SOCIAL MEDIA

Monday, July 15, 2024

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Hibiscus

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Hibiscus
Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Change, Loyalty, Love, Lust, Protection, Resilience, Resistance
Magical Uses and History: Often viewed as synonymous with the tropics, the hibiscus has long been revered by tropical civilizations for its sweet scent and flavor. The name hibiscus comes from the Greek hibiskos meaning marsh mallow or white mallow, a reference to plants with pink flowers and a stem with fine hairs including cotton and okra. Native to Asia and Africa, the hibiscus made its way to the Caribbean via trade and quickly became a symbol of resilience and strength among slave communities. While not cultivated as a production crop in the Americas, hibiscus was often grown in subsistence gardens created by the enslaved to continue perpetuating their indigenous African knowledge where it was mainly consumed as an herbal beverage. Other species of hibiscus made their way to the Americas via indentured servants from across Asia who brought the flower with them for worship, animal fodder, and toothpaste. As such, the hibiscus became associated with the expression of identity for non-natives, appearing in art and literature, especially as an expression of human suffering, resilience, and resistance. In Kendel Hippolyte's poem "Abstract #1" the hibiscus symbolizes the blood of his ancestors and the suffering they faced due to colonial violence. As such, hibiscus can be used by marginalized groups in spells and rituals for resistance, strength, and resilience, especially regarding spiritual activism.

In India, the hibiscus has long been associated with Kali, the goddess of time, change, creation, destruction, and death. Kali is often depicted wearing a crown of hibiscus, a symbol of her femininity as well as her strength. The flower is frequently left as an offering to Kali as its bright, fiery color represents the intense passion and power embodied by the goddess. The hibiscus is also used to ward off negativity and protect those making the offering as it's believed the hibiscus invokes Kali's protection while simultaneously removing obstacles so transformation can occur. As such, the hibiscus can be used in spells and rituals for protection and change. Place around entryways to prevent negativity from entering, add to road opening spells, or burn as incense for the same purpose.

Other cultures and myths associated the hibiscus with love and lust. In some versions of the Greek myth, Adnois turns into a hibiscus flower to strop Aphrodite and Persephone from fighting and later reborn from Aphrodite's love. This version of the myth suggests the hibiscus is a symbol of love and lust with the power to attract lovers. In Hawaii, the hibiscus flower is used by women to attract or repel a lover. If worn behind the left ear, the woman is looking for a lover, while worn behind the right ear suggests she is already claimed. In China, the hibiscus is found in several myths about love and loyalty. The most famous of these is Song and Ming, which tells of a beautiful woman who enchanted everyone she met. Despite multiple attempts, no man could win her away from her husband, who she remained consistently loyal to, despite him being blind. One day a wealthy lord rode through town and was so enchanted with the woman he declared his love on the spot and asked her to marry him. Despite his sincerity, the woman refused and in a fit of anger, he kidnapped her. Day in and day out he tried to win the woman's love, but she remained steadfast in her loyalty to her husband. Eventually, he grew tired of her and killed her. Having heard of her death, the townspeople retrieved her body and buried her outside her home so she could be with her heartbroken husband upon which hibiscus flowers later sprouted. Like other red flowers, hibiscus can be used in spells and rituals for love and lust. Hibiscus petals can be added to teas to attract a lover, promote sexuality, or induce lust. Add to baths, face washes, or cleansers to attract love or wear for the same purpose. Hibiscus flowers can also be burned during love spells, added to love oils, or added to spell bags to attract love. To ensure loyalty and fidelity in marriage, add to wedding arrangements and bouquets.

Hibiscus can be used in a number of spells including:
    Love Spells
    Lust Magic
    Spiritual Activism
    Protection Spells
    Fidelity Magic
    Road Opener Spells

Medicinal Uses: The whole plant of hibiscus, from flower to roots to seeds, can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Some studies have shown hibiscus to have anti-insulin-resistant properties, decreasing blood sugar and insulin levels. Hibiscus also contains high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids which can decrease the accumulation of fat and thus aid in weight loss or maintenance in certain doses. Due to its antibacterial properties, hibiscus can be used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections and improve renal function. Most often, however, hibiscus is used to promote hair and skin health with high levels of antioxidants helping to protect against free radicals and glycerine acting as a moisturizer. 

Preparation and Dosage: To create an infusion, combine 1 tablespoon of dried hibiscus with 1 cup of warm water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking. Drink up to three times a day. To create a hair rinse, boil 1/4 cup of dried hibiscus flowers with 1.5 cups of water. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. Once cooled pour the mixture directly onto the scalp or add to a spray bottle and work the mixture through your hair. To create a cleansing hibiscus conditioner, blend hibiscus flowers with a small amount of water until a fine paste forms. Smear the paste onto the scalp and leave for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. To create a face mask, combine 1 teaspoon of hibiscus flower powder with 1 teaspoon of kaolin clay or brown rice flour with a small amount of water or aloe vera to form a paste. Apply to your face, being sure to avoid your eyes and mouth. Allow the mask to dry for 10-15 minutes before removing with warm water.



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Magical and Medicinal Uses of Hibiscus



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Monday, July 8, 2024

Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Summon Rain During Times of Drought

Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

I'm not sure about everyone else, but we are experiencing a pretty severe drought in my area. My grass is almost completely dead and if it wasn't for me watering my garden, none of my flowers would have survived the season. Even with watering, they are barely blooming because it's so hot and dry. We desperately need rain, and what better way to try and coax it here than with a little bit of magic?

Rain and weather spells are well documented throughout history, especially among pastoral communities that relied heavily on the weather to ensure they could survive through the winter. One bad growing season could spell disaster for everyone. While the methods vary across cultures, most rain spells incorporate water, including the one I present today.

What You'll Need

  • Bowl of water, preferably rainwater
  • Broom or herb bundle (options include heather, fern, henbane, and pansy)
  • Ingwaz rune
  • Offering for Freyr such as apple, apple cider, coins, grains, barely, or ale.

What to Do

Begin by going outside with your materials. Take a few deep breaths to ground and center yourself, connecting with the earth below you and the sky above. Holding the Ingwaz rune in your hand, raise your arms toward the heavens and say, "Freyr, mighty Vanir lord, Bringer of growth, rain, and sword, Hear my plea, this land is dry, Send your waters from the sky. By the power of Ingwaz, fertile seed, Let the heavens open, and fulfill this need. Gentle rain, come forth and fall, Nourish the earth, heed my call." Dip the rune into the bowl of water and sprinkle the water onto the land, symbolizing the rain you wish to bring.

Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

Still holding the rune, dip your broom or herb bundle into the water and begin sprinkling it around your home or chosen area, walking in a clockwise direction. As you do so, chant "Rain, rain bless this land. Gentle and quick come again." or continue invoking Freyr using the previous incantation. Visualize dark clouds heavy with rain forming above you and gently raining down, quenching the earth's thirst. Smell and feel the rain's gentle touch. Continue walking, sprinkling, chanting, and visualizing until you have walked completely around your home (or wherever you are walking) or until you feel you raised enough power to be released.

