Saturday, January 30, 2016

DIY Candle Wheel


Imbolc marks the first of the fire festivals with candles being the central focus of sympathetic magic performed during this time. An old Imbolc tradition is the candle wheel, which can be either worn or used as a decorations on altars, tables, or windows. I created mine to be placed on the coffee table in our library/living room.


Supplies:
14 inch green foam wreath
8 white taper candles
Brown vase filler (straw)
Greenery*
White Flowers*
LED fairy lights*
Scissors
Floral Wire

First, line up your candles around your wreath. I placed one at the top, bottom, left, and right then added candles in between. After you have spaced them, push the candles into the foam to mark the ring you will cut out.

Next, cut out the candle holes using your scissors or a knife. You will need them to be at least a half an inch deep. After you have a rough hole, push your candles into the holes and press hard, making sure not to wiggle the candle. This will create a snug, flat candle holder in the foam wreath. Remove the candles.

After I cut my candle holder holes, I wrapped the wreath is the brown straw vase filler. You can find this in the wreath and moss section of Michael's. I did not glue mine down, but if you have spray glue, I highly recommend using it to ensure the straw does not fall off. If you are using the fairy lights, wrap them around your wreath next. However, the 32 inch long strand I bought was not big enough to wrap around the wreath, so I am going to return them. Next, wrap your greenery of choice around the wreath and place flowers throughout. You will see I didn't use my ferns or flowers. After adding the one greenery with white flowers, I felt my wreath was perfect. Make it your own.

Next, you will want to wrap your wreath in floral wire. I stuck the first end into the foam wreath and tightly wrapped the floral wire around, making sure to secure the straw and greenery. I wrapped the lose end of wire around itself to secure it.


To finish your wreath, heat the bottom of each candle until it begins to drip. Quickly place the candles in their holders. Heating the bottom will cause the candles to stick to the wreath, ensuring they won't topple over or fall out while moving the wreath. However, it is not so secure that you can't easily remove them to replace candles or store the wreath.




I placed a bowl in the center as an offering dish. As you can see it has my initials on the bottom. My boss gave the dish to me as a Yule gift, and I thought it would make a great offering bowl.

And there you have it! A gorgeous, one of a kind candle wreath for your Imbolc celebrations! Good luck creating your own. I would love to see your candle wreaths!



CAUTION: This is highly flammable. Do NOT allow the candles to burn all the way down. Do NOT leave unattended.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Herbarium: Angelica


Gender: Masculine
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Powers: Exorcism, Healing, Protection, Visions
Magical Uses and History: Angelica, which derives its name from archangel, was once considered a cure-all by European healers. It was used to protect against or cure just about every ailment you can think of, especially the plague and poison. From the fifteenth century, there are records indicating that people wore or carried angelica to protect against the plague. According to one author, angelica blooms on May 8th which was traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Apparition of St Michael. Due to its association with St Michael, people would weave necklaces for their children to ward off demons, witches, and enchanters. In Livonia and parts of East Prussia and Pomerania, peasants march into the town during early summer carrying angelica flowers chanting an incantation that has sense lost meaning. It is believed this is the remnants of a pagan festival celebrated during this time.

Growing angelica around your home will protect you. You can also sprinkle it in the four corners of your home or around the perimeter to ward of evil and protect those within. Bathing in an infusion of angelica will remove not only curses, but unwanted spells as well.

In some Native America tribes, angelica root was carried to increase luck, especially in gambling. The smoke is said to cause visions and aid in healing magic.

Angelica can be used in a number of spells including:
     Divination
     Healing Spells
     Protection Magic
    
Medicinal Uses: The roots and seeds of angelica are used to treat a variety of ailments, especially those regarding poor digestion, weak circulation, and respiratory problems. It also aids in recover from chronic illness. Despite its bitter taste, it stimulates stomach activity to increase  appetite and digestion, soothe cramping, and elevate gas. It also eases respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, chest congestion, and cough. Due to its warming nature it is great for improving circulation and soothing fibromyalgia. The leaves can be used in a compress to soothe inflammation in the chest. It pairs well with chamomile.

