Thursday, August 26, 2021

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Valerian

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Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Dreaming, Healing, Love, Luck, Protection
Magical Uses and History: Valerian derives its name from the Latin valere meaning "be well" or "be strong." This is likely a reference to the medicinal uses of valerian, which are, historically, very numerous. It is often referred to as "all-heal" and has been used to treat shell-shock during World War I, headaches, anxiety, cramps, epilepsy, ward against the plague, and as an aphrodisiac. During the twelfth century, German herbalist St Hildegard of Bingen suggested valerian be used as a sleep aid, much as it is used today. In the sixteenth century, John Gerard wrote "no broth of medicine be worth anything if it did not contain Valerian, again hinting at the belief that valerian was essentially a cure-all. Due to its numerous medicinal properties and historical uses, valerian can be used in healing spells and rituals. Hang valerian root in a sick room or place under the bed of someone who is ill to aid in their recovery.

The belief that valerian could heal as well as prevent illness and its pungent scent, led to the belief that it could also protect against evil spirits. The Ancient Greeks hung bundles of valerian in their windows and around their homes to prevent evil and other unwanted guests from entering, while the Celts believed valerian would protect against lightning strikes, much like the sacred oak. As such, you can use valerian in modern protection rituals and spells and hang it in your home for protection against evil or negative energies and spirits. Sprinkling a fine dust of valerian across your front door will prevent uninvited guests from entering. The smell, which is off-putting to some, may be enough to keep those pesky inlaws away.

Apart from its uses in healing and protection magic, valerian is also believed to promote love and amorous feelings. During the Victorian period, women would wear sprigs of valerian in hopes that the men they passed would "follow like children." This idea of "following like children" is immortalized in the folktale regarding the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Rats adore the smell of valerian root and many believe the Piper rubbed himself with valerian or filled his pockets with it in order to coax the rats out of town. Cats, like rats, also love the smell of valerian root and treat it just as they would catnip. Due to the idea that it can attract animals and lovers, valerian is a potent herb for love and luck spells or just drawing something to you in general. It can also be used in cat magic, to quell a quarreling couple, and bring general harmony to the home.

Finally, the sedative properties of valerian make it perfect for sleep and dream magic. Include valerian in sleep pouches or drink as a tea to relax the nerves prior to sleep.

Valerian can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Love Spells
    Dream Magic
    Healing Spells

Medicinal Uses: Valerian root is one of the most commonly used nervine, a fact recognized by its inclusion as a sedative in many pharmacopeias. It can be used to reduce tension and overexcitability as well as relieve anxiety and hysteria. It naturally heals sleep, making it effective in treating insomnia and can be combined with passionflower to increase its potency. It is also antispasmodic, making it useful in treating cramping, both intestinal and those brought on by periods, especially when combined with cramp bark Finally, valerian is a mild pain reliever and can be used to treat headaches and migraines. 

Preparation and Dosage: Valerian is taken internally as an infusion or tincture. To make an infusion, combine 1-2 teaspoons of dried root with one cup of boiling water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Consume as needed. As a tincture, take 2-4 milliliters up to three times a day. People respond differently to valerian with some feeling its effects at a low dose while others feeling nothing. It is suggested you begin with a low dose and work your way up slowly. Furthermore, for some people, valerian can act as a stimulant.

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

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Book Review: Seasons of a Magical Life by H. Byron Ballard

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

The school year here in Georgia is well underway and already incredibly stressful. Every day there are changing demands, new policies, and schedule changes as COVID numbers here in Georgia rise as the Delta variant travels quickly through the population. I am concerned we may shut down again, despite our best intentions, simply because our hospitals are filling faster than we can care for people. I'm tired...all. the. time. I'm anxious, and honestly, angry and frustrated. As you all know, I am very much a scientist. I have a degree in biology and paleontology with a focus on evolutionary biology and functional morphology. My point is, I am learned enough to understand the basic science behind this pandemic, especially the evolutionary aspect of it, and the fact that science changes as we learn more, but not knowledgeable enough to consider myself an expert in any capacity. Therefore, I rely on experts. I'm frustrated and angry that so many people are ignoring scientists and acting like we are purposely trying to deceive the public to make a quick buck or, worse, mind control them. I'm frustrated and angry that I did everything requested of me to slow the spread and keep my neighbors safe. I am still doing everything requested of me so when I see the numbers soar again, Mississippi open extensions of their children's hospitals in parking garages in the middle of an August heatwave, and Texas admit there are no ICU beds left in the state, that anger and frustration turns tears that eventually turn to numbness. I'm not sure what to do anymore or if there is anything more I can do. With all the being said, I derived incredible comfort recently from reading Seasons of a Magical Life: A Pagan Path of Living by H. Byron Ballard. (What a way to start a book review, I know.)

