A Long Weekend

It’s a quiet day here in the mountains. The husband slept in and and I had two big cups of coffee. I slept for ten hours last night, after a long and grueling week. I don’t always sleep well at night, so by the end of the week it usually catches up with me. Yesterday I was so exhausted I could hardly keep my eyes open. Thankfully this is a three-day weekend, and I’m going to savor every second of it. I will be planning lots of three-day weekends after July 1st, when my new allotment of PTO (paid time off) goes into effect at the day job.

Last weekend I went to the Spiritual Holistic Expo, which they have twice a year in town. It’s a large expo with many vendors offering tarot readings, aura photos, crystals, herbs and all manner of magical and pagan items. This was the first time I’d gone since the plague hit (and they had cancelled it a couple times). I was a little disappointed this time around because the booksellers weren’t there, and they were one of the main reasons I went. They used to have a book vendor who sold mainly pagan books, hundreds of them, and all at half-price. I found so many wonderful books there over the years. If I had known they weren’t going to be there, I probably would not have gone. I was told recently that this particular vendor is currently having some health problems, which is why they weren’t there. I didn’t buy much this time, only some herbs that I needed for my rituals. Among them were Rue, St. John’s Wort and Vervain. One of my favorite teachers, the late Raven Grimassi (whom I met in person and attended two of his classes) shared that a blend of Rue, Vervain and St. John’s Wort is an Old Ways method of marking the perimeter of a magic circle. This can be used as an alternative to casting with a wand. I will be blending these together after I purchase more herb bottles (the ones I have are all currently full). I also bought some powdered Myrrh and Sandalwood. I use the powders to make incense.

Book writing projects are still on hold. I have the novel all mapped out. Plot, characters, the whole thing. The witchcraft book has been started, but only when I’ve had a spare moment to work on it. I need more time to actually sit down and devote to it. It’s hard to find the time when I also work a full-time job, I have a home and a husband and a dog to attend to, not to mention my long commute to and from the cottage, and there’s my anxiety flare-ups. I’ve had a few of those the past couple of weeks. I’ll have to take time off to do any serious work on writing projects. I’ve been kind of on the fence about these two books. I still want to finish them, but maybe now is not the time. Sometimes I feel as though I should be writing a different sort of book. Something unique and ‘outside the box’ as they say. It sometimes feels like there’s an idea just hovering out there, but it has not yet entered my consciousness.

The husband’s birthday was May 24th, so I made him a sugar-free cake with sugar-free frosting. It’s not as bad as it sounds. He’s diabetic, so we’ve had to get creative with cooking and sweets. They have sugar-free cake mixes that are sweetened with Stevia, and to make them taste better you can use mayonaisse instead of eggs and add a little extra water. For the frosting, I prepare some of the Jello sugar-free cheesecake pudding mix, and then blend it with whipped cream, which is already low in sugar. It has more of a mousse texture but it still works as a cake frosting. It came out perfect, both cake and frosting were light and fluffy. We’ve already eaten the whole thing. FYI, the Jello Cheesecake Pudding is delicious.

Today we went into town so the husband could get a haircut. Only the husband gets haircuts, I’m bald as a doorknob and I shave my own head. This particular salon is gay-owned and the owners are friends of ours. After this we went to a nearby music store where I purchased a used CD from PULP. I’d been wanting this one for awhile, I’ll listen to it later this evening. We then went to a plant nursery, where the husband purchased another plant for the cottage. He is outside at this moment putting it in the ground. Before coming home we stopped at the market to pick up something for dinner tonight (corn dogs!), and then went to a place called Rita’s. It’s a frozen custard shop with a walk up window and outdoor seating. They’re only open during the Spring and Summer. It’s a favorite around these parts. I had a sort of custard shake with Reese’s peanut butter cups and hot fudge. (The husband may be diabetic but I’m certainly not). He had a sugar-free tangerine gelato. After coming home, I put some fresh snake repellent all around the house, since it is getting warmer now and they’ll be out poking around soon. Hopefully it keeps them away. It smells like crushed moth balls.

Pulp CD I bought today. I don’t know what took me so long to get one, I’ve been wanting this for quite awhile.

I hope to do lots of writing this weekend, on at least one of my projects. I’d like to start reading “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle at some point as well. I saw a leather-bound copy at Barnes and Noble that is just beautiful. And I plan to watch lots of vintage British comedies, such as Last of the Summer Wine.

So these are my weekend plans. Nothing exciting, no drama, nothing anxiety-inducing. That’s just how I like it.

