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The Witch’s Cupboard

February 1st, 2009

We come to that time of year when many lonely souls come to us and ask us to do our magik and a spell to bring love into their lives. Most only need a ‘charm’ or ‘crutch’ in order to help their own self esteems and to bring them out of their shells. There have been times I have been so caught up with helping others bring love into their lives that I have forgotten and neglected my own. Forgotten to even do the little things for those I love.

This month in The Witch’s Cupboard, I want to explore a few of the herbs that have historically been used for love. I want to share ideas to help, enhance, and nurture the loves in our lives, not help others to find it. This column is geared to make our Valentine’s and February a little more special for the ones we love.

There are many, many herbs that have been used throughout time to bring love, enhance sexuality, and woo others. I could write a book on the oddities and spells alone. We are going to go to the cupboard and pull out just a few that are common which can strengthen your love and also bring lasting health benefits. So come into the kitchen, open your cupboard, turn on the stove, and bake some magik with love.

We begin with a very common yet under rated herb, Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum).  In Chinese Herbology, it is said Cinnamon are twigs and bark from large tropical trees that warm the body, invigorate the circulation, goes to all 12 channels (meridians) of the body, and harmonizes the energy of the upper and lower body. Cinnamon also reduces allergy reactions. The herb is usually cooked together with other herbs to make tea that regulates the circulation of blood. Cinnamon has also been used for appetite loss, bronchitis, colds, cough, fever, indigestion and other digestive problems, sore throat, diarrhea, and some cancerous tumors. Eastern herbal remedies suggest Cinnamon for heart problems, dental pain, and urinary problems. For those you who use and enjoy medical and therapeutic grade essential oils, cinnamon oil can be used as a sexual stimulate, beneficial for colds, coughs, flu, rheumatism, and circulation. I have also heard it can aid in controlling sugar and certain types of diabetes. But in our magical world, Cinnamon is highly recommended as purification incense prior to sacred work, and increases focus and concentration, while enabling a peaceful mindset for ritual work or divination. With our theme for Valentine’s, Cinnamon is known as an aphrodisiac. When used in spells of sexuality and passion it deepens any meditations on love.

Another common herb in our cupboards is Ginger. Since ancient times, Ginger has been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions.  Ginger may decrease joint pain from arthritis, and may have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may make it useful for treating heart disease. Ginger is mostly known for its properties to help treat upset stomach and nausea. It is also believed to help the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and even painful menstrual periods. Magically Ginger is known as a powerful herb/spice. Ginger essential oil is useful in sexuality; love; courage; and money. Eating Ginger before performing spells will lend them power, since you have been “heated up” by the Ginger; this is especially true of love spells.

Since we are in our kitchens and at our cupboards, Something simple that can be done using the herbs/spices above to bring a smile to your loved ones faces is to bake cookies. You can make these simple recipes by adding your own special magical spells that are dear to you while you prepare the dough.

Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the 1 cup sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended.  Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, and stir in remaining flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Combine the 4 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.  Place balls of dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 to 11 minutes or until edges are beautifully golden.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Soft Ginger Cookies
Ingredients

* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup margarine, softened
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1/4 cup molasses
* 2 tablespoons white sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, and then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Next month’s edition of the Witch’s Cupboard will fall upon the Ostara/Spring Equinox rituals and will introduce you to preparing growing your own herbs for the coming Spring/Summer seasons. One I would like to follow along with is lavender because of the many health benefits of its oil. Until next time, happy baking to a healthier you.

Blessed Be,

Namaste Iammu,

Indigo Rainbow

Disclaimer:

Please note that we are not advocating that people stop using their normal medication, but would like to make people aware that some alternative therapies can be very effective to help treat problems and create a healthier, younger and more vital you. Also, it is not recommended to use most herbal supplements during pregnancy, or during breast feeding, or for small children. But then again, although these warnings must be provided, we must ask if the warnings come from experiences using herbs or from a medical community which is afraid we will cure ourselves.


In the Realm of Magic

For many of us who enjoy a good Harry Potter book or the fairy tales of childhood, there is a special word that draws us to the study of Wicca: magic.  That one mysterious word conjures up a euphoria of wonder and excitement that feels alien in comparison to our daily lives.  Suddenly, anything is possible, and we become more than mere mortals bracing against the tides of fate.  These are certainly the types of emotions the idea of magic can inspire, but daily we are told to keep such notions in the realm of fiction where they belong.  There is the world of reality and the world of the imagination, through which a clear and distinct boundary is drawn.  But is this division as clear as some say?  Is there really a division at all?  These are some of the questions Wiccans open themselves to and ask, allowing for a faith which embraces what others may not even consider possible.

