Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors

Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors

I'm sure you are feeling the veil between worlds thinning as Samhain approaches. This is the perfect time to work with spirits and travel between realms. This ritual is designed to open the doors between our realm and the realm of our ancestors to communicate with them this Samhain.

What You'll Need

  • Pomegranate (sliced open)
  • Black Candle
  • White Candles
  • Obsidian
  • Mugwort
  • Charcoal
  • Hot Plate (for charcoal)
  • Lighter/Match
  • Notebook/BOS

What to Do

Begin by cleansing your working area with the method of your choice. For this ritual, I chose to use cedar because it works to remove negativity but also invites good spirits. This step is very important this time as you will be inviting spirits into your sacred space and its only proper (and smart) to invite them into a clean home. After you are certain your sacred space is cleansed, feel free to call quarters and cast a magical circle. I encourage you to take the necessary precautions and protect yourself in whatever way you see fit during this ritual.

Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors

After you are certain your space is clean, charge the obsidian with your intent. Hold it in your hand, close your eyes and say,

"I charge this obsidian to bridge the gap between our realm and those of my ancestors. May it act as a conduit so my ancestors may speak their truth on this night. May it act as a door and a guiding light for those I seek. Aid in my message so they may understand me and that I may understand them in return."
Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors

Put the black obsidian directly in front of you or hold it during the ritual. Extract three pomegranate seeds and eat them while saying,

"Fruit of the Underworld and blood of my ancestors, help bridge this realm with the Land of the Dead. May the living and deceased freely communicate this night."

Next, place the black candle on the left of your altar or work surface, the white candle on the right, and the remaining pomegranate halves in between them (black candle, pomegranate, white candle). Light the charcoal and when the coal is hot, place some mugwort on it. Then light the black candle and the white candle. Move the black candle to the right of the white candle while saying,

"On this Samhain night, when the veil is thin and the spirits come forth, I call upon my ancestors. I seek guidance as the Wheel of the Year comes full circle and the Earth rests. I call to thee, the honored and well-intended ancestors of my family line, to join me here and now at my altar to guide me on my path. Accept this offering of fruit along with my love and deepest gratitude. May it please you."

Bow your head and allow them to partake in the offering. Sit quietly and listen for any messages they may have for you. You can do this by closing your eyes or staring into the flame of the black candle. Write down anything you see or hear during this time. Some things may not make sense right now, but write them down anyway.

To close the ritual, thank your ancestors for coming and ask them to leave by saying,

"Thank you, ancestors, who came to commune with me this Samhain night. I offer my sincerest thanks and hope the offering was to your liking. You may depart and return to your resting places. Do not linger. Obsidian, black as night, guide the souls who were called today back home. This Rite is now closed."

Snuff out the candles and leave the offering on your altar overnight. The following morning place the pomegranate outside for the wildlife. They will appreciate your gift. You may feel exhausted after this ritual. Ground and center yourself and eat something before taking a shower. Dead spirits often leave behind a "heaviness" that should be washed away. Cleanse your space with your preferred method then shower to remove anything remaining on your person. After our shower or bath, spend some time analyzing what you wrote down during the ritual.

Why You Did It

Understanding the why's of a ritual are just as important as performing it. It helps you understand the process so you can modify the spell or ritual to suit your needs and helps guide you to write your own.

Let's start with the first step, the obsidian. Obsidian is a volcanic glass that has cooled so quickly crystallization is unable to occur. It has a long and rich history throughout a number of cultures around the world, but one thing it has in common is its association with the Underworld. Because of its shiny appearance which reflects the shadows of the objects and people that stand before it, the peoples of ancient Mexico named it ixtli after the god Tezcatlipoca ("smoking mirror"), believing the shadowy reflections were connected to the afterlife and second sight. Furthermore, it originates from magma deep within the Earth, further connecting it to the Underworld. Because of these features, obsidian is the perfect crystal to act as a bridge between our realm and the Land of the Dead, as it is naturally and magically connected to the Underworld. To add to this, obsidian is also associated with protection. Historically, obsidian was used as spearheads and arrowheads as it is relatively brittle and therefore easy to shape. And being black, a color traditionally associated with protection, grounding, and banishment, adds to its use in this ritual as the obsidian is not only used to pull spirits to our realm, but also to banish them back to their's at the end of the ritual. All in all, it is the perfect crystal for the job!

Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors

Next, we come to the star of the show from which this ritual is named, the pomegranate. It doesn't play a super big part in this ritual, but it is essential as it helps open you to receive messages. You are probably aware of the story of Persephone and Hades, but if you are not, I encourage you to go read it. To give you a brief summary, Hades steals Persephone away to the Underworld where he finally convinces her to eat some pomegranate seeds. This binds her to the Underworld until Zeus is able to strike a deal between Hades and Demeter, Persephone's mother so that Persephone will spend half the year with her mother and half the year with Hades. As a result, pomegranates are strongly associated with being the fruit of the Underworld, and eating them is said to connect you to that realm and aid in spirit communication. They are also associated with blood and therefore death because the fruit "bleeds" when you cut into it. In general, it makes for an excellent offering to the dead as well.

Mugwort is a traditional herb associated with spirit communication. The smoke is a mild entheogen and helps induce a trance-like state. As such, it's the perfect herbal incense to use during spirit communication and won't cause a traditional "high" that could make communication difficult. Furthermore, smoke is associated with air and communication so that your messages can travel to your ancestors and their messages to you.

Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors

The black and white candles represent the Underworld (black) and our world (white). This is a symbolic representation as black is associated with death and white with life. When you move the black candle to the right of the white candle, you are pulling the Land of the Dead to the present realm and bridging that connection.

Looking to break this spell? Unfortunately, this isn't a spell to be broken. There is nothing to break. However, if spirits linger, ask them to leave and cleanse the space again.

Remember to record this ritual on your ritual/spell worksheet and have a wonderful Samhain! How do you plan to celebrate this year?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Spirit Work for Samhain

Spirit Work for Samhain

Samhain is the perfect time for spirit work. Like, is it even a question?! Like Beltane, the veil is super thin during Samhain and the days leading up to it and the days right after. This thinning of the veil makes it a perfect time to communicate with spirits. Here are three fantastic ways you can work with spirits this Samhain.

1. Work with your ancestors.

Communicating and working with your ancestors is the perfect activity for Samhain, and there are several ways you can do this. Set up an ancestor altar, hold a Dumb Supper, or invite them into your Samhain ritual. Here are three ways you can honor your ancestors this Samhain. Whatever you decide to do, they will appreciate that you have remembered them. In many traditions, it is believed this is the only time our ancestors can return to Earth, so if you have burning questions this is the best time to discuss it with them. To simply commune with your ancestors, light a black candle, and meditate on your question for your ancestors. If you would like to ask a specific question or a specific ancestor, include this in your question. Sit quietly with your eye closed or stare into the flame. Jot down any messages you receive including flashes of images, voices or whispers, and gut feelings. You can test the validity of what you have seen or heard or felt by using a pendulum to confirm.

2. Practice hedge riding.

As a hedgewitch, hedge riding is at the center of my practice. Since the veil between realms is already thin, Samhain is a great time to travel and is generally easier to do than other times of the year. If you still haven't worked up the courage to hedge ride yet, there is really no better time. I strongly encourage you to give it a shot, even if you are nervous. We all have to start somewhere. If this is your first journey, or you are seasoned in the art of hedge crossing, set your intention to meet with your spirit guides, whether for the first time or the hundredth, and discuss your successes and failures over the past year. While not the New Year per the modern calendar, Samhain is the witch's new year, a time when death sets in so that new life may come forth. This journey is not about performing magical workings or setting goals necessarily. Instead, the purpose of this journey is self-reflection and rest. After you have spoken with your guides, sit quietly within your garden or wherever you have traveled to and take in the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Let it be a relaxing and healing time for you as your process all you and your guides have discussed. New to hedge riding or not sure where to begin? Read my complete guide to hedge riding!

3. Speak with spirits using a spirit board.

Often called an Ouiji board, spirit boards are a great way to speak with spirits without astral travel. I am sure there are going to be witches out there who freak out at this suggestion, but let me clear a few things up. First, spirit boards are NOT portals. They do not summon demons and evil spirits from the depths of hell. This idea was perpetuated by Christianity and the media. Furthermore, up until 1970, with the release of the Hollywood film The Exorcist, there was not a single report of a demonic or evil entity engagement. Spirit boards are simply another tool to communicate with spirits, much like runes, oracle, and pendulums. How do you think divination works? Spirits! If you happen to believe in demons, it's going to take a whole lot more than some wood with letters painted on it to get their attention. If you are worried, simply cleanse and bless your board, just like you would any other tool used in our magical practice.

Spirit Work for Samhain

Using a spirit board is relatively simple. If you wish, cast a circle and call quarters. Sit in a comfortable chair and place the board on a hard, flat surface. Its ideal with the board is just above our waist so that your elbows can rest comfortably on the surface. You don't want any bodily movements to give you a false reading. Knock on the board three times, stating your intention. Then place both index and middle fingers on the planchette in the middle of the board and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly until you reach a solid trance state. Tune into the spirit you want to communicate with by thinking about them and our connection with them, then allowing your consciousness to drift toward it. Once you feel the connection between you and spirit, confirm you are working with the correct spirit by asking its name, where it comes from, and how you know it. If it's the correct spirit, release the tension in your hands and allow your hands to move the planchette in whatever direction feels natural. Do not try to control it; let it glide as needed. Once it stops, check the letter and make a not of it. Continue letting it move until it is done and the question has been answered. Sometimes the answer may make sense, sometimes it won't and you'll have to do a little interpreting. When you are done, move the planchette to "Good Bye" and knock on the board 3 times to close it. I plan on writing an entire post about spirit boards another time, so keep an eye out for more.

And there you have it, three ways to work with spirits this Samhain! Keep an eye out for my Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Pomegranate Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors later this week. Do you have any spirit work planned for Samhain? What about general spell work? Please share in the comments below!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Free eBook! A Hedgewitch's Book of Spells: 10 Spells for Everyday Life

I finally got around to publishing my own little free eBook! It contains 10 spells for everyday life, including spells for protection, prosperity, love, and healing. Most are relatively easy to perform and do not require a bunch of weird ingredients. Furthermore, each spell contains a list of alternative items that can be substituted if you don't have something on hand. I am all about making witchcraft personal and authentic. You can get your free copy by simply clicking the link below!


