hearth

Mindful Meditations

February, 2019

Guided Meditation

This month we have an Imbolc meditation that is meant to help you connect with yourself around the three areas Brigid governs: Hearth, Forge and Inspiration. So light a candle in Brigid’s honor and let’s dive in!

Find yourself in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, close your eyes and begin to relax into yourself. See yourself walking down a path in a winter forest. Notice the quiet beauty all around you. As you wander through the woods, think about how this winter has been for you so far. Do you have the winter blues or do you love the peaceful quiet of the season? Have you felt isolated or have you been engaging with others? Have you been taking the time to rest? Arrive back in this moment, accepting yourself as you are right now. Notice there is a cozy home up ahead on the path. This is your sanctuary. As you approach the entrance, you notice there is a Brigid Cross hanging on the door, a symbol of safety, denoting this space is blessed by the Goddess Brigid. You enter the space, giving her reverence and thanks.

Brigid is the triple Goddess of Forge, Hearth, and Inspiration. The first thing you notice is the large inviting fireplace in the center of everything. The hearth is the center of your home life, it creates warmth and safety and provides the space to create nourishment. How is the fire burning in your hearth? Gaze into the fire and ask Brigid what can be done to increase the strength of your personal hearth fire. (Pause) Thank her for any insight you gained. Perk up the fire with another log and ask Brigid to bless your hearth and home this coming year. She is also the Goddess of the forge, which is what you create, the things you bring forth into the world. As you look around the cabin, you notice a work station. It is perfectly suited to help you do your craft. What do you see? What is it that you bring into creation? You see a candle on the station, so you take a stick from the hearth to light it. As you light the candle, ask Brigid to bless all you create. Take a moment of quiet with this flame to ask Brigid how you can be of service through your creation. (Pause) Thank her for any new insight.

You see a comfortable chair nearby, and you go to sit in it. The last aspect Brigid rules is the Inspired Heart. You close your eyes and cover your heart with your hands. What song does your heart long to sing? What truth wants to pour from you? See Brigid before you in your minds eye, holding a flame in her hand. Ask her to help you see your heart’s inspiration. (Pause) Brigid approaches you and offers forth her flame to your heart. Let her rekindle the flame within you. Feel the warmth glowing from your heart and spreading though your entire being. Feel the inspiration rising and thank her for her gift. She smiles and gives you a blessing that your heart may stay inspired, blazing and open.

Take a deep breath and feel yourself back in this moment. Feel the ground below you and take a deep breath, making little movements with your fingers and toes. Take these blessings and new insights with gratitude, and have a Blessed Imbolc.

***

About the Author:

Rebecca Coates is a Tarot reader, sound healer, fire dancer, massage therapist and witch who is based in CT but will be traveling around the US soon. Follow her journeys both internal and external on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube @GreenHeartHealingGuidance.

Magic at the Hearth Excerpt from The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

December, 2018

Magic at the Hearth

*Excerpted from The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

 

 

 

In hearthcraft, magic is a way of consciously drawing on the energy of the spiritual hearth to enhance the activity you are engaged in. In many paths magic and spiritual practices are separate, but in hearthcraft the magical activity both supports and draws from spiritual activity. As so much of hearthcraft revolves around love, nurturing, and protection of what you consider sacred, positive goals can be the only ones envisioned.

 

Another way of looking at magic within the context of hearthcraft is as transformation of some kind, a task performed with the intent to weave together energies in order to initiate some sort of spiritual transformation, rejuvenation, or growth. With that in mind, this chapter looks at kitchen folklore and customs and the energies associated with the equipment found and used in the kitchen.

 

Kitchen Folklore

 

One of the fun things about doing research into home-based customs is discovering the traditions and folklore associated with domestic activity. Here’s a series of domestic customs you can use to help enhance your awareness of the spiritual nature of your activity.

 

  • Stir the contents of pots and bowls clockwise to attract positive energy, or stir counterclockwise to banish things. Use one or the other according to the needs of your home or family at the time.

  • Pass items at the table in a clockwise direction to maintain harmonious energy there.

  • If you wish to clear the house of negative energy, clean it beginning at the back door and travel through it room by room in a counterclockwise direction until you reach the back door again, then sweep or mop out the door and off the doorstep.

