CRASH COURSE | Building an e-Grimoire in Obsidian

With organization comes empowerment.

Lynda Peterson

Hello Darlings,

It’s Dahlia, and I hope your month has been going well so far! I apologize for the unexpected break in posting, but we needed a week or so to plan a few things. More info coming as we can.

But we’re back and, as promised in our first Crash Course post about grimoires – which you can read HERE if you haven’t or just need a refresher – today, I’ll be walking you through how we set up our current ‘Book of Mirrors’ in the note-taking app, Obsidian.

First though, some groundwork…

Obsidian

Obsidian is a note-taking and productivity app. Part of what makes it so powerful is its simple markdown language, but I’d say most of its punch arguably lies in its templates and its ability to chain notes together into a useable, self-reinforcing web of knowledge.

Obsidian pairs excellently with the Zettelkasten note-taking system, and honestly, we really do recommend it to witches, students, and absolutely anyone who writes. You can find out more about Obsidian and download it for yourself HERE.

Now, on to our own devices…

The Set-Up

image showing the Obsidian 'create or open vault' dialog

(a note: we were transitioning to a new set-up with this vault; that’s why our test ‘Book of Methods’ is visible on the sidebar of the inner window)

When you open Obsidian for the first time, you’ll be prompted to open or create a vault.

Vaults in Obsidian are essentially your workspaces. We currently have three active vaults open at once – our Book of Mirrors, a vault for school, and a vault for ‘the brand’ (or, ya know, keeping track of blog posts and what-have-you).

You may have to play around with things a bit to get to a set up that works well for your own workflow, but for now, you can start simple with just one vault, which you’ll build into your grimoire.

similar image with the vault name 'Book of Mirrors' filled out

Choose a name for the vault and a location you want the local files stored in.

Once that’s done, you’ll be placed in your new vault and able to access the settings that affect that vault – theme, plug-ins, etc. Click on the ‘Settings’ gear on the lower part of the left-hand panel to bring up the options.

In the standard editor, we usually set our vault to be able to ‘fold’ or ‘collapse’ headings and lists, just for organization’s sake. You can play around with these options pretty freely until you find the best combination for you and your workflow.

(I believe we also clicked over to the ‘Appearance’ tab and installed the ‘Cyber Glow’ theme, which you’ll see throughout because it’s our current favorite.)

the settings for the Obsidian vault

Next, you’ll want to click over to ‘Core Plug-ins’. This is where Obsidian stores all the built-in plug-ins you can use. For our purposes, I’d suggest switching on ‘Starred Pages’, ‘Templates’ and ‘Daily Notes’.

‘Starred Pages’ allows you to effectively have shortcuts within your vault, popping you over to specific pages with just a click. This is really useful for pages you update or refer to often, such as the Table of Contents we’ll set up later.

‘Templates’ allows you to do just that – create template files you can then use to populate other files. For our purposes, this is most powerful when used alongside ‘Daily Notes’.

‘Daily Notes’ auto-generates a new note each calendar day. Just click the calendar icon in the left-hand panel to bring it up. We’ll set up these plug-ins to work together next.

an Obsidian window with 'core plug-ins' selected

First, you’ll want to create a new Folder.

To do that, find the three icons below the folder, magnifying glass, and star. The center one, the folder icon, will create a new top-level folder you can store your notes in.

an Obsidian window. No file is open in the main panel, but the mouse is hovering over the 'New Folder' icon

To start off with, I’d suggest creating three folders: ‘daily notes’, ‘templates’, and ‘uploads’ (you can start them with an underscore to force them to the top of the folder list).

‘daily notes’ can hold anything you keep track of daily – a daily Tarot or oracle draw, the moon phase, meditation or journal notes, a dream journal, etc.

‘templates’ holds all of the base files you use to quickly build out profiles for crystals and herbs, correspondence lists, etc.

and finally ‘uploads’ will store all of the images you place on your pages so they don’t clutter up your other notes. (Yes, you can upload images. And embed files. ‘Tis awesome.)

a similar Obsidian window with three folders in the left-hand side panel, labeled daily notes, templates, and uploads.

Now, you’ll want to set the path the plug-ins can use (don’t worry, it’s super-easy).

Open your vault settings with the gear icon and scroll down to ‘plug-in options.’ Clicking on ‘Daily Notes’ will let you set the folder to store generated notes in, as well as a template file to use when generating the note (more on that in a minute).

Click into the ‘Templates’ options and set the folder to the ‘templates’ folder you’ve created. Now you’ll have easy access to any template you create by clicking the ‘two sheets of paper’ icon in the left-hand sidebar!

Obsidian settings for the 'daily notes' plugin

Now’s where we start getting to the fun part – actual notes!

Go back to the lower top-bar and choose the left-most icon – the one that looks like a sheet of paper. This is the icon you’ll click whenever you need a new note.

Obsidian window with the mouse hovering over the 'New note' icon.

First, let’s create a template we can use each day in our daily notes.

Since we’re a multiple system, the same person isn’t always running the meatsuit, so I start with a ‘NAME’ field. Under that is our daily draw, the current moon phase (which will be linked to a static note explaining what that phase means energetically), and any relevant tags that come up that day.

Below that is a ‘JOURNAL’ heading and space to talk about the day.

This is just a super-simple framework, of course – feel free to customize as you see fit!

(To place the template file in the proper folder, just click and drag. Then, pop back into settings and set the file path in the drop-down.)

an Obsidian window. The daily notes template is open in the main panel.

Now, the way you choose to organize your own book is of course up to you and how you best process information you take in, but in our case, we’ve opted for a foldable ‘table of contents’ approach.

I created another folder called ‘a map’ (starting with an underscore to force it to the top of the list), and created two more notes: a general tags list, and an overall Table of Contents, which links specifically to other notes.

Headings and lists keep the whole thing organized, and a nice intro quote adds a little flair ^w^

(I also added a general ‘notes’ folder to store any created notes, since I don’t feel like organizing them all by hand into folders on the sidebar like we tried to do initially.)

an Obsidian window with the 'Table of Contents' note open in the main panel. There's a quote from the movie 'Doctor Strange' at the top, above a list of Headings for Divination, Runes, Tarot, The Suit of Wands, and the Moon Phases.

Part of the power of Obsidian isn’t just note-taking, but note-linking.

Enclosing something in [[double square brackets]] creates a link to another note, titled whatever is between the brackets. This feature really shines when building correspondence lists or linking journal entries together.

For example, you might create a separate profile for each crystal associated with, say, the heart chakra, and link to them from the main heart chakra note. You could do the same for herbalism knowledge – create one note for the condition, and link it to the profiles of herbs that work against that condition.

In this way, all of the information you have about something, and honestly even information you have about seemingly unrelated topics, can all be woven together into a usable web of knowledge that you can enter into from any point you need to.

You can actually see this web visually at any time by clicking the icon that looks vaguely like a molecule in the left-hand side panel.

The graph view in Obsidian. Each note appears as a filled-in circle with lines connecting it to other filled-in circles, other notes.

And that’s… about it for set-up, really. From here, you can build out your vault, your web of knowledge, any way you see fit.

The markdown for formatting in Obsidian is mostly really simple, too – single asterisks for italics, double asterisks for bold, double square brackets for links within the vault, and a whole bunch of others you can explore HERE.

