gardens

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

August, 2018

 

Hello Hello my lovely Broom Closeted Sisters & Brothers!

(Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash)

This is my third love letter to you all, slipped under your doors, and I thought I would cover the ever witchy herbs this month having covered flowers. Witches use herbs in all sorts or magick and mundane ways and you can, too, without anyone knowing you are using Magick!

As you may, or may not know yet, herbs have meanings, magickal, and healing. There are many great websites and books with this knowledge and I am not going to get into all the herbs out there and their meanings in this article. This article is to show you how you can use them on the down low in your everyday life.

 

Growing Them

(Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash)

Growing herbs is a great way to learn how to work with herbs. Many people grow their own herbs to cook with. There are many kits out on the market today that help you grow your own small herbal gardens to make it easier for you to learn. Even kids kits help to begin to learn. I start with children’s kits, and single pots. I find them easiest, since I have a black thumb, rather than a green one. They come with a tiny pot, seeds for your herb, and a dirt disk that needs to be soaked. You can find them in many stores or online. I have even found mine at the dollar store. But you do not have to start or stop there. If you are an experienced gardener, have at it! Go crazy, grow all your witch supplies!

 

Cooking Magick

(Culinary Blends Sample Pack from Inked Goddess Creations Magickal Mail Boxes and Products Site. Product reviewed here in the column Worth the Witch.)

The first, most obvious way to use herbal magick is by Cooking. Did you know you can impart your intent in your meals and baked goods? If you look at the picture above you can see how the bottles labels say things like Money, Protection, Love… These are all magickal workings you can work into your food. The herbs you choose to place into your food can have a magickal effect on you and others. Be sure to look up ingredients you use. Or look up the ingredients in recipes to see what they mean. Then as you cook, concentrate your energy and your purpose to your cause. Or you can buy magickal culinary blends like the ones pictured above that are simply delicious. If you read the review of the blends in the article Worth the Witch you will see how I baked some love cookies using one of the blends. They filled my house with love, laughter, and happiness! They were also delicious! This is a great way to perform magick because no one is usually with us in the kitchen and a lot of the time the spells can be performed in our heads. Drop in your herbs. Stir your pot (cauldron) and cast in your mind!

 

Wearing Your Herbs

Did you ever think about wearing your herbs? I’m not talking about oils, though that is a great way to wear your herbal scents, as well. I’m talking about on your clothing. Sachets are a way to keep your clothing smelling lovely but also bestowing them with purpose. Lavender keeps you calm, magickally and medically, so add some lavender to sachets in your drawers or on your hangers in your closets with a quick chant about keeping you calm and anxiety free. Then as you go through your day you have the scent of peace about you. Take a nice sniff to remind yourself daily. For happiness try sweetpea, for love jasmine, or musk for courage. Whatever you feel you need more of, you can make up for in herbal scents. Everyone will just think you smell great!

 

Teas

(Photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash)

Ahhhh nothing like a relaxing cup of herbal tea! Between the magickal and medical correspondences of the herbs in tea the benefits are out of this world. But did you know that the types of tea themselves have correspondences?

Rooibos:

  • Fire Element
  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Discipline
  • Determination
  • Steadfastness
  • Patience
  • Controlling (Personal) Emotions
  • Love
  • Romance

White:

  • Water Element
  • Air Element
  • Serenity
  • Purity
  • Purification
  • Calming
  • Creativity
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Psychic / Paranormal Abilities
  • Astral / Otherworldly

Green:

  • Earth Element
  • Growth
  • Luck
  • Healing
  • Prosperity
  • Protection
  • Joy
  • Success
  • Friendship
  • Good Fortune
  • Abundance

Black:

  • Spirit Element
  • Binding
  • Cursing
  • Hexing
  • Curse / Hex Breaking
  • Banishing
  • Exorcism
  • Sexuality
  • Lust

and yes, Coffee:

  • Fire Element
  • Spirit Element
  • Energy
  • Mental Clarity
  • Summoning
  • Enhancement
  • Power Boost
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Travel
  • Exorcism

(Information from: https://green-tea-in-the-cauldron.tumblr.com/post/149522774366/tea-correspondences-in-magic)

So now we can drink with purpose & a small chant in our heads!

 

Dream Pillows

Dream Pillows are handmade, small, herb stuffed pillows to help you sleep or have good dreams. Some people put little stones in them, also. They are really fun to hand sew up and fill with a little stuffing and some herbs. Kids love them. You should be careful as to what herbs you put in them, because some can have an unpleasant odor. Mixing some pleasing smelling herbs with some more pungent ones helps. Here are some mixes that may help:

 

For A Stress-Reducing Rest

Sweet Hops

Mugwort

Sweet Marjoram

 

Sensual Dreams

Rose Petals

Rosemary

Lavender Flowers

Mint

Ground Cloves

Chili Powder

Lemon Verbena Leaves, Crushed

Piece Cinnamon Bark, 1 inch long, broken up

 

Natural Remedies

(Pic from eatyourselfskinny.com)

Homeopathic remedies are no longer thought of as wisewoman traditions anymore, so it is safe for us to use our natural remedies in public. So get out your herbs to help in healing yourself. A good way to heal a headache is lavender. You can find a lovely recipe for Lavender Lemonade on Eat Yourself Skinny. On a hot summer’s day, when your find yourself battling a headache, why not cool down with this helpful drink recipe?

