Friday, October 5, 2018

Crystals for Surgery Recovery

Crystals for Surgery Recovery

On Monday I underwent an outpatient surgery for endometriosis. I've never had a "real" surgery before with the closest thing being having my wisdom teeth removed when I was in high school. Needless to say, I was frightened and extremely anxious. I have had multiple anxiety attacks over the past couple of weeks leading up to the surgery and my biggest fear was that the doctor would cut me open to find nothing was wrong with me, that the pain I have been experiencing since I was 14 was all in my head. Thankfully that wasn't the case. In fact, he found a lot more than he expected, including significant scarring around my colon and intestines. The scar tissue was so bad that my intestines had fused to the wall of my abdominal cavity and the mass was unmoving, meaning regular function was inhibited. He approached my mom before removing it, asking if she was sure I had never had another abdominal surgery. She assured him I had not, that this was the first. He said the next possible source of the scarring was an infection, so he went looking for what he thought was the source: my appendix. Thankfully that little organ is perfectly healthy, but we aren't sure exactly what caused the issue. I have a feeling I know what caused it, and I plan to discuss it with my doctor next week at my post-op appointment.

The past couple of days have been extremely rough. I am allergic to opiates which means I am stuck with tramadol, a synthetic opiate to treat mild pain, and Advil. However, I have been using some magical means to speed up the healing process as well: crystals. Here are three crystals I have been relying on this week to speed up the healing process.

Crystals for Surgery Recovery: Bloodstone

1. Bloodstone: Bloodstone, so named after the red flecks of "blood" throughout it, purifies the blood and stimulates the immune system, thus aiding in a speedy recovery, especially after surgery. It can ward off flu, colds, infections, inflammation, and helps revitalize the body after an injury. Furthermore, bloodstone is known for its grounding and cleansing properties, helping to ward off negativity and anxiety while your body recovers. Simply place this stone near the incision site to benefit from its healing vibrations. Do not place the crystal directly on the wound(s). This can cause more harm than good.

Crystals for Surgery Recovery: Lapis lazuli

2. Lapis lazuli: This brilliant blue crystal is known for easing pain, boosting the immune system, and purifying the blood. It is also known for lowering blood pressure and easing inflammation, making it the perfect crystal to use after a surgery. Lapis lazuli also encourages you to take charge of your life and helps to focus the mind, allowing you to focus on healing and living your best life in the future. Like bloodstone, lapis lazuli can be placed near the incision site to aid in the recovery process.

Crystals for Surgery Recovery: Amethyst

3. Amethyst: Amethyst is believed to ease inflammation and boost the immune system as well, thus helping to aid in recovery. Furthermore, amethyst is known to help skin conditions, meaning it can be used to reduce scarring and aid in the healing of open wounds and incisions after surgery. This purple variety of quartz is also calming, allowing the user to relax during the healing process and sleep if need be as it wards off insomnia. Amethyst can be placed near the wound, on your forehead, or next to your bed to aid in recovery.

I have been using these three crystals the majority of the week, and they have brought a comfort nothing else has been able to provide. I hope that none of you ever have to have surgery, but if you do, know these crystals will work with your body to heal quickly.

Please note that crystals and magical healing methods SHOULD NOT replace any treatment your doctor has prescribed. You should follow your post-op care instructions to the letter. I do NOT suggest using herbs to aid in the recovery process as many of them can and do interfere with prescribed medications. If your symptoms worsen, you begin to run a fever, or the pain becomes worse, call your doctor immediately. Magical methods can be used to enhance your recovery process, but should not replace them.

What crystals do you turn to in your time of need?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides

Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides

After you have successfully traveled to the Otherworld, the next step is to seek your animal guides. These are the beings in animal form that will help guide you in your travels and aid in your healing and growth as a hedgewitch. Some hedgewitches consider their animal guides to be their familiars. This is a perfectly acceptable viewpoint, especially if you do not have a familiar within our realm like myself. I have three beautiful cats, but none of them are familiars, at least not yet. The verdict is still out on little Charlie as he is still a kitten and hasn't reached maturity yet. But I digress.

Animal guides sometimes referred to as a power animal or totem, come in many shapes and forms and can change over the lifetime of the witch. They can be birds, fish, insects, or mammals, but in general, they are wild animals, not a domesticated pet. However, it is not unheard of for a hedgewitch to have a dog or cat as their animal guide, but it is uncommon. Furthermore, it not unheard of for a mythical creature to be your animal guide, but again, this is rare because you animal guide will often appear within our realm to guide and assist you, and mythical creatures have a hard time passing successfully into our world.

Some say you choose the animal guide, but I have found that 99.99% of the time, the animal guide chooses you. Furthermore, an affinity toward an animal does not necessarily mean that particular animal is your animal guide. For example, my favorite animal is the maned wolf, but I haven't seen it show up as an animal guide, at least not yet. You may think your animal guide is a bear, wolf, or eagle (which most people tend to think because they associate animal guides with Native American culture), but your guide or guides may very well be a turtle, clownfish, ox, or rabbit.

What is an Animal Guide?

So what is the role of an animal guide?

1. They are our trusted friends. Your animal guides are there for you to lean on whenever you need them. They are there to help you answer questions, aid in magical workings, give you confidence, and stand by your side, no matter what you do because that's what friends are for.

2. They are our guides, NOT our controllers. You animal guide will never intervene unless your life is in danger or you ask for assistance. They are not self-seeking. Their role is that of a mentor; to advise and suggest based on their lifetime of experience.

3. They are our escorts in the Otherworld. Your animal guide acts as a travel guide through the Otherworld, keeping you safe in the process.

4. They are conduits; they help aid and direct our energies and channel the energies of the Otherworld so we may effectively see them. When you finally travel to the Upper Realm, your guides will help bring this realm into focus for you. Those beings operate on a much higher frequency so your animal guide will act as a mediator or translator to bring the picture into view for you.

5. They are our bodyguards. This is probably the most important role outside of being a mentor. Your animal guides will protect you, both in and out of our realm, from harm as much as they possibly can. There are hidden dangers in the Otherworld and it is imperative you not travel alone. However, that doesn't mean your animal guides won't allow you to suffer hardship; quite the contrary. Your guides will ensure your experience hardship, but only is it has something to teach us.

6. They are our caretakers, working to heal us, cleanse us of negativity, and even help to heal physical ailments. For personal experience, there is nothing that makes me feel better after suffering a bought of anxiety or depression quite like visiting my animal guides.

