Friday, February 28, 2014

Marseilles Vinegar

Four Thieves Vinegar also known as Marseilles Vinegar, which traditionally is a blend of red wine, white wine, cider, or distilled white vinegar.  With the addition of certain herbs, garlic and spices is credited to protect users from the disease, especially, The Plague. The earliest recipe included five specific herbs that were added to vinegar and left to steep for several days. The most notable recipe hung in the Museum of Paris in 1937.

A Little History
Used during the European Black Plague, Four Thieves Vinegar is only one of similar vinegar blends used as medicine back to the time of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician who was born 460 BC, in Kos, Greece and who is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. In ancient Babylon, vinegar was made from wine as early as 5000 BC where it was used as medicine and to preserve food.

From ancient times, through the middle ages and into the 18th cen, the use of vinegar was commonly used in the treatment of infection and for the treatment and cure of pleurisy, fever, ulcers, and constipation; it was also used by the ancient Egyptians to kill bacteria. Vinegar combined with honey creates the active ingredient oxymel, which we now know was used to treat the common cough during this time in our history.

One particular recipe called for three pints of white wine vinegar, a man's handful of meadowsweet, wormwood, wild marjoram and sage.  To this forty or fifty cloves, two ounces angelica, two ounces campanula roots, two of horehound, two of angelica, two of rosemary and three large measures of camphor along with ample handfuls of garlic. All the herbs were then to be placed in an earthenware container and left to cure for fifteen days.  The mixture was then strained and bottled.  When approaching a plague victim the parts of the body of the doctor to be washed were the hands, temples, and ears.

Myth & Magic
In the city of Marseille, robbers took advantage of the population by robbing the dead those who were ill and unable to defend themselves, especially during the plague.  These devious men were able to be in close contact without fear due to the use of Four Thieves' Vinegar in which they coated themselves liberally as a defense.  Ah but alas, they were eventually apprehended to which they robbers offered the recipe in exchange for leniency from the court of which there is no known account.  Another version states that the recipe was developed after their capture by the robbers themselves in order to survive the sentence of burying the dead.  It seems unlikely that they would have been granted the time or the ingredients to make this given their crime.

Magically Four Thieves Vinegar is best known for it's ability to protect the wearer from hexes and reported curses of 'length and strength' by endowing the target with the ability to weaken not only the spell but also the spell weaver creating havoc in their own lives by either taking the recipe by mouth, as an ingredient in a soaking bath or by sprinkling it around home and hearth.

Current Use
Four Thieves Vinegar is still sold in Provence France and in Italy where it is called Seven Thieves Vinegar, it's primary use as a variety of smelling salts for dizziness and fainting.

A Recipe

2 tbsp chopped fresh lavender flowers
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
2 tbsp chopped fresh anise hyssop
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 quart white wine or apple cider vinegar

 Mix herbs and garlic in a one-quart ceramic or glass jar, add vinegar filling the jar to 'the shoulder' which allow for expansion of the herbs. Leave in a cool dark place for two-weeks.  Using chop sticks or a similar tool, stir the mixture a little everyday to allow the gases to dissipate. After allotted time, strain the vinegar through cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve into a second, sterile 1-quart glass jar and store at room temperature until ready to use. It may be used like salad dressing or to season stews.


1.Illes, Judika (2008). Magic When You Need It. Weiser Books.

2. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy

3. Hopkins, the Scientific American Encyclopedia of Formulas, 1910


5. Legend of Four Thieves Vinegar

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Art of Death Midwifery

An Introduction and Beginner's Guide Paperback

by Joellyn St. Pierre DDiv.

Winner of the 2009 USA Best Books Award and the 2010 International Book Award, The Art of Death Midwifery: An Introduction and Beginner's Guide, by ordained interfaith minister Joellyn St. Pierre, is a compelling and comprehensive manual for family, clergy, hospice volunteers, or medical staff engaged in the field of death and dying. In this poetic and powerful book, the author reminds us that society has thrown a veil of mystery over the process of death, thereby depriving the dying from the dignified and fearless departure they so deserve. Based on the tenet that death is neither the enemy nor a finite state, St. Pierre gives all helpmates the necessary tools to become a death midwife. That is, someone capable of acting as a spiritual guide as the dying transition from this life into what awaits them after death. Unlike many books on death and dying, this guide is leading-edge, based on the author's long experience both in lay and clergy. It is a sensitive and lyrical reminder that the dying deserve to feel empowered as they leave this life.

*                  Paperback: 272 pages
*                  Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (April 27, 2009)
*                  Language: English
*                  ISBN-10: 1439229066
*                  ISBN-13: 978-1439229064
*                  Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 8.9 x 5.9 inches

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Witches Creed

 by Doreen Valiente.

Hear now the words of the witches,
The secrets we bid in the night,
When dark was our destiny's pathway,
That now we bring forth into light.
Mysterious water and fire,
The earth and the wide-ranging air,
By hidden quintessence we know them,
and will and keep silent and dare.

The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magikal ring.

Four times in the year the Great Sabbat returns,
all witches are seen,
At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
On May Eve & Ole Holloween.

When daytime and nighttime are equal,
When the sun is at it's greatest and least,
The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,
Again, witches gather in feast.

Thirteen silver moons in a year,
Thirteen is the Coven's array,
Thirteen times at Esbat make merry,
For each golden year and a day.

The power was passed down the ages,
Each century unto the other,
Each time the ages began.

When drawn is the magikal circle,
By sword or athame or power,
It's compass between the 2 worlds lies,
In the land of the shades for that hour.