Ballard's book will leave you longing for a simpler time in the country, watching the garden grow until its able to provide your family with an abundance of ripe fruits and vegetables to be feasted upon, jammed, and canned, the leaves later slowly turning red and orange before the long night's rest, just for a couple months later to blossom again in the early Spring months. This book is a practical poetic masterpiece on how to live in harmony with the changing seasons, however that may manifest where you live. This book is by no means a traditional witch book, but instead a sweet serenade to the Earth and how we, as pagans and witches, can live more in tune with the Earth. We are its stewards, after all.

The first several chapters of the book are a series of 'essays' discussing various ideas about the Earth, our place in it, how we can live an abundant life using the Earth's natural cycles, and the basics of the Wheel of the Year as outlined in the book. The first part of the book reads like a lullaby, lulling you into a sense of security despite what is going on in the rest of the world. I am honestly jealous of Ballard's small farm outside of Asheville, North Carolina, but recognize I am blessed enough to have my own 'cottage farm;' I just need to do the work to turn it into the amazing farm she has. I have a lot of work to do! These chapters, as well as the entire book, are filled with personal stories, which I found incredibly comforting. I swear it felt like coming home reading this book and I couldn't wait to snuggle up on my antique couch to read more after a long day's work. Furthermore, Ballard offers a slew of practical advice. In one essay, she suggests changing your mindset from sleep being the end of the day to the beginning, something I found myself taking too quickly. I already changed my nightly routine to better suit my idea of starting the day with rest. What a wonderful way to begin a day, and if you think about it, technically the day begins at midnight, so it's not a far-fetched notion. She also discusses the basics of spells, suggesting that just like a scientist, you should test your spells and practices to find what really works for you, instead of trying to fit into some mold because you saw another witch do it that way once. She encourages the use of folklore and mythology as the basis of your craft as these stories ring with truth and practice advice, such as not eating or drinking anything from the Otherworld and not giving up your name to just anyone. This idea of using myths and folklore as a way to learn witchcraft is something I use within my own practice and highly encourage others to do the same.

The second part of the book covers each of the eight sabbats, as well as Ember Days and Rogation Days. Ballard repurposes Ember and Rogation days to fit the pagan calendar, and honestly, I absolutely loved their inclusion and can't wait to make it part of my own Wheel of the Year. Within each sabbat, Ballard includes a letter from her farm, skills to learn and hone, chores to complete, traditions and celebrations, foraging, activities, and an icon of the season. She takes an incredibly practical approach to the Wheel of the Year, turning the mundane into pure magic. The point is not to create elaborate celebrations and altars, but instead to live in tandem with the Earth as our ancestors once did. I love this approach and feel that we are losing skills and a mindset that will not only benefit ourselves but our planet as well. At Samhain, Ballard discusses preplanning your funeral and taking care of your last will and testament. As the ex-wife of a funeral director, I cannot stress how wonderful this advice is and I am thankful she included it in the book. So many people do not take care of their end-of-life care and needs, leaving their families to figure out their wishes while also grieving. Please don't do this to your family; take care of your funeral and will, even if you expect to live for many more years. Your family will appreciate it when the time comes. I loved each sabbat chapter, soaking in the basic skills and ideas Ballard beautifully outlines for her readers. This is not a spell book, nor a traditional book about the sabbats. There are no outwardly witchy rituals and spells to be done for each sabbat, instead, Ballard discusses a homesteading life rooted in practicality. She is also abundantly aware her situation is not common and offers some advice for living with the seasons no matter where you are, encouraging her readers to find magic anywhere and everywhere. Furthermore, there are no set days for any of these celebrations, leaving it up to the reader to decide when they wish to celebrate. I really liked this, and it makes the book more accessible to those living in the Southern Hemisphere or a place that does not have four seasons.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was in the chapter on Imbolc. Under Foraging, Ballard says, "There might be a little dandelion action. Eat them up!" For a book that is touting living with the Earth and being Her steward, this is not great advice. The first dandelions of the season are also the first food for many pollinators. Leave them for the insects and collect your dandelion later in the season when more flowers are blooming. Trust me, there will be plenty in the upcoming months.

