Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Jacob’s Well

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1UlUpYIhAwyxq-IHq2AP5qvDx7s-XvKP6

I noticed this stone structure as we drove through the nearby village of Greetham, so we stopped to take a look. It’s called Jacob’s Well and was built in 1850, in the gothic architecture style of the day.

Jacob’s Well provided clean drinking water to villagers as part of a national public health initiative following cholera outbreaks in the 1840s. The water comes from a natural spring nearby. Originally the water gushed from the lion’s head, and in later years it came from a tap. The villagers would collect the water in buckets. 

The inscription reads:

“All ye who hither come to drink,
Rest not your thoughts below, 
Remember Jacob’s Well and think,
Whence ‘living waters’ flow.” 

An interesting thing to note is that “Jacob’s Well” is spelt without a possessive apostrophe. According to the information sign next to the well, stonemasons rarely used them. 

Sadly, there isn’t any more information to find on Jacob’s Well, but I can’t help but think back to the people of the 1840s and 1850s, whose lives started to become a lot easier and safer as a result of the introduction of The Public Health Act of 1848.

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Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Grave & Graveyard Dirt

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Yw7mexY--9APsDpWIipE2jv7xC8qD8Po

Grave dirt, or graveyard dirt, is sometimes used in Witchcraft. It is considered that there is a strong magickal connection between a deceased person and the dirt from their grave. It can be used in spells relating to family matters, love, healing and grief; or it may be that dirt from the burial of a wicked person may be used in malevolent magick. Either way, graveyard dirt is used by many Witches.

Amongst other things, grave dirt is used for:

๐Ÿ’€ Samhain rituals
๐Ÿ’€ Protection spells
๐Ÿ’€ Communicating with spirits
๐Ÿ’€ Altar item during mourning
๐Ÿ’€ Banishing
๐Ÿ’€ Habit-breaking spells
๐Ÿ’€ Curses
๐Ÿ’€ Ancestor Connection and veneration
๐Ÿ’€ Summoning spirits

Taking and using grave dirt is a highly contentious issue. Many people find it disrespectful to take land from those who are trying to rest; however a work-around could be not taking it from specific graves. The dirt I have gathered is the dirt removed from grave digging - not all of it goes back, and is left in a pile; but it still holds the energy of this land, which for hundreds of years has been used for funerary purposes.

Gathering dirt from the grave of someone you know is usually preferable, and feels much more acceptable than taking from the grave of someone you don’t know; but this, like many other aspects of Witchcraft, is a matter of personal ethics; and not one I should lecture you on.

The character of the person who is buried in the grave may be crucial to your work; it might even be that they would have enjoyed being part of your workings. I suspect my grandmother would have taken a very keen interest in some of my spells!

Of course, it is always thoughtful and fair to leave a gift for the dead in exchange for what you have taken. Flowers, a libation, small coins, pretty stones or some other small offering is appropriate.

Do you use Graveyard Dirt in your practice? What do you think about it?

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The Cemetery Witch YouTube Channel

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1CsrPWvKJbuamSItRDxErU0TIm3uGplZ-

I hope you’re all having a beautiful week so far. ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿž✨๐ŸŒป

I’m taking a little break to update my apps and devices. I’ll be back shortly, but in the meantime let me tell you about my YouTube channel. ๐Ÿ“บ

๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿผ The Cemetery Witch ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿผ

I started it some years ago but never did much with it. It was a huge step out of my comfort zone, and still is! (I’m so nervous even just publishing this post ๐Ÿ™ˆ). Well, I’ve started uploading to it again. ๐ŸŽฅ

I’m hoping that as well as sharing my thoughts and feelings with you, it’s going to be good exercise for my brain, as I really struggle with my my cognitive function, especially my memory and word finding. It’s quite different to writing static posts, where I have time to think. This is quite a big challenge for me and my brain, so please be gentle! ๐Ÿง 

At the very minimum, I’m hoping to get an episode of The Witching Week out every Friday, where I take a look at what's been happening over the past week, and pull some tarot cards for the days ahead. I’ve also got loads of Witchcraft related topics I’d like to talk about. ๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️

Let me know in the comments if there is a specific topic you’d like me to cover.๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ At some point I’m going to do an “Ask Me Anything” which should be fun!

I’d really love it if you’d join me on this new adventure. Any subscribes, likes, shares and comments will be much appreciated, as they are here. ♥️

Enjoy your week everyone! ๐Ÿ‘ป

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Thursday, 14 July 2022

The Lord’s Prayer

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1AsPnPttSQtIKdjbciSe926aUWMlkbA49

Just recently I discovered The Lord’s Prayer translated directly from Aramaic to English, rather than from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English. It’s quite an eye opener… ♥️

“O cosmic birther of all radiance and vibration, soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your presence can abide. Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission. Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire. Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish. Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes. Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment. For you are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth, power, and fulfilment, as all is gathered and made whole once again. And so it is.”

A Loving Bell Spell by Scott Cunningham

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1SCvy5xYfwcNbZGNN7o8Fq4wPjxy8VYPZ

Air is crucial to our planet, and all that reside or grow upon it. Consequently, air has been used in magick for eons. Air can be warming, cooling, refreshing, restorative and energising. It can be used to call in a storm, to blow away a storm, for divination and protection. Air is as unpredictable as it is powerful.

The winds of the four compass points bring their own magickal correspondences. For example an easterly wind can help in matters of communication, intellect and mental power. A wind from the west can be used for handling emotions, or matters of the heart.

When using air magick it is helpful to remember that the name of a wind refers to the direction it has travelled from. The following spell is ideally performed using a West Wind; a wind that has come from the West.

✨๐Ÿ”” A LOVING BELL (West Wind)๐Ÿ””✨

~ Taken from Scott Cunningham’s Earth Power.

๐Ÿ”” Hang up a bell with a pleasant ring in a window which remains open for a good part of each day, and through which the wind blows (West Wind where possible). 

๐Ÿ”” As you hang the bell speak these words:
“Little bell,of love, I hang you to whisper my need for love on the breezes and winds.
Little bell of love, speak of my need for love to your brothers and sisters.
Little bell of love, I ask you to speak softly and draw to me someone who listens.”

๐Ÿ”” Every time the bell rings it is ‘whispering’ of your need for love. Brothers and sisters is a reference to other bells, which will add their own power to the spell.

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Sunday, 3 July 2022

Sacred Cycles

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=16RNQ5uZm4uk3f6HxeVHvkUr1ea6pVSkH

I’m really grateful to have been sent this Sacred Cycles Journal created by Jill Pyle, founder of @goddessprovisions, Em Dewey @gardenofthemoon, Cidney Bachert @cidney.elizabeth and illustrated by Jessie White @seedsofspells. Published by @hayhouseinc (thank you! ❤️)

It works alongside the Sacred Cycles Deck, and is all about the tracking and honouring of your menstrual cycle, but you could easily use it without the cards.

There is information on your sacred cycle, poems and blessings, card spreads, crafting, mantras, cycle celebrations, journal prompts and pages, EVERYTHING you need to honour your body and its amazing cycle.

There is a list of new and full moons for 2022 and 2023, which is really helpful, and the illustrations are beautiful.

With all that’s going on in the world right now it’s even more important that we honour and celebrate our sacredness. It’s particularly perfect for those interested in the seasons and Earth energy.

