Monday, February 17, 2020

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Feverfew

feverfew, herbal remedy, magic, herb magic, green witchcraft, kitchen witchcraft, witch

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Protection
Magical Uses and History: Feverfew is aptly named for one of its many uses, treating fever, but has historically been used to treat a variety of ailments including inflammation, menstrual cramps, toothaches, arthritis, vertigo, spasms, labor pains, insect bites, and the plague. The Ancient Greeks referred to feverfew as Parthenium supposedly because it was used to save the life of someone who had fallen from the Parthenon during its construction in the 5th century BC. As such, it is believed that carrying feverfew, along with hyssop and rosemary, will protect the wearer from accidents. Parthenium, however, also means "girl" which may allude to its traditional use for treating female complaints. By the 18 century, it became known as "medieval aspirin" for its use in treating headaches.

In the late Anglo-Saxon period until the 20th century, feverfew was used to treat elfshot or flying venom, a medical condition described in Wið færstice (an Anglo-Saxon medical text), that was caused by invisible elves shooting invisible arrows at a person or animal thus causing shooting pain in a localized area of the body. Its likely this pain was arthritis, a stitch, or muscle cramp. According to Wið færstice, feverfew along with red nettle and waybread could be combined to create an elfshot charm to cure the ailment. First, feverfew, red nettle, and waybread were boiled in butter while saying,

"Loud they were, lo, loud when they rode over the mound.
They were fierce when they rode over the land.
Shield yourself now that you may escape this evil.
Out, little spear, if herein you be!
Stood under linden, under a light shield where the mighty women readied their power and their screaming spears sent.
I back to them again wills end another,
a flying dart against them in return.
Out, little spear, if herein it be!
Sat a smith, forged he a knife, little iron-strong wound.
Out, little spear, if herein it be!
Six smiths sat; war-spears they made.
Out, spear, not in, spear!
It herein be a bit of iron, hag's work, it shall melt.
If you were in the skin shot, or were in flesh shot,
or were in the blood shot, or were in bone shot,
or were in limb shot, may your life never be torn apart.
If it were Aesir shot, or if it were elves' shot,
or it were hag's shot, now I will help you.
This your remedy for Aesir shot; this your remedy for elves' shot;
This your remedy for hag's shot; I will help you.
It fled there into the rest had it.
Whole be you now! Lord help you!
Then take the knife; dip into liquid."

Then a knife was dipped into the liquid and the mixture was likely rubbed on the afflicted area. All three of these herbs have spearhead-shaped leaves, likely a form of sympathetic magic. Either way, feverfew earned a reputation for being medicinally and magically valuable as a restorative and protective plant.

In medieval Europe, it was commonly planted in cottage gardens to protect the inhabitants. When the plague hit, people made sure to plant feverfew around the perimeter of their house to prevent the plague from entering. It is possible feverfew prevented plague-ridden vermin from entering the property which in turn kept the occupants safe. Today, feverfew is commonly used in protection magics and placed in protection sachets or planted around the home for the same purpose. It can also be used in baths or as a tea to break hexes and curses.

Feverfew can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Breaking Hexes

Medicinal Uses: Feverfew is primarily used to treat headaches and migraines and is commonly taken at the first sign of pain. However, it may also help relieve arthritis when caused by inflammation, menstrual cramps, painful periods, and even dizziness and tinnitus. However, feverfew should not be used if you are pregnant as it can stimulate the womb. The leaves may also cause ulcers in sensitive people. Furthermore, it has blood-thinning qualities and should not be used by anyone currently on blood-thinners or undergoing surgery in the near future.

