Friday, December 27, 2013

Southern Root Magic & Appalachian Conjure -

Enjoy a conversation with Orion Foxwood over the air with Karagan the popular host of Witchtalk, a radio show that features interviews with Pagans.

Orion grew up with the second sight in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, an area rife with the folk practices of the southern and Appalachian tradition. He is a witch and Elder in Romano Celtic-Traditional Craft, High Priest in Alexandrian Wicca and teacher of the Faery Seership tradition. He is also the founding Elder of Foxwood Temple and a primary founder of the Alliance of the Old Religion, a national network of covens in his line that have united to preserve the ways of his Elders. He was the co-director of Moonridge, a centre for metaphysical, Craft and Faery studies in Maryland. For over 20 years, he has lectured extensively across the United States and in the United Kingdom on the Craft, Faery Seership Tradition and Southern Folk Magic and conjure. He is the author of The Faery Teachings (RJ Stewart Books, 2007), a collaborative CD project with RJ Stewart named Faery Seership and his newly released book The Tree of Enchantment (Weiser books, 2008).

On the lecture circuit, he is best known for his teachings on traditional second sight and folkloric Faery practices originating in the ways of the Faery Doctors and Cunningmen of Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the conjurers of the American South. In the "other" professional world, he hold a Masters Degree in Human Services, is a licensed professional counselor and a public health administrator. His teachings are based in traditional folk practices aimed at direct spirit contact for substantive personal transformation.  For more information on what Orion offers visit: Orion Foxwood

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wisht Waters

Aqueous Magica and the Cult of Holy Wells
by Gemma Gary
Three Hands Press Occult Monograph No. 5

Curse tablets, defixiones, were formed from sheets of lead, inscribed with the ill intent of the curse, and the name of the victim. The tablet would often be rolled, or folded, before being stuck through with a nail; a magical act of defigo; ‘pinning down’ or ‘fixing’ one’s will and intent upon the target of one’s work. Such an act is not isolated to malefic working, and is cognate with the ‘creative act’ and fertility; giving life unto the magician’s will. In curse magic however the act embodies the triune powers of torment, fixing and intent-enlivenment. The completed defixio was then, in further conjuration of the Underworld virtues and dark intent upon the victim, buried in the ground, or dropped into the chthonic waters of a well.

The sheer diversity of popular magic connected with sacred wells and springs is remarkable. Inseparable from the ancient cults of saints and spirits of place, the natural springs and wellheads of the British Isles have come to be famed loci of healing, divination, and spiritual revelation. Some, possessing long traditions of votive and sacrificial offerings, have assumed powers of spirit-guardianship, or, indeed, divinities of water.  Other such wells are the repositories of eldritch lore connected with the cult of the skull and the Holy Head. Additionally, bodies of magical practice have developed around some wells, serving a variety of magical purposes, including blessings and curses, healings and the dispensation of prophetic power. In almost every case, there is a specific magical relation between the waters as a medium of spirit, and the surrounding features of the land.

Wisht Waters is the fifth book in the continuing Three Hands Press Occult Monographs series, and the first book for Three Hands Press by Gemma Gary. It examines both the lore of holy wells as well as their associated cultic activities, whether religious or earthed in the practical magic of folk-sorcery. While examining many a well in Britain and Ireland, much of the text focuses on the lore in the West Country and Cornwall.
136 pages, with illustrations by the author.

Standard Cloth Hardcover with Letterpress Dust Jacket, limited to 1,000 copies: $38.50
Deluxe Hardcover, full chestnut goatskin with marbled endpapers, limited to 80 copies: $150.00 (limit one copy per customer).
Visit Three Hands Press for ordering details

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Prayer of Medea to Hekate

"O night, faithful friend of mysteries; and you, golden stars and moon, who follow the fiery star of day; and you, Hecate, goddess with threefold head, you know my designs and come to strengthen my spells and magic arts; and you, earth, who offer your potent herbs to magi; and airs, winds, mountains, streams, and lakes, and all you woodland gods, and all you gods of the night: Be present now."

