Saturday, December 29, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: My Hedge Riding Experiences

Hedge Riding Series: My Hedge Riding Experiences

As I mentioned in the last post, I considered leaving this post out of the series altogether. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized many of you may actually need to hear about my experiences to help you validate your own. Many times witches think that what they are experiencing isn't real or just all in their head. One of my favorite lines from Harry Potter is part of the conversation that occurs after Harry is "killed" by Voldemort and is talking to Dumbledore at King's Cross purgatory.

"Tell me one last thing," said Harry. "Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"
Dumbledore beamed at him, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?

There is a reason this is one of my favorite lines because, for anyone who travels astrally or communicates with spirits, we sometimes doubt our abilities. Even if it is just happening in your head, it is still very real. Doubt is a plague that will destroy your magic; don't let it rule you or your magical abilities.

I'd like to briefly share two of my hedge riding journies with you guys today. Please be aware there was much more that occurred during this journies then what I am sharing. I want to keep some aspects of my travels private, as the messages I received were for me and me alone. However, the gist of the journey is still there and should help you get an idea of what to expect.


Journey 1:

This journey occurred on June 15, 2017. I followed my normal route to enter the Lower Realm, walking the dark, earthy steps down until I reached the cave floor below. The cave is always cold and smells of damp earth, but it feels like coming home every time I enter. I make my way through the tunnel and push aside the vines that cover the opening, protecting this entry into our world from prying eyes. From the outside you can't tell there is even a cave here, making me feel even more comfortable that my passage to and from the Lower Realm will be safe. I've asked Meka and Rocar to meet me outside the cave and sure enough, they are waiting. Rocar has an expression that says I kept him waiting too long. Meka is overjoyed to see me, rubbing up against my leg and nuzzling me softly. She is always happy to see me. I asked them to meet me here to ask them if they have any messages for me. Meka says we would be more comfortable in my garden, so we travel through the woods, upwards toward the Middle Realm where my garden gate is located. This is essentially my astral office, but much more enjoyable.

Upon entering we make our way to the lake and stump I like to sit on when we converse together. Rocar takes off ahead of us, soaring through the trees impatiently. Meka walks slowly beside me, silent the entire way. When we make it to the stump, I sit down and wait. I've found sometimes the best way to ask a question, is not to ask at all. Suddenly I begin seeing a series of images, all showing turmoil. I'm taken aback by these images and my anxiety grows. I can feel myself wanting to return to our realm and leave these disturbing images behind. But just as quickly as they began, they were gone. I was breathing heavily and Meka and, surprisingly, Rocar looks concerned. Meka explained these images are how I feel about myself and my depression, and she's right. I often feel in constant turmoil, not just from depression, but anxiety as well. Rocard explains the self-hatred I feel is not a true reflection of who I really am and my loneliness is about to get much worse, but it is unjustified. Meka rubs up against me again and Rocar nuzzles my cheek, a rare sign of love from the stubborn, sassy bird. I am loved, they both chime in unison. Meka explains that we will tackle my depression in the future, but first I need time to heal physically (I was suffering from an infection at the time). I thank them both for the reassurance and the lesson and make my way back home.

At first, this journey was very upsetting, yet comforting at the same time. What I didn't understand, and what Rocar was trying to gently tell me, was that soon I was going to be faced with extreme turmoil that was going to set my depression into a tailspin. He mentioned things were about to get worse, and boy was he right. A month later my now ex-husband walked out on me. My guides knew this well before it happened, and were trying to tell me to prepare for the worst in their own way. Spirits, even our guides, often speak to us indirectly. Sometimes they can't express themselves in a clear manner we will understand. Instead, it is up to us to decipher the message. Thankfully when the time came, I was prepared and while I was still caught off guard, I managed to navigate my way through a really tough time in my life gracefully.


Journey 2:

This journey is more recent, occurring on July 12, 2018. The purpose of this journey was to see what my New Moon intentions should be. I began my journey as always, traveling to the Lower Realm to meet my guides. Upon arrival, Meka and Rocar were there to greet me. I asked them both what I should set as my New Moon intentions and before I could finish asking, Meka took off running through the forests and fields for what seems like miles until she reached a lake where she laid down to rest. I cooled myself in the lake, enjoying the cool water on my sore muscles. After a while, we were all well rested and Meka set off again. She led me to the House on the Shore. I told her I was not ready to enter today. The place still fills me with a sense of dread. Whatever is in there is not friendly, at least not toward me. Meka has brought me to this house several times. Obviously, I'm meant to enter, but today was not the day.

The next thing I know I am riding on a dappled horse through the plains. I hear a cry to my left. I am surrounded by Native Americans. I feel a weight on my back. I'm carrying arrows. I'm one of them are we are hunting buffalo. My tribe manages to isolate one and bring it down. I sit on my horse watching as it dies. I see the buffalo's spirit rise from its body and dance away into the heaves. The carcass is cleansed and the animal thanked for its sacrifice. We begin carving the animal, bringing its remains back to camp. That night a meat stew is severed and the elders smoke pipes and tell stories. I am tired so I retire to my bed for the night. When I awake it is morning and my hands are stained with red. Blood? I stumble outside my abode, confused and concerned but Meka is there to calm me. Its just the paint I used to mark myself, she assures me but says it is time to go before she takes off quick as the wind through the fields.

I begin to feel my time is short. When I look up I am surrounded by unfamiliar faces. I spin around and around trying to take it all in, but they are endless. Their voices grow louder, hurting my ears until I am forced to cover them and close my eyes. I scream "Enough!" and the voices stop. Are these my ancestors or past lives? I saw faces from all races and nationalities, mostly women, but a few men thrown in as well. I feel Meka between my legs calling me back. I open my eyes and they are gone. She smiles at me and says, "Next time." in her all-knowing tone. I can hear the drums calling me back, so I find the cave entrance and make my way back up the stairs and back to our realm safely.