Raise your hands back into the air with the rune in one hand and the broom/herb bundle in the other and tip your face towards the heavens. Release the energy you have built up. I usually do this by taking a deep breath and then exhaling until all the air has been pushed from my lungs. Close the ritual by thanking Freyr by saying, "Thank you, Freyr, for hearing my plea, For rain and blessing cast upon me. By your power, let the land be drenched, Rain shall fall until all is quenched. Please accept this offering of [insert offering here] as thanks."

Modifications/Alternatives:
Not everyone can walk, practice openly, work with deities (or Norse ones), or lives in a home with walkable property. As such, here are some suggestions to modify this spell to suit your own needs.
  • Use a map of your area if you cannot go outside, walk, etc. Pull up a satellite image of your home and print it, or use your smartphone, iPad, or other electronic device that can lie flat. Cover any electronic devices with clear plastic or place them in a clear plastic baggy to avoid damaging the device. I know many are water-resistant so if you are comfortable sprinkling a few drops of water on it, then go right ahead. Just be sure not to soak the device or try to charge it until it's completely dry. Perform the ritual as intended, sprinkling the water over your printed map or device.
  • If you don't work with deities or don't work with Norse ones, you can call upon the Universe or other rain deities such as Zeus or Taranis. Substitute the offering to correspond with the deity of your choice, or use honey or your spit (both are universal offerings).

Why You Did It

Understanding the whys of a spell (or recipe) is 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 Spellcrafting Series). 

This spell begins by going outside (or using a map if you are modifying) so the Universe/spirits/deities know where you want it to rain. Being specific in our spells is incredibly important, and giving a specific location is crucial to this spell. You can ask for rain all day, and rain will fall, it just might not be where you want it to be. I can ask for rain in my city, but it spans 4 different counties so where it falls within the city limits may not include my house specifically.

Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

The Ingwaz rune was used in this spell because it represents Freyr, the god of rain, fertility, and agriculture. Ingwaz, like Freyr, is also associated with fertility and prosperity, as well as growth and potential. Because rain is nourishing, it was often viewed in a reproductive manner, being akin to sperm that falls and 'fertilizes' the land, allowing it to blossom. This is why many fertility gods are often associated with rain as well.

Historically, brooms have been used in many rain spells as it's believed the broom can stir up wind and clouds, bringing rain with them. By dipping the broom in water and sprinkling it upon the land, you are performing sympathetic magic, where like attracts like. Many herbs are also deeply associated with bringing rain, the most famous being heather. Heather is allied with mist and rain, preferring to grow in moist areas. It's the most commonly used herb to bring rain and has been used to sprinkle water upon the earth or in rain-bringing incense. One medieval incense recipe calls for henbane and fern, which are also associated with rain, to be combined with heather and burned to coax rain to put the fire out and save the rain-loving plants. A lesser-known rain herb is pansy. According to folklore, picking pansies will bring rain, or picking a pansy and dousing it in water will bring rain. Either way, it's associated with bringing rain, making it a great addition or alternative.

Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

Finally, this spell was performed in a clockwise manner to draw the rain to you. Clockwise is associated with attracting things.

One common concern with weather spells is that once the rain starts, it may not stop. This is where our thanks come into play. I specifically included that rain will fall until "all is quenched" meaning that once the earth and plants have had their fill, the rain will stop. If for whatever reason the rain does not stop, you can perform a rain-stopping ritual by lighting a candle (fire is the opposite of water) and saying "Rain, rain go away. Come again another day." Yes, this old nursery rhyme is a traditional rain-stopping spell and works quite well.

Remember to record this recipe in your Book of Shadows or use my Spell/Ritual Worksheet for reference later.

***

Since casting this spell, it has rained twice and we have 4 more days of rain predicted to come. Already my plants have perked up and several brown spots in my yard and filling in with some green. It will take several more days of rain to undo the damage that has been done, but I am hopeful.


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Thursday, July 4, 2024

13 Herbs To Induce an Altered State of Consciousness and Aid in Hedge Riding

13 Herbs To Induce an Altered State of Consciousness and Aid in Hedge Riding

Reaching an altered state of consciousness (ASOC) is necessary for hedge riding and other forms of astral travel as it allows your spirit to transcend our reality. Reaching an ASOC is often difficult for those with overactive minds, especially in today's society which suggests relaxing means you are lazy. Winding down enough to quiet the mind and focus on shifting your consciousness takes work, but it can be aided through breathwork, drumming, chanting, dancing, and even plants.

Entheogens are a psychoactive group of plants that help induce an ASOC, often in a religious or shamanic context. The term entheogen comes from the Greek entheos meaning "god within" and genesthe meaning "to generate." This roughly translates to "to generate god within" or creating the divine within one's self, referring to the transcendence of one's spirit while under the effects of an entheogen. In other words, entheogens produce visions and induce an ASOC.

Entheogens have been used across cultures in a variety of religious activities, especially among shamans, medicine men, diviners, oracles, seidhr, and witches, among others. Many entheogens that have been used historically, such as fly agaric, peyote, ayahuasca, opiates, datura, and belladonna are currently illegal in many parts of the world or dangerous if not used under the guidance of a licensed professional. There are, however, several other entheogens and non-entheogens that are legal and generally considered safe, even for novice herbalists, that you can use in your practice.

In today's post, I offer 13 plants and herbs you can use to reach an ASOC and aid you in your hedge riding journey. As with all plant use, use at your own risk. Some of these plants do not mix well with certain medications, can induce anxiety or panic, cause cancer if used long-term, or are not legal in all areas.

1. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Mugwort is by far my favorite herb for just about everything, especially when it comes to hedge riding and spirit work. Sometimes referred to as the Witch Herb, mugwort is known for its ability to enhance psychic abilities and intuition, assist in lucid dreaming, and heighten awareness and focus. It is one of many plants commonly found in flying ointments, hallucinogenic salves/oils used to aid in hedge riding and other forms of astral travel.

Use

You can use dried leaves, stems, roots, or flowers of mugwort in a couple of different ways to induce an ASOC, but the best way is through smoking or inhaling incense smoke. It pairs well with tobacco in both instances. Mugwort can also be drunk as a tea. To make an infusion combine 1 teaspoon of dried mugwort with 1 cup of boiling water or try my Hedge Riding tea recipe. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes before drinking. Mugwort can also be used topically as an oil or ointment. Generally speaking, using mugwort topically is slower to induce an ASOC and can sometimes leave individuals feeling hung over. I have not experienced this with mugwort, but others have reported general fatigue, headache, and tiredness after use.

