magic

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…

Death Masks

November, 2017

At this time of looking back, memories and retrospect I want to share a wonderful experience I had a few years ago. I received an intriguing invitation: a workshop in making a death mask on Samhain with a small group! I didn’t have to think long and decided I’d definitely want to be there. We ended up being with 6 ‘wyld & wicked women’! Some had met each other before. At the time I only knew the hostess beforehand, so I had the privilege to get to know 4 wonderful women.

First we had dinner at a beautiful Samhain-decorated table. We had a very yummy salad, delicious pasta with pesto and salmon, an exquisite quiche and very tasty pizza! The dessert was even better: heavenly cheesecake and divine pecan pie with vanilla ice-cream. We started by reading ‘The Charge of the Great Mother’ out loud. Everyone had placed an extra plate on the table for someone behind the veils. We shared stories about those people and animals while eating in their honour. Lovely stories about beautiful memories… Some put a smile on our faces, some made us get all teary-eyed. It was very intimate and touching; it felt as if I got to know the people and animals, as if they were really there, sitting with us. I dedicated my plate to my dad. I told about our special bond, about my childhood memories and also about his death.

In the temple space we prepared everything for the workshop. We made the masks in pairs. One person was lying down, while the other one put plaster bandages on her face to make a very personal mask, a mask of our own faces. To protect our skin and to make the mask easier to release we covered our face with a lot of cream. I had a nasty cold, so I was a bit nervous whether I could persevere the plaster. I decided to put some straws in my mouth, so I had both nose and mouth to breathe. Still, it wasn’t easy! I started thinking a lot of “what-ifs”. That wasn’t going to help me persist so I went into a meditative state and that was the right decision. I did it!

Then it was my turn to make a mask. I soon felt I was very tired and the cold didn’t make it any easier. I wanted to finish the mask, so I kept on putting plaster bandages. I struggled. I realized it wasn’t working and felt so bad… Finally I asked someone else to take over. That was so hard, I felt I had failed miserably. In the kitchen I cried, but everyone was so kind and comforting! My mask partner got a beautiful mask nevertheless and she wasn’t disappointed (as I had feared). On the contrary, she accepted her own lesson in this with grace; we talked it over and hugged. Looking back now I can see it as it is: a wonderful experience for both of us, and a lesson too… I’m still very grateful for it.

deathmasks

 

Afterwards we all talked about what making the masks had done with us. Generally speaking death-masks are made after a person dies. To do it on a living person can feel strange, especially when the eyes and mouth are covered. You literally shut them up… and the other way around your mouth is covered and shut. Although I had the straws in my mouth, it still felt like that. We shared our experiences and feelings. Meanwhile, it was very late so we set up the beds and dived in! I slept next to the veils in the temple space. In the morning we had a long breakfast / brunch together, closed the circle and said our goodbyes.

Masks of deceased people are part of many traditions around the world. In some European countries it was common for death masks to be displayed at state funerals. Death masks have been a matter of practice from as early as ancient times and making death masks was routine until the late 19th century when photography took over in popularity. However, some death masks were still made in the 20th century and are made to this day. Death masks were sometimes used as a way to identify the dead and at other times the death masks were used as a way to remember the dead person or to use as a way to build their memorial on their grave. Death Masks usually involve the eyes of the deceased being closed but in a few rare exceptions the eyes are left open. This video shows the death masks of many famous people:

 

 

Sources & further reading/watching:

Crystal Connections

November, 2017

Hematite

 

 

Hematite is a common but sometimes overlooked stone because it lacks the bright flashy colors like its other crystal counterparts. In its understated, cool dark silvery tones, this crystalline structure contains some pretty great metaphysical properties. Even though it’s known as the “stone of the mind” for its clarifying and focusing abilities, for me its best properties are for grounding, balancing and protecting.

 

 

I will often carry a small tumbled piece around in my pocket or purse to roll between my fingers when I’m feeling out of sorts or confused. This stone has a way of bringing things into focus and keeping me on an even keel. I have found that Hematite helps me feel deeply connected and grounded to my most inner self. Because of these properties you may find when using this crystal that you are able to push through any previous obstacles and focus on moving forward in a way that is beneficial to both your physical and spiritual self.