  • To attract positive energy, clean items in a clockwise motion. is includes dusting, mopping, and scrubbing as well as wiping counters and washing dishes.

  • Draw a spiritual symbol that has meaning to you (either cultural, religious, or designed by you) with salt water on the windows of your house and on the front and back doors. Paint these symbols with clear nail polish if you want something a little more permanent.

  • If you wish to further connect your cooking to your spiritual hearth, draw a spiritual symbol on the inside of the pot or bowl before you use it. A stylized flame is a good basic image to use.

  • Empower your laundry detergent for purification of any negative energy clinging to clothes. Water has a natural purification effect, but empowering the cleaning substances you use boosts that natural effect. Do the same for your household cleaners.

  • Running out of salt is said to be bad luck for the posterity of the home. Keep a small packet of salt somewhere to ensure there will always be salt in the house. (This may be one of the origins of the custom of bringing a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, and a box of salt to a housewarming.)

  • Hanging braids or wreaths of garlic, onions, or hot peppers will keep your kitchen free of negative energy. Compost them every fall and hang new ones. Never eat them!

  • Hanging bunches of dried Indian corn attracts prosperity and abundance.

  • Leave an onion or clove of garlic outside below the kitchen window to absorb any negative energy trying to enter the home. You may leave them around the doors to the house as well. Place a new one there every month, or more frequently if the old ones decay faster.

 

The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home on Amazon

 

*Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

 

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

December, 2018

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

 

 

I received a “review copy” of The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock just before the Thanksgiving holiday. This handsome book is published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, and is the twelfth book by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. On Simon and Schuster’s author website for Arin Murphy-Hiscock, you can find all the titles of her other published books. Some were known to me and some were not. Some, like Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide, I had borrowed from my local public library and had on my “to-buy” list. So naturally I was elated to get The House Witch. I immediately cracked it open and wrote my name and the date on the inside cover.

But the demands of the Thanksgiving Holiday – cooking the meal and getting together with family in town for just a few days – meant that I wasn’t able to sit down and give The House Witch a good read. And then I caught my son’s cold. Sick and miserable, I gave up. I took a box of tissues and curled up on the couch under a hand-crocheted afghan for several days in a state of semi-slumber.

When I did finally get back to The House Witch, I was delighted, as I knew I would be. One my very first impressions was, “Gee, I wish there had been books like this back when I was first getting into witchcraft and wicca!” In the 1970’s and 1980’s, there were only a few books out on the subject and most of them – like Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance – were geared toward the large group or the coven but very rarely the solitary practitioner. Not until Scott Cunningham published Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner in 1988 that you started to see more attention paid to the solitary witch. While The House Witch is not specifically written for the solitary witch, it addresses the many concerns of those of us who practice alone – whether we live alone or with other people.

I was born in May, under the sun sign of Taurus, my moon in Pisces, with Cancer rising. Issues of home and health and happiness have always been forefront in my spiritual practice, so it is natural that I would gravitate toward creating and maintaining a beautiful home, even if that home is a tiny apartment in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in a rust-belt city. Because of my wonderful grandmothers, I was always aware of the magic in everyday things but many people – especially those born after, say, 1980 – do not have the benefit of the wisdom of their elders. On page 17, Murphy-Hiscock lists four steps that anyone can learn to “recognize the magic” as she terms it, reminding us to keep things simple and always to focus on what we are doing in the house. These steps are: live in the moment, be aware of your intent, direct your energy properly and focus on an action. Anyone who has studied any kind of meditation, magical instruction or spiritual path will recognize these steps. So just what does all of this have to do with the home and the hearth? Murphy-Hoscock writes,

“Opening yourself to the simplest of tasks and allowing them to inspire you with some insight or wisdom, or even a

moment of peace, illustrates that the Divine can whisper to you in the oddest of unexpected places. Hearthcraft is

about communing with the Divine through everyday tasks, not through complicated formal ritual.” (page 19)

She talks about home as sacred space. One thing she mentions is the removal of shoes in cultures such as Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia; I don’t allow anyone to wear shoes into my apartment and I am always amazed – when I watch TV, for instance – and I see people, not only with their shoes on inside their homes but also on the furniture!

