Category Archives: magic

Do the Mundane!

/rant

“Magic is the solution to all problems.” Not. If that were the case, every experienced witch would have won the lottery; they and all their family and friends would be in perfect health (and probably immortal because who wants to lose a loved one?); there would never be any disagreements (world peace, anyone?); etc., etc., ad nauseum.

I see this so much in new witches, especially young ones who are looking for a quick fix to all their woes, but where I find myself explaining and educating the most is to non-witches. (Duh. They don’t understand how magic works because all they know is what the movies show them. “We don’t sparkle” could be applied to us as well as vampires!) Case in point:

A neighbor (the only one who doesn’t mind living near a witch and therefore takes care of our cats when we’re away) has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We were talking about it after my husband and I returned from vacation. He asked, “isn’t there something you can do, you know, woo-woo, to cure me?”

My reply was, “Diet and exercise.”

Him: “Yeah. That’s what the doctor said. But…”

Me: “I can help but you have to do the hard work, too.”

Him: “But…”

Me: “You know the phrase, ‘God helps those who help themselves?’ Same thing with magic. My Universe is like your god. If you don’t do the work to get well and maintain your health, why waste the energy? It just becomes a vicious cycle – your body heals itself for a while but because you haven’t done anything to prevent a recurrence, the symptoms come back. You ask me to do another spell, it works for a while, the symptoms come back. See where I’m going with this?”

Him: “Aw crap.”

Me: “Listen, neighbor. Prove to me you’re willing to follow doctors orders and I’ll do what I can to help. Call me in a month after your next doctor’s appointment and we’ll talk, okay?”

It’s been six weeks and I haven’t heard a peep. CHF is nothing to screw around with and I have a feeling I’ll be losing this neighbor (who is younger than me) sooner rather than later. It makes me sad.

To be frank, most problems can be solved without the use of magic. It’s usually not easy, but anything worthwhile rarely is. To me, magic is just another tool in my arsenal – a tool to be used either as an aid in what needs to be done or, as a last resort, when mundane methods fail. (I’m getting to the ‘last resort’ stage on one issue.) Am I glad I have that extra tool? You bet. But outcomes are more lasting if the mundane is done either first or alongside the magical.

So, next time you have a problem, look at all the mundane things that could/should be done before resorting to magic. You (and your resident witch) will be happier in the long run.

//rant

 

My New Charm

No, I haven’t changed my personality. 😉

As background, for years I’ve worn several things on a necklace – always under my shirt. (I have conservative clients. They wouldn’t understand.) However, my thoughts on some things have changed and what I wore no longer really had meaning to me. It was time for something new.

I really like the idea of a pentacle (the four elements plus spirit, surrounded by will) but wearing one of those openly seems to immediately identify you as Wiccan, which I certainly am not. But what to wear?

If you’ve been following along on my Facebook page, you know I’ve been learning the Herbal Tarot. Early on, I set the companion book aside because it’s geared toward herbalists who consult. I don’t. But one thing in the introduction (page ten) struck home: “[…] the ancient Greek letter theta. The circle divided into two halves signifies spirit-matter held together by the underlying principle of Divine Spirit.” I interpreted that a little differently. Body and mind, surrounded by spirit – the principle of holistic health (and witchcraft, if you think about it).

The text shows the lowercase theta. If I’d been thinking a little harder, the upper case theta would more completely show that connection – it has a little space between the horizontal bar and the surrounding circle. There is leakage between the mind and body. But then the charm would’ve had to have a back, been heavier, and I wouldn’t have liked it as much.

It took about five seconds to decide where I was going to get my new charm. My friend, Jen, introduced me to the work of Aidan Wachter several years ago and I’ve been in love with his work since. About a month later, this arrived in the mail:

Isn’t it beautiful? Go look at his website, or his Facebook page, or his Twitter feed. What he does is amazing!

Now I have a charm I can wear on the outside of my clothes, with an explanation even the most conservative of people will understand. Nestled next to it is my father-in-law/husband’s first wedding ring. Yes, there’s a story there, too, but only the fact that it was my husband’s needs to be told.