 

 

Another great attribute that this stone has is its ability to absorb negative energy. Around my house I have varying clusters of crystals on display and mixed in with each display are a few pieces of tumbled Hematite to absorb or deflect any negative energy. I still cleanse and recharge my crystals but I feel like Hematite adds that extra protectiveness around them and my home.

How do you feel about this stone? Which of its many properties has helped you? Do you wear your Hematite or carry it with you? Remember there’s no wrong or right way to use your crystals, use them in a way that is most beneficial to you.

 

***

About the Author:

 

 

Shiron (Shi) Eddy hails from the Pacific Northwest and shares a home with her husband, a Great Dane and a cat. Her love for crystals and minerals came from her dad who was an avid rock hound in his younger years. Shi happily shares her knowledge of crystals with anyone who is drawn to them, but especially loves to help people connect with minerals that involves their metaphysical properties. When she’s not networking with other crystal and mineral lovers, Shi can be found making jewelry, painting, crocheting Goddess dolls, selling her wares at shows or spending time with family and friends. You can find her jewelry in her shop ShiJewels or follow her on Instagram.

Book Excerpt from A Modern Celt: Day of the Dead by Mabh Savage

October, 2017

Day of the Dead

 

Samhain, for many on a Pagan path, is “the biggy”, the festival of all festivals, and much of this is to do with the day’s association with the dead and thus ghosts, spirits and other things otherworldly. It’s generally celebrated on October 31st although in Gaelic the word actually means “November” so the festival being named thus would seem to indicate that is to be celebrated at the start of November. This is probably because the Celts believed a new day started at sunset, so when fires were lit on the 31st October as the sun went down, it was already Samhain, the next day, and time to celebrate another point in the year when the veil is thin and one can almost speak to one’s ancestors, as they walk amongst us. Sometimes the night time celebrations are still called “Samhain Eve” rather than Samhain, and I think it’s key to understanding the Celts that we recognise that they weren’t taken too much by the time of day or the date, but more by splitting things into light and dark. Sunset was the end of the current day, therefore it was the beginning of a new day. Samhain was the halfway point between equal night and day (the autumn equinox) and the longest night (the winter solstice). Winter was darker; summer was brighter.

 

This is how I believe they saw the world, and this is how, as someone trying to understand their ancestors, I am also finding myself looking at the world. Even though we are, as a modern society, so obsessed with timekeeping and date stamping, it’s nice just to think “It’s cold and the sun is low after only a few hours, it must be winter. The moon is full and the sky is clear- it will be cold tonight. The leaves are yellowing; it is autumn.” It’s so much more special to watch the world change around you, to feel the turn of each season, than to mark its continuation by the flick of the page in a diary and waiting for dates to happen. The most physical evidence of any sort of calendar kept by a Celtic people is the Coligny Calendar, bronze plates dating from around the year 200 (although it’s thought the calendar usage may go back as far as 800 BCE) which show a calendar based on a 5-year cycle using both the solar and lunar cycles to describe an approximately structured year. This is not unlike our modern Gregorian calendar if you think about it- we have months roughly based on the cycle of the moon, although as we only have 12 now we stick in random days here and there (i.e. the 30 and 31-day months), and every 4 years when we’ve not managed to travel quite all the way around the sun, we get an extra day!

 

So here we are at Samhain. We now understand that the Celts were looking forward into the darker part of the year and preparing for winter, whilst at the same time feeling the touch of the other world; the fae, the Tuatha Dé Danann and indeed their own ancestors. Ever since I can remember this has always been a time to remember one’s own ancestors and honour them the best you can. This can be simply saying their names out loud, or holding a feast with their favourite food included. A common practice is to leave an image out of the ancestor or ancestors in question, and if no image is available or appropriate then something that either belonged to them or reminds you keenly of them. This is their physical link to you; this is how they know where to come through when they reach the veil. Offerings are left with this image or symbol, as a way of thanking your ancestor for what they have brought to you. Hopefully, your ancestor will see the gesture and be grateful, but also be at peace seeing that you are doing well and honouring your traditions; understanding yourself as a whole person, and acknowledging what came before you and what will come after; after all, by whole heartedly embracing this practice you accept that one day you will be on the receiving end of the gesture- whether through a direct blood descendant or even from friends or students- anyone you may have had significant and positive influence on.

