Thriftcrafting: Witching on a Budget

December 1st, 2015


Merry meet.

My Yule tree is decorated largely with natural objects such as shells and pinecones, and replicas of such things as moons, suns and stars.

Some of my favorite stars are rustic made from twigs or, in this case, cinnamon sticks.


Find five cinnamon sticks that are approximately the same length and thickness. Twigs or wooden chopsticks would also work. While I used threads separated from burlap twine to bind them, yarn, ribbon, wire and hot glue will also work.


Place the pieces in the shape of a star so you can see the angle formed by each point. Begin tying the sticks together until youve worked your way around the star. If it is unstable, tie off where pieces cross one another.

Leaving extra string to form a loop will make it easy to hang not just on a tree, but anywhere you want a bit of nature any time of year.


They can be painted, decorated with flowers or feathers, or wrapped with yarn.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Magical Matches

Merry meet.

If you are looking for a tool for a special ritual or an easy gift, try decorating match boxes.


I had a partial deck of miniature tarot cards. Cutting off the white borders with a paper cutter made them the right size for putting on boxes of matches. Some decks, such as the Rider-Waite, are just about the perfect size for the large box of kitchen matches, requiring only a very small portion of one edge to be removed.

I used spray adhesive to affix them, but just about any glue will do.

By choosing cards to fit someone’s personality, astrology or goals, you can make a thoughtful gift set that can be a given on any occasion. Selecting cards to represent the quarters can make lighting each of the candles extra special. The same is true for selecting cards to align with the intention of the ritual at which they will be used.

Seek out partial decks or ones you no longer use, and buy matches from a dollar store for the biggest bargain.

The match boxes can also be covered with photographs or images clipped from magazines.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Get Swept Away
Merry meet!

Besoms – along with black pointy hats and cauldrons – are the three symbols most associated with witches. That was part of the reason my coven decided to have some fun with them. One full moon we adorned black hats. On another, we decorated brooms.

The idea was to personalize it while incorporating all our energies. We each began with a standard broom, a crystal, and ribbons and beads for the directions, the God and Goddess. We then exchanged offerings. I gave everyone shells and a skeleton key. Each woman chose how to incorporate the items into her broom, so no two were alike, yet each had all the same components.

We used our besoms in ritual, to cleanse a space and to define our circle. Other items were added along the way. After a while, we stopped lugging them to ritual. They were retired after there had been a significant turnover in the coven and together we each decorated a smaller broom, transferring some of the unique items.

It wasn’t long before we also stopped carrying those new, smaller brooms to ritual, and again, there has been significant turnover in the coven, but, as of yet, no talk of brooms.



If this has inspired you, let me point out one thing to keep in mind. Generally, I had stored besoms with the handle down and the bristles up. But decorations – such as ribbons – seem to naturally hang down to be in place when the besom is held and used to sweep. Storing it upside down then seems to go against the flow of the decorations, so I’ve hung mine off the floor. If you find a way to bring harmony to this predicament, please do post to the comment section!

Merry part. And merry meet again.


Lavender Wand

As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul.”


Merry Meet…

Lavender has the magical attributes of sleep, peace, purification, protection, love, clarity of thought, long life, visions, wishes and attracting men. Physically it is an antidepressant and a sedative. It also stimulates the immune system.

As an offering to the gods, witches were said to throw lavender into the Midsummer fire.

One way to save a bit of this powerful summer-blooming herb is by making a lavender wand.

For this one, I selected 18 stems of lavender, but I think 24 pieces might be better.

(Note: it must be an even number of stems.) About 18 inches is a good length, but shorter will work.


Remove any leaves and line up the bottom flower on each stem. Using a long length of ribbon, tie off just below the blooms, leaving one end of the ribbon short and the other long. Hold the blossom end in one hand and, one or two at a time, begin to bend each stem down over your hand.

Take the long length of ribbon and begin to weave it under and over the stems. I chose to work with two stems at a time, but one at a time also works.


Continue going around and around – over and under, over and under – keeping the top of the ribbon close to the bottom of the previous layer to later prevent the small lavender flowers from falling out after they dry.


I think I pulled the ribbon too tight when making this wand. You’ll also notice some large spaces between layers of ribbon.


At the base of the flowers, wrap the ribbon several times tightly around all the stems, then continue to wrap their length if you wish, finishing with a bow.

Allow to air dry, perhaps by the light of the sun or the moon. It should keep its scent for years.

Merry part.

And merry meet again…

Tarot Cards

Merry meet.

The long months of darkness that stretch before us are a good time for a long project. One to consider is making your own deck of tarot cards.

Among my decks is one that was a project from an ATC (artist Trading Cards: miniature works of art about the size of a playing card) group for pagans; each member designed two freestyle cards and made 40 copies of each on heavyweight paper. The organizer collated the decks, giving one to each person who made two cards and keeping two decks for the effort. (The photo shows a sample of the cards.)

Participating in it made me realize that you can have limited artistic talents and not be able to draw –  and still accomplish such a project by cutting and pasting. Access to a camera, scanner and Photoshop offers more possibilities.

If you want the backs of the deck to be blank, start by cutting 78 cards to the same size. If youd like the backs to have an image, copy that picture onto one side of the paper, fitting as many as possible on one sheet. Theres no reason you cant make your cards round, triangular or square.

Now, begin to work your way through creating the deck in whatever manner best suits you. If you make one card a day starting in early November, youll be done by Imbolc, even if you skip some days. Start now and make one card a week and youll have a deck done by Beltane the year after next.

Using art books, calendars and magazines, collect your images, enlarging or reducing items as necessary to fit your card. Use an archival glue to affix the images, pressing in pages of a book while they dry. (I sometimes slip the cards between pieces of waxed paper inside the book or use a photo album with the protective sheets between each page as an extra precaution.)

When dry, trim so the edges are smooth and uniform. Coating fronts and backs of the finished cards with a spray acrylic finish such as Krylon or brushing on Mod Podge will protect them. Cards can also be laminated.

When youre done, youll have a very personalized deck that youll be able to use with ease because youll have taken the time to get to know the significance of each card and selected images that will remind you of its meaning.


Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Yule Brew


Merry meet.

For cakes and ale at your winter solstice gathering, or for a bit of Yule cheer during the deepest dark and gathering cold, brew up a batch of this seasonal blend.

There are many recipes floating around from wassail to glögg. Some call for wine, others for brandy or sherry, cider or ale, even poet and tea. All use a variety of spices (in addition to whats below, consider vanilla bean and peppercorns) and fruits (others include raisins, cranberries and lemons). I chose to combine parts of two recipes and ventured out to gather up ingredients.

These proportions work when using a quart jar.

2 cups red wine

1 1/3 cup brandy

1 organic orange, washed and sliced thin

1 inch of ginger, sliced thin

2 cinnamon sticks

2 bay leaves

2 star anise

2 teaspoons dried elderberries

6 cloves

10 cardamom pods, crushed

Place everything in a glass container and shake well. Place in a cool, dark place for two weeks, shaking daily.

Some recipes call for letting it sit as long as four weeks. I mixed up mine on a new moon and will strain it on the full moon, then let it continue to sit until Yule. Even a week is a long enough brew time, especially if you simmer it a bit before serving, adding some raw honey if desired.

May you never thirst.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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