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Book Review – The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magical Ingredients and Spells by Shawn Robbins and Charity Befell

March, 2019

Review
The Good Witch’s Guide
A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magical Ingredients and Spells
by Shawn Robbins and Charity Befell
Published by Sterling Ethos
Pages: 305

Rituals,
History, aromatherapy, crystals, candle magic, spiritual alchemy,
potions, tinctures, herbs and recipes are just some of the topics
covered in this hardcover book that’s approximately six inches by
six and a half inches. It’s an inch thick and just feels good to
hold.

As
a “wiccapedia,” it covers all the topics you need to know, and
then offers lists for additional reading and reference materials.

The herbal folklore includes information about botanicals for health and healing, and passes along an old but potent charm. The chapter on aromatherapy explains how to use essential oils both for health and in magick, offering dozens of recipes. In presenting crystals, their properties are explained, along with instructions for using them to make waters for to balancing chakras, and for relief from everything from asthma to stress.

Practical
magick covers spells for mind, body and spirit. There’s a
housecleaning incense spell, a healing poppet spell, money spells,
and spells for protection and for love. Twenty-three pages focus on
candle magic while forty-seven pages are dedicated to teas, tinctures
and tonics for health and magick. A chapter offers ways to cook up
some magick – literally – with recipes for soup, bread, Yule
shortbread cookies, Imbolc cake and more.

The
book introduces readers to a variety of tools and topics, helping
them make their own magick, and it makes a reliable reference source
as well.

Shane
Robins is a psychic and a paranormal researcher whose grandparents
immigrated from Russia and Hungary with bottles of botanicals and the
knowledge of herbal healing. Her grandmother’s tea cured the polio
she contracted from one of Salk’s first vaccines. That changed her
life, and set her on a course to teach holistic medicine and healing.
Robins put her research and extensive knowledge into this book.

Charity
Befell has been practicing witchcraft for seventeen years – a
journey that began when she was given a copy of Silver Ravenwolf’s
“Teen Witch” on her thirteenth birthday. Her witchcraft now is
wild and free, incorporating shamanic techniques, prayer, meditation,
trance work and offerings to connect to the spirits of the land.
Befell is committed to the Temple of Witchcraft traditions. A
lifetime of herbalism and alternative healing practices also stretch
back to her youth.

Each
woman has written other books before this. Coming together, their aim
was to inspire and empower readers, giving them a vast collection of
information. The new as well as the seasoned witch will find
knowledge of value. My copy has the corners of several pages turned
down.

The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells (The Modern-Day Witch) on Amazon

***

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.

Worth the Witch

August, 2018

Goodbeing

 

Healthy Beauty & Natural Wellness Delivered” but do they? Goodbeing is a Monthly Subscription Box with an average value of $45-$65 dollars per box. Members get to choose 1-2 products each month and every box comes with 4-5 expertly chosen, personalized items.

Goodbeing offers two types of Monthly Boxes for you to choose from. They have a box titled Beauty for $24.95 a month which exclusively features beauty products only. This box can contains anything from nail polish, to toners, and bath teas to lip care. Make-up and body wash galore!!

The second box they offer is titled Lifestyle and it differs in the fact that it contains items like your regular make-up & soaps, but it will also come with things such as supplements, natural medicines, aromatherapy, home goods, and waste reducing goods. This box also cost $24.95 a month.

As if a box filled with high quality beauty & lifestyle goodies wasn’t enough, Goodbeing runs fantastic gift offers each month. For our readers only they are offering a BONUS SAMPLE in your first Standard Goodbeing box!  It may not be combined with other offers. Not applicable to existing Personal or Gift Memberships. Offer valid while supplies last. Use coupon code: GOODOFFER

So we know a little about what they offer and we have a coupon in hand, but is it Worth this Witch? Let’s dig in, shall we???

 

The First Impressions…The Box

A very lovely, compact box comes in the mail. I honestly found it to be smaller than most boxes I have reviewed in the past. I wondered if it would only contain small samples of a few items inside.

 

They had me at Rebellious Act…

What a way to open a box, with the bang of a positive quote! What girl does not like to be a little rebel and who shouldn’t like themselves a bit more? Turn that badboy postcard over and boom you are hit with 12 coupons for companies found in the box and working with Goodbeing. This is looking like a little box of positive to me so far.

 

Get Out Your Deck of Info Cards

I learned, it helps, if you empty the box, get to the bottom, and find this handy little deck of Info Cards. Each product has a corresponding card. Information is on the cards like; the companies name, website, social media, ingredients in product, instructions on use, price, and so much more!

 

Fred and Far

Your first gift in your box is an inspiring card from Fred and Far called a More & Less Manifesto Greeting Card. It is blank inside so you can personalize your message when you send it or keep it for yourself and hang on your mirror or fridge as a reminder for your self.


With your card comes a love yourself movement pin. The Trillion Pin features Fred and Far’s signature Trillion shape, which draws out the power of the sacred feminine. This adorable, girly pin reminds us to love and care for ourselves on a daily basis.