Lots Going on Around Here

I love living close to nature, but it’s a little too close at the moment. We think a raccoon has had babies in our chimney. Last week our security cameras caught a large raccoon lurking around the cottage, looking for a way in. We had all the access points around the base of the house sealed last year, so it couldn’t get in that way. Then a few days ago, I heard chitterings, scratching noises and what sounded like crying animals coming from the chimney. Lovely. The dampener was closed, thank goodness. Apparently we did not have a cap on the chimney, so that’s where they are currently. Our dog Winston, has stationed himself in front of the fireplace, because he knows there’s something up the chimney. We’ve been giving him hemp chews (for pets) to keep him calm, but we’re not sure how well they’re working. He is a bit high-strung and anxious himself. We contacted a chimney guy, who warned us in no uncertain terms, DO NOT OPEN THE DAMPENER! Doing so would unleash chaos and destruction inside our house. We have no intention of touching the dampener. It’s really difficult to open anyway. There are two levers you have to pull at the same time, and it takes alot of strength, so I’m pretty sure the raccoons won’t be able to open it either. It’s fairly heavy. The chimney guy said he can clear them out and install a new chimney cap at the same time so nothing can get back in. But… he’s not available until May 9th. So, this is a bit stressful, to say the least. I know they’re nocturnal, so they’re not active during the day, and we’re both up pretty late weeknights. The husband works from home two days a week, but there are a few days when neither of us are here. My anxiety is in overdrive and I haven’t been sleeping well. One of my favorite witchcraft teachers mentioned a plant spirit that can be called upon to drive away unwanted animals from the house. I may be taking that advice.

If the raccoon thing wasn’t aggravating enough, my cellphone battery decided to go on the blink. A couple of days ago I noticed it was charging at a snail’s pace. It would be almost dead by the time I got home, so I would plug it in immediately, and by the next morning it would only be at 40%. I did discover today, though, that it charges much faster when the phone is turned off. I’ll keep doing it this way until I can get a new battery.

The husband’s new job seems to be working out well, and we’re both relieved that it allows him to work from home two days a week. The day he interviewed for this job, we cast an elaborate spell that evening to place him in their favor, and three days later they offered him the position. We believe in magic because we know and have seen that it works.

I have discovered a new singer and songwriter that I am now obsessed with. Her name is Aurora. She is Norwegian, and she writes and performs her own music. Her voice is amazing, and her music is so full of life and creativity. I already have two of her CD’s and just ordered a third one to be delivered tomorrow. I found her on YouTube while I was watching music videos, and then I watched her videos “Runaway” and “Giving In To The Love”, and I was spellbound. There are lots of her videos and live performances on YouTube. In interviews she is very quiet and soft-spoken, but her videos and performances are full of energy and joy. There is a tangible magical energy in her music that I’ve sensed with very few musical artists. There are some singers and bands that have this quality, and they don’t have to be singing specifically about magical topics, but their music has this enchanted quality. Aurora is magical.

Beltane is just around the corner, and there is a celebration this Sunday at a local park about 30 minutes away. This particular park is privately owned, and has many standing stones and a stone circle, which makes it a popular spot for pagan events. This event is happening during the day, which works better for me. The group I used to celebrate with has their celebrations at night (which you’re supposed to do, really), but it’s over an hour away now that we’ve moved. Also, I don’t fancy driving on the freeways after dark.

I haven’t had much time for book writing. I’m so exhausted during the week. Major writing projects will have to wait until I have some extra time to devote to them. I don’t want to rush them, but I have been brainstorming and many things have given me inspiration (ex: Aurora).

I will spend the rest of the evening watching TV, eating cereal and hoping the raccoons keep quiet.

The Magic of Moonstone

Moonstone is a natural stone, formed from the mineral feldspar. The inter-growth of different types of feldspar during gem formation are the source of the moonstone’s shimmer, also known as adularescence. The finest moonstones are found mainly in Sri Lanka and Southern India. Moonstone is linked, of course, to the Moon and to the element of Water. It is used to call upon lunar deities, particularly the Moon Goddess of Old Ways Witchcraft. It is useful with all forms of divination. The powers of the Moonstone help to enhance psychic and intuitive abilities, astral projection, lucid dreaming and shamanic journey practices. It can be in blue, white, peach, pink, rainbow or tan colors. Moonstone helps to stabilize emotional states, and helps to release stress and tension. It helps to lessen mood swings and prevent over-reacting to situations and pressures. Magical practitioners believe it’s powers increase as the moon is Waxing to Full. Moonstone is favored by cats, children and those who are traveling. It is believed to help the growth of plants, and increase the flow of beneficial energies during magical ritual. Moonstone has long been known for its calming, soothing qualities on the emotional body. Its energy is balancing and healing, assisting in the mastery of emotions by bringing them under the control of Higher Will, rather than expressing or repressing them. It also helps identify emotional patterns that are stored in the subconscious, and serves as a guardian to contain explosive passions, and to stimulate confidence and composure. It has a mystical quality that helps witches tap into the subconscious and access the hidden realms. I happen to prefer the peach-colored variety, and hold one in each hand while meditating. I will sometimes place a flat moonstone on my forehead while lying down after a stressful day at work. It’s energies are very calming and soothing.

