a perfect addition to my Wheel of the Year altar, I'm keeping the set nearby as a reminder of the cycles of the earth and I'm placing the current Sabbat book on the altar for easy reference and inspiration, plus they really look pretty! 
My mom Amanda Bryant of Frogbirds House started making these lovely sets with an altar cloth and electric candle wrap for each sabbat, I love these!  This one features a beautiful bright sun on a blue sky, I hope it's magic summons up blue skies here!  Want your own? Click here
I was inspired by both Deborah Blake's correspondences list in the Midsummer book and what is in bloom right now in the fields here at Aelfheim.  I made a bouquet in the cup from my Celtic Faeries Tea For One set and used my grandmother's antique owl "flower frog" to prop the flowers up.  I included two kinds of wild daisies, queen Annes lace, rosemary sprigs and lavender. Grandma often created fresh flower bouquets and included fresh herbs, so she would approve.  I'm watching for the St. Johns Wort to bloom so I can add some.  
One of my illustrations for the "Old Ways chapter in which Deborah explores old Summer Solstice traditions and practices.
My illustration for the "New Ways" chapter. Witchy Summer Solstice curb appeal introduces this chapter full of modern ways to celebrate.
I'm stuck with store-bought tomatoes until my are ripe, but Deborah included a recipe for a chocolate tomato cake using green tomatoes which sounds intriguing, and there are some on the vine! I'm going to try her rosemary shortbread cookies for my Midsummer night cakes and ale!
The correspondences section, full of inspiration!

I hope you enjoyed visiting my Midsummer altar, may you enjoy the Summer Solstice as you grow abundance, and perhaps have a Midsummer Night's Dream!

Llewellyn Sabbat Essentials Midsummer by Deborah Blake (illustrated by lil' ole me!)
God and Goddess Statues by Sacred Source designed by Mickie Mueller
Altar Cloth and Electric Candle wrap by Frogbirds House (my mom!)
Celtic Tree FaeriesTea for One Set by Mickie Mueller Studio

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stop! Don't Toss Those Radish Greens,They're Delish!

Fellow gardeners, have I got a treat for you, this will seriously change your life.  When you harvest those lovely radishes this summer and you cut off all those pretty green leaves, don't toss them in the trash can or compost, I have a much better use.  You work hard to grow your produce, watering, weeding, encouraging, so why wast a bit if you don't have to?

It all started for me when I watched the indie movie Chef on Netflix directed by and starring Jon Fareau (which I highly recommend.) Near the beginning of the film, Chef Carl goes to the market to get fresh produce for the restaurant where he works and he tells the produce guy that he wants fresh radishes with the tops still on, "I use those." What?  I wondered what do you use them for?  I was intrigued.
Chef Carl at the produce market with his son in the indie film Chef.

So when the radishes in the garden were ready to harvest, I remembered the statement and just googled, "radish greens recipes."  Wow! You can make all kinds of dishes with radish greens, so I saved them in a plastic bag and tossed them into the crisper drawer instead of the compost, feeling very proud of myself for not being wasteful. Radish leaves contain more fiber, vitamin C and protein than those pretty red roots do, and the roots are pretty good for you, so that's saying a lot!  Here's more info on the health benefits of radishes, both the roots and leaves, click here.

Tonight, I picked up one of those roasted chickens from the grocery store, it's a quick and easy dinner when I have lots of work to do.  With two book illustration jobs and revisions for my upcoming book all due around the first of the month, I like easy.  Then I remembered those radish greens...

So I looked up some recipes online, and I created this version based on what I had in the house...I must say, it's a new family favorite!  We'll never toss those radish greens again!  I hope you enjoy this one as much as my family did.

Tossing the potatoes and radish greens in the pan.

Sauteed Potatoes and Radish Greens

I've included the magical folklore uses for all you kitchen witches out there.  This is a great happy home recipe, not only does it taste wonderful, but if made with magical intention it's ingredients will fill you with blessings and keep negativity, envy, and gossip away from your dinner table.


3 cups chopped radish greens, be sure to rinse them before you chop (fire energy, defends against the evil eye, induces passion)
1 medium onion halved and sliced thin (the moon, healing, hex breaking)
2 cups of diced red potatoes with the skin on (primal earth energy, manifestation)
1 pinch of turmeric (purification, courage)
1/4 tsp powdered cayenne pepper (breaks up negative energy and hexes, promotes love and passion)
fresh cracked pepper to taste (breaks up negative energy and hexes, stops envy)
sea salt to taste (blessing and protection and purification)
2 tablespoons olive oil (divine favor, associated with Athena)
1 pinch of sugar (dispels evil, sweetens the family life)
balsamic vinegar to flavor, I used about a tsp. (fire energy, breaks up baneful energy and gossip)

In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the onions until slightly transparent.  Add potatoes, salt, pepper, turmeric, and cayenne and toss.  Reduce the heat and cover, cook until the potatoes are soft.
Add chopped radish greens, toss to combine with potatoes and onions, cover and cook about 5 minutes until the leaves have wilted. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and balsamic vinegar, toss and enjoy as a side dish or serve with on warm tortillas and feta cheese.

Our radish harvest!

If you love this recipe just google "radish greens recipes" There are a ton of uses for this healthy green, I plan to try more recipes myself.

