April, 2015

Merry Meet

April, 2015

Beltane

 

                        Welcome

 

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In this Issue…

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A Book Review: Steampunk Magic~ Working Magic Aboard the Airship

 

animal

 

An Interview with Hearth Moon Rising: Invoking Animal Magic

 

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The Apothecary Teaches you all about Aloe Vera

 

crone

 

This month begins the first of a six-part series on croning in SpellCrafting: Spells and Rituals

 

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Interested in becoming a writer with us?  Pitch us your ideas at admin@paganpages.org

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MagickalArts

April, 2015

The Book of Creative Mind

This pathworking was written as the conclusion to a workshop I taught entitled “Crafting Effective Pathworkings”. The intent was to offer sample of the various components that may be used in a pathworking and to plant the seeds of creative idea for the participant’s own use in writing.

 

Begin by taking in the scents and sounds of this room and this space. Now gently close your eyes and turn your focus and attention to your breath. Allow your consciousness to move with the rise and fall of your chest and the filling and release of your lungs. Continue in this manner for several breaths; allowing each to become softer, smoother and slower. With each breath your physical body appears to lighten and your center of consciousness floats upwards towards the inner eye. You see on your inner screen a small point of bluish purple light and with each breath this point begins to expand. As it continues to expand you feel yourself enveloped by this mist of transition between the Physical and the Astral realms. These tiny particles of vibrant energy swirl around you, enveloping you now in what has become a swirling of intermingled indigo and violet veiling that almost ribbon like in its form. You stand in this outpour and allow its energy to vitalize and renew you. You feel safe and eager to begin your journey.

As this veil begins to thin you see that just before you is an ornately carved wooden door. The wood smells of earth and tree and vine. There are markings on the door and symbols whose meanings you are unsure of, but you make mental note of their beauty and intricacy and visually store them away to be researched at another time. You reach out and push against the door, the feel of the wood rough against your fingertips and find that it opens with little effort.

The door opens widely and you are looking into a softly lit room that is colored in earth tones and hues of greens, dusky oranges, amber yellows and coffee colored browns. As you cross the threshold of the doorway, the scent of sandalwood wafts through the air and brings to mind images of far away and exotic places. The floor beneath you is made of a richly stained wood and seems to give ever so slightly as you step forward. There is no hesitation or concern in the seeming flexibility of the floor beneath; simply surprise that you could feel so supported yet buoyant at the same time. It brings to mind images of gently being carried and supported by water. The sound of the door softly closing behind you seems to issue welcome at your entering this space and you feel a sense of familiarity with its energy.

Your eyes scan the square enclosure of this small and comfortable space and you see that there are not many furnishings beyond the necessity of a place to sit and a desk upon which to write. Your gaze comes to rest on a corner of the room that seems to glow a bit more brightly than the rest and you see now that there is a fire burning in a stone fireplace. The opening of the fireplace is oddly shaped and almost resembles a triangle in how it peaks at the uppermost center point. The flames rise and peak and then withdraw teasingly between log and stick. They seem to beckon you to step forward for a closer look. As you move closer, the smell of the sandalwood now mingles with that of the burning wood. It is a rich and heady scent and you feel a wave of anticipation pass over you. You feel the heat of the flame and are warmed to your very core.

In rhythm with the movement of the flames, all your senses come to a place of alertness and awareness. Each becoming heightened and then returning to normal state once again. You remember this same feeling as that which you experienced as a child; eager and excited about the promise of a grand adventure or trip to your favorite place. You turn your focus from the fire, and from this place of view standing beside the fireplace you see that the room has taken on a soft orange tint that seems to enhance the earth tones you originally noted. This warm glow merges and blends with the greens and yellows of the walls and curtains and all comes together harmoniously. The addition of this change in light draws your attention to the wall directly opposite you, and you take note of a beautiful wooden desk and simple wooden chair that are placed against its edges.

The top of the desk is lit by a single white candle, whose light is so brilliant and luminescent that light seems to spill like flowing silvery liquid over the surface. You can see the silhouette and shape of something on top of the desk, and curious as to what this object might be you walk over for a closer look. Placed centrally on the desk top is a crimson covered book. Its texture is smooth and silky giving it a glowing radiance. Looking down you see that your name is beautifully written on the cover in gold ink. You are surprised and pleased by this. It is as though someone lovingly left this gift for you and had anticipated your arrival in this space. You look out at the room and now see that there are many items in this room that are in accord with your likes and sense of style. You had not noticed any of this before and decide that the brilliance of the light has given a new level of clarity to what lays before and around you. This space is clearly meant for you and this thought brings anticipation of returning regularly.

Excited by this prospect you turn your attention once again to your book. It is thick and large, more like a scrapbook than journal. You easily pick it up and turn it over in your hands to look at it from all sides. Gold edging shimmers out between silky red cover and you are curious as to what may be inside. Replacing it on the desk you reach out to open it and see a pen resting near its edge. The pen is blue, the color of a robin’s egg and is feather light in your hand as you pick it up to take a closer look. You feel a surge of creative energy pour through you and ideas for what you would like to write or draw within this book move as a slideshow on your inner screen. You have never felt so empowered and eager to create; to produce and to give life to what you are envisioning.

You sit down in the chair and again the experience of being suspended gently and securely held as if in water, floods your senses. As this thought quickly fades the parade of images that have been moving through your mind pauses on one singular picture. As you turn your awareness to this picture, for a moment the image you had just so clearly seen fades and you are disappointed, thinking that you will have to create it again. Just as quickly as the image had faded in clarity you realize that this seeming loss was simply a transformation of the image into a holographic picture. It is now 3 dimensional and you can easily see each of its sides simultaneously.

Intrigued by this, you allow the image to continue to build in its form and clarity. Not wanting to miss any of the detail, you pick up the pen, prepared to draw and record what you are seeing. The pen barely touches the surface of the page before the entirety of the image, its use, function and specifications appear on the page as though willed into creation. For a moment you are startled by this development, but then realize that this is the true process of manifestation in this realm. That Mind and Will combined with intuitive desire can give life to what they wish to create. The pen is simply an extension of your energy and desire and is serving as conduit and form-giver for the outpour of creative effort.

