SOCIAL MEDIA

Monday, January 31, 2022

DIY Imbolc Paper Lanterns


Imbolc is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate the sabbat of light than with lanterns. Usually, I see people making ice lanterns during this time, which are great and reflective of the season but don't work out so well if you live in a Southern state like Georgia. That's where paper lanterns come in. These globe paper lanterns are made using glue, white tissue paper, and fresh and dried plant material to create a snowy look-alike that will cast a soft glow over your Imbolc or Winter Thermistice altar.

Supplies

     White Tissue Paper, torn into small, irregular pieces
     Dried and fresh plant material such as leaves and flowers
     Glue+Water or Mod Podge
     Old Paintbrush
     Balloons
     Scissors


Directions

Begin by blowing up the balloon to the size you want your lantern to be. Working in sections, brush the glue mixture onto the balloon and place the white tissue paper over top. Seal the tissue paper with a layer of glue, ensuring the entire balloon is covered in at least a single layer of tissue paper with no loose ends. Be sure to leave an open at the base of the balloon so you can later remove the balloon.


Once the balloon is completely covered in tissue paper, begin gluing down your plant material. I used leaves from an evergreen bush to symbolize eternal life, growth, and fertility, rose petals for love and friendship, and white orchid blooms for love, fertility, and purity. Cover all leaves and flowers with a layer of tissue paper and completely seal the lantern with another layer of glue, making sure there are no loose ends or gaps. Use a cup, paper towel roll, or another support to prop up the balloon and allow the lantern to completely dry. The lanterns using dry within 2 hours.


Once dry, pop the balloon and remove it. Cut an opening in the bottom large enough to place a battery-operated candle or fairy lights. While you can use tea lights, I would strongly advise against it because the tissue paper is highly flammable. The last thing you want to do is burn down your house!


This activity is perfect for all ages and a great way to connect with the season. The white tissue paper creates an icy look that will last for many seasons if you wish to keep them, or the entire lantern can be given as an offering since all the materials are completely biodegradable. These are perfect for indoor or outdoor use, but, again, I advise against real flame lest you catch the lantern on fire. These lanterns can also be made later in the year using orange, red, and yellow tissue paper to represent the Sun and yellow flowers and plants for Beltane or Midsummer. The possibilities are endless!


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Monday, January 24, 2022

Book Review: The Big Book of Magical Incense by Sara L. Mastros

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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.

After my last review, this book review is a breath of fresh air! When I was first asked to review The Big Book of Magical Incense by Sara L. Mastros, I was excited because incense is not something I know too much about. I occasionally use stick or cone incense, and rarely use premade loose incense, so this was an opportunity to learn more about a subject I was rather unfamiliar with. Mastros did not disappoint!

Mastros opens the books discussing the science of scent. Hooked me right there! Any book that combines science and magic is right up my alley. She then goes on to discuss the history of incense, which combined with the first chapter, was fascinating. Many occult books I read give oversimplified, rehashed telling of the same information, but this was new and interesting. Furthermore, it explains a lot of the correspondences we associate with many herbs, spices, and resins. Their historical uses, as well as their historical cost, travel, gathering practices, and medicinal uses, provide a deeper understanding as to why the magical correspondences exist as they do. These two chapters, along with every other chapter in the book, are thoroughly researched, with in-text citations to boot and a complete resource list for further learning at the end. 

Mastros then goes on to discuss how to make incense and use it properly. I'm not going to lie, I needed this information. No one has ever, in any of the books I've read, incense I've bought, or subscription box that has given loose incense, explicitly stated how exactly to burn incense, especially loose-leaf incense, to get the best burn possible. Seriously, this is not something that is explicitly taught in most circles and an area I realized while reading this section was sorely lacking. This information alone is reason enough to buy this book. But if that isn't enough, Part 2 & 3 certainly are.

Part 2 covers botanical lore of all the ingredients Mastros commonly uses to make incense, including those in the recipes found in Part 3. If you have been on my blog for any period of time, you know this is what I love most. Plants and plant folklore, apart from hedge riding, are my two areas of expertise. I think it's the most fascinating part of witchcraft and honestly, it's a peek into the history of the human race. It's also full of science and mystery and I can't pass up two things I love. Mastros does an excellent job discussing the magical and medicinal correspondences, magical uses, and history of the ingredients she uses. She even includes indigenous correspondences and uses, but makes it known that these practices, especially the use of white sage and palo santo, are closed and offers scent alternatives to use. I appreciate any author that is willing to put their foot down when it comes to cultural appropriation. Not only thing, but the book is also trans-inclusive. Instead of saying, male or female, she uses 'people with vaginas' when discussing the aphrodisiac effects of certain plants. More points scored with me. However, there is a key herb missing from this book, lavender. It's missing because Mastros is allergic to it, and is upfront with her readers that she will not include ingredients she does not use or know. I. Love. This. If you are unfamiliar with a plant, you shouldn't be advocating for its use in spells, rituals, incense, teas, etc because you don't know it! So many witches do not do this and write books about things they don't know, often furthering misinformation without even knowing they are doing it. You'll find I never talk about or use goji berries in any of my spells or rituals even though they can certainly be used. Why? Because I am hella allergic to it! That plant looks at me and says, "I hate you" and causes hives all over my mouth, tongue, and cheeks. It doesn't have a place in my magical practice and neither should any plant you are allergic to.