There’s a lot to check out with Obsidian, honestly, but you really don’t need more than the base game to get an impressively powerful organization and knowledge-management system.

Obsidian is completely free for personal use, no account or sign-up required, so if this looks like something you think might help you on your path, I’d really suggest giving it a try for a few weeks and seeing how it changes your work and learning flow.

Over to You

So now it’s your turn – How will you build your e-grimoire? Would you like to draft a blessing note to keep at the ‘front’? Maybe MoCs (Maps of Content) are more your style over a strict Table of Contents. Whatever your workflow looks like, we’re here for it ^w^

If you’d like, you can pop into the comments here and tell us how you’re doing (just in general, or with Obsidian specifically). And if anything wasn’t clear or you have additional questions, you can absolutely ask us! We’re by no means experts, but we’ve been keeping up with things in Obsidian for over a month now, so we’ve worked out most of the bugs.

With all that said, I really hope this has been helpful (or at least interesting in some way), and we’ll see you all again very soon.

Love, as always,

Dahlia (he/they/faun/she)


One More Thing

… before you go.

Thanks so much for reading! If you like what we do here and think others would to, you’re more than welcome to share this post around to your witchy friends. And if you’d like to help us out financially (not required, of course, but deeply appreciated), you can always buy us a coffee! ^w^

SUBSCRIPTION BOX REVIEW | Nine of Earth

For magickal and bad-ass babes

Nine of Earth site

Hello Darlings,

It’s Dahlia, and today I wanted to share something for those of you with a budget for witchy things each month.

For about six months now, we’ve been getting a box from Nine of Earth, a witchy subscription box containing a deck of cards and other goodies each month.

They’re a small brand which features other small brands when they can as well, which we’re always a fan of. Seeing what they have to offer has also given us a few ideas of our own that I’ll be able to share here fairly soon.

For the moment though, on to the actual post!

Monthly Boxes

April’s theme was ‘Earth magick’, which was perfect for us because we often have trouble grounding. (Earth is under-represented in our chart.)

As is standard for Nine of Earth, the packaging is beautiful. Each of their boxes is themed to the month as well as the contents inside, so the whole experience is really a rather nice one ^w^

Opening the box, we find the explanation sheet – a sheet listing the items in the box, their sources, and a little about each one. I usually avoid looking at it until after I’ve been through the box because I like to be surprised by what I find. It’s a bit like opening a treasure chest that way.

With most of the paper shreds removed, we can see what looks to be a package of seeds(!) some incense (which smells amazing), the deck (below the seeds), altar candles, a necklace, and something wrapped in bubble-wrap.

Here’s the full lay-out – the bubble-wrap was holding the small bottle of a citrus-y perfume called ‘Incantation’, and the Print is Dead hand mirror was hiding below that. I’d say this is pretty well representative of a standard box – well-themed, well-sourced, and just all in all a nice surprise every month.

The deck is rather approachable as well – major Beltane energy.

Mystery Boxes and Bags

To give a more complete overview of things (and because we just wanted to), we picked up three mystery boxes/bags from Nine of Earth as well: a protection magick one, a kawaii witch/pastel goth one, and a Libra-themed zodiac one.

cool iridescent packaging!

The first one we opened was the kawaii witch/pastel goth one (the smallest bag). This one contained:

  • a pair of creepy/cute socks (pink with foot bones) from Ectogasm
  • a Death Tarot card enamel pin from Bobby Pins Co
  • a large haunted house sticker from Chateau Blanche Design
  • a pack of ‘haunt me’ post-it notes
  • a pastel Evil Eye adjustable bracelet
  • and a kawaii witch candle tin (the candle itself smells amazing as well)

Super happy with this one, honestly. We’re a little pastel goth ourselves, so this sort of creepy-cute style is right up our strasse. My personal favorite is either the candle or the enamel pin.

Next up was the zodiac mystery bag, which contained:

  • a ‘Blame it on my Zodiac Sign’ notebook from Central 23
  • a mini zodiac art print from Rachel Beyer
  • a zodiac boots sticker from Sara M. Lyons
  • a pack of zodiac incense from Gonesh
  • an old English font zodiac necklace
  • a ‘Libra’ lip balm from Crazy Rumors
  • a tumbled crystal corresponding to your sign (in our case this was pink calcite – ‘supports new ways of thinking, with loving compassion’)

Another winner in my book! The incense is pink rose water and fresh ivy and it smells amazing. The print is double-sided, with some info on the back, and the lip balm is from a brand we rather adore, so all in all, this was a very good collection to get.

Finally, we got to the ‘protection magick’ box, which contained:

  • an Evil Eye protection white Currant candle with clear quartz crystals from Holy Soak
  • a gorgeous blue glass apothecary bottle full of ritual black salt
  • an Evil Eye shower steamer from Goddex Apothecary
  • an anti-bad vibe shield salt soak from Wild Yonder Botanicals
  • a pack of Satya Dragon’s Blood incense cones with a stand
  • a gold and green lucky horseshoe wind chime, which we shared on Instagram
  • a little bag of raw black tourmaline stones
  • a tiny Evil Eye spell bottle kit, with bottle, candle, and herbal blend
  • and an adjustable brass Evil Eye bracelet

This might be my favorite overall, as much as I love the other two. The wind chime and that mini spell bottle kit sort of pushed it over the top. Look at that adorable little bottle!

Anyway… That was the roundup of our most recent Nine of Earth haul. If this looks like something you’d enjoy having in your life, you can check out their official site at Nine of Earth and their Instagram at nineofearth_official.

So, Where Does That Leave Us?

I have to say, I have a fairly high standard for Nine of Earth these days, and these bags really did hit the mark. There’s a good variety for the cost and the quality is always top-notch, at least from our experience so far.

The bottom line is this: If you’re looking for a good witchy subscription box, we’d absolutely toss Nine of Earth in the hat for your consideration. They’re great quality, fairly priced, and just bring a lot of good energy.

And… that’s about it. The first post next week will cover building your own e-grimoire in Obsidian! Then… I’m not sure just yet. We can find out together (lol).

Love, as always,

Dahlia (he/they/faun/she)

SHOP | Stygian Street Witchery is Open!

Hello Darlings,

It’s Dahlia, and I have something of an exciting announcement today — Stygian Street Witchery Shoppe is (somewhat unofficially) open!

We’re offering digital/distance readings (Tarot, oracle, runes, charms, and pendulum) as well as and custom spell-writing work so I thought I would celebrate a bit and mention it here so you can check it out if you’d like.

You can find the official tumblr [here] and our Etsy/other e-locations will be up in the near future.

Every little bit really does help us get to our goals – and we have some awesome things planned for the near future! – so please do toss a coin to yer witches if you’re feeling generous. We’ll be forever appreciative ^w^

If you’re not in the market for witchy things, that’s of course totally fine! You can also help by sharing our sites around to those who might like them, favoriting our Etsy shop once it’s live, and just generally hanging out with us while we’re building things – good company makes the journey a bit less lonely, ya know?

You can also just [buy us a coffee] if you’d like to help out but aren’t in need of anything right now.

With all that said, whatever you plan to do, I hope you have a wonderful day and we’ll see you back here very soon with more content-heavy, informational posts!

