plants

Book Review – Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple: An Introduction to Native American Astrology by Deborah Durbin

December, 2018

Book Review

Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple: An Introduction to Native American Astrology
by Deborah Durbin

 

I had a flashback to the 1980’s when I opened this book. I saw the system familiarized in Sun Bear and Wabun’s The Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology, complete with correspondences to animal totems, plants, crystal and moon correspondences for each astrological sign. So, this book is “New Age;” don’t pick it up thinking that you will learn find a new (or rather, ancient) system of working with cosmic forces here. And you won’t gain any insight into the cultural astronomy or archeoastronomy of the indigenous people of the Americas – the mythic tales of the stars brought down to Earth and how those energies affect human affairs.

That said, you will have a fun tool for broad astrological divination by the equivalent of your sun sign to play with. Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple offers a different lens for examining personality types, strengths and weaknesses, than the zodiac wheel we are used to. Like Sun Bear and Wabun’s book before it, this book uses a Northern American perspective on a seasonal calendar: winter is cold, summer is hot. The calendar wheel is divided into seasonal quadrants with a “ruling” animal totem for each. The wheel is further divided into 12 signs, like the familiar astrological signs, but ruled by animal totems instead of constellations. So, if like me, you are born between April 20th and May 20th, I am a Beaver, member of the Turtle Clan, born under the Frogs Return moon in the Spring Season rule d by spirit-keeper Wabun – Eagle on the East of the Medicine Wheel. My sign is also associated with blue camas plant, the color blue and the mineral chrysocolla. There are many correspondences to investigate here! Interestingly, the description of a Beaver personality was reminiscent of my Taurus self: “slow, methodical, practical, reserved…easygoing and slow to anger, but once roused, they can have a fierce temper…” My compatibility with other signs is similar to my astrological compatibility – I am married to a Snake (Scorpio)!

Durbin has included a section on finding your personal animal totem. She discusses a shadow totem, one that terrifies you, that tests you and teaches you what you need to overcome. Interestingly, mine is Snake, the opposite of my Beaver totem, containing the qualities that Beaver most lacks. And being married to a Snake, I have learned a lot from our differences. She also includes a short section on working with predictive Medicine Wheel astrology by throwing pebbles or shells, noting where they land, and interpreting the energies and qualities of the quadrant and sign in that section of the wheel.

It’s unfortunate that the book purports to be “An Introduction to Native American Astrology.” There are so many beautiful star myths, tales and creation stories in the traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. And the ancient Mayans had a complex astrological and seasonal calendar. And to imply that all Native American cultures used a homogenous system is stereotyping of the worst sort. Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology, the book on which this one appears to be based, sourced itself in earth-based cycles rather than representing a specific “Native American” system. Medicine Wheel Plain and Simple is a New Age overlay of North American animal, plant and seasonal symbolism on the common horoscope wheel. But it is fun to play with! If you didn’t come across Sun Bear and Wabun’s book in the 1980’s, this one’s worth a look!

Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

Open Channel Astrology: openchannelastrology.com

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

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

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

October, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times October 2018

Bright Blessings,

This is the end of the growing season for me due to the kinds of plants I grow, and I’ve already started fall cleanup. It’s also the time I begin planning what I will plant in fall, and I decide what I might like to consider growing come next Spring. I am busily reading bulb catalogs and selecting next years seeds.

Pulling the zinnias is always heartbreaking, but we had such heavy rains earlier in the month, they had been knocked over onto the sidewalk so badly, and I had no choice. They wouldn’t have been left another week even, however, as they were spent. The stems and roots were packaged up as yard waste, and the flower heads given to a neighbor friend who dotes on the neighborhood birds. The birds just love to munch on zinnia seeds in the flower heads!

Also, we are rolling towards Samhain, the final harvest, and in Westerville, the town just North of Columbus where I live, that means we are having pumpkin patch trips, apple picking days at orchards, and the last of our tomatoes we proudly grew all Summer are blessing us with abundant bounty.

It also means poison ivy for those of us doing cleanup. BAH! A neighbor told me to vinegar spray the heck out of them, and I am going to do that today.

I also did not plant as much this year and I’m glad I didn’t. My back has taken a turn for the worse, and although I am in physical therapy now, it’s been getting progressively worse for about five years now. I may have to accept downsizing the amount of plants I do from now on, and I am not happy about it.

The Good and the Bad

Like in the garden, there is good and bad in all things. Everybody wants the good, but facing the ugly realities happen to be something few care to do.

Instead of the typical Sabbat based article, I will be reviewing a couple of things that came up in pop culture that has a lot of feathers ruffled in our communities, discuss some things from a generation ago, and why we ought not to be so quick to fly off all angry or offended.

The Box

The first thing that made so many Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans angry was the Witch Starter Kit Sephora was about to release.

Various individuals blew up all over social media calling it theft, appropriation, offensive, infuriating, intolerable, and what have you. Many bloggers condemned it as sacrilege, and disrespectful of Witchcraft and Wicca, and there was such a public outcry, Sephora pulled the product, and they apologized.

Apparently, I am the only Wiccan/Witch/Pagan who was not in any way upset by this product.