Do not use mugwort if you are:

  • Allergic to ragweed, birch, celery, wild carrots, fennel, honey, hazelnuts, pine nuts, tobacco, or grass.
  • Pregnant (causes uterine contractions)
  • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)

2. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

While lavender is not an entheogen, it is relaxing, helping to calm the mind and shift your awareness away from the mundane. Historically, lavender has been used to enhance sleep and induce prophetic dreams as it helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls bodily processes like breathing, heart rate, and hormone secretion. This is not the most potent of herbs on this list, but it is among the safest and also part of my Hedge Riding tea.

Use

The use of lavender is very diverse. The flowers can be drunk as an infusion, burned as incense, or used as an essential oil on pulse points, similar to how you would apply a flying ointment. To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried lavender with 1 cup of warm (not quite boiling) water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 5-10 minutes before enjoying. 

Do not use lavender if you are:

  • Allergic to tea tree oil. Some individuals who are allergic to tea tree oil are also allergic to lavender oil.

3. Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis)

While you are probably most familiar with sage for its cleansing and protective qualities, garden sage can also be used to reach an ASOC. When burned, garden sage has been found to induce relaxation, enhance memory, and heighten awareness. Some report feeling lighter and having an elevated awareness when using garden sage. Like lavender, garden sage is not an entheogen and therefore not a potent as some other herbs on this list. That doesn't make it less effective though. 

Use

The best way to use garden sage is to smoke it or inhale incense smoke. It pairs well with tobacco and mugwort. It can also be drunk as an infusion although the effects are lessened significantly when used this way. To make an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried leaves with 1 cup boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Do not use garden sage if you are:

  • Allergic to peppermint, oregano, or pollen
  • Have seizures (contains thujone which can trigger seizures)
  • Taking medication to manage diabetes (can interact with diabetes medication)

4. Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)

Tobacco has long been used to aid in spirit communication and has been seen as the connection between humans and spirits. As such, it is commonly found on ancestral altars, smoked during certain ceremonial rituals, or used to summon spirits. Nicotine is mildly hallucinogenic allowing you to reach an ASOC when smoked or chewed. Nicotine, however, is also very addicting, and therefore tobacco should be used sparingly and with caution. It pairs well with mugwort and garden sage.

Use

Tobacco is most effective when smoked or chewed. It can also be used as an incense and the smoke inhaled.

Do not use tobacco if you are:

  • Have asthma
  • Pregnant (can cause birth defects)

5. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

This one might be surprising to some, but I promise you it's here for a reason. Lemongrass is often used in rituals to cleanse and purify, but that's not its only use. It's also used to calm the spirit and mind, enhance psychic abilities and focus, dissolve obstacles, and promote openness, allowing you to slip into the astral plane more easily. Furthermore, lemongrass has been used to aid in shapeshifting, making it of particular use to those engaged in astral travel.

Use

Dried lemongrass can be burned as an incense or drank as an infusion to induce an ASOC. If burning as an incense, lemon grass pairs well with mugwort and lavender. To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried lemongrass with 1 cup of hot water (not boiling). Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes before enjoying.

Do not use lemongrass if you are:

  • Allergic to wheat, rye, oats, or rice (in the same family but does not contain gluten)
  • Pregnant (causes uterine contractions)

6. Damiana (Turnera diffusa)

While damiana is most often used in sex magic, it can also be used to increase psychic awareness, induce prophetic dreams, and promote clairvoyance by aiding in relaxation. In the 1950s, damiana was often used in lue of marijuana as it induces a slight "high." It helps quiet the mind, allowing you to enter an ASOC more easily, while simultaneously heightening your perception. This makes it a great herb for hedge riding, trancework, and other forms of astral travel.

Use

Dried leaves of damiana can be smoked, burned as incense, or drank as an infusion, while the essential oil can be applied to pulse points to induce an ASOC. If smoking, damiana pairs well with marijuana (they have a similar flavor) or tobacco. To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried damiana with 1 cup boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes before enjoying.

Do not use damiana if you are:

  • Hypoglycemic or taking medication to regulate diabetes (can lower blood sugar)
  • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)

7. Blue Lotus (Nymphaea caerulea)

Blue lotus is an entheogen that contains three alkaloids, apomorphine, aporphine, and nuciferine, that have psychotropic effects similar to cannabis. It induces an opioid-like state, making you feel lightly euphoric, and helping to induce a trance-like state. As such it is often used to induce lucid dreaming and to enhance visionary experiences. Because it goes through periods of "waking" and "sleeping," the Egyptians associated it with life and death, thus providing a spiritual connection with the afterlife. Its magical correspondences in conjunction with its psychotropic effects make it a wonderful herb to use during hedge riding. In the US, blue lotus is not approved for human consumption, making it difficult to find, but it is legal in every state except Louisiana. 

Use

Blue lotus can be used in a variety of ways, most commonly through drinking tea, taking an extract, or smoking the dried flower petals. It pairs well with tobacco and cannabis if smoking. To make an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon dried blue lotus flower with 1 cup hot water (not boiling) and allow the mixture to infuse for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.

Do not use blue lotus if you are:

  • Allergic to water lilies and other related plants
  • In the US military (use of blue lotus is prohibited for all service members)
  • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)

8. Wild Asparagus Root (Asparagus racemosus)

Also known as Tian Men Dong meaning "heavenly spirit herb," wild asparagus root has long been used by spiritual practitioners for its "heart-opening" effects. Taoist monks often used wild asparagus root to strengthen one's spirit and induce dreams, nicknaming it "the flying herb" because it would help the user fly through the universe during lucid dreaming. Wild asparagus root is listed as endangered in its natural habitat, so if you plan on using this root in your practice, be sure you purchase it from a reputable dealer who practices sustainable harvesting practices.

Use

Wild asparagus root is usually drank as a tea. To make an infusion, simmer 1 teaspoon of dried wild asparagus root with 1-1.5 cups of water for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour depending on how strong you want your infusion.

Do not use wild asparagus root if you are:

  • Allergic to onions, leeks, garlic, or chives

9. African Dream Root (Silene capensis)

African dream root has been used by the Xhosa and Zulu people of South Africa to induce lucid dreaming and promote vivid dreams. African dream root contains triterpene saponins, which are known to stimulate vivid dreams and lucid dreaming to those sensitive to its effects. Furthermore, the alkaloids and diterpenoids in the root give it a mild psychoactive effect, making it perfect for reaching an ASOC. However, if you choose to work with African dream root, be mindful of the cultural heritage associated with it. Respecting and honoring the traditions, practices, and cultures surrounding African dream root is essential. When in doubt, don't work with it if you aren't going to respect the culture it originates from. 

Use

African dream root is traditionally consumed as a foam. 1/8 of a teaspoon or 200 milligrams of dried root powder is combined with water in a container and shaken until foam forms. The foam is then consumed and the container is shaken again. This is repeated until you feel full or feel you have had enough. Dosing is extremely important here. While African dream root is not toxic, too much can cause you to vomit.

