magic

Book Review – Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery by Mary- Grace Fahrun

February, 2019

Book Review
Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery”
by Mary-Grace Fahrun
Publisher: Weiser
Published: Paperback, 2018
Pages: 122
Published: Paperback, 2018

I am of Sicilian descent, as well as German, so I was drawn to this book to learn more about the practices of the country from which my mother’s parents came.

By recording oral history, Mary-Grace Fahrun shares what she learned about customs and traditions from the matriarchs of her family. It started by collecting recipes and folk remedies. They came with stories, superstitions, incantations and prayers. She began Rue’s Kitchen to preserve these customs and practices as well as those of Italians of all faiths all over the world.

Religious rituals, magical spells, blessings, folk medicine and cooking are all “inextricably woven into the fabric of Italian culture – no matter where Italians are geographically located,” and Fahrun, who presents them woven together like a tapestry and a way of living.

“I was taught everything in Italian,” wrote Fahrun, who is fluent in Italian and about a half dozen of its dialects. The book is her guided tour through her magical life, presenting the principles so the reader can create their own magical life. Italian witchcraft “is not a religion. It is a practice anyone can incorporate into their spirituality regardless of religious belief,” she states, but adds, “There will be strong themes of devotions to saints and earth-based spirituality because they are both important to the fabric.”

The first chapter focuses on the kitchen, the most important and sacred room of the house. Here, every element is present. Herbs are magical, and magical tools are the same utensils, dishes and cookware used to prepare meals. You’ll learn how to clean, set up and treat your kitchen like the temple it is.

Other chapters deal with sacred spaces and home altars, and the magic in food. When addressing magic or medicine, there are a variety approaches for conditions that range from mental and spiritual intervention to the red ribbon and incantation used to relieve headaches and the ointment made of garlic paste and olive oil to apply to skin infections.

A page explains what she calls the most powerful incantation: “non è niente” or “it is nothing.” I remember my grandmother telling me that and thinking, “Well of course it’s something. I’m hurt.” But Fahrun, who is a nurse, found those three magic words healed even chronic wounds when said with “a detached, almost dismissive, attitude.”

There are recipes for days of the week and months of the year, explanations of proverbs and superstitions, and chapters that delve into amulets, divination, spells and charms, rituals and curses.

I came to better understand the meaning of things my grandmother and “the Italian aunts from Hartford” did. It’s inspired me to learn more about my grandparents’ hometowns – legends, patron saints, customs, history, etc. – from research and from two relatives who have visited.

The book’s cover design by Jim Warner also deserves a mention. It honors the book’s contents with the hand from the cimaruta, the cornicello (the red horn amulet or talisman worn to protect against the evil eye) and the hand gesture to ward off evil on ribbons wound through a garlic braid studded with blooming rue.

If you are Italian, or drawn to the culture, this book makes a wonderful entry point.

Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

January, 2019

Magic for Material

Merry meet.

When my body weight was fluctuating, I found myself buying most all my ritual wear at thrift stores and consignment shops. One way I used to make some of the velvet pieces more special to me was to emboss them with magickal symbols.

While many different types of velvet work, those with the most nap give the most striking results. Some velour fabrics work as well.

Rubber stamps are very easy to use. Cork and the large, thin erasers are two other materials you can use. You might experiment with others.

Place the front side of the fabric face down on the shape you wish to imprint on the material. Mist a couple of times with water and, using an iron set to the silk setting, press directly down on top of the shape. Hold it fairly still for about fifteen to twenty seconds. (If possible, use a test strip first.)

Wait a couple of moments and pull back the fabric to see the impression. Areas will still be damp, so let the fabric sit until it dries.