One way to begin to explore these questions is to establish: what do we mean by “reality?”  Many would name the physical world around us as the foundation of the real world.  This is the area accessible to our senses, and we experience it everyday in a reliable manner that gives us little reason to doubt its existence.  Not every aspect of this world can be sensed, which we know through scientific instruments that go beyond our human limitations.  This is the only way we know of ultraviolet light, microwaves, or dark matter for instance.  Even though we cannot see these things ourselves we know they are real when we observe their effects.  Before each of these things was discovered by scientists they most certainly existed, we simply did not have technology suitable to view them.  It is therefore wise to have a healthy dose of open-mindedness alongside skepticism when deciding whether magic may or may not be “real,” as today’s unknowns can always become tomorrows discoveries.

Now let us go back to the separation between reality and imagination.  We have established that reality in common thought corresponds to the material world, both seen and unseen.  Imagination is something altogether distinct.  It is the collection of our thoughts, dreams, and hopes as to what reality should or might be.  I can see a horse and imagine a unicorn.  I can see a problem and imagine its solution.  Our thoughts and mind are our primary way of creating change in the physical world by envisioning what can be instead of what is.  A thought may not be a material object in the way that a chair is, but its effects on the world around us are real and profound in the form of our actions.  This blurs the definition a bit on what constitutes reality.  Is a thought only real if I create it in the material world?  Or is it real because of its affect on my decisions and actions?  A hopeful person may in reality have nothing to look forward to based on the way events play out, but the effect the hope has on the person changes what they do and how they act regardless of the physical reality around them.  Imagination is separate from reality only in that it does not have to conform to the physical world to be real or have an effect, and this is the key to understanding what magic is.

Someone who practices magic in our world does not have lightning bolts shooting from their fingertips and may or may not wear a pointy hat.  There is a certain aspect of romanticism in modern witchcraft that plays to the fantastical and whimsical natures of many of its practitioners.  What all magic shares, regardless of the outer forms, is a disciplined focus of the mind and thoughts aimed to produce an effect.  To believe in magic is merely to believe that thoughts can affect reality, and to practice and hone the craft of doing so.  To a skeptic this may only go so far as to acknowledge that if a person focuses their thoughts with great intensity towards a goal, it would at the very least affect the actions of that person.  If my goal is to find love and I wish to use magic, all of my concentration and focus on that goal would undoubtedly affect what I do and move my actions in line with it.  Most practitioners take it a step further and say that the thoughts you put out affect the energy around you, and that true magic is when that energy is affected enough to bring about your intentions.  That is a harder gap to bridge for those new or foreign to the Craft, but as with all of its aspects Wicca values experience over belief.  It does not require you to believe in magic but rather invites you to experience it and judge for yourself.  As with hope, there is nothing to lose, and everything to gain by choosing to suspend one’s disbelief.  And that is when the boundaries to the realms of reality and imagination blur, uniting to create a truly magical whole.

Journal for the Month of November:

I cannot say that I have yet had a successful experience with a spell.  On the other hand I have had a direct experience with another form of energy work known as Reiki.  A few months back I attended a Reiki attunement for levels I and II.  During this process the student is said to be opened to the flow of universal energy in order to channel it for healing.  I went into the experience very skeptical, but with an open mind.  During one of the guided meditations I experienced a strange sensation, almost as if energy were coursing through my spine at a rapid pace.  The sensation heightened and intensified to the point where I felt as if some torrential waterfall were coursing through me unhindered.  After a time the feeling faded, and as I came back into my regular awareness I learned that our instructor had been focusing on opening our chakras during those moments before.  There was no way I had imagined the experience, and I could not explain it away in rational terms.

Why do I mention this experience here?  For me, it was pivotal in giving the concept of magic a chance.  I firmly believe in the power of the mind and that amazing things can be accomplished through its discipline, but I had a hard time accepting the idea of energy work and its implications.  Magic and Reiki are two very different things, most especially because in Reiki the practitioner never tries to control the flow the energy, and instead focuses on being a clear and open channel for it.  But I can now say that I have literally felt energy working within me, and it has opened my mind to a vast sea of possibilities I may never before have considered.  To anyone else I would say, don’t just believe in something, know it from your experience.  And at the same time you can take the knowledge from others that such things are possible, as long as we are willing to open ourselves to them.