By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root – A Review

When the publication of this book was announced, I got excited. Yet another book to add to my collection on poisonous plants! In addition, Ms. Draco is a respected author in the occult world.

Once through this small book (a whopping 96 pages), I was both pleased and disappointed.

The pleased: She gives a very nice history of poisoning, detailing instances from Socrates’ famed ingestion of hemlock, through the times of the Roman Empire, to the Borgias and de’ Medicis of the Renaissance, poisonous intrigue in the English courts, and finishing with various accounts of poisonings in the 18th century (which, naturally, were mostly perpetrated by women 😉 ).

An entire chapter was devoted to the “Proving Tree”, which was a “metal stand (often attached to the salt dish) that had from five to fifteen different ‘stone’ pendants hanging from its branches.” For a few centuries, it was thought that dipping one stone or another into food would either detect or neutralize any poison found in food. Servants would have been a part of that “Proving Tree” because several would taste their master’s food before it even got to him.

The final chapter, “Cursing v Bottling”, was useful. She goes to great lengths to discourage someone from cursing which, in a book for public consumption, is a good thing. A milder retaliation is bottling and she’s got some good ideas in there.

The disappointment: the listing of the plants themselves. While the information presented is, for the most part, accurate, only a chemistry buff would be interested in the list of toxic chemicals in each plant. I’m used to reading scientific papers and I found my eyelids drooping at points. Foot- or endnotes would have made reading easier, rather than citing sources within the text.

It’s obvious this book wasn’t reviewed by someone who is an herbalist prior to publication. One example: she cites “Margaret Grieve” as the author of A Modern Herbal (Chapter 3). The initial “M” stands for Maud.

Another: she lists “Bryony black and white” as Bryonia dioica. B. dioica is red (or sometimes white) bryony, while white is B. alba. Black bryony is in another genus (Dioscorea) altogether, although no less toxic.

And one final nitpicking: all but one of the Latin binomials are in lower case, sometimes without the species name attached (making it a monomial). In case you didn’t know, the genus is always capitalized, the species not. If all species in a genus are considered, then ‘spp.’ should be after the genus.

So, I’ll give this 3.5 stars of 5. It presented a lot of good information on poisonous herbs but there are other books out there that present it better (a couple she used for reference and cited in the bibliography would be a good start). Buy it for the history lesson and how to bottle rather than curse.

 

 

Tulum

As I said last week, it’s taken me a while to process my visit to Tulum. I’m not certain I’ve still fully grasped everything, but here goes…

(Note: most of what I’m saying here is from our tour guide who, in addition to being an archaeological guide, is part Mayan. Take it as fact, or not.)

 

First, Tulum was built on the highest point on the Yucatan Peninsula and the temple – El Castillo – sits almost at the edge of the bluff. (Husband, who grew up along the coast, estimates that in its heyday, it was probably visible five or six miles out to sea.) And what a perfect site to build on – so defensible! Landward, it’s surrounded by mangrove swamps which, in addition to being almost impossible to move through without a lot of machete work, are inhabited by animals like crocodiles and venomous snakes.

Thankfully, we were there on a dry, sunny day before the rainy season. Our guide told us Tulum means “stinky soil” and that would definitely apply when things were really wet. Yet, the official site says Tulum means “wall”. I think either would apply.

One you’ve made it to the wall, you don’t have much of a choice of entries unless you want to try to scale the wall. There are only five gateways, and they’re tiny – even for a small person like me. Husband had to duck and I saw several people going through sideways. (The exit is now a path with stairs, thanks to the restoration.)

Once through the gate, you see a beautiful clearing with the ruins. (I can’t imagine the work that went into building the city, much less uncovering it again.) Not many structures are still standing and those that are, aren’t fully intact. But compared to today’s cities, it’s small. The entire site within the wall & up to the cliff is only about 300 acres – that’s about 1/3 the size of Olympic Park in London!

