Monday, September 16, 2019

Herbarium: Frankincense

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Frankincense

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Powers: Exorcism, Protection, Spirituality
Magical Uses and History: Frankincense is probably one of the most famous "herbs" out there, simply because it is mentioned as one of the gifts given to Jesus on the day of his birth by one of the Three Kings. Unlike other herbs, frankincense is a resin, dried tree sap that is harvested from an adult tree and later burned. Frankincense has been widely traded for about 5,000 years and therefore permeated into cultures around the world. The Babylonians, Assyrians, and ancient Greek and Romans were known to burn frankincense during religious and spiritual rituals, while the Ancient Egyptians burned it at sunrise to honor the sun god Ra. It was even ground up and used as an eyeliner, embalming "fluid," and to treat a large variety of different ailments, including halitosis, hemlock poisoning, wounds, and to repel insects. The Ebers Papyrus mentions frankincense among its over 1,500 entries, citing specific medicinal uses of the resin.

Because the resin was difficult to obtain and highly sought after, it was seen as a symbol of wealth and therefore was prominently displayed by royalty. This explains why it was gifted to Jesus, the son of God, and why the entire temple of Queen Hatshepsut is adorned with sacks of frankincense. However, once Christianity took hold, frankincense was ultimately forbidden for its association with pagan worship. Later the resin was picked up by the Catholic church who incorporated its use into specific rites.

Historically, frankincense has been used for a variety of magical rites, including honoring different Sun deities, creating sacred space, space clearing, and general protection. Frankincense is often burned as an offering to the Sun at Yule, as he is reborn at the Winter Solstice and will continue to grow in strength as the year progresses.

Frankincense has strong space clearing and purifying tendencies, making it more potent than sage for clearing space. It's so strong, in fact, that is can be used during an exorcism to remove unwanted spirits from a person, place, or thing. Simply burn the resin and use the smoke the same way you would use sage. Frankincense essential oil can be used in a similar fashion. For protection, dilute frankincense essential oil in a carrier oil and anoint your self or draw protection symbols above or on windows and doors. It can also be placed in protection sachets or used in protection spells.

Frankincense resin can also be burned during hedge riding and other forms of astral travel to help reach an altered state of consciousness, focus the mind, and open spiritual doors by increases psychic awareness. Essential oils can also be used to anoint your Third Eye. Because of its long history as an offering, frankincense is the perfect gift for spirits or for use during spirit work. In some traditions, such as Hoodoo and rootwork, frankincense is used to anoint petitions.

Frankincense can be used in a number of spells including:
    Spirit Removal
    Ritual Cleansings
    Protection Spells
    Psychic Development

Medicinal Uses: There are several varieties of frankincense and the one commonly used for medicinal purposes is commonly known as Boswellia or Indian Frankincense. This highly prized medicinal plant has been used to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, dysentery, and fever because of it's anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and antiseptic properties. In aromatherapy, frankincense is commonly used as an expectorant and to treat anxiety. The volatile chemicals found in the oil help to clear the nasal passageways and lungs of mucus, while several studies have shown reduced anxiety when the oil is vaporized or the resin is burned.

Preparation and Dosage: Frankincense is most commonly taken in capsule form, which can be purchased at most herbal shops. To make a poultice, combine frankincense resin with oregano and warm water and apply to the cut or bruise up to three times a day. To create a paste, grind resin into a powder and combine with aloe to form a thick paste. Apply to cut, bruise, or insect bite (or joints to treat arthritis) up to three times a day. Small pieces of resin can be chewed on to treat mouth infections and stimulate the digestive system. In essential oil form, it can be heated in an oil warmed and breathed in to help clear the lungs. Frankincense is known to thin the blood and should not be used by people who are pregnant, nursing, or on blood thinners. Furthermore, frankincense oil is known to cause skin irritations in many people, so use caution when handling the oil and always dilute it before applying to the skin. (This is a very limited list of uses.)

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!
Magical and Medicinal Uses of Frankincense

Friday, September 13, 2019

Just Say No Candle Spell

Just Say No Candle Spell

Telling people no is one of the things I struggle with, and I know I'm not the only one. Part of it comes from being a people-pleaser, as many Libras are. I enjoy making others happy, and I'm also extremely competitive, so when I see an opportunity to get ahead, I often jump on it, even if it isn't something I can actually manage at the time. This simple spell is designed to help you find your voice and say no when you need to. No in and of itself is some pretty powerful magic and knowing when to say no is freeing. You are not obligated, at any point, to say yes to anyone, especially if you are already hesitant to do so.

What You'll Need

  • Blue candle
  • Black candle
  • Sodalite
  • Black Tourmaline
  • Two strips of paper
  • Pen
  • Firesafe dish
Just Say No Candle Spell

What to Do

This spell can be performed on the Full or New Moon.

As always, feel free to cleanse your items and charge them if you feel inclined. You may also cast a circle, call quarters, and ask for any divine assistance before beginning this spell. I didn't do any of these for this particular spell, except cleansing the items before use.

When you are ready, sit the blue candle on the left and the black candle on the right. Light both candles at the same time. While the candles are burning, hold the sodalite in your hand and begin charging it with your intent: to increase truthful communication. Once you see it filling with blue light or it feels warm in your hand, place it in front of the blue candle. Next charge the black tourmaline with your intent: to banish your inability to say no when you need to. Note that I didn't say banish your ability to say no all the time. Saying you want to banish all unwillingness to say no all the time is potentially dangerous. Instead, you want to only say no when you need and should to keep you safe and well. When you see it filling with black light or it feels warm in your hand, place it in front of the black candle.

Just Say No Candle Spell

Next, on one strip of paper write what you want to do: Increase communication. Phrase your intent in a positive light such as "I will communicate my true feelings" or "I will openly communicate with others and say no when needed." On the next strip of paper, write what you are wishing to get rid of: you inability to say no when you need to. Again, phrase this in a positive light. "I banish my inability to say no when I should" or "I banish my inability to communicate truthfully when needed."

Just Say No Candle Spell

Finally, burn the first strip of paper about open communication in the blue candle flame and the banishment strip of paper in the black candle. As they burn, see yourself standing tall and telling others no when they ask too much of you or you are unable to fulfill the task they wish you to complete. Say aloud,
"I will openly communicate with others and banish my inability to speak truthfully and say no when needed. This is true until I ask for it to be undone. And so it is."
And that's it! You can allow the candles to burn down the strengthen the spell or snuff them out if you are short on time. Dispose of the ashes by strewing them into the wind and leave your crystals sitting out on your altar for a week or two to help remind you of your intent.