 

Garden Magick

Growing certain herbs for their properties and placement in your garden can be very beneficial to your household. Placement of potted plants can be as, well. Like a nice Rosemary by a kitchen door for Protection to keep the baddies out. Did you know that planting Lemongrass, Lavender, Lemon balm, Basil, or Catnip can help keep mosquitoes away? So try to plant these around your outdoor gardens in abundance.

 

Well, my loves, I’m going to lay out some herbal Pot Pourri for a house blessing, throw some Basil in my pocket for some money luck while I head out the door, and say Toodles for now.

 

Until Next Month…

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

April, 2018

Bright Blessings!

We have “sprung forward”, and are rejoicing that the daylight hours are longer. Some of us are STILL adjusting to the time change, however happy we are about it. Spring officially starts in four days from the time I am writing this, and many have already had their Sabbat celebrations for it.

Like many others, I am coming out of hibernating with the warmer, longer days. My energy levels have increased, and my mood is more enthusiastic. I have been a LOT more busy, and that means that I have forgotten to pace myself. As a result, I have had a couple days when absolutely nothing got done, and I sat around a whole lot.

One thing that has gotten done is massive patio cleanup, and hand fertilizing of the raised garden bed we built some years ago. I have carefully crumbled eggshells, cut up fruit peels, and thrown in both tea grinds, and used coffee grinds.

I am glad I live in modern times and get to “cheat” and throw in store bought soils as well. Soon, peas will be planted in the beds, and after those are spent, pretty flowers, all of which I have seeds for already!

Spring is a big deal at our house!

In Nature, everything is sprouting, and the snowdrops are already glittering through last fall’s dead leaves, on the forest floor. Daffodils are about to sprout, and our crocuses came up first, and soon, fritillaries will follow suit.

Birdsong has returned, and gets louder daily. Squirrels, and bunnies are jumping all over the place, reminding us of how very alive the Earth is. I’ve even seen a couple of mosquitoes already!

Everything in creation from plants, to animals, and even people , are seemingly awakening from Winter’s deep sleep, and are raring to get out in the sunshine and enjoy life!

Some of us spend time outdoors, gardening, and “grooving with Nature”, as my Priest puts it, but are more into the arts. We create, we dance, we enjoy music and theatre. Many of us LOVE to read! What is better than a nice book, and a hot cuppa’ in a cozy room with Spring light streaming in?

Those who are prolific readers are in for a real treat!

A new book was published recently, and let me tell you, it’s an exquisite read.

It’s called Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), which is part of The Bury Down Chronicles by Rebecca Kightlinger and is set in Thirteenth Century Cornwall, England. It is magical, chock full of mystery, the Old Ways, and Family Traditions. This book draws you in immediately, and Kightlinger’s descriptive narrative voice is so deep, you actually FEEL like you are THERE, watching in person. The firelight flickering in the darkness is so well detailed, you can almost smell the woodsmoke, and the faces of the women are so well described, you can almost reach out and touch them. You need this book, like , yesterday. Step into Bury Down with Kightlinger’s book.

 

 

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with Kightlinger via emails, for an in depth, very intimate interview, in which she speaks not only of her book, but her own background, and women’s issues.

First, please have a look at her amazing website:

https://www.rebeccakightlinger.com/

 

And next enjoy the interview! Afterwards, this month’s working will be provided below.

 

Interviewing Rebecca Kightlighter

 

Saoirse (S)– Bright Blessings, Rebecca. First, tell me a bit about yourself and your work!

 

Rebecca Kightlinger (R)My book, Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), is about the daughter of a midwife in medieval Cornwall. Megge’s mother and aunt– a healer and a seer, respectively—each hold an ancient grimoire that they must pass down to their daughters, who will then become their apprentices. The books are companion tomes that together enable the women to harness the knowledge and wisdom of every previous heir to the books. They are able to query these ancestors in order to learn the secrets that enable them to serve the people of their village. The problem is that although Megge wants nothing more than to become a woman of Bury Down and be truly a part of her family, she is frightened of her mother’s book. When the time comes for her to accept it, she refuses. 

The stakes are very high for Megge’s mother, so she and Megge’s aunts must bring Megge to accept her charge and assume her role as a woman of Bury Down.

The themes are the desire to belong while being unable or unwilling to do the one thing that will make you a part of the group; the desire to find and follow your own path despite pressure to follow one laid down for you; and the closeness that can unite two people of different generations, the younger being able to learn from the elder, who brings wisdom and unconditional love.

I was an obstetrician gynecologist for many years; but in  2010, a serious injury to my right hand brought that work to an abrupt end. It was then that I started writing fiction. One day in 2011, when I was writing another story, letting scenes play out in my mind and describing them on paper, I saw not New York City or Amsterdam, where that story was set, but a pastoral scene: a grassy hill where sheep were grazing and a girl dressed in rough, heavy woolens was sitting on a big rock at the top of the hill. The girl seemed to look right at me and said, “When you’re done with those Dutch people, I want to go next.” And when I had finished the other story, she showed up again and just started telling me about her life and the lives of her ancestors. At the time, I knew very little about Cornwall and even less about the middle ages. But Megge spoke to me clearly, and with humor, showing me the scenes, and I felt this was something very real, though I had never before experienced anything quite like it.

