gardening

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

July, 2018

July 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I write this on the Summer Solstice, and Summer Seems to have hit early, with record breaking highs for the month of May here in my hometown, and all the sudden this week, the rain has cooled things to the high 70’s and low 80’s temperature-wise.

I am sure you know that the plants are loving it!

June and July are not only amazing months for us gardeners, but June, itself is LGBT Pride month. We had the Stonewall Columbus (Ohio) Pride Parade in downtown this past weekend, and for the first year in nine years, I had zero involvement. My guys also did not march, as the gentleman I passed it onto had to work.

Last year’s parade got National coverage as a group protested WITHIN the parade, halting the line, and being arrested on the spot. It resulted in anger from the people arrested, and the resignation of about a dozen Parade organizers.

It divided the community, and resulted in a lot of fights. Some believe the protesters were treated unfairly, others believe the protesters were out of line, and got what they deserved.

To my knowledge, however, there were no similar incidents at this year’s Pride.

The gay rights movement has been a lot of things over the decades, and quiet is not one of them. Many believe that to make an impact, you have to make a strong statement.

To A More Perfect Union

While I was unable to secure the interview I normally do when I preview a current film, I decided to go ahead and review this one anyways because it is such a crucial work focusing not only on the battle for gay civil rights, but traces the steps taken in a major victory in the legal system.

Here is their website, including a trailer you may watch.

https://perfectunionfilm.com/#home

To a More Perfect Union”, directed by Donna Zaccaro is a mesmerizing documentary that follows the life and love of Edith Windsor, who met partner, and later, wife, Thea in 1963. They became engaged in 1967, and could not legally marry until they 2007, and had to go to Canada to do so.

The film chronicles the gay civil rights movement in the US starting in the 1950’s up to modern times, including the famous 1969 police raid of Stonewall Inn in NYC. They fought back. Demonstrations lasted for five days, and Pride parades were started soon after.

Excerpts from the 1967 CBS special, “The Homosexuals” was shared on the film, and if is shown that in 1965, close to 3,000 homosexuals were arrested for being who they were, and homosexuality was classed as a mental illness, as well as a crime.

Fast forward to the 1980’s when AIDS first hit. Celebrities like Rock Hudson became spokespersons, and the community organized to demand research to learn to prevent, and cure AIDS.

Clinton’s famous Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was passed in 1992.

In 1996, a bill to “protect marriage” or the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) , ensuring marriage was between one man and one woman was passed.

Sadly, Thea died, and widow Edie was forced to pay an estate tax to keep the property she and Thea owned together- since the United States did not recognize their marriage as legally legitimate.

She sued the government. She won.

In 2011, Obama stated DOMA was unconstitutional. One by one, more lawmakers started speaking against it, individual judges struck it down, and even Bill Clinton, who was in office when it was passed, said it was time to undo it.

Decades of work by LGBT activists and lawmakers were able to undo it in 2015, and the Supreme Court proclaimed “same sex couples may exercise their fundamental right to marry in all states. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

Edie Windsor crossed the veil September 12, 2017, but she lived to see all the hard work pay off. This extraordinary woman, who lived an extraordinary life, and helped create beautiful changes in this world, will always be remembered and celebrated.

The work is far from over today. We have a President who is anti a lot of things, anti-gay being one of them. His team has already removed the White House LGBT page. Not only has vice President Mike Pence tried multiple times to pass legislation against gay marriage, but tried to make those seeking same sex marriage licenses be charged with a crime. He further tried to take funding from AIDS research and put it into funding conversion therapy.

The fight is not, and it may never be over.

If you want to watch this amazing documentary, nab tissues, and be prepared to be enlightened. I look forward to more films from this team.

Back to the Garden

July is going to bring much harvest of our herbs and hopefully, tomatoes. As I have worked to cultivate the patio garden, shifting from emphasis on the front where we get more sun, I have discovered tomatoes just don’t thrive as there is lower light than they need. Every year, I learn more. Last year, for example, I learned that you have to fertilize hardcore EVERY year, because if you grow a LOT of cucumbers and tomatoes one year, and fertilize afterwards just a little? You don’t get many plants the next year.

I have also learned that my back likes me better if I plant more on the patio and less out front, as it is a lot less work.

That is the mundane.

I also decided to learn a bit of plant protection and about non-chemical ways to protect plants. These are tips you can use for the suggested magical working for this month.

Magical Plant Protection

This year, a couple roses were simply decimated by some insect or another, and poison ivy enveloped a bush. I resorted to chemicals to kill the poison ivy and insects, and this means I cannot use the roses this year to cook with or make tea.

I had used the dish soap remedy for quite some time, and it just wasn’t getting it. I had to pull nearly every single leaf off the rosebush, and the poor rose looks like the insects won this time.

So, I wanted to see what people in days of yore did back before chemicals.

Many magical people use charms and blessings, and while people from centuries ago did all of that, they also understood that was not quite enough! One good predatory attack, and your crops were gone. An entire family or village could starve due to this!

