From the Wortcunners Cabinet, Rosemary

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @iseabail_witchwriter

It is July but I am thinking of Yule so Rosemary came to mind and its heady “pine-ish” aroma.  It is a scent and a flavour I love wholeheartedly.  Rosemary roasted potatoes come to mind! But I am not here to write a cookbook, am I? No, I’m here to explore all the wonderful magickal ways with which Rosemary can assist us in spells and healing. And even with Yule being a half a year away, Rosemary can be used in so many ways, from magick to good health. So, let us begin.

rosemary in bloom
Rosemary in bloom ~ gardenaction.co.uk

Reading through Nicholas Culpeper’s The Complete Herbal and English Physician, I find it amusing that as he wrote about most herbs and plants, he would always say in the beginning of each plant’s description, ‘…it is so well known, I need not describe it.’  I would have to argue a few of his entries saying that as I would never know the plant without a description or picture, however, I can agree here…I imagine everybody knows the look of Rosemary! It has been around for so long and used by so many that it is a staple in all kitchens most likely and grown in many gardens.  It is so easy and hardy to grow that it can flourish even in the gardens of those without green fingers.  If you’re not sure of yourself as a gardener I believe you will find success at last by growing Rosemary.

Magickal

Rosemary is a favourite of mine to use in poppets and incense for courage and healing spells and for protection.  It is also a fundamental ingredient in clearing rituals.

rosemary netdoctor dot co dot uk
Rosemary bundle ~ netdoctor,co,uk

Burning Rosemary whether in an incense or as a smudge stick/wand is a long-favoured way of “clearing the air” in a negative home or room.  It has been found to help students whom are swotting up for exams and whilst doing revision for it helps clear their minds and keeps them on task because it helps their memory.

Many people I have talked to use Rosemary oil for cleansing and consecrating their altar and tools, however, I have not tried this. I stick to using Myrrh.  Still, I may give Rosemary a go sometime. I certainly know it can’t hurt.

Plant Rosemary near your entrance doors on your home to ward off thieves.

My family swore by Rosemary being left underneath the marital bed for increasing the chances of fertility.  You can make sachets to lay under pillows on the bed to achieve the same if you don’t want to have to sweep Rosemary needles from under your bed.

For marital loyalty, have your groom’s buttonhole made to include a sprig of Rosemary and be sure to have it added to your own bouquet to use during your wedding / handfasting.

Rosemary can be used in wreathes and decorations for the Yule season [keep in mind for next year] for its protectiveness, heath-giving, and loyalty attributes.

Hanging a bunch of Rosemary above one’s bed can ensure nightmares will not come.

The Elven folk are said to be attracted to Rosemary and I can attest to that as we had a maisonette a few years ago with a massive, bushy Rosemary growing in the back garden.  We also had an impish Elf we named “Squishy” who notoriously pulled pranks when we sat out at night with a glass of wine. He was a quite a lot of fun, however, we haven’t seen him since moving to our bungalow.  If we did not come out, he would chuck pebbles against the bathroom window to get our attention!

Health

According to Culpeper, Rosemary “….is very much used for inward and outward diseases, for by the warming and comforting heat thereof it helps all cold diseases, both of the head, stomach, liver, and belly.  The decoction thereof in wine, helps the cold distillations of rheums into the eyes, and all other cold diseases of the head and brain, as the giddiness or swimmings  therein, drowsiness or dullness of the mind and senses like a stupidness, the dumb palsy, or loss of speech the lethargy, and falling-sickness, to be both drank, and the temples bathed therewith.”  He also goes on to say it is good for bathing away pains in teeth and gums and is used  “to clear away stinking breath“.  Rosemary also helps a weak memory and a plethora of other maladies!  It would seem that if you had Rosemary in your garden and knew how to use it, you could almost live forever!

How do we use it in these times? A lot of the same ways as in olden days. We use Rosemary in cooking much of the time to guarantee proper digestion, particularly during holiday meals.  It is one of the reasons why I always add Rosemary to my roast potatoes.  Not only does it make them taste wonderful, but it is also helpful to sooth our stomachs from the excesses of the day.

rosemary dried
dried Rosemary ~ courtesy of Google Images

Other ways I have used Rosemary is to melt down some bee’s wax, then add a bit of camphor. Next, I add a good amount of ground, fresh Rosemary, and a few drops of Rosemary oil,  then allow it to sit til completely cool.  It is the most fabulous nose un-stuffer when you have a cold, not to mention very gentle round your sore nose.  It can also be used on cuts and bruises with success.  It works for sore muscles, of which I generally have many, and this balm also helps reduce the appearance of spots and scars in the skin. For very sore muscles a drop or two of turpentine won’t go amiss. The same as people used it for many centuries ago.

For our hair, my daughters and I make an infusion with castor oil and fresh Rosemary by stuffing as much as will fit into a large jar. Then, we fill it with either castor oil or extra virgin olive oil and let it set for thirty days in the sunny window sill with the lid on tightly.  Note: Be quick about using it if you make your infusion with olive oil as it seems to go “off” quicker than castor oil.  Just massage into your hair and apply heat, let it sit for an hour, then wash as normal.  Your hair will be softer than ever, and it seems to help strengthen against breakage.  Infusion made oils are also useable in your magickal work in place of their essential oil counterparts.  In fact, I like using infusion made oils better.

Rosemary is a wonderful pick-me-up in the sickroom.  Have fresh bunches of Rosemary placed about the room for the spirit-lifting aroma and the protection of the patient.

I warn you, though it is bitter, you can steep Rosemary flowers and needles in a diffuser to make a cup of tea for an upset tummy.

Correspondences

Planet:  Sun

Zodiac:  Aries *Many say Leo, however, I use the designation of Aries by Nicholas Culpeper

Gender:  Masculine

Element: Fire

Powers:  Health, Protection, Courage, Cleansing, Loyalty, Fertility, Longevity

Deity: Aphrodite, Venus

I hope you have found some use for Rosemary from my blog that you may not have already thought of. Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all this way wander. x

Sources

The Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpeper, c.1700’s

netdoctor.co.uk

Experience

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Mandrake or Mayapple

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @iseabail_witchwriter

The Mandrake is native to southern Europe; however, it does have a “brother” plant in the US called Mayapple.  European Mandrake comes from several species of the genus Mandragora, a member of the nightshade family.  Despite the Mandrake root’s poison, it was used in early Chinese and European medicine as a pain reliever and sedative.  I would not suggest anybody try this at home!  Its fascination in Witchcraft came from the fact it often looks like the body of a tiny person. Below we shall explore the ways it was used in the past as well as some ways you can employ Mandrake today.

American Mandrake [Podophyllum peltatum], also called Mayapple or Wild Mandrake, has a skinny brown root that does somewhat resemble the fatter European Mandrake with its similarity to the human body.  The Mayapple is very much as poisonous as is its European cousin so do handle with care. To my knowledge, the European Mandrake is only poisonous by the roots, however, every part of the American Mandrake is poisonous, apart from the small fruit which I hear tastes like apples [however, the seeds are poisonous], hence the name Mayapple. I think you would get more enjoyment from a regular apple, if I’m honest!

If you’re not confused yet, enter the English Mandrake. English Mandrake [or “false Mandrake”] is another name for White Briony [Brionia alba]. Briony is an invasive vine related to the cucumber. Apart from having large leaves and being poisonous when ingested, Briony doesn’t bear much resemblance to other Mandrakes.  I felt I must mention this as I would not like to think anyone tried to use this in vain for real Mandrake.

mandrake root
Mandrake Root ~ Google Images

Talking of real Mandrake.  Be very careful.  I have read that some sellers on eBay sell Mandrake root for great amounts of money.  I am not saying they are necessarily selling you the wrong thing, but I can tell you that they may not be harvesting it correctly.  Mandrake root should only be harvested in its fourth year.  If people are selling Mandrake root to make a lot of dosh, chances are they are harvesting too soon in order to make that sale. And, if they can get away with it, very probably some of the Mandrake root being sold is fake.  Buyer beware. You can grow your own and I’m sure there are many the reputable website or book which can tell you how to grow it properly.  You will have to order your Mandrake seeds most likely from China or Greece or somewhere it is grown normally. Or, settle for American Mayapple which is recommended as a substitute for the European Mandrake and works just as well.