There were several other things that happened during this journey that I do not wish to discuss openly, but this particular journey still sticks out to this day. If I'm being honest, I still haven't entered the House on the Shore, nor explored the people I saw any further. Every time I journey there is something else that must be tended too. Meka and Rocar often give me little nudges in the right direction, letting me know that the time will come to face my demons and those of others I have brought along with me. Your guides will likely do the same. I went to set New Moon intentions and came back with much more than I bargained for. There was a lot to think about from this journey, and I am still working on the intentions set during the New Moon in July. You will likely find yourself doing the same.

***

I sincerely hope that this series has been helpful for those of you interested in hedgecraft and hedge riding. This guide is nowhere near complete but is enough to get you started on your journey into the Otherworld. I will continue to post about hedge riding and my experiences in the future, especially regarding shapeshifting and setting up your own astral office or garden. I'm even planning to discuss summoning your guides to our realm, if they are willing, and how to bind them so they may aid in your magical workings on our plane. Until then, happy travels!

Interest in the rest of the series? Make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming posts!

Hedge Riding Series


Looking for more information on hedge witches? Check out my posts on the topic:


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Book Review: The Witch's Book of Spirits by Devin Hunter

Book Review: The Witch's Book of Spirits by Devin Hunter

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I've been pretty behind on my reading this year, but that's okay because what I have read has been fantastic. Quality over quantity, right? I recently finished The Witch's Book of Spirits by Devin Hunter, and while there were some things I disliked, this is probably one of the best books I've read this year regarding spirit work.

Hunter's book covers spirit work in great detail, including mediumship, flying (think astral travel), and conjuring. Being Wiccan, there are Wiccan undertones throughout the book, but it doesn't detract from the information nor drive the principles outlined in the book. At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like Hunter's take on spirit work. I rolled my eyes a couple of times in the first chapter or two and remember saying to my boyfriend that I didn't think this was going to be the book for me. However, the more I read, the more I started shaking my head in agreement instead of rolling my eyes. Hunter takes a ritualistic approach to spirit work,  pulling from his knowledge and experiences of being a medium and spirit worker for several years. His stories, which are sprinkled throughout the book, offer insights into the fine art of spirit communication.

Hunter offers a fresh perspective, discussing in detail rituals and exercises he uses to focus his mind, contact spirits, and even summon and bind spirits to our realm. Thankfully, Hunter also touches on some topics other witches tend to gloss over in regards to spirit work, the first being demons. Hunter, like myself, knows demons to be destructive, necessary forces that oppose order. Unlike other witches, Hunter makes it known demons are not evil creatures; however, some are up to no good and may, in fact, wish us harm, but that doesn't mean we should avoid working with them altogether. His description of other spiritual beings, including angels, faeries, and guides, is on point, aligning extremely well with my personal experiences, making this book very real to me. I've read several other books on spirit work that describe beings and places of the Otherworld in such a way that I have never seen or experienced, which makes me feel like those authors may be writing a book for money, not to share real knowledge. Hunter's book is not one of those. He clearly knows what he is doing and has been in contact with spirits who have shared their vast knowledge with him. In one of the final chapters of the book, Hunter introduces what he calls the VEXNA-KARI and 33 other spirits who are part of this group. I've never heard of these spirits before Hunter began describing them, but there is one in particular that wished to speak to me almost immediately, Sugar Momma. Hunter briefly mentions that Sugar Momma was the first of the 33 spirits he met with before writing his book. As soon as I read her name, the smell of perfume and laughter filled my living room. I looked up to see a plump, dark-skinned woman dressed in New Orleans style garb sitting on the velvet chair across from me. She smiled at me and when she spoke it was like honey. This is one of the most profound experiences I have ever had while reading the work of another witch. After a few moments she was gone, and I continued on with the book, reading Hunter's description of Sugar Momma some 15 or 20 minutes after meeting her myself. Upon reading Hunter's description, I was 100% sure that she had decided to visit me first as well, probably excited someone was reading about her. This is just one of three similar experiences I had while reading this book, which is part of the reason it will be added to my must-have list.

Book Review: The Witch's Book of Spirits by Devin Hunter

For those looking for a more ritualistic approach, Hunter has you covered. His Keys of Hecate, which he states were presented to him by Hecate herself, offer that ritualistic Wiccan display of high magic many witches crave. From personal experience, however, I have found that no such "keys" are necessary to communicate with the spirit world nor to summon or bind a spirit in our realm. However, I know other witches rely on such steps to bring their magic into reality.

While the book is wonderful, there are a couple of things I don't agree with, most notably his description of the realms. His setup is slightly different than mine, which is based off the World Tree. I'm not saying Hunter is wrong, I'm simply stating his outline is not supported by my personal experiences, but this is probably two minds attempting to reconcile the same information in different ways. Furthermore, I am slightly wary of the Wiccan undertones in his exercises. I don't disagree with his practice per se, but I am personally not a ritualistic witch, preferring to work with my intuition and often on the fly.

Overall, this book is a must-have for any witch, new or old, looking to work with spirits. It offers some wonderful insights into traveling to each of the realms, how to work with different spirits, and how to build relationships that last multiple lifetimes. Hunter's work is inspiring, easy to read, and, in my opinion, reliable. If you are looking to begin your journey to working with the Otherworld, this book is a good place to start.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Yule Altar 2018

Yule Altar 2018

Happy Yule, ya' filthy pagans! A couple nights ago I put together my Yule altar using some items found around my home. When possible, I prefer living decorations over fake ones. Just feels more witchy to me. For this altar, I chose a skull, antler, pyrite, white candles, a bell, and some fir and berry garland mixed with Christmas lights to celebrate the season. Furthermore, I chose white, green, red, and gold tones to pull the altar together and represent the season.

