Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Elemental Magic: Putting it All Together

We have finally reached the end of the Elemental Magic Series. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed this series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I think this has been one of my most comprehensive and helpful series apart from the one I did 2 years ago on hedge riding. After the success of those two series, I have no idea what to write about next! So, if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. But I digress...

If you have read through the entire series and completed the tasks I've given you for each element, you now have a journal full of elemental information, from how to Sun moves around your home to your experiences connecting with Earth through the process of Earthing. You've opened your Third Eye and peered into what could be. If anything, you survived a global pandemic, hopefully using the elements to help you manage this crisis. So now what? What should you do with all this information?

While at first these tasks may have seemed disjointed, they are anything but. You have just unknowingly built the foundations of a local, magical practice. You have connected with each of the elements as they appear where you live. You know the rivers and streams and lakes where you can obtain healing waters, enter the Otherworld, and wash away unwanted energies. You know the spirits of the land around you that will aid you in raising energy for spells and have felt the grounding energies of the soil beneath your feet or hands so that you can root yourself in this reality prior to spell work or after hedge riding. You know where the Sun cast his strongest rays so you can cleanse and charge your magical objects. These are the same locations where the Moon will show herself, allowing you to cleanse and charge by the gentle moonlight. You know how the wind blows so that you may send messages and wishes to the Universe. And finally, you know yourself, your purpose, your soul's journey. You now have the tools you need to use the elements in your magical practice as they pertain to you, as they present themselves to you. 

Furthermore, you built a strong relationship with these elements, allowing you to call on them in whatever capacity you need them and they will come. Use the tools I have given you to strengthen your future spells and develop your relationship with the elements further. Return to your notes often and add to them as you grow as a witch. Spend the next year adding the elements thoughtfully to your practice, harnessing their unique abilities to bring about the change you wish to impart on the world.

I sincerely hope that this series has benefited you in your practice. Until next time, I wish you all the best on your journey.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Hedge Riding and Hedgecraft 101: Resources for the Aspiring Hedgewitch

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Hedge riding is a form of astral travel in which the rider first reaches an altered state of consciousness before traveling to the Otherworld. Unlike meditation, guided meditation, or pathwalking, the rider loses control of the vision and the beings they interact with and therefore does not determine what will or will not happen during the journey. The only control the rider has is over themselves. Furthermore, hedge riding differs from astral projection in that it takes place outside of our realm in the Otherworld, while astral projection occurs within our plane of existence.

There are much confusion and misinformation floating around about hedgewitches and the practice of hedge riding. I have created this page to help dispel some of these misconceptions and link those interested in the practice to some valuable information and resources. It should be noted that under no circumstances should hedge riding be taken lightly. The act of reaching an altered state of consciousness alone can be dangerous, not to mention the spirits you encounter in the Otherworld. Should you wish to learn how to hedge ride, do so with caution, and always remember to protect yourself.

From Flying the Hedge

What is a Hedgewitch?
Hedgewitch vs Kitchen Witch
Meditation, Pathwalking, and Hedge Riding: Making Sense of it All
Meditation, Astral Project, and Hedge Riding: What's the Difference?
What is Hedge Riding?
Realms of the Otherworld
Focusing the Mind: Getting Ready to Ride
Preparation + Hedge Riding Sachet
Hedge Riding Etiquette: Do's and Don't's of Interacting with Spirits
Hedge Riding Safety Tips: Staying Safe Outside Our Realm
How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments
Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides
Questioning Spirits: Is This Spirit My Guide?
Developing a Relationship With Your Spirit Companions
After You Hedge Ride: Coming Back to Earth
Setting Up Your Astral Garden/Office
Sigils for Hedge Riding
5 Crystals for Hedge Riding 
My Hedge Riding Experiences
How Do I Know If My Journeys Are Real?
Hedge Riding Tea to Aid in Reaching an Altered State of Consciousness


Hedge Witchcraft by Harmonia Saille
Hedge Riding by Harmonia Saille
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses by B. Ehrenreich and  D. English
The Book of Hedge Druidry by Joanna van der Hoeven
The Witch's Book of Spirits by Devin Hunter
Hedge-Rider: Witches and the Underworld by Eric De Vries
To Fly By Night: Craft of the Hedgewitch edited by Veronica Cummer
Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic
Elves, Witches, and Gods: Spinning Old Heathen Magic in the Modern Day by Cat Heath

This post is not officially archived under "Resources" which includes tons of books, blogs, shops, podcasts, apps, and more. 

