Monday, March 30, 2020

Apothecary At Home: A New Subscription Box for the Budding Herbalist

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I am super excited to share a new subscription box that will be launching later this year with all of you. Apothecary At Home is an upcoming month-to-month subscription box that will introduce aspiring healers to Western Herbalism. Each box will contain 1-3 herbal allies, seeds, growing materials, medicine-making projects, and study resources designed to teach you herbalism from the comfort of your own home. I am a huge supporter of hands-on-learning and strongly believe in teaching someone how to fish rather than simply handing them a fish. Many herbal subscription boxes on the market send you a box full of already made remedies in the hope that you'll come back to buy more of their products when you run out. Apothecary At Home takes this idea and turns it on its head by teaching you how to become the herbalist. Better yet, it's a small business, created and founded by witches just like you and me.

You can sign up to receive updates about the box and possibly win a lifetime subscription on their landing page now. I'm so excited about this box, and can't wait to review the first box!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Tansy

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Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Health, Longevity
Magical Uses and History: Tansy's scientific name Tanacetum vulgare comes from "Athanaton" meaning "immortal" or "immortality." According to Greek myth, Zeus made Ganymede, a youth he fell in love with, immortal by having him drink a juice made from tansy. However, tansy is regarded as toxic and has a history of being used as a poison for both humans and pests alike. It is likely Ganymede was made immortal through death. As such, tansy can be carried or worn to promote longevity or can be used in banishment spells to rid yourself of unwanted people, events, or spirits.

Despite being toxic, tansy is a preservative and was often used for embalming or during funeral rites because of its slow decomposition. The scent of the flowers was believed to help the spirits of the dead on their journey to the afterlife. They can be placed on an ancestral altar to honor loved ones or used to contact spirits.

Furthermore, tansy is an herb of Spring, signifying rebirth and renewal. Place it on your altar to honor Venus.

Tansy can be used in a number of spells including:
    Longevity Spells
    Death Magic
    Spirit Work
    Ancestral Veneration

Medicinal Uses: Tansy is most commonly used to treat intestinal parasites, specifically roundworms and threadworms. As a bitter, it can stimulate digestion and help ease dyspepsia or indigestion. Topically, tansy cream can be used to treat scabies. However, tansy is toxic in high dosages and should be used in moderation as it contains thujone, a psychedelic and poison. It can also stimulate menstruation and should not be taken by women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant.

Preparation and Dosage: Internally, tansy flowers can be taken as an infusion. Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried flower and allow it to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink up to twice a day. This infusion can also be applied to the skin to treat scabies.  As a tincture, take 1-2 milliliters of the tincture three times a day.

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!
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Monday, March 23, 2020

Spring Equinox Altar 2020

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Ostara or the Spring Equinox marks the first day of Spring in most traditions. It is a celebration of new life, fertility, prosperity, and abundance. The Sun begins warming the Earth, melting the snow and bringing with it an abundance of new life. Dandelions and daffodils bloom in full colors, trees begin to blossom, and the birds, bees, and rabbits return to feast upon the new blossoms. Because the Equinox is a time of equality, equal day and night, I wanted to create a balanced altar with some symbolism of this duality represented. I used traditional symbols of spring, including pinks, greens, and blues as well as eggs, rabbits, and flowers, all of which embody the spirit of Spring.

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1. White Candles- White is the color of purity and new beginnings. Life is starting anew as Spring arrives, and the flame represents the Sun who breathes life back into the Earth by fertilizing Her with His vibrant rays. The white sand in the bottom of the candle holder represents the last of the snow that is melting away, nourishing the soil with life-giving waters. I chose the iridescent candleholders because their colors remind me of Spring, the light blues, pinks, and yellows commonly associated with this time of year. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree (2018-2020); Cost: $1 for each candle holder and $1 for all the candles)

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2. Marble Egg- The blue, marble egg is the ultimate symbol of fertility and new beginnings. As Spring begins, the birds flock back to their mating grounds, building nests and laying eggs that will give birth to the next generation. I placed it in the center of my altar as fertility is the predominant theme of Ostara. The blue color represents healing, calm, and femininity, something I believe is currently lacking in the world right now. (Where did I get it: Free; a gift from my family. It could easily be replaced with a plastic egg or a real egg for $0.25; Egg holder: Target 2018; $1)

3. Ceramic White and Gold Rabbits:  Rabbits, due to their rapid breeding, are strongly associated with fertility, new life, and new beginnings. They are also one of the first animals to appear in the spring, making them considered the harbingers of Spring. This year I chose to place both a white and gold rabbit on my altar. The white rabbit represents the purity of the Spring Earth and the rapid blossoming of the trees. The golden rabbit represents the nourishing rays of the Sun who showers the Earth with the abundance of His radiant glow. Together they represent the duality of equal day and night characteristic of the Spring Equinox. (Where did I get it: Hobby Lobby 2017; Cost: $3 each)

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4. Yarn Carrots- Carrots, with their phallic shape, represent masculinity, lust, and fertility. In fact, carrots are believed to cure impotence in men and increase fertility in women, making them the perfect addition to an Ostara altar. Furthermore, their orange color represents fire, passion, and the Sun.  (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2020; Cost: $1 for a package of 4)

5. Green Aventurine- The light hues of the green aventurine represent the new life sprouting up in the warming Earth and abundance. Furthermore, aventurine is known as a balancing crystal, helping to balance both masculine and feminine energy, making it the perfect crystal to represent the Spring Equinox. I placed two aventurine crystals on my altar to represent this duality and harmony between masculine and feminine energy. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Store; Cost: $1 each)

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6. Pink Flower Incense Holder- In the center is an incense holder without the incense. I used it because of its pink color and flower shape. The flower represents the new blossoms of Spring, and being pink, it represents love and unity, which results in the flowering fruits so abundant at this time. (Where did I get it: Five Below 2019; Cost: $3)

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TOTAL COST: ~$15-16

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found or purchased for around $1, although if the items must be purchased by you, then the cost will be higher. I hope you find this sort of break down helpful, especially those of you looking to create Instagram perfect altars on a budget!

How did you celebrate the Spring Equinox/Ostara this year?

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Book Review: The Sacred Herbs of Spring by Ellen Evert Hopman

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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.

Yes, I know. A second book review in a row, but this is mostly what I have been doing to distract myself from some of the things going on in my life. In case you don't follow me on IG or FB, my youngest cat, Charlie, was recently at the emergency vet for several days. He is home now and doing well considering, but needless to say it was an extremely scary 4 days on top of COVID-19 closing almost everything around me, including my work. So reading and working from home is mostly what I have been doing to distract myself. But I am glad I've been reading because this book was great!

Hopman's previous book, The Sacred Herbs of Samhain, keeps popping up in my Amazon suggestions and I've seen it reviewed and posted about numerous times over the past couple of months. I am certainly interested in the book and when I was given the opportunity to review her newest book, The Sacred Herbs of Spring, I jumped on the opportunity. I was not disappointed! Hopman is a Druid and master herbalist, and it shows in her writing. Each chapter is filled with herbs and plants scared to Beltane based upon what you can use them for. Much like my herbarium posts, Hopman discussed each plant's folklore and their medicinal uses. For many of the plants, she also includes delicious recipes for culinary dishes as well as herbal remedies. Each description also comes with an extensive warning, allowing the reader to make an informed choice as to which plants they may or may not want to use. Furthermore, Hopman includes extensive research and cites her sources faithfully. As a scholar, I greatly appreciated her attention to detail.