I can’t wait to get started, thank you ladies!

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Sheela-na-Gigs

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1i5UbgbWeM7gLK4s3PeuJTXAPnLkrnW3r

Here is our beautiful local Sheela-na-Gig.

Sheela-na-Gigs are architectural grotesques that depict a woman showing an exaggerated vulva. They are found throughout most of Europe, and first appeared between the 11th and 15th Century, depending on location.

They are common in Ireland, Britain, France and Spain, with Ireland having the highest concentration of surviving Sheela-na-Gigs. It is believed that there were over 140 Sheela-na-Gigs in Britain and Ireland, with about 80 still in their original locations, including this one.

They may have represented fertility figures, or been used to ward off death, evil, and demons. A popular hypothesis is that they represented a pagan goddess, but the situation is complex, with multiple interpretations.

Some suggest that they were used as ‘birthing stones’, and there is some folkloric evidence to suggest that they were loaned to labouring women. Another theory suggests that they warned against lust and ‘sins of the flesh’. What we do know is that scholars generally disagree on the origins and uses of these figures.

The villagers here can’t have liked her very much. She was found around 1920, upside down, being used as a step into the church, hidden from view. She is now around the back of the church, being battered by the elements, but at least she is now uncovered.

I like to place flowers by her at Beltane., I feel she should be honoured, as should fertility, life, female sexual energy, and women everywhere.

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June’s Goddess Provisions Box

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1n2Z4Cz-9mgEEPkNi0mymJMCq-ODFSHLe

Take a look at last month’s incredible Goddess Provisions Box “Solar Energy” - fit for a Summer Solstice Queen. ๐ŸŒž๐Ÿ’…๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‘

This box turned up after the cut-off point for ordering BUT @goddessprovisions are now taking orders for their July “Luminous Light” box, which looks beautiful!

In this box I received:

๐ŸŒž Atma Botรขnica Sun Shower Steamer
Let me tell you; this stuff smells AMAZING ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ๐ŸŒž✨ @atmabotanica

๐ŸŒž Tarot Sun Pendant Necklace
I’m definitely wearing this later and tomorrow!

๐ŸŒž Apothรฉkary Co. Blue Me Away Superfood Blend Packets
These blue matcha and Siberian Ginseng are supposed to be good for cognitive boosting and mental clarity, EXACTLY what I need right now. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ @apothekaryco

๐ŸŒž Solar Radiance Bookmark
Perfect for all the witchy books I have coming up to show you. ๐Ÿ“š

๐ŸŒž Golden Ray Spoon
Perfect for measuring herbs for tea or spells. ✨

๐ŸŒž Earth Harbor Sunstone Hair Elixir
Contains seaweed, coconut, jasmine, calendula, carrot and jojoba oils. I can’t wait to get this on my hair! @earthharbor 

๐ŸŒž Prehnite Crystal
This water-safe stone is perfect for aligning those heart and solar plexus chakras.

๐ŸŒž Radiate Your Light Postcard
This is a run-down of everything in the box plus discount codes, Moon Wisdom Club etc. I actually look forward to this part of the box as much as anything else. These postcard-sized works of art can be framed and displayed. Art by @creativewannabe_ Jay Kay. ๐Ÿ’›

I feel like these already-generous boxes are that little bit more special around the sabbats. Thank you @goddessprovisions for your incredible work and for sending me this beautiful box.

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Using Dried Lavender

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1HtgGFDLGm-0i4EzzruyZIJCXT3F_aGcl

Lavender is an extremely versatile herb. Like lavender essential oil, there are many uses for dried lavender, here are just a few:

๐Ÿ’œ Sprinkle over floors before sweeping/vacuuming. Your vacuum bag and/or bin will smell lovely! 
๐Ÿ’œ Use as an insect/moth/silverfish repellent in wardrobes and cupboards. Hang lavender bags or make a pomander.
๐Ÿ’œ Add to letters and cards for a scented surprise. 
๐Ÿ’œ Create scented candles by adding dried lavender and some essential oil to heated wax.
๐Ÿ’œ Add to other dried herbs plus some frankincense and myrrh to create incense.
๐Ÿ’œ Make Lavender bath salts. Add 1/4 cup dried lavender to 1 1/4 cups of Epsom Salts, and a few drops of essential oil. Combine and store in a tightly closed jar. Pour into a muslin bag before adding to bath. Keeps 6-9 months in a cool, dark place.
๐Ÿ’œ Make lavender bags. Place in drawers to keep clothes fresh or by your pillow as a sleep aid. Squeeze the bag regularly to refresh the scent.
๐Ÿ’œ Lavender bags make great wedding favours. You can coordinate the bag material with your theme. 
๐Ÿ’œ Lavender bags also make great car air fresheners.
๐Ÿ’œ Add culinary grade dried lavender to your favourite drinks to add a floral flavour. Add to green tea or floral gins. 
๐Ÿ’œ Add culinary grade dried lavender to salads, cakes and chocolate.
๐Ÿ’œ Use in place of rice or paper as wedding confetti. Fragrant, a pretty colour, biodegradable, and perfect to take to a wedding if you’re not sure on the venue rules. Create confetti cones and leave in a basket for your guests on your big day. 
๐Ÿ’œ Make lavender infused oil, perfect for restless legs, dry scalps, and itchy bites. Fill a jar half way with dried lavender. Cover with a carrier oil (I recommend Grapeseed). Cap and store somewhere cool for 4-6 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain, and use within 9 months to a year.
๐Ÿ’œ Use lavender oil made from dried lavender to create balms and salves.
๐Ÿ’œ Use lavender on stalks for smudge sticks, or loose with other herbs to create incense.

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The Ring Stone, Avebury

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1k4JhkX4jx-vaqGO8JRg2pGU6N_z5pneW

This is the Ring Stone found within Avebury Stone Circle. Hundreds of handfastings have been carried out here over the years, including my own, conducted by the great, late Terry Dobney; the Arch Druid and Keeper of the Stones, my beautiful friend.

Even though it works perfectly as an altar during handfastings, it is not called the Ring Stone because of these unions. Terry told me that it was originally one of the tall megaliths that formed the circle, and would have had a hole in it, giving it its name. There is also an interesting, albeit sad, story about how it came to be a smaller rock.

Avebury is part of a set of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites, and the recumbent Ring Stone had come to be used for pagan wedding and fertility ceremonies until it was smashed by a church minister who was enraged by it. I’m not sure exactly when this is supposed to have happened, but for ten years after the stone was smashed there were no babies born to newly married couples in the village. Concerned villagers realised that the minister had made a huge mistake in breaking up the rock; and so they collected up as many pieces of the smashed stone as they could find, burying them together. This action brought fertility back to Avebury, and babies were born once again.

When my husband and I were handfasted by Terry we were given a choice - be handfasted for a year and a day, using this time as a trial period, with the opportunity to repeat the process as many times as we wished; or pledge a lifetime commitment, which is exactly what we did.

You can see a picture of us being handfasted by Terry at the Ring Stone a bit further down the page.

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Nettle & Rosemary Hair Rinse

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1bi3pc_MqFzmxMb0eHHecIJCOjX140Qz6

Nettle is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. It contains silica and sulphur which together make hair shinier, thicker and healthier. Nettle boosts the circulation, meaning more oxygen (and therefore nutrients) reach the hair follicles. The antioxidants get rid of damaging compounds and inhibit the formation of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen (type of hormone) that causes baldness in both men and women.