Having been a visitor to Lily Dale spiritualist community many times, I called a medium, Jackie Avis, to talk to her about it. We had a telephone visit, and even before we started to talk about Megge, Jackie said she was seeing near me a big, very old book with a heavy wooden cover carved with symbols. She perfectly described The Book of Seasons, the book Megge was so afraid of. Our long conversation set my mind at ease, making me comfortable inviting Megge into my life. 

I knew that in order to tell this story well, I would need some serious writing skills, so I applied to The University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. Poet Annie Finch was the director, and we spoke by phone. It was she who accepted me into the program.

In the summer of 2013, I went to Cornwall to visit the place I thought might be the region Megge had described as home. Arriving at Botelet Manor, where I was staying, was an incredible experience. Everything Megge described was right there. There is even a house on the manor that had been there during Megge’s day. The remains of Bury Down hillfort, built thousands of years ago, stood at the site Megge had described as the healer’s grove, where women came for healings at night. The church, the village location, and the castle were all as I had seen as she spoke.

Writing this book has been the most rewarding experience, and I hope this comes through in the book. 

 

S- I will add, I am a psychic advisor/seer/reader, or whatever people choose to call me also. I am thrilled you spoke with a seer! I refer to this as a gift of spirit, as do many others. I feel we all have gifts of spirit including, speaking with the dead, healing, comforting the grieving, ability to use prayer to intervene in other’s lives, etc. What are your personal beliefs and views about oracles/seers?  Do you feel you have gifts of spirit, and if so, what are they? It sounds like a spirit showed up and told you her story! Is that right? What is your spiritual path, and how does that influence your writing of this book, and your writing in general?

 

R- My mother and great-grandmother had strong spiritual gifts, and it may have been their openness to spiritual communication that has enabled me to accept this communication without fear, judgment, or censure. Like you, I think we all have the ability to perceive the presence of some who are now, as Megge says, in the ether. I sometimes feel my mother or father very near and have had communication of a sort with my mom through dreams after she passed. She told us in her final days that she would “stay nearby as long as possible” to comfort us after she passed, and when she did, I felt her spirit in the room with us for a good long time. It was a sense of joy I’ve never forgotten. 

I believe strongly in the power of intention and prayer, and I know that people’s needs are somehow made clear to the person who can help. I’ve been in that situation many times as a physician, and I know it’s true.

Is Megge a spirit? I can’t say. All I know is that when I’m ready to write, she seems to come and take me through her story. I don’t see or hear her with my senses, but her words come through me onto the page along with scenes as clear as any you’d see in a movie. And the only time this happens is when I’m at my typewriter or keyboard, ready to write. Her home, her village, and all the people in her world are just as vivid and consistent as anything in this world. 

I don’t know what my spiritual path is or where it is leading. One thing for sure is that my daily life is much more solitary that it ever was, and this feels right. It’s not lonely or boring in any way. The writer’s life seems to suit me now, where it would have been wrong for me before this. I used to have a busy practice, which I loved, and I worked with and taught some wonderful, caring, skilled, intelligent people. My patients, mostly middle-aged and elderly women for the last ten years of my practice, were smart, canny, funny, and insightful. I loved being their doctor. I remember talking to a lot of them about matters of the spirit, and I saw that as we all got older we seemed more in touch with it. It stopped seeming like something outside ourselves and became a source of both comfort and, well, interest, for lack of a better word. As I and my patients and friends began to experience more of the spiritual, we began to talk more openly about it and realized that we were having many of the same experiences. 

Other authors, I’ve learned, experience a similar kind of communication in their writing. One young man related in a lecture that when he sat down to write, he would close his eyes and see his narrator arrive at the door and ring the bell. He would let her in, and she would tell him her story. At a recent book-signing event, I asked the author how he invented his characters, and he kind of laughed and shook his head. “They just show up,” he said. “They do whatever they want. I had no control over this story.” Other writers have no idea what this means. They construct charts and plot points and have the beginning, middle, and end mapped out before they even start their story. Many search newspapers for inspiration or ideas, or capture snippets of conversation that they write down and build a story around. That sounds harder to me, more cognitive, but is probably a more efficient use of writing time!

For me, the cognitive part begins after a scene is down. I research the era and place–I visited the place Megge described–and cut and splice scenes, sometimes changing names or details where needed. But I don’t change the overarching story. I stay true to what I’m seeing so the story can continue to move forward. It may sound funny, but I want my narrators to trust me. I want the narrators who are waiting in the wings to tell their stories to know that I won’t mess with them too much. 

It feels like there are countless narrators/spirits out there waiting to tell their stories and searching for someone who can “hear” them. Is this how we return to the living world? Through a storyteller? Is this why many stories somehow just ring true? I can’t say. The first novel I wrote was narrated by an entire town. I had asked my husband for a manual typewriter for Christmas one year. He bought me an Olivetti, and I sat down at it for the first time ever and had no idea what to write. So I closed my eyes and thought, “Who has the story?” And in seconds, probably thirty or forty people showed up in my mind’s eye, all looking like working-class people and farmers from the 1930s, and all jostling to be the one to tell the story. It seemed they had all come back to tell their part of a horrific event that involved all of them but that that none of them knew the whole story of. Each one ended up telling his or her part, often interrupting each other and correcting details. Every night, at 8 pm, I sat down to write. For an entire year. And the whole story came out, all the details that had been kept secret. When it was done, those narrators disappeared. I’ve not heard from them again. One day, when Megge’s story is done, I’ll go back to that one. I hope I will have developed the skills by then to tell it well.

