Fare thee well summer - you were horrendous. Welcome to Autumn as it begin tomorrow. How I do love the season of the witch, the crisper air, the eventual daylight savings, the changing of the leaves and the dew on the morning grass. I can't wait for autumn to truly kick off and begin working her magic.
I've been playing with an idea in my head. As you know, I'm a bit of a prolific 'photograph my garden and post the pictures' type of girl and I've been considering whether or not to have a blog just of the images - more specifically the more professional kind of looking images I've taken - of my garden or other natural or nature based things I tend to take photos of. I'm not sure if I would include any from my personal practice that I post because most of them are more of a snapshot type image.
I've included a small gallery on my website but I was considering whether or not to have a blog dedicated to photography (one of my hobbies I don't generally talk much about). Thoughts?
I took the plunge and created a Facebook page for my blog & businesses - I really procrastinated about it for some time, flipping this way and that wondering if I wanted to. I find too many issues come up on FB but I thought it would be better for my visibility business-wise. So if you would like to like my page, it is HERE. I've not really done much on it, I'm not even sure what I'm going to do with it. I think to start with just update when I write blog posts, put in links to products and also links to interesting articles I come across online. I'm not completely sure on my cover photo, I'm thinking of changing it once I get around to photographing something I really love.
My second development is that I've created a website through Weebly to encompass all of my links (blog, business, FB etc) and that is HERE. Any constructive criticisms are welcome, I'm open to learning. I'm not going to bother with Twitter or Instagram or anything like that. I'm not a social media maven, honestly aside from my blog, reading others blogs and the occasional Facebooking, I tend to avoid it, must be my inner hermitess.
Hopefully everything goes well with the site and the FB page, I suppose I will just see how it all gets along as time goes on.
In my quest to continue experimenting and trying new things, I decided to make some ink the other day. I've never made it before and there is like a hundred different recipes online to make it, others don't necessarily expound on how to do it. I chose to make Oak ink, it is my favourite tree and it has great power. I used bark, leaf and acorn.
I poured hot water over it to create an infusion, then simmered it to reduce it. You would think it would have an unpleasant smell but Oak actually has a lovely scent. Not surprising I guess, the tree is used in healing.
I was left with a brown colour. I actually added some watercolour paint to deepen it slightly. I added xanthan gum (but wouldn't you know it, I forgot the myrrh) and a small shot of vodka before straining it through a sieve.
Here is my ink. I've not used it yet, I have to fashion myself a quill to give it a go. Although I may do some more work with this ink by adding the myrrh. I'll have to wait and see what the consistency is when writing with it.
Here is the Oak. This tree is known throughout history as being important to many cultures, the Celts especially as well as the Fae. It is a tree that represents strength and longevity as this tree can live for hundreds of years. It is considered a tree of Thor because it can attract lightening, thankfully we've never had to endure that particular experience. I'd be absolutely devastated if anything happened to this tree.
I've been thinking about this blog lately and what it means. It's called the Country Witch's Cottage because I am a country witch that lives in a cottage (a country area which is unfortunately currently experiencing some rather unpleasant fires) and because it really represents the style of craft I practice. Simple, country magic with no artifice or complications, intuitive and flowing with no set rule or style. I am a hedgewitch and often times I think probably the more traditional kind - the woman who lives in her cottage with her garden who knows about herbs and how to use them, who works her magic in solitude preferring nature to people, the one who if a neighbour is needing a remedy will make one and give it to them to try - it's who I am. So much so that I've decided to open an Etsy store with this name and will eventually get around to renaming my eBay store (I have to retake images with labels on it with the new name). I felt like I had to tie it all in together because it made more sense and because it is who I am and what I do.
I wanted to write about it because from time to time I will likely write about the things I am selling with links to my stores and I wanted to be absolutely clear that I'm not turning into one of those people who purely use their blogs to plug their products (which is fine for some, no judgements here). It it is more for people who buy from my stores and find themselves coming over to read my blog. As most of you know who have been reading my blog for awhile, I tend to show my processes when I make things. I like to share that information so if anyone buys something from me, they can come over and see what I do and what I'm about. I did use to have a business blog but it got to be a pain to try and keep it updated and for the most part, anything I do make, I tend to do so because it interests me and I incorporate it into my own path.