-- Prayer of Medea to Hecate, Ovid's 'The Metamorphoses' 

~~ George Romney - Lady Hamilton as Medea

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hekate Liminal Rites -

A Historical Study of the Rituals, Spells and Magic of the Torch-bearing Triple Goddess of the Crossroads by David Rankine and Sorita d'Este

At the crossroads of life, death and rebirth stands the Goddess Hekate. Honoured by men, women and gods alike, traces of her ancient provenance reach back through the millennia providing clues about her nature and origins along the way. Depictions of her as three formed facing in three ways, sometimes with the heads of animals such as the horse, dog and snake hint at her liminal nature, as well as the powers she holds over the triple realms of earth, sea and sky.

The sorcery of Medea and Circe, the witchcraft of the women of Thessaly, the writings of philosophers such as Hesiod and Porphyry all provide glimpses into the world of those who honored her. Her magical powers were considered so great that even King Solomon became associated with her, she was incorporated into Jewish magic, and merged with other goddesses including Artemis, Selene, Bendis and the Egyptian Isis. Whilst for some she was the Witch Goddess, for others she was the ruler of angels and daimons, who made predictions about Jesus and Christianity.

Wherever you look, be it in the texts of Ancient Greece and Rome, Byzantium or the Renaissance, the Greek Magical Papyri or the Chaldean Oracles, you will find Hekate. The magical whir of the strophalos and the barbarous words of the 'voces magicae' carry her message; the defixiones, love spells and charms all provides us with examples of the magic done in her name. She was also associated with the magic of death, including necromancy and reanimation; as well as prophetic dreams, nightmares, healing herbs and poisons.

The temples dedicated to her and the important role she played in the mysteries of Eleusis, Samothrace and Aigina all provide us with clues to her majesty. The popular shrines at the doorways of ordinary people, offerings left at the crossroads and guardian statues of her at the entrance ways to cities and temples all attest to her status in the hearts and minds of those who knew her mysteries. In this book the authors draw from a wide range of sources, bringing together historical research which provides insights into the magical and religious practices associated with this remarkable Goddess; in doing so they provide an indispensable guide for those wishing to explore the mysteries of Hekate today.

94 Pages. Paperback and Kindle editions.

Extracts from Reviews from Avalonia Books  an Independent publisher in the UK.

“I found ever chapter interesting but my favourites were ‘Hymns’ which includes Prayer to Selene for any operation,' Invocation’ which includes a description of a summoning of Hekate, ‘Defixiones’-a detailed description of binding curses and ‘Charms from the PGM’ which includes a list of charms in the Greek Magical Papyri’. There are some great mini-chapters regarding Hekate's followers including Medea, Circe and The witches of Thessaly. I only wish some of the chapters had been a bit longer though it does contain an extensive bibliography which has introduced me to some books on Hekate that i had not discovered before.” C Norris, Amazon Reviewer

“‘Hekate Liminal Rites’ is a truly fascinating read. The authors’ writing is extremely well researched, and draws upon both accurate and historical material throughout this work. However, unlike so many other historical studies, this little book also manages to evoke such a presence of Hekate that it is almost experiential; and I found it impossible to continue reading without first lighting a candle (or three!!) for this deity.” Vikki Bramshaw, author of Craft of the Wise.

“As with other works by these authors it is clear that their intent is to illuminate the subject for the reader. The book is clear and intelligible but does not seek to simplify the subtleties of history nor to disguise interpretation as truth.” Magin Rose, Artist and Amazon Reviewer

“It seems like someone should have done a book like this before, but the thing is they have not. The research goes into areas that other books on Hekate does not, and its clear that the authors must have been familiar with the other key works and instead of producing something to rival it they produced this book, which clearly compliments the work presented in the other books. It focuses on the areas of spiritual and magical practice, therefore making this a perfect book not only for scholars and students interested in learning more about the Goddess Hekate, but also for practitioners of magic today who want to be able to take inspiration from the ancient practices.” Scarlet River, Amazon Reviewer

