Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Double, double, toll and trouble …

… Fire burn and brimstone bubble. Witches and witchcraft date back through the ages to when people worshipped the Mother Earth or nature goddess. It was a time before traditional religion when the unexplained was called magical and people with unique talents were special.  The Old Religion which existed since the Stone Age was far from evil. These people were connected with the seasons, the plants, the animals and the planet and sought a balanced life. These special people were seers, knowers, healers, and averters of evil.

witchesOver the centuries the nature goddess was replaced by more traditional religions and practices. The word witch only took on a negative meaning with the coming of Christianity, which taught that all the heathen gods were devils. And by association, anyone who clung to the old ways and the Old Religion was a devil worshipper.

The real roots of witchcraft and magic appear to come from the Celts, a diverse group of Iron Age tribal societies which flourished between about 700 BC and 100 AD in northern Europe.  The Celts were a brilliant and dynamic people, gifted artists, musicians, storytellers, and metalworkers, as well as expert farmers and fierce warriors much feared by the Romans.

They were also a deeply spiritual people and believed in the many gods associated with Mother Earth, the Divine Creator.  By about 350 BC, a priestly class known as the Druids had developed. They became the priests of the Celtic religion as well as teachers, judges, astrologers, healers, midwives and bards.

The religious beliefs and practices of the Celts, their love for the land, and their reverence of trees (the oak in particular) grew into what later became known as Paganism. Blended over several centuries with the beliefs and rituals of other societies, practices such as concocting potions and ointments, casting spells and performing works of magic, all of which (along with many of the nature-based beliefs held by the Celts and other groups) developed and became known as witchcraft in the Medieval Period.

There are many types of witches. The witchcraft of the Picts, the early inhabitants of what is now the Scottish Highlands, goes far back and differs from all the other types of witchcraft in Europe. This is Old Scotland and its history and legends are filled with stories of magickal workings, spells and charms. There are charms performed to increase farm production, to ensure a favorable wind for fishermen. Some seamen walked around a large monolith stone seven times to encourage a good trip/catch. Other people created charms such as the woodbine wreath. They would cut down woodbine (a form of honeysuckle) in March during the waxing moon (anytime between new moon and full moon) and twist the boughs into large wreaths. They kept the wreath for a year and a day.  Young children suffering from a fever would be passed through the wreaths three times to be cured.

Old superstitions have a strong hold on people. There are hints of the ‘old ways’ even today. Some in Scotland carry a lucky penny or ‘peighinn pisich’ that they turn over three times at the first glimpse of a full moon.

There are many cases of Witchcraft throughout Scottish history, demonstrating the zeal of the Protestants and Catholics alike, in their paranoia over possible “servants of the devil.” The vast majority of Scottish Witches practiced as Solitaries (alone without a coven), only occasionally coming together for special celebrations.

Witchcraft was first made legally punishable, in Scotland, by an Act passed by the Scottish Parliament, in 1563 during the reign of Mary. Witch hunts swept through Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and were fed by a mixture of superstition, religious fever, political motivation and general suspicion. No one was safe, not the peasant not the nobleman. Storms, diseases, and misfortunes had to be blamed on something or someone—witches were an easy target.

witches 2Types of witches

Kitchen Witch: Practices by home and hearth, mainly dealing with practical sides of the religion, magick, the elements, and the earth.

Ceremonial Witchcraft: Mainly use ceremonial magick in their practices such as Kabbalistic magick or Egyptian magick.

Satanic Witch: This doesn’t exist. Why? Contrary to the witch hunts of Europe and America, witches don’t believe in Satan.

Celtic Wicca: Believe in the elements, the Ancient Ones, and nature. They are usually healers. They work with plants, stones, flowers, trees, the elemental people, the gnomes, and the fairies.

Eclectic Witch: These witches don’t follow a particular religion or tradition. They study and learn from many different systems and use what works best for them.

British Traditional Witch: A mix of Celtic and Gardenarian beliefs. They train through a degree process and the covens are usually co-ed.

Alexandrian Tradition: They are said to be modified Gardenarian.

Gardenarian Tradition: Follow a structure rooted in ceremony and practice. They aren’t as vocal as others and have a fairly foundational set of customs.

Dianic Tradition: A compilation of many different traditions rolled into one. Their prime focus is the Goddess. It is the more feminist side of ‘The Craft’.

Pictish Witchcraft: It’s originally from Scotland and is a solitary form of The Craft. It is more magickal in nature than it is in religion.

Hereditary Witch: Someone who has been taught the ‘Old Religion’ through the generations of their family.

Caledonii Tradition: Also known as the Hecatine Tradition, it has its roots in Scotland.