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Friday, December 25, 2020

December Cold Moon Worksheet

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December's Cold Moon is justly named for the weather this time of year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Also known as the Hoar Frost Moon, Long Night Moon, and Big Winter Moon, December's Full Moon is a time of reflection, introspection, and self-discovery. Because it is the last Full Moon of the year, this is the perfect time to reevaluate your goals and set new ones for the coming year. This is also a time to share your blessings with others and give to those in need. Use this Full Moon to plan for the coming year, reflect on what you would like to change, and set new goals.

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 an oracle or tarot spread. Unlike past worksheets, however, this one can be used every December, as it is based on the correspondences of the moon itself and not other astrological events. The tarot spread for this month features 5 cards to help you set goals for the future.

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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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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Elemental Magic: Tools of Spirit

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In today's post, I will discuss some of the few tools associated with Spirit and how you can use them in your practice. Many of these tools were hinted at or discussed when I introduced you to some of the folklore surrounding Spirit. However, this post is more of a correspondences type list that you can use to quickly plan spells. There are not types of Spirit in this post, as I didn't want to discuss actual spirits themselves as that is not what this element is about. For your pleasure, I have also included a free 3-page printable for your Grimoire or Book of Shadows. Enjoy!

Besom: The besom or broom is the quintessential symbol of the witch, especially the hedgewitch, as witches were said to fly by night to the Sabbath. The besom can be used during hedge riding and astral projection, for protection, or to symbolize hearth and home.

Circle: Circles are amongst many of the symbols of Spirits. Use circles in your spells and rituals for protection, raising energy, trapping energy, or encompassing a spell. Circles can also be used to symbolize beginning at the end or what goes around comes around.

Clear Quartz: Clear quartz is an amplifier of magic and can replace just about any crystal in a spell or ritual. Use quartz to strengthen the components of a spell, connect to the spirit world, or amplify your energy during spell work. Clear quartz can also be charged for protection and worn or carried on your person.

Cord: Cords are used to tie or link things together. They are perfect for creating Witch's ladders, love spells, and even binding spells. Often times during a handfasting, individuals have their hands tied together to symbolize their union aka tieing the knot. Cords, both physically and astrally, can be cut to sever the bond between two things, especially between people. 

Familiar: The familiar is a spirit that can take the form of an animal to aid a witch in their magical workings. The vast majority of pets are not familiars (I hate to burst you bubble!). Instead, you are more likely to find familiars in the Otherworld nowadays, much like an animal guide. Familiars can help you cast spells, sever cords, perform shadow work, soul search, mend past traumas, keep an eye on loved ones and enemies, and even aid in cursing and hexing. 

Infinity Symbol: Spirit is infinite, a part of the neverending cycle of birth and rebirth. Use the infinity sign in your magic to have a spell never end. To break the spell, simply break the infinite sign.

Helix: The helix, especially the double helix, represents the instructions for life. All living things contain genetic material in the form of DNA and RNA. Both of these nucleic acids have a helical shape, thus represent the fundamental piece of life itself. Use images of the helix in your magical workings to represent perseverance, change, and everlasting life as our DNA is passed down to our children and grandchildren, ensuring we "live" forever.

Major Arcana in Tarot: Each of the major arcana in tarot is associated with the element Spirit. However, each card represents something different and therefore has different magical associations. For example, Justice can be used in spells to bring about justice and fairness while the Tower can be used to bring about sudden change, upheaval, spiritual awakenings, personal transformation, or general chaos. 

Meteorite: A meteorite is a fragment of rock that originated in space before falling to Earth. As such, they have the capability to channel the energy of the Universe into your magical workings. Use meteorites to clarify your purpose, divine the future, seek inner visions, awaken your Spirit, and even communicate with beings beyond our realm.

