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Review: WitchEmoji by Pam Grossman

May, 2017

Hunt for Witches No More: WitchEmojis by Pam Grossman

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Witches now have their own charmed emoji to use with iMessenger, thanks to Pam Grossman, a Brooklyn-based writer and curator who focuses on witches, magic and esoteric art.

I created WitchEmoji because I couldn’t find any great witchy, magical emoji to use in my texts,” she states on the witchemoji.com website, adding, “Necessity (or obsessive desire in this case) is the mother of invention.”

Working with an emoji designer who created the icons based on her designs and direction, she then built the app herself. Costing $1.99, it launched early April 2017. The iMessage sticker pack is compatible with iPhones and iPads with iOS 10.1 or newer.

It became the number one sticker pack in the App Store in its first week, beating the likes of Star Wars and Kim Kardashian,” Grossman said. “It’s currently still in the top 20 and getting stellar reviews, which has been very heartening. Just goes to show how much the archetype of the witch is currently resonating with people of all ages.”

WitchEmoji’s 80 images include a besom, cauldron, Book of Shadows, pentacles in all colors, a chalice, a candle, an owl and a love potion along with witches of all hair and skin tones in a variety of situations from flying on a broom to honoring the full moon.

There are so many more emoji I’d like to add to the pack,” she said of her towering list. “It will just depend on what I can afford to develop, so hopefully the pack will keep selling well so I can invest in making more.”

Explicit directions on how to download and load the emoji can be found at https://www.witchemoji.com/.

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I’ve been a witch since I was very little – before I even knew to call myself one,” Grossman said. “Like lots of kids, I gravitated toward stories and artwork that deal with magical themes, and engaged in my own intuitive rituals and wild imaginings. Once I was a teenager, I began to read a lot and explore the path a bit more formally. But it was really discovering the surrealist artists and the writings of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell that opened things up for me, and made me realize that creativity is the surest path we have to the divine. My practice is very personal and syncretic, and draws as much on the art world as it does on spiritual systems.”

Last May her 36-page book “What Is A Witch,” was released. Illustrated by Canada’s occult sweethearts Tin Can Forest, and published by Tin Can Forest Press, it is described as “an illuminated incantation, a crystalline invocation, a lovingly-crafted celebration of the world’s most magical icon” and a “manifesto on witchcraft.”

Grossman’s blog, Phantasmaphile, can be found at Pamgrossman.com.

She is the associate editor of Abraxas International Journal of Esoteric Studies, co-organizer of the Occult Humanities Conference at New York University, and co-founder of the former Brooklyn arts and lecture space, Observatory, where her programming explored mysticism.

Grossman’s writing has appeared in “Sabat Sciences Occults,” “Huffington Post,” and MSN. Lectures include such topics as the occult in modern art and female magic in Western , and she also teaches classes on spellcraft, ritual and herbalism.

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

December, 2016

Sorghum Besom

Merry meet.

There’s something special about crafting your own magical tools. I just completed making a besom and it was simple enough you might want to try it.

I had been sweeping my floors with corn brooms for more than a decade before I heard the term broomcorn. Flipping those two words triggered a brainstorm. Corn. I could grow corn. I could make my own broom.

The first challenge was to find the seeds at a nursery. An employee consulted reference material to tell me the scientific name was sorghum bicolor.

On Beltane, I planted a row about nine feet long and after thinning the seedlings, I ended up with about 45 stalks, a few growing alone, most growing in clusters.

Being a dry summer, I watered often. At Lughnasadh, I picked one stalk, but let the rest continue to grow, harvesting them under the full moon just before Mabon. I tied them in bundles and hung them upside down to dry.

My intent was to make the besom while on a Mabon weekend retreat, but it ended up being Samhain night before I sat down to do it. By now, the stalks were extremely dry. Although the YouTube video I had watched called for combing off the seeds and soaking the broomcorn for several hours, I did neither.

Using a witch hazel walking stick I had purchased several years earlier as the handle, I pounded a small nail into the wood about eight inches from the bottom. To that, I anchored a thin hemp cord typically used in beading.

