Hello There

My thoughts about Traditional Witchcraft, Wicca, cooking, gardening, and anything else that catches my fancy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Witch's Garden

The weather was nice-ish today, so I decided to do some more planting. Today, I got in some strawberries, some garlic, and some nice petunias. I picked up some black ones yesterday that are particularly interesting looking. I've got them in a hanging basket, but I need to pick up a stake to hang it on, so right now I've just got it sitting on the steps.

Here's my progress so far....

And here's a close-up of my flowers. I hope they take well and expand....

Now, also, I've got some seeds from Alchemy Works on order. If you don't know, Alchemy Works sells seeds, oils, and plants to Witches and other magical people. I ordered their "Astral" seed set, which has Mugwort, Vervain, Yarrow, and Cinquefoil. It's a grow-your-own flying ointment set, more or less, and should come in very handy. That is, IF I can get them to grow. The Texas heat and weather is very extreme, and I fear that they might not do well. I'll keep my fingers crossed, and post some pics of my progress.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Super Easy Sour Cream Chocolate Cake...AND Some News

Is there anything better than chocolate cake? Well, how about SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE CAKE! This recipe is one of my favourites, because it's super easy, only uses one bowl more or less, and the result is a very rich, moist, gooey cake with a nice "kick" to it courtesy of the sour cream. Unfortunately, this particular cake I made for a family member to give away, so I don't have pics of the finished product, but I'll make another one soon and post them then.

Preheat oven to 350, and grease and flour a 9X13 inch cake pan. You will need:

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups sour cream 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Add the softened butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream and beat for about 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed with spatula. The batter will be quite thick and sticky, similar to brownie batter. Scrape into pan and bake for between 40 and 45 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, you'll need:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 powdered sugar

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate chips over a low flame and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and beat in the sour cream and vanilla. Next, add UP TO 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar. The recipe calls for this much, but I find that much powdered sugar makes the frosting too "powdery" so I usually don't end up adding more than about 2 cups. Beat until light and fluffy. It should be sticky but spreadable.

I can't tell you how fast and easy this cake is, or how good. I love sour cream anything, and this is no exception.

In other news, I may have an opportunity to train with a long-established Witchcraft group in the near future. Nothing's definite yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed because it would be a rare, and amazing, opportunity. Here's hoping it goes well!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BTW Blog Help?

Maybe one of my lovely readers can help me with this: I started this thing AGES ago, and never had any intention of having many people read it. Now that it's becoming a bit more popular, though, I kind of wish I'd set up an e-mail account and domain name and all that just for this, to keep my usual one separate and private. Is there any easy to to transfer all what I have to another blog, without losing my followers, or would I just have to copy and paste and start over? I'd hate to lose my comments and time/date stamps and what not.

Any help? Thanks!

"Branching" Out

Those that know me know how much I love wood (!) of all kinds, especially as it pertains to the magical arts. I'm lucky in that the area I live in, though a large city, has lots and lots of trees and botanical gardens for me to enjoy and there are several large parks almost within walking distance. Be that as it may, when it comes to crafting magical tools, I am largely out of luck. Not only do I lack the skill (which I do, to be honest) but also, though trees abound, I cannot simply go up and chop a branch off one one of them to make a wand or staff. So, like many Witches, I buy most of my tools.

Now, before I get tarred and feathered, I will say this: I only buy custom-made, hand-crafted stuff. Maybe I don't actually make it, but I design it, more or less, so there's still something of "me" in it. Now, where all this is going is here: up until now, I've usually stuck with the "traditional" woods used for these purposes, but I feel like branching (ha!) out. The issue is, most of these traditional woods are English and do not grow in Texas, much less in Dallas. While we do have Ash, and Oak, we don't have Hazel, Rowan, Hawthorn, or any of the other commonly used wand/staff woods. Since the guys I order from have access to a large variety, I've been able to get these woods anyway; I have a Hazel wand, a Rowan wand, and a Blackthorn blasting rod. This is all well and good, but since much of Witchcraft is working with the land around you, it doesn't make sense to me that I would use tools made from things that only grow thousands of miles away. As such, I'm starting to want to use local trees or at least woods that are indigenous to my area.