Rosemary is also believed to prevent DHT from bonding to hormone receptors that enable the hair follicles to be attacked. Rosemary contains ursolic acid which increases (scalp) circulation. It is unsurprising, then, that hair re-growth has been observed in trials using rosemary oil. Its antibacterial properties cleanse the hair and increase shine.

Working together nettle and rosemary do amazing things for the hair.

This recipe has been in my Book of Shadows for over 20 years now. It seems a bit odd rinsing your hair after washing it with what is basically tea(!), but it will add body and shine.

Step 1 - Add a handful or two of Nettles, and a handful of Rosemary sprigs, to a heat-proof bowl. Add 1L of boiling water and leave over night to steep.

Step 2 - Strain. At this stage you could add 50ml raw apple cider vinegar if you wanted, but I don’t bother.

Step 3 - After shampooing rinse your hair with this mixture, no need to wash out. Use all in one go, this mix isn’t for storing.

‼️CAUTION: this beautiful reddish-brown mixture will stain ceramic bathroom ware, so please be careful. Rosemary can darken blond hair over time; so if you’re blonde - and enjoy being so! - you might want to avoid frequent use.

Elves

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1yOTDrHTxrZHZEcrPWguVjlqBukj7U2Nu

In the depths of the English countryside we stumbled across this little red door emblazoned with the inscription “elfs” (elves?) on it. We don’t know why it was there, nor did we find any other little doors. I’d love to know the story behind it.

Elves are the humanoid creatures that we commonly refer to as their French name, “fairy”. ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿฟ‍♀️

I think my favourite common elf/faerie folklore story is that of the foxglove. Some versions state that the name actually means “folks’ glove” - gloves that the little folk would wear. ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿผ

Other stories maintain that the mottled spots are tiny faerie handprints, where the foxgloves have been gifted to foxes by faeries. This is so that the foxes can put them on their paws, and sneak into the hen house without being heard. ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿฟ‍♀️ 

I’ve seen quite a few fairy stories online recently, and heard a few from friends - some of them extremely creepy. ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿผ

I’d love to know if you’ve experienced a personal encounter with the Fae? Do you have a story to tell? ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿฟ‍♀️

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The Craft

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1dwrn9RFzGlAU4olAjLjmyR_K75l-oSzH

“The Craft will live through you, and through what you bring to it. And it is these traditions, these eternal themes, which I want to convey. You will find them referred to by other writers on the Craft, and sometimes you will see them in mythology and folklore. So read widely and learn everything you can on the subject of witchcraft and Paganism. Learn, as well, the related disciplines of divination, trancework, natural philosophy, herb magic, the properties of plants and trees and all countryside lore. You will then develop you own feelings about, for example, the spring equinox and how it should be celebrated. In time you will develop your own style. This is the strength of witchcraft. Its roots are in the oldest religion and yet it is created anew, by each individual witch, every time it is practised.”

~ Rae Beth, Hedgewitch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft

Gravestone Symbolism

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1vowwsZBk0K2AMLnAFQ9yf1_jdRkzebf7

Many gravestones have symbols and images on them, some common, some uncommon,  with scholars still debating the various meanings and interpretations of them.

Here are ten gravestone symbols and their suggested meanings:

๐Ÿ‘ผ Angels - Messengers between God and man

๐Ÿฆ‡ Bat wings - Death, misfortune

๐Ÿฆด Bone - Death

๐Ÿ•ฏ Candle - Life

♥️ Heart - Romantic love

๐Ÿ— Key - Knowledge, entrance to Heaven

๐Ÿช” Lamp - Knowledge, spiritual immortality

๐Ÿƒ Oak leaf - Strength, stability, endurance

๐Ÿ”ฅ Phoenix - Resurrection

๐Ÿฆ‹ Winged Death’s Head - Mortal remains of the deceased

Next time you visit a cemetery or graveyard take notice of all the symbols you see - I’d love to  hear what you’ve seen.

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The Forager’s Code

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1vIbrwB7byQGQef3I31tt7LuLLjbJHa8W

I’m a keen forager but it’s really important to remember the responsibility that comes with foraging.

Whilst our motivation is usually to create something, it’s important to remember our place in this process. When we take something we become more than a visitor to a place, we actually become part of that place.

It’s important that our actions don’t hurt a carefully balanced system. Within any eco-system, other organisms depend on each other to survive.

Known as the Forager’s Code, it is our duty to work out how we can insert ourselves into this carefully balanced network without harming it. The Forager’s Code must be observed at all times:

๐ŸŒฟ Minimise damage
๐ŸŒฟ Collect from plentiful sources only 
๐ŸŒฟ Leave plenty behind - remember you come second to other birds and animals
๐ŸŒฟ Do not collect rare species 
๐ŸŒฟ Respect Nature

To add to that, I would say:

๐ŸŒฟ Don’t pick roots or bulbs
๐ŸŒฟ If you’re not 100% sure what you’re picking, don’t 
๐ŸŒฟ Leave no trace of your visit

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Trees are Sanctuaries

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1JHI4mcbmOCWNJehP6TjvO91X6D9mfNOF

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.“

~ Herman Hesse

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Stanton Tower ~ Stanton Moor

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=15NB-pjJXUr5PSChrOARH82SzZUy1a5xS

High on Stanton Moor, a stone’s throw from the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, and so high that you can actually walk underneath it during the fully bloomed season of summer without seeing it, lies Stanton Tower; also known as the Reform Tower, or Earl Grey Tower.

With all the barrows and standing stones of Stanton Moor you would expect this tower, in all of its atmospheric glory, to have a “witchier” background than being dedicated to UK politics, but it has an interesting and important history nonetheless.

It was built in 1832 by William Pole Thornhill to commemorate Earl Grey, a politician who successfully campaigned in the early 19th century to reform parliament. Thornhill was a Whig ~ a political faction that opposed absolute monarchy ~ who believe that parliament should be reformed to get rid of rotten boroughs, and to allow more men to vote. (Unfortunately at this stage women were excluded from the electorate. 1832 saw the first petition on women's suffrage presented to Parliament.)

Thornhill had the tower built where it was visible from the Duke of Rutland’s estate (whose other seat was Belvoir - see my Witches of Belvoir post); the Duke of Rutland being Earl Grey’s Tory rival.

It was dedicated to The Representation of the People Act, also known as the Great Reform Act, which was finally passed into law on the third attempt. There are also a number of large stones on the moor carved with dates and insignia that the Thornhill family had carved to commemorate several people, for reasons unknown.

Stanton Moor is well worth a visit.

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Bee Folklore

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1xInLZqI4Jricjfw0vx7WvL2Ap3Y-8tfL

Bees appear a lot in folklore. Traditionally bee charms were hung in the house to attract health and happiness, and bees flying into the house indicated strangers soon calling. Bees resting on the roof were seen as a good omen.

For some cultures bees may have been seen as psychopomps or messengers of the dead; Mycenaean tombs were decorated with bees and some were shaped like beehives. It is possible that they believed that the soul transmuted into human form after death.

“Telling the bees” is an old British custom, one that still goes on in my local area. Bees were kept abreast of all important family matters, including births, marriages, journeys, absences. Deaths especially were reported to the bees, often before other family members.