Just Say No Candle Spell

Why You Did It

Candles can be used in some of the most powerful spells, and are pretty cheap to acquire. For this spell, I went with blue and black because the spell is about communication and banishment. Blue is the color of communication as in the wind that brings messages. I'm sure you have heard the whispers carried on the first cool breeze of Fall or the first warm breeze of Spring, celebrating the changing seasons. Black is the color of banishment as it is the absence of all light. It is the ultimate remover.

Our crystals correspond with the candle color. Sodalite, being blue, is a crystal of communication. It also promotes truth and harmony, both aspects we need if we wish to openly communicate our feelings with others and say no when we need to. Black tourmaline is grounding and protective, as well as a great stone for banishment. It helps remove roadblocks that keep you from your best interest, and therefore a great crystal to use in this particular spell.

Just Say No Candle Spell

The intentions were written and burned to help release our intentions into the universe through smoke, which is representative of the element Air, and then the ashes disposed of using the wind (also element Air) to further communicate our message. Air is the element of communication and by burning and throwing your ashes into the wind, it will help carry it to the spirits that will be helping you on your journey

To break this spell, light a single white candle and say,
"I no longer wish to communicate openly with others. I ask that the spell be removed. And so it is."
And, as always, remember to record your spell in your Book of Shadows or use my spell/ritual worksheet to keep track of the spell.

What do you do to help you say no? Any nonmagical tips and tricks? Please comment below!

Monday, September 9, 2019

September Full Moon Worksheet

September Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is in Pisces in the early morning of September 14th, meaning you can totally celebrate it on Friday the 13th! Spooky! Emotions may run high, as Pisces is a water sign, but this month's Full Moon should bring about the culmination of all your hard work over the past 6 months. This moon is considered the Harvest Moon, the moon closest to Mabon. The moon is known for illuminating the harvest and as such will illuminate all your hard work and the fruits of that labor. Be aware that people may be slightly more sensitive over the next two weeks, and approach situations with gentleness, kindness, and patience. This month's worksheet contains a five-card tarot spread to illuminate how things are changing for you and what effects that will have on everyone. As always there are also sections for what you want to release and charge, and any intuitive thoughts you receive during the Full Moon.

September Full Moon Worksheet


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, September 5, 2019

Reader Request: Womanhood Initiation Ritual

Womanhood Initiation Ritual

Earlier this week I asked my readers what they wanted me to write about. I have some of my usual posts lined up for later in the month, but wanted to know what you witches really wanted from me. I got answers and ideas across the board, and promise I will cover as many of them as I possibly can. Some may take a little longer to answer, like the person waiting since January for me to post about office magic, but I promise, I am getting there. Haha!

So the first post I want to cover because it seems the most time-sensitive comes from a reader via Facebook: "Humm.. what am I about to pick up I need help with... initiation rituals. I need something for a serious, not tv stupid menarche party for my Tinkerbutton. I've got her fabric pads. I've got her a tree of life necklace, we've had loads of talks! Now I'm just waiting for aunt flow to show! Lol"

What a wonderful suggestion! After doing a bit of research, and I mean deep digging research, there isn't a whole lot available for women regarding initiation rituals. The whole "Period Party" is as close to modern initiation into womanhood as we currently get, and it's pretty exclusionary as not all women have periods! Because of this, I wanted to write an initiation ritual that all women could use, whether it be when they start their period, when they turn 16, have their first baby, or transition. I didn't want to leave anyone out. Simone de Beauvoir said in best in The Second Sex, "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman."

This particular ritual is best performed on the Full Moon when the Divine Feminine is strongest, but any important day will work as your Divine Feminine is strongest within yourself. So if your period begins in the middle of the Waxing Moon, go with it. Your official transition date is the New Moon? Do it! Pick a day that works best for you.

What You'll Need

  • white veil or shroud
  • table to sit objects on
  • red candle
  • lighter/matches
  • a bowl of purified water with a pinch of salt
  • red apple
  • knife/athame
  • a chalice of red wine or juice

What to Do

This ritual is best completed with at least 2 people but can be modified to do alone, on the Full Moon or any other special occasion. Begin by cleansing, charging, and/or blessing your items. Whatever method you chose is up to you. Personally, my go-to is always sage, because I have a ton of it. I also really enjoy blowing on an object and imagining all the residual energy blowing away with it. Prior to the ritual whoever is being initiated should take a purifying bath or shower. Once cleansed, they should either dress in all white or wear at least a white veil or shroud for the beginning of the ritual.

Womanhood Initiation Ritual

When ready, lay out the objects on the table with the candle at the top center, the bowl of water to the left, the chalice of red wine/juice to the right, and the apple in front of the candle. Then create sacred space in whatever way you wish. Feel free to cast a circle and call quarters, but do not invoke any deities at this stage. Skip that step for now. Once sacred space has been established light the red candle and invoke the goddess Artemis by saying,

"With this red candle, I ask Artemis, Goddess of Sovereignty and Young Women, to join our ritual to bless this young woman as she transitions into womanhood of her own volition. May you watch over us all and bring strength and courage as we march forward into the future."

This can be said by the initiator if working with more than one person or by the initiate if alone. Next, bless the water. The initiator should hold their hands over the bowl and say,

"I bless this water in the name of Artemis, Divine Huntress and Protector of Young Women. May it be cleansed and purified in Her name."

Dip 2 fingers into the blessed water and place your fingers on the initiate's forehead. The veil or shroud should still be covering their face at this time. Say,

"With this water, I cleanse and purify [insert name here] before me. May she be blessed by Artemis as she transitions from a child into womanhood."

Next, have the initiate pick up the knife and apple. Then the initiator says,

"The blade symbolizes the last roadblock between [insert name] and womanhood. The apple represents the Divine Feminine, the Forbidden Fruit, the life-giving gift of women. By cutting through the apple, [insert name] will make the final transition into womanhood."

The initiate should then cut the apple in half while saying,

"I break the chains of childhood and recognize that now I am a woman. I accept my Divine Feminine and vow to honor her daily. I will allow no one, including myself, to devalue me. I will stand tall as I walk this path and ask that Artemis continue to bless me in the future."

Womanhood Initiation Ritual

Lift the veil and allow the initiate to take a bite from one half of the apple. The other half should be given to Artemis as an offering. Next, the initiator should dip 2 fingers into the red wine and place them on the initiates forehead, now uncovered, and say,

"With this red wine, I anoint [insert name] with the life-giving gift of women. May it spark creativity, strength, and perseverance."

Finally, snuff out the candle and say,

"We thank you, Artemis, for your grace and protection during this initiation ritual for [insert name]."

Remove the sacred space and go party! This is a time to celebrate!