Preparation and Dosage: Feverfew can be taken internally one of three ways: chewing the leaves, infusion, or tincture (pill form is also available). It should be noted the leaves taste awful and can cause mouth ulcers so it is suggested the leaves are taken with food to reduce the effects. The most common way refers to the elfshot charm above: eat 3-5 fresh leaves on buttered bread daily to reduce headaches and migraines and prevent sores. To create an infusion, combine 3 tbsp fresh feverfew flowers and leaves or 3 tsp dried feverfew with one cup boiling water. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Add honey to taste and drink 1/4 cup every 30 minutes until symptoms subside. It can be combined with lemon balm, skullcap, and chamomile for an even more powerful headache infusion. If taking a tincture, take 1-2 milliliters of tincture up to three times a day at the onset of symptoms. Externally, feverfew can be made into a salve and used to treat arthritis pain topically.

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy! This particular plant profile is 2 pages due to the length of the content.

feverfew, herbal remedy, magic, herb magic, green witchcraft, kitchen witchcraft, witch

If you liked this post and would like to support future content, please consider leaving a small tip in the jar. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Meet the Hedgewitch's Cats and Why They Aren't Familiars

I adore animals and have been deeply connected with them from a young age. It's part of the reason I gave up eating meat as well. I just couldn't bring myself to eat the same creatures I loved so much. I've had many companion animals over the years, from frogs to hermit crabs to turtles to hamsters to chickens. However, my absolute favorite animal companions have been my cats over the years, and I have been privileged enough to have shared my time with several. At the moment, I have the joy of tending to three, beautiful grey cats that I adore beyond measure. I'd like to introduce you to them today and discuss why my cats, while great, are not familiars.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar is my big love machine who spends most of his time giving me kisses. When my husband left me in 2017 he took both of our cats with him. He had them for 2 years before we met, so technically they were his, but I will never forget how empty I felt losing my two cats of 8 years. I honestly think that was the worst part of everything that happened. Two days later my mom and dad took me to a pet adoption event at a local pet store. My dad said that if I had something to love I would have a reason to continue living. I was in a really dark place and my parents were legitimately concerned that I may take my own life. They weren't wrong. I did not want to adopt a new cat. I did not want to be responsible for another life when I couldn't care for myself. But I went and I am glad that I did.

When we arrived, we headed straight back to where the cats were, tucked away from the dogs and much of the noise. They had a lot more cats than normal that day and while most people were crowded around all the kittens, I caught sight of a scrawny, beat up, grey-haired cat with so much love in his eyes. He tried desperately to get everyone's attention, but he wasn't a kitten. He was scared up, ear torn, eyelid mangled so it's always showing, stitched on his stomach from a fight, undernourished, prickly to touch, and FIV positive. I looked at that cat and placed my hand against the cage and knew, this cat was waiting for me. He was here today for me and no one else.

I still went around and visited the other cats, my parents thinking I would want a kitten instead of an adult cat, but I kept looking back at Oscar who was watching me. After talking to all the kitties, because who can pass up loving on all of them, I went straight back to Oscar and said "This is my cat. I want this one." Again, my parents thought I would want a kitten and were shocked I settled on this "ugly" cat. The rescue let me open the cage and hold him and he meowed and purred at me the whole time. My parents fell in love too because what wasn't to love about this sweet boy?

I think the rescue was surprised he was adopted so quickly. They said they had picked him up off the street 2 weeks prior and that he was in rough shape. Before I could bring him home he needed to have his stitches removed, but other than that he was good to go. I picked him up later that day and he spent the next several weeks following me around talking to me about everything he had been through and how thankful he was. I had to move his food bowls into rooms with me so he would eat and drink because he only wanted to eat and drink if I was in the room.

Slowly he put on weight, his fur softened, his scars faded, and he settled down. I wake up every morning with him resting on the pillow above my head giving me kisses. Every. Single. Day. He loves giving me kisses and snuggling and being part of the family and he loves his grandparents too. Everyone loves coming over to see Oscar because he is so friendly. You'd think after going through so much he would be untrusting, but he is the exact opposite.

You see, I knew the moment I saw him from across the store that he was meant for me. I felt it in my chest and the pit of my stomach. It was a warm, comforting feeling. Bringing him home saved my life and I saved his. I've never had a cat as amazing as Oscar, and everyone he has ever met dotes on how sweet he is, how they didn't like cats before they met my Oscar. The vet's office eats him up every time I bring him in. He is so easy going, except when I run the vacuum and loves sleeping on all of my chairs and couches and eating lots of kitty treats. If I associated him with anything magical it would be the element Earth for he is grounded, stubborn, and my rock.

