From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Wormwood

Originally posted 23/01/2018 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

wormwood
from Botanical.com

Working with herbs very often, as I do, I got thinking, “why not do a series on herbs?” …particularly since recently blogging about wort cunning. So, in no particular order apart from most probably writing about what I’ve worked with most recently, we shall begin with Wormwood [artemisia absinthium]. The hint is in the name – what famous drink of the 19th century, recently revived by the Goth community, is made with this herb? If you guessed Absinthe, you win! As early as I can tell, the drink was made popular in 19th century France and became very popular in Great Britain as well – notably a favourite of Oscar Wilde – one of my favourite authors and generally favourite people of all time. The drink, as it was in those days, has been banned, however, and a new, less dangerous Absinthe became popular mainly with the Goth community in recent times. The 19th-century drink was dangerously toxic when taken in excess and since the traditional use of wormwood is believed to summon spirits and allow communication with the dead, there is not much wonder why some people claimed to see visions whilst inebriated!

Mind, we are not advocating the use of Wormwood for this kind of thing. We’re more interested in what it can do for us on a magickal level. Wormwood is one herb I use very often. It is an ingredient in several of our witch bottles, depending upon the powers needed. It is also an ingredient I use in one or two of our loose incenses. Those are still in testing and have not made it to the shop shelves yet. And, during my practise as a cunning woman, I have used Wormwood extensively for everything from astral travel to protection and psychic awareness. I must say, it is definitely one of my “go-to” herbs.

Magickal
The scent of Wormwood is said to increase psychic powers. Burn with incenses on Samhain to aid invocation, divination, scrying, and prophecy. It is especially good when combined with Mugwort and strengthens incense for exorcism and protection. Hung from a rear-view mirror, Wormwood is said to protect vehicles from accidents on treacherous roads. Wormwood is burned to gain protection from wandering spirits. It is used in divinatory and clairvoyance incenses, initiation rites and tests of courage and enables the dead to be released from this plane so they may find peace.

Wormwood is used to relieve anger and allow the user to vent it in a more peaceful way. It can also be used in magick to prevent strife or war. Carried in a pouch, Wormwood is protective. In ancient lore, people used the plant to counter poisoning by Hemlock and various Toadstools.

It is also used in love charms and spells to draw a lover, and is associated with the Lovers card in the tarot. It is sacred to the maiden Goddess, and can be used for scrying and divination as part of incense or perhaps a weak tea to drink before scrying, or a wash for the instruments used. It is used in women’s rites, probably especially those pertaining to rites of passage from child to a maiden – and would probably be a good addition to rites celebrating menarche. It is used in initiation rites, especially those prior to testing times.

An Old Love Charm
‘On St. Luke’s Day, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little Wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder; then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey, and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of your partner “that is to be”:
‘ “St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me,
In dreams let me my true-love see.” ‘

Medicinal
Wormwood is said to be useful in the treatment of some depression. It is very good for those who feel utter despair because of their life circumstances. It has some anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of chamazulenes, so it could be used to treat inflammatory digestive disorders. It is used to treat liver and gall bladder congestion where this has led to jaundice, and liver-related depression, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting. As it is warming, it is particularly good for those who suffer from a depressed autonomic nervous system, leading to impaired digestive function. In addition to all the above, it can be used to treat diarrhoea and intestinal parasites.

artemisia_absinthium_200610_300
Wormwood

Some regard Wormwood as a circulatory tonic and stimulant – this would make sense considering its use to improve digestion. It can be used to treat nervous exhaustion and other nerve issues such as neuralgia and depression as previously mentioned. Apparently, it can be used to ease alcohol-induced hangovers although it may be better to dose up on milk thistle before you start drinking or simply not drink as much. This is another of those odd herbs that can be used to cure epilepsy but will also cause it if you use it in large enough doses.

Wormwood has a strong anti-bacterial property – the root, though not often used in medicine, is extremely powerful and useful to ease infections of the throat and lungs. It eases pain and is very cooling and soothing. It can be used topically as an antiseptic.
As an emmenagogue, it can be used to stimulate absent menses where this is due to uterine stagnation which causes delayed menstruation. It can also be used to ease painful periods. It is used as a pain reliever during labour and can be taken as a weak tea or applied as a rub to stimulate sluggish labour when contractions are too weak.
A rub made with the essential oil can be used to relieve the pain of arthritis and related joint complaints, though the oil should NEVER be taken internally.