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

A young graduate opens a card from Aunt Betty; it contains a crisp green bill, along with congratulations and sincere wishes for success. Grandparents buy their new-born grandchild a Savings Bond, a gesture which will be stored away for decades before being “released” into that child’s life. A loyal customer respects the hard work of a local business owner, and goes out of the way to buy THERE, instead of some other business owned by strangers. Money truly is magic.

Most money spells commonly involve a person’s wish to RECEIVE money. But what about the opposite? Can you attach and focus magical energy within the money you SPEND, so that it can aid and bless others?

Let’s suppose that money is not a tangible object; it is energy. Magic often involves gathering, focusing and releasing energy to achieve a specific purpose. Is that any different than earning, saving, and then spending money? When you spend, you transmit a bit of energy in a certain direction. You decide where it goes, whether to Place A or to Place B, to Purpose A or to Purpose B. You create change — and that can be magic!

Perhaps we instinctively are aware of the energy within the money we give to others. For example, it is common for local businesses to hang up the first few dollar bills they earn as “good luck” charms. Some bills even have personal handwritten notes penned with good wishes by the merchant’s friends and supporters. But early forms of money weren’t dollar bills. Early forms of money were metal coins. Today we have a special word for coins; we call them “change.” Change? Like the way we change the world? What an interesting word for money! And the mathematical symbol for change? The Delta, a triangle, the same symbol we use today for the element Fire. Energy. Change. It is no accident that our language shows this relationship. Word histories often show how two things were once related.

While money ITSELF is nothing sacred, be aware of the energy you send when you spend. As you write out your monthly bills, use the energy within it to bless others. See the hard work you do for your wages as a way to raise energy to create positive change for yourself and those you support.

Even the “monthly ritual” of paying your bills can be magical. Your phone bill can be a way to bless the loved ones you call each month. Your mortgage or rent can be a house blessing. How else can you direct energy through money? Your taxes? Your charitable donations? Your savings or special nest egg? Look for your own personal ways to do this. You are limited only by your imagination.

Rather than spells to GET money, try using money magic as a blessing for others — you may be quite surprised by what you receive in return!

***

author bio:

Link (Anthony)
6538 Collins Avenue,
#255 Miami Beach, FL 33141
USA

[email protected]

People often ask me why I chose the name Link. One important lesson for me this time around is to understand how all things “interconnect” — like noodles in the same cosmic broth. (Okay, I also wanted a really simple name that would not raise eye-brows in a mundane setting. Something like RunningBuffaloMoonFeather just doesn’t fit me…)

Most of my writing focuses on how ordinary parts of everyday life can be sacred and magical. Being ordinary makes them no less special! I try to erase the lines that separate spirituality from the rest of life. I don’t spend too much time in elaborate ritual, but rather see nearly every action as a magical event, from slicing an apple to licking an envelope. I often encourage readers to not blindly follow traditional spoon-fed teachings, but to discover what feels right for themselves, and for the moment. The most important Book we could ever find is written deep within ourselves, and within nature — and every day we turn a new page!

I grew up in a small suburban NJ town, the youngest child of two hard-working parents. I survived 12 years of Catholic school, which helped shape my “everyday” spiritual views (With the nuns of Saint Mary’s School, everything was a religious experience – from lunch to recess to taking tests and doing homework.) While I shed much of what I learned there, I think a few things stuck.

I began learning about alternative religion, divination and magic in the mid-1970’s, but did not really become active in the Craft until 1993 (what I call reaching “Spiritual Puberty”). My first teacher was a dear friend and neighbor, a Gardnerian 3rd Degree, who was killed in a car accident in 1984. (Great guy, lousy driver…) In 1993 I became a member of a small Tradition with only a few members spread out around the US. This gave me the opportunity to spend time with/learn from elders well-recognized in the Community. I have also been a member of Covenant of the Goddess, Pagan Federation International, Earth Spirit, Circle Network, Free Spirit Alliance, Pagan Federation International and ADF. I am legally certified as clergy with both Covenant of the Goddess and ULC (for whatever that means). My work has been published in many places throughout the US, plus Canada, England, Ireland, Holland and Australia.

Jobwise, I have worked for/with large international telecommunications companies since 1984. (Again, a lesson in how things connect…) I hold a bachelors degree in Communications/Journalism, and a masters degree in business and government policy. I moved from New Jersey to Miami Beach, Florida on August 1, 2001 and enjoy Miami’s internationally diverse culture, with a Latin spice!