I greatly enjoyed this book and the comfort it brought in times of stress, anxiety, and frustration. Again, this is not a typical witchy book, and some of you may be disappointed by the lack of spells, rituals, and folklore. However, if you are looking for a book to encourage you to go back to your roots, live within your means, be a good steward of the Earth, and live with the cycles and seasons, I highly encourage you to pick up Seasons of a Magical Life: A Pagan Path of Living by H. Byron Ballard. It will not disappoint! Seasons of a Magical Life: A Pagan Path of Living by H. Byron Ballard is available now.

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Monday, August 16, 2021

A Guide to Protection, Cleansing, Abundance, Prosperity, and Love Spells

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When it comes to spellcrafting, spells can fall into different categories. While you don't have to categorize your spell, knowing where it falls in relation to others can help you focus your intention and find the proper correspondences to help you achieve your goal. Below you will find a list of the most common types of spells. You will notice that I categorized spells based on their intention, not their ingredients as some authors may be inclined to do. I did this because the ingredients you use are simply to enhance the intention, not drive the spell.

Protection Spells

Without a doubt, protection spells are one of the most commonly sought after and recorded spells in the history of humankind. Folklore is full of protection spells, from placing dead cats in a wall to hanging a horseshoe over your door to hanging mugwort crosses above windows to placing oak branches around your home. The list of protection spells is truly endless and for a good reason. Historically, the world has been an extremely unforgiving place, with the chances of falling ill or injuring yourself remaining rather high prior to the invention of modern medicine. Even then, disease and accidents are still common. Protection spells were designed to prevent these accidents, injuries, and illnesses, as well as any other unexplainable negative occurrence. These unexplained occurrences were often attributed to the work of demons, witches, witchcraft, and other evil spirits. As such, protection spells were employed at every opportunity and highly sought after. These spells often take the form of warding and defensive spells such as those mentioned above. If you are looking at stopping something from entering your home, preventing bad luck and illness, or otherwise keeping evil and negativity at bay, you are likely performing a protection spell.

Cleansing and Healing Spells

Followed by protection spells, cleansing and healing spells are also extremely common. Cleansing and healing spells are done to remove unwanted energies, entities, ailments, and spells from a person, place, or object. If protection spells failed, cleansing was the next course of action for many, although today it is suggested you cleanse prior to setting up protections. Cleansing is often done using smoke or water as the basis of the spell, but you will also find spells that use salt, eggs, onions, crystals, candles, and a host of other ingredients. Healing spells, like cleansing spells, are designed to remove the unwanted from the person and like cleansing spells, this too is often done with smoke and water, especially water which is naturally healing. In both cases, something is being removed, so if you are looking to remove or banish something, then you are likely looking at a cleansing type of spell.

Abundance, Prosperity, and Wealth Spells

Abundance, prosperity, and wealth, along with love spells, fall under the broader heading of manifestation magic. I separated these out, however, because while you are manifesting something in all cases, the intention behind that manifestation is very different.

Abundance, which comes from the Latin abundantia, refers to a large amount of something, whether that something is tangible or intangible. Historically, abundance was deeply associated with agriculture and crops, which is why today you see abundance spells still linked to these ideas. However, abundance does not always mean a lot of things; it can also refer to the lack or absence of something. You can have an abundance of worries or fears, as much as you can have an abundance of happiness. When working abundance spells, it's extremely important that your intent is clear and focused, or else it's likely the spell will backfire. Furthermore, abundance spells take work. You cannot perform the spell and expect food to show up on your table without working the fields in the first place. If you are looking at manifesting more of something in your life, then an abundance spell is likely what you will need.