Rainbows: Rainbows should up in an earlier elemental post as well, but Spirit is often defined as a rainbow of color, so I felt the need to include rainbows here as well. Rainbows are formed by light passing through a prism, usually water droplets when found naturally. Rainbows have an array of magical symbolism, including hope and joy, and are thought to act as a bridge between our world and that of the Otherworld. Use rainbows to connect with the Otherworld, communicate with the dead, inspire hope, and bring about joy. To read more about rainbow magic, check out A Witch's Guide to Rainbow Magick and Working With Rainbows by Autumn Zenith at Witchcrafed Life.

Spiral: The spiral is the eternal sign of creativity and organization within the universe. The spiral is the symbol of spiritual development, being deeply associated with shamanism, mysticism, magic, and ritual art and dance. The spiral represents the progression to a higher level of consciousness, transcendence if you will. Use the spiral in your magical workings to represent this path of transcendence, rebirth, growth, evolution, release, creativity, or the cosmic dance.

Stang: The stang is a pronged wooden staff commonly used by practitioners of traditional witchcraft, especially hedgecraft and Seidhr. The stang can be naturally forked, or a fork can be created with antlers or other forked objects. The stang can be used to divine water, direct energy, represent masculine energies, or aid in travel to the Otherworld. In some traditions, the stang is used much like the broom or besom for witch's flight.

Wheel: The wheel, much like the circle, represents the everlasting dance of birth and death. Usually viewed as an eight-spoked wheel, we see this imagery appear in the Wheel of the Year. Use the wheel in spell work to represent the endless cycle of life and death, add endlessness to your spell, or have your spell last at least one turning or more of the wheel. If you wish to break the spell before the time is up, simply break the wheel.

World Tree: The World Tree, also known as Yggdrasil, is the tree that connects each of the realms together, including our own with that of the Otherworld. The World Tree is often used by hedgewitches, Seidhr, and other shamanistic practitioners to travel through the different realms and can aid in spirit flight. In Norse mythology, Odin was said to have hung from the World Tree to learn the secrets of the runes. Much like Odin, the World Tree can be used for astral travel and the seeking of knowledge, especially those that pertain to the magical arts. World Tree imagery can also be used in spells to represent longevity, immortality, strength, protection, and steadfastness.  

And there you have it. A complete list of the tools of Spirit! Below is a free 3-page printable for your Grimoire or Book of Shadows.

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

Elemental Magic Series

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

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Elemental Magic: Connecting With Spirit Ritual

spirit magic, witchcraft, spirit witch, spirit ritual, spirit altar, elemental magic

Now that we have covered Spirit folklore and correspondences, it's time to dive a little deeper into the element Spirit! Today I share a ritual to help you connect with Spirit more intimately so that you may fully ascend into your new self and prepare for the upcoming year. 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 Spirit task presented last week.

The first task for Spirit was to journal about your experiences over the past year. Obviously, this is a very personal experience and for that reason, I am not going to delve too much into my own journal entry. We all went through a lot this year and the changes that occurred were often difficult to work through. At the beginning of the year, I was put on anti-anxiety medication which I later had to stop taking because I could no longer afford the monthly appointments and prescription. I went through a breakup and later met someone new. I lost my grandmother and missed her funeral because I was unable to board a plane safely. My other grandmother was hospitalized with COVID, has lost the use of her legs, and is still battling for her life in the hospital, alone and out of reach of family. I returned to work as a teacher in person amid increasing COVID cases in my state and watched as coworkers and students gradually disappeared from the school. 

On a brighter note, the antianxiety medication helped me tremendously and despite not taking it for 3 months, I have not had any anxiety attacks. I wrote two articles that were published in Witchology Magazine earlier in the year, wrote articles published in the Book of Spells Wicca Witches' Planner for 2021, and submitted my book to a publisher for review. I maintained the blog and continued to grow my little corner of the world. Water helped me get over the last of my divorce, work through my depression and anxiety, and heal the traumas of losing everything as a child and young adult. Earth helped me ground during the height of the lockdown and find comfort in my home, family, and friends despite being apart. Fire helped me burn bridges that no longer served me and get involved in the BLM movement in ways I hadn't been able to before. It inspired me to reflect on my own practice and reignited my passion for inclusive and intersectional witchcraft. Air helped me release any last regrets and sent my dreams for the future into the Universe to manifest later. Spirit is helping me transition to the next chapter of my life, which I look forward to with gusto. I watched myself go from a hotheaded, stubborn witch, to a more understanding, patient one. I found a part of myself I had been looking for for so long; a part I knew was there but had gone missing in the depths of the tragedy and traumas of my past. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow and to share this growth with all of my readers. I hope you too have grown, despite the trials and tribulations 2020 has sent our way.