Get your free copy of A Hedgewitch's Book of Spells: 10 Spells for Everyday Life

Friday, October 25, 2019

Book Review: True Magic- Unleashing Your Inner Witch by Cyndi Brannen

Book Review: True Magic- Unleashing Your Inner Witch by Cyndi Brannen

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 am a reader of Cyndi Brannen's blog Keeping Her Keys, so when her latest book, True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch became available on NetGalley, I jumped on the opportunity to review it for the publisher. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. Overall the book is decent, but if you regularly follow her, it felt like longer versions of some of her blog posts.

In True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch, Brannen discusses seven steps to unleash your inner witch: Healing, Relationships, Sovereignty, Growth, Connecting, Abundance, and Wholeness. In each step, Brannen walks you through a series of rituals specifically designed with each of these steps in mind in an attempt to focus your magical workings and grow as a witch. If you are a new witch, this is a good place to start actually practicing magic, after you have learned some of the basics. If you are a seasoned witch, there are some new approaches that may interest you. However, a little digging will find similar results in other books and online sources. Based on the writing, I believe that this book is designed to go with one of her workshops and maybe even an email course (she mentioned her email list in the book more than once), and the set up is slightly confusing. There were points where the book jumped around too much, or topics were not fully explained, especially how they connected with each other during a ritual. This may be because, as I said, this is designed for a course, or because I was reading an unpublished e-ARC.

There were some things, however, that I really liked. I loved that she made the connection between the Lower Realm, Middle Realm, and Upper Realm with the elements and parts of our bodies. This view of the World Tree grounds the realms in a tangible, human reality, making it easier to visualize and even travel between realms. My favorite piece, however, was her "Witch's Hour of Power." Brannen encourages her readers to set aside just one hour a day for magical workings. She even recognizes that to grow your craft you don't have to practice the Witch's Hour of Power every day, but the consistency of the practice leads to better magical results. I've started trying to intentionally set aside an hour a day for my practice, whether it be working on my blog, connecting with witches on Instagram, reading tarot or bones, hedge riding, meditating, or working on my Grimoire (which is seriously lacking at the moment!). This hour of time, set aside in the evening, is a great time for me to just decompress from the stress of my daily life. Brannen offers a number of suggestions on what you can do during your Witch's Hour of Power, so if you are unsure, she's got you covered. Her spell ideas and rituals are refreshing, and the magical crafts are useful and meaningful.

As I said, the book was decent. It isn't the best witchcraft book I have ever read, but it isn't the worst either. If you are just starting out and looking to grow your powers, this is a good place to start. If you are seasoned, I'd stick with following her blog and Facebook groups, or even attending one of her workshops. I'd give this book 3 stars. Preorder your copy now before the November 1st release date.

What are you currently reading? Is there a book you'd like me to review or do you have a suggested book for your fellow witches? Shoot me an email or leave a comment below!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Bone Magic Series: Throwing the Bones + Build Your Own Bone Tarot

Bone Magic Series: Throwing the Bones + Build Your Own Bone Tarot

Bone throwing is one of the oldest forms of divination and can be found across multiple cultures throughout history. Because of this, there are multiple ways to practice throwing the bones and ways to interpret their meanings. If you come from reading traditional tarot or runes, you may find bone throwing frustrating and difficult. Unlike other forms of divination, throwing the bones is highly intuitive and bone sets are extremely personalized; no two sets or readers will be the same. Because of this, it's a highly effective form of divination, whether you are reading strictly for yourself or others.

What is Used in a Set?

There are a variety of ways to set up your "bone tarot" set depending upon the tradition(s) you may prescribe to or lack thereof. Most sets consist of bones, shells, stones, and small curios such as dice, coins, or other little trinkets while some are composed only of chicken bones, sometimes even painted to have different meanings. What the set is made up of is completely up to you and, honestly, not very important. However, the meaning behind each item and the item's relation to each other is important. How did they fall? Where are they located? Are they touching each other? How far apart are they? Together, the set works to answer the question the caster has asked of it.

How Do You Read Bone Tarot?

Again, there are multiple ways to read bones. You can work heavily with your ancestors for a more interpreted reading, relying on them to bring you inspiration while reading the bones. Others with a more scientific mind rely on a more analytical approach, connecting meaning to the pieces based on science and their placement on the cloth. Others still work with the spirits that live in the individual objects, listening to them as they whisper back details. Personally, I like to use a combination of these methods, using my prescribed meanings and the spirits to guide my interpretation of the reading. When you are first starting out, you may find a more analytical approach to be best, because its more like traditional tarot in that the location is associated with a specific question, body part, or event while each piece of the bone throwing set is also prescribed a predetermined meaning, such as a wing bone meaning travel. When it doubt, go with your gut.

