Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Book Review: The Magick of Food- Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven

kitchen witchcraft, witchcraft, witch, food magick, magic, rituals

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 received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Yeah, I know. Two book reviews in a row. Probably not exactly what you wanted, but I promised myself and publishers that I would have these books reviews done before the end of the year. Nothing quite like procrastination right? However, I am especially thankful I have been given the opportunity to read and review these amazing books before they hit the shelves. To all my kitchen witches out there, this is a book for you.

The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven is a new and interesting approach to kitchen witchery. Unlike other kitchen witch books, this one focuses on the food itself and the act of preparing it. This is not your regular introduction to kitchen witchcraft and Wicca and lacks a lot of that beginner fluff so many of us are tired of reading about. Authors and publishers, please stop with the cookie-cutter introductory book already. But I digress once again. Raven covers a variety of food topics in this book, from the history of food to how you can use food in your modern magical practice. Scattered throughout are little nuggets (pun intended) of wisdom from a variety of authors, chefs, witches, and more and some fabulous recipes. I haven't cooked any of them yet, but reading them made my mouth water.

On top of it all, there are wonderful magical rituals included involving food. I don't know about you, but I love food; I purposely plan entire vacations around food! Raven speaks from this same place; this place of absolute love of food and the amazing things that come with it. His passion for food and the magic it contains is evident in his writing and his sense of humor. I really enjoyed reading about his personal stories that centered around food and it got me thinking about how the biggest events in my life had food at the center, how those smells and tastes bring me back to those moments and that there is amazing magic in that. Furthermore, Raven encourages healthy relationships with food, although he doesn't specifically say this is what he is doing. His exercises around mindfulness and listening to our bodies, even if they want that donut, encourages healthy eating habits by refocusing our attention on the act of eating and enjoying food, instead of just mindlessly eating because we have to or because we are bored.

While some of the historical interpretations, although seemingly well researched, seemed a little farfetched or speculative at times, the foundation the book is built upon is solid. However, there was some little attacks on GMOs at one point which science doesn't support, but otherwise Raven was understanding and mindful of food deserts and food insecurity and refuses to pass judgment on people eating what they need or have to in order to survive. If you are looking for a new book on kitchen witchery, the magic of food, or just looking to practice magic more often, I encourage you to pick up this book. Many witches I talk to complain about not being able to practice magic everyday and how it makes them feel less witchy for whatever reason. Raven offers practical, everyday solutions to practice magic daily through food because we all have to eat, right? That's what separates us from the dead. So prepare to put on your apron or head out to a restaurant and enjoy the magic of food.

The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven is currently available for preorder and will be released January 8, 2020. What a great start to the New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book Review: Outside the Charmed Circle-Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice by Misha Magdalene

Outside the Charmed Circle, book review, witch, witchcraft, gender studies, sexuality, pagan

Edit: This post was edited on 1/19/2020 to include a response from the author.

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 received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've read a lot of really great books this year on witchcraft, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, choosing to focus less on introductory books and more on specialized fields within magic. This book is no exception, and it is probably one of the most important books I will ever read. Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice by Misha Magdalene may not be the book we wanted, but its the book we need, as a community, right now. And honestly, it's not just witches and pagans that need to read this; it's for everyone: witch, Christian, young, old, cis, trans, queer, and straight alike.

Outside the Charmed Circle is an in-depth, academic look at gender and sexuality in the magical community, as the title suggests, but it's so much more than that. Don't let the academic side of the book deter you from picking this one up. Furthermore, stop being afraid of discussing gender and sexuality. It's an uncomfortable subject to be sure, but one that absolutely must be addressed here and now in order for our world to become a safer, more inclusive place. But I digress. Misha, who is a nonbinary witch of 30ish years with a degree in gender studies, speaks with authority, compassion, and even a bit of humor throughout the book. They share their personal stories, some of which are funny and some of which are saddening, but those stories help the reader connect deeply with the subject matter.

The book dives deeply into what gender and sexuality are and what that means within magical practices and society as a whole. Misha covers everything from queer gods and goddesses (I can tell you I learned a lot here!) to sex magic to consent to forming your own magical praxis. I have to say, the chapters discussing consent and the queer gods and goddesses were my two favorite sections. As a victim of sexual assault, I appreciated the thought and consideration that went into the chapters on consent, and that it wasn't just about consent between two humans, but between humans and spirits and deities as well. They were beautifully written, empowering, and so refreshing. There have been a lot of talks lately about consent, sexual assault and homophobic, transphobic, and racist rhetoric and actions by pagan leaders (and those outside our community as well). Many of these "whistleblowers" have been attacked, marginalized, threatened, and forced into hiding because they had the audacity to challenge the idea that maybe some of the things we have been doing need to change. Like many of us, Misha grappled with these issues, even leaving paganism because they couldn't reconcile their beliefs with the atrocities happening within our community. I'm so glad Misha came back and came back with an amazingly brilliant book addressing many of these issues.

But Misha doesn't just tell the reader what is wrong with our community, they ask that we confront our own biases and work through them. There are a dozen or so exercises built into the chapters. Some are as simple as freewriting, while others are more in-depth rituals. I actually worked through every. single. exercise in this book. This is something I have never done before. I usually skip around and say I'll get back to it later, but not with this book. I was in Asheville, sitting alone in the bathroom writing while my SO slept or enjoying an orange in my kitchen in complete silence (apart from my cat Jane who also wanted to partake in said orange). The exercises Misha includes force us to confront our fears, misconceptions, and actions and to really evaluate why we feel the way we feel and why we do the things we do. It was utterly eye-opening to stare at my self naked in front of a mirror for an hour. I didn't want to do it, but I did. I wept a lot during that exercise (and I'm crying again now thinking about it), but I did it and have a newfound respect for what is mine.