Jane Austen

I adopted Oscar in June of 2017. That same December a couple of days before the end of the semester, a small grey kitten wandered up to the courtyard of the school I work at and some students found her playing in the bushes. She was playful and sweet and the students, not knowing what to do, brought her to the English teacher across the hall from me. They knew she loved animals and had taken cats before that had wandered up to the school. She called me over to see it before her daughter picked it up to keep it at home for the day. One of the girls that found the kitten wanted to keep her but needed to ask her parents first. I loved on that little kitten all the way up until she was taken away and told my coworker that if the girls couldn't take her, I would. I had a place for her at home and knew my big, loveable Oscar would love a sibling.

Needless to say, the end of the school day came around and the kitten ended up going home with me. She rode in my lap the entire drive home, purring up a storm. I didn't tell anyone what I had done until I was almost home. I called my mom and said, "Guess what I got today!" She rattled off a couple of things school-related and when I finally told her I had picked up a kitten, she was flabbergasted and asked if I was sure. Of course, I was sure! Like Oscar, this small kitten was meant for me; she had told me so. The Universe knew I wanted and needed another cat and sent me one. Then she asked if I had told my boyfriend, who she knew was sleeping at home with Oscar. Nope...I hadn't said a word to anyone; I had just done it.

When I arrived home, I gingerly carried this tiny kitten upstairs and into my bedroom where my boyfriend was, low-and-behold, asleep with Oscar tucked under his arm. I sat down on the bed which awoke them both and I said, "Look what I got today." Miles squinted at me, looked down, blinked a couple of times, and when it finally sunk in I was holding a kitten his eye grew big and he scooped her up. Oscar was less than happy with me, but after about a week the two of them were inseparable.

When I brought her home, I wasn't entirely sure Jane was a girl. I was hoping she was a boy and that I would get to name her Charles Dickens, but alas the vet confirmed what I already knew; she was, in fact, a girl, so Jane Austen it was, named after my one of my favorite authors. If you haven't noticed there is a theme here...

Jane is inquisitive, playful, intelligent, and vocal. Out of all three of my cats, she puts the boys to shame when it comes to outwitting them and problem-solving. She keeps me on my toes and I am constantly having to introduce new toys to keep her occupied. While much smaller than her brothers, she is the queen among cats, and they follow her lead wherever it may take them. Despite her inquisitive nature, Jane is also a lap cat. She will spend hours sitting on my lap while I am on my computer or reading a book but is wary of being pet without her consent. She is also incredibly respectful and is cautious not to disturb my stuff, no matter how tempting it may be. She always wants to partake in my magical practice, but I am sure to keep the cats at a distance when burning incense to keep them safe. Instead, she usually sits outside my door, waiting patiently for me to finish. She is my sweet girl, and most certainly a gift. Jane is my Fire, full of passion and love.

Charles "Charlie" Dickens

I know you're not supposed to have favorites, but I definitely have a favorite and its Charlie. If you were to ask me why, I wouldn't be able to fully explain it, because I'm not really sure why I am so drawn to Charlie, but I am. He is also the weirdest cat I have ever owned. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was probably a dog in another life.

After getting Jane, I quickly realized that my plan to give Oscar a sibling had somewhat backfired. Jane was full of energy and Oscar wasn't. While he loved cuddling with his baby sister, he wasn't very interested in being attacked, chased, or otherwise bothered by this rambunctious kitten. That's when I realized I needed a younger playmate for Jane, which was perfectly fine with me! I don't particularly like even numbers, and knew that three cats was probably best for me. Everyone tried to convince me I didn't need any more cats, but deep down I knew there was one last cat that was supposed to be in my life right now. So I waited...somewhat patiently...for the right cat to come along. I knew that when the Universe was ready, I'd know.