Part 3 is full of recipes, occult information, spells, rituals, and so many other amazing nuggets of information scattered throughout. I usually get to the recipes or spell section of a book and skim through them; you cannot do that with this book. Mastros fills these chapters with so much more than recipes and I found myself making notes in the corners. There are recipes for everything you could possibly need and then some. She has incense to set the mood, attract money, protect, heal, curse, and offer to a whole slew of spirits. There is incense to mimic libraries and enhance the learning of science and math (as a science teacher, yes please!). There is even incense based on historical grimoires, so if you are looking at something 'older' you will find it here. Make sure you read the introduction to these recipes. There is so much hidden information in them! Furthermore, Mastros discusses awakening the ingredients by talking to them. This is another step commonly left out of other books, blogs, conversations, etc about spells. The ingredients you use vibrate with energy. They have a 'soul' and they are not ours to use willy-nilly. While you can be successful doing this, you'll get much better results working with your ingredients by asking them to be a part of your spell. Mastros slowly weans her readers off her 'awakenings' by slowly removing them from the spells and rituals. She also includes beginner and advanced information about the planets, spirit work, astral projection, ancestor magic, altars, angels, malefic magic, and protection. When discussing protection, I love that she notes she was hesitant to even include a section on protection magic because we spend most of our time protecting ourselves and that's where the magic ends. I love that she makes note that witches are far too protected and don't need a lot of the protections they have. Protections have a time and place certainly, like during hedge riding, but you don't need an arsenal all the time. It's like walking into the grocery store with as many guns as you can carry.

**It should be noted there are tons of spells and rituals based on Judaism. Judaism is technically closed. I couldn't find much information on Mastros's heritage, so I am unsure of whether or not she has Jewish roots. I would tread carefully when wishing to use these spells and rituals. Look at altering them to remove any potential cultural appropriation by using your heritage instead. I know most of us come from Christian backgrounds, and there are plenty of Christian alternatives that can be used just as effectively. I was wary of this information for this reason and it was one of two things I didn't 'like.' I use like in quotes because I did, in fact, love the information, but I was wary of the potential cultural appropriation.**

Mastros was so kind as to comment on this post to clear up my concerns: 
"As to your question at the end, I am in fact Jewish by blood, as was my mother, her mother, and countless generations before us. Additionally, I am reasonably well educated in Jewish tradition broadly, and something of an expert on Jewish magic in particular. Additional, I spent many years as an professional educator in Jewish communal life.
While Judaism is a closed community (the only ways to be Jewish are to come out of a Jewish vagina or to be invited and formally accepted by a Jewish community), none of the practices in the book are closed. That is not just my opinion, but also the opinion of my rabbi, and most (but not all) of the rabbinic authorities with whom I regularly study and work."

The only other thing I didn't like was how scattered the information was. I mentioned that there are nuggets of information scattered throughout the book. This works really well with how the book is set up, but will make it difficult to find that information later, which is why you should be taking notes, using sticky notes, or jotting down useful information and page numbers in your Grimoire so you can find it later.

All in all, I give this book the highest rating possible. This is certainly a book every witch needs on their shelf and it is sure to delight while teaching invaluable information! You can purchase The Big Book of Magical Incense by Sara L. Mastros now.



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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Spellcrafting Series: Grounding and Centering After Spell Work

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After you cast your spell, you may notice that you are still brimming with energy, feel out of sorts, jittery, or extremely tired. It's very common to feel this way, but all can be quickly remedied through grounding and centering. Grounding and centering, however, can also be employed before spell work to get you into the right mindset or any time you are feeling off. Since witches work with energies, grounding and centering are probably two of the most important skills a new witch should learn.

Grounding

Grounding, sometimes referred to as earthing, is the process of connecting with the Earth to release unwanted energies and gain stabilizing healing energies from the Earth. According to a study published in Explore in 2020, grounding reduces inflammation, stress, and pain while improving circulation and sleep, thus promoting healing (source). While this study isn't perfect, I know from personal experience that the process of grounding reduces my stress level so it's not surprising that others have reported similar experiences.

There are several different techniques you can use to ground yourself, so try out a variety of methods to see what works for you. My personal method is to stand with my feet firmly planted on the ground and visualize roots sprouting from the bottom of my feet, sinking deep into the Earth. As the roots grow, I focus on the energies I wish to get rid of radiating into the earth while sucking up the healing energies. This is best done outside where you can actually touch the Earth, but this is not always possible so the floor of your home will also work. You can see a more in-depth guide in Elemental Magic: Earth Spells and Rituals.

