Deborah J. "DJ" Martin

A Witch and a Bitch with an Herbal Itch - and an overactive imagination

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Month: October 2014

Kitchen Witch-My Style

A couple of weeks ago, I may have mentioned that I was working on a new project. This one was even sorta crafty – and craft-related!

You’ve no doubt heard of a kitchen witch – not the witch that does most of her work in the kitchen but the little good luck charm sold by many. They can look like most anything but typical is this one found on etsy:

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I also may have mentioned a time or two that mouse is one of my spirit animals. Once upon a time, I even made & sold custom-dressed mouse dollies & other mouse-related stuff. This is the last dolly I made – 18 years ago – for my then-fiancé, who is a fencer (Monsieur L’Escrimouse is awfully old & dirty & cat-chewed, now):

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Anyhoo, I got a bug up my butt a couple of weeks ago and decided that I needed a kitchen witch. Naturally, it had to be a mouse. (First, I had to find the danged pattern…) But here’s the result – my Kitchen Witchmouse:

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She’s got her broom (of course) and has just come in from harvesting herbs in the garden. (Yes, that’s real rosemary – purification & protection, dontcha know.) She now resides atop my cupboards, overseeing all my kitchen witchery.

A Familiar’s Tale, Part II

Image by Dave Scelfo. Used under Creative Commons license 2.0

Image by Dave Scelfo. Used under Creative Commons license 2.0

Fudge continues his story (Prologue and Part I).

 

Familiars, like witches and wizards, have an affinity for one element. Mine is Earth and I am always assigned to Earth-affinity humans. Abou’s master was Water-affinity and did not know how to teach an Earth. He petitioned his gods to change Abou’s element. Needless to say, the petition went unanswered. One cannot change their element! However, the master seemed to be attached to Abou and rather than sell Abou to another mage-priest who was of the correct affinity, the master determined to make Abou the best priest he could. We were taught basic energy manipulation and what Water spells we could handle but Abou and I were on our own to learn how to handle our element. That we accomplished by asking questions of other mages and practicing in our quarters at night.

As a mage’s assistant, Abou was taught how to make the various incenses that were burned at specific times of the day in the temple; how to make spell tablets, charms, amulets and the like for the common people; and most importantly, how to read and write, writing being necessary for the spell tablets and the scrolls buried with their dead. That allowed Abou to read the scrolls of knowledge from all parts of the known world housed in the library his master oversaw.

Abou became proficient in all that was required of a priest but his magic never seemed very strong, even when I added my own strength to his. Whatever he attempted, his master always seemed to accomplish with much less effort. In the beginning, I just thought the master was stronger.

One day Abou attempted to infuse a potion with simple healing energy and only managed a trickle of power, even with my help. The master brushed Abou aside and with no effort, I saw a good stream of energy make its way from his hands to the potion. I felt I had failed my human until I saw a glint in his master’s eye then heard in my head, “A familiar’s magic is only as strong as his human’s. In effect, you double his power. Your human is very weak but only because his master siphons energy from him. You must help your human to break that cycle if he is to become all he may be.”

This was the first communication I had received from a superior since the welcome message I received when I was about six months of age. I sent a query back of, “why now?”

And felt my head swing sideways as I received a metaphysical slap from what I perceived as a much larger paw. “You have the knowledge within you but it was obvious you needed a reminder. Search yourself, youngling!”

After another cuff on the ear, the presence withdrew from my mind. My head was reeling both from the slap and the realization that my superior was correct. I had seen the flows of energy between Abou and his master and ignored them. In my naiveté, I assumed humans knew to draw from the natural energy around them as I did … from the air, earth, water, even fire. Apparently, Abou’s master did not adhere to this principle. Instead, he drew from his apprentice or anyone else who happened to be in proximity.

But how to tell Abou his master was an energy thief without dimming his adoration for the man who had pulled him from starvation and given him a purpose in life? How to tell him he must shield when we only communicated in images and feelings?

To be continued…

Curanderismo

I’m always curious about folk healing. First, because it was around (and mostly effective) long before science took over. Second, because it’s interesting to see both similarities and differences between cultures. It’s especially interesting to note how the same herb is used for the same thing, regardless of what part of the world you may be in. Lastly, most folk healing recognizes the connection between our mind, body and spirit – something that is sorely lacking in today’s medicine.

When this introductory course on curanderismo (folk healing in the southwestern US, Mexico and parts of Central & South America) was announced, I saw it as an opportunity to learn about another culture and hey, it was FREE.

Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. The course really should be entitled, “Introduction-Lite”. A maximum of 45 minutes’ of videos a week and a multiple-choice test (where you get two tries to get it right?) doesn’t give a whole lot of information. They don’t explain some things at all – just demonstrate. I’m guessing it’s a teaser to get you to take the two-week, in-person course they offer every summer at the University of New Mexico. For me, ain’t gonna happen – I have obligations that keep me in the office, y’know?

One of the things that sort of befuddled me was in the video about making tinctures (yer standard folk method), they mention that in Mexico, caña is generally used as the menstruum. That’s effectively a cane sugar version of Everclear. In lower proofs, you know it better as rum. However, in the video, they used vodka. That got me a little confused because cane sugar alcohol is readily available here in the US. So, I visited my favorite bartender, who just happens to be from Guadalajara, and asked him. He, too, was confused. But I got a tidbit from him I’ll share with you:

Caña isn’t much available outside the border states with Mexico. That said, apart from your favorite brand of rum (which comes in both 80 and 100 proof if you make your tinctures scientifically), there is something called aguardiente. Here you have to be careful because that can be made with something other than cane sugar but … it comes as high as 54% alcohol, which is 108 proof. Carlos says it’s smoother than rum and, understanding what I was getting at with my questions, thought it would make a more palatable tincture than straight vodka or rum. Although vodka is considered a “cleaner” alcohol than rum (and thus would make a better tincture), I really don’t like the taste of vodka – even in drops –  so I’m going to get some aguardiente and try it.

Back to the course: I had a lot more luck poring through their “recommended reading” books than watching the videos. Although you will never learn to be a curandero/a (the Spanish language differentiates nouns between the masculine & feminine, if you didn’t know) without studying/apprenticing under someone, the reading gave a lot more in-depth information on how they go about things. Of the five books recommended, I found the following two of the most interest:

Woman Who Glows in the Dark by Elena Avila

Sastun by Rosita Arvigo

The first because it’s written by someone with extensive experience in the allopathic (scientific medicine) world who left it behind to follow her heritage. The second because, although it doesn’t really go into a lot of detail, it’s written by someone who grew up in the United States with our allopathic system and apprenticed under a curandero in Belize.

Although I like my doctor, I wish there was a curandero/a nearby. I think it’s important to treat the whole person and, although she tries, my doctor doesn’t have time because she’s dependent on that insurance reimbursement.  If he was a hierbero (or yerbero), we could compare notes between their use of herbs & mine – I studied Western herbalism. I’d find that fascinating.

October is Here!

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Forget the candy that gets passed out solely on 31st October. Witches do it right – fun crafts, recipes and giveaways throughout the entire month!

So, go check out these folks:

Red Wheel/Weiser Books is giving away books and a tote bag on their Facebook page.

Jen over at Rue and Hyssop is doing her annual Great October Book Giveaway. One every 4 days for the entire month!

Last but not least, check out the fun at Samhain’s Sirens. A new page goes up every Monday through Saturday. (You might want to pay close attention to Fridays. Just sayin’. 😉 )

Follow individual instructions to enter their giveaways. Who knows? You could win some cool stuff!