Preparation and Dosage: Angelica  is to be taken internally or applied externally. For a decoction, combine a teaspoon of dried roots in one cup of water and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for two minutes before removing from heat and allowing to cool for 15 minutes. Take one cup up to three times a day. For a tincture, take 2-5 milliliters up to three times a day.

 

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0KnNmfNfzc8WTUyVmVzM3QwYjg/view?usp=sharing/>

Monday, January 18, 2016

Look What I Got!

Look what came in the mail today! I am very excited to start reading this, although I probably won't be able to start it for another week. It's still pretty to look at though, don't you think?


Have you gotten any new books lately, pagan or otherwise? Also, if you have any literary suggestions, please feel free to comment. I am ALWAYS looking for good books!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Imbolc Correspondences

Last year I posted about the history and lore of Imbolc. To add to the ever growing list of correspondences, I have put together a list of correspondences for Imbolc.


Symbolism: rebirth, purity, new life, light, new beginnings, warmth, growth, renewal, rejuvenation

Symbols: candles, daffodils, lanterns, acorns, fire, Brigid's cross, acorns, brooms, corn dolls, sun wheels

Colors: white, silver, pale yellow, red, pink, orange, lavender, light green

Food and Drink: bread, cake, milk, spiced wine, cheese, yogurt, herbal teas, fish, white meat, honey cake, muffins

Herbs: angelica, basil, bay, blackberry, chamomile, rosemary, heather, rowan, dill, myrrh, willow

Deities: Cernunnos, Eros, Osiris, Pan, Athena, Bast, Blaize, Brigid, Ceres, Cerridwen, Venus, Gaia, Demeter, Hestia, Vesta, Cupid

Crystals and Gemstones: amethyst, bloodstone, ruby, turquoise, garnet, onyx

Animals: groundhog, bear, ewe, lamb, stag, robin, owl, dragons, phoenix

Magic: This is the time of awakening as the Wheel turns toward spring. Out with the old and in with the new. Cleansing magic, home blessings, divination, initiation rituals, fertility magic, and self-discovery rituals are perfect for this sabbat.  Rid your home of stale energy left over from the cold winter. Light candles and hold a bonfire to call forth the Sun and honor the Earth. Search for signs foretelling of spring (think Groundhog's Day).

Please note this is not a complete list but a brief overview of symbols, colors, herbs, deities, and the like. If I have missed something that you feel should make the list, please feel free to contact me via the comments or through email.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

2016 Knowledge and Financial Goals

I decided to lump these last two categories (Knowledge and Financial) into one post because there isn't much in either category.

 

For my knowledge goals this year, I only have one: read 12 books. I did, however, divide it up into three parts:
     1. Read 1 pagan book (which
         corresponds with my spiritual goal
         this year)
     2. Read 1 nonfiction
     3. Read 10 books of choice

I adore reading. It is one of the few escapes I have from my day-to-day life. Twelve may seem like a small number, but it is hard for me to find time to read everyday. I didn't include any other goals because I'm back in school getting my Master's which challenges me every day.

Financially I would like to do two things. Purchasing our first home and doing some renovations has set us back a little bit when it comes to paying off our debt. We also recently had some unexpected vet bills. Osiris got a UTI and Thanatos tore his ACL. We spent $700 in the first two weeks of the new year on those two cats. Osiris is better and Thanatos is healing nicely. He tore his ACL on Monday and is already starting to walk a little bit. But I digress! Two goals this year:
     - Pay off credit cards
     - Save $1000

Unfortunately someone I happen to love very much isn't always responsible when it comes to credit cards and last year he racked up a pretty penny. Thankfully this house is saving us money all over the place, so we should be able to pay off all the credit card debt in about 8 months without pushing too hard. If not, I gave us until the end of the year to pay them off.

All the renovations we have done lately ate up our savings as well, so I would like to build our emergency fund back up in case something like 2 vet visits in 2 weeks gets paid in cash instead of on the credit cards. I'd like to do this in less than 6 months, but I also don't want to push too hard. We could make lots of sacrifices but honestly, I don't have the will power to do it right now. It is also pretty miserable to cut yourself off from all the things you enjoy to save an extra $15.

