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?