My favorite chapter was over herbs to use to contact spirits and the Otherworld, but I felt some of the entries were lacking. There was much more Hopman could have included in this chapter, but for those interested in Otherworldly travel, it's a great introduction to some of the herbs you can use. Apart from otherworldly travel, Hopman also includes extensive sections on protection, clarity, love, and to attract nature spirits. She ends the book with a discussion of Beltane traditions, folklore, and foods. Her writing style is authoritative and scholarly but not boring. She weaves a story about each herb, sucking the reader in. I gobbled this book up in three days and strongly encourage anyone interested in plant folklore or herbal uses purchase this book up!

My only complaint about the book is that it does not, in fact, include a detailed description of what the plants look like. While I know a lot about herbs, there were some that I was not sure what they looked like and found myself Googling them. The temporary ARC I read had botanical prints at the beginning of the book, but not paired with the herbs in each chapter. I strongly encourage readers, especially those with limited herbal knowledge, to pair this book with a companion field guide. Hopman includes all the scientific names, so using a field guide should be rather easy. When it doubt, avoid using an herb unless you are 100% sure you are picking the right thing. Buying online from a reputable dealer is best for those unskilled in herbal identification.

The Sacred Herbs of Spring by Ellen Evert Hopman is available for pre-order now and will be released on May 1st, 2020 so pick up your copy today!

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Book Review: Water Witchcraft- Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition by Annwyn Avalon

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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.

Keeping with the theme of Water, I recently finished Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition by Annwyn Avalon. Avalon is the author of the amazing Patheos blog, The Water Witch. I used Avalon's book to help me write some of my water folklore, specifically the part about wells in water witchcraft. While working with all the elements is beneficial, some of you may wish to focus more on the element Water than others and that's where this amazing book comes in.

Avalon digs deep into the history, folklore, and science behind Water, specifically bodies of water such as wells, rivers, lakes, marshes, and the ocean. Avalon begins by introducing the concept of water witchcraft and gives a basic overview of how water witches practice. I love that she makes notes about how, like most paths, no one water witch practices the same way. After discussing the basic similarities, Avalon begins discussing different bodies of water and how water witches have historically and modernly used them for magical purposes. The history is sound, and while there are no in-text citations, the digging I did to confirm her folklore turned up to be highly accurate. Its obvious Avalon spent extensive time researching prior to writing the book which I greatly appreciate. There is nothing I hate more than cross-checking information to find an author made some egregious errors, especially when it comes to folklore.

Scattered throughout the book are a series of exercises to help you set up a water altar, connect with local water sources, and even "hedge ride." I think Avalon's clear references to hedge riding and crossing over to the Otherworld is what ultimately won me over. There are so few books out there that cover or even mention hedge riding or hedge crossing, and it was fantastic that Avalon specifically discussed how water, especially lakes, wells, and mists, can act as portals for both spirits and humans alike to pass. For those struggling with my more Earth-centered approach to hedge riding, water may be a better option for you. Apart from the exercises, Avalon also offers extensive lists of tools, deities, nature spirits, and spells to get you started on your path. I enjoyed her spell section and it sparked a lot of great ideas for future spells and potential blog posts.

However, there were some problems I had with the book. I was most surprised by the lack of editing in some sections. Weiser Books is normally really great about catching grammatical errors and repeating phrases or sentences, but they dropped the ball in some sections. Avalon also has a habit of rambling a bit in some sections, repeating herself multiple times within the same paragraph. This may be because she took breaks in the middle of chapters from writing and forgot what she had written, or she was just so excited to be writing a book about her favorite topic that she wanted to make her point. Either case, it was at worst annoying, but usually easy to ignore. There is also a discussion of snakes and how they are poisonous and this biologist nearly threw the book across the room. Have we not figured out by now that snakes are venomous? This is honestly what angered me the most about the book, but I'm sure most people would gloss right over it without a second thought. My science heart died a little. But apart of those issues, the book is sound and well worth a read, especially by those wishing to spend more time with Water than I have time for in my Elemental Magic Series.

Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition is available now. You can also find her on Patheos at The Water Witch. Whether you purchase the book or just follow her blog, I'm sure you will find her writing extremely useful and well worth the attention.

Have you read anything lately? Is there a book you are thinking of purchasing but are unsure of that you'd like me to read first? Please leave suggestions in the comments below!

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Tarot vs Oracle: What's the Difference?

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

March Worm Moon Worksheet

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March's Full Moon, referred to as the Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, or Storm Moon, is often a violent one. March is known for coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, a reference to the storms that almost always plague this month, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Because of these storms, the moon gets several of its many names. After heavy showers, worms flock to the surface looking for air. With these worms come birds, who feast upon an easy meal. March is a perfect time for using the rain and storms to wash away previous expectations, guilt, or ideas, and start anew. Begin planting the seeds for the future, work fertility magic, cleanse, and make dramatic changes to your life.

This month's Full Moon worksheet contains the usuals of my past Full Moon worksheets, including a to release and cleanse section, a box for your intuition, and a tarot spread. Unlike past worksheets, however, this one can be used every March, as it is based on the correspondences of the moon itself and not other astrological events. The tarot spread for this month features 3 cards specifically designed to help you figure out what changes you need to make to live your best life!

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

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Elemental Magic: Connecting with Water Ritual

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Now that we have covered water folklore and correspondences in great detail, its time to actually start working with water! Today I share a ritual to help you connect with Water more intimately and start building the foundation for healing and change. There are several tasks in this post and I encourage you to perform each of them with fidelity. Before we get started, however, I'd like to discuss what I put together for the first task presented last week.

The first task was to discover local water sources, map out where they are, and learn as much as you could about them, including their source, ending point, and any associated folklore. I set out to learn a little bit more about the bodies of water near my home, which included me discovering a new creek just down the road!

I am situated outside of Atlanta near two large lakes: Lake Allatoona and Lake Acworth. There are no naturally occurring lakes in Georgia. Every single one of them is man-made, including the two I live closest too. That doesn't make them any less magical, however. While I couldn't find any folklore associated with either of these lakes, I remember the "rumors" about them I grew up hearing. You see, I grew up in a house that backed up to Corp property. That meant we had trails galore heading down to Lake Allatoona. I spent all of my summer days and evenings tromping through the woods, playing in the creek, catching salamanders, and swimming in the lake. I came home muddy and smelly every day, but it was so worth it. As a child, we had all sorts of stories about how the lake formed. Supposedly the state flooded the area of a Native American burial site and the souls of those bodies now drown by the lake were restless and would sweep across the water at night. This explained the mists hovering above the water in the early morning hours. However, it isn't a flooded burial ground, but parts of it were part of a campground prior to the construction of the Allatoona Dam. The lake is mostly used to prevent flooding, generate electricity, and act as a recreational site. Several TV shows and movies, such as The Ozarks were filmed on Lake Allatoona and it brings in a lot of revenue each year. Its fed by a number of streams and creeks and rivers and "ends" in the Etowah River.

The Etowah River is also right by my house with the easiest location to enter it being roughly 5 or 6 miles down the road. The Etowah River begins in Dahlonega, Georgia and snakes around the upper part of the state, including right by my home, and into Rome, Georgia where it ends to form the Coosa River.  It's roughly a U-shape and while on paper it looks like it shouldn't flow the way it does, the elevation north of me in the mountains is actually lower in elevation than where I live! There is more folklore associated with the Etowah River because of the Etowah Indian Burial Mounds, but not much otherwise.

