SOCIAL MEDIA

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Hedgewitch's Guide to Drying Herbs

A Hedgewitch's Guide to Drying Herbs

Drying your own herbs is pretty magical in my opinion and so easy to do. There are several different methods of drying herbs depending on the space, equipment, and time you have. This complete guide will give you a basic rundown of each method. Please note that despite what some witches say, there is no difference between air drying and using a microwave. Some believe there is an energy difference, but this is false information perpetrated by bad science and misconceptions on how microwaves work. Don't let fear mongering stop you from using the best method for you and your needs.

1. Air Drying: This is probably the most popular method of drying herbs and quite simple. Take your herb cuttings (let them remain on the stem in most cases) and wash and dry them. I gently pat the herbs dry with a paper towel after I wash them. You can then hang the herbs upside down in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, place them in a paper bag, or allow them to sit out flat. I currently have rosemary drying on my kitchen counter in a fruit bowl. Rosemary dries pretty quickly and those needles will fall to the floor with the slightest bump, so I prefer the bowl method. For sage, I like to create sage bundles by wrapping them in twine. Post on my sage bundle method and DIY drying racks to follow at a later date.

2. Dehydrator: I finally broke out my dehydrator for the first time this spring to make dehydrated strawberries. Boy am I glad I did. They were the best tasting treat I've ever had, but you can use a dehydrator for more than just fruits and vegetables. A dehydrator is a great way to quickly dry herbs, but they can be expensive. Unlike air drying, you are going to need to cut the stems into smaller pieces to fit inside a dehydrator. After you have washed and dried them, trim them into smaller pieces for easy placement. Basil, sage, mint, and other large leafy herbs can be placed in the dehydrator without their stems. Simply pluck the leaves and lay them flat on the trays. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, and other small leafy herbs will need to remain on the stem. Do not overlap the herbs. You want to ensure even drying. Since each dehydrator is different, you will need to consult your manual for exact drying times and temperatures, but usually, you can have freshly dried herbs overnight.

3. Oven Drying: Since not everyone has a dehydrator, an oven is probably the next best thing. Unlike a dehydrator, you don't have to remove leafy herbs from their stems, but you can if you want to. After washing and drying, lay your herbs out on a cookie sheet. Stems can overlap but you want to make sure there is enough airflow between the stems to dry the herbs evenly. Set the oven to 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit and place your herbs in the oven for about 1-2 hours. Leave the door slightly cracked to allow airflow. You'll need to check these a little more often than the other methods to make sure you don't burn the herbs.

4. Microwave: The final method is microwave drying. The only issue with this method is you risk over-drying the herbs and possibly burning them. After the herbs have been washed and dried, place them on a paper towel with the stem intact. Microwave for 30-second intervals, flipping the over each time until they are dried. Depending on the herb, this could take between 1-3 minutes.

No matter which method you go with, always make sure your herbs are completely clean. You don't want bugs ending up in your spices! After the herbs are dry, you will need to process them. If you want a fine powder, use a clean coffee grinder or food processor. If you want to keep the leaves whole, rub your fingers over the dried stems opposite the direction the leaves are laying over a bowl. Once processed, store the herbs in a cool, dry place away from sunlight in an airtight container. I prefer glass jars, but plastic Tupperware is perfectly fine as well.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Review: Morbid Magic: Death Spirituality and Culture from Around the World by Tomás Prower

Book Review: Morbid Magic

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 just finished reading Morbid Magic: Death Spirituality and Culture from Around the World by Tomás Prower (release date September 8, 2019) and I have to say I am thoroughly intrigued. The book is a world tour of death rituals and rites around the world, with each section focusing on a specific location on Earth, from the Middle East to the Americas. Each section gives a brief snippet of how each culture views death and handles funerals, a brief description of the deities associated with death, a death-related takeaway, and finishes with experiences from those practicing within those cultures. There is not a lot of magic in this book, which was disappointing, but learning about how other cultures handle and view death and funeral rites was fascinating to me. You see, my ex-husband was a funeral director. Through him, I developed an interesting view of death and funeral rites because I was exposed to things daily that most other people experience very little throughout their life, especially if you live in a country that hides death away like we do in the US. Now he obviously spent more time with death than I did, but it was an important part of our life and through him, I realized that death isn't something to be feared, but honored and celebrated. I work with spirits all the time and accepting death as an inevitability and as something that shouldn't be feared but instead honored is important to my practice. I was overjoyed to read the story of one of his friends who mentioned how seeing death transformed her practice regarding spirits and mediumship. I strongly related to her story and felt confirmed in my belief that my experiences with the funeral industry in the United States made me a better practitioner. I loved reading the experiences of others with death. It was one of my favorite parts of the book. It gave me a better understanding of multiple cultures, including Islam and Judaism. My ex-husband started in the funeral industry at a Jewish funeral home, so I was accustomed to Jewish practices but reading a woman's story of how her community came forth to help her filled me with such comfort and joy. It made me appreciate our diverse cultures and religions and how we all must die, no matter our religious or political affiliations; that we are all just humans.