About 6 months after bringing how Jane, another co-worker, sent me pictures of a bunch of kittens her friend had found under their porch. Low and behold there was a little grey and white kitten among the litter. I looked at his tiny face and knew at that moment this was the cat I had been waiting for. My boyfriend was completely against getting another cat, but when I showed him the picture of the kitten he looked up at me and said "Yeah...this is your cat." A couple weeks later, after he had been fixed and healed and grown a little more, we made the hour trip to pick up this adorable little furball. The family had aptly named him Ash, for his grey color, and he weighed less than 2 pounds. When I picked him up he hissed at me. I gave him an inquisitive look and he immediately settled down and started purring. I told him his new name was Charlie and kissed his little forehead. I fell in love with him instantly and haven't stopped kissing him and holding him since I brought him home. I know he did too.

We made the drive back home, Charlie sleeping peacefully in my boyfriend's lap the entire drive. I was anxious to see how Oscar and Jane were going to respond to be bringing home yet another cat. I was most worried about Oscar after how he reacted to Jane, but when we finally arrived home, Oscar surprised me. Both Jane and Oscar were asleep on the couch in the basement. I slowly sat next to them and let Charlie walk over to them. Charlie sniffed Oscar and immediately began purring as loudly as a train. Oscar sniffed Charlie back and started purring and cleaning Charlie. It was the most amazing thing ever; instant love between the two of them. Oscar and Charlie cuddled on the couch most of the afternoon, Oscar guarding and protecting him from Jane, who was less than happy with the stranger.

Like Oscar had with her, it took Jane about a week to settle down and accept Charlie into the family, but once she did, they were the greatest of playmates. Charlie gave Oscar a cuddle buddy and gave Jane a spunky playmate. And for me, it gave me the biggest momma's boy in the world. He completes our little family and my heart couldn't be more full.

Charlie is my Air as he is extremely talkative but yet so flighty, his head always caught up in the clouds. He loves sitting in windows, watching the birds, insects, and wind blow through the trees. If we close a door, he cries incessantly until we let him in. Heck, sometimes he just cries because I'm not giving him enough attention. When I am on my computer, I have to pull an extra chair up as close to my chair as possible for him and him alone to sit in, otherwise, he cries. He has the loudest purr in the world and follows me everywhere, especially into the bedroom, office, or kitchen. He loves standing in the sink or shower, especially after the water has run, just to watch it drip down the drain. He also insists on putting all of his cat food into the water bowl before eating it and even places his favorite toys in the water bowl. Maybe he was also a fish in another life. Finally, he enjoys chewing on fingers, toes, pillows, and my expensive velvet tufted chairs, much to my annoyance, and we have yet to figure out why. Trust me, I've talked to the vet at length about this because he is ruining $250 dollar chairs! He is extremely quirky, to say the least, but I love him to death, even if he ruined my expensive furniture.

Why Aren't My Cats Familiars?

First of all, I don't believe pets can be familiars, which may ruffle some feathers. Familiars are spirits and my cats are not spirits. They are very much alive and remind me of that daily from the howling for food to the stinky poops in the litter box every morning. Spirits do not need to eat or use the bathroom, and therefore my cats are not familiars. Historically, familiars, also called familiar spirits, were shapeshifting spirits that aided witches in their magical practices. They would sometimes take an animal form, usually to "hide" or blend in. However, this was not the true form of the familiar, and even still they didn't need to "eat" in a traditional sense. Their eating took the form of feeding off of energy, whether it be the witch's energy or the energy of others. Either way, the familiar was not laying around eating cat treats all day and throwing his toys in the water dish.