Now, this is where the branching out pun came from. I'm going to have to experiment with the local woods and trees to find out what works for me, and what doesn't. There isn't as much lore on the Maple, for example, as for some of the other woods, and yet my street is literally lined with them. I read somewhere that the Maple tree is associated with the Great Horned Owl, which is a kind of totem of mine; the owl being a symbol of Magic, witches and wizards, secrets, and knowledge. I've also come to associated them with the Horned God, because like Him they change with the seasons and suffer a kind of "death" in the winter, only to be reborn again over, and over, and over in an endless cycle (the Maple can live a very, very long time.) So, Maple's a wood I'd like to work with in the near future. Likewise, the Oak is another one which is both traditional, AND local. I happened upon an Oak branch lying on the road the other day, while I was out on a walk. I picked it up and carried it home with me, and felt like it had a really good energy. So, I talked to one of my craftspeople, and had them make for me a wand of Red Oak, embellished with real silver and a Quartz crystal point. I just got it today and absolutely love it. It's got a very powerful, ancient feel to it, and a very masculine one. Here's what it looks like:

Yep, that's real silver grafted on there (not paint.) And here's a pic of the beautiful Quartz crystal point :

My worktable isn't at all messy, no sir.

Anyway, I'm hoping this kind of experimentation will be the start of a more self-sufficient me. Don't get me wrong, I try to walk the walk, but I think sometimes I rely too much on books and history, and not enough on my own intuition, when it comes to my practice. Now that the weather's nice, I hope to spend more time out in Nature and less time cooped up inside. My health was pretty bad this winter, but I tend to feel better in the warmer months and there's nothing I like better than gardening, so I hope that will give me the incentive I need to get out more.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crystals! And Some New Seeds

Yesterday, I went to my favourite gardening store (Nicholson Hardie) and bought some new crystals, as well as some seeds. Their crystal selection isn't the best but they are inexpensive and it's easy to buy a bunch of them.

A lot of Traditional Witches seem to have the strange idea that crystals are a "New Age fad" and have no place in Witchcraft, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, from ancient times various rocks and gems were used for their healing and other magical powers. Yes, a lot of New Age type people use them as well, but it doesn't mean they're not a valid, useful tool. I think it's important to not toss the baby out with the bathwater, and refuse to use entire areas of magical knowledge solely as part of some backlash against "fluffy" ideas.

Anyway, I picked up some Citrine, some Quartz, a Rose Quartz, a couple of Amethyst clusters, and some Green Citrine. Here's a pic, sorry for the poor quality, I had to use my cell phone.

I also picked up some seeds; Moonflowers, little Evening Sun mix Sunflowers, and some Catnip. Today, I'm going to head to the hardware store to pick up some pots and a trellis. It's a little too early right now to plant, but it should be safe enough in the next couple of weeks. Last year was my first garden, so this year I'm feeling a lot older and wiser.

I'll try to post pics of the rest of my crystal collection. Most of them are tumbled stones, but I'm always adding to it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Rant For Today

This isn't a very happy post, but it's something that's been on my mind now for a while and today, the subject came up on one of my online groups so I am posting my answer on here, too. Basically, we were talking about how a lot of wanna-be's and "neo Wiccan" Witches denied that curses ever happened or were used, and were incapable of recognizing and dealing with them. Even worse, I've been seeing a lot of odd comments on the web lately from people claiming that it was "bad" to do magic for "personal gain" and speaking as though this were somehow a Wiccan concept. It's not, it's from that awful TV show, "Charmed" but the fact that these people believed it only underscores how poorly educated in the magical arts and magical history many people claiming to be Witches or Wiccans these days really are. I think, if said people had even the most basic understanding of Witchcraft or any of the numerous other traditions like Hoodoo, Santeria, etc they wouldn't be able to make such ridiculous claims ever again.