Apart from the personal stories, I really loved the takeaways from each culture. These takeaways were things Prower, who also works in the funeral industry, suggests we do regarding death and funeral rites. Some of these are practical yet difficult things, like writing a will and having it notarized. Being with a funeral director for over 6 years, I can't tell you how many times I heard about the bickering of family members and the living going against the wishes of the deceased because they thought they knew better than the dead. It is so important you have a funeral plan written and notarized now. Death can come at any time, which is another takeaway. Decide what you want to be done with your belongings, what funeral rites you want, take out a life insurance policy, and if you can, go ahead and prepay for your funeral that way you get exactly what you want and your family isn't burdened with trying to figure it all out! I can't tell you how many times families couldn't pay for funerals and had to create GoFundMe accounts. Death is inevitable; the least you can do is make it easier on your family. Other takeaways were more spiritual in nature, such as honoring our ancestors. Because of my background, I think the takeaways were the best part of the book and readers need to hear that they need to take care of this stuff now. Don't wait until its too late.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but there were some disappointments. First, Prower completely glosses over African traditions. He prefaces this by saying there are too many cultures to cover thoroughly, but then attempts to lump all the African cultures together by saying "This is what they have in common." I felt African traditions were done dirty in this book. I was most interested in reading about their practices too, although his section on Voodoo and Hoodoo was interesting, albeit short. He is much more careful with Native American cultures. Despite saying there are way too many to cover, he doesn't lump any groups together. There are also some discrepancies with the deities and their representations in this book. I'm no expert on all cultures and their deities, but I know a few well enough to spot inaccuracies. The first is Inanna. He completely dismisses her as the Queen of Heaven and fails to include some crucial aspects of her myth, citing modern anthropologists as the reason. I'd never seen her represented the way Prower represented her and without a good source, I can't confirm this interpretation. However, other sections have great sources so I felt let down in this regard. Lilith's story was also a little strange with the mentioning of amulets being worn by pregnant women and newborns without an explanation of why this tradition arose. Why include it at all if you aren't going to explain the meaning behind it, which has to do with death! The lumping of many European cultures under the heading "Viking" was also a little disheartening, but at this point, I've gotten so used to this cultural misrepresentation that I just let it go (Viking refers to a number of raiding parties with different cultural backgrounds).

Again, I enjoyed the book because of my background, but I wouldn't say this book is really "morbid magic." There is very little magic in the book at all, apart from a ritual found in the first section and a couple toward the end. It's mostly a retelling of death and funeral practices around the world, so if you are looking for spells and rituals regarding death, this probably isn't the best place to start. Now if you are looking to get a brief overview of death culture around the world, then go right ahead. Honestly, I feel there are better, more reliable sources out there, but Prower's lighthearted writing makes this a fun, easy weekend read.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

July Full Moon Worksheet

July Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is on the 16th and is Capricorn. Unfortunately, this Full Moon is going to be tumultuous. Coupled with a lunar eclipse, conjunction with Pluto, and Mercury Retrograde, expect emotions to be running high as truths that were previously hidden come to light. However, it doesn't have to be all bad. Use this partial lunar eclipse to bring your own truths to light, especially things you have been in denial of and deal with them accordingly. This is a great Full Moon for shadow work and healing. This month's worksheet includes areas for you to jot down what you wish to release and charge, notes for any signs you receive this night, and a 4 card spread to reveal the truth of the situation and how you should handle this knowledge.

July Full Moon Worksheet

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY

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

Monday, July 8, 2019

DIY Bee Bath

DIY Bee Bath

While we have recently had some rain here in Georgia, I know we are well on our way to it becoming scarce again. When water is scarce, local wildlife suffers, especially bees. Obviously, bees are tremendously important, pollinating our plants so they may bear fruits for our consumption. Plus, they are delightful to watch in my garden. Other than planting lots of flowering plants, you can help the bees in your witchy gardens by creating a Bee Bath, aka a bee drinking waterer. This is a really super simple project that can be done cheaply and the bees will thank you for it. Heck, the toads and lizards in your garden will likely thank you too! This is so easy, that you can make them with your little witchlings and make them as simple or as intricate as you like. Furthermore, creating a bee bath is a great way to honor both Earth and Water elements in your garden; Earth because you are nourishing the Earth's creatures and Water because you are making a sacred place for Water within your garden.

Supplies

     Terra Cotta Saucer
     Stones, marbles, or mosaic glass gems (easily picked up at Dollar Tree)
     Citrine or Carnelian chips (or other crystals of your choosing)
     Water
     Terra Cotta Paint (optional)

Directions

Begin by decorating the outside of your saucer with terra cotta friendly paint, if you wish. Do not paint the inside as 1) you won't be able to see it once the stones and water are in place, and 2) you run the risk of the paint being toxic to wildlife. I didn't paint mine because I liked the way the saucer looked to begin with, but if you want to decorate it, I suggest using sigils and images for health, vitality, strength, and endurance so that the wildlife that drinks from your bee bath will be given a little boost. If you don't want to decorate the outside, place these symbols on the underside of the saucer.

Once your saucer is decorated, fill the bottom with your stones, marbles, or mosaic glass gems. Spread them evenly on the bottom. Sprinkle your citrine or carnelian chips amongst the filler. Citrine and carnelian both symbolize strength and endurance, which bees and other wildlife visiting your bee bath need to make it through extreme temperatures and drought during the summer months.

After the bottom of the saucer is filled, fill the saucer with cool water until it's just at the edge of the filler. You don't want the filler to be completely submerged, as the bees need to be able to rest on the rocks while they drink, otherwise they will drown. Please note that terra cotta absorbs water, so after you initially add water, you will likely need to add more water 30 minutes later. You can see in the pictures below I already need to add more water to mine! If you wish, place your hand over the bee bath and bless the water. Imagine it filling with life-giving properties to support the wildlife in your garden.

DIY Bee Bath

Finally, place the bee bath outside in your garden in a shaded area on level ground or elevated. If you place it directly in the sun, the water will heat, causing bees not to visit, and it will evaporate rather quickly. Be sure to refill the bee bath daily. During especially hot weather, check the bee bath more than once a day. If the bee bath begins to grow algae, scrub the contents with soap and water and refill. Feel free to bless the water each time you add more.

DIY Bee Bath

And there you have it! I told you it was simple! If you happen to make one yourself, please share pictures in the comments below! I would love to see your work!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Questioning Spirits: Is This Spirit My Guide?

Questioning Spirits: Is This Spirit My Guide?

When hedge riding, I often encounter any number of spirits. Honestly, I prefer to work alone or with a select few spirits when I am hedge riding, but there are times that spirits specifically seek me out. Sometimes these spirits have a message for me for someone else, although this is rare in my case. I've made it pretty well known to the spirits of the Otherworld that I have no desire to be their medium, at least not at this time in my life. Most of the time, however, the spirits are coming to work directly with me, some asking to stay in my life longer than one journey. It's important that we are critical of these interactions. Not every spirit we encounter is benevolent and not every spirit has your best interest in mind. For example, the spirit attached to my ex-husband. I made the mistake of trying to steal my heart piece back from this spirit instead of doing it the proper way and ended up being stalked by the creature every time I crossed the veil. It was terrifying and extremely dangerous and reckless of me, but I desperately wanted to feel better. Up until the beginning of this year, the creature had hung out just outside my Garden gate, waiting. However, with the help of three new spirits, I was able to banish this creature and have felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. When I first met these new spirits, however, I was hesitant and skeptical. The only reason I even allowed myself to work with them is because Meka, my fox guide, trusted them. If Meka trusts you, I trust you. Despite her trust, I still sat down and recorded everything I could about these new spirits and how I felt working with them. Each time since that I have encountered them, I have expanded on my notes. I want to be sure these spirits are really there to help me and not trying to trick me. So far so good.