To Cleanse and Purify The Home


Incense: Frankincense & Myrrh, Dragon’s Blood, Sandalwood

Rose Water

Drum or Bell

First, open all windows and doors. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you reach a meditative state. Light incense containing any combination of the scents listed above, ideally in the form of a bundle that will remain lit for awhile. You may have to blow on the bundle periodically to keep it lit. Start at the back of the home, and walk through each room from corner to corner, filling each room with smoke. As you walk, you may repeat “All harmful energies are now banished from this place”. As you finish with each room, maintain your meditative state, and visualize each room filled with white light. You may wish to raise your right hand and project this light out of your hand into each corner of the room. Cleanse your house in this way, from back to front, pushing all harmful energy out the front door. If you have a 2-story home, begin on the upper level first, then continue with the downstairs. If you have a drum, after you have cleansed each room with smoke, bang the drum loudly 9 times in each room. If you use a bell, ring the bell 3 times in each room after cleansing it with smoke.

You may also wish to add 9 drops of Sage or Dragon’s Blood pure essential oils to mop water and clean the floors. This is known as a “Floor Wash” and some witches use this for additional protection in the home. Finally, take a bottle of Rose Water in a spray bottle, and spray all corners and thresholds of each room.

Return To The Old Ways

The snow is falling again here at our mountain cottage. It is still Winter, after all. I am just now beginning to recover from a nasty bout of the flu. I tested negative for Covid, for which the management at the day job will be thankful. I still have a nagging cough, sore throat and runny nose, but I am not as fatigued or physically exhausted as before. The fact that I can sit here at this laptop and write means I am improving. Elderberry syrup, hot green tea and lots of sleep have been my saving grace. I’ll spend this weekend resting, writing and reading. I started reading the Prince Harry book, Spare, and it is absolutely riveting. Very hard to put down. I have such admiration for those two, choosing to live their lives on their own terms. Diana would be proud. I remember that car crash, when the whole world mourned.

Later this afternoon, I will have to give the dog a bath. He’s been scratching more than usual lately. I’m dreading it because he sheds profusely and I’ll need to clean the tub afterwards. A tough job but someone has to do it.

Because of my illness, my book projects were on hold, but today I may be able to dive back in. The novel is a long-term project, one that I am not going to rush. The short-term project, a book of witchcraft for beginners, is an idea that came to me recently and is what I will spend some time on this weekend. I’ve been thinking a lot about witchcraft and it’s connection to nature, and how so many pagans, particularly younger ones, often do not realize the importance of this connection. There is so much mystery and mysticism tied to witchcraft, and some aspects are not so easily defined or pigeon-holed. Social media has become a chaotic mess of people asserting their ‘adeptness’ or ‘expert knowledge’, each trying to outdo the other and become some kind of rock star in the pagan community. A practice that is largely personal and experiential is being turned into a list of do’s and don’ts, and gatekeeping, and accusations of “cultural appropriation”, and ridiculous demands for references and footnotes and “where are you getting this from”. There are many different kinds of witches, all with varying gifts and abilities, many of which they did not learn in a class or from a book. People seem to have forgotten this. The practice of witchcraft is centuries older than the formal traditions that developed around it. Not everything in witchcraft can be backed up with references and footnotes.

We need to return to the naturalness of it all. The Old Ways. Interpreting the voice of the wind in the trees, or the shapes conjured by incense smoke and the flame of a burning candle. The secrets revealed in tarot cards and images reflected in a crystal ball. The swing of the pendulum and the casting of runes. Nature is the driving force behind witchcraft. It is not how many followers one has or how many books one has sold. Even this website is not for me to put myself on a pedestal, but to share the wisdom that has been shared with me, and offer my services to those who may need them. To be a witch is not just about magic and spells, but also about nature, healing and service.