Goddesses, symbols, sigils and words offer abundant options, and embossing them with intention will add magic to your ritual garb, tarot bags and altar cloths.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Book Review & Interview – Practical Magic, a Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics & Spells by Nikki Van De Car

January, 2019

Book Review & Interview

Practical Magic

A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics & Spells

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the beautiful book “Practical Magic”, written by Nikki Van De Car and illustrated by Katie Vernon. This book was published by Running Press Philadelphia, in 2017. It’s a beginner’s guide to all things magical. It’s 152 pages long and is a hard back book. There is an optional kit that accompanies this book, that comes with a mini-book, 2 crystal tumbles, temporary tattoos, and a fold out natal chart. Both the book and kit are available through many retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. The book is also available for kindle. I was able to dig into both the book and the awesome kit, so read on to hear my opinions.

First off, both the book and kit are so beautiful! I love hardback books, and even more so if they have a gorgeous cover with an appealing title and artwork. The artwork throughout this book is very lovely.

This book is an amazing book for anyone new to magic or metaphysical topics, as it covers many, many topics and gives a nice overview of the subjects to get you started. In the introduction of the book, Nikki says it perfectly:

“Here’s the thing-you don’t have to believe in magic to enjoy this book. You just have to want to.”

I LOVE that!

This book has 3 parts, (1) Healing for Hedge Witches, (2) Magic for the Weekend Wiccan, and (3) Casual Clairvoyance.

There is information on so many topics, here are some (there are many more), auras, palm reading, tarot, crystals, sabbats, horoscopes/astrology, dream interpretation, herbs, chakras, and some recipes and spells too. It’s chock full of subjects I personally am very interested in, and I know most of my friends would be as well.

The book is geared toward beginners to magic, but as someone that’s been involved in magic for a long time, I still found the book educational and fun to read. Some topics I’m more familiar with than others, but each chapter I got something out of. I think anyone would enjoy this book very much.

Their is a very nice kit that you can get to accompany the book. In the kit you get an adorable mini book, a gemmy rose quartz tumble, a gorgeous tigers eye tumble, metallic & horoscope temporary tattoos and a fold out natal chart you can fill in with your birth info. There are sections in the book that will teach you about both the crystals and how to fill out the natal chart.

I love this kit, it ties in with the book perfectly and is such a fun addition! If you know me at all, you know I LOVE crystals, so I was thrilled two beautiful ones were included!

Including the natal chart was a great idea and very helpful for those new to astrology. And I’m also a big fan of metallic flash tattoos, so love that this fun element was included. The kit is also a great price for all that’s packed in.

I thoroughly enjoyed both this book and the kit. This would make a perfect gift for someone interested in all things magical. Its also available through many sites and at a fair cost. I highly recommend this book and kit!

Nikki was so kind… as to answer some questions I had for her. Here are my questions and her responses.

Retha: What inspired you to write this book?

Nikki: I just love magic. I always have- I was the kid that talked to trees, hoping a dryad would answer. As I got older, I let all of that go, but writing this book gave me the freedom to get close to that feeling again. It gave me permission to be open to that kind of wonder- and that’s what I wanted to share.

Retha: What is one thing you hope readers learn from your book?

Nikki: I want people to recognize the power of their own will. Over and over again in the book I say ‘magic is about intention’. And so it doesn’t matter how you want to channel your intention, your will, your magic- whether its through chakras or dreams or herbal remedies. What matters is how you live your life in that sense of personal power and possibility.

Retha: What made you decide to include a kit to go along with your book?

Nikki: This was my publishers idea! Its a fantastic addition, and I just love it.

Retha: Who is your target demographic with this book?

Nikki: It’s pretty feminine, so for sure women. I’m in my late 30s and I would 10/10 buy this book, so for sure I’m part of that target demographic! But I feel like there’s an insurgency of a younger generation of Wicca-curious millenials, and I hope this book can support them.

Retha: How long have you been interested in magical practices?

Nikki: After I grew up and got all adulty, I let go of magic for a long time. It was only within the past 5 years or so that I began to reconnect with my love of magic- when I sort of re-met that part of myself, and I found I still really like her! Once I gave myself permission to explore magic again, I started incorporating rituals, spells, herbal healing, and the like into my daily life.

Retha: What is your favorite section in the book?

Nikki: Personally, I turn to the herbal healing section ALL THE TIME. It’s the most practical. But I loved writing the section on pagan holidays, and those have become a large part of life. I love ritual and holidays, and having explored the meanings of these celebrations, I have found I really wanted to make them a part of my family’s life.

