From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Butchers Broom

By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Instagram: @thewandcarver

In the 17th century, the English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper used Butcher’s Broom to help the healing of fractured bones. And it has been used in medicine ever since for a variety of reasons, one most important reason is as an anti-inflammatory drug. Butcher’s Broom is a shrub naturalised to England/UK, growing wild all over Europe and northern Asia and found growing happily wherever there is sandy soil. It is found natively in the Mediterranean, Iran, the Azores islands and parts of Africa. And now, Box Holly has become sparsely naturalised in North America, wherever there is sandy soil, I am sure. But I am here to dig up some magick on the fabulous Butcher’s Broom [box holly].

Butchers Broom
photo from artimondo.co.uk

Magickal:
Butchers Broom – or my favourite, Knee-Holly, is used in protection charms. You may use it in any way you like. I find using the woodiest part in making protection incense may not be to everybody’s olfactory preference but the smoke calms one and it calms the animals in your home. The incense is also extremely good whilst divining by tarot, runes, pendulum, or any other forms of divination as it helps you to access your psychic powers as well as helps you stay calm and focused. The dried leaves are good to use in poppets, witch bottles, and sachets for protection as well as drawing healing and psychic powers to you.

To raise the wind: Take a small handful of Butchers Broom twigs and toss them into the air.

To calm the wind: Burn a small handful of twigs and scatter the ashes into the wind.

Remember – intent is everything in magick.

To Banish: Make a small altar besom from Butchers Broom. Write on a piece of paper what it is you want to banish from your life that you feel is holding you back. Burn small twigs of Butchers Broom in a cauldron along with your piece of paper until ash. Use your Butchers Broom besom to stir the ashes anti-clockwise whilst thinking of how this problem will leave you in peace. Naturally, make sure the ashes are cold first! Then, go outside and face North, get a few ashes on the “broom” part of the besom and blow them off, then East, etc. You can add your own words to this by saying something after each turn that will tell the Universe what your intentions are or just think them. If any ash is left afterwards, simply tip it out on the ground and give it a stamp with your foot imagining yourself free of your hindrance. So mote it be!

Butchers Broom dried
My dried Butcher’s Broom ~ photo by i.macy

Medicinal:
Not throwing caution to the wind [pun intended] but I shall say now: If you have high blood pressure, do NOT use Butcher’s Broom in healing yourself or others unless by sympathetic healing. Do not ingest.

In addition, it’s possible that butcher’s broom may interact with blood pressure medications and stimulant medications. So, if you’re taking either of these, you should probably avoid butcher’s broom.

From Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpepper:

For the Wrist Drop, and for the maw or belly, take two cups full of the ooze of this wort, which is named victoriola, and by another name, Knee Holly; administer it [to the patient] to drink fasting mixed with honey; soon it diminishes the wrist drop.

Additionally, English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper prescribed butcher’s broom to heal fractured bones, taken both orally and made into a poultice over the break. I should think we have come a long way since Mr Culpepper wrote this in his Complete Herbal, which by the way, is as useful today as ever, back in the 17th century.

Butcher’s broom is used for haemorrhoids, gallstones, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and for symptoms of poor blood circulation such as pain, heaviness, leg cramps, leg swelling, varicose veins, itching, and swelling. Butcher’s broom is also used as a laxative, as a diuretic to increase urine output, reduce swelling, and speed the healing of fractures. The root is the main part used in healing, however, the leaves and woody stems are also boiled into tinctures, teas, and poultices for external use.

Today, Butcher’s Broom is known most widely for the way it benefits the circulatory system, especially for those with orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure when going from sitting to standing) and chronic venous insufficiency.

In some cultures, the roots are eaten in much the same way as asparagus.

There are several ways to get the benefits of Butcher’s Broom. Many people take it in supplement form, which can be found in pills, oils, and creams. As mentioned earlier, some people eat Butcher’s Broom roots like they would asparagus, although it smells and tastes much more pungent and bitter than asparagus.

Correspondences:

Gender:  Masculine

Planetary: Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury [primarily Mars]

Powers: Healing, Wind spells, Divination, Protection, Psychic Powers, Banishing

Element: Air and Fire

Astrological: Aries, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Pisces

Day: Tuesday and Thursday

Deity: Jupiter, Mars, Amon, Ares

Other Names: Box Holly, Sweet Broom, Knee-Holm, Petti-gree, Victoriola, Euscus, Knee-Holly, Kneehulver, Bruscus

Many thanks for taking the time to read our blog! We hope you’ve enjoyed it and hopefully learned new things. If so, please like our blog, give us a follow and share via the various buttons below. Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England, by Thomas Oswald Cockayne, 1857 ~ A collection of documents, for the most part never before printed, illustrating the Science of this country before the Norman conquest