The book ends with a call to action, that we have a long way to go and that this book and its exercises are not a one-and-done experience. I have strived to be inclusive, but this book let me know that I still have some changing to do; that I can do even more. So to my fellow queer witches, I'm scooting over on the bench and making some for you at our table.

Before I go, however, I had one issue with the book: the use of the term black magic. Misha probably uses it twice within the book, maybe three times. I found it interesting that a book on being inclusive would use a term rooted in racism. However, I feel this wasn't intended to be disrespectful, but instead, because we do not, as a community, have a word to describe the "darker" side of witchcraft that is universally accepted and understood, especially in reference to past practices and views. Furthermore, it is likely due to his background in the Feri tradition, which uses that term regularly as well as many other Wiccan traditions. But that's for another time. Please see Misha's response to this comment below.

Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice by Misha Magdalene is currently available for pre-order and will be available on January 8, 2020. I encourage you to pick up a copy, share it with friends, and widen your spiritual practice and worldview just a little.

Response from the author: "Thank you so much for your incredible review of "Outside the Charmed Circle." I'm utterly delighted and humbled that you found something of value in my work, and the vulnerability and openness in your review brought me to tears multiple times as I read it to my partner.

If I may, I wanted to respond to your comment about my use of the term "black magic." I'm in full agreement with you about the racist implications of the term, and I don't commonly use it. In fact, I was so surprised by what you'd written that I actually went back to the manuscript and searched to see where I'd used the term, because I couldn't remember having done so!

You were absolutely correct, though: I used it twice. The first was a quote from Feri grandmaster Victor Anderson, which I've always interpreted to be him attempting to get away from the racial implications of white/black magic in favor of a "pretty words/practical applications" distinction. (How successful he was is, of course, open to debate!) The second was in reference to magic as practiced in the Renaissance and Enlightenment era, and was meant to convey how the folks of that era saw the sort of grimoiric sorcery under discussion. Regardless, I could've made that point better. My work is intended to be explicitly inclusive and anti-racist, and I will absolutely keep your critique in mind going forward.

Again, thank you."

Saturday, December 28, 2019

2019 Flying the Hedge Reader Survey

Hello, witches! It's that time of year again when those pesky reader surveys start popping up. I know that they can sometimes be time-consuming or seem irrelevant, but I'd like to let you know that they are extremely important and help bloggers like myself produce authentic content that you the readers actually want to read! There is nothing worse than pouring time and effort into a post just for no one to enjoy it or like it! So without further ado, I have a pesky, yet extremely helpful reader survey I would like you to take. Simply click on the link for the survey below and fill it out to the best of your ability. This survey will help drive where the blog goes in 2020, including series posts. I only want to produce content you want to read, so if you could spare 10-15 minutes of your time sometime between now and January 3rd, I would greatly appreciate it!

2019 Flying the Hedge Reader Survey

Friday, December 27, 2019

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Cloves

cloves, magical, medicinal, witchcraft, herb magic

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Jupiter
Element: Fire
Powers: Exorcism, Healing, Love, Money, Protection
Magical Uses and History: The name "clove" originates from the Old French world clou and the Latin clavus meaning "nail" for its shape, like that of a nail. For this reason, cloves are often seen as protective. Native to the Molucca Islands, cloves were a prized commodity of the Ancient Romans and Chinese. In fact, cloves were so prized wars were waged over them and the Dutch, wishing to capitalize on the clove market, took control of most of the clove groves, destroying all trees outside of their territory. To increase prices, the Dutch even set fire to many of their own trees and those of the natives to create an artificial shortage. At the time, cloves were worth their weight in gold and could often only be afforded by the wealthy. Because of this, cloves are often associated with money and prosperity. Today, clove incense is often burned (oh, the irony) to attract wealth and prosperity and to dispell negativity.

Natives in the Molucca Islands historically planted a clove tree for each child born. It was believed that the tree was directly linked to the fate of the child. A healthy, thriving tree meant a healthy, thriving child, while a sickly, dying tree was believed to forboding. These trees were protected and cared for so that the child would also be protected. When the Dutch began destroying these trees, the natives revolted, forcing the Dutch out and causing clove growing practices to change.

Cloves are also historically linked to healing and protection from illness. Clove oil has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, especially dental ailments and is naturally antiseptic. The Chinese would chew cloves before meeting with the emperor or other royal figures to ensure their breath was pleasant. However, one of its most famous uses is in the pomander ball or pomme d'ambre which translates to "apple of amber." Pomanders were balls made from different perfumes that were worn or carried in a vase for protection against infection and bad smells. While it originally started out as mixtures molded to look like fruit and kept in wooden, metal, or porcelain (as seen in several paintings of Queen Elizabeth I), more recent adaptations of this charm include an orange (apple of amber) covered in cloves and wrapped in ribbon. Beginning in the eighteenth century, many wealthy Europeans ran with the idea of studding oranges with cloves and giving them to loved ones as a gift for Christmas or the New Year, hence why modern pomanders are often associated with Yule and Christmas. This charm is often allowed to cure dry and placed in drawers and closets to protect again pests, or as a charm to help the ill recover faster. While cloves were not nearly as expensive as they had been, oranges were, making orange and clove pomanders something only the wealthy originally indulged in. And let's be honest, only the wealthy can afford to use food as an air freshener instead of eating it. As such, modern pomanders are also associated with wealth and prosperity and is said to bring good luck to those that have them.