You turn to the next blank page to test this process out, selecting another image from what now appears to be a vast storehouse of accumulated image and idea contained within your consciousness. You make mental note that again, this newly selected image seems to pass through a moment of uncertainty and darkness before its energy is clearly seen, used, and released onto the page. Feeling energized and primed you continue this exercise of calling forth several more images and have soon filled several pages of your book. You decide that for now, this book will serve as keeper and record of these images and can be used to sort and filter those which need more work, those which are non-productive and those which may be ready to be brought forward into manifest reality.

Beginning to tire from this excitement and creative outpour, you stand and pick up the journal to find a more suitable and safe place of keeping. You are unprepared for the density of its weight and can barely lift it from its surface. You recall how easily you picked it up earlier, and realize the lesson of this experience. With creation there is great responsibility. At times, this responsibility may be weightier than you can bear; but that is the way of all things of worth and value. There is much that wishes to be created and some is viable and other is that which would fill time and space with unusable matter. Balance must be striven for and in this balance there will be much useless weight that is accumulated. The task and the charge of manifestation is not driven by the will of man and his desire to create just for the power contained within the act, but by the larger will of the Divine Human working as co-creator with Divinity.

In future, you will be more mindful and selective in nurturing what you wish to create. Your book will stay on the surface of the desk awaiting your return and as you add to its pages, you will also become more adept at refining its contents. And, in time you will learn to balance the weight of what is received and what is given in your interactions with the creative mind.

You look around at the room and see that once again it has taken on new clarity. The fire is burning brightly, vibrant in its orange and golden yellow glow. The browns and greens are vibrant and rich in their depth of color. There is great strength in this place and much to learn. This is your space of creative outpour and you, this room and the book are now part of this process. But, for now, it is time to return to your daily activities and creative efforts. Take a moment to give thanks to this space and all that was given and received.

You walk to the door, take one last look around and gently push the door open. You turn as it closes and see that some of the markings and symbols on the door have changed. This also is part of the process of creating something. Some essence of what the original was will always be carried through as it serves as the foundation upon which new growth may occur. As the last of these thoughts pass through your mind, you find yourself once again enveloped in swirling of the indigo and violet veil of energy. The sensation is one of calm and you feel renewed and refreshed, no longer tired from your exertion of creative effort. Your focus shifts to the rhythm of your breath and with each exhale the density of the blue veil thins and contracts once again to a tiny blue pearl of light. With each continued breath, you feel the density of your physical body move to the center of your awareness. Awareness of the sounds of this room; the physicality of your body in these seats and the sound of my voice.

And, when you are ready, gently open your eyes and return to this space, this time and be fully present.

Excerpted from: The Magickal Pen-Volume One

Available at: www.robinfennelly.com

HedgeWitch Days!

April, 2015

Breaking Magical Ground

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Hi my lovelies, wow who ordered April? I am shocked at its arrival, not only by how fast time is flying by but by the fact that it is my birthday this month, heralding me into a new number, 45…wow, now I definitely did not order that! I hope I am doing all us mad ones proud though as I defiantly poke my tongue out at another year older. My hair has been bathed in bleach and pink dye, I am still rocking out to all my favourite Metallica tunes and this Grandma is still in her uniform of jeans, trainers and a tee shirt, no slip on comfy shoes for me!!!

Age does bring some wisdom though, and that’s something I AM feeling the benefit of this year. I moved house again last year, my gypsy feet do like to move around lol, and I have inherited a big old garden just crying out to be transformed. It amazes me that a garden that stands with a house nearly 70 years old has not one plant put into it. Really, not even one bulb, shrub or flower. Not one bed dug, or fence erected! What should be a truly mature garden is in fact a patch of grass with a washing line. Such potential is something I cannot bear to waste, and as we are now in April it is time for me to break ground and start this garden on the right path, and for me that is the magical one.

As a hedgewitch my comfort zone and stomping ground is the beautiful boundaries of the wild lanes and fields in the Wiltshire countryside. A boundary is like a window with the curtains pulled, you just need to open them slightly to let all that glorious light flood in and to see through to the other side. The view will always be different and the signs and messages will always vary, but there is nothing for me like a hedgerow to get my foraging juices flowing for all those free edible and magical goodies. Nothing rivals a hedgerow for connecting with other realms too, blackberry leaves can conceal the cheekiest of the Fae, and a rabbit burrow can give you a glimpse of the underworld. The wind whispering in the trees holds many a message and nothing is ever static, there is always movement and fluidity to work with magically, to inspire and delight all the senses…((sigh)), how I LOVE it so! My new garden does not hold such magic and mystery yet, but I am determined to put some in!

As we are now in April, our dear Mother Earth is starting to warm, the cold winter chill that does any new seed baby no good at all is starting to melt away to be replaced by a gentle heat from the spring sunshine. At least, I hope it is where you are in the world. I know all of you in Canada and the States have had a rough winter this year, it may take a little longer for Mother Earth to absorb those long awaited rays this spring! I am a great believer in working with nature, not fighting against it and so after waiting to get to planting season I am now busting to get digging and transforming. This is where the wisdom of age comes into play. I have lived in many places and had many gardens, and through all of that experience I have come to find out what I like, what works for me, what I use regularly and probably the most important lesson…patience! I am not a naturally patient person…everything done and finished yesterday if you don’t mind, that would be perfect! But I have learnt over the years that patience brings with it great rewards. Like a bulb planted in the autumn, the waiting is rewarded in the spring with strong green shoots and beautiful flowers. So with this blank canvas of a garden I am determined to get things right.

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Everyone has their own style of gardening, and I adore looking at what people are able to create in their own spaces. I particularly admire all those who have no outside garden, but are able to keep a wealth of plants happy and healthy on the window sill, a skill I have never mastered, all of my indoor plants are condemned to die, bless them. As I live in the UK, the style of garden I love is perhaps unsurprising, the traditional English cottage garden. Full of fragrance, colour and texture, this higgledy piggledy mix of foxgloves, lupins and roses inspires the gardener in me, it’s just like an enchanting painting when it’s done right. Dotted in and around the flowers is a mix of medicinal herbs and flowers, grown with careful knowledge of safety and uses, and giving a wealth of magical and medicinal uses as well as providing for the kitchen. This is the garden of my dreams and I hope that I am able to start creating it from scratch with the help of the Goddess and a little of that freshly learnt patience!

