Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deborah Blake on Celebrating Halloween at Your Store

Hi Booksellers,

Looking for ways to attract a crowd on Halloween? Here’s some fun, inexpensive ideas from author Deborah Blake on how to appropriately celebrate this sacred Pagan holiday at your store.

Celebrating Halloween and its Pagan Roots
By Deborah Blake

Halloween is a holiday that has an origin deep in Pagan roots. Its name comes from the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve, or Hallow Evening (hence Hallow E’en), which in turn was taken from the Pagan holiday we now call Samhain—pronounced Sow-win. Samhain is one of the most important holidays of the year for Pagans and Witches; it is considered to be the day on which the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and it is possible to speak to those we have lost, whether the recent dead or our ancestors. You can see where the “spooky” reputation of this holiday came from!

It can be tricky to balance the sacred nature of the spiritual holiday with the more commercial aspects of the secular celebrations that most people are accustomed to—but here are some suggestions for Halloween events that won’t demean the holiday . . . or cost an arm and a leg to put on.

Treasure Hunts
One of the easiest and most fun Halloween events that I have hosted at various bookstores is the “treasure hunt.” Find all the books in the store that have spooky or magical themes; this can include children’s stories, real-life books on ghosts, anything Pagan or related to Witches (yes—Harry Potter counts!), etc. You can then either write up a list for people to use as they hunt for the books (in which case, they have the list later to possibly shop from), or place bookmarks or other “markers” in the books that count towards the treasure hunt. You could even put a bookmark that is a coupon for any book it is in, in the hopes of selling a few in the process.

If you have a metaphysical or New Age store, you could try a scavenger hunt with clues, like “I am a clear rock used for boosting psychic energy” for a quartz crystal.

You could give a special prize to the first few customers who find all the “treasures” or simply offer candy and Halloween goodies to all participants. 

This can be aimed at kids or adults. You could invite a local author for a reading/signing event. Or arrange to have a staff member tell spooky or witchy stories.

Host a Costume Contest
Invite your staff to dress up, too.

Special Guests
Tarot readers and tealeaf readers are a popular attraction, and you can display books about psychic phenomenon near the reader’s table.

I suggest steering clear of insulting stereotypical witch make-up (long nose, green face and the like), but everyone loves a long black dress and a pointy hat. The trick is to celebrate this important Pagan holiday with respect, and treat all who come into your store as though they were V.I.W.’s—Very Important Witches.


Photo by John Mazarak
Deborah Blake's most recent book is Witchcraft on a Shoestring. She is also the author of Circle, Coven and Grove, Everyday Witch A to Z, The Goddess is in the Details, and Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook. She has published numerous articles in Pagan publications, including Llewellyn annuals and has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine.

When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker. She lives in a 100 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Witchcraft on a Shoestring
by Deborah Blake

Deborah can be found online at Facebook and Twitter. Or check out her website.

Deborah on her favorite metaphysical store:
“I get most of my supplies from AzureGreen and I have for many years. They have a wide range of stock, good quality and low prices, and the nicest folks working there. They’re a small company and I love them.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

October New Moon Newsletter is Out--Check Your Mailbox!

For those of you who currently subscribe to our email newsletter for booksellers, The Moon, you may have noticed a few changes.

We've streamlined the look, included new features, and christened it with a new moniker: The New Moon. As with this blog, our goal is to really connect with you, our selling partners, each month and offer support, guidance, and resources with the aim of helping you grow and thrive in this ever-changing market.

Our October issue of the New Moon was mailed this morning. If you did not receive a copy in your email inbox, you can also view it here: The New Moon, October 2011 Issue.

You can also visit our website to subscribe to The New Moon, ensuring that it reaches you each month (please note that you will need to log in/register to be able to join our mailing list).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Now Is the Time to Begin Your Halloween Planning

Sigh. It seems as though summer has flown by us for another year; wasn’t it just Midsummer yesterday, and Memorial Day the week before that? Though many of us will be loathe to see these long, sweltering days end, there is something magical about the palpable change in the air, the feeling of renewal that comes with that change, even if we are entering the dying portion of the seasonal cycle.