Some non-chemical things they used, which we can too, included :

  1. Scarecrows- They help drive away birds that would munch the crops, but just putting one in the ground would not do. Scarecrows had to be treated properly or they would not work. They required clothing, as well as a nice hat to keep them cool in the sun. It was unacceptable for somebody to wear the scarecrow’s clothes, or very bad things would happen to the wearer! If you did not clothe your scarecrow properly, your crops would not grow!

  2. ificial owls- These help deter critters who are fearful an owl will eat them.

  3. Shiny things to reflect the sun- These spook birds, and help send them away. Gazing balls are a good example, which are also supposed to drive evil away.

  4. Evil Eye amulets- Like gazing balls, there are amulets and other trinkets used to keep the evil eye away. Some believe envy from somebody who has the power of evil eye will make everything in your garden die. Another way to avert this is to share plants and your harvest with neighbors.

  5. Dogs- Not just for protecting sheep, man’s best friend will chase away birds and other critters who would munch your plants.

  6. Lady bugs- They eat some of the bad pests, helping keep plants healthy.

  7. Chickens- They love worms, caterpillars, maggots, and etc. A friend told me you don’t just want to let your chickens loose in the plants, as they peck, dig, and pull up roots. However, their very presence on the property helps cut down your pest population in general. And you get their eggs!!!!!

  8. Plant things that deter pests- Some plants that help include nasturtiums, marigolds, mint, lavender, citronella, wormwood, borage, and mums.

  9. Some natural pesticides include- Salt on slugs and snails, soapy water on June bugs, and diatomaceous earth. I also hand pick grubs out, and smash them, and do the same with june bugs.

  10. Have garden gnomes- They bring good luck to gardens. Feed your garden gnomes, and put a saucer of milk out for them daily, or you will have some bad luck. They will aid in security of the home and garden, as well as help do some chores , and make sure the plants grow. If you don’t do this, they will move things around where you cannot find them, and your garden will not grow.

Plant Lore and Practical Magic

Then there is a bit of plant lore that can be kept in mind for further success in plants!

  1. Never pick foxglove blooms. It upsets the fairies.

  2. Ask a plant for it’s permission before you transplant it, or it will die.

  3. Some believe plants will not thrive unless stolen! So, people gifting plants put them down and walk away so the recipient may “steal” them!

  4. It is considered bad luck to thank people for plants as well.

  5. Roses promise love and romance. No wonder people give their sweethearts roses! Give those roses to people you pledge love to, but they are not allowed to thank you!

  6. Rusty nails or iron objects in the garden when seeds are planted help them grow.

  7. Many have their gardens planted with beneficial herbs for healing as well as cooking. Different plants have different meanings. A quick google search will turn up multiple pages sharing plant lore. I find I always like to have mint, for example, and I don’t ever want to be without it. I love it for the smell and flavor, but it is also reputed to keep mice and flies away. It helps with upset stomach, and helps wake you up. It also dries well, and produces so much, and I love sharing it.

  8. Companion planting- This cannot be stressed enough. Plant things together that help one another grow. Perhaps most famous is the three sisters garden of corn , beans, and squash. The cornstalks provide structure for the beans to grow up. The beans put necessary nitrogen in the soil, benefiting all three plants. The squashes big leaves shade the soil, keeping it cool, and help prevent weeds.

  9. Make sure you out the right plant in the right spot. The soil has to be correct, the amount of sun it gets has to be correct, and most of all, you have to make sure you are capable of taking care of said plant. This is very mundane, but 100% necessary.

  10. Love your plants. It has been proven in many studies that plants that are showered with love produce better. This has been shown in studies where people fussed at plants, saying ugly things to them, and others, said supportive, loving things to different plants. The plants spoken lovingly to thrived, and the others died.

May your July be blessed. May your plants grow well, and may you enjoy the long days, warm weather, and the love of those around you, just as you are.

Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

July, 2018

 

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

 

I have come again to sit in the closet with you and share in our circle of thoughts, ideas, knowledge, & secrets in solidarity. I am very excited to be here again with you! This time in my Carpet Bag I’ve brought none other than a seasonal favorite for us all, Flowers!! What could be more beautiful, witchy, yet mundane then those? Everyone can use them, and we sure as heck need them!

Many beautiful plants bloom through spring and summer into fall. If you are not a gardener and did not plant your own, that is fine, there are many home improvement shops with bright blooming flowers and local nurseries, as well. You can easily move these flowers into your own pots to make them even more lovely.

Before we delve deeper into the meanings of plants let’s go into the way we can display these beauties. These are normal, everyday displays that do not bring attention to the witch.

 

Flower Window Boxes & Planters

(Photo by Anastasiia Tarasova on Unsplash)

 

Now a Flower Window Box or Planters can be anything from a small box on your balcony filled with fragrant herbs to a potted plant on your window sill blooming with something bright and fragrant. Remember it is the room you have. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. It just has to be right for you!

 

(Photo by ur Aleksanian on Unsplash)

 

If you have a small garden outside you can put your Plants & Herbs in movable Planters and Pots to keep them safe from weather, making them easier to move about. Then, you can, also, move your scents about.