Magickal

Many calls Basil the Witches herb. In that case, I would call Mandrake the Witches root. It is legendarily used in all kinds of magick.  If you are a neo-Witch [beginner] you may have at least heard of it from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when the stalky plant, when uprooted, shrieks lethally. According to one legend which bears similarity to the Harry Potter film is that a Mandrake will emit an ear-piercing scream if uprooted, killing the person who digs it up. According to the stories, the only way to uproot the Mandrake safely is to plug one’s ears with wax and tie a rope between a Mandrake root and a dog’s tail. Back away from the root and throw the dog a bone or try to have it fetch a stick, and the dog will lunge for it. The Mandrake root will be uprooted by the dog’s sudden leap, and its shrieks will kill the hungry dog. Truth to tell, I wouldn’t know.

mayapple
My dried Mayapple/Mandrake root ~ photo by i.macy

There have been, over hundreds of years, recipes and tinctures to imbibe which would give the Witch or cunning person a psychic edge.  I won’t publish any of what I know here for I would never forgive myself if someone tried it and died, which is a very real outcome if you ingest Mandrake root or any parts of the Mayapple. Therefore, all ideas are for sympathetic magick only.

A dried Mandrake root placed on the mantelpiece is said to protect and bring happiness and prosperity to the household and it will also prevent demons from entering the home. Placed on top of money, it will make the money multiply.

A Mandrake root can be used as a poppet for sympathetic magick. It can also be carved into various shapes for magickal use.

The berries as well as the root are used in charms to increase fertility. Carried, it is said to attract love.

Add a bit of Mandrake root to your moon water and/or holy water for ritual use as it increase the power of any kind of solution you use in your practise, if it is not used to rub on your skin or to eat and drink.

The Mandrake root can be used as a familiar.  You would give it food and drink daily or on a different schedule such as the full moon or dark moon only.  You can give it milk, wine, whatever you like.  Clean the Mandrake root figure, speak to it, form a relationship of sorts, and invite the spirit whom would be your “familiar spirit” to live within the Mandrake root and do your bidding.  The thing I know about creating a familiar is that the one thing you don’t want to do is expect everything from it.  It is best to choose one thing you want most from it and this way it will do its job well rather than having too many spirits enter all with different ideas.

It is also believed that disease can be transferred from an ill person to the Mandrake root by a Witch or cunning person, then the root is destroyed, effectively freeing the person from whatever ailed them.

Likewise, a Witch can exorcise a demonic spirit from a person and cage it within the Mandrake root, and of course, destroy the root leaving the once possessed person free of demonic plague.

Your altar tools, such as your athame, wand, and so forth, can be given extra power by including Mandrake root in whatever oil you use for the consecration of them.  Just a few pieces dropped into say, a bottle of Myrrh [my oil of choice when consecrating my altar and tools] and left inside the oil will do the job. You can also use it in specific oils you might use for dressing candles to empower your candle magick.

prosperity witch bottle
Prosperity Witch Bottle ~ photo by i.macy

Mandrake root is powerful for bringing prosperity into your life.  Several ways of using it would be to  put a piece of Mandrake root in your coin purse or wallet where the folding money is kept.  Do take care not to put your fingers in your mouth afterwards.  You wouldn’t die but you might get a little woogy! And, of course, one our favourite ways is using it as one of the nine ingredients in our Wealth Witch Bottle talisman which we sell in our shop. It can be worn to attract money to you, or it can be kept where you keep money to make it grow such as a safe or a home bank. If you have a home-based business, you can also hang it wherever you work. Mandrake root can be used in a money poppet which you can decorate in any way you see fit to draw money to you and good place to carry it would be in a handbag or a man bag if you’re a chap who carries one.  Again, with adding the root to oils, add a few pieces of the root to Patchouli oil and put a few drops on your folding money to increase the attraction to more money.

Mandrake root is highly protective.  Remember above where I mentioned adding the pieces of root to your homemade holy water?  Use it to sprinkle round your home, particularly around doors and windows to protect from intruders.

Healing

The leaves [European Mandrake only] can be boiled in milk and used as a poultice for external ulcers.

This is where I leave it for, I am not qualified in any way as far as I’m concerned to tell anyone how or when to use Mandrake for health reasons.  I have read many articles about it but the right dosages and so forth to do good and not harm are too iffy.  Yes, I am aware that people through the years have used Mandrake for their health, still, as it is so poisonous, I’m just not going to try.  I don’t mind giving some advice with the non-poisonous herbs, woods, leaves, etc but this one is not one I’ll recommend.  So, if you insist on using it, please find the information elsewhere.  Good luck and be careful, please.

Correspondences

Planetary:  Mercury

Gender:  Masculine

Zodiac:  Gemini and Virgo

Element[s]:  Fire

Powers:  Fertility, Money, Luck, Protection, Love

Deity:  Circe, Hecate, Diana, Hathor and Saturn

Other Names:  European Mandrake, Mandragora, Mandrake, Mandrake Apple, Pome Di Tchin, Satan’s Apple, herb of Circe, witches mannikin, sorcerer’s root, main-de-gloire, hand of glory, mangloire

Many thanks for reading my blog and warmest blessing to all whom this way wander x

Sources

Experience

Wikipedia

The Witching Herbs: 13 Essential Plants and Herbs for Your Magical Garden by Harold Roth

The Mystic Mandrake by C.J.S. Thompson

The Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Juniper Berries

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @iseabail_witchwriter

juniperus-ornamental-trees dot co dot uk
Juniper ~ ornamental-trees.co.uk

Of the Juniper bush, Nicholas Culpeper wrote in his famous The Complete Herbal and English Physician, “They [Juniper bushes] grow plentifully in divers woods in Kent, Warney common near Brentwood in Essex upon Finchley Common without Highgate; hard by the Newfound Wells near Dulwich, upon a Common between Mitcham and Croydon, in the Highgate near Amersham in Buckinghamshire, and many other places.” Of course, Mr Culpeper would not have known they also were growing in Europe, Southwest Asia, and North America.  He wrote about what was on hand mainly in England in the 1700’s and how each herb, spice, flower, and tree could lend itself to healing in the medicine of the times.  His information was good for his time and is still as useful today.

We can not speak of the berries, which many of us use for different purposes in magick and healing without first speaking of the bush/tree, of course.  And now that we have done, Mr Culpeper has more information regarding the Juniper, “The berries are not ripe the first year, but continue green two Summers and one Winter before they are ripe; at which time they are all of a black colour, and therefore you shall always find upon the bush green berries; the berries are ripe about the fall of the leaf.”

The Juniper bush can grow up to 25 feet tall…I would say that is quite a large bush, indeed! And any lover of a good G and T [gin and tonic] knows the primary ingredient in gin is Juniper berries. But we shall now ponder the magickal and healing ways of the berries.

Magickal

Juniper berries, if added to sachets and carried with, will protect the wearer from accidents and theft, as well as from attacks from wild animals and snakes.

The berries are also said to increase male potency.

If Juniper is grown by or hung dry by any entry door of your home, it is said that the home will be protected against evil forces and persons.

Juniper Berries are good for increasing psychic powers and other popular uses including incense mixtures for exorcism and breaking hexes.  It is also used in love spells.

Juniper has been said to be the guardian of the veil – the veil between the worlds.