It's extremely important that we judge the spirits we work with in the same way we judge strangers. Always be cautious and wary, especially of eager spirits. Most spirits are not pushy and overbearing. A benevolent spirit will leave if you are uncomfortable and ask them too. If a spirit is too eager to hang around you, be mindful of their behavior and tread carefully. That isn't to say all eager spirits are out to get you! Child-like spirits and those who passed before their time tend to be immature and pushy, just like little kids. Just use your best judgment and always trust your gut. Keep a detailed record of your interactions with these spirits to help you decide if the spirit is really a guide or partner, or if they are just trying to use you.

Devin Hunter in his book The Witches Book of Spirits has a really great outline of questions you should consider and statements you can rank to help you determine whether or not the spirit is truly a spirit guide, familiar, helpful spirit, or something else. When you first meet a spirit you suspect may be a guide or otherwise helpful spirit, begin by asking the following questions:

What is your name?
Do you come to work with me?
Have we worked together before? When?
What are you capable of doing for me?
What do you want in return for your assistance?
What shape do you most often take?
How will you present yourself to me when you want to make yourself known?
What can I do to immediately feel connected to you?
What messages do you have for me? Where do you come from?
Were you once human?
What are your interests?
What are you here to teach me?

I've modified or left out some of his suggestions because I personally don't feel they are pertinent questions, but that's just me. And of course, these are just basic questions to get you started. When conversing with a spirit, you'll often know intuitively which questions to ask. Spend time getting to know them during your journey for as long as it takes. Once you have returned, Hunter suggests using his Spirit Guide Profiler to rate your interactions with the spirit. I absolutely love this idea and have started using it in my own practice. Each statement is ranked 1-5, 1 being strongly disagree and 5 strongly agree. Rate each statement below when you encounter a new spirit that may be a guide:
I feel a vibrational or energy change when actively communicated with this spirit.
I feel safe when this spirit is around.
I feel calm when this spirit is around.
This spirit is easy for me to communicate with.
I feel that the information exchanged between us betters me.
This spirit is direct when it communicates with me.
This information comes to me easily.
The information is easily integrated or used.
This spirit has accurately informed me of future trends in my life.
When I finish my work with this spirit, I am left feeling empowered.
This spirit assists me in my life.
This spirit and I have a deep connection.
The spirit feels like it might be a potential familiar spirit.
This spirit is will to journey through the Otherworld.

Again, I have modified several of these and excluded one statement: Since meeting this guide I have been able to help and encourage others. This isn't an important factor to me because I am selfish and journey for me alone, not others. However, you may feel the need to add it to your list. If your score is low (15-30) this spirit probably isn't a guide. Cleanse and release yourself from this spirit. If your score is between 31 and 45, this may be a spirit guide, but they are most definitely worth continuing to work with, even if they aren't a guide. They are at least helpful to you but take proper precautions. They could also be a spirit guide that is not yet ready to become a full guide as some of the pieces or connections between you two are missing. If the score is 46-60, the spirit is likely a guide and you should continue working with them until the day comes that the lesson they had for you is taught. Remember, guides come and go, so we open to change. No matter what, keep a record of these answers and ranked statements and revisit them as information changes. A spirit may make you feel comfortable one day and really uncomfortable the next. You will not always know after one meeting whether or not a spirit is helpful, but keeping detailed records will help you sort it out down the road.

When you encounter a new spirit, how do you determine if they are a guide, familiar, helpful spirit, or something else entirely?

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Herbarium: Clover

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Clover. Includes FREE BOS page!

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mercury
Element: Air
Powers: Exorcism, Fidelity, Love, Money, Protection, Success
Magical Uses and History:  There are many different types of clover, all of which can be used magically. Clover has been long regarded as a lucky plant likely because of the religious connotations associated with the trifoliate leaves which symbolize the Trinity. As such, they were often worn for protection and to deflect evil and spells. Four-leaf clovers, on the other hand, are often associated with the cross and were believed to bring the finder fortune. In some cultures, four-leaf clovers were worn to help a man avoid military service. It has also been used fo enhance physic powers and to detect the presence of spirits. Placing it in your shoe will increase your chances of meeting a rich new lover.

Two- and five-leaved clovers are much less common than four-leaf clovers, but still possess potent magic. Finding a two-leaf clover means you shall soon find a lover, while a five-leaf clover will bring riches, especially if worn. In general, however, clover is believed to repel snakes, literally and figuratively, from your property if grown there. I haven't seen it repel real snakes, but it certainly chased off my ex-husband! Ha! It also brings general protection, whether worn or placed around the home, and aids in getting over heartbreak. Furthermore, clover is one of the flowers of the faeries and can aid in your ability to see and work with them, whether you sit and meditate or hedge ride with clover present or place clover blossoms on your altar to attract faeries.

White and red clover have slightly different magical properties, apart from the general good luck, love, and protection properties mentioned above. White clover helps break hexes while red clover removes negative spirits, is used in lust potions, and brings prosperity.

Clover can be used in a number of spells including:
     Love Spells
     Protection Magic
     Spirit Communication
     Faerie Magic
     Prosperity Spells

Medicinal Uses: Red Clover, not white clover, is commonly used to treat children with skin problems, especially eczema and psoriasis. For adults, it is commonly used as an expectorant to treat coughs and bronchitis. However, it should be noted that red clover contains a hormone-like chemical called isoflavones which have caused reproductive failure and liver disease in cheetahs and sterility in livestock which consumed in large quantities. Furthermore, red clover is a blood thinner. So err on the side of caution and do not use red clover regularly and avoid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Preparation and Dosage: Internally, red clover can be taken as an infusion/tea or as a tincture. To make an infusion, combine one cup of boiling water with 1-3 teaspoons of dried red clover flowers. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink up to 3 times a day. In tincture form, take 2-6 milliliters up to 3 times a day. To make a poultice, combine dried red clover flowers with hot water in muslin and place on the affected area for 10-15 minutes. Red clover can also be used externally as a salve.