Love, always,

Dahlia (he/they/faun/she)

RECOMMENDED READING | Dark Goddess Magick by C. Ara Campbell

When we connect with the stories of the goddesses, we connect with their energy and wisdom. We can use the goddess myths to dive deeper into transformation, knowledge, and growth [ – ] thought that doesn’t mean that the goddesses existed. Some had roots in real people, such as Aradia as La Bella Pellagrina, but most exist in legend.

C. Ara Campbell, How to Use This Book

Hello Darling,

It’s Dahlia, and I thought we’d welcome April in with another book review. We all love reading around here, and try not to turn down chances to learn something new – about ourselves, about the world, or both.

While C. Ara Campbell’s Dark Goddess Magick isn’t the sort of book I likely would have picked up on my own, it was actually rather interesting. As the opening quote suggests, one of the things I found most interesting about it is this assertion that, by tapping into the myths and the archetypes surrounding these goddess figures, we can expand our expression.

RELATED: See the subscription box that brought this book to our attention with our Nine of Earth review! (link soon!)

The ‘dark goddesses’ were often repressed – pushed down in history, because they not only dealt with ‘darker issues’ such as fear, rage, abandonment, and healing, but also (I feel it’s fair to say) because they were women, or woman-aligned, figures who were strong, and intelligent, and capable, and powerful. They made waves, knew things, demanded space.

And I think, honestly, that’s a big part of why anything that was considered witchcraft was (and in some ways still is) so demonized, especially by larger oppressive power structures throughout history.

Witchcraft as a whole, at least how I see it, is a path of care and connection and knowledge and standing in your own power. Knowing yourself.

Which, of course, is a direct threat to anything that benefits from you not caring, not connecting, not knowing, and generally not believing you have any say in the matter at all.

Needless to say, there’s a lot to unpack here, but I’m glad that this book showed up in our lives when it did, because I finally feel clear-headed enough to consider these sorts of overarching themes in our lives.

Campbell even opens with pointing out all the ways women (and anyone read/socialized as female) are told not to take up space or feel their emotions. ‘Swallow your anger.’ ‘Stop crying.’ ‘Keep your voice down.’ On and on.

Divided into 20 sections with visualizations, spells, recipes, and rituals, Campbell introduces us to several of these ‘dark goddesses’ from all over the world – from the Greek myths of Hecate and Persephone, to Kali of Hinduism, to the Sumerian Inanna and Ereshkigal.

While there likely isn’t enough information here to satisfy someone looking for any kind of deep-dive, this broader overview style of approaching things definitely has its merits. This would be a great way to start on a path of learning more about other cultures’ deities, through whatever lens is most comfortable to you.

Having read through the entire thing, I think we overall feel most connected to Hecate, Aradia, and Persephone. Something about the themes of teaching, seeing, and transformation, I think.

TL;DR – A good entry-level/overview book. Recommended for beginners and anyone with an interest in other cultures/religions. Good jumping-off points for further research.

  • TITLE: Dark Goddess Magick: Rituals and Spells For Reclaiming Your Feminine Fire
  • AUTHOR: C Ara. Campbell
  • PAGE COUNT: 192
  • PUBLISHED: September 14th, 2021
  • GOODREADS: [here]
  • RATING: ★★★★

Light magick is wonderful, but sometimes it’s not enough when navigating your way through challenging circumstances. The potent shadow goddesses you meet here, however, can guide you through the darkness. Dark Goddess Magick introduces twenty of the most powerful shadow goddesses and [gives] guidance on how to connect with them.

Authored by C. Ara Campbell, creatrix of the wildly popular Goddess Circle school and community, each dark goddess entry includes spells, rituals, invocations, visualizations, and practices to utilize the goddess’ magick and wisdom for embodying strength, setting boundaries, and transforming your life.

CRASH COURSE | What is a Grimoire (And Why Do You Need One)?

A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, Granny Weatherwax had once told her, because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.

Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith

Hello Darlings,

It’s Dahlia, and today I’m bringing you something of a crash course in one of the cornerstones of any witch’s practice – grimoires.

I don’t generally put anything down as a hard-and-fast ‘rule’ of witchcraft as a whole, but grimoires are one of those things that I’m tempted to hang that label on. They’re incredibly useful both in-the-moment and to look back on later as you grow and change in your practice.

If you’re a baby witch who’s been looking around for all of five minutes, you’ve probably seen the term ‘grimoire’ here and there. But what exactly is it?

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

What is a Grimoire?

Simply put, ‘grimoire’ is a sort of catch-all term for a magickal journal – by which I mean, a place where you record notes on your practice, interesting herb and crystal profiles, moon phases, spells, dreams, meditation notes, etc.

It’s something of a scrapbook of your magickal journey so far. Some witches feel comfortable sharing flip-throughs of their grimoires over on YouTube, so you might want to watch a few videos to get some inspiration for things to put in your own book. There are also free and paid printable grimoire pages all over sites like Etsy.

Inspiration is great; just be careful of witch-envy! Ya know, that feeling that you’re not ‘a real witch’ or ‘doing it right’ because your book or practice looks different than others? Or, just that twist of normal envy you get when you see a really pretty grimoire… Been there lol

A small note: from my research, it looks like ‘Book of Shadows’ is actually a Wiccan term, not a general witchcraft one. There are similar terms, however, such as ‘Book of Mirrors’ and ‘Book of Methods’ that are used less commonly.

Why Do I Need a Grimoire?

Well, there are actually a couple of reasons that keeping a grimoire is a good idea:

First, having a physical (or digital!) grimoire is a great way to keep track of all the information you’re learning. Reading up on, say, astrology won’t do you any good if you keep forgetting half of what you read, after all.

Having the key points taken down in your grimoire provides you with a kind of cheatsheet you can use until you have the information well and truly memorized – until it’s second nature to you.

Secondly, keeping a grimoire allows you to see how much you’ve grown, changed, and just generally matured in your practice since you first started. You’ll undoubtedly wander down some roads and rabbit holes that you really didn’t need to. That’s okay! Knowledge is never a bad thing, and learning should be celebrated.

Even if you end up cringing at your earliest entries, try to remember that you were starting from a place of very little, if any, background knowledge and were doing the best you could with the information you had at the time. And that’s really all anyone – including yourself – can ask of you.

Additionally, grimoires (much like standard journals) can be great for helping you see connections that you would have missed otherwise. Does a certain symbol, animal, or number sequence keep popping up in your entries? Maybe that’s something to investigate further.

How Do I Start a Grimoire?

It’s been said a thousand times, but it really is true: That first step is always the hardest.

It’s easy to look around and get the impression that every other witch has this big, fancy, perfectly organized grimoire, but the reality is probably closer to a slightly sleep-deprived college witch marking pages in a tattered notebook with colored sticky-notes. Both of these ways – and every way in between – are equally valid in my book (see what I did there? I’m rolling my eyes too LOL).

One of the first things you’ll want to determine when starting your grimoire is whether you want to go primarily physical or primarily digital. I say ‘primarily’ here because it’s very likely there will be a little overlap – taking quick notes on your phone and transferring them later, saving a website to pull info from, copying quotes out of a book and typing them up afterward, etc.

RELATED: Building an E-Grimoire in Obsidian (next week!)