If you struggle to visualize, try holding a grounding crystal such as black tourmaline, obsidian, or onyx in your hand, transferring the unwanted energies to it. You can also create an 'energy pot' by filling a pot with dirt and plunging your hands into the pot whenever you wish to ground. Feel the soothing coolness of the soil draw away the unwanted energy.

For people like myself that are desire control, grounding may be difficult because you don't want to let go. However, with practice, I know you'll get there. If you are finding yourself struggling, take a break and try again. When in doubt, focus on the part of the body that is in contact with the earth, whether it be the ground or a crystal. Focus on the temperature, texture, smell, etc, and allow yourself to slowly relinquish control.

Centering

Much like grounding, centering is the manipulation of energy, but instead of redirecting that energy into the Earth, you are bringing that energy into focus within yourself. Generally, this energy is pulled to the center of your being, which makes centering an important skill to master as it can be used to focus all that energy you raise before a spell as well as redirect it after a spell. This is a great way to bring everything back into focus, especially if you are feeling restless, overwhelmed, light-headed, or forgetful. Sometimes during spell work and especially during astral travel, we 'lose' a part of ourselves. Centering brings all these pieces back together, making you feel whole once more.

There are several techniques that can be used to center. In its simplest form, eating a piece of chocolate can center you. While this has most recently been popularized by the Harry Potter series, the practice is much older. Indigenous peoples of Central and South America knew the value of the cacao plant, using it in all manner of rituals, one of which included helping a person focus. If you wish to use chocolate to help center, try to find the purest chocolate possible. Avoid Hershey's and overly processed chocolates. If you don't mind the bitterness, try using cacao nibs. Sipping chocolate with a dash of cinnamon and chili pepper is also a great option that will not only help you center, but ground you as well. I do not suggest using chocolate to center in the middle of a ritual, as chocolate is also rather grounding. Instead, use this method after spell work or whenever you are feeling out of sorts.

Other techniques involved energy manipulation. These are more complicated and time-consuming, but certainly worth the trouble as they are invaluable to spell work overall. Begin by lying or sitting down in a comfortable position. Enter into a light meditative state, focusing on your energetic center. For some, this is the center of their chest, abdomen, or even their head. To find your center, feel around your body with your mind. Where do you feel most of the energy naturally pulling? Once you have found your center, begin pulling all the energy inside you and around you into that spot. You can do this by visualizing little hands or tentacles reaching and grabbing the energy, or actually grabbing it yourself. Another way you can do this is by rubbing your hands together for a couple of seconds then holding them a couple inches apart. Feel the energy in between your hands and compress it into a ball before pushing the ball into your energetic center. This particular technique requires a lot of practice but is just as effective as the other methods mentioned. Finally, you can also center using breathing techniques. Focus on your breath pulling energy into your center on the inhale. On the exhale, feel the unwanted energies leaving you. Visualize the energy entering slowly forming a ball that grows brighter and brighter until you feel it swelling in your chest.

Many times I see centering written off as easy or given very little thought, despite the fact that this is one of the harder energy techniques to master. However, if you are used to meditation, centering will likely come easier to you than it would if you struggle with meditation.

***


For the next week or so, practice grounding and centering before going to bed. This is a great relaxing practice and you'll likely find yourself sleeping better because of it. In the next post, I will cover how to break your own spells. This is a practice commonly left undiscussed regarding spell work, but is extremely important should a spell start to go awry. 

Interest in the rest of the series? 

Spellcrafting Series

Grounding and Centering After Spell Work
Breaking Your Own Spells
What to do with Spell Remains
Recording Your Spells
Intuitive Spellcasting
Casting Spells from the Otherworld
Troubleshooting Your Spells and Why They Didn't Work




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Monday, January 17, 2022

Wolf Moon Social Justice Spell Jar

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This year, I want to focus on regularly practicing witchcraft, including honoring the Full and New Moons. For a while there, I was, but the pandemic hit, and, well, everything fell by the wayside. I know I am not alone in that feeling and probably not the only one whose practice has suffered as a result. While we are still in a pandemic, I feel compelled to take back control of my life and my magical practice, and this starts with spell work.

Tonight is the first Full Moon of 2022 and, in the States, MLK Day. Known as the Wolf Moon, this is a time for protection magic, action, and social justice, which is exactly what today's spell jar is all about. However, this spell jar alone is not enough. At the end of the spell, I include resources and actions you can take to empower this spell and ensure its success. All spells require mundane work, this one more so than others. Creating this spell jar without taking real-world action is the equivalent of posting a black photo on your social media page and then going about your normal content routine the next day. It's performative activism and has no place in this very real fight.