Despite the different ways to read bones, many practitioners use some similar techniques. To begin with, a question is always asked. Bone throwing can provide a narrow or wide perspective, depending on the situation, and therefore the question needn't be perfectly worded or specific. Most people find asking a question about something that is weighing heavily on you that you may or may not be able to completely put into words is best. However, if you come with a specific and perfectly worded question, bone throwing will still work just fine and allows for a more focused reading. Once the question is asked, the reader shakes the bone throwing set and casts them. Where you cast them is up to you. Some cast on a hard surface or on a fur or cloth with nothing on it; others on a cloth with designated regions; while others still cast in a design drawn in the dirt. Again, where you cast is entirely up to you. I have thrown on cloth with designated regions and on blank surfaces. I like both methods and choose a surface based on the type of question I am asking. For vaguer questions, I prefer a mat with designated regions. This allows for a more focused reading. If my question is more specific, I tend to ignore the designated locations and focus on proximity and reading left to right. Once the bones are cast, they are analyzed and meaning is prescribed to their placement to offer insight into the question asked. Remember to record all your readings in your journal or Book of Shadows. Sometimes it takes a little while for the full message to come into view, so return to your notes for a couple of days after the reading and add to your notes.

Once cast, there are many ways to read the bones:

Left to Right- The bones are considered on a timeline from left to right, with the bones on the left representing the past, those in the middle the present, and those on the right the future or possible outcomes.
Distance from the Reader- Those closest to the reader represent the past, middle present, and those furthest away represent the future or possible outcome.
Non-Linear Orientation- The items are not read in a linear sequence, but instead interpreted as a whole based on their placement on the surface and to each other. This relies more heavily on spiritual guidance.

Of course, these are only a couple of ways to read and by no means the only ways. I encourage you to use your intuition while reading and change up how you read based on the questions being asked.

How to Construct a Bone Set?

Want to make your own "bone tarot?" Creating your own set is pretty fun, but a little time-consuming. Sure, you can buy a set online, and this is a great place to start, but building your own will create a stronger connection between you and the bones. I've talked to other witches who began by buying a set and removing the items that didn't resonate with them and incorporating items into it that did. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and I am still building my own set!

When you begin creating your bone set, start by setting the intention that you are open to receiving objects for use in divination. Then begin going through items you may already have. Check junk drawers and other places you stash random objects. If there is something small that you've never quite been able to let go of, it may be something that belongs in your bone throwing set. Remember, not everything has to be a bone! In fact, you don't need bones at all if that's what you want. Buttons, crystals, small pieces of driftwood, bottle caps, dice, small carved figures, pieces of cardboard tags, seeds and beans, and a variety of other small objects all work! If it speaks to you and feels right in your set, then it's meant to be. However, I do have a couple of things you should keep in mind.

First, you should have an object that represents you. Generally, this object is slightly bigger than the others. Next, the items in your set should mean something. Think about tarot and rune meanings. There is a card or rune that represents health, wealth, love, family, etc. You want a set to have the same sorts of representations so you can get a good reading. I also suggest you add objects that mean yes and no, evil, and decision (a coin is great for this), but you don't have to have these things.

Below is a list of items you may want to include in your bone tarot and some possible meanings for those objects:

feather- flight, travel, communication, messages from the dead
coin- yes/no
wishbone- luck, prosperity, good fortune
skeleton key- transition, open doors, opportunity, crossroads, decisions
quartz point- amplification, positivity, protection, versatility
amethyst- soul, afterlife, psychic ability
fossil- past, ancestors, perseverance
claw- past, present, or future depending on the size
white shell- purity, hope, innocence
curved bone- yes/no
sors bone- fate, destiny, external influences (this is not an actual bone in the body. Instead, its a term, originating from another form of divination, to refer to the smallest, thinnest, or rarest bone in your set. You do not have to prescribe this meaning to any of your small/thin/rare bones. I personally prefer to work with the bones function in the body to determine meaning.)
human finger- singling out an issue
white river rock- purity, innocence, food intentions
black river rock- banishment, bad luck, evil
barnacle- smothered, overwhelmed, chaos
alligator claw- luck, prosperity, opportunities, success
penis bone- love, fertility, luck
coyote bone- trickery, apprehension, fooled by appearances
bean- growth, fertility, opportunity
buckeye nut- abundance, fertility, luck, achievement, employment
hag stone- protection, spiritual transformation, messages
dice- numbers
button- connection, bonds
tooth- communication, truth, lies, rumors (depending on how it faces)

This list is just to give you some ideas and you should prescribe meaning to your objects based on your intuition. As you gather items, spend time holding them and meditating on them to figure out their meaning. Be sure to keep your notes on each item in your Grimoire or Book of Shadows. Items can be removed or added as you see fit, but always write down what you have removed or added an object so you know what your set contains and the meanings of each object. But overall, have fun with it and practice often. It's a truly magical experience to work with a bone tarot set and will flex that intuitive muscle.

And that concludes my series on Bone Magic! I hope this series has been informative and has inspired you to work with animal remains in your practice. Maybe you'll start constructing your own bone throwing set or set out to find your first animal skull. However you decide to work with animal remains, remember to keep their spirits in mind. Always treat them with respect and honor your contracts with them. Your magical practice will surely benefit.

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

Bone Magic Series

Monday, October 14, 2019

*CLOSED* Birthday Giveaway October 2019

Birthday Giveaway October 2019 birthday is on the 20th and I wanted to do something for my readers to celebrate it and all the amazing things that have been happening here on the blog. I still can't believe this blog is 5 years old! It feels like just yesterday I was piecing together posts and struggling with photoshop to make banners. Anyway, this giveaway is HUGE and perfect for witches looking to grow their magical stores. All you have to do is follow me on Instagram and like the giveaway post! Super simple! Giveaway closes Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 11:59am. All entries must be entered prior to the deadline.