Once you’ve got that figured out, it’s just a matter of finding the right app or software. If you’re going physical, don’t worry about making it #aesthetic right off the bat. It’s okay if your notes are messy and things are out of order. As long as you’re learning and having fun with it, you’re on the right track.

If looks are really important to you – and I totally get why they might be – I’d suggest effectively keeping a grimoire in a cheap but sturdy notebook, and a reference book/Book of Methods in a more aesthetic journal. You’d take your initial notes and copy down info quickly in your grimoire, then organize it and copy it over into the reference book.

The most important thing when it comes to starting a grimoire is just that: starting.

Afterword

So, I hope that answered at least a couple questions you may have had about grimoires, what they are, and how you can start your own. I’m planning a few more posts in this series, so stick around for more beginner witch/witchcraft 101 stuff!

And of course, you’re more than welcome to ask questions in the comments or ping us on social media if you want. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can ^w^

Love, as always,
Dahlia (he/they/faun/she)


Thanks so much for reading! If you like what we do here and want to help out, feel free to share this post around to people you think it would help, and hey – if you’re feeling generous, you’re always welcome to buy us a coffee. This is a small and pretty new blog, and we’re eternally grateful for your support. Have a wonderful day!

ACCOUTREMENTS | What’s in Our Back-to-School Charm Bag?

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time

Leonard Bernstein

Hello Darlings,

It’s Abel, and we’ve had something of a revelation over the short Spring Break we’ve been on. Collectively, I mean.

Therefore, we’re committed to, upon return, ‘going full witch’.

This actually isn’t as drastic as it probably sounds. Mostly, this just means ‘looking the part a bit more’. Actually wearing our jewelry, reading our witchy books, occasionally making charm bags, you know.

Just recently, in a fit of inspiration, we started a rather ambitious project that we’ll share more about here very soon. For the moment, just know that I… am very tired LOL But this is a labor of love, truly. Can’t wait to share!

But now, onto the actual point:

What’s in Our Back-to-School Charm Bag?

Crystals

  • Orange Calcite – expands awareness, boosts happiness, encourages positive energy
  • Amethyst – aids meditation, wards off fear, symbolizes rebirth, helps heal mind and spirit
  • Frankincense Tears – burns away negativity, emphasizes rebirth
  • Green Adventurine – boosts luck, aids prosperity, increases confidence, reduces stress, encourages creativity
  • Pyrite – protection, stops negative thoughts, help overcome anxiety/fear
  • Tiger’s Eye – self-confidence
  • Selentie – cleanses, promotes peace, helps access intuition, enhances manifestation abilities
  • Clear Quartz – master healer stone, used as an amplifier

Herbs

  • Dill – general protection, ward off negative mental energy, boosts luck, invites prosperity, balances mental state
  • Skullcap – aids sleep, invites peace, calms emotions, aids grounding, reduces anxiety and depression
  • St John’s Wort – strong protection, banishes negative self-image, aids against depression, inspires psychic or prophetic dreams
  • Hops Flower – eases anxiety, encourages emotional healing, aids sleep, inspires psychic dreams
  • Basil – focus, anti-anxiety
  • Rosemary – memory and focus

Extras

  • Himalayan Sea Salt – purifies, amplifies intention, banishes negativity
  • Coffee – focus, energy
  • Bee Charm – for productivity

(Dahlia)
It’s probably a bit overloaded, but all the intentions work together, so we feel good about it. Plus it smells amazing, which is always a good bonus lol

It’ll either hang on our door or sit on our desk (not sure yet and want to do some rearranging when we get back) and hopefully it’ll provide us a little extra boost and support this next quarter ^w^

I’d also like to thank Abel for putting this thing together, finding a bag that wont shed dill all over the place, and finding one of our howlite bracelets(!) Not to mention starting this post in the first place so the idea for it didn’t fade into the ether.

What about you guys – have you ever made or bought a charm bag? I’ve also seen them called ‘intention bags’ and ‘spell bags’. They’re one of my favorite physical witchy items, so I’m always up for talking about them.

Fun fact: some people associate them with Aradia, a goddess associated with ‘the old religion’ in Italy. As the story goes, she was born into an Italian family and was always very spiritual. Her family thought she’d become a nun, but that wasn’t to be. She was often jailed for her beliefs and practices, but always escaped. ‘The beautiful pilgrim’, she was called.

Anyway, I’ll let you get back to your day. I hope this post was interesting or useful to you in someway. And please do share if you make your own back-to-school/spring rebirth charm bag! You can tag us on Instagram @horrorloggender

Love, as always,

Dahlia (he/they/faun/she) & Abel (he/vamp)


Thanks so much for reading! If you’d like to help us collect supplies for charm bags we’re hoping to sell soon, you’re more than welcome to buy us a coffee. We’re just getting started so any and all support is deeply appreciated. Whatever you decide to do, we hope you have a wonderful day!

Living Your Art (And Your Magick)

“The artist has one function–to affirm and glorify life.”

W. Edward Brown

Hello Darlings,

It’s Dahlia, and today I wanted to talk a bit about something that mentally clicked for us recently, and may be useful to you as well. Hopefully by the end of this post I’ll have done a good enough job of showing you all why we think this idea is so powerful that it’s worth working to implement.

You might remember the precious post, our deck review/talk on The Alleyman’s Tarot. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest giving it a look, but the long and the short of it is this: At the end of that post, I mentioned the fact that holding and working with that deck with its mismatched cards and non-standard thickness sort of… unlocked something in us.

Well, (as Simon has drafted here) this is the open door. Off we go!

The Idea

Adam Duff is an artist, teacher, and YouTuber. If you’re an artist yourself, you may have seen his Lucidpixul channel around. He’s well-known for his detailed, dark fantasy art and his ‘art talk’ videos, wherein he layers his voiceover on top of a time-lapse digital painting.

I bring him up for a very specific reason here: this video in particular.

If you’re not in the mood for sitting through the whole thing, the main take-away is this: to truly experience your art, to feed your artistic growth, to feed your creativity, you have to live your art.

You have to make your space an extension of your artistic, creative self. Adam has a great example of this in the video – he had redesigned his studio at one point, made it very clean and minimal. And he struggled to get anything done even though, on paper, he had a great set-up.

But he was missing.

Adam’s art is dark fantasy inspired by folklore – it’s detailed, and rich, and organic. By contrast, the studio space he had at the time was a lot of white and wood and clean lines. And it was very sterile, very clinical. It wasn’t a bad space; it was just misaligned with the work that was being done in it.

So, Duff decides to remedy this situation.

He looks around and he asks the question I’m going to toss to you in just a moment. He asks, ‘Okay, what do I need to do to turn this space into… Old Yharnam (from Bloodborne)?’ Basically, ‘what do I need to do to turn this into a space that I can feel creative in?’

So he looks at what he produces, and he looks at other’s art that fits his aesthetic, and he comes up with this list of colors and textures and feelings. And then he goes to a thrift store, with that very specific aesthetic in mind, and he picks up old wood boxes, and worn leather, and these antique picture frames with gold and patina, and more plant life…

And now, slowly but suddenly, his space is starting to reflect that inner space, that inner creative self. So that now, wherever he looks around that space, he is reminded of that creativity, of that art.

But all this came about, at least in this iteration, from a ring.

