smell

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 http://tinyurl.com/blackthornsbotanicalmagic

 

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

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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.

www.amyblackthorn.com

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

December, 2017

Cinnamon Spell Charms

 

 

Merry meet.

Put some magic in this season by making these charms with intention. Cinnamon is the main ingredient. Its magical properties include success, spirituality, healing, power, love and protection. It draws money and stimulates psychic powers. The other main ingredient is applesauce. Love and healing are magical properties of apples.

 

You’ll need

 

 

1 cup cinnamon

3/4 cup applesauce

3 tablespoons additional spice(s) of your choice:

cloves for protection, love money and purification

nutmeg for luck, money, prosperity and health

allspice for money, luck and healing

For a more intense scent, add a few drops of essential oil to the applesauce before adding the dry spices.

 

 

 

Mix the ingredients in a bowl, first by stirring and then kneading with your hands as you would cookie dough. If it feels dry, add a teaspoon of water or a little more applesauce.

As you work, Focus on your intent. Are you making them for protection? Success? Healing? Abundance? Financial prosperity? Love? Think about the purpose, sending those intentions from your heart, down your arms and out your hands into the dough as you mix it.

Sprinkle a clean surface with cinnamon and roll out the dough ¼ inch thick. Cut into your favorite shapes. You might use a house for family stability, hearts for love, a hand for healing, stars for success.

Add more magic by carving symbols into the charm with a small knife, toothpick or similar item. Consider runes, sigils, moons, peace signs and pentacles. An ankh would add protection. Yin-yang would offer balance. These symbols could also be added by piping icing onto shapes once they are completely dry and cool.

These charms can be offered to the earth, burned in a fire, placed on an altar, crumbled by the entrance of your home, put on a windowsill or tucked in a drawer. To hang them, make a hole in the top with a straw or a skewer through which you can thread ribbon or twine. (They make wonderful ornaments for a Yule tree.)

These charms can be placed on a baking sheet and left in a 200-degree oven for about three hours, turning them over every hour. You don’t want to bake them as much as dry them. Let them cool completely before handling. They can also be dried on baker’s racks, it will just take several days and you’ll want to turn them over once or twice daily so they don’t curl.

This recipe makes about a dozen, depending on the size and thickness of your cutouts. (It made the runes and hearts in the photo.)

Note: Most recipes call for adding 2 tablespoons of white glue. Using it will make them stronger, but I preferred to keep it organic.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

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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.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

November, 2017

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Aromatherapy

 


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.

 


I have a super charged sense of smell. You’d think spending my childhood on the farm would have ruined it but I think it made things like chemical and perfume smells more sensitive for me. Smells can sometimes be so intense (not even bad) that they can make me throw up.

 

(image from here)


I was just at university when I first started using essential oils. It just sort of “made sense” to me from the get go. I wonder sometimes if this is my issue with being in a large crowd, all the smells. I can tell you what death smells like, what rot and sickness smell like too. (Death is sort of like crushed elderflowers with a hint of cat pee and a hint of tin).

 


I am a qualified aromatherapist. This sometimes put me at odds with some of my teachers who went from what was in a book rather than the smell of the person they were working on. Also people lie! You get a client before you and they never smoke (but you can smell it coming from them) drink only water (is that coffee breath I smell?) and have “the odd glass of wine” on the weekend (but are sweating out that alcohol smell). This taught me two things. People will put their health and well-being in danger rather than be shamed about their bad habits and start a little and work up!

 


What is an essential oil? An essential oil is the extraction of natural plant volatile oils. These small organic compounds change quickly from solid, liquid and gas and are easily absorbed into the body, even through the skin. Steam distillation is a common essential oil extraction process but some places use chemical extraction or compression too. The organic chemicals and compounds such as carvacrol found in many essential oils like oregano and thyme seems to disrupt bacterial membranes inhibiting their growth. It also seems to block certain kinds of pain receptors too. Science is starting to catch up with what aromatherapists have been saying all along!

 


Essential oils are extremely potent. They can burn or cause intense irritation not just alone but in combination with the chemical on the skin. Food, alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes, medication and even deodorants on the skin can react with essential oils in unexpected ways.

 


Then comes personal preference. Some people really don’t like certain smells. This can be because of a memory association, or just be the body knowing it would not be good for it. My mother hated the smell of lilacs, I disliked the smell of rose geranium for years. Some people hate the smell of rose, or jasmine. Some loathe vanilla.

 

 


Lavender is a common essential oil, and usually quite cheap. However learn the Latin! Knowing your Lavandula Augustifolia from your Lavadin is important. Much like the different between French and English lavender, or Spanish or Australia grapes, the earth, water and weather have an effect on the amounts of chemical compounds in essential oils. With cheap essential oils, you get what you pay for. Often chemically extracted, thinner and paler, with less of the extracts you want. It is often a false economy.

 


Keep your essential oils away from sunlight, pets and small children (as well as some ignorant adults: someone on one of my aromatherapy courses left a bottle of peppermint oil in a bathroom cupboard and had an uncle drink it to “settle his stomach” and ended up in A&E, or the ER if you’re in the States).

 

 

Magickally aromatherapy oils can be worked into workings in all kinds of ways. From adding it to the water of your ritual baths or to your asperging or cleaning water to burning it or adding it to water to make a steam, or making ritual oils for the body or objects.

 


Essential oils can be used like incense to cleanse and clear or charge a space or blended to charge spell candles; or added to sachets or mojo bags. Lavender flowers you buy can be a touch flat when it comes to scent so you can add a couple of drops of a good lavender essential oil to the dried herb. Lavender is considered one of the safest oil for beginners to experiment with. It is generally a relaxing oil (but about 10% of people have the opposite reaction to it) so using it as way to calm a space.

 


Tranquil Space and Mind Rite


You will need:

 


6 tea-lights (and heat proof holders)

 


4 pieces of amethyst

 


Lavender essential oil

 


Cold pressed organic almond oil

 


A small container or bowl for oil

A purple candle

 

Rite:


Take some 6 simple tea-lights and remove them from their metal base.

 

Add a drop of lavender essential oil and replace the tea-light. In three pairs place them around your space (preferably in safe heat proof places) with a piece of amethyst. Take 30ml of organic cold pressed almond oil and add three drops of lavender essential oil to it, swirling gently to combine.

 


Take a small amount of the essential oil blend and rub between your palms and dress a pale purple candle. Wiping off the excess oil carefully light the candles in your space and turn of any artificial light.

 


Now taking your blend slowly and deliberately massage your body with the oil. A small dab on the forehead to begin and then working from the feet up. Take your time and make sure you don’t rush. You can now play some peaceful music and meditate using the purple candle, or simply be in the calming space.

 


Candle meditation is about focusing the eyes on the flame but watching it passively (like watching T.V). It is a softness of gaze, and one of observation. Thoughts come, and thoughts go, just let them.

 


It sounds quite simple but it can be quite transformative. Don’t be worried if you have an emotional reaction. You might cry or get the giggles. You might feel angry. This is simply what you have been holding in underneath. Keep massaging and breathing it will pass.

 


**Please don’t fall asleep with candles burning!**