 

As well as honouring our ancestors, we also accept that in the long run, they no longer belong here. Not that they are unwanted, but that they now reside somewhere else, and only at Beltane and Samhain can we be this close to them again. Samhain, starting at sunset, has the longer darkness, and therefore the greatest opportunity to light fires and candles as beacons to guide the dead, which I think is why this winter festival is more widely recognised as the day of the dead, rather than its summer counterpart, which is more about the continuity of life and fertility.

 

So at Samhain, there tends to be a threefold celebration. We welcome the ancestors- we draw them towards us somehow, we feel their presence and we celebrate their return. We spend time among them, enjoying their company like one would a friend you have not seen for years. Not only ancestors but friends and acquaintances past, including pets and working animals that may have been close to us. Because of this it can be a very bitter sweet time of year: although it’s wonderful to feel the presence of someone or something deeply missed, it also brings sharply into focus the original grief when you lost them. Because of that though, it can be a great way of dealing with grief. Sometimes we bottle things up too much, and Samhain has a tendency to bring to the fore feelings we would not normally have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s a good idea, because of this, to surround yourself with friends, family and loved ones or whoever can best support you through this.

 

Of course, you may be someone who genuinely deals with grief better on your own, but when you are also dealing with the potentially supernatural, it’s good to know that you are not alone; that you are not the only person who is feeling the presence of someone long gone but clearly not forgotten. So this is the second stage of Samhain: being with those we lost, and dealing with it either with happiness or grief while ensuring we are supported and making it as joyous as possible with feasting, drinking, and even gifts. Some celebrate Samhain as New Year too (understandable looking at how the Coligny calendar split the year into two halves), so again, more drinking, gifts and excuses for tomfoolery! The third stage is a little more solemn, and just as important. This is the stage where we feel the veil closing, and we say farewell to our ancestors (and other loved ones) and ensure we guide them on their way.

 

There are many different ways of doing this and I would not recommend that you practice rituals, rites or magic with the intention of guiding the dead without the guidance of someone experienced in such matters- quite frankly it can be a bit scary. More simply and traditionally, candles can be lit as symbolic beacons to show the dead their paths. can be played, for in Celtic tradition music is a gift from the otherworld and thought to be very magical indeed. Ancestral feasts are cleared away and images of ancestors are cleaned and put away until after the season is over, to remove temptation for the spirit to stay. It’s like saying, we’ve been happy to have you here, and we wanted to let you know how grateful we are for your influence in our lives. But we are the living; you are the dead. It’s time for us to get back to our lives, and for you to return to whence you came. I think it’s very healthy in that way; we accept that our loved ones are gone. We in no way cling on to them or expect them to return to us to be a permanent part of our lives, and in this way we can deal with our grief and move on, although it can take several years for grief to lose its keen edge of course. But we also accept that here is a time when we can celebrate them. Whether you believe that the dead physically (or metaphysically) return or not, how can anyone sneer at the idea of having a whole festival dedicated to love, remembrance and joy?

 

 

 

 

 

***
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Spells for Self Improvement by Lauren White

October, 2017

By Lauren White

© 2000 by MQ Publications Ltd.

ISBN: 0-7407-0552-0

112 pages

 

This is a fun little book and I mean “little” literally. The book is roughly five by five inches. However, this little book contains a considerable amount of information despite the small size

 

I really liked the first part of the book which is a discussion on how to use the book. Each spell has a key included with it. This key list difficulty which ranges from easy or the author puts it, “a piece of cake”, to requires concentration. The second aspect on the key is for the amount of time it takes to perform that spell. This range goes from instant, to overnight, to needing patience. Finally there is a rating for reliability. For this the range is from a rating for it might work to it will work.

 

The next chapter covers the tools needed. The author doesn’t just list the tools needed but includes ideas on how to pick or create just the right tool

 

The spells in the book come under the headings – “for winning friends and influencing people, the secrets of success, beauty or the beast, having it all and emergency spells.” Each of these has several spells for each topic. Under winning friends and influencing people are spells for shining, a way to stand out from the crowd. This spell could be of great use for those looking for work and wanting something to add a little extra to an interview. Add to this the spell for a life buoy which is found in the success section. This spell is rated as one that is guaranteed to work to make any event go smoothly and greatly enhance your chance at success.

 

Other spells in the book cover gaining luck, gaining funds for a financial emergency, confidence, motivation, beautiful hair, getting your way, a fresh start and more.