Retha: Are you planning on writing more books on magical/metaphysical content?

Nikki: Yes! In fact I have 2 more on the way! “Magical Places” is coming out in 2019 and “Wellness Witch” will follow shortly thereafter! “Magical Places” explores the haunted, healing and fairy-occupied places of the world, and “Wellness Witch” expands on some of the healing practices in “Practical Magic” with specific recipes and rituals.

You can reach Nikki Van De Car through –

Instagram: @nikkivandecar

Website: nikkivandecar.com

I hope you enjoyed both my review and my interview with the lovely Nikki, and hope you will check out her website and book!! A huge thank you to Nikki for answering my questions & sending me her book to review and enjoy!

Click HERE for Amazon Information
Click HERE for Amazon Information

***

About the Author:

Retha N. Lent has been married for 17 years to her husband Mark & they have four cats that are their life. She lives in Norristown, Pa. Retha has her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Behavioral Counseling Sciences from Drexel University. She is the owner of “Retha’s Crystals” & sells sterling silver unique crystal jewelry & specimens on her FB business page. She has a FB group for her customers and those interested in learning more about crystals & all things magical called “Retha’s Crystal Circle“. She is also an advisor in the Sage Goddess Affiliate Program. She has her Holistic Healing Certificate and Pillars of Priestessing certificates from Sage Goddess. She is also an Ordained Pagan Minister from the Universal Life Church. Retha has a passion for crystals, nature, astrology, working with moon cycles, ritual practices, tarot and oracle cards, runes, essential oils, herbs, manifestation work, ancient cultures, magic & music. Her favorite place is New Orleans, La. Retha has an extensive personal crystal collection and loves sharing her love of crystals with the world. She has been a practicing pagan since she was 16 years old. 

You can reach her at rethalent@hotmail.com or on her business page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/Rethas-Crystals-197411227666484/

Or in her FB group:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1960619300929876

Her Sage Goddess affiliate link is:

www.sagegoddess.com/ref/84/

Or follow her on Instagram at @spookygirl16

Book Review – Working Conjure: A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic by Hoodoo Sen Moise

January, 2019

Book Review

Working Conjure

A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic

By Hoodoo Sen Moise

Due to the fact that, in all honesty, I say I know absolutely nothing about Hoodoo, I was pleased to see that the first chapter was entitled, “What is Conjure/Hoodoo?”

The author explains the when, where, how and proceeds to tell us of Hoodoo’s principles in chapter 2.

I love the explanation of how

“Conjure was birthed out of a need to overcome the

oppression of slavery. It was a way for the slaves

to turn the tide against the slave masters and take back,

at least in some way, what had been taken from them.”

He speaks lovingly about the ancestors, those who came before and laid the foundation for all that has followed.

There are a few chapters that discuss roots, plants and animals and how each have their own spirit. He discusses the “spirit of a place”, with a whole chapter on conjuring in graveyards.

“Conjure is not a religion, but a tradition of work that

holds strong ties with the Spirits, of the Root, God

and the Ancestors.”

There, too, were many quotes from the Bible that fit with this work.

Included are many recipes for oils, powders, workings, and mojo hands.

Hoodoo Sen Moise has written an informative, warm, loving book. His respect and devotion comes through in every word. If Conjure is something you have always wanted to learn about, this is the book to get you started.

Working Conjure: A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

My Name is Isis on Amazon

Gael Song

December, 2018

Midwinter and Christmas Spirit Magic

 

(Image from http://visitstonehenge.com/)

As nearly everyone knows, light seeds of what will manifest during the coming year, are sent by the spirit world down hur’s sword of light to the base of everyone’s spine on Midwinter dawn. I can usually feel a sizzling at the base of my spine that day, when I first step out of my little cottage into the daylight. But there’s much more that follows after, which no one at all seems to recognize. As a light healer, reading energies, it’s easy for me to see these. And so, this month, I want to write about what I’ve observed over many years. Those hurian light seeds of the year ahead settle down into the energetic soil of everyone’s womb (both men and women have inner female and male structures inside in light), where they remain for three days, while the Goddess decides the exact form and timing the new impulses of light will take over the year to come. The dark cosmic sea, keeper of all things unborn, floods every person’s abdomen as well. One could call it the unconscious, for it is.

