SOCIAL MEDIA

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Lammas Tarot Spread

The first harvest or summer thermstice goes by many names, including Lammas, Lughnasadh, and Lunasda, but the theme remains the same. After the summer solstice, the Sun slowly begins to lose power and the shift inward begins. Fresh fruits and vegetables are picked and seeds are saved for future growing seasons. These harvesting and seed-saving metaphors carry over into all aspects of our lives, especially our magical selves. In the spring, we sewed the seeds for manifestation. Lammas marks a period of reflection; it's time to check in on those seeds and see what has manifested and what has not, what we need to continue working on, and what we can save for next year.

This tarot spread, which mimics the cornucopia, incorporates the metaphors of harvesting and seed saving while encouraging growth and gratitude. 

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1. Growth: Earlier in the year, you planted seeds and set goals. How has the first half of the year gone thus far? What changes and growth have occurred in your life? If you planted seeds (goals) last spring, how are they doing? What has manifested in your life?

2. Harvest: Being the first harvest, Lammas is a time of celebration. What can you harvest in your life right now? What should you be grateful for and how should you give thanks?

3. Ripen: Not all crops are harvested this early. In fact, many may still need more time to ripe on the vine before they are harvested around Mabon. What needs to ripen more within you before harvesting?

4. Seed Saving: As the light begins to fade and autumn approaches, it's time to reflect. What seeds should you save for next year from the fruits of your labor? What should you tuck away for later use? What do you need to prepare for?

Even if you haven't planted seeds, you may find that change has occurred anyway. Not all of us connect well with Lammas anymore, especially if you live in the city or aren't into gardening and planting. That doesn't mean you can't celebrate the last throws of summer and reflect upon how the year is going. This tarot spread is there to help.

Enjoy the rest of summer, witches!

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Thursday, July 14, 2022

Magical Uses of Green Aventurine

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Blackberry

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Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Healing, Money, Protection, Virtue
Magical Uses and History: Blackberry, also known as bramble, is a member of the Rubus genus which includes other aggregate berries such as raspberries and blackcaps. Rubus is derived from the Latin ruber meaning 'red' and the Proto-Indo-European wr̥dʰo meaning 'sweetbriar,' both references to the nature of the plant from its reddish stems to the sweet fruits tucked in a bush of thorns. For the sake of this article, I will be discussing Rubus fruticosus, although blackberry is the common name for a large number of species, all of which have similar magical and medicinal uses. Blackberries were well known across Europe and North America, which led to folktales about the plant spreading as quickly as a bramble bush across a hedgerow. 

Much of this folklore focuses on when blackberries were safe to eat and how they got their black color. Across much of Europe, it was believed that eating blackberries after Michaelmas, which fell on September 29th or October 11th, was unlucky and could even lead to death. After Michaelmas, the blackberries belonged to the fae, witches, or the Devil, even though after these dates any blackberries left were likely rotten anyway. Some people believed the day after Michaelmas, the Devil placed his cloven hooves on the blackberries, cursing them black. In Scotland, it was believed the Devil covered blackberries with his blackened cloak, while yet other areas of Europe believed the Devil spit on them, making them poisonous. Still, other tales recount the Devil trampling patches of bramble in a fit of rage and cursing them on St. Simon's day so that no berries would grow after this date. If it weren't the Devil doing the dirty work, it was witches or fae creatures cursing the late crops of blackberries and leaving them unsafe to eat. As such, after Michaelmas, blackberries were left to rot on the vine, acting as an offering of sorts.

It was these same beings that were attributed to turning the berries black. Some folktales say when Lucifer fell from Heaven, he landed in a bramble bush and cursed the plant by spitting on it. Others suggest the briar crown placed upon Jesus's head was made of bramble and his blood stained the berries. As such, some cultures viewed eating blackberries as taboo or unlucky and thus avoided them all together. With this in mind, blackberries can be used in baneful magic to curse and poison depending on your needs. Even so, the blackberry was often used in folk healing rituals and remedies.

Blackberries were used to cure an assortment of ailments, from rupture to snake bites to whooping cough. Children suffering from rupture were passed through naturally-formed loops of bramble to cure them, while charms of bramble were made to protect against whooping cough. Passing through natural bramble arches was also thought to cure boils, whopping cough, blackheads, and jaundice. A person would pass through the arch nine times while saying, "Under the briar and over the briar, I wish to leave the chin cough here." or whatever ailed them in the bramble patch. Poultices and salves containing blackberry flowers were applied to snake bites to pull out the venom. One charm noted by Graves states blackberry leaves could be used to treat scalding. Nine blackberry leaves were dipped in spring water and applied to the affected area while reciting the following charm: "There came three angels from the east, one brought fire and two brought frost. Out fire, in frost. In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." Young shoots were picked and peeled and chewed on to cure coughing, asthma, mouth ulcers, and even heartburn. Like the raspberry leaf, blackberry leaf was also drunk as a tea by pregnant women to aid in pregnancy and childbirth. As such, brambles can be used in spells and rituals for healing, especially those related to the mouth and lungs.