7. They are our instructors. Your guides are there to act as a teacher, not just a mentor offering advice. They will provide you with opportunities to grow as a hedgewitch and person, in a semi-controlled fashion. They will share knowledge and wisdom with you freely, although sometimes cryptic. If they do not know the answer, they will tell you so, but guide you down the right path to find the answers you seek.

Your animal guide is NOT:
  • a dictator
  • a slave or servant
  • a genie
  • a god
  • evil, self-seeking, or otherwise harmful to you
Our relationships with our animal guides should be treasured and nurtured, just like friendships within our realm.

Meeting Your Animal Guides

Meeting your animal guides for the first time can be quite simple, however, there will be times animal guides appear to you when you are not actively seeking them. Your animal guides reside in the Lower Realm, so this is where you will have to travel. If you happen to meet an animal outside of the Lower Realm, be cautious. They are likely not an animal guide, but on some off chance they are, they will appear to you in the Lower Realm another time. To meet your animal guides for the first time, set your intention for your journey as follows: "I will journey to the Lower World to meet my animal guide. I ask that may animal guide be waiting for me when I arrive at the Lower World."

The first time you do this, you may not meet your guides. It could take a couple tries to get their attention, especially if you are new to hedge riding. You may notice that your animal guides change with you. That's okay. The animal guides you have today may not be the guides you need in 10 years. You will also likely have more than one, each to teach you a different lesson. Be open and accepting of what they have to teach you.

My Animal Guides

I have briefly mentioned my animal guides before, but I figured I would give a more detailed description of them in this post, with their blessings of course. I have two guides: a female red fox named Meka, and a male raven named Rocar.

Meka is by far the guide that shows up the most. She is kind, loving, playful, and wise beyond her years. She is very motherly and extremely patient with me. Meka is often my transportation through the realms and has accompanied me on soul retrievals, chord cuttings, and general journies. Whenever I meet her, she greets me like a playful puppy, bouncing around as if its the first time she has seen me. It's a wonderful feeling to be with her; just thinking about her calms my anxiety and fills my heart with love. My favorite thing to do is lie with her in my Garden within the Middle Realm and stare up at the clouds. It's the most peaceful thing imaginable.

Rocar, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. He is loud, rude, obnoxious, and extremely sarcastic. He likes to pick at my hair and face and completely lacks the patience and grace of Meka. He likes to pick on Meka too, often diving down to peck her while we are together, then flying off laughing in a way only a raven can. But Rocar is a wonderful teacher and a reflection of myself. I too am loud, rude, obnoxious, and extremely sarcastic. Whenever I wonder what I am doing wrong, Rocar is there to be blunt and matter-of-fact. His lessons are hard-hitting but valuable. While Meka likes to avoid hurting me, Rocar knows that sometimes pain is the greatest teacher and he isn't afraid to use it on me.

At this point in my life, these are the guides I desperately need. Between my feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness, my divorce last year, and the financial and health struggles I have endured, I need someone to love me unconditionally and someone to smack some sense in me at the same time. You will find that your animal guides are there to meet your needs right now, in this phase of your life. Sometimes they are not the guide we want, but the guide we need. It is my greatest hope for you as a hedgewitch that you connect with your animal guides in a way that transforms your life. I cannot express enough how important your animal guides are to your growth and success and I sincerely hope that your experience is as magical as mine.

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

Hedge Riding Series

Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides
Developing a Relationship With Your Spirit Companions
After You Hedge Ride: Coming Back to Earth
My Hedge Riding Experiences

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mabon Altar 2018

Mabon Altar 2018

Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, is the second of the harvest festivals, and while it doesn't feel like fall yet here in Georgia, I have noticed the days getting shorter and the Earth shifting towards winter. For this year's Mabon altar I decided to go with reds, browns, and greens to represent the bountiful harvest, the Sun, and our great Mother Earth.

Mabon Altar 2018

1. Leaf Candle Holder & Green Candle - The leaf candle holders with the green candles represent fertility (green) and the changing seasons. At Mabon, Mother Earth is providing us with bountiful crops, but there are marked shifts in the weather as fall begins, especially for those up north. Furthermore, the candles represent the Sun who helps to ripen the fruits of the second harvest. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $3 ($1 for a set of 3 candles, and $1 each for the holders)

2. Ivy and Red Berries- The ivy draped around the entire altar represent abundance and fertility during the harvest while the red berries represent fruits of the harvest. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost $2 ($1 each))

3. Green Candles- The green candles flanking the altar represent fertility, prosperity, and abundance, but more importantly they represent our great Mother Earth who provides us with the fruits of the season. Without the Earth, our food would not be able to grow and ripen so they may be stored away during the winter months. (Where did I get it: September House of Rituals Box 2018; Cost: Estimated $4)

Mabon Altar 2018

4. Grapes- The grapes found flanking the altar represent fertility and abundance. In some places, grapes are still being harvested at this time along with apples and pears. Furthermore, with Mabon being a harvest festival, it is important to have as many representations of fertility and abundance as possible to continue to provoke a bountiful harvest season so there is food to survive the winter. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

Mabon Altar 2018

5. Silk Sunflowers, berries, and wheat- The flower arrangement found in the center arrangement represent the fruits of the harvest, fertility, abundance, and prosperity in hopes that the growing season will be successful. The red colors represent the masculine Sun who is waning during the time, but still strong enough to ripen the fruits growing in the fields and orchards. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $3 ($1 each))

6. Corn Dolly- The corn dolly represents the spirit of grain, who will be later reborn in the spring grains at Yule. While I will not be sacrificing my corn dolly, the significance of this effigy is an important idol that should be on any harvest altar during this time. Corn is still being harvested in some places at this time, but the crops are beginning to wane, especially here in Georgia.  (Where did I get it: August House of Rituals Box 2018; Cost: Estimated $5)

Mabon Altar 2018

7. Pumpkin- The pumpkin is a prominent figure this time of year, especially during Mabon and Samhain. For this altar, the pumpkin represents abundance, as fall squash is being harvested in great abundance at this time. It also represents fertility and protection in hopes that the winter months will not be too harsh. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2018; Cost $1)

8. Crystals Spiral- On this altar, there is moss agate for growth and fertility, especially for crops, as well as to represent the Mother Earth, and carnelian for strength and to represent the Sun who is beginning to wane but still remains strong enough to ripen the remaining crops. The spiral pattern represents the wheel of the year and the changing of seasons. (Where did I get it: Purchased from metaphysical stores or received in subscription boxes; Cost: Unknown)

Mabon Altar 2018

TOTAL COST: ~$20-22

Mabon Altar 2018

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found or purchased for around $1, although this altar is slightly more expensive due to items being received in subscription boxes this year. The crystals are the only items that I have acquired from various sources and cannot give an exact value for. 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 Mabon this year?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Broom in Hedgecraft

The Broom in Hedgecraft

"I'm a witch. A real house-haunting, broom-riding, cauldron-stirring witch." -Samantha, from Bewitched

Why is it the broom is such an iconic figure in witchcraft? When I say the word witch, that is inevitably the first image to pop into someone's mind. It's so iconic that almost every book or movie with witches features a broom. My favorite is probably the scene from Hocus Pocus where the sisters fly away on other cleaning tools, including a vacuum. I laugh. Every. Single. Time.  So where did it all begin?