Prosperity, however, originates from the Latin prospreitas and refers to having good luck and success. Notice the difference here between abundance and prosperity. Prosperity is not about having a lot of things but instead doing well overall. Prosperity spells will not manifest as a single achievement, but a series of events in your life. They are designed to bring good luck and success, which can later result in abundance depending on the situation, but that isn't the ultimate goal. Furthermore, prosperity is a give-and-take relationship; you must give in order to receive. You water your garden and in return, you are gifted with the fruits of your labors. When performing prosperity spells, expect to give something in return, a sacrifice if you will. If you are looking to increase your chances of success or bring general good luck, then the spell you need is a prosperity spell.

Finally, wealth spells are specifically designed to bring assets, such as money, power, and other resources, to you. Yes, this is a type of abundance spell, but the intention is specifically for wealth. With wealth spells comes the assurance that you will never be without and have everything you need right when you need it. These spells most often come in the form of money spells but also include spells to find a new job, attract business, or get a promotion also fall in this category. 

Love Spells

Love spells are also extremely common and always have been. In fact, they are one of the most commonly searched for spells in modern times, even by people that do not practice witchcraft or believe in it! There is a lot of controversy around love spells, with some arguing no love spell is a good love spell, while others find them perfectly acceptable. Like abundance, prosperity, and wealth spells, love spells are done to bring something to you, more specifically love. This can be in the form of finding a new lover, keeping a lover, encouraging marriage or a happy marriage, avoiding divorce, preventing cheating, promoting self-love, or even divining a future lover. Binding rituals can also fall under love spells if the intention behind the spell is to keep a lover attached to you and prevent them from leaving or cheating. So if it comes down to matters of the heart, it's likely a love spell.

Curses, Hexes, and Jinxes

I talked extensively about the differences between curses, hexes, and jinxes in my last post Ethics in Spellcrafting: To Curse or Not to Curse, so I am not going to go too in-depth here. I strongly encourage you to read through that post to learn more. 

However, at a most basic level, jinxes cause a minor inconvenience, hexes are longer-lasting ill-will to teach a lesson, and curses are long-lasting ill-will and bad luck to seek revenge and bring justice. Depending on the intention, binding spells can fall within this category, specifically as a hex. Often times binding spells are done to prevent someone from continuing to do something, especially if that something is potentially harmful. If you couple this with the intention that they learn their lesson then the binding spell becomes a hex as much as a protection spell. Curses and other baneful spells were one of the most commonly used spells historically, apart from protection spells which were used to counter baneful magic. When we look at historical records and folklore, a large number of curses appear, from curse tablets to charms. Honestly, the history of cursing is fascinating and deserves more attention than it currently receives. Remember, curses were often used by the oppressed to seek justice and freedom from their oppressors. This was their only way of effectively fighting back and that alone warrants respect.

Whether or not you decide to use curses, hexes, and jinxes is entirely up to you. Again, I discuss the ethics of this in my last post, Ethics in Spellcrafting: To Curse or Not to Curse, which will help you set your own code of ethics through journaling.

While I know there are spells that may not fall neatly into these categories, almost all of them do. When you understand where your intention falls, it makes planning your spell a heck of a lot easier. It also sometimes helps focus that intention further by giving you a new perspective. In the next post, we will cover the basics of spellcrafting, including a general spell format to get you prepared to start writing your own. Until then!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Magical Properties of Selenite

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Monday, August 9, 2021

Book Review: Manifestation Magic by Elhoim Leafar

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

Hello, witches, and happy New Moon. This book review really couldn't come at a better time considering the New, Waxing, and Full Moons are the perfect time for manifestation magic! I just finished Manifestation Magic: 21 Rituals, Spells, and Amulets for Abundance, Prosperity, and Wealth by Elhoim Leafar and boy do I have a lot to say. Again, I am excited to see that in general, we are experiencing a shift in the occult book industry toward more advanced books. Although there are definitely some beginner aspects to the book, its specific focus on manifestation magic sets it apart from beginner books.

Right from the beginning, Leafar sucked me in when he compared learning occult practices to science. He says that as science changes so should our opinions (yaaasssss!!!) and that the same idea should be applied to our practice as witches. As we learn new things, are presented with new ideas, and garner a better understanding, our practice should change. Just because something has always been done one way, doesn't necessarily mean it's the best, most efficient, or ethical way to do it. Practices become obsolete and clinging to them only hinders your own progress as a witch. 