The first thing that hit me was the silence. Even with a bunch of tourists walking around and several tour guides giving their talks, it was so peaceful! The first word that popped into my head was “sacred”. Makes sense. The Mayan were very careful with their land, living in harmony with it rather than trying to force it to their will.

Tulum was a trading port – one of the most important in the Mayan Empire. If you look at where it’s situated on a map, you can see that it’s in a perfect spot for people to bring things both by land and sea. There’s a natural cove at the base of the cliff, making it easy for boats. Although, I wouldn’t want to haul my goods up or down that path! I would love to see a different site (leaving the ruins as they are), set up as it originally was, with re-enactors. At least, re-enactors doing what we think they would’ve been doing 800 years ago. We can thank the conquistadors for destroying virtually everything related to the Mayan culture.

Some pics of the ruins, including El Castillo*:

*Those two lumps on El Castillo (better in the closeup) are the sacrifice stones. The person would’ve been laid on their back over those two stacks of rocks so the priest could more easily go up under the rib cage rather than trying to go through it to get to the heart. Ouch.

As an earth witch, I wear moccasins when I can’t go barefoot so I can feel what’s happening around me. While I still got the feeling of “sacred”, I didn’t get the energy buzz I normally get, which puzzled me. Husband and I talked about it later and we think it was because of all the underground water. The Yucatan Peninsula is riddled with underground rivers, and cenotes are all over the place, providing fresh water – if you want to climb down for it! Which, of course, they had to. Water seems to negate earth energy for me. I’m curious what I would’ve felt if we’d been allowed on the ruins themselves. Stone has a long memory. (But thankfully, we weren’t. I’d hate to see them destroyed any further.)

Unfortunately, the number of people walking around sort of kept the wildlife away. According to our guide, there are several coati-mundi living there, including two that aren’t shy. I was so disappointed I didn’t see them! But here’s a cool bird and a squirrel that didn’t immediately split when I got close:

Another disappointment: our guide said there were native Maya selling things they’d made in the village attached to the historical site. We would’ve definitely bought something if we’d seen anything we were certain was handmade but all the wood carvings looked like they’d have a sticker that said, “hecho en China” (made in China). So, we didn’t.

The place fascinated me. And I still want to go to Chichén Itzá.

Winter Solstice 2016

If you’ve been following along, you know that the Winter Solstice is my New Year. Naturally, I celebrate the calendar along with everyone else, but the Solstice is when I do all my yearly thinking and planning. I also do a full rune cast to see what the coming year has in store for me. (It looks like a good year!)

One of the things on my bucket list is learn to read tarot. I love my runes but they don’t go into as much detail as cards. I’ve tried several different decks and have never been able to connect with the cards. Earlier this fall, I ran across The Herbal Tarot. Herbal? Hmm. Maybe I could connect with that deck? So, I bought a set, along with the companion book.

The companion book has been shelved. First, it’s aimed toward healers who want to use the deck in a consulting practice and I don’t consult. Second, it’s a wee bit too touchy-feely (and perhaps “love and light”) for my taste. The little book that comes with the deck gives all the information I’d need. (I noticed some of the Latin binomials are misspelled. Just sayin’.)

I quickly discovered the rote memorization ability that has served me well all these years no longer functions as well as it once did. I couldn’t remember a card’s meaning from one day to the next, yet spirit tells me this is something I need to learn. So, another tack, the same one I took with the runes: using them.

I don’t do daily divination for myself anymore. My life is, for the most part, very calm and predictable. (Thank goodness. At this age, I’d hate for it to be anything but.) I only cast the runes twice a year (at the Solstices) and when spirit prompts me to do so. (Or, if a friend asks for a reading.) So, that won’t work. While doing my annual thinking and planning, I came up with another method.

I’m going to borrow something from my friend, Renee. She’s been learning wire wrapping and chose “A Year of Mastery” as her theme, posting her progress both on her blog and over on her Facebook page. (If you’re a jewelry-type person, you need to check out what she & her husband do. It’s fabulous!)

