Sunday, December 31, 2017

House of Rituals Box Review: November

House of Rituals Box Review: November

Okay, better late than never. At least I am getting it done before the end of the year. Honestly, I was waiting for my December box to arrive, but I forgot my credit card on file expired in December so the payment didn't go through. I got another subscription box as a gift so I have been holding off on ordering more House of Ritual boxes, although I really, really, really, like this one. But back to the topic at hand. I have a November box to review dang it!

November's box focused on astral travel and psychic awareness, something I find deeply fascinating. Each of the items is curated specifically for the ritual on the card, but of course the items can be used in anyway you see fit. I look forward to using them in my travels tonight actually. I am going to hedge ride to seek guidance for my resolutions. How fitting, right? Anyway!

House of Rituals Box Review: November

Upon opening the box I was greeted by an information card and a ritual card. The information card contains a brief overview of the month's theme as well as the purpose of the items in the box. There is no indication where these items came from, which is a shame as I like to know what businesses I am supporting. However, I suspect the items were created by the owner of the subscription box itself as many of them are labeled as coming from Wild Tamed Apothecary, the creators of the House of Rituals subscription box.

Underneath the cards and bubble wrap were a small collection of perfectly curated, high quality items. The first item to draw my attention was a jar of herbs labeled The Travelers Loose Incense. This incense contains copal, mugwort, damiana, calendula, and jasmine oil. Mugwort is an excellent herb for astral travel, dream recall, and hedge riding. Due to its unique properties, it helps one achieve an altered state of consciousnesses. Copal helps deepen awareness during meditation while damiana and calendula increases psychic awareness and jasmine promotes calmness of the mind. It is obvious much thought was put into creating this blend of incense specifically for astral travel. Not to mention it smells delightful on its own so the herbs could be used in a nosegay instead of as an incense.

House of Rituals Box Review: November

Next I removed the black Moon bag and blue candle. According to the information and ritual card, the bag is to be used to hold any items you are taking with you during your astral travel. In fact, many hedgewitches create a hedge riding bag to aid in their travels and protect them from unwanted energies and entities that wish them harm. This little bag is perfect for such an occasion, and I love that the creators included such an item. The blue candle is to be used to enhance the ritual as blue is associated with astral travel and psychic development. In the picture the bag looks dingy. It is the packaging they use that is all over it. It is felt so it attracts all matter of debris. It is actually quiet black.

House of Rituals Box Review: November

Inside the Moon bag was a large piece of black kyanite. Wow, is this thing large! (That's what she said!) Normally the crystals I receive are rather small, but this thing is 3 inches long and incredibly gorgeous. Black kyanite, like all black crystals, is an excellent grounding crystal. After astral projection, meditation, pathwalking, or hedge riding, it is wise to ground yourself, especially after an "out-of-body experience," to ensure all of you comes back to Earth. Including this in the box was wise, as many witches tend to forget to ground after such travel. Also included in the box was amethyst, which helps remove blockages in your third eye chakra which can hinder astral travel. Furthermore, amethyst increases psychic awareness (It is purple after all).

House of Rituals Box Review: November

House of Rituals Box Review: November

House of Rituals Box Review: November

Next I removed some anointing oil and a bottle of herbs. The herb bottle contains mugwort and lavender, again mugwort being excellent for astral travel and lavender is great for dream magic. This small vial of herbs is designed to be dumped into the Moon bag or be sprinkled around the witch during the ritual. The anointing oil labeled Dream Walker contains almond oil, jasmine oil, cinnamon oil, calendula and jasmine flowers, a powerful combination for astral travel. As with the anointing oil in the last box, this can be placed directly on your skin. It is designed to open your mind to move freely into the Otherworld.

House of Rituals Box Review: November

I am impressed once again! The items in this box were well thought out, high quality, and incredibly useful for a witch like myself. I will be renewing my subscription in the near future.


House of Rituals Box Review: November

***

While I haven't reviewed three months of this box, I would still like to give you a complete break down of my overall thoughts on this box. Unfortunately I did not review October because the company had a mishap with a packaging company, and I didn't feel it right to review a box that was incorrectly put together at no fault of the subscription box owner. Technically I only reviewed one month because the first is an introductory box, but I felt I have more than enough information on this company to give a detailed list of pros and cons.