 

Along a Fragrant Path

(Photo by Felicia D’Ascanio on Unsplash)

 

If you have a pathway around your house, maybe leading to your backyard, or from your driveway, placing flowers along each side makes a fragrant walkway.

 

Bowers & Hedges

 

(Pink Rose Bower)

 

Now if you like a bit more drama You can go for something like this, a Bower. They are quite stunning. They don’t scream witch either, just gardener. A nice fragrant hedge adds to the party, too.

 

The Magick of Plants

Now let’s get into the magick of some plants. This is where our fun begins. While everyone is admiring your beautiful garden you are thinking inside what all those uses are for those beauties.

 

Some of the More Fragrant Flower I Have Found to Have Around Are:

 

Sweet Pea: It attracts friends & Allies. It draws the loyalty & affections of others to you.

 

 

Heliotrope: Brings cheerfulness, gaiety, prosperity, & protection. Use in rituals of Drawing Down the Sun or in magickal workings requiring strengthening of the solar aspects of the self. Place under your pillow to induce prophetic dreams. It is said that if you sleep with fresh heliotrope under your pillow, you will dream of the person that has been stolen from your home. Other Names for Heliotrope: Turnsole & Cherry Pie

 

 


Tulip: Because of the many colors and parts of Tulips, they can be used in many parts of magick. Here is a good link to some information Tulip Magic Legend and Folklore at Thought Co.

 

Geranium: For overcoming negative thoughts & attitudes, lifting spirits, promoting protection & happiness. Repels insects. Balances mind and body.

 


Hyacinth: It promotes peace of mind and peaceful sleep. Also, attracts love, luck, & good fortune. Named for Hiakinthos, Greek God of homosexual love, this is the patron herb for gay men. Guards against nightmares when used as an oil, burned as incense, or included in dream pillows. Carry in amulet or sachet to ease grief or the pain of childbirth.

 


Freesia: Used in spells for love, peace, lust, pheromones, harmony, comfort.

 


Datura: Datura is also known as jimsonweed and you can find some incredible information on Tess Whitehurst’s Site Live Your Magic.

 


Lavender: It’s magickal uses include love, protection, healing, sleep, purification, and peace. It promotes healing from depression. Great in sleep pillows and bath spells. Believed to preserve chastity when mixed with rosemary. Burn the flowers to induce sleep and rest, then scatter the ashes around the home to bring peace and harmony. Use in love spells and sachets, especially those to attract men. Also known as, Spke, Nardus, Elf Leaf, & Nard.

 

Rose: Magickal uses include divine love, close friendships, domestic peace/happiness, and lasting relationships. Great for use in incense, potpourri or bath magick. Place around sprains and dark bruises to help them heal faster.

 

Narcissus: Calms vibrations and promotes harmony, tranquility, and peace of mind. Also known as, Asphodel, Daffy Down Lily, Fleur de Coucou, Goose Leek, Lent Lily, & Porillon.

 


Violet: It calms the nerves, draws prophetic dreams and visions, stimulates creativity, and promotes peace & tranquility. Violet leaf provides protection from all evil. Violet crowns are said to cure headaches and bring sleep. Carry or give to newly married couples or new baby & mother to bring luck to the bearer. Keep a spray of violets on the altar to enhance night magick. Wear the leaves in a green sachet to help heal wounds and prevent evil spirits from making the wounds worse. Also called: Sweet Violet, Blue Violet, & Wild Violet.

 

Lily of the Valley: Is soothing, calming, draws peace and tranquility, and repels negativity. Assists in empowering happiness and mental powers. Use in magickal workings to stop harassment. Married couples should plant Lily of the Valley in their first garden to promote longevity of the marriage. Note: Poisonous, use with caution. Also know as, Jacob’s Ladder, Male Lily, Our Lady’s Tears, Ladder-to-Heaven, May Lily, Constancy.

 

Wisteria: It raises vibrations, promotes psychic opening, overcomes obstacles, and draws prosperity.

 

Lilac: Wisdom, memory, good luck and spiritual aid. Also called: Common Lilac.

 

Peony: For protection from hexes and jinxes. Good luck, good fortune, prosperity, and business success. Hang in the home or car for protection. Used to attract faeries. Use in rituals to cure or reduce lunacy. Warning: While the flowers & petals have the positive qualities listed, the seed is called ‘Jumby Bean’ and is known for promoting dissension and strife.

 

 

Honeysuckle: It draws money, success, and quick abundance; Aids persuasiveness and confidence, sharpens intuition. Ring green candles with honeysuckle flowers or use honeysuckle in charms & sachets to attract money. Crush the flowers and rub into the forehead to enhance psychic powers. Also Called: Woodbine, Jin Yin Hua, Dutch Honeysuckle, Goat’s Leaf.

