I know for me being a witch in the country, especially the country area I live in, wildcrafting is damn near impossible. Unlike Europe or the North American continent we don’t have a host of witchy herbs growing randomly in the wild. I almost cry every time I read a blog that says “I went out and got Borage, Balm of Gilead, St John’s Wort, Burdock etc”, well you get the idea. I think most of Australia (like South Australia where I live) would not have the climes to support this type of growth, not to mention these plants aren’t native to Australia so unless they’ve been planted once upon and time and left to grow rampantly and naturally over a long period of time, chances are these types of herbs will not be springing up in a forest or wood near you.
However, there is hope. Careful identification will net you some pretty nifty herbs if you happen to be looking. In my area alone (and this is my little town) I’ve found growing several witchy herbs that could be used in magic.
The Underworld, Divination, Lunar Magic, Astral Projection
All of those herbs above just in my immediate area. Its a few herbs and all can be used for a wide range of things so not such a dry spot after all. The Almond might seem like a strange one, but for some reason, in the Mid North it is growing everywhere, mostly by roadsides.
I would suggest knowing what you are picking, identification is key. If you like the energies of Horehound and Nettle it grows in absolute abundance up this way. The Black Nightshade was a surprise discovery out the front of my house. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, I was thinking of potting it and growing it in a contained environment.
So if you despair that you can’t wildcraft herbs in your area, go out, take a walk and see what’s out there, you may be surprised.
Prompted by blog post and video by the Australian Witch, I got to thinking about her point on Being Spiritually Realistic and also the idea that there are shades of Witchcraft. I realise now my comment on her post might be a little harsh but I stand by what I said, sometimes the truth is harsh. I will modify it by saying perhaps I should have said “some new witches” not “all new witches”.
There seems to be this standard of thinking of witchcraft in shades of white, grey and black. There is no colour classification in witchcraft and I can’t help feeling that this whole “I practice (insert shade) witchcraft” is some ridiculous way of separating from others and making yourself seem more approachable or doing it for the shock factor or even trying to say that you walk a line but you’re not that “bad”. It seems the classifications are as follows:
White: Light, Love, Happiness, Harmony, Healing and the absolute refusal to do harm to anyone, anywhere, anytime for any reason. White witchcraft seems to embrace the tenants of Wicca and incorporate them into the practice.
Grey: Walks a fine line between the two, works both shadow and light, can work harmful magic to a degree but always balances it.
Black: Negative, spiteful, harmful, dark and used for selfish gain, often works within the shadow areas.
This is my impression of the classification of witchcraft and quite frankly I find it to be bull to the highest degree. I get why people run around claiming to be a white witch, it smacks of acceptance and ‘I’m a good witch’ and will therefore calm the masses who might give in to bouts of hysteria. It’s just not the truth; there are no shades in Witchcraft. Why? Because if you practice only one “shade”, you are practicing a completely imbalanced path; serving only one area might make you feel better but won’t accomplish much. Witchcraft as a natural practice also must mimic the natural world. Everything has a balance.
It makes me think of those who work with The Morrigan in her facet of a Goddess of Witchcraft and Magick and completely discount the fact that she is also a Goddess of War, Destruction and Death. She is a battlefield Goddess and has a triple face of equally vicious sisters who are vengeful. Hecate is another, yes she is a Goddess of Witchcraft and Magick but she is also a Goddess of the Crossroads and the Underworld, she is of the darker places. I think sometimes new witches do not realise the whole of who these Goddesses are, they see “Goddess of Witchcraft” and that is about as far as they get. These Goddesses have survived through the centuries because they are fearsome and powerful. I would never approach either of them without understanding the whole of who they are, instead of just the part that sounds cool and fun.
As Lirio said in The Craft “True magic is neither black, nor white - it's both because nature is both. Loving and cruel, all at the same time.” And this is true of witchcraft. There is no white/grey/black witchcraft, there is simply witchcraft. Now I know some people are probably going to disagree with me and that’s fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I can’t get on board with this idea of there being shades of witchcraft.
