SOCIAL MEDIA

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Star Anise

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Gender: Masculine
Planet: Jupiter
Element: Air
Powers: Divination, Healing, Luck, Protection, Psychic Powers
Magical Uses and History: Star Anise, not to be confused with anise seed, is native to Southern China and northern Vietnam and did not make it to Europe until the 17th century. This means that while star anise has a long and rich history in Eastern medicine and occult practices, it's relatively new to European witchcraft. In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is classified as a warming yang and therefore is used to dispel cold and regulate the flow of Qi that has been disrupted by pain or the common cold. It was also believed to ward off evil and bring good luck to anyone who found the spice with more than eight pods in a single star. These beliefs followed star anise to Europe, where its star shape and medicinal uses quickly associated it with protection and healing. It was used to treat a number of ailments, including cough, colic, digestive upset, and respiratory infections. In modern witchcraft, star anise is said to resemble the five-pointed pentagram making it a powerful protective symbol. As such, it can be hung in the home, carried on your person, or used in spells and rituals, whole or burned, for protection, or used in healing spells and rituals.

Star anise, unlike anise seed, has a sweeter, milder flavor, which likely lends to its association with sweetness and good fortune. It was often carried for good luck or kept in a wallet or purse to draw money toward the owner. As such, it can be used to sweeten spells, bring good fortune, attract money, or generally empower spells.

Finally, star anise is associated with divination and astral travel. The origins of this are unclear, but star anise is often burned, simmered, or diffused to enhance psychic awareness, promote prophetic dreams, or reach an altered state of consciousness prior to hedge riding or other astral travel. The smoke can be used for scrying and the seeds are sometimes used as a pendulum.

Star Anise can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Healing Spells
    Dream Magic
    Divination
    Luck Magic
    Money Spells
    
Medicinal Uses: There are several varieties of star anise, such as yellow anise, swamp star anise, and Japanese star anise, that are toxic. For that reason, be mindful of what you are purchasing and only purchase food-grade star anise from a reputable source. Star anise contains shikimic acid, a chemical compound that is the primary precursor of Tamiflu, and flavonoid anethole. This makes star anise naturally antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal, and therefore it can be used to treat mild flus, colds, bacterial infections, and fungal infections. Star anise is also an expectorant and therefore can be used to treat respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, and coughs by helping to remove mucus and congestion. It also aids in digestion, reduces gas, prevents and heals stomach ulcers, and soothes an upset stomach by reducing stomach acid secretion.

Preparation and Dosage: Internally, star anise can be taken as an infusion or tincture. To create an infusion combine 3-4 star anise pods with 1 cup of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes. Drink up to 3 times a day. Star anise combines well with cinnamon and honey for treating both respiratory and gastrointestinal issues. As a tincture, take 1-2 milliliters up to 3 times a day.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Review: Spell Candle from Vintage Chic Cauldron

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A couple of weeks ago, Samantha from Vintage Chic Cauldron reached out to me, asking if I would be interested in trying one of her witchy charms or candles. I immediately responded with a resounding yes, and told her I would love one of her teacup spell candles. If it isn't apparent, I love tea and all things tea. I love tea-inspired magic, even more, so much that I wrote an entire book about it! Samantha sells an assortment of items, including witch bottles, charms, witch bells, witch ladders, spell candles, spoons, and custom services for all your witchy needs. Her assortment is absolutely stunning and potently magical as she crafts the items with intention, using the best ingredients, moon phases, and energy for the job.

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When my candle arrived last week, I was blown away by the craftsmanship and beauty of it all. Samantha did not disappoint and this is honestly one of the best gifts I have ever received since starting this blog. First, the package was carefully packaged to ensure it arrived in one piece. Because of the nature of the candle and the vintage tea cup that was used, it had to be packaged carefully with bubble wrap, so not very eco-friendly, but the cup was undamaged and the spell ingredients remained intact. Decorating the top of the candle is a small herbology spell book, handpainted resin witch boot with dried flowers, tarot card, resin black cat, quartz, lavender, rose, allspice, and pink and gold glitter. Each of these items was specifically chosen for their magical correspondences or to better connect the spell to me. For example, the herbology spell book was added because I have a deep love for and knowledge of plants and their folklore while the lavender was added for peace and tranquility. The candle was poured into a beautiful teacup featuring pink roses and gold leaves and embossing. Samantha asked me about my color choices and did not disappoint with the color combo. My entire house is pink, green, and gold so this candle matches beautifully and I can't wait to display the cup.