And this is probably much more than you wanted to hear! But it is unusual for me to be able to relate this kind of information about myself and my writing to someone who will understand and not judge. I’ll be very interested to learn if others have this experience and how they deal with it. How it first started and how they reacted. To me, it felt natural, inviting. I’ve never questioned it, and I hope it never stops

 

S- As somebody with a medical background, how does the past misunderstanding of illness, combined with superstition strike you? What do you have to say about it? Have you ever seen similar attitudes in today’s world?

 

R- There have always been and probably always will be superstitions about illness. Back in the Middle Ages, when so little was known about the body in health or illness, it’s understandable that people would confuse association with causality. The scientific method hadn’t yet been designed to distinguish between the two. So, when a patient made a spontaneous recovery from illness after taking a remedy or submitting to bloodletting, charms, or prayers, the association of that treatment with recovery meant that it must have worked! Word went out, and the treatment became more widely used.

My feeling is that even today there are treatments that work but whose mechanism of action we don’t understand despite considerable scientific research. Additionally, there are many treatments and remedies that might be beneficial but that will never be adequately studied simply because no one has a sufficient stake in the results of controlled, double-blind studies. And if the research might show that the product doesn’t work, it’s a gamble. For this reason, some approaches that are considered “superstitious” or “magical” may never be scientifically proven safe and effective, even if they are. 

But, while superstitions in healing can sometimes result in harm, I’m less concerned about that than I am about people harnessing the power of superstition to do ill to the most vulnerable in society. We saw this in Megge’s story just as many have seen throughout history: the most powerful in society using both superstition and strong beliefs against the most vulnerable.

In the worst cases, superstitions are thinly-veiled excuses for committing violent acts. In The Midwife and the Witch, author Thomas Forbes cites “the crowing hen.” From the time of Aristotle until as recently as the late 1800s, a female showing masculine characteristics or behaving “like a man” (i.e., talking) was said to foretell doom. Often, this resulted in the death of the offender.

Whistling maids and crowing hens

Should have their necks wrung early.

(Scheftelowitz, 1913; Jones 1880)

A German proverb prescribed punishment for both hens and women who would dare make their voices heard:

When the hen crows before the cock

and the woman speaks before the man,

then the hen should be roasted 

and the woman beaten with a cudgel. 

(Abbot, 1903)

So, to my mind, the danger of superstition is not so much that the superstition itself will directly harm the believer, it is that others often use the power of belief to control and punish. In the case of Megge and the midwives in her life, someone uses both religious dogma and fanciful beliefs as an excuse to harm both women and children. 

 

S- Attending University in Maine placed you in New England- not horribly far from Salem, Mass. where one of the most famous accounts of witch scare happened. Have you studied this much, or have any insight into it? 

 

R- I’ve studied witch trials from all over the world and in different eras. When I first started looking into the history of this horror, I went to the Cornell University special manuscripts library and studied some original trial transcripts. 

I came away with a picture of ordinary women being tried, often tortured, and put to death after having been accused of witchcraft, sometimes by her neighbors, and often out of fear or retribution. The accusations rarely made sense, and the atmosphere of misogyny and hatred was almost palpable in these documents. Those who controlled communities engaged in witch trials needed a scapegoat for their rage and to control those in their jurisdiction, and this was often either the most vulnerable member of the community or the outsider.

Midwives were often targets of accusations, especially in the Middle Ages, as they treated the most frequently maligned portion of the population–women–and they often did so through techniques and remedies outside the understanding of the medical and religious communities. This made them suspect, and suspicion made them victims.

 

S- Magic is all around us, and in many forms. Your ladies in your book understand this, and practice well. They understand the power of blood bonds, as well as adoptive family bonds. They understand the power of women working together in a man’s world. They understand the power of working in generations. Today’s neo-practitioners are 50/50 in love or hate with this idea. Some shun it, and recognize no elders, believing they are born very powerful and don’t want anybody telling them how to practice. Some like me value our elders, who are passing our craft on to us. This is more ancient, and what the women of Bury Down are doing. I see value in both, personally. In your historic readings, what have you read about passing traditions down? About mentors and students? About family traditions? What examples can you share from history?

 

R- Nearly every profession, skilled trade, and educational or spiritual community relies on one generation teaching the next through both formal, didactic education and mentorship or apprenticeship. The alternative to being thought by someone more skilled or educated is to be an autodidact. People will dispute this, but while I understand that many of us possess innate talents and gifts that we can develop to some extent on our own, I think raw talent needs shaping from the outside, otherwise one’s learning tends to center on readings and teachings that substantiate our own theories and biases rather than challenging or questioning them with an eye to dispelling misconceptions, arriving at a truth, and honing our skills. 

Living by and passing down traditions is documented in religious, cultural, medical, artistic, and every other societal group or profession I can think of. While there are many short-lived splinter groups organized and led by one person, religion and spiritual traditions probably provide the most universal example of laws, rules, mores, and history transmitted to children through their parents, their schools, and their religious/spiritual leaders and teachers, with didactic learning supplemented by sometimes very intimate, inter-generational mentorship in the home. This is documented throughout history in religious texts and in literature ranging from The Iliad to the Mists of Avalon and The Red Tent

Another example of passing down traditions is the oral, storytelling or bardic tradition strikingly manifest in The Mabinogion, a suite of eleven Welsh prose tales passed through generations by storytellers (another profession whose practitioners learned from masters from the preceding generation).