“I say “excellent” in my title as if I’m comparing it to something else or have the authority as a historian. I’m not a historian, but I appreciated the historical representation of Hekate in this book. It uses mostly sources written from the Greek Classical period into Antiquity (the Christianization of Greece) to delve into Hekate’s functions, symbols, rites of worship, and relevance in Greek society.” Mica Simonian, Amazon Reviewer

“Hekate is often called a three faced or three headed goddess. The head in many of the illustrations were animals heads such as a dogs head, goat head or a snake head to name a few. Hekate is also unique in that she is named in charms that invoke Hebrew names for deity and also angels and king Solomon. This is indicative of a crossover between Greek and Jewish Magic. This is one incredible book one that I strongly advise getting” S Cranow, Amazon Reviewer

Hekate Liminal Rites is also available as an eBook from Amazon Kindle.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Nine Herbs Charm

The following charm is from the Old English found in the 10th century Lacnunga Manuscript. It is designed as a treatment for infections or poison by using the following nine herbs.

The numbers nine and three are important numbers in Germanic folklore. References are made containing both Christian and English Pagan elements, hence the inclusion of the most important god, Woden.  Woden or Wodan (Old English) is a major deity of Anglo-Saxon and Continental Germanic polytheism. His Norse counterpart is the god, Odin.

According to R.K. Gordon, chanting the poem aloud results in a "marvelously incantatory effect".

The following excerpt describes Woden coming to aid the herbs through his use of nine twigs.  Each twig has been inscribed with a rune where each one has the runic first initial of that specific plant.
A snake came crawling, it bit a man.
Then Woden took nine glory-twigs,
Smote the serpent so that it flew into nine parts.
There apple brought this pass against poison,
That she nevermore would enter her house.

 "Mugwort, plantain open form the east, lamb's cress, venom-loather, chamomile, nettle, crab-apple, chervil and fennel, old soap; pound the herbs to a powder, mix them with the soap and the juice oaf the apple.

Then prepare a paste of water and of ashes, take fennel, boil it with the paste and wash it with a beaten egg when you apply the salve, both before and after.

Sing this charm three times on each of the herbs before you (he) prepare them, and likewise on the apple. And sing the same charm into the mouth of the man and into both his ears, and on the wound, before you (he) apply the salve."

Nine Herbs Charm in Modern English

Remember, Mugwort, what you made known,
What you arranged at the Great proclamation.
You were called Una, the oldest of herbs,
you have power against three and against thirty,
you have power against poison and against infection,
you have power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.

And you, Plantain, mother of herbs,
Open from the east, mighty inside.
over you chariots creaked, over you queens rode,
over you brides cried out, over you bulls snorted.
You withstood all of them, you dashed against them.
May you likewise withstand poison and infection
and the loathsome foe roving through the land.

'Stune' is the name of this herb, it grew on a stone,
it stands up against poison, it dashes against poison
Nettle (?) it is called, it attacks against poison,
it drives out the hostile one, it casts out poison.
This is the herb that fought against the serpent,
it has power against poison,  it has power against infection,
it has power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.
Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons,
though you are the lesser, until he is cured of both.

Remember, Chamomile, what you made known,
what you accomplished at Alorford,
that never a man should lose his life from infection
after Chamomile was prepared for his food.

This is the herb that is called 'Wergulu'.
A seal sent it across the sea-right,
a vexation to poison, a help to others.
it stands against pain, it dashes against poison,

A worm came crawling, it killed nothing.
For Woden took nine glory-twigs,
he smote the the adder that it flew apart into nine parts.
There the Apple accomplished it against poison
that she [the loathsome serpent] would never dwell in the house.

Chervil and Fennell, two of much might,
They were created by the wise Lord,
holy in heaven as He hung;
He set and sent them to the seven worlds,
to the wretched and the fortunate, as a help to all.
It stands against pain, it fights against poison,
it avails against 3 and against 30,
against foe´s hand and against noble scheming,
against enchantment of vile creatures.