 

Jasmine: It’s uses include snakebite and divination; good for charging quartz crystals. Use in sachets and spells to draw spiritual love and attract a soul mate. Carry or burn the flowers to draw wealth and money. Use in dream pillows to induce sleep or burn in the bedroom to bring prophetic dreams. Helps to promote new, innovative ideas. Also Called: Pikake, Ysmyn, Jessamin, Moonlight on the Grove

 

Now remember, these are just a few!! There are so many flowers out there with magickal uses, those without scents, like ferns for instance!!! They are good for mental clarity, cleansing, purification, and dispelling negativity. Keep them in your room where studying is done to help concentration. Burn a sprig of fern before an exam. Use in sachets and amulets for powerful auric protection. Now did you know that???

 

Creating Your Own Flowers

There are ways to bring flowers into the home for those of us allergic to flowers, without green thumbs, or who just like to craft. If you are not allergic and are just like to create or lack a green thumb you can add essential oils to the following creations.

I have found many crafty ways on the net to create flowers and I am happy to share the following with you:

 

How to Make Lavender Flowers from Crepe Paper

 

Simple Realistic Hydrangea

 

How to Make Crepe Paper Rose

 

There are so many more tutorials on YouTube for different types & sizes of flowers made from a variety of different materials. You can really have some run.

 

How to Incorporate Flowers Into Your Craft

This is the easy part. Flowers can be brought into your craft in many simple ways that will not bring attention to the witch. You can simply wear one in your hair. I’m not even talking about the headband crowns that are popular these days, but a single one behind the ear is fine. Say, a simple violet to calm the nerves.

 

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

 

There is nothing wrong with a vase of fresh cut flowers or even planted flowers around the home.

How about a nice bowl of floral pot potpourri?

Sachets for your drawers & closets?

There are garden/seed growing kits in stores made for specific reasons. This one gives you all you need to grow yourself lavender and then turn it into a facial scrub! How relaxing is that for a nice Witch Spa Day!

 

All of these can be mixed into mojo bags and witchy doings. It’s all in the eye of the Magick Maker.

 

Until Next Time…

I bid you farewell for now in this aromatic jungle of ideas.

Stay Witchie, even if it’s just between you and me -xoxo

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is simply a Witch. She runs PaganPagesOrg eMag.  She loves hearing your opinions & thoughts on the eMagazine and welcomes comments. You can email her at jenniferwright at paganpages dot org.  When she is not working on PaganPagesOrg she is creating in some other way & trying to make the world a better place with her family.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2018

June 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I had a delightful conversation today with a neighbor.

This neighbor is one of my buddies. You can find us out front, giggling, gabbing, venting, chatting with other neighbors, and going gaga for the neighborhood dogs together.

We became unexpected teammates in gardening four years ago. I had ran out of gardening space on my back patio, and had planted everything I could in my front space, so I begged neighbors at my building to allow me to plant things in their spaces. He was the last one I asked, and he turned out to be the most enthusiastic.

My husband and I had planned to have our condo sold, and be gone from here by now, so last year, I told everybody I would not be doing more gardening. Well…we are still here…and although I decided to only garden on the patio, guess what? I ran out of space out back again! In the front, an unexpected, and unwanted invader showed up.

A TON of poison ivy!

I have been fighting a losing battle with it for years now, and I enlisted the help of the condo manager to help tame it.

One year, they sent somebody who “could not find it” until I made an appointment to have him come when I was home, so I could show him where it was.

Sigh.

Last year, there were small patches of it I controlled by pouring boiling water on it…or so I thought…

This year, it came back for revenge, and has spread into my mint and lavender. I planted both of these in 2006, and it appears I may have to give them up to kill the poison ivy.

I’m not entirely certain I’m ready to sacrifice my sixteen-year-old herbs, but I am less certain if I have a choice or not.

So, after my neighbor buddy lamented to me something that is bugging him, I lamented about the poison ivy.

He just so happens to have some poison ivy killer, and Sunday, we are going to murder it together.

The growing season is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but things like poison ivy make me cringe, and when I am bitching about the cold of winter, and missing my plants, I can at least be thankful I won’t have to worry about being covered in the awful itch and bumps of my least favorite plant.

Up until a few years ago, I LIVED for Summertime, and could not understand people who needed cold.

Now, poison ivy, asthma, and age induced heat intolerance has me understanding how so many have issues with my favorite season.

I am learning there is more to life than the good and the bad of Summer, although there was a time that is all I lived for.

While some of us see the seasons as being broken up into two, one being Winter beginning at Samhain, the other Summer beginning at Beltaine, these days, most people feel there are four seasons, and Mid-June brings us to the Summer Solstice.

What is the Solstice Anyways?

Most simply stated, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day when there is the most amount of sunlight. It is marked by revelry (of course!) bonfires to represent the sun, and ritual in many faith traditions. I had not realized this, but Summer Solstice is observed in over 30 countries, some of which are actually in the Middle East, and members of both Xtian and non Xtian faiths celebrate it in various ways. Of course, as with most Xtian celebrations, it originated in Pagan times.

One thing many of us have known for a very long time is a site where we find evidence of Pagan Midsummer celebrations is Stonehenge.