What You'll Need

  • Jar with lid or cork
  • Red Jasper
  • Garnet or Hematite
  • Rose Quartz
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile
  • Jasmine
  • Rose
  • Cinnamon
  • 2x2 inch square of paper
  • Pen
  • Orange Candle
  • Justice Tarot Card

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What to Do

Begin by cleansing and consecrating your space using your preferred method. Before starting on the creation of your jar, meditate on what social justice means to you. Conjure up images and feelings relating to social justice issues. Think about systemic racism, trans- and homophobia, the patriarchy, inequalities, xenophobia, etc. Remember the countless innocent lives snuffed out too soon by a biased 'justice' system. Remember the laws and regulations being pushed through our government to limit the human rights and voting rights of specific groups. Call up all the emotions you can possibly muster. If this means you are crying at the end of the meditation then so be it. If you are angry, all the better. You should be fired up, ready to pour all of that into this spell.

Now that you are ready, begin awakening your ingredients and adding them to your spell jar. Begin with the red jasper. Say, say, "Red jasper, bringer of justice, courage, and inner strength. Awaken my inner warrior. Bring balance where there is none. Give me the strength and courage to speak out against injustice and fight for what is right." 

Next awaken the garnet or hematite by saying, "Garnet [or Hemitite], ground me in this moment. Help me remember what I am fighting for. Help me make just decisions and protect me and those I fight for from the evil." 

Now awaken the rose quartz by saying, "Rose quartz, crystal of unconditional love and empathy. Help me love thy neighbor as myself. Help me love unconditionally and listen empathetically. Light the way to a world full of radical self-love." 

Next peppermint: "Peppermint, bringer of protection, abundance, and clarity. Help me see the situation clearly. Be a call to action, not only tonight but all nights. Ignite the fires of my soul and aid me in my task." 

Next chamomile: "Chamomile, bringer of justice and introspection. Help me confront my own biases so I may change and encourage change in others. Remind me to be gentle and caring." 

Next jasmine: "Jasmine, flower of healing and communication. Help heal the wounds caused by an inequitable system. Open the doors for communication and help the oppressors hear our message." 

Next rose: "Rose, flower of love and compassion. Encourage empathy and help me realize I do not need to understand everything; that by letting go of this need I can better show compassion and empathy. Bring love and compassion to a world fraught with hatred and divisiveness." 

Finally, cinnamon: "Cinnamon, bringer of warmth and success, lend this spell your aid. Bring forth abundance and speedy results. Warm the hearts of those shrouded in ice so that they may see the error in their ways. Uncross an oppressive system and break down barriers. Ensure the success of this spell." 

On the piece of paper create a SATOR square on one side and draw the Tiwaz rune on the other. To create a SATOR square write SATOR, AREPO, TENET, OPERA, ROTAS as seen below:



Roll up the paper and place it in the bottle. Seal the jar and place the orange candle on top. Light it and allow the wax to melt down over the sides, sealing the jar completely. As it melts, recite one of the following: Psalm 35, Psalm 58, Psalm 137, Psalm 109, or the following incantation invoking Hekate. 

"Hekate, Guardian of Children and the Marginalized, Keeper of the Keys and Crossroads, Guardian of the Gate, Tocherbearer, hear my plea. Bring justice now, I ask of thee. Right the wrongs that have been done and avenge the oppressed O Mighty One. Bring swift justice to a broken system and punish those who continue oppression. Bear your torch and wield your knife to remove barriers on this night. Hasten, Dark One, hear my pleas, this is what I ask of thee." 

If you chose a Psalm, before closing the prayer with Amen, tell God, the story of oppression and social inequality and ask for justice to be served. Continue chanting until the candle goes out. Place the jar on top of the Justice card and allow the jar to charge in the moonlight overnight. Follow up the spell by getting involved in social justice. Below are several resources and suggestions to help you fight the good fight.

*Follow BIPOC content creators such as Alexis Williams (@lelegenevieve), Toby Nabors (@racialequityinsights), Brando (@anish_no_bae), Clare Brown (@clarabellecwb and @claarabelletoks), and Levert Blout (@levertthebassman)


*Write to your representatives about issues related to social justice. PB-Resources.com has a wonderful list of actions you can take this MLK day and includes scripts and links to email or call your representatives.

*Learn. Read books and content about systems of oppression such as Savage Inequalities, White Fragility, The New Jim Crow, The Color of Law, Killing the Black Body, Policing the Black Man, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, American Prison, Democracy in Black, and Radical Self Love.

*Call out your friends, family, and strangers when they say or do something that continues to upload the standard of oppression.

This spell requires constant action. Recharge the jar each Full Moon by recounting what you have done to fight social injustice. This jar must be fed at least once a month. I suggest keeping this jar for at least one year before dismantling. At the end of the year, break the jar's seal and bury the remains at a crossroads, thanking Hekate or God for their help. If you wish, recreate the jar the following January and continue your social justice journey. You'll likely find yourself changed for the better by the end.