Now there nine herbs have power against nine evil spirits,
against nine poisons and against nine infections:
Against the red poison, against the foul poison,
against the white poison, against the pale blue poison,
against the yellow poison, against the green poison,
against the black poison, against the blue poison,
against the brown poison, against the crimson poison,
against worm-blister, against water-blister,
against thorn-blister, against thistle-blister,
against ice-blister, against poison-blister,

If any poison comes flying from the east,
or any from the north, [or any from the south,]
or any from the west among the people.
Christ stood over diseases of every kind.

I alone know a running stream,
and the nine adders beware of it.
May all the weeds spring up from their roots,
the seas slip apart, all salt water,
when I blow this poison from you.

Mugwort, plantain open form the east, lamb's cress, venom-loather, camomile, nettle, crab-apple, chevil and fennel, old soap; pound the herbs to a powder, mix them with the soap and the juice oaf the apple.
Then prepare a paste of water and of ashes, take fennel, boil it with the paste and wash it with a beaten egg when you apply the salve, both before and after.
Sing this charm three times on each of the herbs before you (he) prepare them, and likewise on the apple. And sing the same charm into the mouth of the man and into both his ears, and on the wound, before you (he) apply the salve.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Rite of Her Sacred Fires

I have been a member of The Covenant of Hekate for three years.  As an international society we have grown over those years into a vibrant magickal community honoring the Goddess Hekate in her many forms.

Performing The Rite of Her Sacred Fires is just one of the ways I observe the cycle of the moon within my personal practice of Traditional Witchcraft.

Below is a glimpse of that devotional practice lead by Tara Sanchez.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Witch’s Natural History

A Witch’s Natural History, originally published as a series of essays in The Cauldron, is a meditation on the relationship between folklore and nature. The world’s dogmatic religions all have their devotional texts, and biological science, too, has its own rationalistic equivalents, from Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle to Richard Dawkins’s The Ancestor’s Tale. Natural historians have written their works of devotion to the works of nature: a genre which has been recognizable ever since Gilbert White wrote The Natural History of Selborne. It is at work in the poems of John Clare, and the essays of W.H. Hudson, Richard Jefferies and Richard Mabey, but it also stands at the centre of the beliefs and practices of modern pagans. A Witch’s Natural History is intended as a small contribution to modern witchcraft’s own devotional literature of nature, drawing on scientific, folkloric and experiential sources.

 Giles Watson explores the lore, legends and life-histories of a selection of animals which are commonly employed as motifs in the history of witchcraft: culturally maligned creatures such as reptiles, amphibians, crows and rats. He also casts light on the magical significance of more commonly neglected birds, spiders, insects and snails, before turning his attention to plants, and whole ecosystems which have cultural associations with witchcraft. He combines a call for a new reverence for nature with a fascination for some of folklore’s strangest representations of our dependence upon it: from the toad-bone amulet in East Anglian witchcraft to the seductive Queen Rat of the Toshers in Bermondsey. This is a book not only for those practitioners of the Craft who wish to be more informed in their response to the natural world – but also for anyone who is interested in natural history and its impact on folkloric beliefs and practices.

 One hundred and seventy four pages in content, the paperback binding is to be presented in Demy format 16 x 138mm. The hardback edition is to be presented in a Royal format gold foil-blocked case binding in Green, with green and black head and tail bands, and Aubergine end papers.
Book Contents:

Unfamiliar Spiders
The Witch and the Insect
Slugs, Snails and Sorcery
The Curse of the Oracle: Corvids in myth and lore
Yaffles, Gabble-Ratchets, Wudu-Snites and Assilags
Foul and Loathsome Animals’: Amphibians and the Lore of the Witch
Adder’s Fork and Blind-Worm’s Sting’: the Magical Reptile
The Queen Rat and the Hanoverian Curse
Cryptogams: The Spore-Bearing Plants
Through the Lychgate
The Witch by the Hedge
The Witch by Moor and Wood and Shore
Beyond the Crooked Stile 139
Epilogue The Living Bones: A Meditation
 Giles Watson was born in Southampton, but immigrated to Australia with his parents at the age of one, and lived there for the next twenty-five years, before returning to Britain to live successively in Durham, Buckinghamshire and the Isles of Scilly. He has been writing poetry and taking photographs for as long as he can remember, and has more recently experimented with painting and film, in order to indulge his fascination with the relationship between text and image. Giles also writes prose essays on natural history and mediaeval visual culture, is an avid walker and amateur naturalist, and has a keen interest in folklore, art and theatre. As a secondary school teacher, he has taught English, History, Drama, Sociology and Film. He lives in rural Oxfordshire, inspired by his partner Jeannie, and by the ancient and natural history of the region.