The worth of these items combined is listed on it’s information card as $14. We will keep a running tab to see how much this box is worth in the end!

 

Box of Chocolates

I love dark chocolate, it is my favorite type. This was a great treat to find in the box. When tasting it you have to get over that initial kick of bitter that comes in after a few seconds. Because at first it is just sweet. You get so distracted for a moment by the bitterness that you forget it’s sugary, as well. But then that bitterness kind of blends into the sweetness, and you are addicted. You have to be a real fan of dark chocolate to enjoy this.

 

Their idea for an easy to open wrapper is innovative. You get three,  generous, nice size pieces in the box.

On the box there are few details on the chemical make-up of the chocolate. They do not explain in detail what the chemicals contained in the bars do. However, if you go on the website listed on it’s product card, you will find out that the chocolate actually is beneficial to you health. The site states:

Polyphenols are crucial ingredients of foods known for their nutritional and strong antioxidant benefits, particularly present in fruits and vegetables. ReChoc has been tested by Cambridge scientists in human studies that confirmed:

  • Unmatched bioavailability and bioactivity levels of polyphenols
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Promotes healthy blood glucose levels
  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • Reduces oxidative stress (the main cause of aging)
  • Supports mitochondrial metabolism or “muscle repair” “

The chocolates are priced at $24.95 for a box of 20. This makes our Sample 3 about $3.75 for the Box.

 

Z Skin Age Extreme Moisturizer

This product was one of the items you got to choose for your box. I am always looking for new creams and lotions for my face because I tend to break out from them. I, also, have a condition that gives me very dry skin. It can be difficult for me to find creams or lotions that don’t give me pimples, rashes, or that my skin just drinks in still leaving behind flakes of dry skin.

I was pleasantly surprised by Z Skin. A semi-thick moisturizer that is 100% organic. I applied a generous amount onto my face and not a single rash, pimple, or blemish!! Instead, nice feeling, smooth skin. I do have to get used to the herbal smell of it. The clove is a little overwhelming to me, but only because it has never been one of my favorite scents. But so worth it.

When reading the information card that comes along with Z Skin I learned that the moisturizer is ideal for eczema, psoriasis, acne and wrinkles. It also contains SPF 15.

This was a great choice on my part!

The tube we were sent is priced at $19.

 

ellovi

Made with wild harvested ingredients, vegan, and mint chocolate flavored Lip Butter by ellovi. SPF 5. Ellovi is made of a blend of 6 of the most pure and nutritional ingredients on the planet – mango, coconut, sunflower, shea, & 2 parts of cacao (the oil & the butter). One tube can keep your lips hydrated for months.

You open the tube and you are hit by the scent of delicious mint chocolate chip ice cream. Sometimes a chapstick, a lip gloss, or any lip cover can feel to vasoliney. Some feel to waxy, or clump up, but this one doesn’t. It stays smooth on the lip and feels soothing. It tastes great, too.  My sister was kind enough to test this product out for us.

This product is valued at $5.

 

Curandera Remedies

MySore herbal salve, by Curandera Remedies, came in a 1 oz container.   It is a mixture of essential oils that are to provide relief to tired and achy muscles, arthritis pain, or daily strain. It was originally developed for those students who push their bodies to the limit doing a style of yoga called Mysore. The back of the label gives more information on the salves origin and ingredients. It also gives some other good to know facts like it is Fair Trade, Vegan, Organic, and more.

Simple enough to use, you apply it to your sore areas. It feels a bit waxy and has a menthol smell to it. A bit intense like Tiger Balm. As I had no aches and pains at the moment, I handed it over to my Brother-in-Law, who is full of them constantly, on his feet all the time. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of the balm to go around and it wasn’t strong enough to work on his problems. He said there was very minor relief, but that was for his intensity of pain and arthritis and as I have stated, his is large and the tin was small. He may have had to use it more frequently.

This product usually sells in 2 oz tins for $15. So ours is worth $7.50.

 

Airbiotics

Now this box holds a lot of clean in one little package. Its a Probiotic cleaning travel set Plus a 5 mL all purpose cleaner concentrate. It includes a samples of Airbiotics Probiotic Hand Cleaner, Stabiotic Mist & Probiotic All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate. They have covered all your cleaning needs with these three; Your hygiene, freshening up the air, fabric, linens, and your entire home! They use non-toxic ingredients, no harsh chemicals, or artificial scents and they are safe for pets and children.

These products came at a great time, as my sister had just had a newborn. no greater time to test them. They lived up to what they claimed. We freshened, perked, and cleaned galore with them and they did their job. Frequently. No sick baby or anyone.

Value of products provided $20.63.