Breaking ground is the start of a magical journey for you and the earth around you and so it makes sense to start as you mean to go on. This is a simple ritual you can do if you’re creating a new border or even a new pot.

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Breaking ground ritual

You will need;

A tea light

Some rainwater

A feather ( I am using an incense stick due to my irrational fear of feathers and birds!)

A small stone or crystal

Dig your new border or fill your pot with soil or compost

Close your eyes and place your hands into the soil. Feel the life of the soil in your hands and say;

I ask that this soil be blessed with life and the love of the goddess.

With your hands dig a small hole in the earth in front of you. Take the tea light out of its metal holder and place the candle into the hole. Light the candle and say;

Element of fire, I ask that you bless this ground with the magic of transforming warmth

Next to the candle place the stone or crystal and say;

Element of earth, I ask you to bless this ground with your life force.

Place the feather ( or incense stick) in the ground and say;

Element of air, I ask that you bless this ground with your magical breath.

. Sprinkle the ground with the rainwater and say;

Element of water, I ask that you bless this ground with your life giving nourishment.

So mote it be!

Once your ritual is complete stand in your garden with your arms outstretched or sit in front of your pot with your hands over it and say;

I ask that this garden / pot be blessed for the purpose of magic,

May all things be grown with love and used with wisdom

By the Goddesses grace, harming none, so mote it be!

Breaking ground with a magical intent can be done in an existing garden too, acknowledging the presence of magic in your outside space is such an important step in growing plants for magic. As with all things spiritual the roots need a strong foundation in order to grow and blossom.

So now to the plants for me at last, yay!!!

And my first magical plants for my newly blessed garden are of course the classics…

Lavender- Peace

Rosemary – Cleansing and Memory

Thyme- Healing

Sage – Wisdom

And Rose! – Love (thank you to my daughter Bethany for the Mothers Day prezzie of my rose…I am such a rose junkie!)

So many more to come, hurray….and with each one will come a new opportunity to create a little magic…now where did I leave that patience?

I hope whether you are breaking new ground or blessing old you manage to make your planting season magical this year! Big April hugs guys, and as ever

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Bright Blessings Mandy xxx

Book Review: Steampunk Magic~ Working Magic Aboard the Airship

April, 2015

Steampunk Magic~ Working Magic Aboard the Airship

Author: Gypsey Elaine Teague

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If you’re into to the Steampunk subculture you’ll love this book written by the Gypsey Elaine Teague, Captain of her Crew. Gypsey starts this book with a brief history of Steampunk and how it has emerged as one of the most fascinating subcultures of today. In Gypsey’s words, “Steampunk is the juxtaposition of nineteenth-century Victorian science fiction, a futuristic Victoriana, where anything is possible as long as you don’t use too much electricity, gas, diesel, or atomic power.”

Each chapter begins with a quote from the likes of Aleister Crowley, Nikola Tesla, and H.P. Lovecraft before divulging in the tools of the trade. In Chapter Two we are introduced to the “Gods” of Steampunk Magic. We start with Queen Victoria herself, then go on to H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Nikola Tesla (whom I consider the God of Steampunk), and Mary Shelley. I appreciate how Gypsey incudes people of literature and history as Gods of Steampunk. It was a breath of fresh air to learn a different way of getting in touch with “deity”.

In Chapter Three we move on to the crew of the airship. This is like the modern day coven but set within a Steampunk world. The elders of the crew are the Captain and the Commander, they are the leaders of the group. Following the Captain and Commander are the ificer, the Shipwright, the Purser, the Mess Officer, the Adjutant, and the Navigator. Gypsey explains the roles each of these play aboard the airship and the parts of ritual they are responsible for.

Chapter Four explains the tools the Steampunk Magician will need to practice her craft. Instructions are given for the construction of some of these tools, a much welcome addition to this book. Directional gear, the wand, and goggles are covered, along with recipes for the cakes and wine ritual. By favorite part of this chapter (possibly of this entire book) is the Absinthe Ritual. As a fan of this Green-Fairy drink of the Gods, I appreciated this much-loved ritual.

In the following chapters of Steampunk Magic, Gypsey Elaine Teague explains the rituals of this craft and includes a few bits of magic. Everything from the construction of the Steampunk Altar to circle casting and divination are covered.

Steampunk Magic is a must read for any lover of this subculture. Gypsey Elaine Teague has done a magnificent job of introducing us to this most intriguing of magical systems. Though it is geared towards covens, I feel a solitary practitioner can gain a lot of useful information from this book. Like Amelia Earhart, we can fly solo in this Victorian Steampunk wonder-world. So don your goggles, board the airship, and take flight into the Aether.

Paperback: 224 pages

Publisher: Weiser (March 1, 2013)

 

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a budget

April, 2015

Culinary Magic

Merry Meet.

Making magic using the objects on your altar is expected. Making magic in your kitchen may take some thought at first, but once you connect cooking and spell casting, you’ll see limitless possibilities – and cooking will go from being a chore to becoming a ritual.

Since the beginning of time, meals have been about coming together of family, so that – with their knowledge and consent – you can share the magic. Eating becomes away of internalizing or absorbing the magic, making the spell more powerful.

Think about the symbolic foods you carefully select for the sabbats that are rich in magic: custard at Imbolc, eggs at Ostara, corn and bread at Lughnassadh.

Likewise in everyday culinary magic, you choose ingredients for their correspondences. Cinnamon is associated with money, fertility, protection, happiness and love. Looking for insight? Try marjoram or lemongrass. For courage to face an obstacle, reach for pepper, horseradish, nettle or chives for help. And don’t forget salt. Every civilization has believed it to have magical properties and used it to purify, protect and bless. Salt absorbs psychic energy and holds it. It also is used for wealth.

Many lists of foods and their associations exist. Here are links to two:

http://www.wejees.net/herbs.html

http://thelivingwiccan.tumblr.com/post/91273159597/magical-correspondences-of-food.

My suggestion is that while you let them guide you, you trust your own intuition.

Any recipe can be turned into a culinary spell. Apple or strawberry pie can become a love spell. So can spaghetti sauce. Chocolate is so magical, it positively tastes like luxury and prosperity and can be added to so many things. Rather than go out and buy charms and a drawstring pouch make a success mojo bag, you could reach into the cupboard and stir some cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – and a bit of honey or a pinch of sugar – into a dish of applesauce, then enjoying it spoonful by spoonful, all the while feeling that giddy lightness and bliss that often accompanies success.