Before you boycott me, or burn effigies of me, hear me out.

I am going to number the reasons why it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to be upset about this product.

  1. There are tons of similar kits out on shelves and have been for quite some time. What, you think the “Starter Voodoo Kit” you nabbed at Barnes and Noble or Half Priced when you were 17 were authentic and written by a real Voodoo priestess? Think again. You think the “Crystal Pack” you nabbed at a similar shop, or even a metaphysical store were by a real elder of the craft? Not necessarily. Both mainstream shops, and metaphysical shops sell such items on a daily basis and have for quite some time. Nobody who is raising hell and crying that Sephora’s kit is a great injustice to our sacred traditions seems upset about the other kits at all. This is no different.
  2. Look what is in it.
  1. A tarot deck, which you can get almost anyplace these days.
  2. A rose quartz crystal, which again, gets sold in kits constantly. We had a stash of different ‘crystals’ at a cavern where I was a tour guide, and you can nab then at various trendy shops at malls these days. Many non-metaphysical stores carry magical crystals, and nobody complains.
  3. White sage- which, I am sorry is not in any way European. It is Native to the American Southwest, and South America. So don’t tell me that was misappropriated by this company from European based Pagan and Witch traditions. WE took it from Native Americans. We take a LOT from their practices, and that is a proven fact. Witches use white sage, and don’t think twice about the fact we got it from somebody else. If we are allowed to incorporate practices from others, then others are allowed to incorporate our practices into theirs as well.
  4. Various good smelling tubes of something something.

Each of these products is sold to, sold by, and used by Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches on a daily basis. They are also sold by non-magical practitioners who want to earn money. Even some mainstream groceries carry essential oils these days, and I know of more than one organic market that has nag champa, white sage, and tons of essential oils for sale. Nobody bats an eye about that. Sephora is just one of many companies creating a product that the magical public uses.

Furthermore, in the apology they released, they said “Our intention for the product was to create something that celebrates wellness, personal ceremony, and intention setting with focus on using fragrance as a beauty ritual.” That is magic folks. And glamour. Witches are well-known for using certain looks, and scents to illicit responses, and beauty and making others find us pleasant smelling will draw more people to us. Rose quartz also initiates love and affection. It’s just another magic kit.