Hopefully I will be making more money toward the end of the year which will put us in a great place to begin paying off other debt, such as my car and our student loans. Having a year of higher pay before all my student loans hit will put us in an excellent position for the future. I'm doing everything I can to get us there, but it is going to take time and discipline.

So, what financial and knowledge goals have you set this year?

2016 Health Goals

I'm a generally healthy person. There are times when I fall off the healthy train like anyone else, but for the most part I eat right, workout, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. However, there are a couple places I know I could improve to achieve the body I want. Don't get me wrong, I do love my body, but I am unhappy with some of the extra weight I have put on around my midsection last year from all the stress of moving and poor eating habits. When I get stressed or sick, all I want is sweets, sweets, sweets, and we know what those do to you!

This year I have three health goals:
     - Reduce Body Fat to 15%
     - Exercise 4+ Times per Week
     - Complete the I Quit Sugar Challenge


Reduce Body Fat to 15%
In reality, I am shooting for 18%. I am currently between 25 and 30% body fat and most of it is around my stomach and hips. Yes, I developed the dreaded muffin top for all the sweets I have been eating. Reducing my body fat is actually the all encompassing goal for the year. To do this I have to eat right, exercise, reduce stress, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. To make sure I reach my goal I created the other two goals you see listed above and below:
     1. Exercise 4+ times per week
     2. Complete the I Quit Sugar Challenge

Right before our move I stopped working out like I normally do. I just had too much going on with packing, closing, and moving that the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time on my feet. Since moving, things really haven't slowed down. We've been doing renovations all while working full time and going to school. Since moving, my commute has doubled in the afternoon, meaning I get home even later every day. It has been hard to get into the swing of things, but at the end of December I began making an effort to workout 4 times a week. To help me achieve this goal I set it up in GoalTracker which allows me to check off the days I do and do not workout. This app also allows you to set an alarm, add additional information, and see charted results. It is an excellent goal tracking app to start new habits, especially those that require you to do something every day or most days.
To realign my taste buds toward a more savory palate, I decided to sign up for the I Quit Sugar 8-weeks program. For $150, you receive a detailed meal plan each week of the challenge, support from experts and dietitians, access to members only forums, and so much more. I considered saving the money and developing my own plan, but spending the $150 to have someone give me step-by-step instructions are more than likely going to increase my chances of success than doing it on my own with my hectic life. What's even better is they have a vegetarian option! This is not going to be an easy challenge, but I hope that I will not only kick the sugar habit, but also get back to my normal healthy eating again. We've been spending a lot of time eating out and getting quick meals because we have been so busy and that only makes things worse. The program officially begins February 4th, and I believe you may still be able to sign up if you are interested. I plan to document my journey here if you would like to see my results before jumping in yourself. To give you a brief look at the program, here is the average weekly schedule.


I have high expectations this year, but I think if I stick to it, it will be a breeze.

What are your health goals this year?


2016 Home Goals

Slowly but surely we are making progress on our new home. One of the biggest things I wanted to complete this year was the floor and thanks to my wonderful mom and dad, we installed all new floors just in time to ring in the New Year! It took us 6 days to complete, allowing us to finish on January 2nd. I am so happy they are done (mostly). We have a couple things left to do, but it's things that I can do over the course of a couple weeks and not be bothered.

However, there are two other big things I hope to accomplish this year:
     - Remodel the Kitchen
     - Start a Garden

Remodel the Kitchen
This is the next big project in our home which will hopefully begin next month or in March depending on finances and my dad's work schedule as well as my own. We are going for a modern country kitchen look and I think it is going to be stunning when we're done. So what does the break down of work look like?
     1. Replace counter tops
     2. Paint walls (blue?)
     3. Change lighting (pendant, pot lights,
         and chandelier)
     4. Paint cabinets
     5. Plank ceiling (?)
     6. Add back splash

The reason the question mark is next to planking the ceiling is because this isn't set in stone. There is popcorn ceiling throughout the house and I want it gone. Planking is cheap, looks great, and pretty simple to do, especially throughout the house. Removing the popcorn is a labor intensive job and most of the time the ceiling is never completely smooth again. Planking would give us a country look and would be less work, but it all depends on money!