My blog will still stay the same, me rambling about my spirituality and inundating it with pictures of my garden but it will also include stuff to do with my stores from time to time. It probably won't be that often though. I'm not intending to be a big scale seller, just some one who enjoys making and sharing herbal things and crafts. I do have an Etsy for straight up herbal remedies and herbal stuff but its empty at the moment. I haven't even begun to consider that part of my plan yet. I just wanted to share this with you in case you wondered why I was suddenly posting stuff I have for sale.
As some one who walks the path of witch and herbalist, two natures inexplicably entwined, the actions of herbs of both healing and baneful fascinate me. The herbalist in me heals and focuses her attention on herbs for that purpose, but the witch in me giggles in delight at the idea of the “darker” herbs, the banes. During the time I took a break from this blog, I decided to explore parts of my path I hadn’t fully committed to. I claimed to be a hedge witch but didn’t really practice it. I feared what I might see or experience so I claimed the title in earnest, journeyed some without any sort of accompaniment, and generally skimmed along the surface of Otherworld without any real commitment or truth. I felt that had to change. I felt if I was to be true to who I was, I had to really walk the path I claimed.
So I did, using my flying ointment made of mugwort, wormwood and mandrake. It was an interesting and eye opening experience and it changed me. It also called me to explore the ‘Poison Path’ more deeply. So I took the plunge and decided to create my first truly baneful ointment consisting of belladonna, datura, henbane and mandrake. Perhaps one day I will share with you the impact of that journey but for now it remains with me, offering a guiding light as I begin to explore new avenues and new paths.
I have to say from the outset, I won’t be sharing the recipe or measurements. These herbs are not ones you can follow a recipe to and expect it to work, you have to learn the nature of the herbs, respect them and understand them. Each plant has a unique spirit, a message to share. I would encourage you, if the Solanaceae family attracts you, to begin researching and learning about it before plunging headlong into using the herbs of this family.
I’ve yet to use the ointment; it is happily brewing in the sun on the kitchen windowsill. With the heat we’ve been having here, the oils are getting very heated during the day, absorbing the components and magic of the herbs. I have to say I love looking into herbs and oils through the sunlight; it almost appears as another world. But then again, using the ointments takes you to another place, another world, sometimes even just another feeling so perhaps the truth of it is that herbs are the gateway to another realm.
I think I am going to leave it brewing until the weather begins to cool down, until autumn is upon us. It is my favourite season, it sets my witchy senses tingling. It is called the season of the witch and I truly feel it, the crisper air, the shorter days, it inspires action in me in a way that other parts of the year don’t. And more so than any other year, I can’t wait for the season to begin, I am so over the heat we’re experiencing. As I sit and write this, I think it is hitting upwards of 43C here today.
With the fires we’ve been having around here lately, I thought it may not be a bad idea to conjure up some magical protection. The last thing I want is for me and mine to be harmed by fire. As I look outside I can see that the flames are being reflected by the sun, the light of the day has a distinct orange tint. The clouds are lined with the grayness of smoke. A breeze blows and while it is a relief from the incessant heatwave we’ve been having, it is a nightmare for the firefighters out there trying to contain and put out the blaze. I ask everyone to take a moment to think of the firefighters trying to protect the district from burning down and think of the area being rained on in order for the fires to be put out completely. Because that is what we need right now, rain and a lot of it.
My protective item of choice is the witch’s bottle. The Witch’s Bottles has been around since at least the 15th century, used as an ancient form folk magic to ward off evil spirits and protect oneself from enemies as well as deflecting bad energies back to where they came from. Witches Bottles have been found in some unusual places during excavations and renovations of older properties.
It is often made to help protect an individual and their home/property/family from evil entities, negative energies, curses and hexes. The best way to use a witch’s bottle is to bury it 12 inches deep in the farther most corner of your property or in a place that will remain undisturbed for years. If you are unable to bury it, keeping in the back corner of a closet or cupboard will work just as well; as long as the bottle remains unbroken, the magic will stay intact.
