Hello There

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Herbs and Remedies!

Tomorrow, I should be getting a HUGE order from Mountain Rose Herbs, my favourite herb supplier. I've got loads of essential oils, bulk herbs, waxes, and butters making up the order, so I'll be able to mix up various oils and ointments. Meanwhile, at home, I've been working on making a Mugwort infused oil; I cleaned and sterilized a Mason jar, filled it a quarter of the way with dried Mugwort, and topped it off with Sunflower oil. I put the jar in the window, and every day I've got to shake it thoroughly to mix the oil and plants together. In six weeks, I've have an infused oil that will be perfect for use in flying ointment, salves, anointing ritual tools, and the like.

Here's a pic of how it looks now. Sorry for the poor quality, I had to use my phone to take the pic. Hope everybody is well!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Magic of Wood

If I had one area in which I flatter myself to think I have some experience and knowledge, it would be in the magic of trees and woods. I've always loved trees, and as my Witchcraft practice has deepened, so have my feelings for and about them. There's little activity more enjoyable than a nice walk through a wooded area, and taking time to examine the various trees and other plants that make up the local flora and fauna. Of course, perhaps the best known use of trees in Witchcraft would be the creation of the magic wand from their branches, and it's this area in which I've had quite a bit of experience.

Traditionally, the wand has been made from the wood of a nut or fruit tree, which the belief (I'm assuming) that a tree which "gave forth" something would have the most efficacy as a magical tool. Hazel seems to have been the most common wood used, with Almond also mentioned, as well as Blackthorn and Hawthorn. Rowan is also a favoured choice, and in some cases Ash (which, though it doesn't give forth fruit, is well-known as the "World Tree" that lives in all three levels of existence.) I have experimented with all of these woods, and had varying levels of success with each. My own thoughts are as follows:

Hazel: This one comes up again and again as the "best" wand wood. As the tree of wisdom and knowledge, that certainly makes sense. In my own experience, it is indeed a powerful material to work with, but one with a certain "edge" to it. It's almost got a cold feeling; perhaps in the sense that the knowledge it provides is impartial, and may not be what you want or expect.

Rowan: Powerfully protective, it also has a "dreamy" feel and is known for the ability to enhance the psychic senses. In my own views, this would be a wise choice for benevolent, protective magic but not the best tool to use for offensive magic or blasting.

Hawthorn: The "thorn" in the well-known "Oak, Ash, and Thorn." Blackthorn's milder relative, this wood is one of my favourites, even though I've only recently begun to work with it. It's got an enchanting, inviting feel and works well with magic involving love. However, because of the heavy thorns, it's also got a powerful protective quality and, next to Hazel, would be a first choice for an all-purpose wand.

Blackthorn: Dense and extremely powerful, the most common choice for the famed "blasting rod." Some claim it has a negative or even evil aura, but this has not been my experience. Excellent for banishings, darker workings, but also for protection. Very difficult to get in the Americas.

Ash: A common tree, even in the South where I live, this is another of my favourites and was the wood my very first wand was made from. I've heard various attributes given to this tree, including that of protection from drowning, but in my own practice I've found that it would make both a fine all-purpose wand, and one that aids in shamanic work (because of its status as a tree of all worlds) and in protective charms.

There are many others, of course. I've used Oak with good results, though it's not one I commonly employ. Maple is common around me, and I've used that as well, but I don't find it has a particularly powerful energy. There are yet more I've yet to try, such as Elm, but which I plan on in the future. Part of my own search has been the question of whether or not to use woods that are "traditional" or woods that are local; for example, you'll not find a Hazel tree anywhere near me, but we DO have Ash and Hawthorn, so I wonder if the latter two might not be a best choice. At the moment, I am moving away from simply learning the properties of these woods, to being able to recognize all local trees by sight, and I expect that the study of these trees and others will be a work that I will continue for the rest of my life.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Magic of Night-Time Rambles

I'm fortunate enough to live on the border of a commercial/residential area that has lots of sidewalks and room to walk around. My apartment buildings are old (for Texas, anyway) having been built in the 40's, and are surrounded by a mixture of older homes, and newer apartments as well as a few miscellaneous structures. During the day, it looks like just another upper-middle class neighborhood (though we're incredibly blessed with an abundance of trees) but in the early evening, when the shadows lengthen and night falls, it becomes a whole other world, one that I've begun to explore.

I've always loved the night, and watching the Moon shining down from above, and can remember being a small child and feeling like a Witch every time I danced around under the stars. These evening strolls I've started taking reawaken that feeling of intense, spontaneous magic (a feeling I though I'd lost forever) as well as giving me a chance to practice identifying the various trees and plants I come across. On my street alone, I've identified Oak (both red and white,) Ash, Elm, Holly, Birch, Maple, and even something I suspected might be a Hawthorn. As I've posted about previously, I love the magic of woods and trees, and anything to do with the plant kingdom. Also, as the sun sets I can catch glimpses of various interesting animals and birds, setting off to do whatever it is they do in the dark. I've not seen any bats yet, but I know they have to be there, too; you can often see then flittering above the tops of trees if you look hard enough.

As the sun sets more, the entire scenery seems to change. My street is really quite dark, and the windows that have light behind them shine forth like beacons in the gathering blackness, leaving me to wonder what's going on behind their shuttered panes. Long shadows fall over the grass, and the trees begin to look like large black masses hovering overhead. I sort of get an eerie, otherworldly feeling that's not exactly frightening, but is very "Witchy" and leaves me with the impression that any number of odd, magical things might happen. As the stars come out, I stare up into the sky, past the tops of the tall trees, and imagine what it might be like to take flight (on a broomstick?) and sail high above the streets, looking down upon everything below me. When it becomes really pitch black, I head home, but the otherworldly feeling lingers with me for some time, and I often conclude by doing a work of magic or meditation.

This is one step of my plan to become less bookish and more spontaneous in my Witchcraft, and so far, so good. I sort of feel like I might have over-educated myself, from a magical theory perspective, and I want to regain some of that sense of wonder and freedom I had as a young, young Witch, before I had any books or tools or anything. Ideally, I would like to find a balance between following tradition, and using my own intuition, and spending more time "with the land" seems to be the most positive step I've taken in that direction in a long, long time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

First Sunflowers of the Year

Just thought I'd do a quick update and share this: my first sunflower of the year bloomed! The garden's doing quite well, actually, though the morning glories aren't growing quite as fast as I would like.

Here's a l'il pic, enjoy!