Apart from these two large bodies of water, I found through Google Maps a large pond behind my neighborhood that is part of a horse farm, a small unnamed creek behind the neighborhood next to mine, and W. Creek about a mile down the road. Unfortunately, I couldn't find public places to enter these bodies of water, but when I was stuck in traffic, looking at W. Creek, I was able to take a moment to reach out my energy to it and found that this is probably the most magical body of water close to my house. I am going to spend more time figuring out how to get to it and maybe ask the local landowners if I can visit. I am an environmental science teacher and I would like to test the water quality after all.

What were you able to find on your search?

Finding local water sources in your area is the first step in developing a deeper relationship with the elements that is also local in nature. I cannot stress enough how important it is that your craft be a local one. It's much easier to develop relationships with the spirits nearby than it is to attempt a long-distance relationship. As much as we may want it to work, things always end up falling apart, unless your in the movie the Lake House or something. Those two loved each other across time, but most of us find those types of relationships extremely difficult to cultivate and grow long-term.

Before we can dive into connecting fully with these local bodies of water, however, we need to establish a connection with Water in the first place! This ritual can be performed in a bathtub, shower, or by simply dipping your hands into a dish of water. I recognize that not everyone has a bathtub or can easily bathe on their own. As long as you are able to feel the Water in some way then you're good.

  • Bathtub, shower, or bowl of water (large enough to place your hands in without water spilling over)
  • Glass of cool, drinkable water
  • Towel
Begin by running a warm bath or shower, or filling a bowl with cool water. Place the glass of water and towel somewhere you can reach it during this ritual.

If you are performing this ritual in the bath or shower, undress and enter the bath in a sitting position. Dip a finger in the water and draw an upside-down triangle around your naval. If you are familiar with chakras, this would be your sacral chakra which is associated with Water, intuition, and emotion. hence why people often say they have a "gut feeling" about things. Next, close your eyes and enter into a light meditative state. If you are using a bowl of water, submerge your hands into the bowl. Feel the Water around you and envision it in your mind. Hold onto this vision and reach your energy out to the Water around you. Feel its warmth or coolness seeping into your skin becoming one with you while your energy blends with it.

Hold on to this moment as long as you can and when ready let your mind trace the water down the drain or through the floor, back to the water treatment plant or underground, and out to the river. Travel with the water through the rapids, becoming one with it. If you are in a bath, sink into the water, melding with it as you travel. Try to travel with the water all the way to the ocean, becoming one with the salty waves. Feel the stresses of your daily life leaving you and the wildness of water replacing it. As you travel out into the ocean, feel it becoming calm and soothing. Allow your cares to wash away with it.

When you are ready, slowly pull your mind back to your body. You may find that your light meditation has deepened and it takes some time to return. Slowly open your eyes and if you are laying down lay there for a moment before sitting up. If you sit up too quickly you may become dizzy. If you are using a bowl of water, remove your hands and lightly dry them with the towel.

Grab the glass of water and close your eyes. Envision a blue or silver upside-down triangle in front of you then visualize it sinking into the glass infusing the water with the power of water you just experienced. Swirl the glass in your hand, slowing swirling the symbol of Water into the glass. When done, drink the glass of water, thus allowing the element to become one with you. Sit, drinking the water until the entire glass is gone. Not only will this help you join with the spirit of Water, but it also helps ground and rehydrate you after your journey.

When you are finished, lightly towel off, thank the Water for its time and be sure to journal about your experience. Keeping detailed notes is an integral part of any practice, and will help you keep track of your elemental magic journey should you need to come back to parts of it later. Next week I will include a ritual for connecting specifically with local water sources.

I love altars. I like designing them. I like looking at them. I like using them. Altars, especially when placed somewhere you frequent, are a great reminder to practice magic daily. They are also a great way to build a relationship with something, such as an element. Once you have established a connection with Water through the ritual above, you need to continue to nurture it so it may grow and one of the best ways to do that is with an altar dedicated just to water.

At least until Ostara, dedicate your altar to Water. How you set up your altar is completely up to you, but I encourage you to place a bowl of water on your altar as well as other symbols associated with Water. Below are some ideas of items to include:
  • a blessed bowl, cup, or chalice of water
  • seashells
  • lapis lazuli, pearls, amethyst, aquamarine, blue agate, sodalite, moonstone, coral
  • ammonite, crinoid, or fossilized horn coral
  • cup tarot cards
  • ferns, moss, willow, or seaweed
  • driftwood
  • fishing net
  • witch balls
  • blue or green marbles or jewels
  • sea glass
  • sand
  • any other gifts you have collected along rivers, streams, lakes, or oceans
Once you have set up your altar, spend about 15 minutes a day lightly meditating about Water and the ritual experience you had. Dip your fingers into the water and draw an upside-down triangle around your belly button each time you do this. This process will ensure you form a bond with Water so you may use it intuitively in your spells in the future.


And there you have it! Let me know how things went in the comments below. I'll share my experiences next week and will provide a sneak peek into my water altar as well. You'll likely get to preview it later this week on Instagram so make sure to follow me there!

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

Elemental Magic Series

Introduction to the Elements
Water Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Water Ritual
Water Spells and Rituals
Earth Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Earth Ritual
Earth Spells and Rituals
Fire Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Fire Ritual
Fire Spells and Rituals
Air Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Air Ritual
Air Spells and Rituals
Spirit Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting with Spirit Ritual
Spirit Spells and Rituals
Putting It All Together

Looking for more information on the elements? Check out my posts on the topic:

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Elemental Magic: A Complete Guide to Water Folklore & Correspondences

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The first stop on our elemental journey is Water, the element of emotions, healing, purification, and renewal. It is the perfect element to work with during the winter months because it is during winter that we spend time reflecting and setting goals for the future. This reflection process often includes shadow work where we confront past traumas to heal and break bad habits. Shadow work is by no means easy and takes more than a little self-reflection to work, but Water can help with the process greatly, especially in the beginning stages. In today's post, I will discuss the element Water in all her glory, from her history to her correspondences to how she works with the other elements. Because of the brevity of folklore and my personal background as a hedgewitch, I am mostly going to focus on European folklore regarding water. Saddle up because this is an incredibly long post because the history of water began with us.

Humans have always been deeply connected with water, which makes sense considering we are mostly comprised of water and need it to survive. Just a couple days without water and we die. Our ancestors knew this as well and discovered quite quickly that water had the ability to sustain and restore life, as well as take it away. Throughout history and across all cultures, water was revered, being associated with deities, spirits, souls, and the Otherworld. One of the most famous tales is of the River Styx, the river in Hades or the Underworld that separates the living world from that of the dead. To cross said river, you had to secure passage from Charon, the ferrymen, by paying him a coin. However, water folklore goes back even further.

Before the Roman invasion, much of Europe was inhabited by a series of tribes, united by a common language and similar spiritual beliefs, called the Celts. The Celts believed water to be sacred and viewed it as a liminal place, a place between our world and the Otherworld. As such, a series of myths arose around major water sources across Europe. When the Romans, who had their own set of water beliefs and rituals, invaded, they meshed many of the Celtic ideas of water with their own. These traditions were so prevalent and such a cornerstone of society, that when the Christians invaded sometime later, they found it impossible to squash the pagan beliefs. Instead of trying to stamp it out, they wrote over the pagan names with Christian names (much like they did with our holidays), thus preserving much of the folklore related to water, even to this day. From wells and springs to rivers and lakes to the wide-open ocean, folklore abounds.