Why You Did It

Understanding the why's of a spell are just as important as performing it. It helps you understand the process so you can modify the spell or ritual to suit your needs and helps guide you to write your own. It's my intention that by providing these explanations, you can build a better understanding of how spells are written and executed so you can modify and build your own spells (the goal of my Spellcraft Series). 

For this spell/ritual, the spell is performed during the Full Wolf Moon which is associated with protection, action, and social justice. Furthermore, it was done on or around MLK Day, further empowering the spell with social justice energies. The Full Moon is also associated with manifestation, which we are trying to do with this spell jar.

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The crystals and herbs we used in this spell are each associated with an issue related to social justice. Red jasper is associated with balance, stamina, courage, inner strength, and right wrongs, making it perfect for social justice work. Rose quartz promotes love and therefore empathy, promoting a more understanding, empathic, and loving world, especially in regards to yourself and your view of others. 

Wish to break this spell? Unfortunately, this is not a spell to be undone. If you really wish for the negative energies to come back, invite them back. Garnet and Hematite are both associated with grounding, decision-making, and protection. They lend protection to both the caster of the spell and those suffering from an inequitable system while opening your heart and mind to the task of dismantling the oppressive system. Peppermint promotes action and brings mental clarity, while chamomile and jasmine promote justice, introspection, healing, and communication. Rose, like rose quartz, promotes love and empathy while cinnamon ensures success, heats up the spell, and brings protection.

The SATOR Square is a four-way palindrome that is associated with protection and diminishing the power of oppressive forces. It has historically been used to create protection charms and amulets and is used in the same way in this spell jar, to protect marginalized groups. The Tiwaz rune symbolizes justice, balance, and sacrifice. This spell requires constant 'sacrifice' in order to continue feeding it. By sacrifice, I mean donating to charities, taking time to read and learn, and otherwise doing the work necessary to dismantle inequities in our society.

If you chose to recite a Psalm, the ones listed ask God to bring swift justice, making them perfect for this sort of ritual. If you chose to use the Hekate invocation, Hekate is associated with marginalized groups and bringing justice. She is an impartial judge and swift in her punishments. She is also a barrier breaker and perfect for dismantling systems of oppression.

Finally, the spell jar is sealed with an orange candle and charged by the Justice card and Full Moon. I think the Justice card and Full Moon are obvious here, but the orange candle may not be. Orange is the color of justice, attraction, and removing blockages.

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If you wish to break the spell, simply dismantle the jar and dispose of the remains. However, I encourage you to feed this jar for at least one full year. At the end of the year, break the jar's seal and bury the remains at a crossroads, thanking Hekate or God for their help. If you wish, recreate the jar the following January and continue your social justice journey. You'll likely find yourself changed for the better by the end. I cannot stress this enough.

Remember to record this ritual on your ritual/spell worksheet or in your Book of Shadows for reference later.

***

I highly encourage all of my readers to create such a spell jar this Full Moon. I know the pandemic has caused many of us to take a step back from the things that matter most and this is a great way to start taking small, manageable steps in the right direction. I focused almost entirely on BIPOC social justice, but this jar can and should be used to fight ALL oppression, including homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, xenophobia, and the patriarchy. Each month I am picking a different issue to focus on using Bettie's Pages's #ChallengeYourShelf as a starting place. I hope you will join me this year as we work together to fight for real justice. 


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Friday, January 14, 2022

Book Review: The Witch at the Forest's Edge by Christine Grace

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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'm not going to lie; I finished The Witch at the Forest's Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Christine Grace at the beginning of December and have been sitting on it ever since. This is partly because I don't know how I feel about it. I didn't particularly enjoy the book, but I didn't hate it either. I've read countless other reviews praising the book and thought maybe I was missing something. So I sat and reflected and reread trying to find what everyone else loved so much, but my feelings never changed. So here I am, writing an honest review a month and a half later.

The Witch at the Forest's Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Christine Grace briefly covers modern traditional witchcraft in thirteen chapters. This includes how to commune with spirits, your spiritual ancestry, creating rituals, how to practice locally, design spells, and even a bit on hedge riding. Unfortunately, none of these chapters go into great detail which was disappointing. This is most certainly a beginner book and after spending the year reading more advanced and specific material, I was disappointed that there wasn't much new information presented. However, I do think the content is valuable to a new witch, and therefore worth the read if you are interested in traditional witchcraft. The chapter on hedge riding provided some wonderful tips and tricks and the chapters on magical theory, spellcraft, and magical ethics were a great refresher, even for a seasoned witch like myself. I also enjoyed the chapter on green and local witchcraft, as it reminded readers to remember to work locally, reduce their impact on the environment, and get to know the spirits of the plants and objects we are working with. Plants do not exist to be used by you, but instead an ally to be respected. At the end of each chapter, Grace includes a set of reflection questions to help you on your journey. These questions are great for shadow work and got me thinking about parts of my practice I have ignored or let go by the wayside. It was nice to revisit these and work through the questions. Furthermore, she provides an ample list of resources on each of the topics discusses in the book, allowing readers to find reliable information to further their study. This book alone, however, is not enough to get you really going, but instead a stepping stone to more advanced or specific information; a preview if you will.