Correspondences
Other names: Absinthe, Absinthium, Green Ginger, Old Woman, Crown for a King, Madderwort, Sweet Annie, Wormot

Planetary: Mars, Saturn

Element: Earth

Sabbat: Samhain

Powers: Binding, Psychic Awareness, Evocation, Love, Clairvoyance, Past Life Regression, Astral Travel, Protection

Associated Deities: Diana, Artemis, Aesculapius, Horus, Isis, Castor, Iris, Menthu, Pollux

Harvesting: cut the flowering tops off wormwood when they are in full bloom on a sunny day when the sun is at its peak

‘While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or twaine To save against March, to make flea to refraine: Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is strowne, What saver is better (if physick be true) For places infected than Wormwood and Rue? It is a comfort for hart and the braine And therefore to have it it is not in vaine.’

~ Tusser (1577), in July’s Husbandry

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

Wikipedia.org

The Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham

The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

Botanical.com

Experience

Shiva Lingam, A Mystical Crystal of Power

Originally posted on 04/01/20118 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Shiva Lingam comes from only one place, the Narmada River in Western India, one of India’s most holy sites. The word ‘Lingam‘ comes from the Sanskrit word for symbol, as these stones are a symbol of Lord Shiva. The Shiva Lingam are an integral part of their worship practises and have been for hundreds of years. Their colours vary, but they are all tan colours with various brown, red or grey stripes, spots or patches on the stones.

The villagers around the Narmada River gather the stones from the river and hand polish them so that they are a smooth, rounded shape. They are deliberately made into the well-known phallic shape, as this shape has a specific meaning because it is symbolic of the phallus of the Hindu God Shiva, and of his union with his consort Kali. Within the form of the Shiva Lingam, there is also the shape of the cosmic egg, out of which all creation has emerged, therefore making these stones encompass both the male and female and their union, within the one sacred object. A common myth exists between people that the Shiva Lingam depicts the male genital organ. However, this is misleading and baseless according to some as an irrelevant misinterpretation was done during the latter part of the Vedic period when Indian literature came into the hands of foreign scholars. Thus, Shiva Lingam is just a differentiating mark and not a sex mark. I am not well-versed in Hinduism; therefore, I can’t tell you which is right or wrong.

My Shiva Ligam, i.macy

What Shiva Lingam can do for you

To improve your overall health, Shiva Lingam are powerful as they stimulate the energy system of the entire body, and will aid an overall improvement in your health and well-being. Its vibration has a different action depending on where you place it. This stone holds within it the feeling of unity and duality and will intensify the vitality and level of pranic energy within your body.

It is said that whilst practising yoga, the divine experience of the Shiva Lingam can create a pillar of light, energy, peace, and eternity and helps to expand the mind and bring deep peace and steadiness to the heart and the soul. As you tune into this field of energy that encompasses the Divine Mind, you make contact with the sacredness that these stones have carried for centuries. Shiva Lingam are basically quartz and have a lot of impurities from the river where they originate mixed through. This is a stone that carries a lot of energy.

For kundalini activation, you may choose to use Shiva Lingam alone, or you may use it in combination with other stones that are powerful to aid the process. If the kundalini process is about transformation, you may want to use other stones with it to aid this process. The kundalini energy will rise up the spine from the base or root chakra and through each of the chakras, to end up where it emerges at the crown chakra, like an enormous serpent above your head.

Chakras
Shiva Lingam resonates with all the chakras. They are known to be powerful to aid you on the lower three chakras, particularly if used at the sacral or navel chakra and base chakra. If you centre the energy of these stones at the heart chakra, its vibration at both this chakra and the higher heart chakra connects you to the Divine Mind. Its action within the throat chakra allows you to recognise your connection with your etheric body, and how you can communicate this to your own higher self. Its resonance within the third eye chakra is about your visionary abilities. It paves the way to the crown chakra, where we connect to the Higher Self and the Divine.

Health and Well-being
For healing of any reproductive problems, Shiva Lingam will assist the healing of infertility, relieve menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps and may help disorders of the prostate.

Shiva Lingam supports all aspects of your personal divinity, and is powerful to aid you to overcome the need to judge others, and encourages forgiveness.

It helps to unite separated people, as it has an energy that encourages a feeling of togetherness and community.

Helps to break old patterns and open the path for new life.

Enhances inner transformation.

Boosts vitality.

Correspondences
Elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, Storm
Energy: Power
Chakras: All
Deity: Lord Shiva, Kali

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:

Crystal-Cure.com

Crystals and Sacred Sites by Judy Hall

The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall

Encyclopaedia Brittanica

Ammonite Magick!

Originally posted on 07/12/20 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Ammonite Earrings
My Chinese Ammonite earrings ~ photo by i.macy

Just look at one and you know it is something quite special, the Ammonite. It draws away negativity…just put your head between a pair and see what I mean. If the day isn’t going so well and the dark thoughts think they can move in, I know wearing my Ammonite earrings will soon take care of that. Ammonite spirals are a filter, drawing in these dark energies which are no longer needed, moving them through the spirals and releasing them as fresh, positive, loving, life force energies.