  1. Not everybody in our communities who sells to us belong to the tradition of merch they are selling. I will reword that to make sure people understand what I am saying. Every metaphysical shop where I have ever entered was ran by somebody who practiced a particular path, but sold things for members of many other paths besides their own. Some shop owners are not initiated, and just self-educated, and are very good at running a store. At no time in the 13 years I have been active in the Pagan/New Age/Metaphysical community have I ever heard one individual remark on this fact, let alone refuse to by merch for Wicca from a Druid, for example. It would make no sense because how would we be able to buy anything if we were so picky? Sephora’s product is no different.
  2. Furthermore, not everybody in our community who is either a business person or clergyperson has any education, training, or affiliation outside of their own thing. Don’t believe me? I have met more than one self-initiated, self-ordained “Priestess” who recognizes no elders, and put herself in charge because she wanted to be the boss. They have no issue finding followers. I have also known non-clergy who read a few books, and declare titles for themselves they swear was bestowed celestially, and everybody else is just too unenlightened to understand. There are always a number of them at every large gathering, and they slip in and out of our circles seamlessly. We “don’t judge” and we “are inclusive” and put up with a lot of bullshit because we are terrified of somebody getting mad at us for questioning them. Why do we accept this at face value from people who come to our gatherings who are not one of us, yet we raise hell over a product that is actually usable? Furthermore- who is the actual person who designed the kit? Are they Pagan or not? Would it matter if they were?
  3. The people who make tarot cards are not always practitioners. Some are just good at art, got a deal, and have bills to pay. Furthermore, the people who do the assembly line work cannot possibly all practice magic or be Pagan. Nobody seems to mind about that. The people selling you the merch at a non-Pagan shop may or may not practice magic or one of our religions. Again, nobody seems to care. How do you handpick your tarot cards? Do you research the manufacturer and artist and pick over a deck because they do not adhere to your tradition? Nobody does this. It would make no sense. So why are we mad at this manufacturer but none of the other ones? It is not possible to buy all things for our religious or magical practice only from others who practice just as we do.
  4. Is it because it’s more mainstream? Well, how many times have Pagans. Wiccans, and Witches decried the fact the mainstream often rejects us? Now that we are “socially acceptable” enough for things we use to be saleable in a mainstream shop, as we swear up and down we deserve to be, we are insulted. I am sorry, but we cannot have it both ways. “It’s a corporation so they have no right to take our money” some have said. Really? I will mention Barnes and Noble and Half Priced again. I am not sure which of the three companies I mentioned makes more money, but all of them are pretty large, successful businesses.
  5. Our practices are derived from other practices. Period. I have already mentioned our use of white sage. But let’s talk about Wicca in general. An excellent publication that is one of the most controversial in our history is Aiden Kelly’s Inventing Witchcraft. In it, he published parts of Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows. The entire Book of Shadows is now available for free online at Sacred Texts. Here is the link- http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/gbos/index.htm Nobody was supposed to see that except initiates, as it was secret, and for members only. Some Wiccans were very angry with Kelly for this. Oh yeah?
    Well, Kelly demonstrated line by line just WHERE Gardner got certain things from. Some from Crowley, some from Rudyard Kipling, some from varied other sources, some on his own. But Gardner and early Wiccans swore Wicca was ancient, from an unbroken tradition, and unchanged for centuries, even thousands of years. My question was- if it was all SO secret, why did Gardner and others put ads in the newspapers, contact journalists to do interviews, write books for publication, and generally put Wicca in the public immediately? Because nothing was secret, nothing was ancient, and they wanted to attract as many as possible. That is fine, it being a small, secret tradition for the few, and it is now readily available for anybody who will buy a book cannot both be true at the same time. Furthermore, Doreen Valiente, a true High Priestess, took one look at some of Gardner’s ritual writings, and said “No way.” She rewrote quite a bit herself. Kelly’s book can be had from Amazon.com, and here is the link.
    Wicca is not an ethnocentric ancient religion that went underground and reemerged when Gerald Gardner decided to publish books. It’s Gardner’s creation. It’s one I am thankful for, but it’s something that was pulled together and created from the many things that inspired Gardner. We, those who practice that have no business criticizing others for doing the same things we, ourselves do.
  6. We do not own the practices we utilize, and are not allowed to tell other people they cannot practice what we do unless we give them permission. Many other religious traditions, including atheists who believe in energy and spirits use the things we use, and follow some of the same practices. We do not have the right to dictate they are not allowed. Even somebody who thinks a kit at a shop is pretty or interesting or looks fun has the right to buy it and use the things without our guidance, permission, or approval.
  7. Nobody is making fun of us. Nobody makes us look bad but ourselves. I could list all the things I have seen and the people who I have met in the community who have driven me to tears of frustration over the years with their bullshit, but I know good and well the rest of you have seen pretty much the same things, so I won’t bore you. We also almost never call people on their shit in our communities unless it is childish arguing online over some discussion topic. I would really like to see us focus more on the condition of our own community instead of pitching fits about how some people who don’t belong in our circles views us.
  8. It is not the mainstream’s job or responsibility to portray us correctly. That is up to us. I am so over the people crying over Charmed or the latest horror flick’s wrongful use of the pentacle. I am sick to death of hearing people passionately declare Hollywood makes us look like devil worshipers and is to blame for misconceptions about us. No. Again, that’s us. And that did not come from Hollywood originally. It came out of the fact we use terminology the Xtains have used for centuries to denote devil worship. The word “witch” was never used to indicate something good until Gardner “reclaimed “ the word, swearing up and down the Inquisitors misunderstood the indigenous religions and demonized them. If you read what the witch trials looked for, you will not find one damned thing about Mother Earth, the goddess, blessing babies, handfastings, honoring elders, or blessing the garden. You will find sex with the devil, killing innocent people, enslaving people, poisoning neighbors they had a disagreement with, turning into rabbits to eat all their neighbors vegetables, causing crop blights, and insect infestations, peeing in a hole to create a hailstorm, making epidemic illnesses, etc. The word Coven, the number 13, the black hats, a horned man all in black, and brooms were all things “confessed” to during torture during witch trials. Nobody ever did those things. So Christians were taught there were evil people worshiping the devil doing all the awful things you could think of, and we are a new religion of people using the language set by the Inquisitors having “reclaimed” the terms? Likewise, the terms “Pagan “ and “Heathen” was used in the Bible to denote terrible people, and yet we call ourselves these things and demand to immediately be identified as the good people we actually are as opposed to the horrible people the words have been used by Xtians to describe. I think this is unfair of us.

The Commercial

Now I come to a commercial that is making people mad as hell also, and to me, it’s not infuriating either. Here is the video:

 

 

It’s about a 15 second commercial for Constant Contact marketing. It shows women sitting in a room of their business products, one meditating, the other playing a digeridoo. I will add both are white girls who look like they are about to run to Starbucks for their Pumpkin Spice Latte on the way to yoga. That sounds good right now!

They click on the page to see how many folks have looked at their listing through Constant Contact, and there are a lot! The girls are tickled pink, and one says “Oh, my goddess!” and then resumes her digeridoo playing.

And people are losing their minds about this also.

Here’s the thing. I know a LOT of New Agers and Pagans and Witches and Wiccans who look, act, talk JUST LIKE the actresses in the commercial.

I am sorry if you have not had the pleasure of meeting such delightful people, and if you find these people insulting or infuriating somehow, but this commercial in no way makes fun of or misrepresents these types of folks in our communities. There are a lot of folks just like these gals in our communities, and it was a realistic representation.

So, on one hand, we throw a fit about Hollywood not portraying us just as we are, but if somebody portrays us just as we are, we are also very angry. Then again, if they do not mention us at all, we feel left out.

The upset reactions by so many to these things says a lot about how much growing up a lot of us have to do, and I have no sympathy about how offended some people are.

Just because you are offended does not mean that you are right.

