Thursday, June 10, 2021

Update: Resource Page Now Available

Hello, Witches!

I finally finished putting together the foundations of the Resources page which can be found on the navigation bar next to Herbarium. This page consists of books, articles, blogs, websites, shops, apps, podcasts, and more for witches and pagans. I hope that it will serve as a starting place for new and old witches alike who are looking for something new to expand their path or where to get started.

I divided the page into different types of resources, as well as by content. For example, there are books on traditional witchcraft, history and folklore, divination, sabbats, etc. Everything on hedgecraft appears first, with an entire section dedicated to information on this topic, including articles I have written here. I did this because this blog is first and foremost about hedgecraft and I wanted to make sure the resources for new and aspiring hedgewitches were easy to find. Everything within the resource list is linked to where you can find more information or purchase/download the resource. When free options were available, I noted them off to the side.

I will be updating this list monthly as I read more books and more recommendations from vetted sources are made. There are so many resources out there on witchcraft and paganism, but not all of them are great. This list consists of those items I think are worth reading or those that come highly recommended from people I trust and respect as witches. This does not mean that all of the sources are perfect. In fact, some of them contain problematic language, cultural appropriation, or misinformation, especially about history, but there is enough good content in these resources for me to include them here. I will never include anything on this list that I would not highly recommend, so you can rest assured these are worth spending your time and money on.

Enjoy and be sure sure to check back often!

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Poppy

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Gender: Feminine
Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Powers: Death, Fertility, Love, Sleep, Remembrance
Magical Uses and History: Poppies, which come in an array of varieties including corn, oriental, and opium, have long been cultivated throughout Southern Europe and Asia, and later North America, mostly due to their popularity as a beautiful garden addition. All parts of the plant are toxic, except for the seeds which can be eaten or the pod sap distilled into opium. Like all plants, poppies have a rich history of occult and spiritual uses. Poppies are deeply associated with love, partly due to their red color. In Persia, the poppy represents love and those that have died for love's sake. We see this same tradition in the Greek myth of Demeter and Mekon. Mekon, being a mortal, died, leaving Demeter to mourn his death. In her despair, she turned Mekon into a poppy, thus symbolizing their love and the remembrance of such love. Furthermore, poppy blooms only last about a day, symbolizing the loss of a young life or a life cut short. The Egyptians included poppies in their funeral and burial rites to assure life after death (remembrance), evidence of which dates back some 3,000 years. This idea of remembrance was captured more recently in the famous poem In Flanders Fields by John McRae which describes the brutalities of trench warfare during World War I in fields of poppies. Red poppies are commonly worn by veterans and distributed among the graves of veterans during Memorial Day, Veterans' Day, and Remembrance Day to symbolize remembrance of those we have loved and lost to war. In 2019, a pigeon in Canberra, Australia made her nest out of poppies taken from a local war memorial, uniting the idea that those we have lost are resting peacefully in love. As such, poppies, especially red poppies can be used to symbolize love, peace, and remembrance of those we have loved and lost. Use poppy seeds and flowers in love spells and rituals to induce love or bring love to you. The seeds are sometimes used in kitchen witchery to induce love, but be mindful that eating the seeds can show up on drug tests.

The depiction of poppies springing up on a battlefield and being used during funeral rites not only associates the flower with remembrance but death as well. Legend says that white poppies sprang from the battlefields of Genghis Khan. After the battle of Waterloo, it is said that poppies sprang from the blood scattered across the field, just as they did at Flanders after WWI. In Greek mythology, Thanatos, the god of death, is often depicted wearing a crown of poppies. Both the Greeks and Romans, like the Egyptians, used poppy flowers as an offering to the dead and when used on gravestones, represent eternal sleep. This symbolism was immortalized in Virgil's epic tale, Aeneid in 25 BC, in his description of Euryalus's death saying it was " poppies bowing their heads when the rain burdens them and their necks grow weary." Place poppies on your ancestral altar as an offering to those that have passed and to let them know they are remembered or use in spells to summon your ancestors to you. Furthermore, their ability to grow in poor soil conditions, such as those after a war where the soil has been beaten, trampled, and depleted of nutrients, speaks to the resilience and regenerative properties of the poppy. As such, poppies are associated with fertility, especially in regard to agriculture. The Assyrians referred to the poppy as the "daughter of the fields," and they were commonly used during crop rotations to repair the soil. Use poppies to enhance the fertility of your own garden or yourself should you be looking to have children.

