This month, Moody Moon’s spotlights author Leah Vanderveldt with an interview on lunar magic, naturally living in the city, and her recent book, Magical Self-Care for Everyday Life.
Vanderveldt is an up-and-coming talent living and practicing in Brooklyn, New York.
With an emphasis on nourishing home cooking, moon-centered spirituality and natural self-care, her recent book goes well with a glass of iced herbal tea on a lazy summer afternoon.
(Interview lightly edited for formatting, ect. For more on witchy reads, check out Moody Moon’s suggested reading section. Feature photo credit: Diana Zapata. Used with permission).
How would you describe your spiritual/magical path? Do you practice a specific tradition?
My magical path has been a gradual transformation, with each practice I learned building on the previous one. I love doing a deep dive in one area and really devoting myself to that practice before shifting my focus.
I don’t practice a specific tradition, but I look to Celtic traditions especially when celebrating the Wheel of the Year.
How does magical self-care differ from the more general self-care practices we are familiar with?
Some practices are distinctly magical and others are more about a shift in approach or intention.
Using the tarot as part of a self-care and self-development practice is more on the magical side.
Whereas something like a bath is pretty stock standard self-care, but if you’re lighting specific candles, adding salt and/or essential oils, and using the water all with the purpose of helping you release during a dark moon, that makes it more magical.
What role does cooking play in self-care for you?
It’s my original go-to for taking care of myself. Learning how to cook for and nourish myself (especially when I was cooking for just me) was a big component in re-mothering myself.
The practice of mothering myself has been really important to my emotional and mental healing and food is central to mothering. Starting to cook with the intention of feeling comforted, satisfied, and balanced changed the way I looked at food and nutrition.
How do you find a balance between self-care and self-discipline? In what way do you feel these two aspects of life compliment each other?
I think the two can complement one another when you’re able to use self-discipline to set up a boundary for yourself in which to conduct your self-care. Like setting aside the first hour of your day for a nourishing practice/series of practices, but then letting that be a fluid experience depending on your mood and what you need.
I love a routine, so for me it’s important to recognize when it’s becoming restrictive or making me feel like I’m just trying to check something off my to-do list. Structure can be a big ally in making sure you get what you need, but it should feel like a kindness to yourself.
In your book, Magical Self Care For Everyday Life, you place a lot of emphasis on working with the moon.
Can you tell us a little about your personal relationship with the moon cycles, specifically what led you to begin your work with lunar energy and how it has that evolved over time?
I’ve had a relationship with the moon for as long as I can remember.
We lived at the beach when I was growing up and my dad is a fisherman, so I was aware of the moon’s effect on the tides from very early on. I started journaling and experimenting with manifesting with the moon cycles in my 20s and grew to love the regular check-in at the new and full moons to track my fluctuation and progress.
When I learned about astrology and my chart, it was pointed out to me by multiple astrologers that as a Cancer Rising, the moon is the ruler of my chart and they recommended I track the shifts in the moon regularly.
Today, I check what sign the moon is in every couple of days and often plan things around the waxing and waning and corresponding zodiac signs. For me this makes a lot of sense and is actually really fun. Lately I’ve realized that when the moon is in Scorpio, I need to be extra gentle on myself.
Let’s talk about the city. You live in Brooklyn, New York. Do you find it challenging to experience nature directly in such a densely populated urban environment? What are some ways that you stay close to a natural lifestyle in that setting?
It can definitely be challenging. When I was younger living in the East Village I had almost no connection to nature and only now do I realize the negative impact that had on me.
Today I’m very fortunate to live in walking distance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I get out for a walk in the park every day and try to pause for a minute or two in a quiet spot. I turn off any music or podcasts I’m listening to and really just feel my feet on the ground.
It’s almost too simple, but if I can tune into that connection of my feet on the ground, it really restores me. I also try to keep little bits of nature in our home with plenty of potted plants and opening the windows on nice days. And on the special occasion when I’m able to get out of the city, I try to stay at Airbnbs with yards or outdoor spaces.
Who is your “natural living” hero/heroine? Is there anyone in particular you were inspired by to prioritze natural living and self-care in your life?
Ooh there have been so many over the years! Alexandra Roxo’s devotion to rewilding our feminine spirits and living with the moon have been majorly influential in my personal practice.
How do you feel about the word “holistic”? What does it mean to you?
I go back and forth with it. A little like wellness and self-care, these words can get overused and lose their original spirit and intention. But at its root, I love it. It’s at the core of everything I do or try to do — healing in a holistic way. We are multidimensional, complex beings so we need to take our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual bodies into account to feel and see the progress we want.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thank you for including me on your website! It’s so important for witches and the witchy-curious to have resources that feel approachable and exciting and you’re doing that.
Check Leah Vanderveldt’s new book, (affiliate link —->) Magical Self-Care for Everyday Life