Connecting with Spirit often proves more difficult than the other elements, but for most witches, this should be easier than it is for others who are less in tune with the world around them. One of the easiest ways to do this is through tarot by finding your soul card. If you shy away from tarot, you can do something similar with runes, but instead of using 1-22, use 1-24 since there are 24 runes.

Begin by creating sacred space in whatever way you feel most comfortable with. This may include cleansing the area and casting a circle, or simply picking a spot and declaring it scared. Once you have established sacred space, draw your soul card or rune. Even if you have reflected on this card/rune before, do so again. In your journal or BOS write down everything you can about this soul card/rune. What does it mean? Do you feel this is your soul's true purpose? Why or why not? How has this purpose affected your life? Have you forgotten your purpose? What can you do to get back on the right track? Is there anything standing in your way? Does living your purpose come easy to you? Why or why not? 

Once you have exhausted everything you possibly can about the card/rune, place the quartz on top of it or next to it and close your eyes. Open your heart and mind to receive any messages from the Universe and Spirit. These messages can take many forms from flashes of images, feelings, smells, or voices. Quiet your mind and listen. If you are struggling to open to receive messages, hold the card/rune in your dominant hand and the quartz in your non-dominant hand. Your dominant hand is your sending hand, so by holding the card or rune in this hand, you are sending it out into the universe, asking what it means. With your non-dominant hand you are receiving the messages from the Universe. The quartz will amplify any messages. Write everything down. Reflect on the messages you have received and what you can do moving forward to live a more authentic, spiritual life.

When you are finished, take a deep breath, with your eyes closed and breathe out slowly. Relax your body as much as you can. Draw a circle in front of you and imagine it entering into your body through your Third Eye. Feel it fill you up and open any blockages you may still have. 

Once you have established a connection with Spirit 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 Spirit.

Plan to have your altar dedicated to Spirit for the next couple of weeks, to the New Year if you can, or at least through the last couple of posts in the Spirit series. How you set up your altar is completely up to you, but I encourage you to place at least one candle on your altar as well as other symbols associated with Spirit. Below are some ideas of items to include:
  • your soul card or rune
  • representation of the World Tree
  • clear quartz, amethyst, opal, or pearls, especially if put into a spiral
  • resurrection fern, oak, or lotus
  • circles, spirals, infinity symbols, or globes
  • images of angels, ghosts, spirits, doves, and otherworldly beings
  • white, silver, black, or purple altar cloth
Once you have set up your altar, spend about 15 minutes a day lightly meditating about Spirit and the ritual experience you had. Enter into a light meditation each time, focusing on your inner self, that spark of life within you. Work with your soul card or rune a little more each day, reflecting on your progress to realign with your goal or maintain it. Draw a circle in the air with your finger or a magical tool and visualize it entering into your body through your Third Eye, the area most deeply associated with the Spirit or soul.


And there you have it! Let me know how things went in the comments below.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Yule Altar 2020

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

Yuletide blessings, witches! I hope your Yule is filled with merriment and light, despite the pandemic. I started decorating for Yule much earlier this year, wishing to spend more time with the festive lights and decorations. I think we could all use a little more Yule this year. In fact, if I didn't love Samhain as well, I probably would have decorated for Yule at the beginning of October. Haha! It's just been one of those years, am I right? Yule begins on the Winter Solstice (December 22, 2020) and ends on January 1, 2021. The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, marking the final day of lasting darkness and the return of the Sun. The Winter Solstice has been celebrated by a variety of cultures for thousands of years as it marked an important transition in the Wheel of the Year. With it being the longest night, folklore sprung up around what happened in the dark, the most prominent of these European myths being the Wild Hunt. Candles were lit to drive away the darkness, keep out the demons, and encourage the Sun's return so that life would flourish once more. And in the darkness, a god was born. Depending on the tradition, this included such deities as Horus, Dionysus, Apollo, and the infamous Oak King. With these themes in mind, I created this year's Yule altar to bright my room and my spirits, in hopes that 2021 offers fairer waters.