Pros:

  • The item quality is great. Every item is worth more than I paid. More so really because they are handcrafted by the subscription box creator.
  • The information card is informative, but slightly incomplete. It explains the monthly theme and which items are included in the box.
  • The ritual card is helpful and easy to follow. I love that they include the ritual to use the items in the box itself. Many other companies require you go to their websites or look for an email. Not this one!
  • The introductory box ensures the subscriber has all of the basics needed for future rituals. 
  • It is inexpensive! I paid $20 for my subscription, $57 for three months!
  • There are different tiers. They offer a variety of subscription box options, all of them budget friendly.
  • This box is available! There is no waiting list!

Cons:

  • The information card is incomplete. Unfortunately there is no mention of where the items came from, but I am 99.9% sure all the items are created by the subscription box as all the labels contain their name. However, it would be nice if this were mentioned somewhere in the box description or on the information card.
  • There is a lot of packaging and it is not eco-friendly. The paper and cardboard box can be recycled, but the bubble wrap cannot.
  • I experienced a slight mishap. My second box arrived weeks late and did not contain all the items promised. However, after doing some research, I discovered this was due to the company using someone new to pack and ship their boxes. They have since stopped using that company and box quality is back to normal!
OVERALL: 5 out of 5 stars 

Interested in purchasing this box? Check out Cratejoy. They have a large selection of subscription boxes that cover just about everything.


For your pleasure, here are some pictures of my new kitten, Jane, after Jane Austen. She was spayed 2 weeks ago so that is why her belly is shaved. She did just fine. In fact, the first thing she did when she got home was attack her older brother. Enjoy the cuteness witches!


Jane and Oscar

Helping mommy blog!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Yule Altar 2017

Yule Altar 2017

So, I have failed miserably in posting pictures of my altar the last couple of months. I set up a Mabon altar, but didn't get around to setting up a Samhain one. It has been a weird couple of months. I am having a hard time adjusting to my "new normal," and setting up an altar and photographing it has felt like a chore. However, I got around to setting one up for Yule in an attempt to distract myself. So without further ado, I present to you my 2017 Yule Altar!

Yule Altar 2017
Yule Altar 2017

Being a celebration of the rebirth of the Sun, who from the solstice forward begins to grow in strength, it was only fitting to include several candles representing the Sun's rebirth. Furthermore, I chose white candles to represent purity and light. The candle in the center is a Yule candle I received in a Box of Shadows box last year. It is evergreen scented and fit perfectly in front of the small Yule tree. Wrapped around the candles is a berry garland representing the feminine aspect and fertility. Furthermore, it represents the blood of the fallen Holly King who is defeated this time of year by the Oak King.

Yule Altar 2017

Around the middle candle are two bloodstones and a clear quartz tower. The bloodstone represents balance, especially since there is one on each side of the candle, while the clear quartz tower is for protection. On either side of the center candle is cinnamon incense which represents health and abundance.

Yule Altar 2017

Finally in the center is the traditional Yule tree which represents life, rebirth, and renewal. You can't have a Yule altar without a little evergreen tree! On either side of the tree are two wooden acorns to represent the Oak King who will begin to rise in power after defeating the Holly King. The evergreen Yule tree and candle mixed with the red berries are my representation of the Holly King.

Yule Altar 2017

Overall I decorated my altar using traditional Yule colors of green (for renewal and prosperity), red (for prosperity and passion), and white (for purity and light). I also used some more neutral tones, such as grey and brown, to stick with a more natural theme for my altar this year.

