Monday, January 29, 2018

Magical Properties of Hawthorn

Magical Properties of Hawthorn

Monday, January 22, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: What is Hedge Riding?

Hedge Riding Series: What is Hedge Riding?

This year I decided to cover hedge riding in an eleven part series in an attempt to clear up some misconceptions about hedgewitches while providing practical advice for novice witches or those seeking a new path. As a hedgewitch, hedge riding is a large part of my practice, as is working with my animal and spiritual guides. Not only does each ride give me valuable insight, but I often finish feeling invigorated and relaxed. Nothing quiet soothes my depression and anxiety like visiting my animal guides, Meka and Rocar. Because I have found these experiences so valuable to my practice, I felt compelled to tell my story in hopes of helping witches around the world. While many people will call themselves a hedgewitch, not all of them are 'true' hedgewitches in that they practice the main feature of hedge witchcraft, hedge riding. Most people are unfamiliar with the terminology hedge riding, but not the concept of traveling to other realms.

What is Hedge Riding?

The 'hedge' in 'hedgewitch' and 'hedge riding' has multiple meanings, the most prominent being the boundary separating the our world from the 'Otherworld.' The hedge also represents a physical and psychic protective boundary, thus separating spirit from human. Hedgewitches are said to hedge ride or 'ride the hedge (fly the hedge in my case),' meaning hedgewitches routinely cross the veil into the spirit otherworld. But what exactly is hedge riding?

Simply put, hedge riding is a spiritual journey into the otherworld realms, the collective unconscious. It is shamanic in nature, but with some stark differences to separate the three. Generally, hedge riding is solitary in nature, making it perfect for any witch who is unable to find others or doesn't wish to work with other witches. However, there are some hedgewitches that work in groups, using the opportunity to share stories and gather more insight into the meaning of their journeys. In fact, many traditional witch covens engage in such work, using the opportunity to travel to and from the Otherworld to perform group spells and rituals. While the journeys will likely vary, the intent remains the same. Furthermore, having a second set of 'eyes' on the subject can bring light to things you may not have considered before, especially when it comes to interpreting signs and messages received during your journey. While hedge riding also has many features in common with shamanism, unlike shamanic journeying, hedgewitches usually do not engage in psycho-pomp work, or the act of ferrying souls. Instead, hedge riding is used for healing, to search for knowledge, divination, or assistance in spell work. Furthermore, hedge riding is also very distinct from meditation and pathwalking. Unlike meditation or pathwalking, hedge riding is not controlled and you physically leave our realm to travel to others; you do not determine what will or will not happen on the journey, just as you don't control what does or does not happen on your drive to work. While you can control your personal actions, you cannot control the actions of the beings and abiotic factors (weather, day, night, etc) surrounding you. You can read more about the differences between meditation, pathwalking, and hedge riding in my other post Meditation, Pathwalking, and Hedge Riding: Making Sense of It All.

Simply put, hedge riding is a spiritual journey into the otherworld realms, the collective unconscious.

To hedge ride, the witch must enter an altered state of consciousness (ASC). This can be done using a variety of techniques, including drumming, dancing, chanting, flying ointments, or even mind-altering drugs. While I don't condone the use of mind-altering drugs, they certainly have a place among traditional hedge witches. Flying ointments, which can and often do contain entheogenic herbs, are thusly named because they allow you to enter an ASC and thus fly or hedge ride to other worlds. Historical recipes vary rather greatly and rely most heavily on the works of witch hunters. However, from these folk remedies, we can glean an understanding that they likely contained a sort of fat combined with mildly hallucinogenic plants. I'll discuss these in more detail later in the series.

While hedge riding is making a comeback, the practice itself is actually quite old. Originally, hedgewitches were the cunning people or wise folk who lived on the outskirts of town, by the hedge. There is no central dogma for hedgewitches, but much of what hedgewitches practice is based on historical texts with modern interpretations and adaptions. However, there is one text in particular that gives particular insight into hedge riding, The Havamal, The Words of Odin the High One.