What do I practice if I was to clarify or classify? I practice a traditional path, I am an Animist, I am a cunning crafter, I work with divination, I work with herbs and plant spirits. I am a practitioner of the Green Craft and I think the best words that are near to what I do or practice would be the article at Ivy on the Path. It’s a fascinating read and really did inspire me, although I still don’t work with Deity. Personal preference, although I have learned that on occasion, if Deity wishes to speak to you, nothing you do will prevent them from having their message heard.
I was raised reading fairytales, the Grimm ones that don’t always necessarily have the happy ending. I read a lot as a child and the world opened up in new ways to me, fairytales inevitably had the good vs bad conclusion but I never ever felt connected to the heroine of the piece, I always felt more for the “bad” or “evil” witch. I always thought she was more misunderstood than anything else. I would play in the garden with the faeries. I grew up on movies like The Princess Bride, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Willow and the other wonderful early fairytale movies. These movies are dark, and although there is an eventual triumph of good over evil, there is no doubt that a lot of us grew up during a time in books and movies where there was a definite lack of the happy, white light nonsense. What has that got to do with anything? It’s a perspective thing, growing up when the lesson was not to walk in the woods alone, nowadays that lesson seems to be that the wolf and Snow are the bestest of buds. I learned growing up that there was darkness in the world but it could be balanced and that is why I think I am able to approach witchcraft with the balanced view of polarity.
As the Australian Witch stated in her video, there is a plethora of people out there online and in the real world that do not walk their talk and have no clear idea of their path but tell others it is fine to be whatever, to practice whatever. And to a degree it is, but you can’t walk this path if you have no clear idea on what your path is, walking this path is a lifelong commitment, a way of life. It’s not a fad or whim to be taken up because some one watched something cool with a witch in it. Witchcraft is not a cool factor; it is not a fad or a trend or something to be taken lightly. There are forces on this plane and others that would not hesitate to lay the smackdown to pretenders, mockers and those who do not walk this path seriously.
I’m not trying to preach or force my own ideas on others but I find some things that are quite prevalent in the larger community to be the height of ridiculous. There is a level of respect that needs to be had and I feel sometimes that is missing. Our paths are ever evolving and changing for nothing can ever stay the same otherwise we stagnate and do not grow spiritually. However I do believe that the growing does not include the forever flip flopping of paths, ideals and beliefs as it suits or is fashionable.
So at the end of this, all I ask is that one approach this path with respect and at least some working knowledge and truly, if you want to be taken seriously by others in the community PLEASE do not start with the colour coded witchcraft nonsense because it shows a lack of understanding and knowledge and will not get you the help you desire or require.
I do like Mexican food and given the chance, I eat it quite a bit. But the only thing I have a huge issue with is the spice, I have a food sensitivity to overly spicy food (which sucks because I love the smell and taste of sweet chilli). One day I was doing rice for something and on the back of the Coles rice packet was a recipe for Mexican Rice Salad. I made it and found it was delicious!! It’s addictive; you could stand there with just a fork and eat the whole thing. I thought I would share the recipe for all of those Mexican food lovers out there.
Mexican Rice Salad
Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 6
2 cups Rice (cooked and cooled) 2 chorizo sausages sliced into half circles 250gm punnet grape tomatoes halved 310gm can of corn kernels 1 large avocado peeled, chopped ¼ cup coriander chopped 2 tbspn chives chopped
1. Cook rice until tender, rinse and put aside to cool. 2. Cook chorizos in a frying pan for 3 – 4 minutes until brown, add tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes to warm thoroughly. 3. Combine rice, chorizo and tomato, corn, avocado, coriander and chives in large bowl. 4. Combine dressing ingredients and toss through salad. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.
If you are vegetarian, just leave the chorizo (sausage) out.
Do you know, I only realized today typing up the recipe that you are supposed to cook the tomatoes with the chorizos? I’ve just been cutting it up and putting it fresh into the salad – tastes better that way anyway.
My adaptations to recipe:
Make dressing first, flavours have time to infuse with each other. Put tomato in fresh not cooked. I usually make one cup of rice but keep the rest of the proportions the same.
I was having a mini Mexican fiesta dinner last night with nachos, guacamole and rice salad – here’s a photo of the finished dinner – and yes, it tasted as delicious as it looks. Next time I’m thinking of subbing the nachos for some mini burritos or enchiladas.