Across Europe, especially in the UK, there are several sacred wells and natural founts or springs riddled with folklore. While different in location and water type, it was generally believed that these sources of water were imbued with healing properties that could cure just about any ailment. Archeological sites, folklore, and existing wells inform us that there were a number of sacred wells designated across Europe as healing wells. Many of these wells were originally revered by the Celts and later picked up by the Romans who enhanced many well practices across the continent by encouraging the practices and adding their own twist. The Roman philosopher Seneca declared, "Where a spring rises or a water flows there ought we to build altars and offer sacrifices." The Romans took this very seriously, building a series of shrines across the continent. When the Christians arrived, they adopted these same practices, turning the sacred wells into holy places with holy water named after saints. Some of the most famous of these healing wells include Chalice Well in Glastonbury and the Temple of Sulis at Bath. Chalice Well is a red well, meaning the water has a reddish tint due to iron deposits, which has long associated the well with blood and healing. It is believed to be the final resting place of the Holy Grail, hence the name Chalice Well. However, archaeological evidence suggests that the well has been in constant use for over two thousand years, long before the Christian arrived in England. In fact, dozens of flints have been found from the upper Paleolithic to Mesolithic period as well as a sherd from the Iron Age. Historically, the water was used to heal a variety of ailments, including to cure asthma. More recently, the well has become known as a symbol of feminine transformation (again think blood). The Temple of Sulis, however, is one of the few remaining wells or baths with a name that is not Roman or Christian. This suggests that the goddess Sulis, the Goddess of the Gap, was so entrenched in the culture that she couldn't be removed. The Temple of Sulis is a hot spring outside of Bath that has long used for healing and rejuvenation, the warm water being used as a cure-all for whatever ailments one had. The springs were popular well into the 20th century. In fact, it was so heavily used, it shows up in literature from the time and modern-day movies and some of the baths are still open to the public today. These curative properties associated with wells makes sense when we look at the chemistry of the water. Water that bubbles up from the earth is full of minerals that also have therapeutic properties while others are toxic. These minerals include calcium, bicarbonates, irons, sulfur, magnesium, and salt, but also arsenic and radon gas. Magnesium helps regulate cellular processes and muscle relaxation while iron cures anemia and fatigue and calcium aids in bone growth and healing as well as digestive disorders. Radon and arsenic, however, are toxic, and likely explain the visions people received after drinking or bathing in these water sources.

However, like all things, wells not only had the power to heal but also the power to curse. Despite Sulis Temple being largely used for its healing and restorative powers, it was also used for cursing, an ode to the dual nature of the Goddess of the Gap, the goddess between our world and the next. When archeological digs began, more than one hundred lead curse tablets were found inscribed mostly with curses for people who had done them harm or stolen from them (likely their clothes!). Part of this association with cursing may also arise from the fact that some of the sacred wells contained toxic water or even water that would turn living things to stone, like Dropping Well. Items that fall into Dropping Well, including animals, leaves, insects, and votive offerings, quickly turned to stone. At the time, it was believed to be the work of witches, but modern science tells us the waters at Dropping Well contain high levels of carbonates, sulfates, and silica that coat the objects in a layer of mineral thus turning them to "stone." As a hedgewitch, however, I find that I am most drawn to the folklore surrounding wells as being portals to the Otherworld.

Water has often been viewed as a liminal space, a point between our realm and that of the spirits. Wells, in particular, had been not only been revered for their curative and cursing properties but also for their connection with the Otherworld as a portal. One of my favorite stories that hint at wells being portals is The Horned Women. In this Celtic folktale, a wealthy woman's home is overrun by 12 horned witches who set to the task of spinning wool. The woman, upon seeing all these witches in her home tries to awake her family and finds she cannot move or speak until the witches ask for her to make them a cake. She asks to fetch water and they tell her to use a sieve and return with haste lest her family suffer. Try as she might, she cannot fill the sieve with water and falls to the ground weeping next to the well. A voice from the well tells her to not despair and that she should fill the sieve with yellow clay and moss and when she returns home she should say "The mountain of the Fenian women and the sky over it is all on fire." She thanks the well and does as she was asked. Upon hearing the mountain was on fire, the witches cry out in anguish and flee. The well again speaks to the woman and explains how she can safeguard her house from the witches. Not long after the witches return, demanding entry, but the spells hold and they are not allowed to enter the. In a fit of rage, having lost what they believed to be an easy meal, they flee into the night, cursing the well for cursing them. The voice in the well suggests that spirits can cross between realms at such locations and that it may be possible for humans to do so as well. The latter is also mentioned in the Brothers Grimm folktale, Mother Holle. In the tale, a young girl pricks her finger on a spindle and falls into a well where she passes into the Otherworld and meets Mother Holle who gifts her with gold after she completes a series of tasks. Again, this tale strongly suggests wells can be used to travel to the Otherworld. In the Yucatan forest, the Mayans, like the Celts, viewed their wells as portals to the Otherworld known as Xibalba. They believed that the holes filled with water, also called cenotes, were passages back in time to the time of the gods. And this isn't just wells that are associated with being portals. Lakes and rivers are also deeply associated with astral travel and the Otherworld, as seen with the Lady of the Lake and the River Styx.

In modern hedgecraft, wells, rivers, and lakes can be used to help you travel to the Otherworld by acting as your beginning location. When you begin the visualization to enter into the Otherworld, many witches, especially those deeply connected with water, can visualize a body of water to act as a gate. To travel to the Otherworld using a well or another body of water, visualize yourself descending into its waters, swimming deep into the darkness until you reach a light at the end of the tunnel. You may find yourself just about to give up, running out of air, before you finally break the surface on the other side. Once you have reached the other side, be sure to travel back the same way you came so you can return safely to your body.

Apart from wells and founts, rivers played a key role in many folktales that still survive to this day. As already mentioned, several myths involving the Underworld include traveling across a river, such as the River Styx or Sildir from Norse mythology. As such, rivers became associated with death as well as life. In the case of the Egyptians, the Nile River was viewed as a life-bringer as annual flooding brought life-giving water and fertile silt to the valleys so crops could flourish. The Nile was so prominent in Egyptian life that it was given its own god, Hapi. The annual flooding was often referred to as the "Arrival of Hapi." However, the Nile was also viewed as a portal to the Underworld, that the souls of the dead crossed the "river of heaven" heading west to set and then rising again to be reborn in the east. Mesopotamia had similar myths. In the Sumerian poem, Gilgamesh and the Netherworld, the god Enki travels to the Underworld via a boat on a river. This idea is further perpetuated in The Babylonian Theodicy which states "Of course our fathers pay passage to go death's way, / I too will cross the river of the dead, / as is commanded from the old." We see similar stories appearing across Europe as well, with the Greek River Styx and the Celtic lore involving the ferryman Barinthus. The name Barinthus is derived from Barrfind which translates to "white hair." As such, Barinthus is often depicted with white hair and a white beard, a personification of Death himself. Today witches call upon Barinthus to ferry them to Avolon or the Otherworld while journeying. Across all cultures, there are stories of the Weeping Woman, Banshee, Bean-Nighe, or the White Woman found near rivers, often washing clothing sometimes stained in blood. These women are viewed as omens of death and anyone who sees or hears her cries will soon die or experience death within the family. Slavic funerary songs also mention souls traveling across a river: "A river runs here, a fiery river, / From east to west, / From west to north, / Over that river, the fiery river, / Drives the Archangel Michael, the light. / He transports souls, the souls of the righteous..." As such, rivers can be used like wells to cross into the Otherworld, communicate with spirits, or commune with the dead. North-flowing rivers can be used to send messages to the Otherworld or send spells on their way.