Early History

Commonly referred to in witchcraft as a besom, the broomstick was an important fixture in homes throughout Europe and other parts of the world. It was usually made of wood and straw and used, of course, to sweep the floors. The broom represented the epitome of female domesticity and was the perfect object of rebellion for women stuck in an extremely patriarchal world, but we'll get to that in a moment.

One of the earliest known ritual besoms was believed to be made from Hazelwood and birch twigs, both trees sacred to the pagans. They were not very useful for cleaning and needed constant repair, so instead they were often placed by the door, bristles up, to ward of evil spirits and negative energies. Due to its use as a cleaning implement, the broom quickly became associated with the cleansing of negative energies and was later used in handfasting ceremonies to represent new beginnings. But that doesn't explain why the broom became a symbol of flight.

Broom Riding

The first known reference of witches riding on brooms was confessed by a suspected male witch in 1453 by the name of Guillaume Edelin of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. After being tortured, he confessed to signing a compact with the Devil and attending the Sabbath "mounted on a balai," or broom. This is the first known reference to witches riding on brooms. But the story doesn't end there.

The Broom in Hedgecraft

Early accounts of pagan fertility rituals suggested phallic objects such as poles, pitchforks, and brooms were riden through the fields while the rider jumped up and down in an attempt to coax the crops to grow faster and taller. In his 1584 book, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, Reginal Scot describes these rituals:
"At these magical assemblies, the witches never dailed to dance' and in their dance they sing these words, 'Har, hard, divell divell, dance here dance here, plaie here plaie here, Sabbath, Sabbath.' And whiles they sing and dance, ever one hath a broom in her hand, and holdeth it up aloft."
When you combine Edelin's confession with early pagan rights, the picture begins to become clearer, but this is only part of the story. The use of hallucinogenic plants, later popularized by Shakespeare, completes this epic tale.

Tropane alkaloids are hallucinogenic chemicals found in a number of popular toxic plants, including belladonna, henbane, and Mandrake. During the Middle Ages, these plants were commonly used to make brews, ointments, and "witches' salves," according to Johann Weyer in his Praestigiis Daemonum written in 1563. Drinking such a brew could make the drinker extremely ill if it didn't kill them first. Somewhere along the way, people figured out that the hallucinogenic compounds found in these plants, particularly hyoscine also known as scopolamine, could be absorbed through the sweat glands via the armpit or the mucous membranes found in the rectum or vagina. This meant the user could avoid feeling ill and become high faster. The earliest clue of this application comes from the investigation of Lady Alice Kyteler in 1324. According to Mann in his book Murder, Magic, and Medicine, the interrogation records stated:
"In rifeling the closet of the ladie, they found a pipe of oyntment, wherewith she grease a staffe, upon which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin."
In this account, there is no mention of actual flight, but this ritual does correspond to early accounts of pagan fertility rites as mentioned above. Fifteenth-century records of Jordanes de Bergamo in his Quaestio de Strigis confirms the investigation statement of Lady Kyteler:
"But the vulgar believe, and the witches confess, that on certain days or nights they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places."
It cannot be known whether these accounts are valid or not as the history of witches were often written by inquisitors, ecclesiastical judges, and the testimony of accused and tortured witches, but if what they say is true where did the idea of flight using ointments and brooms come from?

The Broom in Hedgecraft

In 1477 the Witch of Savoy, Antoine Rose, confessed while being tortured that the Devil "...gave her a stick, 18 inches long, and a pot of ointment. She used to smear the ointment on the stick, put it between her legs and say 'Go, in the name of the Devil, go!" The idea that these ointments could cause feelings of flying is confirmed with modern accounts and science. Modern science and accounts of tropane alkaloids use shows that intoxication usually puts the user to sleep in which they experience flying and dancing.  In 1966 Gustav Schenk recounts, "At the same time I experienced an intoxicating sensation of flying...I soared where my hallucinations - the clouds, the lowering sky, herds of beasts, falling leaves...billowing streamers of steam and rivers of molten metal - were swiling along." After Rose's confession, rumors spread far and wide and the idea that witches rode on broom planted itself firmly in cultural memory. During the Renaissance artists like Albrecht Durer, Hans Balding, and Parmigianino began depicting witches naked and flying, sometimes on a broom and other times on a phallus. By the late 16th and early 17th century, witches riding up and out of chimneys begin to dominate popular art. And there you have it, the wonderfully colorful history of the broom and witchcraft.

The Broom In Hedgecraft

The broom is still a major fixture in witchcraft today, including hedgecraft. Hedgewitches often use a broom during hedge riding to aid in travel. Other times, a broom may appear during a journey to allow the witch to fly between realms or quickly through a single realm. Hedgewitches will also use brooms for protection during hedge riding, placing the broom within their magic circle, next to them, or in their lap during a journey. Either way, the broom is still used today to symbolize flight and travel for witches, and that isn't changing anytime soon.

Looking to learn more? Check out the following sources.
Murder, Magic, and Medicine by John Mann
Broom Folklore in Rural Cultures 
The Many Uses of a Besom
The Origin of Witches Riding Broomsticks: Drugs From Nature, Plus Shakespeare by David Kroll

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

It's that time! Time to hedge ride, witches! This is a very lengthy post and content dense, so please bear with me.

Altered State of Consciousness

An altered state of consciousness (ASC) occurs when your mind and spirit separate from your body. This separation can be achieved through both natural and induced means, and it is in this state that hedge riding occurs. While you are fully awake during ASC, your mind works differently, just below the surface of full consciousness as opposed to unconsciousness where you are unaware of your surroundings and things are hidden from you. ASC is very similar to astral projection. Astral projection, however, is generally a natural occurrence and is usually not induced. ASC, however, is always deliberately induced, generally in a ritualistic setting.