This world then has no right to know it,
And world of beyond will tell naught,
The oldest of GODS are invoked here,
The Great Work of magik is wrought.

For two are the mystikal pillars,
That stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of nature,
The forms and the forces divine.

The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a GOD and a GODDESS,
of this did our ancestors teach.

By night he's the wild wind's rider,
The Horn'd One, Lord of the Shades,
By day he's the King of the Woodland's,
The dweller in green forest glades.

She is youthful or old as she pleases,
She tails the torn clouds in her barque,
The bright silver lady of midnight,
The crone who weaves the spells in the dark.

The master and mistress of magik,
They dwell in the deeps of the mind,
Immortal and ever-renewing,
With power to free or to bind.

So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphame's fair land shall recieve us,
In peace at the end of our days.

And do what you will be challanged,
So be it in love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
By magik of old be it done!

The Witches Creed appears here as it was originally written by Doreen Valiente.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Veils Before the Void

(A Prayer unto the Queen of Heaven, Earth, and Hell.)

by Patrick Larabee © Shadows of Midnight
Hekate Illustration by Patrick Larabee ©

O' Mother Divine, Celestial Queen!

Thou dost don the Abyss as Thy attire and

upon it shines forth the Jewels of the Firmament,

each shining Sun a blazing diamond for Thy Diadem.

You whom holds within Thine being the Stars of the Void,

the Points of Spirits Light that shine forth through the Bless'd Night.

Matriarch of the Dark who didst give birth to the Son of the Sun.

From Thy Womb in which the Seed of Life did ignite,

came forth the Blackened Light of the Burnt One:

Qayin, the Father of the Illuminated Night!

Mistress of the Mystical Artes,

from the Stars we drawn Thee down to Earth.

In Rites of Congress with Thy Spirit Sublime,

within Thy Empyrean Essence my Self finds Re-Birth:

to soar amongst the Heavens as a Stellar Body Divine!

Mother Benign and Mother Malign,

Thy child am I and my Heart is Thy shrine.

Ruler of the Three Realms and all that lies Beyond and In-Between,

all that I am is yours - the Seen and the Unseen.

Hekas! Hekas! Hekat! Hekate!
O' Sovereign of the Underworld, Dame Diabolus!

Infernal Queen and Dark Mother,

in Thee the Dead seek comfort and solace:

from Thy Sunless Abode we come and to you shall be gathered home again.

To sink beneath the Dark Waters of Thy Being,

to witness the Fires of the Spirit-Faceless

in Hell You reign and here it is that we find our Kith and Kin.

Our Lady of Sorrows and of Joy,

in Thee the Living finds repose and contentment,

til the Flesh yields to Death to release that within that is Breathless.

When through the Veil we shall pass to embrace Soul's vast extent,

to walk the Path of the Blessing and the Curse:

to drink deep from Thy Chalice of the Potion-Deathless!

Mother Benign and Mother Malign,

Thy child am I and my Heart is Thy shrine.

Ruler of the Three Realms and all that lies Beyond and In-Between,

all that I am is yours - the Seen and the Unseen.

Hekas! Hekas! Hekat! Hekate!
O' Persona of Cosmos, Colassal Creatrix!

In the Beginning there was Naught,

and from this Nothing sprung forth Thy Nebulous-Radiance:

Galaxies, Suns, Energy, Time and Space,

Thou gavest Birth to the Noumenal Secrets of the Void.

From Thy Darkness didst the Light unfurl,

from Your Night didst Thou beget all Life.

Each Star a shining Gem from the Black Treasure Vault of Thy Being,

each a Lantern Guiding our way Home:

to the Place beyond the Beyond,

the Path that leads ever onwards to the Light that Shines-Not.

From the Darkest Places of Wisdom to the Bright Light of Earth,

all is yours and all is divine,

through the unending cycles of Death, Life and Re-Birth.

Mother Benign and Mother Malign,

Thy child am I and my Heart is Thy shrine.

Ruler of the Three Realms and all that lies Beyond and In-Between,

all that I am is yours - the Seen and the Unseen.

Hekas! Hekas! Hekat! Hekate!

O' Thou Noumenal and A-Cosmic Silence, Thou Darkness Beyond the Stars!

Thou art the Goddess of all the Night,

and Persona of the Void:



Mask of the Darkness-Eternal:

Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld

Beautious Blackness shimmering;

Midnight's Brightness illuminating,

Masquerade of the Abyss projecting:

and in passing through Thy Veils of Light,

each one dropping before the Great Beyond,

I bare witness to the Eternal Darkness that shines forth throughout ALL!

Thee, Unnameable One:

Thou art the Void Incarnate and the Vault of Heaven is but Thy Mask,

and only one amongst Many.

Chaos is Thy Name as it is spoken forth from Vulgar Tounge,

and they whose Vision shows Thee speak not at all,

for You are Unmentionable and Unknowable:

yet the Flesh speaks and breaks open at Thy caress,

to utter in Silence that which only the Soul knows.

Mother Benign and Mother Malign,

Thy child am I and my Heart is Thy shrine.

Ruler of the Three Realms and all that lies Beyond and In-Between,

all that I am is yours - the Seen and the Unseen.

Hekas! Hekas! Hekat! Hekate!

Thou art Void - the Beyond of the Beyond, the Darkness Incarnate, the Non-Existent Chaos of the Primordial Abyss, the Noumenal Radiance, Omnipresent, Omnisentient, Omnipotent, ALL and NOTHING, the Reality behind the Mask!


Hekate Invocation and Illustration granted by permission.