Ammonite is not considered a stone or crystal, it is a fossil, and fossils are a wonderful tool to assist you in moving from the old to the new and to be receptive to the fresh, innovative forces that are available to you. Ammonite helps you to reconcile the past with the present and to help you gain perspective on the present. These are, like the Orthoceras, another fossil, brilliant in past life recall work. As they are excellent for honouring ancestors, they are useful to the hedgewitch, or anybody working with astral travel to connect with their ancestry. They also help in re-entry, so to speak, from astral travel in a kind and grounding way which eases you back into “reality”.

Folklore / History:

Ammonite from Charmouth Dorset
My Ammonite from Charmouth, Dorset ~ photo by i.macy

Ammonite’s name is derived from the name of the ancient Egyptian god Ammon who believed these creatures were divine. Ammon is represented in ancient literature by the head of a ram with twisted spiral horns that are reminiscent of an Ammonite’s spiralled shell. Pliny the Elder, the Roman historian, described Ammonites as the holiest stones in ancient Aethiopia because they were believed to bring prophetic dreams.

Ammonites have had a long association with serpents in English legend. The 7th Century Saint Hilda of Whitby turned an infestation of snakes to stone to enable a now-famous abbey to be constructed. These petrified “snakestones” were carved or painted with a head-on them and sold as pious souvenirs. During the early 19th-century English fossil hunters referred to Ammonites as cornemonius, a corruption of the Latin name hammonis cornu.

Medical:

Ammonites were used in folk medicine across Europe for snake bites, fertility, and birthing pains. In 18th century Germany and England they were added to water as “drakestones” [“dragonstone”] or “crampstones” to treat livestock. Sliced in half to make a pair, they were often given as wedding presents because they represented a journey and two parts coming together as a whole.

Magickal:

Ammonite is known to strengthen one’s will to live as well as appreciating life and living it to the fullest; being very beneficial to the human psyche. Feng Shui practitioners believe that Ammonite also has a positive effect on the flow of energy called ‘chi’, assisting one to cleanse and detoxify the body. It is regarded as helpful in childbirth.

Since Ammonites were once living beings, they are connected to Akasha, the fifth element. These are tangible proof that in nature nothing is wasted; it shows how only manifestations of energy may be transmutable, but energy itself cannot be destroyed.

Ammonite may be used for vivid prophetic vision and dreams as well as work or meditations relating to past lives and longevity. And as before-mentioned, very useful in astral travel and hedge witchery.

Correspondences:

Chakras: Base, Solar Plexus, Third Eye

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn, Virgo

Number: 8

Diety: Ammon

Energy: Receptive

Element: Earth, Air, Water, Fire & Akasha

Planet: Jupiter

Powers: Elemental Power, Longevity & Past Life Meditation

Candle Colour: Green or Black

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:

The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall

Chakra Healing & Karmic Awareness by Keith Sherwood

Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham

The Sweetest of Woods: Scots Pine

Originally posted on 05/12/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Scots Pines Buttersmere Valley Cumbria
Scots Pine, Buttermere Valley, Cumbria, Courtesy of Alamy

The Scots Pine…this time of year many think of it first as the go-to live tree of choice for Christmas. Little do they know what a piece of history they are bringing into their homes. Scots Pine is believed to have been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth, some 300 million years ago, and it is known as “The Pioneer Tree”. Records indicate that it was, along with Birch and Willow, one of the first trees to grow in Ireland since the last Ice Age, and is the only Pine tree native to that country.

The largest trees we see commonly grow to around 65 feet or 20 metres high, but old specimens may be much taller. They can, if allowed, live for up to 350 years. Because of their great height, the trunks of the Scots Pine made reliable masts for ships and they were also used as “waymarkers” at crossroads and ancient cairns. They would stand for many generations, kindly marking the way for travellers.

Alim highlighted

We consider the Scots Pine as an Ogham tree, although the author, Robert Graves calls the Silver Fir “Ailm” however, the Silver Fir, unlike the Scots Pine, is not native to the British Isles. Pine is documented in medieval Irish law [source: Bretha Comaithchesa – Neighbourhood Law – 8th century] as one of the seven ‘Airig Fedo – the Nobles of the Wood’ – listed for their usefulness. Ailm is the Ogham Letter A and 22nd December, the second day of Winter Solstice, and the beginning of the new year. Its associated festival is Yule – 21st – 22nd December by many writings, however –

There is a period of time between the 21st of December and the 24th of December when the Sun stops, or stands still, until the 25th of December. Most things you read about the date for Pine is confusingly wrong – and I’ve gotten it wrong before myself – but the true Sun return begins on the 25th of December, and the days start getting “longer”. The Sun shines for a little longer each day, rather than less as it has done. In truth, the Yew tree represents the Winter Solstice, 21st December, it is the “death” of the old year, the ending of the dark, the end of “shorter” days. The Pine is the “birth” of the new year, a bringer of light. It is also associated with the Winter Solstice, 21st/22nd of December, however, I think it would be better to have it represent the 25h of December in the true role the Pine plays like the one who brings back the Sun. You will find many conflicts if you find yourself studying trees, particularly as a Druid, and you will find so many conflicting dates. Just remember that, nothing is set in stone, and that Yew and Pine play twin roles in the Winter Solstice but very fraternally – not at all alike!