Drugs are often used to reach an ASC, but I do not suggest using drugs, especially during hedge riding because of the dangers the Otherworld poses. Furthermore, many drugs, apart from marijuana, can drastically alter the chemistry of your brain and cause lasting damage. Safer means of entering into ASC include chanting, drumming, dancing, or listening to your own heartbeat. These methods require more concentration than drugs but do not pose the same health risks. To make reaching ASC easier, you must understand that you are part of an integral universe, not separated from it.

So how exactly does one enter an ASC? There are several safe ways, my personal favorite being shamanic drumming.

1. Shamanic Drumming: As mentioned, this is my favorite method for reaching ASC. First, there are TONS of shamanic drummings on YouTube. I created a YouTube channel containing some of my favorites. Feel free to use them to reach an ASC. Second, shamanic drumming has a clear start and end beat that will safely pull you back to reality. The signal usually occurs a couple of minutes before the end of the drumming session, allowing the listener to make their way back to their bodies. This is particularly great if you are a solitary practitioner like myself that doesn't have someone else around to rely on. Sometimes my cats will gently bring me back, but for the most part, I'm on my own. Listen to the drum beats prior to riding to figure out exactly what their signal to come back is. I strongly suggest your first several rides only be 15-20 minutes long. There are lots of shorter shamanic drumming sessions available, so start there. It will take time before you can work up to the longer ones.

2. Shamanic Music: This is very similar to drumming, but contains more than just drums. Usually, you will hear rattles and chanting. Again, there are several listed on YouTube if drumming alone isn't right for you. I find voices distracting and rooting, but you may find that's exactly what you need to leave your body.

3. Rattling: You can do this yourself or look up a song on YouTube. There are shamanic rattlings listed, but I've found it most effective to use the rattle yourself. Not only does the sound help you enter an ASC, but the motion and swaying to keep the beat also helps.

4. Dancing: Dancing is another way to enter an ASC, but is one of my least favorite ways because of its difficulty. This is extremely tiring, as you basically dance until you want to drop. You want to do this in a warm room or outside around a fire, where the lights are dim for a prolonged period of time. As you dance, you should begin to sweat, which helps force you into an ASC. I suggest pairing dancing with music of some sort or chanting to make the transition easier. I have very little experience with this method, so cannot comment further, but shamans from around the world have been using this method for centuries, so it obviously works.

5. Chanting: Chanting is very similar to drumming and rattling to reach an ASC. You can chant yourself, which is most effective, or listen to shamanic chanting on YouTube. I would pair chanting with another action to increase its effectiveness.

6. Your Heatbeat: Listening to your heartbeat is another effective method. Your heart beats like a drum, making it a free way to enter ASC. Sit or lay in a quiet room and use your heartbeat instead of shamanic drumming. If you need to, use earplugs to help you hear your heart better. This is a great method to use if you are in a body of water, like a bath, pool, or lake. Having your ears underwater makes it difficult to hear outside noises, but it tends to amplify your ability to hear your heartbeat.

Putting It All Together

So you've grounded yourself, set up your protections, decided on a purpose, and entered an ASC, now what? Now you fly! Go on...try it. Just kidding! It is a little more complicated than that. As I mentioned, you need to set the scene and properly protect yourself before you attempt to hedge ride. Once those are done, decide why you are going to hedge ride. Be specific. A good purpose for your first journey is to make it to the Lower Realm. You need to state this out loud and continue to repeat the statement in your mind until you reach your goal. It can be as simple as "I will travel to the Lower Realm." Once the purpose is firmly in your mind, pick an above-mentioned way to reach ASC and let go.

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

To enter into the Otherworld, you first have to cross the hedge or veil. This is done by passing through a portal of some sort. This portal takes a different form for each person, but it could be a storm drain or road tunnel, a hollow tree trunk, cave, door, or even a triad portal, like what's depicted in The Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm being serious here. I always enter into the Otherworld the same way. I begin by first imagining myself at my childhood home. We had some steps that led down the side yard and into the woods. Our backyard was completely wooded and very steep. There was a deer trail I used to follow as a child all the way down to the lake. I take this same path to hedge ride. (Over the Garden Wall anyone?) I walk it until I find a large tree with a large hole in it. Sometimes this tree is alive and well, other times it's dead and broken. Sometimes I walk for what feels like forever to find the tree, while other times I find it quickly. The times it takes me a while to find the tree are the times when I am having trouble focusing on my intent. Sometimes my mind is just too busy to find the doorway quickly, and that's okay. ADD for the win! I spent the majority of my very first hedge riding journey trying to find the entrance to the Otherworld. Don't worry if it takes you multiple journeys to make it there. It takes time and practice, and very few people get it on their first try. In fact, I have read accounts where a rider spends their entire journey walking a long dark tunnel, never to reach the light at the end. Do not be deterred if this happens to you too.

Once you have found your entrance to the Otherworld, continue through it into the tunnel. This tunnel can, again, take many forms. Mine are steps downward deep into the Earth when I travel to the Lower and Middle Realms. When I travel to the Upper Realms, I enter the tree and climb upwards. The tree and steps are always dimly lit, like twilight, as this is the veil that separates our world and the Otherworld. Continue walking until you break free of the veil and pass into the light. Again, don't worry if you don't reach the light on your first try. Take a break and come back to it another day. When I reach the bottom or top of the steps, I always travel through a damp cave and finally cross into the Otherworld when I pull the plants away that are blocking the entrance, kind of like in the movie Tangled. It is always the same path for me, although the sights may change slightly. To come home, I ALWAYS return the exact same way. I do not come back to my body until I make it back to the bottom step of the garden path of my childhood home. You should have a very similar marker or spot that leads you directly back to your body. I know where I left mine each and every time I ride. It is important you do the same. Soul separation is very real and very dangerous. Please make sure you take the proper precautions to ensure you return safely.

When you begin hedge riding, you should familiarize yourself with the Lower Realm first. This is the safest place to travel. Once you are experienced, have met your animal guides, and are familiar with the Lower Realm, then travel to the Middle and Upper Realms. Do not begin with very many expectations. Your journeys will become more complex the more experienced you become, so let it come naturally. If you are struggling to cross the veil, even after multiple rides, something may be blocking you from entering. Self-doubt is likely the cause. Get yourself together, find the blockage, and remove it before trying again.

