Solstice is…

December, 2018

Solstice is…


(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)


Holly sharp sting,

Red blood like

Berries, red, white

Mistletoe hang

Deadly dart and Baldur’s curse

Druids’ king seeking potion

Now a kissing spot

Love instead

Shown through gifts

Wrapped mysteries

Ribbons hiding

Hearts’ desires

Wrap the day in a bow

But presents wait

Wait for me:


The mother and priestess

Down in the woods

At the sacred crossroads

Of birch and oak

The mysteries of Male and Female

And everything in between

And beyond.


Here I find the altar

That no one knows of

But I

I lay the offerings



Nothing to scar or litter

Nothing to damage or drain

Leaving only footprints

For even I

Am not permitted to remain.


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

The Holly and the Oak King

December, 2018

The Holly and the Oak King



Each holds sway and hand of might
Upon the year’s Great Wheel.

In each domain one shall be King
As wax and wane of Light
Move within nature’s cyclic ring.

Solstice Kings, though brothers, they
In battle determine solar fate.

The Oak holds fast to
Growing light as Holly

Brings his shadow near.

The time between held in
Equinox Gate and season’s turn
Tips finely calibrated scales.

The Light holds fast the Oak marks time
Flanked by strength and sundial’s grace.

The Holly answers with response
A dance of calculated pace.

At sunset’s call, he strikes his final blow
As Oak in silent acquiescence bows
And bends to Summer Light’s repose.

His brother hails triumphant as
Holly King and in power upon rooster’s

Early morn call shall next arise.

The waning of the year begins
With Oak King’s necessary demise.

For what lay sleeping within

The growing splendor of

Holly’s strong and fertile embrace

Is the promise of Light’s return

At the peak of winter’s darkened

And heavy snowy face.

And, once again the two shall meet
Oak strengthened by slumber’s rest.

In wooded green and glowing sun of

Lark song’s spring warmed nest.

The end of darkness nears its birth

The Holly King, his energy drained
Shall relinquish crown as brother
Oak King’s claims his time to reign.


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



The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon



The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon



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 atRobin Fennelly 


Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

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 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 for the Sacred Earth Year,” “Walking the World in Wonder: A Children’s ,” “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

January, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Holly



(Image credit: Pere López via Wikimedia)


The holly, dark green,

Made a resolute stand,

He is armed with many spear points

Wounding the hand. (Cad Goddeu, The Book of Taliesin, 14th Century.)

Holly immediately conjures up images of snowy woods and midwinter frosts, and it has been a staple of solstice celebrations since at least Roman times. The festival of Saturnalia ran for a week or so around the shortest day, and holly was included in wreaths and garlands, it’s evergreen leaves and red berries a promise of the spring that was to come. Also, as a sacred plant of Saturn, holly was seen as an offering to the patron god of these festivities, and this is how it became tied to the solstice, and much later on, to Christmas.

The Kitchen Garden

Don’t eat holly! Though the jewel-like red berries may look appealing, they are for the birds and not for you! Don’t leave them within reach of children or pets; they are poisonous and can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Also, it’s worth remembering that as the beautiful boughs dry out, the berries can fall to the floor where they may be picked up, so keep an eye on your holly, and if in doubt, remove the berries and place them out of sight of small hands or paws.

The Witch’s Kitchen




If invoking or evoking Saturn, Holly leaves or berries are an ideal offering. Saturn is linked to agriculture, harvests and time itself, so may be called upon to aid in seasonal spell-craft, particularly around the winter months. His sickle represents the end of the final harvest, but also the creation of things, as he used it to castrate hi father which separated Earth from Heaven, and created creatures such as the furies and the giants. The crescent shape of the sickle represents the cyclical nature of our world, and Holly, Saturn’s sacred plant, is a reminder that all things return in time.

As with all evergreens, holly is a symbol of summer within winter. For Wiccans and similar paths, it is a reminder that although the Holly King vanquished the Oak King at the summer Solstice, the Oak King merely rests, waiting to rise again, his blood the resting sap in the trees. After the Winter solstice, or Yule or Saturnalia, a sprig of holly reminds us that although the Oak King is now the powerful spirit waiting to rise up once the earth warms again, the Holly King is still alive, in the evergreen leaves and blood red berries that remind us of fire, passion, and the life that will surge back in spring and summer.