When I was growing up, I always lived in houses that had fireplaces and we usually had a fire most winter evenings, so the idea of a hearth and a hearth fire is not unknown to me – one of our houses actually had a giant hearth built into the wall surrounding the fireplace! But since I have left my parents’ house, I have never lived in a house with a fireplace, much to my great sadness. I consider my hearth to be my kitchen oven or perhaps a meditation candle. However, when I was sick a day ago, I had some split pea soup and freshly baked bread and lay down for a nap. I could feel the warmth of the soup and bread in my belly and it occurred to me that my hearth fire was inside of me.

With this in mind, the “Bank Your Inner Flame” ritual on page 45 makes perfect sense. I had a wonderful warmth inside of me and I needed to be able to hold onto that warmth. It wasn’t just the soup and bread – it was the sense of being safe and secure in my own home. I love the word “smooring” – I love anything Scottish and Gaelic – I added it to my list of cool words and then I copied the “smooring prayer” (page 46) into my personal prayer book.

This book is filled with jewels.

There is a chapter on “The Magic of the Cauldron” in which she talks about how to find and care for a cast-iron cauldron. “Hearth and Home Deities” is just what it sounds like – a chapter of gods and goddesses of the home and hearth. The next chapter is about the kitchen as a sacred space – something that not many people even think about seriously nowadays. If your idea of cooking is opening up a box of prepared food and popping it into the microwave – or even using something like Hamburger Helper – then I would give Chapters 6, 8 and 9 a very close reading. As I already stated, Chapter 6 is about the kitchen as a sacred space. Chapter 8 is “Magic at the Hearth” and Chapter 9 is “The Spirituality of Food”. included!!!!!

Other topics in this fabulous book are “Using Hearthcraft to Protect Your Home”, “Herbs, crafts, and other Hearth-Related Magic Work”, and a chapter of various spells, rituals and blessings. Quite naturally, there is an appendix and a bibliography that have quite a bit of information in them as well.

In the “Postscript”, Arin Murphy-Hiscock writes, “Several times as I was writing this book, my thoughts moved faster than my fingers, and as a result ‘hearth fire’ very often came out as ‘heart fire.’ I wonder, at times, if my subconscious was trying to tell me something.” (page 247). I do not wonder at all. This book most assuredly set my heart on fire. In this rich season of Yuletide joy, when all of us decorate our houses with festive lights and traditional ornaments that may only have meaning to our loved ones alone, The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock is a book which brings together all the spiritual and happiness that home and hearth can represent. I highly recommend it for anyone on any spiritual path.

References

Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home. NY: Adams Media, 2018.

The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Notes from the Apothecary

December, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Christmas Cactus

 Oh no, not the C-Word! That’s right, my fellow Pagans, I said it. Christmas. Love it or loathe it, come December the 25th, possible birthday of Dionysus and Mithras (but unlikely to be the birthday of Jesus) the nation, nay, the world goes Christmas mad and we shake our heads. Don’t they know it’s just another solstice celebration? Or at the very most, an adoption of the festivities of Roman Saturnalia? Well, it might surprise you to know that I love Christmas. Yeah, it’s a touch annoying when people deny the Pagan roots, but I’m a sucker for seeing other people happy. And Christmas makes people happy! It also gives its name to some amazing things: Christmas Island, Christmas Jones and of course, the beautiful and exotic Christmas Cactus.

The botanical name is Schlumbergera, chosen by botanist Charles Lemaire (1801-1871) in honour of Frédéric Schlumberger (1823-1893) who was a renowned collector of cacti and succulents.

 

The Kitchen Garden

 Christmas Cacti are generally kept as houseplants as they are native to Brazil and used to this type of climate. In the wild they grow attached to rocks and trees, but they are happy in some well-drained, good quality compost with a bit of grit or sand.

The cacti are normally grown from cuttings and their spikes are barely there, making them resemble a succulent more than a traditional cactus. The leaves are flattish pads and they form chains which eventually erupt into bright and beautiful flowers. They are normally quite happy sharing a large pot with other succulents and cacti as long as it doesn’t become too crowded.

