SUBSCRIBE

herbs

Crone’s Corner

May, 2019

Meditation and Divining Incense: uses & recipes

I used to shy away from sharing my personal experiences and practices with other people, but then I asked myself, “Why do you keep everything that you love all to yourself?” That’s when I decided to open a Facebook Group called “Pagan Plannertarium” and I started sharing my love of a working book of shadows and graphics that I create to make my working book everything that I want it to be. It is a work in progress and you can follow along with me in the other article under “crafts” Working Book of Shadows in PaganPagesOrg. My group eventually morphed into what it is today, which is a “Home” of likeminded, free spirited individuals who share their own personal gnosis, their own musings, and their paths with everyone for the greater good. My heart overflows in that group and I am so proud to be a part of it.

I
love divination and mediation, which are passions for me. Finding
the time is not impossible, but does require discipline and sacrifice
at times – but so well worth it in the long run!

(Photo by truthseeker08 on Pixabay)

Settling
in, creating your sacred space, and visualizing yourself going to a
deeper more serene level to meditate can be facilitated by the
setting and the mood around you. In order to bring yourself to that
most comfortable and deepest place for complete meditation, the area
around you should be as comfortable as possible and the atmosphere
should resonate with peaceful and serene flowing energies. Likewise,
when attempting any forms of divination, your surroundings should be
as conducive to reaching outward to reign and bring in those visions
and aspects that we need for effective readings.

One
of the easiest ways to make your space ready for meditation and/or
divination is to mix an incense blend that will bring you to a place
of heightened awareness and that will effectively assist you in
opening yourself up to the channels of energies that will lend
themselves to your introspection or workings. The incense blends
that I prefer to use are whole herbs and resins which are burned over
an incense charcoal. The whole herbs and resins, once ignited, burn
for the precise period of time required to enter a deep meditative
state or to achieve the visions that come during divination.

(Photo by Thomas Stephan on Unsplash)

Incense Recipe: I prefer dried whole herbs and resins. For meditation and divination I use a blend of equal parts Mugwort and Wormwood. Since I use these incense blends frequently, I blend them once a month on the night of the New Moon, in quantity. I use 2 cups of Mugwort and 2 cups of Wormwood, I mix them together in a bowl and place them in an air tight container until I need them. I then mix the resins Frankincense and Myrrh (in whatever amount I purchase and equalize between the two) and place them in an air tight container until I need them.

Mugwort:
A Druid Sacred Herb. Mugwort was placed in barns to protect cows
from the influence of fairies. The herb’s powers are strongest when
picked on a Full Moon. It can be used for good luck and rubbed on
ritual tools to increase power. Mugwort can be used as an incense
(mixed in equal parts with Sandalwood) to aid in strengthening
Psychic Powers (or mixed with equal parts of Wormwood) to aid in
divination and meditation. Try using it while scrying or during
divination and meditation.

Mugwort
can also be placed next to the bed to aid in achieving astral
projection.

Its
other magical uses include strength, protection, prophetic dreams,
and healing.

Keeps
one safe from dark forces and it protects children and the incense
brings protection as well. Carried, it brings loved ones safely home
from journeys.

A
tonic for the soul, it keeps us aware of our spiritual direction. A
mugwort infusion sweetened with honey will enhance divination.
Carried, it also increases lust and fertility.

For
use in Clairvoyance, Scrying, Protection, rub this herb on “Magic
Mirrors” and “Crystal balls” to strengthen their
powers. Add to scrying, clairvoyance and divination incenses. Use 3
tablespoons to 1/2 gallon spring (or rain) water to cleanse your
“Magical mirrors” crystals and stones. It is used in magic
as a love-divining herb. To experience interesting dreams that are
said to reveal one’s future, stuff a pillow with about a pound of
this herb and sleep on it.

The
Indians used a decoction of the leaves for colds, bronchitis,
rheumatism, and fever, and a poultice for wounds. The fresh juice is
used to ease the itch of poison oak. To cure a headache, stick a leaf
up your nose.

Wormwood:
A sacred herb which was very magical as well as sacred to Moon
deities. Burned on Samhain to aid evocation, divination, scrying and
prophecy. Combine with Mugwort for added effect. Thrown onto fires
on “Samhain” to gain protection from bad spirits roaming
the night.

One
of the major ingredients in “Absinthe”

Burn
in incense to raise spirits.

Wormwood,
when added to herbal incense, is an aid in opening the psychic
centers. When these centers are open and receptive, we may better
communicate with those who have “passed over”. It has been
written that wormwood and sandlewood (an herb of purification and
high spiritual energy) burned together near a grave-site
will summon the spirit of the departed.

Wormwood
is a banishing herb, used to rid a person or an area of anger and
negativity.

Meditation:
After turning the ringer off of the phone and ensuring complete
solitude, I retreat to my sacred space and light the incense charcoal
(not the BBQ variety, which is toxic if burned inside) and allow it
to reach its red glow. I prepare the Mugwort and Wormwood
combination in a small bowl and I add about a teaspoon of the resin
blend into the bowl, mix it up and place about a tablespoon of the
mixture onto the burning charcoal, I allow it to smolder and burn
about half way out when I add the second scoop onto the charcoal.

