• Monthly Columns,  Spells & Rituals

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: The Beech Tree   The common beech, or Fagus sylvatica, is a majestically large deciduous tree, native to North America and Europe, and a vital part of the ecosystem thanks to being home and food to many forms of wildlife. There are other beech species, all in the Fagus genus, with some native to Asia, including Fagus japonica, the Japanese blue beech, and Fagus engleriana, the Engler or Chinese beech. In the U.K. where I live, we often see “Copper Beeches”, which have distinct, purple-bronze leaves and look like they’re straight out of a fantasy tale. Interestingly, this isn’t a different species, but a carefully cultivated…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary Special: Flowers for Bealtaine   Bealtaine is an Irish festival traditionally celebrated on May Eve (April 30th), with many modern celebrations taking place on May 1st. The word is pronounced Bee-ell-tun-uh approximately – at least that’s my best attempt with my very basic Irish! I think it’s important to embrace the correct pronunciation (or as close as you can get) because Irish is a living language and thriving culture, so anglicising Irish words is needless. I pronounced it Bell-tane for many years – now I know better, I try to do better. I’m an English person whose Pagan path is heavily influenced by Irish Paganism, history,…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Heather   Heather or ling, Calluna vulgaris, is a short, evergreen, bushy shrub with stalks of tiny purple, pink or white flowers, prolific on moorland or heathland. It’s native to Europe but has been introduced to many countries across the world. It often indicates areas of deforestation, where trees have not been allowed to grow back, so the heather and other shorter plants take over. I asked my three-year-old which plant I should explore for this month, and she said, “A pink one!”. After some pondering, I showed her some pictures of pink, purple, and white heather stretching across the moors, and she was delighted. So,…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Clover     Clover is also called trefoil, literally “three-leaves”, and grows in most places around the world. Although many clover plants look similar, there are around 300 species of Trifolium and they’re in the same plant family as peas. Both the round, joyful flowers and the iconic triplet of small, round leaves have a ton of folklore around them – and some surprising modern research, too.   The Kitchen Garden Red and white clover are the most common where I live, and often pop up in lawns without any encouragement from gardeners. As well as being a fantastic food source for bees and other insects,…

  • Crafting Articles

    The Sacred Spoon

    Chakra Balancing Meals – Crown Chakra Detox Meals Our final chakra is the Crown chakra which represents our connection to the universe, our wisdom, and our spiritual center. Having a blocked crown chakra can show itself in a disinterest in one’s path, an inability to or disinterest in mediation or rituals, or a lack of prayer. For the crown chakra one may choose to fast, but personally i worry about the effects of fasting long term on the metabolism. For this reason we will be covering quite a few detox recipes instead. These can be combined or used separately, but all can be used to plan a few days of…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Stinging Nettles     Called nettles, stinging nettles, or common nettle, this jagged-leafed plant is a hardy little medicine cabinet packed with folklore and magic. Urtica Dioica is the scientific name for the most commonly recognised species, and it’s found all over the world in hedgerows, woodlands, and anywhere where there is space for it to grow. Gardeners may hate nettles for stinging their fingers unexpectedly when weeding, and anyone who has been out hiking in shorts knows what a nettle sting on the leg feels like! But these feisty and fierce “weeds” have more uses than you would imagine, and can easily be forgiven for…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: The Orange     Oranges: juicy, bright globes filled with vitamin C and sunshine. The orange is a citrus fruit that’s one of the most cultivated fruits in the world, and may have been cultivated by humans for around 2,500 years. The sweet orange as we know it today is a hybrid of mandarins and pomelos, and is very different from bitter oranges, the likes of which often line the streets of towns in Mediterranean countries. I once made the mistake of plucking and peeling a juicy looking orange while in Spain, only to have my mouth shrivelled by the intense bitterness! Sweet oranges, in comparison,…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Lilac     Lilac is a flowering shrub in the olive family, Oleaceae, cultivated in many parts of the world including all across Europe and North America. Robust spikes of delicate yet strongly scented flowers come in colours ranging from purples and pinks through to blues and whites. I’ve been writing Notes from the Apothecary for over 6 years now, and some months I struggle to think of a plant that’s magical, seasonal, and of interest to our readers worldwide. I had no such struggle this month, thanks to the wonderful fragrance that stopped me in my tracks as I was out playing with my 3-year-old…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Blackthorn   Prunus spinosa, literally meaning a spiny fruit tree, perfectly describes the beautiful yet oh so spiky blackthorn. Blackthorn is a familiar sight across much of Europe, and in Northern England where I live, the blossoms are one of the most impressive displays of spring. Blackthorn blossoms really stand out in the hedgerows because the flowers arrive quite some time before the leaves; white, delicate yet profuse blossoms perched on dark, spiny twigs. Blackthorn is also intertwined with folklore, otherworldly beings, and magic. It truly is a worthy addition to our apothecary.   The Kitchen Garden Many people will know the blackthorn for its beautiful…

  • Monthly Columns,  Spells & Rituals

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Bluebell     Tiny bluebells are, for me, a sign that spring is truly on the way. In the woods near where I live, they spring up, completely unannounced, sometime between the snowdrops and the wild garlic. It’s a “blink and you miss it” kind of phenomenon; Come to early, and the ground is just green and dormant. Come too late, and the flowers have already wilted, the plants getting ready to store their energy until next year. The most spectacular showing of bluebells is at a patch of woodland a little further afield, by the banks of one of our waterways. These bluebells arise and…