Don’t let them have too much direct sunlight. It can damage the leaves. But too little light, and they may never flower. Many schlumbergera flower in winter, making them a wonderful addition to natural holiday decorations, whatever you celebrate.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cacti in general are associated with fire and the south. They are also associated with the zodiac sign of Aries, but Christmas cactus is specifically associated with Sagittarius. Unsurprisingly this plant is associated with the month of December and the festival of Yule or the Winter Solstice. Christmas cacti make a great altar decoration for any festive period, and ones with pink or red flowers are particularly appropriate for the south of your sacred space.

The association with the zodiac sign of Aries can be expanded to include the god Aries, and Mars, Aries’ Roman Equivalent. This lends the Christmas cactus the power of strength, courage but also of conflict and success in battles.

Sagittarius is another fire sign, but one particularly associated with November and December, the signs time in the zodiac ending around the winter solstice. Sagittarius is the archer, and associated with prophecy and divination. The Christmas cactus, therefore, could be a great tool in meditative divination or prophetic spellwork.

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, so the Christmas Cacti could also be a great addition to expansion magic, and lawfully aligned magic.

 

Home and Hearth

Collect the flowers of your Christmas Cacti before they begin to fade. Let them dry; laying them on some paper in an airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill away from damp is good for this. Place the dried and hopefully colourful flowers in a small, clear jar. Either hang the jar on a thong or chain, or keep it in a pocket when you are going into situations where you need a little more courage. This could be confrontations with friends or family that you are nervous about, or perhaps raising a grievance in the workplace. The energy of Mars will walk with you, and the balance of a very hardy plant.

 

I Never Knew…

For those who enjoy growing succulents and cacti, the adorable name for baby succulents is pups!

All images from Wikipedia.

***

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: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Notes from the Apothecary

November, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Fenugreek

Hailing from Western Asia, Fenugreek is an odd tasting herb with some interesting history. Seeds have been found in archaeological digs dating back to 4000 BC and were even found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Called Greek Hay, Bird’s Foot and Sickly Fruit, the herb is considered to be a bit of a panacea, being a tonic for everything from abscesses to kidney problems.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Fenugreek is an annual herb which means it grows, flowers and seeds all in the same year and does not return the following season. The plants can grow to two feet tall and has little white or yellow flowers. It’s a pretty but unassuming addition to any herb garden

You will find Fenugreek in Indian shops under the name Methi in either seed or leaf form. It’s widely used in cooking, particularly in Eastern dishes. By itself it has a bitter taste, particularly the seeds, but within a dish it adds levels of depth which can’t readily be described. The seeds are high in protein, calcium, fiber, iron and various other essential minerals so make a great addition to your diet. It is possible that if you have a nut allergy, you may also be allergic to fenugreek so approach with caution if that is the case.

The greens are highly nutritious and can be eaten fresh or used dried as an herb. The seeds can be sprouted in a little water and the sprouts are tasty and very good for you.

 

The Apothecary

One of the most common uses of fenugreek is as a galactagogue. This sci-fi sounding word means an herb that promotes and boosts breast milk production. When my own milk supply was depleting due to my youngest weaning, I took a couple of teaspoons of fenugreek seeds every day and it seemed to help. It’s most palatable to make a tea out of them, which you can sweeten or add other herbs into in order to make it taste a little better. I ate the seeds straight down and they are bitter!

Other modern-day uses for fenugreek include relief for digestive issues, increasing libido and even fighting baldness.

Recent research has shown that fenugreek may be useful in sufferers of diabetes, but this research is ongoing. It may also be useful for relieving menstrual cramps and the symptoms of menopause.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham tells us fenugreek is a masculine herb, but look at all the medical uses that relate specifically to women’s issues such as breastfeeding and the menopause. If the plant is indeed masculine, then it’s a great example of how men and women need to help each other out, rather than bemoaning our differences. This male plant is definitely a feminist!

The plant is associated with Mercury which links it to communication, and also wealth and commerce. Fenugreek is therefore useful when crafting spells to do with business, jobs and joint ventures.

In Judaism, fenugreek is eaten during Rosh Hashana and is associated with increase. This is more about increasing our own talents and skills rather than the increase of wealth, but they can be closely linked depending on how you look at it.

Fenugreek is known as a ‘lucky legume’, as it is a member of the bean family and provides protection and attracts luck.