However, I do believe my cats are magical companions. Jane most certainly is, with Oscar being a respectful watcher, while Charlie is just destructive. Everything is a game to him and that's fine. Jane recognizes there is energy in the objects I own and that I am able to manipulate this energy and as a result, she treats my magical tools with deep reverence. As I mentioned, she is exceptionally preceptive and smart. She puts the other two to shame. Do I ever involve them in my magical workings? Sometimes. If I am burning a bunch of incense, I try to keep my cats out to keep them safe. However, tarot readings, some hedge riding trips, and other general workings, I often let my cats wander in and out as they please. Despite Oscar's ambivalence toward magic, he is interested in hedge riding, mostly because I think he worries about me. I truly believe he can feel me move between realms, and often lays next to me to keep my body safe. If I travel too far, I often feel him licking my face or hair to get me to return. Oscar helps with my return journeys more often than not and does a fabulous job of it. I wouldn't trust anyone else to do his job.

So do I view my cats are familiars? Definitely not. Do I communicate with them and involve them in my magical work? Yes and yes. I love the relationship I have built with these three little buggers and I am glad I get to walk this life with them by my side.

Do you involve your pets in your magical workings?

If you liked this post and would like to support future content, please consider leaving a small tip in the jar. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

5 Witchy Books for Winter

witch, books, reading, winter, witchy, witchy reads, occult

I love a lot. I think I have made that pretty obvious on the blog over the years. Books are one of the best ways to learn and grow, apart from actually doing what it is you are learning about, of course. Reading is also an excellent escape, one that I find myself turning too more often lately as the winter blues continue to set in. I've always been a devoted, passionate reader. Well, that's a lie. When I was in elementary school I struggled with reading and reading comprehension, but no one really knew why. I was a brilliant kid and extremely creative, but I struggled with reading. It wasn't until I had a teacher sit down with me and teach me a "new" way to read and look at the world of books that it finally clicked. From that point on I devoured as many books as I could. Every Christmas I had several books on my wish list. I went to Barnes and Noble and Borders religiously. I checked out books from the library and otherwise surrounded myself with all the books I could get my hands on. Not surprisingly, I surrounded myself with folklore and fantasy books. They were a great escape and the closest I could get at the time to reading about things I experienced as a child. It wasn't until high school that I finally started purchasing New Age books, and it wasn't until my senior year that an art teacher, of all people, realized I had a learning disability that hindered my ability to read and understand language. Like I said, I was brilliant, later labeled as gifted, and was able to compensate for my learning disability my entire life. But I digress. The point I am trying to make is that books are amazing and you don't have to be a good reader to enjoy a good story.

I've been mulling this post over for quite some time and decided today is the perfect time to discuss a couple of my favorite witchy books and the tea I like to read with them. Again, I love tea about as much as I love books, if not more. Because I love books so much, I broke the post down into seasons. Expect to see a Spring/Summer list in May and a Fall list in September. There are just so many books that I couldn't pick just a few.

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.

1. The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston- Most people know Paula Brackston for her book The Witch's Daughter, which is probably one of my least favorite of hers. However, I adore The Silver Witch. Both female leads are strong, independent women who don't need a man to come along and save them. I think this is part of the reason I loved the book so much. Brackston is a gifted writer and always tells a beautiful tale, especially the parts that take place throughout history. In The Silver Witch, Brackston tells the tales of two women: Tilda, a modern-day artist who recently lost her husband, and Seren, a witch and shaman who lived during Celtic times. Their fates are intertwined and together they must face down a great evil. Seren is by far my favorite witch in all of Brackston's books. She is strong, independent, elegant, and full of love and surprises. She is such a fierce character, one I identify with greatly. Being a shaman, Seren is also able to communicate with the beyond to receive messages and I loved how Brackston portrays her character in this book.

I suggest sipping a strong Darjeeling tea, which is also suggested on page 39, while enjoying the book cuddled up in a nice, fluffy blanket.

2. The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston- Yeah, another Brackston book, but I really enjoy her writing style. This story, aptly named, follows a young witch named Morgana. Unlike everyone else in town, Morgana does not speak and is sent off to wed a local herder she barely knows. However, some force is dead set on destroying Morgana's life and she must work to lift the curse threatening her new life. While the lead woman of this book is sometimes frustrating at times, I found the romance beautifully enchanting. I also loved how Brackston incorporated local Welsh myths of wishing wells into this story.