Usually the “goodwife” of a household would be tasked with “telling the bees”. She would knock gently on the give to get their intention, and solemnly tell them the news. In neighbouring Nottinghamshire, the wife of the dead was heard singing quietly in front of the hive:

“The master's dead, but don't you go; Your mistress will be a good mistress to you.”

It was feared that failure to update the bees of such news would bring catastrophe. Failure to put the bees in mourning could end in all sorts of trouble; the bees might fail to produce enough honey, leave the hive, or even die.

In my county, whenever there was a death the top of the hive was wrapped with a piece of black fabric or crepe by the beekeeper, otherwise it was feared that the bees would not thrive. Whenever there was a wedding the hives were decorated, and pieces of cake were left out so that the bees could share in the festivities.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Summer Solstice Blessings

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1WaTHTj-KFL02TBejgBYVSTOS_BqpER-N

Litha Blessings to you all! ๐ŸŒž

The summer is a special time for me. From Beltane to Midsummer I have a lot more energy, my bones hurt a lot less and I’m not struggling with the cold in quite the same way. I am filled with optimism, hope and enthusiasm. ๐ŸŒž

The land ~ the world ~ feels different. There is a different vibration; an intensity. I feel very connected to the land in a way that I don’t even know how to explain. I can feel the magick coursing through the air; everything feels very alive and interconnected. Spirits and entities feel close at hand. When I walk the land it feels like someone is walking beside me.

But it is bittersweet, too. The longer days and shorter nights are drawing to a close. It seems like we’ve only just moved away from the winter, and yet after this period of standstill (the Solstice) it’s time to swing back the other way. I know the darkness is a long way off, and I try to put the sadness to the back of my mind; but it’s there…

But for now, celebration! ๐ŸŒž The Sun has reached its peak; its energy at full power. This is a last chance for reflection before we harvest what we have sown the previous year. I didn’t plan to get up for sunrise this morning, but woke up ten minutes before meaning I got outside and enjoyed the Sun.

Enjoy the long, warm day; and if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere have a happy Winter Solstice. ๐ŸŒž The Wheel turns once more.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Rhododendron Magick

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Qciges18k5QU4Vgw17GlsH5gqGZ-uHM6

Rhododendrons are a large family of evergreen, shade-loving, hardy, spring flowering shrubs; bursting into colour in May through to June. They have a range of colours - pure white to red, purple, and varying shades of pink.

Their name means “rose tree” and they are the national flower of Nepal. My hometown consists of the largest Buddhist community in the UK, due to our treasured Nepalese population; and with rhododendrons flowering abundantly along the roadsides of the area I grew up in, I feel a deep love for them. The leaves of certain varieties are used as incense in Buddhist monasteries and the exotic flowers are used as decoration and given as offerings.

In terms of magickal correspondences it’s good think about their characteristics. They are bright, cheery, tenacious and adaptable. They spread and thrive in the dark months, coming into passionate bloom when they get the first opportunity.

๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒธ Magickal Correspondences for Rhododendron ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒธ

Adaptability 
Opportunity
Optimism
Cheerfulness
Joy
Healing
Passion
Strength
Tenacity 
Overcoming adversity 
Individualism 
Resilience 
Beauty

‼️ Remember that magickal associations are forged through the connections we have with plants - your list may look quite different to mine.

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Saturday, 21 May 2022

The Witches of Belvoir

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=19Wcygm2yZ-NsWAlJOfz0tQ9Oi3B7auR4

‼️ TW: female persecution, murder, capital punishment

Recently we visited Belvoir Castle, near Grantham, Lincolnshire. It is home to the Manners family, and the workplace of Joan Flower and her two daughters.

After Henry and Francis Manners ~ sons of the Earl of Rutland ~ died, Joan Flower and her daughters Margaret and Philippa were accused of witchcraft. It was believed they had cursed the family after recently being sacked from their jobs at the castle, with the boys’ deaths being a final act of revenge.

They were known locally as herbal healers, but after the family fell ill, it was deemed that the Flowers women were responsible. The boys’ deaths left the Earl without an heir.

Others were implicated. Anne Baker, Joan Willimot and Ellen Greene were named by the sisters, and all the women confessed to communing with familiar spirits; Flower’s cat “Rutterkin” and Willimot’s cat “Pretty”, amongst others.

Joan Flower would not confess, and in a bid to prove her innocence exclaimed that she would choke on food if she was guilty of the crimes she was accused of. She was brought some bread and butter and is reported to have died after taking her first bite.

Margaret and Philippa were summarily tried, and then hanged at Lincoln Castle in 1619.

It has been suggested that the Flowers women were framed by George Villiers, who wanted to marry the Earl of Rutland’s daughter, Katherine. By marrying Katherine and using the Flowers as a smokescreen, he could kill the brothers and inherit the Manners’ wealth, including Belvoir Castle.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Further Ways to Connect with the Land

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1jwv9yN3NMf21qt2ObbGOmPqyhbIXhjuE

I’ve done a few posts recently about connecting with the land and how to utilise a connection you’ve made with the land in your magickal practice. We spoke about visiting a place often, observing what goes on there, saying thanks, and generally building on the connection, like you would a relationship with a person. I thought I would give you some more ideas for forging a connection:

๐ŸŒฟ Learn Names
Learn the names of local people, the people who lived in your house, any family living in that area. County museums are brilliant for finding out about the past.

๐ŸŒฟ Native Plants
Learn native plants - learn how to spot them, how to use them and what their folk names are.

๐ŸŒฟ Forage 
After learning local native plants start to use them. Create teas, jams, syrups and medicines.

๐ŸŒฟCrafts
Research local crafts, whether that be seasonal decorations, gifts, or even charms and spells.

๐ŸŒฟ Customs and Traditions 
Learn about local customs and traditions, high days and holidays, and how they were celebrated. Weave them into your calendar.

๐ŸŒฟ Folklore
Research local folklore stories, myths and legends. These will help you form an understanding of local people; what they once thought, felt, feared, behaved, believed.

๐ŸŒฟ Gather 
Enjoy the land. Hold seasonal gatherings outside and invite friends and family. Get people to bring a seasonal dish for a potluck meal. Give thanks.

What other activities could you do to connect to a place?

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White Horse Folklore

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=13nfsXGIze_V9SXpzm0eGuq0dbe-eKKtl

White horses feature a lot in Midlands folklore. Spitting was considered to avert all evil, and to meet a white horse face-to-face without spitting (usually over the left shoulder) was considered very unlucky indeed. It has been suggested that negative associations with white horses were formed in this area because Saxon hordes laid to waste much of the Midlands; they rode under a banner with a white horse (white horses were sacred to Odin).

To dream of a white horse meant that death was coming. This superstition might have come from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as one of the riders sits upon a white horse. Another local superstition indicating death was to dream of riding in a cart “greased with bacon” which is very weird, and very precise!

White horses appear a lot in mythology. In Celtic mythology, Rhiannon rides a white horse and is linked to the Celtic fertility horse goddess, Epona. In Irish mythology “god of the dead”, Donn, is a phantom horseman riding a white horse. Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, was the son of Poseidon and Medusa. Poseidon was challenged to create a beautiful land mammal and created horses from the breaking waves of the ocean.