Why You Did It

For this spell, I drew heavily on mythological representations of women from the red candle to the red apple to the chalice of red wine/juice. Let's begin with the veil. Veils are commonly used to represent a transition from one life to another. During a wedding ceremony, the white veil represents purity prior to the transition into marriage. In the case of this ritual, it means the same thing, but not in a patriarchal sense. Children, by definition, are pure beings. The veil represents that purity, not that it suddenly goes away when one becomes a woman, but instead, it changes form, which is represented by the lifting of the veil. The lifting symbolizes the transition from childhood to womanhood.

Next, we have the red candle. Candles, in general, attract spirits and deities which is why there is a candle in the first place. It's red to symbolize blood or menstruation. I mentioned in the introduction, however, that just because a woman doesn't menstruate, it doesn't mean she is less of a woman. The candle allows us to symbolically represent blood and menstruation, the life-giver of all animals, even if the soon-to-be-woman is not menstruating or cannot menstruate.

If you have been following my blog for any period of time, you know that I don't believe in any deities, but I felt compelled to include Artemis into this ritual based on her mythology alone. One of the most famous initiation rituals for young women involved the Cult of Artemis at Bruaron. Furthermore, Artemis is said to rule over all biological transitions of women, from before puberty to the first childbirth, which makes her the perfect goddess to invoke when we are talking about initiation into womanhood.

Next, we have the blessed water, later followed by the red wine/juice. The blessed water acts as a final purifier before the transition into womanhood. At the same time, it blesses the soon-to-be-woman with the blessing of Artemis. The now woman is finally touched with the red wine/juice, which also symbolizes menstruation and the life-giving properties of blood. This is the finally blessing of Artemis and is meant to infuse the now woman with a "woman's life force." Women, by nature, have the ability to bring forth life, but that doesn't always mean bringing about a child. It also means creating artwork, poetry, businesses, and the like. Basically, anything that involves the act of creating. The water and red wine/juice are presented in a bowl and chalice respectively, again symbolizing the "womb" or life-giver, even if you don't physically have one, you still have a location for creation. Both of these were touched to the forehead or third-eye to awake the innate Divine Feminine all women possess.

And finally, we have the red apple, the ultimate symbol of womanhood in my opinion. Again, the red symbolizes blood and the shape of an apple conveys the womb, but it is the Biblical tale of the apple that resonates with me. I don't care what your current beliefs are, the story of Eve plucking an apple from the Tree of Knowledge is known around the world, and still holds sway within the witch community. Eve taking a bite of that apple was the ultimate act of rebellion; it was her initiation into womanhood, despite the Bible framing it as a sinful act that led to the downfall of man. Screw that! It was a woman taking possession of her Divine Feminine. The act of slicing and biting into the apple recreates this act of rebellion, solidifying the transition into womanhood. I knew the moment I was asked to write a womanhood initiation that I had to include the famous apple as the final act. There was no avoiding it.

Unfortunately, this is not a spell you break. However, you can choose to no longer recognize the initiation. Simply light a black candle, thank Artemis for her grace, and let her know you no longer wish to recognize the initiation. Make sure you leave Artemis an offering when finished. And, as always, remember to record your spell in your Book of Shadows or use my spell/ritual worksheet to keep track of the spell.

Have you been initiated into something before? How about womanhood? Share your stories in the comments below, and if you tried this ritual yourself, I would love to hear how it went!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Apothecary: Yarrow Salve

Apothecary: Yarrow Salve

This year, my yarrow has grown and bloomed multiple times. I actually have three different types in my yard: pomegranate, yellow, and white. All of them are beautiful and the white yarrow in the backyard has started growing outside of the planter, which is totally fine with me, although the guy that mows my lawn mows right over it. Oh well!

Yarrow can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes, but today we are going to focus on how to make a yarrow salve. This salve is perfect for cuts, scrapes, bruises, bug bites and stings. Do not use this salve for burns as the oil will trap the heat.

Yarrow Salve

1 1/2 cups olive oil
2 cups yarrow leaves and flowers, roughly chopped
1/4 cup beeswax pellets (more if you want to produce a thicker salve)

Begin by gathering and cleaning your yarrow. Be sure not to confuse yarrow with hemlock, which looks very similar. Here is a great video helping you identify each plant. If you are unsure of what you are picking, order some yarrow online instead. Once the yarrow is dry, remove the stems and flowers and roughly chop. Place the chopped yarrow in an airtight container and cover the yarrow with olive oil. It should take around 1 to 1 1/2 cups to completely cover the yarrow. Seal the container and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for about four weeks (1 month). This is a great salve to begin on the New or Full Moon.

After the mixture has infused for at least four weeks, strain the leaves and flowers from the oil into a saucepan. Add the beeswax and heat the liquid until the beeswax completely melts. Once completely combined,  pour the oil mixture into a sturdy salve container. I prefer glass as the plastic chemicals are not able to infiltrate the mixture if you use glass. However, if you go with plastic, choose a container with sturdy, thick sides, as the plastic will melt when you had the hot oil to it. Allow to sit, either at room temperature or the fridge, until the mixture as solidified. Use as needed. This should keep for about 6 months to a year, especially if you keep it in the fridge.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Living the Mother/Father Aspect When You Aren't a Parent

Living the Mother/Father Aspect When You Aren't a Parent

If you haven't read it already, I encourage you to read my article Should We Rethink The Triple Goddess?, which not only applies to our concept of the Triple Goddess but also the Triple God or Holy Trinity if you will. Both consist of three phases; three phases I don't believe work well in witchcraft as you'll find if you read my previous article on the subject. However, no matter how you look at it, whether you support three or four phases, the second is always a parental archetype: Mother and Father.

In today's world, more and more young adults are choosing not to have children. I am one such witch. In fact, I had surgery last year to remove my tubes, making the permanent choice to not birth a child. On discussion boards and forums I come across more and more witches choosing not to have children and wondering how the Mother and Father aspect fit into their lives. Many argue it doesn't, and such gender roles, especially for women, are outdated, rooted in patriarchy, and transphobic. I see where they are coming from. The original concept of the Triple Goddess and the roles of a woman are dated, rooted in patriarchy, and pretty transphobic, but that doesn't mean we have to look at them that way today. Much of what witchcraft practitioners are doing now is fighting gender stereotypes, reclaiming divine power, and throwing patriarchy and toxic masculinity out the window. These are great things we are doing, so why not do the same for the aspects or phases of both women and men?

Here's the thing; despite its history, the Mother and Father aspect have never been solely about childbirth and child-rearing. I know from the outside that's what it looks like. Heck, that's the first thing everyone thinks of when you hear the words "mother" and "father." It isn't wrong to associate children with motherhood and fatherhood, but there is so much more to it than just children. In fact, you can transition into the Mother and Father aspects without ever having children, despite the idea that you have to to fill those roles.