Visit Troy Books for ordering details



Friday, November 22, 2013

Erythronium Americanum

Adder’s Tongue

Folk Names: Dog-tooth Violet, Erythronium, Lamb's Tongue, Rattlesnake Violet, Serpent's Tongue, Snake Leaf, Trout Lily, Yellow Erythronium, Yellow Snakeleaf and Yellow Snowdrop
Description: Perennial lily.  Found deep rich soil, the ovoid corm root is 1/3 to 1 inch long, light brown outside and white and starchy inside. Lanceolate, pale green leaves approx 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide with purplish/brownish spots. Drooping or bowed head, funnel-shaped flower bud developing into a yellow or white flower outside with yellow inside, backward curving petals.

When: March to May on a long stalk growing from between the leaves. Grows in community of its peers.

Location: Nova Scotia to Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida.  Open woods or open areas with rich, moist soil.

Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Gathering Time: Waning for ailments, full for magical attributes.

Magic: Lust or to combat frigidity. Bulbs and leaves may be used for tumors and boils. Apply to a wound or bruise until the herb is warm, then bury it.  As the plant rots the condition with fade. Used for protection when adding ground dried leaves to salt and sprinkled around the home.  Heightens spiritual connection.  Infusion of leaves applied to forehead to instill courage.

Medical Indications: Parts used: bulbs, leaves.
An infusion of this herb may be use as an emetic. Emollient for ulcers. (use caution)

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Charmers' Psalter - Limited Edition

The Psalms, mysterious in their origins and possibly far pre-dating their appearance within Judeo-Christian Scripture, have a long history of magical use. We encounter the Psalms within the rites and talismanic magic of the grimoires, and their prolific employment within Charming, Cunning and folk-magical tradition. Herein the methods of their use are varied and incorporate magical acts of utterance, inscription, bottling, burning, sprinkling, pouring and burial in conjunction with various substances and materials.

Serving a vast array of needs, principally for healing, protection and the averting of evil, but also long employed within acts of cursing, the Psalms are an established feature of traditional operative magic yet also an indicium of engaging with the world of spirit, the divine and the unseen:
“Whilst the traditional magical uses of the Psalms may appear to be almost entirely for the serving of material needs and desires, rather than for purposes of spiritual advancement, they are possessed of great beauty, and in one's recourse to them in times of distress and great difficulty there is to be attained a moment of contemplative comfort, and an acknowledgement of the immanence of the divine presence; turned to for spiritual strength and assistance.”

(From the Introduction and Manner of Use)

 The Charmers' Psalter by Gemma Gary is born from a personal working collection of magical Psalms and other verbal charms, here presented in a convenient 'pocket book' format (100mm x 150mm), so that it may always be on hand to the contemporary Charmer for reference should need of it arise.

Limited to an edition of 250 hand numbered and signed examples, The Charmers' Psalter is case bound using recycled leather fibres in replica of green Morocco, and foil blocked in copper with black end papers and black and gold head and tail bands.
Visit Troy Books for ordering details.

