ev0ke’s Midwinter Gift-Giving Guide: 2020 Edition

Image courtesy of Nynne Schroder at Unsplash

The winter holiday season encompasses many different holidays (secular) and holy days (religious) for many different people in many different traditions. Here at ev0ke, our focus is on the various traditions which fall under the very large Pagan umbrella: Winter Solstice, Yule, Midwinter, Alban Arthan, Saturnalia, and Koliada, to name just a few. Many of these holy days include gift giving, either as part of traditional practices or due to the influence of secular Christmas.

Below, we have gathered a few gift suggestions. Many of these are from Pagan/polytheist writers, crafters, and artisans, while others come from creators whose works will be of interest to Pagans. This is far from a comprehensive list (obviously!), so please feel free to make additional suggestions in the comments.**

And, whatever tradition you may follow, have a blessed and peaceful holy day!

***

For seekers: the Pagan Portals series published by Moon Books includes dozens of titles. They vary widely in topic, from tradition-specific (e.g., hedge witchery, Druidry) to Deity-specific (e.g., Brigid, Hekate, Thor) to pantheon-specific (e.g., Welsh Gods and Goddesses) to general subjects of interest to a broad Pagan audience (e.g., animal guides, crystals, meditation, et cetera). Designed to be primers, these books are excellent resources for both new and long-practicing Pagans, with hints, tips, and extensive bibliographies.

For fans of romance: Meljean Brook‘s A Gathering of Dragons is a richly-realized polytheistic world filled with heroism, love, adventure, derring-do, and monsters. Highly recommended to fans of erotic romance, as well as anyone who was severely disappointed by a certain other princess-and-dragons series. Rebecca Chastain has two sweet, slow-burn urban fantasy/paranomal romance series — The Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and The Terra Haven Chronicles — set in a world of danger, intrigue, and elemental magic. Perfect for fans of Anna Hackett, Tomb Raider, and the Rogue Angel series. S.J. Sanders is a poet and artist. She is also the author of dozens of erotic fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction romance novels. Many are explicitly polytheistic, with either real-world or created pantheons. Her books can be found through all of the major retailers, in both digital and print formats.

For armchair sleuths: R.M. Callahan has penned three volumes in the Pumpkin Spice series. They are adorable and creepy and scary. Seriously, what could be better than a smart and cuddly kitty taking on graveyard monsters, mad magicians, and eldritch horrors? John Linwood Grant is an editor of Occult Detective Magazine; he is also an author in his own right, publishing short stories that range from horror to occult mystery to weird fiction. I particularly enjoy his Mamma Lucy tales, and look forward to reading some of the Redvers Blake stories. Sarah Gailey‘s Magic for Liars was on my wish list for a long time; when I was finally able to read it, I was sorry that it had taken so long. Magic for Liars is not just a murder mystery. It is also a family drama, a critique of the chosen one trope so common to fantasy literature, a coming of age fable, and a feminist call to arms, all narrated by a woman who constantly lies to herself.

For fairy tale fans: Alura Rose is a witch, a tarot reader, a skilled crafter, and a lover of all things Grimm. Through both her etsy shop and her site, The Poisoned Apple, she sells hand-crafted fairy tale poppets, spell bottles, spell cords, and potions, among other items. Ranging from whimsical to serious, these items make great gifts for both children and adults. The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic is an online community/academic course/blog/vlog run by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman. Not only are they experts in their field, but they love fairy tales. Check out the site, sign up for the FaceBook page, sit in on one of their lectures, or pick up a book on their recommended reading list. You’ll learn something new and have fun at the same time.

For comic and graphic novel lovers: The Brave and the Bold has been published on and off by DC Comics for decades. The company recently released a six-issue miniseries co-starring Wonder Woman and Batman. When a murder in Tir Na Nog threatens a tenuous peace and devastating ripples spill into the mortal world, Cernunnos asks Wonder Woman and Batman to investigate. Intriguing storyline and gorgeous artwork. Hilda is a curious, spirited, and creative little girl who lives in a land not unlike Scandinavia — populated, as it is, by trolls, giants, elves, talking wood men, witches, and assorted other beings. Gentle, sweet, sometimes a bit scary, but always uplifting and hopeful. [To date, five graphic novels have been released, as well as one animated season on Netflix.] Persephone is a graphic novel, slightly modernized retelling of the classic myth; modernized in that it does not take place in some fantastical version of ancient Greece. Here, Persephone is the daughter of the famous magician Demeter; determined to learn more about her origins, Persephone sets out on a quest to the underworld. Great for older kids and adults.