Finally, witchcraft and magic have a long tradition of being practiced by those who draw on ancient knowledge coupled with the skill and insight of a master practitioner. In preparing the manuscript of Megge of Bury Down, I studied numerous grimoires including Picatrix, a compilation of works from the ancient, the medieval and the Renaissance eras, which urges its readers and students to learn from sages: “The wise who are endowed by nature with intelligence never cease nor neglect to seek and inquire that they might learn and understand the secrets of the sages, who sealed them up in their books and wrote them in hidden words, that the aforesaid might search them out by careful investigation until they attain what they desire…” [The Picatrix, Trans. Greer, John Michael, and Warnock, Christopher. Adocentyn Press, 2010, 61.] 

While I am neither witch nor magician, I see in the writings about spiritual practice the value of sages, of teachers, of mentorship. This is the basis of Megge’s story and path. She seeks and finds mentors throughout her life; and this, I believe, is what many people have always intuitively known they’ve needed, have sought throughout history, and continue to seek.

 

S- What that we have not discussed would you like included in my article, please?

 

R- Megge of Bury Down is the story of a young girl growing up in another time and place. It is historical in that it takes place in the past. But it is not really about the history. It is magical realism in that Megge’s family is charged with passing down two grimoires whose power preserves the spirits of their ancestors. But it is not about the genre of magical realism. 

The historical research and the literary technique here serve story: the story of a girl growing up in a family of women. A girl who wants to be one with the mystical women she admires but whose fear and misconceptions keep her apart. A girl who must find the courage to look past her fears to a terrible truth and find a new path. It is about the love, the traditions, and the teaching that unite generations. It is about the women of Bury Down, but it is mainly about unbreakable bonds, crafted over lifetimes, that precede us into each life, sustain us as we find and do the work we came to do, and then guide us into the next. 

 

Many thanks, Rebecca for this amazing interview! Blessed Be!

 

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

This Month’s Working

Our next Sabbat after this is published is Beltaine. For the first time in years, I am not hosting!

I’m also not planning to attend Sabbat anybody else hosts!

What will I do with myself for Beltaine this year?”, I wondered.

I thought on it, and was inspired by some things I saw, and decided to send out an appeal to other women to do a One Month Challenge with me instead of a one-time Sabbat rite.

In Wicca Beltaine, May traditions crown a May King and May Queen, and they represent the Goddess and God in ritual, blessing everybody, and bringing life, growth, and in some traditions, sexuality to the people in the ritual.

There are a lot of “Sabbat Pagans” who attend Sabbat, and seemingly forget they are Pagans until the next gathering.

What can I say? It saves time for some folks.

Not everybody has the time, or ability to do lengthy daily, or even weekly devotions. It is easy to assume that we do, but the truth is, for some people, it’s just not happening, and it’s not in any way a choice.

What I thought of was a way to, for 30 days, bless other women, and ourselves, thus blessing, venerating, and adorning the Goddess in each of us women. Collectively, then, we adorn the Mother Goddess through the bodies , hearts , and souls of her daughters, the Earthly representations of her.

The topics brought up in the interview, specifically of abuse of women, and children made me think of an ugly truth. We often focus on abuse men direct at women, and completely ignore the toxic competitiveness we have with one another.
“That bitch thinks she is something, doesn’t she? I’m prettier than her!” Instead of “You go girl! Shake that tailfeather!” We sometimes become jealous that another woman has pride, and we are afraid if she is proud, she will take away the good things about us. Instead, we need to ALL root for one another.

It is not a competition- we should ALL want to help each other succeed.

I see examples of women who are not fat at all get attacked online, and called fat by women who are obviously jealous. Why does this happen? Because we think we don’t look as attractive? Because we would rather she be physically ill and bulimic or anorexic than comfortable in her skin, and healthy?

And why do we make fun of the “scrawny” girls? Maybe they DO have an illness, but this does not mean they should shroud themselves away, unfit to be seen.

Why do we place unfair demands on mothers? If they work, they are accused of putting career before family. If they are stay at home moms, they are accused of being ambitionless freeloaders. If they are tired, and not all made up fancy from keeping up with kids, we accuse them of “letting themselves go”. If they do not want children, they are accused of refusing the “responsibility” of being moms. If they have a lot of kids, we ridicule them, calling them breeders, sluts, and baby factories.

These harsh words do not just come from men. They oftentimes come from other women.

We cannot do this.

We need each other.

We need to build one another up.

This is the inspiration for my working.

Without Further adieu, I would like to share my working with you.

If you would like to, do this working with me.

 

Saoirse’s Solitary 30 Day Adornment of the Goddess/Crowning of the May Queen

For thirty days, do these three things. If you forget a day, oh well, nobody will know!

You may journal every day what you do if you like, but you don’t have to.

  1. For 30 days, give an honest compliment to one woman per day. Build another woman up with your words. Words are mouth magic, and we create whatever we want to with them. Use your words every day to build one woman up to bless, and adorn the Goddess.
  2. Reach out to one woman in the next 30 days, and do something nice for her that will make a difference in her life. It can be small, or great. Maybe you know a lonely woman who loves coffee. Dedicate one day every other week from now on to sitting down to coffee with her. Say you know a woman who is trying to eat healthier. Encourage her, and share recipes with her if she would like that. Say your neighbor loves plants, but says she has no time to garden this year. Gift her with a hanging basket, and offer to help keep it watered if she needs it. What you do to make a difference in one woman’s life can be a great thing or a small thing, but it will make a huge impact.
  3. Finally, do not forget the Goddess in you. It might be easy to do something good for others, but not yourself. It’s time to do one of the kindest things for yourself.