Gemma's books come highly recommended, I personally own 'Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways' and 'The Black Toad' both in hardcover.  I bought a copy of 'The Charmers' Psalter -  Limited Edition' this afternoon.  Eagerly looking forward to receiving it. Troy Press does an excellent job.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hekate Appellations

Distant One 
The Far Darter 
Queen of Night 
Night Mother 
Queen of the Ghosts 
Queen of the Witches
Mother of Witches 
Mistress of Magic 
Most Lovely One
Prytania "The Invincible Queen Of The Dead"
Soteira "Saviour"
Propylaia "The One Before The Gate"
Nykteria  "She of the Night"
Propolos "The Attendant Who Leads"
Phosphoros "Light-bringer"
Kourotrophos  "Child-Nurse"
Khthoniai "Of the Earth"
Antaia "The Sender Of Nocturnal Visions"
Nyktipolis Khthonie "Night-Wanderer Of The Underworld"
Brimo "Angry" or "Terrifying", also meaning the crackling of a fire (as in Hekate's torches)
Enodia "Goddess of the Paths"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Silent Supper

We've traveled another year full circle. Once more we set the table offering comfort and reassurance to those who gathered from the other side.  The guest list has grown with the passing of another year; that night my mother stood silently among the Beloved Dead. 

Every year we willing offer our home as a respite to our ancestors and friends; for on Samhain night the dead move comfortably among the living. The energy in the house changes, as it always does, to accommodate invited guests who need no formal introduction.  

At evening's close the warmth between us was strong and heartfelt through the growing and billowing veil; and once more we bid goodbye comforted in the knowledge that this evening will lovingly come 'round again.

Photos by Aurora Raven all rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Hag ~ Robert Herrick (1648)

The Hag is astride,
This night for to ride;
The Devill and shee together:
Through thick, and through thin,
Now out, and then in,
Though ne’r so foule be the weather.

A Thorn or a Burr
She takes for a Spurre:
With a lash of a Bramble she rides now,
Through Brakes and through Bryars,
O’re Ditches, and Mires,
She followes the Spirit that guides now.

No Beast, for his food,
Dares now range the wood;
But husht in his laire he lies lurking:
While mischiefs, by these,
On Land and on Seas,
At noone of Night are working,

The storme will arise,
And trouble the skies;
This night, and more for the wonder,
The ghost from the Tomb
Affrighted shall come,

Cal’d out by the clap of the Thunder.

Illustration: Albrecht Dürer’s ‘shrieking siren’ of a witch riding backwards on a goat, c1500, with Dürer’s AD monogram reversed. Photograph: © Trustees of the British Museum

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Familiar

A witch's familiar, also known as a fetch, is a magical partner obtained by the witch or cunning-folk in the form of an animal, bird, reptile or insect.  According to historian Emma Wilby, the need of a familiar was "primarily rooted in the struggle for physical survival - the lack of food or money, bereavement, sickness, loss of livelihood and so on and the familiar offered them, the witch or cunning folk, a way out of this by giving them magical powers".

Whatever the reason, familiars are emissaries to the wild powers, their existence in a dense spirit form that does the witch's bidding in the betwixt and between, for good or ill. Familiars and their relationship to the magical practitioner, predate medieval records. In spirit form, known as incorporeal, familiars have been described as "clearly defined, three-dimensional… forms, vivid with color and animated with movement and sound" the familiar is "as real as any normal creature of its kind."  This type of familiar is able to traverse the three realms easily.  They're linked to the witch is such a way that the practitioner can travel psychically within the body of the familiar itself. Known to have special nicknames, used exclusively by the witch to address them, familiars hold a prominent place within hearth and home. 

Corporeal familiars, meaning having a physical body opposed to spirit form, are the type of familiar most common to practitioners today, and are cared for as one would a pet, although the relationship is more of an alliance.  Corporeal familiars I have known, including my own, are drawn to magical practices and ritual, often settling nearby to quietly observe the activities of their human partner.  They can 'sense' the presence of spirits and feel the tides with a 'knowing' that is somewhat otherworldly at times.  However, when not 'lending a hand' they are happy to have a chin or tummy rub and retreat to a cozy corner for forty winks.

In Europe and the newly settles Americas, the belief was held that it was 'Old Horny' himself who gave the witch her familiar which was actually a demon in the 'guise' of cat, dog, owl or toad, summoned and sent forth into the night to accomplish deeds most diabolical. Animals suspected of witchcraft involvement were destroyed and there have been accounts of cats, dogs and goats being formally accused, tried and hung or burned for the offence.  Strangely enough, prior to the witch hysteria familiars were seen as the fey in disguise and were thought to be more or less helpful in temperament and skill.

