Monday, 31 May 2021

Today’s Card Reading

If projects and plans have come to a grinding halt, despite you trying to push them forwards, surrender. It’s ok to pause. In a world where we have only just started to make self-care a priority, we must embrace the idea that any kind of break can be positive. Stopping not only restores our physical and mental health, but gives us a chance to plan, observe, reflect, consider, and analyse. We can actually propel ourselves further by taking a step back. So if the universe is forcing you to stop, don’t fret it - you’ll be back on track soon enough and making headway. 

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Deck: The DruidCraft Tarot  

Oak Apple Day - 29th May

Oak Apple Day, Royal Oak Day, or Restoration Day, was a holiday in England on 29th May. It was also known as Shick Shack Day or Oak & Nettle Day. It commemorated the Restoration of Charles II in May 1660, with the 29th May being Charles II’s birthday. The name refers to the event during the English Civil War when Charles hid from the Roundheads in an oak tree during the Battle of Worcester, before being crowned King of Great Britain and Ireland.

As in many places, the people of Rutland and Leicestershire celebrated Oak Apple Day and observed it by wearing oak apples and oak leaves. Those that did not wear them were stung by nettles, or pinched on the bottom, by those who did! Wearing a sprig of oak showed that the person was loyal to the restored king. This day would also become known as Pinch-Bum-Day, and it is believed by some that the royal association conceals the pagan tradition of tree worship.

In Rutland and Leicestershire boughs of oak were placed over the doors of notable people and monarchists, and over the battlements of churches. Sadly these traditions are now largely discontinued in this area, although events still happen in the U.K. including at nearby All Saints Church in Northampton, where a garland of oak-apples is laid at Charles II's statue.

Stinging Nettle Crisps

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are one of the UK’s most abundant wild foods, and they grow absolutely everywhere, making them an easy forage. They’re extremely nutritious, they contain lots of Vitamin C, and they’re one of the richest sources of iron you can find in a plant or vegetable. They’re ten percent protein, which ~ apart from hemp ~ is more than any other vegetable.

Today I made some Stinging Nettle Crisps, the perfect accompaniment to a lunchtime sandwich, or a bowl of Nettle Soup.

🥣🥣 Stinging Nettle Crisps 🥣🥣

🌿 Using gloves and scissors snip the nettle leaves directly into a bowl or a carrier bag. We’re not washing these nettles, so they need to be clean and free from bird poo, bugs, dog excrement and other nasties. Pick from the top of large bushes and away from popular dog-walking routes.

🌿 Remove the leaves from any stalks. Arrange them on a baking sheet. Remember that the leaves still sting at this stage, so be careful!

🌿 Spritz lightly with oil, or use a pastry brush to apply a small layer of oil to the leaves.

🌿 Sprinkle over salt, pepper and chilli flakes (optional). You could probably get really inventive at this stage!

🌿 Place in the middle of the oven and cook at about 130c until they go crisp. You may want to turn them over during cooking.

Nettles are extremely delicious and there are lots of crisp recipes online, with various ingredients added, such as tahini, paprika or nutritional yeast.

Do you like nettles? What’s your favourite thing to do with them?

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Cleavers - Galium aparine

After chatting all things plant with @fentonsherbology at the beautiful @barnsdalegardens last weekend, I was inspired to catch the small period of sunshine we had yesterday, and put my boots on for a foraging trip.

I needed some nettles, some oak leaves for a small project, and some cleavers (Galium aparine).

Cleavers is an edible herb found in Europe, North America, Asia, Greenland, and Australia. Its tiny, prickly hairs give it a sticky feeling when you touch it, one that is not left on the fingertips.

It has an abundance of folk names. Known by my mum as sticky willy, and to me as sticky bob - it is also called goosegrass, hayriffe, hedgeriff, catchweed, scratwees, hitchhikers, barweed, bobby buttons, whippy sticks, Velcro plant, clivers, bedstraw, hayruff, sticky weed, mutton chops, sticky bud, sticky back, sticky Jack, sticky grass, grip grass, robin-run-the-hedge, everlasting friendship, robin-run-in-the-grass, loveman, and goosebill.

It is a valuable herb that is helpful for treating inflammation, disease of the urinary organs, scurvy, psoriasis, and skin diseases. It has a soothing effect and induces a quiet, restful sleep. Celtic folklore says that drinking a cleavers infusion for nine weeks would make you so beautiful that everyone would fall in love with you, and taking a bath infused with cleavers would make a woman successful in love. It has been used in the past to treat gonorrhoea, and as a hair tonic; it is said to help hair grow abundantly.

The plant is often infused in hot water and drunk as a tea, roughly 2-4 grams of the herb being infused to 60 to 120 milliliters of water is a good measurement, although I just grabbed a bunch and infused it. The infusion, hot or cold, is taken frequently, up to three times per day.