Not the Tolkien ring, but a finely crafted men’s ring. He saw it, liked it, bought it, wore it and, much like myself not long ago, shuffling The Alleyman’s deck, he felt that it was tugging at something in him, trying to unlock something in him.

It turned out to be this idea, this concept of intentionally living your art – of bringing it out of the sort of pre-fab contexts it already exists in and just infusing it into the fabric of your life, so that it feeds back in on itself.

Magickal Applications

Molly Roberts is also a YouTuber. She’s an art witch. You can find her channel here, and we highly suggest watching her video on grimoires (especially if you’re finding yourself too anxious about messing up your physical book to actually use it).

I bring her up because she – at least in the context of what we see of her in terms of her channel content – lives her magick in such a way that it would be impossible to remove that aspect without losing your sense of who she is as a person.

It’s in everything. It’s in her hair, her makeup, her clothing, her filming space… And as a result, there’s this distinct ‘Molly-ness’ to everything she does.

And I want to bring your attention to this, not just from that original artistic standpoint, but from a magickal standpoint as well. Because witchcraft is a path of study – it’s a path of history and knowledge and of being present and in-tune with the world around you, no matter your unique shade of magick.

To that end, I have a challenge for you.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Your Magickal Self

You don’t have to change anything right away, but I want you to think about what your magickal path looks like – what your magickal self looks like. What sort of witch are you? Now how do you make your space an extension of that magickal self?

How do you turn your space into, say, a tech witch’s hacker cave? Or a green witch’s kitchen? Or a solar witch’s bedroom?

And please note, I don’t mean ‘collect a bunch of things that go with the stereotype of your path’ – no, not at all. My concept of ‘a green witch’s kitchen’ and yours are not the same. That’s okay. More than that, it’s marvelous!

But, if you’re on-board with this, I’d like you to spend some time thinking, maybe sketching, maybe writing, maybe on Pinterest collecting inspiration. And when you’ve got it, when you have it nailed down – the colors, the lights, the textures, the scents, the music, the makeup, the jewelry… then you start looking around for things you can add to your space, things that want to be in your space with you.

You can make things, or find them, or trade for them, or buy them outright, but whatever you do, make sure that it supports you. Make sure it supports your learning, your sense of beauty, your feeling of connection.

Of course, this is much more difficult if not impossible for witches who are still in the broom closet, so to speak, but if this is you, just keep this in mind for when you do step out of it – when you’re ready, once you’ve moved out, etc. Whatever ‘ready’ looks like for you. Your path at your pace.

Our Space

While we’re not in a position to fully customize our living space just yet, we have done some small things that we think might be good starting points, or at least give you a potential angle to think about. For example:

  • our pill case is organized with color magick and day associations in mind (not the medication, mind, just the plastic colored rectangles with the four boxes that hold the pills)
  • our Tarot deck is custom, and will change as we do
  • we have witch bells on our door at school to help scatter negative energy
  • we’ve collected crystals to help us sleep (amethyst, moonstone, rose quartz)
  • we have a selenite wand for energetic cleansing
  • we once traded a book for an ethically sourced skull because, in Jade’s words, it had ‘friend energy’. it’s now sitting on our desk.
  • we’ve spent time building up a witchy library (this can also be done with ebooks to save on the initial outlay)
  • we make time at least once a day to add something small to our e-grimoire (post on building your own digital grimoire coming soon!)
  • we’re subscribed to Nine of Earth (a witchy subscription box – post on them coming soon!)

And I’m sure there’s more I’m just overlooking at the moment.

So, I hope this post has been interesting, and given you some things to think about when it comes to your surrounding environment. Living your most authentic and magickal life isn’t always the easiest road, but I’m very much of the opinion that authenticity is always worth it in the long-run.


With all that said, I think I’m going to go and plan a few more posts for this transition period into Aries season. I also have a few ideas for guides I feel might be useful to you all, so I may poke at those a bit as well.

Wherever you go from here, I wish you all the best!

Love,

Dahlia (he/they/faun/she)


Thank you so much for reading! If you’d like to help this blog grow, you’re more than welcome to share this post around to others who may find it interesting. If you like what we do here and you’d like to support us with a donation, you can always buy us a coffee. Either way, thank you for being part of the Fruit Bat Flock, and we’ll see you all again very soon!

DECK REVIEW | The Alleyman’s Tarot

Personally I believe in giving the cards to the person being read… I know that’s not economical or whatever but it’s how I’ve always done it. Do a reading, find the card that matters most to them, give it to them. So they remember. That’s probably why I’m always picking up new cards wherever I see ’em. You don’t have to, but I do.

I do.

If you’re gonna read my deck, consider adding cards you love. Take out the ones you don’t. If I ever come across another reader with my deck in their hands and it’s just how I remember it, I’ll be disappointed.

What’s the point of owning something if you don’t change it at all? If it doesn’t change you? So fuck it up. Write on the little shits. This isn’t sacred, these are tools and messages. Messages need written on.

My Tarot deck isn’t the one in your hand. Fuck no, that’s dumb. My Tarot deck is whatever cards I tell my stories with. Some days that’s a new Magic pack. Other days it’s a 300 card stack of business cards and little flyers. Had one made of cardboard a while back, got up to 40 cards before it was unusable.

What you have now is a relic of what I’ve done. Enjoy it, but keep it shifting.

No one and nothing ever got better by sitting still.


Hello Darlings,

It’s Dahlia, and these past few days have been an absolute whirlwind. But among the various things that have happened recently, one piece of mail stands out. Not long ago, we received our copy of The Alleyman’s Tarot.

For those who don’t know, the Alleyman’s Tarot was a Kickstarter project hosted a while back by the creator Seven Dane Asmund (whose mind we love). It became the single most funded Tarot Kickstarter ever, and it’s not hard to see why, especially now, looking at the finished product.

The basic premise behind the deck was the Alleyman, a mysterious figure who reads Tarot in an alley (I believe behind a liquor store), and is in the habit of collecting new cards wherever he finds them. He’s also in the habit of giving a card to whomever he reads for, resulting in an ever-changing deck that’s as unique to the reader as the circumstances of the question are to the person being read for.

Needless to say, we fell in love instantly.

A small personal note may be useful here as well… I’ve always loved the idea of giving a meaningful card to the person being read for. So they remember, as the opening page from the included guidebook points out. So they know it was real when they look back on the memory.

In fact, a large part of why I don’t currently do readings is my inability to change out cards easily. If I am ever in a position where I find myself with more cards than I can handle (not that far-fetched of an idea, to be fair), I’d be more than happy to read for anyone who wants it. And yes, you’ll be more than welcome to keep a card.

That aside, the project had run so long ago that we’d nearly forgotten about entirely. So, when the box arrived, I tilted my head at it for a good ten minutes trying to suss out what we might have ordered that I simply didn’t remember.

After a while though, I decided that ‘the shortest answer is doing the thing’ and opened the box.

What’s in The Box?

The cloth is soft and a little slick, and the design is absolutely gorgeous. (The phrase is ‘Make Your Own Way’.) For the tier I selected when we backed the project, I received the deck (which came in what looks like an empty box of long-stick matches), the guidebook, a high-quality casino chip, the cloth, one booster pack with 7 extra cards (not pictured), and a coin (sitting on the box).