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

Moving Between Realms

On one of my last posts, a reader asked if I could explain how to travel between the realms, especially if you are already in one of the realms. Traveling between realms is quite simple, but until you are experienced, and I mean riding for a solid 6 months to a year regularly, you shouldn't leave the Lower Realm. There are several ways to enter each of the realms, and the method that works best for you will come with time. As I mentioned, I take stairs down to the Lower and Middle Realms. For me, these two realms overlap, and sometimes I don't realize I have crossed between them until I encounter my Garden, which I will talk about in another post, or I run into spirits not commonly found in the Lower Realms. For other hedgewitches, the transition is more clear. They must travel back up to the Middle Realm from the Lower Realm to get there. Moving between realms can occur within your portal or within each realm. For some hedgewitches, they must travel back to their portal to access each realm. This is the safest and surest way to make it between realms. Getting lost while traveling in the Otherworld is extremely dangerous, so its best to retrace your steps and use methods are known to work, especially when you are first starting out.

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

As you hedge ride and become more experienced, you may find you find portals to the other realms within each realm. As I mentioned, I have never found a portal between the Lower and Middle Realms, that I somehow flow freely between the two, but other hedgewitches recall passing through a cave, door, or another passageway to go to the Middle Realm from the Lower Realm. To go to the Upper Realm from both Lower and Middle, I suck in air and act like I am a balloon and float upward until I reach the Upper Realm. When you pass into the Upper Realm from the Lower and Middle, it feels like you are passing through a membrane, like when you pass something through a bubble without it popping. It feels the same way. The Upper Realm is also much brighter and more iridescent than the other realms, visually setting it apart from the others. To travel down, you can fly or float back down or take the stairs in your portal or stairs you find going down elsewhere in the Realm. As I said, the best method of traveling between realms is to go back to your portal and travel via those means.

Another way to travel between the realms safely is to ask your animal guides to take you there. Meka, my red fox, often takes me on her back to travel long distances. Rocar has also assisted me in flying to the Upper Realm and back down to the Middle Realm. Once you establish a working relationship with your guides, they will often help you travel between the Realms with ease, sometimes without you realizing where you are traveling at first.

To find portals within each realm can be difficult and takes time and intuition. When in doubt, as your guides what you have found. An experienced hedge rider is able to seek out these portals, or thin spots called caol ait. This is a skill that comes with time and experience, so don't rush it. The more your hedge ride the easier it becomes and the more vivid the experiences.

Flying Ointments

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

I have never used flying ointments before, but some hedgewitches do. Flying ointments were traditionally used by hedge riders to reach an ASC prior to hedge riding. Historically they contained toxic plants, like belladonna and henbane, and sometimes nontoxic plants like mugwort mixed with an animal fat that when applied to the body, especially near a major artery, would induce a trance-like state. These herbs do this by activating your pineal gland. Many of the flying ointments on the market today are not actually flying ointments at all, but a gimmick to swindle you out of your money. I don't want to get into too much detail about flying ointments in this post as it is already incredibly lengthy, but they should be mentioned alongside other methods of reaching an ASC. I plan on writing a more detailed post in the future, but if you are looking to learn more about flying ointments right now, please read Sarah Anne Lawless's Introduction to Flying Ointments and her Flying Ointment FAQs for more information.

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

Hedge Riding Series

Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides
Developing a Relationship With Your Spirit Companions
After You Hedge Ride: Coming Back to Earth
My Hedge Riding Experiences

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Herbarium: Apple

Witches, it is almost apple season and as such, I have come to throw a herbarium post your way about the magical and medicinal uses of the glorious, tasty apple!

Magical and medicinal uses of Apple. Includes FREE BOS page!

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Abundance, Healing, Immortality, Love
Magical Uses and History: Sometimes referred to as the Witch's Fruit because its seeds resemble a 5-pointed star, apple is ripe with history and folklore. The history of the magical and ritual uses of the apple is lengthy, dating back thousands of years. As early as 8,000 B.C., evidence from the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Indus, and Yellow River valleys suggests the apple was highly valued and cultivated crop. Furthermore, the apple plays a prominent role in myths from around the world, often being associated with magic, immortality, death, knowledge, and love. It has been called the Fruit of the Gods, Fruit of the Underworld, and the Silver Bough. In fact, the name Avalon is likely derived from the old Irish word meaning "the place of apples."

In an old Scandinavian Saga, Edda, Idunn (or Iduna) kept apples that were eaten by the Gods to ensure eternal youth. A similar myth appears in Greek folklore where Hesperides guards the apple trees that provide the same gift of youth and immortality to those who eat them. Apples also played a prominent role in Diana's Festival on August 13 in Greece where apples were prepared still on their boughs as part of the ritual meal. And while the Bible never explicitly states the tree of knowledge is an apple tree, it has long been believed to be so. In Celtic mythology, a branch of apple with buds, flowers, and ripened fruit, known as the Silver Bough, was thought to be a magical charm that would allow the bearer to walk between the land of the Gods and the Underworld freely. Apples are also mentioned in an old English ballad, Thomays the Rymour, where the Fairy Queen warns Thomas against eating any of the apples during the feast for to do so would mean he would not be able to walk among the living again. Finally, it is believed the Trojan war was started when the Goddess Eris threw an apple into the midst of a group of goddesses, claiming it was for "the fairest."

Due to its association with death and the Underworld, apples often adorn Samhain altars or are buried as offerings to the Dead so they may have something to eat during the long winter months ahead. Strong cider brewed from apple is sometimes referred to as Witch's Brew and placed on altars or poured on the ground for the same reasons. The wassailing tradition is still maintained in parts of England, especially Somerset, where on the Twelfth Night (Yule) cakes and cider are offered to the trees as libations for the spirits. Guns are often shot and pans banged together afterward to drive away evil and negative spirits.

The number of love spells using the apple is countless. Apple blossoms are added to love sachets, incense, and brews to increase spell potency and bring the caster love. Furthermore, an apple can be held in your hand until warm then given to your love interest. If they eat the apple, then they love you too. The most famous apple love spell, however, was popular among unmarried women across Europe. Simply peel an apple in one piece and throw the peel over your shoulder. The letter it forms is said to be the first letter of your future husband. Margaret Atwood brings light to this tradition in her book Alias, Grace where Mary and Grace try to figure out their future husbands. Mary is unable to peel multiple apples in a single go, foretelling her death in the near future. Other love spells include counting the seeds; even for marriage soon to come, odd for no marriage in the foreseeable future, a cut seed foretelling a tumultuous marriage, and two seeds cut foretelling widowhood. To ensure fidelity, cut an apple in half and have your lover eat one half while you eat the other.