I regularly see a white horse when I travel to the Otherworld. He allows me to ride him and he is indescribably beautiful. White horses have always been very special to me.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Repeating Spell Work

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1DMHJRs-dAislqfS1kJsJpNwgy5RUv1rd

I have been taking magick classes with Crow (@marget.inglis_witchcraft) and while we were revisiting binding and cord cutting, an interesting discussion came up.

Sometimes, people or situations that have had great power over you will return to you after taking magickal steps to stop them.

People won’t necessarily (consciously) know that you have taken measures to stop their harmful behaviour and/or distance yourself from them, but they may be drawn to you again.

People who thrive off the energy of others, their shitty behaviour, or what they are getting from a particular situation may notice that something is gone, something has changed. Consequently, they may clamber to get it back.

Let’s set the scene. After much deliberation to take action, you spend hours planning a deeply layered spell. You choose the right time and moment, make your preparations, and invest a great deal of energy into performing your magickal working, knowing that you have done everything you should. All seems to be well, the spell seems to have worked - and then this person pops up again, sometimes behaving worse than they did before.

This does not mean your magick has been useless - sometimes it’s quite the opposite! It can mean you have done a really good job, good enough for the person in question to notice that something is different.

What is the magickal answer?

Revisit your spell-work. Do it again. Repeat the process as before. You may have to repeat your magickal working several times.

That’s not to say that this is always the case. In many instances your magickal working will be successful first time around, it depends on the situation and how much the other person (and perhaps yourself!) are invested in the situation.

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Wild Garlic Pesto

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1aLINLllRfvqPZRzrDPXFJav3-fZfRQBz

For those that missed my Instagram Reel earlier in the week, here’s the recipe I used for Wild Garlic Pesto: 

๐ŸŒฑ Wild Garlic Pesto ๐ŸŒฑ

150g Wild garlic
Zest of half lemon 
Juice of half lemon 
2 x Garlic cloves 
150ml Rapeseed oil 
50g Parmesan cheese 
50g Pine nuts
Glass jar with lid

๐ŸŒฑ Rinse and pat dry the wild garlic
๐ŸŒฑ Roughly chop the wild garlic
๐ŸŒฑ Prepare the other ingredients - mince the garlic cloves, zest and juice the lemon, measure out the oil, grate the cheese
๐ŸŒฑ Add the ingredients to the food processor, including the lemon juice and oil
๐ŸŒฑ Spoon into the jar and label and date
๐Ÿฅฃ Stir the pesto through cooked pasta

❗️ Pesto will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge ๐Ÿ˜‹

‼️ Please don’t pull out the bulbs - take one leaf from each plant

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Sticky Willy - Cleavers

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1k0ThWxF5YHfNgkHtzqBYefc8l8H7bnQG

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. I know it as “Sticky Willy” and “Sticky Bob” ~ not to be confused with a Herb Robert, which is known as “Stinking 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.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Review: Wild Once by Vivianne Crowley

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1uuyxTui4neHnb2_QQ19DV173m0-koNPZ

About the Author

Dr. Vivianne Crowley is an internationally renowned Wiccan priestess, worldwide go-to authority on Wicca culture, a psychologist and bestselling author. Formerly Lecturer in Psychology of Religion at King’s College, University of London, she is now a professor in the Faculty of Pastoral Counselling, Cherry Hill Seminary, South Carolina. Her many books have been translated around the world. Learn more at www.viviannecrowley.com   

About Wild Once by Vivianne Crowley

Wild Once is a spiritual deep-dive into the self. It is a book about quest; about finding and reconnecting with the wilder parts of ourselves to bring happiness, enrichment and spiritual satisfaction into our lives. It is about awakening the magic within, and unleashing the power that arises from standing in our authentic selves. It’s about coming “home” to our true natures.

A beautiful introduction sets us on this insightful journey. The author describes her path; Wicca remains Crowley’s primary spirituality, with some Buddhism and Kabbalah woven in, and psychology featuring heavily. I have already been drawn into the book by the wonderful way that Crowley weaves her words, but as a psychology student Witch from the largest Buddhist community in the UK, I understand that this is going to be a brilliant book, and I start this journey feeling a deep affinity with the author.

The author leads us into a discussion about magic, and the wonder that it is practised at all in the 21st Century. We explore subjects such as synchronicity, science, clairvoyance, the unexpected and premonitions with the author rationalising everything with the pin-point accuracy and sharpness of a psychologist’s mind; affirming magic and relating everything back to consciousness and the human psyche, which are prominent themes throughout. 

“Beneath all the constraints of civilisation, there is within us a more natural and untamed self - a wild, magical, ecological self that is close to our animal origins, but close too to our spiritual core. This wilder self takes us away from the superficiality of contemporary life, towards something older and deeper.” - Wild Once

We explore magic further, and how it is woven into our DNA. We come to understand how it shapes us as human beings, and how it can enhance our lives. We look at consumerism and the type of society we have built; and how this has an effect on our ability to connect with each other, the world, and with ourselves.

We come to understand that we have lost our wild connection, but also how easy it is to rediscover it. We are asked if we want our lives to be dedicated to producing and consuming, plus further pertinent questions that have the reader frantically analysing their existence. But this is what good books do, and I feel I can speak for everyone when I say that the reader will feel deep gratitude for being made to think about these topics.

Through the themes of Witchcraft, human psyche and consciousness, we journey through twenty-three incredible chapters where Crowley helps us discover all the ways we can connect to our wild selves. We explore connections with allies, worshipping deity, magical connection to the land, trees, archetypes, meditation, play, ritual, shadow work, journeying to the Otherworld, and the area where we live. We travel to Poland, Australia and France; we attend moonlit forest rituals, and learn what it is to be part of a coven. We meet the Horned God, learn the symbolism of the Phoenix, and discover many more fascinating things that relate to the wildness we all have within. The author’s writing is peppered with personal stories and accounts, some of them deeply intimate, and it is through her experiences we start to recognise exactly what we need to do to become a little wilder again.  

The Book’s Strengths

The aim of the book is to unearth the wild parts of ourselves and throw off the shackles of society, rediscovering our natural selves and becoming realigned with the interconnectedness of the universe. The author aims to inspire the reader into living an authentic life that belongs to them, and without a doubt, Crowley achieves this. Readers of this book will consistently find themselves questioning the way they do things in their magical and mundane lives, and making a serious pledge for change.

An intimate portrayal of the author’s life and experiences; the reader will appreciate the vivid images of Crowley’s Witchcraft practices and adventures, as she relays how these experiences have shaped and enhanced her own quest to discover herself. Readers will surely recognise themselves in descriptions of the author starting out on her Witchcraft path, and feel comforted to hear that we are all amazing creations, regardless of our human flaws.

The spiritual psychology running throughout neatly ties together the connection between the relationships forged within Witchcraft with human consciousness. We learn that we shouldn’t reject rationality and science, but should instead embrace them with discernment, as we dig a little deeper into our personalities. The author refers to multiple experts, scholars, scientists, philosophers and works throughout, which makes for further reading and learning; which is much appreciated. Whilst it is a deeply academic and philosophical book, Crowley manages to cover each topic in a way that is approachable and enjoyable. 

What You Can Learn...