The blackberry is also associated with protection due to its thorny nature. Blackberries were planted over graves to prevent the dead from walking or around the home to protect against thievery, evil spirits, vampires, and witches who would be compelled to count all the berries before entering. Wreathes of brambles were placed on the doors of barns and houses to protect those inside from witches and evil spirits. It was believed that any spirit attempting to pass through the wreath would become trapped within it. Dried bramble was also placed in milk buckets, much like rowan, to protect the milk, while the leaves were burned during a wedding to protect the newlywed couple from bad luck and ill wishes. In the Balkans, bramble roots were kept in the home as a protective charm and were thought to bring good fortune and prosperity to the home. As such, brambles can be used in protection magic and charms. Create wreaths and pentacles out of dried brambles and hang in your home for protection against negativity, ill wishes, and unwanted guests. Use the thorns in ritual oils and washes to cleanse, purify, and protect yourself and your tools. Add large dried thorns to protect jars and bags.

Due to its invasive and quick-growing nature, the blackberry is also associated with prosperity and money. Passing through a bramble arch and dedicating yourself to the Devil was thought to bring good luck and fortune when playing cards or gambling. Others believed passing through the arch would bring good luck and good health, likely due to the arch acting as a 'portal.' Those that passed through it nine times were believed to transfer their ailment to the bush. As such, blackberries and their brambles can be used in transference magic, whether for healing, good luck, good fortune, or cleansing yourself or your tools. Blackberry leaves were also carried on a person or used in spells to attract money and the berries were baked into pies to bring abundance and prosperity, especially during Lammas or Lughnassadh. They can be used for the same purposes today.

Finally, the blackberry was associated with divination and dream magic. Dreaming of walking through a bramble patch meant you were in trouble while dreaming of picking blackberries foretold of illness in your future. If you dreamed you were being pricked by blackberry thorns, it meant you and yours had secret enemies. If the pricks drew blood it foretold of poverty and financial difficulties but if you were left unhurt then it was a sign that you would triumph over your enemies.

Blackberry can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Baneful Magic
    Healing Spells
    Prosperity Magic
    Dream Magic
    Divination

Medicinal Uses: The root and leaves of the blackberry plant contain tannin which acts as an astringent and tonic, helping to treat dysentery and diarrhea as well as cuts and mild skin abrasion. Blackberry leaves, roots, and stems are also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and can be used as a mouth rinse for mild mouth and throat irritation. 

Preparation and Dosage: Internally, blackberry can be taken as an infusion, using either the root or the leaves, or as a tincture. To create a root infusion, combine one ounce dried blackberry root with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes. Drink 2-3 times a day. To create a leaf infusion, combine 1 teaspoon dried blackberry leaf with 1 cup boiling water and infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. Tinctures can be made using the berries or leaves (3 parts blackberry material to 1 part alcohol). Take 1-4 milliliters up to three times a day. Externally, blackberry leaves can be used as a salve, poultice, or compress.


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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Spellcrafting Series: Intuitive Spellcasting

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When it comes to writing and casting your own spells, you may feel the need to verify everything you are doing with credible sources, historical texts, and correspondence lists. I'm here to tell you that is not necessary. Developing spells intuitively, using correspondences you have designed is just as valid as other methods of spellcrafting. Furthermore, your intuition is a great guide to reworking spells you find in books or online. If you are anything like me, you may find the spells in books, blogs, and other sources too cookbook for your liking, you may not have access to the items outlined in the spell, you don't work with the same deities, or the wording doesn't seem right. This is where intuitive witchcraft and spellcasting come in. In today's post, I briefly discuss how you can activate your intuition and cast spells intuitively.

What is Intuition?

Intuition is that innate sense of knowing or understanding that something is true. Its often referred to as a gut feeling or instinct that you can't necessarily explain. Defining what intuition looks like is more difficult as it often manifests differently in different people. Some people feel the hair on the neck stand up, hear voices, see flashes of images, or simply get strong feelings one way or another. All forms are valid, but you need to listen to yourself in order to figure out which method you are using.