Do not use African dream root if you are:

  • Suffering from stomach issues, such as ulcers (saponins may irritate the lining of the stomach and digestive tract)
  • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

10. African Dream Bean (Entada rheedii)

Despite its name, the African dream bean is also native to Asia, Australia, and Madagascar, growing in tropical areas as a climbing vine. In South Africa, the bean's tender flesh was consumed or smoked to connect with the spirit world and ancestors and induce lucid dreaming, similar to that of the African dream root. While the psychoactive effects of the African dream bean are not fully understood, it's suspected that the saponins and alkaloids found in the seeds contribute to its dream-inducing properties. Like the African dream root, be mindful of the cultural heritage associated with it. Respecting and honoring the traditions, practices, and cultures surrounding the African dream bean is essential. When in doubt, don't work with it if you aren't going to respect the culture it originates from. 

Use

Traditionally the inner meat is eaten directly or the meat is dried and smoked.

Do not use African dream bean if you are:

  • Suffering from stomach issues, such as ulcers (saponins may irritate the lining of the stomach and digestive tract)
  • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

11. Shrubby Yellowcrest/Sun Opener (Heimia salicifolia)

Also known as Sinicuichi by the Aztecs, shrubby yellowcrest was and is commonly used to induce trances as it contains mildly hallucinogenic alkaloids such as vertine and lythrine, although its psychoactive properties have not been medically confirmed. Either way, it is said to not only induce a trance-like state but also alter auditory perception and yellowing of the vision when consumed in large quantities, giving rise to its name "Sun Opener." Shurbby yellowcrest is still used among certain groups in Central America and South America, so be respectful of its cultural heritage if you choose to work with this plant.

Use

Traditionally shrubby yellowcrest is used as an elixir that takes at least 24 hours to create. Fresh leaves are collected and allowed to wilt before being crushed and placed in a jar with cold water and placed in the sun. The mixture is left to ferment for at least 24 hours before being consumed. If you do not have access to fresh leaves, dried leaves can be used to create a non-traditional infusion by combining 1 teaspoon of dried leaves with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 15 minutes before enjoying.

Do not use shrubby yellowcrest if you are:

  • Hypoglycemic or taking medication to regulate diabetes (may lower blood sugar)
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)
  • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

12. Mexican Dream Herb (Calea zacatechichi)

Mexican dream herb or bitter grass is one of the most well-known dream herbs, historically being used by the Chontal Maya to induce lucid dreaming and improve mental clarity and focus. Users commonly report this herb helping journeys, trances, and dreams to follow a more coherent narrative instead of abruptly shifting or ending before you want them to. While most individuals use it to improve dream recognition, it can produce a mild hallucinogenic effect while awake, lower blood pressure, even breathing, and relax the body, allowing the user to slip into an ASOC and detach from our realm.

Use

Mexican dream herb is commonly smoked or drunk as tea. To create an infusion, combine 3-5 grams of dried leaves with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.

Do not use Mexican dream herb if you are:

  • Allergic to ragwed, daises, or chrysanthemums
  • Hypoglycemic or taking medication to regulate diabetes (may lower blood sugar)
  • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)
  • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

13. Cannabis

Cannabis, like many other plants on this list, is an entheogen and it should surprise no one that I included it. When smoked or consumed, it induces an ASOC, allowing the user to slip between realms easily. It has long been used across multiple cultures with ritual uses being recorded in almost every civilization. Early Chinese occultists used cannabis to see into the future, while ancient Egyptians used it to induce visions and communicate with the gods. In the 15th century, a coven of witches in Germany was accused of using cannabis, among other herbs, in flying ointments. According to Christian Ratsch, cannabis was associated with Freya and ritually used to connect with the divine feminine. The history is endless, but the uses are remarkably similar: induce an ASOC or trance and increase psychic abilities. 

Use

Cannabis can be smoked or consumed through food in small doses. Moderation is key when using cannabis, especially if you have never used it before. Too much and you lose control of the high, ruining your chances of hedge riding successfully.

Do not use cannabis if you are:

  • Allergic to almonds, apples, bananas, chestnuts, eggplant, grapefruit, peaches, or tomatoes
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Taking anticoagulants (decreases their effectiveness increasing the risk of bleeding)
  • Taking SSRIs (interferes with effectiveness and can cause mania)
  • Living in a state or country where it's currently illegal


This is by no means a complete list of plants you can use to induce an altered state of consciousness when wishing to engage in hedge riding, lucid dreaming, or other forms of astral travel. However, these are some of the most accessible and most often used for such purposes because they are generally safe and legal. As I mentioned earlier, always exercise caution when working with any plant. If you are new to trancework and hedge riding, have a friend watch over you while you experiment with dosing. Always start with less before working up to higher doses. The point is not to get high, but to relax enough to shift your consciousness. If in doubt, stick with mugwort, lavender, lemongrass, and garden sage.

Happy exploring!




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Monday, July 1, 2024

Crafting Your Own Heathen Wheel of the Year: A Guide to Nordic Celebrations

Crafting Your Own Heathen Wheel of the Year: A Guide to Nordic Celebrations

Earlier this year I mentioned that the modern Wheel of the Year no longer resonated with me. As the years drew on, I felt less and less connection with the sabbats and the celebrations tied to them. I continued to set up altars that felt forced and struggled to connect to the magic I once loved so dearly. After much contemplation, meditation, and conversations with my ancestors, I realized that this feeling arose from a lack of familial connection to these holidays. They weren't mine or my ancestors, at least most of them weren't anyway. 

The modern Wheel of the Year is an amalgamation of holidays from multiple cultures thrown together and presented as a cohesive truth. This is the unfortunate reality of modern paganism and witchcraft, despite what others may lead you to believe, simply because much of our history has been lost with time. I too once believed the Wheel of the Year was ancient and followed by pagans across Europe, but this simply isn't the truth. The Wheel of the Year was created by several Wiccan leaders in an attempt to legitimize their tradition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Wheel of the Year as many, many witches, pagans, and occult practitioners do. It's important, however, to recognize the Wheel of the Year is a modern invention, and while many of the holidays did exist in the past, they were not necessarily celebrated together, inherently religious (but certainly cultural), given the exact dates we use today, or celebrated the way we celebrate today. This realization explained the disconnect I was feeling. I'm not Wiccan, and while many of my ancestors hail from Scotland, those Scottish ancestors were descendants of Scandinavian (think Viking) ancestry. I wasn't connecting with most of these holidays because they weren't mine to connect with. As such, I set out to find what I did feel connected to. Enter the Nordic or Heathen calendar.


What is the Nordic or Heathen Calendar?


Historical Evidence

Archaeological finds from the Viking Age have produced a number of runic calendars carved onto wood, bone, horns, and rocks known as a primstav in Norway and Denmark and a runstav in Sweden. Primstav is derived from prim meaning "new moon" in Old Norse while runstav means "rune staff." Both of these derivations hint at how the calendars were constructed. 

