Source: And here I am…
Many people cannot get their belladonna seeds to germinate or they only get a small percentage to develop. It’s possible that their patience wears thin. Waiting for them to have their cold time in the fridge, or sowing before winter, is no fun.
Many people cannot get their belladonna seeds to germinate or they only get a small percentage to develop. It’s possible that their patience wears thin. Waiting for them to have their cold time in the fridge, or sowing before winter, is no fun.
It is fascinating to learn how Samhain became Halloween over time. As I researched the transition, I felt a rekindled connection to my Celtic ancestors and a greater respect for the seasons of the year, and for Halloween as a holiday. My research is summarized here, as I understood it.
The Celtic festival, Samhain, is the Celtic New year. It is the day of the dead, and the souls of the departed ones are believed to be available to us at this time, as the veil between the worlds is believed to be at its thinnest. This time of year is the ending traces of summer and in old Germanic and Celtic societies, equinoxes and solstices mark the middles of the seasons, not the beginnings. Summer’s end means the beginning of the dark, cold winter, and a time often associated with death.
The Druids celebrated Samhain with an elaborate fire festival. This fire was a ritual to encourage the fading Sun not to leave. People danced around the fire to encourage the Sun to stay and to keep evil spirits away. Doors were left open to the departed loved ones to join them for dinner and to gather around the hearths.
People believed divination was most effective at this time so many methods were derived to figure out who would marry, who may gain a great fortune, and so on. While gathering for the fire festival and doing divination, many Celts wore costumes of animal skins and heads. Crops were burned and animals sacrificed. The Celts believed spirits would either be entertained by the living or would find a person to inhabit, or possess, for the coming year. People in the villages began to dress like scary beings, ghosts and goblins, to avoid being possessed.
With the invasion of the Romans, the festival of Feralia, which commemorates the passing of the dead, and the festival of Pomona, which honors the goddess of fruits and trees, began to be incorporated in the Celts Samhain festivals.
Bobbing for apples is a perfect example of this.
After the Roman invasion, Christianity was forced upon the villagers and as people began to convert, Samhain was further modified with the influence of All Souls Day.
After a flood of immigrants came to America, the Irish fleeing the potato famine, and the English searching for freedom from their king, Halloween was formed from their varied customs. This holiday became centered on community in the late 1800’s and by the 1930’s it became a secular, community centered holiday. In the 1950’s government leaders pushed this holiday to be aimed at children as a focus to deter vandalism.
Now, when you go trick or treating with your kiddos dressed as zombies and ghosts, or set out an extra plate for grandpa who died 10 years ago, or pull out your rune stones to divine for your future for the coming year, you will have a greater understanding and appreciation of how your ancestors send these traditions along to you.
The soft, illuminating glow of a candle can do many things. I tend to want to relax and let my mind wander allowing my gaze to become hazy and distorted. I am transported to places which allow me to be someone else, powerful and exciting. This experience becomes gripping and it is quite difficult to come back to reality. This is one of my favorite things to do with candles. Then, there is the more practical uses, such as to light up a room, or to change or enhance the mood of a room, or, the best of all, to put this little miracle to work for magick sake. There is nothing more magickal in my mind than the varied light that comes from such a simple thing as wick and wax. It is sheer brilliance. What would a witch/warlock do without one? Well, I will simply never, ever allow myself to find out. Instead, I shall keep my magickal cabinet stocked with this powerful tool for every purpose I can dream of.
When I create my candles I prefer to use the hand dipped method for most of the workings. There are times when I need a seven knob, or a large pillar candle and the use of a mold becomes a must. But, on a day-to-day, hand dips are the best for me and completely fun to make. I have my own method, as does every witch/warlock that makes their own.
I load my wax with herbs which match the magical working I will implore the particular candle for. I may use a varied amount, from one single herb to several. I make my own spell powders and I will use it in my wax for a serious spell requiring a great deal of energy. Learning which herbs are naturally empowered to attract specific things, or have cleansing or banishing qualities takes time and lots of practice. Growing your own herbs and spending time pruning, harvesting, meditating with them, and attuning to their energies is a great way to understand their potential to assist you in magick. If you are unable to grow your own for any reason there are books written by authors who have put their time in and know their herbs. I have found many books to be a wonderful reference for herbs and roots, such as Scott Cunningham’s Encycopedia of Magical Herbs and Incense, Oils, and Brews, Catherine Yronwode’s Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure and Traditional Formulary, Giving the Spiritual Uses of Natural Herbs, Roots, Minerals, and Zoological Curios, and Paul Beyerl’s The Master Book of Herbalism.