 

This book is full of fun illustrations and drawings. At first glance it looks like just a fun little book full of colorful illustrations that brings to mind a children’s book. A further inspection shows this book is a whole lot more. It holds some amazing spells carefully detailed on how to create each one what is needed in the way of time and effort and the chance of success. I am looking forward to trying many of the spells found within the pages of this amazing “little” book.

 

 

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

October, 2017

Releasing the Old Year

Merry meet!

While Samhain most often involves honoring the ancestors and divination, the night is also the eve of the new year.

Even if I have participated in a group ritual, there’s a simple ritual I like to do alone in front of my altar, or outside when possible, as close to midnight as possible. There is no reason this can’t be done in a group.

I gather some paper, something to write with, a cauldron and something with which to light a fire.

Once in sacred space, I reflect on the previous year, often flipping through the pages of my gratitude journals to remind me of all that transpired. I then reflect on what I want to bring with me into the new year, and what I wish to release and leave behind. Often it’s an attitude, a thought or a habit. It can be someone who is an energy vampire, expectations or material objects. If it no longer serves your highest good and greatest joy, it’s suitable for letting go.

Writing one thought per slip of paper, I light it and drop it into the cauldron, letting it turn to ash. I continue as long as there is something I want to purge from my life.

Afterwards, I stir water into the ashes and pour it on the earth, thanking all the elements for their part in the cleansing. I tend to journal a bit before opening the circle.

Whatever you choose to do, may you have a blessed Samhain.

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.

Release & Let Go Samhain Ritual

October, 2017

 

The Witching Hour will soon be among us and that means time for reflections and release. Samhain has always been a time of renewal and review for me and a time of setting new goals. I do this while looking over the past year as I realize lessons that were taught in various ways.

 

It is also a time of honoring those gone by, those who have transitioned before us. While I place respect for those as a group, I hold a personal vigil for my father and my best friend, who went on in 1989 and 2009, respectively.

 

Ah Samhain – a time for transformation, a time for creation, and a time for beginnings. I look to this Sabbat as one of great discovery. I learn more about myself during this time of the year than any other. It is a wonderful time for me to pause and reconnect to Spirit. It is a sacred time where I can find my rope they have thrown me all year and really see why and learn from it. I always do a small ritual and a personal meditation alone on this night.

 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 

The Ritual: Release and Let Go

 

Tools Used:

One pink candle

One red candle

Paper

Incense (first Rose + Geranium for letting go and then Lavender for cleansing and bringing in the peace and calmness)

Essential oil of choice (First, I usually use what is called ‘Fascination’ and then I use a Goddess oil I have called ‘Hestia’)

and a fire proof container.

 

I first light the red candle, light the Rose + Geranium incense and burn the Fascination oil. Then I write down all that I would like to let go of from the previous year. I let out all of my feelings for the various events that have occurred and I ask for release. I say my goodbyes and I offer my thanks for the processes I have allowed. I then tear up my paper and place it in my bowl and light it up with my red candle all while offering gratitude.

 

The next part is to light the pink candle, the Hestia oil and the Lavender incense and write what my goals are for the year. I write my hopes, my dreams and my wishes. I write feelings I want to come into. I write emotions I want to express. I write dreams I want to see come to fruition. I write down the steps I need to take to make certain events begin. Instead of burning this list, I drop a bit of oil on the paper, and then seal it with the wax from the pink candle.

 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 

I have done that ritual for years and it has always brought me peace and joy and pure love. Then I always do a calming and extensive quiet meditation and spend some one on one time with myself and Divinity. The Goddess always brings me answers and the ‘oomph’ to move forward another year.

 

Blessed Samhaim and enjoy your Witching Hour, wherever you may be.

A Hereditary Witch on Hexing

October, 2017

Hexing

 

 

Hexing, this is a word that conjures up images of Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth huddled over a bubbling cauldron; of the Sanderson sisters in Hocus Pocus and of Terry Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax (who doesn’t love that ol’ gal). Bring up hexing at a Meet-up or discussion group and suddenly you are bombarded by someone quoting the Three Fold Law, The Wiccan Rede and Karma.

