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Monday, January 28, 2019

Spirit Work for Imbolc

Spirit Work for Imbolc

All the sabbats, contrary to popular belief, are great for working and connecting with the Otherworld. Imbolc, one of the fire festivals, celebrates the coming of Spring and the return of the Sun. With these themes in mind, here are 3 ways to connect and work with spirits on Imbolc.

1. Meet and greet your house spirits.

Every home has a spirit of its own as well as house spirits that you may or may not be aware of. Imbolc is a great time to meet and get to know them, as this is a time for new beginnings. This is also the time for "spring cleaning," and it is important that you work with the spirits of your home during any such deep cleaning or purging to avoid upsetting them. You may even end up finding them extremely helpful in the process as well! Examples of such spirits include Brownies, Hobs, Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Domovoy, and Tomtes. I grew up hearing about Tomtes, especially when something that was missing was suddenly found in plain sight, so this is often the name I use when I refer to my household spirit and guardian. With your Grimoire or Book of Shadows close at hand, sit on the floor in a central location of your home. Begin by closing your eyes and trying to sense your home's spirit, not your guardian spirit. What does your home feel like to you? Does it have an aura? If so, what color is it? Does it have a voice? Spend roughly 5 to 10 minutes sensing your home and gathering as much information as you can. When you are done, thank your house for providing you with warmth and shelter, and jot down any notes regarding your experience.

Spirit Work for Imbolc: House Spirits

After you have met your house's spirit, its time to see if you have a home guardian spirit. The best place for this type of work is in the kitchen. Close your eyes and search your home's energy for anything unusual, especially around the stove. Since you have already met your home's spirit, you will be able to distinguish its energy from any other presence that may be residing there. Don't be upset if you can't find anything. It doesn't necessarily mean you don't have a household guardian, it may be that they are hiding from you. If you are able to sense something, greet it, and ask what it is and if it has a name it would like you to call it. Household spirits will generally identify themselves if you ask them directly, as they are there to keep you and the home safe. Make sure to thank them before you are done with a small offering. Milk, honey, or some bread work nicely. Write down anything you experienced. If you are unable to sense the spirit, leave an offering all the same on top of the stove. Continue to try to sense your household spirit for up to 3 days. If you are still unable to make a connection, you may not have a home guardian spirit and should consider inviting one in.

2. Cleanse your spirit.

As I mentioned before, spring cleaning starts around Imbolc, so why not cleanse your own spirit? I know witches are more likely to ritualistically cleanse themselves, but when was the last time you truly practiced self-care instead of just saging yourself? Yeah, that's what I thought. To cleanse your spirit, why not take a white bath? This recipe is adapted from Devin Hunter's recipe in his book The Witch's Book of Spirit. I have tried a lot of bath recipes, but this one is by far the best at deep cleaning your spirit. It is inspired by a New Orleans-style Voodoo recipe to cleanse you both spiritually, mentally, and physically.

2 cups sea salt
2 cups Epsom salt
3 tablespoons cascarilla (powdered egg shell)
13 drops sage essential oil or 1/4 fresh sage that has been ripped or cut to release the aroma
2 cups milk (any variety)

Begin by drawing a bath. While the bath is still filling, mix the salts, egg shells, and sage together in a white bowl (white symbolizing purity here). As you do so, empower the mixture with your intent. Place the bowl under the running water and allow the mixture to swirl around until the bowl overflows. Dump the contents into the bath and finish filling the tub. Once the tub is filled, draw a pentacle with your hand above the water and pour the milk through the center of it. In your mind's eye, push the pentacle into the water. If you wish, you can cast a spell over the bathwater or simply state your intention. Hunter has a beautifully written spell that you can find on page 89 and 90 of his book.

Once the milk has been added, you have roughly 30 minutes before the milk sours. The combination of sage and hot water causes this reaction, but you may notice that the worse off you are energetically, the stinker the bath gets. When you are done, drain the water counterclockwise (you can do this by swirling the water counterclockwise a couple of times), seeing all negatively wash away with it. Remember to shower afterwards, allowing the running water to wash away anything that may remain. Do not wash with soap For this particular bath, you should dry off with a white towel to remain pure. Afterward, spend some time in silence, meditating and clearing your mind.

This is a really great way to prepare for hedge riding or to unwind after a particularly stressful day. It's also a great way to cleanse yourself after you have done a deep space clearing in your home. When you deep clean your house and spiritually cleanse it, sometimes stale or negative energies get stuck to you. This bath is a surefire way to flush them away.

Spirit Work for Imbolc


3. Practice weather divination, such as nephomancy and chiromancy.

Any form of divination is spirit work, as the messages we receive and interpret come from the spirit world. Every year, cities around the world release a groundhog to predict the coming of Spring. I doubt many of you have access to a groundhog, but there are other forms of weather divination you can practice this time of year. Nephomancy is the art of studying the size and shape of clouds while chiromancy is interpreting the pictures we see in the clouds. On a sunny day, spend some time seeking messages from the clouds. Begin by meditating for a moment or two on your question. Ask your guides to provide you an answer through the clouds. After you are sure your guides have heard you, begin watching those white, fluffy masses move across the sky. Write down what you see and predict in your Grimoire or Book of Shadows. Nephomancy and chiromancy are great ways to hone your divination skills. It will make you a better hedge rider and diviner in the long run, plus who doesn't like watching the clouds. It is so relaxing.