Apples are also used in fertility spells. Barren women in Kirghizstan are said to roll around under an apple tree in order to become pregnant. In some parts of Europe, apple trees are planted at the birth of a son as an indicator of his health and virality. Furthermore, the apple is viewed as a life-giving fruit among the Celts and Welsh. Due to its potency of the drink created from fermented apples, they may have been linked to orgiastic rites.

The apple also has a long history of healing uses. The old Welsh proverb, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" rings with truth, as the apple contains properties that reduce fever, thus keeping the doctor away. An apple can also be cut into three pieces and rubbed on the affected area then buried during the waning of the Moon to banish illnesses. Gardeners would pour apple cider onto freshly-tilled soil to breathe life back into it prior to planting.

Apples can be used in a number of spells including:
     Love Spells
     Healing Magic
     Prosperity Magic

Please note there are hundreds of other magical uses not mentioned here. The list is too lengthy to include in one post. 

Medicinal Uses: Apples are commonly used to reduce fever (and historically scurvy) due to high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. Apple cider vinegar is also used to treat fevers and sunburns. Early research also suggests eating apples may reduce your chances of cancer, especially of the esophagus and larynx, diabetes, and lung cancer. Research also suggests eating three apples a day increases weight loss.

Preparation and Dosage: Internally- If running a fever, eat an apple, drink apple juice, or eat applesauce immediately to boost the immune system and reduce the fever. Apple cider vinegar can also be taken internally to reduce a fever. Simply mix 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar with 1 tsp honey in a glass of warm water and drink 2-3 times a day until fever breaks. Externally- To reduce fever, place a towel soaked in a 1:2 part mixture of apple cider vinegar and water on your forehead or abdomen. Change towels after they have absorbed your body heat until fever eases. For a bath, mix 1 cup apple cider vinegar in a warm bathtub and stay in the water for 5 to 10 minutes. To treat sunburns, spray the affected area with a 1:1 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, dabbed a vinegar soaked washcloth on the affected area, or take a cool bath mixed with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!

Magical and medicinal uses of Apple. Includes FREE BOS page!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Lammas Altar 2018

Lammas Altar 2018

Wooo! What a couple of weeks it has been! First, I traveled to Boston and Salem and after our flight was delayed multiple times, I finally returned home late last Tuesday and promptly returned to work the following day for pre-planning. The joys of being a teacher! Wednesday was our first official day back with the students, I am utterly exhausted. Because of my trip and work starting back, I haven't been home, like, at all, except to sleep. Needless to say, blogging has not been something I have had time for. However, I still found a few minutes to put together my altar for Lammas and I am glad I am finally able to share it with you guys.

Lammas Altar 2018

1. Leaf Candle Holder & Green Candle - The leaf candle holders with the green candles represent fertility (green) and the changing seasons. At Lammas, Mother Earth is providing us with bountiful crops, but there are marked shifts in the weather as summer begins to end, especially for those up north. Furthermore, the candles represent the Sun who helps to ripen the fruits of the first harvest. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $3 ($1 for set of 3 candles, and $1 each for the holders)

Lammas Altar 2018

2. Grapes- The grapes found flanking the altar represent fertility and abundance. Grapes are ripening and being picked during this time, making them the perfect addition to a Lammas altar. Furthermore, with Lammas being a harvest festival, it is important to have as many representations of fertility and abundance as possible to continue to provoke a bountiful harvest season so there is food to survive the winter. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

3. Wine/Juice- Like the grapes, the wine/juice represents fertility and abundance. Being in a "chalice" and red, it also represents the feminine and lifeblood of Mother Earth who we thank during this time for the food she provides us. (Where did I get it: Publix; Cost: $0.25)

Lammas Altar 2018

4. Crystals- On this altar, there is malachite for growth and fertility, carnelian for strength and to represent the sun who is beginning to wane but still remains strong, citrine and pyrite for abundance, and amethyst for balance during this changing of seasons. (Where did I get it: Purchased from metaphysical stores or received in subscription boxes; Cost: Unknown)

Lammas Altar 2018

Lammas Altar 2018

5. Fruits and Red Candle- The fruits found in the center arrangement represent the fruits of the first harvest, as Lammas is the first of the harvest festivals. They also represent fertility, abundance, and prosperity in hopes that the growing season will be successful. The red candle represents the masculine Sun who helps to ripen the fruits of the harvest. (Where did I get it: Good Will; Cost: $2)

Lammas Altar 2018

6. Horn- The horn opposes the chalice of wine and represents the masculine aspect, specifically the Sun who ripens the fruits of the Earth, as well as fertility. (Where did I get it: Loot Crate 2016; Cost: $2?)

Lammas Altar 2018

7. Ivy and Sunflowers- The ivy draped around the entire altar represent abundance during the harvest. The sunflowers represent the Sun, balance, and fertility. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost $2 ($1 each)

8. Wheat- Lammas literally means "loaf mass" making wheat a must have on any Lammas altar. Being one of the first crops harvest this time of year, wheat represents fertility and abundance. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost $1)

TOTAL COST: ~$13-15

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found or purchased for around $1. The crystals are the only items that I have acquired from various sources and cannot give an exact value for. 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 Lammas this year?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: Hedge Riding Safety Tips: Staying Safe Outside Our Realm

Hedge Riding Safety Tips: Staying Safe Outside Our Realm

Following basic etiquette and preparation matters will keep you pretty darn safe in the Otherworld. Most of the safety issues you may face in the Otherworld are easily preventable by following the tips outlined in previous posts. However, there are more things you can do here on our plane as well as in the Otherworld to ensure your safety.

Protecting Yourself

This was posted in a prior post, but I felt it was important to include it again here.

Prior to hedge riding, it is important to make sure you are properly protected, and I don't necessarily mean through circle casting. I have never in my entire magical life cast a complete circle. It just isn't my thing. I prefer to let my energy flow freely, but I understand the importance of circle casting and the benefits of doing so. I, however, choose a different method to concentrate my energies and keep myself protected. As you will be traveling to the Otherworld, where there are both positive and negative entities, it is important to take proper precautions. You don't jump into the car for a road trip without making sure to buckle up first! Apply the same logic to hedge riding. While I have had only one negative encounter, it is better to be safe than sorry.