In addition to the ingredients chosen for their correspondences, bless all your ingredients. Work with intent and care. Being mindful as you stir (clockwise in harmony with nature to put something into the bowl or pot and counterclockwise to remove something) makes for stronger magic.

You can also inscribe symbols onto the bottom pie crust before adding the filling, stamp cookies with pentacles, and shape or cut foods into moons or stars.

My challenge to myself – and to you – is to come up with some go-to magical dishes that become comfort food for the spirit.

Here’s one to start with: dip fresh strawberries into melted chocolate into which you’ve added a bit of heavy cream. Eat with love in mind. (Don’t overlook self love.)

You know the Goddess has a wicked sense of humor, is playful and encourages joy – so have some fun with your food. Turn fruit kabobs into magic wands. Mull cider to make a witch’s brew. Pop corn to bring about wealth and abundance – and don’t forget to bless it with butter and salt.

The witch who introduced me to this whole idea of making magic with food also notes, “Starting with a tidy kitchen creates sacred space.”

I think there also might be a bit of magic in wearing an apron while doing culinary magic. At the very least, it connect me to the spirit of my mother and her mother, and no doubt her mother, who wore aprons in the kitchen. Putting one on is one way I honor my ancestors.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Witches Soul Work

April, 2015

Witches Soul Work Part 4: The Path of the Stang

“If that which thou seek thy find not within thee, thy will never find it without.” (1)

The Craft involves deep soul work leading to understanding the authentic self, the connection with the divine, and understanding the Mysteries. If you were Buddhist you might called this enlightenment. What is enlightenment for Witches? Many people new to the Craft read the beginner books and think that that is all there is. I would like to share with you some of the ways that Traditional Witches do soul work, the way they approach and understand the Mysteries and an exploration of what the Mysteries are. This idea was inspired by a course called Soul Work from Cherry Hill Seminary (www.cherryhillseminary.org) and from a comment by a woman on our local pagan internet site who said that she was quitting our group because we were not serious (i.e. we are fluffy) about our spiritual work. (Thank you dear!) The Craft is the most deeply spiritual path I know, but because it is hidden it is not so easy to find.

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The Path of the Stang
The path of the Stang as we practice it is a part of the old knowledge of Greencrafting. In this work we go deeper into the understanding of the magick of the natural world by learning about the life of trees. We address many questions including:

How is the energy of trees connected to the life of this planet?
How does the Divine manifest through trees?
How are you connected to life through trees?

This path gradually reveals the tapestry of creation, and the healing rhythms that make up the flowing sap of life. Be prepared to be transformed, healed and to find within yourself the deep wisdom of nature.

What is a Stang?
This is the main ritual tool used for this pathworking. The Witch carries it as a staff when walking in the woods, uses it to mark a circle or sets it up as a movable altar. A Stang is a forked ritual staff traditionally only found within the Craft and is usually of Ash wood but could be made of any tree found where you live. It serves as an altar and is a physical representation of the World Tree or Bile (pronounced Bee-lee) known in Norse mythology as Ygdrasil. It can also be a staff of office for the Coven Summoner or High Priest and could also represent the Horned God. The Stang is thrust into the ground and decorated to form the altar in the center of the cast circle. If you are doing ritual inside you can put it into a pot of earth.

The Guardian or Mother Tree
One tree on each “land” (area) or in each forest seems to have more presence or energy than the other trees. It seems more awake, more real. This tree guards the land and holds the magical energy of the land. It communicates with all other trees through its roots. You need to find this tree in the neighbourhood where you live or the wild area where you work magically. This tree can become your ally and guide to the magick of trees. When you find this tree, walk past it often and if you can, spend time sitting under its branches. I once had a Guardian tree growing on someone’s front lawn! Obviously I couldn’t spend time sitting under it, but I tried to walk past it at night or whenever I could. Often I found that the tree had dropped small branches and pinecones onto the sidewalk (for me?) so I picked them up and brought them home.

To connect with the Guardian Tree try walking the land in an altered or clear-minded state of consciousness and connecting with the energy of your tree. Make very good notes. How does the energy feel around the tree? How far does that energy extend? Not only do you have to get to know the energy of your land, but also the land has to get to know you. Diana Beresford-Kroeger (2) calls this ‘tree bathing’. (To learn more about her work and how trees can save the world, see the link below.) If you can’t meditate under the tree you can imagine yourself walking to the tree and sitting under it and then meditate as if you were there. When you are ready, introduce yourself to the tree and ask if it will be your ally and guide to the world of tree magic. Trees are very generous but they move at a much slower pace than we do. You may have to wait a while for the answer!

It’s also important to research the magickal and medicinal properties of your Guardian Tree. For example: Willow tree is connected with the element of water and the moon. (3)Willow is a healer and Willow bark contains a chemical called salicin that is similar to aspirin. What are the lessons of this tree?

Mapping the Land

When you think you are ready and your relationship with your Guardian tree has been established, create a map of the trees in your area. Usually the center of the map will be the Guardian tree and you walk East, South, West and North in awareness and see how far the energy of the tree extends. Draw a map with your Guardian tree in the center and then identify all the trees around it. This is easier to do in an urban forest but usually trees tend to grow in clumps so you don’t have to draw each individual tree if you are working in a forest. You can ask your Guardian tree to let you know which tree you need to meet next, as if it was introducing you to a friend. When you have identified and researched all the trees in your area, try to spend some time with them and listen to what they have to say to you.

All of this work is going to take time and for us Walking People, the Standing People (trees) might seem frustratingly slow! But once you are a friend of the trees, they never forget you! After your introduction to the trees where you live the next step is to learn about the important trees in the world. You can look up Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s list on her blog about trees saving the world (4) or read her book “The Global Forest”.