What ways do you connect with the spirit world on Imbolc? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Working with the Land: 5 Ways to Practice Local Witchcraft

5 Ways to Practice Local Witchcraft

In witchcraft, there is no one book that contains all of our knowledge of the practice. Instead, we rely on dozens, if not hundreds, of books to learn our Craft and our place in it. We buy books on a range of witchy and occult topics, filling bookshelf after bookshelf with our collection in hopes that we can learn everything we can. I love reading books on witchcraft and the occult. I love to learn about other people's experiences and the knowledge they have accumulated through years of study and practice. Unfortunately, much of witchcraft is based on practices handed down by witches of European descent. Just about every single book on witchcraft rehashes the same old information, from the Celtic Wheel of the Year to the elements and cardinal directions. Almost all of these practices come from Europe, specifically England, Ireland, and Scotland, with some Norse thrown in there if they talk about runes. Sometimes you will see a bit of Hindu and Native American traditions thrown into the mix, but otherwise, it's largely English (unless you read specifically about a different tradition) There is nothing wrong with this; modern witchcraft and Wicca are based on English and Irish traditions, so it makes sense that most books pull from the same sources that began this resurgence of witchcraft around the world in the first place. However, the longer I have practiced, the more I have come to realize that "traditional" European witchcraft isn't always possible, especially for those that do not live in England!

What do you mean, "it isn't possible?" Every book on my shelf makes references to trees and herbs and even some wildlife that are mostly found in England or in northern North America. If you have been keeping up with me, you know I do not live in England, and I most certainly do not live up North, as much as I may want to. I am stuck in Georgia, a very southern state with hair-raisingly high humidity, melt-your-skin-off summers, and depressingly, rainy winters. I live in the northern part of Georgia, where we have mountains and forests, but just a little south of me the entire terrane changes. Needless to say, I don't have access to rowan or birch trees, hedgerows full of healing herbs and sweet fruits, fresh maple syrup, or even snow (although occasionally we are graced with its presence). Instead, I have pine trees and live oaks, poison ivy, Spanish moss, fire ants, and muscadines. Very different plants grow down here and a lot of those "witchy" plants books always talk about won't survive the summers here, so even if I wanted to grow them in my garden, they wouldn't make it. This is why learning to practice local witchcraft is so important, but where is a witch to begin?

Local witchcraft refers to working with the plants, animals, crystals, and spirits of the land where you live. Witchcraft, especially traditional witchcraft, which is historical, cultural, and folkloric in nature, is highly based on animism. Animism is the belief that all things, living and nonliving, have a spirit and thus vibrate with its own energy. This practice can easily be applied to any witch, no matter their location. Here are some ways you can introduce local witchcraft into your magical workings.


1. Get outside.

This is first and foremost the most important part of local witchcraft. Sit in a local park, go for a hike, or even sit in your front yard. Spend some time relaxing and observing the world around you. Take note of anything or everything you see. Attempt to feel the personality and atmosphere of the place. This in and of itself is a very magical experience. If you want to, write some of these observations down so you can research them later to see their significance or how you can use certain living and nonliving things from your local environment in your spell work. The notes you take while you are just observing will help you later and can get you started on new pages in your Grimoire or Book of Shadows!



2. Adjust your liturgy to your location.

Used a big word there! Liturgy is the form or formula you use during a religious or spiritual act. What I mean to say is, when you set up your altar, cast your circle, or create your magical associations for the elements, use the land around you to help. Many people rely on traditional references to create their altar or pentacle, but it doesn't make sense to place Water to the West if there is a large lake or ocean to your East. Use your locale to determine the placement of the elements. My personal associations are to have Earth associated with North because there are mountains just North of me; Water is East because a lake and the Atlantic Ocean are to my East; Fire is South because the equator is South where the temperatures are much hotter than here; and finally Air is West because the vast, windy plains are to my West. For those of you in the Southern hemisphere, you may wish to place Fire North, as the equator is North of you. If there is a mountain range directly to your East, put Earth East. Using the land to determine your placement of the elements will enhance your craft and make it more relatable to you. Rearranging my associations has completely changed my magic for the better.

3. Learn local folklore and visit local sacred spaces.

No matter where you are if you do enough digging and ask the right questions, you can find some amazing folktales. Hedgecraft is largely folkloric in nature, so using local legends and stories in your craft is important. The stories they tell in Britain about the dandelion are great, and you can definitely use those tales in your magical workings, especially if you are of English descent. I am, so I use it because I connect with it, but my family is has a tale of its own about dandelions from Arkansas, where my dad was born, and I like to use it too. Go down to your local library and see what you can find. Talk to locals who have lived in your area all their lives, especially elderly people. They may not even realize the stories they have passed down are magical folktales, but you will. Go and visit local historical sites, which are usually sacred. For example, I live close to the Kennesaw Mountain Battle Field, which was the location of a pretty large battle during the Civil War. In Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah there are three large, famous graveyards that hold some pretty powerful magic if I do say so myself. On the other side of the lake is a beautiful state park. These places have their own stories and items I can use in my practice. For example, I can pick up grave dirt in Savannah, with permission and an offering of course, or holy water from the Chattahoochee River in Helen that comes straight from the mountains. Find the sacred places in your area and see what they have to offer. Remember to offer a biodegradable offering and only take a little bit so you don't disturb the local ecosystem.