Medicinal Uses:

People used to inhale the steam from boiling Pine needles as a remedy for stuffy noses and cold congestion. Infusions of Pine bark and needles were used as an antiseptic for wounds. Pine resin was made into a balm for dry, parched lips.

Magickal:

Incense made with pine needles, resin or oil will purify a space and banish any negativity that’s lurking there. The same can be achieved by burning pine logs on an open fire or dropping in a handful of pine needles or cones. Pine needles can be interwoven with sage or other smudging vegetation such as Cedar for smudging sticks. Use any part of the pine in workings for fertility. Use a wand made from its wood if a new life is hoped for as it will attract positive energies and transfer them to the worker. Should a shower of snow accidentally fall onto you from the branch of a pine tree, a great blessing will occur. Originally in Scandinavia and Germany, it was thought to bring prosperity into the home by decorating with boughs of evergreens. Since, it has become a standard in many homes in Britain, America, Canada, and other countries.

Correspondences:

Attributes: abundance, fertility, good fortune, healing, health, immortality, love, prosperity, protection, purification, and regeneration

Element: Air, Fire

Ruling Planet: Mars

Zodiac: Cancer, Capricorn

Gender: Masculine

Diety: Dionysus, Bacchus, Attis, Cybele, Aphrodite, Artemis, Diana, Ishtar, Isis, Mithra, Pan, Vulcan

Gemstones: Black Opal, Onyx

Colour: Black

Energy: Masculine and Feminine

Celestial bodies: Jupiter, Mars

Other names: Balm of Gilead, the sweetest of woods

“The pine tree seems to listen, the fir tree to wait: and both without impatience: they give no thought to the little people beneath them devoured by their impatience and their curiosity.”

from “”Der Wanderer und sein Schatten – The Wanderer and His Shadow 1880” Friedrich Nietzsche

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Druidry.org

Whispers from the Woods. By Sandra Kynes

The Magickal Spindle Tree

Originally posted on 23/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

I have a theory about Sleeping Beauty’s fateful finger prick on the spindle in her 15th year of life – besides the one in which I think she was far too young to be kissed by princes – is that the spindle was poisonous by Nature. And, this is true of the Spindle tree…it is quite a poisonous tree, mainly the leaves and berries but I wouldn’t want to prick my finger on the wood, either…just incase!

How was the Spindle tree so-named? From my research it seems the major consensus it that William Turner concluded, this being from The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922:

I coulde never learne an Englishe name for it. The Duche men call it in Netherlande, spilboome, that is, spindel tree, because they use to make spindels of it in that countrey, and me thynke it maye be so well named in English seying we have no other name. … I know no good propertie that this tree hath, saving only it is good to make spindels and brid of cages ” [bird cages].

Woodland Trust

The Spindle tree, and it’s leaves and berries, has been used over the centuries for many medicinal purposes. Everything ranging from appetite stimulants to nits [head lice], and horse/cattle mange. As before mentioned, the tree and its parts are very poisonous, so it would be better left in favour of other, safer options for these ills.

It has also been used for many household items in addition to its namesake reason, spindles, and other items such as bird cages, and even toothpicks.

The Spindle tree is found in many countries – albeit, named differently in each, I am sure. To America it was brought from England several centuries ago to be used in gardens and eventually became known as the Arrow Tree. I can only imagine it was as useful for making arrows there as it was for making spinning wheel spindles in Britain and other parts of the world. The Spindle tree is found mainly in hedgerows in Britain but has become very useful as an ornamental tree as well.

Spindle is also one of the trees of the Ogham alphabet. It is not one of the Celtic Birth Tree Ogham, but one of the five extra Ogham. It was declared there were not enough sounds to cover all human speech from the other Ogham, therefore, OI or TH, from the Irish Oir, was created. In the diagram of the Ogham, you’ll see it encased in red. It is the 22nd letter of the Ogham. OI represents the Spindle tree. It is also associated with lightning. It has been said it eases the pain of labour and birth. In modern times it has come to be associated with wealth and inspired knowledge.

According to authoress Sandra Kynes, Whispers from the Woods, Spindle is a symbol of magic in the Norse Pagan tradition. Another name for the constellation Orion was “Freya’s Spindle”. Spinning is associated with the Goddess Athena because she is credited with being the inventor of spinning and all womanly arts. The spindle was the tool of the Fates, daughters of the Goddess, Necessity [the Mother of Invention], who fashioned the destiny of humans.