 

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary:
Hex – \’heks\ verb Etymology: Pennsylvania German hexe, from German hexen, from Hexe witch, from Old High German hagzissa; akin to Middle English hagge hag. Date 1830
1: to put a hex on 2: to affect as if by an evil spell.

 

How many of you have hexed? No one, are you sure? Hmm. Well, how many of you have flipped someone off on the freeway while uttering curse words? How about having God (your choice of which) condemn someone to hell by uttering ‘God damn…’. These are just two examples of using hexes without even realizing it. Take ‘flipping’ someone off for example; you use the power of words fueled by the power of your negative emotions while adding a gesture and guess what, you just hexed someone. Of course you don’t literally want the person to ‘Go F’ himself, you’re upset, but you did put the energy out there through thought and action and in some way it will manifest, even though you will never know in what way. We talk about responsibility in the pagan/magical community, but how responsible are we really. When it suits us? Have you ever considered recalling or grounding the energy you sent forth?

 

“Those who can’t Hex, can’t Heal.” This one has been around for a long time. Hexing and healing are two sides of the blade; you can’t have one without the other. I’ve been an energy healer my entire life and 20 years ago I became a Reiki Master. I know from experience that when a work of healing begins it starts off as a hex. The energy goes to the damaged or blocked place in the body and forces it, pushes it, dissolves it or moves it out, then and only then can the healing energy come through. In Reiki we call this a Healing Crisis. This can also happen in reflexology. For example: my son does intuitive reflexology. He worked on my feet one day and I went into cold chills and shakes as the energy went through my organs and cleared out the toxins. Afterwards I felt better than I had in a long while.

 

Some years ago I was invited to a circle of women to enact a hex on a serial rapist in the area. The woman leading the group knew one of the women who had been raped. We worked up a curse that this person would be caught by his own means. A week later, the police had evidence that led them to the rapist. He was convicted.

 

In my family we prefer to use the term ‘justification magic’, but a hex is a hex. This is something we use vary sparingly and we don’t use it for petty problems. Example: Your boyfriend/husband leaves you for your best friend. Hurt, angry, devastated, vengeful; yeah, you are probably all those things. Hex the person? No. Its’ life, it happens, it’s unfortunate, but it happens.

 

There is a fine line between life’s lessons and someone who unjustly attacks you or your family. It takes a strong sense of knowing who you are and what you are capable of at a core level. It also means being able to accept the responsibility, if you are wrong.

 

When my daughter was in her early 20’s, her boyfriend dumped her on Valentine’s Day.  They lived together in a house with his mother. He began dating a friend of hers and she began finding stuff missing from her room. She told me she was moving in with her dad and that she was planning a trip out of state to visit a friend. She had been putting money away for this trip.

 

Not long after, she discovered that her bank account had been drained of all assets. She contacted the bank and apparently someone had used her ATM card as a credit card to place orders on line.  She filed a report with her bank and contacted the online shops where her ATM was used. They weren’t of much help. She did everything she could do legally. I did not know any of this was going on at the time. Then she came to me.

 

I asked her if her ex-boyfriend had her ATM card number, she said no. I asked her where she left her purse unattended, she said at work and when she lived at the ex-boyfriends. As she is telling all of this to me and I see the hurt and frustration on her face, I felt dead calm inside. I uttered a verbal curse, and sent the energy out to whom ever did this and that they should suffer in like kind, until the money was returned or they confessed to what they had done.

 

Sometime later, I heard that her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend left him. His mom moved out of the house to move in with her boyfriend. He lost his job and his place he was renting. He lived out of his car and by the grace of a friend, allowed to park the car in his parent’s driveway. The parents however, wouldn’t let him stay in the house.

 

Three months passed, the bank returned all of my daughter’s money and at that moment the hex was nil. Within 3 days of her money being returned, her ex-boyfriend got a job and his entire livelihood turned positive. He also eventually moved out of state, that was just an extra bonus.

 

I mentioned the Three Fold Law, The Wiccan Rede and Karma at the beginning of this column. Here are my take on those:

 

Three Fold Law:
We do not adhere to what you put out returns to you three time good/bad. We believe that magic is like casting a stone into a pond. If the stone (hex) is cast right the ripples move outwards until they hit their target, but never reach back to the center. In attraction magic, the stone must be cast harder so that the ripples return to center.