The crisp autumn air, the crunching of leaves underfoot, the smell of wood-burning fireplaces…to me, these things bring such happiness. And Samhain! That most magical of holidays, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, when we celebrate the turning of a new year, when “kids” of all ages have reason to celebrate. And it's never too early to begin your Halloween holiday preparations!

As we near this magical time, it can be hard to reconcile plans (both personal and business) between the sacred and the secular, as well as between the spendy and the thrifty. That said, there are many ways to make Samhain more than just pointed hats and candy –without breaking the bank—at both your home and your store.

For me, decorations are always a great way to set the mood for any holiday season, Samhain included.
  • Pumpkins. A great way to spend time with family, friends, and associates is always at the pumpkin patch, finding that perfect gourd to display, carve, or both. While pumpkins can be found in many places (grocery stores and supermarkets included), I always favor the pumpkin patch because it is generally cheaper, the selection is wider, and it makes for a great activity for everyone.
  • Incense. Smell is one of the first things we notice when we enter a building or home; why not use some that celebrates the season? For a magical, uplifting, and thrifty option, try making your own incense or potpourri.
  • Colors. Colors are a huge part of décor, and I like to use those that are not only traditionally seasonal but also magically appropriate. Silver is great for making connections and bridging the gap (such as with Samhain spirit communications); yellow and gold symbolize the Sun and a fruitful harvest (whether literally or metaphorically).
  • An Altar. Perfect for store or home, a Wheel of the Year altar can be suited to any Sabbat, including Samhain.
Another strong way to connect to the season, to our friends and family, and to our ancestors is through rituals. These make great activities to do alone, to do with friends or family members, or to host as a store activity.

Activities and Parties
There is something about Samhain that just seems to warrant having a party or other event. Looking for ideas? Look no further!
Still looking for more ideas? Check out "Samhain Party Hosting Made Easy" (

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just in Time for Halloween: The Tenth Anniversary Edition of Monsters by John Michael Greer

Last Saturday, my six-year-old son watched a Scooby Doo movie, loosely based on the age-old werewolf legend. Later that evening, under a gorgeous almost-full moon, we were hanging out in a tent set up in our backyard. My son loves the idea of camping, but we weren’t planning to spend the night outside just yet. After a few stories, it was bedtime. As we left the tent, my son warned, “Run fast, Mommy, so the moon won’t turn you into a werewolf!”

He was a little spooked by the idea of werewolves. Right away, my mommy instincts kicked in. “Don’t worry, sweetie, werewolves aren’t real.” But is that really true?

I’m not sure of whom to thank for the incredible popularity of werewolves, vampires, and zombies right now. (I like to think that Joss Whedon, the genius creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, kicked off the craze.) In any case, the more these creepy creatures populate mass media, the more our curiosity intensifies. We want to know more: Are they real? Are they dangerous? Where can we find them?

Anyone hungry for more information on these legendary beasts will want to check out Monsters: An Investigator's Guide to Magical Beings. The newly expanded edition is available now, just in time for Halloween!

This best-selling guide by John Michael Greer is required reading for both active and armchair monster hunters. The tenth-anniversary edition features a new preface, new chapters on chimeras and zombies, and updates on werewolves, dragons, and faeries.

Are you ready for a harrowing journey into the reality of the impossible? Combining folklore, Western magical philosophy, and actual field experience, Monsters offers a chilling collection of fiendish facts and folklore, including:


Why true vampires are the least attractive—and most destructive—of all monsters
  • The five different kinds of ghosts
  • Magical origins of the werewolf legends
  • How to survive a chimera encounter (Jersey Devil, chupacabra, Mothman)

  • The hidden connections between faery lore and UFOs

  • Where dragons are found today
  • How to investigate a monster sighting
  • Natural and ritual magic techniques for dealing with hostile monsters 

Planning a special Halloween display devoted to monsters? Check out these favorites:

NEW!  The Dragon Keeper's Handbook  
by Shawn MacKenzie

by Konstantinos

Vampires in Their Own Words
Edited by Michelle Belanger

The Vengeful Djinn
by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Philip J. Imbrogno

The Dictionary of Demons
by Michelle Belanger

Vampire Nation
by Arlene Russo

Ultraterrestrial Contact  
by Philip J. Imbrogno