A Wise Word:

Witchcraft is all about living to the heights and depths of life as a way of worship. --LY DE ANGELES

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Power of a Space

When we moved to university housing, two events occurred that contributed to me struggling as a witch.  First, I lost my cat we wont delve into that once since it is still a painful subject and second, my altar space was greatly diminished.  In our cozy basement apartment, my altar space was set up on a large dressing table, beneath a ledge, beneath one of our 3 windows with a fairly deep ledge.  Merlin and I used all of the space and were quite happy working there.  

In the new apartment, I first set my altar up on a corner of the counter.  It was greatly reduced in size and everything sat on a placemat.  That was my entire altar and all my supplies were hidden away in a tote.  Working was pretty much a pain in the ass and it didn't take long before I was actually avoiding it. So, I moved all my supplies into the top two drawers of my dresser and set my altar on top.  A bit better, but still not enough room for all my actives and it was out of the way. I could hold ritual and do a bit of spellwork, but was still very limited.  I made due for over year, but recently I had to make a major change.   

It started out with me clearing the entire top of our split level bar and cl,aiming that as my altar/ritual space.  I had room for all my trappings and being able to see it durring the day was a great inspiration.  Next was adding a small divided box laid on its side to the .....counter below to use as storage for all the miscellany I collected in that corner and using the top for an ancestor altar.  It was great!  I had a large designated space for my sacred items, it was beautiful, and most of all it was functional.  One might think I had it made, but there was still a small issue.  

The counter below my altar space was my disorganized catch all.  Everything I didn't have time to deal with immediately got tossed on that counter and blocked my access to the altar.  Repeatedly, I cleared it off and vowed to never again junk it up and repeatedly I failed.  For weeks, I struggled with the space.  I knew if I gave it over to my practice and made it a witchy space I would no longer allow it to become my "hoarder corner", but the thought of giving up 3/4 of my counter space brought hesitation.

One day, while browsing YouTube, everything changed.  I saw a video by one of the witches I follow and it was entitled "How Important is Your Practice."   I didn't even watch the video.  I had to clean off that damn counter!  After clearing the counter, I laid out an old mirror that I use as a work space and I left it there.  That counter is now off limits for everything except magickal working and to everyone except me.  Ever time I see it, my confidence as a witch is boosted and I very proudly think, "Yes, I am a witch and I have important magick to make."  

Do you have a permanent altar space?  How does it affect your practice? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Very Useful Herb

On my altar right next to the re-rooting rosemary sprig is a bottle of rosemary oil.  It is very likely the most used magickal item in our house.  I use it to anoint my family for protection, I rub it on my husbands temples for clarity of thought while studying and I use it to anoint my own forehead for purification before ritual and divination.  Some days, everyone in the household smells of rosemary.

Additionally, I also use dried rosemary leaves blended in an incense for divination and in spell work. Magickaly, rosemary is touted as being the herb that can be used in place of any other herb, but I have yet to put that to the test.  I prefer to substitute a similar herb when I must.  However, the magickal properties of rosemary are diverse, from protection to clarity of thought to love and even to purification.  Scott Cunningham even suggests burning rosemary to promote healing, which is where things get really interesting.

Burning rosemary, especially when combined with juniper, is effective at killing germs and preventing infections.  Before modern antiseptics, this combination was often burned in hospitals to keep illness from passing between patients.  Magickal and medicinal in one!

Just today, I smudged my home with rosemary grown by my oldest daughter.  We've been fighting a nasty cold for over a week now and everytime I think we've kicked it, things take a turn for the worse.  I knew I needed to do something to stop the cycle, but it is just too chilly to open the house up for a good airing.  So, I smudged and in smudging I tapped into both the magicakal and the medicinal uses of rosemary I don't have any juniper right now.

After lighting my charcoal disk and getting a nice billowy smoke from my dried roseamary, Miss Busy and I walked through the house with the smoking bowl.  As we made our small tour, we chanted,  "Smoke of rosemary, billow and blow.  Smoke of rosemary, germs must go."   Simple magick, but magick that I know works.

From a purely medical standpoint, our steadfast belief in rosemary as a helper in clear thought and concentration is a proven truth.  Rosemary stimulates circulation to the brain and gives us sharper memory and cognition. Because of this stimulation, it is also effective for relieving headaches associated wth stress and will minimize the symptoms of a cold.  For medicinal purposes, rosemary is best ingested raw, but if you can't stomach chewing on a rosemary leaf try a cup of rosemary tea or adding a sprig or two to a pot of soup.

Rosemay is additionally used to treat a vast array of women's issues, heart problems, and sluggish digestion.  It also tastes delicious in a homemade vegetable soup, chopped and sprinkled on top of homemade bread before popping it in the oven, or included in a chi tea blend.  Oh, and oven roasted chicken and potatoes with a sprinkling of fresh rosemary...delicious!