For any magickal undertaking, the berries can be dried and crushed to be used in incenses for your purpose.  They can also be added to poppets and sachets for the reasons you wish to use their magickal properties and drinking Juniper berry tea is helpful when seeking out the other side as in hedgewitchery and necromancy. Do not drink the tea or work with Juniper berries if you are pregnant. 

Healing

Juniper berries are known for having health properties that improve memory and mental clarity.

Juniper berries act as a parasiticide (parasite destroyer) and antiseptic. Nicholas Culpeper writes, “The berries stay all fluxes, help the haemorrhoids or piles, and kill worms in children.”

Apparently, a great ridder of ‘wind’ [after all the rich foods partaken of back in the day, no doubt!] for Mr Culpeper also states, “…strengthens the stomach exceedingly, and expels the wind.  Indeed, there is scarce a better remedy for wind in any part of the body, or the cholic than the chymical oil drawn from the berries.”

Juniper 600 apr 2012 cma dot org dot uk
Juniper berries ~ cma.org.uk

Juniper berries are excellent to use in a tea for its detoxifying properties and can aid in the treatment of gout and rheumatoid arthritis.  This is confirmed by Culpeper as he writes, “…[Juniper berries] are excellently good in all sorts of agues; help the gout and sciatica and strengthen the limbs of the body.”  The berries are also known as an excellent diuretic and is proved again by Culpeper, “they provoke urine exceedingly, and are therefore very available to all dysuries and stranguaries.”

Culpeper also says Juniper berries are “a most admirable counter-poison, and as great a register of the pestilence as any growing; they are excellent good against the bitings of venomous beasts.”  I have no doubt this is true.

Correspondences

Planetary:  Sun

Gender:  Masculine

Element:  Fire

Zodiac:  Leo

Powers: Protection, Mental Health, Love, Male Potency, Increasing Psychic Powers, and Breaking Hexes

Deity:  Bridghid/Bridget, Dhatara, Frey, Helios/Sol, Lucifer, Mithra, Ra, Savitar, Apollo, Inanna/Ishtar

Folk Names:  enebro, gemeiner wachholder, geneva, gin berry, ginepro and gin plant

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

Sources

The Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpeper c 1702

The Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham

Understanding the Ogham Alphabet

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

The Ogham alphabet was derived from sacred glyphs and it is mainly associated with Ireland and the Irish Gaelic language.  It is, of course, often claimed by others, such as the Welsh traditions which says that Hu the Mighty invented the Ogham ‘for he first applied vocal song to strengthen memory and record’.  This is even more plausible than where, in The White Goddess, author Robert Graves claims the tree alphabet as partly his invention.  I don’t suppose he would ever think that people would learn, if they had not already, that the Ogham alphabet would turn up marked on trees and stone monuments, dating back as early as the first century AD.  It is also plausible to understand that the Ogham alphabet was used all over the British Isles by Druids and the Bards alike so it could have been a collaboration of Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and English people.  And, there are other claims that the Ogham was around before the first century AD, some saying it goes back to the first century BC.  I suppose we will never really know definitively but it is enough to know that it is part of a much more ancient language than Robert Graves may have claimed.

All we need to be concerned with is understanding the Ogham…at the very least, in layman’s terms, so that when you see something regarding the Ogham you can understand how it fits in with the trees used and its basic meanings.  If you wish to learn to cast the Ogham for divination, there are a good many books which are very thorough.

You’ll often see the Ogham called the “tree alphabet” and so it is.  That is because each Ogham is assigned to a tree/shrub/bramble.  It is a form of encoded wisdom which was once strictly passed on by initiation only. The Ogham itself is very magickal; it aided healing, science, divination, and initiatory learning through its potent wisdom based on trees, plant, and animal growth by their seasonal energies, not to mention its great spiritual power.  Each Ogham letter has its own sound[s] to convey its meaning…it is said to be multi-layered in that it represented the sounds of nature, the air, the earth, animals and plants…all the sounds which veritably create music… can you imagine? The learned ones in their time communicating in this way? It lifts my spirit to imagine it. Music is recorded when written on an Ogham stave.  Timeless.

It would be difficult then to imagine only one person creating the Ogham alone, so it is of my highest opinion that many are responsible for its being.

To understand why each Ogham ‘letter’ is so assigned, we must see the tree groups as the people whom invented this magickal communication did.  There are four main groups:  Chieftain, Peasant, Shrub, and Bramble.  The Chieftain trees are Oak, Holly, Yew, Ash, Pine, and Apple with Apple being most frequently the host of Mistletoe, Mistletoe is known as the ‘hidden tree’.  The Peasant trees are Alder, Willow, Hawthorn, Rowan, Birch, Elm, and Beech.  Sometimes Silver Fir is included, depending upon whom is writing.  Then, there are the Shrubs which consists of Blackthorn, Elder, Aspen and the Poplars, Juniper, and Reed with the possibility of Maples.  Lastly, the Brambles:  Dog-Rose, Bramble, Broom, Heather, Ivy, Vine, and possibly Honeysuckle, Fern, ‘Traveller’s Joy’, and The Spindle Tree.  Each tree, shrub, and bramble and its associations, which I have not listed at this time, were created by the authors of the Ogham.  The Irish Gaelic letters shown in the below illustration are in alphabetical order but not in their seasonal order.

sacred ogham 1
The Ogham Alphabet ~ Sacred Chaotic Geometry on Tumblr

As room did not allow, I did not attach the tree name to each of the twenty oghams on the chart which are mainly used for divination purposes, therefore, I shall list them here:  Beith – Birch tree, Luis – Rowan tree, Fearn – Alder tree, Saille – Willow tree, Nuin – Ash tree, Huathe – Hawthorn tree, Duir – Oak tree, Tinne – Holly tree, Coll – Hazel tree, Quert – Apple tree, Muin – Vine, Gort – Ivy, Ngetal – Reed, Straif – Blackthorn, Ruis – Elder tree, Ailim – Pine tree, Ohn – Gorse, Ur – Heather, Eadha – Poplar tree, Ioho – Yew tree.  I have drawn a red line around those which are used in divination, leaving the five combination vowel letters to the side for another time. You may be familiar with this if you have read my blog, What’s Your Birth Tree is the New What is Your Star Sign.

My Ogham Set
My Celtic Tree Oracle and personal Ogham set

There is so much more to be said about the Ogham but in this writing,  I am only presenting what is used in divination because so many people ask how they are used for this purpose.  ***Of course, if I had a lot of time, I could explain it all, however, I do spend much of my time writing or creating things for our shop and simply can’t write about it all.  In olden days the Ogham alphabet was a way of communicating – people even created a sign language with it – and for recording.  It was a secret language of the Druids and the Bards.  Nowadays, it is used nearly exclusively for divination.  In this respect, the trees themselves, whilst providing anchorage for the whole system are regarded as doorways through which to enter deeper wisdoms. If you want to learn how to divine using the Ogham, it would be a good start to buy or make a set of Ogham for yourself and buy a book or two such as Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, by Erynn Rowan Laurie or a less expensive option would be to purchase The Celtic Tree Oracle: A System of Divination, by Colin Murray, where you can divine with oracle cards.

I hope this has clarified a few things for some of you who queried.  *** This is an update to my original blog – beginning this week, I shall begin posting my blogs from 2019 where I explain how to divine with the Ogham, spread over twenty easy lessons, one each for the Ogham you would use in divination. Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom wander this way.. x

Sources

The White Goddess, by Robert Graves

Tree Wisdom, By Jacqueline Memory Paterson

Wikipedia



From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Hawthorn Leaf

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Of course, I have written about the wonderful Hawthorn tree in the past, but were you aware of how magickal the leaves are? Many of you have probably used the berries and spines / thorns in your magickal workings as well. But, today I would like to take you on a little journey through what the leaves can do for you.