Fun? I enjoy good food and good wine, bad humor, camping, gardening, traveling, almost anything Brazilian, the Ocean, SciFi, and sleeping late at least once a week

He sat across the narrow room from them as they ate their breakfast that morning.  An attractive woman with two children: a boy of around eight years and his younger sister, a wide-eyed and happy five- or six-year-old.  The mother was busy with her children but seemingly without the usual undertone of anxiety that he saw in so many young families these days.  The children also did not display the more common agitated behavior of youngsters who felt they had to compete for attention.  They showed all the enthusiasm and fearless engagement with life that he loved so much about children their ages.  He felt especially enchanted by the girl, but he thought a person would have to be frozen solid not to feel the warmth of her smile and sparkling eyes.  In fact, both children smiled easily, as did their mother.  He imagined the challenges of parenthood had been met head on by her and the father and they had found the right mix for their family.  It was a beautiful example of rightness the three presented that morning and he was thankful for being there to see it.

His own son had a daughter, now in her young teens.  He had not seen her for some time because they lived out of state, but he remembered back to when she had been the same age as the child he watched now.  There was such a wonderful energy with children, such magic.

He believed in magic.  In fact, that was a chief part of the story he was reading that morning.  The book before him was advertised as part of a children’s series about witches, wizards, dragons, and all kinds of magical things, but he loved the whole group of books and had picked up the latest one only a few days before.  It was his daily custom to sit at the McDonalds for an hour each morning and read before taking on the day’s duties.  Because reading was always such a pleasure for him, he thought of his morning routine as eating dessert first for his mind.  But he’d already taken his usual hour and the day, like he, wasn’t getting any younger.  He gathered the detritus of his breakfast, the strawberry jam cup and used napkins as well as the Styrofoam platter that had held his food, and took it all to the waste drop at one end of the room.  Then he came back to the table and picked up his book to go out to his car.

Passing by the young family’s table, the little girl pointed to his book and asked, “Is that a dragon?”  He looked at the cover of the book, which portrayed a beautifully drawn dragon on its cover and then smiled back at the girl.  “Why, yes.  Yes it is a dragon.”  The child spoke as clearly as any adult and was obviously accustomed to speaking with them on a somewhat equal basis.

“Dragons aren’t real, you know.”  She spoke with the conviction of a scholar on such matters and her innocent face showed she only wanted to make sure the man wasn’t laboring under any delusions.  Out of the corner of his eye he noted that her older brother was nodding in agreement and there was a slight smile of delight from the mother at her child’s precociousness.  He decided that the day’s routine could withstand a bit of delay.

He slowly changed his face and pretended to be shocked.  “Why, that’s preposterous, my young lady.  Whoever told you such a thing?”  She silently pointed to her brother who had his mouth full with a breakfast sandwich at the moment, unable to do anything except nod in confirmation to the man.  “Well,” he said with a dismissive gesture, “obviously, your brother has been misinformed as well.  I’m sure he wouldn’t tell you such a thing if he didn’t believe it to be true.”  He returned his gaze to the girl and held up the book’s cover so it could be seen clearly by her.  “So, if dragons aren’t real, just how do you think this book’s cover got a picture of a dragon on it?”

“That’s not a picture,” she said condescendingly, “that’s a drawing.”  The mother’s grin grew by another degree or two.  He gave her a quick wink and smiled back at the little girl.

He tried to imitate her when he spoke again.  “I know that.  But it’s a picture nevertheless.  Drawings are pictures from the mind.  Obviously it’s not a photograph of a dragon; dragons simply can’t be photographed.  They’re magical after all.”

The girl seemed to deliberate on the logic of his last statement.  Then she spoke up again, obviously delighted with having found a flaw in the man’s thinking.  “You’re just being silly.  Magic isn’t real either.”  She flashed a look of triumph at the man, satisfied that her argument was complete and without any vulnerability.

“Oh, my dear,” he said, looking sad, “I’m so very unhappy to hear you say that.  Your life must be very dreary indeed.  How can you believe that when magic happens all around you all the time?”

She studied the man’s face for a moment, looking for any hint of deception on his part.  Not finding any, she sat back, looked at her mother, and then back at the man before making a reply.  In a somewhat softer tone, she said, “It does?”

“Oh yes, absolutely!”  He held the book up again.  “Why, this very book is a wonderful magical tool.  With it, I can travel to places I’ve never been before, talk with new and wonderful people,” he looked around, checking that their conversation was not being overheard, “and some of those people aren’t people people, you know.  They’re really elves, you know.”  He straightened back up and continued.  “I can even ride dragons!  So don’t tell me that magic isn’t real.”

The girl was about to speak again when he purposely cut her words off.  With an exaggerated prideful look, he looked down his nose and said, “I can even do magic that I’ll be you can’t do!”