Graveyard in Savannah


4. Identify seasonal changes and major natural forces of nature.

Some of the practices commonly mentioned in regards to celebrating the Celtic Wheel of the Year don't always make sense to me here in Georgia. In February, we don't have a bunch of snow and if it is a warmer year, plants started budding and coming up by now. It's not often a dormant time here in Georgia. By Mabon, most crops have been tilled, meaning its really not a harvesting time. Most of the traditional foods for Mabon are no longer in season. Some of the moon names also don't always fit either. June, for example, is the strawberry moon, but the peak for strawberries in Georgia is April. Strawberries are done by June! Spend time learning your local seasons and how you can adapt your changes to fit in with the Wheel of the Year. What changes do you see throughout the year? When do the flowers bloom? When are different fruits and vegetables harvested? Which insects are active
 at which times? I eat summer squash and blackberries during Litha, instead of Lammas or Mabon. During Ostara, we may have strawberries. Don't just focus on the seasons though. Are there certain storms or wildfires that are common in your area? How can you use them in your craft?


5. Create a genius loci profile.

Genius loci means "spirit of place." As a hedgewitch, it is part of my job to learn about the local spirits, whether they are the spirits of the Otherworld or the spirits that reside in local plants, animals, crystals, and other nonliving objects. Its all well and good to order herbs and crystals offline or to buy them in a shop down the street or using images of animals in foreign countries in your spellwork. However, using local herbs, crystals, and animals often enhances your magic because the land, and therefore local spirits, are more familiar with those creatures. Learn about the species in your area, both plant and animal. Research endangered and invasive species. How can you preserve those endangered species? What can you do to stop invasive species? If it's an invasive plant, learn its properties and pull it up! Incorporate it into your magical workings and save the local ecosystem at the same time. Research local animals and learn about myths and magical associations. Study the local plants and learn their magical and medicinal properties, scientific names, as well as those that are edible. Wildcrafting is such a joy! When you are doing this, remember to keep a detailed record in your Grimoire or Book of Shadows as a reference.

If you practice witchcraft and are looking to increase your understanding and enhance your practice, I strongly suggest you learn about where you live. When you use the land around you in your personal practice, it makes everything more relatable to you and the spirits around you, thus making everything magical.

Do you use your location in your magical practice? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking to learn more? Here are some suggestions on where to get started.
How to Create A Genius Loci Profile by Sarah Anne Lawless (I saved much of her work in PDF format)
Working with Spirits: Making Friends with the Genius Loci by Lady Athena
Spirits of Land and Place by ThoughtCo

Monday, January 21, 2019

Herbarium: Crocus

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

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Love, New Beginnings, Visions
Magical Uses and History: Crocuses are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, shortly after Imbolc in most places, making it the perfect representation of new beginnings. They are often placed on spring altars during Imbolc or Ostara, bringing a burst of color to the home or altar.

The name Crocus comes from the Greek krokos, Hebrew karkom, Aramaic kurkama, and the Arabic and Person kurkum, which means yellow or thread, presumably after the saffron spice that is often obtained from the Autumn Saffron Crocus, although the petals are usually purple or blue. This spring flower is native to Mediterranean regions and has been used for centuries, leaving behind some rich history. According to Greek mythology, Mercury creating the flower from Europa's Son, Crocus, whom Mercury accidentally killed. Another Greek story tells the tale of a youthful Crocus falling in love with Smilax who later rejects him. Distraught, Crocus begs the gods for help who take pity on him and turn him into a crocus plant. Crocus turns fickle when Smilax falls in love with him, rejecting her, resulting in the gods turning her into yew.

The first record of crocus coming to England was in the sixteenth century when it arrived in Queen Elizabeth's court from the Middle East. It became a favorite of Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, and the herbalist John Gerard, and later a favorite in Victorian flower language. In Victorian flower language, the crocus meant cheer and gladness, likely due to spring crocuses often being yellow. It was also believed to bring love and was often sent to a lover.

In ancient Egypt, crocus was commonly burned in a censer to see a vision of the thief the may have robbed you. Today, crocus incense can be used during divination to receive messages from the Otherworld.

Crocus can be used in a number of spells including:
     Divination
     Love Spells

Medicinal Uses: While saffron has medical uses, the flower itself does not. It should never be consumed, especially spring crocuses. However, the seeds of autumn crocus contain colchicine which is the active ingredient in prescription medication for gout and Mediterranean fever but should not be used to treat either of these unless under the guidance of a medical practitioner.

Preparation and Dosage: None. This plant is toxic, especially in high doses and should not be used without the guidance of a medical practitioner.


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

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

January 2019 Full Moon Worksheet

January 2019 Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is on the 21st and if you are trying to plan a magical year, what better way to help you get started than this full moon worksheet specifically designed for the upcoming Wolf Moon? It has everything you need to conduct your very own short ritual, including what this moon is bringing, sections to write down what you intend to release and cleanse, a tarot spread with a place for your notes, and any thoughts or intuition you receive while communing with the moon through meditation or hedge riding! This worksheet is completely free and can be easily printing and added to your Book of Shadows!

January 2019 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, January 14, 2019

5 Crystals for Hedge Riding

5 Crystals for Hedge Riding

If you haven't noticed yet, I kind of have a thing for crystals, with that background in paleontology and all, so it should come as no surprise that there are some crystals I love to use during hedge riding. I mentioned during my Hedge Riding Series that I have a hedge riding sachet, a small bag that contains a series of items that helps me during my hedge riding journeys. I mentioned some of the crystals I keep in that sachet, and I would like to expand on that topic today. My hedge riding sachet is ever changing; I add and remove items frequently based on what I am trying to do, but it always contains crystals.