Magickal

leaf-hawthorn woodlands co uk
Hawthorn Leaf ~ woodlands.co.uk

Leaves can be harvested any time. Be sure to ask permission and leave an offering. The leaves, curiously enough, are also used to enforce or maintain chastity or celibacy. The leaves are placed beneath the mattress or around the bedroom for this purpose.

Worn or carried, the leaves promote happiness in the troubled, depressed, or sad. Call on the Goddess Grianne to bring some sunshine and happiness into your life.

Use Hawthorn leaves for protection, love, and marriage spells by using them in poppets, sachets, and witch bottles. We use Hawthorn leaf in our Protection Witch Bottle which we sell in our shop. You can also use the leaves in loose incense but if you are using the Hawthorn wood in the incense there really is no need to use the leaves. As with any part of the Hawthorn tree, faeries are very attracted to Hawthorn, so you may spy one whilst burning an incense with Hawthorn in it!

“Hawthorn is burned to purify, And draw a faerie to your eye.”

And talking of marriage, a beautiful headdress can be woven of the leaves and flowers of the Hawthorn for a bride!

Healing

Hawthorn Leaf Dry
My dried Hawthorn leaf ~ photo by i.macy

Like the berries and flowers, Hawthorn leaves have properties to reduce high blood pressure. Use the leaves in a tea to not only reduce blood pressure but is also said to help ease a broken heart after a break up. All of a Hawthorn tree is very good for ones’ health and the leaves are definitely as good for your health as any other part of the tree. The leaves can be used to make a tincture for use on your face after washing it, much the same as using witch hazel or a toner. The tincture is great for reducing the small broken vessels on your face and if you have flushes of the skin or reddish outbreaks, the tincture can reduce this as well. If you boil the leaves down to make a paste, try this on heavier areas of small broken vessels or red areas of skin, by leaving it on for a bit longer. Hawthorn leaf tea is excellent for a sore throat.

Fun Folklore Hawthorn leaves can be eaten and were once referred to as bread-and-cheese.

During World War I, young Hawthorn leaves were used as substitutes for tea and tobacco.

All correspondences for the Hawthorn leaves are the same as for the entire tree. Read our blog on The Magickal Hawthorn Tree: The Mayflower Tree to find out.

“Green grow the leaves on the Hawthorn tree. We jangle and we wrangle And we never can agree.” ~old English carol

Many thanks for reading about Hawthorn leaves and we hope you work good magick with them. Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Magickal Hawthorn Tree: The Mayflower Tree – Revisited [again!] for Beltane

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

This blog was published in 2018, including part of my 2017 Beltane blog…I like reusing things, so why not the reuse of a blog? Especially if it touches on some very good points! Besides, it does aide me in getting more of the blogs from the old site over to this one…win! So, here in 2022 with much water under the bridge between here and 2018, I wish everyone a very happy and safe Beltane. May everyone be blessed with good health, prosperity and protection.

hawthorn alone
lone Hawthorn tree, courtesy of Google images

Happy Beltane, everyone! Or, if you are in The Land Down Under, Happy Samhain! I thought it appropriate to re-visit our Hawthorn tree blog today as it is traditionally used as the “May Pole” being today is also May Day.  And then I get thinking “what more can I say about the wonderful Hawthorn?”.  I really couldn’t think of  a thing, however, as I sat researching a herb I plan on writing about by reading in Nicholas Culpeper’s herbal, The English Physician, I ran across his passage on Hawthorn! What better way to begin my re-blog than to quote the words of the foremost herbalist of his day and still popular in our time? So, forgive the misspellings, for the English language had not quite been tamed yet, or, the authors of many of the olde worldy books just could not spell! Without further hesitation, I give you Nicholas Culpeper’s take on Hawthorn:

HAWTHOEN.

It is not my intention to trouble you with a description of this tree, which is so well known that it needs none.  It is ordinarily but a hedge bush, although being pruned and dressed, it grows to be a tree of reasonable height.

As for the Hawthorn Tree at Glastonbury, which is said to flower yearly on Christmas-day, it rather shews the superstition of those that observe it for the time of its flowering, than any great wonder, since the like may be found in divers other places of this land; as in Whey-street in Romney March, and near unto Nantwich in Cheshire, by a place called White Green, where it flowers about Christmas and May.  If the weather be frosty, it flowers not until January, or that the hard weather be over.

Government and virtues.]  It is a tree of Mars.  The seeds in the berries beaten to powder being drank in wine, are held singularly good against the [kidney] stone, and they are good for the dropsy.  The distilled water of the flowers stays the lask.  The seed cleared from the down, bruised and boiled in wine, and drank is good for inward tormenting pains.  If cloths and sponges be wet in the distilled water, and applied to any place wherein thorns and splinters, or the like, do abide in the flesh, it will notably draw them forth.

And thus you see the thorn gives a medicine for his own pricking and so doth almost everything else.” ~ Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physician and Complete Herbal, 16th century

Culpeper’s way was to assign a planet to every tree, flower, and wort and every part of the human body was assigned a planet as well. If a wort or tree was ruled by Mars you only need to use it for healing the part of the body also ruled by Mars.  This was not something you took lightly in those days.  He spent most of his life researching by astrology, biology, and the science of making people well again. On the top of it all, he was quite a prolific writing.  Although centuries have passed since  this writing, we have found all to be true the things Culpeper learned in his research.  Many times when I am writing about a herb I consult The English Physician to see what Culpeper made of the herb back in his time and I find that we are still, for instance, using Angelica to help with stomach ailments or Cherry to cure a sore throat or chest congestion.  It goes to prove they did get it right in those days and we owe Culpeper and many others a huge debt of gratitude for what they learned and left with us.

Today is May Day and the first day of Beltane.  And in many places a tall post of Hawthorn may be being used today for a May Pole.  But I do hope in preparing the Hawthorn for its celebratory ritual that people remembered to use all of the Hawthorn and not to waste it…keeping leaves, bark, and so forth for healing potions or protections.

So, please enjoy the rest of the blog, if you have never read it before, and if you have, I hope you have enjoyed the re-visit with new information. Happy May Day and Beltane to all!

From August, 2017:

Hawthorn Ogham Pendant
Hawthorn Huath Ogham Pendant ~ photo by i.macy

The Hawthorn tree represents the sixth month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 13 May – 9 June, and this period is represented by the Ogham for this tree, which is also the 6th letter of the ogham alphabet, Huath (Huathe, Uath). The Hawthorn Tree, or Mayflower tree, is sacred to Roman Goddess Flora, Celtic Goddesses Aine and Brigid, along with the Manx – Celtic God Manannàn Mac Leirr. This Ogham symbol is used in Celtic Reiki and its essence represents the energy of cleansing and preparation. It clears the mind of negative thoughts and mental confusion, offering clarity: it gives patience and offers stillness. The Hawthorn tree is masculine and usually, but not always, grows in hedges, but a lone Hawthorn tree, growing on a hill is a portal to the world of faery and is also considered one of the three trees of the Faery Triad, including Oak and Ash. We offer a Hawthorn Ogham pendant in our Etsy shop for those born in the lovely month of May, or in fact, to anyone who loves Hawthorn. Not available as of this writing.