Cloves can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Banishing Magic
    Money Spells
    Healing Rituals

Medicinal Uses: Cloves can be used to soothe nausea, vomiting, and even flatulence as well as to stimulate the digestive system. Furthermore, cloves are naturally antiseptic and a mild anesthetic, which makes it great for treating toothaches before you can get to the dentist as it contains a chemical called eugenol. Furthermore, some early research suggests that clove oil may repel mosquitos for up to 5 hours!

Preparation and Dosage: To create an infusion, place some cloves (as many as you want depending on how strong you want the infusion to be) into a cup of boiling water and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Drink up to 3 times a day. For a toothache, a whole clove can be placed directly onto or near the tooth in question and "sucked" on until the pain is gone. Do not chew. I have found that slightly grinding the clove with some water to create a mash works best. Clove oil can also be used by placing a small amount on a cotton ball or Q-tip and putting this near the tooth. Clove oil can burn so keep this in mind when using. Smelling cloves can also heighten your senses and clear your mind. Please be aware the eugenol slows blood clotting and should not be taken with aspirin or other blood thinners."

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

cloves, magical, medicinal, witchcraft, herb magic

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Yule Altar 2019

yule, winter solstice, altar, witch, witch altar, pagan

Yule is definitely one of my favorite holidays of the year. Being the shortest day of the year, it reminds us to look within ourselves and reflect upon our lives. It is also a great time to communicate with spirits and the Wild Hunt often takes place during this time. Furthermore, Yule is characterized by rebirth, new beginnings, and hope. Despite it being the shortest day of the year, it reminds us that light will come again and the Sun will be reborn. This year's altar reflects all of these themes, from the Wild Hunt to rebirth.

yule, winter solstice, altar, witch, witch altar, pagan

1. Candles- This altar is covered in candles symbolizing the rebirth of the Sun. Furthermore, they represent sympathetic magic, the idea that by lighting the candles to symbolize the Sun and returning warmth, that the Sun will arrive quickly the next morning and continue to grow in strength through the Spring and Summer. Being white, the candles represent purity and a clean slate in preparation for the New Year. Yule is a time to reflect and begin anew. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree (2018-2019); Cost: $1 for each candle holder and $1 for all the candles)

yule, winter solstice, altar, witch, witch altar, pagan

2. Rose of Jericho- The Rose of Jericho, also referred to as resurrection fern, is the perfect addition to any Yule altar as Yule is the time the Sun is reborn. In Christianity, this is represented by the birth of Jesus, while other religions also see the birth of a God of Goddess occurring at this time as well. The Rose of Jericho symbolizes this rebirth and renewal symbolic of this sabbat. (Where did I get it: House of Rituals Subscription Box; Cost: $12)

yule, winter solstice, altar, witch, witch altar, pagan

3. Yule Tree- No Yule altar is complete without the Yule tree. This evergreen tree represents life during death, that despite how bleak and terrible things may seem, there is still hope that life will return and Spring will come again. (Where did I get it: Michael's Craft Store 2015; Cost: $4)

yule, winter solstice, altar, witch, witch altar, pagan

4. Pearls, Bloodstone, and Garnet- Pearls, bloodstone, and garnet are all traditional stones of Yule. The pearls represent the Moon, which dominates on the longest night of the year. They also represent purity, love, and protection. Spirits abound on this night, having extra time to roam our plane of existence. Pearls offer up their protection this night in the loving embrace of the Moon. Bloodstone, on the other hand, was known as heliotrope by the Ancients which comes from the Greek helios meaning "sun" and trepein meaning "to attract." As such, bloodstone or heliotrope signifies "sun-turning" and is said to attract the rays of the Sun. Again, this is a form of sympathetic magic to bring forth the rebirth of the Sun and ward off the neverending night. Finally, garnet represents the primordial fire of creation which will bring about the rebirth of the Sun and with it will come Spring and new life. (Where did I get it: Various Subscription Boxes and Metaphysical Stores; Cost: ~$6)

yule, winter solstice, altar, witch, witch altar, pagan

5. Fox Skull- Once again I have my fox skull on my altar, representing the spirits roaming the Earth during the Winter Solstice. Furthermore, the skull represents the Wild Hunt, a ghostly group of supernatural beings in wild pursuit. Witnesses to the Wild Hunt are said to die or be taken to the Underworld. The skull is a nod to this folklore tradition and a form of protection from the Hunt, lest we be pulled into its pursuit.  (Where did I get it: Gifted; Cost: Free or available on Etsy for $30)

TOTAL COST: ~$28-58

yule, winter solstice, altar, witch, witch altar, pagan

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found or purchased for around $1, although if the items must be purchased by you, then the cost may be higher. I hope you find this sort of break down helpful, especially those of you looking to create Instagram perfect altars on a budget! There is no reason your altars have to cost a fortune, so why not save some money and use what you may already have? This altar is on the more expensive side, but I didn't have to purchase anything new to create it. I like to use items I already have or find in nature, so while at first it looks expensive, it actually cost me very little in the long run.

How did you celebrate Yule this year? Let me know in the comments below. I took a trip to Asheville and celebrated with a ghost tour, a visit to the Biltmore Estate, a hike to Catawba Falls, and some really good food and cheer. It was just what I needed to recuperate!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Spirit Work for Yule

Spirits, spirit communication, yule, winter solstice, spirit work, shadow work, wassail, tarot

Yule falls on December 22nd this year, which is throwing me off big time! This solstice is the opposite of the Summer Solstice, making it the longest night of the year. It is a time of rebirth, reflection, new beginnings, and transformation, making it the perfect time for shadow work and goal setting. It is also a time of merriment and joy, so why not spread some this holiday season by sharing some Wassail?