Yule Altar 2017
click for a better view
I hope everyone had a wonderful Yule! How did you decorate your altar this year?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

5 Witchy Ways to Fight Depression

5 Witchy Ways to Fight Depression

It's that time of year again...depression season! You thought I was going to say something regarding the holidays, didn't you? Gotcha! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that corresponds to the changing seasons. As the days grow shorter and nights longer, the dreary skies filled with rain and snow often cause a large number of people to less than stellar. If you already suffer from depression, like myself, you know this time of year can be particularly difficult. It doesn't matter how many pretty holiday decorations you put up, you just can't shake the feeling of despair and emptiness. Mine has been worse this season because of my divorce, which is officially final as of December 14th, by the way. While I am doing much better without him, I still miss him and wish things had been different. Setting up the tree and decorating the outside of the house with lights has been a chore. In fact, I haven't been able to get into the holiday spirit at all. I absolutely love Yule and Christmas (yes, I celebrate Christmas), and I just feel so blah this year. So, what is a witch to do? Please be aware nothing beats talking to a therapist and taking prescribed medication if your doctor suggests it. Please do those things if you need to. However, these 5 witchy ways to fight depression are some extra steps you can take to help drive off those nasty thoughts and feelings.

1. Essential Oil Diffuser: These are all the rage right now and for a good reason. Essential oil diffusers are said to calm you down, ward off illness, improve cognitive function, alleviate pain, and guess what? Elevate you mood! There are a number of essential oils that can be used to achieve all of these reported benefits. One of my co-workers keeps an essential oil diffuser in her office to keep her calm and ward off illness. Schools are a great place to get sick. However, if you are looking to fight that depression, consider using grapefruit, sweet orange, jasmine, rose, vanilla, scotch pine, or sandalwood essential oils. All of these plants are known for their mood elevating properties, especially the citrus, and their essential oils are concentrated with those depression blasting powers. Personally, grapefruit is my go to scent when I am feeling down. I love the smell of grapefruits, but if it isn't your thing, try one of the other scents!

2. Frankincense Resin: According to an article published in Journal for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in 2008, a chemical component released during the burning of Frankincense resin, incensoal acetate, activates ion channels in the brain to help alleviate depression and anxiety. This is actually pretty awesome news and has elicited new research into the properties of other resins and incenses commonly used in rituals. Spiritual leaders have contended for a millennia that burning incense was good for the soul. Turns out they were right. This is an affordable way to brighten your mood if you are feeling down. Just pop some on a charcoal burner during your next ritual and enjoy those ion channels in your brain activating!

3. Smoky Quartz, Lepidolite, or Tiger's Eye: Of course there are crystals on this list. What sort of witch do you think I am? Oh yeah; one with a geology minor. Ha! Smoky quartz is cheap and easy to find. Being a powerful grounding crystal, it helps remove sadness and anxiety, leaving you feeling more like yourself again. Lepidolite, a harder to find purple crystal, absorbs negative thoughts and energy. This particular crystal also contains lithium (my favorite element if you were wondering), which is commonly used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, making it an excellent crystal to fight depression. Tiger's Eye, another cheap and easy-to-find crystal, combines the healing and grounding of the Earth with the uplifting capabilities of the Sun. It can be worn to protect from negativity while simultaneously increasing your feelings of self-worth and self-love. Any of these crystals can be used in a ritual, meditated with, or carried on your person. Remember to cleanse and charge them prior to use. When you are done, you can cleanse them again, or bury them away from your home. I would personally cleanse them in running water, preferably a stream to"wash away your troubles."  Be careful with putting lepidolite in water though. It is a fragile crystal. Cleansing it by blowing on it and visualizing the stored energies blowing away would be preferable.

4. New Moon Depression Banishment Spell: Looking for a magical spell to fix your problems? Have no fear! I have not one, but TWO depression spells. The first spell is for the New Moon, which is a great time for banishment magic. For this spell you need some charcoal, dried lavender, black tourmaline, and a black candle. The lavender is for raising your spirits, the black tourmaline for grounding, and the black candle for banishment. After the spell is complete, take a nice warm bath with some bath salts, maybe with some grapefruit essential oil, and wash away those dark feelings. You can find the complete spell here.

5. Dispel Sadness Spell: Did the first spell not work well enough or you simply want to bash that depression magically over the head a second time? Try this short and sweet spell. For this one, you need a white candle, white piece of paper, a red pen, and some honey. Begin by visualizing your sorrows and the causes of them. Write them down on the paper using the red pen. Anoint with honey, and burn baby burn! You can take a bath after this spell to because who the heck doesn't want to take a relaxing bath. You can find the complete spell here. Be sure to read it completely so you don't screw yourself over. Magic is a fickle mistress.

