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WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

June 1st, 2018

Dragonfly

Merry meet.

 

 

With the magic of midsummer comes the magic of dragonflies. Their gossamer wings, narrow body and big eyes make them seem like they come from the Land of Fae I imagined in my youth as being all wee and cute.

I have many memories of lazing on the lake on an inner tube or raft and having one or more landing on me, as if finding an island on their long journey over the water. Some would stay for many minutes. Seeing them reminds me of those warm, long days.

To hold on to that essence of summer and the solstice – as the cold and the dark begin to slowly but steadily creep in – make a dragonfly or two or three.

 

 

Gather dry maple seeds and tiny twig pieces. Stand the stick up in a short container of sand or similar material. Put a dab of hot glue on the seed pod end (I compressed the pod first) and attach to the twig, holding for a few moments until the glue holds. You can then add color with paint or glitter. If I had had beads handy, I would have put two on for eyes.

 

 

If using tacky glue, place the seeds on your work surface with end touching, add a drop the glue and rest the twig on top unit the glue dries.

 

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Plant Wands

crafting2

Merry meet.

As the wheel turns to the third harvest, I was moved to harvest some of the energies from the world around me, inspired by the Botanical Spirt Wands made by Rosemari Roast of Walk in the Woods, located in Winsted, Connecticut.

Cleaning up my community garden plot at the end of the season, I gathered a selection of plants, living and dead, adding to it from outside my back door.

crafting1o

how-to

Making an assorted bouquet of about eight pieces, I wrapped the stems together with fibers. One I wound with twine. For the other, I tied a scrap of novelty yarn at the top and criss-crossed it front and back down the stalks to form a handle. Red ribbon was used to wrap a single tassel of broom corn.

They are being hung upside down until they are fully dried.

If this inspires you, you might consider making a plant wand for each season, or even for each sabbat.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Hand Fasting Gifts

 

 

Merry meet.

 

While couples planning weddings take advantage of gift registries at every place from The Home Depot to Crate and Barrel, couples who are hand fasting may appreciate a more pagan, creative and personal approach to gift giving.

 

At the urging of others, one couple I know visited their favorite pagan store and with the owner’s cooperation, made a list of items they liked. Those who wanted could look at the list and choose something without stressing over second guessing which book, what incense or the best color for an altar cloth. By the owner maintaining the list, it was helpful to know, for instance, someone had already gotten the wooden box with the pentacle on top.

 

(This box is available at magicraftshop on etsy.  You can view it by clicking HERE.)

 

Those who prefer to craft a gift have many options pagans will positively prize.

 

(There are a variety of ribbons to be found.  From the craft stores to your local dollar stores.)

 

If the couple is not making their own cord, you might want to craft it. It can be braided from ribbons with charms attached.

 

 

(These are just a few Pagan themed Charms you can use.)

 

Those wanting a challenge can try the five-string braid. In addition to ribbons, lace, trims and drapery cording found in fabric stores, and strings of beads found in craft stores can be incorporated. For a fall ceremony, consider wearing in a string of dried corn kernels, or strings of tiny shells for a hand fasting on the beach. Figure a finished length of at least six feet so that it can be wrapped around the wrists and knotted three times. If the number of people attending is small, you might organize its making by having each guest contribute the desired length of ribbon, lace, etc. Charms and color themes can be considered. As part of the ritual, they would be woven together with everyone’s intentions for a loving relationship.

 

(These handfasting brooms are available at BROOMCHICK on etsy.  You can view them by clicking HERE.)

 

A common hand fasting tradition is jumping the broom, making that another gift that would be welcomed. It can be purchased or made from twigs or other botanicals attached to a branch. It would then be decorated with lace, ribbons, flowers and other embellishments. Afterwards, the couple can hang the broom above a door or a mantle.

 

(Hand painted wine glasses.)

 

Painting champagne flutes or a chalice are other gifts that could be used as part of the hand fasting ceremony.

 

(Flower crown & hair pieces.)

 

Crowns for the couple can be made from flowers, leaves, antlers, feathers, vines, shells, handles from spoons and forks, or crystals – or any combination. If a man would rather wear a medieval style hat or even a top hat, it could be decorated with the same types of materials.

 

(Homemade, dressed talisman candle.)

 

What pagan ever has enough candles? You don’t have to be pouring wax to make a spell candle for the couple, you can start with any candle you choose, and using a selection of oils, chants, intentions, carvings and Reiki, turn it into a one-of-a-kind gift.

 

(This Grimoire is available at TheMadamePhoenix on etsy.  You can view it HERE.)

 

Smudge sticks, incense, tea blends and decorated journals are other ideas.

