Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Review: Lucky Incense Burner and Incense

incense, incense burner, Feng Shui, spiritual, spirituality, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan, witch, witchcraft, witchy, witch decor

A couple of weeks ago the owner of Lucky Incense, an online Chinese retailer specializing in Feng Shui decorations and incense, contacted me about reviewing one of backflow incense burners. I love incense and working with different businesses specializing in spiritual items so of course, I jumped on the opportunity. Last week the incense and burner finally arrived and the piece is absolutely gorgeous!

incense, incense burner, Feng Shui, spiritual, spirituality, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan, witch, witchcraft, witchy, witch decor

This backflow incense burner features a ceramic koi pond with two koi fish in different colors, likely to represent Yin and Yang. The smoke of the backflowing incense flows along the waterfall into the pond below, creating a beautiful and relaxing visual for any spot in your home. I did struggle with the smoke flowing downward, which I will talk about in the moment, but the overall imagery was still present. The burner also features a hole for stick incense, making it versatile and able to meet all your incense needs.

This was my first time using backflow incense and it took me a couple tries to get it exactly right. The videos always make things look easier than they actually are, but I eventually figured it out. The incense contains a hollow center where the smoke can backflow and trickle down the burner. The incense must be placed securely over the hole in the incense burner in order to create the suction needed to pull the smoke downward, otherwise, it will smoke like a normal incense. Once placed, in order for the smoke to fill the burner, it must be in an area where there is no additional airflow, such as a fan or active AC/heat running. I had to turn off the fan and close the AC vents in order for the smoke to pool effectively. I am not sure if this is the case with other burners, but I would expect so due to simple physics. I really struggled with this last part. I got the incense burning correctly, but I couldn't find a spot that reduced airflow enough to allow the smoke to pool in the bottom of the burner. This is evident in the pictures I took. After talking with others, I realized this is not always the case and that it may be due to the design of this specific burner. Either way, it's lovely and one I plan to display in my home.

incense, incense burner, Feng Shui, spiritual, spirituality, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan, witch, witchcraft, witchy, witch decor

Despite misusing the first incense, it smelled wonderful. The fragrance was light, but long-lasting and didn't smell like burnt chemicals common in some commercial incense cones and sticks. The incense doesn't burn for very long, but it's enough to change the entire energy of a space. I wish they burned longer, and I will be investing in more soon to fully enjoy this lovely burner.

Lucky Incense offers a large variety of incense burners and holders, as well as Feng Shui decor, fountains, and waterfalls. The burners and holders are reasonably priced and come in a variety of forms. Among my favorites are the tree stump wooden incense holder, dragon backflow ceramic incense burner, half moon backflow incense burner, and the Halloween pumpkin backflow incense burner. With such variety, you are sure to find something you love.

The burner and incense arrived rather quickly, considering they were coming from China, and were delicately and securing packaged to make sure everything arrived in one piece. I was impressed with the packaging and thankfully none of the incense was crushed or the ceramic burner pieces broken. So rest easy if you are concerned with shipping. However, should the item arrive damaged, Lucky Incense has a fair return and replacement policy.

incense, incense burner, Feng Shui, spiritual, spirituality, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan, witch, witchcraft, witchy, witch decor

Despite my struggles, I love this burner and incense and can't wait to continue using it in the future. I'm sure this will be the first of many backflow burners in my life and if you are looking at investing in a backflow burner, I encourage you to check out and support Lucky Incense.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Magical Properties of Hematite

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

How to Cast Spells from the Otherworld

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Most of the spells you cast will occur within our realm using the physical materials you have collected. However, this is not the only way to cast spells. If you are a witch who works within the Otherworld, you may find it possible to cast spells while there. In fact, some of the most potent spells I have ever cast have been done within the Otherworld with the aid of my guides. This is very energy intensive, but a worthwhile endeavor, especially if you lack certain physical ingredients. So how exactly does one go about casting spells from the Otherworld?

Setting a Purpose/Intent

Before you hedge ride, it's important you go in with a clear purpose or intent. This will give your journey direction, ensure your guides are prepared, and that you enter having everything you need to cast your spell. Unlike a spell intention, however, your hedge riding intention does not need to be nearly as specific unless, of course, you want it to be. For example, if you wish to cast a love spell while in the Otherworld, you can state just that with no specifics or you can be more detailed, saying you want to cast a love spell that uses XYZ ingredients. I usually enter with a vague purpose which allows my guides to determine the best ingredients and course of action for the spell.

Hedge Riding

Once your intention is set, it's time to embark on your hedge riding journey. I suggest traveling to your astral garden/office within the Middle Realm for spell work, although it's possible to cast spells from all realms in the Otherworld. Your garden or office, however, is a safe space where you will not be interrupted, therefore making it the best spot for spell work. Remember to ask your guides to meet you there to assist you. To learn more about hedge riding, please refer to my Hedge Riding Series.