One avocado chopped
One tomato chopped
Juice half a lemon (or lime)
Small bit of onion chopped
Salt n Pepper to taste
3 - 4 drops tobasco sauce
Combine it all up in a bowl and pop it in the fridge.
Bottle of salsa sauce
I tend to cook the pork mince with a little bacon and tomato paste but that is just my tastes. I add the salsa into the pork and let simmer. Once that's done, it's a matter of layering: chips, meat sauce, cheese - repeat until desired tower of nachos is completed. If you're vegetarian, you can still make the nachos, just leave the mince and bacon out.
So there is my simple yet delicious mexican fiesta dinner! I could eat it all the time.
I came across a new form of incense I had not previously seen recently – incense pellets. They are essentially herbs and resins held together by liquid of a binding nature like honey or wine or both. I just knew I had to give this a go. If I could do it and they turned out well, I would use them in personal practice as well as make some for my business. Perhaps the most variety of this incense is called Kyphi, an Ancient Egyptian ceremonial/worship incense. Although the Egyptian variety is far more complex, having up to 16 ingredients, I decided to go with a simpler recipe I found here.
My teeny tiny cake tin lined.
My dry mix
I figured out what kind of incense pellets I wanted to make, prosperity was the choice of course; I need some funds to begin my business anew. I gathered together my ingredients – a simple recipe of chamomile, clove, basil, marjoram and vervain – and let the ingredients sit together in a ziplock bag for a few days to combine scents and integrate with each other. Once I felt the herbs were combined I moved forward to make it. I lined a small cake tin with greaseproof paper; this is where I will let them cure for two weeks.
Adding the honey.
The combined mix.
I combined it with honey, no wine, and mixed it all about. The balls were relatively easy to form once enough binding honey was in it, don’t kid yourself though, it is quite messy – fun though. I put them in their little tin ready for curing for the next 14 days, during which time I will have to turn them every one to two days.
My rolled incense pellets.
I’m very excited and will offer up an update when they are ready for testing, they smell absolutely divine, very much like spring which is fabulous. Ooohh my palms are itching to play and burn and use.
Growing mandrakes can be time consuming to a degree, so one has to be kind of dedicated to the opening stages of mandrake growing. Mandrake seeds have some sort of chemical in them that can prevent or at least complicate germination. I had to soak them in cold water in the fridge for two weeks, the water had to be changed every day so the leeched chemical would not get back into the seeds.
Once this was done, I was ready for the planting and now the babies have been planted, ready to grow (I hope). I’m really looking forward to this process; it’s been awhile since I’ve tried to develop a relationship with any plant whilst it is growing. I would like one of the mandrakes to be an alraun if it is willing to be so, for this I know building a relationship is important.
So for now I will wait and hopefully soon my little mandrakes begin to poke through the potting soil and begin their growth into this world.
So in keeping with the idea of getting my stuff together, I have planted my mandrake seeds but I also made time to plant some chamomile, mugwort and white sage. Some nice witchy herbs on the grow for making things like smudge sticks and whatnot.
I made a promise to myself that I would do instead of read. I’m a witch who has always stuck to the theory not practical, might have pulled out the occasional bit of spell work but nothing too taxing. I read, this is what I do and I do it very well. I’ve always been happy doing the reading, there is nothing more warming and wonderful than cracking open the pages of a book, smelling that book smell (the book lovers will know what I mean) and knowing that worlds beyond worlds await, you only have to turn the pages and begin the journey. My problem or rather more appropriately, my issue is that I tend to stay within the realm of words and far remove myself from the world of action.
I am also a huge blog reader, I have a short list on my profile of blogs I follow but the list as it stands in my favourites is rather large. Like anyone I have my favourite bloggers who I read regularly and I often feverently wish they would post more. I like to read about their adventures in witchery, they always seem far more fascinating than my own. I realise and acknowledge that a fair amount of my morning when I could be doing more productive things is taken up by reading (it’s a whole thing, when you’re a mad reader like me it is all you tend to do most of the time) and I often let the day get away from me. I’ll admit, reading the adventures of other witches leaves me feeling slightly envious because they are doing these amazing things and really living the life of the witch. I see them living the life I wish I had. It is though they are living my dream and I am the spectator watching it all happen feeling myself slowly fading into the realm of nothingness. They do wondrous things, perform feats of witchcraft that seem monumental, create absolutely fabulous herbal products and handcrafted tools.