Photo: Ingvar Bohm / Nordic Museum, Stockholm Primstav from Setesdal, Norway, 1781.
Photo: Ingvar Bohm / Nordic Museum, Stockholm
Primstav from Setesdal, Norway, 1781.

Lines or notches were used to represent the days of the year while characters such as runes were used to denote the solstices, equinoxes, festivals, and holidays. Unlike our modern calendar, each month began on the new moon thus dividing the year into 12 months of 30 days. Four extra days were added to the third summer month and every seven years a week was added to the end of summer called Sumarauki ("summer addition") to account for leap years. Furthermore, the year was divided into two seasons: winter and summer. Each stav was two-sided with a season being represented on each side. The summer started on the full moon around April 14th while the winter side began around October 15th. As mentioned before, these dates shifted as the moons shifted from year to year. (Dr. Andreas Nordberg, the foremost expert on Nordic holidays and calendars, presents some evidence that the year may have been divided into quarters, but most scholars currently disagree.)

Currently, there are about 650 known Norweigan primstaves dating from the late 15th century to the early 19th century. The oldest documented stav was recorded in 876 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but this stav has never been recovered making a 13th-century stav found in Nyköping, Sweden the oldest recovered stav on record. The most famous stav and most used among Norse pagans, however, is Worm's Norwegian stav from 1643 which was carved into a large fish bone, possibly whale. Worm described the winter months in great detail in his book Fasti Danici, which included a drawing, but he neglected to document the summer side, making our record incomplete. Like the documented 876 stav, Worm's stav has never been recovered.

Worm’s Norwegian Viking Calendar
Worm’s Norwegian Runic Calendar, 1643 Fasti Danici


Months

Each month was believed to have begun on the new moon, creating 12 months similar to our modern calendar. The exact dates of each month shifted each year as the moon phases shifted and therefore do not easily align with our modern-day calendar. Ample archeological and historical evidence has allowed modern Norse pagans and heathens to reconstruct the Nordic calendar, which would have varied greatly between cultures. The calendar below is based on the work of Dr. Andreas Nordberg's 2006 work titled Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning.

Summer Months
The Summer months were also known as Náttleysi or nightless days and consisted of
  • Góa (April-ish)- Góa Moon
  • Einmánuður (May-ish)- One Moon
  • Harpa (June-ish)- Harpa's Moon.
  • Skerpla (July-ish)- Skarpla's Moon
  • Heyannir (August-ish)- Hay Moon, referring to the cutting and drying of hay.
  • Tvímánuður (September-ish)- Second Moon. Also known as Kornskurðarmánuðr meaning "time to reap grain."
Winter Months
The Winter months were also known as Skammdegi or the short days and consisted of
  • Haustmánuður (October-ish)- Harvest Moon, a time to celebrate the final harvest of the season, the mending of fences, and the repair of walls for the winter to come.
  • Gormánuður (November-ish)- Slaughter Moon, known for the annual slaughter that occurred here before winter completely set in.
  • Jolmánuður (December-ish)- First Yule Moon. Also known as Frermánuðr or Frost Moon.
  • Jolmánuður (January-ish)- Second Yule Moon
  • Sunmánuður (February-ish)- Sun Moon
  • Mörsugur (March-ish)- Fat Sucking Moon
This is just one interpretation of the Nordic calendar. Other practitioners start the Summer months with Harpa (April-ish) and end with Haustmánuður (September-ish), pushing the Winter months to be Gormánuður (October-ish) through Einmánuður (March-ish). This version shifts all the months to different dates, and while it's not necessarily incorrect, it's not the version I have chosen to use for my path. As I mentioned earlier, there are significant differences in calendar structure based on the culture from which the stav originated. Sometimes these calendars varied widely within the same territory depending on the town or village you were in. There was no uniform system used until Christianization began and even then it was hard to get people to agree.

Holidays and Celebrations

Knowing that the runic symbols represented solstices, equinoxes, festivals, and holidays and that these calendars were updated well into the 19th century, we can reconstruct when sumbels, ritualistic drinking and feasting, would have occurred. Sumbels sometimes occurred during a blót or ceremonial sacrifice. Based on this evidence important celebrations included:
  • Sigurblót- Also known as Somarmál or Victory-blót which occurred during the full moon of Goa Moon (mid-April-ish) or the fourth full moon after the Winter Solstice.
  • Midsommar (Midsummer)- Midsommer is a newer holiday that was not given a name or date until the 1700s, although variations of the holiday have been celebrated for longer. Midsommar is celebrated around the Summer Solstice.
  • Vetrnætr- Also known as Winter Nights, this 3-day celebration begins on the first full moon of Haustmánuður, marking the first day of winter. 
  • Alfablót- There is no known archeological evidence that supports the celebration of this holiday, but Alfablót is mentioned in verses 1-6 of the Austrfararvísur and in the Kormáks Saga which both suggested it was a celebration and sacrifice in honor of one's ancestors and Elves.
  • Jol/Yule/Hökunótt- While most celebrate Yule on the Winter Solstice, it was historically celebrated on the first full moon after the new moon of the Winter Solstice, making it most often celebrated in January.


Creating My Heathen "Wheel of the Year"

Using historical documents, modern resources, and communication with my ancestors, I developed a Nordic calendar or Heathen "Wheel of the Year" that works for me. I like the wheel metaphor and therefore appropriate to design my calendar around.


This calendar or wheel includes all the modern months of the year as well as the approximate placement of the Nordic months. Four major holidays are also listed where I will celebrate them:
  • Sigurblót during the Goa Moon (mid-April)- celebrated on the fourth full moon after the Winter Solstice.
  • Midsommar (Midsummer) during Harpa (mid-June)- celebrated on the Summer Solstice.
  • Vetrnætr or Winter Nights beginning on the Harvest Moon (mid to late October). This celebration includes 3 days, each day with its own celebration. I will discuss this in more detail below.
  • Yule during Jolmánuður (mid-December)- celebrated on the Winter Solstice.

You may notice that Alfablót is not listed among the holidays. This is because there is some debate on when exactly Alfablót was celebrated. Some sources state it was celebrated as part of Vetrnætr while others suggest it was celebrated on the Slaughter Moon in Gormánuður (mid-November). I have decided to celebrate it as part of Vetrnætr, along with two other popular Nordic holidays commonly celebrated during Winter Nights, Disablót and Haustblót. The first night of Vetrnætr is Alfablót in which I will honor my masculine ancestors, spirits, and deities, followed by Disablót in which I will honor my feminine ancestors, spirits, and dísir (both similar to Samhain). The final night is Haustblót in which I will celebrate the harvest with a feast and make a sacrifice to ensure a good year to come, similar to Mabon or the American Thanksgiving.