Spell Casting

Once you have made it to the Otherworld, you can go about casting your spell as you would within our realm. Because I tend to keep my purpose vague prior to hedge riding, I rely heavily on my guides to provide exactly what I need for my spell work, although you can make specific requests should you wish it. I highly encourage you to use intuitive spell casting while in the Otherworld and work with your guides to cast the spell. When finished, return to our realm and follow up all work with grounding, centering, and a light snack to realign your energies.

And that's it! I know it may seem daunting or even a little scary to cast spells from the Otherworld, but I promise you it's incredibly simple albeit energy intensive. The methods employed in our realm to spell cast are the same you will use within the Otherworld. 

One of the most memorable spells I have ever cast was performed within the Otherworld with three of my spiritual guides and both of my animal guides. It was a spell to rid me of a spirit/soul fragment I no longer wished to have in my life and fully retrieve a portion of my soul that was given freely to another person. I went with the intention, per my guides, of removing this entity from my life. Otherwise, I left myself completely open to the experience. I met my guides deep within the forest of my astral garden, where we gathered around a fire. I was asked to give a part of myself to retrieve that which was lost, and through an elaborate ritual, we were able to banish the spirit and retrieve my soul fragment. Awaking from that journey left me feeling empowered and whole for the first time in a long time. Not all spells and rituals you cast in the Otherworld will be elaborate, but hopefully, all of them will leave you feeling empowered.

Until next time!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Book Review: The Wildwood Way by Cliff Seruntine

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Recently I have been in contact with a new publisher, Crossed Crow Books, who are re-releasing some titles no longer in print including the book in today's review, The Wildwood Way: Spiritual Growth in the Heart of Nature by Cliff Seruntine. As you may already know, I love to read. Books are a wonderful escape as well as one of the most significant modes of transmitting and preserving information. Knowing that several titles are being given new life is wonderful news and an act I support wholeheartedly.

In his book, The Wildwood Way, Seruntine recounts how his life in the wilderness and spirituality intersect to form a shamanic practice rooted in environmentalism, sustainability, and folklore. The book is divided into four parts, one for each season, with each chapter focusing on a month. The chapters follow the same basic structure: personal story, wildlife, enchanted forest, wood witchery, and woods lore. It can be tempting and even easy to skip over the introductory stories to find the practical and magical advice at the end of each chapter, but within these recollections of Seruntine's experiences are lessons to be learned. He recounts profound spiritual experiences, from which we can glean a better understanding of the magic that surrounds us. I always enjoy reading about people's experiences, so I ate these stories up and was always awestruck (and a little jealous) of the life he and his family has been able to lead in the wilderness, far from prying eyes and industrialization.

After the stories, Seruntine dives into the science behind the phenomena mentioned in the stories in the "wildlife" sections. This includes explaining fairy rings, black bears, beavers, bunchberries, and even fireflies as will-o'-wisps. As a scientist and environmental science teacher, I couldn't get enough of these sections. Seruntine is well educated on the topics he discusses and does an amazing job conveying the information in a palpable way. He even weaves magic and mystery into these sections, helping the reader see the connection between magic, folklore, and witchcraft, which is something I strive to do here on my blog as well. You will walk away from these sections with a well-rounded understanding of the natural world and the interconnectedness of living and non-living things in an ecosystem.

From here, Seruntine moves into the more fantastical world found in the forest-- forest folklore and wood witchery. In these sections Seruntine recounts folklore from many traditions, from Celtic to Native American, citing his sources of these stories throughout. This segues into practical magical advice that can be integrated into your practice, especially if you are a hedgewitch like myself. Because Seruntine's practice is shamanic, the advice, lessons, and practical magic offered throughout the book are directly applicable to hedgecraft. He includes journeying techniques, methods for reaching an altered state of consciousness, using incense as a spirit ladder, how to find natural power objects, and how to connect with spirits and develop meaningful relationships with them. The wood witchery sections are definitely for more advanced practitioners, and they provide little to no background information and techniques, assuming the witch reading has already mastered these topics (think grounding, centering, spell casting, etc). I was pleasantly surprised how much information I was able to take away from the pages of this book and know it will be one I come back to often for the folklore and wood witchery alone. In fact, my favorite quote from the book is within these sections: "I've never met a spirit more dangerous than a living person." As a hedgewitch who works with many different spirits, this couldn't be more true. I have never once been afraid or felt truly threatened by any of the spirits I have encountered. It is the living I fear above all else. If an author is painting spirits out to be extremely dangerous, I am always cautious of what they have to say because more often than not, spirit workers will tell you that such fear is unwarranted. That isn't to say you shouldn't exercise caution, but when respect is given, respect is received.