The Working

I had thought of doing a dispelling anger working for people who find it so necessary to get upset and offended over things like this, but I have a better idea. I want to make you laugh. One of the people I studied with utilized laughter as banishing, and I have found it to always be very effective.

I am not making fun or ridiculing. I want to show how silly we can be sometimes. I get mad sometimes too, but getting offended, and assuming people are trying to harm us or disrespect us every time they mention magical practice does nothing but make our day and life negative. It’s important to stop when we have a knee jerk reaction, take a step back, breathe, and really look objectively at things.

Or consider this- There are now so very many of us, and we have become so much a part of the mainstream – we are now portrayed by the mainstream, and products for our personal use and for those who aspire to join us have made it into mainstream stores.

This is SO good.

Enjoy this lighthearted take on being offended by one of our funniest practitioners.

Blessed Be.

 

***

About the Author:

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

Story Series: Hedge Wizard

September, 2018

Part 1


(Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash)

Chapter 1, Part 2

Flight through the Forest

As we flew over the treetops, with the great starry dome overhead, I seemed to be flying upside down over an ocean filled with innumerable lights. The blue child led me deep into the forest, and at one point slowed down to allow me to catch up with him. Then he locked elbows and flew with me, and suddenly all was changed. The trees glowed with light of many colors, like lamps of blue, green, red and violet, each type of tree a different hue. Some trees throbbed with light, while others gave off a steady sheen. In places I saw what looked like columns of light erupting from the trees up into the sky and eventually disappearing in distance. Elsewhere, shafts of light descended suddenly from the sky and fused with particular trees. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks and poplars. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child.

Some noise in the forest woke me up at this moment. It was early morning, just around dawn. I went back to sleep and had no dreams I recalled.

At breakfast the Hægtessa seemed pleased and rested. She said she’d had the best sleep in years, for it’s tiring at times to fly with the blue child or other dryads in the forest. At least when you get up to my age,” she smiled. “But while you’re young it’s great fun, and you gradually become acquainted with the deeper forest.”

Dawn can go home tomorrow,” she continued as an afterthought. “Try again tonight with the Blue Child. See if you can get inside the Great Oak. Tell me what happened tomorrow at breakfast. If you find you like doing this, and don’t mind learning herb-lore from me, you can be hedge wizard when I am gone. But think it over; you have plenty of time to consider it.

But the times you go home,” she added, in turning, “don’t speak of your experiences here. Just say you are learning herb-lore from me. That will provide enough reason for them to ostracize you. No point in giving them more.”

* * * * *

On the following night once again I was flying with the Blue Child through the night forest. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child. Blue light was all around us.

We rested inside a recess in the oak’s trunk. Not far from us was the figure of an old man sleeping. He seemed carved from wood, or else turning into wood. On his face was an expression of contentment and rest.

Who is that?” I asked the Blue Child. “My Dad,” he answered. “He is falling asleep into the tree. Dad, Dad,” he called softly. The old man’s eyelids fluttered, scattering small splinters. He looked with love at the Blue Child. “Dad, this is Bird-brow. He is taking his first flight.”

The old man’s voice came resonantly from his lips, which hardly moved. “Welcome, Bird-brow,” he said. “The gods bless you.”

And you, Sir,” I replied. “But what is happening to you?”

Oh, I am dying. It is time to return to the Tree, our Mother. My son will serve Her in my stead.”

In the garth, where I live,” I said, “to die is an occasion for sorrow.”

Not among us,” the old man said, smiling. “For we do not die entirely so long as the Tree lives. And She has lived here in the Forest a very long time.”

You can still go upstairs if you’d rather, Dad,” said the Blue Child.

No, Son. My place is here with our Mother, the Oak. But you should go upstairs to tell the Bright Ones I will stay here and subside into wood.”

The Blue Child turned to me. “Rest here awhile. I will return soon.”

The blue light grew around us and seemed to lift the Blue Child. He rose on a column of light and rushed out of the crown of the Tree, up into the sky. He was suddenly gone. I looked at the old man inquiringly.

You must pardon me,” he said, closing his eyes once again. “I am becoming very sleepy.”

I moved outside the trunk up into the lower branches of the Oak. Around me the elms were glowing green, the larches a paler shade of the same color. Here and there in the haunted forest columns of light shot up into the sky and disappeared; once in a while a column descended from the sky and passed into a tree from above, and the tree took on its color and glowed softly.

After some time had passed, a shaft of blue light descended from the sky and the Blue Child was back. “Now we must scout out the Hægtessa’s herbs,” he said. “the old beds have dried up.”

But where were you?” I asked him, as we resumed out flight.

In our star. Every tree in the forest has a star. Ours is there.” And he pointed almost directly up, to the top of the sky. “You must return with the Haegtessa in the morning and help her pick herbs.” Once again we entered the oak.

But where are the herbs?” I asked. “The trees will find them,” he said, and then called out softly “Dad…Dad.”

The old face appeared once more in the wood. “Yes, Son, what is it? I was drifting off.”

The Haegtessa needs more herbs, Dad. The old beds have dried up. We must find the closest bed of wild herbs for her.”

Right away,” said the face, and disappeared into the wood.