Apart from being associated with death and the Otherworld, rivers have long been associated with healing and life as well. South-flowing rivers are believed to be healing rivers in Scottish folklore while other Celtic traditions believe water traveling toward the Sun is gifted with healing properties. Several charms call for water from a river to cure anything from headaches to curses, as the running water was believed to wash the ailment away. One of the most famous myths surrounding the healing properties of rivers is once again the River Styx. To prevent his death, Thetis took her son Achilles to the River Styx where she held him by the ankle and dipped him into the water. This made Achilles invulnerable to harm, except around his ankle where his mother held him. As such, Achilles grew strong and was never sick nor injured until his untimely death due to a stray arrow hitting his "heel." Today, the Ganges River is said to purify the soul, removing impurities from past lives and corporeal sins. As such, rivers can be used to wash away negativity, impurities, ailments, and stress.

Like wells and rivers, lakes were also viewed as sacred places. The most famous of lake tales comes to us from Arthurian legend: the Lady of the Lake, a faery woman who gifts Author with the legendary sword Excalibur, enchants Merlin, and raises Lancelot after he is orphaned. We also have the famous Loch Ness monster, believed by many to be an elusive water horse. Both of these myths suggest, much like all water sources, that lakes are a liminal place where spirits and humans can pass between realms. And, like other water sources, lakes can be used for healing purposes as well. Being still and calm, lake water is believed to heal, remove curses, and treat illnesses especially those related to stress and anxiety. Flowers growing along the banks were believed to have more potent healing potential than similar flowers growing away from the lake as they were imbued with the magical waters. The still lake water was also often used for reflective magic or for divination, the waters acting as a mirror.

But not all folklore surrounds freshwater sources. Being as vast and dangerous as it is, the ocean has played a dominant role in human history and thus has its own magical properties and folklore. You could write an entire book on sea folklore and witchcraft, and people have, so I am just going to give a brief overview here. The ocean played a major role in the development of civilizations around the world. For a long time, the ocean was impassible and untameable, which led our ancestors to tie the sea to destruction, instability, and chaos. It was believed that the ocean was ruled by the gods, which had any variety of names including Neptune, Poseidon, and Aegir, and without currying their favor, there was no way you could pass. In Celtic lore, the sea was also heavily associated with witches who were believed to be able to control the weather, especially on the open ocean, and could, therefore, bring the demise of travelers. The Odyssey is one of the best surviving myths surrounding the ocean where we see just how fickle the gods could be when it came to allowing travelers to safely pass. Odysseus, the hero of the epic, blinds Poseidon's son, Polyphemus, thus incurring the wrath of Poseidon who makes Odysseus' journey home extremely difficult and long to ensure he returns home to even more problems. The story is also filled with one of my favorite nature spirits, the siren. Sirens were originally companions of Persephone and when they failed to prevent her rape, they were transformed as punishment, condemned to lure men to their deaths for all eternity (Love it!). In The Odyssey, Odysseus ties himself to the front of his ship so he may hear the sirens first to alert his crew to stuff their ears with wax so they may safely sail out of harm's way. Sirens continue to appear in a number of myths across multiple cultures, including another Greek tale involving Jason and Orpheus. Jason commands Orpheus to drown out the siren's songs with his lyre so they may safely pass. Folklore is also filled with another favorite mythological creature, the mermaid which according to Assyrian legends, began with the goddess Atargatis when she transformed herself into a mermaid after accidentally killing her human lover. Originally, mermaids were believed to be the causes of floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drownings, much like sirens. Either way, the sea was believed to be full of dangers, and rightly so, as many travelers have lost their lives to its fickleness.

With the somewhat taming of the sea, the ocean began to be associated with life, abundance, and plenty as it provided an abundance of food. Later myths show a change in mermaid folklore, portraying them to be benevolent beings who bestowed boons on sailors and human lovers. Christopher Columbus reported seeing a mermaid during his voyage, which may have led to his safe passage. These boons sometimes took the form of mermaid's purses, shark, skate, or ray egg sacs that washed up onshore. (You can read more about mermaids here). Furthermore, the tides often brought in all sorts of treasures for beachcombers that could be used for a variety of purposes in daily life or to create sailor charms. For example, white hag stones, stones with a hole naturally worn in the middle, were often combined with a Mary bean or Malaga nut from Brazil to bring good luck and protection to sailors. Sea urchins were placed on mantles in homes and even in ships to ensure there would be bread to eat.

While many of the deities associated with the ocean are masculine, the ocean is heavily influenced by the Moon, a feminine aspect, which controls the ebb and flow of the tides. In Norfolk and Suffolk, it is believed that children born at ebb tide, the period between high and low tide when the water flows out, would face many challenges in life, while more children were born during flow or flood tide, when the tide is coming in. Being a movement of water inward, these children would likely face better prospects in life. Ebb tide was used for banishing, destroying obstacles, and sending things or people away. Flow tide, on the other hand, was used for growth, expansion, hastening, creation, and creativity. High tide and low tide were also heavily associated with magic. High tide was used for prosperity and abundance magic while low tide was used much like ebb tide for banishing, shadow word, chord cutting, and breaking habits.

And these are all just bodies of water! There is numerous folklore about dew, mists, and rain! Again, there is absolutely too much folklore on these subjects to include in this post, so I'm going to very briefly summarize. Dew has long been a prized magical ingredient, especially in protection and glamour magic. Especially lazy and dirty women and children were believed to be taken away by faeries where they were carefully cleansed by morning dew becoming more beautiful upon their arrival home. Most famously, however, dew was often collected and applied before sunrise on May Day (Beltane) to heal and as a glamour. On the Summer Solstice, it was believed that dew would increase one's strength. Across Europe, especially in Britain, dew was believed to have curative properties. It was often applied to the eyes to help eye pain or rubbed on warts and freckles to remove them. Dew collected from stones with depression or cups called Bullaun Holes were used by wise women and men in medicines to enhance their restorative qualities. Sometimes the dew was collected with a white rag and tied around the ailing part to help it heal faster.

While dew was often seen as a healer, mists were viewed as a magical veil that was used by spirits of the Otherworld to shroud themselves. Furthermore, Celtic folklore suggests that not only did the fae and other spirits arrive with the mist, but the mist could carry you away as well, bringing you to the water if you weren't careful. With mist and fog, it is believed all manner of devilish creatures can walk the Earth. People often report seeing black dogs, an omen of death, in the mists or hearing the luring voices of women calling them out to sea. However, in the Haudenosaunee myth The Maid of the Mist, the maiden is a savor who warns her village of impending doom. In almost all legends, the mists act as a portal or gateway between realms, thus becoming an excellent hedge riding tool for astral travel.