Then,
I call on the Spirits of the East and its components of air,
communication, and inspiration to lend energies to meditations. I
settle myself into a comfortable position conducive to meditation and
I ground my spirit and center my self before beginning the
meditation. If the meditation that I am planning requires music, I
ensure that I have placed a CD on a loop so that the immediate end of
the music does not disrupt the flow. Often I discover that the music
is replaced by the sounds of the newly heightened awareness achieved
through meditation in any event. And so the deepening meditative
state ensues.

The divination: I follow the same routine for divination as I do for meditation; however, I tend to replenish the incense on the charcoal throughout the divining session. If I am scrying, I do not want to interrupt the flow, and I tend to follow precisely the same steps as described in the meditation portion. If I am reading Tarot, then I am continuously replenishing the supply on the charcoal, as it aids in receiving and deciphering the messages and pictures for this form of divination.

***

About
the Author:

Shirley
Lenhard
has
been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives in New
England with her husband. She is employed full time in the legal
field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of
South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her best possible life
by giving back to the Pagan Community and has created the Facebook
group “Pagan
Plannertarium
” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans
to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers
and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and
The Peace Paper.

Review of the Shop Fey Herba Organics & Interview with Owner Christina Dawson

March, 2019

Fey Herba Organics

Organic Skincare, Natural Beauty, Holistic Healing,
Enchanted Decor

If you have found your way to Fey Herba Organics Instagram feed, then you, too, have been feasting on bright, gorgeous photos, that leave a smile on your face. Fey Herba Organics sell crystals, along with, amazing looking handmade products… “crafted by the sun & under the moon.

I wanted to see for myself if Fey Herba Organics products were as full of herbs and bright smiles as they seemed to be. So the owner Christina Dawson, sent us a box!

I received a box of her products, a beautifully handwritten card, and an incense stick. The card was a personal note and a lovely touch. The incense stick was dragon’s blood and smelled beautiful, burned well, and long. All of this got me so excited to open the box!!

Let’s get to it and see what
I pull from this box first!

DeLuna Oil

For attuning to the moon. Moon charged. Includes labradorite, black obsidian, quartz, amethyst, moonstone, & a mix of herbs & oils. The bottle is made of glass and it’s a roll on. The smell is of a lovely sweet perfume. The bottle is FULL of herbs and crystals. I have never seen a company actually use more than just one crystal in their bottles. I am impressed, with what I can see and smell.

Crystals

Next up I find a pretty bag of
stones. What I like about these stones is that they are not the
usual stones you would get in a box! I received:

Peacock Ore with a gorgeous
blue patina.

Apache Tear, a node which reminds me of a moon or lava rock.

Amethyst a beautiful shade of
light purple.

Lepidolite that is so
iridescent, shiny, and smooth.

My picture does not do these
stones any justice. I took a billion photos but could not get one
better then this. I apologize. The shine, colors, energies, make up
for size. Plus they are more costly stones then the usual stones
given by most.

Lavender
& Rose Aura Cleanse Mist

A powerful mist to wear daily or use to cleanse your sacred space. Moon charged. Amethyst, black tourmaline, & quartz, rose water, & lavender with other ingredients. You can definitely smell the lavender and sage in there cleansing and calming your sacred space. The smell is strong without being overpowering. It’s soothing almost automatically. It comes in a glass spray bottle.

Mixed
Loose Herbs

This bag of wonderful smelling
herbs is to be be burned as incense or kept. I can see in the sachet
sage, lavender, rose petals… I’m gonna keep it as is.

Go
Smudge Yourself Oil

A smudge you can take everywhere with you. It is in a small glass roller bottle and contains all the ingredients you would need for a great smudge! Moon charged, snowflake obsidian, quartz, & sage infused with so much more. You can see all the stones and herbs in the bottle!! With no problem making out what is what! The smell is deep cleansing. The oil fades into your skin wonderfully and the scent permeates an earthy smell to ground you. In my final thoughts I added ideas of how I use it.

Complete
Box

My Final Thoughts on Fey Herba Organics … I am so impressed with Fey Herba Oraganics!! Now this is a shop that lives up to what it says. Quality handmade products. Christina Dawson has delivered exactly what she has shown in Fey Herba Organics pictures on her Instagram feed. Beautiful, make you smile products, that shine and they actually work! I have been taking Fey Herba Organics Go Smudge Yourself on the go with me and it grounds me everywhere. It is the perfect size. Fits right in your purse (I carry tiny purses). You can take it everywhere and when you feel negative energy, or just not right, or like me panicky, take a small dab to the wrist and sniff! I, also, use the Aura Mist in my bedroom to keep it peaceful. I enjoy the new crystals that Fey Herba Oraganics added to my collection. I didn’t have a few of them previously. It is nice to see something different in a box. I highly recommend Fey Herba Oraganics. Christina Dawson makes really top quality products!

The
Interview

I was lucky to get a chance to ask owner of Fey Herba Oraganics, Christina Dawson, some questions. Here’s our chat:

Jennifer
Wright: How did your business come about?