She frowned at the old man’s boast and quickly replied.  “No you can’t.”

“Ah, but I can.  And furthermore, young lady, if you persist in believing that magic isn’t real, you’ll never be able to do the magic that I can do.”  He tapped the book to punctuate his words and posed importantly, looking down his nose once again at her.  He was sure she’d take his bait and he didn’t have to wait long to have his belief confirmed.

“What magic can you do?”

He raised his eyebrows dramatically.  “I can read!”  He puffed out his chest for emphasis.

The little girl smiled brightly and proclaimed that her mother was teaching her to read as well.  He looked back and forth between the little girl and her mother several times until the child began to giggle at his exaggerated perplexed expression.  Then he relaxed his posing and said in an off-hand tone, “Well, I suppose that’s because your mother is a great magician; she can do anything.”

“No she’s not; she’s my mommy.”

“Well, yes, isn’t that what I just said?  That makes her the greatest magician there ever was.  Now you’re being silly.  Didn’t you know that mothers are magicians?”  The girl looked back at her mother with newfound respect.  Then she turned back to the man and answered his question with a small shake of her little head.  “Of course they are,” he said.  “Your mother can perform the most wonderful magic of all.  She can do magic that is more powerful than all the other magics in the world… combined.”

A look of wonder came into the girl’s face as she looked wide-eyed at her mother.  “What magic can you do, Mommy?” she asked almost in a whisper.  The woman briefly looked up at the man and said to her daughter.  “Why don’t you ask the man, Jenny?”  The girl turned back to him and asked him the same question, still in a hushed voice.

“Well,” he said softly, “I’m surprised you have to ask, because I can see with my own eyes that she has already begun to teach you this great and wonderful magic.”  The girl gave her mother another bewildered look and then turned to the old man again.  “The greatest magic in the world,” he continued, “the most power magic that has ever been done by any person, elf, or even dragon, is called love, Jenny.  It is what has made you, me, your brother, even your mommy and daddy all possible.  And mommies can do it better than anybody.  Obviously, you can do it too.  And by the time you are a mommy, you’ll be able to do this magic just as well… maybe even better… than your mommy.”  Then he stood back up and said, “That is, of course, if you stop all this foolishness about magic not being real.”

She quickly wanted to set the record straight with the man.  “I love my mommy… and my daddy and Freddie,” she pointed to her brother, “and Grandma and Grandpa and Potty and…”

Her mother broke in to explain the last name when he raised his eyebrows.  “Potty is our Potbellied pig.  Jenny named her that when she was younger because… well.”  The youngster just kept on reciting the people and things she loved, which was an impressive list to be sure, until she had to pause before finding anyone else whom she hadn’t already named.

Then the old man bowed low to the little girl, to her brother and finally to her mother.  He stood back up again to give them a smile and a tip of his hat.  “Then I shall ask the next very dragon that I see to watch over you and your family, Jenny-who-is-learning-the-greatest-magic-of-all, for you all are a great treasure indeed.  And, as I’m sure your mother can tell you, dragons always do a very good job of guarding treasures.”

Then the old man turned and walked away, knowing that magic was alive and well in McDonalds.

Merry Meet and welcome to The Witch’s Cupboard. For the next year we will learn both medical and magical uses of herbs and oils we might find in our ‘cupboards’. We will also discuss naturopathic issues that are affecting our lives.

In our rich past, each town and village had its own “medicine lady”, shaman, or healer. At the time when these individuals walked our Earth, they were revered and respected for their knowledge, gifts, and abilities to save lives and cure aliments.  From their cupboards they would bring out herbs, fruits, oils, and creams to aide in things such as easing pain, setting bones, and helping during child birth. Most were followers of the Old Ways and Old Religion and their knowledge came from teachings gathered and passed down from many generations.

But with the passing of time, much of their knowledge has been lost. The knowledge was lost partly because of the spread of newer religious beliefs and philosophies throughout the land, and also from “modernization”.  Many of the medicine women and healers were killed during the spread of Christianity. Those who were not killed, were forced to either assimilate themselves into the new religion, stop practicing, or hide in the countryside. Many of our Pagan Brothers and Sisters who continued to practice the Old Ways of Healing were put on trial and sentenced as Witches.

The few that survived and continued to pass their knowledge on generation by generation, soon fell out of fashion with the introduction of what we consider “Modern Medicine” and drugs in the form of pharmaceuticals.