Yule Altar 2018

1. White Candles with candlesticks- The white candles represent the  Sun who is reborn at Yule. White also represents purity and protection, warding off negativity and evil and ensuring a safe winter. As Yule is the longest night of the year, candles, Yule logs, and other lights are commonly lit for protection against evil spirits that may wish harm on the inhabitants of the house. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $1 for 2 candles, candlesticks $1 each)

Yule Altar 2018

2. Evergreen Branches and Berries- The evergreen branches were cut from one of the few evergreen trees in my yard to represent the Holly King, everlasting life, and protection. Boughs of evergreen were commonly hung above doorways and placed on altars to prevent evil from entering the home, especially on the longest night of the year. The red holly berries also are a tribute to the Holly King, but also to represent blood, as the Holly King begins to die after the solstice and the Oak King is reborn. The ever-present cycle of birth and death is represented by the evergreen branches being intertwined together.  (Where did I get it: Branches Found & Berries purchased; Cost: $5)

Yule Altar 2018

3. Golden Bell- A common practice this time of year is the ringing in the new day after the solstice, thus ushering the Sun back to life. The golden bell symbolizes this tradition to "ring in" the "New Year." (Where did I get it: From September's House of Rituals Subscription Box; Cost: Estimated $2) 

Yule Altar 2018

4. Antler- The antler circling the coyote/dog skull represents regrowth/rebirth, as deer routinely shed their antlers each year to replace them with new ones, as well as the Wild Hunt, which occurs during the solstice. Furthermore, deer are spirit messengers who are able to walk between worlds the world freely, thus the antler represents the spirits of the season and communication with them. After the solstice, the days begin to lengthen and the Earth is reborn, just as the deer regrow their antlers each year.  (Where did I get it: Found; Cost: $0) 

5. Coyote/Dog Skulls- I love decorating with skulls, and Yule is no exception. This particular skull is of a coyote or dog, representing cunning and resilience, traits needed to survive long, dark winter nights when food scarce and temperatures drop below freezing.  (Where did I get it: Found; Cost: $0) 

Yule Altar 2018

6. Pyrite- Being gold, a common color associated with Yule, pyrite represents wealth, stamina, and health. Furthermore, pyrite is a crystal of the Sun and fire, representing the rebirth of the Sun after the longest night of the year. As winter continues, pyrite ensures those within will survive the season and have continued prosperity during the new year. (Where did I get it: Purchased or Subscription Box (?); Cost: $2) 

Yule Altar 2018

7. Wooden Acorns- While the Holly King is at his most powerful on Yule, this strength begins to wane and make way for the Oak King to reign once more. I placed two wooden acorns on either side of my altar to represent the return of the Oak King in the upcoming months, as well as to symbolize strength and protection to make it through the cold nights ahead. (Where did I get it: Gifted; $0)

Yule Altar 2018

TOTAL COST: ~$12

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found or purchased for around $1, although if the items must be purchased by you, then the cost will be higher. I hope you find this sort of break down helpful, especially those of you looking to create Instagram perfect altars on a budget!

How did you celebrate Yule this year?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Magickal Folk Box Review: November

Magickal Folk Box Review: November

November's Magickal Folk Small Combo box focused on the feminine. As mentioned previously, the small combo box comes with a tea ritual, meditation kit, and crystal alchemy kit, essentially a little bit of everything they curate for the month in one box for just $24.

Magickal Folk Box Review: November: Feminae Tea Ritual Kit

The first item from the box is the Tea Ritual Kit, which contained a tea called Feminae. According to the packaging, the tea is a blend of white tea, red rose, hibiscus, skullcap, vitex berry, rose hips, and pomegranate flavoring. Not going to lie, this tea is a beautiful rose color, smells like heaven, and tastes like a flower garden. I'm so in love with it. When I read the ingredients after removing it from the box, I knew in an instant I would enjoy this tea. I am a sucker for rose, rose hips, and hibiscus. To add to it, the base is a white tea, which is milder and sweeter in flavor as it comes from young tea leaves. The ritual suggests imbibing this tea with your fellow lady witches to inspire conversation, especially during our "moon cycle" or consumed ritually in tribute to the Morrigan. Honestly, I would pair this tea with Dulsky's Holy Wild. The book is all about taking back our Goddess powers and the message pairs amazingly with this tea!

Magickal Folk Box Review: November: Meditation Kit

The next item is the Meditation Kit, which focused on the sacred Wolf. The purpose of this meditation is to connect with the wolf in your life as well as honor the spirit guides in your life. As a hedgewitch, I absolutely love that this month's kit included ways to honor and connect with your spirit guides. They are so crucial to our development as witches and the meditation outlined by Candice at Magickal Folk is beautifully written and easy to follow, even for a beginner witch. The kit included a cauldron recipe card to record the ingredients included in the kit as well as any other items you add to the ritual to connect with your guide. There are two beautiful Lapiz Lazuli crystals and an herbal incense mixture that contains cedar and juniper tips for protection, star anise to carry your messages, wood betony for removing doubt and opening communication, and elderflowers to bring ancient wisdom. I love how well thought out this mixture is and that is can be used during hedge riding or a normal ritual to communicate with spirits.

Magickal Folk Box Review: November: Crystal Alchemy Kit

The final kit, the Crystal Alchemy Kit, contains a large piece of peacock ore and a witchcraft oil both of which are designed to increase magical intentions. The oil contains jojoba, olive oil, and sunflower oil infused with dragon blood resin, honeysuckle flowers, and vervain herb. Candice suggests using it as a base spell oil during rituals or to banish, heal, and enchant. There are no essential oils in this product, which I think it great because many people are allergic to essential oils. This also allows the oil to be more versatile so it can be placed on the skin, the third eye, or used to anoint candles and other objects used in spell work. The oil has a sweet, subtle scent; nothing overpowering here!