Christina
Dawson:
I started crafting
organic skincare and spiritual aids (such as my oils, mists soaps+)
because I wanted to share my love of the natural world with everyone.

Jennifer
Wright: How did you begin?

Christina
Dawson:
I’ve always had an
interest in plants and crystals, and once I got pregnant, I wanted to
ensure that everyone had access to affordable, organic skincare that
provides spiritually uplifting and protective qualities.

Jennifer
Wright: How do you choose what to create?

Christina
Dawson:
I follow my basic
principles of life: which include protection, peace, prosperity,
passion, and spiritual awareness. Each item is crafted by my hand
with loving intention per my customer’s need.

Jennifer
Wright: Where do you sell your products & do you make
subscription boxes?

Christina Dawson: I have an online shop Fey Herba Oraganics where I sell my products and I love to craft custom bundles.

Jennifer
Wright: Are you, yourself, Pagan?

Christina
Dawson:
I am a spiritual
naturalist, I love utilizing the tools from nature and incorporating
their magick into products for every day use.

Jennifer
Wright: What types of interests do you have?

Christina
Dawson:
I love reading,
gardening, cooking, and writing. My husband and I love hiking and
kayaking – anything outdoorsy. We have a young son we love to take
on adventures and love making memories.

Jennifer
Wright: Did you feel the Pagan world was missing something to make
you create your products?

Christina
Dawson:
I wanted to provide
natural options for those who are becoming aware of their spiritual
side.

My
goal is to aid others in amplifying their personal power. WE all
have our own magick and the right to claim it.

Jennifer
Wright: Do you have a site and sell other types of products?

Christina Dawson: My online Etsy store is Fey Herba Oraganics and my Instagram Page is @fey_herba. I craft skincare as well as spiritual aids.

I’d like to thank Christina Dawson for taking the time to talk with me about her wonderful shop Fey Herba Oraganics & herself. It was great getting to know about her and what drives her. It’s nice to see that behind a great product is a wonderful woman.

Fey
Herba Organics Contacts:

Website: Fey Herba Oraganics

Instagram: @fey_herba

Facebook

Twitter: @fey_herba

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Wright
is a witch on a path of change that is always winding. She founded
PaganPagesOrg in the hopes of giving those a platform to share and
learn without judgment. There are too many important things to her
and not enough room to mention them. You are one of them.

Book Review – The Witch’s Book of Mysteries by Devin Hunter

March, 2019

Book Review
The Witch’s Book of Mysteries
by Devin Hunter

The
forward of The Witch’s Book of Mysteries, written by Jason Miller,
jumps right into what the reader can expect from The Witch’s Book
of Mysteries by Devin Hunter.


“What is a Witch? It’s a tricky label. For some people witchcraft
is a religion. If you worship the old Gods and fol
low
a religion like Wicca, then for those people your are a Witch. Other
People focus on the craft part of witchcraft and consider use of folk
magic as the defining
characteristics
of a Witch. If you know the magical properties of herbs, the words of
spells and the use of oils and candles and stones, then you are a
Witch.”….

And,
as Jason aptly states, the definition of what a Witch has all of the
overlays of modern society and traditional practices rolled into one.

This
is the third book by Devin in a systematic approach to introducing
the experienced student to the practices of witchcraft and honing
their skills into becoming a Witch. The first of the books, The
Witch’s Book of Power, explored all that comprises the journey of
developing your power and knowing when and how to tap into it for a
sustainable and effective practice.

The
Second book, The Witch’s Book of Spirits furthered developed the
power of the burgeoning Witch in accessing the world of spirits,
mediumship and all that is of what Devin calls the Familiar Craft.
And, as promised in this third book, The Witch’s Book of Mysteries
coalesces all that has preceded and the reader begins the practice of
working with those of the Sacred Fires, the Grigori, and the
expansion of the practitioners powers to becoming one with all of the
worlds.

This
is not a book for the beginner and demands of the reader a
working-not theoretical-knowledge of witchcraft and all that goes
into claiming the title of Witch. The book is divided into two parts
and each builds upon the other in knowledge and practical
application. Many of the concepts presented are not your traditional
craft practices. Instead, they are a refining and adaption of
concepts that include some techniques and teachings that would have
been designated as disciplines for other paths.

Much like Christopher Orapello and Tara Maguire’s book Besom, Stang & Sword (read the review of this book in our February Issue), these are concepts of the Modern Witch drawing on the best of the old and propelling the seeker into a new form of witchcraft that makes use more cosmic principals.

One
of the best examples of what this new craft encompasses is the
definition and explanation of the a familiar concept, the Witch’s
Sabbat. As Devin points out, this term has come to be associate with
the eight festivals of the Witch’s Wheel of the Year. These being
tied to celebrations of specific times of the year, deities and
experiences largely pulled together and used as such associations by
those of
scholarly works and not necessarily of the craft themselves. Just
this idea makes so much sense if you consider that those we
considered to be practicing witch’s hundreds of years ago would not
necessarily have set aside valuable time and resources to celebrate
in the ways we do today. Even the Deities that may have been
associated with such rites would have been culturally based.