1. Create a New Year's tarot spread

Tarot is a great way to communicate with spirits, and because Yule is the longest night of the year, it is deeply associated with release and reflection. This is the perfect time to do a year in review and reflect upon the previous 12 months and set intentions for the next 12. To create a New Year's tarot spread, begin by lighting a white candle. Focus on the candle's flame and ask the spirits for guidance in the New Year. Shuffle your deck and begin drawing 12 cards, one for each month of the year. Lay them out in a row and turn them over, one at a time. Reflect upon the meaning of each card. Be sure to write down any messages, thoughts, or meanings that pop into your mind. After reviewing the first card, which is associated with January, close your eyes and open your consciousness to any other messages the spirits may have for you regarding January. Repeat this step for the remaining 11 cards. If you need to, light some mugwort incense or drink some mugwort tea prior to partaking in this ritual. Mugwort opens the mind and makes you more preceptive to receive messages from beyond.

2. Drink Wassail

Okay, on the surface it probably isn't the most magical thing you can think of, but drinking wassail can be. Wassail is a spiced cider that contains port and sherry, although there are nonalcoholic versions available. The word wassail is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words waes hael which means "to your health." Historically, this hot alcoholic drink was served during the holiday season, especially to visitors and family, from a large wooden bowl decorated with holly and ivy. Wassail is a great way to honor the changing seasons, the triumph of the Holly King, the end of the year, and to drink to the health of yourself and your loved ones. Furthermore, it is extremely grounding. Brew up a batch of wassail in your crockpot, step outside into the snow or cold, and drink deeply. Express gratitude to the spirits and the Earth around you. Be sure to share a little wassail with the local land spirits. They will appreciate the warm drink. Looking for a recipe? Try this traditional recipe.

3. Perform shadow work.

Being the longest night of the year, this is a great time to focus on yourself and your "shadow" side. We all have something we need to heal, improve upon, or reconcile. This is the perfect time to do so. The first step in performing shadow work is deep self-reflection. I like to meditate and hedge ride when I do this. I begin by digging deep and reflecting on all that has happened, what is still bothering me, how I respond to stress and changes, and how I would like to improve upon those things. I follow it up with a hedge riding session where I discuss other potential issues with my guides because, let's be honest, they often see more than we do, and potential ways to respond to these issues. During the process, take extensive notes. Use these notes, along with the tarot spread mentioned above, to set goals and plan for 2020. Remember, the best goals are specific, attainable, and measurable. I like to plan 3 months at a time so I can see progress, but use whatever goal-setting method works best for you.

And there you have it, a full year of ideas for spirit work. Working with spirits, whether they be your guides, local spirits, or our ancestors, can be amazingly fulfilling. Furthermore, building these relationships helps strengthen our bond with the unknown and enhances the efficacy of our magical practice. My spells are significantly more successful with the help of spirits, and I hope you find the same to be true in your practice. So what are your plans for this Yule? Do you have any magic already scheduled? Myself? I'm going to spend the holiday out of town enjoying a new city, hiking, and honoring the spirits of the season. I hope you enjoy the holiday as much as myself.

Monday, December 9, 2019

December Full Moon Worksheet

full moon, witchcraft, tarot, ritual planning

This month's Full Moon falls on the 12th and falls in Gemini, that two-faced SOB. Can you tell I am a little salty? Needless to say, this month's Full Moon will be a little chaotic. There is a chance that money and/or relationship problems will come to a head this month, so be prepared to release what no longer serves you going into the New Year. Being the last moon of the year, this is the perfect time to think critically over the past year and reflect upon what you need to release. It's not going to be a super easy Full Moon, so be prepared to do a little work. Like every month, this Full Moon worksheet includes all the usuals, from a release and cleanse box to a tarot spread. The 5-card tarot spread is designed to help you identify what you should release prior to the New Year so you can start 2020 off on the right foot.

full moon, witchcraft, tarot, ritual planning


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

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Book Review: The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Magickal Herbs by Judy Ann Nock

book review, magical herbs, witchcraft, kitchen witch

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 received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Time for another book review witches and I am so excited to share this one with you! I just finished The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Magickal Herbs by Judy Ann Nock and I am in love! This is one of the best witchcraft herbal books I have ever read in all of my life. Yes, it's better than Cunningham. Blasphemy, I know.

Nock begins the book by breaking down common uses of herbs, from medicine to gardening to cooking, with magical correspondences sprinkled throughout. I absolutely loved all the little historical asides, myths, and folklore on the different herbs or uses she was discussing. These asides offer a glimpse into the past and offer a deeper understanding of how magical traditions regarding plants developed over time and why we have many of the magical correspondences we do today. To add to my love, Nock also takes a scientific approach to herbs, advising readers to be aware of reactions and always consult a physician or herbalist when using herbs.

In the section on gardening, which is one of my favorites, Nock introduces "sacred sustainability," or the idea that we should live and harvest sustainably and that this act is sacred in and of itself. This resonated with me as an environmental science teacher and as a witch. She discusses creating your own magical garden as well as how to create your own compost with a magical spin. Her discussion of compost and how creating it is a magical act tied to the Wheel of the Year, the Elements, and the Triple Goddess was deeply profound. I honestly had never thought about compost as being magical, but after reading her explanation, I'm converted. If anything, she taught me at that moment to recognize the magic in even the most mundane of acts. She evens offers an amazing composting ritual to do when you begin your gardening journey. I've never been so excited to create compost in my entire life. Haha!