The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpepper – reprint 1987 from 17th century

Wikipedia.org

Experience

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Mullein

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Another fabulous wort you can use for free if you’re a mind to go wild-crafting is the wonderful Mullein. Yes, I know, any herb can be wild-crafted if you know what you’re looking for and if it is in somewhat plentiful supply where you live, but not all plants are. Mullein is easily found in Asia, Europe, and is a naturalised citizen of the United States when it was brought…as many plants and trees were…over on the ships of the early European and British settlers. Do be certain to ask permission if you find Mullein growing all around in your neighbour’s lawn…as it is a weed, after all, he or she may not mind, but don’t go helping yourself unless they say it’s alright.

photo by Sihiri Magical Market ~ sihiri.co.uk

Mullein has a very shallow root therefore it will be easy to pull out of the ground. Tie up by the roots and hang in a cool, dry place to let it dry out appropriately, but place something underneath to catch the seeds. Either use them or dispose of them properly or you’ll find your lawn overrun with Mullein in time should they get swept outdoors. The little fuzzy hairs which cover every inch of a Mullein plant are very irritating to the skin and mucus membranes. Use care when collecting, and always strain liquids with Mullein in them very well to remove the little hairs before ingesting.

Growing Mullein is easy enough and its little yellow flowers attract butterflies and bees. The flowers can also be boiled to make a bright yellow dye for fabrics. If you add sulfuric acid, it will turn the dye green and if you add an alkali it will turn the dye brown.

Mullein can be used in candle crafting as well. You can use it as the wick! According to Indian lore [I am assuming this is regarding Native Americans] Burning a stalk of Mullein protects against evil and magic.

Magickal Uses:
Whereas a spell calls for graveyard dirt and you are not able to procure dirt from a graveyard by any reason, you can grind and powder Mullein as an excellent substitute. Despite the many folk names for Mullein, it is, in magick, known as Hecate’s Torch or Lucifer’s Torch, as well; it is representational of the Crossroads. It is one of the nine herbs and resins we use in our Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace which I originally created to use in my travels as a hedgewitch, because of its encouragement of manifestations of spirits, to see into Otherworld, and likewise commune with those who dwell there. If you like to create your own candles for your spell work, you could truly enhance riding the hedge by creating a candle using either a stalk or the leaf of Mullein as the wick.

Mullein can also be used for prophetic dreaming and astral travel whilst asleep, drink a cup of “Dreamer’s Tea” before going to sleep which is 2 parts Mullein flowers, 1-part Poppy flower, 1-part Mugwort, and 2 parts Spearmint. To aid divination by tarot, runes, ogham, or pendulum, you can either drink the Dreamer’s Tea or you may use a loose incense with Mullein. We have been working on a Necromancer’s incense blend recently which we’ll sell in our shop soon.

Mullein is also useful in preventing nightmares and is always protective of the dreamer. I love a sachet of Mullein and Lavender under my pillow for such a purpose. I don’t think I have nightmares, as such, but there are the odd nights when I have dreams that are not prophetic, nor astral travel-related…they are just unpleasant things that must be coming from my subconscious for some peculiar reason or other. I find the sachet quite relaxing and protective on those nights.

Medicinal Use:
Mullein is an excellent colds and coughs medicine as it loosens phlegm, is an expectorant whilst soothing the cough at the same time. The tea is also mildly sedating which helps you to relax and rest – which is one of the main things needed when you have a bad cold. If you are using fresh Mullein, be sure to strain through a cloth or cloth bag before drinking so the tiny hairs won’t go into your tea. Not to advocate smoking, but…I have read many times that smoking Mullein is excellent for sufferers of asthma and chronic cough. It’s best to roll it using a cigarette machine so you can use the filtered paper. Once again, you don’t want the tiny hairs getting into your throat and lungs making things worse. For earache or any inner ear troubles, it is recommended to make a tincture of Mullein and garlic then use a few drops in each ear. It can also be used to treat ear mites in animals. Make an infusion of Mullein for treating frostbite and burns.