There are many who seek to dilute the Old Ways with their so-called ‘modern ideas’, putting aside the wisdom of the elders in favor of new concepts and philosophies. Some are even mocking the old knowledge, calling it “outdated” and “no longer relevant”. They do this at their own peril, forgetting that they are where they are because of those who paved the way. Do not disregard the old teachings or cast them aside like rubbish.

I will cling to the Old Ways with all my being and share them with those who will listen.

The Witch’s Book of Shadows

The ‘Book of Shadows’ is shrouded in mystery and mysticism. Nearly every Witch has one, and while many may look similar on the outside, the contents therein are unique and individual to the Witch who owns it. Some say the Book of Shadows is a product of modern Wicca, however there are mentions of handwritten books kept by Witches as far back as the 17th century. There is also some confusion as to the difference between a Book of Shadows and a Grimoire. Many use the two words interchangeably, but there is a slight difference.

A Grimoire is a book (or portion thereof) that contains only spells and rituals. Many Witches have a Grimoire contained within their Book of Shadows. For most modern Witches, when we speak of a Book of Shadows, it is usually assumed that it contains a Grimoire. In my own Book of Shadows, I do have spells and rituals recorded, but they are not kept in a special section labeled “Grimoire”. They are interspersed throughout the book, with other information. There is no hard and fast rule about where to put things, although I prefer to record the herbs and plants all together at the end of the book, which makes them easier to find.

A Book of Shadows may contain a Grimoire, but it can also have other information. Herbs, correspondences, magical studies, meditations, drawings, symbols, lore and legends, personal observations, divination tips or any other info that the Witch has found personally useful in their own practice can be documented in a Book of Shadows.

So where does one find a Book of Shadows? Some simply use a special journal or a notebook, while others have large, elaborate tri-fold books that have 1,000 pages and weigh a ton. There are a few websites where you can purchase handmade Books of Shadows, but they are priced in the hundreds of dollars and take months to produce. If you are willing to invest the money and time, go for it. Or, you can use something a bit smaller, less expensive and more practical. It’s really up to you what you want to use, but I will offer a few suggestions. You may go through several, as I did, before you find the one you really like.

The magical journals of Old World witches were hand-written on parchment paper, using special inks and writing instruments, such as a feather quill. Dragon’s Blood Ink or India Ink are popular choices, as they take longer to break down. On the other hand, if something else works better for you, (or is more affordable), then use it. Some hardcore traditionalists would cringe at the thought of using colored pencils, stencils or rub-ons in their Book of Shadows, but I use them frequently.


  • Look for something that fits your personality. Many seem to want something they have seen in movies or on TV, such as the Charmed Book of Shadows. Don’t fall into the pop culture trap. Find something that represents you.
  • Simple is often best. Instead of going for a mass-produced Book of Shadows covered with symbols or drawings, find something with a blank cover that you can personalize and decorate yourself. I prefer to leave my cover unadorned.
  • Don’t get something too small. Journals and notebooks are great, but eventually they will be full and you’ll have to start another one. I recommend looking at artist sketchbooks in hardcover. You can find them in larger sizes with 200+ pages and they are made specifically for those who paint or draw. There are also some gorgeous leather-bound books of parchment paper, which is what I use. Check your local art stores or look online to get a better variety. Consider your Book of Shadows a sacred object. The contents within are for your eyes only, hidden from public view and away from prying eyes. When not in use, keep it wrapped in a natural fiber.

My own Book of Shadows, which I have named Llyfr o Dewiniaeth (Welsh for ‘Book of Magic’) is a large leather-bound book of parchment pages that have been given an antique appearance. I found this on Amazon, of all places. The pages are quite thick and suitable for writing, drawing or even painting on. It is a rare thing for me to share photos of my sacred book of magic, but here you only get to see the first page with it’s name. This book is one of my most prized possessions.

I want to emphasize again about not getting something too small. It is kind of a drag transferring everything from a smaller book into a larger one, and is very time-consuming. The larger ones are more expensive, but are well worth it in the long run. In my own book, I document the spells, rituals and magical information that I use most often, including information from books and teachers that have been most meaningful in my life and personal path. Do not just put random information in your book, but only that which has the most meaning for you and that which you will use on a regular basis. Your Book of Shadows, or whatever you choose to call it, is meant to be personal and an extension of your magical identity.

When Spells Don’t Work

Magic can be tricky, and there are some things that can make your spells ineffective. Take note of the following list when planning your magical workings.