She follows up with a great section on kitchen witchery, which, while short, introduces the idea that cooking is a magical act. This section could have been longer, but there are lots of great books on the topic out there and I believe Nock was just trying to briefly introduce the subject to peak interest. The following chapter covers herbs in wellness. Here, she breaks down the different schools of thought on treating disease. I was thankful she pointed out some of the flaws of homeopathy but would have liked to have seen more in this section explaining the controversy behind it. Homeopathy is based on the idea that like cures like and through dilution we make a cure more powerful. There is ZERO, and I mean ZERO, scientific evidence to support homeopathy, which is very different from naturopathy and other holistic forms of medicine. But I digress. This is definitely an argument for another time.

Following this introduction to the uses of herbs comes a beautifully illustrated section covering 100 herbs and their history, associations, and magical uses. I would have liked to have seen this section fleshed out a little more, especially regarding the history, but fully understand that to cover each herb in such detail would take many a book. Despite this, the section is great and offers some new information, even for me! I look forward to seeing the illustrations in the physical copy. They are beautiful in the electronic copy I read, so I can only imagine they are even better in person.

Part 2 is all about using herbs in magical workings. Her uses and suggestions are new and inventive and have given me so many ideas for future spells. This is the first time in at least 2 years that I have read through spells and been like, "Oh! How thoughtful and inspiring! I am going to use this!" Her spells cover everything from self-care, luck, love, divination, shadow work, and healing. Nock also offers suggestions on how herbs can be used as magical tools and on your altar. There is mention in this book of the Rule of Three, but it was so brief that it didn't turn me off from the rest of the book. There is so much more to this book than Wicca.

I can't even begin to stress how much I loved this book. In fact, I went ahead and preordered a copy because I just had to have the physical copy to make notes in. If you only purchase one book this year, make sure its this one. It is an absolute must-read for all witches, new or not. The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Magickal Herbs by Judy Ann Nock will be available on December 10, 2019, so preorder your copy today!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Meditation, Astral Projection, and Hedge Riding: What's the Difference?

meditation, astral projection, hedge riding
You can read more about the differences, specifically between meditation, pathwalking, and hedge riding here.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Importance of Gratitude in Witchcraft

witchcraft, gratitude, Law of Attraction

If you live in the United States, today is Thanksgiving, the day we have designated to be grateful for the time we have been given, the family and friends in our lives, and all the little things we may have that make our lives just a little bit better. In regards to the Wheel of the Year, Thanksgiving is closely related to Mabon, but without the lunar calendar involved. Either way, gratitude and the expression of it is an important magical practice for a variety of reasons.

Witchcraft in and of itself is a work of gratitude. When we practice witchcraft we are honoring our ancestors, the land, animals and plants, and the spirits around us. This act of gratitude takes many forms, from setting up an altar to offerings, and plays an important part in our own transformation. By expressing gratitude, we contribute to our own happiness and form a deep connection with the world around us, both of which are important to personal development.

Any spell or ritual regarding manifestation relies heavily on gratitude. There are roughly three parts to a manifestation spell or ritual: an invocation, a petition, and an expression of gratitude. During the invocation phase, we call upon whatever spirits, deities, elements, etc that we work with to connect with the source, that font of energy we use as witches to manifest change. Next, we ask for specifically what we want because without asking how does the Universe know what to give us? And finally, we end the ritual with gratitude, an act of thanks that lets the Universe know that this change will manifest in our lives and that we are thankful for it. This final act is a sure-fire way to manifest what we want. When we are grateful for what is yet to come as well as what we already have, we align our personal energies to attract that which we seek. This is based on the Law of Attraction, that like attracts like, and the 7 Hermetic Principles.

According to the Law of Attraction, everything is energy. As witches, we are already fully aware of this, knowing that all things vibrate and that we can harness this energy and manipulate it to bring about change. We too have vibrations that can be manipulated by our surroundings. If you pay attention, you may notice your vibration shift when you log into social media, and often not in a good way. There is a lot of negativity out there, especially on social media, and it subconsciously affects us. However, when we shift our focus toward gratitude, our vibration also shifts. Our vibration is directly tied to what we get in life. When we are negative and foul, we often attract other negative and foul things. Have you ever noticed when you are in a good mood that the world around you is a better place? The Law of Attraction teaches us that our thoughts (the mental plane in Hermetism) can directly impact the world around us (the physical plane), which ultimately impacts our spiritual self and our magic (spiritual plane).

I am by no means telling you you have to be positive all the time. Quite the contrary. I fully recognize the value of expressing "negative" emotions and how we can harness that storm to manifest as well. You can read more about how I think the love and light movement is hurting us hereHowever, scientific studies have shown that the expression of gratitude actually changes the chemistry in the brain for the better. So what does this mean for you, as a witch?

I strongly encourage you to express gratitude daily, in whatever means you deem best for you and your situation. Some of us pray when we wake, before a meal, or before bed; some of us write in journals; others still make daily offerings. How you express gratitude can be as simple or as complex as you wish. Personally, I'm an affirmation/prayer type person. I talk to myself a lot, especially when I am alone, and during these times I often express my gratitude. When I notice I am starting to get frustrated, I take a deep breath, name one thing I am thankful for, and let the frustration go. Sometimes I am not very good about doing this, but it helps when I do it. However, you decide to express your gratitude, be sure you mean it. It's not going to work if you don't believe in yourself.

So this holiday season, how you are you planning to express your gratitude? Do you already have a daily gratitude practice? Share in the comments below.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Rue

rue, magical, correspondences, medicinal

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mars
Element: Fire
Powers: Creativity, Exorcism, Healing, Health, Mental Abilities
Magical Uses and History: Known as the Queen of Herbs, rue is native to the Mediterranean where it has been used in rituals and spells since antiquity. In Ancient Rome, it was believed rue could protect the eater from the Evil Eye and guarded against poisons, illness, and fleas. Because cats find the smell of rue repulsive, it was believed rue could ward off witches and their familiars as well, although some reports say rue was used by witches to help them identify each other. Either way, rue was commonly added to bathwater to break curses and hexes and was hung above the front entrance or carried in sachets for protection against everything from bad luck to witches to snakes to werewolves. It was believed to be the "protect-all" of herbs. Later it was mixed into incense to be used during exorcisms and used by the Catholic Church to sprinkle holy water on its followers to ward off evil, thus becoming known as the "herb of grace." It can still be hung in the home, sprinkled around you during magical workings, or worn for protection.