We
learn in this book that the Sabbat is an experience that occurs in
deep trance or while sleeping and requires the Witch have command
over his/her magical form that has the power and ability to move in
its pure form of power onto the plane of the Sabbat. This requires
the development of lucid dreaming, psychic awareness. and as Devin
states regarding the goal…”isn’t
necessarily to leave the body and travel to a different dimension,
but rather to travel through the inner realms of the mind and the
paths of the psyche to get to a different dimension”….
I
found this a telling perspective that emphasizes the reality that
being a Witch is really hard work that demands knowing yourself and a
very mature attitude towards stepping into your power.

Part
Two of “Mysteries” focuses on taking the Witch beyond their scope
of power and realms of working and issues the call to reaching beyond
what is believed of the limitation of form and reach out to those
Spirits and guardians responsible for creation-particularly
ours-itself. These entities move well beyond the archetypal and
anthropomorphic energies of specific Deities, pantheons and the
traditional Gods/Goddesses. The Witch must thoroughly know who they
are in all of their power and rise to stand as co-creators with those
lesser known (and worked with) beings who are of support.

The
bibliography and recommended reading at the end of the book
exemplifies the care and thought that went into this book and, more
importantly supports Devin’s encouragement to learn as much as you
can about as much as you can to truly be informed in your own
practice.

The
Witch’s Book of Mysteries is a valuable resource to the advanced
practitioner regardless of the form your witchcraft may take. In
fact, whether you consider yourself a witch or not, the information
and way in which it has been compiled is well worth reading. This is
the craft that will move into the next generation of and with that
statement, you will hopefully see the durability and strength of a
power that is organically a creative and universal energy.

To
hear more from Devin about his practices, Tradition and more:

The
Modern Witch Podcast

modernwitch.podbean.com

The Witch’s Book of Mysteries on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Robin
Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She
is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The
Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s
Written in the Stars

Astrology

The
Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry
of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The
Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening
the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A
Year With Gaia on Amazon

The
Eternal Cord

Temple
of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous
Devotions

The
Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A
Collection of Esoteric Writings

The
Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning
the Parts of SELF

The
Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings
on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping
with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights
of Devotion

A
Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings
for the Year

Her
books are available on Amazon
 or
on this website
 and
her Blogs
 can
be found at
Robin
Fennelly
 

Follow
Robin
 on
Instagram & Facebook.

Book Reviews – The Only Books You Will Ever Need: 3 Titles From the Plain & Simple Series

March, 2019

There is a series of books titled, “Plain & Simple, The Only Book You will Ever Need”. I have three of these that I would like to review together, in that they are part of a growing series.

The first one I will review is “Chakras, Plain & Simple” by Sasha Fenton.

The
book begins with an introduction to the chakras, what they are, and
how they work. From there, there is a chapter on each chakra with
description, purpose, benefits of each when healthy and each includes
an exercise for the specific chakra.

How
to heal your chakra is next discussed, bringing them into balance
using colors, crystals, oils, altars. The last two sections go
beyond the 7 major chakras to the minor ones and a very short
discussion on kundalini energy.

The next book is “Flower Essences, Plain & Simple,” by Linda Perry.

It
follows the same formula, starting with what they are, how to choose
them, feel their energies and how to make them. It describes how to
use them with the chakras and the subtle bodies.

There
is a small section referencing Dr. Edward Bach, found of Bach Flower
Remedies, and then moves into a discussion of different essences
including, but not limited to, rose, lavender, eucalyptus, and red
geranium.

It
ends with a glossary of essences and their uses, including how and
when to use them.

We finish with “Herbs, Plain & Simple,” by Marlene Houghton.

Ms.
Houghton starts us off with a history of herbalism, how it is used in
healing and the use of a “green pharmacy”.

This
is followed by a section on herbs for individual body systems,
including, the immune system, digestive system, nervous system and
more. It discusses what you would put in an herbal first aid kit,
medicinal honeys, different herbal elixirs, including herbs for
anti-aging, herbal teas and the comfort of herbal baths.

While I would not quite agree that these are the only books you will ever need on these subjects, I do agree that they are “Plain & Simple”, giving you the basic information you would need to know before deciding whether or not to delve further into any particular area of interest.

Chakras, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need on Amazon

Flower Essences Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need on Amazon

Herbs Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need (Plain & Simple Series) on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

My Name is Isis on Amazon

Book Review – The Witchcraft Handbook by Midia Star

January, 2019

Book
Review

The
Witchcraft Handbook:

Unleash
Your Magical Powers to Create the Life You Want

By
Midia Star

This
is a beginner’s book, someone who has some experience may use the
spells in this book just as a jumping off point to create some new
spells. At the very beginning of the book, the first thing the
author writes is “Witchcraft is the practical side of the Wiccan
religion.” I have to say that I disagree with that statement
because not all witches are Wiccan.

I
had a hard time on telling what demographic the writer was going
after with this book. There are spells for home, sex, work, and love.
While at the back of the book there is a section on Dreamboards. In
this section, the writer states that the Dreamboard should be for
your dreams and not those of your friends or parents.