  • Energy Failure: If energy is not raised properly or is not allowed to reach it’s peak, it is likely your spell will not manifest. Practice different forms of energy raising techniques, such as chanting, dancing or burning parchment with a written intention to discover which works best for you.
  • Doubt: If you do not believe in what you’re doing and you really don’t think it will work, then chances are it will not.
  • Unclear Intention: Know exactly what you want. Be specific. If you are indecisive or unclear, nothing will manifest for you. If you are not specific enough, you may get what you want, but with unpleasant strings attached.
  • Don’t Talk About It: Telling your friends or posting on social media about the spell you cast last night is a sure way of bringing that energy back to you and disabling your spell. Remain silent about your spellcasting. Skeptical friends or outsiders who have negative opinions about spells and magic can bring their harmful energy into the process. Your best bet is to be silent about your magical workings until they have manifested into physical reality.
  • Weak Will: If your will is not strong enough or if you’re really not sure it is what you want, this can also sabotage your spell. Be commanding and know that it is yours.
  • Lack of Follow-Up: If you cast a job spell but you don’t submit any resumes or go on interviews, you can’t expect to get that job. Follow up is important.
  • Scattered Correspondences: If the symbols and energies you use in your spell do not have any association to the outcome, there is a good chance your spell will not manifest. Like attracts like.
  • Mercury Retrograde: It is a matter of debate whether or not it is a good idea to do spellwork while Mercury is in retrograde. A good rule of thumb is, if it bothers you, then don’t do it. If you feel confident enough to cast your spell, and it cannot wait until Mercury goes direct, then cast it. Some practitioners include in their spell “I neutralize the power of Mercury in Retrograde“.
  • Lack of Full Attention: If you are distracted or in a hurry while casting your spell, then it is not likely to have the effects you want. Wait until you can be undisturbed and give the spell all of your attention and focus.
  • Violation of Free Will: This is a rather grey area, as these kinds of spells do work, but with repercussions. Magic that is used to control others or make them do something they would not otherwise do is a dangerous practice. The power of suggestion is real, however, the only way another person can use magic to violate another’s free will is if there is already a weakness or foothold in the area of suggestion. It is very important that those who work with magic constantly examine themselves, We must discipline our minds and work to take control of our fears, anxieties and passions. It is not an easy task.
  • Moon Phases and Planetary Energies: These can work against you if your spell is cast during unfavorable times. Be aware of current moon phases and planetary hours to get more power behind your spells.
  • True Will and the Plan of the Universe: There are times when we may cast a spell that is not for our highest good, and does not fit within the plan of the universe. There may in fact be something even better for us on the horizon, and a particular spell may not be aligned with our true will. It is important to include in our spells an intention of “for the highest good” and an outcome that is “perfect and correct”. It is equally important to focus on the outcome of your spell and not on how it manifests.

The casting of spells is an art and a science. There are many factors that come into play. This is not an exhaustive list of things that can wreck your spell, but they are some important ones. Plan your spells carefully.

Benefits of a Structured Practice

I have encountered many pagans who have a practice that seems rather chaotic and random, with no rhyme or reason, and approach it with a sort of casual “whatever I feel like today” attitude. There is no discipline or consistency to their practice. Many become “Eclectic” witches, because they don’t want to be limited to one particular system or pantheon. This buffet-style paganism seems to work for some, but leaves others feeling their energies scattered and ungrounded.

My practice has remained largely unchanged for the last ten years, but it is still just as vibrant and alive as ever, because it is based on connection and relationship. While it is very structured, it still allows room for growth. I will share my practice with you, and give suggestions on how to develop your own. In the meantime, consider the following:

  • What deity figures, gods and goddesses do you feel the strongest connection with?
  • Which crystals and stones do you use most often?
  • What flowers, herbs and plants, if any, are the most important to your personal practice?
  • Consider your magical skills. Perhaps you’re a tarot reader or a Reiki practitioner. Would you like to develop these skills further?

Below is a brief outline of my yearly practice. You will see that even though it has organization and structure, there is room for growth and versatility. I have strong connections to the Celtic current and it’s magical systems, so this is what I work with exclusively. You may choose to work with others of your choice. I present this only as an example, so that you can use it as a template for your own personal practice.