Magickal:

Can be used effectively in cleansing rituals to heal old emotional wounds. Spinning and weaving spells that bring people together. Confronting one’s “shadow self” or when facing difficulties. Spindle tree wood makes an excellent pendulum for divination.

Correspondences:

Element: water
Deity: Athena, Frigg/Freya, Minerva, The Fates
Energy: feminine
Sabbat: Imbolc
Attributes: attaining quests, cleansing, divination, honour, inspiration, spiritual work, feminine power, seeking true self, community spirit
Other names: Spindleberry, Pegwood


Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes
Druidry.org
Wikipedia
Woodland Trust

Blessed Mabon 2021

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Wishing all my dear readers a happy and blessed Mabon 2021.

It is finally Autumn Equinox! My favourite season, next to Yule/Winter Solstice, obvs.  I have always loved this time of year when it begins to get very dark, very early.  My parents weren’t fans because it was too dark to send me out until an hour before bedtime! Still, I was a good child [ahem!] and always found a good book to read or busied myself drawing fashion designs.  No, I never made good on that old dream. 

The Autumn Equinox [also called Alban Elfed],and also called Mabon, is a Pagan celebration, originating from the Celts, who once [and still] populated Britain and much of Northwest Europe before the march of the Romans.

This tree-loving, Druid-led tribe celebrated nature and the progression of the seasons by dividing the year into eight segments, at key turning points, creating eight festivals.  Because Druids and Pagans love a good festival!

I doubt I need to explain how the quarterly and half-year Sabbats were divided and why they were, so I shall leave you with this , the “Wheel of the Year”, which has been so-called since the advent of Wicca. It’s a good name so we use it.  Besides, I don’t recall what the old Pagans would have called it.

wheel of the year
by unpublishedzine.com

How will you celebrate Mabon?

Think second  harvest.  As you know, the first harvest was Lughnassadh, the wheat/grain harvest.  During Medieval times, Christianised European peasants celebrated the Autumn Equinox as the Feast of the Archangel Michael [also known as Michaelmas].which actually falls later on 29 September. In the lunar cycle, September marks the Wine Moon, which is the time for harvesting grapes. On the back of this we use the last harvest for other fruits like apples. So, now you have your bread from the first harvest and now you have your wine and cider from your second harvest.  You are set for a long winter!

Considering this, wine and cider should be served if you feel comfortable hosting a Mabon celebration with friends and family.  And obviously, bread and pastry should be served if you want to follow the old one’s ways.  Lots of different kinds of nuts would also likely be served and savoury meat pies!  I’m getting a bit peckish writing about it!

Decorating can be as lavish or as simple as you like.  Making bowls full of potpourri from dried fruit skins, ginger, and other fresh spices will fill the air with that Autumnal feeling.  The scent of freshly baked breads will go a long way in making your mini-festival feel cosy and warm.  If you have left-over “corn dollies” from Lughnassadh, these will look very nice hanging about the house.  And, of course, the dining room sideboard can be decked out a bit like a Mabon altar.

Whatever you choose to do for Mabon, I hope you and those you celebrate with, enjoy.  Please do stay safe.  Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

The Magick of Ivy

Originally posted on 16/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Gort Ogham Ivy
Gort

Ivy! How I adore Ivy! You may be able to see that by the photos of our items in our Etsy shop. Most pictures will be adorned with a sprig or more of lush, green Ivy. Ivy is also a wood of the Celtic Birth Tree calendar, an Ogham tree. It is Gort, the 11th month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 30th September – 27th October and the 11th consonant of the Ogham alphabet.  It is not a tree, obviously, however, in England, the vine can get very thick like a tree limb.  The Ivy person has determination, patience, and is able to accept change. The Ivy person is your go-to source for attaching dreams with reality, just like Ivy wraps around our visions and helps us bring them into the real world.  The Ivy-born are good for creating healthy bonds with friends, family, and co-workers.

As you might tell from our shop photographs, there are many species of Ivy but for the Ogham, there are only two acceptable species, i.e., Hedera Helix [English Ivy] and the Australian species, which is confined to the southern Continent.  There is an Australian version of the Ogham and I have read there is also a Florida [US] version using species of trees indigenous to that area which are much the same in most cases as the original Ogham. You must work with what you have, sometimes!  Mind, most people can simply buy an Ogham set from a British maker unless they prefer making one out of their own indigenous trees.

Folklore / History /Magick

Ivy has been used for various purposes throughout history and is associated with Bacchus because it was supposed to grow all over his fabled homeland, Nyssa. Its leaves formed the poet’s crown, as well as the wreath of Bacchus, to whom the plant was dedicated, probably because of the practise of binding the brow with Ivy leaves to prevent intoxication, a quality formerly attributed to the plant.  It was said that the effects of intoxication by wine are removed if a handful of Ivy leaves are bruised and gently boiled in wine and drunk.  Please don’t try this at home. Ivy is poisonous if ingested.