The care and feeding of the familiar was up to the witch to provide, and a favorite morsel would be left on the hearth or at a special location.  However, unusual marks, moles, or the infamous supernumerary (third) nipple, referred to as 'witch marks,' discovered during torture or examination, were proof of the familiar's ability to suckle, sustaining its life.  The very idea of such an 'imitate' relationship was condemnation alone.

In many indigenous cultures allies of this sort are most often referred to as Totems.  A totem animal represents the whole species not the individual creature itself.  Specific associations attributed to the familiar were significant to the individual in their care.  Particular strengths and weaknesses revealed through the telling of stories attributed to the totem animal were of great importance to the life trek of the person. Most often assigned at birth the totem would remain with the individual throughout their lifetime.

Familiars on the other hand are identified and treated strictly as a 'working partnership', although well cared for, the relationship's duration is in the control of the familiar and can last anywhere from a few weeks to years all at their whim.  Although seeming rare there have been accounts of familiars being obtained by a person through a family bequest.

Since witchcraft is shamanic in nature, some witches, myself included, have what is known as a Spirit House or Jar.  Usually made from pottery, glassware, wood or woven cord, the Spirit House provides the 'incorporeal' familiar a safe place to reside.  To begin: once the container is obtained it must be filled with personal belongings of the witch.  As in the construction of a poppet, hair, nail clippings, even a bit of blood in a tiny vial, along with herbs, stones and in my case, shells are placed within it as a 'link' and attractive abode. Trance is then used to travel to the Other World while within the compass riding the stang.  Understandably it will take time and patience to meet the spirit animal, bird, reptile of even insect that is to become your working partner, but it is worth the effort.

Once the meeting has occurred the link must remain open and active.  The Spirit House should be kept in a clean, safe and respectful place within the home and offerings are given on a regular basis, either left nearby or within it along with gifts added to the house at regular intervals.

The strong connection between the familiar and the witch allows the practitioner to travel between the Three Realms, a basic direction finder aliening the Middle, Underworld and Upper Realms.  These realms are the arenas where the Hidden Company is contacted and where magic is harnessed in order for it to manifest in the world of form.  The axis mundi, symbolized by the stang, is the center of the Compass 'Round; the bridge between the realms the familiar can transverse with ease at the request of the witch.  Out there the familiar acts as the eyes and ears of the witch herself. 

Here is a bit of whimsy from our childhood; an Old Mother Goose rhyme.  The image shows the Old Lady riding the gander through the sky, but I ask you, could this be 'witch flight' by use of the inner eye?  Might it be actually the spirit of the witch riding the gander using its senses my mind it is just that, a witch up to magical mischief after hours from the comfort of her cozy chair by the fire.

Old Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

Old Mother Goose
When she wanted to wander
Would fly through the air
On a very fine gander.

Mother Goose had a house;
It stood in the wood
Where an owl at the door
As sentinel stood.

 Davies, Owen (2003). Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History. London: Hambledon Continuum.
Wilby, Emma (2005). Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press.
The French Connection was in 1650 which is the earliest known written reference known as a monthly periodical by the French critic Jean Loret (1610 - 1665) in his 1650 "La Muse Historique"

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Witch's Ballad

Oh, I have been beyond the town,
Where nightshade black and mandrake grow,      
And I have heard and I have seen
What righteous folk would fear to know!

For I have heard, at still midnight,
Upon the hilltop far, forlorn,
With note that echoed through the dark,
The winding of the heathen horn.

And I have seen the fire aglow,
And glinting from the magic sword,
And with the inner eye beheld
The Horned One, the Sabbat's lord.

We drank the wine, and broke the bread,
And ate it in the Old One's name.
We linked our hands to make the ring,
And laughed and leaped the Sabbat game.

Oh, little do the townsfolk reck,
When dull they lie within their bed!
Beyond the streets, beneath the stars,
A merry round the witches tread!