Always, there’s one central thrust of growth for each person over the year to come, growth that will involve facing specific fears or outer challenges meant to build a brand new part of the self within. This new gift or talent is always divine, a small piece of each person’s self-of-light or highest destiny that will eventually emerge during everyone’s final lifetime on earth. This divine self was seeded into us at the very moment of our creation into light, long, long, ago, on the Creator Sun, the highest light structure in the seventh heaven, so say my druid guides. You could think of this new self-of-light that grows into fulness each year as each person’s own divine child of that cycle, too. That’s how my guides speak of it, anyway. Our own divine qualities always reflect the Creators, too, the White Tara and Oghama, Goddess and God.

So, after three days in the cosmic sea, the first structures of the year’s divine child emerge from everyone’s abdominal unconscious and move into each person’s high heart or thymus. The thymus is the inner child heart, where our divine children anchor in most strongly. This happens on Christmas dawn. This child within looks like an infant-of-light, and I find this time most magical, for I can always feel the soft loving-kindness essence of the divine children filling my spirit on that morning. Even amid the bustle of cooking for visiting relatives, I try to find a few moments of quiet to sense what this impulse of growth for the year ahead may bring for me. And this divine infant is one of twelve parts of our inner spirits that everyone has, all twelve with specific vibrations, regencies of the spirit, and directives in life. You could call these twelve parts of everyone’s spirit their personality, too. These twelve parts of our inner spirits exactly match the twelve gods and goddesses of the Creator Sun as well.

And always this emergence of the divine child inside everyone releases a bright beam of hope, a ray of clear diamond light. It will see that, during this first druid moon of the year, the Birch moon, some memory or long-cherished desire will be brought to each person’s attention. This is the first hint of what will manifest for each of us at the end of the coming year, something we’ve long wished for. And this promise of fulfillment stirs up desire from our depths to face and heal whatever fears may be in its way, so this dream will definitely come to be at the end of the year.

Over the year ahead then, this impulse get fleshed out as we push against the thorns and briars in our paths. On Imbolc, the little girl part of each person’s spirit emerges from this abdominal sea. On the Vernal Equinox, the toddler boy emerges. Then the feminine virgin on Bealtaine, the masculine virgin at Midsummer. The inner god and goddess are active during the Oak (May/June) and Apple (July/August) moons, not the solstice/equinox/cross-quarter-day festivals. The inner mother part of our spirits arises at Lughnasa, the inner father at the Autumnal Equinox, the feminine grandmother at Samhein, and finally, the inner grandfather at Midwinter. This is when our new divine part of self is finally complete, fully born into all twelve parts of our inner selves-of-light. It’s the realization of our sweet dream of the year before.

May your own divine child for the year to come be utterly miraculous, bringing an end to want, perhaps, a special destiny, a love like no other. I always hope for the beginning of real peace, unity between peoples, an end to war and privation in the places of most intense global suffering. But these are dreams that will take us all to achieve. For now, it’s enough to feel that sword of light and let it lead you all year long. Let’s walk this road together into the awakening of everyone’s divinity, all of us a shining star in our own personal areas of endeavor. May this season of magic be the very best you’ve ever had!

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to hurian Fulfillment on Amazon

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.

 

Book Review – Everyday Enchantments by Maria DeBlassie

December, 2018

Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings

 

 

Maria’s book is described as a collection of ‘micro-meditations and celebratory reflections on living life as a wild woman’. How could I not be intrigued? Though far from a true wild woman myself thanks to my urban-slash-suburban setting, I’m always drawn to the idea of being freer, away from the hubbub and city grind. This book holds chapter after chapter of golden, glowing moments from just such a life, and is as compelling as it is calming.