I often sit there thinking I wish I could do it, and truthfully I could do it, I just have to battle with my lack of motivation. I have all of the passion and none of the “go” to do it. One of my biggest flaws has always been a large dose of procrastination genes. I think, I analyse, I think a bit more and to just make sure I’m covering all of my bases, I think just a little bit more. By the time the thinking is done, there are new things to consider and so the same vicious cycle starts again. It’s quite pathetic, I’m aware but I can’t quite figure how to get past it.
My brilliant realization for this post is that I want to be the one doing, if I want to read posts about wondrous witchery, I need to do it more. I should write the posts I want to read, I should write about the things I want to experience but instead of just thinking about it, I need to get out and do it.
So this is my point, the doing instead of the reading. I need to do more things to be able to write the posts I want to read but it is two fold because it also gets me more involved with my spirituality again, something that I have felt so completely disconnected from lately. I can’t even muster up any interest; I’m too tired, too drained, just too…too. I can literally waste hours looking at things on the internet that I wish I was doing (I’m quite bad when it comes to Etsy) and I should use that time to do something more productive.
I have a lot going on with my three holistic therapies courses, I was massively behind on my Tafe which I have now been able to catch up on so I am promising myself with all sorts of personal threats to back it up to truly stay on track and not get behind on my studies. Within that frame I also want to rebuild my store and start handcrafting wonderful things for my business. So we shall see.
The good thing is I am starting to motivate myself. The previous post was about witches flying ointment and I’ve made some (more on that later), I’ve just not used it yet so that is my next thing. My other projects are making incense pellets and candles and my Mandrake project. I feel more motivated to do it.
Because I realized (as I mentioned in my first post this month) that I have let so many of my dreams go, I have waved goodbye to them and let myself leave those dreams behind. I’ve tried to move forward doing other things. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing my courses and I am looking forward to the day I can call myself a qualified Holistic Therapist but my true passion was always with my witchcraft, was always with making things. I recently discovered my Cherry died, it never really grew to start with if I’m being honest, I have an idea to use the trunk and make a lovely, warm cherry wood wand to sell. Small things, small steps. I am encouraged by the fact that I took the time to actually make the bath bombs and flying ointment. If I can do this, I can get my dreams back on track.
I also wanted to keep on top of my blogging. I’ve got a few things to post but I am not going to go so overboard and post random things like I was before. I have ideas to write about different areas of witchcraft, I want to get my tarot and herbal blog up and going again. I also want to find myself again, I think through all of this I have lost sight of who I am and that part of me is pissed off. She wants to be back at the forefront. So I will find who I am and I will find my passion again. It may take time but I think it will happen, it has to, there is no other choice.
So walking forward I must remember:
Will do instead of read. Will do instead of read. Will do instead of read.
Amendment: Will still read (can't help myself) but will also make time to do as well.
Flying ointment (also called witches' flying ointment, green ointment, magic salve and lycanthropic ointment) is oftimes a hallucinogenic salve applied to the skin to induce trance or a trance like state. It was believed to be used by witches to travel to Sabbat rites and to roam on the astral plane.
It was previously made from animal fat as this was the base most often available to the poor, the herbs would be rendered in the fat to extract the chemicals responsible for achieving the trance state or “flying”. Most of the herbs in the Flying Ointment were from the Solanaceae family, herbs from this family contain the alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine which, if ingested, can cause severe poisoning, heart failure and heart problems among other things, not least of all if you’re not careful, death. It was thought that the witches flying ointment was specifically linked to the medieval period however there are a lot of instances throughout pre-christian history that log uses of salves and ointments to achieve an altered state. Archeology has found that herbs from this family may have been used as far back as the Neolithich period which shows our ancestors were using hallucinogenics well before the rise of civilisation as we now view it.