 

 

(The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags comes out on Oct. 1, 2017. Click link on bottom of page to pre-order.)

 

I happen to like making mojo bags, and would consider making one for the couple with herbs, stones, a miniature tarot card or two, runes and other objects holding my intentions.

 

These are just a few ideas for making a hand fasting gift both crafty and Craft-y. I’m sure there are many more.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

 

Imbolc Incense

Merry meet.

The smell of the ocean. The scent of a forest of pines. The aroma of bacon cooking. Each not only has a unique smell, they also touch us in other ways, eliciting memories and emotions, and shaping perceptions. Our sense of smell is strong, and sometimes unconscious, and it can set the mood. (For the record, dogs do not have a better sense of smell than do humans.) Think of it smells as aromatherapy. All I have to do is smell sage burning and my mind relaxes as my body absorbs its healing and my spirit absorbs it wisdom.

When cleansing a space, setting the mood for a meditation or celebrating a sabbat, consider making incense a part of the ceremony. For centuries, people of many cultures have used mixtures of herbs, berries, bark, flowers, resins and other botanicals to send their prayers up to the gods – by throwing them into a sacred fire as well as by burning them in a censer swung by a priest walking down the aisle of a Catholic church.

While many wonderful blends can be found, it’s easy to make your own. With astrological Imbolc coming on February 3 this year, there is still time.

Everything has its own energy, and you will add your intent while mixing them. All of that is released when it’s burned.

Depending on the source, correspondences list cinnamon, myrrh, vanilla, violet, wisteria, basil and bay as incenses for Imbolc, or they list chamomile, frankincense, jasmine, lavender, myrrh and rosemary. Another source gives basil, camphor, cinnamon, lotus, frankincense, myrrh, basil, jasmine and wisteria. The lists you will find will differ as well.

Sometimes I look for ingredients common to multiple lists – in this case, myrrh is on three while cinnamon, frankincense, basil, jasmine and wisteria are on two of the three lists – but most times I go by what I’m drawn to. When I feel limited by what I have on hand, I remember what Rosenari Roast, a wise herbalist, once told me: “I have found magical blends to have more to do with one’s own personal relationship with the plants than any recipe, formula or dogma. And what one has on hand at a time of need is there with reason, purpose and value.

The easiest to make is loose incense that is burned on a charcoal disk (a pinch at a time) or tossed into a fire (by the handful).

When using essential oils or resins, combine them first, mashing them together in your mortar with your pestle. When they are gummy, add any berries or bark. Dried herbs and flowers are added next, with powdery items put in last. As you work, focus on your intent, perhaps using a chant or an incantation while blending the ingredients. Store in a tightly sealed jar.

Patti Wigington gives this recipe for Imbolc incense on thoughtco.com, explaining it “evokes the scents of a chilly winter night, with a hint of spring florals.

2 parts cedar
2 parts frankincense
1 part pine resin
1 part cinnamon
1 part orange peel
1/2 part rose petals

The Real Witch’s Kitchen” by Kate West offers several recipes, including these:

Imbolc Incense 1
3 parts frankincense
2 parts dragon’s blood
1 part cinnamon
1/2 part red sandalwood
a few drops of red wine


To this mixture add a pinch of the first flower available in your area (dry it first) at the time of Imbolc.

 

Imbolc Incense 2
3 parts cinnamon
2 parts rosemary
1 part frankincense
1 part myrrh
1 part bay
1 part basil

 

Imbolc Incense 5
3 parts frankincense
1 part myrrh
1 part cinnamon
½ part sandalwood
½ part jasmine flowers
3 drops sherry or sweet white wine

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

Concepts of Deity

As mentioned last month, divinity can often be a touchy subject.  Ask ten different people what their definition of the divine is and you are likely to get ten different answers.  Is there a God?  Is there a Goddess?  If so what are they like?  Every soul will ask these questions in their lifetime and either accept established doctrine or come to their own conclusions.  Spiritual growth is our quest for understanding of that which is greater than ourselves. And while we may arrive at ideas which are universal, the journey is, by necessity, personal.

Wicca is not a religion that promotes dogma or rigid notions on what deity is or is not.  Instead it offers a general framework of thought that most Wiccans share, but which is by no means written in stone.  Like any pagan path, the Craft embraces diversity.  The most fundamental concept is that of immanence.  In contrast to the monotheistic faiths, Wiccans do not consider their gods or goddesses to be “out there” somewhere.  Rather they are here, in the most immediate sense, and in all things including ourselves.  Transcendent deity is the common idea of a powerful figure in the clouds far removed and above humankind.  Immanent deity is also powerful, but it is not separate.  This is difficult to truly grasp because it is beyond the intellect alone.  One analogy is just as all cells of your body are part of you, we are all part of the divine.  Or to state it another way, we each have an inner God, Goddess, or Higher Self within us upon which we can call because we are part of the whole.  Deity is part of nature, or rather is nature, and as natural beings we are constantly in communion with it if we accept that it is so.