Usually, I preface articles like this with a statement that you don't need any items but yourself to hedge ride or perform magic. This is the one time where I am not going to say that because crystals are an important aspect of hedge riding. Not only can they help you reach an altered state of consciousness, but they also help ground your body and soul to our plane before, during, and after hedge riding. Now, you don't have to have every crystal on this list, nor do the crystals you choose have to be limited to this list. There are dozens of crystals that can help you on your flights, and you should always pick crystals that speak to you, even if a book doesn't mention they can be used for traveling between the realms. Correspondences should partly be based off your intuition, not just what some book or online article says. This list contains the five crystals I work with the most during hedge riding, in no particular order.

1. Labradorite: Until polished, labradorite is a fairly dull, unsuspecting crystal, but once polished it takes on a rainbow of colors. Labradorite was once believed to be frozen fire that fell from Aurora Borealis, thus associating it with the heavens and astral travel. It acts similarly to amethyst in that it can open you to psychic visions, but unlike amethyst, it can be used as a gateway to past lives as well. In Norse mythology, the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, was the gateway to Valhalla, which is sometimes symbolized by this crystal with rainbow hue, thus allowing you to travel between lives while hedge riding. I use this crystal when I am seeking answers from my past to gain insights into my future.

2. Amethyst: So I talk about amethyst a lot too...I know, but this stone is so versatile, plentiful, and cheap! I'm all for saving money when it comes to witchcraft. Amethyst is a great stone for hedge riding and has been regarded for hundreds of years as the crystal of psychics. I place amethyst on my forehead during hedge riding to help open my mind to psychic visions during my journeys. This crystal is commonly found in my hedge riding sachet, especially on days where I am finding it difficult to concentrate enough to hedge ride.

3. Selenite: I'm sure many of you have this crystal laying around, as it's commonly used to make crystal wands. Selenite is clear, striated gypsum named after Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon. Due to this connection to the moon, selenite can be used during hedge riding to "reach the stars," particularly when traveling to the Upper Realm of the Otherworld. Furthermore, selenite is known for its calming properties, allowing you to reach an altered state of consciousness by quieting the mind. Even better, selenite filters messages, due to its striated nature, thus allowing you to connect to your higher self and the spirit realm, especially angels. I use selenite when I am traveling to the Upper Realms or when I am having trouble hearing the messages the spirits are trying to send me. Sometimes I even use selenite after hedge riding to help me make sense of the messages I received. This isn't found in my hedge riding sachet too often, but it is almost always on my altar waiting for me to get back from a journey to aid in my understanding of the things I saw and heard while away.

4. Iolite: This deep violet crystal was commonly used by the Vikings as a navigational tool because it could be used to filter sunlight, allowing them to look at the sun without damaging their eyes. Because of this and its brilliant color, Iolite is a great stone for hedge riding. You can use it as a navigational tool on your spiritual journeys and facilitate spiritual visions. Depending on how it is cut, Iolite can appear yellow or clear as well, so don't worry if you find it in colors other than blue-violet. I use Iolite when I am seeking to travel to new places during a journey. I tend to stick close to "home," but there are times I wish to explore deeper into the Otherworld so I make sure to take this crystal with me to help me navigate uncharted territories.

5. Black Tourmaline: I talk about this crystal the most, probably because it is my favorite crystal of all time. I really should modify my 10 Crystals Every Witch Should Have post to include black tourmaline instead of obsidian. When I first got this crystal, the moment I touched it I felt an instant connection. The love and protection that radiated from it were overwhelming. I often find myself looking for it in times of stress because it's so calming. While I know it sounds strange to some, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this crystal loves me deeply. But I digress. My black tourmaline is the one thing in my hedge riding sachet that never changes; it is always in my bag. Before I ride I take it out and ask it to keep me safe while I hedge ride. I place it on my chest during my journeys and when I come back its the first thing I touch to ground myself. Black tourmaline is known for keeping you safe physically, emotionally, and spiritually, making it an amazing hedge riding companion crystal. There are other crystals that you can use for protection and grounding during hedge riding, so if black tourmaline doesn't speak to you like it speaks to me, find one that does. Other great options include jet, onyx, obsidian, and hematite.

As I mentioned before, this is by no means a complete list, just my five favorites for hedge riding. For those of you who hedge ride, what crystals do you like to bring with you? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below so we can grow this list to help other witches on their journeys!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Magical Properties of Maple

Magical Properties of Maple

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Bone Magic Series: Introduction

 Bone Magic Series: Introduction

This year I have two series planned, one about the spirits of each sabbat and the other about bone magic. Traditional witchcraft and hedgecraft often incorporates the use of bones and animal remains, whether it be shells, feathers, fur, or any other part of an animal, in spells and rituals. This series will focus on all zoological or animal remains, although bones will be heavily focused upon within the series. It is important to keep in mind that you do not have to work with animal remains to practice witchcraft. However, many witches have found the use of animal remains deepens their craft, and I have to admit, there is something magical about using practices similar to those our ancestors used to use, especially when you're a hedgewitch like myself.

What are zoological remains? Zoological remains refer to preserved body parts of an animal. I'm usually just going to refer to them as animal remains, but realize some of you may prefer the term "zoological" because it separates the animal from the remains. Examples of animal remains include bones, feathers, antlers, horns, shed skin, claws, whiskers, teeth, fur, hides/pelts, wings, fat, preserved organs, and even blood. These remains are carefully harvested and preserved, often times with the animals spirit still intact and attached to the remains. However, not all remains will contain the animal's spirit. There are cases where you will come across remains that the spirit has left. These make great homes for spirits you summon to our realm, but more on that later.