Magickal Folk Box Review: November: Crystal Alchemy Kit

Magickal Folk Box Review: November: Crystal Alchemy Kit Ritual Oil

Overall, I love the diversity in this month's box. I'm not going to lie, the tea is my favorite part! Once this subscription is complete, I may purchase the monthly tea ritual for just $5. Considering how many cups I tea I get per bag, $5 is a steal! On average, I get 7-10 cups of tea. Remember, you don't have to throw the tea out after one use. Using freshly dried herbs means you can get at least 2 cups out of most teas, so don't throw it away after one cup! Besides, the tea leaves can be used in later rituals as an offering or just to enhance your spell work!

Magickal Folk Box Review: November: Crystal Alchemy Kit Peacock Ore

Have you subscribed to any witchy or pagan subscription boxes lately? Have something you would like me to review before you commit to a purchase? I am on the lookout for something new to try next year and would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Monday, December 3, 2018

10 Witchy Ways to Give This Season

10 Witchy Ways to Give This Season

One of the reasons I love this time a year so much is because suddenly the majority of people become a little more charitable. Every year I adopt a local family to buy presents for, I donate canned goods and clothes, and if I am able to, I give up some of my precious time to help others. I'm particular about the charities I get involved with, as many use the opportunity to make money instead of giving money. It's even harder when there are conflicts of faiths. For example, I absolutely LOVE the idea behind Operation Christmas Child, but I HATE that they go into developing countries and use God as a weapon against children. I don't support that ideology one bit. So what's a witch to do? I've done the legwork and came up with a list of 10 witch-friendly charities to give to this season. I've also included instructions on how you can find local charities to support and how to find the ratings of those charities.

Pagan Pride Project Inc

Even been to a Pagan Pride festival in your local area? If so, this is the organization that helps fund and coordinate those events. They are a nonprofit organization that not only brings together pagans but also promotes social responsibility by hosting a food drive at all of their events. If you've ever been to one, you've probably "paid" to get in with canned goods. The local was rented using donated funds, so to keep these events going around the world, consider a small cash donation through PayPal.


Spiral Scouts International

A neo-pagan alternative to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, that offers a welcoming environment to children and families of all faiths. They do essentially the same things as Boy/Girl Scouts but are more inclusive and they focus more on caring for our Earth and honoring her in a way befitting us all. Currently, there are about 45 circles and hearths all over the world. Consider starting a circle in your area or make a donation to keep their programs running. If you are looking to get a little something out of your donation, they have a beautiful Goddess Coloring Book and Pagan Kid's Activity Book that would make a wonderful Yule gift to the child in your life.


ACLU Foundation

Not directly pagan/witch, but these are the people fighting for our religious freedoms and protections in the United States. The ACLU is the people who fight for you when your employer tries to fire you for being a witch. These are the people that fight for you when our government attempts to pass a law banning pagans or LGBTQ members from our military. According to Charity Watch, the ACLU Foundation has an A+ rating which means they are using most of your money to support their mission, not pay their top executives a hefty salary.  In other words, they are putting their money where their mouth is. They do good work to keep us safe.


Center for Biological Diversity

Again, not very witchy, but extremely important to environmentally conscious people like ourselves. The Center for Biological Diversity helps preserve and protect threatened and endangered species through advocacy, research, and environmental protections around the world. These are the people fighting to keep tigers, elephants, leopards, red wolves, and a host of other species from going extinct. While you may not think an individual species is important, as a biologist, I can assure you they are. Loss of a single species often causes a cascade effect in the ecosystem. This means less diversity for us to enjoy, whether it be for pleasure or for scientific or commercial use. Biological diversity is extremely important to the survival of all life on Earth. According to Charity Watch, The Center for Biological Diversity has an A.


Arbor Day Foundation

I love this charity. The Arbor Day Foundation is a US-based charity that plants trees where they are needed the most. In light of current deforestation issues, these are the people world diligently to plant more trees to increase habitat, reduce climate change, and just make the world a better place to be. Charity Watch gives the Arbor Day Foundation an A-. Why not donate 10 trees in the name of a loved one this holiday season? I used to do this every year, and will be sure to pick that tradition up again this year.


The Trevor Project

A large number of witches and pagans are apart of the LGBTQ community, and while we don't often talk about it, suicide is just as prevalent in our community as in others. Founded in 1998, the Trevor Project provides crisis and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youths under 25. They do incredibly good work and offer a host of services to keep our LGBTQ community safe. According to Charity Watch, the Trevor Project has an A rating. If you are looking to continue to support the LGBTQ community, also consider giving to my favorite charity, Lost-n-Found Youth. This is an Atlanta, GA based charity that provides shelter, food, and support to homeless LGBTQ youth. They are the only LGBTQ friendly homeless shelter in the Atlanta area. I love their work and support them every year. They are always looking to monetary gifts, but they also have an Amazon wishlist if you would rather donate food, clothing, bedding, or backpacks.


PetSmart Charities

Okay, this one may seem a little odd because PetSmart is such a huge company, but they are one of the highest rated animal adoption charities in the United States. If you are looking to help get some pets adopted, PetSmart Charities is the charity to donate too. They spend less money to raise funds and 93% of donations go directly to getting animals adopted. If you have ever been to a weekend adoption at PetSmart, this is where the funds came from to help run the event. They also help support local animal shelters and provide low-cost spay and neuter. I adopted my cat Oscar Wilde from a PetSmart adoption day and its the best thing I ever did. If you are looking for other ways to give back to the homeless pets in your community, try volunteering at your local animal shelter or consider gifting your local animal shelter with used towels and blankets, pet food, and cat litter. These gifts go a long way.