After choosing my herbs and roots or appropriate spell powder, I like to add essential oils to the wax. These oils are derived from herbs so their magical correspondences will be the same. This little additive is wonderful to use in place of just the particular herb because it gives fragrance to your candle. As we know, aromatherapy is a distinct mind trigger that will help us during our spell. As with spell powders, I like to use spell oils in the wax for the same effect. It will give my candle scent and packs a strong punch. There are several reliable references for oils, such as Kitchen Witchery: A Compendium of Oils, Unguents, Incense, Tinctures …By Marilyn F Daniel, The Enchanted Formulary: Blending Magickal Oils For Love, Prosperity, And Healing By Eve LeFey, Lady Rhea, or Mixing Essential Oils for Magic: Aromatic Alchemy for Personal Blends By Sandra Kynes. All mentioned are perfect to have in your bookshelf for reference.
Once you have gathered your herbs and oils you must decide if you want any personal concerns in your candle, such as nail clippings, hair, blood, or what have you. This, of course, personalizes your candle to you or whoever the hair, etc. belongs to and makes your spell stronger. And, lastly, is choosing the appropriate color for your candles. You can buy dye chips or blocks in a local craft or hobby store, or order it online. Some like to use natural ingredients to dye theirs, such as turmeric powder to give a yellow hue, rosehips for a gorgeous burgundy red color, or paprika for a vibrant orange color. There are many resources to help you locate natural ingredients if you choose that route. A great YouTube video called How to colour candle wax naturally by greenhazel18 shows you how to use what’s in your kitchen to color your wax.
Now that you have decided on what you want in your wax it is time to make your candles. My next blog will be a complete how to and we will have fun with it too. Let’s keep this blog rolling and let me know what you like to put in your candles and what you have found that works well as a natural dye. I can’t wait to hear from you all!
Oh, the love of soap…I could go on and on about the joys of creating this wonderful substance from start to finish. It’s one of my most favorite things to make. When I work on stocking my magical cabinet for personal use, soap for magical intention is on the top of the list. One of the very first things I do before casting a spell is to take a bath. And, of course, think of how many times we wash our hands in a day! This, in itself, gives us the opportunity to bring about change and manifest throughout the day, just by giving our hands a good scrub.
The act of making a bar of soap is part of casting the spell. When we gather our ingredients we are using our full intentions. We have a particular goal in mind. We are concentrating on that desire during every moment we spend creating our soap. If we have been good witches and have freshly planted herbs in our garden or windowsill, this will be our first step in the process. We must decide which herb has the natural properties to join with our own energy to bring to us our manifested wish. Some of the countless herbs commonly used in soap making for magical intentions are as follows: (These herbs have many documented corresponding uses. I have only included what they are commonly used for in ritual baths).
Divination: Yarrow, Mugwort, Thyme, Mullein, and Star Anise
Exorcism: Rue (just a pinch!), Rosemary, Nettles, Sulfur powder, Sage, Hyssop
Love: Rose Petals, Lovage, Geranium, Basil, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Ginger, Lavender, Cardamom
Protection: Rosemary, Dill, Fennel, Bay, Mullein, and Dragon’s Blood
Money: Patchouli, Basil, Cinnamon, Cedar, Clove, Galangal
Wishes: Elder Flowers
Luck: Nutmeg, Jasmine Flowers, Vetiver, Holly, Violet, and Calamus
Healing: Eucalyptus, Allspice, Thyme, and Myrrh
As you can see, we have many opportunities to play! There are other necessary ingredients which lend their magical power to aid us in our intent. Essential oils play a unique part in the soap making process. Pure essential oils are derived from herbs and pack a Mike Tyson punch. When we add these lovely oils to our batch of soap, the fragrance is released in the air and our mind becomes ever engrossed in our desires. As we visualize what we want the colors become more vivid, we can see and feel what it’s like to have what we want. It’s truly mind-blowing how aromatherapy plays its part in magic! Some of the common essential oils used in soaps for magical use are:
Oils to attract, promote, or enhance Love: Palmarosa, Rose, Jasmine, Neroli, and Orange (to bring on a proposal of marriage)
To attract Luck: Vetiver, Orange, and Nutmeg
To attract Money: Patchouli, Peppermint, Basil, Pine, Cinnamon, Bayberry, Vetiver, Cedar wood
To Protect: Rosemary, Bergamot, Gardenia, Petitgrain
To increase personal power: Tangerine, Ginger, a combination of Rosemary, Pine, Cinnamon, and Orange.
