From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Dittany of Crete

By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Instagram: @thewandcarver

So, last week we wrote about how Elm [please keep in mind this blog was written three years ago at a different time in the year] was very much a love tree so keeping along those lines whilst springtime still has many thinking of love, what do you know about Dittany of Crete? Most would probably say “astral projection” and you would be quite right! But, it is also a love herb!

dittany of crete
Dittany of Crete ~ Courtesy of Google Images

Dittany of Crete hails from the Mediterranean and grows wild only on the Aegean isle of Crete. It is a small and fuzzy perennial, with beautiful pink flowers that appear in the summer. In Cretan tradition, it symbolises love and is thought to be an aphrodisiac. The local name for Dittany is “Erontas,” referencing Eros. It grows only in the most inconvenient places— on the sides of cliffs and gorges. If a young man wished to truly prove his love to a young woman, he would “climb any mountain” [wondering now if that is where that line from the song came from?] to gather a bouquet of the fragrant herb to present to her. As the legend goes, these young men were known as “Erondades” [love-seekers]. To obtain a bouquet of Dittany, it was said, you had to truly be in love. I only hope they were met with satisfactory results!

Warnings come with many of my writings, therefore, I feel this one must come early on – Beware the sellers of Dittany of Crete. It is best to buy directly, however, there are a few reliable re-sellers. It is a very, very expensive herb. I have seen some unreliable types on certain venues selling everyday Oregano for Dittany. Yes, they are technically cousins, but they are far from being the same. Do your research before buying.

Magickal

It is said if you burn Dittany on a charcoal disc along with Dragon’s Blood resin and stare at the rising smoke, you will see the face of your intended love. This same incense can be used to spice up a stale love life in the bedroom. You can make love poppets or sachets with the herb along with lavender and other herbs which encourage love. In European folk magick, Dittany is regarded as a consummate love herb. Feeding it to your intended is supposed to cause them to fall irretrievably in love with you.

Dittany of Crete dried
My dried Dittany of Crete ~ photo by i.macy

Dittany is perfect for manifestations of spirits when burned as incense. It can be mixed with equal parts of vanilla, benzoin and sandalwood to make an astral projection incense. It is believed to produce spirit manifestations in its smoke. Soon we will be offering a Samhain Hedge Rider Incense in our Etsy Shop for this purpose. All I can say now is that it won’t be as simple a recipe as the one above and will have not only the ability to travel through the veil but to be protected whilst there as well.
The leaves can not only be burned as incense but can also be burned in the All Hallow’s Eve fire when seeking communication for wisdom from the other side. Dittany is associated with the Underworld and is related to Persephone, Orris and other deities who assist with transport into that realm.

For divination, Dittany can help with the activation of your Third Eye, and it has a traditional use in its ability to help manifest our psychic vision. You can make a poultice of the leaves to rub on your Third Eye or use a Dittany of Crete Oil. Fresh Dittany can be used to make an infusion with a basic oil such as olive oil or sunflower oil.

According to Scott Cunningham, the “juice of Dittany” will drive away venomous beasts, so rub it on your body before entering their domains.” I’m guessing that applies to mossies or any kind of biting or stinging pest. And, as far as I know, perhaps it extends to snakes and the like as well. Personally, I just prefer to stay far and away from the realm of venomous beasties!

Healing

dittany-of-crete
Dittany of Crete ~ HerbalGreece.com

Dittany of Crete has been used in times past as an external poultice for wounds and bruises. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties due to the phenol carvacrol. Nowadays it is used for digestive tract disorders including cramps, stomach problems, and worms in the intestines. It is also used for urinary tract and genital tract disorders. A beverage of this herb relieves headaches and neuralgia. Other uses include treatment of epilepsy, spasms, fluid retention, and liver diseases. Please consult with your GP before attempting to diagnose and heal yourself at home. There may be more serious illness at hand than you would know of.