 

The Wiccan Rede:
The Rede (translates as to advice or given counsel too) is part of a tradition that we do not belong to. However, I have seen how this has helped many people become more positive and thoughtful on how they act and live their lives.

 

Karma:
Karma gets bandied about way too much and is often misunderstood. Karma works with a person’s Dharma. Dharma is the life lessons you come here to work on in this life. Karma is the retribution if you stray from your Dharma. Eastern philosophy is beautiful, but it is also not part of my tradition.

 

Summing up, I am not an advocate for anyone to start hexing. This is something I trained in and which is part of my tradition. I do not hex indiscriminately and I always give on ‘out’ for the hex to break. Over the course of my life, I can count on one hand the hexes I have performed all of them ending positively for both parties. You should always have one good hex in your magical arsenal. Better to have one and not need it, that to need it and not have one.

 

Blessings on your Hearth and Home

Notes from the Apothecary

October, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Pumpkin

 

 

It’s that magical time of year again, where anything that can be fragranced or flavoured seems to take on the aroma of a combination of vanilla and pumpkin, with the emphasis on the sweetness of this gorgeous gourd. But why do we revere the pumpkin at this time of year? The answer comes from Irish Celtic history, and the seasonal nature of the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) itself.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Although the pumpkin, like other squashes, originated in North America, it can now be found all over the world. It’s classed as a ‘winter squash’ due to the fruits ripening around autumn and winter time. This is one of the main reasons it is so widely in use throughout Samhain and into the Thanksgiving and Christmas/Yule periods.

 

The fabulous thing about pumpkins is that so much of the plant is edible. You have probably eaten the flesh at some point, either in pies, soup or puddings. You may even have eaten pumpkin seeds, which are tasty roasted and salted or used in baked goods such as bread. But did you know you can even eat the flowers of pumpkins? The only downside to this is, if you eat a pumpkin flower, it cannot then be pollinated and grow into a pumpkin!

 

In Korea and some parts of Africa, even the leaves are eaten. In Zambia, they are boiled and mixed with groundnut paste.

 

Pumpkin is great in sweet or savoury food, and can be combined with other squashes easily. A touch of chilli adds a fiery zing, and other warming spices such as cinnamon transform a very earthy plant into a symbol of fire.

 

Growing pumpkins requires a good bit of space, and although you can start them off indoors, they really need moving outside onto a large pile of compost where they can spread out. We only grow our squashes on the allotment, as there simply isn’t room in the garden; not if we want to have space for anything else!

 

The Apothecary

Because the pumpkin was only discovered upon the exploration of North America, some of the older herbals don’t cover it in great depth. In Mrs Grieves’ Modern , she lumps the pumpkin in with watermelon, although she does clearly state that it is a very different plant. She says the pumpkin is sometimes known as the melon pumpkin, or ‘millions’; a term which has certainly gone out of fashion today.

 

She states that in combination with other seeds such as melon, cucumber and gourd (Grieves cites this as cucurbita maxima, a south American squash), an emulsion can be formed which is effective for catarrh, bowel problems and fever. She also tells us that melon and pumpkin seeds are good worm remedies, even for tapeworm.

 

For our furry friends, high-fibre pumpkin can be added to the diet of cats or dogs to aid digestion. It is also sometimes fed to poultry to keep up egg production during the colder months. Always speak to your vet before changing your pet’s or livestock’s diet.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

 

 

Pumpkins appear throughout folklore and fairy tales, often in themes of transformation. Think of Cinderella, whisked off to her ball in a coach which only a few minutes before was a giant pumpkin. The pumpkin is a symbol of our hearts’ desires, travelling towards our goals and the transformation of dreams into reality.

 

We mustn’t forget that the coach turned back into the pumpkin at midnight! This reminds us to enjoy what we have while we have it, to grasp the opportunities in front of us as we never know when they might disappear.

 

A piece of pumpkin or pumpkin seeds on your altar represents autumn moving into winter, the final harvest and goals of self-sufficiency; whether literally through living off the land and growing your own food, or through honing your passion into a craft that can support you.

 

I will have pumpkin seeds at north in my sacred space, to remind me of all the ‘seeds’ I have planted this year which I hope will grow into greater things even through the cold months; ideas for songs and poems, research into my ‘magical birds’ book, and plans to save money in preparation for our new baby. These are my seeds, and I need to nurture them. Just like the pumpkin, they need care, attention and feeding! Pumpkins need compost, sunshine and water, whereas my ideas need hard work, time and commitment.