The Mother and Father phases are about actualizing your ego. By this I mean you transition from being self-serving to recognizing your strengths and their ability to help others. For both women and men, the "parental" stage of their life is transitioning their focus from only on themselves to others. They are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, at least within their own families, if not in their community as well. Furthermore, it is a time for women and men to bring forth creation, but that doesn't necessarily mean life. This is a time when women and men take the dreams of the Maiden and Stag (or Warrior if that's what you prefer) and manifest them into reality. They mean so much more than popping out a couple of screaming kids and raising them for 20 years.

So how can you live this phase without children? Begin by serving and caring for others, whether it be a significant other, your community, or society as a whole. Your actions can be as small as caring for your SO when they are sick, bringing flowers to a grieving neighbor, or picking up trash along the sidewalk or as large as running for public office, joining the Peace Corps, or starting a non-profit, and everything in between. For me, this meant becoming a teacher. Despite not having children of my own, I help raise about 200 every year just by being their science teacher. I make a huge difference in many of these kids lives. I'm a shoulder to cry on, a friend to laugh with, an enforcer of boundaries, and an ear to listen with. If that isn't living the Mother aspect, I don't know what is!

Next, begin manifesting those dreams. As young adults, we often have great plans, but no idea how to implement them. As we grow older, we develop the skills necessary to complete our goals, but often forget to come back to them. Write them down in a journal, BOS, on a sticky note on your mirror, or create a vision board to help remind you that you have a (possibly outlandish) goal your younger Maiden/Stag self wished to accomplish. Transitioning into Mother and Father isn't about growing up and losing your inner spark. It's the exact opposite. The Maiden and Stag teach us the beauty of play; the Mother and Father teach us how to use play to further our lives and the lives of others. Chase those dreams your younger self had. Manifest them into reality.

And finally, bring forth creation through art, music, dance, writing, poetry, and the like. Create beautiful masterpieces without a care for what others may think. Sing like no one can hear you and dance like no one is watching. When you release your inhibitions, you release your soul. This is the true meaning of the Mother and Father aspects.

For those of you currently in Mother/Father without children, how do live the aspect? Please share in the comments below.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Book Review: Honoring Your Ancestors- A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise

Book Review: Honoring Your Ancestors- A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise

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 noticed that as I have become more experienced in the Craft, I have turned away from reading and purchasing "spell books." It's not that these books aren't good; its that the information is often the same every single time, and I am tired of reading about moon phases, the elements, the Wheel of the Year, and all the other introductory stuff that comes with it. Besides, I like writing my own spells so much more. So lately I have been reading books that introduce different practices within the Craft, whether it be death rituals from around the world, incorporating Druidism into hedgecraft, or in this case, ancestor veneration. Ancestor veneration has become more of an interest of mine as of late due to my experiences as a hedgewitch. I most often work with my animal guides, but find myself wanting more. Furthermore, I wish to develop a more daily-type of practice, although a very simple one. I would like this daily practice to focus on hedgecraft and spirit work, and Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise has given me soooooo much to think about!

I am absolutely in love with this book. It's practical, easy to read, and relatively short. The few spells and rituals are thought out and their inclusion is important to the lessons taught in each chapter. When I read new books, I often leave a lot of the text with the book, taking only bits and pieces of new information and ideas as I find them. This book, however, I took almost all of it with me and left very little, if anything, behind. Vaudoise, a spiritualist of Italian descent, speaks from her personal experiences with her ancestral veneration practice and how she has used a combination of practices sacred to her family and ancestors to determine how to honor them. Her advice is practical and applicable to all those interested in ancestor veneration, whether it be to aid in your spellwork or to bring you comfort.

Each chapter ends with some questions to be answered in a journal, Book of Shadows, or just thought about. The questions are thought-provoking and guide the reader in beginning their own ancestral veneration practice. I felt some of the questions were...blah, so I didn't answer those. I guess the answers felt obvious to me or as if the answer didn't apply to what I was wishing to do. Vaudoise makes it clear you should take what you want and leave the rest. I appreciate her candor and her encouragement to create your own practice. It was her candor and honesty that I loved most about this book. She mentions how when she first started out she bought tons of ritual tools and supplies, only to never use them in her craft. I remember being guilty of this. Actually, I still am. Haha! I often buy witchy things because I like them, not always because I will use them. The majority of my magic uses nothing or very little items. I related to Vaudoise draw to folk magic and simplicity, and appreciate that her book took the same approach. On top of all this, her book is well researched and uses science to support her practice. Anything that includes science, and does so correctly, scores loads of points with me.

If you are interested in working more with your ancestors as part of your practice, especially if you're a hedgewitch, this book 100% gets my approval. Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration by Mallorie Vaudoise will be available September 8, 2019. Looking to find out more about Mallorie Vaudoise? She is also the author and blogger behind

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bone Magic Series: Working With the Spirits of Animal Remains: Crossing Over & Contracting

Bone Magic Series: Working With the Spirits of Animal Remains: Crossing Over & Contracting

Now its all well and good to find or purchase animal remains, especially bones, but what happens to the spirit of the animal that originally inhabited those bones, and may still be inhabiting them? Should you help the animal cross over? Contract it? Leave it the hell alone? These are the questions you need to ask yourself and the animal spirit you encounter. Each spirit is different and therefore no two experiences will be the same.

You will most often encounter an animal spirit attached to their remains if you come across the bones in the wild. Unfortunately, animal spirits tend to vacate bones handled by large suppliers, even those I mentioned in my previous post How to Ethically Acquire Animal Remains. Of course, this isn't always the case, but from my experience, purchased remains tend to be spirit free. So what should you do when you come across remains in nature? First, approach the remains with the utmost respect, just as you would human remains. Remember, this was a living creature with its own hopes, dreams, and fears. Close your eyes and open yourself to any spirit that may still be hanging out in the remains. If after a few minutes, nothing speaks to you, the animal spirit has likely moved on. If you choose to take the remains, thank the animal, even though they are not there for other spirits are watching you, for the gift and treat the remains with care and dignity. You may wish to leave a bit of yourself behind as thanks. Strands of your own hair, a drop of your blood, or some of your saliva are all acceptable offerings.

If the animal spirit still resides within the remains, you have one of three options: help the spirit cross over, contract the spirit, or leave it be. With the proper protections in place, open up your thoughts to the spirit and ask what it would like. If the spirit tells you to bugger off, thank the spirit for its time and move along. Do not come back to the remains later in hopes that the spirit has moved on. It told you no; accept that answer. Just like you have bodily autonomy (or should), so do animals. You have no rights to any of its remains, especially once it has told you no. If the spirit wishes for your aid in crossing over, ask it how best you can help it transition. Depending on how the animal lived and died, they may be extremely fearful, angry, or sad. Listen to what the spirit has to say and try your best to help guide its soul into the other world. So how exactly do you go about doing this?

