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Santa Rosa author’s new book a manual for magic and self-care

New book from local author explains basics of witchcraft

Heads up for those of you thinking about dressing like a witch for Halloween: With the help of a Santa Rosa author, you can become one.

Tenae Stewart, a self-described “cottage witch” and astrologer, has written a detailed book about witchcraft designed to help laypeople like most of us incorporate magic into everyday self-care routines. “The Modern Witch’s Guide to Magickal Self-Care” was released earlier this month and is available at Copperfield’s Books in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Calistoga and on Stewart’s website, witchoflupinehollow.com

Stewart said her book is aimed at those interested in witchcraft as a spiritual path who want to create simple practices that bring mysticism into their daily lives. “The Modern Witch’s Guide” describes how to create witchy self-care rituals that nurture the mind, body and intuition in practical ways.

“I really set out to provide the framework for creating rituals and routines in their daily lives that are sustainable,” Stewart said. “The sustainability piece is key. A lot of times we get started with creating something that’s magical or feels good, and it’s hard to stick with it.”

The book is divided into two sections. The first six chapters are a step-by-step guide to creating new routines rooted in witchcraft. Open-ended questions —readers are asked to reflect on their diet, health, what makes them calm, their spiritual beliefs — help readers personalize the instructions.

The back half of the book is packed with suggestions and ideas for witchy rituals readers might embrace: tarot cards, homeopathic medications, aromatherapy and yoga flows, for example.

Stewart also has a section on journaling and the importance of writing down feelings about everything from dreams and nature. “Nature journaling” doesn’t require an elaborate trip to a faraway place, she said. It can happen anywhere, even in your backyard.

“You don’t have to go to Yosemite,” she said. “You can go to a city park. You can go to the woods behind your house. The idea is getting out into nature and writing about what you see and hear and smell and feel.”

For Stewart, 27, witchcraft comprises the tools we can use to maximize the meaning of our different life experiences. Some of these tools include crystals, herbs, essential oils and those aforementioned tarot cards.

“More than anything, witchcraft is about transformation,” she said. “Anything you can use to get yourself from one place to another, hopefully higher, place is going to help you on this journey of self-care.”

Other local witch authors were intrigued by Stewart’s approach but cautioned against taking one book from one author as — pardon the pun — gospel.

Sebastopol resident Phoenix LeFae, who has written four books about witchcraft, said that while writing about witchery often makes it real and tangible for a general audience, it’s important for readers to remember that each book is representative of only one witch’s experience.

“Witchcraft is deeply personal, just like any spiritual path, and writing about it becomes a very vulnerable action,” said LeFae, whose fifth book, “Life Ritualized,” is due out in February 2021. “Many modern witchcraft writers are writing about their own practice and mythos. There are many ways to practice, and any book or writing on the subject is only an entry point.”

Stewart agreed, encouraging curious readers to educate themselves broadly.

She said she’s only trying to help people find what’s right for them in terms of spirituality. The biggest potential pitfall is “not listening to your own intuition,” she said. There are no “wrong answers” in witchcraft.

“If you want to be a witch, there’s nothing you have to do or you can’t do. It’s up to you and what’s right for you,” Stewart said.

“It’s easy to get caught in other people’s ideas about what it means to be a witch and what it means to be practicing as a witch. Once you can strip away those expectations and those ideas, witchcraft can be as liberating as you allow it to be.”

Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg.

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