Where has he gone?” I asked the Blue Child. “Down into the roots,“he said. “The roots of the great oak extend far on every side and touch the roots of trees growing around us. They in turn touch the roots of their neighbors, and so on. The search for the wild herbs is even now traveling far afield, along the roots through the Deep Forest.”

Presently the old face of the Oak Father appeared once more in the wood. Little splinters flew from his eyelids and lips as he smiled and said “Tell the Hægtessa the way to the herbs has been charted. If she comes here to the Great Oak she can follow the trail with her staff” “Thank you, Oak Father,” I said, and promptly awoke in the crystal room.

At breakfast the Hægtessa was radiant. “You’ve done well, Bird-Brow,” she said. “The Blue Child and the Oak Father both like you. That is important.”

I told her what the Oak Father said. “I know,” she said, “I have done this before, many times. What he said was for your benefit. We must go together today, since you may be doing this next time.”

After breakfast she said farewell to my mother and little Dawn. “She has recovered. Keep her quiet and well-rested for a few days. Bird-Brow is going with me today on an expedition. He will return home tonight.”

The Hægtessa put on her voluminous white robe and took her carved oaken staff from her cabinet. “Take this sack with you, Bird-Brow,” she said. “We will bring back some herbs for replanting in my field.”

I had flown with the Blue Child to the Great Oak and knew vaguely how to get there in the body, but the Hægtessa knew the way very well, and in about half an hour we mounted the hill leading to the tree. It was a quiet, blue morning, punctuated with light birdsong.

The Hægtessa grounded her staff near the base of the oak. “Grasp my staff, Bird-Brow” she said. I grasped its head and felt a tingling coming up the staff from the ground. She knew I felt it, and took it back. “Now follow along. We have a journey to make.”

She walked to the next tree, a smaller, younger oak, and then beyond it to a birch, feeling the ground with her staff with every step. In this way we went down hill and up hill for about half an hour. Coming to a shallow stream, we forded it, the Hægtessa feeling the trail along the stream bottom with her staff, and picking up the trail again among the trees on the other side. The land sloped uphill from the other bank, until we reached a plateau at the edge of a cliff. Far below I could see the field of herbs. Passing to the left along the cliff, we came to a mild grassy slope downhill, and followed it down to the herb beds.

The field of herbs was the size of two yards placed side by side. Beyond them the forest continued on a shallow rise. “The herbs have come here from many places in the forest,” said the Hægtessa. “They are our partners. It is our job to protect them, to pick the weeds from among them and ring them about with guardian plants like marigolds. Some we will gather up and replant in my garden. These will be of use, like the feverfew I gave little Dawn, but once replanted, the herbs have less potency. Here, in this field, is where they retain their full magic.” She showed me how to tell weeds from herbs, and we replanted a few marigolds along the margins.

You must come here with the Blue Child, Bird-Brow,” she said, “perhaps once a week, to see if all is well. You must also come here at times in the body to dress and protect the field, and gather a few herbs for replanting. That is, if you want to.”

She looked at me carefully. “I am old, Bird-Brow,” she said. “I cannot make the journey here often. If you wish to be hedge wizard after me, you must start now to help with the fields.”

I will, gladly,” I said. “But what of my father and the boar hunt? I have never been asked to be on it before, because I was too young. He is counting on me to be with him.”

Some problems have no easy solution, Bird-Brow,” she said.

When I visited the herb field and pitched my tent, all was quiet. In the night I saw one herb light up within, and in it I could see the Hægtessa preparing herbs. She looked very old and tired, and suddenly I knew I would disappoint my father and remain here with her. When next I slept in the crystal room, the Blue Child flew in and said I had chosen wisely. She would not live much longer. In the morning I told her of my decision to remain with her and learn her herb-lore. She smiled and took me into her garden, pointing out the herbs which had been replanted. “These can be used in healing, Bird-Brow. But they must be boosted with wild herbs from the field.” Back in her house, she showed me how to prepare the herbs, cutting them and mixing them with the wild herbs. They seemed to quicken into new life when mixed with their wild counterparts.

At night, I flew with the Blue Child to the wild herb field, but instead of returning to the Hægtessa’s house we flew together over the wheat fields to the Hall. There was a lamp lit inside the Hall, watched over by the Hall-Sun, a young, vigorous woman with straw-colored hair. I was surprised to see my father there with her. “He won’t come, Hall-Sun.” he said sadly. I had hoped to show him hunting. The Hægtessa has bewitched him to her service.”

He can still come along to the boar-hunt,” the Hall-Sun said. “He can fly with the hunters and the Blue Child.” And she nodded to my companion.

That night the boar-hunters ran through a long tunnel in the Hedge, carrying torches. My father led them. The great wild boar had been reported in these parts, and each hunter was armed with bow, arrows and spear. I hovered over my father and the Blue Child and I flew on ahead to scout out the quarry and report its whereabouts to the hunters. Once or twice I saved my father from the boar by warning him of its murderous attack. I think he was aware of my protection and thanked me. He showed me how he stalked the boar and in this way I learned about hunting. The Hall-Sun watched me closely and I was taken by her fresh beauty. She seemed sprung from the earth, like harvest wheat. Her gaze seemed to reprove me for not being with my father on the hunt. But then I thought of the Hægtessa and her difficulties, and when I did, the Hall-Sun nodded approvingly.