Starting 1st January, I’m going to pull one card a day, using the universal, “what do we need to know for today?” as my question. I’ll post it, along with my thoughts, on my Facebook page. (Sorry, Twitter. I doubt 140 characters will be enough.) There will be a one week exception: we’re going on vacation (yay!) the end of January. I’m not hauling everything with me.

And…if you want a free reading, pop me an email with your question. It’ll give me some practice at switching my focus from runes to cards. (Note: this offer subject to withdrawal at any time.)

What do we need to know for today?

So, follow along with my Year of Mastery.

Am I A Dinosaur?

dinosaur-46298_1280

 

I’ve been contemplating this adjective for a while. Merriam-Webster defines a dinosaur as, “(2) someone or something that is no longer useful or current : an obsolete or out-of-date person or thing”.

I feel out-of-date, perhaps even a little obsolete. Perhaps it’s my age (I’m well over the half-century mark). But some of the things I’m seeing:

  • Witches no longer doing their own thinking. If a question arises, they post it onto social media and let the public answer it rather than do a little research and/or just sit and cogitate on the matter.
  • Young’uns don’t even write their own spells anymore. They just look it up in one of a myriad of books on the market today. I will admit I had no formal teaching but it seems to me creativity and personalization are a couple of ingredients in any good spell. After all, no two situations are identical in every respect. That said, writing a spell from scratch would take time and that doesn’t fit with the gotta-have-it-now mentality that seems to permeate society.
  • Then there’s the whole, “I did a spell for [this] last night and boy, was it powerful!” on social media. Just an announcement? Bragging? While it probably originates with Eliphas Lévi (1810-1875), To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent seems to have fallen by the wayside.
  • There’s an app for that. I admit technology has made life easier. I wouldn’t have the lifestyle I have if it weren’t for computers and the internet. But it only goes so far. As an example: a lot of people do divination, usually with cards or runes. Many do it on a daily basis to see what the day has in store for them. But many of them do it by pressing a button on their phone and let a computer somewhere shuffle the cards or muddle the runes.  Last I knew, the cards/runes were affected by your personal energy as you shuffled/muddled them. How can an impersonal computer, who knows how many hundreds or thousands of miles away, pick up on that energy then display the right card/rune for you?
  • People bemoaning that they can’t get close to nature because they live in an apartment in the city (and by extension, just can’t do a spell for this or that). I lived in apartments until I was 35 and in the city until just 13 years ago. City parks are wonderful postage-stamp-sized samples of nature. I had a car. It would take me out of the city to much larger state or national parks. (Don’t have a car because you don’t need one? Good for you. But there are these things called car rental agencies that will allow you to rent one just for a single day.) “They’re crowded,” I hear. Park your butt on the ground against a tree and stare off into space or close your eyes. You’d be surprised how many people will give you a wide berth and leave you alone. As long as you’re not making a spectacle of yourself, you can even do a spell while you’re sitting there.

This is just a slice of the pie that has me grumpy. Call me old-fashioned (I do) or even a curmudgeon (I do that, too) but what I see, read, and hear makes me think laziness is at the forefront of witchcraft. And that makes me sad.

Book Birth Day!

A Green Witch’s Cupboard is LIVE!

A Green Witch’s Cupboard (Small)

You can find it in paperback at Amazon US or Amazon UK. It will take a few days for it to reach other Amazon outlets and what they call “expanded distribution” (competitors).

After looking at the sales numbers from other books, for the moment, it’s only available electronically on Kindle US and Kindle UK. If I get enough bitching, I’ll put it in other outlets, too. (But I have to wait 90 days to do so.)

If you want an autographed copy, give me a week or so to get my stock. I’ll let you know when I have that available.

Phew!

Cover Reveal!

Phew! After many trials and tribulations, A Green Witch’s Cupboard is nearing completion!

Here’s the cover:

A Green Witch’s Cupboard (Small)

Do you love it as much as I do?

If everything goes as planned (cough) it should be available in paperback and e-book by the end of the month – just in time for the holiday season – and all those witches on your shopping list! 😀

New Orleans Travelogue

Bear with me…this is going to be a long one because I have so much to share!