I suggest drinking Winter White Earl Grey by Harney & Sons with a splash of milk and sugar while reading this lovely tale. I'm not really sure why, but London Fog always reminds me of the moors and warms my soul on cold winter nights.

3. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab- I recently finished this book (like within the first 3 days of 2020 starting), and was instantly in love with the characters. The Near Witch tells the tale of the small town of Near where the inhabitants tell the tale of the Near Witch singing in the wind. When a stranger shows up in town and children begin to go missing, the townsfolk blame the newcomer while Lexi, a young girl who lives with her mother and sister on the edge of town, suspects the Near Witch may be behind it. Lexi is a headstrong tomboy who isn't afraid to get a little muddy to save her little sister's life. She teams up with the ashy newcomer, Cole, to find the children and clear Cole's name.

I suggest an earthy, smoky tea such as Black Cask Bourbon by Harney & Sons. I suggest this because of Cole's smoky past and because bourbon reminds me of windy moors. This tea is full-bodied and sure to warm you up.

4. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson- The Snow Queen is a Danish fairy tale from 1844 and has been the inspiration for many a tale since then. In fact, Disney's Frozen is one such take on this tale. This story tells the tale of Kai and Gerda, two children who live next door to each other in a small town. They grow up hearing the tales of the Snow Queen and one winter the queen whisks Kai away. The town believes Kai dead, but Gerda, determined to get to the bottom of his disappearance, sets off to find him. Its a beautiful story and available for free online.

I suggest pairing this tale with a peppermint tea. Peppermint always gives me the "chills" and goes well with this story.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis- Yeah...the man was a Christian and the whole series is about it, but that doesn't mean we can't love it all the same. In my opinion, this is a pretty darn pagan book! If it's not up your alley, try His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman which was written in response to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and it about "killing God." Either way, both books are full of snow-filled adventures that are great for both young and old. I adore both stories and if reading them isn't in the cards this winter, the movies are fantastic as well. His Dark Materials was also recently turned into an HBO series, with The Golden Compass premiering as season 1. Be prepared though. The TV show is not for young children.

I suggest pairing this book with Harney & Son's Chocolate Peppermint tea. Chocolate and peppermint always remind me of Yule and winter and magic and goes well with both of the stories listed above. And if tea isn't your thing, a warm cup of hot chocolate is just as magical!

witch, books, reading, winter, witchy, witchy reads, occult

And there you have it, 5 witchy books for winter that are sure to get you through these final chilling weeks. Is there a witchy book you enjoy reading in the winter? Have a tea you think pairs well with one these books? Let me know in the comments below!

If you liked this post and would like to support future content, please consider leaving a small tip in the jar. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

February Snow Moon Worksheet

snow moon, full moon, witchcraft, esbat, magic, full moon magic

February's Full Moon, referred to as the Snow, Ice, Quickening, or Hunger Moon, is filled with uncertainty but hope as well. The nights are still long and cold and for many, cabin fever is beginning to set in. Furthermore, February is the last stretch before fairer weather arrives, and our ancestors were cautious of their winter stores making it until Spring. Despite the concerns, hope is present in the new life forming beneath the surface. Seedlings began to sprout under the snow's surface and baby animals grow within their mother's bellies. February is a great time for re-evaluating our past and setting goals for the future.

This month's Full Moon worksheet contains the usuals of my past Full Moon worksheets, including a to release and cleanse section, a box for your intuition, and a tarot spread. Unlike past worksheets, however, this one can be used every February, as it is based on the correspondences of the moon itself and not other astrological events. The tarot spread for this month features 6 cards specifically designed to help you figure out what seeds to plant this month.

snow moon, full moon, witchcraft, esbat, magic, full moon magic


Looking for more free worksheets? Why not get your free copy of my spell/ritual worksheet to write your best spells and rituals yet?

If you liked this post and would like to support future content, please consider leaving a small tip in the jar.