Oak Ash and Thorn
The Faery Triad Talisman: Oak, Ash, and Thorn ~ photo by i.macy

Hawthorn Faery
Along with Oak and Ash, Hawthorn forms the “faery triad” that is especially inviting to the fae. Hawthorn is, in some ways, the faery tree, forming a portal to the faery realm and holding strong magick. The Hawthorn faery offers access to the Other-World, but also protects the unwary, so it is important to be patient with this spirit. She can enchant your life, bringing growth and fertility to all areas, and when the Hawthorn flowers in spring, it represents the bridal gown of the young Goddess. Hawthorn is sacred to the Welsh sun goddess Olwen, the “white lady of the day.” Where she trod she left white footprints on hawthorn, and her father, Yspaddaden Pencawr, was “Giant Hawthorn.” Thirteen tasks were demanded of her suitor, Culhwych, before he could marry her and overcome the power of the giant. Thirteen is a number associated with the moon, for the moon makes 13 circuits of the zodiac to one of the sun. Thus, the Hawthorn suggests union of sun and moon, male and female. The Hawthorn faery promises cleansing, fulfilment, guardianship, and fertility. Keeping grounded and practical is the best way to access her and use her gifts.” ~ The Faery Bible by Teresa Moorey

In Ireland, Hawthorns have always been highly respected as faery trees. They were often referred to as ‘gentle bushes’ after the custom of not naming faeries directly out of respect. Solitary thorns were known as the faeries’ Trysting Trees, and frequently grew on barrows and tumps or at crossroads, thought to be a favourite location of pagan altars.

Folklore: Much of the folklore attached to it seems to come from the fact that the tree is covered in long branches of early, white blossom around the time of Beltane – the First of May. In England, the Hawthorn is known as the Mayflower tree in honour of the month during which it blooms. Symbolising hope, it was the name the Pilgrims took for their famous ship, The Mayflower.

Hawthorn flowers
Hawthorn flowers ~ Courtesy of Google Images

If 1st of May seems early and the blossom is not ready – remember that the British calendar was changed and went forward 12 / 13 days in 1752 – trees have long memories and so work to the ancient dates! This is evident as well in Hawthorn’s place in the Ogham Tree Calendar – beginning now on 13th May – it would once have started on May 1st. Hawthorn is still prevalent in May Day celebrations, whatever the case.

Maypole_1500-56a6e0953df78cf77290a7cf
A Pagan Maypole celebration, led by the Green Man, photo courtesy of Google images

But whilst Hawthorn was a propitious tree at May-time, in other circumstances it was considered unlucky. Witches were supposed to make their brooms from it, and in some parts, it was equated with the abhorred Elder, as in the rhyme:

Hawthorn bloom and elder-flowers Will fill a house with evil powers.

In magick, Hawthorn is known as a psychic shield that can lift the spirits, and a little charm of the wood is a thoughtful gift for a friend going through a time of vulnerability or depression. It is also especially effective against malevolent spirits.

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

Correspondences:
Planet: Mars and Venus
Symbolism: Purification, sacred marriage
and male-female unity

Crystals: Lapis Lazuli, Blue Calcite
Birds: Blackbird, Owl, Purple Martin
Colour: Midnight Blue, Purple
Deity: Olwen, Blodeuwedd, Gardea,
Hymen, Hera, Virgin Mary
Sabbat: Beltane, May Day
Folk names: May bush, May tree, quickset,
thorn-apple tree, white thorn.

“A hundred years I slept beneath a thorn Until the tree was root and branches of my thought, Until white petals blossomed in my crown.” From The Traveller ~ by Kathleen Raine

I hope you have enjoyed the re-visit. Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Druidry.org

thoughtco.com

thegoddesstree.com

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

The Fairy Bible, by Teresa Mooney

The English Physician and Complete Herbal, by Nicholas Culpeper

Experience

Crystal of the Week, Apache Tears

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Apache Tears are of the Obsidian family as we know.  And to me, all varieties of Obsidian seems to almost form a ‘family’ not unlike our own.  I have written about black Obsidian, the very strong ‘older brother’ and Snowflake Obsidian, the gentle but strong ‘younger sister’… but Apache tears has a strong yet friendly and gentle vibration which makes it feel almost parental… like a loving mother or father. Not as fierce in nature as black Obsidian but can be very protective all the same.  I’ve heard some say that its misshapen appearance makes one feel more comfortable with it.

They are a type of Black Obsidian stone found in the south-western US and Mexico. The meaning of their name comes from an American Native legend. It was said that certain members of this tribe were pursued by the Cavalry, and although they fought bravely they were outnumbered. Rather than be captured they jumped off the cliff to their deaths. The distraught women of the tribe cried dark tears of grief, which fell to the earth, and formed into these dark strangely shaped stones. It is believed that their tears formed into these unusual stones, so people will always remember what happened.

Magickal

Apache Tears
My Apache Tear ~ photo by i.macy

As are all Obsidian stones, Apache Tears are an excellent grounding stone.  But this stone seems to have a more intuitive grasp of when it should do it job than does the black Obsidian.  Apache Tears are often used to cleanse one’s auric field and provide safety and protection for healers.  By using Apache tears, rather than other types of Obsidian, you can find that you’re able to address negativity in a calmer and more constructive way.  Apache Tears won’t ‘bring’ luck to you, but it can be used to shield you from bad luck and bad vibes to give you a rest to regroup.

Wearing Apache Tears near your heart is an excellent way to always be mindful of its power and to feel protected and cared for.  It is also effectively used to clear the heart of old disappointments and distresses.  Apache Tears opens you up to an acceptance of higher spiritual qualities and knowledge.

Because Apache tears, like most dark stones, work to sponge up negative energy, you will want to frequently cleanse them to get the full benefit of their positive energy.  If you neglect to cleanse them, you may find their efficacy wanes over time. To cleanse, simply hold them under running water while visualising the negative energy being washed away, then place them in direct sun or moonlight for several hours.

Healing

Apache Tears are very useful stones for anyone to use, but especially if you are a healer. If you are doing any spiritual development work, there are strong advantages to using these stones. Their strong energy works within the base or root chakra, where it will move excess energy down into the earth chakra for grounding with Mother Gaia. They also protect you from any possibility of “catching” the disease that you’re attempting to cure.

The energy of these stones will strengthen the blood and the immune system, and they will help the body to assimilate Vitamin C and D.  They assist with the reduction of toxins in the body by aiding their removal. They may calm muscle spasms and enhance vitality and strength within the body.  Within the heart chakra their energy will assist the emotional body to heal, from old issues of an emotional nature.  Their energy within the sacral or navel chakra helps to aid the removal of disharmonious energies in relationships.  They may bring through joy as they encourage you to feel more positive about life.

Apache Tears are also said to help with adrenal glands, bone pain, brain cancer, brain inflammation, brain lesion, headache, insect sting, joint pain, kidneys, lesions, migraine, muscle lesion, muscle pain, nerve inflammation, ovaries pain, prostate regulation, small intestine purification, spine & spinal cord inflammation, spine & spinal cord lesion, spine and spinal cord pain, spine and spinal cord strengthening, stomach, thymus.  It would be prudent to leave these healings to the capable hands of a good Pranic Healer.

Correspondences

Planetary:  Pluto and Saturn

Zodiac:  Scorpio

Element:  Fire and Earth

Powers:  Absorption of Negativity, Protection, Psychic Protection, Healing

Gender:  Female and Male

Deity:  Pele, Tezcatlipoca, Itzpapalotl, Sekhmet, Isis, Horus, Black Madonna

Chakra[s]:  Root/Base, Sacral, Heart

Other Names:  Obsidian Drops, Obsidian Tears

As ever, I thank everyone whom is so kind to read my blog. Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall, 2003

Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham, 2002

The Illustrated Directory of Crystal Healing by Cassandra Eason, 2003

Experience

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Enchanter’s Nightshade

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

From Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics, by Richard Folkard, Jun, London 1884:

“ENCHANTER’S NIGHTSHADE.—Formerly the Atropa Mandragora used to bear this name, but by some mistake it has been transferred to the Circæa Lutetiana, an insignificant plant named after Circe, the famed enchantress, probably because its fruit, being covered with hooked prickles, lays hold of the unwary passers-by, as Circe is said to have done by means of her enchantments. The Mandrake was called “Nightshade,” from having been classed with the Solanum tribe, and “Enchanter’s” from its Latin name Circæa, a name which it obtained, according to Dioscorides, because Circe, who was expert in herbal lore, used it as a tempting powder in amorous concerns.”