Each chapter is short and sweet in the best possible meaning of that phrase. One chapter focuses on the magic of chamomile, from the point of view of taking the tiny, dried buds and bringing them to life in a soothing cup of tea. Another reflects on the divine powers of the onion. This is true ‘everyday’ magic. Rituals we may go through every day without perhaps realising the power inherent within our actions. Maria encourages us to pause, drink in what we are doing and absorb every moment’s magical potential.

I love the meditative nature of the chapters. Most are written in the second person, a style I normally find a bit jarring. In this book it works really well. This is because it is written in the same way a guided meditation is spoken to you. As you read you can almost hear a gentle voice whispering the words directly into your brain and allowing you to completely visualise and lose yourself in each moment.

I have found this book immensely useful for reminding me to stop and take stock. It helps me enjoy each moment more fully, not by trying to recapture the moments in the book but by following the example of living fully in each minute and being grateful for the enchantment that flows through every second. A thoroughly wonderful book. Recommended for all.

Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings on Amazon

***

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

October, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Mandrake

As we approach Samhain, I like to examine an herb or plant that has particular links to the season. Last year I explored the magic of the pumpkin, an obvious choice for the Halloween season. This year I wanted to dive deeper into folklore and magic, and the mandrake has been my mystical plant of choice.

Immortalised by J. K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series as the shrieking stars of herbology, the image of the human-like root screaming actually goes back to at least the 12th century. A medieval manuscript describes how the plant ‘shines at night like a lamp’ and that iron must be used to circle the plant to prevent it escaping, although the iron should never touch the plant. Other texts note that a dog must be used to pull the root up which, let me tell you, does not end well for the dog. Surrounded by magic, mystery, myth and superstition, this plant has a rich tradition of medicinal use and is a popular tool of modern witches and magical practitioners.

The Kitchen Garden


The true mandrake, mandragora officinarum, should never be eaten. It is hallucinogenic and narcotic, and can cause unconsciousness and even death. Sometimes people use bryonia alba, the false mandrake, as a substitute for mandragora. This plant is also highly poisonous. Another substitute is American Mandrake, which is poisonous in parts. Basically, if you come across anything purporting to be mandrake, don’t eat it!

The plants are beautiful, with springtime flowers of blue and white, and summer fruits sometimes known as devil’s apples. It needs really well drained soil to support those enormous roots, which can grow up to four feet in length. It also needs warm conditions and a good bit of sunshine to thrive, and a good quality compost for nutrients. Grown the plant well away from anywhere children and pets have access to. They can be grown from seed, or by separating the tubers.

The Apothecary

Six cures are described in the mediaeval Harley manuscript. One was for headaches and insomnia, whereby a salve of mandrake leaf juice was plastered to the head. Another was for earaches, and the juice was mixed with oil and poured directly into the ear. Another was a remedy for severe gout, but as it was administered in wine, I’m unsure how effective this would have been! Mandrake was also recommended for epilepsy, cramps and even colds.

Dioscorides, in his materia medica, also advised the plant was used to help insomniacs, but also that it seemed to have sedative and even anaesthetic properties. He did point out that ingesting too much was deadly!

Mrs Grieve states that the leaves are harmless and cooling and used to soothe ulcers, while the root and its bark is a strong emetic.

The Witch’s Kitchen

There is a belief that the mandrake only grew under the place where someone had been hanged. This gives it a dark association with death, possibly criminal activity, but also the oddly positive aspects of corporal punishment: law, order and justice. Called ‘little gallows man’ in Germany, the mandrake can be a symbol of ridding yourself of something you no longer need; of doling out ‘punishment’ to the things in your life you wish to drive away from you.

Dioscorides believed the root could be used in love potions.

The human like shape of the root speaks of transformation and hidden things. The mandrake reminds us not to judge a book by its cover, and that things are not always how they seem. We should always look twice, or as Terry Pratchett wrote, we should open our eyes, then open our eyes again.