Birthday Giveaway October 2019

Giveaway Includes:
+Wooden Moon Box
+Vial of Yarrow Flowers
+Cinnamon Cone Incense
+Bound Grimoire
+Samhain Candle
+Loose Mugwort
+Frankincense & Myrrh Cone Incense
+Selenite Wand
+Tea Candle (Fire element)
+Vial of Mixed Herbs (Earth element)
+Star Anise (Air element)
+Shell (Water element)
+Two Barred Rock Chicken Feather (from my chickens)
+Altar Tile
+Five Clear Quartz Points
+Dyed Quartz in Necklace (purple)
+Sage Bundle
+Wheel of the Year Altar Cloth

To Enter:
+Follow @flyingthehedge on Instagram
+Like my giveaway post

Rules and Conditions:
+Must be 18 years or older
+U.S. Residents Only
+Entires must be completed by October 19th, 2019 at 11:59pm
+One grand prize winner will be selected at random using a random number generator and notified via tag and DM on October 20, 2019.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, Tamed Wild, HEM, or Modern Magix. By entering, entrants confirm that they are 18+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram's terms of use.

Birthday Giveaway October 2019

Good luck!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

October Full Moon Worksheet

October Full Moon Worksheet

This month's Full Moon falls on the 13th! What a magical day! Falling in Aries, this Full Moon may trigger a personal or relationship crisis, but will also provide opportunities to transform, grow, and find happiness. Expect there to be explosive and destructive behaviors, followed by optimism and open-mindedness that will help you and your loved ones navigate what has been brought to the surface. This month's Full Moon worksheet includes all the usuals. The tarot spread is designed to help you identify those potentially destructure behaviors and how to overcome them.

October 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?

Monday, October 7, 2019

Magic of the Crossroads

Magic of the Crossroads

Crossroads show up a lot in witchcraft, especially hedgecraft. It's a liminal space; an in-between; a place where the veil is often thinnest. While many people think of a crossroads as only the intersection of two roads, crossroads take on a myriad of forms, such as a place where land and water meet like the beach, where a field turns into a forest, or even a doorway. Crossroads are any place that two different environments meet or intersect, but is technically neither extreme. Its almost as if crossroads elude categorization. A doorway is neither in nor out of the home, while a crossroads is neither of the roads that intersect at that point. As a hedgewitch, I exploit these liminal places and the magic they can be utilized for. The rituals and magics performed at crossroads can be divided into two categories: 1) activities in which an individual sought help or protection and 2) activities in which the liminal point was exploited.


Historically, crossroads have shown up across multiple cultures for thousands of years, most prominently Graeco-Roman myths. As mentioned in the introduction, crossroads are technically not either extreme, which led to the Greeks and Romans, as well as many others, to associating special traits with these places. Furthermore, crossroads were viewed as the beginning of something, such as a journey that often begins by leaving through a door. Because it was associated with the beginning of a journey, protection rituals were largely performed at crossroads to protect travelers. Many of these rituals for protection involve the goddess Hekate, who is associated with crossroads for a myriad of reasons. Early rituals involved invoking Hekate for protection from spirits and shrines, known as hekataia, were historically erected at crossroads and even around doorways and gates. Some research suggests that these hekataia were regularly fed with offerings the night of the new moon (likely dark moon) which is also a liminal time during the phases of the moon (source, source). Like Hekate, Hermes filled a similar role, providing protection for travelers. Shrines known as herms were also erected at crossroads location, and many myths mention Hermes aiding people in transitions. Similar practices show up in India where the god Bhairava is said to guard the crossroads and stone phalluses and statues of eyes are often erected at such sites to honor him.

Other Graeco-Roman crossroads rituals fall under the second category mentioned above: exploitation of the magics of the crossroads. Sources cite that the remains of home purification rituals were often left at crossroads, a tradition that is still alive and well today. There are some that suggest this tradition likely arose because crossroads did not technically belong to anyone and therefore were appropriate places to leave refuse, including the remains of anyone who committed parricide. According to Plato, officials were to execute the parricide, carry his naked corpse to an appointed crossroads outside the city, and throw rocks at his head to purify the city. Afterward, the corpse was to be carried to the boundary of the state (another liminal place) and thrown out, unburied.

Apart from dealing with "waste," crossroads were used for magical purposes as well. Wax figures were often left at crossroads to perform different magics, including love spells. Other manuscripts mention writing a spell on a three-cornered sherd acquired at the crossroads then hiding it there again. The belief was that the spirits that resided in these liminal places would carry out the spells work. Other spells include women in labor wearing an amulet that contained herbs grown at a crossroads and burying frogs there as a precaution against fever. Crossroads, likely because waste was often disposed of there, was associated with disease, so appeasing the spirits of crossroads was believed to prevent such diseases (source).

These practices were so engrained in Greaco-Roman culture that the festival, Compitalia or the Festival of the Crossroads, was celebrated annually to honor Lares Compitales, the household deities of the crossroads. During the festival, small shrines were erected at the crossroads and families would feast. Woolen dolls (family members) and balls (slaves) were hung on the shrines (source, source). Sacrifices of honey-cakes were made in the early years, but later an oracle demanded that in order for the health and prosperity of each family to remain, the heads of children should be sacrificed to Mania, the underworld goddess, also associated with crossroads and liminal places. Brutus, who later ruled over Rome after overthrowing the Tarquin line of kings, used a verbal loophole to subsitute "heads" of garlic and poppies instead (source).