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge has intrigued us since forever. Sitting on Salisbury Plain, it cuts a dramatic figure with it’s huge stones, and the fact many are missing lends an air of mystery, as well as stirs the imagination.

From tales of human sacrifice, to devil worship, today’s folk like to say all sorts of far fetched things about this stone circle.

The fact there are no written records left by the people who both built and used it add to the mystery, and there are too many “experts” throwing theories around they can never prove. Instead of sharing mounds of these theories, I will share what is known through evidence.

It was developed through four stages of construction. I find it interesting that when I was a kid, they were saying it was THREE stages, and now, they are saying it’s four. So CURRENTLY, it is accepted there were four stages of development.

The first stage took place around 3100 BC, and it included the famous Aubrey Holes, which some claim can be used to calculate lunar events, cremations, a ditch, and an earthwork and bank. It was then abandoned for about 1,000 years. Nobody knows why.

The second stage was around 2100 BC, and the very heavy bluestones were hauled from mountains 240 miles away, some of which weighed four tons. This was all supposedly done via waterways, and then dragging the stones by log rollers on land. An incomplete double circle was formed, and an avenue was constructed, which lines up with the Midsummer Sunrise. This is evidence that over 4,000 years ago, Midsummer was observed at Stonehenge.

The third stage around 2,000 BC, less than 200 years later, they hauled what are called the Sarasen stones from about 25 miles away. The heaviest of these is estimated to weigh about 50 tons. They made another ring of stones, laid the stones atop, which we call lintels, and formed a horseshoe ring of stones we can still see today.

The final stage took place around 1500 BC, and included rearranging he bluestones.

There has been generations of researchers, and no matter what the discover by this or that fond onsite, we can only piece together so much because no written record was left by the people who built it. We know when what was put where, and where it came from. We know it was all very sacred. We have no idea exactly what was done.

It is pointed out that both solar and lunar events can be marked by where moon and sun rises when, and the Aubrey Holes, as was previously mentioned supposedly work by moving a stone from hole to hole every day to keep track of lunar events. The sun and moon, marking seasons was significant to the builders, and due to the fact cremains and animals teeth have been found buried on site, it is believed the teeth were used as sacrifice to gods, and the site was a sacred burial grounds.

We are never going to have the whole story.

Fortunately, Pagans have our spiritual selves to let us know sites like Stonehenge are sacred. Today’s Pagans have been hosting Midsummer Sunrise celebrations for many years. Last years was well documented by video, which I will share here. This is a 40 plus minute video, and in it, you can see the Druids doing their ritual and talk.

 

 

 

The Solstice

The Solstice worldwide is about celebrating life, gathering with people, enjoying a festival, and doing ritual purification.

In Denmark, they have bonfires to drive away bad spirits, and there was a time when people visited healing wells, which has fallen out of practice.

In Finland, of great importance is the midnight sun, or the 24 hour daylight they have at that time of year. They also have their bonfires, and erect summer Maypoles, and fertility is the focus, as opposed to at Beltaine time.

In Iran, ancient celebrations are observed. They light bonfires, of course, and thank their god for crops, and pray for peace for the souls of the dead.

Neo-Pagans, of course are just as varied as other peoples, and space allowing, there are bonfires, and rituals thanking and honoring the sun, and celebrating its strength, and power over darkness.

A modern story some Wiccans embrace tells of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King rules over winter, and the Oak King rules over summer. At the Solstices, they battle. Summer Solstice, the Oak King, the youthful, physically powerful king overthrows the Holly King, who has become old and weak.

Many of the Pagans in town near me like to attend sunrise gatherings, some of which are by a local lake, and done non-religiously, and others like to walk a local labyrinth.

Some of us (me included) don’t want to wake up that early, and we don’t feel ashamed for that…

A bonfire come night time is something a lot of people, even if they are not Pagan love to have for cookouts and barbecues this time of year. It’s just a great time for everybody to gather, and celebrate being alive outdoors when the garden is growing well.

I’m not sure what your space allows, but this Summer Solstice working I will suggest is both simple, and versatile enough, anybody can do it.

 

Saoirse’s 2018 Summer Solstice Fire Working

Fire represents both destruction and purification. We all have things in our life we want to both get rid of, and to also have blessed. On the mundane level in my own life, my garden needs purged of the poison ivy, and my garden soil and all her plants aside from the green terror needs blessed to help it succeed. Some are in need of healing, emotional support, a new home or job, or even just inspiration. Rather than have a structured circle with many words said, I have a simple idea you might love.

Do this alone or with loved ones. Do it day or night, whichever is best for you. Have a big fire, or a small one. Do it indoors or outdoors. It’s all up to you.

Think of all the things you want blessings for, and all the things you would like to purge.

Either write it all down, on a one piece of paper per item, being as specific as possible, or select an easily burned item that represents all of these things.

Also select a sacrificial offering to the gods, whichever ones you venerate, or the powerful sun itself. This also should be burnable.