 

My Over All Impression…

Goodbeing is fantastic. It Pampers, it Pleases, It even Compliments you! And … it gives you chocolates!! You get to choose up to 2 items of your choice, then the rest are surprises. Everything that was included in the box was of spectacular quality. If you do not believe me, you can ask my sister who will not put her new Lip Butter down, it is that soothing. But do they live up to their average value of $45 – $65 a month? OK time to do the math…

Fred & Far $14

Chocolates $3.75

Moisturizer $19

Lip Butter $5

Mysore Salve $7.50

Airbiotics $20.63

TOTAL: $69.88

This box has actually gone above what they estimate their boxes to cost and I am not surprised. The sizes of “samples” and the quality. This is a REAL DEAL!! I myself and going to be sure to check each and every month for the special gift offers they have and use this month’s special readers coupon code: GOODOFFER for a BONUS SAMPLE in your first Standard Goodbeing box! May not be combined with other offers. Not applicable to existing Personal or Gift Memberships. Offer valid while supplies last.

Goodbeing is DEFINITELY Worth the Witch!!

***

About the Author:

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

Book Review – Sacred Herbs: Your Guide to 40 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them for Healing and Well-Being by Opal Streisand

May, 2018

Book Review

Sacred Herbs: Your Guide to 40 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them for Healing and Well-Being”

by Opal Streisand

Publisher: Sterling Ethos

Published: Hardcover, February 2018

Pages: 128

This book has beautiful, large, color photos of 40 medicinal plants. That is the best thing about “Sacred Herbs: Your Guide to 40 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them for Healing and Well-Being.” It makes for a wonderful identification and reference for those in the earlier stages of learning about herbs.

For each, Opal Streisand gives the Latin name, an interesting note, the parts of the plant used, and information about the herb and its benefits, along with cautions if applicable. Sometimes that long paragraph includes history. Sometimes herbs get a four-page spread with more detailed information and a second photo.

Nowhere did I learn Opal Streisand’s credentials, so it would seem she is an author researching and writing about herbs, and not a herbalist sharing learning and personal experience. Someone going deeper into the subject will want an additional book by an herbalist.

This book can serve as the gateway, introducing the reader to some of the most commonly used herbs and instilling an appreciation of their many uses. Ancient healers knew the curative powers of the plants around them. That information has been passed down through generations in many cultures and traditions. Herbs are nature’s medicine, and that medicine is just as effective today as it was 200 years ago.

This book will acquaint you to herbs that soothe and heal. You’ll learn that a decoction of burdock was a folk remedy for colds and valerian is a sleep aid that should not be taken with other sedatives or antidepressants.

It’s worth repeating: the photographs are beautiful. They will help to identify plants by their flowers and, in some cases, their foliage.

Click Image for Amazon Information

***

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.

 

 

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

February, 2018

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.

 

Book Review: Tree Medicine, Tree Magic by Ellen Evert Hopman

January, 2018

Tree Medicine, Tree Magic”

by Ellen Evert Hopman

Published by Pendraig Publishing Inc.

Published: 2017

Pages: 245

This second edition is updated and revised from the original published in 1992 by Ellen Evert Hopman, a master herbalist, lay homeopath and founding member of The Order of the White Oak. She is currently archdruid of the Tribe of the Oak, a teaching grove for Druids. She holds an M.Ed. in mental health counseling.

For each of the 19 trees, she includes an illustration; describes their physical characteristics; gives their practical, herbal and magical uses; and provides Druid insights and recipes. Information for each tree takes up about 10 pages; quotes and poems about trees are sprinkled throughout.

Some of the common trees of North America and Europe that get a chapter in the book are ash, apple, birch, elm, holly, maple, oak, pine, poplar and willow.

Hopman treats each sacred tree reverently, sharing its powerful magic and how its legends are woven into various cultures. The traditions she shares are those of “our ancestors, the celebrants of the trees.”

 

 

At the beginning of the book, she explains the many forms which use flowers, leaves, bark, roots and seeds to treat conditions. She tells you what parts of the tree to use, and how to collect and use them. The back of the book contains such useful information as the Celtic tree alphabet and a tree meditation, along with indexes of herbal uses, magical uses, practical uses and illustrations.

Tree Medicine, Tree Magic” is a useful guidebook to work with trees on multiple levels.

 

Susun Weed, author of the Wise Woman Herbal Series, praised it, saying, “Trees are the Ancient Ones. They hold a vast wisdom that can heal all ills of body, mind, and spirit. Open this book and open a door to the details of that wisdom, brought to you by one of my favorite herbal authors, Ellen Evert Hopman. Ellen is actually a tree, ‘disguised’ as a person, so she speaks to us directly from the heart of the Ancient Mysteries. There is something for everyone here, whether you seek food for your psyche or physic for your woes.”

 

 

As I read about tree after tree and learned about the old ways, I was inspired to make more connections with them. I harvested white pine needles to make tea; I became aware that a branch of apple with both flowers and fruits is an indication the otherworld is paying a visit, and will now be on the lookout; and I now know to thank maple trees for being among those most tolerant of people.

I cross-referenced it with the Celtic tree moons – nine of the thirteen are in the book – and will be drawing information from the book when planning rituals.

 

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

Hopman’s other 10 non-fiction books include “A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year,” “Walking the World in Wonder: A Children’s Herbal,” “Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore” and “The Secret Medicines of Your Kitchen: A Practical Guide.” She also wrote three novels including “The Druid Isle” and “Priestess of the Fire Temple: A Druid’s Tale.”