For those seeking to deepen their magical practices: Lynn Klug, through her shop The Spider’s Masque, sells handcrafted candles, runes, and wands. These are not toys. These are not cosplay props. These are the real deal, and I speak from personal experience. (And, if magical tools aren’t of interest to you, she also crafts leather goods.) Sarah Mastros, practicing witch and author, recently completed the Orphic Hymns Grimoire; unlike so many previous translations, this edition was written by and is geared towards Pagans. (And, if you like the Grimoire, Mastros also offers magical classes and personal readings, among other services.) Friday Gladheart has been publishing The Practical Witches Almanac for twenty-five years. Filled with commonsense advice, and plenty of tips and tricks, this is a terrific gift for the note-taking, organized (or not!) witch in your life.

For poetry lovers: Nicole Kapise-Perkins, a Dianic Pagan, recently released her first poetry collection, This Is the Mask; drawing on Kapise-Perkins’ love of fairy tales, fantasy, and mythology, the collection of lyrical, haunting, and tragic. Jennifer Lawrence is one of the most skilled and prolific Pagan poets writing today. Her collections, which are primarily devotional in nature, address Deities from multiple pantheons (Celtic, Kemetic, and Norse, to name a few), making them perfect for multi-trad practitioners or Pagans who are just starting out. Ashley Dioses is a lover of the dark and the macabre — a predilection which is reflected in her poetry. Her anthologies, including Diary of a Sorceress and The Withering, will especially appeal to those who like a little horror to enliven the long winter nights. Ridire Quinn‘s Sometimes a Screech Owl is a twisting, turning, quivering, shrieking ode to Lilith, a meditation on the Divine Feminine, and a distressing examination of the place of women/womanhood in a patriarchal society. The perfect gift for the activist witch or feminist witch in your life. I loved Sarah Sadie‘s we are traveling through dark at tremendous speeds, so I was thrilled when I learned that she had released a new collection. I haven’t had the chance to read Seeds From the Dream Catalog — yet! — but it’s on my wish list. Don’t miss out! Add it to yours, too.

For art lovers: If you are a fan of old-fashioned cheesecake art, particularly if it has ghoulish, gothic, or witchy elements, take a look at K.A. Opperman‘s work. (He’s also a very talented poet, so check out his written works, too.) Dan Sauer is a both graphic designer and an illustrator. His multimedia collages are color-drenched and haunting. Beth Hansen creates beautiful Goddess and faerie paintings, art prints, and necklaces. Available in a variety of sizes and at a variety of prices, these make great gifts for anyone who wants to (affordably) decorate their home or altar with sacred art. Drowned Orange is a traditional nib and ink artist whose work reminds me of old timey woodcuts, but with a Pre-Raphaelite flair. Her drawings and silk screens are filled with occult and mythological references, and make great gifts for both not-out-of-the-closet Pagans, out-of-the-closet Pagans, and occultists alike.

For music lovers: my tastes are highly eclectic. I prefer music that I can listen to while reading or writing. Among my recent discoveries: Blackbriar, The Hu, and Ennio Morricone. Blackbriar is an alternative metal/goth rock band whose “Fractured Fairy Tale” and “Snow White and Rose Red” are on repeat on my playlist, especially when I want to write a fairy tale. [Note that they have a crowdfunding campaign going right now.] The Hu are a Mongolian metal band whose “Wolf Totem” is on multiple repeat on my playlist; thrilling, pounding, soaring; perfect for writing action sequences. Ennio Morricone will no doubt be well-known to many people, but I only recently discovered him; I guess I’ve just been watching the wrong movies. His most famous composition is probably that for “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (makes my hair stand on end), but I have a soft spot for “Red Sonja.” I love to listen to these while writing epic fantasy stories filled with Gods and Goddesses and witches and warriors.

Finally, for ‘zine aficionados: Fiddler’s Green Peculiar Parish Magazine is impossible to categorize. Loosely, it is an occult journal. But it is so much more than that: it is gorgeous artwork, meditations on life and death, explorations of the esoteric and arcane, and seasoned/reasoned arguments for allowing ourselves and others the freedom to figure the world out for ourselves — in all its weird, wonderful, frightening glory.

** Where possible, links directly to the creator’s or publisher’s website have been provided. In a few cases, the links go to Amazon (US). Do not consider this an endorsement of Amazon. If you like any of the gifts suggested here, please reach out directly to the creator, or to your local independent bookstore, music store, or comic shop.

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published works can be found there.]