Anyway, here's my post from the other group:

"You know, I hear the most horrible nonsense from the
Neo-Wiccans. Not once, but twice, in one week I saw somebody saying that "Oh,
witches don't do love magic because it's for personal gain." Another person
said "prosperity spells" were "bad" because they were for "personal gain."
Needless to say, I almost puked. In case you don't know, all that "personal
gain" stuff comes, not from Wicca (or ANY magical tradition) but from the cheesy
TV show, "Charmed." That's right, this person was lecturing other people on
"how to be a Witch" based on something they'd seen on a fictional TV show. Had
it just been once, it would have been bad enough, but I've seen it enough times
to realize that there are a lot of people running around out there who believe
"Wicca" is something they learned from Shannon Doherty.

Yes, Witches do love magic. Yes, Witches do prosperity spells. And yes,
Witches sometimes do hexes and curses. I've done them, most of us have done
them, and most of us will continue to do them. Now, that doesn't make one
"evil" necessarily; each time I've used a hex, it's been for a VERY good reason,
and was designed to teach a lesson or protect myself, and not to simply hurt
somebody for the sake of hurting (though there are people who will do this.)
However, if even nice Witches sometimes have to use the darker stuff, you can
bet there are mean, hateful people out there who use it for fun, and one does
have to be protected from them. Such people probably won't run around dripping
in pentacles and in black capes, and one might not even KNOW they're a Witch,
but they do exist.

Only in the shallow strands of Neo-Wicca are curses supposedly never used
(though that doesn't mean that they don't do them in secret.) Almost every
other magical tradition I know of, from Santeria to Brujeria to Trad Witchcraft
to Chaos Magic, uses negative magic. In Hoodoo, especially, there are loads of
spells to break up lovers, to control your partner, to cause bad things to
happen to other people, etc. Magical supplies for such spells are big sellers,
so clearly they're being used. Especially if one lives openly as a Witch or
other magical person, you may attract unwanted attention or jealously from other
practitioners, who might decide to "take you on" magically just to see if they
can. And of course, you might fall victim to a negative spell because somebody
wants your spouse, wants your job, or just plain doesn't life you.

I confess that I'm not as diligent as I should be in many areas; I don't
meditate enough, I don't know enough herbs/crystals by memory, I don't write
enough in my magical workbook. One area in which I DO pay attention, though, is
magical protection. Jason Miller has written a book called "Protection and
Reversal Magic" which I highly recommend; it's got protections and spells
against EVERYTHING. Much of it seems to draw from Ceremonial Magic and Hoodoo
traditions, but it's an invaluable resource, especially the parts that tell you
what to look for and how to tell when you're being attacked. The checklist of
symptoms he listed helped me discover that I was under the influence
of.....something negative, whether through my own mistake or through somebody
else. I did manage to break the situation, but it was difficult. "

If I sound more than a little angry, it's because I am. You know, I'm pretty open about my beliefs which, to me, are serious. Not to say that I don't have fun with them, or that I don't enjoy them: I do. However, it's upsetting to me that the public perception of "Witches" now seems to be that they're basically weak, lovey-dovey creatures who never hurt anybody, defend themselves in any way, or use their powers for anything other than "healing people." As I mentioned before, I think a lot of the problem comes from people carrying over Christian concepts with them; they still cling to the whole "self denial is good, sex is bad, turn the other cheek, etc" nonsense of their previous religion. The problem is, none of these ideas has anything to do with Witchcraft or even Wicca. The word "Witch" is being castrated. I think unless people start to learn more about the ACTUAL history of Witchcraft (and not what they see on bad TV shows) and about the real practices of established magical systems, we're going to end up with "Witchcraft" being just another form of dopey self-help practices.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Warmer Weather and Gardening Dreams

Only in Texas! Last week, we had a terrible ice storm and the temperatures at night dipped down to around 8 degrees fahrenheit. Today, the high reached around 80 degrees, and it was very warm and humid. Quite a drastic change!

Lots of new to report. First and foremost, I got very good news yesterday. My health isn't very good, and I get benefits because I'm unable to work much. Anyway, all was well (so I thought) until December, when they started sending me letters saying there was some mistake, a problem, and that I never should have gotten any of the benefits I got. Needless to say, this terrified me (it would be a LOT of money to pay back, and I depend on these benefits to get by) and I knew it didn't sound right. It took a couple of months, but I did end up getting everything sorted out. I was in the right, and prevailed. Good news, but it was all very stressful and tiring.