Operation Homefront

For those of you who don't know, my little brother has been serving in the US Army for several years as a combat medic. He did two tours in the Middle East and is currently stationed in Hawaii, the buffer between the US and North Korea. Operation Homefront is a charity that helps provide assistance to military families in the form of financial aid. Honestly, charities like this shouldn't need to exist, but because our government is too cheap to pay our service members enough to take care of themselves and their families, many families end up relying on outside help. Operation Homefront provided military families over $22.5 million in financial assistance last year, 18% of which when to help families buy groceries, 16% for rent/mortgage assistance, and 15% to keep utilities on for our military families. They also provide backpacks and academic scholarships so military children have what they need to succeed. Charity Watch gives them an A rating, with 92% of funds raised going to support our military families so they don't have to choose between food and keep the electricity on.


Scholarship America

Scholarship America helps students and communities by aiding in the development of scholarship programs around the country, specifically targetting low-income areas and families. Global scholarships are available as well. They also design and deliver high impact education programs to make a difference in these same areas to promote education as a way of rising out of poverty. There is a running list of active scholarships available on their website to ensure students can easily find and apply for scholarships across the country. I know many in our community cannot afford for their children to go to college, so consider helping support a local scholarship through Scholarship America, which has an A+ rating from Charity Watch. If you are looking to give to a pagan/witch specific scholarship, try one from this list or donate to Michigan Pagan Scholarships.


Global Fund for Women

This charity works to ensure that women around the world have reproductive and sexual rights, freedom from violence, leadership, and economic justice. The partner with other local groups to advocate for women and keep women globally safe and represented. According to Charity Watch, the Global Fund for Women as an A rating. The majority of our community includes women, and women witches in other countries are not as safe as women in the United States, Europe, and Australia. There are modern day witch burnings still occurring, most of which are directed at women. The Global Fund for Women seeks to end violence of all types against women, no matter their religious affiliation.


Looking to stay local? You can use Charity Navigator to find charities in your area that meets your standards. Charity Navigator also lists the charities rating, if it has one, and a short description of the charity so you can donate your money and time wisely. You can also give to Charity Ratings, which is a nonprofit organization that unbiasedly rates and reviews charities. Their ratings are well-respected, accurate, and transparent. They also allow you to search your favorite charities to learn more about them. While not every charity is on there, the big ones are. I always search Charity Ratings before I give, unless I've worked with the charity directly before.

This list is by no means all-inclusive. I tried to pick charities that do work related to paganism and witchcraft in some way or that supports a vast number of our members. If you have a charity you love to donate to, please leave a comment below. I'd like this to be a running list of great charities for witches and pagans to donate to to make the greatest impact on our community. Remember, charitable giving doesn't have to be expensive. Just $5 goes an incredibly long way. I donate $5 to charities all the time. They are happy for the donation, and while it may not seem like a lot, it does a whole lot of good, I promise. I used to work in a donation call center; we loved $5 donations! I hope you'll find it in your heart to give this holiday season and may you have a very happy holiday!


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: After You Hedge Ride: Coming Back to Earth

Hedge Riding Series: After You Hedge Ride: Coming Back to Earth

Once you have crossed the hedge, met with your guides, and begun to develop relationships with them, it is time to come home. If you are listening to shamanic drumming, there is always a signal to let the listener know the drumming will soon end. This signal is designed to pull your soul back to you and give you time to slowly come back to earth. But how does one do this?

Depending on the method you used to get into the Otherworld, your method of coming home will vary as well. For me, I always cross the hedge in the same way. I start at the same location at my childhood home, find the same fallen tree, and either walk down or up the stairs to reach the realm I am looking for. I take the same route home. If I am in the Lower Realm, I find the cave covered in vines and walk back up the steps, through the tree, and back to my childhood home. Each of us enters the Otherworld differently, so whatever path you originally took to get there, you should retrace your steps to get back. Make sure you take the same path every time. This makes it easy to travel to and from the Otherworld, but also ensures your soul makes it back in one piece. Once you have made it back to your original starting location, send out a pulse of energy through the Universe. I do this by outstretching my arms, looking up, and forcing energy out of myself. This energy pulse acts as a beacon, allowing any missing fragments of yourself to return to you. Sometimes pieces of us get left behind in the Otherworld without us realizing it. This pulse will call those pieces back to you so you return to our plane completely. After sending out the pulse, check yourself over. Do any areas feel less solid or colder than other places? If so, you may still be missing parts of yourself. Send another pulse and wait a moment or two. If the piece(s) still do not return, you will need to extend your journey. Travel to the Middle Realm and summon your animal guides to assist you in locating the missing pieces. This is an extremely rare occurrence for well-trained witches. Usually, one pulse is more than enough to ensure you return whole. If you have taken the proper precautions, you shouldn't have to worry about losing parts of you in the Otherworld.

Once you have ensured all of you has returned, slowly open your eyes. If you are laying down, I suggest you remain laying for at least 2-3 minutes to readjust to the physical world. The same if you are sitting. Don't get up right away or try to immediately begin processing your journey. You may feel groggy or tired when you return. This is normal, especially if you have done a lot of work on your journey. Remember, time is different within the Otherworld and our world. While you may have only been gone for 30 minutes on Earth, you could have been in the Otherworld for a week. Its okay if you are tired afterward. Flying is hard work! You may even notice everything is slightly out of focus. Give yourself time to adjust and fully come home. While you are adjusting, reach out and feel the Earth around you. Even if you are inside on your bed, send your energy down until it touches the Earth. Feel the cool, damp soil surround your body and ground you. If you are too drained to do this or unable to ground this way, hold some black tourmaline. This is my favorite method of grounding. Black tourmaline and I have a pretty awesome relationship. I rely on my beautiful crystal A LOT. I always keep it next to me when I hedge ride so I can easily reach over when I am finished to quickly ground myself. Grounding after flying is incredibly important. It brings your mind and soul mentally back to our plane and will allow you to get rid of that tired feeling you may have.