The use of animal remains in witchcraft is based on the ideas of animism, the belief that all things, living or nonliving, have a spirit. Animism is the underlying theme of witchcraft, so it should be no surprise working with animal remains is based on a belief in animism as well. If an animal's spirit has chosen to remain with its remains, the spirit can either be helped to the Otherworld or you can contract it to help you in your magical workings. Helping a spirit cross over is relatively simple, but contracting a spirit is a little more complicated. The spirit will only remain if it receives something in return, while the witch has the opportunity to gain a powerful spirit alley, each spirit with its own talents and abilities. During this series, we will delve into how to release a spirit and contract a spirit to work with you.

Bone Magic Series: Introduction

I realize the use of animal remains may bother some witches, especially those that abide by the Wiccan Rede and/or the "harm none" mentality. If you don't wish to work with animal remains, you are by no means obligated to. However, I would like to mention that all remains should be acquired ethically. Killing an animal for the sole purpose of harvesting its remain for magical use is wrong unless of course, its a ritual custom passed down from your ancestors or part of your modern cultural heritage. For most modern witches, animal sacrifice is frowned upon, even if you are practicing traditional witchcraft.

For this series I will cover a variety of topics regarding animal remains and bone magic, including a brief history of animal remains in magic, different types of animal remains and what they can be used for, how to ethically acquire remains, methods of cleaning and preserving remains (specifically bones), how to contract a spirit or release it, how to feed your bones, and how to create your own bone tarot. I hope that you will join me during this series and keep an eye out for upcoming topics!


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, January 7, 2019

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

Before I start this review I would like to make a point to say that subscribing to a subscription box isn't required to perform magic. Furthermore, having witchy stuff doesn't necessarily make you a witch, nor do you have to have a bunch of stuff to be a witch or perform magic. Magic isn't about the stuff you use, but about you. The magic comes from you, not the crystal or tea or candle or whatever object you are using. With that being said, December was my last Magickal Folk box, at least for a little bit, so this review will include my overall thoughts on the subscription as a whole, as well as a review of this month's content. This month's Small Combo Box from Magickal Folk focused on the Crone aspect which is representative of this time of year.

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

The first item I removed from the December small combo box was the Meditation Kit. This particular kit contained a couple of items, including a black and red candle, and a golden sheen obsidian bracelet. According to the information card, this kit centers around "crone mysteries" and the knowledge and wisdom the crone provides. The purpose of this small ritual meditation is to reflect and grow as an individual. The red candle is to ground, incite, and betow personal power while the black candle is meant to connect with our ancestors and banish any unwanted energy. The bracelet, containing both light and dark, represents refined wisdom in that both light and dark exist together, not alone.

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

Also pictured is some Winter Solstice tea, which contains earl grey tea, coneflower, cinnamon, peppermint, lemon peel, and natural bergamot flavoring. This tea came as an extra little gift, a Yule present if you will. I decided to pair it with the Meditation Kit because the flavors match well with this time of year, which also happens to be the time of the Crone. Furthermore, they are relaxing, helping to reach that meditative state easier. The tea is delightful and pairs well with a little bit of milk or cream.

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

The next item I removed was the Tea Ritual Kit. This tea, which contains Irish black tea, elderberry, elderflower, dandelion root, and ginger root, is all about connecting, belonging, authenticity, wisdom, and truth. I love how the tea has some pretty awesome healing abilities as well, especially this time of year with cold and flu season upon us. Elderberry and flowers, ginger, and dandelion are all known to help prevent or shorten illness. This ritual tea is designed not only to keep you healthy but also connect with yourself and your ancestral roots. While Samhain sees the veil at its thinnest, the Winter Solstice is another time the veil is very thin, making contact with the spirits, including our ancestors, easy. This ritual tea will help you get there with ease. The tea has a strong flavor, but the elderberry and flower bring about a slight sweetness.

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

Finally, I removed the Crystal Ritual Kit, which contained several beautiful crystals this time. Called "Keeping of the Cauldron," this kit contained several pieces of Picture Jasper and Dumortierite, for creativity, wisdom, patience, and self-mastery, again characteristics of the Crone aspect.

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

This kit also contained a Cerridwen Anointing Oil of sunflower and almond oil mixed with Silver Fir and Magnolia essential soils, dried Gotu Kola, Ginko, and Corn Silk. The oil has a sweet aroma and is used to anoint the crystals to invoke the Goddess Cerridwen, keeper of the cauldron Amem, the cauldron of divine knowledge, wisdom, rebirth, and transformation. If you don't know the story of Cerridwen, I strongly suggest you read it. It is a beautiful tale.

Magickal Folk Box Review: December

I loved how cohesive this month's box was and how they can easily be combined into one beautiful ritual for the Winter Solstice or for any New/Dark Moon.

***
Since it has been three months, I would like to give you a complete break down of my overall thoughts on this box.

Pros:

  • The box is consistent. It always comes with a tea kit, meditation kit, and a crystal kit.
  • The item quality is great. Every item is worth more than I paid and sometimes you even get some bonus items thrown in!
  • The information card is informative and explains how to use the items for each kit. All of the items, except crystals, are made by Magickal Folk, so you are supporting a small pagan business.
  • This box is affordable. For a month's subscription, you are looking at spending just $24!
  • You get a little of everything with the small combo kit. I love how the small combo kits give me a variety of rituals and items each month, especially the tea!
  • You get to join a responsive community. When you subscribe, you are given the option to join their private Facebook groups and join in discussions with other witches who subscribe, as well as the curators behind the boxes!
  • There are different tiers. They offer a variety of subscription box options, all of them budget friendly.
  • This box is available! There is no waiting list, although they do sell out quickly, especially if it's a theme people want to be a part of!