End of part one

Story Series: Hedge Wizard

August, 2018

Part 1

(Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash)

Chapter 1

1. A Visit to the Hægtessa

I remember when little Dawn had a fever and had trouble sleeping, I went with Mother across the harvested fields to visit the Hægtessa. The green wall of the Hedge, tiny in the distance, grew and threw open its arms as we approached. On all sides it stretched, shutting out the Forest, except where the river ran by, downhill on the right, where the fishing lodge straddled the bank. I knew that far to the left, the hunters’ tunnel passed under the hedge.

Beyond the Hedge I could see the tops of many trees, outliers of the Forest. The Forest went on and on, they said, forever. No one went very far into it except the hunters. The Hægtessa, whose name meant ‘hedge-rider,’ went a little way in at times to gather herbs.

As we approached her house, Mother cautioned me to remain quiet unless spoken to. The Hægtessa, it was said, lived a very quiet life and disliked noise.

Her house ran right through the Hedge to the other side, and thus had two fronts, each barely extending beyond the Hedge itself. Her magic accommodated the Hedge to her house, neatly fitting it without impinging on it in the least.

I had never been in her house. I had been up to the Hedge, and down to the fishing-lodge by the river, and seen the gabled front of her house from a distance, but never herself. But now she came out.

But when the Hægtessa emerged, she was a kindly-looking middle-aged woman, getting a little stout. She was dressed in a simple farm smock and apron.

I’ve been working in the garden” she said to me, answering my thought. The morning sun peeped over the roof of the forest, and I squinted. She looked at me curiously, then turned to my mother.

Hello, Mopsy,” she said, using my mother’s little girl name.”What can I do for you?”

It’s Dawn, here,” said Mother. “She is hot and can’t sleep. I think her head hurts.”

The Hægtessa took Dawn in her arms. “She needs feverfew and a few other herbs,” she said. “Step in.”

We went up three steps and were inside her house, which seemed carved rather than built. A wide room stretched on both sides. Ahead were more steps, leading past cabinets of herbs and instruments up through the middle of the house. There were no windows to right or left.

Her magic keeps the hedge from bothering the house,” I thought. “But why the hump in the middle?”

Once again she answered my thought. “The roots of the hedge pass under the middle of my house. Else there would be two hedges.”

*

The Hægtessa ascended the inner steps and took several herbs from the shelves. She took dried leaves of feverfew and mixed them with fresh leaves. Then she prepared two or three other herbs.

When she brought the tea down, I saw a circular stairway at the back of her herb-closet. Past it steps probably started down to the forest side of her house.

We have to wait and see how she takes the herbs,” she said. “Please make yourselves comfortable. I will brew another tea.”

We sat on her cushioned carved benches and waited, while Mother applied a cool rag to Dawn’s head from time to time.

The Haegtessa kept us company. She talked about her need for an apprentice, “I’m not as young now as I once was.” She was running out of some herbs and needed help locating new gardens in the forest.

Somewhat later she felt Dawn’s head and said she felt a little cooler, but she needed to stay there for a night or two until her head was back to normal. She fixed up a bed for Mother in the room with Dawn, then turned to me.

Perhaps you’d like to sleep in the loft?” she asked, pointing to the circular stairs. “Come and see.” I followed her up the stairs. At the top, the gabled room was on the right. On the left a door opened into a circular chamber, roofed with crystal. I had heard of the dream chamber, but thought it was just a story.

In the center of the room was a wide, comfortable looking bed. Some treetops could be seen at the rim of the dome, but otherwise it was all sky.

Do you think you’d like to sleep here?” she asked.

Oh, yes,” I said. “Yes, thanks.”

That is well, Bird-brow; I give you that name in place of your boyhood name Hops. For outside, when you squinted, I saw a bird’s head, perhaps a robin’s, in the wrinkles between your brows. So I know you will profit from a night spent up here.”

The first night the dream chamber was filled with a blue light, whitened a while by the moon. I lay entranced by the starry sky and don’t know when I dropped off. Just before I woke I seemed to see a bluish figure flying around the room. It was a boy, a little smaller than I am, but I awoke before I could see more or speak to him.

At breakfast the Hægtessa was jovial. Dawn was much improved, and Mother had finally gotten some much-needed sleep. We had milk and meat and some fruit I had never seen before, juicy with a red pith. “One more night and Dawn will be well,” she said. “Did you sleep well in the chamber, Bird-brow?”

Why do you call him that?” asked Mother. “His name is Hops.”

He is growing fast, and has grown much overnight. See, already he is nearly eight years in stature. And I name him Bird-brow.”

Mother said nothing, but shifted a little uneasily in her chair. We knew that a hedge-witch has the right to assign a name to someone, and that name is not without meaning.