Holly is traditionally a protective tree, and the wood has been used to ward off witchcraft and evil magic for centuries. At one point in Britain, some builders crafted the doorsteps of houses out of holly wood, so that witches could not enter the building. Drinking from a cup made of holly wood helped purge the sickness faster.

Holly has also been used for divination, particularly to learn the identity of a future spouse. The leaves are supposed to be able to bring prophetic dreams.

Effigies built of holly represent the masculine, and their counterparts were often made of ivy, which is seen as the feminine evergreen. The effigies would be burnt as part of midwinter festivities, to hurry along the warmth of spring.

A sprig of holly was given as a token of good luck in Roman times, so always accept a gift of holly gratefully.

Home and Hearth




Soak holly leaves in water or oil to make a protective liquid. Pick the leaves at a full moon if you can, place them in a jar with clean tap water, or rain or spring water, or an oil of your choice. Shake daily, and imbue with your intent as often as you can. The liquid will reach potency at the next new moon. Sprinkle some in your sacred place as thanks for the magic. Dab on wrists or at the neck. If irritation occurs, immediately discontinue use! However, this should be physically mild, whilst metaphysically powerful, protecting you from ill will and negativity.

If you are pricked by the holly leaves, it may sting, but as long as you clean the wound, it is seen as very good luck, particularly between winter solstice and Imbolc.

At Imbolc, burn a piece of holly (safely, preferably outdoors) to symbolise the end of winter. The Cailleach, the Irish or Scottish hag-like spirit of winter, threw down her wintery rod beneath the holly tree, admitting defeat in the face of spring.

I Never Knew…

According to Scott Cunningham in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, throwing holly at a wild animal will cause it to lie down and not molest you. I don’t recommend this in the case of bear attacks!


December, 2016


Meet the Gods: The Horned God


(PHOTO: Holly King

The Holly King by Raven Willowhawk)

Merry meet.

The Horned God roams the forests – wild, loving and protecting the Goddess and her children. He is the oldest of the Gods and perhaps the most common depiction of masculine divinity. Many pagans believe that the Horned God is the Lord of Death, ruling the underworld or Summerland, and is therefore the one to comfort and console the dead as they await rebirth.

Since ancient times, the Horned God has been associated with fertility, the forest, the field and the hunt. He is known by such names as Cernunnos, Pan, Herne, Dionysus and the God of the Wicca.

In some pagan traditions, the Horned God is seen as being comprised of the Oak King and the Holly King – twins, each who reigns for half the year, looses the battle between them and retreats for the next six months to nurse his wounds, reflect and gather his strength.

At the Winter Solstice (Yule), the Oak King conquers the Holly King, reigning until the sun is at its fullest on Summer Solstice (Litha). At that time, the Holly King returns to battle with the now old Oak King, defeating him, and ruling over the half of the year going into darkness. The Holly King represents death and darkness that have ruled since Samhain. It’s a time of reflection, or recognizing lessons, and the chance for rebirth. The Horned God is born as the baby Oak King, bringing a promise of new life. The traditional Yule log – which is made from oak from the previous year and adorned with evergreens symbolic of the Holly King – is burned to symbolize the birth of both the son and the sun.

As the wheel turns, the dueling repeats.

In some traditions, the exchange of power occurs on the equinoxes with their most potent points aligning with the solstices.

On Imbolc, the Horned God is said to lead a wild hunt

Both kings are portrayed as forest creatures, with the Holly King often looking like a woodsy Saint Nicholas, sometimes driving a team of eight stags. One of my favorite depictions of the Holly King was done by Raven Willowhawk. The Oak King is seen as the King of the Forest, often similar in appearance as the Green Man. Each exists as part of the horned God, so both have horns or antlers.