Also, it's getting close to time for me to start to work on my container garden. I live in an apartment, so I don't have much ground to work with (though I am allowed to plan a few flowers along the border of my steps) but I manage to get by well enough with pots of things. Last year was the first year I ever tried to grow anything, and it quickly became an absorbing hobby. This year, I'm wiser and more experienced, so I'm hoping my herbs and such will do even better than they did last year. I also learned that, when you have a small space, it's better to plant dwarf sunflowers instead of full size ones. I'm going to be growing a lot of herbs, both for magical AND for medical/culinary use, and also hopefully will learn more about drying and storing them myself.

I'll post pics once I get all my pots done and my soil sorted out (it's too early to plant still) but in the meantime, here's some pics from last year.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Pagan Survey!

I got this one from the delightful man over at Twisting Ways. It's a little similar to one I did a while back, but considerably more serious and deep. Hope you enjoy!

Please describe briefly your Path:

Oh, I don't know how to do so briefly. I've always knows I was a Witch, even as a small child (despite being told by my parents that there were no witches, and ESPECIALLY not any witches that were boys.) I started making up spells and rituals as soon as I could write, and I well remember running around with a broomstick and lighting candles in the secrecy of my playhouse. When I was around 10, though, I saw a newspaper article about Wicca and thought "Ah ha! I KNEW IT! There are witches, and they aren't evil or crazy!" A few years later, I bought my first book about Witchcraft from the book store and the rest was history.

I've gone from practicing a form of Wicca (which is how we all start out) to doing a rather Hoodoo flavoured system, to my current status of what I just call "Witch." I do believe in Gods, but I try to avoid an overly ritualistic style of practice. Magically, I do a lot of candle work and some herbal/crystal work as well. I guess if you had to put a name on what I do, it would be called Traditional Witchcraft.

Please describe briefly how you practice it:

Hmmm. At least once a day, I try to spend a few minutes in silence to focus on developing my abilities. I also burn candles on my altar daily, and try to spend a few minutes in petition to the Gods. Most of my time is probably spent reading and studying, which isn't always a good thing. I use an altar, and some pretty traditional tools, but I work alone and don't do big holiday celebrations.

When did you first commit to your Path?

About 15-16 years, though not all of them active.

How is your practice different now than it was then?

When I first started, I literally made everything up. Then I discovered the Wicca books that were really big, then, and started working with those. After that, I sort of did my own thing for years (being disillusioned with what I'd found in the Pagan world) until I discovered Traditional Witchcraft and became actively involved once more.

Is your practice different today than how you thought it would be back then?


Does your Path and core belief system differ now than how it was when you first started?


What is your heritage and how does this inform your Path?

I have a Germanic background, which really doesn't play any part in my path. I don't know much about German Witchcraft, and what I've seen of modern German practices doesn't interest me much.

What are your main influences for your Path?

Probably, the person who influences me most would be Doreen Valiente. There are Witches who call themselves Gardnerians; I would say I'm almost a Valientean. I absolutely love her no-nonsense approach to Witchcraft, and her books are a breath of fresh air in a sometimes rather stuffy occult world. It's too bad she's no longer with us. I also quite like Scott Cunningham (who does NOT deserve the bad reputation he's gotten) Nigel Jackson, Nigel Pearson, and Laurie Cabot

Which do you do more: practice or research?

I would say it's about 50/50. I think I do too much reading and not enough actual work. I can tell you how to do lots and lots of things, but it doesn't mean I've done them.

Do you feel that one is more important than the other?

I'd say both are about equal. One doesn't want to rush in to something that they don't know how to control, but neither does it do to sit in a chair and do nothing but read.

What values and ethics are important on your Path and in your practice?