Blessed Be!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Growing Pains for Mickie Mueller Studio

I have an important announcement today for my dearest St. Louis and Illinois area Pagans. Due to scheduling with my upcoming publishing deadlines we're not going to be able to prepare for vending at Pagan Picnic this year, so it's with deepest regrets that I'm announcing that our booth will be absent this year. We are donating some awesome items to the raffle though, see the pics in this post. If you're in the area for Pagan Picnic, make sure you pick up a few raffle tickets, it helps the community and you might win one of these items pictured here, or many other pretties donated by the generous Pagan artisans and vendors in the St. Louis area. 
We are going to try to take a day off from all of my current work to attend so we can at least see everyone, after all selling art is only part of why we go to Pagan Picnic, a big part of it is community, sharing, seeing friends, and the magic of the weekend! Gods willing, we will be vending again next year.
This year we're doing some of the biggest and best donations that we've ever had for the raffle booth!

I think this will be the first Picnic we've missed in about 20 years, we love the event and the community so much, this was one of the hardest decisions Dan and I have ever had to make. 
Among our donations; a Mystical Cats Tarot purse, Swirling leaves pentacle necklace and earrings, Greenman and Greenwoman sconces I designed for Sacred Source.

We've always worked hard to grow our art business slow and steady so that we could always keep up with demand, but this year was an unusually busy year for the publishing end. I had many unexpected opportunities come my way both illustrating many books (more than I've ever had before) and I’m also working on revisions for my upcoming book that I've written. 
More donations include two Llewellyn periodicals that I have articles in 2015 Witches' Companion & 2015 Magical Almanac and Dryad Spirit tea for one.

At this point, vending at Picnic would mean my deadlines wouldn't be able to be met, that's just not an option. We're doubly disappointed because we planned to share booth space with my mom Amanda Bryant of Amanda Bryant's House of Frogbirdhttps://www.etsy.com/shop/FrogBirdsHouse, we were really excited to let you see her magical embroidered flameless candles in person! Watch for a donation from her at the raffle booth as well. My mom is awesome!
Dan made this Hecate wall sconce up just for a Pagan Picnic donation, we're also donating this set of 8 Sabbat ornaments from The Hidden Path and a Greenman Stein.

It's an exciting new phase for us, but it has it's growing pains as well. We're so sorry to cancel and we hope you can bear with us while we get ourselves acclimated to the changes this year as we explore new paths and create new magic for everyone.



Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sneak a Peek at the Beltane Llewellyn Sabbat Essentials Book

I was working like a mad woman to finish up the book I've been writing by the deadline and Beltane kind of crept up on me. Thankfully two great women had my back, my mom Amanda Bryant of FrogBirdsHouse and author Melanie Marquis, the author of Beltane in the Llewellyn Sabbat Essentials series. I actually finished writing my manuscript on Beltane, emailed it off to my editor, and began flipping through my Beltane book for some quick inspiration to celebrate the day! Do you want a peek inside this awesome little book...for you, anything!

Mom has been embroidering these awesome sabbat sets of altar cloths and electric candle wraps. (click here to see more of her work) I was so happy with the Beltane set, I love a good bonfire, so this depiction for Beltane was perfect! I set up my altar with the lovely set, added my God and Goddess candle holder/statues from Sacred Source, and looked up quick correspondences for Beltane that Melanie Marquis added to the back of the Beltane book to finish decorating! 

I just love the covers for this series, designed by Kevin R. Brown, I can't wait to have the whole series, it's going to look gorgeous sitting on the bookshelf! 
The book goes into the "old ways" traditions as they've been celebrated in the past.  I just had to include a bonfire and maypole in this illustration beyond the old time witches gate to her cottage.

For the "new ways" section I illustrated the modern witches entrance, including Melanies mini tabletop maypole in the window, a modern torch for the Beltane flame outside, and of course a faerie garden statue to represent the faerie legends surrounding Beltane.
The recipes and crafts section is awesome!  I've decided I'm just going to celebrate the season of Beltane, going beyond just the day, that way I can enjoy some of her awesome recipes. Blessed Lemon Custard, Sexy Rosemary and Garlic-Roasted Asparagus, and Magical May Wine...yes please!!
Ok, I just had to share a shot of this set my mom made for my Wheel of the Year altar!  I love how the light of the electric candle shines though the candle wraps she makes, and these new altar cloths are so cool! She has some really nice candle wraps and stuff over at FrogBirdsHouse
I loved her description of the Mini Tabletop Maypole, it was really fun to illustrate!
I love the correspondences sections in these books, a super quick and easy reference guide for witches on the go!

After flipping through the book Beltane I found the inspiration I was looking for, and also having recently read Deborah Blake's new book Everyday Witchcraft, I decided a quick Beltane ritual and offering to the Fae would be just the thing after finishing up writing my first stand-alone book on this auspicious day.  I ventured deep into the fields of our home at Aelfheim with a small dish of wine, bread with real butter and honey in a wooden dish, a red, white, and black cloutie to tie to my wishing tree, and a solar lantern to light the way.  The moon is close to full now, so the landscape was illuminated with a milky light.  I reached the stump that I use as an altar and set my offerings and the solar lantern upon it.  Taking a moment to take in the beauty of Aelfheim at night, I was simply in awe and speechless for quite some time.  I spoke to the spirits of the land from my heart offering thanks for their constant blessing and inspiration as I made my offering to them.  When I was ready, I tied my cloutie to the tree as I made a wish (sorry, can't tell) then I made my way back to the house.  I tried to snap a photo, but there was just no way to capture the glow of the moonlight, lantern, and the magic all around my outdoor temple amongst the trees, so this description will have to suffice.

I hope you had a blessed Beltane and that you enjoyed getting a peek at my Beltane author and the illustrations inside Llewellyn's new Sabbat Essentials series Beltane book.  I can't wait to get my Midsummer one in the mail! Speaking of Deborah Blake, she wrote that one, Can't wait!

Blessed Be!