And round and round the circle spun,
Until the gates swung wide ajar,
That bar the boundaries of earth
From faery realms that shine afar.

Oh, I have been and I have seen
In magic worlds of Otherwhere.
For all this world may praise or blame,
For ban or blessing naught I care.

For I have been beyond the town,
Where meadowsweet and roses grow,
And there such music did I hear
As worldly-righteous never know. 

Doreen Valiente

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sanguinaria Candensis

Common Name--Indian Paint. Tetterwort. Red Pucoon. Red Root. Paucon. Coon Root. Snakebite. Sweet Slumber. 

Family- N.O. Papaveraceae

Parts Used---Root, whole plant. 

Habitat---United States of America and Canada, found in rich open woods from Canada, south to Florida and west to Arkansas. and Nebraska.

Planet - Mars, Jupiter
Element - Fire

* Warning: This plant has appeared on the 'endangered list' best to cultivate than remove from the wild.

Description -Perennial. Single white flower, golden stamens with single downy leaf that drapes around it like a cape and approx. 6 inches high. Leaves palmate 6 inches. Once the plant has flowered the leaves will increase in size and present prominent veins. Seed found in elongated pod approx. 1 inch. Root stock has rounding appearance, thick and fleshy with tapered ends; long orange rootlets. Bloodroot juice appears orange-red. Collect the root in the fall once the leaves have passed.

Constituents-Alkaloids Sanguinarine, Chelerythrine, Protopine and B. homochelidonine; Sanguinarine forms colorless crystals. Chelerythrine is also colourless and crystalline. Protopine (same constituent as found in opium). The rhizome contains red resin; abundance of starch.

Poison Indications: Doses are mildly sedative, overdose easily done and is fatal. Juice and root are caustic and can damage tissue wherever applied. Poison symptoms include: faintness and vertigo, intense thirst, a burning stomach, vomiting, dimness of eyesight.

Parts Used: Roots collected in autumn, allow to dry completely, watch for mold. Tender root can lose potency quickly.

Active Properties: Diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, escharotic, expectorant, febrifuge, sedative, stimulant, tonic, purgative. * Caution needed. Powder used as poultice for aches and pains, joint inflammation, fungoid tumors, warts, ringworm, sores, and eczema.

Early Use: The root has long been used by the American Indians as a dye for their bodies and clothes and has been used successfully by American and French dyers.
*Reminder: can also cause severe skin irritation and destruction.

Cultivation:  Most moist wooded areas.  Plant prefers shade.  Early spring flower.

Rootwork Magic - Used as a substitute for blood in spellcraft (use powered form with liquid added) and referred to as Diabolic Wine.

Protective of marriages, imparts harmony in the home when hung in attic mixed with rosemary and thyme. Promotes satisfying marital sex and potency. For spouse fidelity sew dried bloodroot into pillows.

Carried for love in a red flannel pouch close to the body; placed over lintel and windows for home protection.  To break a hex, hide a small piece of dried blood root in the home or under the threshold of the perpetrator.

Sympathetic Magic: Rootworkers use the dark red roots to represent the male and the lighter pink roots for the female.

Diabolic Wine Recipe:  Mix powered bloodroot in a container with a full bodied wine.  Let stand covered with a red cloth for one full cycle of the dark moon.  When ready strain through cheesecloth into the final bottle.

Place bottle between two deep red beeswax candles dedicated to your particular patron.  Light the candles, still your mind, extend both hands, thumbs and first fingers touching forming a triangle, over bottle and repeat three times while lowering hands over bottle stopping short of touching the surface the bottle rests on.  Emphasize the words that are capitalized in order to knead the spell into the subconscious where, from there, it can be birthed:

"You are not wine but Blood,
 Living blood, Scarlet blood,
 Living Scarlet Blood of mine. (3X)"

A Modern Herbal (two volumes) by Mrs. Grieve
Herbal Medicine Maker's Handbook by James Green
Culpepper's Complete Herbal - Nicholas Culpeper