During the morning the Hægtessa took me out over the stair-hill and through the forest side of her house to the herb garden just outside the forest-door. Just beyond it was the blasted heath where the advancing trees of the forest had been cut down and the grass and seeds underneath them burnt brown. We picked herbs that day and she showed me how to store them in jars and prepare tinctures and other medicines.

At sunset a hunter came by with a brace of conies. “Have you heard that the great boar hunt is being prepared?” he asked me. “Your father is organizing it. Will you be with him?” I said certainly. He skinned them and stayed to supper with us, then went off again into the forest.

That night I dropped off to sleep swiftly, and before long the light of a star shone brighter, and the blue child flew or slid down the trail of light, landing at the foot of my bed.

Come, Bird-brow,” the blue child said. “You are asleep, so you can fly,” and we both flew through the crystal and out into the night of the forest.

To Be Continued…

Notes from the Apothecary

August, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Marigold

 

 

The marigold is a complicated puzzle to unfurl. True marigolds, tagetes, originated in North America and found their way back to Europe via Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Yet the plant we most often call marigold is actually calendula, which travelled the complete opposite way, arriving in America from the Mediterranean hundreds of years ago. The two types of plants are not botanically related, so calendula lovers, I’m sorry, but keep your eyes peeled next month. This month it’s the true marigold’s chance to shine.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Marigolds are striking and beautiful, with yellow and orange petals that come in a fascinating array of shapes. They bring a ray of sunshine to any kitchen plot, and help ward off many unwelcome visitors, including mosquitoes. They are particularly effective at ridding the soil of nematodes. They also do well in very dry conditions, particularly African marigolds, so are easy to care for.

The petals of marigolds are normally edible (as always, double check with an expert before you eat any wild flower) but they don’t all taste the same. Some are quite pungent, whereas others are citrusy and light. They make a wonderful, colourful addition to salads and cocktails, or as a garnish for just about anything you can think of.

 

The Apothecary

On the Modern site, Rita Jacinto has written a fascinating article about the marigold, including some interesting tidbits on their medical uses. She states that the marigold is an herb and that it contains lutein, which I know as a chemical which can help reduce eye damage, particularly that associated with aging. She also tells us that in India, marigold leaves are used for wounds, abrasions and even conjunctivitis. As always, consult a doctor before changing any medication.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham, in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, told us that a garland of marigolds over the door would prevent evil from entering the home. However, he also named ‘Marigold’ as calendula officinalis, so he wasn’t talking about our true marigolds, the tagetes. Finding lore about the true marigold can be tricky, as many writers confuse the two plants, but they are so different botanically that it’s really worth trying to ensure you have the right plant for the job at hand.

Marigolds were used by the Aztecs to decorate temples and other sacred spots, and they are still used to this day to decorate graves in Mexico, and during Day of the Dead festivities. Just like the bright orange monarch butterflies are said to represent the souls of the dead visiting us for a brief time, maybe the bright orange, yellow and red of the marigold petals represents reaching through the veil, into the beyond, to talk with our dearly departed. They represent pain, loss, and trauma, but also dealing with these things positively, facing your painful emotions and not hiding from them or repressing them. They remind us to never forget, and that the past, history, or those we love will never die while we remember.

The marigold is associated with the month of October, probably because it has such a long flowering season and can often still be found in full bloom even as the autumn evening start to draw in. If you manage to collect some flowers before Samhain, try hanging them to dry, and you’ll have delightful yellow and orange flowers to complement your sacred space over Samhain.

Marigolds also represent love, fierce loyalty and the contentment you feel when you are with someone you truly feel comfortable with. Meditate on the marigold to understand where your true feelings lie about someone, or a group of friends.

The Latin name tagetes comes from Tages, the Etruscan prophet who taught divination. So it makes sense that the marigold is associated with magic to induce visions, see the future, prophetic dreams and psychic abilities.

Marigolds are sometimes used in Hindu ritual and religious decoration, so if you are influenced by Hinduism marigolds may hold great significance for you.

 

Home and Hearth

If you’re a fan of home dyeing, marigold petals are known to give a gorgeous, yellow colour. This can also be used to colour foods such as desserts or cheeses, so they are really handy for the keen homesteader. Chickens who eat marigolds will have a richer colour to their egg yolks.

During Lughnasadh, or Lammas, use marigold blooms to represent the sun on your altar or sacred space. They represent the south, fire, and the endurance of the sun through the colder days that are coming after the harvest is done.

 

I Never Knew…

In parts of India, marigold flowers are given as offerings to the God Vishnu.

 

***

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.

 

 

Notes from the Apothecary

July, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Sunflower

 

Despite being used by many Pagans as a symbol of the Summer Solstice, the bright and bold sunflower actually flowers a little later, in the deep heart of summer, during July and August. When the lazy, hot days take over, before the light starts to wane, these great, golden faces nod towards their namesake, spreading sunshine wherever they grow.

Sunflowers range from small, cheeky bright yellow flowers to towering golden giants, yellow and black, resembling great, mutant bumblebees on stalks. There are darks ones, pale ones and even some that seem almost black or purple.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Sunflowers are pretty easy to grow, and the seeds are often given to kids to encourage them to enjoy gardening. Competitions to see who can grow the tallest sunflower are common, and watching the plants soar skywards in the warmer months is a prize in itself.