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With the candle came a complete set of instructions and a breakdown of the spell components printed on aged paper. This particular custom candle was created with the intention of drawing blessings to my home and life and was poured during the three days surrounding the last Full Moon. Each ingredient's magical correspondences and intentions are clearly explained, allowing novice witches to learn in the process. The instructions are clear and Samantha is sure to offer a variety of suggestions, whether you wish to burn the candle or not. I love that these candles don't have to be burned to be effective. Instead, they can be used as a decorative charm. I would suggest charging the candle each Full Moon if you intend to use it as a charm, which is not mentioned in the instructions. Something else to note is that you should remove the larger items on top of the candle before burning as well as they are a fire hazard. A blow drier or heat gun will melt the wax enough to safely remove them prior to burning. You can sit them beside the candle while it burns, either in a single sitting or multiple, to lend their strength to the spell. 

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I love the thought that went into creating this candle and I am thoroughly impressed with the final product. Just handling the box I could feel the magic within and when I finally unwrapped the candle, it felt warm to the touch, despite the packaging being cool. As an additional bonus, Samantha included a beautiful Halloween/Samhain-inspired tea candle featuring a bat, pumpkin, and orange glitter. I can't wait to include this candle on my Samhain altar this year. 

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If candles aren't your thing, Vintage Chic Cauldron features a variety of other products that are sure to delight and inspire. There really is something for everyone and I encourage you to check out what Samantha has to offer. Her items are reasonably priced, but please remember that handcrafted items will be more expensive than mass-produced items and one of the easiest ways to fight corporate capitalism is to support small, handmade businesses like Vintage Chic Cauldron. You can find Samantha's shop on Etsy.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Mabon/Fall Equinox Altar 2022

Autumn Equinox, altar, sabbat, Mabon, August Eve, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

The Fall Equinox, also known as Mabon, is the second harvest festival celebrated sometime between September 20-23. This year, the Fall Equinox falls on September 21nd. Sometimes referred to as Pagan Thanksgiving, this is a time of abundance and celebration. Fruit and vegetables are rapidly ripening in the fields, leaving us with more food than most of us can eat. Grapes, squash, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, figs, carrots, and a host of other fruits and vegetables are ready to be picked and canned for the long winter ahead. This overabundance was something to be celebrated, with the land and Sun being thanked for the bounty our ancestors received. Offerings were often left to the spirits of the fields and agricultural deities in thanks as a bountiful crop now meant our ancestors would be able to eat through the winter months. If the crop failed, so too would the family come winter. Much like Thanksgiving celebrated in the United States and other countries, this is a time to be thankful, count blessings, and give back to those in need. If you are looking for some pagan-friendly charities to support, check out my list here

This year's altar sticks to the general theme of the sabbat, from abundant harvests to general prosperity to the beginning signs of fall. This altar is simple yet effective and is designed to honor the Earth and Sun and ensure the abundance continues for a few more weeks.

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1. Harvest Candleholder with Green Candle- This harvest candleholder has graced my Mabon altar for several years now and for a good reason. It represents the bounty of the season with its pears, apples, grapes, and berries aplenty. The earthen tones and colorful leaves represent the beginning of Fall and the changing of the seasons as the Wheel turns. This year I put a green candle in it to represent abundance, specifically agricultural abundance. It also works to sympathetically encourage the continued growth of the crops lest harvests do not last through the Winter months. Green also represents the Earth and the gracious gifts she bestows upon us during the harvest, for without her nurturing soils, we would not have nutrient-rich foods. (Where did I get it: Goodwill & Dollar Tree; Cost: $3)

Autumn Equinox, altar, sabbat, Mabon, August Eve, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