Visit Ellen Evert Hopman online at www.elleneverthopman.com.

***

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.

Notes from the Apothecary

April, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Crocus

 

Apothecary1

 

As we move further into spring in the Northern Hemisphere, a wealth of flowers is bursting from the warming soil. Some of this treasure appears in royal gold and imperial purple, and occasionally even snow white, like a throwback to winter. These are the crocuses, a tiny, beautiful flower named for the Sanskrit word for saffron, the expensive spice made from its stigmas and styles.

The first crocuses of the year always fill me with excitement. They show that winter is truly ending, and that the wheel is turning towards warmer days, woodland walks and those magic mornings of wind and sunshine. Crocuses aren’t as early as snowdrops, which can burst right through the frost, and they aren’t as widespread as daffodils, cultivated as a kind of badge of spring. They come before tulips, and are the first splash of really rich colour; the first hint of the promise of far-off summer.

The Kitchen Garden

The main reason humans cultivate crocuses is for saffron, which is a reddish-orange looking spice that appears to be made of tiny threads. These threads are, of course, the stigmas of the crocus flower, usually a sexual organ used for reproduction, however the saffron crocus is unable to reproduce in this way and must rely on its corms, or bulbs (the tuberous part underground) splitting and multiplying in order to make more of itself. As only this tiny, thread like part of the plant is used in saffron production, it takes up to 75000 individual flowers to produce 1lb of the spice. So, if you are thinking that you could cultivate your own saffron, it’s only worth a go if you have a few acres of land to spare!

The spice is used in a variety of cuisines, including Indian, Arab and Turkish food to name but a few. Saffron is used for its unusual, slightly sweet flavour, and its strong colour which is reminiscent of turmeric yellow. Spanish paella often incorporates saffron, and this can be what gives the rice its glorious golden colour.

The Apothecary

A 2014 study showed that saffron improved symptoms in patients who suffered from major depressive disorders, and could be seen as a useful supplement for those suffering with mild to moderate depression.

This harks back to the Persians who believed that saffron could cure bouts of melancholy. I always find it fascinating when science catches up with magic!

Saffron has been used throughout the ages as a cure for gastrointestinal problems. An ancient Egyptian recipe actually called for crocus seeds, rather than the stigmas, to be mixed with beef fat and other spices as a cure for stomach pain.

Mrs Grieve’s Modern herbal is a fascinating resource for anecdotal accounts of the use of traditional medicine. She notes that in 1921, a medical witness gave evidence of saffron being used in a tea made with brandy to cure measles. She also notes that the spice is useful in the relief of flatulence, to induce sweating, and to stimulate menstrual flow.

In 1347, the Black Death, an horrific plague which swept across Europe, caused a sudden and incredibly high demand for saffron. It was believed that it held medicinal properties key in combatting the plague, yet many of the farmers had succumbed to the ravages of the disease, so supply was not meeting demand. This led to theft and piracy, including a fourteen-week ‘Saffron War’ over a stolen load of 800lb of the spice.

Other Uses

 

Apothecary2

 

Some Therav?da Buddhist monks wear robes dyed with vegetables and spices, including saffron, which gives the cloth an orange-yellow tone. The robes were originally made from ‘pure’ cloth; fabric that was unwanted or had been discarded. The rags were boiled, dyed and stitched together into a suitable robe for the holy person.

Saffron has also been found in paints and pigments dating back thousands of years. Medieval manuscripts were often illuminated using the pigment provided by saffron, to give tones of yellow and orange.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The use of saffron by humans can be traced back 50000 years, although the mass cultivation of the crocus is much more recent. Saffron was used as a magical spice by the Sumerians, the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Romans and many more.

One of the primary uses of saffron is as an aphrodisiac. In India, a potion of milk and saffron is brought to the bedchamber of newlyweds on their wedding night. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is said to have dropped saffron into her baths prior to making love, to heighten the pleasure. Greek courtesans known as hetaerae used the spice as a perfume.

For those following a Minoan path of spirituality, it is interesting to note that the first image depicting saffron was found in a Minoan fresco. Although it is not clear what the Minoans used the plant for, it is clear it had some special significance for them.

The ancient Greeks have two legends about Crocus, a young man. In one, he is accidentally fatally injured by the god Mercury, during a game of discus. As he dies, three drops of his blood fall into a flower, thus creating the red stigma of the crocus. The alternative and more commonly accepted legend is that Crocus is chasing the nymph, Smilax. She grows tired of his advances and when he won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, turns him into a flower. Take note: No means No!

From these legends, we can make some assumptions about the associations of the plant itself, including the links to the God Mercury and therefore money, luck, communication and because of the nature of the legend, friendship, regret and transformation. We can also see the crocus flower as a symbol to not cross boundaries that are made by others without permissions; to be courteous and listen to others. If someone is not listening to you, or is harassing you, the crocus could be your point of focus in a spell to get them to back off.