Cons:

  • The information card is incomplete. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the cost of the items nor where the crystals are sourced from, but overall the information cards are nicely done.
  • Sometimes the information cards are hard to read. Depending on their choice of cardstock for the month, sometimes the information cards can be difficult to read.
  • There is some packaging that is not eco-friendly. The paper and cardboard box can be recycled, but the bubble wrap can not. I believe having eco-friendly packaging as much as possible is extremely important.
OVERALL: 5 out of 5 stars 

Interested in purchasing this box? Check out Cratejoy. They have a large selection of subscription boxes that cover just about everything.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Creating Your Magical Calendar

Creating Your Magical Calendar

The New Year is upon us and for those of you looking to live a more magical life, one of the easiest ways to do so is to plan ahead by setting up a magical calendar. Whether you purchased a magical planner or not, it's important to map out important dates to get a sense of what the year has in store for you. But where exactly should you start? What dates are important? What else should go onto your calendar to live your best magical year? This step-by-step guide is here to help!

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

1. Purchase, print, or create your planner. This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who don't keep a calendar. Studies show that calendars are more effective than to-do lists, so if you are looking at creating a magical year, you should probably get one. There are several options out there depending on what you are looking for.

I know many witches prefer to purchase a magical datebook/calendar that has the most important dates already mapped out. I've used these in the past, including the Coloring Book of Shadows Planner and The Moon Sign Datebook. Another such planner that is highly popular Llewellyn's Witch's Datebook. All three are excellent planners, providing additional witchy information within the pages of the calendar, offering both monthly and weekly calendars. There is a downside to these, of course. First, because the dates are already mapped out, you don't have to do any of the work of committing the dates to memory, even if that commitment is just writing them down during the planning process. Because of this, dates are likely to sneak up on you or pass without your noticing. Second, these planners are not customizable. The format is preselected and you are stuck working with what they give you. This is great for those witches who are not particularly creative or who don't have time to create their own datebook but can feel restricting for those who want a more personal touch. Don't get me wrong, these planners are still great. I received the 2019 Coloring Book of Shadows Planner for Yule this year. Trust me, I'll be using it!

Maybe a premade magical planner doesn't quite "fit" you. I find magical planners too "dark" for my tastes. Witchcraft doesn't have to be spooky or dark or mysterious. My witchcraft is bright and colorful. I love floral prints if you hadn't already figured that out from my blog. I also love greens, pinks, and greys. Surprise, surprise. Purchasing a nonmagical planner is also perfectly acceptable, especially if you are looking for something brighter and airier to fit your personality. Maybe you prefer how a nonmagical planner is set up. Honestly, I like nonmagical planners the best to organize my life. Why? Well for a couple of reasons. First, a nonmagical planner forces me to write down all the important dates of the year, which helps commit them to memory. Second, I often like how nonmagical planners are set up better than magical ones. While the extra magical information is great, I really like to have a place to jot notes, phone numbers, contact information, or even have envelopes to store receipts, scrap paper, or anything else I believe is important at the time. A nonmagical planner allows me to do more with it long term than a magical one does. Guess what...I also have a nonmagical floral planner my mom got me for Christmas. This will likely turn into my preferred planner because I love how its set up and I adore the floral design and pink tones present throughout it. However, the negatives are the same for a nonmagical planner as they are for a magical one. They are harder to customize and may be missing important details.

If a premade magical or nonmagical planner is not for you, you can also print off a blank calendar, whether it be weekly or monthly, and customize your calendar that way. I love Thyme and Honey's free printable monthly calendar. I use her calendar for both works (planning lesson plans) and mapping out blog posts. I find a monthly view allows me to better plan longterm. A weekly planner gets in the way of me seeing longterm, but its great for writing down daily tasks for the short term. So when it comes to work and even planning rituals, I prefer a monthly printable calendar. With all the white space on these calendars, you can easily decorate the calendars however you please and place them in a binder to create your own planner. Combine it with some stickers, post-it notes, envelopes, and scratch paper and you got yourself a handmade planner! Another, more techno-friendly option is from Time and Date. They allow you to customize and print your own calendar, with all the major dates you want to be listed! The downside to printing your own calendar is that you have to have a print and ink to do so. Furthermore, they are generally full sheets of paper, so they take up some space and are not easy to transport, especially if you are bringing your planner with you back and forth between work, school, or other trips. They are also slightly more time consuming, as the calendar I love requires you put in the dates, instead of having them already mapped out.

Want to get more creative? Try a bullet journal. Instagram and Pinterest are full of beautiful bullet journal ideas, especially for witches. This allows the ultimate freedom when it comes to a planner. You can add, remove, and create pages of your own design. However, this is the most time-consuming option available, and most witches who use a bullet journal only plan one month at a time. Because of this, long-term dates are hard to recognize, but patterns in your personal life are sometimes easier to spot because the planner was created on a monthly or daily basis.

No matter which method you decide, make it work for you. There is no right planner to use, so be creative. Use more than one method if you need to. I sure do!