After this brief introduction, Leafar jumps right into the basics of magic, including tools, timing, and basic correspondences with special regard to those related to abundance, prosperity, and wealth. However, he encourages readers to practice visualization techniques before jumping into spell casting, a practice I fully support. Leafar includes multiple visualization exercises in the first part of the book to help readers developed this skill and encourages readers to make these exercises part of their routine. This is followed by basic correspondences for the energies of the Sun, Moon phases, and planets. This section makes a great quick reference and honestly included some new information, even for me. I enjoy reading about how other witches use the Sun, Moon, and planets in their work, and Leafar goes so far as to offer personal experiences with these energies and when to perform spells to overlap two different energies to enhance the spell and counter some of the negative aspects of on energy with another.

Part one finishes with a basic overview of deities, crystals, and candles that correspond to manifestation magic. Leafar gives specifics on how to use each in your practice and includes some examples from his own life. There were some issues I had with the deities section though that need to be addressed. First, Leafar includes deities from closed traditions, specifically in the form of Hindu and Yoruba deities/spirits, with no mention of cultural appropriation. While a critical reader would be able to recognize that some of the deities are not open to them, newer witches may not. With that being said, I appreciated his inclusion of deities and spirits from multiple cultures because it makes the book accessible to a larger audience. The second issue I had was in reference to the deity Pluto. Leafar says that Pluto is the Greek god of riches, but this is not correct. Pluto is not Greek, but Roman, and is the equivalent to the Greek god Hades aka the God of the Underworld. I believe Leafar meant Plutus, which is the Greek god of riches, but this mistake is made twice which concerned me a little bit. I am not super familiar with some of the other deities and spirits mentioned, so I cannot vouch for their accuracy. This is a problem I often encounter with correspondence lists like this. There are always one or two mistakes embedded in truth and unless you are already familiar with them, you wouldn't know any better. This is why I encourage everyone to question what they are reading and double and triple-check information against other sources. There is soooooo much misinformation out there and it can be difficult to discern the truth from the lies. Apart from these issues, Leafar makes mention of something I have never heard of: The Prosperous. He uses this term to refer to a group of spirits that help your spells along when you do not directly call upon a deity. I have never heard this term used to refer to these specific spirits, but I like it! Included in this section detailing how The Prosperous work, Leafar offers some spells to call upon them and ask for their aid. As someone who does not include deities within their practice, calling upon general spirits and energies of the Universe to aid in spellwork is doable.

Part two discusses the differences between abundance, prosperity, and wealth which are often confused for each other. I adored this section because it touches on a topic rarely covered in other books. Abundance, prosperity, and wealth are NOT the same thing, and therefore spells done for each of these will yield different results. Laefar also discusses the difference between magical and non-magical exercises. Because I loved this paragraph so much, I am just going to directly quote it: 

"The difference between magical methods and non-magical exercises that focus on attracting abundance is that those exercises, such as visualization and positive thinking, focus on convincing you that you are abundant and just by knowing it, you attract it. But if it doesn't work for you, they assume it's because you're not practicing it as well as others. Conversely, magical methods work like ropes that allow you to go hunting, understanding that what you are looking for is near you but hidden in front of your eyes, like a rabbit hidden in a bush in your garden...the rabbit will not leave the bush no matter how much you repeat to yourself every morning in the mirror 'there is a rabbit in my house.'"

Yes, yes, yes! Can we stop with the positive thinking cureall mentality and stop shaming people that this doesn't work for? It's extremely toxic and downright false. I can visualize winning the lottery over and over again, but if I don't ever buy a ticket, I'm not going to win. Leafar also mentions that just because you are doing the physical work, doesn't mean that your thoughts aren't powerful. How you view yourself and what you wish to manifest does play a part in how your magic works, so are careful with what you say and think, especially around a spell or ritual. You could be inadvertently sabotaging yourself by saying things like "I hope this works...", "I have a lot of bills to pay...", and other 'negative' statements because these thoughts and words hold power. The spirits and Universe aiding in the fruition of your spells hear this and will give you exactly what you asked for. Make sure you are clear in your thoughts and intention around a spell, but recognize that simply willing something into existence won't necessarily work either. There was one part of this section that rubbed me the wrong way. Leafar discusses surrendering and says that we can only mature when we accept we cannot control everything. There are hints of ableism in this statement as it completely dismisses people with anxiety and depression and basically says these people cannot ascend because of their mental illness. Folks, that isn't true. Is it easier to reach that maturity when you aren't anxious and depressed? Yes. Is it impossible? No. Those of us with mental illness are accustomed to life being harder. We somehow manage to overcome everything else, we can overcome this as well!