Rain, on the other hand, as a complete set of unique myths, but in most cases, rain is associated with life, fertility, and healing. Originally, the rain was associated with spontaneous generation and was believed that frogs and worms came directly from rain, thus associating it with life, abundance, and fertility. Oden, a Norse god of fertility among other things, was also associated with the rain. I'm sure you can figure out what the rain was meant to be in this case. In Greek mythology, rain is believed to be the tears of Calandra, daughter of Hades, mourning the death of her beloved, Orestes, son of Zeus. Zeus and Hades, upon hearing of their love, struck down Orestes and locked Calandra in the clouds to mourn for all eternity. Rainwater has been used in all manner of magical ways, including spells for rejuvenation, healing, protection, cursing, and nourishment. Rainwater alone deserves a post of its own, which I'll likely do this year sometime in April because "April showers bring May flowers..."

Phew! That was a lot to cover! As you can see, I've only scratched the surface of water folklore. There is plenty more from Asia, Africa, and the Americas that wasn't touched on here. There simply isn't enough time for me to cover everything in great detail, but this folklore provides a deeper understanding of how important water has been throughout human history. It is the bringer of life and death, a healer and a curse. Without water and all its amazing, properties humans would not be where we are today. It nourishes our bodies, helps our cells and organs function and while aiding plants in creating food. It helps us and our planet maintain a relatively constant temperature and allows cell membranes to form a double layer. Its a universal solvent, acting as a carrier for all manner of solutes such as salt and aiding in digestion. Its uses are endless, both practically and magically and no amount of writing will ever do it justice.

Below is a quick correspondence guide for water, including a free printable page for your Book of Shadows!

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Moon, Neptune, Pluto
Time: Twilight
Season: Fall
Direction: West (although if the closest body of water to you is a different direction, use that instead)
Tarot Cards: Cups
Zodiac: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Symbolism: emotion, intuition, psychic abilities, love, unconscious mind, fertility, self-healing, reflection, lunar energy, deep feelings, curses, death
Symbols: Ocean, lake, river, fog, mist, creek, well, spring, pond, rain, shell, sea glass, driftwood, cup, chalice, bowl, trident, seaweed, hag stones, cauldron
Deities: Oshun, Davy Jones, Danu, Grannus, Lir, Llyr, Sinann, Selkie, Sulis, Nix, Nerthus, Nehalennia, Aegir, Achelous, Alpheus, Brizo, Ceto, Doris, Eurybia, Graeae, Nerus, Nerites, Poseidon, Tethys, Thetis, Coventina, Fontus, Juturna, Neptune, Salacia, Tiberinus, Ap, Yami, Ganga, Mokosh, Veles, Anuket, Hapi, Nephthys, Satet, Sobek, Tefnut, Enki, Marduk, Nammu, Sirsir, Tiamat, Hebo, Mazu, Gonggong, Suijin, Susanoo, Cerridwen
Nature Spirits: Undine, nymph, mermaid, finfolk, lake ladies, water maidens, Cailleach, water horse, kelpie, bean-nighe, banshee, white woman, washerwoman, water cows, faeries associated with wells, streams, ponds, or lakes
Colors: Blue, silver, white, gray, seafoam, indigo, aquamarine, bluish-silver, black
Food and Drink: water, tea, apple, pear, coconut, strawberry, watermelon
Herbs: seaweed, aloe, fern, water lily, lotus, moss, willow, gardenia, apple, catnip, chamomile, cattail, lettuce, kelp, birch, cabbage, coconut, cucumber, comfrey, eucalyptus, gourd, geranium, grape, licorice, lilac, pear, strawberry, tomato
Crystals and Gemstones: Moonstone, pearl, silver, aquamarine, amethyst, blue tourmaline, lapis lazuli, fluorite, coral, blue topaz, beryl, opal, coral
Animals: fish, snake, frog, crab, lobster, eel, shark, dragonfly, seahorse, dolphin, sea otter, seal, whale, alligator, crocodile, beaver, octopus, penguin, salamander, turtle, starfish, koi, coral, barnacle, manta ray, manatee, jellyfish, nautilus, heron, duck, geese, crane, swan, water birds, ammonite, dragons, serpents

water correspondences, water magic, book of shadows, water witchcraft, water witch, witchcraft, magic, elemental magic

How does water work with the other elements?

Water with Fire: Water can be used to extinguish Fire, while Fire can evaporate Water forming steam, mist, and fog.
Water with Earth: Water can feed the Earth, providing it with life-giving properties so plants may flourish. However, Water can also destroy Earth through waterlogging, flooding, and erosion.
Water with Air: Water and Air can combine to corrode and dissolve metals or Air can act as a carrier for Water, transporting water vapor around the world, thus aiding in the water cycle. Furthermore, Air can be used to make Water, as Water is one part oxygen and two parts hydrogen (both originally gasses).

Your task for the next couple of days is to research local bodies of water where you live. Where is the nearest body of water? Can you walk to it? How clean is the water? If it man-made or natural? What is its source? Where does it begin? Where does it end? Is there any folklore associated with it?

Don't worry about traveling to this body of water just yet. You can use Google Maps (with satellite view on) to get a good idea of what your local terrain looks like from above. This is a great way to map out your area and begin finding those magical places. Take stock of where your local water sources are and write down anything you learn in your Book of Shadows or Grimoire. While it seems simple, this task is extremely important and helps you build a more local practice.

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

Elemental Magic Series

Introduction to the Elements
Water Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Water Ritual
Water Spells and Rituals
Earth Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Earth Ritual
Earth Spells and Rituals
Fire Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Fire Ritual
Fire Spells and Rituals
Air Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting With Air Ritual
Air Spells and Rituals
Spirit Folklore & Correspondences
Connecting with Spirit Ritual
Spirit Spells and Rituals
Putting It All Together

Looking for more information on the elements? Check out my posts on the topic:

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Tea Magic: Types of Tea and Their Magical Uses

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Feverfew

feverfew, herbal remedy, magic, herb magic, green witchcraft, kitchen witchcraft, witch

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Protection
Magical Uses and History: Feverfew is aptly named for one of its many uses, treating fever, but has historically been used to treat a variety of ailments including inflammation, menstrual cramps, toothaches, arthritis, vertigo, spasms, labor pains, insect bites, and the plague. The Ancient Greeks referred to feverfew as Parthenium supposedly because it was used to save the life of someone who had fallen from the Parthenon during its construction in the 5th century BC. As such, it is believed that carrying feverfew, along with hyssop and rosemary, will protect the wearer from accidents. Parthenium, however, also means "girl" which may allude to its traditional use for treating female complaints. By the 18 century, it became known as "medieval aspirin" for its use in treating headaches.

In the late Anglo-Saxon period until the 20th century, feverfew was used to treat elfshot or flying venom, a medical condition described in Wið færstice (an Anglo-Saxon medical text), that was caused by invisible elves shooting invisible arrows at a person or animal thus causing shooting pain in a localized area of the body. Its likely this pain was arthritis, a stitch, or muscle cramp. According to Wið færstice, feverfew along with red nettle and waybread could be combined to create an elfshot charm to cure the ailment. First, feverfew, red nettle, and waybread were boiled in butter while saying,

"Loud they were, lo, loud when they rode over the mound.
They were fierce when they rode over the land.
Shield yourself now that you may escape this evil.
Out, little spear, if herein you be!
Stood under linden, under a light shield where the mighty women readied their power and their screaming spears sent.
I back to them again wills end another,
a flying dart against them in return.
Out, little spear, if herein it be!
Sat a smith, forged he a knife, little iron-strong wound.
Out, little spear, if herein it be!
Six smiths sat; war-spears they made.
Out, spear, not in, spear!
It herein be a bit of iron, hag's work, it shall melt.
If you were in the skin shot, or were in flesh shot,
or were in the blood shot, or were in bone shot,
or were in limb shot, may your life never be torn apart.
If it were Aesir shot, or if it were elves' shot,
or it were hag's shot, now I will help you.
This your remedy for Aesir shot; this your remedy for elves' shot;
This your remedy for hag's shot; I will help you.
It fled there into the rest had it.
Whole be you now! Lord help you!
Then take the knife; dip into liquid."