There are lots of guides online that all suggest different methods. I prefer to simply listen to the animal spirit tell its story. Sometimes that's all the animal needs to do and they will cross over once their story is over with. For those particularly resistant animal spirits, ask them if you can help guide them toward the light. If they say they need the assistance, sit next to the remains and ask if you may touch them. If the animal says yes, place your hand gently on the remains (unless it's a freaking opossum then don't freaking touch it), close your eyes and call upon your guides to aid you in helping the animal spirit cross over. If the animal does not wish to be touched, simply hover your hand over the remains. Enter into a meditative state and visualize a golden orb of light surrounding you and the animal spirit. This golden orb of light, as you focus on it, will engulf the animal spirit, pull it from the remains, and gently carry it into the Otherworld. Ask the wind and rain to wash away any resentment, fear, or inhibitions and say something like, "May your spirit find comfort and joy on the other side. Go swiftly and safely into the great beyond." The two times I have done this, Meka, my fox animal guide, has come to comfort the animal spirit and aided in their transition. Your animal guides will likely do the same, although you should be cautious if your animal guide is a predator and the animal spirit crossing over is a prey animal. They may be scared of your guide and refuse to leave. Use your best judgment. For some reason, no animal I have encountered, living or nonliving, has been afraid of Meka. Her heart is so absolutely pure and comforting, that everyone feels at ease around her. I would never ask Rocar to assist in a crossing over. He is too abrasive and obnoxious.

If the spirit wishes to remain and doesn't ask you to leave it alone, ask it if it would like to work with you in your magical workings. If it agrees, offer the spirit a contract. Your contract is to protect you and the spirit and make it abundantly clear what each of you should expect from the other. It sets boundaries and rules, as well as lets the spirit know what you will be offering it in return from its services. Sometimes a spirit may want to come home with you simply to be with you and yours. All it wants is a loving home and in return will watch over you and your family. Other times, the spirit will be more demanding. It's okay to negotiate, but be firm in what you will and will not do. Begin with a verbal contract and upon returning home, write the contract within your spirit journal or Book of Shadows. Sign and date and be sure to read it to the spirit and accept their "signature." Their signature can be a "verbal" agreement or you can use a pendulum or tarot cards to exact a yes. For example, 2 out of 3 upright cards indicates a yes while the pendulum swinging to yes or in whatever direction you have determined as yes means, well, yes. Below is an example of what your contract could look like:

"I, [insert name here], enter into an agreement with [name of the animal spirit or species if not given]. In exchange for magical assistance, spiritual advisement, and enhanced magical perception, I offer [insert offering agreement here]. In order to fulfill this contract, [name of the animal spirit/species] shall not require more than what was originally agreed upon without negotiating and shall only work in my favor and for the highest will. Failure to do so will result in the termination of our agreement." (modified from Devon Hunter's The Witch's Book of Spirits.)

Finally, ask if you may take its remains back with you to your house and if it has a particular bone it wants you to take with you. This bone will be the house for the spirit and usually animal spirits prefer their skull, although not always. I have read from other witches that their animal spirits preferred toe bones, teeth, or ribs over the skull. Take only what the animal spirits says you may take. Again, bodily autonomy. Respect the spirit's wishes. Before you clean the remains, ask the spirit if it's okay. I have a coyote skull that has not been cleaned because the coyote said no. Perfectly fine with me.

Working with animal spirits is such a delight. They bring a power to your magic like no other. They are often kind and generous as well as loving and protective of the witches that care for them in death. Remember to always be respectful and in return, they will be some of your best magical allies. Honor your agreement and be sure to offer them what they wish in return. Coyote is happy to sit on my bookshelf among my favorite books, wanting nothing more in return than a prominent spot to watch the going on's in my home. He has been my longest animal spirit companion, going on 10 years, and I enjoy just looking at him among my books when I sit on my emerald green couch to read a good book. Sometimes I even read aloud to him. Have you contracted an animal spirit or helped one cross over? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.

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

Bone Magic Series

Monday, August 19, 2019

Herbarium: Goldenrod

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Goldenrod

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Air
Powers: Divination, Love, Money
Magical Uses and History: Goldenrod is a hearty wildflower found in many parts of the world. It usually blooms in late summer, spreading rapidly and attracts birds, bees, and butterflies plenty, lending to its association with prosperity and money. Folklore suggests that if goldenrod suddenly springs up in your yard that prosperity and money will soon follow.

According to other legends, goldenrod stems have been used as dowsing rods. The flower is said to bob when the seeker points the stem in the right direction. Furthermore, by wearing goldenrod flowers it is said you will cross paths the following day with your future lover. If you are looking to seal the deal, offer them some goldenrod tea. The dried leaves and flowers can be burned to enhance love spells and increase intuition during divination magic.

Goldenrod contains about 7% rubber naturally. Thomas Edison, through experimentation, bred goldenrod that grew about six feet tall and contained 12% rubber. The tires on his Model T Ford were subsequently made with goldenrod rubbed and Edison, Ford, Firestone, and Washington Carve teamed up to experiment further to increase rubber content and create tires made fully of goldenrod rubber. Unfortunately, synthetic rubber hit the scene soon after and the project was dropped. However, because of the high rubber content, goldenrod can be used in bouncing back spells, whether it be to reflect someone's actions back at them or to help you bounce back from a loss or grief.

Goldenrod can be used in a number of spells including:
    Money Spells
    Prosperity Magic
    Love Spells

Medicinal Uses: Despite its association with allergies, goldenrod pollen is not carried by wind and therefore not often the cause of allergies. Goldenrod, however, is an anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and a diuretic. It is often used to treat upper respiratory catarrh and influenza, especially when paired with echinacea, cudweed, or pokeweed root. It can also be used in a poultice to heal wounds, and as a gargle to treat laryngitis and pharyngitis. Being a diuretic, dried goldenrod can be used to flush the kidneys and bladder to help pass stones. Historically, Native Americans used goldenrod tea to relieve cramps and other pain caused by inflammation and chewed the root to relieve toothaches, sore throat, and mouth sores. After the Boston Tea Party, American colonists realized that had lost their favorite drink. Shortly after they discovered that goldenrod leaves made an excellent tea, and soon it came to be known as Liberty Tea.

Preparation and Dosage: To prepare a tea, pour a cup of boiling water onto 2-3 teaspoon fulls of dried herb and allow it to steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. For a gargle, combine 2-3 tablespoons of the dried herb with one cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes and gargle up to three times a day. The gargle may be swallowed. If taking a tincture, take 2-4 milliliters of tincture a day. The tincture can also be used as a wound wash to prevent infection and speed healing. Fresh herb can be chewed briefly and placed on a wound to speed healing as well (aka create a poultice).