 

Home and Hearth

Scatter fenugreek seeds around the threshold to your home to ensure any who enter can only speak the truth.

Carry a pouch of fenugreek seeds in your pocket when attending an interview or important meeting to ensure you speak your mind. Just be sure you have nothing to hide, as you may be compelled to be honest about things you didn’t want to reveal!

Steep Fenugreek seeds in boiling water then add this water to whatever you use to clean your house with. This will attract material wealth into your home.

Combine fenugreek with alfalfa to craft oil or powder which will attract money. Just be on the look out for mischief, as Mercury is known to play pranks and cause messages to be mixed or muddled.

 

I Never Knew…

In ancient Egypt, a paste made of fenugreek seeds was used in the embalming process of dead bodies.

 

Image credit: Fenugreek from the Vienna Dioscurides, public domain; Freshly Sprouted Qasuri Methi by Miansari66; Junge Pflanzen des Bockshornklees by Yak

***

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: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

MagickalArts

November, 2018

The Hall of the Goddess Hestia

Light fills the Hall as you step through the doorway and Hestia stands centrally awaiting you. Gentle and loving eyes look upon you and although youthful in appearance, you feel the aeons of time that she has stood watch in the hearth spaces of home and community. She is radiant and filled with Light and Life and it is within her Hall that you will see the hearth flame that glows within……

Who is Hestia?

My hearth fires burn
And keep safe those
Blessed by my hand.

Food lovingly prepared
And family’s joining as one
These are my gifts
These are my boons.

This Goddess of the hearth fires and home was known as Hestia in the Greek Mythos, with Latin/Roman name of Vesta. She was considered a virgin Goddess, whose priestesses were known as the Vestals or Vestal Virgins in Ancient Rome. Hers is the domain and sanctuary found in the kitchen. The preparing of food for those loved and the warmth of sitting close together as the hearth burns in the long winter nights.

The primary focus of Hestia was that of keeping the sacred fires burning. In ancient times, this continued flame ensured fire for warmth, protection, light, cooking and more. She was Goddess of the sacrificial flame and as such received an offering share of every sacrifice to the Gods.

Hestia oversaw the cooking of every meal both in private home and communal gatherings. Her blessing was sought that the meal would nourish and sustain as well as forging the connections of sharing the meal with others.

In Myth, Hestia was the first-born of Kronos, God/Titan of Time and the Ages and Rhea, the Great Mother of the most powerful of the Gods, the Titans. She was fertility and Motherhood. Kronos, fearful that his children would depose him as he had done to his Father, Ouranus, ate each of the children as they born. Hestia, being the first-born was also the first to be consumed and the last to be disgorged when Zeus, (who had escaped the devouring of his Father, being hidden away by his mother Rhea), forced Kronos to release his swallowed siblings. I find this to be a very interesting story surrounding Hestia and the nature of her energy as Goddess of family, home and fires.

In an other tale, Hestia was pursued for marriage by Poseidon and Apollon, both of whom she refused and then asked Zeus to allow her to remain unmarried, an eternal virgin. Zeus agreed and she took her place at his Sacred Hearth.

So, how do we honor Hestia within our Hall? These are some of the thoughts and feelings I have regarding this Goddess. Consider her parentage, daughter of the Great God of time. Time is something we all wish to have more of with dear friends and families. Time is filled with joy and abundance when we spend some of that time, preparing a meal together and/or sharing the bounties of a hearth well-tended. Hestia’s mother, Rhea, was mother of the Gods, fertile and fierce in her protective nature. Motherly care speaks to the nourishment of those children tended, not only in the form of food, but also in the sustenance of mind, heart and encouragement to achieve their best possible selves. We do this for friends and all those we love as well. At times, being the Mother and at others allowing the expression of care to be given as we receive it with the innocence of the child who knows only this way of receipt.

Hestia’s sacrifice of refusing the offer of Marriage, thus parceling herself to another, speaks to the passion of choice in giving what we wish of ourselves and holding some intact for ourselves so we may focus on what is needed from others. This may seem as an odd comment, but keeping those fires burning brightly, to light the way for those who are wandering in the dark, to welcome another to the table for a feast lovingly prepared or to become the flame itself as source of inspiration requires at times an attitude of self-focus and being unfettered by another’s demands.

