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

Crystal of the Week, Carnelian

By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Instagram: @thewandcarver

When you hold a Carnelian, you feel you have held the ages in your hand. It is a warm and knowledgeable crystal and it gives you the feeling that it knows you very well. And there is no wonder as to why – Carnelian is known as a stone of motivation and endurance, leadership, and courage; it gives a rush of warmth and joy that lingers.

Carnelian
My Carnelian ~ photo by i.macy

Carnelian is an orange-coloured variety of Chalcedony, a mineral of the Quartz family. Although Its name comes from a Latin word meaning “flesh”, it reminds one more of beautiful sunsets in its reddest hue. The ancient Egyptians called Carnelian “the setting sun” and they considered it the active male energy stone, recognised by its glowing vibrant colour. Whilst Carnelian is mainly a reddish to orange hue, it also comes in pinkish-orange colouration to a deep rusty brown.
Ancient warriors wore Carnelian around their necks for courage and physical power to conquer their enemies. Alchemists of the Middle Ages used it as a boiling stone to activate the energy of other Chalcedonies to transform their energy into useful form. In ancient Egypt, Carnelian was thought to be the stone of form and design worn by master architects, to show their rank of builder. The 29th chapter of the Book of the Dead was engraved on Carnelian, as were many of the body amulets, asking for Isis and other Gods to assure safe passage in their afterlife. Carnelian is said to be the first stone in the breastplate of the High Priest, engraved with the name Reuben; it also garnished the sixth foundation wall for the New Jerusalem.

Magickal:
Carnelian is said to attract prosperity, untapped resources and good luck. It is a talisman for success in any money-making venture. If you have read my blog Free Business and Money Spells. Really you may already know the best day and hour of the week to do a business spell is on a Sunday during the hour of the Sun. In the spell you must create a talisman for drawing wealth to your business. What better crystal for the job than Carnelian? Apart from perhaps Sunstone. But I suggest Carnelian as it has money, wealth, and luck drawing powers.

Carnelian is also a fierce protection stone. It is traditionally known to guard against falling masonry and accidents with tools. And, it guards the home from theft, fire, storm or accident. If you have a friend / loved one working in any kind of building of homes or businesses, gift them with a piece of Carnelian jewellery or just a few tumblestones to carry in their pockets. I would also suggest for home protection to have a small glass bowl filled with some small, inexpensive pieces of Carnelian to set in your Health and Well-being area of your home, which in Feng Shui is the centre of your home. These will offer over-all protection for your family, pets, and home. If needs must and you can’t set the bowl in centre of house, perhaps you can attach a tumblestone to a short cord to suspend from ceiling.

Orange and red Carnelian are important crystals to use for love, and for the consummation of love. Orange crystals, particularly, are fertility and potency symbols and are linked with conceiving a child. Carnelian of either colour may help in rekindling passions that might have faded in an otherwise loving relationship.

In ancient times, Carnelian was believed to give the wearer courage in battle and to help timid speakers become both eloquent and bold. Today the same holds true for Carnelian is also called the Stone of Courage and the Singer’s Stone. Carnelian clarifies the voice and gives confidence to the person on stage, whether they are there to sing or to give a speech.

Healing:
Carnelian is full of the life force, stimulating metabolism and a good supply of blood to the organs and tissues. It influences the reproductive organs of both sexes, and increases fertility, overcoming frigidity and impotence. It aids in menstrual and menopausal symptoms and may aid in vitro and artificial insemination.

It benefits in the absorption of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals in the small intestine, and improves blood viscosity and circulation. It helps reduce congestion, phlebitis, varicose veins and haemorrhoids, as well as boils and skin irritations. Carnelian accelerates scarification and heals nosebleeds. However, if these recur, consult a doctor.

It helps heal lower back problems, rheumatism, arthritis, neuralgia, and accelerates healing in bones and ligaments. It aids the relief of depression, especially in those of advanced years.

It provides excellent support for detoxifying from alcohol or other drugs, breaking bad physical habits, and for improving overall health in general.

Please never use information from this blog or anywhere online to self-diagnose or treat your symptoms without seeing a doctor first. Many symptoms can be the same for many different diseases – some may not be serious whilst others are very serious and may need serious medical treatment.

Carnelian is a stabilising crystal, perfect for anchoring in the present. Its high energy helps restore lost vitality and motivation and stimulates creativity for new pursuits. It improves concentration and removes extraneous thoughts in daydreamers, and during meditation. This stone also protects against envy, rage, and resentment – yours, or from others, and encourages a love of life. It is useful for overcoming abuse of any kind, helping you to trust yourself and your perceptions.

Carnelian alleviates jealousy and possessiveness in relationships, and is helpful in overcoming sexual anxieties, and eating disorders. It is also beneficial with male mid-life crisis.

The reddish-orange Carnelian is the stone of the Sacral Chakra. Gut feelings, intuition, and other “non-linear” communication comes from this chakra. When it is out of balance the symptoms will manifest themselves as confusion, over dependency on others, repression of feelings, inability to feel joy, fear of sensuality or sex, and frustration. When it is in balance you have grace, feel pleasure in life, find you are flexible and can “go with the flow” and do so in good spirit. Darker shades of Carnelian are helpful to the Base Chakra and the pink shades resonate with the Heart Chakra.

Carnelian is always a good crystal to have near when you read Tarot or cast runes…or even pendulum dowsing.


Correspondences:
Planet: Mars
Zodiac: Aries
Element: Fire
Gender: Masculine
Powers: Healing, Courage, Intuition, Protection, Money, Luck, Love, Fertility
Chakras: Sacral [Base and Heart depending on stone colour]
Deity: Isis, Ra
Other Names: The Singer’s Stone, the Stone of Courage

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

Sources:
Robert Simmons & Naisha Ahsian, The Book of Stones (Berkley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2007
Cassandra Eason, The New Crystal Bible, London: Carlton Books Ltd., 2010
Judy Hall, The Crystal Bible, Cincinnati, OH: Walking Stick Press, 2003
Judy Hall, The Crystal Bible 2, Cincinnati, OH: Walking Stick Press, 2009
George Frederick Kunz, The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, New York: Dover Publications, 1971

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!

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