While
the author’s writing is well done, I do have to wonder about the
information this book contains. As far as information on herbs,
crystals, oils, and Moon phases the author is spot on. But there are
other little small things that I feel are misinformation.

Page
79 of the book the author writes in the Did You Know? box:
“Christians once used the pentagram as a religious symbol. Each
point represented the five wounds of Christ. To pagans and to
witches it represents Morrigan, the war goddess who fights for peace
in good fortune for others. If you see the pentagram drawn with the
top point of the star pointing to the bottom of the circle, this
represents dark and sinister magic, so always draw your pentagram
with the top point of the star pointing upwards.” The part about
the Christian’s is correct. I honestly don’t know about the
Morrigan part. But the inverted Pentacle I do know something about.
This is misinformation because on specific paths the pentacle with
the star pointing down is a sign of protection or even a sign of
attaining another degree within that path.

On
page 97 the author writes when talking about A Garden Space: that in
the William Shakespeare’s witches’ famous incantation’ eye of
newt and toe of frog’ actually refers to mustard seeds and a type
of buttercup plant. I had never heard that myself, I would like to
know what research the author used to arrive at that conclusion.

On
page 123 Midia Star writes in the Did You Know? box: “The Druids
where the first to believe and the power of the four-leaf clover.”
Now whether this is true or not I don’t know, again I would like to
know other resources the author used to arrive at that conclusion.

The
book contains no bibliography, or other sources were the author may
have gotten their information. The author does state that they have
tried the spells and they have worked for them. Again, as I said at
the beginning, the information on herbs, oils, candles, and the Moon
phase are all spot on. But, I do take exception to the things I have
listed, due to the lack of the bibliography.

The Witchcraft Handbook: Unleash Your Magical Powers to Create the Life You Want on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Dawn
Borries
 loves
reading and was thrilled to become a Reviewer for PaganPages.Org.
Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past
25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are
interested in a reading you can reach her at: Readings
by Dawn
on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

Notes from the Apothecary

January, 2019

Notes
from the Apothecary: Star Anise

Star
anise is a beautiful, fragrant spice from China and Vietnam often
used in cooking and medicine. The Latin name is illicium verum.
The fruits are green and resemble star-shaped flowers when first
picked. When they are dried, the fruits harden and turn a dark,
reddish brown and the star shape becomes more prominent. The ‘arms’
of the star pop open to revel smooth, shiny brown seeds.

The
whole fruit is used as a seasoning for many different types of
cuisine, most notably in the Chinese five spice mix which is widely
used in Oriental cooking. The star shape makes this fruit immediately
intriguing as a magical ingredient. The powerful, aniseed-like scent
speaks of mystery and wonder, whether it’s rising from a specially
seasoned morning coffee or some carefully crafted incense. Read on
for more information on how star anise is used in medicine and magic.

The Apothecary

The
first point in using star anise as a medicine is to ensure it is
never confused with Japanese star anise. Japanese star anise, or
illicium anisatum, is also known as the Sacred Tree and is
highly revered by Buddhists. The leaves are used as incense, but the
fruits and seeds are highly toxic. Unfortunately, it’s almost
impossible to tell the difference between dried Japanese and Chinese
star anise fruit. Because of this, it’s important to purchase your
star anise from a reputable and experienced supplier. Alternatively,
if you’re able to grow your own, this is the safest way forward. If
in doubt, do not consume, as the toxic substance anisatin causes
severe inflammation of the urinary and digestive tracts. Chinese star
anise is the only edible variety and the only variety that should be
used for medicinal purposes.

Now
that the dire warnings are out of the way, the good news is that
Chinese star anise is incredibly medicinally important. It’s one of
the primary source of shikimic acid which is used in anti-influenza
drugs. There are many sources of shikimic acid, but star anise is so
relied upon that when there is a serious flu outbreak, global
shortages of the spice tend to occur.

Web
MD states that star anise is also used for a range of ailments
including colic and other digestive issues, coughs, bronchitis and
congestion. It may be useful as a galactagogue; a substance that
promotes the flow of breast milk. However, it should be avoided
during pregnancy as can affect the uterus.

Mrs
Grieve states in her Modern Herbal that the oil from Chinese star
anise is identical to oil of anise, from the unrelated anise plant.
This is why the two plants have such a similar taste. Many animals
are highly attracted to anise oil. Hunt saboteurs have been known to
use it to throw hounds off the trail of a pursued fox or hare, and it
has historically been used in mouse traps as bait.

The Witch’s Kitchen

In
The Green Wiccan Herbal by Silja, star anise is one of the 52
herbs she focuses on as important tools of magic. The author states
that star anise is an herb of the element of air. This means it would
make a beautiful addition to the eastern point of an altar or sacred
space, and an ideal ingredient for any incense.

Star
anise is associated with the planet Jupiter, associated with
expansion and luck (Practical Planetary Magick, David Rankine and
Sorita d’Este)
. Jupiter has historically been known as
beneficent and positive, meaning plants associated with it, such as
star anise, can be used for magic with a positive leaning. Jupiter is
also associated with law and ethics, meaning it can be connected to
justice and doing the right thing. Use star anise to gain success in
business ventures or new projects.