In folklore, the cry of the mandrake caused either madness or death. Mrs Grieve writes that small doses of the root were used by ‘the Ancients in maniacal cases’, again connecting the root to madness and states of disconnection between the body and mind. Historically it was used to cure demonic possession, indicating it could be used to heal a disconnected body and mind, so there appears to be a contrary nature to this plant.

Mandrake can be used in any magical working to increase the potency of the spell, and in particular to increase psychic powers and prophetic magics.

Home and Hearth

Place a dried mandrake root on your mantelpiece to bring prosperity and joy into your home. Place a piece of mandrake on top of money, so a spare change pot or money box, and more money will enter your life. Hang one above the door to prevent demons or people with negative intentions from entering. Always keep out of the reach of children or pets!

I Never Knew…

As recently as the nineteenth century, mandrake roots were still being sold in Europe as charms to increase the libido.

*Images: Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) from Tacuinum Sanitatis manuscript (ca. 1390), public domain; mandragora autumnalis, copyright tato grasso 2006 via Wikimedia Commons; folio 90 from the Naples Dioscurides, a 7th century manuscript of Dioscurides De Materia Medica, public domain.

***

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

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Eclipsed

August, 2018

Lunar Eclipse and Blood Moon 27 July 2018

My dear friend Susan Rossi who is a gifted astrologer (https://openchannelastrology.com/) has taught me to pay close attention to eclipses and the, so called, annual Eclipse Season. She tells me that eclipses act as gates or portals for human consciousness we can pass through. If we handle the challenges right we can even unhook from “karmic theatre” – meaning that we can put long-standing dysfunctional dynamics between us and others to rest. Easier said than done, but when we achieve it there is instant relief and head space.

In November last year I discovered some cysts in my breast which opened a period of medical investigations married to deep inner work on Mother Issues:

  • Myself as both mother and “shadow mother” of three teenage sons, parenting with great delight all my personal imperfections
  • My real life Mother and my Inner Mother (the magical place within where I can mother myself because I am a grown-up now!)
  • My Mother-In-Law and life-giver of my husband
  • People who have reached out to me in maternal ways during my lifetime. (Women who have nourished my soul and afforded me shelter under their wing when I needed it – I am eternally grateful to them all!)

As a family we plan our summer around our children’s school holiday. We did not consult an astrologer but nevertheless we were at my mother’s house in the Netherlands the day the July 12th eclipse occurred and my mother-in-law was here with us in Sweden for last night ‘s lunar eclipse and Blood Moon.

You cannot make that up!!

Anyway, I decided to walk through these Eclipse Gates intuitively. It is tempting to read other people’s interpretations and astrological interpretations as there is a myriad of on-line articles just one click of the mouse away.

Here in Sweden forest fires rage and everyone is praying for rain. Last night’s eclipse brought that rain!! Actually it started raining the exact moment I started writing this article! I performed an informal rain dance, naked in the forest, at 4 a.m. this morning and a passing wild boar family grunted at me. One bat nearly landed on my head. – I must have done something right…

We took my mother-in-law for an outing on the lake in the early evening (this involved requesting permission from the local castle and land owner to use their jetty – and permission was granted!)

The first sign of the eclipse was a most peculiar cloud appearing over the lake. Our whole family collectively shifted into an altered state of consciousness.

This was followed by some sightings of a beaver swimming alongside our boat.

A few hours later the Blood Moon rose: hard to spot, the palest orange outline against a metal blue Scandinavian sky. All photographs of it failed. They just show darkness – as (I guess) the Moon wants them too. (I do not want to be photographed either when I disrobe and step away from prying eyes).

The next stage of the eclipse process looked like a red horse shoe birthing a new galaxy – or possibly an embryo gestating in deep sacred darkness:

This article will now continue in the form of photographs and poems as I do not yet have access to mainstream linear words for the Lunar Eclipse that occurred within me.

 

The Queen of Blood

 

In one eclipse vision

I meet

The Queen of Blood and Lineage

Seated on her throne

Within me

She hands me her star-spangled cape

 

Says

Time to stop wearing

The Midnight Sun!