Cunningham tells us that the plant is associated with Venus and water, and has a feminine aspect. This is interesting, as biologically the male part of the plant is sterile, so in reproductive terms the plant truly is feminine.

Home and Hearth

Plant crocuses in borders or pots in your garden to delineate the boundaries of your home. If you don’t have an outdoor space, a potted crocus on a windowsill is just as good.

Don’t pick wild crocuses; always grow your own, as there is a European superstition that picking the plant will sap your strength. Anyway, it’s simple courtesy to leave beautiful flowers where everyone can enjoy them!

I Never Knew…

If you have been robbed, burning a little bit of crocus or saffron may allow you to have a vision of the thief.

Image credits: Crocus autranii by rainbirder via Wikimedia; Iran saffron from Khorasan by Alphaomega1010 via Wikimedia.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. See is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

The Witching Herbs by Harold Roth – Book Excerpt

April, 2017

witchingherbs1

 

Plant Spirits

Hammers and pens can be well made or faulty, beautiful or ugly. They require skill from the user, as well as a certain amount of intrinsic capabili­ties as tools, but they are not capable of independent thought or of deliberately hindering or helping our work. When you work with an herb, rather than with its plant spirit, the herb is a tool. When you work with a plant spirit, the herb is a sacred text that you can read to learn about the spirit. And that spirit has its own will and its own desires that may not match what you want to achieve.

When you are silent, you have more of a chance of hearing what someone else has to tell you, and I think that this is especially true in the garden. In some ways, ordinary gardeners are closer to magic than most people, because of the opportunity gardening gives them to listen to other spirits and to relate to lives that are fundamentally different from their own. We can anthropomorphize animals to the point where it becomes difficult to perceive their “themness,”that doesn’t usually happen with plants, because they are physically so different from us. To understand a life so alien from your own requires a real opening of the soul. I believe that anyone is capable of doing this, but it does take patience, work, and will.

witchingherbs2

(Belladonna)

If you are not cultivating a plant, or at least working with it in the wild, it is very difficult to come to know the spirit of that plant. If you want to work with henbane, but the only henbane you possess is in powdered form, you may have difficulty contact­ing the plant spirit, because powdered henbane seems always to be adulterated with flour, which can get in your way. This is not to say that magic work can’t utilize herbs that you have bought rather than grown or harvested. Far from it. I sell herbs myself and often buy herbs that I cannot grow myself, as they derive from tropical trees. However, it is more difficult to contact a plant spirit using store-bought herbs.

When you grow an herb yourself, especially if it is one you grow on a regular basis, it is almost certain that, sooner or later, the spirit of that plant will contact you if you make yourself open to it. For one thing, when you grow the plant yourself, especially from seed, you are able to see it at various stages in its life, under many different weather conditions, in various seasons (sun phases), and through all the moon phases. I also see this activity—growing a plant—as being devotional to the plant spirit.

Yes, there are plants that grow without any human assistance, but many that are associated with magic actually seem to prefer to grow around people. They appear to get something from that prox­imity besides the benefits of cultivation. In fact, my sense is that they receive something spiritual or nonmaterial as well—something we lack the words to define at this time in our development.

I also view cultivating a plant as being akin to the kabbalistic concept of tzimtzum, the Lurianic concept of how the divine con­tracted to make room for the universe as an independent existence. Tending a plant can be a very caring and selfless activity. Moreover, many of the plants used in magic have aromatic foliage that, when brushed against, releases its signature scent. This may not always be a pleasant smell, but it is always an identifying characteristic. Scent is among the primary ways that plants communicate with animals. This is certainly true with moths and butterflies, but even fruits begin to release a fragrant odor when they are ripe and ready for animals to eat them. If a plant can send out requests through scent for certain parts of it to be visited or even consumed, then it most likely can and will communicate other things about itself. However, we must be open to this communication and recognize that communication does not always have to occur in the form of words or even images.

Scent can be narrative, can tell a story. It can be a way for us to communicate with the plant spirit itself. Since scent is one of the least understood senses—and in our society, perhaps the least necessary and thus most mysterious—it is often accorded magical or spiritual properties. The Zohar, for instance, considers scent as the one food for the soul that is available on this plane and that can feed angels and other spirits as well as gods—which goes a long way toward explaining the importance of incense in magic.

witchingherbs3

(Mother & Child Mandrake Root)

It is certainly true that scent can affect the mind on the physical plane by being psychoactive. Examples include the perfume of brug­mansiaswhich, if slept under, provides the sleeper with terrifying visions—or the uplifting scent of frankincense, or jasmine’s ability to raise the seizure threshold. So one important means of commu­nication between plants and people has to be scent—not only when plants send their scent to us but also when we, in turn, use that scent to evoke the plant spirit through magic oils or scented candles.

in my experience, being around and tending a growing plant every day—basically in a posture of helping and attentively listening—is a way to let the plant spirit know that you want to make contact and that you are ready to learn. Years ago, a rabbi told me that one way to indicate to the divine that you want to make contact is to study holy books; by doing so, you indicate that you are open to contact with the sacred. I see tending plants in the same way. A plant is a sacred text—the description and plan, the story of the plant’s spirit—and when you tend that plant and cultivate and groom it, you indicate to its spirit that you are open and ready and receptive to its contact. I see this posture as completely different from consuming plant parts.