Hestia chose to remain the eternal virgin. In ancient Rome and Greece the term “Virgin” meant not married, not belonging to a man. This was a woman who was “one-in-herself.” The word is derived from a Latin root meaning “strength, force, skill”; and was later applied to men as the term “virile”. To provide for others requires that you must be strong within yourself. To offer up the bounty of food and relationship, you must know the wisdom of yourself singularly and what it is you have to offer in contribution to what is more than yourself.

Hestia maintains the inner flame that burns within each of us and the magick that we exercise is crafting the precise recipe that will produce the transformation of wheat to life-giving bread is successful to the degree that we acknowledge her presence in all of our working. Every word we speak, every action we take, every emotion expressed and every idea we share is blessed by the potential of taking a new form that will sustain, warm, and light the way for others.

This month is a wonderful time to come to know this Goddess. We have celebrated the First Harvest (Northern Hemisphere) or the First Sowing and Planting of Seeds that will require sun and care. Hestia’s fires call us to our dinner tables as friends and family gather round. And, as we offer up our thanks for her bounty and night draws near, the oil of her lamp will carry us into the cradle of gentle sleep.

Spend some time with Hestia. Think on how you connect with her as you move through your day. Light a candle or prepare a meal and feel her presence guiding and watching over.

Excerpted from:

Cornerstones of Magick

https://awitchssacredjourney.com/2015/09/07/cofmagick2-the-hall-of-the-goddesshestia/

Cornerstones of Magick: Lesson Index

https://awitchssacredjourney.com/cornerstoneslesson-index/

Image Credit: Howard David Johnson

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

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.

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The Enchanted Cottage: Magick for the Witch’s Home

November, 2017

To Protect the Witches Home

“We will set to work on that” said Hansel, “and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and though, Gretel, canst eat some of the window, it will taste sweet.”

Hansel reached up above, and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leaned against the window and nibbled at the panes. Then a soft voice cried from the room.

“Nibble, nibble gnaw,
Who is nibbling at my little house?”

The children answered,

“The wind, the wind,
The heaven-born wind,”

and went on eating without disturbing themselves….

From Hansel and Gretel—Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tale

 

Grimm

 

The above tale is from one of my favorite fairy tale books. Reading the myth and lore that the Brothers Grimm collected not only brings me comfort during the cold and dark months, I also enjoy unraveling some of the meaning behind the tales. One of the lessons I have learned from Hansel and Gretel is that if you don’t want random children nibbling on your home, you better learn how to set up protective boundaries. If the old witch in the candy coated cottage had installed magical shields around her property, she may not have ended up being cooked in her own oven.

There are many ways one can go about protecting their home from evil and unruly spirits, enemies, and unforeseen forces. It is always best to figure out what shielding magic works best for you but I will share a few methods that I have found to be effective.

Red Brick Dust. A staple in New Orleans Voodoo and Appalachian Hoodoo, Red Brick Dust is my go to formula for most protective magic. Easy to find on the internet and fairly easy to make, this magical powder is made from the grindings of a red brick. The trick is finding a brick that is red throughout, they can be difficult to find. To use, just sprinkle across your doorways and window seals. If feeling the need for extra protection the dust can be sprinkled around the perimeter of you house.

Gargoyles. Found on Egyptian and Greek temples and many churches, the grotesque gargoyle started out as a water spout. Now they can be found everywhere as a decorative feature on many homes and businesses. I have found these creatures to be fiercely protective and have a few around my home. They not only defend my home from unwanted entities, they also have been known to protect my home from natural forces such as storms and falling branches. All of my Gargoyles have names and they are treated like part of the family.

Herbs. There are many herbs that can be used in the protection of your home. You can sprinkle them across entrances much like Red Brick Dust or you can make magical brews and washes out of them to clean or draw runes and symbols with. This list is but a small portion of herbs that may be utilized for protective measures. Garlic, anise, bittersweet (poison), cinnamon, datura, juniper, wolfsbane (poison), and my go to favorite herb—vervain.