Stir the cauldron

That is the eclipsed Moon

Make the Night Sky your altar cloth

The Big Dipper your ladle

 

Remember the woman in the supermarket

Who had

The Milky Way

The Winter Street

Tattooed on her back?

You are She!!

 

You are the mother bear

Whose spine is the Milky Way

As she walks The Winter Street

And leads the way through Darknesses

So it is safe

For the Moon to return

Another day

 

When I die

Wrap me in tonight’s sky

Let the Morning Sun

Burn me in a watery blaze

 

The Eclipsed Moon

Is my Home

I am

And I am not

Simultaneously

Eternally

 

This phase was followed by the tiniest crescent of reflected sunlight returning.

As this crescent expanded and we saw all phases of the Moon in one evening: a true once-a-century spectacle!

Next planet Mars, at his closest point to Earth and fiery red, rose over the tree tops (I was observing all this from a forest by the Baltic Sea).

 

 

I meditated on all the occasions when I had felt eclipsed –

and/or played my part eclipsing others:

 

Eclipsed

 

During this

Total lunar eclipse

I no longer feel eclipsed

by people

I gave too much power

 

They stood with me

As a male wolf-serpent ate the Moon

And a female serpent-wolf called Blame

Unwound from my heart

 

She joined the Great Wolf in the Sky

Where she swallowed some stars

But soon vomited up even more stars

My pain, my fear,

My attachment to that old self

Now twinkle overhead

In the neighbourhood of the Pole Star

 

Next Mars rises

The colour of pulsing rage

As he did so

Three gunshots were heard

In the deep dark forest

They killed a phantom

The Old Me

 

As a crescent of light

Reappeared on the Moon

I stood naked

Resurrected

Safely wrapped

In a wolf fur sky

 

 

 

Dream: I am the Universe

A few nights ago

I dreamed that I was the Universe

Brimming with stars

Planets and black holes

Cosmic Breath

A turning inside-

And outside-in

Weaving in and out of existence

 

Rhythm

So this is

The sound of

One hand clapping…

 

 

 

Skulls don’t lie

 

I look at the sky

Where puffy clouds lie

Skulls with pincers

Crabs

Lobsters

Dis-ease

 

On a hot day

Hidden in plain view

Something in me dies

Whenever I tell

Polite lies

 

I look at the sky

Where my own skull

Grins right back at me

 

 

 

Wild Boar Medicine

(A small dose)

 

Right above

Solstice Rock

The Resurrected Moon

Rests in a tree

To meet all eyes

Gazing up at her

They become one giant

Golden eye

That will greet The Rising Sun too

With awe

Without question

 

Fifteen baby wild boar

Return her gaze only briefly

While grazing in the field

Believing that

The Resurrected Moon

Is the Morning Sun

In the Scandinavian

Sky

 

Having faced

My fears and phantoms

I stand reborn

A Wild Boar Person

With solar attitude

A great love for solitude

 

At this point I decided to go to bed but my bed turned into an art studio and “poet’s corner” as I cannot possibly sleep when the energy is so high!

 

 

 

Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, 28 July 2018

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of sacred art and Northern European shamanism. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 she is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published on 29 March 2019. She is currently working on her third book: Medicine of the Imagination.

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  

(Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

 

 

 

Book Review – Love Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions by Anastasia Greywolf

August, 2018

Book Review

Love Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions”

by Anastasia Greywolf

Published by Wellfleet Press

Copyright May 29, 2018

Pages: 256

This book is marketed to “help readers navigate through their amorous adventures,” such as people hoping to “catch that person you’ve been secretly in love with for the past five months” and to help when “an unrequited crush is not getting your subtle hints.”

In her introduction, Anastasia Greywolf, a practicing witch and herbalist and a founding member of the Coven of the Moonbeam Ravine, states, “Whether you want to find ‘the one’ or simply make your pets love each other, get rid of a bad date or set yourself free from a bad energy of a relationship from the past, you’ll find the magic to make it happen in these pages (check the back for a full index of spells). From more than a dozen contributors, they draw from a variety of traditions and spiritualities.”