Many of you probably know of some type of home remedy that your Grandmother told you, or perhaps even used on you when you were a kid. Even though your grandmother was most likely of Christian faith, her home remedy, passed on from her Grandmother, came from the Old Ways and Religion.

In recent years more and more people have started looking beyond Modern medicines and drugs for alternative methods. Many with chronic or severe illnesses are seeing the limitations of drugs, while others find themselves becoming sicker. We are given one drug to ‘cure’ one aliment, only to be given another to counter the damage done by the previous drug. The surge to find alternative methods and remedies has recently increased as a realization, even by some of us in the medical community, that many of the drugs on the market do not work and are harmful. By turning to Herbology and Naturopathic studies, we can once again embrace the methods of our ancestors and use the wealth provided by our Mother Earth to live healthier lives.

As we forge ahead into the New Year, we are in the middle of the Flu/Cold season. Some very simple things that we can make to help ward off a cold or flu or even help shorten its duration are herbal teas. Herbal teas are easily made from herbs within our cupboard by simply brewing in hot or boiling water. They help soothe sore throats, stifle coughs, and aid in internal healing.

One effective tea that can be made is a mixture of ½ ounce crushed peppermint leaves, ½ elder flower, and 1 ½ boiling distilled water. Allow the mixture to steep on your stove for about 20 minutes, then strain. A wonderful sweetener would be to add honey to your tea.

Peppermint is often used in healing and purification workings. It can be burned or rubbed against objects to clear them of negative energies, or consumed as an elixir or tea to bring about healing.

Elder flowers are traditionally used to treat influenza, colds, mucus, sinusitis, feverish illnesses and other upper respiratory tract problems, as well as hay fever. The leaves and raw berries contain toxic cyanogenic glycosides and are poisonous. Care must be taken when using this plant for herbal remedies. Throughout Europe, it was widely believed that burning elder wood brings bad luck, but that elder sprigs hung in houses provide protection from witches.

One of the more effective remedies for colds/flu and its symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and sore throat is an herbal tea made from Red Raspberry leaves. It is simply a tea made from steeping the leaves. As a tea use 2-3 tsp of dried or chopped leaves in 5 -8oz of boiling water for 5 min, discarding solid particles. Red raspberry leaves have been used for centuries to aid in everything from the flu to wounds to ulcers to pregnancy. The branches of red raspberry were hung up at doors and windows for protection. This is also done when a death had occurred, so that the flu spirit would not reenter the house once it had left. Raspberry was served as a love inducing food, and the leaves were carried by pregnant women to alleviate the pain of pregnancy and childbirth.

There are many other herbal remedies that can be used to fight the flu and cold, but the main defense against the flu season is good nutrition throughout the year.

With this being my first column for PaganPages, I only did an ‘introduction’ to the future topics within ‘The Witch’s Cupboard’. I write professionally for Herbal and Naturopathic magazines and would like to cater this column more towards our readers. I welcome your comments and feedback. I would like to incorporate in the coming months our Holidays and what herbs are related to each. Would you like me to go more in depth on certain herbs? Would you like me to add scientific information about the herbs I mention? Ideal conditions for growing/harvesting? Are there certain illnesses you would like to learn possible herbal remedies for? Recipes? Or herbs used in Spell work?

I look forward to hearing from and “meeting” many of you.

Namaste Iammu

Disclaimer:

Please note that we are not advocating that people stop using their normal medication, but would like to make people aware that some alternative therapies can be very effective to help treat problems and create a healthier, younger and more vital you. Also, it is not recommended to use most herbal supplements during pregnancy, or during breast feeding, or for small children. But then again, although these warnings must be provided, we must ask if the warnings come from experiences using herbs or from a medical community which is afraid we will cure ourselves.

The Everyday Witch notices the magic in the mundane and uses the images of her environmental space to conduct effective Spelling.   In order to get to that point in our daily lives, where the magic is obvious, we must have the tools to visualize our space and experience the magic.

For my introductory column, I am supposed to write some flowery stuff about me and my heritage and what I know.  Instead, I will direct you to my new MySpace and The Everyday Witch website to give you the update on me.  I would much prefer for you to be thinking about Correspondences and what they mean to you, what images you personally associate with Fire or with East.  I have included a Correspondence table for you to read.  You can also use this Google Search link which looks for the key words “witchcraft correspondences”.