To draw attention to one’s self: Ylang Ylang
For Healing: Sandalwood, Eucalyptus
To enhance psychic awareness: Yarrow, Lemongrass, and Bay
Adding other items can be invaluable to what you have already put inside, such as resins like benzoin and copal. They have been used for millennia in rituals and spells. You can grind them up in your mortar and pestle or buy them in powdered form. They will help your essential oils to bind well in the soap and preserves their scent while adding hardness to the bar. Gem stones, glitter, and charms can be added to aid as a mind trigger of the magical intent. Some like to incorporate nature in their ingredients, such as leaves, stones, bones, bark, or seashells. Let yourself go and experiment with different items and see where it leads.
Now, let’s talk color. We know how colors can make us feel on a day to day. If we are feeling rather sexy and want others to notice, we may choose red. Or, if we are in the mood to just relax, take it easy, and nap in our hammock by the fish pond, we may choose our favorite blue sundress. The same applies to our soap. If we desire more cash in our wallet, we go green; or maybe you want to create a more loving relationship in your life, then you may choose to use pink in your soap batch. Color has a particular vibration that corresponds to specific matter, just as the herbs and essential oils do. As you are adding color to your mixture you are aligning your mind, your energy, with these helpful aids to bring about results. A list of some of the commonly used colors in magical soap making are as follows (not an extensive list by any means):
Red- Protection, Strength, Blood, Passion, Courage, Power, Fire, Sexuality, Vigor, Energy, Enthusiasm, Will Power, to conquer fear or laziness. Use Moroccan Red Clay to color it a red brick color.
Pink- Love, Peace, Femininity, Affection, Romance
Orange- Ambition, Attraction, Stimulation, Energy, Luck, Pulling things to you, Clearing the Mind, Dominance, Success, Justice, Change Luck. Use Paprika to give it color.
Yellow- Intellect, Creative Work, Learning, Imagination, Gentle persuasion, Memory. You can use Turmeric or Beet Root powder as a natural dye.
Blue- Healing, Peace, Harmony, and Happiness
Indigo- Communing with spirits, Meditation, Karma work, Receiving Ancient Wisdom
Purple- Power, Spiritual Development, Intuition, Ambition, Healing Severe Diseases, Occult Wisdom, Higher Psychic Ability. Use ground Alkanet Root for purple to blue color. Must infuse root in oil first.
White- Protection, Purification, Full Moon Magic, and Spirituality.
Black- Drive away evil, negativity, and removal of Hexes; Endings, Psychic Work, Death, Protection, and Spirit Contact.
Green- Money, Fertility, Employment, Luck, Healing, Prosperity, and Abundance. Use dried, ground Alfalfa to give it color.
Gold- Drawing Down the God, Fortune, Large Amounts of Money, Fast Luck, Attracts Higher Influences.
Silver- Drawing down the Goddess, Opening Astral Gates, Wishing Spells
Gray- Non-Nature Faerie Magic, Travel to the Other-world, Vision Quests. Use ground Pumice to give it color.
The oils we use in our soaps are yet another secret ingredient. Will always use specific oils to enhance the lather, to harden for a longer last bar, and to moisturize and keep our skin smooth and young. Along with this process we can add oils to bringing forth our desires through the power of cleansing. Let’s take a look at some of our options:
Almond Oil: Prosperity, Wisdom
Avocado Oil: Beauty, Love
Grapeseed Oil: Prosperity, Fertility
Hemp Oil: Healing, Love
Olive Oil: Protection, Healing
Sesame Oil: Love, Money
Sunflower Oil: Fertility, Love, and Wisdom
Now that we have explored the many ingredients used in soap for magical purposes, I bet you are dying to get your hands dirty and dive in to this fabulous process. I encourage you to play with the ideas given above, or if you are not the creative type, find a reputable soap making artist and buy some. The results are worth the effort, and the money!