Star anise is also linked to Apollo and Hermes, making it a tool of poetry, music, traveling and communication. Music and poetry can, of course, be tools for communication, which makes me wonder if this is one of star anise’s strongest traits. Perhaps a witch could use star anise to find different ways to deliver a difficult message, or to open up about something they’re having a hard time expressing.

Silja
links this plant to magic for consecration and purification, which
can be done via incense or scattering the seeds. The author also
states the spice can be used for breaking curses and removing
negativity, particularly when used in food.

Home and Hearth

Press
a whole star anise into a green or gold candle. Use a blob of melted
wax to stick it there, or ensure the candle is soft before you do
this. Any time you need to do something regarding prosperity or
wealth, light the candle and meditate on the flame for a moment. This
could be a visit to the bank, a job interview, a business meeting or
even a yard sale. The star anise combined with the coloured candle
magic will boost your chances at success and prosperity. (Paraphrased
from The Green Wiccan Herbal by Silja.)

Kitchen
witches should add star anise into their recipes for a boost of
humour and joviality in their lives. Indian cookery is great for
this. My favourite is a biryani; a fragrant rice dish with whole star
anise.

I
Never Knew…

The
Latin name for Chinese star anise, illicium verum, originates
from illicio which means ‘alluring’. This refers to the
irresistible scent of the fruit.

Image
credits: guangxi – star anise farm in china 2005 by fuzheado via
Wikimedia
Commons
, licensed under the Creative
Commons
Attribution-Share
Alike 2.0 Generic license
.

***

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
.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

December, 2018

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

 

 

I received a “review copy” of The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock just before the Thanksgiving holiday. This handsome book is published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, and is the twelfth book by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. On Simon and Schuster’s author website for Arin Murphy-Hiscock, you can find all the titles of her other published books. Some were known to me and some were not. Some, like Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide, I had borrowed from my local public library and had on my “to-buy” list. So naturally I was elated to get The House Witch. I immediately cracked it open and wrote my name and the date on the inside cover.

But the demands of the Thanksgiving Holiday – cooking the meal and getting together with family in town for just a few days – meant that I wasn’t able to sit down and give The House Witch a good read. And then I caught my son’s cold. Sick and miserable, I gave up. I took a box of tissues and curled up on the couch under a hand-crocheted afghan for several days in a state of semi-slumber.

When I did finally get back to The House Witch, I was delighted, as I knew I would be. One my very first impressions was, “Gee, I wish there had been books like this back when I was first getting into witchcraft and wicca!” In the 1970’s and 1980’s, there were only a few books out on the subject and most of them – like Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance – were geared toward the large group or the coven but very rarely the solitary practitioner. Not until Scott Cunningham published Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner in 1988 that you started to see more attention paid to the solitary witch. While The House Witch is not specifically written for the solitary witch, it addresses the many concerns of those of us who practice alone – whether we live alone or with other people.

I was born in May, under the sun sign of Taurus, my moon in Pisces, with Cancer rising. Issues of home and health and happiness have always been forefront in my spiritual practice, so it is natural that I would gravitate toward creating and maintaining a beautiful home, even if that home is a tiny apartment in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in a rust-belt city. Because of my wonderful grandmothers, I was always aware of the magic in everyday things but many people – especially those born after, say, 1980 – do not have the benefit of the wisdom of their elders. On page 17, Murphy-Hiscock lists four steps that anyone can learn to “recognize the magic” as she terms it, reminding us to keep things simple and always to focus on what we are doing in the house. These steps are: live in the moment, be aware of your intent, direct your energy properly and focus on an action. Anyone who has studied any kind of meditation, magical instruction or spiritual path will recognize these steps. So just what does all of this have to do with the home and the hearth? Murphy-Hoscock writes,

“Opening yourself to the simplest of tasks and allowing them to inspire you with some insight or wisdom, or even a

moment of peace, illustrates that the Divine can whisper to you in the oddest of unexpected places. Hearthcraft is

about communing with the Divine through everyday tasks, not through complicated formal ritual.” (page 19)

She talks about home as sacred space. One thing she mentions is the removal of shoes in cultures such as Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia; I don’t allow anyone to wear shoes into my apartment and I am always amazed – when I watch TV, for instance – and I see people, not only with their shoes on inside their homes but also on the furniture!

When I was growing up, I always lived in houses that had fireplaces and we usually had a fire most winter evenings, so the idea of a hearth and a hearth fire is not unknown to me – one of our houses actually had a giant hearth built into the wall surrounding the fireplace! But since I have left my parents’ house, I have never lived in a house with a fireplace, much to my great sadness. I consider my hearth to be my kitchen oven or perhaps a meditation candle. However, when I was sick a day ago, I had some split pea soup and freshly baked bread and lay down for a nap. I could feel the warmth of the soup and bread in my belly and it occurred to me that my hearth fire was inside of me.