Because of its generally perceived protective nature, rue was also used in a number of healing rituals. The genus name Ruta comes from the Greek word reuo, which means to set free, a nod to its ability to set one free from disease. True to form, rue has many healing abilities. Early physicians considered rue to be a deterrent against the plague and other diseases and was prescribe to be worn around the neck. Rue was also commonly placed on the forehead to cure headaches. Rue can be added to incense, spells, and poppets during healing rituals to increase the potency of the magic.

Apart from protection and health, rue was also believed to improve eyesight and creativity. Breathing in the aromatic scent is said to clear the head and improve mental processes. Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci regularly consumed small amounts of rue to increase their creativity and clear their minds. This link to creativity and protection is said to live on in playing cards in the form of the suit of clubs.

Rue can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Creativity Spells
    Psychic Development
    Healing Rituals

Medicinal Uses: Rue is most commonly used to regulate the menstrual cycle, bringing on suppressed menses. Oil of Rue is also a powerful abortive, and therefore should be avoided if pregnant or wishing to become pregnant. Due to its antispasmodic properties, it can be used to relax the muscles, spasmodic coughs, and lower blood pressure. When chewed, it can relieve tension headaches, palpitations, and anxiety. Furthermore, rue contains high levels of flavonoids, particularly rutin, which strengthens blood vessels and therefore can improve eyesight. As an anthelmintic, it can treat parasitic worms. It should be noted that rue also contains furanocoumarins which can make the skin sensitive to light, whether it be after ingesting the herb or touching the juices of the plant.

Preparation and Dosage: Rue is taken internally as an infusion, tincture, oil, or capsule. To create an infusion, pour one cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs and allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. If taking a tincture, take 1-4 milliliters up to three times a day. Rue should not be used in pregnant or if you wish to become pregnant. In high doses, rue can cause vomiting, severe abdominal pain, severe kidney and liver damage, and even death. However, this is usually in doses of more than 120 milligrams or more (1/2 cup of oil). As with all herbs, consult a medical professional before using.

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rue, magical, correspondences, medicinal

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Witches

holiday, gift guide, witches

Its that time of year again!! The holidays are in and that means Yule and presents and lights and warm, cozy blankets with tea and a good book. I love Yule, maybe more than Halloween. Blasphemy I know. But I just love all the little decorations and lights and giving gifts to the people I love. It's also one of the few times when people are extremely charitable, and that makes me feel even more warm and cozy than a blanket and tea. Continuing last year's tradition, I put together a gift guide for hedgewitches. Whether you are shopping for yourself or your favorite witch, I'm sure this list won't disappoint!

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 Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker by Joanna van der Hoeven.
I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this book this year prior to publication. It was easily one of the best books I read all year and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in hedgecraft with a Druidry twist. You can read my full review here. So if the witch in your life is itching to learn something new this is a great place to start!

holiday, gift guide, witches, honoring your ancestors

2. Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise
Yes, another book, but this one is really good too and I couldn't leave it off the list. Vaudoise does an amazing job breaking down ancestral veneration and calling for everyone, witches and nonwitches alike, to remember their ancestors as we did in the old day. Building relationships with them brings new meaning to anyone's life and can play an important role in a witch's craft, especially a hedgewitch. Your witch will love this book and appreciate the thought. (You can read my full review here.)

holiday, gift guide, witches, witches planner
Image by The Witches Planner

3. The Witches Planner 2020
I adore planners, especially magical ones that help me keep my life together. A growing trend in witchcraft is practicing daily witchcraft, and a planner is a great way to help a witch do that. The Witches Planner comes in a variety of options, including a hardcopy with or without the binder or a printable version. Purchasing the planner plus the binder is a little pricy at $58, but you can reuse the binder year after year. Furthermore, this planner is available in both Northern and Southern Hemisphere versions, so no matter where your witch lives, they can plan their magical year to the fullest.

holiday, gift guide, witches, bone reader oil
Image by Anita Apothecary

4. Bone Reader Ritual Oil from Anita Apothecary
Keeping with my series theme this year covering bone magic, I couldn't help but add this magical oil to the list. Specifically designed for anointing your bones used in bone readings and to guide and inspire your visions. The 1/2 ounce vile contains sandalwood, mugwort, moonstone, apatite, emerald, patchouli essential oil, and sandalwood essential oil along with a real bone for an extra magical kick. The vile is $20, but like all oils, a little bit will go a long way.

holiday, gift guide, witches, curiosities
Image by Of Moth and Moon

5. 10 Item Curiosities Mystery Box from Of Moth and Moon
Again in keeping with my bone magic theme this year, we have a box of 10 curiosities. I purchased a larger random box earlier this year and it's one of my favorite purchases. Each box is specifically curated for the purchaser and comes with a collection of animal bones and teeth, fossils, raw stones, minerals, tumbled stones, crystals, and a variety of other awesome goodies like antler tips and pearls. Of Moth and Moon keeps detailed records of purchases, so they won't send you duplicates if you order more than once. For $25, this is an excellent way to help the witch in your life grow their magical cabinet. Plus, all the remains are ethically sourced!