While these witchy ways to fight depression will not cure it, they can definitely change your mindset and release many of the negative feelings that are weighting you down. It is important to recognize that magic cannot fix all problems. Seeking medical help is extremely important. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 for those in the United States. Don't feel like calling? They have an instant messenger option available as well. You are NOT alone in this. 

Blessed be, 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Herbarium: Ivy

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Ivy


Gender: Feminine
Planet: Saturn
Element: Water
Powers: Healing, Protection
Magical Uses and History: Ivy has a long and rich history, dating back to the Druids and Ancient Greeks and Romans. Ivy is both the plant of Dionysus and Bacchus (Greek and Roman gods of wine). In one tale of Dionysus, punished a crew of pirates for their lack of reverence toward him by filling the ship with Ivy and turning the oars into serpents. The pirates eventually lost their minds and drown themselves in the ocean. In Roman tradition, Bacchanals, worshipers of Bacchus, would become intoxicated from eating Ivy and participate in orgies in Thessaly and Trace during the October. In their drunken frenzy they were said to have wrought havoc on the cities, tearing animals and children apart while carrying Fir boughs wrapped in Ivy. Furthermore, during the Medieval period, Ivy was used to make an intoxicating drink, one still made at Trinity College in Oxford in memory of a deceased student. Surprisingly, Ivy, if worn as a crown, was said to prevent intoxication. Ivy was even carved into goblets for the same purpose.

Due to its Pagan associations, particularly with fertility, the Christian Church took a dim view of the plant. In fact, there are still countries that ban churches from using Ivy in Christmas decorations. However, Ivy is popularly regarded by Christians as one of the many plants to safe guard against witches. Ivy was often planted along a house and allowed to grow along the walls to prevent witches from entering. Witches, on the other hand, view Ivy as a protector against negativity and disaster.

One of the most famous Pagan traditions including Ivy, however, is the battle between the Holly and Oak King. The Oak King, in some traditions, is also referred to as the Ivy King. One possible tradition accounting for this interpretation is an old English tradition of binding the last sheaf of the harvest with Ivy. This bundle was referred to as the Harvest Bride or Maid of the Ivy. It is said to bring bad luck to the farmer who harvested late. The Holly Boy, however, is opposing to the Maid of Ivy. He was said to be the first over the doorstep on Yuletide morning, bringing with him good fortune. Ivy is carried by women for good luck and sometimes worn by brides for the same reason.

Ivy can be used in a number of spells including:
     Healing Magic
     Protection Magic
     Fertility Spells

Medicinal Uses: Ivy can be used to cure a variety of ailments including bronchitis, liver and spleen disorders, gout, burns and cuts, and warts. Research has shown that ivy leaf extracts increase oxygen in the lungs by reducing inflammation of the bronchial, especially in conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. In Germany, ivy leaf extract has been approved as an herbal decongestant. According to folk lore, ivy leaves dipped in vinegar can be placed on warts, arthritic areas, gout, and minor skin wounds such as cuts and mild burns, to heal these ailments, sometimes overnight (according to legend).

Preparation and Dosage: Internally- For a tincture, take 5-10 drops 4 to 5 times a day. To make a tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried ivy leaves to a cup of water and seep for 10 minutes. Drink up to 3 times a day. Externally- To make a poultice, mix fresh ivy leaves 1:3 with linseed meal and apply to the wound. Folk lore also suggests dipping fresh ivy leaves in vinegar and applying directly to the wound.


Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!
Magical and Medicinal Uses of Ivy

Friday, December 8, 2017

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box


Okay, so this post is, well, very, very late. I received my first mini House of Rituals Box, formally known as Wild Rituals Box, in September, but never ended up reviewing the box. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I wasn't sure if the first box I received was considered my "October" box or "September" box. I didn't receive a second box in October, instead receiving it the second week of November, so I thought maybe my first box was my "October" box. Second, there has been a lot going on at home, and blogging, unfortunately, is one of the things I cut from my life when there is too much going on. However, I have since resolved both issues!