As many of you are aware, friends of mine host the New Orleans Witches Ball. I went to the first one in 2011 and hadn’t been back until a chum of mine (from junior high – yes, we’ve been friends that long) said she wanted to go this year. And go we did!

We flew in on Friday, dropped our bags at the hotel and wandered the Quarter, shopping. My friend hadn’t closely looked at the forecast and had packed for temperatures a good ten degrees cooler than it actually was. So, clothes. (I actually found a top I liked, too.)  Then it was time for the Witches’ Night Out. Sooo much fun, seeing friends for the first time in four years! Facebook just isn’t the same, y’know? Afterwards, we treated ourselves and took a pedicab from the Quarter all the way back to our hotel (which was in the Warehouse District). Everyone dresses up for Halloween in New Orleans!

IMG_0117That’s a butterfly, not a fairy!

Saturday morning was the first of our tours. When I was there four years ago, I wanted to pay my respects to Marie Laveau but arrived at St. Louis Cemetery #1 fifteen minutes after they’d closed the gates. After multiple vandalism incidents, the Diocese has since declared that you either need to be part of an authorized tour group or have family members there to enter. Frustrating, but I don’t blame them. So, we booked a tour with Haunted History Tours. I highly recommend them and if you can get Jill as your tour guide, all the better!

IMG_0118Jill in front of one of the tombs. Yes, it rained on & off during the entire tour.

Honestly? I was glad I had a guide. That place is a rabbit warren and I would have never found my way around. Remembering that marble needs to be shipped into New Orleans, some of the tombs were amazing. Like this one:

IMG_0123The missing heads on the statue are part of that awful vandalism that’s happened over the years

Many people know that Nicholas Cage has been a friend to the City for years, including a lot of assistance after Katrina. He apparently likes the place so much he wants to be buried there and, in anticipation, built his own tomb in that famous cemetery:

IMG_0136Ostentatious but if you’ve got it, flaunt it, I guess.

Then there’s the Lady, Marie Laveau.

IMG_0121This is not her tomb, although fake tour guides would have you think so.
IMG_0137This is the correct tomb.
IMG_0140Plaque about her on the lower left of the tomb.

A yummy lunch, then more wandering the Quarter. Although you do have to watch where you’re walking (the sidewalks can be uneven), it does pay to look up:

IMG_0142I wonder if you pay extra for the ghost?

One of the stops I had to make was the Pharmacy Museum. (Geez, I wonder why.) What a wealth of history!

IMG_0146Notice the poison bottles at the top? 😉
IMG_0147Trying to figure out where such a large workbench would fit in my house…

I’m not usually one for souvenirs but when we were walking on Friday, I saw something in a shop window I had to have. I collect mice figurines (have done so since I was a teenager) and due to my large collection, it takes something special for me to want it. So, we returned to the silversmith’s shop on Saturday:

IMG_0223A souvenir of my next 80,000 trips to New Orleans. It’s only 2-3/4″ tall.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for the Ball. I’ve never done such an elaborate costume before. When the theme came out, “Witches’ Frolic” and it was suggested that historical figures would be good, I dragged out my copy of Judika Illes’ The Weiser’s Field Guide to Witches. Catherine de’ Medici popped out at me. (Don’t think she was a witch? Read the entry.) One custom-made Renaissance Faire costume from Majestic Velvets (that, by the way, was gorgeous and fit like a dream) and around 2,500 little fucking pearls later:

IMG_0162This isn’t even close to as elaborate as de’ Medici’s dresses. I feel so sorry for her dressmakers’ eyes!

Despite all the rain, the Ball went on. Proof positive that witches don’t melt when we get wet! The Elms Mansion tented their entire patio so at least we didn’t have to dodge umbrellas! I didn’t take many pics there (I was too busy talking with people) but here’s one of Storm Faerywolf leading the ritual:

IMG_0165Someone recorded the ritual and you can watch it at his Facebook page.

You know rituals aren’t my thing but the energy raised was amazing!