An interesting little book which, if I understand correctly, sounds almost more like an apology for his bad information in the preface rather than a preface of something of great import.  But as it was of some interest, I just had to include it… take from it what you will.

Enchanters_Nightshade wanstead wildlife dot co dot uk
Enchanter’s Nightshade ~ wansteadwildlife.org.uk

You’ve seen the pretty pink slips bobbing in the breezes over the last month or so.  They are quite small and may be white instead of pink.  If you haven’t, try looking in shady places where the ground is moister such as shady woodlands, coppices, and perhaps in some hedge rows. If you have seen them, you have found Enchanter’s Nightshade.  If you’re not familiar with Enchanter’s Nightshade or Circaea lutetiana; this nightshade is a member of the willowherb family, Onagraceae.   It is not related to other nightshades such as the deadly nightshade.

The genus name comes from the enchantress Circe of Greek mythology and the specific designation is derived from Lutetia, the Latin name for Paris, which was sometimes referred to as the “Witch City”. Despite its name it is not especially toxic but contains a lot of the astringent tannin.  The plant is native to Europe, Middle Asia, Siberia, United Kingdom, and the eastern United States and Canada. It grow in woods in deep shade and moist environments on nitrogen-containing clay.

Circe was a powerful Grecian witch who, with the help of herbs, muttering incantations, or praying to her strange gods, could turn men into animals, or create unsubstantial images of beasts. She often called to her aid Nyx, Chaos, or Hecate. But as witchcraft may make a victim also of him or her who practises it, the nights of Circe could be wasted in fear because of the uncontrolled visions that filled her house. And so, for example, the walls and chambers of her palace could seem to be bathing in blood, whilst fire could seem to devour her magick herbs. That is why it was a relief for her when daylight came, and she could bathe and clean her garments, forgetting the scaring nightly visions. Circe also liked to attract others for the mission of sex magick, therefore it could be thought this is one reason this kind of nightshade is called Enchanter’s.

Magickal

enchanters nightshade
My dried Enchanter’s Nightshade ~ photo by i.macy

Enchanter’s Nightshade is a useful herb for aiding in the Laws of Attraction.  Not only the love kind of attraction but to attract whatever it is that you want in your life, including wealth, health, and any number of things. As a rule, Enchanter’s Nightshade does not attract wealth itself but it aids in the  Seven Laws of Attraction where you attract what you need and want into your life.  You may use it in the usual ways which you do for spell work, mainly useful in loose incenses to be burned over a charcoal disc.  This is a particularly good way to use it during meditation.  It is also useful in spells for binding, hexing, and love.  Mainly you may read that you use Belladonna [Deadly Nightshade] for hexing but those of us who would rather not, I have found that Enchanter’s Nightshade – absolutely no relative of the Deadly variety – works just as well. It is also said to be useful for shapeshifting and transformation in which you would drink it as a tea, however, be certain you have the correct herb before ingesting.  Take all due precautions and then take them again.

For enchanting or simply attracting the lover of your dreams, make a sachet of dried Enchanter’s Nightshade to carry with you when you have opportunity to be near this person.  In our Love witch bottle necklace, Enchanter’s Nightshade is an ingredient. You may also use with other dried herbs which attract love, such as Vervain, in a loose incense to burn during spell work for love.  And, of course, if you prefer making poppets, use the Nightshade in those as well.

Healing

According to Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physician and Complete Herbal:  It is a cold Saturnine plant.  The common Nightshade is wholly used to cool hot inflammations either inwardly or outwardly, being no ways dangerous to any that use it, as most of the rest of the Nightshades are, yet it must be used moderately.  The distilled water only of the whole her is fittest and safest to be taken inwardly:  The juice also clarified and taken being mingled with a little vinegar, is good to wash the mouth and throat that is inflamed; But outwardly the juice of the herbs or berried, with oil of roses and a little vinegar and ceruse laboured together in a leaden* mortar, is very good to anoint all hot inflammations in the eyes.  It also doth much good for the shingles, ringworms, and in all running, fretting, and corroding ulcers, applied thereunto.  The juice dropped into the ears eases pains thereof that arise of heat or inflammations  And Pliny saith, it is good for hot swellings under the throat.  Have a care you mistake not the deadly nightshade for this; if you know it not, you may let them both alone, and take no harm having other medicines sufficient in the book.”

In medicine Saturn presides over the skeletal system, skin, teeth, gall bladder, spleen, and vagus nerve. Saturn symbolised processes and things which were dry and extremely cold, and was therefore inimical to life. It governed the melancholic humour.

Nearly all I can find about the use of Enchanter’s Nightshade for nowadays is using it as an astringent for skin maladies.  Oh yes, and the [*] above – please do not use any leaden vessel in the preparation of herbs for health and physical use.  I don’t think I need to say it, still, there can always be that one 😊

Correspondences

Planet:  Saturn

Zodiac:  Capricorn and Aquarius

Gender:  Female

Element:  Earth and Water

Powers:  Healing, Love, Binding, Hexing

Deity:  Circe

Other Names:  Sorcerer of Paris, Witch’s Grass, Great Witch Herb, Wood Magic Herb, Paris Nightshade, Herb of St. Etienne, Southern Broadleaf Nightshade

Many thanks for reading my humble little blog.  Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physician and Complete Herbal [17th century]

Richard Folkard, Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics [Jun, London 1884]

Witchipedia

Woodlands.co.uk

Experience

Understanding English Witchcraft

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Most people seem to be more familiar with what I call “Wicca Witchcraft” or other kinds of witchcraft than they are with traditional English witchcraft. Perhaps because more younger folk are predominately coming into the witchcraft “scene” or it could be because many of English witchcraft practises have been held close to the chests of the English witch, or cunning woman / man and not many of us are still handing down the information we’ve learned from the old ones.  That has been changing over the last several years, however.  But before we can talk about any kind of witchcraft, history will have to be called upon.  And, I’m not necessarily talking of witch hunts and trials.  Before that, even.  It’s all very complex and I don’t intend to write a book here, only a blog.  Forgive me if I leave out something that you know about which may be pertinent.  Still, we must at least go back in time to European “witchcraft” to get the ball rolling.

Many of the Celtic pagan ways were brought into England/Great Britain by way of immigrants and/or marauding folk such as the Romans or Vikings.  Not that Britain proper didn’t have ways of their own already, but the new and similar ways of others certainly added more spice to the cauldron, as it were.  There was a time when, the so-called “witch” was a healer first and foremost.  Doctors were for the rich; the country folk rarely if ever had a real doctor in attendance for any malady.  Mid-wives were the norm for any woman giving birth but even then, sometimes the mid-wife had to be a female family member who did not practise mid-wifery as a rule.  Either way, babies were born and lived, and more generations came forth.

cunning woman
Cunning woman ~ British Museum of Witchcraft

The cunning woman or man of the time knew when to plant and when to reap – all by the seasons and the planets. By the same method, they knew which herbs would relieve or cure whichever disease.  If you become serious about English witchcraft, you would do well to buy  the medieval writings by Nicolas Culpeper or Thomas Oswald Cockayne.  The herbal lore is fabulous, and each plant is said to be ruled by its particular planet because it corresponds with that part of one’s body which is ruled by that planet.  To this day, herbs are chosen as curatives in much the same fashion. But here again, the common man or woman had to be the “doctor” of the family or the entire village because most often time and money would not permit a horseback ride into the large village to find a doctor – if even it had one, as most doctors were working only for Royalty, and lords and ladies.  A person could die of a snake bite before you could jump onto the horse to search for a doctor.