Traditional bottles contained all sorts of interesting items. Pins, needles, parts of animals, broken glass, human DNA, herbs, wine – the list goes on. Each person had their own interpretation of how it should be put together. I went for something very simple. Mine has the charms of a pentagram (protection), lock and key (to represent the home and unwelcome energies being locked out), a nail to prick anything that comes near that is not welcome, a thorn from the boxthorn to also prick and to discourage any natural energies that may not be welcome, salt for purification and protection, broken glass, red thread to bind enemies and negative energies and the herbs of bay and rosemary for their protective energies. I’ve not decided where to put it yet, but I am considering leaving it in the house in order for it to be focused on protecting the home and all who reside inside.
I have listed a couple available for sale in my etsy store.
The dark moon was a perfect time for a baneful harvest. Tucked away in the furthest corner of one of our paddocks is the African Boxthorn. It is considered a noxious, albeit naturalised, weed in Australia. It belongs to the Lycium genus, a flowering member of the Solanaceae family. Yes, the same family to which Belladonna, Mandrake, Henbane, Datura and the potato belong. It is not a large shrub, nor is it imposing on the landscape. It is simply living out its existence at the base of a large pine tree.
The thorns are impressive. Some were quite large, those that were budding I left. I want to build a relationship with this plant and continue to harvest thorns. My blackthorn is most definitely not sizeable enough for thorn harvest, my other dream thorn plant (hawthorn) I’ve yet to purchase. I’m waiting for the weather to cool down. I planted some seeds of mid last year; hopefully they choose to join the land of the growing plants this year. I’ve a fascination with thorns of late. The discovering of the boxthorn in the paddock was certainly fortuitous.
Thorns have a long history in witchcraft. Thorns were used as tools to afflict the objects of some one’s ire by use of a poppet. The thorns would be pricked into the anatomical area of the poppet where the witch or curse giver would wish to inflict harm or pain. However thorns can also be used in a protective manner. Placed into a witches bottle, they will ‘prick’ anyone who directs harm or negativity toward yourself or those who are under your protection. If you’re not at all squeamish, thorns in a chicken’s heart is a brilliantly powerful hexing or cursing duo; though not for everyone and not to be used lightly. I would never advise using them to prick the finger to create a small bit of blood for offering. As with any wood, it can cause splinters, blackthorns pricks in the skin are known to turn septic.
Thorns block the way; in some manner they could be considered a test of magical commitment. My first crossing of the hedge, I was required to work my way through a hedge filled with thorny shrubs. I bled, the sacrifice paid I was able to continue. When I was harvesting these thorns, I scratched myself quite a bit. The shrub was at quite a strange angle to the pine tree so I had to work my way in and around it in order to harvest thorns. I didn’t bleed but I believe the plant was feeling me out, seeing what my intentions were. This is where it pays to talk to the plant, explain your requirements, let it know you. I also gave it an offering of apple juice and a strawberry wafer biscuit (it was all I had on hand at the time). Later on, I will give it some blood and bone fertiliser and a healthy drink of water.
I hope this plant and I can continue to build a bond, should it begin to grow some offshoots or reseeds new plants, I may move them to my poison garden, this way, I can harvest from the mother plant and grow a baby plant. Once baby is old enough, the plant in the paddock will be left alone to grow more or do as it shall wish. Because it is the only one currently we have on our property, I have to be careful to not over harvest from it. It is perhaps the most important rule; only ever take what you need and never strip a plant bare. I will grant that it is a noxious weed so one might consider it should be gotten rid of, but if I can use it and it is not harming anything, I honestly don’t see the problem.
Once the thorns have dried, they’ll be put to various uses. I am currently in the process of creating some witch bottles. The thorns will be a part of this, but perhaps I will also put the thorns themselves in small lots for sale in my Etsy shop. I haven’t quite decided as yet but I am sure I will think of something. Meanwhile I will enjoy the experience of working with the boxthorn and understanding its nature. As a member of the Solanceae family, I would have thought its energy to be strong with a dangerous feeling, but truthfully, it was quite a gentle energy, nothing at all threatening, aside from the occasional scratch from the thorns, the boxthorn seems almost benign. Perhaps she is not showing me all of herself yet, we’re only just beginning to know one another so I imagine only time will tell.