In the Language of the Flowers during the Victorian period, poppies symbolized eternal sleep, oblivion, and imagination. This symbolism likely originated from the opium poppy that, when taken, would induce a dream-like, hallucinogenic state or sleep which was popular among Victorians, including Charles Dickens, and the mild analgesic and sedative properties of other poppies. Famous painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti captured this symbolism of eternal sleep and death in his painting Beata Beatrix, which was a tribute to his late wife, Elizabeth Siddal, who died due to an overdose of laudanum, an opium derivative. The painting features a dove delivering poppy flowers to a young, red-hair maiden. Other paintings, such as Ophelia by John Millais and Death the Bride by Thomas Coope Gotch show similar iconography. However, the idea that poppy is associated with sleep dates back further to the Greek god, Hypnos, the god of sleep. Hypnos is sometimes featured carrying a poppy stalk or a horn filled with poppy juice, again likely related to opium which has been used as far back as Mesopotamia. Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, is also said to use poppies to help shape the dreams of mortals. This is likely where the name morphine originates. Evelyn De Morgan's Night and Sleep depicts a personification of sleep sprinkling poppies to help those below rest peacefully. In some European folklore, an old folk remedy for insomnia included staring into the black center (oblivion) of a poppy flower. The idea that poppies can be used to aid in sleep is so pervasive that it appears in pop culture, including the story of The Wizard of Oz where Dorthy falls asleep in a field of poppies. John Keats also included poppy imagery in his poem, To Sleep where he says, "...ere thy poppy throws, Around my bed its lulling charities." Place the seeds under your pillow to aid in sleep or mix the seeds into a sleeping draft. Again, be mindful that poppy seeds often appear on drug tests.

Poppy can be used in a number of spells including:
    Love Spells
    Fertility Rites
    Ancestral Offerings
    Remembrance Rituals
    Death Magic
    Dream Magic

Medicinal Uses: Opium poppy contains alkaloids in its immature seed pods which are used to make opium, codeine, morphine, and heroin. For obvious reasons, you should not attempt to make these substances at home and should consult a doctor should you need to manage pain relief. The mature seeds are a mild analgesic and therefore can be used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and tension. However, it is important to note that poppy seeds often show up on drug tests. The rest of the plant is toxic and should not be ingested.

Preparation and Dosage: Please consult a medical professional if you are looking to use poppies to treat pain or insomnia. Due to their addictive properties, I will not offer any preparation or dosage information for this plant.

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy! 
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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Strawberry Freezer Jam Love Spell

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Strawberry season is well on its way here in Georgia, and as such, we ventured out to the local farm to pick us some delectable, juicy strawberries. Picking fresh strawberries is my favorite part of Spring, although in most places strawberries don't ripen until Summer. Either way, heading out to the country for a morning out in the fresh air is on the top of my list of things to do as soon as the strawberries are ready. I try to make it out every year, and each time I come home with more strawberries than before; they are just that good! I love to eat them fresh or dehydrated where they turn into gummies, but my all-time favorite way to enjoy strawberries is through strawberry freezer jam. It also happens to be my father's favorite, so I am also sure to bring him some once it's ready. And every year, I am sure to fill each jar with love, a simple kitchen witch spell I am passing on to each of you today.

Now I know love spells get a lot of flack, but this one isn't going to make anyone fall madly in love with you against their will. It's designed to let them know you love them and can be "spiced" up, if you will, to induce amorous feelings if you so wish. However, I usually make this for my dad and co-workers, so I'm not looking to do anything other than let them know I care about them. If you are worried about free will, this isn't a spell that will infringe on that right.

What You'll Need

  • 4 Cups Strawberries (2 cups crushed)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • Sure Gel Pectin
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Freezer-safe jars
  • Cinnamon (optional)

What to Do

The recipe I use to make freezer jam is the one featured in the Sure Gel Pectin recipe. Make sure you follow it exactly as stated, otherwise your freezer jam will not set and you will be left with a syrupy mess!

During the Waxing or Full Moon, mix your crushed strawberries with your sugar. Stir the mixture clockwise to draw love in. As you do, envision the people you wish to share the jam with. See them delighted and thankful for the wonderful gift, smiles adorning their faces. Remember how much you love and care for them and pour this energy into the mixture. See it filling with pink, red, and golden light as you infuse it with your love. Continue stirring and say, "Strawberries red and sugar sweet, let those close know how much they mean to me." Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a saucepan, mix your water and pectin and bring to a rolling boil for one minute. Stir constantly then combine with the strawberry-sugar mixture. Stir clockwise to combine the two completely while saying, "Pectin bind this spell together, seal in the love that shall not weather." Immediately jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours before refrigerating or freezing.

If you wish to add a little spice to your love life and conjure some amorous feelings from a partner, add a pinch of cinnamon to the recipe, while saying, "I add this cinnamon to spice up my love life. Bring me the passion I seek."