We are often our own biggest, and harshest critics, and while yes, others may tear us down, we sometimes internalize toxic voices, and tear ourselves down worse than anybody else.

Think of something you really find frustrating about yourself. This can be something as simple as age spots on your skin, or something big like, having panic attacks. This is to be a thing that always bothers you. Something you are upset with yourself about.

Now, you are to start forgiving yourself of whatever this is.

This is going to be the most difficult part of the challenge, and it will last beyond 30 days. It may entail deprogramming, tears, or the resurfacing of past aches, but it’s very important.

While we can easily see the Goddess in others, and nurture that, we also need to see the Goddess in ourselves, and nurture that as well.

Enjoy the Spring, Beltaine and being the Goddess 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

 

 

 

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

June, 2017

Attracting the Fae

 

 

Merry meet.

The summer solstice – along with Beltane and Samhain – are traditional times to honor the fae, fae folk, faeries, or simply, fey. They are magical creatures with powers given them by nature. They are guardians of botanicals, water sources and other natural elements. Others live in a magical underground kingdom.

Fey exist in all cultures, from the little people to elves, and from gnomes to leprechauns. They appear in art, music, folklore and movies. Fey have magic, and magic in and of itself is not good or bad, it’s all about how it’s used.

For some reason, many Americans think of faeries only as cute, tiny, harmless winged creatures. While there are some who look like that, there are many who are ugly and fierce. They can be playful and mischievous or annoying and frightening. If you’ve ever left a pair of earbuds out, the fae will be attracted to come and tangle them. Keys left out can also prompt fey pranks.

The fae like sugar, milk, honey, flowers and miniature people things like fairy houses.

 

 

 

 

Tess Ahlberg makes houses for them from bark, mushrooms and other gifts of nature.

From a young age, she said she was immersed in nature. She’d collect moss, pine cones, mushrooms, animal skins, shells, feathers and discarded insects during her travels in woods, meadows, marshes, swamps and on beaches. Listening to the messages whispered in the leaves, she was inspired to begin making faerie houses out of birch bark she found decomposing on the ground.

I ask permission from the forest, if I can harvest the bark, mushrooms, plants and moss. I also give the spirits a token offering,” she explained.

Milkweed pods and acorns, along with ferns, leaves and wild flowers that she’s pressed also found their way onto pieces of birch bark. She continued making houses, painting cured mushrooms for roofs and adding some details.

They add whimsy and magic when placed in a home; if left outside they will slowly decompose.

To encourage others to appreciate nature, provide homes for the fay, and an escape from the chaotic world, Ahlberg makes kits available. But you can gather all the materials yourself and make a home to invite the fae to visit.

 

 

 

 

In today’s society there is a disconnect with nature,” she said, hoping to help change that by reconnecting people with it.

Faeries are inter dimensional beings. If you go back to remembering your innocence of youth, a time when perhaps as a youth, some of us had glimpses into other enchanted worlds. We saw faeries and other enchanted beings in our peripheral vision,” she said.

You can connect to that magical world by being fae friendly. Houses and other inviting spots can be portals into enchanted worlds.

Try building a cave out of pebbles in a hidden spot in your yard, such as under bushes or in a flower garden. Set out a miniature wooden table and chairs, painted bright colors or wrapped in vines if you wish. Making a circle of stones, shells or pinecones can create a magical space. Hang tiny bells from branches.

 

 

 

 

Flowers such as daisies, cosmos, tulips, honeysuckle, lilac, sunflowers, lavender, snapdragons, pansies and heliotrope are all said to attract fey, as are herbs such as rosemary, mint and thyme.

Fey are also said to be partial to oak, ash, holly, willow and hawthorn trees

 

 

 

 

My three favorite spots in the yard where I was grew up were a stand of lilacs with a narrow space in the center, the small space between two large oak trees, and a willow tree I loved to climb.

To feel close to the fae now, I plant cosmos, sunflowers, rosemary and snapdragons in my community garden plot, leaving the center wild and untouched, seeded with wildflowers that attract hummingbirds, a mugwort plant and morning glories that reseed themselves. I leave offerings there from time to time, and know the fae are present because if I make the mistake of brining my cellphone, they download apps while I work in the garden.

 

 

 

 

They also bless me with joy. May they do the same for you.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

Check out Tessimals Celestial Faerie Houses and Faeries on Facebook or at https://www.etsy.com/shop/tessimal.

 

 

The Mugwort Chronicles

September, 2013

Cultivating Patience & Boundaries in the Garden

This is a bittersweet time in the herb garden as the days grow shorter and temperatures are beginning to cool. The plants which have been attentively nurtured since early spring are now sporting an overgrown and somewhat rangy appearance. Many are yellowing, setting seed, and turning their growth inward to their roots to prepare for the winter respite.

This has been a very prolific gardening season for me, re-introducing my herbal plant friends back into their newly expanded garden bed. Two years ago, my husband surprised me with his plan to double the size of my herb garden. Although his intentions were wonderful, we did not anticipate the length of time it would ultimately take to complete the project.  It seemed either he had little time due to his work schedule or, when he did have an expanse of time to work on the garden, our wonderful wet Pacific Northwest weather didn’t exactly cooperate. Removing sod and moving vast amounts of dirt is nearly impossible in the rain.