Correspondences:
Planet: Mercury [Agrippa] or Saturn [Culpepper]
Gender: Feminine
Deity: Jupiter, Hecate, Lucifer
Element: Fire
Other Names: Common Mullein, Great Mullein, White Mullein, Woolly Mullein, Torches, Mullein Dock, Our Lady’s Flannel, Velvet Dock, Blanket Herb, Velvet Plant, Woolen Rag, Woolen, Rag Paper, Candlewick Plant, Wild Ice Leaf, Clown’s Lungwort, Bullocks Lungwort, Aaron’s Rod, Adam’s Rod, Jupiter’s Staff, Jacob’s Staff, Peter’s Staff, Shepherd’s Staff, Shepherd’s Clubs, Beggar’s Stalk, Golden Rod, Adam’s Flannel, Beggar’s Blanket, Clot, Cuddy’s Lungs, Duffle, Feltwort, Fluffweed, Hare’s Beard, Old Man’s Flannel, Flannel Flower, Beggar’s Flannel, Hag’s Taper, Hedge Taper, King’s Taper, Candelaria, Quaker Rouge, Graveyard Dirt, Devil’s Tobacco, Miner’s Candle, Ice Leaf, White Man’s Footsteps, Witches Candles, Witches Taper

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this blog and find it useful, please share it on Facebook, Pinterest, or by any of the useful buttons below. It’s my pleasure to share this with you! Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Witchipedia.org
Experience
The Old English Herbals, By Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

Blessed and Happy Yuletide 2021 and Winter Solstice

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Ah, the dark half of the year is slowly ending and what better way to celebrate than Yule? Yes, we still have some dark weeks ahead but only about half what we began with on Samhain… now if we watch carefully, we shall notice that the days get ever so slightly longer each week once we peak on the 21st of December, the first day of Yule [Auld English, ġēol] and the day of Winter Solstice, our longest night of the year.

What would our ancestors have been doing this night? That entirely depends on which ancestors. Our most recent ones [the last 500 years’ worth] would likely be ignoring Yule mostly [whilst not bearing in mind most of their Christmas ‘traditions’ were born from Pagan Yule] instead speaking of Christmas food, going to church, planning festivities to welcome again the birth of the Christ child. Yule is very much a celebration of birth as well – the rebirth of light and sunshine. Jesus is often called “the Light and the Way” by Christians. These two concepts go hand in hand this time of year yet separately.

But what would our ancestors be doing this night 500+ years ago? In England and surrounding countries, many families, Christian or Pagan, would be dragging in a great Yule log to burn in their largest fireplace – Christians were very much a part of this holdover tradition from their Pagan pasts.

The Yule Log – originally a Scottish tradition from the Norsemen

There may have been weddings planned at this time. Another long-held but eventually dissolved practise was that of handfasting by the Catholic church.  Along with the formal Christian wedding ceremony there was also a handfasting, from the Old Norse handfesta meaning “to strike a bargain by joining hands” between the wedded couple. This presumably was dissolved after all the Saxon-Dane conflict was eventually resolved in England. 

Much decoration was done in homes all over the British Isles and Germany [and likely everywhere].  We can thank the Germanic people, the Saxons, for introducing us to the joys of decorating and feasting during Yule.  Long before the Danes decided to embark upon our shores, the Saxons came and apart from some fighting now and then, they taught us so much regarding this lovely Sabbat.  This is not to mean we did not already have traditions, but we did learn more. I mean, nobody knew Yule like the Saxons! When they fully embraced Christianity, they fully embraced Christmas like no other, as well. We would likely have never had Christmas trees had it not been for the Germanic people.

Twelve days of….

This is where all the fun happened No matter if you lived in  500 AD or 1500 AD, or even later, the 12 days of Yule or Christmas were the best! Some early Pagan countries only celebrated Yule for three days or “until the ale ran out” according to the Norse text, Heimskringla. Still, a good time was had by all, unless, of course, you were one of those being sacrificed.  A lot of that went on in Pagan culture, however, the eating, drinking, and making merry went on with the living. Luckily, more animals were sacrificed than people and the slaughtered animals fed the community; of course, plates full were left for the gods as well.

Medieval style hanging holly, ivy and mistletoe decoration

No work was allowed during the 12 days of Yule or Christmas.  In the run up to the Yule celebrations, now beginning on roughly the 21st of December and the Christmas celebrations on the 25th, the men and women of a village worked tirelessly to prepare. Women made candles, took inventory of how much grain they could use from their stores for pastries, loaves of bread and pies. They made extra ale and often the menfolk were made use of decorating the homes.  Especially when the huge double ring bedecked with ribbons, holly, ivy, and mistletoe needed to be hung from the centre of the ceiling in the main room. Baking and preparing food began well ahead to ensure everything was ready.  And, of course, the men of each household, brought much joy to their families by dragging home the huge Yule log for the fire which was to hopefully last 12 nights.  These activities were generally the same for both Pagan and Christians alike. The biggest difference being that the Pagans got a four day head start and their Twelfth Night ended on around the 31st of December or 1 January. I should say nearly every year as the calendars were not always in congruence with each other in olden days.  The Christian Twelfth Night is always on 6th January.

How will you spend your 12 days?