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!
Magical and Medicinal Uses of Goldenrod

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Guest Post: 3 Ways To Develop & Deepen Your Psychic Abilities

3 Ways To Develop & Deepen Your Psychic Abilities

Guest post by Shale Green from Witchcraft Way.

Intuition is a strong ally in connecting with the physical world around you. It's possible to deepen that connection and branch into the metaphysical world as well by opening up your psychic abilities even more.

It's important to exercise your third eye just like you would any other part of your body in order to keep it in tip-top shape. In order to further develop your connection to your sixth sense, you have to give yourself time to focus your energy on it.

Here are 3 effective methods that will help you to develop your psychic abilities on a daily basis. These will work for those who are walking a new path as well as you seasoned witchy goddesses alike.

1. Meditate

Meditation is a key part of keeping yourself grounded and deepening your connection to your psychic abilities. You may want to spend 15 minutes a day meditating to help raise your body's natural vibration. These periods of meditation can be done solo or you can use guided meditations to help you better set your mind on your goals.

Another effective way to meditate is to take a walk through nature. Being surrounded by nature will aid in relaxing your body and mind. You can employ some practices of mindfulness meditation by focusing on the way your body moves when you walk or by counting your breaths.

Spending a few minutes each day focusing on your third eye can do wonders for deepening your connection to it and even help it open more. Focus your mind and energy on the spot just above where your eyebrows meet and imagine your third eye opening up. It's natural to feel a tingling sensation when you put so much concentration into it.

2. Journal Writing 

Writing things down is a good way to better connect to them and put them in the forefront of your mind. When you spend the time to handwrite, you can better focus on what it is you need to focus on. By writing down things you need help finding clarity on, you put more energy into those things. This can result in bringing you the answers you seek.

A good practice in developing your psychic abilities is to keep a journal or list of the symbols you are given. By recording what a symbol means to you when you see it, you can more easily understand messages.

You can also ask your spirit guides to give you certain symbols, such as what you might receive if love is involved. Maybe it's the image of a heart or a warm tingling in your chest. By learning about how things are communicated to you, it will be easier for you to interpret what you receive.

A dream journal is another good way to help deepen your psychic abilities. Messages can easily come through your dreams, so you should write down any significant ones you have. You can also write down how you would interpret it before seeking other sources to find out what it means.

3. Practice 

As with anything, practice makes perfect. The more you use your psychic abilities, the better you'll be at utilizing them. Don't be afraid to get things wrong every now and then, you probably just don't know what something means yet. Practice regularly on willing friends and family to give your abilities a stretch.

You can spend some time in an antique store or somewhere similar where a lot of pre-owned objects are present. Walk around the store and focus on how you're feeling. What energies are around you? You may be drawn to certain objects and be able to find out more about them or the person that owned them.

Using old photographs is a good way to exercise your abilities as well. Find pictures of people you know little or nothing about. Spend some time with each picture and try to feel out anything you can about the people in them. Write down whatever you receive in case you can have someone verify it later.

Don't Get Discouraged 

Just like any skill, getting more in tune with your psychic abilities takes time and effort on your part. You should do your best to devote a little bit of time each day to deepen your connection to any ability you’re trying to enhance.

Don’t give up on yourself easily. You may not see the small changes as they happen, but when you look back you will start to notice how far you’ve come. The energy you spend on yourself will pay off in the end.

Shale Green is a green witch, born under Pisces, and a seeker of the mysteries of nature. He currently spends his time writing and being in the woods. Find more from Shale at and on Instagram

Monday, August 12, 2019

August Full Moon Worksheet

August Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is in Aquarius on the 15th and is opposite Venus. This means that you should expect strife and drama in your relationships. Work and home are likely going to oppose each other, so this is a time to be patient and understanding, recognizing that this too shall pass. Work with the Full Moon's energy to find and target these problem areas so you and your loved ones can work through these stresses together. This month's worksheet contains a three-card tarot spread to help you figure out your feelings, your partner's feelings, and how these feelings are affecting your relationship. As always there are also sections for what you want to release and charge, and any intuitive thoughts you receive during the Full Moon.

August Full Moon Worksheet


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

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lammas Altar 2019

Lammas Altar 2019

First of all, I apologize for this post being late. School has started back and I have been planning, teaching, and sitting in meetings every day! Yay being back to work. Haha! Lammas begins our season of harvest, being the first of the harvest festivals. Summer is not quite over yet and the fruits and vegetables are riping quickly. In some parts of the world, wheat is being harvested and set aside to make flour and bread for the upcoming winter months. Summer squash, zucchini, peaches, and grapes are also being picked, especially here in Georgia, and prepared for small feasts. The Earth's bountiful harvest is beginning and the Sun is still bright and powerful in the sky. However, this harvest we begin to see the changes as the days grow ever shorter and the evenings begin to cool. This is a great time to thank the Earth and Sun for all they are providing us with while still spending time outdoors, soaking up the last of the rays before Winter comes calling.

Lammas Altar 2019

1. White Candles & 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 us with the grains, fruits, and vegetables we are harvesting this season. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $1 for 2 pillar candles, candlesticks $1 each, jar candles $1 each)

2. IvyThe silk ivy represents wealth, abundance, and fertility, as well as the Sun (Horned God) who is helping the plants grow in strength and ripen fruits and vegetables. It encircles the candles and the other components of the altar to symbolize how the Sun and Earth work together to provide life. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

3. Plastic Grapes- Grapes are often harvested at this time, some being turned to wine while others are enjoyed as a snack or paired with cheese and crackers. The red grapes represent the first of the harvest crops as well as the feminine and blood, the "life-giver." (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

Lammas Altar 2019

4. Moss Agate- Moss agate is a wonderful crystal as it attracts abundance and prosperity thus aiding in plant growth and guaranteeing a healthy, bountiful harvest, which is so important during a harvest festival. There are three of these crystals encircling the flowers to represent the Sun, Earth, and Moon and how the three work together to bring life into existence. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Store; Cost: ~3)

Lammas Altar 2019

5. Marigolds and Black-eyed Susans in a Mason Jar- My garden is in full bloom, covered in Marigolds and Black-eyed Susans. I took some fresh cuttings from my garden to represent the bountiful harvest from the Earth at this time and bring some of my garden into my home. Being yellow in color, both of these flowers also represent the Sun, who lends his strength to help my garden grow. (Where did I get it: Target or My Garden; Cost: Free or $0.50 for mason jar)

Lammas 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. It is placed behind the flowers to show how our world and the Otherworld are parallel to one another, connected by those of us who travel between the worlds. (Where did I get it: Found; Cost: $0)

7. Wheat- Lammas is first and foremost a bread holiday and you can't have a Lammas altar without wheat somewhere on it. I placed three sprigs of wheat to represent abundance and the central focus on this holiday. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

Lammas Altar 2019

Lammas Altar 2019

TOTAL COST: ~$10.50

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 Lammas this year? I ate a peach. For real, that's what I did. It was my first day back to work and all I wanted to do was sit outside with my chickens and eat peaches, so that's what I did! Haha!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Spirit Work for Lammas

Spirit Work for Lammas

Lammas secularly falls on August 1st, which is quickly approaching. I should know...I go back to work on August 1st for preplanning. Can I please have another month? Anyway, like every sabbat, there is spirit work to be done on Lammas, if you wish to. Being the first of the harvest festivals, this is a good time to start thanking Mother Earth and the Sun for all they have provided for us as well as the spirits of the plants that produced the foods we are harvesting. The Sun is still strong at Lammas, but we are beginning to see the shift toward darkness. The nights are getting cooler and the days shorter, but there is still summer fun yet to be had...unless you are going to back school August-freaking-first...