My biggest complaint about this book is, again, that it offered nothing new. In fact, some sections were so glossed over that they bordered on dangerous. Grace discusses different forms of spirit communication, one of which includes spirit possession, and encourages readers to try it at least once a year. However, there is very little information offered regarding how to go about this safely which is concerning. Spirit possession is not a practice to be taken lightly and definitely should not be done by a new witch with no other practice in spirit communication nor a witch who hasn't developed a relationship with the spirit in question. Opening yourself up to any old spirit can have catastrophic results. I think a combination of the lack of new information and the fact that Grace only scratches the surface on multiple topics is what left a bad taste in my mouth. As I mentioned earlier, I spent all of 2021 reading some amazing books that dove into topics rarely discussed or rarely discussed in detail. As a witch of almost 20 years, I am tired of introductory books. I want to see something more, something new, something that reignites the mystery of witchcraft. Unfortunately, this book was not it for me. However, there are tons of witches that loved this book and there are certainly some great nuggets of information throughout which would make it a worthwhile purchase. If you're interested in adding this book to your collection, The Witch at the Forest's Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Christine Grace is available now.

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Echinacea

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Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mars
Element: Earth
Powers: Fertility, Healing, Money, Prosperity, Protection, Spell Strength
Magical Uses and History: Echinacea derives its name from the Greek echinos which means prickly or spikey, a reference to the seed pod which looks like a spikey hedgehog or sea urchin. As such, the seed pods can be used in protection and defensive magics, the prickly nature deterring unwanted spirits and energies. However, its protective qualities are more strongly associated with echinacea's healing abilities. Echinacea is a cure-all, being used to prevent illness, especially the flu, and speed up recovery if already sick. It can be used in healing spells and rituals, hung in sick rooms, brewed as a magical tea, or burned as an incense for this purpose.

While its healing abilities often dominate the conversation, echinacea can also be used to strengthen spells, increase fertility, and draw money and prosperity to the home. Echinacea grows quickly and produces an abundance of seeds, self-seeding year after year if given the chance. As such, the seeds and flowers alike can be used in fertility and prosperity magic. Grow echinacea around the home or bring in freshly cut flowers to draw money and prosperity to those within, thus preventing financial hardship. The roots and seeds can also be worn, placed in a sachet or spell jar, or carried in your wallet to draw money toward you.

Among the indigenous peoples of North America, echinacea was often used to withstand intense heat. It was used in sweat lodges to create steam and even placed in the mouth prior to 'sucking' on a lump of hot coal during performances. This may be where the idea that echinacea can strengthen spells comes from, although we can't be sure. Despite its origins, when added to a spell, echinacea brings strength, aiding in the spell's fruition. If you're noticing your spells not working or that they aren't drawing enough power, try adding echinacea. It can also be placed in one's shoes or worn to promote bodily strength and wellness. 

Echinacea can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Healing Spells
    Fertility Rituals
    Prosperity Magic

Medicinal Uses: Echinacea root is effective against both bacterial and viral infections, helping to rid the body of these microbial infections as it is naturally antimicrobial. It is often used to prevent or treat the flu, upper respiratory infections, laryngitis, tonsillitis, gingivitis, septic cuts and sores, and other such infections. It is often used with other herbs, such as yarrow, to strengthen its healing properties.

Preparation and Dosage: Echinacea root can be used internally or externally. To create an infusion, add 1-2 teaspoons of echinacea root to one cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink or gargle up to three times a day. As a tincture, take 1-4 milliliters up to three times a day. Externally, echinacea can be used as a salve or cream.


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Friday, January 7, 2022

Magical Properties of Hag Stones

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Spellcrafting Series: Cleansing, Charge, and Raise Energy Prior to Spellcasting

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While it’s perfectly acceptable to cast a quick spell in the moment, most of your spells will likely be well planned and thought out to ensure their effectiveness and success. For these types of spells, there is groundwork that must be done before the actual spell work takes place. This groundwork includes cleansing, charging, and raising energy. 

Cleansing

Cleansing is the act of removing something unwanted from a person, place, or thing. While most people think of cleansing as removing dirt and debris, in witchcraft cleansing refers to the removal of unwanted energies, or spiritual debris if you will, that could interfere with the energy of your spell. Energy is constantly being transferred throughout a system, meaning that when you walk into a room that space now contains some of your energy. When you leave that room, the energy will linger behind, often settling in a place of least resistance. But it’s not just you that has imparted energy on the space; the space has also left some energy with you. Have you ever walked into a room that was completely chaotic? Loud noises, cluttered, disorganized, and otherwise complete chaos. When you left that space, how did you feel? How long did the feeling last? You probably felt frazzles, frustrated, easily distracted, and maybe even anxious for several minutes to several hours later. Energy transfers easily and can impact our lives in great ways. The same is true of the people, place, and objects involved in your spellwork. They all carry their own energies, some of which were imparted on them by other things, and these energies will in turn be added to your spell should you not remove them. The last thing you want to do is add chaotic energy to a job or love spell. This is why cleansing is so important. 