English Ivy on
English Ivy on Celtic Cross in cemetary ~ dailymail.co.uk

Ivy wood is very porous, and the ancients thought it had the property of separating wine from water by filtration, an error arising from the fact that wood absorbs the colour of the liquid in its passage through the pores. On the Continent, it has sometimes been used in thin slices as a filter.

In former days, English taverns bore over their doors the sign of an Ivy bush, to indicate the excellence of the liquor supplied within; hence the saying ‘Good wine needs no bush’.

In England, it was once believed that if ivy refused to grow on a grave it meant the soul was unhappy in its other world.

If it flourished on a young girl’s grave, it meant she died of unrequited love.

Ivy crown
Ivy crown ~ courtesy of Google Images

Greek priests presented a wreath of Ivy to newly-married persons, and the Ivy has throughout the ages been regarded as the emblem of fidelity.

The custom of decorating houses and churches with Ivy at Christmas was forbidden by one of the early Councils of the Church, because its pagan associations, but the custom remains.

As Ivy grows in the shape of a spiral, it is considered to be of the Goddess.

Use ivy in fidelity and love charms.

Wherever Ivy is grown, it guards against negativity and disaster.

Ivy is magickally paired with Holly and is often woven together into crowns.

Correspondences:

Planet: Moon, Saturn

Element: Water

Symbolism: Fidelity and Fertility, Protection, Healing

Stone: Opal

Colour: Indigo

Bird: Lark, mute Swan, Swallow

Deity: Ariadne, Artemis, Arianrhod, Pasiphae, Dionysus, Bacchus, Osiris

“Oh, roses for the flush of youth,

And laurel for the perfect prime;

But pick an ivy branch for me

Grown old before my time.”

~Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1862

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:

Druidry.org

whats-your-sign.com

The Faery Cross Stone, Staurolite

Originally posted on 14/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

I can’t remember the first time I saw a Faery Cross stone, but I knew I must have one. At the time it was a terribly expensive stone, so I knew I would need to save my pennies or win the Lottery – the latter being a long shot to say the least – so saving pennies it was. All I knew was – I needed to have it!

Not only is it beautifully made by Nature, but it has so many attributes that suited me down to the ground. It’s a stone that looks as though it must be man-made…but it is not.

Staurolite
My Faery Cross ~ photo by i. macy

“Staurolite is best known for its distinctive, cross-shaped penetration twins, where two rectangular crystals intersect each other to form a perfect cross. However, its most common twinning habit is in bisecting crystals with a 60° angle that can appear in the shape of an “x” when the crystals are elongated. Although Staurolite does form in single, non-twinned crystals, the twinned habit is much more prevalent.” ~ minerals.net

Folklore

The twin crystals found on staurolite are sometimes referred to as ‘Fairy crosses’ / ‘Faery Crosses’ – as it was once believed to be created by the tears of the fae who could not help but cry when they heard of Christ’s crucifixion. Staurolite is often called “faery stone” or “faery cross”. Since the first time it was worn, it has been considered a good luck charm as well as a charm that would protect children from evil spirits.

They also have healing attributes in the physical body. From historical tales, they were said to have been used during the crusades, to aid Richard the Lionheart to heal.

What Can Staurolite Do?

Firstly, it is a tremendous “grounding” stone. If you feel in need of grounding before spell work or during meditation, or for any reason, the faery cross is a perfect go-to crystal.  They are an aid to spirituality and making a stronger connection to Faery, the natural world, and with animal and plant spirit. The Faery stone is so calming and reassuring, you will feel it the first time you hold one. It is said they can aid in helping to put away unpleasant habits…mainly, I believe because of how de-stressing and calming the stone is.  Staurolite works well with Amethyst to aid in breaking addictions.  And, by keeping a Staurolite/Faery stone, not only will it benefit your own life but will also benefit the lives of those you are closest to.

Staurolite stones resonate strong energy within the heart chakra and bring through powerful energy of unconditional love for others and for the earth. And, of course, they are a base or “root” chakra stone for grounding but are also very effective with the third eye chakra.

If you have lost something and want help to find it, faery stones are known to be able to help you to find lost objects, so this is a helpful aspect of their energy. They may also help you to make better use of your time.

Faery stones allow you to choose where you want to travel in meditation, and with whom you want to make contact. This is because they seem to have a specific energy, which I refer to as “helping your inner compass”. This means they help you to know where you are going in meditation and you will more likely end up there. They help to give greater clarity to what you see when in meditation.