holiday, gift guide, witches, amethyst offering bowl
Image by A and S Crystals

6. Amethyst Offering Bowl from A and S Crystals
This hand-carved, natural amethyst bowl is the perfect altar addition. Whether the witch in your life honors a deity or deities, their ancestors, or local spirits, this offering bowl is a great way to present offerings. It's sure to impress even the most reluctant of spirits. It's just $25, but I think they only have 1 left! However, A and S Crystals offers a host of other amazing offering bowls, including one in rose quartz, clear quartz,  tree agate, and even unakite!

holiday, gift guide, witches, full moon tea
Image by Tamed Wild

7. Full Moon Tea by Tamed Wild
Okay, tea, and maybe coffee, is a staple of witchcraft. That's a given, so of course, there is tea on the list, moon tea to be exact. Tamed Wild produces some of the best magical teas I have ever tried, along with Magickal Folk, who is featured next. This tea is specifically designed for those Full Moon rituals and contains black tea, orange peel, cinnamon chips, apple pieces, rose petals, with natural fruit and spice flavoring. It's a delicious tea and will get the witch in your life ready to dance under the light of the moon. Looking for a New Moon tea? Tamed Wild has you covered there as well! You can find their New Moon tea, which contains raspberry lead, vitex, nettle leaf, linden flower, cinnamon, lemon, rose, and stevia, here.

holiday, gift guide, witches, summon tea

8. Summon Ritual Tea by Magickal Folk
One of my favorite teas comes from Magickal Folk. Going by the name of Summon, this tea contains Irish breakfast, elderberry, elderflower, dandelion root, and ginger root. I received this tea last year as part of a subscription box and fell immediately in love. It tastes great and gives you that extra boost of confidence before spell work. Unfortunately, my favorite tea from Magickal Folk is not on this list because it is currently out of stock, but their Thinning of the Veil tea is the best tea I've drunk to help open the doorways to communicate with spirits. If it happens to come available before the holidays, you should definitely add it to your holiday shopping list for the witch in your life.

holiday, gift guide, witches, spell candle
Image by Moody Moons Magic

9. See No Evil Herbal Candle by Moody Moons Magic
I've following Moody Moons for quite some time and always love seeing what is being handmade especially for witches. This candle, inspired by folklore, is scented with blackberry and sage with a light sprinkling of rosemary on top. If the witch in your life is anything like me, they will love having the extra bit of protection while hedge riding, communing with spirits, or working spellwork in general.

holiday, gift guide, witches, tamed wild, subscription box
Image by Tamed Wild

10. Tamed Wild Subscription Box by Tamed Wild
Out of all the subscription boxes I have ordered, Tamed Wild is my favorite. They offer a variety of subscription boxes and each month comes jammed packed with ritual and spell goodies. This is a great way to help build a witch's cabinet, grow your craft, or practice more often. They also offer a tea of the month subscription or a one-time crystal box if that is more up the alley of the witch in your life.

This year I picked items that were on the cheaper side. Most of these gifts are less than $25, with an exception or two. I love every single item on this list, and have tried most of them so I can vouch for the people, companies, and magic involved. No matter what you decide to get the witch in your life, remember, its not about the money you spent, but the love and thought that counts! Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

To Keep Silent...Or Not

To Keep Silent...Or Not

I've sat on this post for quite some time, wondering if I should send it out into the world or not. However, in light of some recent posts and discussions I have seen floating around social media and the oh so lovely Tumblr, I felt the need to publish it now. One of the most famous sayings in witchcraft, also known as the Witch's Pyramid, is "To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent." While largely used in Wiccan practices, there is a lot of truth in this saying and it's great advice for all witches. It's our duty to learn, study, and practice, to take chances, and to bring about the change we desire in the world. However, I have a slight problem with the last part, or more precisely, I have a problem with how it has been interpreted in modern times.

"To Keep Silent" holds great weight in the magical community, and rightly so. Originally it was advised that all witches keep silent about their work and those in their coven. This was to avoid persecution and even death. History has not always been kind to witches or those perceived as such so partaking in true magical workings was a dangerous task indeed. Ousting yourself or others could have resulted in death by hanging, burning, drowning, or beheading, depending on the time and place of the "crime." It made sense that witches would tell each other to keep their traps shut! I would too if I feared death; I am particularly afraid of being burned alive. Unfortunately, some of these witch-hunting practices still exist today and still result in the death of men, women, and children around the world. In fact, Nigeria is known for accusing young children of witchcraft and leaving them to die, forcing them to endure exorcisms for days on end, and sometimes outright murdering them. While most modern societies have moved away from such actions, we aren't completely safe from retribution either. Telling others you or a friend is practicing witchcraft could land you or your friend in some pretty hot water with family, friends, and employers. I've mentioned it a dozen times that I live in Georgia. Georgia isn't known for being very accepting, voting to ban abortion, gay marriage, and to get rid of work protections for LGBTQ+ workers. We also recently revoked the right of transgender students to use the bathroom of their associated gender. Needless to say, it isn't always the most accepting of other faiths and practices either, which is really sad. When I started practicing witchcraft 16 years ago, I was shunned by my friends, told I would be burned at the stake, and that I didn't have a place "here." I'm one of the lucky ones though. I had a really awesome close-knit group of weirdo friends and the most loving and supportive parents anyone could ever have. But not everyone has these luxuries, so keeping silent is important in that it keeps people safe.

To Keep Silent...Or Not

Furthermore, "To Keep Silent" is about inner silence. Think meditation; calming that raging storm within and wielding that energy to manifest something else entirely. This isn't always an easy task. It's also not easy to remain silent when you feel compelled to speak, but sometimes not saying anything is more powerful and meaningful. To me, this is the most important aspect of this saying, to master your voice and inner thoughts so you can quiet the mind and choose your words carefully. This doesn't just help us in our day-to-day relationships but helps to focus our spellwork as well. I can't tell you how many times I perform a spell or ritual with no words at all. I let my energy do the talking. Furthermore, keeping silent gives us an opportunity to listen, to receive the messages we are meant to receive to grow our practice and our spiritual selves.