Then a knife was dipped into the liquid and the mixture was likely rubbed on the afflicted area. All three of these herbs have spearhead-shaped leaves, likely a form of sympathetic magic. Either way, feverfew earned a reputation for being medicinally and magically valuable as a restorative and protective plant.

In medieval Europe, it was commonly planted in cottage gardens to protect the inhabitants. When the plague hit, people made sure to plant feverfew around the perimeter of their house to prevent the plague from entering. It is possible feverfew prevented plague-ridden vermin from entering the property which in turn kept the occupants safe. Today, feverfew is commonly used in protection magics and placed in protection sachets or planted around the home for the same purpose. It can also be used in baths or as a tea to break hexes and curses.

Feverfew can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Breaking Hexes

Medicinal Uses: Feverfew is primarily used to treat headaches and migraines and is commonly taken at the first sign of pain. However, it may also help relieve arthritis when caused by inflammation, menstrual cramps, painful periods, and even dizziness and tinnitus. However, feverfew should not be used if you are pregnant as it can stimulate the womb. The leaves may also cause ulcers in sensitive people. Furthermore, it has blood-thinning qualities and should not be used by anyone currently on blood-thinners or undergoing surgery in the near future.

Preparation and Dosage: Feverfew can be taken internally one of three ways: chewing the leaves, infusion, or tincture (pill form is also available). It should be noted the leaves taste awful and can cause mouth ulcers so it is suggested the leaves are taken with food to reduce the effects. The most common way refers to the elfshot charm above: eat 3-5 fresh leaves on buttered bread daily to reduce headaches and migraines and prevent sores. To create an infusion, combine 3 tbsp fresh feverfew flowers and leaves or 3 tsp dried feverfew with one cup boiling water. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Add honey to taste and drink 1/4 cup every 30 minutes until symptoms subside. It can be combined with lemon balm, skullcap, and chamomile for an even more powerful headache infusion. If taking a tincture, take 1-2 milliliters of tincture up to three times a day at the onset of symptoms. Externally, feverfew can be made into a salve and used to treat arthritis pain topically.

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy! This particular plant profile is 2 pages due to the length of the content.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Meet the Hedgewitch's Cats and Why They Aren't Familiars

I adore animals and have been deeply connected with them from a young age. It's part of the reason I gave up eating meat as well. I just couldn't bring myself to eat the same creatures I loved so much. I've had many companion animals over the years, from frogs to hermit crabs to turtles to hamsters to chickens. However, my absolute favorite animal companions have been my cats over the years, and I have been privileged enough to have shared my time with several. At the moment, I have the joy of tending to three, beautiful grey cats that I adore beyond measure. I'd like to introduce you to them today and discuss why my cats, while great, are not familiars.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar is my big love machine who spends most of his time giving me kisses. When my husband left me in 2017 he took both of our cats with him. He had them for 2 years before we met, so technically they were his, but I will never forget how empty I felt losing my two cats of 8 years. I honestly think that was the worst part of everything that happened. Two days later my mom and dad took me to a pet adoption event at a local pet store. My dad said that if I had something to love I would have a reason to continue living. I was in a really dark place and my parents were legitimately concerned that I may take my own life. They weren't wrong. I did not want to adopt a new cat. I did not want to be responsible for another life when I couldn't care for myself. But I went and I am glad that I did.

When we arrived, we headed straight back to where the cats were, tucked away from the dogs and much of the noise. They had a lot more cats than normal that day and while most people were crowded around all the kittens, I caught sight of a scrawny, beat up, grey-haired cat with so much love in his eyes. He tried desperately to get everyone's attention, but he wasn't a kitten. He was scared up, ear torn, eyelid mangled so it's always showing, stitched on his stomach from a fight, undernourished, prickly to touch, and FIV positive. I looked at that cat and placed my hand against the cage and knew, this cat was waiting for me. He was here today for me and no one else.

I still went around and visited the other cats, my parents thinking I would want a kitten instead of an adult cat, but I kept looking back at Oscar who was watching me. After talking to all the kitties, because who can pass up loving on all of them, I went straight back to Oscar and said "This is my cat. I want this one." Again, my parents thought I would want a kitten and were shocked I settled on this "ugly" cat. The rescue let me open the cage and hold him and he meowed and purred at me the whole time. My parents fell in love too because what wasn't to love about this sweet boy?

I think the rescue was surprised he was adopted so quickly. They said they had picked him up off the street 2 weeks prior and that he was in rough shape. Before I could bring him home he needed to have his stitches removed, but other than that he was good to go. I picked him up later that day and he spent the next several weeks following me around talking to me about everything he had been through and how thankful he was. I had to move his food bowls into rooms with me so he would eat and drink because he only wanted to eat and drink if I was in the room.

Slowly he put on weight, his fur softened, his scars faded, and he settled down. I wake up every morning with him resting on the pillow above my head giving me kisses. Every. Single. Day. He loves giving me kisses and snuggling and being part of the family and he loves his grandparents too. Everyone loves coming over to see Oscar because he is so friendly. You'd think after going through so much he would be untrusting, but he is the exact opposite.

You see, I knew the moment I saw him from across the store that he was meant for me. I felt it in my chest and the pit of my stomach. It was a warm, comforting feeling. Bringing him home saved my life and I saved his. I've never had a cat as amazing as Oscar, and everyone he has ever met dotes on how sweet he is, how they didn't like cats before they met my Oscar. The vet's office eats him up every time I bring him in. He is so easy going, except when I run the vacuum and loves sleeping on all of my chairs and couches and eating lots of kitty treats. If I associated him with anything magical it would be the element Earth for he is grounded, stubborn, and my rock.

Jane Austen

I adopted Oscar in June of 2017. That same December a couple of days before the end of the semester, a small grey kitten wandered up to the courtyard of the school I work at and some students found her playing in the bushes. She was playful and sweet and the students, not knowing what to do, brought her to the English teacher across the hall from me. They knew she loved animals and had taken cats before that had wandered up to the school. She called me over to see it before her daughter picked it up to keep it at home for the day. One of the girls that found the kitten wanted to keep her but needed to ask her parents first. I loved on that little kitten all the way up until she was taken away and told my coworker that if the girls couldn't take her, I would. I had a place for her at home and knew my big, loveable Oscar would love a sibling.

Needless to say, the end of the school day came around and the kitten ended up going home with me. She rode in my lap the entire drive home, purring up a storm. I didn't tell anyone what I had done until I was almost home. I called my mom and said, "Guess what I got today!" She rattled off a couple of things school-related and when I finally told her I had picked up a kitten, she was flabbergasted and asked if I was sure. Of course, I was sure! Like Oscar, this small kitten was meant for me; she had told me so. The Universe knew I wanted and needed another cat and sent me one. Then she asked if I had told my boyfriend, who she knew was sleeping at home with Oscar. Nope...I hadn't said a word to anyone; I had just done it.

