Scents of the Season

November, 2018

And the Wheel of the Year turns again to Samhain. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, that means people are starting to think about pumpkin decorations while wondering if the 80-degree temperatures will turn to 60’s. Whenever this season comes back around our minds turns to the season past, and in a way that spring never really does. Spring is about the movement forward, birth and growth. Fall allows us to take stock of where we have been, and who we have been in the past. This ties in with scents so strongly because of the relationship between smell and memory. You simply cannot have one without the other.

Scent is 90% memory and only 10% recall, because in the process of understanding each smell we encounter we have to unpack the box of our experience, day by day, because each time we encounter a scent, we are encountering the last time we unpacked the memory of that scent, not the first time. We are looking at a copy, of a copy so to speak. The recent days are right there on top of the box fresh and clean because they were only placed there yesterday. Items that were put in the box five, ten or twenty years ago may take longer to find in the box, or they may be covered in dust, so it could take a minute to figure out what you’re looking at so to speak.

But we go through all of these processes because it simply could not work the other way around. Could you imagine being shocked and amazed at the smell of your own house every time you encountered it? There are hundreds of fragrances a day that we take for granted that our noses have (thankfully) written off for us as non-threatening.

With Samhain, it’s the season of taking stock, because we no longer need to take stock of our pantries and larders to make sure our families will make it through the winter, doesn’t mean we can’t take stock of our lives, our groups of friends and families. One of the easiest ways to do that is to relax our brains, our emotional centers and remind them that it is safe enough to take stock of where we are and let our sense of smell and nostalgia take over from there.

How do we do that? Call on the powers of fall. Here are some essential oils, and the magical applications you can do with them. (See ‘Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic‘ for a full list of warnings for each essential oil.)

Anise- (Pimpinella anisum) Anise is a protective plant, as well as a purifying and divining one. If you have someone in your life if you aren’t sure of their true purpose, place a drop of anise in an essential oil diffuser and use the mist created to scry or meditate on the truth of their mission. Anise will tell you the truth and help you protect your family and purify your home at the same time if needed.



Black Pepper– Improves mental alertness, physical energy and is great for protection spells. Can be used to drive away evil and as such is great for hex-breaking spells and uncrossing work of all kinds. This is perfect for Samhain as it’s this time of the year when the Veil between the worlds is thinnest that energetic nasties can be lurking outside your home. Diffuse this potent protector (again, just one drop! Don’t overdo it and cause yourself or someone else respiratory distress) to do a quick uncrossing to make sure there is nothing lurking from your latest ‘humble-brag’ at work.



Cinnamon- Boosts creativity of all kinds (artistic, linguistic and more), provides good luck, increases libido. The warming action burns away threads of negativity so is associated with protection. Is very uplifting and is associated with increased intuitive gifts. The next time you want to head into your workspace to get to the newest project consider diffusing some cinnamon essential oil 30 minutes before you are planning to get to work, so you don’t have to overcome the ‘get to know you’ part of your work day and can jump into the creative process.



Clove- The warmth of clove burns away that which doesn’t belong so its magic is dispelling that which doesn’t belong, especially people who don’t belong in your life anymore.

Ginger- This is energizing, healing and associated with love, passion, and power. What a great time to make sure that the people in your circle have your best intentions at heart. Take stock of the people who have been there for you for the past year, through phone calls, late-night PMs when you needed someone to talk to, who never had the time when you needed someone. Everyone has low times in their life, only you’ll know the difference between ‘dealing with something’ and just someone whose friendship has run its course.

Oakmoss- Not everyone is going to know this one, but I wanted to throw in a wild card. This lichen smells like leather backed with violets and is used for magic dealing with divination, grounding, hex breaking, and big-time manifestation. It also makes a great fixative for magic, so if you want to make sure that your magic is in it for the long haul, use this. (If you work with poppets, and live in a place like Florida, I’ve seen Oakmoss falling off trees, you can stuff poppets with it. Make sure to google a photo of it just because it’s on a live oak, doesn’t make it oakmoss.) I have gotten a decent price online for Oakmoss Absolute, feel free to reach out to my author page if you can’t find it.

By working with the scents of the season we can remember the times of Samhains and Halloweens past and embrace the best parts of ourselves. We can not only be the best of ourselves that we deserve, but that our friends and families deserve. By weeding and tending the garden of our hearts we keep those precious reserves for those people who truly deserve the fruits of our labor and our time, attention and devotion.

For more information on working magic with essential oils, the history of plants and their by-products, please consider ‘Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic‘ available where books are sold. Weiser has thoughtfully provided a generous sample of the first 50 pages at


Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic: The Green Witch’s Guide to Essential Oils for Spellcraft, Ritual & Healing on Amazon


About the Author

Amy Blackthorn has been described as an arcane horticulturalist for her lifelong work with plants and magic. She incorporates her past in a British Traditionalist Witchcraft coven with her horticulture studies to form one path. She has been trained as a clinical aromatherapist and is ordained.

She has appeared on HuffPostLive, YahooNews, Top10 Secrets and Mysteries, and Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. She has also appeared in print interviews for over 20 years. Her tea company Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends creates magical tea blends based on traditional formulas after 20 years of teaching, of study and of practice. She lives in Delaware.

The Russian Bear

January, 2010

Well, holiday season has begun and that leaves most of us thinking about presents. That’s an especially difficult situation if all  of your children happen to be adults. Well, for me, in at least one case I don’t have any trouble at all and never have.