There are multiple translations of verse 156 of The Havamal in the Poetic Edda of the 13th century that talk explicitly about hedge riding, or at least we interpret them to. Below are two such examples
I know this the tenth:
If I see the hedge-riders magically flying high,
I can make it so they go astray
Of their own skins, and of their own souls.
Nigel Pennick (Havamal, Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes, 2002)

A tenth I know, what time I see
House-riders flying on high;
So I can work, that wildly they go,
Showing their true shapes,
Hence to their own homes.
Henry Adams Bellows (Hovamol, verse 156, The Poetic Edda, 1936)
It is believed this passage is a charm and depending on the translation, determines what for. In the first case, it will call the hedge rider back into their own 'skin' while the second aids in separating the rider's spirit from their body. In Norse culture, women, known as volva, commonly participated in this otherworldly travel and magic known as seidhr. 

While meditation and pathwalking are safe practices, hedge riding is not. Because your spirit or soul physically leaves our realm to enter that of another, there are risks involved. Not every spirit or entity you meet is there to help you. Taking the proper precautions will ensure your safety. I'll cover how to safely travel later in the series. Because of this, hedge riding is not for the novice or anyone unable to focus their mind for long periods of time. However, you shouldn't fear hedge riding. It is wonderful to experience and will aid any witch in furthering their magical path. In the years I have been hedge riding, I have never been physically or spiritually harmed. However, I have made mistakes that have resulted in unwanted attachments, and from those mistakes, I have learned what not to do. Hopefully, I haven't scared you off, but instead piqued your interest! 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Orange Blossom

Magical and Medicinal Properties of Orange. Includes FREE BOS page!

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Powers: Divination, Fertility, Love, Luck, Money
Magical Uses and History: Try as I might, there is very little recorded history regarding the orange. Eight magical books and several dozen websites later and all I could manage to pull up regarding the history of the orange is its movement through the world from India. However, one source suggested during the time of Shakespeare, many people carried "pomanders," which consisted of a hollowed out orange filled with herbs and spices to create a scent box. This isn't at all surprising considering the hygiene of the time period. Despite the lack of history, there are many magical uses for the orange.

One of the most prominent uses of the orange is in love spells.  According to one myth, Gaea gave Hera a garden full of "golden apples" as a wedding gift. These "golden apples" have been interpreted to be oranges, thus associating oranges with love and marriage. The dried flowers, peels, and seeds can be added to love sachets while the flowers are often added to wedding bouquets to encourage marital bliss. According to one spell, the orange blossoms added to the wedding bouquet should be saved and burned along with a piece of paper containing the names of the couple. The ashes are then placed in a red bag or small bottle with a piece of true silver and stored in a safe place to protect and preserve love and marital harmony. Furthermore, bathing in an infusion of orange peels is said to increase one's attractiveness.

For prosperity magic, orange peels can be added to spell mixtures, incense, or powders to increase the potency of the spell. The Chinese have long regarded the orange as a symbol of luck and good fortune, so carry them on your person to uplift, energize, and bring good luck.

For divination purposes, when you eat an orange, you can think of a yes-or-no question you want answered. As you eat the orange, count the seeds. An even number means yes while an odd number means no. Thinking of changing plans? Drink a glass of orange juice to increase intuition. Orange juice can also be drunk in place of wine, especially if you are underage or abstaining from alcohol. This tradition began sometime around Henry VIII's reign, although the history is a bit fuzzy.

And finally, due to its association with the Sun, place oranges on your Yule and Litha altars to symbolize the return of the Sun at Yule and his rise in strength at Litha.

Orange can be used in a number of spells including:
     Love Spells
     Money Spells
     Luck Magic

Medicinal Uses: Due to its high level of vitamin C and low cost, oranges were often packed on ships to prevent the crews from developing scurvy. High amounts of vitamin C and potassium have also led to its use in preventing cancer and stroke, especially in women and young children. However, citric fruits, like oranges, make you more susceptible to sun burn, therefore increasing your risk of skin cancer if consumed in excess. Orange is also used to prevent heart disease, treat anemia, reduce inflammation, and as an antimicrobial.

Preparation and Dosage: Internally- Drinking orange juice, especially if mixed with blackcurrant juice, reduces inflammation. Drink a glass up to three times a day. To create a tea, add 1-2 tsp (4-6 grams) of dried peel to a cup of hot water. Brew for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink up to 3 times a day. For an infusion, add 1 tsp (2 grams) of dried peel to a cup of water. Allow to brew for 10 minutes. Consume up to 3 times a day. Two to three drops of oil (if marketed for consumption) can be taken daily as a dietary supplement. Externally- Rub diluted orange oil on sore joints to reduce inflammation. Be aware the using orange oil increases the risk of sun burn, so use with caution. Inhale orange oil to reduce anxiety and uplift your mood.