Creating Your Magical Calendar


2. Cleanse and bless your planner. Whatever your preferred method of cleansing and blessing is, use it. I prefer sage or palo santo, and when I carry out this ritual I say something like, "I cleanse and bless this planner to help me plan my magical year, reach my goals, and bring happiness and prosperity to all in my life."

3. Add important dates for sabbats, moon phases, retrogrades, and other astrological events. If you picked a nonmagical planner, you will need to begin adding major dates to your calendar. The most important dates include major holidays, full and new moons, retrogrades (especially Mercury Retrograde), and eclipses. You can also mark meteor showers, astrology dates, and other astrological events. Below you will see a list of major events for 2019.

2019 Sabbats

Imbolc- February 2nd (Lammas in SH)
Ostara- March 20th (Mabon in SH)
Beltane- May 1 (Samhain in SH)
Litha/Midsummer- June 21st (Yule in SH)
Lammas- August 1 (Imbolc in SH)
Mabon- September 23 (Ostara in SH)
Samhain- October 31st (Beltane in SH)
Yule- December 21 (Litha in SH)

2019 Full Moons

Wolf Moon- January 21st- Total Lunar Eclipse in NA & SA
Snow Moon- February 19th
Worm Moon- March 20th
Pink Moon- April 19th
Flower Moon- May 18th
Strawberry Moon- June 17th
Buck Moon- July 16th- Partial Lunar Eclipse everywhere but NA
Corn Moon- August 15h
Harvest/Sturgeon Moon- September 14th
Blood/Hunter Moon- October 13th
Beaver Moon- November 12
Cold Moon- December 12th

2019 New Moons

January 5th
February 4h
March 6th
April 5th
May 4th
June 3rd
July 2nd- Solar Eclipse in parts of SA and Pacific
July 31st
August 30th
September 28
October 27
November 26
December 26- Annular Solar Eclipse in South Asia

Mercury Retrogrades

March 5h-28th
July 8th-August 1st
October 31st-November 20th

For meteor showers check out Sky and Telescope.

Jot down other important dates as well, such as major holidays you celebrate that isn't pagan such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day, Independence Day, etc. You will likely not do anything witchy with these holidays, but if they are a big deal to your family, they will interfere with any magic you may inadvertently plan. Also make sure you note major birthdays, including your own. Your birthday is an extremely powerful day for your magic. Don't waste it!

If you bought a magical planner, these dates should all be included in it. Find them and mark them any way you see fit. This will help you remember them and easily see when they will be occurring. Even if they are already written, its an important step in remembering to find them and highlight them or mark them in some way. Plus, it gives you a chance to also include dates important to you that may not be featured in your planner already.

Creating Your Magical Calendar


4. Begin planning your magic. Once all the dates for major holidays and moons are in your planner, you can begin deciding when you will set up altars, write rituals, or host a get-together. This may seem like a chore, but if you put it on your calendar that you will be setting up your altar or purchasing ritual supplies on a certain day, you are more likely to do so and therefore experience that magic. You don't need to plan your entire year, but I strongly suggest you at least plan through March. This gives you a good solid 3 months to get your year started right. I know some witches plan their entire year out before January 1st. You don't have to do this, but 3 months is a good start, plus it gets you through the first two sabbats and the first 3 full and new moons of the year. Why not start the year out right with a plan? Now, you don't have to plan something for every single astrological or "witchy" event occurring throughout the year. In fact, I have this nasty habit of missing full and new moons completely and just celebrating the sabbats by setting up an altar. In some people's minds, I may be considered a terrible witch. That's fine with me. I honor our Mother Earth and the changing seasons in my own way. This is your magical year, so plan it out how you want.

5. Set goals and plan how to meet them. Once you have a rough plan on how you will tackle the events you marked on your calendar, start thinking back to those magical goals you may have set for the New Year. How can you use your planner to help you meet those goals? For example, I want to read at least 6 witchcraft books this year, specifically about spirit work and the history of witchcraft. I went ahead and picked my top 6 books for the year and every other month wrote one of the books on the monthly section of my planner as the goal for the next two months. On the first of the month, I wrote "Begin reading [insert book title here]" to remind myself that I need to begin reading a new book if I haven't already. Another goal of mine is to finish writing my book on hedgecraft. I've made sure I marked down dates I want to have chapters completed by to force me to work on it.

Other witchy goals or ideas you can easily plan include:
  • Starting or continuing a magical garden
  • Beginning a witchy blog or planning posts for your current blog
  • Starting a witchy Etsy store
  • Working on your Grimoire
  • Practicing tarot or runes
  • Hedge riding
  • Self-care rituals
  • Ritual house cleansing or space clearing
  • Checking your wards
  • Organizing your magical supplies or just your home in general
  • Cleansing and consecrating ritual tools and altars
  • Communication or celebrating your deities
  • Ancestral communication and celebration
  • Familiar communication and celebration

Whatever your goals for the year are, a good way to meet them is to break them up into small manageable steps and jot them down in your planner. Remember to take it easy on yourself. Don't completely pack your schedule. Leave lots of wiggle room in case life gets crazy or you need a break and to prevent burn out. You'll get tired really fast if you have something scheduled every single day. And most of all, don't beat yourself up if you don't stick to your calendar. I always write in pencil, that way I can erase and move things around as I wish. Witchcraft isn't about being perfect and it most definitely isn't about sticking to a schedule you may have written months ago.