When you are positive you have returned completely, cleanse yourself with sage or another cleansing herb blend. This gets rid of anything that may have hitched a ride back with you. Spirit parasites are common so a cleanse is necessary. If you want and feel it will help, take a cleansing shower. Wash with a sage soup or hang some fresh sage in your shower to help remove any parasitic spirits from yourself.

It is only after you have grounded and cleansed yourself that you should begin trying to process what messages you saw and received. Be sure to write everything you can remember down in your Book of Shadows or in a hedge riding notebook. I keep a notebook specifically for hedge riding. I journey so often and have such elaborate experiences, that it doesn't make sense to try and keep these notes with any other magical workings. In fact, I have a notebook for dreams, one for tarot and divination, one for spell work, and finally one for hedge riding. I've found it is the easiest way for me to organize. Anyway! When you are writing, don't worry about complete sentences, the timeline of events, or spelling. If you need to, jot down major events and images and worry about elaborating on them later. Once you have written everything down, take a break. I know you want to immediately jump right in and begin making sense of everything you saw and did, but trust me, you need to take a break. Go get a snack. Drink something sugary. Go for a walk or go watch The Office. If you give yourself a break, both mentally and physically, you'll be better equipt to figure out the messages you have been given. You may even need to give yourself an entire day. It just depends. When the mind has had time to relax and recalibrate, it is often able to see patterns and meanings and solve problems we wouldn't otherwise have been able to see or do. This is why people tell you to sleep on things. Your mind is a powerful tool, but it needs a break after flying as well. When you feel ready, begin by rereading everything you wrote. Expand on any areas you rushed to get down. Start to piece together any messages you may have received and try to make sense of what you saw and did. Sometimes the messages are extremely clear. Sometimes Meka looks me straight in the eye and says, very clearly, do this. Other times I am shown a series of images and it takes me a week to figure out what she was talking about. Our spirit guides don't always speak the same language as us and sometimes they give us answers to a question we didn't realize we were asking. Those answers may take a little longer to figure out, but make sense when events start to fall into place. Meditate on what you have seen, light candles, burn incense, hold some amethyst, do whatever you need to to figure out the meaning to the messages you received. Be aware that not everything has a meaning. Sometimes lines get crossed and we pick up random bits of information. If you are struggling to understand a message, let it breathe. Taking a break is always the best thing you can do. If push comes to shove, hedge ride again, this time making it clear you want a straight answer. Heck, try asking the question a different way!

It is important to note that your guides, if they are really your guides, won't lie to you. If you are concerned about the information you have received, go back and ask again. If you receive inconsistent information, the spirit you are talking to may not be your guide or at least not yet. Not everyone you meet if out to help you.

There is a lot more to hedge riding than what I have mentioned in this series. Over the course of the next year I will expand on some of these topics, but honestly, it would take a book to completely explain everything involved in hedge riding, from building your garden to shapeshifting, to summoning and binding spirits. The list is pretty endless. Good news for you, I am currently writing a book! Maybe I'll get around to finishing it within the next year. Until then, keep an eye out on the blog to related posts! I promise I will delve into many of these topics soon. My final post of this series will include some of my journeys. I thought about leaving this final post off, but I recognize some of you may need to see what I have experienced to validate your own. I'm right there with you. Besides, reading about the experiences of others is so intriguing! It's like reading a really good book, don't you think? Within the next couple of weeks, I'll share some of my most memorable journeys with you!

Interest in the rest of the series? Make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming posts!

Hedge Riding Series


Looking for more information on hedge witches? Check out my posts on the topic:


Monday, November 26, 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Hedgewitches

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Hedgewitches

My favorite time of year is right around the corner, and I can't wait! I know most witches adore Halloween, and yes, as a hedgewitch I find Halloween pretty fantastic, especially when it comes to spirit work, but there is just something about Yule that resonates with my soul. I absolutely love snow, hot cocoa, the smell of balsam, twinkling lights, warm fuzzy blankets, holiday dinner, and giving gifts. I am the ultimate gift giver, and I can tell you, I usually go all out at Yule because this is the one time of year spoiling someone else is perfectly acceptable. You can bet your butt I'm going to do some hardcore spoiling of all my friends and family this year. However, I realize not everyone is as gift savvy as I may be, especially when it comes to giving a gift to the witch in your life. Are you wondering what you should get the hedgewitch in your life? Have no fear; Willow is here to help! Here is my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Hedgewitches, perfectly curated for that special witch in your life. (Pst, get me these for Yule too, MP!)

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Element Candles by Wilde Autumn Apothecary

1. Element Candles by Wilde Autumn Apothecary. I had the pleasure of meeting Caundace at Atlanta Pagan Pride this year, and I bought several of her products. Her candles are great, especially the 1936 which smells like roses, and I enjoyed her 1936 essential oil perfume, even though the scent doesn't last all day. The Element Soy Candles are a great gift addition for the witch in your life. Each of the elements is represented in a separate candle for just $10 each and they burn for a long time. This is a great way to represent the elements on your altar or they can be used during specific spells and rituals to invoke the element you desire. Either way, whatever you buy from Wilde Autumn will be well worth the money, and the witch in your life will be thrilled with the gift. (Please note there is a typo in the shop. I believe "wind" is supposed to be "fire" based on the product description).