While I realize there is a lot more that I could say about this herb, I will just leave you with a suggestion to keep a few sprigs or a plant on hand for all purposes magickal, medicinal, and culinary. I have in no way exhausted the use of rosemary in this post, so do a bit of reading and find the uses that best suit your individual needs.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Happy Dust

Yesterday, I moved my ancestor altar from the bedroom into the kitchen.  I felt my ancients would get more love and attention out here with the rest of the family.  While I was setting up the altar, I tossed the old potting soil in the bottom of my incense dish and decided to replace it with sand from the sandbox.  

I thought I was being thrifty, but it ended up being a much better idea than I thought.

While I was coming back inside with my little jar of sand, I suddenly felt giddy.  I wanted to skip and laugh.  The energy coming off that sand was/is just delicious!  My first thought was, "Papa is going to love this."  Then I realized it would also make a great magickal ingredient.  

All summer long, hordes of neighborhood children have laughed, collaborated, and created in that sandbox.  Even now as the days are getting shorter, they run from the bus to the sandbox and play late into the afternoon, coats and backpacks scattered on the lawn around them.  I collected my sand durring this time of day.  With out knowing it, these children have continually charged the sandbox.  

Now, instead of "fairy dust" I have "happy dust."  You had better believe that I am going to find a dozen ways to use it, too.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

Keeping it Witchy

It is ten minutes to noon and the altar candles have yet to be lit for the morning, my grandparents haven't heard my voice in days unless of course they are listening in on me while I fuss at the children, and Superman asked me to recharge his hag stone weeks ago. The only way I am slipping in some blog time is that I have to sit at the kitchen table, facing the girls door in order to stay on top of things and enforce naptime.

The baby is fully mobile now and getting a tooth...

My hands are full.

With time being a premium at our house, I have to be smart to keep my sanity and maintain spiritual growth.  Sometimes, that means taking advantage of random moments that pop up through out the day and other times it means making time.  Here is how I'm coping.  

  • Set the Altar Up Where it is Easily Accessable. I use to have my altar in the bedroom to keep it away from little hands, it was effective, but it was out of the way for me too.  Moving it to the kitchen counter is nearly as effective for keeping kids out and it is much more accessable for me.  
  • If You Only Have a Few Minutes, Use Them.  Study or write while kids are drifting off to sleep.  Dust the altar durring the three minutes they decide to play with Legos without assaulting each other.  Let them start eating while you take a food offering to the ancestors.    
  • Let Them Help When Possable.  This one might be the hardest of them all.  Little helpers are often more hinderance than help, but making a mess and driving us crazy is how they learn.
  • Keep it Simple.  Instead of creating elaborate rituals and planning highly complicated spells, plan to keep things low key until you have more time.  The supplies for my Full Moon Ritual are so few that they fit in the pockets of my over robe and most of my spells are based on sigil magick.  If something is feasibly do-able, I am less likely to put it off altogether.  
  • Forgive Yourself.  Life happens.  Often our best intentions get swept to the wayside and we don't do all that we want or should.  If the baby wakes up vomiting and the toddler runs around the house tearing up paper while the preschool screams, chances are you might not spend time honoring your deities or talking with your ancestors today.  Days like that happen. It doesn't make you less of a witch.  
  • Maintain an Atmosphere.  Sometimes little things really effect the way you feel about life.  Burn an herby candle, wear something that makes you feel particularly magickal, or daub essential oil on your wrists.  For a quick energy boost, listen to witchy/pagan/heathen music. 

Witching and Moming are both full time activities.  We do the best we can with all our hearts and just enjoy the ride.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Viking Soup

Recently, I googled "What did Vikings eat." Since it was just days before Winter Nights, I was hoping for some feast planning inspiration.  Secretly, I was also hoping for some evidence to present Superman with so that he would quit insisting that he should be a hardcore carnivore as part of his Heathen journey.  That man is so full of shit sometimes!  

Not surprisingly, our Norse ancestors ate very simple food.  Mostly meat/fish and cool weather vegetables with some dairy and grains depending on the location. Apparently, one of the most common forms of substance was skause, a perpetual soup pot chock full of meat, vegetables, and local herbs.  As the meat and vegetables are consumed, new ones are added for days on end.  

Since soup of any kind is a favorite at our house, I had to give this new concoction a go.  Superman dubbed it "Viking Soup," so that's what moniker we went with.  It's a little more fun than skause.  We added to and ate our Viking Soup for three days and then I drained off the broth and used it as a base for grits the following morning.  For three nights and one morning, I had a hearty and highly nutritious meal for my family with very little fuss.

Here are the experiment details.