2. Leaf Candle Holders and Golden Candle Holders with White Candles- The leaf candle holders are an ode to the season and the changing leaves that herald Fall. Their orange color represents attraction. In this case, it is used to attract the Sun and keep Him burning bright within the sky for a little while longer so the rest of the crops may ripen. In conjunction with the candles, which represent the Sun who is slowly waning in the sky, they work together as a sympathetic form of magic. Furthermore, having two of them represents balance as during the equinox both day and night are balanced. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $5, $1 each)

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3. Wooden Acorns- These lovely wooden acorns were gifted to me a couple years ago by my mother, who found them while out thrifting. It's not often I pull them out, but I am always excited when I do. Acorns symbolize success, good luck, and prosperity, themes associated with Mabon. They also represent the Oak King, who is slowly dying this time of year. (Where did I get it: Gifted; Cost: Free)

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4. Citrine, Hematite, and Carnelian- Citrine and Carnelian represent the Sun, strength, and vitality, working to lend their strength to keep the Sun full in the sky so we can reap the last of the crops before winter. Hematite represents balance and is naturally grounding. Mabon, like Ostara, is an equinox, meaning day and night are equal. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Stores; Cost: ~$6)

5. Deer Antler- The deer antler represents the masculine energy and the power required to finish plowing the fields and bringing in the crops. It also represents the promise of regrowth and new beginnings; just as the deer sheds its antlers the Earth sheds her green and sleeps for the Winter, only to be reborn in the Spring(Where did I get it: Found; Cost: Free)

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6. Sunflowers and Grapes- The sunflowers represent the Sun. Most sunflowers are blooming at this time, and when done, will produce hundreds of oily black seeds which provide valuable food for animals and humans alike, especially in the coming winter months. These unique flowers follow the Sun throughout the day and are thought to lend Him strength through their movements. Grapes are beginning to be harvested during this time and represent abundance and fertility. While grapes are more deeply associated with Mabon, their inclusion here is to ensure a continued fruitful harvest later in the season. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $2)


Autumn Equinox, altar, sabbat, Mabon, August Eve, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca


TOTAL COST: ~$16



Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found, made, or purchased for around $1, although if the items must be purchased by you, then the cost will be higher. I hope you find this sort of breakdown helpful, especially for those of you looking to create Instagram-perfect altars on a budget! The most expensive items are crystals, which can be found cheaply with imperfections at many online retailers.

Did you do anything special for Mabon this year? I plan on enjoying lunch with friends and watching a movie with my partner. 



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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Book Review: Hearth and Home Witchcraft by Jennie Blonde

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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.

There is nothing quite like reading a book, curled up on the couch with the kitties as the Wheel turns toward fall. I love a hot cup of tea and a good book to get my coziness on, and Hearth and Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit by Jennie Blonde, the Comfy Cozy Witch, is the perfect book to do so.

Hearth and Home Witchcraft is a basic introduction to hearth or cottage witchcraft, a form of witchcraft that centers the home, garden, and kitchen. The book is broken down into seven chapters that cover deities, the Wheel of the Year, self-care, creating sacred space, kitchen witchery, and even everyday rituals. Scattered throughout each chapter are a number of spells, rituals, and recipes that go along with the topic at hand, and while this would normally be a turn off for me because there would be no way to, other than marking, to know where all the spells and recipes are that isn't the case here. Thankfully, this book includes a complete alphabetic list of all the spells, rituals, and recipes with page numbers at the beginning so you can easily find what you are looking for in a pinch. There are a large number of new and creative spells throughout, including a pet protection charm, cozy affirmations, and a broom enchantment, as well as herbal remedies and delicious recipes for every occasion. It should be noted, however, that many of the recipes are not vegetarian- or vegan-friendly, but most can be modified to accommodate dietary restrictions.