The dates I have chosen correspond with historical documents and modern celebrations and will allow me to have some 'fixed' holidays as well as some moveable ones. Sigurblót and Vetrnætr will follow the moon cycle, while Midsommar and Yule will be celebrated on the solstices. I am currently toying with the idea of moving Vetrnætr to correspond with Samhain/Halloween/Day of the Dead but would like to see how this year goes first before I decide if I want to move things around. I think celebrating October 30th and 31st and November 1st would work very well and correspond with other holidays nicely. I already celebrate Halloween (it's a big deal in my house) so Winter Nights falling during this time would be perfect. Unfortunately, October's full moon doesn't always align with Halloween. This year the full moon falls on October 17th, two full weeks before the 31st. I plan to celebrate starting on the 17th this year and if I feel I need to modify my calendar, I will!

There are a variety of other holidays many modern Norse pagans and heathens celebrate, some of which are Wiccan, Germanic, or Celtic-inspired. None of those holidays resonated with me, and while I toyed with the idea of adding Walpurgisnacht or Walpurgis Night to my calendar, I ultimately didn't because it's a Germanic holiday, not a Nordic one and therefore not something many of my ancestors would have celebrated. I may add it in the future, but for now, I am content with the calendar I have created. Four holidays, one of which lasts three nights, is more than enough for me, especially once you add other familial and cultural holidays, traditions, and celebrations. 

Again, this is my personal calendar that I created with the help of my ancestors. I recognize not everyone will agree with it, and that's fine because it isn't yours. I encourage you to develop a calendar and system that works for you, despite what others may tell you. Personalized spirituality is always more fulfilling and powerful compared to a packaged version.


In the coming months, I will dive deeper into these holidays, explaining their historical significance, offering ways to celebrate, and sharing spells, rituals, and altars inspired by these celebrations. I am excited to begin this new journey with all of you and if you have any tips, suggestions, or topics you would like me to cover along the way, please drop them in the comments below.



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Friday, June 28, 2024

Book Review: Botanical Cocktails by Tenae Stewart

Book Review: Botanical Cocktails by Tenae Stewart
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I am sure many of you are well aware of Tenae Stewart, the Witch of Lupine Hollow. Tenae has been such a wonderful force in the occult community and continues to share her knowledge and build community with other witches, astrologers, and spiritual people. Over the past couple of years, she has authored three books, her latest being Botanical Cocktails: 50 Garden-to-Glass Beverages for Every Season. I'm not going to lie, I am not really into alcoholic drinks, but knew I wanted to support Tenae's continued work when I was asked if I would like to review her latest book. I'm certainly glad I did!

Botanical Cocktails begins with a brief introduction in which she discusses her philosophy and approach to spirituality which focuses on self-care. This has always been central to her practice and while it may seem like cocktails wouldn't fit into this model, she argues that joy and celebration of the seasons certainly do and therefore cocktails become a part of magical self-care. I agree and believe joy is a central pillar of self-care and spirituality, especially in light of the current atrocities facing our world. Unlike other recipe books, however, Tenae presents these recipes as seasonal rituals, incorporating magical correspondences and mindfulness into the act of preparing each cocktail. This brief introduction is followed by an overview of the different tools, alcoholic and non-alcoholic bases, and plant profiles of the different herbs, spices, and fruits found in the recipes. As a person who is woefully unprepared to make cocktails, these first couple of chapters were incredibly helpful and provided me with the knowledge necessary to create the recipes in this book as well as create my own recipes.

The remaining chapters are dedicated to the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each chapter includes between 12 and 13 recipes that are magically aligned with the season in question, each using seasonal ingredients as well to reduce your impact on the environment. The recipes are simple and straightforward, making them easy to follow for novices like myself. There are even mocktail instructions for every single recipe in the book, so if you are like me and don't drink, you can still enjoy these seasonal delights. Many of the recipes call for club soda instead of certain alcohol, which I don't particularly like as I prefer sweet drinks over dry ones. If you are like me and prefer sweet, zero-sugar Sprite (or regular) makes an excellent substitute. The book is also full of beautiful, full-color pictures, including pictures of the different recipes to give you an idea of what they should look like. As a very visual person, I need pictures for recipes. There aren't pictures for all of them, but there are enough to satisfy me.

The end of the book includes an appendix which is extremely helpful. Here you can find a complete list of the recipes with page numbers by season, recipes by plant, recipes by alcohol, and a metric conversion guide for those of you on the metric system.

Botanical Cocktails: 50 Garden-to-Glass Beverages for Every Season by Tenae Steward is an excellent book for any kitchen or green witch, as well as any witch who loves to celebrate the seasons with cocktails and mocktails or entertain others. I can't wait to start trying some of the recipes. I am especially interested in trying Savannah Nights which includes peaches, one of my favorite summertime fruits, and was inspired by one of my favorite cities, Savannah! (I got engaged in Savannah last December and we visit at least once a year.) You can preorder a copy of Botanical Cocktails now with a set release date of July 2, 2024!




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Monday, June 24, 2024

Book Review: Be Your Own Shaman by Jane Barlow Christensen

Book Review: Be Your Own Shaman by Jane Barlow Christensen
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If one thing is for sure, I spend my summer vacations reading up a storm. I am almost done with the books I have been asked to review and once these last few are complete, I am going to take some time to meditate on where I want my practice to go. With that will come new guides, spells, rituals, altars, and more, which I am sure all of you want to see. I apologize for how repetitive my blog has become lately, but unfortunately, this is where my practice is at the moment, and if I posted on other things, it would be disingenuous. The last thing I want is to be fake and my content forced. The reason so many of you have followed me all of these years is because I have been authentic. I want to continue to be that space and that means admitting when I am in a slump! With this in mind, know that I have 2 more books to review after this and then I am free to pursue new avenues. I'm going to take a break from book reviews for a couple of months (unless something awesome comes across my desk that I can't pass up), to really focus on my spiritual practice as a whole.

As you are all well aware, I have an affinity towards plants, herbalism, and natural witchcraft. I have always been fascinated by natural medicine and plants as a whole, which inspired my Herbarium posts and many of the spells and rituals featured over the years. So when Skyhorse Publishing reached out asking if I would like to review their upcoming book Be Your Own Shaman: A Field Guide to Utilize 101 of the World's Most Healing Plants by Jane Barlow Christensen, I immediately said yes! Unlike The Herbalist's Guide: How to Build and Use Your Own Apothecary by Mary Colvin, RHBe Your Own Shaman focuses almost entirely on plant profiles, 101 of them in fact, organized by use, instead of alphabetically. I really appreciate how this book is organized as it allows the reader to quickly find plants that can aid in specific instances, such as anxiety, respiratory infections, diabetes, inflammation, insomnia, or an upset stomach. This is the first book that I have that is designed this way, which will make preparing herbal remedies and treating different ailments a breeze!