Why You Did It

Understanding the why's of a spell are just as important as performing it. It helps you understand the process so you can modify the spell or ritual to suit your needs and helps guide you to write your own. It's my intention that by providing these explanations, that you can build a better understanding of how spells are written and executed so you can modify and build your own spells (the goal of my Spellcraft Series). 

For this spell/ritual, you have two options for the Moon phase, giving you ample time to make your freezer jam before your strawberries sour. Both the Waxing and Full Moons are about manifestation, especially if you are looking to bring something new into your life, such as spicing your love life up a bit. These are also the perfect Moon phases for love spells, whether you are promoting friendship or seeking a new relationship. 

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The main ingredient in this spell is the strawberries! Strawberries, which are red, heart-shaped, and governed by Venus, have long been associated with love. They are considered a fruit of passion and according to Roman mythology, are said to have arisen when Venus wept for the death of Adonis, her lover. Furthermore, the idea of strawberries being a symbol is so engrained in modern society that on Valentine's Day, chocolate cover strawberries are commonly exchanged as a token of love. Due to their color, shape, and mythological and modern associations,  strawberries the perfect fruit for a love spell, especially a freezer jam. 

The sugar is added to sweeten the spell, enhancing the feeling of love, as well as to stabilize the mixture so it can set up properly. It's more than just a bit of spellwork here. The ingredients were combined by stirring clockwise to bring things to you and those partaking of the jam, while your visualization and energy raising infused your love and kind feelings into the strawberries and sugar. Finally, the pectin was added to bind the ingredients together, including binding your intentions into the spell so they don't wander off. Energy has a habit of dissipating and the pectin is able to bind this energy to the spell, as well as bind the ingredients so you end up with a jam instead of syrup.

If you added cinnamon to your jam, this was done to "spice" up your love life. Cinnamon is associated with love and sexual desire due to it being a "hot" herb. The spiciness of cinnamon is said to heat things up and therefore explains cinnamon's association with the element Fire. The powers of cinnamon were so potent, it is believed the Egyptian queen Cleopatra included cinnamon in her famous seductive oils to increase her allure.

Wish to break this spell? Toss the jam out! 

Remember to record this ritual on your ritual/spell worksheet or in your Book of Shadows for reference later.

I hope each of you enjoys the first fruits of Spring and Summer!

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Review: Sacred Hags Oracle by Danielle Dulsky and Janine Houseman

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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.

I love Dulsky's work, having reviewed both Holy Wild and Seasons of Moon and Flame here on the blog over the years. In fact, I was reading Holy Wild while going through abdominal surgery and I will never forget how it helped get me through that trying time. Needless to say, when I was sent a copy of Dulsky's new oracle deck, Sacred Hags Oracle, I was excited to start working with them. If you have read Dulsky's prior works, or are looking for a way to delve deeper into the lessons she outlines in her books, I highly encourage you to pick up her new oracle deck. It's the perfect companion, and I am shocked these cards were not released sooner.

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The deck consists of 56 cards, divided up into four suits: The Sacred Hags, The Seasons, The Stories, and The Spells. The Sacred Hags represent "elderly guidance and grandmotherly wisdom," some of which are featured in her books, while The Seasons, 14 cards total, represent the lunar cycle and pertinent times in your life such as childhood. The Story cards, on the other hand, represent major life events, lessons learned, challenges, etc on your journey of life. Finally, The Spells cards are "medicine cards," offering meaningful advice on the next steps you should take. Each card is beautifully designed by Janine Houseman who offered insights into the cards meaning through the illustrations, colors, and overall design. However, each card is also clearly labeled and numbered, with each suit containing a custom-designed sigil. Houseman is considered the sigil witch after all. Her cards would not be complete without the incorporation of sigils. Furthermore, each card is thoroughly explained within the guidebook, so you can work intuitively with the cards or with the guidebook to determine meanings and revelations. 

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The guidebook is clearly written by Dulsky herself, as the text is beautifully poetic and magical. Dulsky not only opens the book with a poetic journey but also offers six detailed opening rituals to begin working with the cards. You read that right, SIX. This provides the user with a number of ways to work with these cards, making the deck accessible to all those that pick it up. I greatly appreciated the variety and inclusivity of the rituals. She then offers up a variety of spreads the user could potentially work with before finally delving into each of the card's deeper meanings. Each card description includes a picture of the card, a "Grandmother speaks" introduction (a concept found in her other works), a morning ritual, and a moonlit ritual to better connect with the card. I love the morning and moonlit rituals as they help you connect with each card individually. Like the process outlined by Lara Veleda Vesta in Wild Soul Runes, Dulsky promotes developing a deep relationship with each card over the course of days or weeks to fully connect with the oracle deck.