There are several ways you can protect yourself prior to entering the Otherworld. My preferred way is to envision myself surrounded by golden light. This is a technique I actually learned from Silver Ravenwolf years ago. I know, I know, the dreaded Silver Ravenwolf. However, this particular method of protection always stuck with me and she wasn't even mentioning it as a means of protection. In fact, she was using it as a way to cleanse yourself, but when I tried it, I felt it act exactly as she described a magical circle, so I decided because I could easily summon this "shield" and felt more comfortable with it, I would use it instead of the proverbial circle. I just can't wrap my mind around casting a circle up against a wall, but that's just me. Anyway! This golden light can stick to your skin, or be envisioned as an oval or egg-shaped shield around you. If you prefer, cast that magical circle.

In addition to visualizing a protective shield, you can carry a protective amulet or hold a crystal. Great protective crystals for hedge riding include my all-time favorite black tourmaline which protects against negative energies, especially those at a lower frequency; labradorite, which guards against psychic attacks and fixations; staurolite, which protects against unwanted spirits and attachments; and finally spirit quartz or just plain clear quartz, which both increase your natural defenses.

However, the best form of protection in the Otherworld is your animal guide. We will talk more about meeting your animal guide and developing a relationship with them later, but having them with you at all times in the spirit world if a must. They will inherently keep you safe and defend you no matter what the cost.

Other Methods of Protection

There are a number of other safety measures you can take both here and in the Otherworld to ensure a safe journey that I have not mentioned in previous posts. These include:

  1. Wand: You can place a wand, natural or not, on your lap prior to travel and summon it to the Otherworld if you encounter any negative spirits. If you have a Harry Potter wand from Universal (Ash anyone?) feel free to use that. I know some witches may scoff at the use of a "fake" plastic wand, but I am here to tell you, to any HP fan, that plastic wand holds some truly powerful magic, a magic that is hard to come by elsewhere. If you come across a negative spirit or feel uncomfortable, summon your wand to you by envisioning it. Then tap the spirit and say "be gone." Be firm and do not be afraid. Telling a spirit to go away will make it go away and it should stay away. On rare occasions, the spirit may return. If it does, end your journey.
  2. Besome: Also known as a Witch's Broom, the besome is a fantastic partner for any hedgewitch. In the Wiccan tradition, besomes are often placed at the door when a door is cut in a magic circle to protect the entryway. Sit a besome near you prior to hedge riding and summon it should you need it. Sweep away the negative spirit and will it away, just as you did with the wand.
  3. Iron: If you encounter fairies or other spirits "allergic" to iron, use it to will them away. Iron burns fae and will keep them from bothering you. You can place an iron nail in your hedge riding sachet or wear it around your neck as a protective necklace. I've been known to carry a cast iron frying pan with me when I hedge ride. Thanks Tangled for the wonderful idea. It's pretty darn effective and easy for me to get. Haha!
  4. Rowan: Rowan is the preferred tree of hedgewitches, which is unfortunate because it doesn't grow in warm climates like those found in Georgia. However, if you live up North, enjoy the heck of out it for me. Rowan is an extremely protective plant and can be used to will away and banish spirits from bothering you in the Otherworld. Feel free to wear it as a crown or fashion a wand of rowan. Rowan also increases spirit communication and can make travel to the Otherworld easier.
  5. Red Witch's Cord: Tie a red string, yarn, or ribbon around your finger. When you enter the Otherworld, make sure it is also attached to you there that way you can find your way back to our realm should you get lost. Think of it like a trail of breadcrumbs, but without the risk of it being eaten. This is sympathetic magic, as what you do in our realm affects what is done in the spirit realm.
  6. Safe Word: Develop a safeword that will pull you and your soul immediately back to our realm. This can be something simple like "return" or a full incantation. Completely up to you, but make sure it is something you can remember.
  7. Sigils: Draw a protection sigil on your body in ash or annoiting oil to protect your body while your spirit travels freely. This will not only prevent another entity from possessing your body, but will also help your spirit find its way home.

Other Quick Safety Tips

  • Don't travel when ill, tired, or stressed.
  • Set a time limit, especially when you are just starting out. 
  • If you are new, have someone to "spot" you to help bring you back at the end of your journey.
  • Trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
  • Always travel with your animal guides.
  • Be respectful to all you meet there.
  • Don't go anywhere alone with strangers, even if they promise candy and kittens.
  • Trust few. Make spirits work for your trust, just as you have to work for theirs.
  • Use common sense.
  • Properly prepare, set a purpose for the journey, and ask your guides to meet you on the other side.
  • Don't stress. Hedge riding is exhilarating and fun. Enjoy yourself.

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

Hedge Riding Series

Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides
Developing a Relationship With Your Spirit Companions
After You Hedge Ride: Coming Back to Earth
My Hedge Riding Experiences

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Inviting Fairies to Your Garden

Inviting Fairies to Your Garden

Fairies. How has it taken me this long to cover these amazing magical beings? As a hedgewitch, working with the spirits of the land is just one of the many things I do, and fairies are a pretty important one. I'm not going to go into too much detail about fairies in this post, but if you are interested in learning more about fairies, please refer to W. Y. Evans-Wentz's book The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. This amazing piece of literature is just one of several texts on which Traditional Witchcraft, including hedgewitchery, is based and is a must read if you wish to work with fairies or even understand the history of witchcraft and folk magic. But I digress! Today we are going to look at how you can invite fairies into your garden to help it grow and add a bit more magic to it.

Grow Specific Flowers

There are several ways you can attract fairies to your garden. They are pretty picky creatures, so making them happy is the key to keeping them in your garden once you have invited them. First, make sure you have the flowers they love. Anything bell-shaped will attract fairies to your garden, as well as hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Not sure what to include? Try adding these plants to your garden:
  • Lamb's ear
  • Yarrow
  • Coneflower
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Lilac
  • Morning Glory
  • Foxglove
  • Thyme
I planted almost all of these in my garden. I'm only missing coneflower (which I will plant next year) and lilac (which I will likely plant next year too). The best part of these particular plants is they are also ones you will often use in magical workings, recipes, and herbal remedies. Foxglove and morning glory are toxic, so don't use those, but the others are safe!