  • Deity: Cu Chulainn
  • Plant: Valerian
  • Stone: Citrine
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Full Moon and New Moon
  • Reading and Study
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Brigid
  • Plant: Hyssop
  • Stone: Rose Quartz
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Imbolc, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Make Brigid’s Cross for altar
  • Reading and Study (Tending Brigid’s Flame by Lunaea Weatherstone)
  • Meditation


  • Deities: Cerridwen and Taliesin
  • Plant: Blackthorn
  • Stone: Green Aventurine
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Spring Equinox, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Crafting and Consecrating a New Wand
  • Reading and Study (Mabinogion, Cerridwen by Kristoffer Hughes)
  • Meditation


  • Deities: Dian Cehct and Airmid
  • Plant: Mandrake
  • Stone: Moonstone
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Full Moon/New Moon
  • Reading and Study
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Cernunnos/Herne/Green Man
  • Plant: Sage
  • Stone: Clear Quartz
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Beltane, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Make a new batch of Personal Oil
  • Reading and Study (Three Cauldrons of Poesy)
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Manaanan Mac Lir
  • Plant: Lavender
  • Stone: Amethyst
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Summer Solstice, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Visit to Peace Valley Lavender Farm
  • Make a new Crane Bag
  • Astral Projection/Psychic Travel Exercise
  • Reading and Study
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Rhiannon
  • Plant: Marigold
  • Stone: Lapis Lazuli
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Full Moon/New Moon
  • Reading and Study (The Song of Amergin)
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Lugh
  • Plant: Yarrow
  • Stone: Tree Agate
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Lughnasadh, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Re-dedicate skills and abilities to Cerridwen and Community
  • Craft new Protection Amulets and Talismans
  • Dragon Magic
  • Reading and Study
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Mabon
  • Plant: Cinquefoil
  • Stone: Selenite
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Autumn Equinox, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Reading and Study (Mabon story from The Mabinogion)
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Morrigan
  • Plant: Wormwood
  • Stone: Black Obsidian
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Samhain, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Craft a new Ancestor Bottle
  • Craft a new batch of Ancestor Incense
  • Reading and Study (Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess, by Stephanie Woodfield)
  • Meditation


  • Deity: Dagda
  • Plant: Mugwort
  • Stone: Hematite
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Full Moon/New Moon
  • Reading and Study
  • Meditations


  • Deity: Cailleach
  • Plant: Mistletoe
  • Stone: Snowflake Obsidian
  • Weekly Divinations
  • Rituals: Winter Solstice, Full Moon/New Moon
  • Craft a new Silver Branch
  • Reading and Study
  • Meditations

This is not an exhaustive list of everything I do each month, there are other more specific things I could have added, but I did not want to make it too confusing. As you can see, there is room to be flexible on various things, such as study material or forms of divination. I typically use tarot, oracles, pendulum and crystal ball. I practice various forms of meditation, including chant and creative visualization. There are certain things I do at specific times of the year, such as wand making in the spring and protection talismans in the summer. Add practices that are meaningful to you in your own yearly devotionals.

By working with the same deities, plants and stones on a consistent basis, you develop a stronger connection to them. You can use this same format to choose which of these you will focus on each month. Many people have one specific deity they are closest to, and for me that is Cerridwen. I acknowledge her in all of my rituals and her statue is on my altar year round, but there are other deities I draw near to each month as well. It is my hope that sharing my yearly practice will help others develop their own. You will find that a structured practice such as this will be more meaningful than one that is scattered and disorganized. After all, you will be working with the deities, plants and stones that you have the strongest connection to, and learning more about them each month. Discipline and consistency are key elements to developing strong relationships with our magical allies.

The Lost Art of Tree Gazing

Divination by leaves and branches of trees, called Dendromancy, relies heavily on intuition and the inner voice. By observing the whispers of leaves, and the swaying of branches in the wind, the trees offer their wisdom for our personal growth. When tree gazing, it is best to approach them with open-ended questions rather than seeking a “yes-or-no” answer. Scientific studies suggest that trees communicate with each other through root systems and fungi under the earth, and through the air using pheromones and other chemicals. With a world-wide network of trees, many that are thousands of years old, they are believed to have developed a language of their own. They can also communicate with humans who have learned to listen.

Whenever a witch places their hands on a tree with the intention of healing and communication, the tree responds accordingly. An old word for witch is Pharmaceute, where we get the word pharmacist. This word denotes the witch as someone knowledgeable in the healing properties of flowers, plants and trees. The trees will nearly always recognize a pharmaceute, for they know you mean them no harm and your intentions are for the highest good. When tree gazing during the light half of the year (spring and summer), observe the sound and movements of the leaves and branches. During the dark half of the year, (fall and winter), observe the bare branches as they dance in the wind. You will find the energy feels different at different times of the year.

To begin tree gazing, you must first find the tree you wish to communicate with. You may have a favorite tree already, or you may wish to find a tree at a local park. Intuitively listen as you walk among the trees until you find one that “feels” friendly and receptive. Find a spot where can sit undisturbed near the tree for at least half an hour.