In the 11th-century, a homily called De Falsis Deis mentions that a god, Mercury or Odin, was also honored at the crossroads by the early Anglo-Saxons. According to the homily, there was a man named Mercury who was deceitful and cunning. The heathens renowned him as a god and honored him with sacrifices at the crossroads, "all through the devil's teaching." This is likely where the modern idea that you can meet the devil at the crossroads arose. Modern English translations of the homily also state, "This false god was honored among the heathens in that day, and he is also called by the name Odin in the Danish manner." It is plausible that this reference is to many different deities, all associated with the crossroads in some respect, whether it be for protection or spellwork (source). Other Anglo-Saxon stories relate to the standing stones erected at crossroads across the British Isles. Originally thought to only mark borders, some folklore suggests witches and Fae could be trapped and prevented from entering our world through liminal places if stones were placed there. Examples include Canrig Bwt, who sleeps under a stone in Northern Wales at Llanberis who fed upon the brains of children, and a nameless witch under the stones at Crumlyn, Monmouthshire (source). The Welsh, like many others, believed that every crossroads was inhabited by spirits. Early English and Irish would often bury the bodies of the unconsecrated or those that committed suicide at crossroads, a practice that continued until at least the 14th century until it was abolished in the early 1800s. No wonder they are haunted!

Germanic folklore mentions that you can become the servant of Der Teufel at crossroads to achieve your heart's desire. Der Teufel is considered by Christians to be the devil. To become his temporary servant required a small sacrifice, but later morphed into the permanent selling of your soul. Germanic folklore also mentions on Walpurgis Night that witches would meet at the crossroads, likely to consort with the devil (source).

In Brazilian folklore, Mula-Sem-Cabeca, a Headless Mule, is a woman cursed by God for her sins, usually sexual in nature. From Thursday's sundown to Friday's sunrise, she is cursed to turn into a fire-spewing headless mule, which runs through the countryside setting it ablaze. The transformation is said to occur at the crossroads (source).

In modern Western folklore, the crossroads has come to be associated with demons and brokering deals. The 1926 story Faust features this legend where the main character summons the demon Mephistopheles at a crossroads. It also is a common theme in 20-century blues songs, such as Sold It To the Devil and Crossroad Blues. The myth has also been further perpetuated by the TV series Supernatural, which I adore.  No matter where we look in the world, crossroads have deep magical roots and have long been viewed as liminal places. I've only mentioned a handful of the dozens of legends, myths, and folktales from around the world. Owlcation has a great article that covers more and offers some great further readings on the topic.

Modern Magic

Crossroads still play a prominent role in many magical traditions, including hedgecraft, traditional witchcraft, Hekatian witchcraft, and Hoodoo. Often times, spell remnants are left at the crossroads. It is considered a neutral way to dispose of spell remains, such as left-over candle wax, ashes, and even ritual bathwater. While this is a fairly common practice, I encourage you to be aware of the nature of the remains you may wish to leave there. Please be mindful of littering and the potential ecological effects your spell remains may have on the environment. I discourage you from disposing of many candle waxes are crossroads, and if your bathwater contained perfumes, synthetic chemicals, and soaps, that you should avoid throwing those out at the crossroads as well. Letting the water drain is a perfectly acceptable way to dispose of ritual bathwater.

Crossroads are also a great place to perform a ritual to learn a specific skill. There are specific Hoodoo rituals detailing this process, however, they usually include bringing the item you wish to master to the crossroads for three or nine specific nights/mornings. On the last visit, the Man in Black is said to arrive and ask for your item. Should you give it to him he will show you how to properly use the item and when you get it back, you suddenly are gifted with talent.

In hedgecraft, the crossroads is exploited as a liminal space to travel to the Otherworld and communicate with spirits. It is a great place to work with local spirits, Fae, or to hedge ride. These are the areas I tend to sit in when I am looking for something more or wish to remove a blockage. If you are feeling stuck and unsure which path to take, try the spell below from Monica Crosson.

"Decorate your altar with Hecate's symbols, including keys, black dog figures, poppies, and hazelnuts. Light a black candle for the wisdom of the crone and say:
Hecate of wisdom and revealer of insight,
I come to the crossroads on this night.
Illuminate the path that is right for me,
As I will it, so mote it be.
Close your eyes and picture yourself at the crossroads. Let the torch of the crone illuminate the path that is right for you."

Looking for another crossroads spell to remove blockages? Try Tarot Pug's spell found here.

There are numerous ways you can use the crossroads in your own practice, from communing with deities to working with spirits. These liminal spaces offer so many excellent opportunities for magic, many of which are not even mentioned here. However, be mindful that crossroads are not just physical places, but times as well, such as the Dark Moon, dusk, dawn, Samhain, and Beltane. Use these places and times to seek protection, commune with spirits, honor your ancestors, leave offerings for a deity, remove a blockage, dispose of spell remains, banish negativity, set goals, seek guidance, or any other magics you deem appropriate to be performed at a liminal space. How do you use liminal places or crossroads in your practice? Leave a comment below!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Reel Magic: Magical Movies and Shows

Reel Magic: Magical Movies and Shows

I watch a lot of movies and TV shows. Apart from reading, movie watching is probably my number one hobby. I love getting lost in stories, magical worlds, and the lives of others, both on a page and on the big screen. October is the perfect time to enjoy some movie watching, especially spooky, magical, and witchy themed movies. It is the spookiest month after all. So without further ado, here are my top choices for magical movies and TV shows to enjoy this October.