Often, plants offer a particular part to animals for consump­tion—fruits, for instance—as an element in a bargain wherein they distribute their seeds. Even when we eat the leaves of a plant, I have sensed that these plants know that their siblings and their children will have more opportunities to propagate than if they were growing alone in the woods somewhere and no one ate their leaves. And, as with animals, propagation seems to be one of a plant’s primary aims in life. so when we tend plants to help them grow or propagate, we let their spirits know that we are well disposed toward them and that, while we may kill masses of them during the harvest process, we intend to further their progeny more than would have been possible for them on their own.

We provide an important service to the community of that plant; the god of that plant, its spirit, must take heed of that service. I am certain that plant spirits notice our attentions to their avatars. If any­thing is equal to prayer in the relationship between people and plant spirits, it is our tending and helping to propagate their material man­ifestations as plants. I think it is also a good example of how prayer, in order to work, must be in the form of action.

witchingherbs4

(Mugwort Patch)

It’s also true that the plants we cultivate tend to be far less fero­cious in their effects than those that grow in the wild. I have seen a lot of advice that claims that plants intended for use in magic should be harvested from the wild, rather than grown in the garden, because wild plants are considered to be more powerful. But plants grown in the optimal conditions of a garden tend to be far more relaxed and friendly. They don’t produce the high amounts of alkaloids that wild plants do, because they don’t have as much need for them, as they are not being gnawed on by every passing critter. A garden-raised baneful will likely have fewer alkaloids, because it is not as afraid of being eaten. A plant that is less afraid is a happier plant and one that may be more open to interaction with us, because it is not constantly in fear for its life or worrying that its babies will be destroyed. My advice to people wanting to contact plant spirits: Choose a plant toward which you feel simpatico or one whose shape you just like (often the same thing) and grow it. Grow it in your yard or in a pot, on your windowsill or in your home—anywhere that provides the conditions for cultivation. Tend it and wait with an open heart.

We cannot demand that a plant spirit show itself. But my expe­rience has been that, eventually, the spirit will reveal itself, and in a most unmistakable way—through dreams or visions, for instance. It is a mighty impressive and awe-inspiring experience, one that lets us know that our allies are extraordinarily powerful and also fundamen­tally different from us.

Permissions Line:

Adapted, and reprinted with permission from Weiser Books an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, THE WITCHING HERBS  by Harold Roth is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at www.redwheelweiser.com or 800-423-7087.

*All photos are courtesy of Harold Roth

***

About the Author:

Harold Roth is among the foremost authorities on plants within the modern occult community. For the past 15 years, he has owned and operated Alchemy Works, an online store focused on herb magic, where he crafts and sells incense, potions, and magical oils. The Witching Herbs has been in the works for a decade and is eagerly anticipated. Visit him at www.haroldroth.com.

 

Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Witching-Herbs-Essential-Plants-Magical/dp/1578635993/

 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-witching-herbs-harold-roth/1124702813?ean=9781578635993

 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781578635993

 

Red Wheel/Weiser: http://redwheelweiser.com/detail.html?session=33455c09c89e36a195834b7c32f065e6&id=9781578635993

 

 

8 Effective Natural Remedies to Prevent a Cold

December, 2016

cold1

BY

 

If you want to prevent a cold, you’re certainly not alone. Colds slow us down and make it so much harder to enjoy life. The key to feeling better is learning the best cold prevention methods and then using them to safeguard your good health. Today, we’re going to let you know the ins and outs of effective cold prevention.

We’ll share lots of practical tips which will help you to protect yourself from germs. Our comprehensive guide will include cold prevention for all ages, as well as a cold prevention remedies list and some advice on how to avoid colds, to begin with. We’ve put together a really detailed guide which is ideal for anyone who wants to explore preventative tips that work well for many users. We believe in natural remedies for preventing colds, and we are committed to offering tips that really work. First, let’s share some information about the common cold. It’s been plaguing mankind forever, and it is definitely something that most people dread.

cold1

BY

 

If you want to prevent a cold, you’re certainly not alone. Colds slow us down and make it so much harder to enjoy life. The key to feeling better is learning the best cold prevention methods and then using them to safeguard your good health. Today, we’re going to let you know the ins and outs of effective cold prevention.

We’ll share lots of practical tips which will help you to protect yourself from germs. Our comprehensive guide will include cold prevention for all ages, as well as a cold prevention remedies list and some advice on how to avoid colds, to begin with. We’ve put together a really detailed guide which is ideal for anyone who wants to explore preventative tips that work well for many users. We believe in natural remedies for preventing colds, and we are committed to offering tips that really work. First, let’s share some information about the common cold. It’s been plaguing mankind forever, and it is definitely something that most people dread.

cold1

BY

 

If you want to prevent a cold, you’re certainly not alone. Colds slow us down and make it so much harder to enjoy life. The key to feeling better is learning the best cold prevention methods and then using them to safeguard your good health. Today, we’re going to let you know the ins and outs of effective cold prevention.