In my practice, I honor the role of both the Holly King and the Oak King at both the Summer and Winter Solstices, each taking turns symbolizing death and rebirth. I have both holly and oak leaves or acorns on my altar.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

The Witch’s Cupboard

December, 2012

Herbs For A Merry Yule!

Blessed Thistle


Common names:

St. Benedict Thistle

Botanical names:

Cnicus benedictus

Parts Used & Where Grown

Although native to Europe and Asia, blessed thistle is now cultivated in many areas of the world, including the United States. The leaves, stems, and flowers are all used in herbal preparations.

How It Works

The sesquiterpene lactones, such as cnicin, provide the main beneficial effects of blessed thistle in the treatment of indigestion. The bitterness of these compounds stimulates digestive activity, including the flow of saliva and secretion of gastric juice, which leads to improved appetite and digestion.4 Some pharmacological evidence suggests that blessed thistle may also have anti-inflammatory properties.5

How to Use It

The German Commission E monograph recommends 4–6 grams of blessed thistle per day.6 Alternatively, tincture (1/2 teaspoon [2 ml] three times per day) may be used. Approximately 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) of the dried herb can also be added to 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water and steeped 10 to 15 minutes to make a tea. Three cups can be drunk each day.


At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement. Anyone with allergies to plants in the daisy family should use blessed thistle cautiously.

Horned God Incense Recipe


7 drams tincture Benzoin
1/2 dram Sandalwood oil
1/2 dram myrrh oil
1/2 dram frankincense oil
1 oz pwd Charcoal
pinch of dried asafoetida
pinch of dried blessed thistle
pinch of dried peppermint



herbal and Magickal Properties

Holly leaves are utilized to offset a variety of health disorders. One common ailment they are used to remedy is hypertension, which is also referred to as high blood pressure. The leaves can have a calming effect, and they have been known to facilitate better arterial function and blood circulation in some individuals.

Other ailments that the leaves are used to treat include fever, rheumatism and digestive issues. Some species are utilized for their emetic properties, and others are employed to assist with symptoms such as joint pain and swelling. Holly leaf extract is sometimes used to combat jaundice, dizziness and emotional problems. In some cases, holly is even utilized as a method of fighting heart disease.

While it is true that holly is widely utilized for its aesthetic qualities, it is also valued for its medicinal properties. When they are used properly, holly leaves may offer people an alternative to modern medical treatments. In other cases, the leaves may be implemented to enhance medical treatments that are currently in use. The plant has been employed for centuries as an herbal remedy, and it is likely that people will continue to use it in such a capacity.

Magickal Properties

A tree of protection holly signifies courage, wisdom and immortality. It is used in dream magic and as a protection against harm. It is believed that if a man carries a talisman pouch containing both leaves and berries his masculinity will be heightened. Used as Yuletide decorations and burned at Imbolc and in the need-fires of Beltaine. Represents the Holly King or the turning of the year at the Solstices.
correspondences: Masculine, Hot, Fire, Mars. Sacred to Lugh and to Habondia, the goddess of plenty.

Holly Lore and Craft

A Druid sacred tree. Sacred to the Winter Solstice, when it is used for decorating.  Berries are poisonous. Holly, with its warrior-like bristles, is known as an herb of protection. Cast it about to repel unwanted animals and spirits. Sprinkle newborn babies with “holly water” (water in which holly has been soaked, especially if left under a full moon overnight) to keep them happy and safe. Holly is one of the evergreens brought into the home by Druids. It symbolizes a willingness to allow the nature spirits to share one’s abode during the harsh, cold season. Planted near a house, holly repels negative spells sent against you. A bag of leaves and berries carried by a man increases his ability to attract women. Carry to promote good luck. Energy, Power, Strength, Protection. After midnight on a Friday, without making a sound, gather nine holly leaves, preferably from a non-spiny plant. Wrap these up in a white cloth using nine knots the tie the ends together. Place this beneath your pillow, and your dreams will come true. The traditional crowns for the bride and groom are made of holly (a male plant) and ivy (a female plant), wreaths and altar decoration are made of these as well. Also Called: Bat’s Wings.

Credit to Patti Wigington About.Com for the Holly Craft