Glow Spirit Board by Memento Mori Goods 
2. Glow Spirit Board by Memento Mori Goods. This is my favorite spirit board I have seen on Etsy. First, this darn thing glows in the dark. Who doesn't love glowing cats?! Second, its crafted from Blackened Baltic Birch, a wood specifically for banishing and keeping out negative spirits, making it a pretty powerful wood to use for a spirit board. It is hand painted and polished to a satin finish, and for just $61, I say you are getting this bad boy for a steal! As a mediator between this world and the next, a spirit board is a wonderful spirit communication tool for the hedgewitch in your life. (Please note that spirit boards are NOT the enemy; poor practice and planning is. As with all magical tools, spirit boards should be used with caution and only by well-versed witches. These are not a toy.)

Modern Herbal Pendulum Board by Positively Mystic

3. Modern Herbal Pendulum Board by Positively Mystic. Okay, is this not one of the prettiest pendulum boards you have ever seen in your life? Yeah, that's what I thought. The design is laser cut onto maple, which is associated with travel, moon magic, and learning, making it a great pendulum board for asking questions. The herbal design is also perfect for hedgewitches who are natural herbal healers and spirit communicators. If the witch in your life doesn't have a pendulum board, you should probably get her/him one. The size of the boards ranges from 3.5 to 12 inches in diameter and range in price from $17-$45. There is nothing wrong with the mini board. In fact, it'll probably work best anyway! Hopefully, the witch in your life has a pendulum, but in case they don't, one of amethyst is a must to increase spirit connection. Why not throw in this amethyst pendulum from Lumina Crystals for just $4.50?

The Spirit World Oil by The Raven's Moon

4. The Spirit World Oil by The Raven's Moon. This little oil makes a great stocking stuffer for the hedgewitch in your life. It is specifically designed to help open the gateway to the Otherworld so it can be used during hedge riding or during other spirit work. Please note this oil is for anointing, not for a diffuser. At just $12.99 a bottle, its slightly pricey, but this little bottle will go a long, long way!

Welcome Witches Doormat by A Little Tinsel

5. Welcome Witches Doormat by A Little Tinsel. This doormat is cute af, and perfect for a homey witch looking to add a little magic to her/his front doorstep. The doormat measures 18" x 30" and is made of coir natural coconut fiber with a rubber back. Each doormat is handpainted, meaning there will be slight variations between each mat, but that's what makes each of them so great! This mat is more pricey than others at $40, but the personal touch and supporting a small business is worth the price.

The Witch is In Decal by Handmade Harrisburg

6. The Witch is In Decal by Handmade Harrisburg. This decal goes great with the welcome mat featured above, especially for the hedgewitch in your life that has a spiritual business run out of the home or a local shop. The decal comes in a variety of colors, fonts, and sizes, and is guaranteed to last about 5 years outside, depending on local weather conditions. Based on the size you purchase, the decal can cost you between $12 and $17. (Please note that this type of vinyl is not meant to be removed after a month or so of use, but is meant to be a permanent fixture. Apply at your own risk.)

Personalized Moon Forest Constellation Mug by She Wolfka

7. Personalized Moon Forest Constellation Mug by She Wolfka. Okay, tea, and maybe coffee, is a staple of witchcraft. That's a given, so of course, there is a mug on this list. Duh! This particular mug features the moon phase and constellation of your choice. Who the heck doesn't want a mug with a full moon and their astrological sign on it? This Libra sure as heck wants one! The mug comes in grey, blue, or light turquoise, and each is hand painted. Again, this is a little pricey at $30.02 a mug, but trust me, the witch in your life will appreciate the heck out of this mug. (These ship from Slovenia so you best purchase it now if you want it!)

Spells and Hexes Stylus Pen by The Carbon Crusader

8. Spells and Hexes Stylus Pen by The Carbon Crusader. Have a tech-savvy witch in your life or just one that loves office supplies (yeah...that would be this witch), then this pen makes a pretty awesome stocking stuffer. It's $8 and when the ink runs out, she/he can still use it to play Candy Crush or draw funny faces on Snap Chat.

Hedgewitch Botanical Oracle by Siolo Thompson

9. Hedgewitch Botanical Oracle by Siolo Thompson. This oracle deck is absolutely gorgeous. Every time I look at the cards I just melt. The deck features a variety of herbs and helps you learn traditional herb lore while seeking guidance from the spirit world. The deck contains 40 perfectly decorated cards at just $22.50. Even if the witch in your life has a tarot deck and/or Oracle deck, you should probably get them this one as well.

Coloring Book of Shadows 2019 by Amy Cesari

10. Coloring Book of Shadows 2019 by Amy Cesari. I have the 2018 planner and I LOVE it! I am sure 2019 is going to be just as awesome. For just $11.69 the witch in your life can fully plan and track their magical year while fostering their inner creativity. Its a great gift for Yule, especially for that witch in your life that already struggles to keep their life organized. And good news! This panner is also available in a southern hemisphere edition!

Moon Incense Burner by Most Amazing

11. Moon Incense Burner by Most Amazing. Is this not the cutest freaking incense burner you have ever seen? Yeah, that's what I thought! Its just 3.5 inches, made of Baltic Birch, and just $8.50. I'm sure your witch burns incense and they could always use an additional holder.

Rose & Almond All Natural Nourishing Hand Cream by Bahari Blossom

12. Rose & Almond All Natural Nourishing Hand Cream by Bahari Blossom. Okay, so most of the items on this list have been unisex. This one is clearly for the witchy woman in your life, but honestly guys, you should want to smell like roses for your lady too and no one likes chapped hands. With cold, dry weather wreaking havoc on our skin, this nourishing hand cream will soothe even the most stubborn dry skin and the smell of roses will help conquer those winter blues and have you dreaming of spring weather. 50 grams costs just $6.