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

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TJbbW2o-la1vfEGEgLkO_tLDArLPsbuw/view?usp=sharing

Monday, June 24, 2019

Litha Altar 2019

Litha Altar 2019

Litha is a time for celebrating the Sun in all his glory. Being the longest day of the year, the Sun is at its peak in strength, and will slowly begin to wane as the year progresses. It is a time of bountiful harvests as fruits ripen on the vine, bush, or tree. Here in Georgia, blueberries are ripening and peaches are being picked. Oh, how I love a good peach! Not only this, but you can feel the life force that is our Mother Earth as she soaks in the Sun's rays and breathes life into the plants around us. Like Beltane, Litha is also a time the fae are active, often times being seen dancing in the woods. For this altar, I went with masculine elements and lots of Sun symbolism.

Litha Altar 2019

1. White Candles and & Candle Sticks - The 4 white candles represent the Sun in all his glory, an obvious fire symbol. The two white candles in the red and clean glasses, red also being representative of the Sun and strength, smell of vanilla, a feminine scent representative of vitality and passion. Mother Earth is working tirelessly with the Sun to provide all living creatures with food. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $1 for 2 pillar candles, candlesticks $1 each, jar candle $1 each)

Litha Altar 2019

2. Ivy- The silk ivy represents wealth, abundance, and fertility, as well as the Sun (Horned God) who is strongest on the Solstice. I feel it really pulls the entire altar together. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

3. Pink Flower Incense Holder- This is the newest addition to my witch cabinet.  In the center is an  incense holder to represents fire and air, as the incense requires fire to burn and produces smoke or scented air. Being pink, it represents love, which results in the flowering fruits so abundant at this time. (Where did I get it: Five Below 2019; Cost: $3)

Litha Altar 2019

4. Carnelian Chips and Garnet- Encircling the bottom of the incense holder are carnelian chips and a piece of garnet. I use carnelian a lot to represent the Sun because it is cheap and easily accessible. Plus, every subscription box and crystal set always sends me more, as if I don't already have enough. Being red, a symbol of fire, courage, and strength, carnelian is deeply associated with the masculine Sun. The garnet is a crystal of fire, its dark red wine tones symbolizing health, passion, and strength. While normally associated with Yule, I felt garnet was the best stone this year to be at the center of the altar, representing the divine energies of the Sun. (Where did I get it: Amazon and Subscription Box; Cost: ~2)

Litha Altar 2019

5. Sun Wheel- My beautiful Sun Wheel! It represents the Sun, which is most prominent on the Summer Solstice, masculine energy, light, and fertility. I made this last year and I am so happy to pull it out again to display.  (Where did I get it: I made it; Cost: Under $5)


Litha Altar 2019

6. Antler- Represents the masculinity and fertility, as well as the connection between our realm and the Otherworld. I always like to put something on my altar to connect with the spirits.(Where did I get it: Found; Cost: $0)


Litha Altar 2019


TOTAL COST: ~$16


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 will 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! This altar is slightly more expensive than some of my others, but mostly because it's pretty full!

How did you celebrate Litha this year?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Spirit Work for Litha

Spirit Work for Litha

Litha, also known as Midsummer or the Summer Solstice, is one of my favorite sabbats. It is the longest day of the year and a perfect time to incorporate the Sun into your magical practice and thank our beautiful Mother Earth for the bountiful fruits she and the Sun are producing for us to eat. This is also a great time for dream magic, recharging, and using St. John's Wort for divination and protection purposes. Below are three ways to conduct spirit work on Litha.

1. Seek spiritual guidance by interpreting your dreams.

Litha is a perfect time for dream magic and interpretation. Prior to going to bed place amethyst by your bed to increase prophetic dreaming and open you to spirits and tell the spirits you are open to receiving their message this night. If you'd like, drink a dream stimulating tea, like chamomile or mugwort. Be sure you have a journal by your bed to record everything when you awake. About every 3-4 hours you cycle through REM sleep. It is during this time that you are most likely to dream. If you are particularly keen on recording as many dreams as possible, you may want to set an alarm, otherwise, sleep through the night and record everything the moment you wake. The longer you wait to record your dreams, the less you will remember. Once you have recorded everything you remember, you can begin interpreting the meaning. I find that this usually takes me a day or two, and I don't often rely on dream books or online sources to tell me what they mean. Instead, I compare what I dreamed with my personal life and personal correspondences to figure out what the spirits are trying to tell me. They speak the same language as you, so pay attention to your own intuition. Looking for other ways to stimulate prophetic dreaming? I wrote two articles about the topic here and here.

2. Recharge your inner spirit by soaking drawing in the Sun.

I know this isn't speaking with spirits directly or seeking advice, but this is a really great thing to do for yourself to increase your personal power and recharge. The more inner power you possess, the easier it is to communicate with the spirit world as spirits will naturally be attracted to you. This is one of the simplest rituals you could ever do. Just go outside at high noon with as little clothing on as possible and soak in the Sun. I like to stand, arms spread wide, face toward the sun with my eyes closed, and feel the warmth enter into my body. I see my personal energy growing and glowing bright golden yellow, filling with the Sun's radiance and power. If you can, do this on a beach. It is a truly magical experience!

3. Harvest St. John's Wort for divination and protection.

A historical tradition on Midsummer Eve or Litha is to pick St. John's Wort and hang it above each sleeping person in the house. It was believed that the plant that wilted first symbolized who would be the first to die. A little morbid, but a fun tradition nonetheless. St. John's Wort also brings protection against spirits that wish you harm and can be burned in the Midsummer bonfire or hung above the door to bring said protection. It can also be used to exorcise spirits and banish them from your home, so if you are feeling like something unwanted is hanging around you or your home, you can use St. John's Wort to force it out.