Many modern witches, however, interpret this phrase to mean keeping your magical workings and spells a secret and cite telling others as a reason your spells may not work. As a practicing witch of over 16 years and a witchcraft blogger for over 5 years, I can see very little merit in this claim. Now I didn't always feel this way. In fact, when I first started practicing in high school, I kept everything hush hush. I never told anyone about my spells and rituals and I refused to share my magical spaces with anyone else. I still don't practice magic with others for a variety of reasons, but I'm obviously much more open about my practice now, and share a large amount of my spell work with you guys! I was afraid that if I spoke about my magic it wouldn't work because someone else doubted it. I handed over my power to others out of fear. As I got older, I started to realize I didn't care what other people thought anymore. And after my divorce two years ago, I really stopped caring and realized that my entire life I had been handing my power over to others. If I have learned anything on this hell of a journey, it's that I am the master of my own story. I do not believe that any person, witch or not, has the power to fuck up my spells, and I'm not going to give anyone that power anymore either. You see, something only has power and influence if we give it that power. I'm sure there are tons of people out there that hate me; I know I'm abrasive and sometimes rude and that doesn't earn you very many brownie points in society. But here's the thing, not a single spell I've cast in the past 5 years of blogging hasn't "worked." In fact, they all have worked better than I expected! So come at me, bro! When we stop giving our power over to others, they stop having influence over our lives.

To Keep Silent...Or Not

I understand this saying and belief is at the foundation of many a witch's craft. That's fine. I am not asking you to change. In fact, if it is working for you, keep it up! To each their own! However, I would ask that you ask yourself why you believe your spells won't work if you show or tell others about them. When we are able to turn inward and truly reflect on our practice and habits, we sometimes find they are rooted in fear, trauma, and self-doubt.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Jasmine

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Jasmine

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Powers: Happiness, Love, Money, Prophetic Dreams
Magical Uses and History: Jasmine, often referred to as the Queen of the Night or Moonlight on the Grove, is well known for its delicate scent. The name jasmine originates from the word Yasmin which means gift from God and refers to its scent. Unlike many other plants, jasmine blooms only at night, hence the nicknames, allowing the petals to preserve the scent from the heat of the sun. As such, jasmine became deeply associated with the Moon, lunar magic, dream magic, and purity. Historically, jasmine graced the gardens of Middle Eastern palaces and has been hand-picked for oils and teas for centuries.

Jasmine's scent is so prized that its flowers are harvested to create oils to be worn to attract love, lust, and happiness. However, it takes roughly 3,600,000 delicate, jasmine flowers and a considerable amount of time to create just 1 pound of jasmine absolute, thus lending to a hefty price tag of around $5,000. If the flower is bruised or damaged, it will not yield the desired scented oil. As such, it is known as the "King of Oils" and is therefore associated with money and prosperity. To afford jasmine oil was a sign of wealth and prosperity and traditionally only royalty or clergy could afford them. Because of this, jasmine became associated with goddesses, especially the Moon, and can be used to invoke or honor goddesses associated with the Moon, love, and sexuality. Today, jasmine oils on the market are considerably cheaper but significantly diluted. Jasmine oil can be placed on your pillow to induce restful sleep and prophetic dreams or used to anoint candles and objects during prosperity spells.

Apart from oils, jasmine has historically been used in teas. In China, white or green tea leaves were picked and placed in jasmine gardens to dry. After the tea was dried, it was packed with dried jasmine blooms to help preserve the flavor. The tea was drunk to relax the nerves, induce prophetic dreaming, and for other divination purposes. In some cases, it was used to induce love in the drinker or happiness, depending on the spell cast.

To attract love, jasmine flowers can be added to sachets and other spell work, worn as a perfume, or woven into garlands to be worn in one's hair to attract a lover. Traditionally this was done during the spring and summer months on a Full Moon, meaning the Full Moons between Beltane and Litha are perfect times for jasmine love magic. The goddess was called upon and asked to help love bloom, just as the jasmine flower blooms under the Moon. Furthermore, the dried flowers can be carried in your purse or pressed into a wallet to attract money and prosperity or burned for the same purpose. The flowers can also be burned to induce sleep and to aid in journeying, especially hedge riding or other forms of astral travel.

Jasmine can be used in a number of spells including:
    Love Spells
    Prosperity Spells
    Dream Magic
    Psychic Development
    Happiness Charms

Medicinal Uses: Jasmine can be used to calm the nerves and treat mild anxiety, depression, and insomnia as the scent is naturally uplifting and calming. A study published in the Journal of Health Research found that inhaling jasmine oil caused participants to feel more positive, energetic, and even romantic. Furthermore, it is often used to relieve indigestion, stomach cramps, and inflammation as it is high in antioxidants and is able to inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria that cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Preparation and Dosage: To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried flowers or dried jasmine flowers with green/white tea with 1 cup of boiling water. Infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. Jasmine essential oil drops can be diluted into bath water or added massage creams and oils to induce relaxation and reduce inflammation of the muscles. Add 6-8 drops per bath or 1-2 drops to massage oils and creams. Never place essential oils directly on the skin without diluting first as this can cause serious skin reactions. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding you should avoid jasmine. While it is generally deemed safe, all medical sources suggest pregnant and breast-feeding women avoid it.

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Magical and Medicinal Uses of Jasmine