Faery stones may be placed under your pillow if you would like their help to induce lucid dreaming, or to assist with astral travelling.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:

The Crystal Bible ~ by Judy Hall

Minerals.net

Wikipedia.com

Experience

The Magick of Aspen

Originally posted on 26/10/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

aspen tree
from aspentreeservices.co.uk

A friend on Twitter mentioned Quaking Aspen some months back and I said I should blog about it soon. So, today we’ll consider the magickal side of the Aspen tree, a British native, but far more common in the US and Scotland. Much smaller in stature than the White Poplar, slender in growth on a tall, slim trunk, they spread easily by means of underground shoots and so are often found growing close together in little groves. The roundish toothed leaves sprout on flattened stalks, each one unusually long and flexible. These are a soft, rusty colour in spring before maturing to a uniform mid-green. Aspens seem continually on the move which gives the tree its nickname of the ‘Quaking Aspen’ or ‘Shivering tree’.  The Aspen, being closely related to the White Poplar, often the names of the two trees are used interchangeably.

Now, you know, Darren 😊

Also called the “Whispering Tree”, the Aspen is representative of the Autumn Equinox, 21st September and is the fourth vowel of the Ogham alphabet – Eadhadh, and it is the 19th Ogham of the alphabet.  The Aspen is not a Celtic Birth Tree Calendar tree, therefore there isn’t an “Aspen zodiac” reading. However, the Ogham itself has meaning and if you were born on the Autumn Equinox, it would be a special Ogham for you, in addition to your birth tree for your place in that month.

Lore and legend is associated with these quivering Aspen leaves, and it’s no wonder. When you have the first opportunity, observe the aspen leaves in action – loosen your body and mind and really watch these amazing trees. Their stark, white bodies ascending to their shimmery leaves will keep you spellbound.  It is, as many trees are, quite sacred to the Druids.

Folklore

The Aspen is felt to be a tree of rebirth.  It is also thought of as a tree of overcoming death. The writer, Nigel Pennick in Magical Alphabets sees the Aspen as a resistor of inhospitable conditions.  On the other hand, the Aspen is also seen as dark and evil as per its role in the Bible as the betrayer of Christ.  In France, it was a religious belief that the leaves shook with fear because Christ’s cross was made from Aspen wood.  In Germany, it was legend that the Aspen was the only tree that refused to acknowledge him, so Jesus had placed a curse on the Aspen – which caused the tree to tremble in fear. Any way you look at Aspen, it has a connection with death.

Early folk healers in England would tell a palsy patient to pin a lock of her hair to an Aspen tree and repeat:

Aspen tree, Aspen tree

I prithee shiver and shake

Instead of me.

They were to walk home in silence from there [or they risk breaking the spell, and the cure would fail]

Medicine

The bark of the Aspen tree contains an analgesic and early Native American women would brew a tea of the bark and leaves to relieve menstrual cramps, and other pains.

Magick

Burn incense made of powdered Aspen bark on a charcoal disc at Samhain to protect you from unwanted spirits and to help you release old fears as you move forward into the next new year. Plant an Aspen tree on your property to prevent thieves from robbing your home.

Correspondences

Planet: Mercury

Element: Air

Symbolism: Ascent, Protection, Overcoming fear.

Stone: Black Opal

Birds: Mourning Dove, Swan

Colour: Grey

Deity: Persephone, Hades

Sabbat: Mabon, Autumn Equinox

Folk Name: European Aspen

“And the wind full of wantonness

Woos like a lover

The young Aspen trees

Till they tremble all over.”

~Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh, Light of the Harem

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:

Magical Alphabets, by Nigel Pennick

Druidry.org

Wikipedia

Samhain and the Magick of Blackthorn

Originally posted on 31/10/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

treeid-blackthorn woodlandtrust
Young blossoming Blackthorn ~ photo by woodlandtrust.org.uk

It is the tree of Samhain. In the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar, Blackthorn is 31st October, the beginning of Samhain and more recently associated with Halloween. Its ogham name is Straif, Chieftain tree.  It is not a CBT Calendar birth tree, therefore there will be no “zodiac” reading associated with Blackthorn, although some traditions believe those born upon this day to be born from something less than angelic. We shall lay superstitions and old beliefs aside to look at Blackthorn as the wonderfully magickal and protective tree that it is.

“The holy day of Samhain is, in the Celtic tradition, the first day of Winter: a time of sacrifice, divination for the New Year, communion with the dead, of endings and rest. On this night the world of spirits, ancestors and mortals might meet.

The Blackthorn tree is esoterically known as both the Mother of the Woods and the Dark Crone of the Woods.  It is found primarily in the British Isles and is generally part of hedgerows and in thickets. You’ll often find it alongside Elder and Hawthorn in the hedgerows bordering many farmlands. It is a very difficult tree…more like a shrub than a tree, traditionally never becoming taller than thirteen feet in height…to physically come close to. And if you do, mind the thorns or “spines”…

Within the mythic cycle of the Goddess as Crone, she deepens into Herself and enters the Dreamtime, the place between the worlds where past, present and future exist simultaneously. The season invites you to enter a place of stillness and simply be where you are: not moving forward or backward but utterly present, suspended in the space between past and future. It is here that you may hear Her voice in the crackling fire, rain, and wind.