And there you have it, three easy ways to perform spirit work on Litha! I also strongly encourage you to honor the Earth and plant spirits at this time by leaving out offerings. The Earth and Sun are working hard together, producing magnificent crops that will last through the winter. Do you have a special way you like to honor spirits or work with spirits during Litha? Please share in the comments below!


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bone Magic Series: How to Ethically Acquire Animal Remains

Bone Magic Series: How to Ethically Acquire Animal Remains

So now that we have covered many of the historical and modern uses of animal remains, how do you go about acquiring them? The good news is, you have several options to legally and ethically acquire bones, furs, feathers, teeth, and claws, you just have to know where to look! I understand not everyone has access to large expanses of woods to find animal remains or trekking through a forest looking for bone may not be your thing. I get it! And because of the internet, it's now easier than ever to acquire animal remains, even for those that are against killing animals, like myself.

Nature Walk

This is how I have acquired most of my animal remains, most of which came from my dad who is an avid hunter (well he used to be) and therefore out in the woods a lot! He stumbles on animal remains all the time and brings them all home. I'm fortunate enough to be given many of the things he finds, and I use them as decor and in my magical practice. You simply need to venture out into the woods and keep an eye out. If you are hiking common trails, especially in a park, you're likely not going to find anything because others have been there before you. Besides, you're not supposed to take anything from parks, but I know people do anyway. Find a wild place, where few people travel and walk the local wildlife trails. Deer wear some pretty clear paths through the woods; these are great places to start. Don't be surprised if you don't find anything on your first walk. You'll likely take a lot of walks before finding anything, but that's part of the fun!

Roadkill

This is an easy way to get animal remains, but not a very pleasant one! Furthermore, there are several downsides to using roadkill remains. First, you run the risk of coming into contact with an infectious disease, including rabies and even leprosy! A word to the wise, if you live anywhere near armadillos, like I do here in Georgia, leave their remains right where you find them! They are notorious for carrying leprosy and no one wants to be a lepper, although you'd certainly have that old world witchy vibe going on. Second, many of the bones may be broken or otherwise harmed. Its the side effect of being hit by a car! Third, the animal remains will need to be cleaned of any remaining flesh, and the process doesn't always smell very nice. I'll cover that move in the next post. Please make sure you follow all local laws regarding roadkill. It is illegal in some areas to touch roadkill, but I won't tell.

Hunting/Hunters

If you are a hunter, you can save the remains of the animals you have killed. If you aren't a hunter but don't mind that someone else did the killing, the check out the local animal processing business. Hunting season is year round, meaning something is in season all the time, so hunters are constantly bringing in animals that need to be processed. In Georgia, you can pick up white-tail deer, turkey, wild boar/pig, rabbit, waterfowl, and even bobcat and coyote remains if you get lucky. After they have processed the animal, there are bones and pelts left over. Some of the processing businesses will sell these; some may even give you parts for free! Some smaller businesses are just happy someone is taking it off their hands because a lot of times the unused remains end up in the trash.

Butcher Shop/Grocery Store

There is a couple of option here. One you can buy meat with the bones still in the meat and remove them yourself, or you can ask the local butcher if they have any leftover bones you could buy. Yes, they usually sell the bones here because people like to use them in cooking stock. Keep in mind that cooked bones are more brittle than uncooked bones, but you are more than welcome to use cooked bones. I've seen several witches do it with good results.

Online Stores

Not interested in getting your hands dirty? Not to fear! There are tons of great shops online that ethically acquire animal bones, usually from animals that died of natural causes. Do some research on the companies though. While they may advertise that they ethically and legally sourced the animal remains, you can't be too careful. Be wary of exotic animals and always make sure to check whether or not the animal is listed as endangered. It is illegal to own any remains of an endangered animal unless there is proper paperwork detailing it came from healthy populations or it is from before 1973.

So what shops do I recommend? Curious Nature sources all of their remains from roadkill, zoos, or a byproduct of another industry, such as farming. They purposely try to learn as much as they can about where the remains come from, to ensure they are ethically sourcing their product. You can read more on their stance here. One of the best stores and a personal favorite of mine is The Skull Store. Like Curious Nature, they actively search for ethically and sustainably sources animal remains, not to mention they work with conservation programs, wildlife rehabilitation, and education programs. They never commission an animal to be killed; instead, they purchase animal remains from sustainable sources such as zoos, farms, indigenous peoples, and old collections. Furthermore, they work with law enforcement and wildlife enforcement agencies to help catch poachers and smugglers. You can read their full policy here. This is one of my favorite online sources as they take action in the wildlife community. Another shop I love is Of Moth and Moon. I've ordered from their shop and received some amazing little curiosities. It's a small family business and all of their animal remains come from nature, owl pellets, roadkill, natural deaths, or are the by-product of an industry or pest control. You can request items to come strictly from nature, roadkill, or natural death if you don't want to support an industry that profits from killing animals.

Your Pets

Yes, you can get animal remains from your pets, while they are still alive and well I might add. My cats shed fur, whiskers, and nails all the time. Any of these could easily be used in magical practice. Sometimes a pet may lose a tooth or need to have one extracted. You can ask the vet for that tooth! My chickens constantly shed feathers. I am completely covered up in feathers right now! When your pet passes, you can also opt to have them preserved or use their bones in your practice, if that doesn't bother you too much.

***

No matter how you decide to acquire your animal remains, please never kill an animal simply to harvest something from it. That's highly unethical and the spirit of the animal will not be pleased. Please follow all local laws and regulations regarding animal remains. I think by now most American witches know they aren't supposed to be picking up feathers, but use your best judgment. If you do come across animal remains in nature, approach it with respect and caution. Disease is a big factor, but the spirit may still be hanging out around. If you sense that it is, ask if you may approach and touch the bones. If its a no, simply thank the animal for its time, leave an offering and move along. If it does allow you to touch it, make your intentions clear and known and ask if you may take a bone or several with you for your magical workings. As of yet, I haven't been told no! You may find the bones are empty, especially if they have been there a while. I would still approach respectfully.

How do you find animal remains to use in your practice?