Celtic Tree Calendar and the Oghams
Another way to organize your learning is to use the Celtic Tree Calendar and the Oghams. The Ogham alphabet is a series of strokes cut from a vertical line, each mark corresponding to a letter and a tree. In fact there are many Ogham alphabets and the tree Ogham is only one of them. The tree calendar associates each calendar month with a different tree and corresponding Ogham. (5) Using our Willow Tree for example, the tree is called Saille and the Ogham looks like this a vertical stick with four lines branching off to the right. It is the fourth letter in the tree alphabet. This tree is associated with the fourth Lunar month after the Full Moon closest to Yule. Yes the tree calendar is a lunar and not a solar calendar ; each full moon marks the first day of the new month. Usually Willow month would land around April and would be associated with Beltane. Studying a tree each month, spending time searching for and sitting with that tree and learning its wisdom is a huge part of the Path of the Stang.

Conclusion
As with all the other articles in this series, I am only able to give you a small taste of what the spiritual and magical work is like in the Craft. I have been told that the Witches Craft is very old, very new, hidden and secret, easily accessible to all, mysterious spirituality, silly foolishness and so many other conflicting ideas. So where does the truth lie? What the Craft is depends on your perspective and your willingness to open your heart to the Goddess. This includes listening at the knee of the Standing People. I hope you enjoyed these ideas and that your quest is full of adventure and happy synchronicity.

References:

1. Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente
http://www.doreenvaliente.org/Doreen-Valiente-poetry-11.php

2.http://dianasjourney.com/2014/08/14/from-diana-all-about-forest-bathing/

3. Beyerl, Paul. 1998. A Compendium of herbal Magick. Phoenix Publishing, Custer, Washington. pp.357-358.

4. Beresford-Kroeger, Diana. Ten Trees that can save the World. http://dianasjourney.com/

Blamires, Steve. 1997. Celtic Tree Mysteries. Llewellyn Publishing, Woodbury, MN.

http://www.thegoddesstree.com/trees/Willow.htm

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

April, 2015

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Ostara/Eostre

Ostara is the Goddess of Spring and of the Dawn. Her name, which in German, means “movement toward the rising sun”, is also used by some for the Spring Equinox.

Legend has it that Ostara found an injured bird. In order to save its’ life, she transformed it into a rabbit. The transformation was successful in that the rabbit survived, but it was not quite complete, as this rabbit could lay eggs as if it were still a bird. In gratitude, the rabbit would decorate its’ eggs and leave them for the Goddess.

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In Anglo-Saxon, her name is Eostre or Eastre. Her name has lived on in the holiday of Easter, another Spring holiday, which is also about resurrection and rebirth, if not of the Earth, but of hope and renewal. In this way, the Goddess Ostara is celebrated from the Spring Equinox until Easter.

This Goddess is about the returning light and warmth; and the Earths abundance as it is reawakened and reborn. Eggs, rabbits, flowers – all symbols of fertility – all first signs of spring – are sacred to Her.

Ostara’s symbols also became the symbols of Easter, which came much later.

Rituals to Ostara would include seeds, what you wish to grow and sow; planting a garden; coloring eggs and leaving them outside for the animals who are coming out of hibernation; taking a mindful walk, noticing the Earth as she begins to come out of her slumber, breathing in the freshness of the air, listening to the songs of the birds and the buzz of insects, feeling the sunshine.

May you all be blessed by Ostara this Spring!

goddess3

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

April, 2015

Spring Equinox

Here comes Vernal Equinox! Thankfully!

I don’t know about you folks, but I am dog tired of wintertime.

This winter has been especially trying because I am struggling with an illness. I begin this months article on the day I saw a specialist it took me over six months to get in to see, and who is finally taking the steps needed to initiate my healing. New life and growth are certainly on my mind right now!

The illness started just after Beltaine, and although it was the warm season when I first began struggling with this, the wintertime has made it all the more difficult. I do not handle cold or weak sunlight well to begin with.

However, I realize how much more difficult this would have been if I lived before electric heat, insulation, and cars and grocery stores.

So, you can imagine that on this particular Spring Equinox, I will be in a VERY good mood at Sabbat and will give LOTS of thanks to the gods.

According to The Old Farmers Almanac, this year The Vernal, or Spring Equinox happens at exactly 6:45 P.M. EDT on March 20. About halfway between Imbolc and Beltaine.

Day and night are equal on equinoxes. The other equinox is Falltime. Falltime, we count increasing night, and at Spring, we count increase of daylight.

That means, combined with the increased heat that comes as the season changes, also increased light, and the growing season taking off! Some of us count down the days to Spring. As I begin this article, there are 37 days till Equinox! Less once the article is published!

As always, we will explore what folks did in days of yore at this time of year, and have a suggested working.

History and Lore

According to The Veneral Bede, Eostre was a Germanic goddess. It was said the people put offerings of colored eggs on graves as an offering for the goddess. Her companion is a rabbit. She is goddess of Spring, fertility, and new life.

They say the practices were absorbed by the Catholic Church to try and make the pagans comfortable converting. Indeed, the feast of St. Patrick is right at Vernal Equinox time, three days prior.

We know that even 5,000 plus years ago in Ireland the equinox was observed. The sunrise travels down a tunnel and strikes a wall in a monument at Loughcrew called Cairn T.

Knowth.com provides videotaped footage of the sunrise in that chamber on the equinox.

It has been said the site was built as it was for the very purpose of calculating when the Equinox would be. So far, thirty cairns, or passage graves have been discovered on the hill.

We are not sure what all the festivities surrounding equinox were. It is said the livestock were not brought to the summer grazing sites until Beltaine. Equinox was one step closer to summer. Warmth and growing things were closer.

Today, most of the agriculture of Ireland is products from cows, pigs, and sheep. Cattle herding historically took on the most importance in days when the cairns were built and social standing was oft decided by who owned the most cattle. Wheat, barley, rye, and the famous oats were grown in Ireland and equinox was the indication that planting could soon commence!

They were like us, they took advantage of longer days and stronger light, and opened windows and curtains on days when snow was less likely. Looking out my window as I write this, it has snowed for three hours straight and the snowflakes are getting bigger. I can only imagine the sinking feeling people must have felt without salt for the walks or snowplows.

I can only imagine they were much happier than I am when the days equaled night…and knowing the days would get longer and warmer.

It was also an excellent time to do a cleaning from top to bottom of the whole house. Taking advantage of warming weather and longer days, in old days,people got busy. It was a good time to open windows for dusting and bugs were not out and about yet. Indeed, at our house, you find windows open 24/7 some weeks.

In observance of what our ancestors did, I suggest a Spring Cleaning both materially and spiritually of your whole house.