1. The VVitch: A New-England Folktale

Ready to live deliciously? This movie is a masterpiece. Written and produced by Robert Eggers, this 2015 film follows a family in 1630s New England as they move out into the country after the father has a religious disagreement with the town. They move to the edge of a forest and strange things begin to happen. The shots are beautifully dark and the story thrilling. It's considered a horror flick, but I'd consider it more suspenseful. The ending shot is absolutely stunning and makes the whole movie worth it in my opinion.

2. The Halloween Tree

This is a Cartoon Network/Hanna-Barbera movie based on Ray Bradbury's book and always gets me ready for Halloween. I grew up watching this film every October and when it stopped airing, I started hunting it down on Amazon and YouTube. The film tells the story of a group of trick-or-treaters who learn about the origins of Halloween while they try to get their friend's soul back after it is spirited away for stealing a pumpkin from the pumpkin tree. Leonard Nimoy plays the role of Mr. Moundshroud, who guides the children on their journey. Ray Bradbury even narrates the film. For those of you with little witchlings, this is a great way to teach them about the best holiday ever.

3. Sleepy Hollow (Tim Burton version)

Can someone make me all of Katrina Van Tassel's dresses? They are some of the best costume dresses ever, especially the one she wears at the end. Plus she's a witch, so what's not to love about her? Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow is a unique take on the Headless Horsemen folktale and includes science, witches, magic, and lots of extremely fake blood. Tim Burton always uses extremely red fake blood as symbolism in all his films and I love it. There are so many great actors and actresses in this movie and it is perfectly dark.

4. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix Series)

Get over the controversy witches because this show is riveting. I loved every minute of it. It's filled with magic, witches, snarky comments from Aunt Zelda, and just enough suspense to keep you on your toes. This remake of the TV show is based upon the comic and does the comic such justice. It even has a Christmas special you can watch in December so you can continue the witchy October celebrations on through December.

5. Stranger Things (Netflix Series)

This may seem a little odd on a list of magical movies and TV shows to watch, but hear me out. The Upsidedown is an excellent metaphor for the Otherworld. The Otherworld runs parallel to ours, just like the Upsidedown, and it's very possible there are places like the Upsidedown within the Otherworld. Stranger Things follows a group of kids, a police chief, and Winona Ryder (haha!) as they battle against creatures from the Upsidedown to save their small town. If you haven't seen it yet, be prepared for the emotional rollercoaster you're about to jump on. I guarantee you will get attached to all of the characters. I keep coming back to rewatch it and you will too.

6. Howl's Moving Castle

This animated film is my absolute favorite Miyazaki film, followed closely by Spirited Away (which also contains witches and magic and is also on this list!). Howl's Moving Castle is set in a time where both magic and modern technology exists together. It follows the story of a young woman named Sophie who is turned into an old woman after she scorns a witch. To break the curse, she must break the curse of a famous wizard, Howl, who gave his heart to a fire demon. It's such a beautifully animated film that everyone in the family can enjoy all year around.

7. Spirited Away

Another Miyazaki film, this coming of age story tells the tale of Chihiro who enters the world of spirits after her parents are turned into pigs. Full of magic, dragons, spirits, and witches, this is a great film to watch any time of the year and is perfect for the little witchlings. It too is stunningly animated and I love the representation of spirits and offerings in this film. Based on my experiences, it's pretty accurate.

8. Penny Dreadful

This TV series takes place in Victorian England and is supposedly based on Penny Dreadfuls. I'm here to tell you it isn't but is instead based on gothic novels written during the Victorian period, including Dracula, Frankenstein, and A Picture of Dorian Gray. Side note, the most famous penny dreadful, which were short stories you could purchase for a penny, is Sweeney Todd, who is not in this series, unfortunately. It's filled with suspense, magic, witches, and magical creatures. Eva Green is a force to be reckoned with in this series. Furthermore, this series contains one of my favorite scenes in cinematic history which you can find here. As a fellow scientist, Dr. Sweet spoke to my soul in this scene and I will never forget his line, "If only we would stop and look and wonder. Wonder..." I deeply connected to this entire series, and believe its a beautifully magical series. It's another emotional rollercoaster so be prepared. There is so much more I could say about this series, but you'll just have to watch it to understand my love for it.

9. The Addams Family (1991)

What isn't there to love about this film? It's not very magical, but it still has big witch vibes. I want a love like Morticia and Gomez Addams. Plus they've raised two, healthy, aware children. What isn't there to like about this odd family?! I haven't seen the animated film out now, but I'm sure its cute for kids.

10. Practical Magic

Yeah, I included it because how could I not? It's one of my favorite witchy movies and it deserves its place on this list. Need I say more?

Edit: I need to throw out the TV mini series by Cartoon Network, Over the Garden Wall. If you have not seen this wonderfully spooky animated series, you need to get on that. The music is absolutely beautiful and the animation is stunning. The story is thought provoking, cute, yet also very creepy. It'll totally get you ready for Halloween.