Mostly, none of the knowledge was written down.  It was remembered and passed down from one generation to the next, for most English witches / cunning folk were solitary or only involved in their practise with a few family members.

Things were alright with the doings of healing and protections but when it came to death by a “per maleficium” translated as “visible effect of malicious intention”, obviously the Church would step in and many times the cunning woman or man accused would be put to death by burning.  This was long before the “Burning Times” we have known about for ages. The laws of the Visigoths [a member of the branch of the Goths who invaded the Roman Empire between the 3rd and 5th centuries CE and ruled much of Spain until overthrown by the Moors in 711], which were to some extent founded upon the Roman law, punished witches who had killed any person by their spells with death; while long-continued and obstinate witchcraft, if fully proven, was visited with such severe sentences as slavery for life.  You had to be very careful to only use your craft for good.  Still, that didn’t stop good people from being accused anyway.

So, here we are.  Things heated up and got worse for many years after.  Thankfully, that never stopped people passing down their knowledge to younger family members whom in turn, passed the knowledge down to their own descendants. I’m sure that some things got lost in translation along the way, but you dare not write the information down for fear of being found with it.  It is a good job that good people such as Culpeper were counted as men who were knowledgeable about herbs and could work within the aspect of medicinal research to catalogue and maintain records of herbs and how they helped illness. No, they did not do so in aid of witches. But it surely didn’t hurt!

London amulet-hands_2039631c
Amulets from the Lovett Collection (c) Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

We could talk about this subject for days, but we’ll segue now from the paragraph above where I said, “for fear of being found with it”.  This was the basis for many a cunning person’s “tools” being kept simple.  For general protection, there were always charms and such… little crosses, necklaces, and other items usually hand carved or sewn. At this time, these were most likely not made to sell for extra income but simply to protect their cattle and property.  And, of course, there have always been those who would hex your cattle or property in some way because of an argument with that neighbour or something worse.   As other people took up residence in the British countryside, we learned additional ways of doing things which were added to what we already knew.  Things probably got very “witchy” then when they learned stronger and better ways to zhoosh up their spell work!

Holly Keppen
Holly keppen wand ~ photo by i.macy

First, we will speak of wands.  For the most part, not many cunning folk used wands, however, they weren’t unknown to them and a fair few did use a wand to direct energy.  Wands were an Egyptian invention but of course as the way of all magickal things, this idea, too, had made its way to the British Isles. The most important trait of the wand to the layman’s eyes was to not look like a wand.  In fact, they were normally just short, gnarled sticks.  I would imagine, if found with one in her pinny pocket and to be accused of using a wand, any cunning woman already had the idea of saying, “It’s me doggo’s stick! I tosses it and ‘e fetches it”. In Cornwall tradition, the “keppen” wand was made of local woods, mostly from Rowan.  It would only be about 5 to 7 inches long.

Circles as per Wicca were not cast normally for spell work, but in Wales, a technique certainly used was to draw an invisible circle around yourself with your right index finger by extending your arm towards the ground and turning clockwise with the Sun was – and still is – called a “caim”. In other words, it was a reminder that wherever we walk, God is with us, a reminder of God’s presence and protection, a symbol of the encircling love of God.  There were “circling prayers” for this as well.  I imagine you may be wondering why the Christian God is being referenced. Well, not all cunning folk were still Pagan – at least not the hell-bent for leather Viking kind of Pagans.  Many went to church, believed in the monotheistic God, and prayed over the herbs they gathered for spell work and healing. If you can buy a copy of The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Rohde Sinclair, you will see what I mean. This is not at all unusual in old Britain.

london witchbottle greenwich
X-ray of a Bellarmine jug witch bottle ~ British Archaeology

Witch bottles.  Some of the earliest witch bottles were the old Bellarmine jugs [named after a particularly fearsome Catholic Inquisitor, Robert Bellarmine, who persecuted Protestants and was instrumental in the burning of Giordano Bruno].  This form of “bottled spell” dates back hundreds of years and were prevalent in Elizabethan England – especially East Anglia, where superstitions and belief in witches were strong. The bottles were most often found buried under the fireplace, under the floor, and plastered inside walls.  One was found under a hearth in England, dug out, x-rayed, then replaced.  It did confirm pretty much what archaeologists had thought for years that the bottles were full of fingernail clippings, rusty nails, hair, glass, and urine.  Well, there was liquid still in the bottle, and the consensus was that urine was a staple of the witch bottle.  The idea was that all the bits and bobs inside the bottle were meant to trap the evil into the bottle where it would meet with sharp objects and be wounded then drown in the fluid.

London childs anti bronchitis necklace
Child’s necklace – University of Oxford Museum

Charms, crosses, talismans.  Every region of Britain had their own favoured charms, amulets, talismans, and such.  In Victorian London, children were made to wear little necklaces of blue and yellow beads to ward off bronchitis and whooping cough, which was very deadly for children in those times.  To protect the dreamer from nightmares, the cunning housewife would cover an old horseshoe with fabric and hang above the bed. Also, in London, hands made of silver, tin and lead were meant to ward off the evil eye; funnily enough, this kind of charm was used by the Egyptians, c.1500 CE. And here is one I really am not fond of – a dead mole wrapped in floral fabric was believed to offer protection from danger! I don’t think I would care to tote around a dead mole wrapped in cloth… but I imagine it would work by scaring most people away!

London mole in cloth
Protection amulet – Mole in floral fabric.  ~  Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

We have done some fairly foolish things in England, for a fact.  And some very good things.  But this one takes the biscuit when it comes to protections and one I protest vehemently:  Many years ago, whilst building a new home in Britain, people would have a dead cat placed under the house, in a wall, or fireplace to protect their home from evil and vermin.  If I’m not mistaken, the cat had to be “dried”.  I’m very happy this has not carried on today – to my knowledge.  You can rest assured I will never tell a customer to put a dried cat in their wall!

Rowan Cross
Rowan protection cross ~ photo by i.macy

In other regions, Rowan crosses bound with red thread were said to “keep the witches all in dread” [clearly a charm for ridding yourself of witches, not for witches to use!], but these days it is for protection against evil.  Amulets are for protection. The word “amulet” comes from the Latin word amulētum. The earliest extant use of that term is in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History in which it means “an object that protects a person from trouble”.  Talismans are generally for exact focus of intent, such as to draw wealth to a person or love or courage, or some other need.

In Dartmoor, if ever you happen to be around any old Dartmoor farm buildings you may possibly notice a small holed stone or pebble sat on a window ledge. Occasionally if the building has a lock with a key still in it there may well be a similar looking holed stone tied to the end of it. These are known as Hex, or more commonly elsewhere, as Hag Stones and their tradition dates to the time when witches rode along the hedgerows at night, intending to steal one’s cattle and horses.

catsbroom706
The Witch’s Familiar ~ Google Images

The Familiar.  Everyone thinks a black cat is a witch’s familiar. The poor, much maligned black moggy is only popular these days because of the silly notion of Halloween – oh you know, the commercialised ridiculousness.  Like any other holiday, commercialism takes the fun out of it.  Anyway, no… every witch does not have a black cat for a familiar. Some do, I do not, nor have I ever.  The witch’s familiar can literally be anything.  It does not need to be an animal.  You can conjure up your own familiar in a jar if you like.  Just like in MacBeth:

“Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble”

~ Macbeth 4.1

Dogs and cats were the most common familiars, but mice, stoats, toads and many other small animals could take the part. Toads were useful for supplying venom, and vermin and in general were associated with dirt, disease and evil.  And do note, the Familiar was not a pet.  You would not put the Familiar’s work load on a beloved pet.  So, if you have a pet you are calling your Familiar, please don’t.  The things a Familiar were sent to do in aid of the witch were not fit for a pet to do.

book of english witchcraft
Book of English Magic 

Just having realised I am beginning to write a book, not a blog here!  I think I shall leave you with this overview of English Witchcraft, even if it is not complete by a mile… but that is what books are for and I do recommend The Book of English Magic if you would like to learn more about the Craft.  Although, I do hope I have gotten my original point across concerning English Witchcraft and its merits.  It would seem many witches today love the “bright, shiny, pretty things” associated with Wicca Witchcraft… I see so many wands, oils, “spell kits”, and other paraphernalia which looks more at home on a small girl’s play room floor than on a real working altar.  But that is because I came from a rustic, cunning woman’s descendance.  I see things as she and other ancestors saw them – a bit rough around the edges perhaps but able to do the job. Still, it is up to the individual witch to decide what works best for her.  And if Plasticine and  baked clay with lots of glitter work best for her or him then who am I to judge?