I have to admit I was growing impatient. My herb plants had all been removed from the garden the previous year into containers and our backyard was beginning to look like a garden nursery. Most herbs have a wild heart and rebel when placed into pots. St. John’s Wort, which I rescued from an area in our neighborhood slated for bulldozing, was languishing in her pot sporting only two long, spindly stems.  Calendula grew leaves, but never blossomed.  The tiny Oregon Grape plant, also a ‘rescue’ was down to one green and somewhat shriveled leaf. There were numerous casualties, as well.

Early spring brought a two week period of perfect weather giving my husband enough time to finish the brick wall surrounding the new raised bed.  After a truckload of garden soil was delivered, the big day finally arrived to replant my herb friends into their new home. Fortunately, I was wise enough to use the down time between the previous summer and winter months to make an inventory of my plants including details of their growing needs, so when the time came to replant, I had a pretty good idea where everyone should go.

As I was finishing up the replanting, I had several small pots with unidentified plants (I am not always consistent with labeling my pots-a bad practice).  As I was placing the unknown entities into the compost, there was one that at the very last moment caused me to stop. Hmmm…this did not look like a weed; its leaf pattern and stem color were too unusual. Then I remembered that over a year ago, I planted some Meadowsweet seed in a little pot, but the only thing that grew was Chickweed, so I put the pot aside. Over one year later, here was a little Meadowsweet plant making her entry into the world. Excitedly, I planted her in the new garden, thinking she probably would not get very large until next year. WRONG! She grew quickly into a very lovely plant, living up to her other name, Queen of the Meadow.  I remembered reading that some seeds can take up to several years before they will germinate- another lesson in patience this year.

 

 

Meadowsweet – Filipendula ulmaria

I planted the tiny Oregon Grape into the new garden, but she looked like she was barely hanging on. Part of me considered putting her out of her misery and adding her to the compost, but I decided to leave her alone. A week later, her one remaining leaf dropped and she looked like a bare twig…still, I left her be. I was happily surprised when after several weeks, six new leaves appeared. And so it continued throughout the summer. Two small wild rose plants and a tiny English Hawthorne, also rescued from an area near my home slated for ‘development’, took root, growing small but lush green leaves with time and nurturing.

     Wild Rose- Rosa spp                                                                            

English Hawthorne Crataegus monogyna

Ah, but there was another lesson to be taught by this lovely new garden-the lesson of boundaries.

When I replanted Comfrey, I carefully placed a collar around the plant setting it down deep into the soil to help contain her wonton growth. Her unabashed expansion in the past infringed on many of the other garden residents and I knew that if she was to co-exist with other plants, her growth needed to be contained. However, several weeks after the thick layer of new garden soil had been added, down on the other side of the garden where Comfrey used to grow were multiple baby Comfrey plants making their way upward through the many inches of soil.  Although I tried to diligently remove the newcomers, one baby plant managed to escape my attention growing quite tall. So much for containment devices! And then, there is the saga of our pumpkin plant.

As the new garden bed is quite large, I decided to add some vegetable plants in between the herbs. I have fond memories of growing pumpkins in my front yard when I lived in eastern Washington, and decided that a pumpkin plant would be a fun addition to the new garden. We bought two tiny pumpkin plants- two different varieties.  The smaller plant never really seemed to do well-it stayed small and its leaves were an off-yellow color. However, after several weeks, the larger plant developed an incredible growth spurt and has not showed signs of slowing down.  Every other evening I trim off several inches of new growth from the ends of the vine, removing multiple leaves which encroach on the herb plants territory. However, this only encourages the pumpkin plant to sprout new off-shoots. Although we have several nice sized pumpkins beginning to turn a lovely orange hue, the vine shows no sign of slowing her march across the garden. The last time I looked, she was headed out of the garden, onto the lawn and attempting to scale the fence.  Her leaves are so large and tightly clustered that I am afraid I may one day find an unsuspecting  neighborhood cat snared in her vine. We have named her Audrey III, after the plant in Little Shop of Horrors and I swear that several nights ago, I heard her say in a quiet, deep voice, “Feed Me.” I was considering cutting most of the vine back, however, the new blossoms are attracting bees, and as their populations are so fragile right now, anything I can do to help them survive is important. So, for now, I just gently prune Audrey III several times a week to prevent her from completely taking over the garden.

 

Pumpkin vine “Audrey 3”

As the wheel of the year turns toward Mabon and my lovely garden prepares for its winter rest, I am thankful for the lessons she has taught this summer- patience and boundaries.  She has reminded me that all things have their own tempo for reaching their destinations- we only need to provide the essentials and have patience not to otherwise interfere. I have also been reminded by a small, exuberant pumpkin plant that although we humans think we exert control over our environment, it is Nature who establishes the boundaries, and we really do not have as much influence over Nature as we would like to think.

This information is offered for educational purposes and is not intended to take the place of personalized medical care from a trained healthcare professional. The reader assumes all risk when utilizing the above information.

~Louise~

 

Copyright© 2013 Louise Harmon

All Rights Reserved

The Witch’s Cupboard

March, 2013

Happy Ostara!

This Sabbat heralds in Spring and we can shake off that cabin fever everyone’s been suffering from.  This month’s column will focus on early spring herbs.