We’ll share lots of practical tips which will help you to protect yourself from germs. Our comprehensive guide will include cold prevention for all ages, as well as a cold prevention remedies list and some advice on how to avoid colds, to begin with. We’ve put together a really detailed guide which is ideal for anyone who wants to explore preventative tips that work well for many users. We believe in natural remedies for preventing colds, and we are committed to offering tips that really work. First, let’s share some information about the common cold. It’s been plaguing mankind forever, and it is definitely something that most people dread.

cold1

BY

 

If you want to prevent a cold, you’re certainly not alone. Colds slow us down and make it so much harder to enjoy life. The key to feeling better is learning the best cold prevention methods and then using them to safeguard your good health. Today, we’re going to let you know the ins and outs of effective cold prevention.

We’ll share lots of practical tips which will help you to protect yourself from germs. Our comprehensive guide will include cold prevention for all ages, as well as a cold prevention remedies list and some advice on how to avoid colds, to begin with. We’ve put together a really detailed guide which is ideal for anyone who wants to explore preventative tips that work well for many users. We believe in natural remedies for preventing colds, and we are committed to offering tips that really work. First, let’s share some information about the common cold. It’s been plaguing mankind forever, and it is definitely something that most people dread.

cold1

BY

 

If you want to prevent a cold, you’re certainly not alone. Colds slow us down and make it so much harder to enjoy life. The key to feeling better is learning the best cold prevention methods and then using them to safeguard your good health. Today, we’re going to let you know the ins and outs of effective cold prevention.

We’ll share lots of practical tips which will help you to protect yourself from germs. Our comprehensive guide will include cold prevention for all ages, as well as a cold prevention remedies list and some advice on how to avoid colds, to begin with. We’ve put together a really detailed guide which is ideal for anyone who wants to explore preventative tips that work well for many users. We believe in natural remedies for preventing colds, and we are committed to offering tips that really work. First, let’s share some information about the common cold. It’s been plaguing mankind forever, and it is definitely something that most people dread.

Notes from the Apothecary

November, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: Horse Chestnut

Conkers! That was always the main appeal for me. This grand, stately tree with its leaves like great hands, giving shade from the summer heat, and shelter on a rainy day, and all we wanted to do was wait until the conkers were falling. We would string them up and smash them together, revelling in this annual autumn battle.

I still collect conkers, but they don’t get strung up any more. Rather, they sit on altars, usually at north, as a reminder of the changing season and that great things start small. I have one in my pocket right now, and feeling its smooth, solid roundness between my fingers is very reassuring.

There is, as implied, so much more to this tree than its iconic seed, as you will find out below.

notes

 

Image credit: Ninjatacoshell via Wikimedia.org

The Kitchen Garden

Herein lies the only problem with horse chestnuts: the fruit is not edible. Unlike sweet chestnuts, widely available during the upcoming holiday season, the horse chestnut is poisonous. The picture here shows three sweet chestnuts on the left, and two horse chestnuts on the right. Do note the difference, as horse chestnuts are poisonous. Even most wild animals won’t eat them. If in doubt, just don’t eat it. Please!

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Image credit: Michigan State University msu.edu

The Apothecary

Currently, research is being done into using extracts of conkers to help sufferers of chronic venous insufficiency, which is where the veins cannot pump enough blood back to the heart. The same extract is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and a few other health benefits. It’s important to remember that it is only a particular extract that is noted to have these benefits, and that eating the whole chestnut will make you very poorly indeed!

Bach Herbal sells a white chestnut remedy, made with the flowers of the tree. It is used for repressing or getting rid of unwanted thoughts, particularly those thoughts that go around and around in your head. The remedy is supposed to help you think straight, and set your thoughts in order.

There is also a remedy made from the young leaf buds, which is to help those that do not learn from their mistakes. The remedy is supposed to help you pause and learn from your experiences, and not move on to the next experience too quickly.

Other Uses

Horse chestnut wood is not considered a strong timber, but it is pale with a very fine texture, which means wonderful carvings can be made from it. It may be ideal to make a wand from, but perhaps not strong enough for a staff or stave. You could also make runes from slices of a horse chestnut branch, as the symbols would be easy to carve into the wood, and if you were burning the symbols into the runes, the burnt marks would stand out really well against the pale wood.

The Witch’s Kitchen

I remember reading a lovely children’s tale when I was little, where the protagonist makes a wish whilst holding a small branch of horse chestnut, and places it in a drawer for a month. When she comes back to the drawer, the branch has moved by itself, which means her wish is going to come true.

The ‘horsiness’ of the horse chestnut refers to the scar left when a leaf breaks away or falls from the branch, which looks like a tiny horseshoe. One can use this association with horses to link the tree to Epona, the great mare, a goddess widely associated with equine beasts.