Interest in the rest of the series? Here's what's to come!

Bone Magic Series

Introduction
A Brief History of Animal Remains in Magic
Bones and Skulls: How to Use Them in Magic
Furs and Pelts: How to Use Them In Magic
Feathers, Fangs, and Claws: How to Use Them in Magic
How to Ethically Acquire Animal Remains
Cleaning and Preserving Animal Remains
Working With the Spirits of Animal Remains: Crossing Over & Contracting
Feeding Your Bones
Throwing the Bones + Build Your Own Bone Tarot

Monday, June 10, 2019

June Full Moon Worksheet

June Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is on the 17th and is Saggitarius. This Full Moon is a time to be optimistic and trust that the Universe will bring you exactly what you need. While there are dangers lurking in the shadows, patience and hard work will result in your realizing your long-term goals and aspirations. Keep your head up; good things are coming! This month's worksheet includes areas for you to jot down what you wish to release and charge, notes for any signs you receive this night, and a 4 card spread about how to better trust the Universe.

June Full Moon Worksheet

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY

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, June 6, 2019

5 Crystals for Gardening

5 Crystals for Gardening

I love crystals and I love plants, so what better combination than using crystals to enhance the abundance and growth of my plants? Gardening, especially in the South where we are prone to drought, is not always easy. By using energies from the Earth in the form of crystals, you can enhance the energies in your garden, giving your plants some additional help. Here are 5 easy to find crystals you can use in your garden, whether you are growing in pots in a windowsill or tilling up an acre of land for fruits and vegetables.

5 Crystals for Gardening- Moss Agate

1. Moss Agate: This is the go-to crystal for gardens, often referred to as "the gardener's talisman." It's on every crystal gardening list out there and for a good reason. First, it appears to be covered in moss, with mossy green intrusions in a white, creamy base, if you can even see the white base. This lends to its association with plants, gardening, and nature spirits. It attracts abundance and prosperity thus aiding in plant growth and guaranteeing a healthy, bountiful harvest. Moss Agate can be carried in your pockets or worn while gardening and watering, placed at the base of your plants, or hung in trees. However you choose to use it, this little crystal will be sure to help your garden grow.

5 Crystals for Gardening- Tree Agate

2. Tree Agate: Ah, another agate! They are pretty universal, coming in a variety of colors and forms. Like Moss Agate, Tree Agate has dark green intrusions that form a tree-like pattern with roots sinking deep into a white base. It is associated with growth and perseverance as the roots of a tree are able to seek out water, even in the dryest of places. As such, it aids in the growth of plants in difficult conditions such as the drought we face here in Georgia. Tree Agate is often placed or buried next to plants needing assistance, especially those that may be sick or infected with a parasite.

5 Crystals for Gardening- Green Fluorite

3. Green Fluorite: This is a less often used crystal for gardening, but I've found it to be extremely helpful. Green Fluorite is associated with growth and nature energies due to its green color. Furthermore, it is a cleansing crystal, removing negative energies from any environment. I find it particularly useful around plants that are infested with insects or a fungus. It also increased intuition and can be carried on your person to help you figure out which areas in your garden need your attention.

5 Crystals for Gardening- Malachite

4. Malachite: Another beautiful green crystal associated with abundance and growth. The Ancient Egyptians saw Malachite as a fertility symbol, associating it with vegetation, agriculture, and healthy crops. When placed in the garden, it increases plant growth and abundance.

5 Crystals for Gardening- Moonstone

5. Moonstone: Moonstone is my favorite crystal, second only to Black Tourmaline, and its a great crystal for gardening. As the name suggests, it is associated with the Moon, and therefore a symbol of fertility. Moonstone was a favorite of Native American healers who used it as a way to increase plant growth while promoting peace within the garden. It can be placed in the garden or carried on your person while watering to promote plant growth.

5 Crystals for Gardening

These crystals not resonating with you or you're unable to find them? There are several other crystals you can use in your garden to enhance plant growth and health, including, but not limited to, green aventurine, clear quartz, rhyolite, green calcite, citrine, Tiger's eye, emerald, and blue lace agate. Whatever crystals you choose to work with, you and your plants will benefit from their energies. Happy gardening!


Monday, May 27, 2019

Book Review: The Book Of Hedge Druidry by Joanna van der Hoeven

Book Review: The Book Of Hedge Druidry by Joanna van der Hoeven

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.

Let me start off by thanking Llewellyn Publications and Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to review this book, and wow, what a book! I read a lot, and I do mean a lot, and not every book I read makes it to my blog for a review. In fact, I have read 14 books so far this year, well over my original goal of 12. The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker by Joanna van der Hoeven is one of the best books I have read all year, especially if you are a hedgewitch. While this book focuses on Druidry, I highly recommend it to my fellow hedgewitches, whether you are just starting out or have been practicing for a while.

Book Review: The Book Of Hedge Druidry by Joanna van der Hoeven

As the title suggests, this book is a druid approach to hedgecraft, but don't let that deter you if you are not interested in Druidry. van der Hoeven makes it very clear that this path is an individual one, and to use her book as a guide, not a Bible. The book has four parts: Theory, Practice, Study, and Skills and Technique. In the "Theory" section of the book, van der Hoeven covers the basics of Druidry, including Awen, the Three Realms, the Otherworld, the Wheel of the Year, and much more. I am not very familiar with Druidry, but van der Hoeven uses historical texts to back up her claims, citing them at the bottom of each page that has a reference. I would have liked to have seen more references, but I applaud her citing as much as she did, as this is a rarity in the pagan community. Furthermore, much of her tradition and belief is based on folklore, and she even mentions in the "Study" section on spell writing that you too should turn to folklore to write your own spells and rituals. I wholeheartedly agree with her and already turn to folklore in my own practice. Her descriptions of the sabbats are rooted in historical texts as well, and she accurately states that not all 8 sabbats were originally celebrated by our ancestors, that many of these holidays arose with Wicca in the last century. One of my favorite aspects of the "Theory" section is that she covers animism, which is rarely mentioned in other books I have read. In fact, it is a topic I have yet to cover here on the blog, but certainly, plan to remedy in the near future. Furthermore, she spends a lot of time encouraging her readers to get to know the spirits of place and the land around you. She notes how important this is to one's practice, as the magics in Great Britain and Ireland are very different from the magics found in other parts of the world.