Suggested Working

This one is absolutely booooring!!!!!!!

But of all the workings I have suggested, I feel this is the most crucial.

Space clearing.

I am sure you have all kept up with vaccuming, dusting, dishes, and laundry. Because we have nice cleaning chemicals from the store and whatnot, it is not as crucial these days to get rid of deep down grime and layers of dust like in days of yore. Their winter months were spent keeping warm. Today, we have thermostats that help us with that. We have sidewalks and paved streets. Folks in past times had dirt streets and in their homes, dirt floors in many cases. We don’t have all the dirt to clean like they did.

That aside, what about energy cleansing? We don’t believe in “eeeeeevil spiiiirts” lurking beneath the rafters like people used to…well…SOME don’t…some of us sort of do…

Some banish regularly and smudge or simply do a heavy duty dusting of the house and open windows to get fresh air in.

Come Springtime, though, once the earth is warming, and people are out and about more, you might realize there is energy stored up in the house that you had not noticed before.

Wintertime energies in the house include a lot of things the warm months do not. Emotional grunge from the holidays. Everybody has good and bad memories and good and bad family gatherings holiday time. We might be Pagan, and Xmas is not our holiday, specifically, but we have family who celebrate it, so we celebrate it along with them. We see family we do not have to put up with other times of the year, and that’s not always pretty. We may be dealing with stress of paying for the holidays and disappointment when we cannot buy our kids all we would like to. The cold months also bring longer times at home. People kind of hibernate, or at least stay indoors more. Bacterial and viral infections LOVE that! More bodies to contaminate! Stress from cabin fever sets in as well.

All the energies from all of this get trapped within the walls of your home and create almost an entity of their own. You can walk into a room and FEEL emotions and energy, and sometimes, you can tell what went on some time ago even though you were not there when it happened. This is called imprinting. We typically think of Civil War battlefields and old prisons as “haunted” places with a lot of imprinting, but not our own homes.

Imprinting can be good as well as bad, but it never hurts to cleanse the home thoroughly at least every Spring.

How imprinting works

It is simple. Residue of energy is left over after events. Sometimes energy moves on by itself and no clearing is needed. Besides, if we cleansed EVERYTHING, we would do nothing BUT cleansing. Other times, energy just gets trapped and we have to move it along is all.

In modern America, a lot of energy is bundled up in THINGS. The imprinting can be happy energy on things we love, or sad energy bundled up in things that recall hurt. I think that is why we, as people are so drawn to keepsakes. An example of a keepsake at our house is an afghan a dear friend crocheted for me. David has crossed the veil, but we still call it David’s blanket. I have spent a lot of time under that blanket, this winter especially, because I can feel all the love he put into it. It gives comfort and that scientifically has been proven to stimulate the immune system, which promotes healing. So the imprinting in David’s blanket, for me, is healing.

On the other hand, many years ago, my mother gave me a ring that had belonged to her. Then mom regretted letting it go and picked fights over the ring. She tried to tell me when I was allowed to wear it and when I was not for example. After a couple of months, I got angry and I took the ring off and put it in the jewelry box. Mom was aghast the next time she saw me that I was not wearing HER ring. She demanded the ring back. I told her no. I withheld the ring from her out of spite for the next ten years.

I tried banishing. I tried cleansing. Yet every single time I saw that ring, I got upset all over again.

So one day, I simply took the ring to her, handed it over, and walked out. Strangely enough, it felt like a heavy weight was lifted from my heart.

I physically banished the item that had caused me all that grief. Technically, a human beings words had caused the hurt, but that hurt was all over the ring.

I thought giving it back was the end of it.

Not so.

Years later, mom wound up in the hospital, and it became apparent she was not going to live forever. She said she would will the ring to me upon her death. I thought I’d never wear it, but I am not evil enough to argue with a sick person discussing their last wishes. Besides that, I could sell the damn thing if necessary. Why not?

However, while she was in the hospital, mom claimed my brother took the ring it out of her jewelry box and that he refused to give it back. I told her to let him keep it. I still don’t know if I believe that he stole it or if mom GAVE him the ring, and then demanded it back, just like she did with me. I felt the yucky energy on the ring from her behavior was permanently on there and nothing good could come about from that ring.

I was told by family that my brother’s wife was seen walking around, wearing said ring…and that soon after, they were divorced.

Coincidence or not, the imprinting of the so-called theft and the fight with my brother and mom that ensued is now on that ring. As well as whatever fights he had with his wife while she wore it prior to the divorce. As well as the fights I had with mom over the ring.

The ring was actually bought by mom many years ago when she had a fight with her then third husband. They had a fight and he threatened to leave her. So she swapped her wedding rings out for the diamond cluster. When they got back together, she made him buy back her wedding rings, but she kept the ring as well.

The yucky imprinting started the day she got the ring, actually. And who knows, maybe there was some imprinting on it before mom even took it home.

This all reminds me of the famous movie, The Red Violin where everybody who plays a violin painted with blood meets unspeakable tragedy!

Fictional films aside, that is how imprinting works.

I am not saying items are cursed for life and you must destroy said evil items!!!!!!!

What I am saying is that as popular as mass consumerism is in America, I know many of us have things we ought to part with, simply because unhappy energies or memories are attached to the items. This does not benefit us.

We may have boxes and boxes stuffed to the brim of things we have acquired and need to “sort through” but just cannot “find the time”. So instead, we fill more and more boxes full of things that we put in a basement or a spare room that we never touch again, but just cannot bear to part with because they are our things. We buy larger houses to make more room for our things. We rent storage units. We tell ourselves when we can “find the time” we can finally sort through decades of stuff. We don’t want to just throw things out because they may be worth money. But we never get around to sorting, and things never get sold.

How many of us have had to liquidate housefuls of things elderly family members left behind…and that consisted of filling up a dumpster with nearly everything they owned? Or worse, not having “the time” to sort through their things, and just dragging everything over to our homes and adding to the pile we already started?

Have you ever started sorting through years and years or maybe generations worth of things, and it became some grand year long project and you gave up and packed it all back up to do another time?

There is a way out and there is a way to avoid getting to that point to begin with.

Don’t let it accumulate. If it already has, budget time to get rid of it. Nobody ever has time to spare in their busy lives. You have to MAKE time.