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The book ends with 21 spells and rituals Leafar himself uses with success. This section begins with a personal story discussing how just because something is written in a book, doesn't mean that it will work for you. His story involves the use of green candles to attract money. That works for Americans because our money is green, but in other cultures, green is not associated with money because their money is a different color. When his family switched to uses pink and purple candles to attract money, their spells were much more successful. I adored this story and appreciate the message. This is an important lesson for new and old witches alike that spells should be changed to fit your culture and needs. There is a beautiful ritual to heal your relationship with money and wealth before getting started that I highly recommend you pay attention to if you pick up this book. Many of us have a lot of negative feelings toward money, and as a result, this prevents us from manifesting to the best of our ability. It's important to note that money is not the end all be all, and this ritual helps you understand that as well, but also recognizes that money is important and allows us to fill our basic needs. He does make reference to black magic in this section, but more so in a way to debunk it than as an actual thing. The spells and rituals in this section are great, but I had issues with two things. First, there is a spell for an abundance oil to spray around your home. Leafar suggests spraying straight oil, not diluted, and this has me concerned about furniture, flooring, walls, etc. Don't spray straight oil around your home or office. You will destroy your belongings. The second was putting undiluted essential oils straight on your hands or body. This can be dangerous so use your best judgment. Other than that, I really enjoyed this section and the book as a whole.

Whew! That was a long review for such a short book, but I have to say, I really enjoyed it and because I enjoyed it, I took much more extensive notes about it than some of the other books recently. Manifestation Magic: 21 Rituals, Spells, and Amulets for Abundance, Prosperity, and Wealth by Elhoim Leafar is available now and one of the few 'spell' books I highly recommend adding to your collection because we can all use a little more abundance, prosperity, and wealth in our lives!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Apothecary: Calendula Healing Salve

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Working in the garden, my hands often take a beating from cuts, insect bites, and splinters. The wet soil and constant watering also have a habit of drying out my nail beds, causing the dreaded hangnails to form. In the winter, my partner's hands end up a chapped and painful mess of cracked skin. This is where my handy calendula salve comes in. This, along with my yarrow salve, are the two salves I turn to the most when treating minor skin problems. And, like my yarrow salve, this salve is super easy to make!

Calendula Healing Salve

Dried calendula flowers
Carrier oil (I used olive oil)
1 oz beeswax
Sterilized 4 oz jar
Sterilized 2 salve tins

Fill the 4-ounce jar 3/4 of the way full with the dried calendula flowers. Cover completely with your carrier oil, seal, and give it a good shake while visualizing the oil infusing with healing energy. Place in a warm sunny window for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking daily. Remember to continue visualizing the oil infusing with healing energy every time you give the jar a shake. You can also say a quick chant along the lines of "Calendula yellow and bright, infuse this mixture with healing light." To speed up this process, you can heat the oil and herb mixture on low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring clockwise to infuse the mixture with healing energy.

Once the oil is sufficiently infused, strain the liquid and combine with the beeswax in a double boiler. Heat the beeswax and oil on low until the mixture is well combined stirring clockwise to bring health, wellness, and healing to you. You don't want to overheat the mixture otherwise you will reduce the effectiveness of the salve. Immediately pour into your salve tins and store them in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

This particular salve is perfect for dry cracked skin, rashes, swelling, acne, stings, scrapes, chickenpox, eczema, cradle cap, and other skin ailments. 

How It Works

Calendula is naturally antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory, which makes it perfect for treating skin wounds. It keeps harmful bacteria and viruses from infecting the wound while reducing inflammation and promoting cell repair and growth. Combined with a moisturizing oil and beeswax, the salve is able to form a barrier between the skin and the environment without clogging your pores. Furthermore, beeswax is naturally anti-inflammatory, thus reducing swelling and inflammation, and also high in vitamin A which is needed for cellular reconstruction. Together, these ingredients make a powerful topical healing salve, perfect for most skin wounds. 