Pow-Wow: Comes from South Central Pennsylvania and is a system based on a 400 year old Elite German magick. They concentrate on simple faith healing.

Solitary Witch: Any witch who practices alone, without a coven.

Strega Witches: Originally from Italy this group is known to be the smallest group in the US. It is said their craft is wise and beautiful.

Witches broom

Happy New Year! 2014 is Here and the Possibilities are … Unlimited

New Year Vintage image
Happy New Year Pictures

I don’t like making resolutions. They are too easily dismissed. Instead, I set goals and make up to-do lists. My goals for the New Year are simple:

–to get butt in chair

–to write, write, write

–to finish the projects I’ve started

–to submit often

Also, I am not limiting my writing to just historical romance. I want to also write an adventure series I’ve been thinking of for the past year. I want to work with my Timeless Scribes and publish two more anthologies this year.

My talents are unlimited. My wants, my goals, my desires are … unlimited too, as they should be.

If we set limits on our writing, on ourselves, then we are selling ourselves short.

Isn’t that what we tell our children? That they can be anything they want to be; that they can do anything they want to do. Don’t we encourage them to dream big; and, the bigger the better? Why should kids be the only ones to dream? Why are only kids the inheritors of unlimited possibilities? Adults have dreams too. And, we know how big we can dream and how to make those dreams come true.

I can write anything, be anything. Maybe my writing is not as great as say, Diana Gabaldon or Brenda Novak, but that’s fine. Skill will come with time and hard work. And, I am ready for that. In fact, I am eager to get started, to open my notebook, to take pen in hand, to write.

And the New Year is a great excuse to start afresh. After all, I am unlimited.♥

Thank you to Maria Ferrer of NYC-RWA for the inspiration and help for this message.

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day Red image

While you’re preparing for your Labor Day BBQ today, getting the backyard in order for your family and friends, and cheering that it’s time for the kids to go back to school, let’s not forget what the day is all about. It’s a day set aside to pay tribute to the achievements and contributions of the average America worker.

The movement to establish Labor Day began in 1882. There is some confusion whether the idea originated with Matthew Maquire, a machinist, and secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU) in New York, or Peter J. McGuire, secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) after experiencing the annual labor festival in Toronto, Canada. Regardless of who initiated the idea it was the CLU who adopted the idea and established a committee to organize the celebration on September 5, 1882 in New York City.  

The first Monday in September was chosen because it is the mid-point between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. The day became popular with unions and local governments long before it was adopted by Congress and signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894. While the President did not advocate unions, recent events that had required him to send in troops to put down a union railway strike. He took this opportunity to gather some political capital.

Over the years, Labor Day has encompassed not only the factory worker but government works, educators, and other workers. For some it’s the end of summer vacation, wearing white, and back into the school routine. Parades and street parties have given way to great sales at the mall and backyard BBQs. Cheers for the last day of summer.

How will you celebrate this Labor Day?

A Valentine for You

This may be a bit early but today is my day to post  😆

This is a reprise, a Valentine poem I received from my husband but I really love it. I know you will enjoy it too.

Love of the Sweetest Kind

“Here?” she whispered to him sweetly.

“We’re alone,” he said discreetly.

“I’ve been good till now!” she sighed.

“But you’re human!” he replied.

“It’s so big!” she hesitated.

“It’s all yours,” he proudly stated.

“Oh, I shouldn’t!” she protested.

“If you love me!” he suggested.

And so, losing all resistance,

she gave in to his insistence …

Valentine 4







and ate every single chocolate in the box!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


with a special thank you to my special Valentine and Hallmark Cards.

Christmas Cards, A Little History

By Anna Kathryn Lanier

Last week I signed, addressed and sent out my Christmas Cards. For me, that was a little late. I’ve been known to have my cards in the mail December 1st. Addressing the cards got me to thinking about the history of Christmas Cards. So I did a little research for Sweethearts of the West Holiday posts.

In the early 1800’s, personal greetings to family and friends were becoming the vogue in both England and America. People sent out hand-written Christmas wishes. By 1822, homemade cards were the bane of the U.S. Post Office. The post master general complained of having to hire sixteen extra mailmen to handle the increase of mail during the holiday season. He petitioned Congress to limit the exchange of holiday cards, fearful of bottlenecks they might cause. “I can’t know,” he said, “what we’ll do if this keeps up.”

By the 1840’s the custom was well established. The first commissioned card was designed in England in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, who decided to try something new that year. He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to illustrate a 3-panel scene. One scene in particular raised a fuss with the Puritans, as it depicted a family raising glasses in good cheer. “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You” was embossed across it. Of the 1,000 commissioned by Cole, only a handful remain today. (more…)