Moon and Trees Letterpress Moleskine Journal by Runaway Press

13. Moon and Trees Letterpress Moleskine Journal by Runaway Press. A witch can never have too many journals. You need one for a grimoire, one to be a Book of Shadows, one for dreams and divination and tarot and runes and hedge riding and recipes. I mean, the list is pretty endless if you think about it. This journal contains 80 lined pages and features a beautiful full moon over a forest of evergreens for just $15. It is available in several colors, including grey, green, black, and blue.


I realize not all of the items are the list are cheap and for those of you on a tight budget, some of these wonderful items may not make the cut. In the end, giving a gift should come from the heart, and anything you buy for the witch in your life this Yule will be greatly appreciated. These just happen to be a few of my favorite things this year, and I look forward to compiling another list next year!  If you are in a pinch, crystals and herbs go a long way! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Apothecary: Sore Throat Remedy

Apothecary: Sore Throat Remedy

I was sick for about a week and a half with what I originally thought was tonsillitis. After a couple of days, it turned into a sinus infection. Thankfully, I know exactly what to do when I start to get sick, especially when my throat begins to hurt. Please note that this is not intended as medical advice and you should consult with your doctor before trying the remedy listed below. If you are running a fever, you need to seek medical attention. Antibiotics aren't terrible. In fact, they are life-saving, so if you need some, make sure you get them!

Sore Throat Remedy

Ingredients
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
real honey to taste

Directions
Mix the garlic and cayenne together until well combined. You can use fresh or jarred garlic. There really isn't a difference in effectiveness. Add at least a teaspoon of honey, if not a tablespoon or two, to taste. This is super, super spicy without the honey, so be sure to add enough to dull the spice and sweeten the taste.  Take 1 tablespoon every 3-4 hours after eating. Too much garlic on its own can upset your stomach.

This remedy is great for adults and children. Unless you are allergic to one of the ingredients, there is little risk, other than an upset tummy, to using this remedy freely. It should be noted children until the age of one should NOT eat honey, so avoid giving this remedy to a small child. Also, should your symptoms worsen or you begin to run a fever, you should definitely seek medical attention. Sometimes antibiotics are best. Its the difference between living our best life and dying.

How It Works

Garlic is one of the most universal herbs on the market and has been recognized by herbalist and scientists as one of the most effective antimicrobial plants, acting to help kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Because of its unique properties, garlic is the perfect remedy for a sore throat, whether it be brought on my a bacteria or virus.

Cayenne, on the other hand, is a stimulant, increasing blood flow to help speed up the healing process. Like garlic, cayenne is also naturally antiseptic, helping to kill bacteria and viruses lurking in the throat.

And finally, raw honey! Honey is also naturally antiseptic, working with the garlic and cayenne to fight off the infection. It is also anti-inflammatory, helping reduce swelling of the tonsils and coating them to reduce irritation. Of course, the honey also dulls the spice of the cayenne, making the whole remedy more palpable. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, right?

***

Is there a particular way you ward off a sore throat? I'm always looking for new recipes!


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Magickal Folk Box Review: October

Magickal Folk Review: October




















I have received some of the Magickal Folk subscription boxes in the past, but they have changed several times over the past 2 years, which is part of why I have never reviewed the subscription. However, it looks like they have stabilized a little bit, so I felt it was a good time to begin reviewing one of the boxes, the Small Combo Kit.

Unlike their other boxes, the Small Combo Kit includes all three of their smaller kits: Ritual Tea Kit, Meditation Kit, and Crystal Alchemy Kit, so it's like receiving three gifts in one! At just $24 per box, it is fairly affordable.

Magickal Folk Review: October

October's box focused on Samhain, of course. Upon opening the box I found three pouches full of goodies, each coming with its own direction sheet. The first pouch I opened contained the Ritual Tea Kit. The tea featured for October is the Thinning of the Veil tea which is designed to enhance communication with spirits during dreaming. It contains red rooibos tea, mugwort, patchouli root and herb, and mulled spices of clove, juniper, lemon peel, orange peel, and cinnamon. Mugwort enhances psychic power, astral projection, and prophetic dreams, making it the perfect herb to include in a spirit communication tea. According to the directions, the tea should be brewed for 3-5 minutes and be consumed prior to sleeping. The three nights I drank this tea before bed I had very vivid dreams which I recorded in a dream journal. I've never really kept up with a dream journal, but I felt this was the perfect time to start. Needless to say, the tea worked. It's slightly spicy from the mulled spices and bitter from the mugwort, but a spoonful of honey tamed the flavor and enhances the effects of the mugwort.

Magickal Folk Review: October

The second pouch I removed contained a pendulum and a pouch of herbs labeled Witches Sight. According to the information sheet, which has a pendulum layout on the back, there are a number of ways to cleanse, protect, and use the pendulum. The herbs in Witches Sight include sandalwood, lilac leaves, lemongrass, mugwort, eyebright, honeysuckle, and lobelia, which are included to raise energy and heighten psychic ability. This particular pendulum is light and made of Tiger's Eye which has powerful protective energy.

Magickal Folk Review: October

Magickal Folk Review: October

The final pouch contained some of the supplies needed for a Samhain Home Blessing ritual, including one carnelian crystal, two black onyx crystals, mint leaves, and Samhain blessing oil. The oil contains mullen, chrysanthemum, sage, birch bark, apple and Blood Orange, and Allspice essential oil. The oil smells wonderful and the peppermint, while dry, is clearly fresh. The ritual is well written and the instructions are clear. According to the ritual instructions, this ritual is to keep harmful or negative spirits from entering your home on Samhain. Despite the ritual being for Samhain, this sort of home blessing can easily be performed at any time during the year.

Overall I am very satisfied with this box. I look forward to seeing what November and December has in store for me. If you would like to see my unboxing video of this box, please check out my YouTube channel.