With this in mind, the “Bank Your Inner Flame” ritual on page 45 makes perfect sense. I had a wonderful warmth inside of me and I needed to be able to hold onto that warmth. It wasn’t just the soup and bread – it was the sense of being safe and secure in my own home. I love the word “smooring” – I love anything Scottish and Gaelic – I added it to my list of cool words and then I copied the “smooring prayer” (page 46) into my personal prayer book.

This book is filled with jewels.

There is a chapter on “The Magic of the Cauldron” in which she talks about how to find and care for a cast-iron cauldron. “Hearth and Home Deities” is just what it sounds like – a chapter of gods and goddesses of the home and hearth. The next chapter is about the kitchen as a sacred space – something that not many people even think about seriously nowadays. If your idea of cooking is opening up a box of prepared food and popping it into the microwave – or even using something like Hamburger Helper – then I would give Chapters 6, 8 and 9 a very close reading. As I already stated, Chapter 6 is about the kitchen as a sacred space. Chapter 8 is “Magic at the Hearth” and Chapter 9 is “The Spirituality of Food”. Recipes included!!!!!

Other topics in this fabulous book are “Using Hearthcraft to Protect Your Home”, “Herbs, crafts, and other Hearth-Related Magic Work”, and a chapter of various spells, rituals and blessings. Quite naturally, there is an appendix and a bibliography that have quite a bit of information in them as well.

In the “Postscript”, Arin Murphy-Hiscock writes, “Several times as I was writing this book, my thoughts moved faster than my fingers, and as a result ‘hearth fire’ very often came out as ‘heart fire.’ I wonder, at times, if my subconscious was trying to tell me something.” (page 247). I do not wonder at all. This book most assuredly set my heart on fire. In this rich season of Yuletide joy, when all of us decorate our houses with festive lights and traditional ornaments that may only have meaning to our loved ones alone, The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock is a book which brings together all the spiritual and happiness that home and hearth can represent. I highly recommend it for anyone on any spiritual path.

References

Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home. NY: Adams Media, 2018.

The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Book Review – Everyday Enchantments by Maria DeBlassie

December, 2018

Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings

 

 

Maria’s book is described as a collection of ‘micro-meditations and celebratory reflections on living life as a wild woman’. How could I not be intrigued? Though far from a true wild woman myself thanks to my urban-slash-suburban setting, I’m always drawn to the idea of being freer, away from the hubbub and city grind. This book holds chapter after chapter of golden, glowing moments from just such a life, and is as compelling as it is calming.

Each chapter is short and sweet in the best possible meaning of that phrase. One chapter focuses on the magic of chamomile, from the point of view of taking the tiny, dried buds and bringing them to life in a soothing cup of tea. Another reflects on the divine powers of the onion. This is true ‘everyday’ magic. Rituals we may go through every day without perhaps realising the power inherent within our actions. Maria encourages us to pause, drink in what we are doing and absorb every moment’s magical potential.

I love the meditative nature of the chapters. Most are written in the second person, a style I normally find a bit jarring. In this book it works really well. This is because it is written in the same way a guided meditation is spoken to you. As you read you can almost hear a gentle voice whispering the words directly into your brain and allowing you to completely visualise and lose yourself in each moment.

I have found this book immensely useful for reminding me to stop and take stock. It helps me enjoy each moment more fully, not by trying to recapture the moments in the book but by following the example of living fully in each minute and being grateful for the enchantment that flows through every second. A thoroughly wonderful book. Recommended for all.

Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings on Amazon

***

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.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Notes from the Apothecary

December, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Christmas Cactus

 Oh no, not the C-Word! That’s right, my fellow Pagans, I said it. Christmas. Love it or loathe it, come December the 25th, possible birthday of Dionysus and Mithras (but unlikely to be the birthday of Jesus) the nation, nay, the world goes Christmas mad and we shake our heads. Don’t they know it’s just another solstice celebration? Or at the very most, an adoption of the festivities of Roman Saturnalia? Well, it might surprise you to know that I love Christmas. Yeah, it’s a touch annoying when people deny the Pagan roots, but I’m a sucker for seeing other people happy. And Christmas makes people happy! It also gives its name to some amazing things: Christmas Island, Christmas Jones and of course, the beautiful and exotic Christmas Cactus.

The botanical name is Schlumbergera, chosen by botanist Charles Lemaire (1801-1871) in honour of Frédéric Schlumberger (1823-1893) who was a renowned collector of cacti and succulents.

 

The Kitchen Garden

 Christmas Cacti are generally kept as houseplants as they are native to Brazil and used to this type of climate. In the wild they grow attached to rocks and trees, but they are happy in some well-drained, good quality compost with a bit of grit or sand.

The cacti are normally grown from cuttings and their spikes are barely there, making them resemble a succulent more than a traditional cactus. The leaves are flattish pads and they form chains which eventually erupt into bright and beautiful flowers. They are normally quite happy sharing a large pot with other succulents and cacti as long as it doesn’t become too crowded.