Start a Garden
I have always wanted a large fruit and vegetable garden and with over an acre of land we have tons of room to do it!
     1. Build planter boxes
     2. Sketch layout
     3. Plan vegetables
     4. Plant
     5. Add fence
     6. Build compost bin
     7. Fix rainwater pipe
     8. Create garden journal

We are planning on regrading part of the yard this spring and putting in a wall to prevent flooding in our basement. Over the holiday we had massive amounts of rain which ended up finding its way into our unfinished basement where all our media equipment is. Thank god we found the problem before we finished the basement. By regrading, we will have tons of soil to fill our planter boxes. I also plan on planting blueberries in the side yard and possibly some apple trees.

We have some other projects we will be completing this year, but they didn't make my goals list because if they don't happen I won't be hurt. We would like to put on a new roof and build a deck this year. If we have time, we may start refinishing the basement next winter. I'd also like to paint and decorate the office and get it up and running. As it stands, it is a catch all room. I'm going to need an office space sooner rather than later, however I am fully capable of surviving without it as I have done all these years.

So, have you set any home goals this year? It can be as simple as lighting candles to fill your home with magical scents or as complicated as remodeling a kitchen!

2016 Career Goals

This year, my career goals are pretty simple. In fact, all one but stems from the same goal. This year I would like to:
     - Get a Teaching Job
     - Research Starting an Etsy Business




Get a Teaching Job
I used My Goals app to break down finding a new career into manageable steps. I also places a strict deadline on each item so that I would get them done in a timely fashion instead of trying to rush through everything in a weekend. I need to:
     1. Write resume
     2. Write cover letter
     3. Have resume and cover letter
         reviewed
     4. Edit resume and cover letter
     5. Have resume and cover letter
         reviewed a second time
     6. Research school districts near me
     7. Submit resumes and applications
     8. Purchase new work clothes
     9. Get a teaching job!

I can't even begin to tell you how ready I am to find a job closer to home. I also can't express how much I want to be immersed in science again, teaching others about the awesomeness that is biology.

Research Starting an Etsy Business
I've been thinking of creating an Etsy business for years. I dabbled selling my paintings a couple years back, but nothing sold. It wasn't worth the time and effort I took to paint, photograph, edit, and post to make absolutely nothing in return, so I shut it down. Since starting a craft business still interested me, I figured I would spend more time figuring it our in case I decide to begin a business next year.
     1. Research shop ideas
     2. Research set up and fees
     3. Research marketing
     4. Research pricing and shipping of
         items

All fairly simple and fairly explainable. I am looking forward to all the changes that are going to occur this year along with the potential to make significantly more money than I have previously. It feels wonderful to be finally moving forward and getting my life on track!

What are you career goals this year? Remember, if you are unhappy or unsatisfied in your current job or lack there of, it isn't too late to change it!

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 Spiritual Goals

Every year I wish I did more spiritually. Sometimes it can be incredibly hard, especially with a skeptic atheist in the house. While I love my husband dearly, there are times he makes me feel, well, embarrassed about my spirituality. I know he doesn't mean to do it on purpose, but I feel awkward practicing magic around him. It is part of the reason there isn't currently an altar in our home. I need to move past this awkwardness and embarrassment this year. In all other things I am very confident, never allowing the thoughts of others to dictate my behavior. So my main goal spiritually for 2016 is to move past my fears and grow. I've broken this down into several different manageable goals that I believe will help me overcome some of the feelings I still harbor. I swear, after almost 6 years with the man you'd think I'd be over it, not to mention I have been practicing for 11 years!