You may notice several famously witchy movies are not on the list such as Hocus Pocus, The Witches of Eastwick, The Witches, Halloween Town, Nightmare Before Christmas, and a slew of others. They are all amazing movies to watch during October; they just appear on every witch movie list imaginable. I wanted to offer some other movies and TV shows that are often overlooked to spice things up. Have a movie you love to watch that isn't on the list? Drop the name in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Book Review: What Is Remembered Lives by Phoenix LeFae

Book Review: What Is Remembered Lives by Phoenix LeFae

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.

If I am honest, I am still on an ancestor kick. I am currently on the lookout for a good altar to set up in my library and when I saw What Is Remembered Lives by Phoenix LeFae on NetGalley, I knew it would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book, and not all of them good. I'll begin with what I didn't like.

While reading through the Table of Contents and the background information on the author, there were a couple of red flags that popped up. These included cultural appropriation and her largely Wiccan background. Now I have zero issues with Wiccans. It isn't my practice but based on the title, I was hoping for a different take on working with deities, ancestors, and the fae. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Wicca was only really present in the rituals mentioned in the book, and those are easily changed to fit your own practices. The cultural appropriation, however, was less forgivable. As I began reading, my fears were almost snuffed out by her having part of a chapter dedicated to cultural appropriation where she discussed close cultures and cultural theft. However, on the very next page, she starts culturally appropriating from Hindu and Native American cultures. Each of her rituals mentions smudging, with complete disregard for Native American culture. Every time she mentioned smudging in her rituals, I cringed. I can forgive someone who doesn't know any better, but after you clearly discuss cultural appropriation then steal from closed cultures anyway, you have no excuse. There are some Voodoo practices and deities mentioned in the text as well, but LeFae claims to be initiated into Voodoo, so I can't knock her there if she is really initiated.

There were also a couple minor issues that really bothered me. First, her use of the term Godd. Originally she did this to use a gender-neutral term for the deities, and I loved it, but there were several areas where it seemed she forgot that she was using Godd instead of God and Goddess. It seemed she more often than not forgot to use Godd when talking about goddesses. This made the use of Godd seem insincere and contrived. Second, she dedicated very little of her book to ancestor work. It was a little disappointing. The vast majority of the book is working with deities, which is fine, but I was hoping for more on ancestors and fae.

Other than the above-mentioned issues, the book is overall a great read. I know it seems like I hated the book, but I didn't. There are a lot of really wonderful rituals and spells included throughout that are worth purchasing the book for. LeFae begins with a great grounding ritual and dedicated several chapters on how to connect with deities, ancestors, and the fae in a deeper, more meaningful way. For those looking into hedge riding, her pathwalking rituals are a great place to start. Furthermore, she breaks down finding your astral garden/office which she refers to as a Place of Power. No matter what you call it or how you imagine it, its all essentially the same thing. If you are struggling to travel to the Otherworld, her pathwalking ritual to reach your "Place of Power" may help you hedge cross. Her deity rituals were beyond beautiful. They all included pathwalking rituals that can be read and recorded for solitary practitioners or used in group rituals. The deity rituals were by far my favorite part of the book and her view of deities was different from what I am used to. LeFae seems to view deities more as spirits that rose to "power" through belief. I rather like this idea of deities. Furthermore, she mentions multiple different ways to work with different deities, depending on the magic you wish to sew. The rituals focused on actual magic, instead of just meeting with a deity.

While her ancestor section was rather short and lacked in rituals, it provided excellent information on the different types of ancestors and briefly how you can work with each. Her list of potential Mighty Dead to work with was fantastic and was essentially a short history of magical figures that have shaped modern neopaganism. I'll be honest; there were people and stories mentioned in this chapter that I didn't know or hadn't heard. I also loved that she mentioned that a lot of the fantastical initiation stories were likely made up, but that those fantastical stories were needed in the beginning to bring validity to the Craft. I agree with her in this regard and love her rational approach to the world and working with spirits.

The final section covers working with the Fae. She is sure to mention that the Fae include a large range of spirits, most of which are local. I am a huge supporter of practicing local witchcraft and working with the spirits of the land. When you are in tune with the spirits that live around your home, you'll notice that your magic will benefit as a whole. The spirits around you want to help you. I'm glad LeFae made this connection and encouraged her readers to reach out to these spirits and develop a practice that involves them. Furthermore, she provides a practical list of "rules" on how to work with the Fae, including being clear in your intent and not thanking them for their help verbally, but instead with offerings. Furthermore, she mentions the use of iron around Fae and how this folklore likely originated. My experiences have been rather similar to those of LeFae in that I haven't found iron specifically hurts the Fae, but out of respect, I don't bring it around them if I can help it. Overall, they dislike man-made things and prefer natural items.

All in all, this book is worth the purchase and worth the read, if not just for the lovely pathwalking rituals and guided meditations. To any witch or hedgewitch looking to expand their spirit working practice, this book offers some great suggestions, rituals, and information about a variety of ways to work with all sort of amazing spirits. I encourage you to recognize the cultural appropriation and modify those practices in your own Craft. I am of the mind that we can appreciate a book and author while recognizing their flaws. Her book will be available October 8, 2019!

Have you read anything great lately? Have a book you want me to review? Please leave a comment below!