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

1. Wooden Acorns- One of my favorite myths is the tale of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King is at his peak during the Winter Solstice, but his power begins to weaken as the Oak King, who is reborn on the Winter Solstice, regains power. The two wooden acorns flanking either side of my altar are an ode to the Oak King. They also represent strength, new life, and rebirth, a promise of what is to come once the darkness passes. Oaks are well known for the protective nature, which is needed on the longest night of the year. The acorns not only represent the Oak King and the strength He provides, but also provide my home with protection from wayward spirits and the Wild Hunt. (Where did I get it: Gifted; Cost: Free)

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

2. White Candles & Lights- The ward off the darkness, candles were lit to protect those within on the Winter Solstice from dangerous spirits and the Wild Hunt while simultaneously ushering in the return of the Sun. For this reason, I have placed a number of white candles, which represent the Sun, purity, and renewal, on my altar. The white votive candles also smell of vanilla, an uplifting scent to keep spirits high despite the darkness. Furthermore, the Sun is reborn on the Winter Solstice, the candles being an offering to His return. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $6, $1 each)

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

3. Garnet and Bloodstone- Bloodstone was known as heliotrope by the Ancients which comes from the Greek helios meaning "sun" and trepein meaning "to attract." As such, bloodstone or heliotrope signifies "sun-turning" and is said to attract the rays of the Sun. Like the candles, this is a form of sympathetic magic to bring forth the rebirth of the Sun and ward off the neverending night. The garnet, on the other hand, represents the primordial fire of creation which will bring about the rebirth of the Sun and with it will come Spring and new life. (Where did I get it: Various Subscription Boxes and Metaphysical Stores; Cost: ~$5)

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

4. King of Earth Tarot Card- The King of Earth tarot card from the Dreams of Gaia deck is a combination of the Oak and Holly Kings, representing their endless cycle of birth and death as they battle for power each year. Despite the Earth being dormant during these cold months, it is not dead. Nature and life still abound, sleeping quietly, awaiting the return of the Sun. This card represents the slumbering life, a promise that the Wheel will continue to turn and the Earth will be plentiful once more. (Where did I get it: Amazon Dreams of Gaia Tarot Deck; Cost: $0.25; full deck $29)

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

5. Antler- The antler circling the King of Earth represents regrowth and rebirth, as deer routinely shed their antlers each year to replace them with new ones. It is also an ode to the Wild Hunt, which occurs during the solstice. Furthermore, deer are spirit messengers who are able to walk between worlds the world freely, thus the antler represents the spirits of the season and communication with them. After the solstice, the days begin to lengthen and the Earth is reborn, just as the deer regrow their antlers each year. (Where did I get it: Found; Cost: Free)

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

6. Evergreen Garland and Berries- The evergreen branches, which came from a garland I had from years ago, represents the Holly King, everlasting life, and protection. Boughs of evergreen were commonly hung above doorways and placed on altars to prevent evil from entering the home, especially on the longest night of the year. The red holly berries also are a tribute to the Holly King, but also to represent blood, as the Holly King begins to die after the solstice and the Oak King is reborn. The ever-present cycle of birth and death is represented by the evergreen branches being intertwined together. (Where did I get it: Target 2016; Cost: $5)

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

TOTAL COST: ~$16.25

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found, made, 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!

Apart from my altar, I wanted to share some decorations around my house with you as well in hopes of livening your feeds and your life. 

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

altar, sabbat, Yule, Winter Solstice, witchcraft, witchy, hedgewitch, pagan, neopagan, wiccan, wicca

To each and every one of you, I hope you have a wonderful Winter Solstice and a festive Yule. Celebrate with care so that we may share many more in the future. Stay safe, my friends.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Green Witch Co Product Review

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I have to say, one of my favorite things about blogging is being able to support small businesses and share their amazing products with all of you witches. I know first hand what it is like to try and make a living off of your creations. Heck, I am trying to do it here, but my mother made a living most of my childhood selling her art, from clay witches or Santa gourds and a ton of things in between. One year her Santa gourds were even featured on Good Morning America and I remember how deeply moved my mother was that people who loved her work passed it on to the show. But selling artwork and hand-made goods is a fickle business and often unstable and as such my mother settled down and became an elementary art teacher. The world lost my mother's work as a result, and that's not something I want to happen to others. As such, when Nicolle, owner and creator of The Green Witch Co, messaged me on Instagram asking if I would be interested in reviewing her products, I happily agreed. 