How to Make a Plantain, Violet Salve

Plantain: Its gentle astringency makes it wonderful for blisters, insect bites, rashes and hemorrhoids

Lavender Leaves: Is a wonderful remedy for breast inflammation, mastitis, cancer and cysts.

Step 1: Gather approximately 2 cups violet leaves and flowers and plantain leaves (either the narrow or wide leafed varieties).

Step 2: Try to clean off the leaves as much as possible without washing them. If they must be washed, do so, but be sure that the leaves are thoroughly wilted and absent of all moisture before adding the oil. Putting the oven on the lowest possible heat, arrange the herbs on a tray, preferably with the oven door open, and allow the leaves to wilt until you are sure no moisture remains. You are not diminishing the healing power of the herbs but rather, just removing more of the water content.

Step 3: Put the wilted leaves into a clean, very dry glass mason jar, or similar container, and fill to the top if possible. Then add the oil of choice (olive, grape seed, sweet almond, sunflower and safflower all work well) until you have filled the jar. Stir with a long spoon or chopstick until all bubbles have risen to the surface. Add a bit of Rosemary Oil Extract to prevent oil rancidity and further protect the oils. Just remember that water causes mold, so the drier your herbs and containers are, the more protected your oil is. Place some wax paper over the top of the container and then cap with a canning lid. Be aware that the oils may ‘weep’ while it steeps, so you may want to put a cup saucer under the jar.

Step 4: Place jar in a cool, dark place. Occasionally turn the jar upside down and then right side up to move the oil through the herbs and to try to keep all parts of the herbs covered with oil. Feel free to open it up and check on the herbs. If you see leaves poking through where there is some mold growth, remove the leaves and discard. If mold grows throughout the oil, you’ll have to toss the whole batch, as there is no saving the oil, even if it is heated. Steep 2-6 weeks.

Step 5: After 2-6 weeks, strain out the herbs using a cheesecloth and pour the infused oil into a clean, dry jar for storage. A dark glass container is best. You can keep this in the refrigerator for better storage or just store in a cool, dark place.

Violet and Plantain herbal Salve:

• 1 cup infused oil
• 1 ounce natural beeswax or beeswax beads, grated
• 1 teaspoon vitamin E (to preserve the salve and prevent rancidity)
• 1 teaspoon rosemary oil extract, optional (to further antioxidant protection)
• 20 drops tea tree oil (to add antifungal and antiseptic strength)
• 10 drops lavender essential oil (to offer topical pain relief)

In a double boiler or a saucepan on lowest possible heat, melt the beeswax into the oil. Add the additional vitamin E and rosemary oil extract, if using, and gently stir the oil with a wooden or stainless steel spoon. Remove from heat and add the essential oils. Pour immediately into a cleaned, very dry glass or aluminum container. You can also put this salve in lip balm pots to create a healing travel balm. If looking for a hard salve, test the consistency by putting a spoonful of the melted oils & beeswax into the freezer. If it is not hard enough, add a bit more beeswax until you reach the desired consistency.

 

Herbs for Early Spring Gardens

Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm is part of the mint family. This herb can take the crazy days of early spring weather. Plant this one into a container then plunge into the ground or it will escape and grow everywhere.  You can generally get two harvests during the year.

Dill: This herb grows lightning fast in cool spring soil. Dill will reseed itself once you trim it back. Plant now and at weekly intervals so you’ll have it throughout the season.

Cilantro: I grow quite a bit of cilantro.  Grow early you can get a couple harvests from this plant.  Be sure to sow directly into the ground.  It can tolerate even a light coating of snow.

Borage: Plant borage seeds now! It will grow quite large, so make sure wherever you plant it, it will live there forever!  You can use the leaves in salads when they’re tiny, and eat the flowers

Basil: It may surprise you that basil does really well if started as seeds indoors (right about now) and then transplanted outside when the threat of frost has passed.

It also grows well indoors. Start seeds inside and keep them in a sunny until they become large enough to transplant outdoors..

 

 

 

WitchCrafts

May, 2011

At this time of year with Earth Day having just passed, and Beltane being here our thoughts turn to our gardens and the Earth Mother.  In that spirit I would like to share this with all of you.

The Great Sunflower project is an organization that I first heard about and began following 3 years ago.  Due to the colony collapse of the honey bee, and the resulting damage to crops from the loss of pollinators, this is a project that’s not only fun it serves an awesome purpose.

For 2011 they have started the “Add a yard to your yard” campaign.  The way it works is you set aside a 36″x36″  section to make a pollinator garden.  It has to be a sunny spot with a water source nearby.  They state that you should use Lemon Queen sunflowers and the other plants they recommend by name are California Poppies, Tropical Sunset Echinacea, Bee Balm, Cosmos, Cornflowers, and White Borage.  They also used carrots and radishes that they let go to seed.  Group similar plants together because pollinators are attracted to clusters.

In my past attempts to attract pollinators I have found that the boxes of wildflower mix that you pick up for a couple of bucks work really well, especially hummingbird and butterfly blends.  Butterflies will congregate around pie pans , or other shallow containers, with sand and a little water in the bottom to drink from.  I have also had great results with petunia’s and morning glories.

This is a project that can’t go wrong.  The end result is beautification and a closer relationship with the earth and thats never a bad thing.  For more info check out their web site greatsunflower.org, they have links to sites for seeds, native pollinators, etc.  I have been a big fan of these guys for a while now and I hope that now they will pick up a few more!!  Have a blessed Beltane!!!!!