Correspondences:

Planetary: Mercury and Venus
Zodiac: Libra and Gemini
Gender: Masculine and Feminine
Element: Air and Water
Powers: Divination, Manifestation, Love, Astral Projection, Protection
Sabbat: Samhain
Deity: Eros, Venus, Mercury, Artemis, Persephone, Zeus
Other Names: Hop Marjoram, Erontas, Hop Plant

“A branch of healing dittany she brought, Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought: Rough is the stem, which woolly leafs surround; The leafs with flow’rs, the flow’rs with purple crown’d” From Virgil’s Aeneid

Many thanks to all who read this and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Experience
Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Wikipedia.org
Herbalgreece.com

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Nettle

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Nettle at Clerk Hill, Whaley, Lancashire ~ photo by wildflowerfinder.org,uk

Nettle is one of those “weeds”/herbs/worts which almost everybody has in their cabinet, I believe. Even the non-witchy community love Nettle tea for what ails them. And, like Yarrow, it is practically free to use if you live in Europe or the Western United States as it tends to grow quite wild if not maintained.  For those knowing their plants, wild-gathering is the optimal way of having most of what you need in your wort cabinet. For the rest, there are plentiful ways of buying Nettle…dried, fresh, freeze-dried, even in pill and liquid form. Why do we need Nettle in our lives? For everything!

Nettle is full of vitamin C and iron. It makes a fabulous soup stock and steamed Nettle leaves are a great little side for the main course of your meal. Of course, there is always the famed Nettle tea, so as you can see, it has many uses in the kitchen, and more that I don’t even know about, I’m sure. Of course, before you decide to make a Nettle salad, you must know about the plant a little because those leaves, if not properly prepared, can do more harm than good. You have heard of Stinging Nettle, I am sure, and that is where the “sting” comes from – the leaves. The leaves and stems are covered with tiny stingers made of silica, like glass, and they break off into your skin when touched, unleashing their chemicals which can cause a nasty allergic reaction. I have not forgotten my first run-in with Nettle at about the age of 4 as Nana gathered it for her kitchen. I must have not noticed that she had thick, heavy gloves on instead of the little woolly ones like mine, so I tried to help. Pulling those little woolly gloves off doubled the agony, believe me. Therefore, please only use thick, heavy gloves and cover yourself well whilst wild-gathering Nettle.

Another household use, if you are so inclined, is to spin yarn or thread from the inner fibres of the stems. I know nothing of spinning yarn and thread apart from what I may have seen in films and television, but apparently, the people of Denmark once used it to create burial shrouds and the Native American people used it for fishing nets. It is said to be a very soft fabric when woven and a very strong thread or rope when used singularly. The all-round usefulness of Nettle doesn’t end there – a green dye can be made from its leaves and stems to dye the fabric you create from the Nettle itself.

But what about Magick?? Oh, alright 😊

Magickal Uses:
Long ago, a bundle of Nettle were placed under a person’s sickbed to induce their good health and healing. People believed putting things under beds was somehow a good thing to do, such as laying a knife under the bed of a woman in labour to reduce her pain. I know the knife didn’t work for me, but I could not say about the bundle of Nettle under one’s bed. Would never hurt to try! You can return to sender or reverse a curse with Nettle by using it in a poppet. Carry a sachet filled with Nettle for protection. Hang Nettle around your home or sprinkle it around, if in dried form, to ward off evil and to give general home protection. As Nettle is also believed to ward off lightning strikes, this can also be beneficial in that aspect. Nettle is always my first go-to for protection use and it is the first herb I put into our Protection witch bottles.

Medicinal:
Because of Nettle’s considerable amounts of iron, it is a good wort for those with anaemia. Word of caution: If you are going to drink Nettle tea to discourage your iron deficiency, be sure to not continue taking iron tablets. Too much iron can cause more problems than deficiency can. It is best to use the fresh leaves and not the dried herb, although there are still health benefits to the dried herb. Fresh is always best. Nettle tea is also an excellent diuretic.

Nettle is another wort that is very useful to staunch the flow of blood from a wound, much like Yarrow. As a matter of fact, Nettle and Yarrow seem to go hand-in-hand in many concoctions and decoctions for health and magickal purposes. Topically, a poultice of nettle leaf can be used to soothe the heat and inflammation associated with burns.

Correspondences:
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mars
Zodiac: Scorpio
Element: Fire
Powers: Consecration, Exorcism, Healing, Lust, Protection, Anti-Sorcery, Hex Breaking, Uncrossing
Other Names: Stinging Nettle, Sting Weed, Common Nettle
Deity: Apollo, Freya, Hecate, Ra, Thor

Many thanks for reading, please share if you enjoyed, and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:stinging-nettle
Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham
The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde
Experience

Wort Cunning…What is it?