Review the year that has passed with introspection and retrospection. Commune with your ancestors and honour your beloved dead. Remember your sisters who perished in the Burning Times, and commit yourself to the struggle for justice. Divine and ask the Fates for blessings in the coming year. What do you leave behind in the year that has passed, and what do you wish to take with you? How will you prepare to listen to the Old Wise One within?” ~ Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries by Ruth Barrett, and We’ Moon

sloe-dave kilbey photography
Sloe berries on Blackthorn tree ~ photo by Dave Kilbey davekilbeyphotography.co.uk

The Blackthorn does produce fruit, called sloes, and is often made into sloe berry jam and sloe gin.  The berries have medicinal use as well which we’ll look at later.

Folklore

Blackthorn is generally depicted as an ill omen throughout Britain and even Europe, however, the Celtic people formed its most sinister reputation…a hard, cold winter would be referred to as a “Blackthorn winter” and the Ogham letter straif is where the English word “strife” is derived from. Drawing the straif Ogham stave [made of Blackthorn wood, of course!] means the diviner is in for a thorny go of things. The drawing of the stave also indicates the actions of fate in your life, something that cannot be avoided but must be faced and dealt with. Blackthorn gives you the strength to accept and persevere in the face of adversity.

Blackthorn is associated with death quite frequently. Samhain is the death of the old year whilst hailing in the new.

In the Irish legend, the Pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne, a passage describes Sadhbh eating sloe berries and becoming pregnant as a result. She gave birth to a son who was born with a lump on his head. The lump turned out to be a worm or snake. The snake was eventually killed in sacrifice for another man. In The Sword of Oscar, sloe berries are part of a sacrificial theme as well. Blackthorn’s theme in traditional stories often indicate a warrior’s death in service to the High King or tribe.

In the Word Ogham of Cúchulainn Blackthorn is ‘an arrow’s mist’ and ‘smoke drifting up from the fire.’ These are both kennings for death.

Magickal Use

Blackthorn is used for purification, as well as protection, ridding the atmosphere of negative energy. It deals with the issues on a Karmic level, which cannot be avoided. Meditating on Blackthorn can purify our minds of negative thoughts and impulses at the deepest level of our psyche. It can aid us in combating fear, depression, and anger. The thorns of the Blackthorn can be imagined lancing the built-up abscess of negative thoughts, and release the emotional toxins, which can then begin to heal. Using the gentler sister tree, Hawthorn, in conjunction with Blackthorn, can aid the process of healing.

Traditionally, Blackthorn is used in protection against evil, creating boundaries, purifying, confronting our own dark side. Blackthorn dispels negativity, toxins, old wounds, and impurities. It can be used in exorcisms. It is associated with chthonic and protective deities.

Blackthorn Spines
Two of my Blackthorn spines…one is 3″ long! Photo by i.macy

The spines can be used as pins to stick in a poppet. A wand or staff can be used for help in exorcisms or for protection from fire and for general protection.  A staff can be used to make wishes, and carrying the wand or staff protects one from evil. The wood makes a good divining rod. Often the Blackthorn wand is called a “blasting rod” for the power is so intense. An ideal wand for casting spells against enemies.

Protection Spell:

Carefully gather a few thorns from the tree.

On a piece of paper,

write the name of the person or situation

from which you seek protection,

and then wrap it around the thorns.

Bury this in the ground – if possible near the tree

from which the thorns were collected.

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Medicinal Use

The fruit and leaves contain Vitamin C, organic acids, tannins, and sugars. Steep the flowers for a diuretic, tonic, and laxative. The dried fruits can treat bladder, kidney and stomach ailments. Boil the leaves for a mouthwash or to soothe the throat from tonsillitis or laryngitis.

Correspondences

Planet: Mars, Saturn

Element: Earth, Fire

Zodiac: Aries, Scorpio

Symbolism:  The inevitability of Death, Protection and Revenge, Strife and Negativity, The Balance between light and darkness.

Stone: Black Opal, agate, bloodstone

Colour: Purple, Black, Red

Bird[s]: Thrush

Deity: Morrigan

Sabbat: Samhain

Folk Names: sloe, sloe plum, wishing thorn, faery tree

Pronounciations:

Scots Gaelic: Draighionn

Irish Gaelic: Draighean

Welsh: Draenen ddu

Many thanks for reading.  Have a blessed Samhain and warmest blessings to all x

Sources:

Druidry.org

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries by Ruth Barrett, and We’ Moon

Experience