Instead of making a fire and then tossing it all in to burn everything, build your pile of burnable things, praying over these things, and either speaking them aloud or in your heart as you build the fire pile. If you have other people doing this with you, have each person take turns, and build your fire pile together. Last of all, give the sacrificial offering, and light the fire.

One concept of spellwork many embrace is letting the intention go once the working is complete, having faith the blessings of the gods will make it happen.

Spend time around the fire, and keep adding wood and other burnables for as long as you like. Feast, revel, and enjoy fellowship, or the peace of solitude.

Blessed Solstice. Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

Notes from the Apothecary

March, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Dill

Feathery and fragrant, the herb dill is so much more than just a flavouring for fish dishes or pickles. This magical herb has been used for centuries as a medicine, and as a potent tool for magical practitioners. From a muscle toner for Greek athletes, to a medicine for treating boils, this versatile herb is truly fascinating.

The Kitchen Garden

You can find dill growing wild, so if you manage to harvest a few seeds, or purchase some from your local supplier, you could cultivate a little patch of dill yourself. It likes loose soil with good drainage, and you can plant the seeds directly where you want the herb to grow, ideally in a sunny spot. It’s an annual or biennial, which means that at most each plant lasts two years, or two growing seasons. However, it self-seeds, which means that you should get plenty of fresh seedlings the following spring.

The delightful, tiny yellow flowers are a real draw for bees, butterflies and other essential pollinators, so planting dill will definitely increase the number of visitors to your garden. Conversely, dill helps repel aphids and other pests, making it a great companion plant to cabbages, lettuce and many other food crops.

If you don’t have a garden, or quite frankly, the time and energy to grow herbs, dill is widely available at grocery stores as well as herbal retailers.

For culinary purposes, it’s normally the leaves that we’re talking about. Small amounts of leaves can be cut from each plant, so that you don’t kill the plant by harvesting. If you have more leaves than you need to use immediately, put some in a sandwich bag and pop them in the freezer. Don’t forget to label them!

Dill leaves can be added to salads, cheese (such as cottage cheese), soups and other foods as a garnish and to add flavour. Leaves or seeds can be added to a bottle of vinegar to create a unique, flavoured condiment.

The seeds are also used, primarily for flavouring the liquid that pickles are soaked in. Hence the term ‘dill pickles’.

These are but a very few of the culinary uses of dill. It is used all over the world in dishes from curry to crayfish. Because of this, it is relatively cheap, and very easy to get hold of.

The Apothecary

Charlemagne had dill tea made available for his guests who dined with him, to aid their digestion and prevent hiccups. It has been used as a ‘gripe water’ for infants, helping relieve colic and gas, but obviously don’t feed herbal remedies to children without consulting a pediatrician first.

It is normally the seed of dill that is used medicinally, as it has high amounts of the oil anethol, or anethole, also found in anise and caraway. Mrs Grieves recommended it as a stimulant and for easing stomach issues, flatulence and simply as an aromatic.

Modern research has found that the active oil has antimicrobial properties, which are effective against some bacteria, fungi and yeast. It’s even been found to be effective against salmonella in some instances.

It can also be used as an insecticide, which probably explains why it’s effective at repelling certain unwanted critters in our gardens.

Wash your hands after handling dill and don’t use the oil in massage. It causes photosensitivity so can lead to burning. Don’t take if pregnant or breastfeeding, as it can affect the uterus.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Mrs Grieve notes that during the Middle Ages, dill was used by magicians in spells and in charms against witchcraft. If this is true, we can surmise that there is a protective aspect to dill, particularly against supernatural or magical attack. Dill can be used in a poppet to provide protection to the person you are visualising. You could carry a sprig to ward off negative intentions towards yourself, or sprinkle some seeds around yourself and visualise a wall of light rising up from the seeds, protecting you from all harm.

In the bible, the Scribes and Pharisees are berated for paying a ‘tithe’, or tax of rich goods, but neglecting their morals and ethics. One of the items in the tithe is dill, along with mint and cumin, so we can assume that dill was very valuable. This can be translated magically into using the herb for money spells, perhaps a little in your purse to protect your existing funds, or used in a little pouch with other herbs to draw wealth towards you.

Both Culpeper and Cunningham assert that the plant is ruled by the planet Mercury, which one can also extend to include the god the planet is named for. This reaffirms the wealth and money connection, as the Roman god Mercury is strongly connected to financial gain, especially commerce and trading. He is also associated with eloquence, so dill could be used to help you find the words you need in a tricky situation. Linking the two, a charm made with dill is ideal for a sales person, as it will boost the holder’s communication skills and promote wealth coming to them.

Cunningham also states that placing dill in the cradle protects a child, which most likely links back to the herb having been used in children’s medicine for centuries. A sachet under the mattress where the child cannot reach it, or even under the bed or cot itself would be best for safety.