Day 1: An ok soup.  
  • A rack of boneless baby back ribs
  • Carrots (cut in large chunks)
  • Potatoes (halved) 
  • Garlic (minced)
  • Onion (quartered)
  • Salt
  • Water

I buy my meat when it is on sale or discounted and then toss it in the freezer, so the ribs were just something I had on hand.  Unfortunately, I didn't stop to think what the long cook time would do to the potatoes and by early afternoon they were disintegrating.  At that point, I pulled them out and let them sit in a casserole dish until just before supper when I heated them in the oven.  In the future, I won't include potatoes, which is fine because they pretty much have no nutritional value anyway.  

Day 2:  This is starting to get really good.  I could have doubled both the meat and vegetables, though.
  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Onion (quartered)
  • Rutabagas 
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Salt
  • Water
Just before lunch, I pulled the pot out of the fridge and started reheating it.  I added all my new ingredients to the existing broth and let it simmer all afternoon.  Super simple and I can use all the short cuts I can get in the evening.

Day 3: This is off the chain!
  • Pork shoulder blade steak
  • Beef tip steak
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Hulled Barley
  • Water
The first thing I did this day was to skim the chicken fat off top of my broth, quite a bit had formed in the fridge over night.  Then I tossed in some more of that meat stash from my freezer, added some veg and barley, then went about my business.  Superman and I could have kept going with the soup, but the girls were starting to get a bit tired of it, so we strained the broth and used it for grits the following morning.  I think skause is going to be a staple at our house.  

As for my research, these were my three best finds.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Little Witches, Big Magick

A few mornings ago in spite of the forecast for possible snow we woke up to a cold drizzly rain.  The clouds were low and hunkered down like they planned to stay and the updated forecast confirmed it.

Getting the coffee started, I grumbled about the weather that was going to keep me cooped up inside with three littles all day.  Miss Busy must have heard me, because from the bedroom she shouted her favorite expletive compliments of Superman and dashed into the living room.  Standing in front of the picture window she shook her little fists at the clouds and begin chanting.
"Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day."

With in seconds, Little Moon was at her side chiming in with,

"Go -way.  Go -way."

Every fiber of their little bodies was given over to the intent of banishing the rain.  Their sweet faces were furrowed with concentration and I had an epiphany.   This was a spell!

My adult brain rushed into the ways I could improve on their work and create a witchy learning experience for the morning.  The moon was waning, so the timing couldn't be better and I had some fun ingredients in my cabinet just waiting to make magick.  When I called them away from the window for their breakfast, I promised to help them banish the rain as soon as they ate.

Soon it was evident that my help was not needed.  With in moments, the rain briefly turned to sleet and just peatered out.  With in an hour the sun was shinning weakly from behind the clouds.  They had banished the rain all by themselves.

Now before anyone misinterprets this and thinks I am claiming my children are magickal geniuses, I will assure you that is not so.  My children are many things mess makers, alternative fashionistas, mud eaters, but not super witches.

Intent!  It was all intent.

With out a doubt, they were 100% sure that they did not want a rainy day.  They boldly and loudly, proclaimed that intent while knowing that they were with out a doubt capable of making the rain stop.  

As witches we talk "intent" all of the time,  but my daughters showed me more about intent in 3 minutes than I could ever put into words.  What they demonstrated is exactly what I need to implement into my craft.  Intent with confidence.

**As a side note.  This makes me wonder what other nursery rhymes may be spells just waiting to be used.  Have you tried nursery rhyme magick?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Miss Busy as Divination Assistant

Today, I had to do some emergency divination.  Superman had a situation and needed my insights.  I usually do small, quick readings on my dresser top altar, but this called for something more.

Once I had the youngest two down for a nap, I set Miss Busy on the couch with a stack of books and started preparing the table for a rather in depth reading.  Miss Busy stayed on the couch just long enough for me to gather my supplies from the dresser and then she was all up in my business.  Looking and touching and learning, but I just wasn't in a teaching mode.  I told her to sit quietly and watch.   

She sat big eyed and silent for about 30 seconds before bouncing over the the record player and spinning some Fleetwood Mac we can call that witchy music today.  I gave her the mommy means business look and pointed dramatically at her chair.  She sat quietly before beginning to rearrange my set up.  I reminded her not to touch andprep to get started.  Somewhere in all this, I failed to get a good light on two separate charcoal disks.

She was doing pretty well at the not touching part, but keeping quiet was getting the best of her.  After shushing her for the third or fourth time, I explained once again that it had to be quiet so I could focus.  It didn't make her any quieter, just redirected her whispered chatter.  "Mommy, focus."  She reminded me over and over. When I reminded her to be quetshe shushed me .  As the cards rustled she very severely shushed them as well.  

The settling factor ended up being the threat of a nap.  Surprisingly, I did end up with a good reading.  Maybe Miss Busy learned something from watching, but I learned alot from her presence.  Firstly that my ability to focus is not as fragile as I believed.  Secondly, that it is time to get Miss Busy more actively involved with the craft.