I would say my own ethics are "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you....until they give you reason not to. Then, all bets are off." I think one of the worst bits of nonsense rampant in the Pagan world today is the "turn the other cheek" drivel people carry over from Christianity. Oh, they might call it something else ("karma" and "rule of three" sound familiar?) but it's the same thing. There is nothing good or holy about being injured or harmed by violent, evil people and there is nothing wrong in using magic to protect yourself from said people. I also think you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people.

What sort of cycles do you feel your practice goes through?

Lots and lots of prep work, then some really heavy workings. Then back around.

What is one of the greatest obstacles or struggles you have had to over come?

Overcoming fear, and dealing with difficult people

How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?

Hopefully, I’ll be settled into a standard practice, be working with other people, and do much more ritual and much less reading though of course education will always be important.

How do you incorporate your practice into your life?

I try to do it always. You know, I don’t put my Witch self on a shelf somewhere to be taken down for special occasions; it’s something I always am, and always have with me. I would say it colours almost all of my perceptions and realities.

Has walking your Path changed you as a person?

Yes, I am much more confident but also a lot more lonely, for some reason.

Do you consider yourself to be a priest/ess? How so?

I don’t know. I think I could perform priestly functions, but not in the sense that I’m “Lord Pentacleshadowdragon” or any other such nonsense. I do consider my practice as both a religion AND a philosophy.

A witch? How so?

Yes, I do. I think I was born to be one. You know, before I ever knew that other witches actually existed, I was working spells and even saying prayers to the Moon, so I would say that it was my destiny. Not because I’m powerful or better than others (and Lord knows, I’m not) but just because I’m well suited to it.

A shaman? How so?

No, I wouldn’t use this term (it’s been dreadfully misused by a lot of “Plastic Shamans” and people who appropriate Native American culture) because I haven’t done a lot of spirit work.

Which matters more: getting the vocabulary right or the actual practice of what we are trying to define?

The actual practice

One of the most profound things anyone ever said to you was:

I am not going to share that here

A defining moment on your Path was:

The first time I ever did a spell, and got what I call the “magical shivers” which felt like a surge of power going “through” me. It was scary but amazing.

Have you ever taken a “leap of faith”?


Please tell us something stupid, reckless or embarrassing you did once in your practice:

Lots of things. I’ve accidentally attracted a rather unpleasant….something once that was hard to get rid of. I’ve cursed myself through negative thinking, and had to have somebody else take it off. I’ve tried to help people using magic, only to have them laugh at me….it goes on and on

What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?

Like everybody, I always have the thought in the back of my head, “Why am I dancing around in a circle waving a knife? Why can’t I be at the bar like normal people?” These thoughts tend to be fleeting, though. Also, I move in a decidedly non-magic circle, and while my friends haven’t abandoned me because of my practice, they definitely think I’m a little crazy.

Have you ever been frightened?

Yes, of course

Can you perform ritual without a script?

Yes but I prefer to have it written down, to prevent any mistakes

Have you ever preformed spontaneous magick/spellcraft?

Yes, and sometimes they’ve been the most effective

What are you still exploring or experimenting with?

Right now, I’m trying to explore divination in more depth, and have felt a great call from the Horned God to explore more deeply the male mysteries. My permanent interests are in the areas of the magic of woods and plants, and crystals.

What (or whom) are you the most committed to in your practice and on your Path?

Right now, I’m really exploring the Horned God and the various gay and transgendered manifestations of Divinity.

Ritual tools are …

Helpful, but not always necessary. I’ve gotten by with an old garden broom, a cauldron from a yard sale, and a branch I cut from a Myrtle bush for a wand, and I could do so again. I’m kind of a tool junkie, to be honest, and have more wands than I have room for. I do use them ALL, though, so they’re not wasted.

Magickal tools are …

What’s the difference between Ritual and Magical?

The one thing you can’t do without is:

My imagination. With it, I can fly wherever I want and escape even the worst situation

Seeking personal power is …

Just fine. Can you believe, somebody the other day (two people, in fact, on different sites) actually said you “shouldn’t do love magic” because it was for “PERSONAL GAIN!!?” YACK! I had to explain to them, that “personal gain” BS was from that campy TV show, Charmed, and not part of real life. There’s nothing wrong with being happy, prosperous, and with a good romantic partner or partners. All that “Go without/suffering is good/don’t seek for yourself” is yet more Christian nonsense; see my ethics section

Politics and you Path are …

Well, I’m relatively liberal in some areas, and conservative in others, so I don’t follow the usual straight Democrat Pagan thing.