Selecting a variety of colors, I placed stalks around the stick, trimmed them to the same length and wrapped the cord around them as tightly as possible. A few inches lower, I secured them with more cord.

I then selected more stalks, trimmed them to about the same length, and using another length of cord, again secured to the nail, I wrapped it as tightly as possible around the second layer in two places.

My intent was to have three layers, but with the seeds left on them, it was heavy. Most people would probably comb off the seeds – storing some in a paper bag for next year’s crop and feeding the rest to the birds – leaving just the tassels for the broom.

I continued to wrap twine tightly around the stalks until the space between the two sections were connected. By this time, the cording had cut through skin on two fingers in my efforts to keep it taut, and I decided to stop.

Grasping the broomcorn several inches below where it was wrapped to add another band of cord turned out not to have the desired effect of keeping the tassels more upright when the besom is stored with the handle down, which is the way I typically keep them. Other options are being explored, include covering the cord with leather, and adding embellishments such as gemstones and the phases of the moon.

Meanwhile, the besom was offered to the energies of Samhain, passed through smoke, sprinkled with salt water and held up to the next full moon while awaiting use as a tool in its first ritual.

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1Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Witchcrafting: Crafts for Witches

February, 2015

Get Swept Away
Merry meet!
Besom

Besoms – along with black pointy hats and cauldrons – are the three symbols most associated with witches. That was part of the reason my coven decided to have some fun with them. One full moon we adorned black hats. On another, we decorated brooms.

The idea was to personalize it while incorporating all our energies. We each began with a standard broom, a crystal, and ribbons and beads for the directions, the God and Goddess. We then exchanged offerings. I gave everyone shells and a skeleton key. Each woman chose how to incorporate the items into her broom, so no two were alike, yet each had all the same components.

We used our besoms in ritual, to cleanse a space and to define our circle. Other items were added along the way. After a while, we stopped lugging them to ritual. They were retired after there had been a significant turnover in the coven and together we each decorated a smaller broom, transferring some of the unique items.

It wasn’t long before we also stopped carrying those new, smaller brooms to ritual, and again, there has been significant turnover in the coven, but, as of yet, no talk of brooms.

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If this has inspired you, let me point out one thing to keep in mind. Generally, I had stored besoms with the handle down and the bristles up. But decorations – such as ribbons – seem to naturally hang down to be in place when the besom is held and used to sweep. Storing it upside down then seems to go against the flow of the decorations, so I’ve hung mine off the floor. If you find a way to bring harmony to this predicament, please do post to the comment section!

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Moon Owl Observations

March, 2013

The Besom

            The besom is a traditionally constructed broom. They are an item some people choose to keep around for various reasons. Of course, the meaning has changed significantly over time.  Unlike a regular broom, a besom should have a rounded brush instead of flat. This is because the straw should be wrapped around the pole. You can buy them in a store, but they are relatively simple to make on your own.

 

They are best made with an ash staff, birch twigs for the brush and bound with willow. This option give you the best protection, healing and love. Straw is another common item for the brush. The three items are symbolic of the triple aspect of the Goddess. Ash represents one’s ability to work with the four elements. Birch draws spirit to one’s service, and the willow is connected to the dark Goddess’ energy. In some lore the besom would contain 6 different woods- willow, broom, hawthorn, birch, hazel and rowan.

 

I was once believed that if the witches went to sabbat and left their besoms behind, the besoms would fly to the sabbat on their own to be with the witches. Broom ends were thought to have their own life force and were capable of warding bad weather away from crops. Because of their uses, medieval witches were sometimes referred to as “broom amazons”

 

Midwives of ancient Rome used special brooms to sweep the threshold of the house after childbirth. This was to cut the ties between the world of the living and the realm of the dead. It was believed that the child had entered from the world of the dead and the pathway should not be made easy for a quick return. Since around 1336 B.C, Egyptian priests swept the ritual area then sprinkled it with blessed water. This ancient tradition is in a way still used since in modern practice, a large besom is used for cleaning the area before a circle is cast. Sometimes a besom is lain across the edge of the circle to serve as temporary closure.