All too soon, it was time to depart. But I’ll tell ya, I was glad to see my bed, even if it was the hotel bed. I don’t do late nights well anymore!

I am a little smarter in my old age and had booked a bus tour for Sunday. (With a somewhat later departure, too. 😉 ) This one was through Cajun Encounters and that, too, was soooo interesting. (Rene was our guide and I highly recommend him, too!) This took us all around New Orleans, showing not only a lot of historical stuff but also what’s been accomplished since Katrina and how much more there’s yet to be done. The pics I shot weren’t that good – it was raining & they were through the bus window so it’s tough to see what I was recording. So, I won’t inflict my poor photography skills on you here.

Dinner Sunday was someplace way away from the “action” but delicious. Then, back to the Quarter and Frenchman Street for some awesome music. Like jazz? Blues? Zydeco? You’ll find it all there played by local musicians. Knowing we had a walking tour on Monday, I chair-danced to try to save my poor hips.

Monday was a walking tour through the Garden District. I don’t mean to be blasé but I’ve been all around both Charleston and Savannah multiple times. The New Orleans Garden District is just like their historical districts. That said, we did get to go inside one mansion, operated by the Ladies’ Opera Guild:

IMG_0189Even on today’s market, expensive!
IMG_0196The one thing that impressed me – the hinges on the front door.

Naturally, we went by some famous peoples’ homes but to me, enh. People gotta live somewhere…

More walking in the Quarter, complete with the de rigeur visit to Café du Monde, dinner with my NOLA peeps that evening (and another trip to the Café) and it was time to head back to the hotel to smash everything I’d brought plus everything I’d gained into my suitcase. I made it!

Although I love seeing old friends and making new, it was blissful to get back to the quiet of the country, my own bed and my furry bedfellows. Mischa hasn’t left me alone since I’ve gotten home, so I think I was missed.

IMG_0224As I’m writing this…

If you’ve never been to New Orleans, you gotta go!

Witchcraft & Technology

23-00,LifeSomething I’ve been thinking about for some time. This post brought the subject to the forefront.

I hear (well, read) a lot of folks saying they practice their magic as did their ancestors. Right underneath that statement is a photo of a dutch oven/cauldron sitting on a stove. And an electric stove, at that. (Okay, no specific instance but you get my drift.)

If someone truly practiced as their ancestors did, I would expect to see either an outdoor firepit or a large indoor fireplace with that cauldron hanging above the fire. If indoors and at night, there had better be candlelight rather than electric lamps.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore modern conveniences. Especially electricity. And I make use of them. I own several mortar and pestle sets, yet an electric grinder is my go-to “utensil” for grinding or powdering herbs. My gas stove heats potions faster than a fire would, without hauling logs, feeding the fire & stirring coals to ensure even heating.

Computers. So many I know now keep an electronic Book of Shadows/Grimoire/Notebook, whatever your term. It makes searching for a particular piece of information almost effortless, rather than having to page through what can be a very thick tome. Then there’s the Internet…

A while back, some of us on a forum got into a discussion about doing spells during a specific moon phase. Thanks to modern technology, we now know exactly when the moon becomes full, quartered or new. I rarely pay attention to such things but when I do, I’m not concerned with when the moon is at an exact phase. Our ancestors wouldn’t have known that the moon was only 98% full, waxing or waning. To the naked eye, it looks like the moon is full for 3 days. Works for me. But do I keep a chart to know when the moon is in a particular phase, even if the sky is thick with clouds for days? No. There’s an app for that (or take your pick of various websites).

Have we become lazy? In a sense, yes. There’s the point of putting your own energy and time into a spell, including all the preparations leading up to casting. On the other hand, our lives aren’t the same as our ancestors’. There are many more demands on our time and energy than even my grandparents experienced. (Hell, there are more demands on my kids’ time than mine.) Technology helps us with our lives, including the practice of magic.

So, what do you think? Is technology a good thing for witchcraft or bad?

 

 

Image retrieved from http://www.pulpartists.com/Leyendecker.html