Don’t let them have too much direct sunlight. It can damage the leaves. But too little light, and they may never flower. Many schlumbergera flower in winter, making them a wonderful addition to natural holiday decorations, whatever you celebrate.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cacti in general are associated with fire and the south. They are also associated with the zodiac sign of Aries, but Christmas cactus is specifically associated with Sagittarius. Unsurprisingly this plant is associated with the month of December and the festival of Yule or the Winter Solstice. Christmas cacti make a great altar decoration for any festive period, and ones with pink or red flowers are particularly appropriate for the south of your sacred space.

The association with the zodiac sign of Aries can be expanded to include the god Aries, and Mars, Aries’ Roman Equivalent. This lends the Christmas cactus the power of strength, courage but also of conflict and success in battles.

Sagittarius is another fire sign, but one particularly associated with November and December, the signs time in the zodiac ending around the winter solstice. Sagittarius is the archer, and associated with prophecy and divination. The Christmas cactus, therefore, could be a great tool in meditative divination or prophetic spellwork.

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, so the Christmas Cacti could also be a great addition to expansion magic, and lawfully aligned magic.

 

Home and Hearth

Collect the flowers of your Christmas Cacti before they begin to fade. Let them dry; laying them on some paper in an airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill away from damp is good for this. Place the dried and hopefully colourful flowers in a small, clear jar. Either hang the jar on a thong or chain, or keep it in a pocket when you are going into situations where you need a little more courage. This could be confrontations with friends or family that you are nervous about, or perhaps raising a grievance in the workplace. The energy of Mars will walk with you, and the balance of a very hardy plant.

 

I Never Knew…

For those who enjoy growing succulents and cacti, the adorable name for baby succulents is pups!

All images from 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.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Notes from the Apothecary

November, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Fenugreek

Hailing from Western Asia, Fenugreek is an odd tasting herb with some interesting history. Seeds have been found in archaeological digs dating back to 4000 BC and were even found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Called Greek Hay, Bird’s Foot and Sickly Fruit, the herb is considered to be a bit of a panacea, being a tonic for everything from abscesses to kidney problems.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Fenugreek is an annual herb which means it grows, flowers and seeds all in the same year and does not return the following season. The plants can grow to two feet tall and has little white or yellow flowers. It’s a pretty but unassuming addition to any herb garden

You will find Fenugreek in Indian shops under the name Methi in either seed or leaf form. It’s widely used in cooking, particularly in Eastern dishes. By itself it has a bitter taste, particularly the seeds, but within a dish it adds levels of depth which can’t readily be described. The seeds are high in protein, calcium, fiber, iron and various other essential minerals so make a great addition to your diet. It is possible that if you have a nut allergy, you may also be allergic to fenugreek so approach with caution if that is the case.

The greens are highly nutritious and can be eaten fresh or used dried as an herb. The seeds can be sprouted in a little water and the sprouts are tasty and very good for you.

 

The Apothecary

One of the most common uses of fenugreek is as a galactagogue. This sci-fi sounding word means an herb that promotes and boosts breast milk production. When my own milk supply was depleting due to my youngest weaning, I took a couple of teaspoons of fenugreek seeds every day and it seemed to help. It’s most palatable to make a tea out of them, which you can sweeten or add other herbs into in order to make it taste a little better. I ate the seeds straight down and they are bitter!

Other modern-day uses for fenugreek include relief for digestive issues, increasing libido and even fighting baldness.

Recent research has shown that fenugreek may be useful in sufferers of diabetes, but this research is ongoing. It may also be useful for relieving menstrual cramps and the symptoms of menopause.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham tells us fenugreek is a masculine herb, but look at all the medical uses that relate specifically to women’s issues such as breastfeeding and the menopause. If the plant is indeed masculine, then it’s a great example of how men and women need to help each other out, rather than bemoaning our differences. This male plant is definitely a feminist!

The plant is associated with Mercury which links it to communication, and also wealth and commerce. Fenugreek is therefore useful when crafting spells to do with business, jobs and joint ventures.

In Judaism, fenugreek is eaten during Rosh Hashana and is associated with increase. This is more about increasing our own talents and skills rather than the increase of wealth, but they can be closely linked depending on how you look at it.

Fenugreek is known as a ‘lucky legume’, as it is a member of the bean family and provides protection and attracts luck.

 

Home and Hearth

Scatter fenugreek seeds around the threshold to your home to ensure any who enter can only speak the truth.

Carry a pouch of fenugreek seeds in your pocket when attending an interview or important meeting to ensure you speak your mind. Just be sure you have nothing to hide, as you may be compelled to be honest about things you didn’t want to reveal!

Steep Fenugreek seeds in boiling water then add this water to whatever you use to clean your house with. This will attract material wealth into your home.

Combine fenugreek with alfalfa to craft oil or powder which will attract money. Just be on the look out for mischief, as Mercury is known to play pranks and cause messages to be mixed or muddled.

 

I Never Knew…

In ancient Egypt, a paste made of fenugreek seeds was used in the embalming process of dead bodies.

 

Image credit: Fenugreek from the Vienna Dioscurides, public domain; Freshly Sprouted Qasuri Methi by Miansari66; Junge Pflanzen des Bockshornklees by Yak

***

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.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Next »