Many thanks for reading today and I hope you found something useful in my blog.  Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

The British Museum of Witchcraft

Wikipedia.org

London’s Lost Amulets and Forgotten Folklore

Experience

The Magickal Ironwood Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

lignum vitae
Holywood Lignum Vitae ~ courtesy of Google images

Ironwood is a common name for many woods that have a reputation for hardness.  And the insane number of species of “Ironwood” made it impossible to make this a sweeping inclusion of all Ironwood trees into one blog about how the wood may be used for magickal and medicinal needs.  So, the only thing for it was to choose one and go with it, therefore, I chose Lignum Vitae [Guaiacum officinale] which hails originally [near as I can tell] from the Caribbean and Northern South America. There is an Ironwood cousin in the UK called Persian Ironwood [Parrotia persica], however, it is more of a garden-variety ornamental tree and the leaves are stunning. Every country of the world has its own Ironwood species, whether by hailing from there originally or having been naturalised into that country.  As its name might suggest, it is the hardest of woods.

Persian ironwood ,Parrotia persica, red autumn leaves
Parrotia Persica, UK ~ courtesy of yours.co.uk

According to Druidry.org, Ironwood may be considered a birth tree for the dates of Jun 4-13 / Dec 2-11 and is called a tree of discipline, order, and admiration.  When given this tree sign, one can be referred to as having a steady and sturdy enough foundation for further growth and development, both in themselves as well as enabling the same in others.  I have detailed much about the various birth trees in one of my blogs but have yet to follow up on the Druid’s notion of birth trees.

Fact and Folklore

Lignum Vitae was the traditional wood used for the British police truncheon until recently, due to its density [and strength], combined with the relative softness of wood compared to metal, thereby tending to bruise or stun rather than cut the skin.

Another way Lignum Vitae has helped police work is the heartwood of Lignum Vitae exudes a brown colour resin that has a pungent taste and has therapeutic as well as non-remedial uses. Amongst the various non-medical utilities of the resin, one extremely remarkable use is founded on the fact that when it is blended with any alcoholic solution, the colour of the resin changes to blue when it is exposed to bloodstains. Therefore, the Lignum Vitae resin is valuable to the police as well as other investigators who use this sap to detect bloodstains that may have gone unnoticed.

On a lighter note, it is used to make lawn bowls, croquet mallets, and skittles balls. The wood also has seen widespread historical usage in mortars and pestles and for wood carvers’ mallets. I think I should like one of those!

In Charles Dickens’ novel Bleak House, one of the characters, Matthew Bagnet is referred to as Lignum Vitae, “… in compliment to the extreme hardness and toughness of his physiognomy”.

According to T. H. White’s version of the King Arthur story, The Once and Future King, Lignum Vitae, from which the wand / staff of Merlin is made, has magickal powers.  Well, belonging to Merlin, of course it would!

From A Book of Highland Minstrelsy: With illustrations by R. R. M’Ian [1846] – “The Clan Mac Pherson possess a curious relic of the past in a Black Chanter [or flute part of the bagpipe], made of Lignum Vitae, and endowed with magical properties according to tradition.  Its origin is described by Scott in the “Fair Maid of Perth””.

According to Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph [1964], Ironwood pegs would take away toothache.  The patient and a female companion, one whom is unrelated to the patient, would go into the forest with a mallet and an Ironwood peg.  The patient would stand with his or her back against an Ironwood tree whilst the female companion would drive the Ironwood peg into the tree at the exact distance from the ground as is your toothache.

Magickal

Lignum Vitae is an exceptionally powerful magickal wood and has a profoundly positive energy. The overall energy of the wood can be summed up as “the power and strength of goodness.” Its strong connections with the Sun, Jupiter, and luck energy make the wood an ideal tool for any worker of positive magick. The energy about the wood is also very healing, in both physical and spiritual matters. The energies within the wood would also be excellent for divining information from far away as well as close to home.

Being startlingly durable and strong, with a heavy weight and impressive hardness, Lignum Vitae is so dense it can sink in water.  Known by other names, including Guayacan, Greenheart, and Iron Wood, the name Lignum Vitae itself means “wood of life”.  This is perhaps because it is well known as a powerful aid in preserving health and can be a potent component in spells with such an intention. Its sturdy properties are also reflected in the potency it can lend to spells of protection.

This wood represents the end of strife and the beginning of a new, positive, cycle.

Health

Initially, Lignum Vitae wood was transported from the Caribbean to Europe in the form of an extremely valuable remedy for gout as well as the sexually transmitted disease [STD] syphilis. Although a misleading praise, using this wood to treat syphilis was said to be very effective during the 16th century. In effect, the treatment entailed administering large doses of the resin obtained by boiling the Lignum Vitae wood to patients who were covered tightly with plasters from their head-to-toe and subsequently detained in extremely hot rooms for about a month. Throughout the course of the treatment, the patients were provided with very small amount of food. However, besides being given the resin, they were administered big doses of mercury. Whilst several people succumbed to the disease as well as the treatment process, the few who managed to survive were cured of syphilis!

During the current times, scientists have discovered that this resin encloses two very active elements – guaiaconic acid and guaiaretic acid, which are highly effectual anti-inflammatory agents and work as local stimulants. They also possess laxative properties. Owing to their anti-inflammatory attribute, these substances are made use of in pharmaceutical formulations for treating tender throats as well as several inflammatory ailments, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis. In Europe, particularly in Britain, Lignum Vitae is employed in the form of a medication to treat arthritic as well as rheumatic conditions, as the anti-inflammatory attributes of this tree facilitate in providing relief from swelling and joint pains. In addition, Lignum Vitae possesses sweat-inducing, laxative, and diuretic properties. At the same time, Lignum Vitae accelerates the process of eliminating toxic substances and wastes from our body, making it an excellent remedy for gout. The tincture prepared with Lignum Vitae is often used in the form of a friction rub on the areas affected by rheumatic arthritis. In addition, if you are enduring tooth ache, you may dampen cotton wool with the resin exuded by this tree and apply it externally to the affected area to alleviate pain and swelling, if any. At the same time, the decoction prepared with the wood chips of Lignum Vitae works in the form of a local anaesthetic and it is employed not only to cure rheumatic joints but to heal herpes blisters as well.

The wood is known for helping to preserve health, making it great for healing magick when fashioned into a healing wand.

Correspondences

Planetary:  Sun, Jupiter, Venus

Zodiac:  Taurus, Sagittarius

Element:  Earth, Water

Gender:  Male and Female

Powers:  Healing, strength, divination, spirituality and protection

Deity:  Jesus, Jupiter, Venus

Other Names:  Guayacan, Greenheart, Iron Wood, Guaiac, Guaiacum

Many thanks for reading my blog.  I hope you found something helpful to your practise.   Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

The Once and Future King, by T.H. White

A Book of Highland Minstrelsy: With illustrations by R. R. M’Ian [1846]

Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph [1964]

Wikipedia.org

Druidry.org