The next basic concept of Wiccan deity is that it is dual: there is a God and a Goddess.  There is wide variation and emphasis within the traditions here, but the basic model is that of complementary forces whose combination produces life as we know it.  Remembering that these are immanent forces, the God and Goddess are not a superhuman man and woman.  We may personify them as such in order to relate to them, but when we speak of Wiccan deities they are first and foremost the most primal of forces in nature.  Their interaction is necessary for life, time, and growth.  Without the light of the sun or the rain from the sky (the God) the seeds of the earth (the Goddess) would lie dormant and sterile.  Though we say God and Goddess there is no gender bias between them.  It would be just as accurate to envision deity as twins of the same sex, as many cultures have done, and arrive at the same ideas.  The important point is that they are dual in order to express their interaction.

Beyond the two teachings of immanence and duality there may be little in common for divinities between individuals in the Craft.  Everyone will attune to these greater forces in their own way and this is as it should be.  Many if not most Wiccans find that they connect with the pantheons of a particular culture.  The God and Goddess are seen as universal deities that can be personified and related to more easily as a particular god or goddess from ancient myth.   For instance, groups with a British Traditional focus may invoke the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.  Classical pantheons may choose Diana and Pan, or Demeter and Dionysus.  The list is endless.  It can also vary with the intent of a particular ritual or magical working.  Perhaps I may call on the Goddess as Brigid at the Imbolc sabbat, but as Venus if I am in need of a love spell.  All of these gods and goddesses are faces of the larger deity they personify and none are incorrect.  Meditation upon the greater forces of God and Goddess is the surest way to find your own connection and know what works for you.

Besides calling on specific deities it is also popular in Wicca to represent the deities according to the archetypes of the Horned God and Triple Goddess.  Both of these motifs were common in ancient mythologies as expressions of fertility and immortality, survival and continuation of life being vital preoccupations.  The Horned God rules the wild forests and the animals therein.  He is the king of all noble beasts who is born at midwinter of the Goddess, grows to maturity to become her partner/consort, and gives his life in the autumn so that life may continue.  His cycle follows the solar cycles and the harvest, and he is reborn each year as the child conceived by his union with the Goddess.  The Triple Goddess reflects the threefold face of maiden-mother-crone, also reflected in the lunar cycles/phases.  The Goddess does not die each year as does the God, but instead shows these aspects in turn as part of the yearly cycle.  She is the maiden in spring, the mother after her union with the God going into the summer, and the crone in the waning months of autumn.   As he is reborn she is also renewed and they are young together once again in the new year.  These patterns are mythological expressions of the cycles of nature that we experience, and their popularity in Wicca is understandable given that they aid us in our attunement with them.

Knowledge of the divine is a goal of any religion.  Wicca may acknowledge deity as an immanent duality, but that cannot answer the question of what the experience of divinity is.  If my deity is immanent, is it a force outside of me or just a higher part of me?  Does calling on the divine entail reaching outside to the universe or within myself?  Are their gods/goddesses/angels/fairies/etc in the world or are they my projections?  I make no claim to have any answers to these questions as I am still seeking answers myself.  And I have a feeling that the answers I arrive at can be different from yours, and we can both be right.  To a certain extent it doesn’t really matter.  Whether the forces we work with in Wicca are inside us or out in the world, we have the ability to harness them for ours and other’s betterment.  In that sense the God and Goddess are most definitely “real” because we can see their effects every day.  I like to think of them as forces I may never comprehend, but that I can work with when in need and learn from at all times.  My Goddess is not above me in judgment, but I sit at her feet in deference as a student to a wise teacher who would seek to learn great wisdom.  May she grant me the understanding that I may prove a worthy pupil.

Journal for the Month of April:

I am gearing up for Beltane at the end this month, and the flowers are finally starting to bloom!  This is truly a beautiful time of the year (excepting my allergies), and I am really aiming to stop and smell the roses so to speak.  Even in hard times there is so much beauty in nature that we can enjoy for free.  Sometimes I find it even more important to see these things when things are tough, because it helps me to remember that there is a greater world out there and maybe my problems aren’t as long-lasting as they feel at the moment.