How can I say that, some may be thinking? Am I some sort of unfeeling, unsentimental bitch who does not appreciate gifts or is eager to upset the people who spent their hard earned money on me?

Of course not. I’m simply much less materialistic than many of the people I know. I realize I can live without much, and I simply do.

It saves time, space, and yes, money.

It was not my idea, though.

Years ago, I read some famous interior decorator said she cleaned things out of her house often. She wrote she did not even keep a lot of gifts from her kids because it clutters up the house.

It made me think. If she can do it, then I can do it.

I have found that when my cabinets are stuffed to the capacity with things I “might use” but just never seem to, I feel suffocated. Even though I have them closed and organized neatly. Maybe I am more sensitive to energy flow than some people, but I just cannot stand to have things lying about that I have no use for.

I know from cleaning out mom’s house when she crossed the veil what the heavy weight of carrying things around is like. She saved everything she could.

She even still had tax returns from the 1970’s and had saved hair from haircuts I’d had as a child. Although she had been divorced from my father for over thirty years, she had copies of his retirement papers from the military, and clothing she had not worn in over a decade. She remained bitter about my father leaving her and her lifelong struggle with finances until the day she died. Perhaps if she had parted with the relics of said sorrows, she would have been able to forgive the past and move on unfettered into a happier future. The throbbing suffering was still fresh on the items, and I wept uncontrollably for days as I destroyed and threw things out.

I think of negative imprinting as a kind of germ or parasite that can be removed or dissolved. Sometimes banishing or blessing is enough to take away unwanted imprinting, but in cases like with mom’s ring, getting rid of said items works best.

And that is where Spring Cleaning comes in for my working.

Saoirse’s Boring Spring Cleaning Ceremony!!!!

  1. Identify clutter in the home. Be it one object or many. This will be items that do not serve you and perhaps never have. Maybe it was a baseball glove you saved from a game you lost and it always upsets you. Maybe it is your dress from your first wedding and you are now divorced and have no daughters to pass it onto. Or maybe, there are no upsetting things stashed in corners, and you just have a bunch of crap you have no use for.
  2. Then get rid of it. Yes, you can do this. I swear! It does not matter how long you have had the things. It provides no security, and good memories will not magically disappear once items are gone. Stuff that does not serve a beneficial purpose in your life is using your space and it is counterproductive to keep it. So get rid of it!

Put it in the trash.

Donate it to a cause.

Rent a booth at a flea market to sell it.

Give it away.

Shred it or burn it.

3)Then cleanse the house. What do you prefer? Smudging with incense? Do you prefer resin, or herbal, or stick incense? Or candles and prayers? Do you prefer to put a bowl of water in the corners to draw in energy? Do you prefer to chant and let the sunlight into the room? Most recommend smudging with sage bundles, but that’s not the only way.

Laughter is a surprisingly easy way to banish.

Establishing your home as your sanctuary means controlling things that are in it, both physical and spiritual. You can place crystals everyplace and smudge and do prayers daily, but if you have items imprinted with super bad memories, the sorrow lingers.

Here are a few benefits of having as little as possible and only things that are useful in the house.

  1. It makes more room for what DOES serve you. Say you have always wanted a sewing room but have one extra room and it is for storage. If you clean out that room, you can set up your sewing room.
  2. It allows more free flow of light, and healing energies. A lot of people are buying Feng Shui books and buying Asian accessories and thinking it is great decor. But the concept of arranging things so energy moves successfully is a focus as opposed to making things pretty. One principal I had read many years ago was to never store things under the bed because energy needs to move freely all around you while you are sleeping. Free flow of energy in the household of somebody sensitive to energy is crucial. Dead mass, aka junk clutters and blocks all of that. Getting rid of that opens up space.
  3. It is less expensive to own less. If you are used to having a lot of things, you have established spending habits. The more you buy the more you spend. As you get used to living with less, you start buying less, and thus save more money in the long run. If money is not an issue, you can reroute the money you are saving to a savings account, make more investments for long term security, or use it for charitable causes close to your heart. You have less risk of becoming broke and take on less debt the less you spend.
  4. It is better for your health. There will be less things to collect dust, which is bad for you. Less things to clean mean you get to clean more often and it does not take nearly as long. You will have less things to move out of the way for cleaning. There will be less germs, and you might just get sick less often.
  5. Less really is more. I love a well decorated room. The less things you have, the more space you have to move around in and the more appreciation you will have for the pieces you do own.
  6. Visual noise impedes concentration. Straighten up and organize your home and it can help you focus on tasks at hand, as opposed to a hundred things competing for your attention.
  7. There is a great freedom in being unfettered by THINGS. The consumerist lifestyle is like trying to fill a bottomless hole that never gets filled. Ever.

If you decide to use metaphysical items for cleansing, you really can use whatever you prefer. Sage, sandalwood, frankincense, and water are things classically used due to belief these have natural cleansing properties.

But you can also charge your intentions into anything you like. I use rose incense a lot because I prefer the aroma. The popular Nag Champa is also a favorite of mine. Anytime I have a wood fire in my firepit, I pray over it and I let the smoke into the house to cleanse. I open my blinds every day and let the light in to drive away the darkness, and I allow fresh air in the house anytime possible, especially when it is raining. I find fresh air when it is raining to be very cleansing.

I go through the house four to six times a year and thin things out and I do some form or another of banishing or cleansing weekly. It does not take very long. Maybe a total of ten minutes tops per week. It is easy because I control how much comes into my home, let alone what stays.

I am also very choosy about WHO comes into my home, because I wasn’t always choosy and I suffered consequences of that bad decision. Sometimes, I light incense before company arrives, and sometimes, I light it when they leave. Sometimes, I don’t because I want the energy from good times permanently imprinted into my walls.

There have been times I have had my heart broken. Who hasn’t? A very few times, it has been decided the relationship is broken beyond repair. I have a special kind of banishing to clear the sorrow from the house before it is out of my heart.

I go through the house and get rid of every last item the individual had given me. I can immediately feel the difference upon coming back to the house after dropping items off at a thrift store. It is actually easier for me to breathe!

Relationships as well as material items can outlive their purpose and I see no point in them outstaying their welcome.

So whatever it is you’d like to clear from your life, be it some things, or some people, Spring is a good time to do so.