Scientifically, intuition is dismissed as nothing more than subliminal messages or your subconscious mind processing information you are unaware of. I have no doubt that this is true. However, in the spiritual community, we often recognize that these messages can also be from Spirit. As with anything, I encourage you to use your best judgment and trust yourself.

Activate Your Intuition

There are multiple ways to activate your intuition and no one way is better than others. However, the basic premise is the same. You want to remove yourself from everyday distractions and stressors and calm your mind. Notice I didn't say your mind should be blank. This is impossible, but focusing on a single object, task, or thought will get you to where you need to be. Below are 10 ways to activate and and develop your intuition.
  1. Meditate: Spending time in silence, away from distractions, will help you get in tune with your intuition. Again, your mind does not need to be blank in order for you to reach a calm state of mind.
  2. Ground: Grounding is a great way to bring yourself into the present and open your mind to receiving messages. My favorite grounding method is earthing, where you have direct contact with the earth itself and use its energy to help ground yours.
  3. Technology Fast: As much as I love technology, it keeps our minds too busy. Spend a couple hours away from your phone or computer so messages and insight can make their way to you more easily.
  4. Journal: Journaling is a great way to override your conscious mind and let buried thoughts come to the surface, or at least aid you in documenting potential messages you have received that you can analyze later. You can also combine journaling with automatic writing, a form of divination in which messages are received through unconscious writing.
  5. Doodle, Draw, or Paint: This process is similar to journaling but more visual. Allow your mind to quiet as you work on a repetitive task or on visually representing your thoughts and desires.
  6. Flame Meditation: Staring into a candle flame and watching it dance is a great way for people who have trouble meditating with their eyes closed. This is also a great way to receive messages from beyond by interpreting the images you see in the flame. This can also be substituted with smoke from incense.
  7. Dancing: If you have trouble sitting still or keeping your mind focused while still, try movement instead. Dancing, pacing, treading the mill, and other movements can help induce a trance-like state, especially if you are focusing on a single object or space while you do so. This can also be done with chanting or singing.
  8. Drink a Cup of Tea: Certain herbal teas can help calm and open your mind to receiving and listening to messages. Use herbs such as mugwort (intuition), chamomile (calm), lavender (calm), rosemary (wisdom), white tea (wisdom and clarity), or blue lotus (intuition). You could also try my hedge riding tea to activate your intuition.
  9. Take a Warm Bath or Shower: Bathing is usually a quiet time, and sometimes the only alone time we get in a day. The heat and steam help soothe muscles, calm the mind, and increase blood flow, thus opening you to receiving messages.
  10. Breath Work: While similar to meditation, breath work requires you to focus only on your breathing. Take a deep breath through your nose for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and then exhale completely through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat until relaxed.
When I wish to activate my intuition, especially prior to spellcasting, I remove myself from the general hustle and bustle of my home by going to my bedroom where I ground, center, and lightly meditate.

Using Intuition in Spellcasting

Now that you have activated your intuition, it's time to start listening to it. When it comes to casting spells intuitively, you might not know where to start. That's fine. Consult with tarot or oracle cards, read through your journal to see which areas of your life may need magical intervention, ask your guides, or even listen to your body. Astrea Taylor, the author of Intuitive Witchcraft, explains that instead of dismissing areas of tension or lightness in your body during meditation, you should listen to it instead, suggesting this is a means the Universe is using to communicate with you. For example, a knot in your stomach could mean something is making you uneasy so a protection spell may be in order. If you feel butterflies, you may want to cast a love spell.

Once you have a goal in mind for your spell based on your intuition, develop your intention around it. Remember to set a clear goal for the spell, but leave it just open enough so that the Universe can bless you accordingly. 

With your intention in mind, look at the items you have on hand that could assist you in your spell. Some items you may be immediately drawn to. Your eye may go to them immediately, your hand may unconsciously pick it up, or an image of the object may appear in your mind. If items do not immediately jump out at you, lay out the items in front of you and slowly move your hand over them. You may even feel inclined to pick an item up. Feel its energy and ascertain based on your intuition if the item matches your intention. Don't get caught up in correspondences or whether or not what you are doing is "right." Rely upon and trust in yourself. What other people think does not matter here.

With your items collected, begin casting your spell using the basic structure I outlined earlier in Basics of Spellcrafting. Go with the flow here and don't get too caught up in the details. If you are in the middle of doing something and it doesn't feel right, stop and try something different. Make changes as you work and listen to yourself. The moment you stop listening to yourself is the moment you invite failure and this is true of all spellwork, not just intuitive spellcasting.