Runes and other symbols. These can be drawn through the air or “painted” on doors and windows with washes and brews. They can also be carved into the ground at the four corners of your property. Runes can be used on their own or combined to make bind-runes. Isa, Nauthiz and Algiz are just a few of the runes that can be used. The pentagram or pentacle is another popular protective symbol that is used as is in some magical circles, the cross.

What I have shared here are a few techniques that I use in protective magic for my home. There are many methods that have been known to work just as well as mine and it is wise to find the ones that work best for you. As the nights grow colder, I offer you many warm blessings for your hearth and home. May your home be safe from the nibbling of children…

Spiralled Edge

August, 2017

Spiralled Edge – Finding the Hearth and Heart

 

Once upon a time, the Hearth and Heart of a home would have been the main room with a large fireplace for cooking and heating, where people went about their daily lives. The fireplace would have been the focal point of the room. But many houses don’t have fireplaces these days, or they may be mostly ornamental with a fake fire, and we certainly don’t have huge fireplaces. The focal point in that main room has become a TV set, not a fireplace.

 

 

Gradually, the hearth became the cooker. And the heart of a home moved into the kitchen. After all, there’s big heat source with a cooker, even if it might put out heat produced by electricity and there might not be any fire involved at all. This is where the magic of cooking takes place, making it the hearth and possibly the heart of the home.

 

Not everyone cooks though, and some kitchens are tiny. In my case, I have had a tiny kitchen that was really part of the living room. The hearth in our home over these past 2 years has been the living room. Not quite a kitchen, not quite a lounge (because I have slept here as well), no fireplace, just a bricked up chimney.

 

The hearth and hearth in today’s modern home, is that room in the house where people most want to gather. For the most part, we aren’t living in one or two room homes with a single large fireplace used for heating and cooking. The heart and hearth may still be the kitchen, it may be another room.

 

Over the next week, I will be moving out of a flat into a small house, complete with separate kitchen! And I have found myself wondering, where is the hearth in this new home? Kitchen, living room, back garden?

 

The kitchen has the cooker, and the boiler used to produce heat for the entire house as well as hot water. The living room has a bricked up fireplace. Outdoors in the garden there is an unused but reasonably put together brick barbecue. Each has potential, but I won’t really know until I have spent time in the house, adding my own energies to the place, until I have cleaned and cleansed it of other people’s energies.

 

 

Once I have found the heart and the hearth in our new home, I will be able to work to strengthen that, so that its warmth can spread more easily into the other rooms of the house. I’m not talking about a physical heat here. I’m talking about the warmth that comes from walking into a calm, loving home.

 

Over the first few days of August, I will start by giving the currently empty house a thorough clean, top to bottom. This will help to wash away any residual physical signs of previous occupants. Then, I will give the house a thorough energetic cleanse, to remove any residual non-physical signs of previous occupants. Finally, I will take around my own holy water and salt to bless the dwelling and place a layer of protection around it.

 

Then, and only then, I will be ready to move into our new home. Then, I will know where the hearth and heart is.

 

Where’s the Hearth in your home? Is it the same room as the Heart, or are they in different rooms? Does this make a difference to the energy in your home?

Notes from the Apothecary

May, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Plantain

 

Plantain1

 

No, not the banana type fruit; I’m talking about the weed that we all walk past every day, that has a surprising wealth of health benefits. My friend calls it a ‘Magic Bandage’, and indeed, a cut or a graze can be safely wrapped in a clean, bruised leaf which soothes and heals at no expense. There are several types of plantain, and for the most part I’m referring to the broadleaf plantain, but I will also mention the ribwort, which has long, slender leaves. There are other variants too, so do look up which are native to your own area.

The Kitchen Garden

There’s generally no need to try to cultivate this amazing plant. It grows prolifically in environments ranging from your own garden to utter wasteland. The plant can survive in almost arid conditions, yet copes well with very moist conditions too. In lawns, it can be a bit of a pest, if you’re bothered about your lawn being immaculately groomed. I quite like the odd bit of clover and plantain in my back lawn; it’s a nice bit of variety!

The young leaves can be eaten as a ‘green’ in salads, in much the same way young dandelion leaves can. As the leaves age, they become tougher, and stringy, yet if stewed, can still be enjoyed as a healthy addition to casseroles or similar. The leaves are high in vitamin A and calcium, so make a healthy addition to your diet.