Home and Hearth

Sprinkle dried or fresh dill leaves or seeds around the boundary of your home to keep out unwanted visitors or negative energy. Walk widdershins (anti-clockwise) whist doing this if you feel there is an existing energy you need to banish. Walk deosil (clockwise) if you are wanting to boost the current mood or atmosphere in your home. You can boost the power of this simple spell by adding elemental energies, if appropriate to your path and beliefs. Sprinkle water, salt for earth, carry a candle for fire and walk the boundary again holding a lit incense stick to represent air. Don’t try and carry them all at once! Juggling candles and incense might seem impressive but actually it just leads to burnt fingers and clothing. If you are not mobile, hold the dill or have it near you, and visualise your energy surrounding your home or sacred space.

Once a year (I would do this at Imbolc as I have the idea of early spring cleaning firmly ingrained in my psyche) sweep the boundary and refresh your protective ward.

I Never Knew…

There is a superstition that burning dill leaves will cause thunderstorms to clear up.

Image Credits: Anethum graveolens by Forest and Kim Starr via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2007; Dill seeds by o Alanenpää via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2008.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

For Amazon Information Click Images

5 Easy Tips to Help You Relax

October, 2017

With all of the technology available to us today, you’d think life would be easier. Certainly, we don’t have to do many of our daily chores by hand if we choose, but still, stress remains one of the biggest threats to health (source).

So what can be done to manage stress?

The first important thing is to recognize that we might not even realize we are being affected by stress. So it’s important to work some practices into our daily routine that help us deal with the stress that we may not even be aware of.

The biggest problem with this for most people is finding the time. So here are five easy ways to help manage stress levels as part of daily life.

#1 – Meditate

In its most simple form, meditation is setting aside some time to spend in quiet contemplation. Scientific research indicates that meditation can have a significantly positive effect on stress.

Meditation doesn’t have to take long – even five or ten minutes is enough, it’s portable, and doesn’t have to be complicated, although it is a skill that takes practice to develop. A good way to start is just to sit in a comfortable posture, with your hands resting gently in your lap.

Close your eyes slightly or fully, and focus your attention on the pattern of your breathing. Try not to think about anything other than your breath. Some people use the technique of recognizing any thoughts that might come into their mind, and gently pushing them aside, or allowing them to float out of the mind while returning their focus to their breathing.

Alternatively, you could try a guided meditation, many of which are accessible online, like these (source).

2# – Get outside

Being outdoors in the open air, and spending time in natural places helps you to recharge and appreciate the simple things in life. It is possible to do this virtually anywhere, and beaches, woods, forests and even city parks or the tiniest copse of trees are all fabulous places to be.

Clinical studies have long proven that spending time outdoors, especially in the sunshine, and walking are both highly beneficial to health, reducing stress, anxiety and depression (source).

Walking barefoot – making sure that it’s safe to do so first – helps to connect with nature and become attuned to natural cycles. Observe the beauty and harmony, and the natural forces at work.

In daily life, make detours that take a more scenic route on your way to work, use your lunch break to get out into nature, and make family walks part of your regular routine.

#3 – Eat Chocolate

This is the yummiest stress buster ever! Studies have shown that daily consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate (and to a lesser degree milk chocolate) can significantly reduce stress levels.

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (above 75%) has also been shown to decrease blood pressure, risk of heart disease and diabetes. This serves to illustrate the fact that treats in moderation really can be good for you (source).

#4 – Do Some Gardening

Once you’ve made short work of your daily chocolate quota, it’s time to head into the back yard. Not only can you work off a few calories, it’s also good for reducing stress.

Numerous studies have shown that caring for plants, weeding and tidying the yard can have numerous significant benefits to health, including reducing stress, anxiety, depression and increasing life satisfaction and self-esteem.

So whether it’s your window box, someone else’s yard, or even a corner of a park or woodland you regularly visit, a daily dose of gardening – even just for a few minutes – is definitely on the stress buster list (source).

#5 – Laughter is the Best Medicine

You know those moments when something just tickles you, and you start to giggle? Moments later, you find the giggle gradually escalating into a fit of laughter that you just can’t control…doesn’t it feel great?

There’s a reason for that. Laughter is thought to release endorphins – chemicals that make us feel good, and has been shown in research to help to decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and give increased quality of life.

So make it a habit. Find a memory that makes you laugh, or a joke, or spend time watching what the children are up to when they think you’re not looking – anything that gives you that feel good factor. And when the laughter comes, don’t hold back…just let it out! (source).

***

About the Author:

Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.

HedgeWitch Days!

April, 2015

Breaking Magical Ground

hedge2

Hi my lovelies, wow who ordered April? I am shocked at its arrival, not only by how fast time is flying by but by the fact that it is my birthday this month, heralding me into a new number, 45…wow, now I definitely did not order that! I hope I am doing all us mad ones proud though as I defiantly poke my tongue out at another year older. My hair has been bathed in bleach and pink dye, I am still rocking out to all my favourite Metallica tunes and this Grandma is still in her uniform of jeans, trainers and a tee shirt, no slip on comfy shoes for me!!!