Unlike some other subscription boxes, the first box you receive from House of Rituals is the exact same introductory box. So technically it is not a September or October box. The box I received the beginning of November was, in fact, the October box. After doing some digging, I found out the company had some changes occur that resulted in less than satisfied costumers. First, there was a name change from Wild Rituals to House of Rituals. That's fine; the rebranding wasn't the issue. The issue was they decided to use a new company to help package and ship their boxes, and, well, they did a piss poor job. Many people received broken items, missing items, or completely wrong subscription boxes all together. I found out I am missing some things from my boxes, but decided instead of giving the company another customer complaint they have to remedy, that I would chalk it up as a loss and be thankful none of my items were broken. Because my October box was late and not up to their normal high standards, I will not be reviewing the October box. There are plenty of unboxing videos on YouTube discussing the boxes, so if you are interested in the items, feel free to check them out. Thankfully, the owners of this subscription decided not to use the packaging company again, so my third box arrived on time and in good order. So enough back story! Let's look at the introductory box!

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

When I first opened the box there was a set of cards on top of the bubble wrap. Of these cards, one was a 2017 Moon cycle calendar, the second welcomed me and described the items in the box, and the third described the purification ritual to be performed with the items, with a note that the ritual could be performed as it was written, in a different order, or entirely different.

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

Underneath all the bubble wrap were several delicately packed items. The first items to catch my eye were the tea strainer and glass bottle of herbs. First, I LOVE that the herbs came in a glass bottle instead of a plastic bag. Plastic has a tendency to leech chemicals into the contents and change the energy and taste, especially of herbs. While these herbs are not for consuming, but instead for a ritual purification bath, I am thankful the designers put enough thought into the box to put the herbs in glass to protect their energy. The purification ritual bath contains lavender, rosemary, thyme, basil, fennel, hyssop, peppermint, rose, and valerian root. It smells like a tea I have called Tudor Tea. I can't wait to use it!


Next I removed a small sachet containing 4 citrine crystals. The card didn't mention which crystals I would receive, and honestly I don't need any more citrine, but I am thankful for the crystal nonetheless.

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

I then removed a white candle, candle holder, moon tile, and the sage bundle. You can't get a pagan subscription box without at least one of the boxes containing sage. Go figure! The candle holder fits the candle well, and I can totally use this for the other candles I have that do not have a holder that they fit in. The tile is great for decoration or as a hot plate. This too will be useful with candles and incense to keep my altar or other hard surfaces from receiving heat damage.

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

Tucked delicately at the top was a bottle of purification anointing oil. According to the ritual card, this oil can be used to anoint candles or yourself. I love that it can be used for both. Sometimes anointing oil is only for inanimate objects, so make sure you always read the label or package directions. This particular anointing oil contains orange oil, lemongrass oil, lemon oil, lime oil, and almond oil. It is a symphony of citrus aromas, perfect for purification and clarity.

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

Next I pulled out a small package with an element sticker on it. According to the stick and information card, this was an element kit. It contains a small tea candle to represent Fire, star anise to represent Air, a jar of herbs to represent Earth, and a shell to represent Water. This little kit is an excellent addition to any altar as the items are small and will not take up valuable space. Furthermore, what a wonderful way to represent each element. I especially like that all but the candle are all natural.

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

And finally, underneath everything was a gorgeous red journal. The paper is heavier than usual paper and the leather cover is covered in intricate designs. The clasp easily opens and closes, making this a wonderful small Book of Shadows or diary for any upcoming witch. The ritual comments you can use a page from the journal in the spell, but there is no way I am tearing paged out of this book! It's positively delightful!

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

Overall, I am very impressed with this box. It came with SOOO much stuff! I know my future boxes will be smaller, but I am sure I will be impressed with future boxes all the same. All the items are high quality and the box was excellently curated to get a witch started on their magical journey.

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

House of Rituals Box Review: Introductory Box

Look at all that stuff! I keep looking at the box and the photos, and I am still impressed! Totally worth the money!