 

Crossing brooms at quarters, and then symbolically uncrossing them, had been used to allow quarter energies into the cast circle area, while nailing crossed brooms to your front door or wall is said to guard the house and disperse negative energy.

Brooms are used to banish unwanted energies, send the dead back to slumber land and work weather magic. Besoms were used for Pagan weddings as couples would “jump the besom” to symbolize their union. This is literally jumped during a hand fasting to signify the leap from one “life” to the next.

Besoms might not have as much meaning now as they used to, but I think that they are still important in casting a circle as it is always better to have a cleansed area then not.

Thrifting the Witchy Way

October, 2011

Welcome to the Samnhain edition of Thrifting the Witchy Way!

The fabulous Jenn ( round of applause for the hard working staff here- they deserve it and more!) has promised me that the pictures from our last installment should be up this time around so please take a look at that so that you don’t think I’ve been doing imaginary projects!

So for my first Samhain (or for those of you out there who go a bit more secular- Halloween) edition of Thrifting the Witchy Way I thought I would keep it light and bring you one of my favorite crafts –Miniature Witchy Brooms!

Now this project is a ton of fun for witchlets of all ages (This time of year certainly makes me feel like a kid again!) and is absolutely fantastic for hostess gifts, party favors, kids craft time, or just to decorate your own witchy pad!

So here’s what you will need:
A. Wooden dowels (1/4inch thick, about 12 inches long- you can get them in a package at your craft store)
B. 3yrds of ribbon (This is where your hunters eyes at the thrift store can score you large bags of ribbon for a couple dollars, or keeping a keen eye on the sales at craft stores like Micheals or JoAnn’s can get you some awesome deals on designer ribbon)
C.  A package of pre-dried corn husks (I use the ones that you get from the grocery store for making tamales usually about a dollar for a large bag)
D. A bowl of water  large enough to soak the corn husks in ( I sometimes also soak the husks in a nice tea blend or, especially if I am having an attack of autumn, I throw a couple of packets of apple cider mix in so that the husks soak up the scent and get a subtle aroma)
E.  A drying rack (I use a cookie sheet with paper towels on it)
F. Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Now here’s how you do it:
Step 1:

Soak the corn husks in the bowl of water until they are soft and pliable.
Step 2:

Take one of the corn husks and tear it into thin strips (you will need 2 husks per broom, more if you want it really full)


Step 3:

Start wrapping the corn husks around one of the dowels with the thin end lined up to the end of the dowel, leaving the wide end laying along the length of the dowel.


Step 4:

Using one of the thin strips of husk; tie the strip around the thin ends about 1/4 of an inch from the end of the dowel.


Step 5:

Push the dowel down until about another 1/4 inch is showing below the husks.


Step 6:

Now begin to fold the husks down over the tie, until the other end of the dowel is now clear of husk and the end that you just pulled down in Step 5 is now hidden in the husks. This is a good time to tear the husks so that they seem fuller and more broom like.


Step 7:

You’ll use your other thin strip and you will tie the strip around the husks about 1/2-1 inch below where they meet the dowel. This will really make it look like a broom.

Step 8:

Let them dry. I suggest over night, sometimes longer if you have a particularly thick set of husks.


Step 9:

Usually, as soon as they are dry, use a hot glue gun to glue the upper (folded over) part of the broom to the dowel ensuring that it won’t move around.

Step 10:

Decorate! I use ribbon to wrap around the dowel and the “broom tie” so that mine end up looking like this:

This one I used 2 different colors on (orange and purple) in the Halloween spirit. Or they can look like this:

This one I used a patterned ribbon on and it looks a bit more country witchy.
If I’m going to use this as a gift or a decoration I also like to add a little folded envelope(you can find a great tutorial on the one I use here) and stuff the little pockets with protective symbols or small stones, or anything that sets my purpose. I then punch holes in the top and string a ribbon through it and hang them from the brooms.
These can be just simple decorations, or you can charge them with intent and hang them as charms, or you can even use them as home made altar besoms for those of us who have limited ritual space. Also herbs or potpourri can be put into the envelope or can be hung from inside the “bristles”.