Blonde takes a practical yet "cozy" approach to witchcraft, believing it should be authentic, sustainable, and fulfilling, an approach I wholeheartedly agree with. She dedicates several passages to discussing the topic and how sometimes it feels witchcraft has turned into less of a practice and more of an aesthetic which is something I know many of us are noticing. She makes it clear that influencers on TikTok, Instagram, and other apps and sites are creating a brand, and often times those brands are not practical, functional, or sustainable in practice. This resonated with me a lot because I often feel, as a blogger, authors, and creator, that my content isn't "good" enough or my practice isn't "real" enough because it doesn't match what I see online. I've had to remind myself on many occasions that I have been practicing a lot longer than some of these Gen Z TikTokers and that my practice is authentic and meaningful to me. It doesn't matter what it looks like to anyone else. There is so much I do not post about and choose to keep private because it is deeply spiritual and doesn't need to be turned into a dog and pony show. I appreciate Blonde's insightful comments and reminder to new and old witches alike that real witchcraft doesn't look like what we see online.

Because she is an advocate for low-energy, cozy witchcraft, Blonde offers plenty of simple, easy ways you can incorporate more magic into your life, such as going outside, stirring your coffee or tea with intent, wearing enchanted jewelry, meditating, lighting candles with intent, stretching, cuddling with a pet or loved one, listening to music, and even taking a nap. I loved her practical advice and that she followed up with examples from her own life. I love when other witches talk about their personal practice, instead of just giving information. This makes the text relatable, and gives me real world examples of how this could look in my own life. I also just enjoy learning about others, so if you learn the same way, this is the book for you. Blonde also offers a variety of options for simple spells and rituals, giving a quick and easy guide to changing simple ingredients to match your intention. Her base spells are highly flexible, which is great for new and old witches alike. My favorite suggestion, however, was how to quell different emotions through food prep; if you are angery you can take out your anger by mashing potatoes or calm anxiety by focusing on making exact cut.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but, as always, there were some things I didn't like. First, it is a very simple introductory book. If you are looking for more advanced witchcraft, this is not the book for you. Its also heavily influenced by Wicca, which is fine, but not for me. Keep this in mind when reading about the Wheel of the Year and other correspondences. Blonde does make the mistake of equating Easter and Ostara, even though there is no evidence to support this statement. Are they similar? Yes. Did Easter come from Ostara? No. Blonde also discusses chakras so be mindful of cultural appropriation.

Hearth and Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit by Jennie Blonde is available now, just in time for sweater weather. If you are looking to add some comfort and coziness to your practice, this is certainly the book for you.



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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Garlic

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Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mars
Element: Fire
Powers: Courage, Exorcism, Healing, Lust, Protection, Strength
Magical Uses and History: Garlic is one of the earliest domesticated plants, and while its lineage is uncertain, its magical and healing abilities are anything but. In Talmudic literature, garlic is commonly described as protection against all manner of evils, including the Evil Eye, demons, witches, and, most famously, vampires. In one tale, garlic was given to a servant by their master after asking for the weaponry of a knight, suggesting that garlic is as powerful and protective as a sword. Odysseus used garlic to protect himself against Circe, who had turned his men into pigs. In India, garlic was believed to have originated from a drop of amrita or divine ambrosia that was unintentionally left behind by the bird-like creature and Lord Vishnu's vehicle, Garuda. Garuda is known for driving away evil, negative spirits, and poison, further associating garlic with protection. In the Balkans, garlic was rubbed on the chest, soles of the feet, and armpits on Christmas and Easter to protect everyone, especially children, from being eaten by witches, who were said to feed the most on the holy days. While rubbing garlic on children, parents would recite the following charm: "When the witch has counted up all the blades of grass on the ground and all the leaves on the trees, then let her kill my child!" On St. Thomas's Day, October 19th, garlic bulbs were hung in windows to keep witches away from the house all year while during the middle ages, it was worn around the neck to protect against werewolves and hung in doorways for the same purposes. Most famously, however, garlic was used as protection against vampires.

Bram Stoker's Dracula popularized the Romanian belief that garlic wards off vampires, but it wasn't just in Romania that it was believed garlic could ward off vampires. In China and the Malays, children's foreheads were anointed with garlic to protect against vampires as well. While the origins of the vampire are highly debated, some suggest that vampire folklore arises from the disease porphyria, a term used to describe several diseases that are caused by irregularities in the production of heme in the blood. The virus is largely carried by saliva, making transmission highly likely, but those infected often have a strong aversion to strong, pungent smells, like that of garlic. As such, garlic was worn, hung in the home, and rubbed on keyholes to deter vampires. Diseases caused by mosquito bites were also often referred to as "the touch of the vampire" and garlic was often used as an insect repellent by being rubbed on the body or eaten to stave off illness, associating it with both protection and healing.