The guidebook is styled like a cheap spiral-bound notebook with a sticker slapped on the front, complete with ‘sticky notes’ from the publisher on each page giving the source of the card the Alleyman is talking about. There’s even ‘water damage’ on some of the pages(!)

As you got to read at the beginning of this post, it’s written in a refreshingly easy-going style that really sells the illusion of this just being a random-ass deck that someone was working with. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that, as a writer myself. I will always be a fool for good and immersive world-building.

The Deck

The deck itself is an absolute beast – 137 cards total.

You’d think it would be difficult to shuffle and work with, being such a chonk, but it’s surprisingly comfortable to handle, even at it’s considerable size (cue the over-used ‘that’s what she said’ punchline).

The cards themselves are solid quality – rigid enough to hold up to being shuffled roughly but not so thick that you can’t bend them – and the colors come through beautifully. Some even have colored foil or similar accents on the edges.

I’ve already taken this deck apart and put it back together several times, a couple times on its own, then with my own card substitutions, and trimmed it down to a total of 108 cards. It’s still mainly ‘The Alleyman’s Tarot’, but I’m hoping to use it as a sort of spring board for building a proper custom deck later on.

And finally, a bit of love for this coin, honestly. I didn’t give it much fanfare in the beginning, but now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I like it quite a lot. 17 is also a significant number for me, so it was a bit funny to see it out of the relative blue like this.

On a Personal Note

I was shuffling these cards one evening, and I felt a certain tugging at my mind. There was something about seeing these mismatched cards in my hands, something about this over-sized deck, that was trying to unlock something in me.

After some focused thought and a lot of note-taking, I think I’ve nailed it all down.

I also realize that this was less a ‘review’ post; more of a ‘look at this amazing thing I have’ post, but I feel this is also a suitable springboard for some other things I’d like to talk about.

I’ll be back soon with another post detailing what I’ve learned/realized over the few days I’ve been around this deck.

Until then, I adore you all and I wish you all the best in the world. I hope you find my little revelations as useful as I did.

Love,

Dahlia (he/they/faun/she)


Thanks so much for reading! And be sure to support Seven Dane Asmund in their future projects as well! If this is indicative of their usual quality, I can safely say they have a very bright future ahead of them.

If you enjoyed this post or just generally enjoy what we do here and want to help out, feel free to share our posts around to anyone else you think would enjoy them. You’re also more than welcome to buy us a coffee, if you’re of the mind to support us financially.

Whatever you decide to do, thank you for being part of the Fruit Bat Flock, and we’ll see you again very soon!

ROUTINES AND RITUALS | Build a Magickal Spring Morning Routine

“The beautiful spring came, and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”

Harriet Ann Jacobs

Hello Darling,

It’s Dahlia, and as we turn the corner into spring and Aries season, I thought I would check in with a little easy inspiration. Not so much ‘easy’ as in ‘uncomplicated’ (though it is likely that as well), but ‘easy’ in the way that being in a meadow in spring feels easy.

The spring would be beautiful whether you were there to witness it or not. It is beautiful for its own sake, and something about that lets your soul rest, for just a moment.

See, lately, we’ve been feeling a bit stuck – stagnant, perhaps – in a variety of things. So, in an effort to filter out the water of our lives a bit better, we’ve designed a new morning routine.

Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, and having a slightly different routine for each season helps keep us in the natural rhythm of things. When constructing your own morning routine, try bringing in some seasonal elements to help you feel a bit more in touch with the world outside your window.

But first, the answer to the burning question:

“Bloom where you are planted.” – 1 Corinthians 7:20-24

Why Make a Morning Routine?

Having a set morning routine helps you to set the overall tone for the day.

It can often help give you a feeling of control over what needs to be accomplished that day, lowering your stress levels and helping you feel more productive.

How we talk to ourselves matters, and starting each day with a comfortable routine which leaves you feeling prepared for the day can make a massive difference in how you see yourself and your abilities. Not only that, research suggests that following an established routine can help you better engage with the day, and increase your ability to weather challenges and external stresses.

Additionally, when you aren’t coming at things from a place of hurry and stress, you can see them more clearly. Even this little bit of added clarity can de wonders for helping you avoid problems down the line caused by you rushing through an earlier step in the process.

Morning routines are also great for your practice, as they help get you in touch with the natural magick of the day, the season, and the practical, day-to-day aspects of your current practice. Anything from cooking breakfast to putting on makeup can be a magickal act, and incorporating a little magick into your morning routine can work to keep you energized and learning each day.

In the end, I’m never here to tell you what to do or how to think. All I want is for you to start asking questions. ‘Would this be right for me?’ ‘How do I feel about this?’ ‘What would I do each morning?’

Most of those questions, you’ll have to answer for yourself. As to that last one, however, we have a few suggestions you can springboard off of.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Building a Morning Routine

  • Maintain a good sleep schedule.
    At the heart of any routine that lasts is consistency. Waking up and falling asleep at roughly the same time each night helps to program your natural sleep/wake cycle, which leads to more restful sleep.
  • Avoid the snooze button.
    Adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep. If you find yourself hitting snooze often, you may need to rework your expectations and shift some things around in your schedule to make sure you’re getting proper rest. If you’re staying in bed specifically to avoid starting your day due to feelings of overwhelm, it may help to get up early and do a few small things that you enjoy, or that otherwise bring you a sense of peace.
  • Get up when you wake up.
    Lying in bed for just a little while longer is tempting, especially when the mornings are still dark and chilly, but this can easily lead to falling back asleep or spending an hour scrolling through social media. Instead, push yourself to get up and out of bed soon after you wake up, and give your full attention to your first task (usually a prayer, affirmation, meditation, etc.)
  • Hydrate.
    Drinking enough water is very important to your overall health. Good practice is to drink at least eight ounces of water before you even have a cup of coffee or tea in the mornings.
  • Exercise/Stretch/Meditate
    Exercising in the mornings can actually help to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. If you don’t have the time or inclination for a full workout, try a short yoga routine to stretch out your joints and get your blood flowing. Spending even a few minutes meditating can also make you feel more focused and peaceful.
  • Eat something.
    Research says that it’s usually best to eat something within an hour of waking up. This keeps you from stretching out the fasting state and slowing down your metabolism, which can contribute to feeling sluggish and low-energy during the day.
  • Plan how much time your routine will take.
    When you have all the pieces together, you can estimate how long your whole routine will take you to finish. From there, you can work backward to see when would be the best time for you to wake up. Work backward from there to set your bedtime.

Some Additional Tips

  • Avoid your phone until you’re fully awake.
    It can be very easy to scroll and read content mindlessly as we’re waking up, which might feel productive but is usually a very passive activity. We aren’t doing anything with the information we’re getting; we’re just using it to eat up time.
  • Choose whole food options for breakfast when possible.
    Protein and fiber are your best choices when you’re trying to give your body fuel. Keep processed food to a minimum for best results.
  • Set up your schedule/planner the night before.
    Having everything set up and ready to be worked on tomorrow will reduce the chances of you getting stuck in the transition stage from one task to another (a common feature of ADHD, which we also deal with). Even if you’re neurotypical, having your work ready for you will cut down on the time you need to get into the flow of working, and may even make the process a little more enjoyable.
  • Build some extra time into your schedule.
    Having a buffer of even half an hour can keep you from feeling rushed or stressed if something takes a little longer than normal one morning, or you do find yourself stuck at a transition point. We all have off days, after all.