The "Practice" section includes beautiful seasonal rituals, moon rituals, and even rituals for rites of passage, such as a handfasting. I can't begin to express how much I loved all the rituals I read. They were a breath of fresh air in a world full of Wiccan inspired rituals. I was truely inspired by the handfasting ritual, and should I marry again, I will definitely be using her ritual as a guide. In each ritual, she notes that you do not have to form a circle or set of sacred space, and offers alternatives for those of us, like myself, who do not include a deity in our practice. The inclusivity of the rituals shows that van der Hoeven took the time to recognize that hedgecraft is very individual and unique, which I greatly appreciated. "Study" includes information on herblore, Ogham, and spellcraft. They are by no means complete, but a nice little introduction to those interested in such things. Her Ogham chapter is particularly good, as she mentions that there are tons of different Oghams, and suggests other books for the reader to use to delve deeper into the study. I love that she mentioned Robert Graves in reference to the Tree Ogham, but did not claim he is the best source. I appreciate this because much of Graves work has been thus proven incorrect.

She ends the book discussing ethics, peace, and being a leader in the community. In the current political climate, this section is a great reminder that our actions must speak louder than our words. She encourages her readers to do what is best for everyone, without being judgie or hiding behind the Three-Fold Law seen in other texts. She also includes no mention of Karma, simply asking that you consider the consequences of your actions.

There are a couple of things I did not like about the book, however. First, her interpretation of hedge riding is a form of pathwalking. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and if that is your shared belief, then ignore me here. Personally, I believe hedge riding and pathwalking are very different. Pathwalking is guided, while hedge riding is not. However, pathwalking is still a great way to meet with spirits and beings of the Otherworld should that be your chosen form of travel, but I believe it is different from hedge riding. Furthermore, I would have loved to have seen more written about the Otherworld and hedge riding than what was included in the book. It was mentioned on and off as an underlying theme of hedge Druidry, but there was not a whole lot of explanation or practice involving hedge riding and spirit work in the book. This was rather disappointing to me because I really love reading about how other people experience the Otherworld. Much of what she does talk about regarding the Otherworld is centered around working with the Fair Folk, and there is so much more to hedge riding and the Otherworld than the Fae. Despite this, I strongly recommend the book to all my readers, giving it a 5 out of 5! If you are looking for something new, whether you are into Druidry or not, The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker by Joanna van der Hoeven is a great place to start! The book is currently available for pre-order and is set to release on July 8, 2019.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Bone Magic Series: Feathers, Fangs, and Claws: How to Use Them in Magic

Bone Magic Series: Feathers, Fangs, and Claws: How to Use Them in Magic

Previously in the series, I covered bones and skulls and furs and pelts. This is only a fraction of the animal remains witches commonly use, and while this is a bone magic series, I strongly felt the need to cover a variety of animal remains because their uses make more sense with the proper context. This post will discuss all those miscellaneous remains, including feathers, teeth, and claws.

Feathers

Feathers are keratin filaments that cover the outside of birds and even some dinosaurs. They make up the plumage and not only provide warmth and water resistance, but also allow for flight. Like animal pelts and skins, feathers do not preserve well over time, so much of what we know of their historical magical uses stem from indigenous cultures, mostly Native American, and ancient mythology. Feathers have long been used as ornamentation on ceremonial garb, particularly headdresses among many groups worldwide, or as robes and cloaks. Birds are believed to possess a spiritual essence, their feathers being used to aid in flight and communication with the spirit world (source).

The type of bird largely impacted the type of magic associated with the feather. Macaw feathers, desired for their color and highly valued, were used by the Tewa for ceremonial purposes as a way to bring rain, which was believed to come from the South, the cardinal direction associated with the macaw (source). These feathers were so valuable, in fact, that they were often traded for goods, including turquoise and skins (source). Among the Zuni, turkey feathers were believed to represent mortality and therefore not worn by a dancer should death follow. Today, turkey feathers are often buried on All Souls' Day so the dead may wear them to dance (source). Eagles were and are symbolic of the sun or sky and were often used in combination with turkey feathers. It was believed the eagle was a spirit messenger and could take prayers to the heavens. Wearing the feather of an eagle is said to bring strength, wisdom, and protection (source). In the Hopi Snake Dance, a dancer follows the snake carrier while continuously brushing the rattlesnake with an eagle feather to stop the snake from striking (source). In Celtic mythology, the eagle was believed to be one of the oldest of all creatures.  In the tale of Culhwch and Olwen, Culhwch is tasked with finding the magical child Mabon. He asks a number of animals to help him in his quest, the eagle being the animal who tips him off as to where Mabon is (source). The eagle also appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in an account of the Battle of Brunanburh which says, "...the grey-coated eagle, white-tailed, to have his will of the corpses." This suggests the eagle took advantage of the deaths during the battle, thus again showing wisdom and ingenuity. Furthermore, Highland clan chiefs often wore three eagle feathers in their bonnets as a symbol of rank (source).

Crow feathers, like the eagle, were also used for wisdom and knowledge, as well as death and witchcraft (source, source). The tail feathers of a peacock, in spite of the beautiful plumage, is believed to bring ill luck and attract the evil eye, due to the tip resembling a human eye. Peacocks are scared to Juno, the patron goddess of women, and to rob a peacock of its tail feathers is thought to offend her (source). This, of course, is not a complete list of all feather correspondences but it does drive the point home that feathers have numerous magical associations.

In Egyptian myth, the feather of Ma'at was the judge of one's soul. According to the story, the heart of the deceased was handed over to Osiris, the God of Death, who placed it on a giant golden scale and balanced it against the white feather of Ma'at, the feather of truth. If the heart was lighter than the feather, thus showing it was free from impurities and sin, then the gods would consult the Forty-Two Judges to decide whether or not the soul was worthy. If so, the soul would pass to the Field of Reeds, the Summerland/Heaven equivalent in Egyptian mythology (source). The feather is also the symbol of Shu, the Egyptian god of Air and father of the Earth. Shu is often depicted wearing a feather in his hair. As such, the feather is often associated with the element Air (source).