Dark Hollar is pleased to introduce another writer to our blog! Her name is Grace Sizemore. She lives in Kentucky with her partner, two cats, and one dog. She is a homemaker, mother, grandmother, and Witch. We are proud to have her on our team. This blog is her creation so we hope you enjoy and leave us lots of feedback!
The Magic of Trees
Close your eyes and imagine sitting under a big old oak tree. Feel the cool soil under your hands, the rough texture of the bark on your back as you are leaning against a strong, hearty tree. Do you feel the warm breeze blowing gently across your face or hear the birds singing to each other? This is the magic of the forest
Ever since I was little I have loved the forest. They have their own special feeling. You can smell the rich soil and hear all of the sounds of fertile life if you just take the time to listen.
The trees help us to breathe, to provide us with shelter, and to help healing or just help us with peace of mind. Sacred trees are found in almost every culture and age. They are seen as a gift from the Earth Goddess. In ancient times many would gather in the woods to pray or do rituals. Many had to hide their beliefs or be persecuted. The woods are a magical place where the Goddess watches over you.
Trees are important to many cultures and are revered in magical systems and seasonal celebrations. For example, during the seasonal Beltane celebration there are nine types of woods used in the ritual fires, Birch, rowan, ash, willow, hawthorn, alder, oak, holly, and hazel.
Hawthorn is most closely used with Beltane, but we don’t have one in our yard, so maybe our oak tree would work just as good. I know the fairies love it! We planted it from a small seedling eight years ago. We could use it as a maypole and tie ribbons in the branches.
Many spells, rituals, and medicines use different parts of the trees. The bark, leaves, or even the roots can be used in poultices or teas to help with healing the body.
Wands are made from trees. The magical qualities in the woods remain in the wands. In rituals we use the smoke from burning wood to purify or the fire to burn spells so they will reach the Goddess. Another way to use tree are to weave together limbs of a willow to make a wreath. Hang the wreath on your front door to bring in blessings to its occupants and to protect them.
So what do you think? Is there magic in the forest? I believe there is. To me trees are awesome! Go into the woods and sit under a tree and close your eyes……
What I want to accomplish in this blog is for us Witches to ask ourselves what spring and the meaning of Beltane mean to us personally. Why is spring important to our magic and to our religious practices? I hope to provoke you to later explore how spring, the act of building a bonfire, planting a garden and watching it grow, or making love and birthing children is an irreplaceable foundation of life. I, personally, do not want to celebrate Beltane for tradition’s sake. I want to embody the meaning behind the celebration and then to outwardly express in artistic and celebratory form what I feel when I meditate on spring and this Sabbat as a whole.
Historically, Beltane is the spring fertility festival and owes its roots to the Gaelic, Germanic, and Scottish traditions. The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. The earliest records of any spring festivals are from Gaelic sources from around the 10th century. Druids would create a bonfire, commonly called a need-fire, on top of a hill on this day and rush the village’s cattle through the fires to purify them, protect them from disease, and to bring luck. People would also run between the two need fires to purify themselves. There are many internet and book reference sources available with the details of Beltane, so I will not go in to further detail here.
When I meditate on the meaning of this spring festival I am brought to my garden my deck in the cool spring’s morning, Sumerian roast coffee in hand, sundress flowing around my ankles. I look out to my garden with its tiny shoots springing from their carefully planned beds. My heart wells inside my chest with pride and anticipation. I walk out to my garden, barefoot. My freshly painted toes squish into the wet, new grass as tiny, busy little bees buzz angrily at my ankles. I have invaded their newly budding flower paradise. I stand within my garden of fruits, vegetables, herbs, gourds, and flowers. I feel as though I am in the center of the goddess’s womb. Her fruits are growing, forming before my very eyes. I walk among her many children, admiring the art work she brings to my life. From the colors of bright, bursting orange to the fiery, bleeding reds, and the vivid, warming yellow I am surrounded by a masterpiece of pulsing life. A gratefulness, unexplainable, flows from me out to Her, out to my little magical babies growing.