Book Review: Be Your Own Shaman by Jane Barlow Christensen

Each plant profile contains the same basic information: common name, botanical name, parts uses, where it's found, time of day to collect, time of year to collect, medicinal properties, medicinal uses, preparation, dosage, general information, and extra tips which address additional beneficial information. Under medicinal uses, Christensen further elaborates on different methods of preparation, such as infusions, tinctures, decoctions, poultices, salves, ointments, powders, and more. Each profile also contains full-colored photographs of the plant and a line drawing showing the entire plant from root to flower. I absolutely adore this setup and can't wait to spend more time reading through the information and using it to create my own remedies. These profiles will also greatly aid in the preparation of my Herbarium posts, allowing me to give more complete medicinal profiles!

The last section or chapter of the book contains all the additional information one would need to identify, harvest, and prepare plants to make herbal remedies. This section includes such information as plant morphology, how to collect, dry, and preserve plants, how to prepare poultices, salves, powders, infusions, and more, how to dose, and even common methods of field preparations in case you don't have access to your tools in emergency situations. There are tons of line drawings explaining different flower shapes, leaf arrangements, leaf types, and even root types to help you correctly identify the plants in question. This information is incredibly important to make sure you are harvesting the correct plant. The object is to heal, not poison, and there are plenty of lookalikes out there to trick you! This section also includes a few recipes but encourages the reader to create their own using what they have learned.

My favorite section, however, is section or chapter 14 which covers psychedelics and sacred plants. As a hedgewitch, using plants to reach an altered state of consciousness is common practice, and understanding the ritual uses of such plants is incredibly important to choosing the right plant for the right occasion. This section does not contain dosing information nor how to prepare these plants and for a good reason. Many of the plants found in this section are illegal and potentially deadly. I will never suggest using such plants without the guidance of an expert.

My only gripe with the book is the title. I don't believe "shaman" is the appropriate word to use in this context and continues to perpetuate cultural appropriation. "Herbalist" would be a better term to use, but if you can forgive the title, Be Your Own Shaman: A Field Guide to Utilize 101 of the World's Most Healing Plants by Jane Barlow Christensen is an excellent book to add to your collection if you are interested in learning more about plants and their medicinal uses.





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Monday, June 17, 2024

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Cherry

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Cherry

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Death, Fertility, Life, Love, Rebirth
Magical Uses and History: Throughout history, the cherry tree has been admired for its beautiful blossoms and sweet fruits, especially among the Japanese whose sakura blossoms are world-renowned. Cherries are one of the first trees to bloom in the spring, associating them with rebirth, fertility, and life. However, the blooms are fragile and short-lasting, thus representing death and the fragility of life as well. According to Japanese mythology, Sakuya-hime (Princess Blossoms of the Trees) met Ninigi, the grandson of the sun kami (goddess) Amaterasu, while walking along the beach and fell in love. Wishing to marry Saku, Ninigi approached her father, Oho-Yama, for her hand in marriage. Oho-Yama instead proposed Ninigi marry his eldest daughter, Iwa-Naga-hime the rock princess, but Ninigi claimed that Saku had his heart and that Iwa was ugly. Oho-Yama was angered by this but reluctantly agreed to the marriage, which came at a cost. Oho-yama blessed (or cursed?) the marriage by proclaiming that all descendants of Saku would be as short-lived as a spring blossom while Iwa's descendants would be enduring and eternal like stones. Thus human lives are short and fleeting, like the sakura blossoms. When Saku later died, a cherry tree grew on her grave which became known as 'sakura.' This correspondence is further perpetuated in Celtic mythology. During the Battle of Godeu, many trees rose up to fight, including the cherry. Unfortunately, the cherry tree was broken in battle, thus showing its fragility. Despite the contradictory meanings, cherry blossoms can be used in a number of spells for fertility, life, rebirth, and even death. Place upon graves or ancestral altars in the spring to represent both life and death and the rebirth of spirits as they pass into the Otherworld. Add to ancestral incense to honor the dead and aid in spirit communication. Place blossoms under your bed or hang them in your bedroom to encourage fertility. If you wish for a spell to be quick, yet short-lived, add cherry blossoms.

The cherry is also deeply associated with love, being used in love spells across the globe. According to another Japanese myth, the gods decided to remove a tree that had never bloomed. Before removing it, however, they gave it the chance to experience life as a human for 20 years. During this time, the tree lamented that there was nothing good in the world until it met a beautiful young woman. They fell in love and the tree confided that it was not human but a tree instead. The young woman was so in love with the tree that she asked to become a tree as well. They became one, transforming into a sakura that immediately bloomed. In the Americas, cherry has long been used to attract love and romance into one's life, likely due to its beautiful blooms and sweet, red fruit. Eat cherries to boost attraction, serve cherry pie or preserves to a potential lover to win their affection, tie a lock of hair around a blossoming branch to attract love, or dress candles with cherry-infused oil for love. Add cherry pits, blossoms, or dried fruit to love spells and sachets for the same purpose. The uses of cherry are pretty endless in this regard so you can get creative.

As mentioned before, cherry is also associated with death. The leaves and bark contain hydrocyanic acid, which turns to cyanide as the leaves begin to wilt. This makes most of the tree highly toxic, and an excellent component to spells for death, destruction, and endings. Use the leaves to bring about the end of something, especially if you want to break spells, curses, or relationships. Cherry leaves can be added to sour jars, foot powders, or other spells to turn people way.

Cherry can be used in a number of spells including:
    Love Spells
    Fertility Magic
    Curses
    Death Magic

Medicinal Uses: Cherries, especially wild cherries, are high in prussic acid making them useful in treating coughs and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis. Cherries are also anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce inflammation caused by arthritis and gout but inhibiting oxidative stress and suppressing inflammatory proteins. Cherry juice has also been shown to increase melatonin, therefore increasing sleep duration and sleep quality.

Preparation and Dosage: To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried cherry bark (from a reputable deal) with one cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. To improve sleep, drink 1 cup of cherry juice before bed. To create a cough syrup, combine 3/4 cup cherry bark with one cup of water. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes before straining the liquid. Pour the strained liquid back into the pot and add 1 cup of honey. Simmer on low for 10 minutes until thick. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Adults take 1 teaspoon every 4-6 hours as needed up to 4 times a day for no more than a week.



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

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Cherry



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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Book Review: Alive With Spirits by Althaea Sebastiani

Book Review: Alive With Spirits by Althaea Sebastiani
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have been a little slower to finish some of the occult books in my stack lately as I have wanted to read more fiction, but I finally sat down to read Alive With Spirits: The Path and Practice of Animistic Witchcraft by Althaea Sebastiani this past week and boy am I glad I did. Alive With Spirits is exactly what the occult community needs right now, especially in the face of rising consumerism, individualism, and fascism in our own community.

Sebastiani provides an excellent guide to animism, with each lesson addressing different facets of animism with several exercises at the end of each chapter to help you change your worldview, hone practical skills, and build community with the spirits around you. Sebastiani does not hold back, calling out a number of problematic behaviors in the occult community that are hindering right relationship with the world and spirits around us. Her work challenges everything American culture holds dear, cultural aspects that have been taking over our community for quite some time. Individualism, consumerism, capitalism, fascism, and cultural appropriation have absolutely no place in our community and Sebastiani's approach to animism is in direct opposition to these ideas. I was nodding my head continuously as I read, underlining and making notes on almost every page.