1. Eat a fortune cookie. 

I know this sounds so cliche, but fortune cookies are a modern-day example of aleuromancy or wheat-flour divination. Aleuromancy comes from the Greek words aleuron (flour) and manteia (divination) and was a form of divination presided over by Apollo. Historically, handwritten messages were baked into bread, cakes, or cookies. The balls of dough were mixed up 9 times before being distributed to those waiting to divine their futures. Modern-day fortune cookies are a form of aleuromancy. However, instead of simply cracking open the cookie and reading the note inside, ask the spirits a question first. Shuffle a bag of fortune cookies nine times then select a cookie to open using your intuition as your guide. The fortune on the paper may not exactly answer your question, and if it doesn't try interpreting the "lucky" numbers on the back. This is a fun, secretly witchy activity to do with friends and family to celebrate Lammas or whenever you have a gathering!

2. Reflect on your spiritual practice. 

Lammas is a sort of in-between time. Summer is ending but it's not quite Fall. Mabon is traditionally the time for giving thanks, so why not spend Lammas reflecting on your spiritual practice and figuring out how you can improve? Begin by lighting a silver candle. Silver is associated with the Moon and feminine energy and is often used like a mirror to help with reflecting magic and illuminating changes that must occur to continue to move forward. Essentially, silver is a great color for self-reflecting. If you don't have a silver candle, white will work just as well. Ask the spirits to help guide you as you reflect on your spiritual practice and how you can continue to grow as a witch. You can close your eyes to receive images or stare into the flame and/or smoke and interpret the pattern. As you meditate, write down any messages you receive or thoughts you have. Spend some time thinking about your strengths, weakness, how you can improve, and how you can help others. Be sure to write down everything in your BOS or journal. Once you have finished, devise an action plan. How are you going to improve your weaknesses? Are you going to read more books on the subject, take a class, or practice? How are you going to share your gifts with others so they may grow as well? The next Full Moon, reflect on how well you are moving toward your goals. Continue this reflection for at least 3 moon cycles.

3. Thank the plant spirits for their bountiful harvest.

Honoring the plants that provide us with food and nourishment is important, especially during the first harvest. If you are growing fruits, vegetables, or herbs in your yard leave them an offering of some sort. It can be a simple as an extra bit of water, a beautiful crystal, a piece of bread, or some compost/manure/fertilizer. If you want to have a more elaborate ritual to thank you plants for all they have provided you with, hold it on Lammas with candles, offerings, music, and some written lines thanking them for what they have done for you this year. Even if you aren't growing fruits, vegetables, or herbs, you can thank the spirits of the local plants and trees in your area as well. They have provided you with oxygen, shade, and are helping to reduce the amount of CO2 in the environment. That is pretty awesome too.

Spirit work doesn't always have to be intricate or involve traveling to the Otherworld. Sometimes its as easy as honoring the life around us, reflecting, and opening a fortune cookie. However you decide to practice spirit work this sabbat, be sure you are also respectful and kind. What spirit work do you like to perform on Lammas?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Bone Magic Series: Cleaning and Preserving Animal Remains

Bone Magic Series: Cleaning and Preserving Animal Remains

Now that you have started to acquire some animal remains, you may find yourself wondering how to clean them. Of course, if you buy from an online retailer they will come nice and cleaned to you, but finding them in nature is another story. I have some bones I have found that I haven't cleaned because I loved how they looked and the animal spirit residing in the bone or skull wished for it to remain just the way I found it. The coyote skull I have is one such example. If you have seen it in my rituals, spells, and altars, the skull is covered in lichen. Eventually, the skull will break down, but I respectfully left the skull as it was at the request of the coyote spirit. Other bones and skulls I have, however, either don't have a spirit or the spirit was totally fine with me cleaning their vessel. Always ask before you clean any bones you found. The last thing you want to do is upset the animal spirits or drive them away from their resting place.

So how should you clean the animal remains you find? This is by no means going to be a complete guide, but I have included links to articles and videos to fill in the gaps.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


There are several methods to clean bones if you so wish. Most people agree that bleach, even in low concentrations, is harmful to the bones and will cause degradation over time so you will find no bleach here!

1. Flesh Removal

If you come across bones that still have flesh on them, such as roadkill or bones purchased from a butcher, you need to begin by removing the flesh. You have several options here depending on time, equipment, and smell tolerance!

Slow Cooker Method 1

First and foremost, you don't want to boil the bones. Boiling causes the bones to become weak and brittle, just as cooking them does. I know lots of people used chicken bones from rotisserie chickens, and that is perfectly fine, but the bones are much more brittle and prone to breakage than bones that have not been cooked or boiled.

For the first slow cooker method, all you will need is a slow cooker, slow cooker liner (to prevent the flesh from permeating into your slow cooker and to help with clean up), water, and the remains.  Remove as much flesh as possible prior to cooking. This can take some time and if the remains have begun to rot, this is going to smell horrid. Place the liner in the slow cooker. Sit the remains in the liner and fill with water until the remains are covered. Set the slow cooker to 165° F or the low/medium setting. Make sure to check your manual to figure out which setting will be closest to 165° F.  Again, you do not want to boil the remains. Depending on the size of the remains, it should cook anywhere between 4 and 24 hours. A pig head takes about 24 hours. If it is larger than a pig head, you're going to need to cook it longer, but I can't fit anything larger than that in my slow cooker so you'll likely go with a different method.

After cooking the remains, you will need to remove any remaining flesh and scrub the bones well with dish soap. Nonscoring pads, dish brushes, and bottle brushes are best for this as they won't scratch or damage the bones. Again, this is going to smell horrid, especially if there is any brain left behind. You might want a mask and some candles burning.

Slow Cooker Method 2

This method uses all of the above items as well as a biological washing powder to speed up the process and make the bones easier to clean. A biological washing powder is any powdered detergent that contains enzymes. These enzymes break down the fats and proteins in the remaining flesh, making it easier to remove whatever remains after cooking. To find a biological powder, look for any powdered detergent that contains enzymes (protease) or order some Bio-Tex off Amazon.