Some Magickal Suggestions

  • Visualize energy and focus infusing your first glass of water in the morning.
  • Have a cup of tea that supports your intention for the day.
  • Choose your outfit using color magick/associations.
  • Notice the change in nature by keeping a nature journal and writing it in each morning.
  • Choose a new plant/herb/flower to research each day (bonus points if it’s native to your area).
  • Light a candle to symbolize the return of the sun/longer days. Plus, candles are cool.
  • Draw sigils for health/energy/focus/etc. in your foundation before blending it out.
  • Stir good intentions into your breakfast with some good old-fashioned kitchen magick. (Stir clockwise to draw in, counter-clockwise to banish.)
  • If you read Tarot, do a daily draw in the morning to see a sort of energetic snapshot of the day. You can also use the card you draw as a starting point for meditation or journaling.

That’s All For Now

I hope this post has been helpful to you; it was rather fun to put together!

Morning routines are something we’ve really only recently started taking any degree of seriously and I’m happy to report that, so far at least, it’s been a very positive change.

I hope that you build your own magickal spring morning routine to try out. Energetically, spring is a great time to re-commit to goals and renew your focus, so if you’ve been thinking of up-leveling your practice lately, this may be a good starting point.

Either way, I really do wish you all the best in the world this season.

Love always,
Dahlia (he/they/faun/she)


Thank you so much for sticking with me till the end of this one. I know things have been a bit odd with the site recently. We’ve had some personal revelations that necessitated some restructuring, but we should be set and solid now!

If you’d like to help us get started with this blog financially, you’re always welcome to buy us a coffee. And please do share our posts around if you find them helpful and think others would as well!

RECOMMENDED READING | The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig

slipfast: adj. longing to disappear completely; to melt into a crowd and become invisible, so you can take in the world without having to take part in it – free to wander through conversations without ever leaving footprints, free to dive deep into things without worrying about making a splash.


Hello Darling,

It’s Dahlia, and I have something rather magnificent to share with you today. It’s an absolute gem of a book we’ve come across called The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

Divided into six chapters, this ‘compendium of new words for emotions’ spends its modest length wisely alternating between shorter definitions, longer essay-like descriptions, and collage art which captures the subject matter brilliantly.

I’ll say it simply: This is, hands down, one of our favorite books of all time. We’ve broken it down by section below, but we of course couldn’t talk about everything, so I highly suggest you pick up a copy for yourself and see what words resonate with you the most.

It’s such a strange comfort to know that there are words – even newly-coined words – for feelings we’ve had for years and years and were relatively sure we were alone in feeling.

Maybe that’s the lesson here: No one is ever completely alone in feeling.

  • TITLE: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
  • AUTHOR: John Koenig
  • PAGE COUNT: 272
  • PUBLISHED: November 16th, 2021
  • GOODREADS: [here]
  • RATING: ★★★★★

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows defines new words for emotions that we all feel but don’t have the language to express. By turns poignant, relatable, and mind-bending, the definitions include whimsical etymologies drawn from languages around the world, interspersed with otherworldly collages and lyrical essays that explore forgotten corners of the human condition. A truly original book, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is for anyone who enjoys a shift in perspective, pondering the ineffable feelings that make up our lives, which have far more in common than we think.


Section 1: Between Living and Dreaming

Photo by Loc Dang on Pexels.com

The words ‘ozurie’ and ‘maru mori’ pull at my heart the most out of this section.

Ozurie – torn between the life you want and the life you have – paints a vibrant picture of Dorothy after the credits roll at the end of The Wizard of Oz, alternating between worlds, never settled, never still. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had exactly that feeling before, especially now that we’re attempting to truly make a run at this whole ‘artist’ thing.

Maru Mori – the heartbreaking simplicity of everyday things – strikes a different cord, but a powerful one all the same. It makes me ache, to put it simply, to think about the future. To think about (maybe) a sort of neo-noir revival – horror and mystery with a cyberpunk backdrop. And some young writer slugging down energy drinks and carding through old internet snapshots for some English class project…

What would they find, that student so far in the future, if they pointed their browser toward our little corner of the net?

Reams of text, hopefully. A built-out site with tabs with old-fashioned names like ‘radio’ and ‘tv’. And a little library, and a little gallery. Ghosts having conversations below articles. Maybe they flip through our sketchbooks with us, smile at our careless scribbling in the margins. Maybe they wonder what life was like, on the cusp of this great creative wave, this riot of life.

Frighteningly ordinary, dearest reader – even the pain of knowing all my letters will become dust feels frighteningly ordinary, as though it could be any day, any ache.

When people look back, they don’t always look to the big moments – the battles, the down-to-the-wire action. They seek out the small things – the ‘any days’, the sketches, the first drafts, the cold diner coffee. All these little, simple moments that together make up a life.

I live for scrapbooks in that way, the truly scrappy ones – the ones that are little more than receipts and postcards and Polaroids pasted into an old journal. Snapshots of a life lived so fully you wonder how it could have ever ended, even if it has, even if it did years before you ever breathed.

Against the black expanse of time, these small moments glitter like diamond dust, a shining thread tying the living and the dead.

Section 2: The Interior Wilderness

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Defining who you are from the inside out.

This entire section is full of words for things as abstract and specific as ‘the fear your get when you think you may be too old to change’, and ‘the frustration of only seeing the world through the lens of your own taste in aesthetics’.

It puts into words that moment of emotional clarity that can show up when you’ve arrived a few minutes early to a place and are simply alone with your thoughts, marveling that anything that happened happened at all. (The word is ‘alazia’, for those wondering.)

This section is especially interesting to me, as someone who thinks fairly often about the nature of self and the nature of others. What makes one ‘one’, in the end? Are we ourselves simply by virtue of existing, or are we the sum of our components – our hometown, our hard-coded genetics?

There are also words like ‘altschmerz’ (old pain), which is the ‘sense of weariness that comes with the same old problems that you’ve always had, the same boring issues and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for decades, which makes you want to spit them out and dig up some fresher pain you might have buried in your mental backyard’.

The one that’s probably the most directly useful to me currently though, is ‘fitching’, defined thus:

compulsively turning away from works of art you find frustratingly, nauseatingly good – wanting to shut off the film and leave the theater, or devour a book only in maddening little chunks – because it resonates at precisely the right frequency to rattle you to your core, which makes it mildly uncomfortable to be yourself

If you’ve ever wondered if you’re completely alone in your unique brand of weirdness, this is the section to skip to. There are so many words, some for hyper-specific things like this, that let you know you’re not on a completely empty train.

Existing in the world is a strange and messy thing, but this section makes the journey feel just a little less lonely.

Section 3: Montage of Attractions

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

This is probably the most alien section to us overall, just due to our general solitary nature. But I can see how it could make navigating the sometimes-harsh emotional waters of relationships (romantic, platonic, etc.) a little bit easier with words for ‘that sudden flicker of romantic love for a long-time friend, which had seemed impossible up to this point, but is now your problem to deal with’, and

One that stands out to me is ‘moledro’ – a feeling of resonant connection with an author or artist you’ll never meet, who may have lived centuries ago and thousands of miles away but can still get inside your head and leave behind morsels of their experience, like the little piles of stones left by hikers that mark a hidden path through unfamiliar territory.