Anyways, I should have more to report next month, I have a vacation coming up in which I plan to cram as much reading and meditation as possible.  I think I’ll throw a little bit of gardening in there too; my herb stocks are quite low!  Here’s wishing a merry Beltane to all!

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

Notes from the Apothecary: The Poppy

With colors ranging from a delicate, golden yellow to brash, bold scarlet, the poppy is a self-contained paradox. Powerful, yet delicate and short lived, this evocative flower has been associated with sleep, death and rebirth for many centuries. This connection comes from the fact that opium, a powerful drug used for inducing sleep and trance like states, is derived from the seed pods of one particular kind of poppy, papaver somniferum. It is possible that humans have been cultivating this poppy since 6000 BC.

Red poppies are also a symbol of remembrance, ever since the trench warfare that took place in World War One in the poppy fields of Flanders. They are used to remember those who fell in defense of other; soldiers and warriors, ancestors who died in battle and those who were affected by the horrors of war. In the UK especially, some people feel like the red poppy glorifies war, but they still wish to honor those who died, in which case they wear a white poppy. This signifies that they do not agree with war on principle, but that they respect and remember the sacrifice made by those who had no choice but to fight.

The Kitchen Garden

Poppies are classed as an herbaceous plant, and are grown mainly for their flowers and seeds. Many of the flowers are highly elaborate, having double or semi-double layers of petals. The red, multi-layered poppies always remind me of Spanish flamenco skirts.

As well as being a beautiful addition to any garden, poppies are very practical. The seeds are delicious, and are often used as decoration and flavor for breads, cakes, buns and muffins. As well as tasting great, like most seeds, they are a great source of protein. They are also high in calcium, so ideal for a dairy free diet.

The oil can be extracted from poppy seeds and used as a cooking oil, or for salad dressings and in baking.

The Apothecary

It should come as no surprise to learn that poppy seeds have been used throughout history as a painkiller, considering they contain the raw ingredients of morphine. They also contain tiny amounts of codeine. The Ancient Egyptians are known to have employed poppy seeds for this purpose, but they must have used them while very fresh as the opiate contents tends to fade quickly upon harvesting.

The Witch’s Herbal

The red poppy is a sacred symbol of Demeter, and as such is perfect for decorating any altar you may have to this Greek goddess of agriculture and law. The Minoans also evidently had a poppy goddess, as shown in the clay statuette found at Gazi. This ancient goddess with arms reaching to the sky has her headdress decorated with poppy seed capsules, showing that the cult that revered this goddess placed special, religious significance on the poppy. This may have been due to its narcotic properties, or the simple significance of the cycles of life, death and rebirth. Either way, it’s clear that poppies are a powerful symbol of at least two ancient cults. Using the poppy today can help us connect to these ancient goddesses.

Also within the Greek pantheon, we have Hypnos and Thanatos, the gods of sleep and death, respectively. These twin gods were both depicted with crowns of poppies, once again reinforcing the association between poppies and sleep and death. Death is a kind of sleep that never ends, and being asleep is so close to death in many ways. The poppy reminds us that just because something looks like one thing, it may actually be something completely different. We should examine and reexamine, and be sure of what we are seeing before jumping to conclusions. It reminds us to be less judgmental, more open-minded, and to appreciate the benefits of sleep and dreams.

Dreams are a doorway into our subconscious. And, while our subconscious kicks out some weird stuff most of the time, it can also send us important messages, including messages from our gods and ancestors.

Home and Hearth

Try keeping a dream journal. This can be a hard habit to get into, as you have to remember to write your dreams down the moment you awake from them. If not, you tend to lose details and the whole dream may even fade within a few minutes.

Before sleeping, meditate on an image of a poppy. A red poppy is the one most associated with sleep and dreams, but if a different color has more meaning for you, that’s fine too. Breathe, relax and imagine each petal of the poppy as a layer of your subconscious. Imagine you will be allowed to explore each layer, just as you can clearly see each beautiful petal of the poppy. Immerse yourself in the sense that your subconscious will open for you, blooming like a great flower, with answers and insight.

Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed. That way, even if you wake up at 3am, you can scribble down the contents of your dreams. Don’t worry if you can’t always remember them. The human mind is complex and temperamental! Write what you can and use it to look for patterns, imagery and symbolism.

I Never Knew…

The pain-killing drug morphine, derived from poppy opium, takes its name from Morpheus, the Ancient Greek god of dreams and sleep.

*Image credit: Welsh Poppies in Post Hill Woods, copyright Mabh Savage 2018; the Poppy Goddess at Heraklion Archaeological Museum via Wikipedia; poppies on Lake Geneva via Wikipedia.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 

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