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Nicolle offers a variety of handmade herbal support, salves, oils, and botanicals, including lip balm, aromatherapy fragrances, Thieves oil, chest rubs, and healing salves. She graciously sent me some rosemary lemon balm lip balm and Elpis blam, which is a balm inspired by the Greek spirit of hope. The Elpis balm contains citrus essential oils, including grapefruit (my favorite!) and lime, mixed in beeswax, shea butter, olive oil, calendula oil, and vitamin e oil. It smells absolutely heavenly and is designed to keep the blues away. It can be rubbed on your forehead, temples, or pulse points to offer you a magical uplift! I have been sitting with it next to my computer so I can easily use it should I be feeling down, anxious, frustrated, or just tired. This will definitely wake you up and get your blood pumping. The rosemary lemon balm lip balm is also absolutely fantastic! I've been using it every day to ward off chapped winter lips. It smells and feels amazing and leaves my lips feeling nice and soft.

Apart from her amazing product offerings, Nicolle is sure to include cautions and warnings on any products that could cause reactions or undesired effects. I sometimes see sellers promoting herbal remedies without any precautions mentioned, which can be very dangerous. Just because it's 'natural' doesn't mean it's safe. Furthermore, all of her products are very reasonably priced and she is willing to ship. The only downside is she is based out of the United Kingdom so shipping costs to the United States are high, but the products are well worth it! For those of you in the United Kingdom, however, you can avoid these high shipping costs. I highly encourage you all to check out what Nicolle has to offer. You won't be disappointed! Check out her shop, The Green Witch Co on Etsy or follow her lovely store on Instagram!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Elemental Series: A Complete Guide to Spirit Folklore and Correspondences

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The final stop in our journey is the element Spirit. Paracelsus, the Swiss alchemist who classified the elements, said referred to this element as Ether. No matter what you call it Spirit or Ether (or Soul!) is the element of self-awareness, wholeness, and transcendence. We have spent the entire year learning about the elements and using them to become all that we are meant to be. Now it is time to transcend into our whole selves and walk the path of the witch with our heads held high. Let's start with the folklore surrounding Spirit, which will include folklore surrounding the ever-illusive soul.

Spirit is one of the most elusive of the elements, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in folklore. In fact, entire religions have been built upon the idea of the Spirit or Soul and what happens to it after death. So, where do we begin? 

Spirit has always existed within folk beliefs, with some of the earliest forms appearing in animistic religions and spiritual practices around the world. Animism, which is derived from the Latin anima which means breath, Spirit, or life, is the idea that all things, living and non-living, have a Spirit within them. It is this Spirit or energy that modern-day witches use when working with magical correspondences, and it's the foundation of nature-based spiritualities around the world. Later, humankind began differentiating living Souls or Spirit from that of non-living objects through the use of blood. Prior to the reign of Psammetichus (664-610 BC), Egyptians equated wine with blood, saying it was the life force of those that had warred against the gods. For this reason, they didn't leave wine as an offering and believed that drunkenness would drive a man mad for the drunkard supposedly had consumed the life-blood of their ancestors. We see modern manifestations of this idea in Christianity with wine being part of the sacrament as the blood of Christ. The idea that the Soul was derived from blood is also found in a number of myths around the world, including a Chaladae myth which says that humans and animals were born from the blood of a decapitated deity when it mixed with clay. 

Later, the Soul became something intangible as the breath of life. In Genesis ii. 7 we see an allusion to this: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." In Greece, this breath of life was referred to as stoic pneuma, which originally meant "air in motion" or "breath" and later became religiously known as the Soul or Spirit. It was believed to be a mixture of Air and Fire that when combined created life. Pneuma was adopted by Judaism and Christianity, sometimes being used to describe the Spirit and other times to describe the wind. No matter the religion, however, Spirit is often a central focus, and protecting the Spirit or Soul is believed to be fundamental in ascending into the afterlife.