The author takes a scholarly approach but it is not stuffy; there is something here for everyone. It is for witches who want to delve a little further into their practice, for witches that want to reconnect with nature, for experienced witches that have strayed from their paths, and for beginner witches who want to learn more about connecting with allies and deities. There is psychology, history, science and anthropology; meaning this is not just a book for magical practitioners, but also those who are not magically minded. It is a book about carving out a life that is memorable and worthwhile; it is about dancing to the beat of your own drum. The lessons in this book are not for Pagans; they are for everyone. They are life affirming and comforting.

This book is an absolute triumph. The reader is left wondering where they should take their life next, and what changes they can make. I want to look for the wild within. I want to overhaul my life and embrace more of the things that make my heart sing. I want to take up drumming, to engage in ritual more, to journey to the Otherworld more, to get outside more, to just “be” more. It is making me want to say “yes” to the opportunities that come my way, and worry much less about living a life for others. Hugely inspiring, this book is so much more than one person’s thoughts and experiences; it is a key to deepening those of others.

Littered with insights about our place in the universe, this book helps us realise that the passing of time is precious, and it is up to us to discover the things in life that fulfil us. We have a unique spiritual journey to make, and all we need to do is to uncover the wild within.


Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Witchology Magazine

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1ZwFddDkniVENbweq_vshdsqRdXLqIMc5

I’m coming down from the excitement of Beltane celebrations with my feet up and a copy of the spring edition of Witchology Magazine (@witchologymag). Thanks so much to Editor-in-Chief Louisa (@thewitchesstone) for sending it over.

On the front cover is the amazing Madame Pamita (@madamepamita), author of Baba Yaga’s Book of Witchcraft, who writes on on Ukrainian Witchcraft and Slavic practices. We find out more about her practice, and about the thousands of dollars she has raised for the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund (find out more by visiting her page).

There is a fabulous article called “Harnessing the Elements to Cope with Crisis” by Mandi Em (@healingforhotmesses) who specialises in no-nonsense self-care, and a beautiful article on Ostara by community favourite, Ra (@love_is_the_law).

If art is your thing, check out Witchology’s featured artist Roma-May Daly (@romamaydesign) who shares some of her incredible work, and if tea warms your cockles (we might have just celebrated Beltane but it’s freezing here in the U.K.) check out the Tea Rituals for Spring on p.10 by Vanessa Goodwin (@kohlitea).

Check out the latest copy of Witchology Magazine and all its wonderful contributors.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

The Witch’s Familiar

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1XrDp-FwVzqNLBJ7ZVdCgnyfDmVKKdi4k

In the medieval period, familiars were believed to be supernatural entities that appeared as animals; or in humanoid or human form. They assisted cunning folk in their magick.

Whether they were “good” or “bad” depended on who they served, and of course this depended on the perception of others.

Familiar spirits who attended cunning folk and healers were seen as benevolent. They were thought of as benign and kindly faeries who would protect the cunning man or woman in their healing work.

Familiar spirits that assisted “witches” were known to be malevolent. They could be a bird, toad, cat or an amalgamation of several creatures. They could be seen as imps, demons or even the devil himself. It was believed they were given to the witch by another witch or by the devil; and their job was to aid the witch in their malevolent deeds. They could be servants, messengers or spies, and they had magickal abilities of their own. Familiars were fed by the witch, usually suckled by a teat.

In my county, and the Cambridgeshire Fens where my mum lives, there was a strong belief in Witchcraft, with the locals believing strongly that all witches had familiars. They were given names such as Pyewacket, Elimanzer, Tibb, Vinegar Tom and Grizzel Greedigut.

The French poet Charles Baudelaire, who was known to be a “cat fancier” believed in familiar spirits and said:

๐‚'๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฅ'๐ž๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ซ ๐๐ฎ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ฎ;
๐ˆ๐ฅ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ ๐ž, ๐ข๐ฅ ๐ฉ๐ซรฉ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž, ๐ข๐ฅ ๐ข๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐ž
๐“๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฌ ๐๐š๐ง๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐ž;
๐ฉ๐ž๐ฎ๐ญ-รช๐ญ๐ซ๐ž ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ-๐ข๐ฅ ๐Ÿรฉ๐ž, ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ-๐ข๐ฅ ๐๐ข๐ž๐ฎ?

๐€ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐š๐ซ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐š๐œ๐ž, 
๐‡๐ž ๐ฉ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž๐ฌ, ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐๐ ๐ž๐ฌ, ๐ข๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ 
๐„๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐ฏ๐ข๐ง๐œ๐ž; 
๐๐ž๐ซ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฌ ๐ก๐ž ๐ข๐ฌ ๐š ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฒ, ๐š ๐ ๐จ๐?

Today, some magickal practitioners believe in familiar spirits.

Do you? Do you work with one?

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Old Stone Walls

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1rpEmExaQqq4yDoEJDzTOcAw_ZSARmlpL

I just want to give it up for this gorgeous wall… ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿง™๐Ÿป‍♀️๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿ’š

I have a bit of a thing for old stone walls. We have a few of them dotted about the Midlands, but this one (spotted in Cornwall) really caught my eye. The contrast of the greenery against the stone really pleases me. ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿ’š

I’m sure a few people had a good laugh driving past me filming and taking photographs of a wall… ๐Ÿ™ˆ but I don’t care one jot. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿป‍♀️๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿ’š

What random thing really gets your witchy juices flowing?!

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Haunted Houses

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Ji71MxPu4CgTuaUWiSf19KiP4lYiKGGl

You guys often ask me to ask me to share pictures of the inside of our home - here is a snapshot of part of my bedroom. The walls are a delicate lavender colour, which I adore, but it’s really cold in this part of the house, so I don’t hang out here as often as I’d like.

We are often asked if our house is haunted, and I understand this as we do live on cemetery grounds. Our bedroom is only one of two parts of the house where I believe I have sensed a spirit; and both those occasions were when we first moved in. People are often surprised ~ and disappointed ~ when I say our home is not particularly haunted. If you think about it, a cemetery is where people are laid to rest, and so it’s actually a very peaceful place. The house feels very calm and serene, and it is no different at night.

I have lived in a house with a negative spirit, which we coped with, but it did make me wonder what we might be letting ourselves in for when we bought this house. I reasoned that the people who lived here before had been here years, so it would probably be ok. And it was.

Have you ever lived in a haunted house, or had an experience in one? I would love to hear your spooky stories! ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ‘ป

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Saturday, 23 April 2022

Review: The Wheel by Jennifer Lane

 https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1b7EOwXFh9U71VMGV0E4qBbJRotlr13g_
About the Author

Jennifer Lane is an author and nature writer. She has written for Vogue, The Week, Dazed, the BBC, Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB. She discovered Wicca when she was 12 years old and became fascinated by the Craft, and since then has woven together her passion for wildlife with a Pagan lifestyle.  Learn more at Jennifer Lane Instagram   

About The Wheel by Jennifer Lane

The Wheel is the story of a modern Witch and her quest to reconnect to both herself, and the spiritual world. It is a story about getting back to nature, and finding a place within a magickal community. It is the story of a crisis of mind, body and spirit; and the resulting path a Witch takes to move away from the effects of toxic work environments. 

The author looks at daily grind and repetition, and how the resulting broken spiritual connection will have consequences to health and well-being. She examines how to bring back a sense of equilibrium, relating this to the seasons and the natural world around her, a theme which will run throughout the course of the book as she attempts to reconnect.  