If you are like me, you are really looking forward to warm weather and longer days. May your gods smile upon you and the ever strengthing sun make you grow like the beautiful flowers we will see in a month or two.

Blessed Spring Equinox, and Blessed Be

The Ways of the Old Community

April, 2015

Merry Meet!!

How would you like to have a safe, neutral place to take a spiritual retreat to in order to escape mundane life activities, for a weekend or even a week or more with people of like mind or just by yourself? Learn something new about yourself, discover different paths, meet new people. A place to reconnect with nature? Relax in our meditation gardens, with a walk in the woods or visit our Shrine. Bring your tent or camper and relax a while! Future plans include cabins! Each site will have their own fire pit and grills will be accepted with restrictions. Currently no electrical or water hookups – Possible future option with wind and solar power.

Maybe you’d like to purchase true natural items like foods, candles, or incense? We’ll offer a variety of items in our store including the above mentioned, either hand or home made by us with the items we grow on site.

Well that’s our dream and just what we are creating on 46 acres in scenic Western New York at The Ways of the Old! We have many future plans as we grow leading to a Wiccan based Pagan community with community (free) gardens and greenhouse, farmer’s market, regular semi and annual events with vendors and live music, various classes, study groups, and rituals along with a number of local volunteering/donation projects such as hospitals, animal shelters, chemotherapy patients and food banks/soup kitchen’s among others.

Currently we are fundraising to help us with the costs of building the Shrine, store, necessary legal fees and other start-up and planning costs:

http://teespring.com/twoto – Unique, one of a kind shirts available in different styles, sizes, and colors! Preorder only until Friday March 28! Be one of the few to own the first shirt dedicated to The Ways of the Old!

http://creeksideauctions.com – Our public auction site. Also offer classified and want ads along with different auction formats. If you would like to donate or sell please contact us for a discount voucher, available for a limited time only!

http://gofundme.com/6tuu28

If you know of other ideas for fundraising or would like to donate a portion of your sales please contact us.

We post updates on our Facebook and GoFundMe pages of progress made and goals reached along with our next steps/course of action. Photos will also be added where possible.

We are also considering an advisory board to assist us with planning and ideas. If you are interested please contact us. It would be helpful but not necessary to be able to meet us on location at times.

To contact us or discuss any ideas/options/suggestions, please do so via Facebook or email [email protected]gmail.com

Your Founders are:
Rev. Mountain Rose, Priestess
Thunder Wolf

Come check us out on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/thewaysoftheold

Blessed Be,

The Ways of the Old

Musings of a Hereditary Witch

April, 2015

The Medieval Still-Room

Women have been in charge of the healing arts long before the written word. Learning their art from the wise women before them, they were often skilled in midwifery, understood the healing properties of herbs, prayers, chants, charms; being a nurturer and provider of comfort in the home. Her skills determined how well the family lived in comfort, from the peasant farm to the manor house. A woman’s value within marriage was determined by her skills as a healer, nurturer, and her fertility.

The still-room was a small room off the kitchen or somewhere in the house or even an out building on the property, which contained a small still for distilling herbs to extract their essences for use in medicinal, cosmetics, salves, disinfectants, household cleaning and other uses. Be it peasant farm or manor house, the still-room was the woman of the houses’ domain. Here is where she would pass down her knowledge and skill to her daughters. When I was growing up, grandma called it the pantry.

Herbs, plants and flowers would be hung on racks or hung up near the rafters for drying. Spices would be stored here as they were just as likely to be used in healing as in cooking. The menstruums are the agents such as grain alcohol, apple cider vinegar, honey and glycerin to create tinctures, syrups, and preservatives. There would be a table near the still as a working surface. Shelves would hold such things as a mortar & pestle, bowls, spools, knives, anything needed to cut chop and mix the ingredients. There would be bottles, baskets, and kegs ready to be filled or that already stored the dried and prepared remedies, cleaning agents, slaves, etc.

Other activities such as candle or soap making, wool dying, food preservation, jams & jellies, cordials, liquors, liniments, perfumes, and everything else that sustained and added quality of life to the family might be made in the still-room.

The Still-room Book

From the late middle ages to the last century, the woman of the household would have kept a still-room book. In this book she would record such things as when to plant, harvest, dry and prepare herbs, plants and flowers for use in cooking & medicines. for the mordents and herbs used to dye yarns and fabric. Spice mixes for stews, soups and meat rubs. Charms, chants and prayers would be sprinkled throughout the book. Family secrets passed down through the generations. Dried herbs might have been pressed between the leaves of the book. All recipes for food, medicines (syrups, slaves, and liniments), and preservatives to cleaning recipes, and anything that was relevant in maintaining a healthy happy household would be in this book. These books would then be handed down generation to generation with each generation adding their own recipes to the book. Often, these books had no rhyme or reason as to how anything was categorized; they just kept adding page by page and you would have to flip through the book to find what you were looking for.

So, now everyone wants their own Still-room, right? I know I do, but I just can’t dedicate one room and I’m sure many of you can’t either. What I have are several ‘stations’.

Station #1 is an old narrow DVD shelf unit in my bedroom closet (this way I can keep everything out of the sunlight). This unit houses mason jars fill with herbs, essential oils, base oils, bee’s wax, mortars & pestles (I have a few), measuring spoons, amber bottles, salve tins, assorted jars, and finished projects such as casting herbs, magical oils, slaves & ointments.

Station #2 is a bookcase in my bed room for my herbal books and note books.

Station #3 is under my altar where I have more herbs, more containers, candles, a wooden herb grinder and a coffee grinder (for herbs only), a utility knife, ceramic bowls, and larger jars of finished products. My scale is kept in the kitchen.

For my Still-room Book, I have a section in the front of the book on weights & measures, how to sterilize equipment, moon phases & planetary timing, cautions and warnings. The rest of the book has recipes, folk lore, medicinal & magical properties of plants, herbs and flowers. There is no Table of Contents or Index; it is written as I create. Notes are made in the margins, sometimes pressed herbs or little sketches are added. It is whatever I make it to be.

What would/will your Still-room look like? What will you keep there?

How would you go about creating your Still-room Book?

Blessings on your Hearth & Home,
Elayne

First published on 9/1/2014 http://www.elaynelockhart.com/blog/the-still-room

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