When I arrived home, I gingerly carried this tiny kitten upstairs and into my bedroom where my boyfriend was, low-and-behold, asleep with Oscar tucked under his arm. I sat down on the bed which awoke them both and I said, "Look what I got today." Miles squinted at me, looked down, blinked a couple of times, and when it finally sunk in I was holding a kitten his eye grew big and he scooped her up. Oscar was less than happy with me, but after about a week the two of them were inseparable.

When I brought her home, I wasn't entirely sure Jane was a girl. I was hoping she was a boy and that I would get to name her Charles Dickens, but alas the vet confirmed what I already knew; she was, in fact, a girl, so Jane Austen it was, named after my one of my favorite authors. If you haven't noticed there is a theme here...

Jane is inquisitive, playful, intelligent, and vocal. Out of all three of my cats, she puts the boys to shame when it comes to outwitting them and problem-solving. She keeps me on my toes and I am constantly having to introduce new toys to keep her occupied. While much smaller than her brothers, she is the queen among cats, and they follow her lead wherever it may take them. Despite her inquisitive nature, Jane is also a lap cat. She will spend hours sitting on my lap while I am on my computer or reading a book but is wary of being pet without her consent. She is also incredibly respectful and is cautious not to disturb my stuff, no matter how tempting it may be. She always wants to partake in my magical practice, but I am sure to keep the cats at a distance when burning incense to keep them safe. Instead, she usually sits outside my door, waiting patiently for me to finish. She is my sweet girl, and most certainly a gift. Jane is my Fire, full of passion and love.

Charles "Charlie" Dickens

I know you're not supposed to have favorites, but I definitely have a favorite and its Charlie. If you were to ask me why, I wouldn't be able to fully explain it, because I'm not really sure why I am so drawn to Charlie, but I am. He is also the weirdest cat I have ever owned. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was probably a dog in another life.

After getting Jane, I quickly realized that my plan to give Oscar a sibling had somewhat backfired. Jane was full of energy and Oscar wasn't. While he loved cuddling with his baby sister, he wasn't very interested in being attacked, chased, or otherwise bothered by this rambunctious kitten. That's when I realized I needed a younger playmate for Jane, which was perfectly fine with me! I don't particularly like even numbers, and knew that three cats was probably best for me. Everyone tried to convince me I didn't need any more cats, but deep down I knew there was one last cat that was supposed to be in my life right now. So I waited...somewhat patiently...for the right cat to come along. I knew that when the Universe was ready, I'd know.

About 6 months after bringing how Jane, another co-worker, sent me pictures of a bunch of kittens her friend had found under their porch. Low and behold there was a little grey and white kitten among the litter. I looked at his tiny face and knew at that moment this was the cat I had been waiting for. My boyfriend was completely against getting another cat, but when I showed him the picture of the kitten he looked up at me and said "Yeah...this is your cat." A couple weeks later, after he had been fixed and healed and grown a little more, we made the hour trip to pick up this adorable little furball. The family had aptly named him Ash, for his grey color, and he weighed less than 2 pounds. When I picked him up he hissed at me. I gave him an inquisitive look and he immediately settled down and started purring. I told him his new name was Charlie and kissed his little forehead. I fell in love with him instantly and haven't stopped kissing him and holding him since I brought him home. I know he did too.

We made the drive back home, Charlie sleeping peacefully in my boyfriend's lap the entire drive. I was anxious to see how Oscar and Jane were going to respond to be bringing home yet another cat. I was most worried about Oscar after how he reacted to Jane, but when we finally arrived home, Oscar surprised me. Both Jane and Oscar were asleep on the couch in the basement. I slowly sat next to them and let Charlie walk over to them. Charlie sniffed Oscar and immediately began purring as loudly as a train. Oscar sniffed Charlie back and started purring and cleaning Charlie. It was the most amazing thing ever; instant love between the two of them. Oscar and Charlie cuddled on the couch most of the afternoon, Oscar guarding and protecting him from Jane, who was less than happy with the stranger.

Like Oscar had with her, it took Jane about a week to settle down and accept Charlie into the family, but once she did, they were the greatest of playmates. Charlie gave Oscar a cuddle buddy and gave Jane a spunky playmate. And for me, it gave me the biggest momma's boy in the world. He completes our little family and my heart couldn't be more full.

Charlie is my Air as he is extremely talkative but yet so flighty, his head always caught up in the clouds. He loves sitting in windows, watching the birds, insects, and wind blow through the trees. If we close a door, he cries incessantly until we let him in. Heck, sometimes he just cries because I'm not giving him enough attention. When I am on my computer, I have to pull an extra chair up as close to my chair as possible for him and him alone to sit in, otherwise, he cries. He has the loudest purr in the world and follows me everywhere, especially into the bedroom, office, or kitchen. He loves standing in the sink or shower, especially after the water has run, just to watch it drip down the drain. He also insists on putting all of his cat food into the water bowl before eating it and even places his favorite toys in the water bowl. Maybe he was also a fish in another life. Finally, he enjoys chewing on fingers, toes, pillows, and my expensive velvet tufted chairs, much to my annoyance, and we have yet to figure out why. Trust me, I've talked to the vet at length about this because he is ruining $250 dollar chairs! He is extremely quirky, to say the least, but I love him to death, even if he ruined my expensive furniture.

Why Aren't My Cats Familiars?

First of all, I don't believe pets can be familiars, which may ruffle some feathers. Familiars are spirits and my cats are not spirits. They are very much alive and remind me of that daily from the howling for food to the stinky poops in the litter box every morning. Spirits do not need to eat or use the bathroom, and therefore my cats are not familiars. Historically, familiars, also called familiar spirits, were shapeshifting spirits that aided witches in their magical practices. They would sometimes take an animal form, usually to "hide" or blend in. However, this was not the true form of the familiar, and even still they didn't need to "eat" in a traditional sense. Their eating took the form of feeding off of energy, whether it be the witch's energy or the energy of others. Either way, the familiar was not laying around eating cat treats all day and throwing his toys in the water dish.

However, I do believe my cats are magical companions. Jane most certainly is, with Oscar being a respectful watcher, while Charlie is just destructive. Everything is a game to him and that's fine. Jane recognizes there is energy in the objects I own and that I am able to manipulate this energy and as a result, she treats my magical tools with deep reverence. As I mentioned, she is exceptionally preceptive and smart. She puts the other two to shame. Do I ever involve them in my magical workings? Sometimes. If I am burning a bunch of incense, I try to keep my cats out to keep them safe. However, tarot readings, some hedge riding trips, and other general workings, I often let my cats wander in and out as they please. Despite Oscar's ambivalence toward magic, he is interested in hedge riding, mostly because I think he worries about me. I truly believe he can feel me move between realms, and often lays next to me to keep my body safe. If I travel too far, I often feel him licking my face or hair to get me to return. Oscar helps with my return journeys more often than not and does a fabulous job of it. I wouldn't trust anyone else to do his job.

So do I view my cats are familiars? Definitely not. Do I communicate with them and involve them in my magical work? Yes and yes. I love the relationship I have built with these three little buggers and I am glad I get to walk this life with them by my side.

Do you involve your pets in your magical workings?

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