Conclusion

Intuitive spellcasting is not easy and requires time, patience, and practice to master. At first, it will likely feel very labor-intensive, but with time it will flow more naturally and you will find yourself easily casting spells without much effort. Again, you have to trust yourself and the process in order for this to work. Spend time developing and activating your intuition. Pair it with mundane work, such as working with a therapist and shadow work, to develop self-confidence and break negative self-talk and doubt. Learning to trust and use your intuition to your advantage will advance your magical practice to a whole new level, beyond that of the beginner witch.

For the next spell you cast, I encourage you to try intuitively picking ingredients; just ingredients. As you practice listening to your intuition, move on to developing entire spells. Remember, this takes time and practice, but I assure you it becomes easier with time and effort. If you would like to learn more about using your intuition in your magical practice, I encourage you to pick up Intuitive Witchcraft: How to Use Intuition to Elevate Your Craft by Astrea Taylor. She does an amazing job discussing this in greater detail. You can also find her on her blog Starlight Witch.

Until next time!


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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Book Review: Magic for Hedge Witches by Harmonia Saille

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Hello, dear readers. I come to you today with another book review. If I am honest, I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, but haven't had a chance to review it as my life has been as crazy as always. The first thing I take off my plate is always blogging, and for that, I apologize. I am working to do a better job and get back to doing more of the things I love. I even purchased a new planner designed around goal setting to try and help me get my life back together. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, I haven't been able to get my feet back under me. Half the time I am so tired and exhausted, that I spend hours disassociating on TikTok...Not the healthiest habit, but it is helping me cope...somewhat. But what better time than summer to try and reignite my witchy passions?

Magic for Hedge Witches: Sourcing Ingredients, Connection, and Spell Building by Harmonia Saille is the long-awaited third installment of Saille's Pagan Portals series on hedgecraft. When I was given the opportunity to review this book prior to its release I knew I had to take it, even if it was going to take me a while to get around to reading it. I loved Saille's earlier books, which inspired my hedge riding series, and hoped this book would be just as good. Unfortunately, I was left very disappointed. It's not nearly as well-written as her other books and honestly feels like she is rambling most of the time. There is a lot of disconnect between this book and her others, which is an absolute shame. Saille uses a racial slur first thing in the introduction, which was a huge turn-off, and follows it by confusing gender and sex, and some slight cultural appropriation of Hinduism. Saille also chides the use of such terms as "black and white" magic, saying to use other terms instead, but then uses the terms herself when describing magic. This contradiction tells me Saille doesn't wholeheartedly agree with what she is saying, which is disappointing. I really hate to start off a book review with what I didn't like, but these issues were difficult to get past, especially when you are hit with them first thing. However, if you manage to get past the rambling and inappropriate word choices, there is some great information hidden within its pages.

Saille provides several spells, many of which are completely unique and creative. Each spell is written as a guide to spellcasting, walking the reader through possible ways to perform the spell, instead of saying this is the only way to do it. Saille walks the reader through the why and how, offering suggestions here and there to help the reader learn the basics of spell crafting. I really enjoyed this method, believing it leaves the heart of the magic up to the reader. I was left feeling inspired by her creativity and excited to try using my ingredients in new and creative ways. She includes spell ideas for finding a new job, repairing relationships, banishing, and starting over among other things. There are also recipes for different spell bags and incense that can be used during hedge riding, which I loved.

My favorite part, however, was Saille's research on witch bottles and the folklore surrounding them. I learned so much I hadn't known, including the folklore of the Dutch's witch's jug. I am such a sucker for folklore and was excited about new information. Her research is clearly outlined and supported in her bibliography, which has given me some new sources to look into. She does, however, often source herself which is disappointing, but there is plenty of other material listed to help you learn more about topics discussed in the book, including the folklore behind different animals, plants, and other natural objects. Along with this section, Saille provides modern interpretations of the witch's ball and jug that are sure to delight.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it: overall I am disappointed with this book. With that being said, there is valuable information scattered throughout, information that has inspired me to conduct more research and write new spells. I believe this book is worth reading, with a critical eye of course, simply for Saille's presentation of her spells and rituals, especially if you are a hedge witch. She takes a practical approach to spell crafting, teaching the reader how to connect with your ingredients, develop correspondences, and create spells that work for you. This alone makes the book a worthwhile read, even if I was disappointed. You can purchase your copy of Magic for Hedge Witches: Sourcing Ingredients, Connection, and Spell Building by Harmonia Saille.



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