To achieve this overarching goal there are a couple of things I would like to work on.
     - Read and Review a Pagan Book (hopefully 3)
     - Create and Compile Grimoire and BOS
     - Set up Altar
     - Learn Tarot
     - Cast Runes Once a Week
     - Build Blog

After identifying six ways to meet my goal of spiritual growth I began breaking down some of the large goals in to manageable chunks using my My Goals app from the GooglePlay store. Reading one pagan book and reviewing it and casting runes once a week are pretty straight forward. However, there are several steps and actions I need to take to accomplish the others.


Create and Compile Grimoire and BOS
I want to work on compiling a hard copy of my Grimoire and start a Book of Shadows. I used to keep a BOS, but over the years it has collected dust and honestly, I don't even know where it is since we moved. To achieve this goal, I broke it up into chunks.
     1. Find and purchase journal for BOS
     2. Create or purchase Grimoire binding. I want
         to be able to remove pages and rearrange
         things.
     3. Setup Grimoire sections
     4. Add at least 20 pages to Grimoire
     5. Participate in the 2016 Grimoire Challenge. I
         won't be able to do it everyday so I plan to
         knock it out on the weekends.



Set up Altar
This is something I have never done because I don't believe in any deities. However, I think it is a beautiful way to honor the Earth and the Wheel of the Year while bringing magical energies into the home.
     1. Find altar table
     2. Find altar location
     3. Decorate altar

This is pretty simple, but it has steps none the less. Plus it makes you feel awesome to check off easy things!

Learn Tarot
I have always wanted to learn tarot but have never gotten around to it. I find it fascinating.
     1. Research tarot decks
     2. Learning meaning of tarot
     3. Purchase tarot deck
     4. Practice reading tarot cards

Build Blog
I want to work on building my blog and expanding my audience not only to benefit you, my readers, but to help continue my learning and understanding through teaching.
     1. Post 4x a month (set up goal in GoalTracker
        App)
     2. Research best posting times
     3. Set up contest
     4. Post 6 witchy tips
     5. Obtain reader feedback
     6. Create watermark
     7. Review 1 pagan book
     8. Review 2 pagan items (hopefully I'll be able
         to sign up for Sabbat box)

With everything still pretty crazy in my life, I know completing these tasks may be difficult, but I believe I've made each manageable and achievable. I also believe all of these will help me break free of the awkwardness I often feel performing magic and discussing it with others.

What spiritual goals have you set for 2016?

2016 Goal Setting


I am slightly behind on this because of how busy I have been. The final week of 2015, my parents came over every day to help me install our new laminate hardwoods. It took 6 days, giving me one day of rest before heading back to work. They look amazing and when I manage to get the house back together, I'll be posting some pictures. Yes, I am embarrassed about how my house looks right now.

Marietta over at Witchy Words always has these beautiful posts about her yearly goals. Honestly, she puts way more effort into setting her goals that I ever have in my life. Inspired by her recent posts, I decided to put slightly more effort into my yearly goal planning. I like how she divides her goals into categories, so I used the same groups as her: Career, Financial, Health, Mind, Home, and Spiritual. I left the personal section out for a couple of reasons. First, all my goals are pretty personal, especially the health goals. Second, there wasn't anything extra I wished to accomplish this year that did not fit into one of the other categories. You may also notice I didn't include a relationship section. My only goal is to continue strengthening my marriage and that takes two. I don't see a point of writing out specific goals when half of them depend on another person.

I started off my listing each category and jotting down a couple ideas of things I would like to do. Next, I downloaded two different apps from Google Play to help me track and break my goals up into manageable steps. My Goals allows you to set goals in the categories you choose, assign a picture, and then break the goal up into pieces. It also allows you to set a deadline for each goal or pieces of the goal. This was extremely helpful with setting my Career goals since I can't take my sweet time looking for a new job.

The second app I downloaded is called GoalTracker. I got this one specifically to track the days that I workout. Basically it allows me to say "Yes, I worked out" or "No, I did not workout." My Goals did not allow daily tracking. Any goals you need to track daily can easily be set up in GoalTracker.

In my upcoming posts, I'll break down my goals for the year into greater detail to avoid this post being an encyclopedia. Keep an eye out for them later this weekend! I'll also try to check in every 3 months with my progress.