On top of this, Sebastiani made her book highly accessible to everyone, including those who are neurodivergent, disabled, or members of other marginalized communities by providing such things as definitions, disclaimers, length of exercises, outlines, an index of exercises with page numbers, and so much more. For any exercises that include breath work, she makes a note of how this can affect your heart rate and blood flow, increasing the risk of passing out for certain groups. She offers alternatives for those who may not have certain items or be able to move a certain way. Furthermore, she describes visualization not necessarily as seeing an object in your mind, but instead as an incorporation of all senses to bring about the object. It's important to note that many people are unable to see images in their mind (known as aphantasia), and therefore must rely on their other senses to bring about the object or outcome. When we visualize, it's more about creating those feelings than necessarily seeing the object or outcome in our mind. This is what raises the energy necessary for spell work and builds that spiritual connection.

Book Review: Alive With Spirits by Althaea Sebastiani

On top of the inclusion and equity promoted in Sebastiani's work, she also makes note that witchcraft is not some unbroken line of tradition. Modern witchcraft is only a few decades old. The push to create a false history that shows some fantastical goddess cult or unbroken line of magical practitioners has been used to legitimize witchcraft, which is highly rooted in white supremacy culture. Witchcraft doesn't need to be rooted in history to be valid, and while modern witchcraft, including my own, incorporated historical folk practices, those folk practices were not originally described as witchcraft. In fact, folk practitioners would be appalled if you labeled their work as such. I am so thankful more and more occult authors are discussing the real history of modern witchcraft instead of acting like Robert Graves, among others, was telling the truth. They lied on purpose and we are still perpetuating those lies decades later when we don't have to. Because of this, Sebastiani makes a point to tell the reader that the contents of Alive With Spirits is therefore not based on some historical system, but instead on her own experiences. These experiences are valid and it's important we start recognizing that modern witchcraft really is all about experiences.

I could go on and on and on about Alive With Spirits. If you are interested in taking your practice to the next level, integrating spirit work into your practice, building community, and becoming a spiritual activist, this is the book for you. If you are reading my blog, this is the book for you. I don't care who you are, this is the book for you. When you get it, read it straight through, including the exercises, but don't do any of the work. Just read it. Let it marinate, then pick it up again, this time with the intent of taking her message to heart and engaging in the exercises. I promise you will not be disappointed.





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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Ginseng

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Ginseng

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Powers: Beauty, Health, Love, Lust, Protection, Wishes
Magical Uses and History: Ginseng comes in several varieties, including American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng). All varieties have been used in similar ways throughout history, but also have unique attributes depending on what type of ginseng you are using. 

The name ginseng is derived from the Chinese rénshēn or schinseng, which translates to "person plant root," which refers to the human-like shape of the roots that sports arm- and leg-like branches similar to that of mandrake. Because of its human-like qualities, ginseng has long been associated with magic and medicine, being used across multiple cultures all over the globe. One of the earliest records of ginseng can be found in Pharmacopoeia by Shen Nong. This Chinese text, which dates back to 169 AD, details the medicinal uses of ginseng in China, where it has been used for more than 2000 years. It is widely considered a cure-all, said to strengthen the body's five digestive organisms, remove bad energies, and calm the mind. In North America, American ginseng was used in similar ways by Indigenous tribes, with the root being used to make an eyewash by the Iroquois, steeped in water and drunk to alleviate sores, or pulverized and smoked to treat asthma. When ginseng first made its way to Europe, it was looked upon with disdain and fear, often confused with the toxic mandrake. It was banned for quite some time until it was reintroduced during the Renaissance through trade. Once it became widely accepted among European countries, the use of ginseng as a health aid spread. As such, ginseng can be used in healing and health spells, especially those for unknown ailments that afflict the body. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, ginseng is considered a cure-all as it is shaped like a man and, therefore able to aid in curing any ailment possessed by humans. Use the whole root to represent the sick person, add to healing sachets and bags, or burn as incense to promote health and wellbeing.

Despite its long history in medicine, ginseng is most commonly associated with love and lust, its warming properties attributing to increased blood flow, flushed skin, and sexual arousal. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng powder was used to treat erectile dysfunction and increase libido. Among the Meskwaki women of North America, ginseng was used to obtain and attract a husband when combined with mica, gelatin, and snake meat. The Pawnee also used ginseng as a love charm, while in the Penobscot tribe, ginseng was used to increase fertility in women. These practices were passed onto the colonists who arrived in the Americas and began creating their own aphrodisiacs. Some more common methods included adding ginseng to moonshine or mixing it with other herbs to make an infusion, while others called for ginseng to be soaked in Holy Oil which was then used to anoint male genitalia to increase sexual performance. Among practitioners of Hoodoo, ginseng root is often used to enhance male sexual prowess and to increase longevity. As such, ginseng can be used in spells for love and lust. Carry ginseng root to attract love, ensure sexual potency, enhance your beauty, or otherwise bring sexual desire. Burn ginseng powder to attract love, add to teas and potions to enhance libido or give to a lover to increase sexual desire or fertility. 

As Asian ginseng numbers dwindled due to high demand, harvesters switched to American ginseng. in the 1800s, the market for American ginseng boomed, driving prices through the roof. This increase in price associated ginseng with luck and wealth, and therefore can be used in spells for such purposes. Place ginseng in your purse or cash register to attract wealth or add to money drawing bowls or jars for the same purpose. In Hoodoo, the first dollar earned from a new business is wrapped around a ginseng root and tied with a red thread to ensure future financial success. Wishes can also be carved into ginseng root and tossed into a river to ensure your wish comes true. Due to overharvesting, American ginseng is now protected under CITIES, and harvesting is highly regulated to prevent future loss of the species, so be mindful if you are wildcrafting.

Ginseng can be used in a number of spells including:
    Love Spells
    Lust Magic
    Prosperity Magic
    Wealth Spells
    Glamour Magic
    Healing Spells

Medicinal Uses: Despite its long history of medicinal uses, ginseng has only been found to scientifically aid in certain ailments, certainly not all. American ginseng has been found to have anti-aging and anti-hyperglycemia effects in humans, while Asian ginseng has been found to increase blood flow and decrease fatigue. Some studies suggest both types of ginseng are anti-inflammatory as well as help stimulate the nervous and digestive systems, meaning it can be used to treat digestive issues, depression, and fatigue. While it has long been used as an aphrodisiac, studies show it has a mild effect, at best.

Preparation and Dosage: To create a decoction, combine 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginseng root with one cup of water and bring it to a boil. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. Ginseng root can also be chewed for the same purpose. As a tincture, take 200-400 milligrams by mouth twice daily.



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Magical and Medicinal Uses of Ginseng


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