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Despite how much I love the concept and the guidebook, I am unimpressed with the quality of the cards. They are glossy and printed on a rather thin card stock. With multiple uses, these cards will degrade quickly and require a replacement which defeats the connection and energy you have with the deck. However, if this is a deck you plan to only use once in a while, then it should last you longer. Again, if you are looking for a new set of oracle cards or looking for a way to connect more deeply with Dulsky's other works, I encourage you to give this lovely deck a look! Sacred Hags Oracle by Danielle Dulsky and Janine Houseman and available now!

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Dulsky even shows up in the cards as Blood of the Warrioress!

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Friday, May 14, 2021

Book Review: A Witch's Guide to Wildcraft by JD Walker

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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.

As this year continues, my list of awesome occult books grows. Today I have yet another book review on a book you witches will want to get your hands on! A Witch's Guide to Wildcraft: Using Common Plants to Create Uncommon Magic by JD Walker covers a variety of plants most witches in North America can find right in their backyard for use in their magical endeavors. I couldn't be more thrilled with such a book as many of the herbal books on the market cover the same basic plants, many of which are not available in Georgia. While that's fine, it makes it difficult to practice more local witchcraft when every herbal spell book calls for plants I don't have easy access to.

Walker, a horticulturist, master gardener, and fellow witch, begins the book by discussing the basics of wildcrafting, including setting some ground rules for gathering from both an ecological and witchy point of view. As an environmental science teacher, I greatly appreciated her discussion of threatened and endangered species. It's important to note that not all plants are threatened or endangered in every area so prior to harvesting, you should check with your local and state governments. Thankfully in the United States, each state has a comprehensive list of threatened and endangered species per the Endangered Species Act. Walker provides detailed information on how to go about researching local and state regulations on wildcrafting, making it easy for the reader to find the needed information prior to harvesting. Walker then goes on to discuss the foundations of a magical, herbal practice, from proper harvesting techniques to planetary influences for each herb, including which signs work well together and which don't. This is something I find lacking in a large number of herbal books. Sure, the planetary correspondences are there and a reverence for the plant's spirit, but there is very little talk about how the herbs actually work together and that despite what some people may say, not all herbs play well together magically. I appreciated this deeper look into how different planetary signs and magical correspondences work or fail to work together in magical workings. Understanding magical interactions are the foundation of successful witchcraft and is often overlooked in beginner books. Building upon this, Walker suggests planetary times to harvest herbs, but also encourages the reader to accept the gifts the Universe provides, time be damned. Before covering each herb in detail, Walker provides several tables that classify the herbs based on their planet correspondence, moon phase, elemental correspondences, and magical correspondences. This makes it super easy to reference the herbs quickly to find exactly what you need without having to read through each plant individually in the second part of the book. I love that these lists make the book more accessible and useable as a reference material, one that I will likely return to often. 

In the second half of the book, Walker goes into detail about 32 common plants found in North America from boxwood to willow. For each plant, she includes a picture for identification, Latin name, location, parts used, hardiness zones, planetary ruler, uses, edibility, warnings, written description, history of use from a horticultural perspective, and finally the magical uses of the plants. Whew! You get a ton of practical information, all tightly packed into each plant section. Many sources, including my own Herbarium posts, don't often refer to which part of the plant is used magically. I appreciate Walker's deliberate inclusion of the part of the plant used and why that part of the plant is used. Each part corresponds slightly differently magically, and this should be taken into account when working a spell. The root of a dandelion acts differently than the flowers and it's important to understand this distinction. All of the book is thoroughly referenced, with intext citations and annotated sources. I greatly appreciated the references and complete bibliography at the end of the book. Finally, Walker offers a magical project for each and every plant; yes, every single plant has a spell, ritual, or craft associated with it. I absolutely loved this! Most books include all these magical uses, but then don't offer a way to practice the magic; Walker defies this trend, offering recipes and directions for runes, cherry jam, glamour toner, floor washes, bath mixtures, besoms, and asperging wands. This was my favorite part of the book, but for some of the projects, I would have liked to see the inclusion of visual instructions instead of just written ones. I am a pretty visual person, so I struggle with written directions when constructing something.

If you are looking at growing your magical practice with herbs, this is certainly the book for you. Unfortunately, the plant section will be limited for those outside of North America and Europe, but the information is still worth reading for those in other areas, as Walker offers new insight into plant magic not covered in other texts. A Witch's Guide to Wildcraft: Using Common Plants to Create Uncommon Magic by JD Walker is available now, and I promise you won't regret picking up this fantastic resource. 

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