As before, place everything in the slow cooker and set your slow cooker to a low setting. Add 1-2 tablespoons of biological washing powder. Depending on the remains, allow to slow cook for 4-24 hours. You want the water to remain warm throughout the process but not hot, otherwise, the enzymes will not activate or will denature. At low temperatures, the enzyme protease will not function. At high temperatures, protease will break down (denature) and no longer work. Once the remains are removed from the slow cooker, be sure you wash them really well to remove all the enzymes and remaining flesh. You don't want the enzymes to continue breaking down the bone!


This method is often referred to as the "cold" water method and smells awful, but it is super effective for small remains like fish, amphibians, bats, and mice. You will need a large plastic bucket with a lid or a mason jar for really small remains. Place the animal remains, with as much flesh removed as possible, in the bucket or jar and fill with warm water until the remains are covered. Do not use hot or boiling water as it will kill the bacteria. Cover the container, but do not completely seal it. Lack of oxygen will slow down the process. Sit in a warm location, under a heat lamp (mason jar), or place an aquarium incubator into the bucket set to 95° F.  You want the temperature to remain around 95° F for the duration of the process to help the process. After two days, change the water, leaving some of the original water in the container to maintain the bacteria colony. You can remove flesh from the remains at this time as well, especially if there is a lot of fat left behind. You don't want the fat to accumulate in the bones. One day 5, check the remains again. If there is still a lot of tissue left, allow the remains to macerate longer. This process can take up to 14 days. After 14 days, remove the remains and clean them as best you can.

Dermestid Beetles

If you have space and you know what you are doing, dermestid beetles, aka flesh-eating beetles, are a less smelly way to clean your bones. However, you are going to need to consistently provide your beetles with food, so if you are only looking to clean a few remains, dermestid beetles are not for you. They should also be kept in a large tank with proper bedding in a warm place. If they get too cold they won't eat. Furthermore, dermestid beetles are best for small remains with little flesh. It takes time for the beetles to eat and if there is too much flesh on the bones, the inner flesh will begin to rot. Dermestid beetles prefer fresh flesh to rotting flesh. If you want to use larger remains, remove some of the flesh prior to feeding the beetles. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks for the beetles to do their work. Once they are done, simply follow one of the cleaning methods below. You can order a dermestid beetle kit here or call local wildlife centers and taxidermists to see if they have beetles open to public use.


This method is easy, less smelly, but time-consuming and slightly risky. If done incorrectly, you can end up preserving the entire animal, losing bones, or damaging them. If you plan to bury, leave the animal remains above ground for 2-3 days. This will allow flies to lay eggs. Once the larvae hatch (maggots) they will begin eating the flesh, even if buried underground. If you are burying smaller remains, place them in a thin muslin bag to keep the remains together. For larger animals, you might consider a wire mesh. Bury the remains in drier soil. Avoid very wet soil and sand as this can preserve the remains. Mark where you buried the remains and allow them to sit for several months. The larger the remains, the longer they should remain buried.

Laying Out

This is super risky and smelly but effective. Leaving animal remains to rot on the surface do so quickly and effectively, but you run the risk of humans and animals alike making off with your remains. However, Mother Nature is much better at cleaning bones than we are. Simply leave the remains above the surface for 3-12 months depending on the location and size of the remains. You will want to cover them in a wire mesh or cage to prevent animals and humans from taking the remains. Foxes and coyotes will run off with bits and pieces and take them miles away if you're not careful. Another method is to place smaller remains underneath a weighted flower pot. This allows flies to move in and out and keeps predators out.

2. Degreasing

Degreasing the bones is an important step if you used many of the methods above. While you don't have to degrease the bones if you laid them out of buried them, it is still a useful cleaning step so why not do it anyway? Simply mix together warm water and Dawn dish soap and allow the bones to sit in the water-soap solution for 24 hours. This will remove both dirt and fat residue left over from the defleshing process.

3. Bleaching (without bleach!)

There are two methods to "bleaching" or whitening bones. The first is the hydrogen peroxide method, which also helps sterilize the bones. The second is sunning them I do during the drying process. Once you have cleaned and degreased the bones, place them in a container and cover with 3% hydrogen peroxide. This will disinfect and bleach the bones without causing them to degrade. It can take 3 hours to a week for the bones to whiten to the color you wish them to be. Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped and the bone is completely covered.

4. Drying

After everything is said and done, allow the bones to air dry in the sun if possible for a couple of days. If they are not completely dry after a couple of days, place them on some newspaper and allow them to dry near a heat source. Do not place them directly on the heat source as this could cause the bone to crack.


Feathers have a very different process of cleaning than bones. They are much more fragile and don't need to have any fleshed removed. You can clean them in a soapy water bath or wipe them down with baby wipes. When you dry them, be sure to rub them back into the correct position and dry them on a flat surface. Do not place in direct sunlight. After washing and drying them, place them in the freezer for about a week to kill any bugs or mites that may still be left on the feathers.

If you are looking at preserving an entire bird wing, try the borax method. In a cardboard box, sprinkle an inch of borax on the bottom. Place the bird wing on top of the borax then cover it with a thin layer of borax. The borax will dry out the tissue and mummify the wing while simultaneously disinfecting the feathers.

Other Animal Remains

Most other animals remain such as teeth, claws, and shells can be cleaning with soap and water. Furs and pelts can be washed in a mild soap and water bath and should be immediately hung up to dry in a warm place. Do not place pelts or furs in the sun as this will cause fading. Organs and organ tissue should be preserved in a preservative fluid as recommended by a taxidermist. If you are looking to use something quickly in a spell, like a fresh sheep heart or cow tongue, usually the spell requires burying or tossing the parts away after use. Store these items in a fridge or freezer prior to use.

Below are some amazing resources regarding cleaning and preserving animal remains.

Cleaning and Preserving Animal Skulls by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
Jake's Bones (blog)- Covers everything you could possibly think of regarding cleaning animal remains.
Bones at Home- how to properly care for your bones once they are clean
Sanitizing Feathers for Crafts by Dara Trahan
The Best Way to Clean Seashells Without Ruining Them by Dawn Henthron
Wet Specimens- A General Guide by Mickey Alice Kwapis
Wet Specimens- An Updated Post (with a little history lesson) by Mickey Alice Kwapis
Link Round Up- Bone Cleaning by Mickey Alice Kwapis

Whatever method you chose, always make sure you are following safe procedures and following all local laws. If you are concerned about smell, legality, time, or space, buying bones from an ethical online source is fine. It doesn't make you less witchy to buy them. Do you have a preferred cleaning method?

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

Bone Magic Series