Age does bring some wisdom though, and that’s something I AM feeling the benefit of this year. I moved house again last year, my gypsy feet do like to move around lol, and I have inherited a big old garden just crying out to be transformed. It amazes me that a garden that stands with a house nearly 70 years old has not one plant put into it. Really, not even one bulb, shrub or flower. Not one bed dug, or fence erected! What should be a truly mature garden is in fact a patch of grass with a washing line. Such potential is something I cannot bear to waste, and as we are now in April it is time for me to break ground and start this garden on the right path, and for me that is the magical one.

As a hedgewitch my comfort zone and stomping ground is the beautiful boundaries of the wild lanes and fields in the Wiltshire countryside. A boundary is like a window with the curtains pulled, you just need to open them slightly to let all that glorious light flood in and to see through to the other side. The view will always be different and the signs and messages will always vary, but there is nothing for me like a hedgerow to get my foraging juices flowing for all those free edible and magical goodies. Nothing rivals a hedgerow for connecting with other realms too, blackberry leaves can conceal the cheekiest of the Fae, and a rabbit burrow can give you a glimpse of the underworld. The wind whispering in the trees holds many a message and nothing is ever static, there is always movement and fluidity to work with magically, to inspire and delight all the senses…((sigh)), how I LOVE it so! My new garden does not hold such magic and mystery yet, but I am determined to put some in!

As we are now in April, our dear Mother Earth is starting to warm, the cold winter chill that does any new seed baby no good at all is starting to melt away to be replaced by a gentle heat from the spring sunshine. At least, I hope it is where you are in the world. I know all of you in Canada and the States have had a rough winter this year, it may take a little longer for Mother Earth to absorb those long awaited rays this spring! I am a great believer in working with nature, not fighting against it and so after waiting to get to planting season I am now busting to get digging and transforming. This is where the wisdom of age comes into play. I have lived in many places and had many gardens, and through all of that experience I have come to find out what I like, what works for me, what I use regularly and probably the most important lesson…patience! I am not a naturally patient person…everything done and finished yesterday if you don’t mind, that would be perfect! But I have learnt over the years that patience brings with it great rewards. Like a bulb planted in the autumn, the waiting is rewarded in the spring with strong green shoots and beautiful flowers. So with this blank canvas of a garden I am determined to get things right.

hedge

Everyone has their own style of gardening, and I adore looking at what people are able to create in their own spaces. I particularly admire all those who have no outside garden, but are able to keep a wealth of plants happy and healthy on the window sill, a skill I have never mastered, all of my indoor plants are condemned to die, bless them. As I live in the UK, the style of garden I love is perhaps unsurprising, the traditional English cottage garden. Full of fragrance, colour and texture, this higgledy piggledy mix of foxgloves, lupins and roses inspires the gardener in me, it’s just like an enchanting painting when it’s done right. Dotted in and around the flowers is a mix of medicinal herbs and flowers, grown with careful knowledge of safety and uses, and giving a wealth of magical and medicinal uses as well as providing for the kitchen. This is the garden of my dreams and I hope that I am able to start creating it from scratch with the help of the Goddess and a little of that freshly learnt patience!

Breaking ground is the start of a magical journey for you and the earth around you and so it makes sense to start as you mean to go on. This is a simple ritual you can do if you’re creating a new border or even a new pot.

hedge

Breaking ground ritual

You will need;

A tea light

Some rainwater

A feather ( I am using an incense stick due to my irrational fear of feathers and birds!)

A small stone or crystal

Dig your new border or fill your pot with soil or compost

Close your eyes and place your hands into the soil. Feel the life of the soil in your hands and say;

I ask that this soil be blessed with life and the love of the goddess.

With your hands dig a small hole in the earth in front of you. Take the tea light out of its metal holder and place the candle into the hole. Light the candle and say;

Element of fire, I ask that you bless this ground with the magic of transforming warmth

Next to the candle place the stone or crystal and say;

Element of earth, I ask you to bless this ground with your life force.

Place the feather ( or incense stick) in the ground and say;

Element of air, I ask that you bless this ground with your magical breath.

. Sprinkle the ground with the rainwater and say;

Element of water, I ask that you bless this ground with your life giving nourishment.

So mote it be!

Once your ritual is complete stand in your garden with your arms outstretched or sit in front of your pot with your hands over it and say;

I ask that this garden / pot be blessed for the purpose of magic,

May all things be grown with love and used with wisdom

By the Goddesses grace, harming none, so mote it be!

Breaking ground with a magical intent can be done in an existing garden too, acknowledging the presence of magic in your outside space is such an important step in growing plants for magic. As with all things spiritual the roots need a strong foundation in order to grow and blossom.

So now to the plants for me at last, yay!!!

And my first magical plants for my newly blessed garden are of course the classics…

Lavender- Peace

Rosemary – Cleansing and Memory

Thyme- Healing

Sage – Wisdom

And Rose! – Love (thank you to my daughter Bethany for the Mothers Day prezzie of my rose…I am such a rose junkie!)

So many more to come, hurray….and with each one will come a new opportunity to create a little magic…now where did I leave that patience?

I hope whether you are breaking new ground or blessing old you manage to make your planting season magical this year! Big April hugs guys, and as ever

hedge3

Bright Blessings Mandy xxx