A flying ointment works by lowering the perceived barriers between our world and others, allowing us to glimpse the other side, to commune with spirits and help with shapeshifting, hedge crossing, divine information and astral projection. Flying ointment can also help enhance personal power to give a boost to magical workings. It may also allow the witch to connect with powers she may not normally have access to.
To use ointment, apply to any of the following places: third eye, soles of the feet, armpits, inner wrists or the base of your neck. It is best not to touch any other places on your body, nor children or pets. Make sure hands are washed thoroughly before putting them anywhere near your mouth, eyes etc. And most of all, keep the ointment away from children and pets, you don’t want any accidental poisonings.
Oh, I have been beyond the town, Where nightshade black and mandrake grow, and I have been and I have seen What righteous folk would fear to know!
The Witches Ballad (I.B.O.S)
I’ve always been fascinated by Mandrake. I couldn’t tell you when or why or even how it all began. I imagine it is probably a childhood interest that I can’t remember; I was quite the devourer of fairytales and other magical stories. All I know is that this plant has called to me for a long time; I feel its pull like nothing else in the world of plants. The only other bond I experience this deeply is that of the Oak. I’ve not been ready for the power of the Mandrake for a long time. I bought seeds years ago intending to grow them but the seeds disappeared; perhaps it was not time then. But now I have come full circle on the interest of the Mandrake as I will be venturing into the world of growing my own.
I know it is not an easy task, especially since I want to build a relationship with the plant; I want to be able to use the roots in magic when they have been harvested. I may even consider creating an Alruan with one; I think it will mostly depend on whether or not the plant wishes to work with me. I am hoping that the Mandrake feels the same connection, if not I am sure it will point me in the direction of whomever it feels it must be with.
This is of course granted I can get any to grow in the first place.
So soon begins the Mandrake Project, so important I shall give it its own tag so that my journey with this plant is easy to find. I’m not sure how often I will be writing about the process, it will depend on how it goes. I am hoping that at the end of it I have a wonderful working partner and a fuller understanding of the mandrake.
I am not really a bath person but my Mum is so I like to make up salts and herbal things for her. This time my experiment included making bath bombs for the first time. I’m thinking if I get them down pat, creating ritual bath bombs to sell would be an idea.
The recipe I followed was from a show called “Grow Your Own Drugs”; I adapted it to suit me and went ahead with some fizzy fun!
From Grow Your Own Drugs
5 to 6 Fresh Flowers or 1 – 2 tbsp dried 1 tbsp Citric Acid 3 tbsp Bi-Carbonate of Soda 10 drops essential oil 1 tsp vegetable or almond oil Large biscuit cutter for shape Salt can also be added for a more therapeutic bomb, just add extra liquid as needed to combine.
1)Preheat the oven to 180C. Once oven has reached that temperature, turn off heat and place the fresh flowers, hanging upside down, from a rack in the oven to dry for about 2hrs. When dry, remove the flowers from stalks and set aside.
2)For the next stage you need to make the bowl you are using, and your hands are completely dry – otherwise the bomb will start fizzing. In a glass bowl, mix the citric acid and bi-carb together. Add a few drops of the essential oil and 1 tsp of the dried flowers, along with the vegetable or almond oil. Mix everything together with a metal spoon.
3)Place the biscuit on top of a piece of non stick baking paper. Put the mixture in the biscuit cutter and press down with the back of a spoon. The oil will need to evaporate so the bomb can set as a dry, hard block – let set for a minimum of 30 minutes and preferably overnight.
STORAGE: Store in aluminum foil to keep out moisture.
They worked brilliantly, fizzed to perfection and the scent was just right. I am definitely going to keep making them because it was just so much fun – and actually really quick too. It’s not a time consuming craft and it lets you get in touch with your inner child, seriously, you’ll feel like a kid again. The best thing about making bath bombs is that they can have larger magical implications such as use for ritual, spellwork, herbal works, whatever your mind can imagine them being for!
This year has been abysmal, heartbreaking and difficult. In fact the only positive light I could see in the year so far is that Mojo came to live with us. Her and Bella are finally getting along which is fabulous, they adore one another. This year has challenged me, almost broken me and left me feeling empty and bereft. I lost my spiritual side somewhere along the way and recently I’ve come to realise just how disconnected I was from that part of myself.