The first thing one must possess to practice effective Magic is Belief.  Correspondence Witchcraft gives the Witch an edge on Belief.  The corresponding ideas work together to form a synergy which aids in the visualization.  What I would like to focus on for my first column is to give you something useful and relevant to the Correspondences that Everyday Witches use in their Craft.  A project of sorts, timed to the moon and designed to assist you in visualization in time for Ostara 2009.  You will need 6 panels.  A box or heavy paper is sufficient.  If you aren’t the creative type, a journal with 6 entries on 6 pages will suffice.  I do however, believe strongly in visualization as a means to success, so please make an effort to print or draw images during the exercise to help guide your learning process.  This would make an interesting addition to a BOS or a Scrapbook on Wicca. The 6 panels will represent the 6 Cardinal Directions.  North, East, South, West, Above and Below.  It will also encompass the 5 basic elements of Earth, Air Fire Water and Spirit. This is the over arching Theme to my column, Correspondences.  You could call it “Foundations for Successful Witchcraft”.  The best way to classify the information in my column is “The rudimentary knowledge one should have before committing oneself to the Craft”.  I may want to be a Plumber, but without a wrench I’m just a bald guy with bad butt crack.  The tool is very important to the Craft.

While you are deciding between the journal and the box, I will tell you that I have always considered the world around me in a relational sense.  This is related to that through this relationship.  It’s like an odd “six degrees of separation”.  For me, Correspondences make sense of those relationships and gives them an order that no other religion or path of faith has provided me.  Only witchcraft with the belief in the Goddess incorporated into ritual, has provided a sense of order and structure in my life.

I think it is best to say that my column is about the magic of ordinary things.  In the 1970’s, the Scholastic Book Club carried books by Ruth Chew.  What the Witch Left and The Wednesday Witch.  This genre of fairy tales that best describes Witchcraft are those of ordinary household items being magical tools.  The Folk Practices of the 1600’s Scotland included this tradition of Kitchen Witchery for the benefit of healing and family prosperity.  It’s not just a kettle, it’s a magical cauldron!  That is the stalk from which I am raised.  The Hippie Love Flower Child of the 1970’s with a spiritual philosophy of LOVE and The Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales are the tacky metallic wallpaper which cover the walls of my sacred space.  I am a city witch, growing up primarily in the crowded apartment complexes and “designed neighborhood community”, with summer visits to the Southern California Desert and teenage years spent roaming the fields of the Silicon Valley… before it was the Silicon Valley.

You will find a book list in the coming months which focuses on the beginners path, and hopefully there will be some more “advanced” discussions on religion, magic and the need for Ritual in our ordinary lives.  To start with, I use the Seasons of the Witch Planner from 7th House, as I find the information interesting – the mundane stuff like Planetary Hours can be found anywhere on the internet.  Having a good calendar geared for Moon phases, Sabbats, and other helpful information like Astrology and Tarot is very nice to have in practicing the Craft.  I’ve used a lot of them, Seasons of the Witch is by far my most favorite.

The candles, the incense the altar, the chalice, the bread, the wine, all are part of the Witchcraft ritual.  For people on the Catholic path, Witchcraft should appear familiar and easy.  Witchcraft is very ceremonial – but it is not the ceremony which makes the magic, it is the belief and our ability to visualize our intentions.  The ceremony is simply the descriptor for our Sacred Space.

Correspondence Witchcraft takes advantage of the visualization, providing a 6 sided “space” with which to define our environmental space.  Correspondence Witchcraft can be likened to the work of Carl Jung.  The importance of imagery and visualization is very central to both his psychology and his other writings.  The Correspondence Table for my personal brand of Correspondence Witchcraft is included with this column, as mentioned above.  Here’s the link again. Keep in mind that you will most probably have a different path, a different set of Correspondences.  You may be from the Southern Hemisphere reading this column on the Web, and of course it will be very different for you!

The Beginning is very important to one’s beliefs.  While the Wheel of the Year is a pretty picture, there isn’t a lot to guide an inquiring Witch to understanding how the Wheel is read.  So, “ Where do you start?”  I personally start in the East.  When I finish my circle, I want to be standing firmly on the ground, therefore I end my Quarter Calls in the North, or Yule.  Or think of it as, I start on the shoreline with the rising sun on the East and I end on the shoreline in the North.  This makes Imbolg the first ceremony of the new year.  It also makes Imbolg a Cross Quarter Sabbat.  But we will get into all that in a future column.

Only you can decide the start of your Year.  Is your path more Wiccan, does your Wheel start at Samhain, making your first Sabbat of the year Yule?  Or is the wheel not a consideration and you begin every Ritual facing East?  There are a multitude of justifications for where your box should “begin”.  Pick one that is right for you.