Are you the one who is lucky enough to live where you can drag a huge Yule log home to burn for twelve nights? Or perhaps you enjoy baking bread and brewing ale…I hope that everyone will be able to spend their Yule or Christmas in a traditional way as much as possible. Mostly, I hope you can spend it with family – safely. Almost everywhere has spent at least one Yule or Christmas in lockdown. But that was before vaccines.  Now that we have them, although not perfect, I hope you will join me in getting yours soon. 

Tudor style breads and pies

My daughters and I wish you the blessing of light and a very happy Yule. To our Christian friends, we wish you a very Happy Christmas.  To all, we wish a gloriously Happy New Year and to Scotland, Happy Hogmanay 2022! And, as always, warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

See you next year!

Beannachdan na Samhna dha na h-uile

By Isabellla  @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Or, in English, Samhain blessings to all.  I am feeling my Scottish roots deeply this year as I have spent the better part of the last three weeks working through that genealogical branch in my family tree.  I had always grown up believing the prevalence of Scottish ancestry grew through my maternal grandfather’s lineage but as it happens, the Scots brightly adorn both halves of my family tree – and for many, many generations to boot! Then, let us have a Scottish little Samhain!

What about Halloween?

Most of us know the word Halloween is a version of Hallow’s Eve. But are you aware that Halloween originally has Scottish beginnings? The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, or summer’s end. Summer represented the living world [along with Spring, it is the light half of the year] and the dark half of the year begins  31st October.  It was – and is still – believed that spirits of the dead roamed about freely on this night and it was believed that children must be dressed to conceal their youth from these dark entities. What better way to do this than to dress up like the so-called evil spirits themselves so they could blend in?

from Google images, unknown

On this night of merry-making and scary acts [more from children than evil entities!] the way from house to house would invariably be lit by little neep lanterns.  What is a neep lantern, you ask? Well… you know the vegetable as a swede in England or a turnip in Ireland and if you’re in France, it would be called rutabaga.  Neeps were, and are, carved out and a candle placed inside just the same as is a pumpkin in America.  Personally, I think the neep lanterns are much scarier looking! I love them! A jack-o’-lantern [or jack o’lantern, US spelling] is a carved pumpkin, turnip, or other root vegetable lantern, commonly associated with the Halloween holiday. Its name comes from the reported phenomenon of strange lights flickering over peat bogs, called will-o’-the-wisps [England] or jack-o’-lanterns [Ireland].  Jack-o’-lanterns carved from pumpkins are a yearly Halloween tradition that went to the United States with Irish immigrants.

For all the “guising” that went on in Scotland through a few centuries, the American “Halloween” as is now known in the UK did not latch on fully until the last couple or so decades. Long before Halloween, in Scotland children and adults would go “doukin’ for apples”.  I’m sure that will cause a lot of laughter from across the pond, but the word “douk” as it happens means “to plunge, to dip, to bathe”.  Of course, most of you probably use the word as it is described from the urban dictionary.  Not so nice a connotation indeed! Still, the practise arose most likely from the fact that the ancient Celts held apples as sacred.

Samhain and the protection of fire

Returning to Samhain, large bonfires were an integral part not only of celebrations but also that of protection and were lit in each village to ward off any evil spirits. All home hearth fires would be extinguished then re-lit from the flames of the great bonfire. Sometimes, two bonfires would be built side by side, and the people—sometimes with their livestock—would walk between them as a cleansing ritual. The bones of slaughtered cattle were said to have been cast upon bonfires.

The bonfires were used in divination rituals, although not all divination involved fire. In 18th century Ochtertyre, Scotland a ring of stones—one for each person—was laid round the fire, perhaps on a layer of ash. Everyone then ran round it with a torch, “exulting”. In the morning, the stones were examined and if any was mislaid it was said that the person it represented would not live out the year.

Samhain was mainly seen as a liminal time when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the aos sí, the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’ [the little folk], could more easily come into our world. Many scholars see the aos sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. At Samhain, it was believed that the aos sí needed to be mollified to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink would be left outside for the aos sí, and portions of the crops might be left in the ground for them.

The dead were also honoured at Samhain. The beginning of winter may have been seen as the most fitting time to do so, as it was a time of ‘dying’ in nature. The souls of the dead were thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Places were set at the dinner table and by the fire to welcome them. The belief that the souls of the dead return home on one night of the year and must be appeased seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures throughout the world. It is the very night I use most for hedge walking and visitation with my ancestors and to honour them. The result of which is always gratifying.  I hope they feel the same.

Halloween celebrations names in other countries and areas include:

Wales –  Calan Gaeaf

Isle of Man – Hop-tu-Naa

Cornwall – Allantide

No matter how you celebrate Samhain this year, please do so safely and responsibly.  Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x  Beannachdan na Samhna dha na h-uile!

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