The book begins with an opening at Samhain, which is visually stunning. Lane creates vivid pictures in the mind’s eye that leave the reader feeling as if they are there beside her every step of the way. The book starts at Yule and moves through the year to finish once more at Samhain. 

The author shares her personal experiences and celebrations. As a seasoned nature writer she explains clearly what is happening in the natural worl;, helping us to connect more deeply to hers, and to our own. Most generously, the author allows us to witness the Yule ritual that kick-starts her journey back to connection, and unavoidably, the reader finds themselves reflecting on their own life, ambitions, achievements, and their magickal practice, which is precisely the point of the book. 

“We can all use the Wheel of the Year to tap into the Earth’s cycles - to feel her swell and grow into summer then let the cloak of winter fall over her body once more. But the Wheel represents more than the shifting seasons - it is our ever-changing lives where we feel joy, excitement and sometimes a deep wintry sadness; it is our map to finding our place within the world.” - The Wheel

The reader travels through each festival, with Lane sharing her deepest and most intimate insights and feelings. We accompany her on her hikes and birdwatching trips, we go on family holidays, we take part in her rituals and observances. We encounter her shamanic journeys, and the joyful times she finds connection and magick. We also stand by her at her saddest and heaviest moments. We feel the disconnect and sorrow that starts her on the road back to connection; wishing we could help in some way, whilst simultaneously promising to ourselves that we will make changes and do better. 

Alongside all of this, we explore the world of Witchcraft. From deities of the Celtic pantheon, to the Pendle witches, Cottingley Fairies, maypole dancing, power animals and shamanism; we reflect on the environment, social prescribing, and the state of our own lives. The author highlights our relationship with the Moon; the impact on us as human beings, the tides, Her energy, and more. She discusses being Pagan and what that means, and we listen as the author reminds us that Paganism is a wholly positive path; there to enrich our lives, and to help us look ahead. 

The Book’s Strengths

The way the author weaves her mundane and magickal experiences while discussing Witchcraft topics and the natural world, usually through the medium of birds, is a masterpiece. Her words are poetic, conjuring up strong pictures in the mind, and deep emotions in the heart. In this way, it is an intimate and immersive experience; beautifully tender and soothing. 

The amusing recollections at the beginning of the book where the author describes those little things that often happen during a ritual - making it feel slightly less than magickal - are highly relatable, and instantly put the reader at ease. Many a witch will recognise the thoughts and situations the author finds herself in, and it is this honesty that makes the book so enjoyable. Her reflections and views will have many readers nodding in agreement. 

A special thanks must go to the author for speaking so candidly about her physical and mental health; subjects that many of us shy away from. Throughout the book we track her progress and witness the changes she makes, both magickal and ordinary, to create a better life for herself. It leaves the reader feeling empowered, emboldened and ready to do the same; extremely valuable in today’s world. 

As well as being a book about personal experience, there is a plethora of history and information contained in its pages. The descriptions of rituals and magickal practice will be hugely beneficial to beginner witches. The book has an intersectional approach; there is something here for everyone. It is a book for those who are struggling with their physical or mental health, for those who wish to read about the experiences of one modern witch, for the nature-loving witches, and for new Witches finding their feet. 

What You Can Learn...

Homely and comforting, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a wet winter’s day; you will feel connected to nature just by reading Lane’s lovely words. You will think about the privileged lives we lead today, compared to the terrifying times of the Pendle Witches, and you’ll learn how small, simple acts can help us reconnect to our magickal path. 

You’ll find this book littered with information that will both entertain you and make you examine your own place in the world. It’ll make you reflect on the ways you can make your life happier, healthier, and a little witchier. You’ll be inclined to get uncomfortable and explore the difficulties you face, to pick up healthy habits, and to enquire about the mental health of the people you care for. 

You’ll be educated on the natural world and folklore, history and herb lore. You’ll learn about birds and deer and all the special things that make life magickal. You’ll yearn for natural experiences and to deepen your magickal practice, but most of all, you’ll be inspired to write.


Tuesday, 19 April 2022

American Beautyberry

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1PY9mYlGxwXLXFIwh5_RdA0iexcwJU-1g

I spotted this amazing plant in the World Peace Garden in Glastonbury, where the Chalice Well is situated. I couldn’t believe the colour of the berries, they’re so vibrant and striking!

It is an American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana; a deciduous shrub that bears bright purple fruit throughout the autumn and winter. It has a wide array of medicinal uses and some culinary uses, too.

It was used by indigenous Americans in various methods of application for fevers, rheumatism, malaria, dysentery, digestive issues and colic. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is used to slow down or stop bleeding internally, particularly in the stomach and lungs. These are just a few of its medicinal uses, and beautyberry is being studied for its efficacy in treating cancer and memory loss.

I found the following magickal correspondences for beautyberry online:

๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ Beautyberry ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ
Element: Water
Zodiac Signs: Scorpio
Planet: Venus
Magic: An infusion can be used topically in glamours, beauty, and luring spells.

As beautyberry is used for repelling insects you could use it in magick to repel something or someone. It is helpful to the digestive system so you could also use this to help “stomach” something that is difficult to accept. It goes from being quite tasteless raw to full of flavour when cooked, so perhaps you could use it to enhance something.

Of course, magickal associations are those which you find when you form a relationship with a plant or herb; so there are no correct or incorrect answers here.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Primrose Magick

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1csVncyKqaAgaBML3jDHrlf1FzUJrQyvc

The name primrose comes from the Latin “prima rosa” meaning “first rose”, indicating that spring is generally the time for these beautiful plants to flower, although they sometimes open as early as December in mild areas of the U.K.

They’re found across the whole of Britain and Ireland. They are found in woodlands and by hedgerows and thrive in damp shade. 

There are lots of primrose recipes, but it’s illegal to pick or remove them as they’re currently protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Folklore surrounding primroses is mainly associated with faeries, and with life cut short.

Hanging primrose flowers outside your house is an invitation to faeries to come in, and touching a rock with a posy of primroses is a key; supposedly opening the doorway to the faerie realms. To receive a blessing from the faeries, primroses should be placed upon the doorstep, and at Beltane primroses and yellow gorse were often lain across the threshold to celebrate the spring and the encroaching summer. That said, as much energy has been spent trying to protect against faeries over the years as attracting them. In the National Folklore Collection in University College, Dublin, there can be found a piece of verse relating to Beltane and faeries:

“Guard the house with a string of primroses
on the first three days of May.
The fairies are said not to be able
to pass over or under this string.”

In Victorian times it was common to plant primroses on the graves of children. There are definitely primroses dotted about on this cemetery, but I’m not sure if they correspond.

There are other customs related to death and primroses, meaning they provoke a similar feeling to blossom for me: they are representative of the ephemeral nature of life. ๐Ÿ’š

Identifying Witches in the 1600s

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1sXESu-BaFNDFEdn1N-XxabMh1SIUhi_Z

In the 1600s, identifying witches was seen as vital work. Europe was considered to be under satanic threat, and so various “witchfinders” were employed to root out the individuals who threatened the souls of every day people.

Witchfinders would operate in two ways; either in an official capacity, or in an unofficial capacity, with neighbours and community members stepping up to expose the evil they feared.