One thing you wish people would understand about your Path and/or practice is:

It’s the real deal; Witchcraft isn’t really something for dorky Goth teenagers, or man-hating women, no matter what the media says. It’s not a passing fad, and it’s done wonders for my self esteem and overall health. I’m also known as somebody who’s really into science and humanism, and I don’t understand why my friends think, if I’m usually so down to Earth, that I must be off track here.

Do you teach?

No, though I would if I could. I’ve got a fair amount of experience, and of course the teacher can always learn from the student as well.

What do you feel is the role of clergy in modern Paganism and Heathenism?

It varies. I think we’ll always have “elders” or people who devote their lives to the leading of rituals and life’s passages. I suppose they’re our clergy, and our teachers. I don’t like the idea of Pagan “churches” though, because it sounds too much like we’re trying to be “Christianity II.” I saw some woman on TV, running around in a priest’s collar and claiming to be “Wiccan.” I thought it was foolish and degrading to Paganism.

When the Veil (or Hedge!) is thin, how does that feel to you?

As though I were looking at the world through a shimmering curtain, or as though the air were super-charged with electricity

What entities do you work with most? (ancestors, gods, fae etc)

I’ve done some spirit work, and have felt, at times, various Land deities and powers

What is your relationship with the Land?

Sadly, strained. I live in a big city, and while I do garden, it’s a container garden on my porch. Not many parks here, at least ones without loads of screaming people in them. I really need to get out into Nature more

The most important aspect of ritual is:

Focus and concentration. And intent

The main purpose of ritual is:

To celebrate and commune with the Other World, and one’s inner planes

What is the purpose of divination/dowsing (or whichever for of augury you use)?

To see the most likely outcome of a given path, and to explore what might the wisest of several choices

What was the most difficult book you ever read? (Either difficult to understand or hard to face what it said or both)

Oh, what can say? I tried to read one Pagan book (which shall remain nameless) which was really bad, that I never finished (which is extremely rare.)

What book do you recommend the most to others?

“The Rebirth of Witchcraft” by Doreen Valiente. Well, anything by her

What is you favourite podcast (if any) and favourite blog (other than your own)?

I love “The Unnamed Path”podcast, which explores Paganism in the context of a “men who love men” (gay) format. For blogs, I love “http://witchofforestgrove.com/">The Witch of Forest Grove” and http://octoberfarm.blogspot.com/">October Farm“.”

If you could impart only one last piece of wisdom or knowledge, or share one experience with the world at large, what would it be?

LIVE! Not tomorrow, not later, today. Don’t worry about what other people think. Be happy!

Please finish this meme with a picture, image or photograph of some sort:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Bad Weather, And My New Book of Shadows Plan

Well, just when we thought it was over, more snow and ice came through. I had to be at work very early on Wednesday morning, around 5am. When I got there, there was just a little bit of ice on the windows. By the time I left, there was high winds, driving sleet, and ice on everything. Visibility, and the road itself, was very poor and I was worried about making it home ok. I took some of these pics to show off the ice; very rare for Texas!

Oddly enough, it was over and done with by around 11. While it stayed very cold (and it still is!) the sun came out, and the concrete was warm enough that much of the ice melted. There are still some slippery spots, though, and it's only about 22 degrees out right now While I'm happy we got some cold (without at least a few very cold snaps, the bugs would be AWFUL come Spring and Summer) I am definitely ready for it to be over with. Ice, damp, etc are hard on me (I've got some chronic pain issues) and I can't wait until Spring when I can start to plant my seeds and work on my container garden.

In other news, I am just about read to order my custom Book of Shadows* from my online pal, Jack Copal, in Scotland. It's going to be hand-made from velvet and leather and all kinds of good stuff, and I can't wait! I've been using loose leaf paper and a binder for a long time, now, and I'm ready to get something permanent and attractive. I've spent a lot of time designing it, because I wanted to be sure I got something that looked Earthy and friendly, and not dark or scary.