However, these same tales are rife with prejudices and biases, especially against Jewish and poor people, who were described as smelling bad because they "rubbed Christ's body with garlic." Such accusations were used to stigmatize entire social groups and promote hate and explains where garlic nicknames such as "Italian perfume" and "Bronx vanilla" originate from.

Apart from hanging in the home or rubbing one's body with garlic, it was also used as an offering to Hecate for protection. Bulbs were routinely left at crossroads for Her in return for protection against evil, ill-will, witches, and other ill-intentioned spirits. Hecate was also offered garlic during childbirth and placed in the birthing chamber to protect women and children from demons and ensure a safe, healthy delivery.

Apart from protection, garlic was also believed to promote health and increase strength and endurance. Greek athletes and soldiers would eat large amounts of garlic prior to a match or battle to increase their strength and endurance and ensure victory. In Rome, not only did the soldiers consume garlic for courage, but Roman generals would also plant fields of garlic in the countries they conquered, believing that courage would be transferred to their soldiers on the battlefield. In Egypt, slaves were fed garlic to keep them strong and healthy, and King Tut was documented as spending fifteen pounds of garlic to buy healthy slaves. Even as recently as World War II, Russian soldiers ate garlic before going into battle to promote courage and strength and protect their bodies from bullets. As such, garlic can be used to promote strength, courage, and endurance whether for the witch or the spell being cast.

Garlic was also noted for its healing abilities and is often used to fight infection and stave off illnesses. Hippocrates recorded garlic being used to fight infections, clean wounds, treat cancer and leprosy, and cure digestive disorders. Later, Dioscorides praised garlic for its ability to treat heart problems, while Pliny listed 61 remedies featuring garlic that was used to treat everything from the common cold to epilepsy. In the Middle East, garlic was used to treat the plague and prevent others from getting sick. As such, garlic can be used in spells for healing, health, and general wellness.

Finally, garlic is associated with wealth, luck, and prosperity. Garlic is often consumed on Christmas Eve or New Year's Day to ensure good luck and prosperity, while in China, garlic is given to newlyweds as a symbol of health and prosperity. In Ancient China, garlic was often planted around the home to attract good luck and ward off evil. As such, garlic can be used in spells to bring luck, prosperity, and wealth.

Garlic can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Endurance Magic
    Prosperity Magic
    Healing Spells
    Wards
    Money Spells

Garlic has a long and rich history, and as such, I couldn't include everything in this article. If you would like to learn more, including more about Romanian garlic folklore, I encourage you to read through the following articles:

These amazing resources cover garlic in a way that would take me multiple posts.

Medicinal Uses: Garlic is among the most versatile herbs in the natural world, being universally recognized for its medicinal properties and uses. Garlic is antimicrobial, acting on bacteria, viruses, and parasites alike. The volatile oil is effective against chest congestion, helping to break up and remove mucus in the lungs. It can be used to treat bronchitis, coughs, sour throat, colds, and influenza. Garlic has also been found to help support natural gut flora, killing pathogenic organisms and promoting overall gut health. It also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Externally it has been used to treat ringworm and threadworm.

Preparation and Dosage: Internally, garlic can be taken as an infused oil, honey, or eaten whole. To create an effective cough/cold/flu remedy, combine 1 minced glove of garlic with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and 1-2 teaspoons of honey. Take up to three times a day. This infused honey can also be added to 1 cup of boiling water and a slice of ginger root and drank as an infusion up to three times a day for the same purpose. To create an infused oil, combine 4 crushed garlic cloves with 3 tablespoons of oil. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain and store for up to 12 months. Add to foods or take straight to improve gut health, fight infection, and speed in recovery.  If you wish to eat garlic whole, eat up to three cloves a day. Externally, garlic can be crushed and used as a poultice to treat fungal infections. Garlic is commonly added to other herbal remedies, such as fire cider, to treat infections and improve overall health. This is not a complete list of potential uses.
 

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