Next, close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you reach a meditative state. This will help make you more receptive to receive psychic information. Place your hands on the tree, and visualize white light coming out of your hands and into the tree. See the entire tree bathed in this healing white light. Project feelings of love and healing into it. Say to the tree, “Blessed tree, I come to seek your wisdom”, or “I seek your wisdom about...” then state your problem or issue. At this point you may keep your hands on the tree, or if you’re worried about getting looks from passers-by, sit as near to the tree as possible so you can observe it. Just as with most types of divination, the tree will impart information through impressions, images or feelings. Have a notepad and pen handy to jot down anything that comes to you. Do not stare at the tree, but let your gaze soften as you maintain an open, meditative state of mind. There are many things to take notice of as you observe the tree, such as:

  • What shapes or symbols do you see formed by the branches or leaves?
  • Are there any sounds coming from the tree? If the wind is blowing through the leaves, close your eyes and listen closely. What does the tree seem to be saying? Take note of your emotions. What are you feeling?
  • Is there any wildlife in or around the tree? Birds, insects and other animals all have their own unique wisdom. A bird building a nest could indicate that it’s time for you to start preparing for the future. Write down the animals see so you can explore their wisdom further at a later time.
  • Are there any plants growing on or near the tree? Mistletoe growing on an oak tree could suggest that you need to devote more time to spiritual practice. Write down all of the plants you see, and research their magical properties.
  • Is the tree near a body of water? If there are long branches extended over the water, take note of how it is reflected in the water below.

It is important not to be super-specific when tree gazing, as their wisdom seems to be more focused on personal growth and inner transformation, rather than “should I take this job” sort of questions. It may take some practice, but as the tree becomes more comfortable with you it will communicate more often. It is also good to know what kind of tree it is and any magical associations it may have. Consider the tree a friend, and it will respond in kind.

At the end of your tree gazing session, always leave it a gift. You can pour some spring water around it’s base, or leave some seeds, fertilizer or stones (Tree Agate, Clear Quarts or Aventurine are good choices). Thank the tree for sharing with you, and document your experience in a journal.

Your Personal Oil Blend

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in healing, magic, religion and spirituality. Healing practitioners use them in Aromatherapy, Massage, Reiki and even Meditation. Witches use a variety of oils, crafted for specific purposes from healing to protection. There are many available on the market, and you can find oils already prepared in just about any Witchcraft store. You can find pre-made Healing Oil blends that are made from plants associated with Healing. There are oil blends made from plants and flowers associated with various deities, planets, sabbats and endless other magical purposes. The focus of this article is the Personal Oil Blend, the oil that represents who you are on a magical level. Tip: The most powerful oil blends for you are those you make yourself. This is because you have directed your own energy into them during the process. From the very beginning when you choose the bottle, herbs, oils and other ingredients, actually handling them in your own hands, to the oil heating & blending process, to the end when you have everything in the bottle and charged with intention, this infuses who you are and your magical energy into the oil and the bottle itself. This is not to suggest that an oil made by someone else won’t work. Pre-made, mass-marketed oils and oils made by other Witches can and do work, but making it yourself makes it even more powerful. It is not as difficult as may seem, but it is not something to rush through.

The first thing to know when crafting a personal oil is the difference between essential oil and fragrance oil. They are not the same. Fragrance oils do not contain plant material, and are not to be used on the skin. These are the oils that make your home smell good, they can be used in a diffuser or placed in one of those rings for the light bulb. Some people use fragrance oil to dress their magical candles, but I do not recommend this. Fragrance oils are just scented chemicals. I do not recommend using them for any magical purpose whatsoever.

They are less expensive than essential oils and some of them do smell good, but no matter what the label says, fragrance oils do not contain the real thing. Pure essential oils, on the other hand, have actual plant material in them. The oil has been extracted from plants, flowers and herbs using a variety of complicated processes, which is one reason why they are more expensive. Most are safe to be used on the skin, but it is a good idea to mix them with a base oil, such as Almond or Jojoba Oil to minimize skin irritation. Cinnamon Oil, for instance, is quite irritant and must be mixed with a base oil for use on the skin. I like to use 2/3 base oil to 1/3 essential oils for large bottles and 1/2 to 1/2 for small bottles. When choosing oils that you will put on your skin, make sure the bottle says Essential Oil or Pure Essential Oil. Some are more expensive than others, depending on the rarity of the plant, herb or flower. Lotus Blossom. Rose Absolute and Jasmine Absolute essential oils are all highly expensive.