Hope everybody's well!

* Why do I call it a "Book of Shadows" when I'm not a Wiccan per se? Well, it's just an easy term to use, and a term I like. I tried calling it a "grimoire" but that made it sound like a book of Ceremonial Magic, which it most certainly is not. "Recipe book" sounds like it would be full of cakes and pies, and "book" just sounds bland. "Spellbook" doesn't work for me, so "Book of Shadows" it is. I believe Doreen Valiente used the term even after she'd left Wicca, so if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Keeping It Simple

I'm still iced in, so I've got the writing bug and feel like discussing another topic that's been on my mind a lot here recently: keeping it simple in Witchcraft. Too often, I think, people get carried away with overly elaborate rituals, or bogged down in the use of too many tools. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my tools (I'm kind of a wand junkie, and I've got a big collection of all kinds of things) but most of them aren't strictly necessary. As long as you have the basics, I think you can maintain a perfectly successful practice.

I view the magical side of Witchcraft as being rather like baking. Having a lot of fancy, specialized equiptment might be nice, but you can still do a great job without it, and of course we've all got our favourite items we like to use. For me, I use a wand, a pentacle, two candles, and my cauldron/incense burner in almost all of my workings, and these would be the items I would consider essential for me. Closely following that would be my magical knife (I need a new one, I hate the one I have) and my broom. My wands I had custom made, but even these usually cost no more than 20-40 dollars. My broom I got online from a craftstman for not too much, but you could just as easily find one at a craft store or even use one from the hardware store (I would find one with natural bristles; they've got some eco-friendly ones now that would be perfect) and candles can be found for very little, though I prefer beeswax which is more costly. My pentacle is made of wood, and anybody handy with a woodburning pen could make one for very little.

Herbs are also commonly used, and these can be had for very little. For these, I try to buy all organic, sustainably harvested plants and from reliable sources. In general, I try to avoid "magical supply" shops for these, preferring to order from companies that sell herbs to be used for cooking and medical purposes. I just find that the quality is better, and this is really important if the herbs are to be used internally. Mason jars make a great way to store herbs, they're inexpensive and keep the herbs fresh as well.

For the most part, I think of what we do as "low magic," meaning folk magic, the magic of the people. It's important to keep things practical, and not get too carried away with elaborate rituals. Above all, magic should be HELPFUL: to help heal the sick, bring love, drive away evil, and the like. Obviously, one needs to be ready at a moment's notice because you never know when you'll be called on to use your skills. If you need to spend days of preparation, use 72 different ritual tools, and wear elaborate gowns, well, you're not going to be very useful. All the more reason to find what works, to focus on the basics, and to remember that most of the power comes from WITHIN, with the aid of external sources, and not entirely from those sources themselves.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Iced In!

Yesterday, it was 75 degrees. Right now, it's 20! The news kept saying we were going to get severe winter weather, but they always say that and it never happens. Not so today. Wouldn't you know, I had to be up at 4am for work and found that there was a howling ice storm going on outside. I knew I shouldn't get out in it, but I didn't have a choice. We had to shut down and go home early because of the weather, but I ran to the store first (it's right next to where I work) and picked up some soups and cheeses.

I'm actually taking care of a house while somebody is away, and it's at the top of a hill with a very steep driveway. When I got back after the store, the car wouldn't go up the driveway because it was too slippery, so I had to park on the street and battle my way up there. To go back down to get the rest of the groceries, I had to sit on my rump and slide down the hill! At the time, though, there was still some crunchy sleet with a little bit of traction. NOW, it's frozen solid and the entire world, as far as I can see, is one bit sheet of shiny, slippery ice.

I'm literally trapped inside. I don't dare slide down the hill again because I don't think I could get back up. I have food and tea and snacks, but I'm guessing it's going to get boring stuck in one house like this. I'll post some pics to show y'all what it looks like outside. Sorry about the quality; they're from my phone, and one I had to take through a window screen.