Soul or Spirit separation was long believed to be the cause of a number of ailments prior to modern medicine, specifically those that affected the brain or wasting disease. Seizures, hysteria, multiple personality disorder, and continued loss of consciousness or fainting were often explained away as the person suffering from Soul loss. Sometimes this was blamed on witches, other times on evil spirits, demons, or even the Devil himself. In some traditions, it was believed these Souls were eaten. According to the Hausa people of Nigeria and Niger, Soul eaters inherited the ability to eat Souls from their parents or could acquire the ability from an existing practitioner. The capacity to eat Souls is rooted in special stones in the person's stomach and these stones allow the person to shapeshift into an animal to pursue potential Souls to eat. In European folklore, Soul eaters were men cursed by witches to eat Souls in order to survive. Furthermore, it is the Spirit or Soul that ascends after death, sometimes to be reborn sometimes to remain in the afterlife. However, not all Spirits or Souls are able to move on which results in restless spirits bound to the Earth, usually in the form of ghosts. Ghosts alone are steeped in folklore, but this folklore digresses from the topic here and will hopefully be covered at a later time. 

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

Gender: Nonbinary
Planet: The Universe
Time: Infinite
Season: The Wheel in Motion
Direction: Central
Tarot Cards: Major Arcana
Zodiac: All
Symbolism: Transcendence, joy, hope, wholeness, self-awareness, unity, selflessness, transformation, ascension, harmony, mystery
Symbols: Infinity, spiral, the universe, light, helix
Deities: All
Nature Spirits: Sphinx, World Tree
Colors: White, silver, purple, black
Food and Drink: wine, liquor, beer, honey, sweets, chocolate, cacao, tea, pound cake, eggs
Herbs: Mistletoe, poplar, oak, chestnut, ash, apple, lotus, resurrection fern, cannabis, tobacco
Crystals and Gemstones: Quartz, pearl, opal, amethyst 
Animals: Dove, deer, cat

How does Spirit work with the other elements?

Spirit works with all the elements in the same manner: Spirit supports each of the elements and each of the elements supports Spirit. Spirit cannot be separated from the other elements as it is infused in all that we do.

Your task for Spirit is to journal about how you have changed and grown this year. 2020 was tough, but we knew this was going to be a year of transformation. Begin with Water. How did Water help you heal past wounds? Were you able to soothe past hurts so you could move forward? Follow with the other elements. How did Earth help you ground and center after healing your past traumas? Did it make you more stubborn or were you able to erode your prickly exterior? How did Fire help you burn away what no-longer served you? Did Fire reignite your passions or bring new ones to you? Finally, how did Air allow you to speak your truth? Were you able to set goals for the future and send your desires out into the Universe? Finally, write about how you are feeling. Even if you don't feel like you have changed that much, write about why or why not. 

2020 wasn't meant to be a year of outward productivity and grand adventures. Your success this year isn't defined by how much 'stuff' you did, but the fact that you will come out of 2020 having grown. Each of us experienced the events of 2020 vastly different. Some of us suffered from crippling anxiety and depression, scared of what the future may hold. Some of us fought oppression, demanding change everywhere we went. Some of us lost so much and were left feeling helpless and hopeless. Others still managed to fight the darkness lurking over their shoulder and made what they could of an awful situation. No matter how you handled 2020, you did it in the best way you knew how or could and for that, I am proud of you. You should be proud of yourself. Get out all your feelings and frustrations onto paper. You'll need this later when we put everything we have done this year together in the final post, just in time for 2021. 

Next week I will dive into how to connect more deeply with Spirit using a simple yet effective ritual.

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

Elemental Magic Series

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Friday, December 4, 2020

Book Review: Year of the Witch by Temperance Alden

book review, local witchcraft, wheel of the year, witchcraft, witchy, occult, protection, cleansing, spiritual, pagan, neopagan, magick, magic, spells, rituals, witchy book review

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 free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As we are settling down into colder weather in Georgia, I am happily devouring the books on my shelf. I fell behind in the Fall months due to work, but I am working diligently to catch up. Teaching in the time of COVID is no easy feat, and has resulted in much of my life being put on the backburner. But hey! Thank you to those of you who stuck around through the lack of posts the past several months. I appreciate it.