A Personal Oil is a special blend of oils, chosen by you, blended by you, and intended only for you. Your personal oil blend should reflect your magical self, who you are on a magical level. When you have all the ingredients together in the bottle and you take in the aroma, you just know “this is me… this is who I am“. Your personal oil will help you immediately “tap in” to your inner power and bring you into a magical mindset. You can use it in meditation, for protection and healing, for consecrating your magical and divination tools, or any other purpose you feel guided to use it for. It is best to store your personal oil in a dark-colored glass bottle. This helps prevent light from entering the bottle and affecting the oil. They come in various sizes and shapes, usually in brown or blue. I prefer the one ounce bottles, as they last longer and are more practical.

Some witches decorate their bottles with ornaments or clay, and this is perfectly fine to do, but I prefer to keep my personal oil bottle un-adorned. My first bottle had polymer clay around it, but over time it began to show wear, and the clay was cracking and peeling away from the bottle. I eventually threw it out, although some prefer the old and worn look.

The dark amber glass bottles are recommended, as they help to keep out sunlight which can affect the potency of the oil. There are also dark green and blue bottles. Use only glass bottles, not plastic. Once you’ve chosen your bottle, how do you decide what oils to blend? Take your time exploring several different oils: how they smell, what they’re used for magically, and how they make you feel. You can blend as many or as few oils as you want, but I personally recommend no less than three. The number three has many magical associations and is a powerful number.

When choosing your oils, there are a few questions to consider:

  • Does the smell of the oil put you in a magical state of mind?
  • Does the oil, it’s smell and magical uses, make a connection to your inner magical self?
  • How does it smell when combined with the other oils you’ve chosen?

I recommend starting off with a test bottle, so you can mix different oils together, not only to see how they smell, but also how your inner magical self responds to them. Remember, your personal oil represents who you are magically, and whenever you smell it you will be reminded of this. The measurement you use for each oil is up to you. For my own personal oil, I like to use equal amounts. It makes things simpler, but that’s just me. Your oil can be as complicated as you like, with various oils in different measurements of each. Once you have chosen your oils, use a funnel or an eye dropper to get the oil into the bottle. Seal it tight and then turn the bottle over and over in your hands until the oils are well blended.

Many different flowers, plants and herbs have had essential oils extracted from them. Below are a few, with their magical uses:

Cedar Oil: Cedar is associated with the Sun and with Fire. It is used for healing, protection and money magic.

Lavender Oil: Lavender is associated with the planet Mercury and the element of Air. It is used in love spells and relationship issues, as well as healing and relaxation.

Geranium Oil: Geranium is associated with the planet Venus and the element of Water. It is used for protection, healing and fertility spells.

Patchouli Oil: Patchouli is associated with the planet Saturn and the element of Earth. It is used in prosperity magic and money spells, as well as magic to increase lust and passion.

To learn the properties of other oils, I recommend The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews, by Scott Cunningham.

There are other things you can add to your oil blend, such as dried herbs, roots or bark, and a few crystal chips (these are tiny miniature crystals that come in small bottles). If you add these, make sure these also represent your magical self and are not chosen randomly.

Once your oil bottle is complete, the next step is to charge it with magical intention. It already has some of your power within it, as this occurred during the previous process. But now, you want to charge them all together at once. This “seals” everything together.

To do this, follow the instructions below:

  • Hold the bottle in your hands, close your eyes and take a few long, deep breaths to bring yourself into a meditative state.
  • Visualize a stream of light coming down from the universe, entering into every cell of your body.
  • Visualize this light coming out of your hands and into the bottle. Picture the light filling the bottle and surrounding it completely with a bright, glowing aura.
  • Allow the aura of the bottle and your own personal aura to connect.
  • Say the following three times: “I charge this oil to represent me and my magical self for the highest good”.
  • Once you feel intuitively that enough universal light has penetrated the bottle and it’s contents, release the light back up through your body and out in the universe.
  • Slowly bring yourself back to full awareness.

You can use your oil blend to anoint your candles, tarot decks and other divination tools, your Book of Shadows, and even yourself. Remember to label your bottle! When not in use, store it in a dry, dark place, away from direct sunlight. I have a little cabinet that I keep all my oils in.

One final word: After you have completed your oil bottle, tell no one what is in it. Keep the contents a secret. The creation of your personal oil is somewhat of a spell in itself, and just like regular spellwork, telling everyone what you’ve made and what you put in it can lessen it’s power. Your personal oil bottle and the contents therein are to remain a mystery to everyone but you.