Set up a Fairy Altar

Have all the flowers but want something more? Try setting up an altar specifically for fairies and make regular offerings. You can include a fairy statue, tea lights, electric fairy lights, and crystals such as quartz, rose quartz, or moonstone on a flat rock or surface in your garden. Once your altar is set up, be sure to leave offerings on the altar or in small walnut shells. Offerings include:
  • cream or milk
  • beer
  • wine
  • cider
  • honey
  • nuts
  • chocolate
  • flowers (see above)
  • shiny objects like coins and jewelry

Fairy Invitation Ritual

If you want to specifically invite fairies into your garden, try the following ritual.

What You'll Need
  • flowers (see above)
  • white candle
  • the offering of quartz and cream/whole milk

What to Do
This ritual is best performed around Beltane or Midsummer but can be performed any time of the year your garden is blooming. Begin by setting your flowers, candle, and offerings on your garden or fairy altar. Light the candle and say,

"Fair fairies from near and far,
I invite you to dance in my yard.
Please stay awhile,
And brighten my garden with your smiles.
Bless these herbs and flowers,
And fill them with magical powers.
Use your magic to help them grow,
By the light of the moon's glow.
Accept these giftes I give to thee,
By my will, so mote it be."
Once you are finished, spend time with your altar until the candle burns low. Try and sense the fairies you have invited. You may feel the hair on your arms stand up or as if something is playing with your hair or ear. Leave the offerings on the altar overnight. Do not consume any of the food offerings you leave for the fairies. It is considered rude and disrespectful. Also, don't expect the offering to disappear. Fairies consume the astral or spiritual essence of the offering. Leave the quartz on the altar indefinitely.

Remember to record the ritual in your BOS or on your ritual log worksheet.

Why You Did It
This spell, as mentioned, is best performed on or around Beltane or Midsummer. The reason for this is because these are two times when the veil for fairies is thin and therefore they are most likely to come out and be willing to take up residence in your garden. However, fairies can be called upon any time of the year, so feel free to use it whenever you get the change.

The candle helps to focus your spell and gives the fairies a light to use to guide them to your garden. Your candle will burn in this realm and the Otherworld, acting as a beacon to draw the fairies to you.

Fairies don't like to be thanked, but they love to be shown respect in the form of food and shiny objects. Milk, cream, beer, or any of the other food offerings mentioned above are fairy favorites. Including such an offering in our ritual will likely attract fairies to your garden and act as a thank you without you verbally thanking them. You want to make sure the fairies are happy, otherwise, they are prone to cause mischief. The flowers are used for the same reason.

Word of Caution

Fairies are fickle and mischievous. Upsetting them can result in problems for you and anyone who steps foot on your property. Do not use pesticides in your garden. This will scare them off and keep them from coming back. Be good to the environment and animals. Fairies are creatures of the Earth; if you disrespect Her, fairies won't come to your garden, no matter how much milk and honey you offer them.

If the fairies become unruly or you wish them to leave, tell them to. Cleanse your garden and home and tell the fairies you no longer need their assistance. If they still will not leave, try placing iron in your garden and around your home. Iron burns fairies so it's a great deterrent.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

As I mentioned in my Graden Bless Ritual post, I have been working on putting in a garden since March. This has been a long time coming and I am proud to unveil what I have done so far. This is by no means the completion of my gardening tasks but is a huge step in the right direction. I still have plans to redo the planter around my mailbox, put in a large vegetable garden, plant some fruit trees and blueberry bushes, and rework both the side yards, but those are all things that will begin taking shape this fall when some of the plants die back and I can easily dig them up.

Anyway, let's take a look at what this witch as done thus far. Unfortunately, I don't have a true before picture because my butt forgot to take one, but here is what the yard looked liked when I moved in. Under the front windows was heavily overgrown. I mean, the weeds were starting to reach the roof...yeah...I'm lazy, what of it? At least its cleaned up now!

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

The bushes along the front of the house had huge stumps, some of them 2-3 feet across. My dad and I tried to pull them out with a truck, but it ended up snapping the cable they were rooted so deeply. Ultimately my dad and boyfriend used a saws-all and a pick ax to cut the stumps out. Once they were removed, we set to tilling the yard. Thank goodness I didn't do that part because it was a beast. Once the ground was ready, I began planting tons of different flowers and herbs. You'll notice I didn't go for a bunch of bushes, other than hydrangeas. I didn't want to have to cut back bushes with a trimmer or worry about large stumps again. Plus, I wanted flowers, lots and lots of flowers, that would grow and fill in all the empty space in the yard. This year it looks rather "sparse," but next year it should fill in nicely. So let's take a look at what I planted!

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

So you can see I completely ripped out all the previous bushes, plants, and grass, and replaced it with flowers covered with black mulch with brick edging. I can't wait for it to fill in, especially along the front of the house. Under each window is a hydrangea bush accompanied by a dwarf hollyhock. The hydrangeas up front aren't doing too well. I think they end up getting too much sun, despite the front of the house being in the shade in the afternoon. If they continue to do poorly I will move them to the side of the house that is mostly shade and replace them with limelight hydrangeas that LOVE the sun. Everything else, however, is doing awesome.

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018
A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

A Hedgewitch's Garden: 2018

So what all did I plant? Well, here is a short list of some of the plants in my yard currently:
  • Limelight hydrangeas 
  • Goldstum Black-Eyed Susan
  • Red Fox Veronica
  • Pomegranate Yarrow + Moonshine (Yellow) Yarrow
  • Marigolds (which will be replaced by Coneflowers next year)
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Black and Blue Salvia
  • Eden Roses (my favorite)
  • Purpleleaf Sage +  East Fireland Sage
  • Guardian Blue Larkspur
  • Camelot Rose Foxglove
  • Dwarf Lilac Hollyhock
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Painted Hostas
  • Rainforest Sunrise Hostas
  • Blue and Pink Hydrangeas
  • Begonias (mixed)
  • Morning Glory
  • Torenia, Blue Daze Evolvulus, Pink Phlox, Butter Daisies, Sweet Potato Vine, Creeping Jenny, White Petunias
  • And some assorted iris varieties my mother gave me. I'm not sure what they are yet.
So far I would say a pretty successful garden! I'm not going to go into detail in this post about the witchy reasons behind some of the plants I planted. There are just too many. However, some of these plants I planted simply because I thought they were pretty and they are great for pollinators. Not everything in a witch's garden needs to be used in some spell or ritual. Sometimes the best magic is keeping local bees, butterflies, and birds fed throughout the year.