My herb garden is central to my witch crafting. Without my herbs growing wild and vigorous on my porch, my window sills, and in their raised beds beyond the deck to the East, I would be lost. Thankfully, there are fantastic, reliable online shops around the world ready to ship me any ingredient my mind can dream in to being. Yet, growing my own magical aids with the blood of spring’s start holds a power that cannot be matched in my world.
Let’s talk fertility. Its importance goes without saying, so what does this mean to us Witches beyond the need and desire to birth and/or raise our children? This term has many paths. We rely on fertility to help our wealth multiply and grow, for our creativity to be active and fertile, for our pets to multiply and bring us wonderful pups and kitties, etc. A fertile mind, body, and spirit is essential to our crafting. We rely on nature as a whole to reproduce so we can eat and live in harmony here on this earth.
Many of our witch readers are Wiccan and so this sabbat is of deep spiritual significance to them, as this is the time of the marrying of the goddess to her consort. They meet and make love. From this holy union our life and nature surrounding us is born. Embodying this monumental event in order to continually understand the cycles of the goddess is important. Celebrating Beltane with rituals of dancing around the maypole and reenacting the meeting and copulation of Her and the god plays a critical role in the Wiccan religion.
When we really focus on what Beltane means to us, to everyone, we can see why our ancestors took great care to start and carry on traditions full of ritual, fun, and whole hearted meaning. When people hold dear these traditions which remind us of the fragile, sacred, and magical balance of life, we can never forget, thus; taking the miracle of life for granted is greatly reduced.
One morning I found myself pondering ways to make my magic more powerful, to achieve more from the hard work put into my spells. I wanted to devise a way to add a powerful punch to lend to my rituals. Lately, my spell work results seemed to be lacking in energy. It was taking a full moon cycle or more to manifest what I was asking for. I began to critique all the ways I do magic, what I use, when I use it, how often, how many items used in general, ect. I decided going back to the basics was always best. One needs a firm foundation. I realized how often I used petition magic. So, how can I amp up the power in my petition magick? Well, blood was the first thing that came to my sister’s mind. She felt an electrical charge following this thought. I was reading in a book and trying to gain insight into this question. I came upon magical ink. I felt the electrical charge she had described previously. We then knew exactly what we had to do. Create our own ink using our blood for petition magick.
Now, how to go about collecting the necessary ingredients, not to mention procuring the blood in a clean, safe manner? This was the question we needed to answer. I work in the medical field, so, one night at work I obtained the IV kits and necessary added items to keep it all antiseptic and such. She picked up the dragon’s blood resin to lend amplified power to the ink. We took out our India ink, black in color, to use as all-purpose for starters. We ground up a small chunk of dragon’s blood and added to the ink. Now, all that was left was the blood.
We had decided it would be best to go to one of our favorite spots where we felt comfortable and powerful, our ancestor’s graveyard. We had total privacy and a sense of irony that just made it perfect. We started the afternoon by divining with runes, to receive insight in some current pressing issues. Then, we laid out our supplies and began the process of collecting the blood. Now, we did not do any real research beforehand on the best way to keep the blood once collected. I tied a tourniquet around her upper arm and found the best bulging vein for the purpose. I cleaned the area with chlorhexadine and alcohol swabs. I inserted the IV needle in until I saw blood return. I pulled out the inner needle, leaving the cannula inserted in her vein. She held up the small vial to the port opening of the cannula and allowed it to fill with blood. We filled 3 vials and then removed the cannula, applied pressure to the vein until a clot formed and covered with a band-aid. I repeated this process on myself with much the same procedure.
We placed the blood vials in zip lock bags and stored them in the refrigerator at home. Now, why we didn’t think about the blood clotting is beyond me, and I am a nurse! When it came time to combine the ink with the blood, we found out we needed to tweak this system for the future. There were several clots in the tubes and it was quite difficult to get the blood out to mix with the ink. After additional research, we decided we would need either heparin, a blood thinner, or to mix it with citric acid, sugar, sodium phosphate, and adenine to prevent any clots from forming.
Needless to say, we used the clotted blood to mix with our ink and it is working wonderfully anyway. The fun part will be to see if this lends any power to our spells. This is a work in progress and we will thoroughly enjoy keeping you updated.