My oldest son collects plushies… That’s right, Erik the Aweful… Master Sergeant. E. J. Choron of the United States Army… age 28… collects plushies and always has. He has over 300 now, and has been working on his litle “family” ever since, literally, the day he was born. Erik was born on Christmas morning, December 25th, 1981, I was there for the delivery, but I went home afteward and took a nap. When I went back to see him in the hospital a few hours later, that very first Christmas, I took him his first Christmas/Birthday present… a Care Bear… It began from there. That Care Bear, and a matching smaller one, are the prizes of his collection… almost… There’s one  more that’s just a little special.

You all know that I live in Russia, and that my kids were raised here. When Erik was about ten years old, the old man who lived in the flat underneath us came up to visit one day and saw all of Erik’s animals, all sitting neatly on his bed, even then, there were about sixty of them. In any case, it was Revolution Day weekend, and that’s what makes me think of this now.

The next day, the old man came back. When I opened the door, I saw that he had a shoe box under his arm. He asked to see Erik if he was there. Of course, he was, and Erik was sort of flattered to have a visitor. In any case, the old man leaned down and smiled at Erik and said “Grandson, I see that you have a lot of little friends…” He pointed to all of the animals on the bed. “I have something for you here, someone who has been with me for a long time. I can see that you will love him, and give him a good home, and it’s been a very long time since this…” He opened the box, and inside was a very old but very well cared for articulated, origina “Teddy”… “It’s been a long time since “Mishka” (Russian diminuative for a little bear) has had a little boy to love him… He once had one who loved him very much. He’s been lonely for a very long time. He was my son’s bear. My son… left me…  in the war… I want you to have his bear… Give him a good home and love him”.

When he lifted the little bear out and handed him, very gently, over to Erik, my son huged the bear, then hugged the old man and told him thank you… in very good Russian… Then…

The old gentleman turned to me, reached down into the bottom of the box and took out an old black and white photo… He looked at me and said, “one of these days, when the child is older and understands, show him this”. He handed me the photo. “Tell him that this little bear once met Lenin”…

The photo, which must have been taken in the early 1920s, showed a little boy, about ten years old, standing in line with what looked like his school class. He was holding the little bear up with his paw extended, and Lenin was shaking hands… with the bear…

The man’s son died in the Second World War.

There was very seldom a day, after that, that Erik would not stop and see the old gentleman on his way home from school, or wave to him, or sit and talk with him in the courtyard in front of our apartment building any time he saw him. He’s gone now, like so many I’ve known over the years. He passed away not too long after he gave Erik this very special gift. He had cancer. I think he knew that he was dying when he did it. Erik and I both cried when he left us.


May, 2006


This month I would like to dedicate to a fallen warrior. I did not have the honor of knowing this Soldier, he was best friends of one of our Desert Moon Soldiers. As Elder of a military Pagan group I see Soldiers through the good, the bad, and the adrenalin rushing times. As an empath, I feel the pain and suffering, as well as the joy and relief as we meet nightly for coffee and fellowship. I was on leave when the incident happened that took this Soldiers life, but hearing the aftermath is almost as bad as being here in Iraq when it happened. The Soldier wasn’t a Pagan and nor is his family, but he was a Warrior just the same, he was here willingly, to do a job most will never come to do nor have the stamina to do without having Warrior blood. The Soldier left behind two kids and it makes me sad to think of, but those kids will always see dad as a Warrior and know he died doing what he loved and that they will always have freedom because of what he died for. Morrighan has taken him to the Warrior Valhalla where he feels no more pain and suffering and dwells with all fallen Warriors. It makes death easier to bear knowing our close ones are in the Warrior paradise and it is a joy working with a Warrior Goddess who does look out for our well-being. I hate seeing and hearing of our Soldiers dying and getting maimed and really brings to mind the question on everyones mind of why we are here. Why are our Soldiers dying and for what cause? I know I’m here for the well-being of my Pagan Soldiers and doing my best with the healing, mentally and spiritually as well as physically when I’m able. As for the bigger picture of why our military is over here, we are bringing freedom to an oppressed nation and that much I can say. Now how long that freedom will last once we finally leave is anyone’s guess, but once these people taste the freedoms we as Americans so enjoy, hopefully they will fight to keep it. When I think of it in that way, it makes the death of our fellow fallen Warriors more for a noble cause then a waste of a precious life. With that in mind if you would please light a candle of healing for this Soldiers friends and family and remember him as a fallen Warrior. With that I will end in a poem a dear friend of mine wrote.


By Havensward

Blessings on the Warriors

Who walk the quiet path;

Who fight when they are needed,

But prefer the heartfelt laughs.

Blessings on the Spirits

Who think of themselves last;

Who put themselves in harms way,

Whose hearts are so vast.

Blessings on the Soldiers

Who die, not quite knowing why;

Who pick up their weapons anyway,

And give a mighty cry.

Blessings on the Others

Who stand by their side.

The Spouse, the Child, the Loved Ones

Steadfast, at home, abide.

Try and walk beside them,

The ones who protect us all.

They walk a difficult path,

They answer a Divine Call.

To each and all I ask

To lower tear filled eyes,

To raise heartfelt voices,

When a Blessed one dies.

Blessed are we who know them,

Blessed are we they love,

Blessed is this world they walk in,

Below and Above.