Whilst there were lots of tests to help identify a witch (coming in another post), there were certain factors that would make it more likely that someone would be accused of being a witch:

๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️ Widowed 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿพ‍♂️ Very old
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️ Living with a cat or other pet 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿพ‍♂️ Being new to a community 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️ Not attending church, or going rarely 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿพ‍♂️ In a property dispute 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️ Having an “odd” appearance, or physical/facial deformities 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿพ‍♂️ Going out after dark
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️ Having immoral, promiscuous or questionable behaviour 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿพ‍♂️ Being outspoken or talking too much 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️ Talking to oneself
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿพ‍♂️ Being strong willed or quarrelsome 
๐Ÿง™๐Ÿผ‍♀️ History of uttering curses against others

When a person was accused of witchcraft, witnesses were called, an examination of the accused was carried out, and sometimes a confession would be gleaned - sometimes via torture. Whilst women were the “weaker sex” and therefore more prone to being manipulated by the Devil, lots of men were accused at this time. In some countries, men were in a slight majority, and most accusers of witches in England were actually women.

It’s important to note that even at this time of intense fear not all accusations were believed, and many cases fell through. Most judges and jury men were sceptical about the existence of magic, and people were often suspicious of people claiming to be victims of witchcraft.

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May There be Peace

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1E_mhOqyUhfYwvHkNugz7ocrNEme060i_

May there be peace in the East;
May there be peace in the South;
May there be peace in the West;
May there be peace in the North;

May there be peace throughout the WHOLE WORLD;

So mote it be.

Awen /|\

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Review: A Spell in the Wild: A Year (and six centuries) of Magic by Alice Tarbuck

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Sd7YsZROUwD4wcZnGFisI-oxPgjvBHQ5 
About the Author

Dr. Alice Tarbuck is an academic, writer and literature professional based in Edinburgh. A 2019 Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awardee for Poetry, her debut A Spell in the Wild: a Year (and six centuries) of Magic was published in 2020.  Learn more at www.alicetarbuck.net Instagram   

About A Spell in the Wild: A Year (and six centuries) of Magic by Alice Tarbuck

Explained simply, A Spell in the Wild is the first-hand experience of a contemporary, urban Witch passing through the year, month by month. But this is not a simple book; Tarbuck has created a seasonal, and yet encyclopedic, guide to witchcraft in the 21st Century, based on the journey she takes in one year.  

A Spell in the Wild begins with an alluring tale in the Introduction, and from the first line it is apparent that not only will you accompany Tarbuck on her journey, but you will be privy to her most personal insights. The author examines who we are as Witches, considers what magic is, and where it can be found. She gets real about the world we live in, relaying her experiences from the view of a British Witch. She is all about finding the magic and letting it in, and encouraging others to do the same, regardless of the shape of our lives, and the environment surrounding them. .  

Before launching into the year, the author pens a note on spells and magical conduct. She talks wisely about the benefits and pitfalls of performing others’ spells, and it is here that we learn that each spell or activity given at the end of each chapter is designed to be adapted. It is also here, amongst the beautiful and wordy descriptions that invoke crystal-clear pictures in our heads, that we realise the author is an experienced practitioner who really knows her stuff. This part of the book has a sense of “coming home”; it helps the reader recognise and understand herself more deeply, and what better way to start a book?  

“Witches are pragmatists. We are interested in effect, not in the minute and careful construction of rituals, however brilliant and fun that might be. We make magic as best as we can, with what we have, acknowledging that everything in the world from the most beautiful thing to the least, exists in relation to us.” - A Spell in the Wild

We jump into the author’s year, starting with September. The subject is foraging, and the reader is bound to recognise herself in Tarbuck’s descriptions of bottled magical items, and jam created with berries collected on an autumn day. In this chapter, we learn all about foraging; doing it in the city and the country, the risks, the joys, and who is driving its popularity. We hear about the apple harvest, wood ear fungus, and the ghosts of the buildings that overshadow the author’s own foraging trips. We learn about the fantastical associations of broom to witches’ flying broomsticks, and we are offered great and responsible practical foraging advice, which we pick out, like blackberries, from the author’s personal stories. Tarbuck analyses our relationship with plants and our interconnectedness with everything in the natural world. She explores some of the things available in September; guiding and educating us in a way that feels like we’re in the company of a favourite aunt. 

This is the way of the next eleven chapters; before we end up back in September again. We learn about Samhain and talking to the dead, fairies, objects with power, demonologies, smelling the weather, sex magic, and so many more wonderful topics that are relevant to the author’s journey, but cleverly map out all there is to know about Witchcraft. We are encouraged to learn about the origins of the festivals that we celebrate; and some of the traditions associated with them. We learn about the blurred line between fairies and Witches, about unseasonable weather days and how they relate to folklore, and how weather knowledge has found its way into some of our most popular, classical reads. The simple activities offered at the end of each chapter give us an opportunity to make an impact on the world, be it for us as individuals, or for the greater good.

The Book’s Strengths

A Spell in the Wild is a richly woven tapestry, where the author delves not only into the wild spaces of the natural world, but also into the wild spaces of our hearts and minds; often asking (and answering) the questions we have always wondered about ourselves, witchcraft, and magic. Deeply personal; every word, every sentence, every page is placed perfectly. It makes the reader want to write; to pour out their own heart and soul onto paper. The delightful, easy-to read, no-nonsense way that Tarbuck weaves her words, and the comprehensive content, makes for a compelling read. 

One of the book’s biggest strengths is the sheer amount of history and information that is included over 380+ pages. The author takes an academic and scholarly - but not stuffy - approach, and blends it with an intimate window into her world, expertly fusing the mundane and magic into one. There is no romanticism - yes, we’d like Witchcraft (and our lives) to look a certain way, but we learn that it’s better to accept how things really are, and adapt our magic to suit. 

The author has an entirely intersectional approach. There is something here for the foraging Witches, the activist Witches, and the fairy Witches, but there is also enough history, science, pop culture and anthropology for there to be something for everyone, magical or otherwise. The spells and activities are inclusive, adaptable and non-prescriptive; not everyone has access to a bath, not every Witch is highly organised throughout the year, and not everyone has the money for expensive Witchcraft supplies. 

What You Can Learn...

This book is an absolute triumph. It is so much more than one person’s trip throughout the year. It is simultaneously a history lesson, a science lesson, a therapy session, and a diary. It is an honest account of a modern witch’s life, cleverly connecting the reader to the folklore and land that surrounds them. It is a treasury of information; multifaceted, enjoyable, and accessible. 

This book helps the reader to understand the natural world better, making comparisons to our everyday lives to guide us. We are continuously reminded how very special this planet is, and the precariousness of its position. Not in a way that lectures or chides, but in a way that actually makes you want to listen. It makes the reader want to be more conscious and present in their life; certainly in their magic. 

It is sensory enjoyment without the sensory experience. Through Tarbuck’s words the reader can taste, see, sense, smell her experiences. Gentle, warm, welcoming, and reassuring, it’s an incredibly comforting book, where, with every word, we are transported to a place where we recognise ourselves, and feel vindicated in our humanity, and in our Witchhood.  

Gliding beautifully between each subject, it is littered with helpful information and deep insights about our place in the world; and how we can relate this to building our magical practice. This book will make you laugh, it will definitely make you think; and it will tell you that although the world might be changing and running at 100mph, the magic is still there.