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

Monday, January 15, 2018

Freyja Box Review: December

Freyja Box Review: December

So, this 3-month subscription box, Freyja, was given to me as a gift for Yule this year, and both me and my boyfriend were pretty disappointed with it right from the start. First, the box is supposed to ship on the 20th each month, and they didn't end up shipping until January. He messaged them several times trying to figure out what was going on (he ordered December 2nd), and never received a response. When the box finally arrived, it came in a standard USPS flat-rate box, which is fine, but all the items barely fit and the box was slightly damaged. Third, the box is Yule-theme, which is also fine, if Yule hadn't already passed. In fact, shipping on the 20th would have meant the boxes wouldn't have arrived by Yule in the first place, so maybe the box from November would have been better suited for Yule? However, despite this, the box did come with some great little items.

Freyja Box Review: December

The first item I pulled out was a small Winter Solstice Soap bar. The packaging says it contains goat milk and pure essential oils, but there is no mention which essential oils it contains. It does have a hint of evergreen and some other solstice smells, but I am unable to accurately identify them. There is no mention where this item came from.

Freyja Box Review: December

Freyja Box Review: December

The second item I removed was some read Mala beads. These came in a plastic bag that said they were made in China, which is pretty disappointing, but they are nice all the same.

Freyja Box Review: December

Freyja Box Review: December

Next was one of my favorite items, garnet. With the small crystal came in information card explaining some of its uses. While the card mentions garnet was used during Winter Solstice rituals, there is no indication as to how it was used.  Underneath the garnet was some frankincense-myrrh incense cones by Hem. I love Hem incense and look forward to using this in upcoming rituals.

Freyja Box Review: December

I then removed my very favorite item from the box, a candle snuffer. Up until now, I didn't own one and would snuff candles out using fingers or a plate. Having a snuffer is an excellent addition to my collection. According to this sticker, the snuffer was massed produced in India.

Freyja Box Review: December
Freyja Box Review: December

Finally I removed a set of three candles, red, gold, and green. They each smell like scents common to the season, but I can't accurately identify any of them other than the green as an evergreen scent. Each votive candle came in its own holder, which is nice considering most other boxes provide a candle and no holder. Despite their scents, these candles can be used for rituals other than Yule.

Freyja Box Review: December

Freyja Box Review: December

Overall I was not very impressed with this box for a variety of reasons. There is no information card on how to use the items, only one item is potentially supporting a pagan business while others are mass produced in foreign countries, the box was late and slightly damaged, no help from customer service was given, and I do not believe the contents of this box are worth $28. We shall see how the next two boxes go, but as it stands, this subscription box leaves a lot to be desired. If the next box is just as disappointing, I will go ahead and give my full synopsis, and move on to another box. Box of Shadows has stepped up their game tremendously, and I would like to review it again.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Full Moons and New Moons of 2018

Yeah, yeah, yeah! We already had one full moon this month, but that doesn't mean it's too late to figure out the rest of the year. As witches, the moon cycle is pretty important to our magical workings, so it's good to know when that moon is gonna do its thing! Please not that all of these dates are in Eastern Standard Time (EST). If you would like to find the exact dates and times of the full and new moons in your area, please go to Time and Date.

Full Moon 2018 (EST)
January 1
Wolf Moon
January 31 (Blue)
Snow Moon- Lunar Eclipse
March 1
Worm Moon
March 31 (Blue)
Worm/Pink Moon
April 29
Pink Moon
May 29
Flower Moon
June 28
Strawberry Moon
July 27
Buck Moon
August 26
Sturgeon Moon
September 24
Corn Moon
October 24
Hunter’s Moon
November 23
Beaver Moon
December 22
Cold Moon

There are two blue moons this year, January 31 and March 31. This means there are two full moons in a month.  Double the magic! There is also a lunar eclipse on January 31st, so be on the lookout for that. The eclipse will change the magical workings for that night, so make sure you align correctly.

New Moons 2018 (EST)
January 16
February 15
March 15
April 15
May 15
June 13
July 12
August 11
September 9
October 8
November 7
December 7

I searched for the new moon names, and unfortunately came up empty. Oh well! Maybe one of you will know the names. I would sure like to know, so please feel free to share in the comments or send me an email. I found one site claiming to have found the New Moon names, but after doing some digging, the names were incorrect.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2018 and that it is full of magic!