Today I have another book review for you, dear readers; a popular one at that. Year of the Witch: Connecting Nature's Seasons through Intuitive Magick by Temperance Alden has been popping up everywhere in the witch community. It's probably one of the hottest books on the market at the moment, and I was thrilled when Weiser reached out and asked if I would like to review this book. I actually had it on my Amazon wishlist, especially because I follow Alden on Instagram and love her budget-friendly witch tips. This book didn't disappoint!

Alden covers a variety of topics, not just the Wheel of the Year. She discusses creating a more sustainable, local practice, something I quite enjoyed and fully support. As an environmental science teacher and witch who advocates for local witchcraft, I was extremely appreciative of these chapters. Furthermore, her recipes, spells, and rituals also support sustainable, local practices, encouraging the reader to use local, in-season produce, local ingredients, and she is mindful of how spell ingredients should be disposed of. Alden supports working with no supplies when possible because the magic comes from within you, not from the objects you are using. These only enhance your spell work, not do the work for you. She also offers expert advice on how to create your own correspondences for your magical objects found in your area, allowing you to build a deeper relationship with and respect for the world around you. Her method is very similar to my own, so I can vouch that it works, and I second her proposal that all witches be familiar with how to create their own correspondences. 

What I loved most, however, was that she used science and history from actual scientific and historical sources to support her claims. All of these sources are cited in the back of the book for reference. As someone who loves peer-reviewed journals, I always appreciate when another witch uses such sources to support their claims. This makes the book authentic and "real." I have found that in books talking about the sabbats, that some of their information has since been debunked, but yet this inaccurate information is still floating around. This is always a sign to me that the author has not kept up with current research and I find that to be a shame. Because of the research and time put into the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on each sabbat. The rituals were simple yet effective, their intention explained, and the recipes were to die for. I can't wait to veganize her bread recipe! It was actually one of these rituals to help you banish the dust and form a new habit that solidified my adoration for Alden. She states in the spells introduction that she finds herself becoming 'lazy' and depressed in the Spring. Girl...that spoke to my soul. Spring and Summer are NOT my seasons either, and like Alden, I much prefer Fall and Winter. I am the most productive and happiest during the Fall and Winter months, especially Winter! Finally, Alden encourages her readers to adapt the Wheel of the Year to fit their needs. These holidays were created during a vastly different time in a very specific location. Many of the practices and themes of the sabbats no longer hold true in modern times or for those that live outside of Europe. Alden encourages her readers to adapt the Wheel and create your own, individualized practice, which I love!

However, as with all books, there were a couple of things I didn't like. First, Alden suggests that birth control somehow disconnects you from the natural world, as implied when she discusses how much closer to the cycles of the natural world she got when she quit taking hers. This completely disregards individuals like myself that must take birth control for health reasons. I am no less in tune with nature than I was before the pill, and this idea that man-made medicines somehow decrease your magical ability has got to stop. It's false and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There was also a point I felt like she was dismissing anthropogenic climate change by using the Milankovitch cycle as evidence. Yes, the Milankovitch cycle accounts for some long-term climate change, but the difference between natural and anthropogenic climate change is the rate at which it is occurring. However, I think Alden simply didn't communicate well in this section, because her later stances on sustainability suggest she does recognize anthropogenic climate change is an issue. Finally, Alden uses a ritual that calls upon Lilith, who is not a goddess open to all to use. Lilith belongs to the Jewish faith and Judaism is a closed religion. You must be born into it or convert to it. Spirit Roots has an amazing article on Lilith and why her use in non-Jewish witchcraft is inappropriate.

Overall, however, I was delighted with Year of the Witch. It's current, relatable, sustainable, local, and empowering, for new and old witches alike. I especially encourage older witches to check this book out so you can relearn some of the history of our holidays. It's always a good idea to remain current, and if something is not longer serving you or us as a community, why not create something else that's better? You can order Year of the Witch: Connecting Nature's Seasons through Intuitive Magick by Temperance Alden now.

**There is a date error in her date section. Alden lists Summer Solstice on June 6th. This is widely incorrect. It's usually around June 21st.**

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