It is a powerful diuretic, so should be avoided when diabetes is present. Please check with a clinical herbalist before ingesting herbs of any kind.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Oak Galls

Galls are defined as a growth on a plant that are caused by another organism. In the case of the Oak marble gall (pictured) found on pedunculate oaks, they are caused by a tiny wasp, Andricus kollari, which measures about 1.5mm long.

Around May or June a sexual female lays her eggs in the developing buds of an oak tree, usually in an immature or unhealthy specimen. Chemicals from the adult and the developing wasps cause the formation of the gall.

Oak apple galls are caused by Biorhiza polliza, and oak knopper galls are caused by Andricus quercuscalicis; two other types of wasp, producing two other types of gall.

Until the early twentieth century, oak galls were used in the production of ink. The Book of Magical Charms, a handwritten manuscript written in England in the seventeenth century, containing numerous passages regarding charms for things such as healing toothache, was written in oak gall ink.

Oak galls could also be used for divination. Three galls were dropped into a basin of water to see if a child was bewitched. If they floated, the child wasn’t enchanted, but if they sank, the child was.

They were also used to predict the weather. If a maggot was found inside on St. Michaelmas Day (29th September) the weather ahead would be pleasant. If a spider was found, ruined crops, if a wasp was found, moderate weather, and if nothing was found serious disease would occur all year.

Oaks are associated with my home town. I’m going to buddy these galls with some peridot to make a necklace or bracelet.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Lyddington Bede House

One of the amazing places near me is Lyddington Bede House. I’ve been wanting to share this place with you all for a while as it has an amazing energy surrounding it.

It is set in the incredibly beautiful ironstone village of Lyddington, and was originally the wing of a palace belonging to the Bishops of Lincoln. By 1600 it had passed to Sir Thomas Cecil, son of Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister, who converted it into an almshouse.

This almshouse - also known as a bedehouse, poorhouse or hospital - was created for 12 poor ‘bedesmen’ over 30 years old, and two bedeswomen over 45 years old, “all free of lunacy, leprosy or the pox”. It served as an almshouse until 1930.

Almshouses were established from the 10th century in Britain as extensions of the church system, and were later adapted by local authorities. They were designed to provide residence for poor, old or distressed people, such as elderly widows who could no longer pay rent.

Bede is the Anglo-Saxon word for prayer, and the bedesmen and bedeswomen were obliged to pray for the founder of the almshouse. The oldest almshouse in existence is the Hospital of St. Cross in Winchester (1132), and the first recorded almshouse was established in York, by King Athelstan.

Do you have a place near you that gives you the chills (good or bad)?

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Fairy Rings

Fairy rings, are also known as elf circles, fairy circles, pixie rings or elf rings. They are detected by a ring of dark grass like the one in the picture; with mushrooms appearing in late summer to autumn. They grow up to 10m (33ft) in diameter, growing bigger as they get older, and some have grown as big as 365m (1200ft). They are best seen late summer to early autumn.

They are often found in forests, and there are two types of ring. Those found in forests are called ‘tethered’. They live symbiotically with trees, and those found in meadows or other places are called ‘free’ because they’re not connected with other organisms.

For thousands of years people of many cultures have regarded fairy rings with curiosity, awe, and fear; as a result they are the subject of folklore worldwide.

They have been the dwellings of witches, fairies, and elves. Many believe fairy rings are too dangerous to enter. I certainly won’t enter one! In English and Celtic folklore, fairy rings were caused by fairies or elves dancing in a circle.

Norman belief held that the beautiful appearance of fairies would be alluring to people, and if humans joined in the dance they would be punished by the fairies, and made to dance in the ring, unable to stop, until they passed out from exhaustion (or went mad). It is said that if you step inside a fairy ring you will become invisible, trapped there forever. People in Somerset called them “galley-traps” as late as the 20th century. They believed that when a man who had committed a crime passed through a fairy ring, he was doomed to hang within the year. Other folk tales warn of disease, bad luck, or an early death.

Austrian folklore implies that the rings have been burned in to the ground by the fiery tails of dragons. Dutch tradition states that the devil is to blame for creating a fairy ring; it’s somewhere to keep his milk churn. In German folklore fairy rings were once known as witches’ rings, and it was believed that they would dance there on Walpurgis Night.

Some cultures believe they are portals, sign of a fairy village underground, and good luck.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Midland Hawthorn

We’ve just been for a walk in a beautiful ancient woodland full of flowers and I spotted this hawthorn.

It’s a type of hawthorn called a Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), also known as Woodland hawthorn, which is a bit different to the Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Its leaves are more shallow lobed, and it has creamy-white to sometimes pinky-red flowers as opposed to the white flowers of the common hawthorn.