Creating Your Magical Calendar


6. Carry your planner with you or keep it somewhere you will see and check it often. Its all well and good to spend an hour or two putting together your planner, but if you aren't going to use it, what's the point? Don't let your time and energy go to waste! Use the heck out of your planner! Check it in the morning. Check it during lunch. Check it after work or before you go to bed. Add to it often. Move things around. Jot notes in it. Stick photographs in the pages to mark your progress. Turn it into a living, breathing, piece of magic. Trust me; if you take the time to create a planner and use it accordingly, you will find you are more productive, more magical, and at the end of the year you will have created one of the most powerful books you will ever come across. Your planner will become a Book of Shadows by the end of all this if you let it.

And there you have it! I know it was a slightly long read and will take quite a bit of work up front, but trust me, this is worth the time and energy you put into it. The hottest blogging topic recently has been how to practice witchcraft daily or live a more spiritual life. Those lists and ideas are all well and good, but they mean nothing if your schedule is in complete shambles and you have no idea when different sabbats or moon cycles are occurring.

How do you plan your magical year? What type of planner did you pick? I'd love to hear from you and see your planners in action. Please leave a comment below or feel free to tag me on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, or shoot me an email! Happy planning, witches.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Behind the Scenes of Flying the Hedge + Reader Survey

 Behind the Scenes of Flying the Hedge + Reader Survey

My original post for the New Year was going to detail this year's New Year ritual, which you could easily perform on the first New Moon of the year (Jan 5), but after much thought and consideration, I decided against it. I know the ritual would have been one you guys would like to see, and maybe even perform yourself, but this year I decided I wanted to keep the magic to myself. I post a lot of my rituals and spells on the blog. In fact, I post most of them, which may not seem like a lot to my readers, but the amount of work it takes to write, plan, photograph, and edit a ritual or spell post is time-consuming and exhausting at times which means I don't want to do a lot of them. I deserve to keep some of my magic for myself.

For readers, I know running a blog seems effortless. The posts are always informative, well-researched, and eye-catching, with beautifully edited images sprinkled throughout. There are hundreds of us out there running these blogs all of you love to read so much. I love reading blogs too, especially ones with pretty pictures. But there are a lot of things that go unsaid when it comes to blogging, especially in the witch/pagan community.

Each year more and more witchy blogs pop up, and many of them fail because blogging isn't as easy as it looks. Flying the Hedge is my third blog out of four. It is the only blog I have successfully kept up with and the only one that has attracted a large readership. Running this blog is a second full-time job, one that I constantly think about. There are very few of us out there that make enough income from our blogs for it to be our only job. I'm sure many of us would love for this to be the only thing we do, but it isn't. For example, I am a full-time high school science teacher. That job is even more time consuming, and it pays my bills, which is why sometimes I may not post consistently or at all for weeks because we are in testing season or I am writing new curriculum or I am just exhausted after spending my day with 125 high schoolers (these are just the kids I teach in 1 day!). We bloggers get exhausted and burnt out, which is why many of us fail to blog consistently or to continue a blog after a short period of time.

On top of how much work it is, sharing our magic is sometimes difficult. Most of the witchcraft bloggers I know want to share all that we do so our readers can learn and grow with us, but it just isn't feasible to share everything. I can tell you when I plan a ritual or spell, the first thing that goes through my mind is, "Is this good blogging material?" I'm sure I'm not alone in this feeling either. The truth is, I shouldn't be thinking that about my magic. No one should! While some spells are great to share, I need to keep some for myself as well, which is why I chose not to share my ritual with you guys today. I wanted the ritual to be more personal and whimsical. I don't like planning every single step. Sometimes I just want to throw things together and go with it. The best magic I have ever performed has been random and unplanned. Yours should be too.

With that being said, I would like to let you guys know where the blog will be headed this year. I've spent the past 2 weeks of my winter break planning and brainstorming ideas for the upcoming year. I have a lot planned, and I hope I can stick with it this year. So what's coming up?

I have two new series planned; one regarding bone magic and the other on the spirits of each sabbat. The Bone Magic series will not take the entire year to get through. I have only 8 posts planned for this series, which will begin on January 9th. The Spirits of Sabbats series will begin on January 28th, with posts going live a couple days before each sabbat so this series will last all year. Other ongoing series, such as my Herbarium posts and Apothecary posts will continue sporadically throughout the year, so keep an eye out for them. I know readers really enjoy those posts, and I have a lot of herbs yet to get through!

Other topics I will be covering over the course of the next couple of months include:
  • Local Witchcraft
  • Crystals of Hedge Riding
  • Witchy Spring Cleaning
  • Sabbat Altars
  • Daily Witchcraft
  • How to Be a Hedgewitch
  • Working with Ancestors
  • Folk Magic
  • and other miscellaneous posts on working with spirits.

Another year-long project I have planned, which I think many of you will love, are worksheets for each Full Moon this year. These worksheets will help you set intentions and work with the specific magic of 2019's Full Moons. I am still working out the kinks and designs for these worksheets, but they will all have the same basic format. I will also likely create a generic Full Moon worksheet that can be easily adapted to any Full Moon in years to come.

I don't have the entire year planned out yet, so if you have a topic you would like me to cover, improvements you think I can make, or just general comments, please leave a comment below or take my reader survey. I want to hear your feedback so I know how to better serve you. These surveys are very important to making sure I provide the very best content for my readers. It should take you no more than 3 minutes to complete and those 3 minutes of your time will greatly help me.

TAKE THE 2018 READER SURVEY

I hope that no matter what you have planned this year, that it's a fantastic one. I look forward to reading your responses and making this the best blogging year yet!