Finally, Seruntine rounds out each chapter with practical woodsman advice and techniques including how to use a compass, forage for food, and pitch a tent. These are practical skills anyone venturing into the wilderness should have, even if you don't plan on staying long or wandering from the path. Its better to be overprepared than under!

Overall, this book is a fantastic, educational read I believe should be on every hedgewitch's shelf, but there is some information to look out for and use a critical eye to assess. First, the introduction features two slurs: the first about the Inuit/Yupik peoples and the second about the Romani people. I know that part of this is due to when the book was originally written, but with this republish, this should have been something that was caught by a second editing team and changed. Second, Seruntine uses the Wiccan Reed to admonish GMOs and makes some comments about organic versus conventional farming that aren't entirely true. For example, Seruntine mentions that only conventional farms are responsible for water pollution. Large-scale organic farms use pesticides and chemicals that also pollute waterways and are extremely dangerous. Just because of the poison came from nature doesn't mean it's any less harmful than a poison made in the lab. Mercury, lead, and arsenic are naturally occurring; that doesn't mean you should eat them. Finally, Seruntine does discuss hunting and animal deaths, and there are some pictures of this as well, so if you are sensitive to this sort of information or imagery, this may not be the best book for you. I don't like reading about animal deaths, so there were sections I glossed over.

Despite the issues mentioned above, The Wildwood Way: Spiritual Growth in the Heart of Nature by Cliff Seruntine is an informative, must-have for any witch, especially those who practice hedgecraft like me. I know it is a book you will come back to again and again. The Wildwood Way: Spiritual Growth in the Heart of Nature by Cliff Seruntine is available for pre-order now through Crossed Crow Books, with shipping expected Fall 2022.

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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Lammas/Lughnasadh/Summer Thermstice Altar 2022

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The Summer Thermistice, also known as Lammas and Lughnasadh, is the first of three harvest festivals celebrated on August 1st, although this year it astronomically falls on August 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. Common symbols include bread, wheat, sunflowers, farm tools, gourds, apples, grapes, and wine. With these symbols and themes in mind, I created a simple altar using items I had around my home. Unlike last year, I don't have a garden full of blooming flowers. The deer munch on the new flower shoots early in the season, leaving me with very few blooms this year, which I left for the birds and insects.

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

1. Corn Dolly- Corn dollies are a central theme in harvest folklore across Europe. Traditionally, they were made from the husks of the last corn harvest and remained in the home until the following year when they were plowed into the first furrow of the season. As such, the Spirit of the Harvest would be returned to the soil to ensure a bountiful crop the following year. Corn is traditionally harvested in late summer, and therefore a staple crop of Lammas. She represents the harvest, good luck, fertility, and prosperity. (Where did I get it: Subscription Box; Cost: $2)

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

2. Candles in Holders- I have several candles around this altar to symbolize the Sun and his strength. The Sun is beginning to wane in power and the candles act as sympathetic magic to boost his strength so the harvest can continue just a little longer. The golden round candle holders represent the feminine, fertile energies of the season that provide us with the bounty we celebrate this time of year. The orange leaf holders symbolize the subtle changes we are beginning to see as the Wheel turns toward the darker side of the year and the plants begin to conserve energy and food for the upcoming winter months. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017 & 2020; Cost: $5.25 for candle holders and white candle)

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

3. Ivy and Sunflowers- Ivy is associated with wealth, abundance, and fertility, all of which are traditional correspondences of Lammas. The sunflowers represent the Sun. Most sunflowers are blooming at this time, and when done, will produce hundreds of oily black seeds which provide valuable food for animals and humans alike. These unique flowers follow the Sun throughout the day and are thought to lend Him strength. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $2)

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

4. Six of Earth- The Six of Earth from Dreams of Gaia features traditional Lammas symbols of the sickle, fruits, and ox which symbolize the harvest, fertility, and dependability. The card is associated with family, community, protection, and service, thus representing our coming together to celebrate the harvest and the duty we have to our families and communities to ensure everyone is cared for and our Mother Earth is protected. It reminds us to lead by example and plan for the future. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Store; Cost: ~$0.25)

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

5. Aventurine, Red Calcite, and Tiger's Eye- Green aventurine, a traditional crystal associated with Lammas, symbolizes growth, abundance, creativity, and prosperity, themes of the season. On the other hand red calcite  and tiger's eye represents strength, courage, luck, and the Sun. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Stores or Subscription Boxes; Cost: ~$5)

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

6. Jera Rune- Jera derives its name from the Germanic stem jēra meaning "harvest, year" thus associating it with harvests, fertility, abundance, and growth. It is a symbol of subtle changes and good tidings and represents the rewards for hard work, think "you reap what you sow." While traditionally associated with the Winter Solstice, I find it represents the Lammas season well as we are reaping what we have sowed earlier in the year. (Blagowood; Cost: Won/Free (originally- $30 for set)

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!

Did you do anything special for Lammas this year? 

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