 

Home and Hearth

The archetypal ‘Jack O’ Lantern’ most likely comes from the Irish and Scottish Celts, who would have carved a face into a turnip or swede, placed a light within and used this as an amulet to ward off evil spirits, or possibly as a guiding light for ancestral or guardian spirits. When colonists came to America carrying these traditions with them, they found the larger and softer pumpkin; a much better vehicle for the carved totems! And so the pumpkin became the new guiding light of Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve and eventually, Hallowe’en.

 

It’s only the seeds that you need to remove from a pumpkin in order to leave a space for the light inside, and you can keep a few of these seeds to try and cultivate your own plants next year. If you are able to do this (and I appreciate not everyone has the space to grow a pumpkin plant- they are quite large!) this will create a cyclical connection between this year’s and next year’s magic, cementing continuity and your own connection to the turning season.

 

If this simply isn’t practical, keep a few of the seeds on your altar or in a sacred space, as a reminder of the different stages of life reflected in the changing seasons.

 

If you scrape some of the flesh out as well as the seeds, keep this and cook with it at Samhain. You are making the most of your pumpkin, using as much of it as you can to avoid waste, and you are connecting your magical lantern to your Samhain feasting.

 

The lantern can be placed in a window, or on a doorstep if it is safe to do so. If you use a naked flame such as a candle or tealight, please be aware of animals and children, especially during trick-or-treating! The last thing you want is some small child setting themselves on fire or spilling hot wax on themselves. A great alternative is one of those LED candles which you can now pick up very cheaply.

 

 

 

 

The lantern guards your space, keeping away unwanted visitors, and guiding your ancestral spirits to where they need to be, including back beyond the veil once the period of Samhain has passed.

 

I Never Knew…

The word ‘pumpkin’ originates from the Greek word pepon, which means ‘large melon’, which may explain how it sometimes ends up under the melon section in older herbals!

 

Image credits: Pumpkins Hancock Shaker Village, public domain; Photograph of a homegrown pumpkin species, “Atlantic Giant”, (cucurbita maxima), copyright Ude 2009 via Wikimedia; Nathan looking at Jack O’ Lantern display in Benalmadena, copyright 2016 Mabh Savage.

 

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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.

 


 

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

October, 2017

Altars When you Have No Space

 

Merry meet.

 

Dorm rooms, studio apartments, extended-stay suites and RVs are some of the places where there is likely to be no space for an altar.

 

(This curio shelf, found posted on Pinterest by At Wayfaring Stranger Outfitters, can hold a collection of magickal objects.)

 

Since I am preparing to live in an old school bus converted into a tiny house, space for an altar will be scarce. Searching for ideas, I came across some that might work for those of you who think you have no space you can make sacred.

 

 

 

 

 

(This small wooden display can be placed on a surface or hung either way to create an altar.)

 

The first idea is to go small. An ice bucket lid turned upside down became an altar, and supplies can be stored inside. A saucer made to go under a potted plant or a small pizza cardboard painted or covered with decorative paper will also set off a sacred space. A relish tray can be put to use as an altar, then easily moved as required.

 

(Many small sacred items will fit on the top of an ice bucket lid.)

 

Two sets on Command large picture hanging strips can hold four pounds per set, so using two sets on a tiny shelf like this will hold up to eight pounds, including the weight of the shelf.

 

Another idea for a wall is to amass a group of small frames. These contain cards from a deck by Raven Grimassi, but the possibilities are endless: you could use photographs and images from other sources. With more frames you can include deities, inspirational quotes, tools, sabbats, symbols and sacred places. If there is no wall space, consider the ceiling over your bed.

 

(Group a collection of small, inexpensive frames on a door, wall, cabinet, the refrigerator or even a ceiling.)

 

You can also think vertical as did Casney Tadeo with her stacked boxes.

 

(“Altar of Feminine Mystique” dedicated to the blessed mother and all women everywhere. Collage, mixed media art. Casney Tadeo Fine art)

 

If there truly is no space indoors, the out of doors might be an option. A bird bath, a bird feeder and a window box planter turned on its side are just a few possibilities.

 

If you have found other ways that work to create sacred spaces when there is no space, please share them in the comment section below.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

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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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