Still presuming this association with horses, we could also say this tree represents Macha, who is also connected with horses, particularly grey horses. It is worth noting that Macha is a very complex goddess and figure in Celtic mythology, and not all her iterations are connected to horses, so use this connection wisely and only as needed.

In hoodoo, conkers or ‘buckeye nuts’ are carried in a man’s pants pockets to increase his sexual prowess, or luck with sexual encounters. They are also used in mojo bags to help with or ward off arthritis, rheumatism and migraines, which may be ties back to the anti-inflammatory properties we discussed before.

In other folklore snippets, the conker is used as part of a good luck charm, to stave off chills, and even to ward against hemorrhoids!

For me, the conker will always be a symbol of the fall; the ultimate note that although summer has left us, here are these beautiful, glossy gifts that will one day become leafy, graceful trees.

Home and Hearth

Chestnuts take many years to mature, and are a great symbol of patience and ‘all good things come to those who wait’.

If you are struggling with things not moving on as fast as you would like, and have no way to change this, you can instead try and change your mindset.

Find two horse chestnut seeds, as big and glossy as you can. Try not to pick seeds that have been partially eaten or are rotten. They should be left to return to the ground and become part of the earth again.

Find a safe space, where you won’t be disturbed. Light a candle if possible, and focus on the flame while you relax your breathing. Once you are relaxed, hold one of your conkers in each hand. Focus on the smooth, wooden texture. Focus on how solid and unchanging they seem. Realise how small they are, that each one can fit neatly in your palm.

Now picture a horse chestnut tree in your mind (here is an image to help you). Think about how big this tree is. How majestic. How powerful, bending in strong winds but never breaking, always growing.

Realise that this enormous tree came from something identical to one of the little conkers you hold in your hand. Meditate on how everything happens in its own time, and that the horse chestnut is proof that, with persistence, goals will be achieved.

After your meditation, relax, drink some water and eat some food to ground out.

notes3

 

Image credit: Sannse via Wikimedia.org

I Never Knew…

In some countries, horse chestnuts are actually used as food for horses!

Mabh Savage is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Notes from the Apothecary

September, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: Maple

Maple

 

How beautiful the maple tree is. Also known as acers (from the Latin for sharp, due to the points on the leaves), maples range from small shrubs to 45-metre-high trees, are spread all over the world and although can be evergreen, are normally renowned for their spectacular colour show in the fall. The picture to the left is a collection of autumn leaves my boy and I collected a couple of years ago. As you can see, the maple leaves (from Norway maples) are very prominent in the display.

Well known as the symbol of Canada, and also the state tree of Vermont and Wisconsin, the maple is surely familiar to all, if only for the archetypal ‘hand’ shape of the leaf.

The Kitchen Garden

In the restaurant of trees, maple is the dessert menu, for sure. The sap is used to make a wonderful, ridiculously sweet and tasty syrup, which graces pancakes the world over. It takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup! The syrup is also made into sugar and candy.

Native Americans produces maple syrup and maple sugar well before Europeans arrived on the scene. The process was quite ritualised, with the first full moon of spring being named the Sugar Mon, and being a time for dancing and celebration.

The Apothecary

The Native Americans didn’t just use the maple for its sweet sap. They also used the bark to make a wash for sore eyes.

The maple leaf is also said to have a sedative effect, and to make a useful tonic for anxiety or depression. It is also used for treating ailments of the liver and spleen. There is no scientific evidence to back this up, unfortunately.

Other Uses

The inner bark can be boiled to produce dyes. The red maple produces a purple colour, which with sulphates added can be made into black ink.

The timber is widely used, but one of the most fascinating uses is for musical instrument. Maple is known as a tone wood, which means it carries soundwaves well; it has a useful harmonic resonance. Fender guitars have often been made with maple necks.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Maple syrup may be used as a substitute for honey in offerings and other magic.

The maple leaf is often used as an emblem in military regalia, and the wood has historically been used for rifle stocks. This gives the tree a militant aspect, useful in magic where you have to resolve a conflict, or brace yourself for a confrontation. The maple represents strength, especially in the face of adversity.

Think of the way the flowers and then the seeds get into everything! They represent tenacity and opportunity.

The wood is strong and useful for wands and staffs.

The leaves transform from verdant green to glowing gold and red throughout the year. They are perfectly symbolic of the wheel of the year and the transforming seasons, and make an awesome altar decoration.

The maple tree is seen as feminine, and associated with the moon. Therefore, any moon magic may be enhanced with the use of maple leaves, seed or wood; even a piece of bark. Leave a maple wand in the light of the full moon to ‘charge’ it with lunar energy, in the same way you would a crystal.

Home and Hearth

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One of our favourite things to do is to make roses out of maple leaves. Find out how HERE.

When picking maple leaves, the leaf should be attached to a stem which should easily come away from the main branch. These stems make it easy to string the leaves up to make a late summer or autumn garland, or even a crown or wreath.

I Never Knew…

The first literary mention of the maple is in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, where it is written as ‘mapul’.

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