Midland hawthorns were actually more prevalent than the common hawthorn in the Middle Ages, but they are much harder to find now. They are native to western and central Europe, and they are most common in central - I’m guessing where the name comes from - and southern England, most notably in Leicestershire and Rutland. They grow in ancient woodland and love clay soil.

In the past the Midland hawthorn was incorrectly known as Crataegus oxyacantha, and in 1753 this name was used to cover several species of hawthorn. In 1775 the Midland and Common species were separated out, and in 1946 it was finally shown that a different plant was actually Crataegus oxyacantha. Because of the confusion, this name is still used occasionally for the Midland hawthorn.

Hawthorn has highly scented blossom, but when the flowers are cut they are said to have reminded medieval people of the Great Plague, such is their foul smell - but I have not tested this theory! Hawthorn was never taken inside the home, it was believed that illness and death would occur soon after.

In my family we don’t consider the summer having started until the hawthorn flowers; which has been really late (in our area) this year. Summer is finally here!

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Thor’s Hammer Home Protection

It’s Protection & Defence Month over at and this week’s prompt is “Home Protection”.

Displayed here is our Thor’s Hammer, created for us and given to us by a good friend. It was created with protection in mind, and it hangs in the entrance hall of our home. The famous weapon belonging to Thor was not only a symbol of destructive power, but also one of protection against the forces of evil and violence.

The reason we were given a hammer, and not a different protective symbol, is for several reasons. The friend who created it for us hails from Orkney, once a seat of great power in the Norse empire, and it reflects our time spent there, our residence in the Danelaw, plus our own Scandinavian heritage. It also nods to the fact that we have spent some time in the past as Viking reenactors.

Orkney remained part of a Scandinavian kingdom until 1468 when the islands were pawned to the Scottish Crown by Christian I of Denmark as a dowry for his daughter’s  marriage to James III of Scotland. If you ever get a chance to visit Orkney it has some amazing places - the Brough of Birsay, the Broch of Gurness, Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, and St Magnus Cathedral; the medieval cathedral at the heart of the Earldom of Orkney.

Until we get back to those shores, our hammer will keep us safe!

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Today’s Tarot Reading

When things haven’t turned out the way you expected it’s ok to be sad and disappointed. It’s ok to dwell for a bit while you reflect on what went wrong and how you could have done things differently, but then it’s time to move on! New opportunities will be waiting for you, so have a good cry, brush yourself down, and then move forwards.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Deck: The DruidCraft Tarot

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Today’s Tarot Reading

You may be at a crossroads right now, having to make a huge decision and not fully knowing which way to turn. It’s going to take a blend of intuition and intellect to arrive at the right conclusion. The only way to come up with the answer is to tune in to your Higher Self, and listen to your inner voice, and to take the path which feels most right. Everything will come together.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Deck: The Enchanted Forest Tarot 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Today’s Tarot Reading

Take time out from the hustle and bustle, and tune into the natural healing energies of the earth. Visit your favourite field, lake, meadow, mountain, forest or beach, or wherever you feel most at home within nature, and breathe in the fresh air. Allow the natural energies of the land attune your soul; making you ready to return to life with enthusiasm, vigour and clarity.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Deck: The DruidCraft Tarot 

Magickal Attitudes & Personal Protection

Personal Protection is the prompt for the first week of the Protection & Defence Month over at

We could discuss the many protective elements of witchcraft; such as crystals, spells, charms and candle colours, but I thought I would talk about something much more mundane, which I believe has a magickal power all of its own: attitude.

I believe that keeping your “vibe high” is a great protective shield against the negativity of others. Whilst it won’t protect you entirely from those who are truly intent on doing harm, I do believe it creates a useful and powerful buffer.

What do I mean by keeping your “vibe high” exactly?

For me this encompasses a lot of things. I believe in enjoying life, and being the best person you can be. I believe in accepting and loving yourself, warts and all, and trying to do better when you can. 
I believe in being grateful, humble and cheerful, and acting with honesty and integrity. I believe in being kind to others, and in championing others, especially those with shared passions and interests ~ there is room for everyone!
I believe in being careful with words ~ it’s called “spelling” for a reason! ~ and standing by promises. I don’t believe in spreading malicious gossip, and I believe in being prepared to say sorry if feelings have been hurt. I believe it’s ok to have boundaries, and it’s ok to distance yourself from people if necessary, and to say “no”.

When you know yourself, others come to know you. When you are comfortable in your own skin, and commit to a life of respect and joy, other people’s negativity is diminished, and simply unable to enter your soul, or that of others. When you are happy and build others up, they are happy too!

What you put out into the world comes back to you, and, if it is good, what you put out into the world protects you.