Some of the magic is traditional while most is modern.

I agree with Greywolf that “of all the mysterious forces in the universe, love may be the most powerful” and “love is hard to control.” I don’t agree that all the incantations, concoctions and charms offered to harness it are necessarily proper. Yes, love spells have been around “forever.” However, if something interferes with a person’s freewill, warning bells go off in my head.

For instance, there is a “Sisterhood Spell for Female Friends” contributed by Susan Adcox. Noting you “can never have too many sisters of the heart,” she offers a spell to make a relationship with a casual friend or acquaintance grow into something more. It involves burning a white candle and saying, “Bound by choice and not by blood, Be for me a sister good. Share the joy, halve the pain,
Our love will ever wax, not wane.”

While it seems harmless, my ethics would keep me from doing it because it’s trying to get someone to be a good sister. Rather, I would find another way to address the situation. If I was shy or too intimidated to approach the person, I would do some magic to bolster my self-confidence and courage. I would also recognize that this woman may not choose to be a close friend for any number of reasons that may very well have nothing to do with me. Not knowing the person well, there could be something about her behavior that would make not being close to her actually be for my highest good and greatest joy.

There is much to consider when doing a spell, and those involving others require the most thought and experience, which is why I caution people not to just pick up a book and follow some instructions without thinking through every detail and possibility.

A traditional spell Greywolf offers is “To Marry Whomever You Choose.” It reads, “To make the person you love want to marry you and ensure a union, the solution is simple. Obtain the heart of a chicken and swallow it whole.”

Other than being extremely squeamish about swallowing a chicken heart whole, I am also extremely squeamish about making a person love me. There are at least half a dozen ways I can see this go sideways.

The same goes for the spell “To Get a Marriage Proposal” contributed by Luna Eternal. Among other steps, it has the reader repeat three times,”With the love that is ours / I call upon this ancient power / Engagement is what I seek / Proposal is what you offer to me / By the power of three times three / As I will it, so mote it be!”

I see this as a form or manipulation. I also recognize my bias comes from how I practice and I acknowledge not everyone walks the same path the same way.

Spells can be found in the book that do not reach into someone else’s space. The “Pre-wedding Bath,” submitted by Jill Robi, is one of those. It calls for lighting pillar candles on each corner of the bathtub, adding certain essential oils to the water and floating rose petal upon it while envisioning “the best version of your special day, pulling positive energy into yourself, and projecting that into the universe.”

Robi’s “Wedding Sachet,” and Greywolf’s spells “To Cure Pre-Wedding Jitters” and “For Bandaging Past Wounds” are but three more examples.

I appreciated that along with steps to take “For Courage to Break Up With Your Lover,” contributor Aoife Witt wrote, “Important note: Most of us dread breaking up with a significant other. If the reason you are nervous about initiating a breakup is because your significant other may become violent, you may do this spell but please do not rely on it. Go to a safe place, and call the proper authorities.”

Among the more interesting spells I found in the book was this one to love yourself.

 

The Narcissa”

by Hollen Pockets

This is a spell to fall in love with yourself. Perform in times of need.

Take a rock and break your mirrors. You don’t need them right now.

Keep the rock and break your scales.
Take some scissors and snip your measuring tape. Keep the scissors and cut your hair, no mirrors needed. Speak the words: It doesn’t matter. It will grow.

Go for a long walk or get out of the house in whatever way you can. Use your body. Count the beats of your great heart.

Find a reflective pool. If needed, fill your favorite bathtub and look into that.

Speak the words: I have all I need.

Smile at your reflection, blurry and imperfect in the reflecting water. Smile and smile and smile.

 

For readers who want to craft their own spells, or modify one from “Love Magic,” the lists of colors, stones, herbs, essential oils and flowers found at the back of the book are helpful. There is also a section on love omens – from apples to wishbones – along with the meaning of various birds, a list of lucky days, and information about how each phase of the moon relates to love magic.

As with everything in life, it is wise to take what you need and leave the rest. I hope you will do so with this book as well as all others that show up on your path.

Love Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions

 

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

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