Painting or drawing on the bristles is also a great way to customize them.

It’s one of those multi-purpose crafts that I, and my pocket book, love!

And keep your crystal balls tuned in for our next installment of Thrifting the Witchy way as I’ll show you one way to make your very own Thrifting Journal for all those prowls through the thrift shops.

So see you next time- same witchy time, same witchy channel!

HearthBeats: Crafts from a Kitchen Witch

October, 2010

Hey Guys and Gals.. I am sending out some crafts and ideas… Thought it might be interesting for Samhain

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Besom

You will need: 4ft dowel- 1″ in diameter or a tree branch of the same approximate size, ball of twine, scissors, straw, thin willow twigs, broom corn or pliable herb stock.

Take the straw or other herb stalk that you have chosen and soak overnight in luke warm salted water. The water swells the stalk slightly for bending without breakage, and the salt dispels former energies. When ready, remove stalks from the water and dry for just a bit. Not too much or the stalk will stiffen up, again.

Place the dowel on a table where you have room to work. Start lining the stalks along the dowel , about 3 inches from the bottom, moving backwards. Begin binding the stalks to the dowel with the twine. Tie very securely.

You may add as many layers as you like, depending on how full you want the Besom to be. When stalks are secure, gently bend the top stalks down over the binding. When all have been bent over, secure the stalks again with more twine a couple of inches under the first binding.

Allow to air dry for a day or two. The dowel can then be stained, painted, or carved into to make personal. Remember to concentrate and charge at the next full moon.

Pendulum

Items needed:

  • An oblong bead
  • A pendant
  • Approx. 9″ chain (a broken necklace will work great)
  • Needlenose pliers
  • One pin head wire (found in bead stores)
  • Clippers (I use toenail clippers!)
  • Two small beads

Instructions:

  1. Thread the beads onto the pin head wire in this order: small bead, oblong bead, small bead.
  2. With the clippers, clip off remaining wire, leaving approx. 3/4″ remaining.
  3. Using the needle nose pliers, bend the wire holding the beads into a ring and clamp.
  4. Open a link on one end of your chain, and thread through the loop you just made. Clamp shut using the pliers.
  5. Open the link on the opposite end of your chain, loop through the pendant. Clamp shut.

To use the Pendulum, hold the pendant in your hand loosely, elbow on the table, letting the pendulum swing free. Still the movements of the pendulum with your other hand. Ask the pendulum to show you “yes” – the pendulum should start to move in a pattern, usually in a circle or back or forth. If you can’t really tell, ask the pendulum to be more precise. Once a pattern is established, this is the Pendulum’s “yes.” Now, ask the pendulum to show you “no.” Keep your pendulum in a safe place, and it will treat you well!

Here are some activities to try out with your family:

Together as a family, create an altar honoring your family’s beloved
dead(including pets). Use photos, mementos, keepsakes or anything that
seems right.

Make candleholders out of apples, turnips, gourds and small pumpkins
by hollowing out deep holes in the tops. Make sure the candles are
well-secured in the bases.

Eat dinner by candlelight, setting a place at the table for your
beloved dead. If your children are older, try having a Silent Supper where
the meal is eaten in silence so the spirits are not frightened away.

Plant flower bulbs in your yard or somewhere special. Think of this
as a promise for spring, a secret the earth will keep for you in the cold. Infuse it with all your thoughts of spring and warmth.

Take a walk and observe animals (like squirrels and geese) prepare
for winter. At home, prepare for winter in your own way.

Try making skull-shaped popcorn balls.

Why should kids have all the fun? The whole family should make
costumes and go trick-or-treating!

Enjoy your Blessed Samhain

Blessed Home and Hearth

The Hearthkeeper

PS. If there is anything you would like to see here.. Please email me at  thehearthkeeper@gmail.com