Before engaging in spellwork it is important to remove the unwanted energies from yourself and anyone else involved in the spell, the space, and the objects you are using. This can be done using a variety of methods including smoke, water, sound, breath, and salt cleansing. Most witches go with smoke cleansing because it’s quick and easy and can be used to cleanse everything. Simply waft the smoke over your body and around the room, and pass any magical objects through the smoke to cleanse them as well. If you decide to use water, I suggest showering or bathing to cleanse yourself and using salted water to sprinkle around the room and on the objects you are using. For sound, I recommend using a bell or even clapping, but any musical instrument or singing will suffice. Ring the bell or clap all around your body, space, and objects to remove the unwanted energies. Breath, which is my favorite method for cleansing objects, requires you to blow the unwanted energy away. This is difficult to do on yourself and in a large space, so I don’t suggest using breath to cleanse these. However, it’s perfect for objects and can be used to not only cleanse the objects but also charge them as well, a process I will discuss later in this article.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to keep your intention firmly in your mind, that you are removing all unwanted energies. You may even wish to state this out loud as you cleanse. Does every single item need to be cleansed? No. Use your intuition to guide you. As a general rule, I don’t cleanse living material or material that belonged to a living thing unless something feels off. These items contain spirits that are important to aiding in spellwork and should not be removed.

Charging

When you cleanse an object, you often remove all of the energies present, even the good ones. This is why I don’t cleanse plant material and other living or previous living things. I want their energy to remain intact. However, the removed energies can and should be replaced with new energies that align with your intent. This is called charging, programming, enchanting, or empowering. During this process, the object’s removed energy is replaced with the energy of your intention and ‘charged’ with a specific purpose. However, plant material and other living or previously living things can also be charged. An object does not have to be cleansed in order for this process to work. 

There are several ways to charge an object including sunlight, moonlight, crystals, warming, breath, or visualization. Apart from using my breath my other favorite method of charging involves holding the object in both hands until it’s warm while thinking or saying my intent. I find both methods work incredibly well. However, other methods are just as effective. Other times I may use sunlight or moonlight to charge an object, especially crystals, with the energies of these celestial bodies. Keep in mind that direct sunlight is damaging and should be used sparingly. Crystals tend to retain their unique energies, even after cleansing, and thus can be used to charge other objects, even other crystals. This is usually why people suggest storing crystals separately from each other. Simply touch the object to the crystal for a length of time. If you are charging water, use only water-safe crystals or place the crystal in a container near the water.

Raising Energy

Once you, your workspace, and tools are cleansed and charged, it’s time to start raising energy for the spell. Many witches incorporate this step directly into the spell itself, slowly building up energy as they work until it’s finally released. However, you may find that you prefer to go into the spell with the energy already raised. I often raise energy beforehand, unless performing an elaborate ritual, because it helps me get into a magical mindset, shifting away from the mundane to focus on my intention.

Raising energy is the act of pulling energy from outside yourself to you to fuel your spell. Ultimately this acts as the power source for the spell, sending it on its way to manifest. Failure to raise enough energy is one of the leading causes of spell failure and can leave you feeling fatigued, moody, and extremely hungry because all the energy used came directly from you. This act is often done inside of a magical circle, if you cast them, to contain the energy, while other witches prefer to use their bodies as the container. I am one such witch.

Energy can be raised in a variety of ways and the method you use depends on what you feel comfortable with as well as the intention of the spell. For example, I tend to chant when casting spells for money and work while I may sing or play music when casting spells to banish depression and anxiety. So how can you raise energy?

The first way I mentioned is through chanting. Aum, pronounced ohm’ is the most commonly used chant, but others can include words or phrases of your own design. Often chanting is accompanied by breathwork, which, combined not only raise energy but also results in a shift in consciousness. Other methods include drumming, rattling, or clapping. Start out slowly, playing faster and faster as the energy builds. You may notice your body also moves with the music and you may be slightly out of breath when done. You can also listen to music, especially upbeat, fast tempo music to raise energy. I find this is best accompanied with dancing, especially erratic, free form dancing. For some spells, intercourse or masturbation may be the best way to raise energy. This is especially true for love spells. Ultimately, the goal is to feel revved up, so how ever you reach that state is entirely up to you.

***

Once these steps are complete, you are ready to begin casting your spell. Direct the energy you have raised into the spell’s intention, finishing the spell by releasing the energy into the universe. I find that I do this intuitively and you will likely find yourself doing the same. However, if you are struggling, try using a wand, athame, or another magical tool to help guide the energy out of you. In the next post, I’ll cover what to do post spell work to help you come back down and accurately track your spells. Until then, I encourage you to practice cleansing, charging, and raising energy without necessarily casting a spell. Try a variety of methods over the next couple of weeks and keep detailed notes on which methods resonate or work best for you. When practicing energy raising, release that energy back into the Earth. If you decide to hold on to it for a long period of time, you'll notice you are spacy, hyper, jittery, forgetful, moody, and easily distracted. 