The one that sticks with me the most, however, is probably the essay that comes along with the three words ‘moment of tangency’. In short, it’s about the small miracles of near misses that happen every day.

You and I, dear reader, have likely never met, never even interacted on social media (given the age of this site as of this posting), yet our lives could have been unfolding in parallel all these years, each without the knowledge that somewhere out there, someone was going through exactly the same thing.

Somehow we’ve always managed to miss one another. And isn’t that amazing as well?

If this section has shown me one thing for certain, it’s that it is a blue-eyed miracle that the human race manages to communicate at all, let alone form deep and lasting relationships with one another. We, no matter how intelligent or perceptive we are, no matter our natural level of empathy, can only experience life and all the emotional turmoil that comes with it through the lens of our own understanding. We can never, honestly, tell another soul ‘I know exactly how you feel’.

And yet we get on anyway. Isn’t that wonderful?

Section 4: Faces in a Crowd

Photo by Mike Chai on Pexels.com

Section 4 starts with probably the most well-known word of the entire collection: Sonder, defined as ‘the awareness that everyone has a story.’

I’ve always loved this word because it’s so heartbreakingly true. Each background character in your story, each random passer-by, lives a life all their own, with their own friends and routines and in-jokes and plot-lines – a life in which you may appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background.

Other favorites include ‘monachopsis’ – the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, ‘socha’ – the hidden vulnerability of others, and ‘momophobia’ – the fear of speaking off the cuff or from the heart; the terror of saying the wrong thing and having to watch someone’s smile fade as they realize you’re not who they thought you were.

It’s for reasons exactly like these that we’re so careful to keep a consistent tone with this site, even in such an early stage. But I would like you to remember, dearest reader, that what you see is only ever what we’ve chosen to share. A highlight reel, if you prefer, and certainly nothing to compare your ‘behind-the-scenes’ to.

‘Silience’ is another favorite – the brilliant artistry hidden all around you.

As the attached essay so cleanly points out ‘indifference is easy. It takes a lot of courage to fight back against it.’ A footnote references a 2007 experiment by a violin virtuoso named Joshua Bell. He played for nearly an hour on a priceless Stradivarius in a busy subway station. The experiment ended with $32 dollars, seven people stopping to listen, and no applause.

So, it’s here that I present to you a small challenge: Take it upon yourself to romanticize your life, your school, your hometown. Notice the art in the architecture, pay attention to the music in the background, really zero in on the flavors in your food. Just observe, say for a week, all the hidden brilliance that you, like those rushing through a subway station, have passed right by a thousand times before.

Section 5: Boats Against the Current

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This section gives us wonderful words like ‘zenosyne’ – the sense that time keeps getting faster. I love this one for the truth in it. As the essay accompanying it so sharply states, entire eons are lived in your first few months of life, and you become very used to living in the moment, because there’s nowhere else to go.

But we become more acutely aware of the passage of time the older we get, so that by the time our twenties are whirling into our thirties, we find ourselves scrambling to mark it in a more permanent way. We go back to our roots, learn about our history, where our great-grandparents came from, trying to extend our lives by learning theirs.

But, in the end, all we have is this – our precious, present moment. This is the only stretch of history we’ll ever see, ever live first-hand. And this ordinary night I’ve spent eating Oreos and drinking coffee, perched on the edge of the bed, is already fading into memory, just as it happens.

‘Life is short – and life is long. But not in that order.’

This section has the feeling of a present-tense sentence at the end of a past-tense paragraph. Words like ‘vellichor’ – the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, and ‘austice’ – a wistful omen of the first sign of autumn, join the ranks of our favorite words with a fanfare. ‘Anemoia’ – nostalgia for a time you never experienced, and ‘morii’ – the desire to capture a fleeting experience, neatly describe so much of the background noise of our life/lives so far.

Section 5 is where I most keenly feel the concept of a dictionary as ‘a poem about everything’.

But my favorite so far, perhaps my favorite overall, must be ‘kenopsia’ – the eeriness of places left behind. ‘[N]ot just empty, but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negatives, whose inhabitants are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs’.

If we’re up to defining gender without the guideposts of ‘male’ and ‘female’, this term comes the closest I’ve ever seen to describing what the concept of ‘gender’ is for us. We are, it seems, ‘kenochoric in nature’.

A close second, however, is ‘tichloch’ – the anxiety of never knowing how much time you have left.

Remember Hamilton – that cultural touchstone of our time? ‘Why do you write like you’re running out of time? / Write day and night like you’re running out of time? / Why do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive? / Why do you write like you need it to survive? / How do you write every second you’re alive?’

These lines instantly spring to mind whenever I find myself thinking too much about the flow of time and my place on the moving train. No matter how I alter the curtain of the sleeper car and what color I paint the walls, I am only ever a passenger on this leg of the journey. And it fills me with this strange evangelical zeal that results in a desperate attempt to catalog everything – from what classes I was taking, to what color my nail polish was that week.

And maybe it’s all just a shout into the void, an overused metaphor, a tale told a thousand different times, but the fact remains that this bit of time – this old journal, this fashion sense, this set of values – is still mine. It has never been seen before, and will not be seen again.

I’m doing my best to make my life a living poem, a breathing painting – and to be content with forever being a masterpiece-in-progress.

Section 6: Roll The Bones

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The final section of this emotional ride.

Right out of the gate, we run headlong into the exact word for our current state, stepping out on this ledge and wishing to be known: ‘elosy’ – the fear of major life changes, even ones you’ve been anticipating for years; the dread of leaving behind the bright and ordinary world you know, stepping out into that liminal space before the next stage of life begins, like the dark and rattling void between adjoining metro cars.

This has been a journey, this book. And I feel, strangely, that I’m not the same ‘me’ that I was when I first opened it. My life, in some small way, can be neatly split into ‘before’ this book and ‘after’ it.

But it’s a good sort of different.

And finally, a word I never expected to find but am glad to have now: ‘beloiter’ – to look around in a state of mild astonishment that your life is somehow still going, as if a part of you had just assumed that your allotment of days would’ve been used up by now, standing there like a player at a slot machine, perpetually surprised that your winnings continue to trickle out, but not sure what you’re supposed to do now.

The thing is, no one’s ever really sure what to do now. At best, it’s an educated guess, a calculated risk. We’re all just making constellations out of the stars in our own slice of sky. And, if nothing else, I think this book as a whole underscores the fact that some of our stars will always be the same.

That for better or for worse, You Are Here.

In The End

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a poem written in the lexical gaps of our world, glinting in the sunlight like the veins of gold mending shattered pottery in kintsugi.

I really cannot convey the myriad of directions my thoughts are running in now, the pleasant ache that’s settled in my chest – half-heartache, half-muscle pain from sitting still for so long, reading.

I’ve picked out some of the words that hit me hardest in each of these sections, but I really suggest you pick up a copy for yourself to see the full scope of things, and maybe find a new favorite word in these pages. What’s more, I could never do justice to the feeling that comes from knowing that some of the strange, specific things that I’ve felt have also been felt by others, often enough that we required a word for the experience.

There’s comfort in knowing that no matter where we go, no matter how far from home we find ourselves, we’re never alone in feeling.


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