Because I used olive oil, I wouldn't suggest using this salve to treat burns. However, if you picked a different carrier oil suitable for burns such as jojoba, go for it! Just be sure to research oils safe for burns before using it on a burn otherwise you will end up trapping the heat in the skin and making the burn worse and slowing the healing process significantly.

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Is there a particular way you use calendula? Do you have a different recipe for healing skin wounds? Share in the comments below!

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Monday, August 2, 2021

Lammas/Lughnasadh/Summer Thermstice Altar 2021

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Thermistice, altar, witch, witchcraft, witchy

The Summer Thermistice, also known as Lammas and Lughnasadh, is the first of three harvest festivals celebrated on August 1st, although this year is astronomically falls on August 6th or 7th. Traditionally, wheat is harvested from the end of July through the beginning of August, and Lammas was a time to celebrate this harvest as a successful wheat harvest would guarantee flour through the winter. Wheat is and was a staple in our diet and was often the only reliable source of food during times of famine and food shortages. In fact, it was such an integral part of our diet historically that when flour prices rose due to shortages, revolts followed. As such, celebrating the wheat harvest was a community affair marked by feasts, bread baking, and offerings to the harvest spirits, often including the first loaf of bread baked from the newly harvested wheat. This is a time to celebrate and honor the land and agricultural spirits, fruitfulness, prosperity, abundance, and change. This year I put together a very simple altar, using mostly plants from my garden.

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Thermistice, altar, witch, witchcraft, witchy

1. Blackeyed Susan Bouquet- Lammas, being a harvest festival, is also a time to honor the Sun in an attempt to keep Him shining brightly until the end of the harvest season. Blackeyed Susans are associated with the Sun due to their shape and brightly colored yellow petals. hence their central location on my altar. Furthermore, they represent abundance and fruitfulness, as anyone who has grown Blackeyed Susan's knows they produce thousands of seeds and will quickly take over your entire garden if allowed. They also represent the union of Sun and Earth that results in the fruits of the first harvest. I placed my flowers with a couple of grape leaves in a mason jar outfitted with an orange ribbon bow, the orange also representing the Sun's strength. (Where did I get it: My Garden; Cost: Free; Mason Jar ~$0.25)

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Thermistice, altar, witch, witchcraft, witchy

2. Grapevine- Around my shed, I have a wild grapevine taking over. After trimming some of the branches back, I knew they would make a perfect altar decoration. Grapes are beginning to be harvested during this time and represent abundance and fertility. While grapes are more deeply associated with Mabon, their inclusion here is to ensure a continued fruitful harvest later in the season. (Where did I get it: My Garden; Cost: Free)

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Thermistice, altar, witch, witchcraft, witchy

3. Citrine and Adventurine- Citrine with its light yellow hue is associated with the Sun, strength, warmth, stability, and prosperity. I placed two citrine crystals in front of both of the candles to lend the Sun strength so that He may continue to bring nourishing light to the plants below and ripen the fruits of our labors. In the center is a single green aventurine crystal, representing good luck and prosperity. I placed the green aventurine in front of the flowers because green aventurine is also a crystal that encourages plant growth, which is needed for the remainder of the growing season.  (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Stores; Cost: ~$4)

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Thermistice, altar, witch, witchcraft, witchy

4. Candles in Holders- I went with white candles this year, representing purity and light, a nod to both the feminine energies of the season which nurture the crops and the Sun, the ultimate bringer of light. The flame is a sympathetic form of magic to encourage the Sun's strength through the remainder of the growing season. It also represents the Sun's energies. I chose the golden yellow candle holders to further represent the Sun, his strength, and light and the golden wheat being harvested during this time. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2019; Cost: $3)

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Thermistice, altar, witch, witchcraft, witchy


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 breakdown helpful, especially for those of you looking to create Instagram-perfect altars on a budget! This particular altar is mostly constructed with items I found in my garden, which brought the cost down this time significantly. The most expensive items are the crystals, which can be found cheaply with imperfections at many online retailers.

Did you do anything special for Lammas this year? I enjoyed the company of my chickens while working in the vegetable garden and later eating some super spicy Indian food and naan. I don't know about you, but there is nothing quite like Indian spice! May your harvests continue to be fruitful, whether that be literally or figuratively. 

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