The seeds are also edible, and a good source of fibre, but some have a husk which is indigestible. The seeds are very tedious to gather as they are tiny!

The Apothecary

 

Plaintain2

 

Culpeper recommended grass and ribwort plantain ‘against spitting of the blood, immoderate flow of the menses’ and piles’, which he attributed to the plant’s astringent properties. He also recommended the juice of the ribwort for lessening agues (fever and shivering).

Mrs Grieves had plenty to say about the broadleaf plantain, including an interesting note that it was one of the nine sacred herbs mentioned in the Lacnunga, a collection of Anglo-Saxon texts and prayers. She also refers to William Salmon’s herbal, the 1710 text which tells us the plantain is good for the lungs, against epilepsy, dropsy, jaundice, and even helps restore lost hearing.

James A. Duke’s book The Green Pharmacy tells us that the plant is good for treating burns, dandruff, haemorrhoids (which backs up Culpeper’s much earlier assertion); also insect bites, stings, laryngitis, sore throats and sun burn. He even mentions it as a potential weight loss aid.

In 2007 in fact, a study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine reported that the broadleaf plantain had the capacity to inhibit tumour growth, when tested on rats. Other scientific studies give evidence that the plant is genuinely effective at wound healing, and has an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and even a very weak anti-biotic effect.

Other Uses

Plantains, like comfrey, contain a substance called allantoin, which has moisturising properties and promotes cell growth, and is one of the key components in the plant’s ability to help heal wounds and soothe burns. This makes the plant useful in some cosmetic applications, such as hair rinses, and skin tonics.

Apparently, the tough fibres in the older leaves can be used to craft fishing line, cords, and even sutures.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Culpeper stated that the broad leaf plantain was governed by Venus, and as such some of its healing power came through its ‘antipathy to Mars’. Cunningham concurs the connection to Venus, which as always, we can link to either the planet, or the goddess, and the usual associations implied. So love, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and triumph. If you plan your spells astrologically, plantain could be used when under the influence of the planet Venus. You could use the leaves, flowers or seeds on your altar or in your sacred space, or in a spell pouch with other items, to accentuate the influence of the planet, which often represents harmony, happiness and the arts.

Plantain is also used for a very specific protection: against snakebites. Cunningham tells us is it the root of the plant which provides this protection. Judika Illes doesn’t specify which part of the plant to use, but she does say to ‘Charge plantain with its mission of protection. Carry it in your pocket to guard against snakebite.’ The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells.

The immense healing power of the plant means it can be seen as a kind of cure-all, and you can implement the plants naute into your magical workings. Something which heals physically, can also heal mentally or metaphysically, and you could use the plant to help heal rifts, ease anxiety, and even alleviate insomnia.

Home and Hearth

I was taught to make a salve of plantain by using a good amount of the leaves, finely chopped, steeped in petroleum jelly and strained whilst the solution is still warm. When it sets, you have a thick, plantain salve which is good for burns, stings, cuts, grazes; any minor wound or inflammation of the skin really. Petroleum jelly is not ideal for everyone’s skin however, and two different friends recently recommended either using almond oil, or coconut oil as a base.

I think I am going to try coconut oil next, as this will also set which makes it a little easier to travel with. Also, I personally know I don’t react to negatively to coconut oil, and neither does my little boy, in fact his eczema prone skin practically sucks the stuff up. I’ll let you know how it goes. Before trying any oils or salves on wounds, it’s a great idea to ‘patch test’ with the base first. Rub a bit into the inside of your elbow or on your wrist, and see how your skin reacts. If your skin becomes irritated or inflamed, you know you need a different base.

A small pot of the salve travels with us whenever we are out and about. The great thing about plantain is that it is available so readily, if a small cut or graze occurs, we can nearly always find a leaf, bruise it, and apply it directly.

I Never Knew…

Plantago Major, the broadleaf plantain, was called ‘White Man’s Footprint’ or ‘White Man’s Foot’ by Native Americans, as the plant had a tendency to spring up where ever the European settlers had been.

Many thanks to fellow magical person Fee Edden for her help with the research for this article.

Picture credits: Wikipedia.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author 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 Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

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