Ancient Shamans in Siberia and the Druids of Europe often wore birdlike cloaks and costumes to represent transformation. The Colloquy of the Two Sages describes the possession of a three-colored feather robe by a High Bard. "...A covering of bright bird's feathers in the middle, a showery specking of fin-druine (white silver) on the lower half, and a golden color on the upper half." Another similar description is found in Cormac's Glossary, referred to as a tugen which was a Feathered Cloak commonly worn by Irish poets to represent mysticism and knowledge (source).

Feathers are also commonly placed in Witched Ladders. In the late 1800s, several strange items were found in the eaves of a house in England including a string of feathers. The house was then declared to belong to a witch and the string of feathers was referred to as a 'witches ladder.' In this case, it was a string of cockerel feathers and it was suggested to be used to cross over the roof of houses, cause death, and hex neighboring cattle. It was believed each feather was a hex, curse, or bad wish upon another. Throwing the witches ladder into the water was said to break the curse as the water would purify and loosen the feathers from the string. Their removal from the ladder meant the curse was also removed. Modern witches create witches ladders to curse, invoke clarity, or bring positive intent such as luck, prosperity, love, healing, or success with each feather representing a wish (source).

Today, feathers are used in much the same way as they have been historically used. Witches use feathers from an assortment of birds for an assortment of magical purposes. For example, placing blackbird feathers under someone's pillow is said to compel them to tell you their innermost secrets, while the feathers of a Wren are believed to prevent drowning (source). Furthermore, feathers are often placed on altars to represent air or placed in hedge riding sachets to aid in soul flight. Different colored feathers also have a variety of meanings. For example, finding a black feather means an angel is protecting you, green for abundance, and white for purity (source). Finally, many witches use a feather to waft smoke from incense or a herb stick. Their uses are endless and have been used for centuries by magical practitioners around the world.

Teeth and Claws

Other animal remains include teeth and claws (I will cover shells and blood in the future, but not as part of this series). Teeth could be classified under bones, but I felt the need to discuss some of their specific uses separately. Teeth are hard external bones covered in enamel used for mechanical digestion. Some of the earliest uses of teeth, whether animal or human, dates back to burial practices in the 7th and 8th centuries. Amulets containing teeth have been found in numerous graves, particularly those of women and children across Europe. It is believed these amulets were placed in the grave for protection for both the living and the dead (source, source).  From the 7th to 9th century, animal teeth were used to identify cunning women and these bones were commonly buried with the practitioner (source). In the 13th and 15th century, cattle teeth were found in graves, an indicator of healing magic (source).

In Ancient Rome, teeth were highly valued as a form of protection against the evil eye. Giovanni de'Medici was particularly fond of using animal teeth as a form of protection, particularly for the protection of children. Paintings by Detti and contemporary inventories suggest that animal teeth, more specifically wolf teeth, were mounted around homes, including the estate of Piero Ubaldini and Giulio de'Medici. Like many items during the Renaissance, teeth were believed to be a form of sympathetic magic. They were placed around the neck of a nursing infant to protect the child from danger and promote the development and growth of the child's own teeth (source, source).

Later teeth that had fallen out were commonly thrown into the fire instead of kept for protection as it was believed the teeth could be picked up by a witch and used to cause misfortune (source). Still, later the folktale of the Tooth Fairy arose in the United States around 1900. It is important to note that the Tooth Fairy did not exist in British folklore, making this a largely American tradition, although the Italian Marantega and several other folktales around the world are remarkably similar. It was believed that by placing the tooth under the pillow that the fairy would reward the offering with a monetary gift. The tale of Marantega, an old witch who trades coins for teeth, is very similar to the myth of the Tooth Fairy. However, it is believed she seeks teeth to fill her own toothless mouth (source). In several Asia countries, including China, Japan, and Korea, children who lose teeth from their lower jaw would throw their teeth on the roof, while those lost from the upper jaw are tossed on the floor or placed under the pillow. It was believed that the new tooth would be pulled toward the old tooth, lessening the time it would take to replace the tooth. In Mongolia, the teeth were fed to dogs, so that the new tooth would be as strong as the dog's teeth, or buried under a tree so that the new tooth had strong roots (source).

In Conjure, teeth have been historically and still are used in a variety of magical workings. For example, badger and alligator teeth were and are used in mojo bags (source). In fact, in 1760 Jamaica passed an act that forbid the slaves from engaging in magical activities, using dog and alligator teeth as evidence of such magical workings (source). Today teeth are used for protection, to bring luck, in binding spells, as part of a bone tarot set, in mojo bags, or in spells that increase communication.

Like teeth, claws can be used in much the same way, pulling on the attributes of whatever animal it came from. Historically, claws have very little written about them. In fact, much of what I could find is about cutting human fingernails. It was believed that cutting your nails on a Friday or Sunday was unlucky while cutting on Monday was thought to bring good health and Tuesday wealth (source). Romans often wore images of bears or bear claws to ease childbirth and protect the unborn child (source). Today, witches use claws as altar decorations, for protection, and mojo bags. For example, cockerel claws are used in protection charms in Voodoo and Santeria practices.

Overall, animal remains have and are an integral part of magical practices the world over. Whether they are used in rituals or spells, they bring us closer to the world around us. How do you use feathers, fangs, or claws in your magical practice?

Interest in the rest of the series? Here's what's to come!

Bone Magic Series

Cleaning and Preserving Animal Remains
Working With the Spirits of Animal Remains: Crossing Over & Contracting
Feeding Your Bones
Throwing the Bones + Build Your Own Bone Tarot


Monday, May 13, 2019

May Full Moon Worksheet

May Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is on the 18th and is in Scorpio, making this a great time for releasing, cleansing, and transforming your life. Find your authentic self by shedding unwanted or shallow relationships. Sacrifice that which no longer serves you and spend time giving back to the community. This month's worksheet includes areas for you to jot down what you wish to release and charge, as well as a 5 card tarot spread to let you shed the unwanted and find that authentic self.

May Full Moon Worksheet

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY

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