I made the decision to finally clean my altar the other day; the layer of dust already on it was starting to get another one. Yes, I let my altar collect dust and didn’t make the effort to clean it, I couldn’t be bothered. I just walked past it as though it wasn’t even there. I started from the bottom and worked my way up, cleaning the shelves, re-organising, changing things around and putting them back in a new order. I finally got to the top, dusted everything and washed it. I actually took the time to care finally. When I went to put everything back on it, I realised I didn’t know what my path was anymore, I couldn’t see where it was or who I was. I had to think about it because my path is so devolved and stagnant that I needed to approach it differently this time. So I left it bare, except for those few essentials. Remaining is a representation of each element, my altar besom, wand and athame, and this is all that is going to remain until I can figure out where I will be going next, what twisted, winding road lies before me.
I wrote in my About Me page: “I am a Priestess of the Old Religion, a witch, herbalist and diviner. I am a High Priestess, Pagan Clergy and teacher. I am a garden witch, a herbal witch, a hedge witch, a wild witch – I run with the spirits of old and play in the garden of nature. I fly at night and commune with Others; I craft herbs and share their essence. I work with oils and salves, I craft wood and stone, I read from tarot and oracle to divine the future. I walk the path of a witch as well and as full as I can; learning more as I go and embracing the journey wherever it may lead me.” And this is who I want to be, this is who I feel I am and I will need to find her again.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks re-thinking myself and my dreams and realising that in the process of trying to overdo I’ve let dreams go that meant a lot to me and I want to get the desire back to fulfill those dreams. I always let things get in my own way and I don’t take the time to really do what I want. I do the things I think I need to and while it gets done, it isn’t what I wanted or intended to start with. Those dreams are coming back and I can taste them, I just need to pull myself together and drive myself to do them. I have slowly been putting things together to get to this place, now I need to take that final step and begin moving forward knowing I can do it if I try. They say the power of positive thinking is key, although I don’t necessarily believe in that sentiment, I am walking forward with the spirit of the saying foremost in my mind. I can achieve what I want; I just need to make the effort to do so.
I also pulled out my tarot and oracle cards for the first time in months. I had no desire to work with them and it was like greeting an old friend I had thought lost to me. I had purchased the Wildwood Tarot a couple of months ago and never used it, it sat unshuffled and in its same condition in my tarot box. I finally got it out and worked with it a bit, the reading was nice, it answered my questions and I think I will be able to build a great working relationship with this deck. The others I shuffled and laid cards out, there was no real question in my mind more of a reacquainting myself with them. Divination oh how I’ve missed you!
I also made up a couple of things to sell on eBay, unfortunately dreams need money and that is something I am sorely lacking but hopefully I can get some cash together to get the things I want. I used to sell on eBay all the time but it got more costly, there was less profit. To be expected I suppose, I was small time compared to others. I am going to start selling again, small things, herbs and such to earn money. I eventually want to create my own products to sell, much like they do on Etsy. However to test the market, I was thinking of taking advantage of Uncle Fester’s new Open Marketplace. If it proves to be successful I would make on a larger scale and revamp my website to match this new handcrafted way.
I don’t think my blog is going to be the same as it was, some elements will remain but I think my new path will bring surprises and areas of knowledge I had previously not thought to explore. I am going to find the wild witch, the person who is as her About Me page states. I am going to get down and dirty and do.
It’s a long road in front of me, to find the Wild Witch within, to run with the spirits and play in the garden of nature. I look forward to the time where I am a cunning crafter, witch, seer and creatrix. I know the path is far and long, I know there is much to do before I can truly be where I want to be. The small things start now, re-evaluation, creation and discipline. So for now I walk baby steps and hope that the baby steps become strong, long and wise. I look through the thickened bracket and I can see the beginnings of a path, I can feel myself begin to pull toward this new road, this new adventure and I embrace it, I feel the connection, light though it is, and I want to know what lies beyond the hedge.
So I begin to walk with abated breath and anticipation of the journey ahead.