My background in Correspondences began when I was a child.  My grandmother and grandfather secretly practiced and taught me the importance of the relationship of “things”. By the age of 34 I had become a Level 2 Energetic Healer and a 2nd Degree Priestess of Sankofa Pride.  It was with Sankofa Pride that I discovered my knack for Correspondences and how easily I could associate colors and stars and goddesses.  I worked with the Temple of Isis, Iseum of Isis Padeusis and remained close with Lady Sankofa.  I established a “Big Witch” Circle in Long Beach CA where ritual witchcraft was practiced on a monthly basis.  The Grotto enjoyed a full year and several months in Long Beach.  I am finding it harder and harder to find the “big witches” simply because most of us, at this point, retire and teach only our family.  I hope that by laying down the basics, I can provide the impetus for a future Big Witch to carry on.

For the month of February, you should be preparing and gathering items to make your box, your 6 scrap book pages or your 6 journal entries.  The craft store Michael’s has some lovely sized affordable boxes to decoupage or paint.  Your thoughts should cover what you want to do – box, panels – how involved you want to be – easy glue on or in depth detailed painting – and of course the visualizations.

I will let you be the guide to your own creativity.  However, may I suggest using the Google Image Search to gather and meditate on your Correspondences?  I have provided a link here for you which searches the Google Images for “witchcraft correspondences East”. That should get you on your way to visualizations!  Mix up the key words and see what comes up for “Animal Totem West” or “Water Undine”.  Save the images you most relate to or that speaks to you strongly.  You will want to print those images in color for later decoupage (gluing) on to the box or panels.

Using basic Wicca concepts, your 6 panels will become the visual representations of North, East, South, West, Above and Below.  Not everyone likes to do Below since the box is sitting on that panel.  For the Ceremonialists reading along, please, note I am including this portion especially for you.

Starting in the East, you will want to sketch out the 4 cardinal points and their correspondences.  You can also use the Season and the Sabbat correspondences to the cardinal points.

All of the panels should be sketched out as you want them by the first weekend of February.  Decide where on your box or object the elementals will be placed, color choices for each Element should be identified and any photos or pictures you want to glue/decoupage on the box should be printed in color and ready for application. The first Elemental Panel (your choice) should be traced or outlined on the box at the very least.  Ideally you should be well underway with painting or applying the first panel.  If you are using a journal or 6 scrapbook pages, you will want the Elemental panels sketched out, and your visual materials ready to be glued or stapled in place.

The Dedication Full Moon is February 9th.  You will want to have the majority of the Elementals Sketches complete by now and well underway.  If you are using a box, the material should be prepped – base coats applied, etc and so on.  During your regular February Full Moon observance, you want to hold each of the elemental panels in your mind and meditate on their magic.  As you attend Full Moon Circle for February, reflect on the images you have chosen to remind you of the Elemental Beings, the Animals and the Star Watch Tower.  In your mind, go through all of the Elemental Beings and the ritual tools and the colors, for East, and for South, for West and for North.  Hold these images in your mind and let them interact, let their synergy mingle. Hold this synergy in your thoughts and dedicate it to your future spells and intentions.  This energy should be channeled into your box, your journal or your pages, for the seeding and planting of the magical tool which will aid your future intentions in magic working yet to come.

For the remainder of February, the Elemental Panels should be completed and/or applied.  Instead of playing Solitaire this month, spend those 3 hours a day researching the Goddess which corresponds to West?  This is the “get your hands dirty” kind of Witchcraft preparation work that inspires the mind.  Spelling is not just about words.  Spelling is about visual images and 3 dimensional ideas we can hold in our mind.

For the March column, we will cover the structure of a Full Moon Spell used in conjunction with a Sabbat Ritual.  You will need your box or your panels as Correspondence will be a central component.

Correspondence is the foundation, Spelling is the structure.

Book List and URL References

The Everyday Witch – http://www.geocities.com/girleegeek/

The Everyday Witch at Myspace – http://www.myspace.com/theeverydaywitch

Correspondence table – http://www.geocities.com/girleegeek/TheEveryDayWitch/Witchcraft_Correspondences.htm

To Ride a Silver Broomstick – Silver Raven Wolf  http://www.amazon.com/Ride-Silver-Broomstick-Generational-Witchcraft/dp/087542791X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232566860&sr=1-1

To Stir a Magic Cauldron – Silver Ravenwolf  http://www.amazon.com/Stir-Magick-Cauldron-Casting-Conjuring/dp/1567184243/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232566860&sr=1-3

Moon Magik – DJ Conway  http://www.amazon.com/Moon-Magick-Recipes-Llewellyns-Practical/dp/1567181678

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