Interest in the rest of the series? 

Spellcrafting Series

Grounding and Centering After Spell Work
Breaking Your Own Spells
What to do with Spell Remains
Recording Your Spells
Intuitive Spellcasting
Casting Spells from the Otherworld
Troubleshooting Your Spells and Why They Didn't Work



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Sunday, January 2, 2022

New Year New Moon Banishing Bath Tea

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Ok, so it isn't technically the New Moon, but the wordplay was fun anyway. Today is the first Dark Moon of 2022, the time when the Moon is no longer visible in the sky. While some witches believe no magic should be performed during this time, I strongly disagree. The Dark Moon is deeply associated with banishment, cleansing, and protection, as well as baneful magics such as cursing and binding. This makes it a perfect time to remove unwanted energies, bind negativity, and let go of the past in order to have a fresh start. While most witches were talking about performing banishing rituals on December 31st, I usually wait until the first Dark Moon closest to the upcoming year to fully shed the past year as the magical correspondences are greater during this time. One of my favorite ways to do this is with a bath tea. The following recipe is made using commonly found items in your pantry to ensure you can do this last-minute tonight if you so desire.

What You'll Need

  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 tbsp dried
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or 2 tbsp ground
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 cup Epsom salt or sea salt
  • Obsidian, black tourmaline, or smoky quartz (optional)
  • White towel (optional)

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What to Do

Combine rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, and 2 orange slices with 3 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a bowl. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until fragrant. Cool slightly before straining. Meanwhile, run a hot bath. Combine salt, tea mixture, and remaining orange slices and stir counterclockwise.

As you stir counterclockwise and say, "Through my will and through my might, I banishing all negativity from my sight. With salted water, I shall be free. Past be gone, let me be. I release all burdens from my life. And ask for a future without strife. A new me I shall become. So I will it, so shall  my spell be done." 

If using a crystal, charge it with your intention, asking it to help banish negativity and the previous year.

Slide into the bath and soak for at least 30 minutes, feeling the warmth of the water wash away the preview year, leaving you refreshed and renewed. When finished, drain the bath and rinse off with clean, warm water. Air dry or lightly pat yourself dry with a white towel. Finish the ritual with some light food and a cool glass of water to ground and rehydrate your body.

Why You Did It

Understanding the why's of a spell are just as important as performing it. It helps you understand the process so you can modify the spell or ritual to suit your needs and helps guide you to write your own. It's my intention that by providing these explanations, that you can build a better understanding of how spells are written and executed so you can modify and build your own spells (the goal of my Spellcraft Series). 

For this spell/ritual, the spell is performed during the Dark Moon, which is the perfect time for banishing rituals. This ritual can also be performed during the Waning Moon, which is also associated with banishment.

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Rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves are all associated with banishment, cleansing, purification, and protection and therefore help to remove all unwanted energies from the past year while simultaneously protecting you, leaving you with a clean slate for the future. Cinnamon is also associated with success, money, and luck, thus replacing the removed energies with more positive ones. Bay, like cinnamon, is also associated with success but is also associated with healing, allowing you to heal from the traumas of the past year, which have likely been great. Orange, however, is uplifting and is associated with happiness, courage, and success. In this ritual, orange ensures that all the energies you banish are replaced with positive ones.

Finally, the salt in this spell is for purification and protection. Salt is a known deterrent of negativity and is even strong enough to deter wanted spirits. Not only does it remove spiritual impurities, but also bodily ones as well, helping the body naturally detox. As mentioned above, you will want to drink a glass of water after this ritual to rehydrate as salt is naturally dehydrating, especially when coupled with a hot bath.

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If you chose to use a crystal in this spell, obsidian, black tourmaline, and smoky quartz are all associated with banishment and grounding. They help remove the negativity from you, either storing it within them or helping transfer it safely into the Universe or Earth. 

Wish to break this spell? Unfortunately, this is not a spell to be undone. If you really wish for the negative energies to come back, invite them back.

Remember to record this ritual on your ritual/spell worksheet or in your Book of Shadows for reference later.

***

I like to combine this type of ritual with a few other magical steps to make it really effective. First, I make sure I clean and cleanse my home. My Deep Cleaning House Ritual is a really good one to use this time of year. I follow up the cleaning with a bath and often light a black candle for further banishment. Etch what you wish to banish on the candle, such as 2021, anoint it with oil, and roll in some slightly ground rosemary. Follow up the entire ritual with replacing the wards and protections around your home and do a tarot or rune reading for the year to come.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2022. I know things are not looking that bright at the moment, but we will get through this. You are strong and capable of so much greatness. 


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