Although they are named for their resemblance to the sun, sunflowers do actually need a sunny spot to achieve their full potential, along with some well drained soil and good compost. Many sunflowers can be grown for their seeds, which are nutritious and tasty when toasted. The seeds are cultivated commercially for their oil, which is used for so many culinary purposes it would take the whole article to list them here! Sunflower oil is a healthier alternative to many fats, even some types of olive oil. It’s fairly neutral in flavour, which makes it widely popular as it can be used in a diverse range of cuisines. Across Eastern Europe, a crumbly version of the sweet halva is made from a sort of sunflower butter.

 

The Apothecary

Mrs Grieve tells us that the seeds of the sunflower have diuretic properties, meaning they help us pass water more frequently, which can be useful to flush out our kidneys if combined with drinking lots of water. It’s important to remember that when using any diuretic, some important minerals and vitamins can be lost, particularly potassium. Dandelion is a great way to remedy this.

The seeds have also been used as an expectorant, and this application helps with bronchial, larynx and pulmonary issues including whooping cough. Grieve recommends making a medicine with 6oz sugar and 6oz gin! After that much gin, I’m fairly certain that whatever the ailment, you will begin to feel somewhat better… or simply not care that you feel ill!

In other cultures, sunflowers were used to help with snakebites.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Klytie, the Okeanid nymph of Greek mythology, fell in love with either Helios or Apollo (Sol, the Sun), but was forsaken for her sister, Leukothoe. After watching the sun and pining for a time, she was transformed into a flower that followed the sun. Originally, this was the heliotrope, but in modern retellings, due to folklore that states that the sunflower follows the sun throughout the sky, Klytie has become the nymph who transformed into the sunflower. This makes the sunflower a little tragic, a symbol of unrequited love, and a reminder to let go of that which does not serve us.

Sunflower oil is one of the few foods that was historically permitted throughout lent, symbolising fasting, spiritual cleansing and self-discipline.

In a very literal sense, the sunflower represents the sun, and therefore fire, south, passion, love and creativity. Use the petals or whole flowers to decorate the southern aspect of your altar or sacred space. They make a useful offering or decoration at Lughnasadh or Lammas (1st August or thereabouts, depending on your tradition), as not only do they represent the sun at its height, but the harvest, food, wealth and well-being.

Cunningham tells us that sunflower seeds have been used by women who wish to conceive, and also as a protection charm against smallpox. Considering smallpox was eradicated many years ago, this use could be expanded to a general health charm, or a general protection charm, perhaps when combined with other magical elements. Cunningham also states that cutting a sunflower at sunset while making a wish, will cause the wish to come true before the next sunset, if the wish is not ‘too grand’. This is a touch vague, but reminds us to be down to earth, realistic, and that sometimes we need to make our own wishes come true!

 

Home and Hearth

If you wish to know the truth of a situation, meditate upon the image of a sunflower, or on an actual plant, either outside or in a pot in your house or sacred space. The sunflower represents an open face, total honesty; revealing all aspects of a situation. If you are able to, cut one of the flowers (with permission, never steal flowers and never cut wild-flowers) and when you go to bed that night, place the flower under your bed, all the while focusing on the situation you wish to know the truth of. Make sure that before you go to bed that night, you put a note pad and pen on your bedside table. You should dream of the situation, and the dream should tell you the truth of the situation. As soon as you awake, write down as many details of the dream as you can remember. If you do it immediately, you will remember more detail, so don’t delay!

Use the details in the dream to establish the truth of your situation. If it makes no sense even after this, it means the truth has been hidden for a reason, and you need to let it go.

 

I Never Knew…

Sunflowers have been used for thousands of years to make dyes for fabrics, in colours ranging from the expected orange and yellow, to brilliant blue!

 

Image credits: Sunflower (Helianthus L.) by Pudelek via Wikimedia Commons; Blütenstand (tellerförmiger Korb) einer Sonnenblume (Helianthus annuus) in Balve-Eisborn by Asio otus via Wikimedia Commons; Photograph showing a field of sun flowers and a sun spot by Thomas Quaritsch via Wikimedia Commons.

 

***

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.

 

 

 

 

 

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

July, 2018

 

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

 

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

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

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

 

Flower Window Boxes & Planters

(Photo by Anastasiia Tarasova on Unsplash)

 

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

 

(Photo by ur Aleksanian on Unsplash)

 

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

 

Along a Fragrant Path

(Photo by Felicia D’Ascanio on Unsplash)

 

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

 

Bowers & Hedges

 

(Pink Rose Bower)

 

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

 

The Magick of Plants

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 


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

 

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

 


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

 


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

 


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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Creating Your Own Flowers

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

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

 

How to Make Lavender Flowers from Crepe Paper

 

Simple Realistic Hydrangea

 

How to Make Crepe Paper Rose

 

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

 

How to Incorporate Flowers Into Your Craft

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

 

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

 

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

How about a nice bowl of floral pot potpourri?

Sachets for your drawers & closets?

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

 

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

 

Until Next Time…

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

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

***

About the Author:

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

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