Originally posted 09/01/2018 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Recently I was asked this question. I must remember that not everybody knows the old English/Welsh/Irish/Scottish words for things. To be fair, neither do I in some circumstances, but wort cunning is a very familiar occupation to me. To put it plainly, it is working with herbs and plants. That is the very simplest explanation, but it very slightly scratches the surface. Wort is an old English word for herbs and useful plants. Cunning is the art of working with herbs/plants [or anything] for the purposes of healing/leechdom, charming, protecting, and binding.

Still, this doesn’t fully explain, however, at least now we’re mostly all on the same page. To be a successful wort cunner it takes many years of study – reading and working with herbs and plants, trial and error; in truth, it is an ongoing, life-long mission. If you are fortunate, you might have a cunning parent or grandparent who can teach you much along the way. I was very fortunate to have my Nana for the first 22 years of my life to at least get me started in the right direction. I’m forty-plus years past that now and still learning.

I’m not trying to teach you how to suck eggs here. There are so many reading this who already have a fantastic working knowledge of wort cunning and the ones just starting out would do well to buy a few good books, grow some herbs, and get stuck into your learning experience. What I do want to point out is, just buying and growing herbs successfully, reading a couple of good books, does not a wort cunner make. You must learn when to plant and harvest, chants to say during planting, during harvest, whilst preparing for whatever purpose you have in mind, and other mysteries. That is if you want the best results.

from Google images

If you don’t have a wort cunner in the family, then what? It’s alright. The old ones didn’t, either. In many cases, the ones we’ve learned from as the information was handed down through word of mouth and if we’re lucky, published in books, simply made it up as they went, in a way. You wild-gather some plants or herbs…or buy little cups of baby herbs or seeds and plant them. Find out the right time of year to plant…the right planetary hour and day to plant and to harvest…care for them, and watch them grow. Read everything you can about the correspondences of the herbs and plants, such as their element[s], planetary correspondence, deities, zodiac. Also, read what each is or has been used for what problem by others. A very useful first book of herbs is Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, 1985. It not only has herbs listed in it but also has a great deal of woods, flowers, and other plant life which have magickal powers. Another informative book to have on your bookshelf is a yearly Almanac. An Almanac is vital for those who are planning to grow all their own herbs and plants for your practise. Then, you must decide your reasons for working with the herbs and plants you’ve chosen…are you interested in herbal healing? What about herbal charms? Protections and binding magick? You may delve into as many reasons as you like for wort cunning but it’s always best to stick to one line of endeavour and see it through in the end.

Spoilt for Choice?

It is also useful to think about what kind of magickal herbalism you’re most interested in such as English folk magick…or Asian healing…perhaps you’re more into Voodoo or Hoodoo or Native American conjures. I hope you can understand that I don’t wish to tell you that you absolutely must do one or the other, you can do as you please, however, it is easier to pick a path and walk it well rather than hopping from here to there until you are no longer interested at all. In the beginning, you might have to try a few different paths to “find yourself”, but do keep in mind you will do best at one path in the long run.

Personally, I am not at all familiar with anything apart from English folk magick. I never had to make a choice, but I also don’t feel the choice was made for me…it’s just what I naturally evolved to which probably and most certainly was influenced by my ancestry. I am sure there are many reading this who are following a path for much the same reasons as mine. Still, there will be those who will need to try a bit of this and that ’til they know what they lean toward, and that is fine.

In Medieval times immense importance was placed on the rituals surrounding the gathering of herbs or plants for a “spell” and there were ones for everything imaginable whether it was for a protection, a charm to prevent or cure evil, or healing…in those days known as “leechdom”, a forerunner of what we know as medicine or holistic healing these days. If you delve into the old English herbal lore you will see that word a lot. If you can, order a copy of two of my favourite books concerning Medieval healing/leechdom. One is The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922 [last new publication in 2011] and Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England: Being a Collection of Documents Illustrating the History of Science in this Country Before the Norman Conquest, edited by Thomas Oswald Cockayne [Vol I, II, and III]. You will see for yourself how dedicated the old ones were in ritualising the very cutting of a herb or plant and how it all worked together to make the intended outcome “be well with him” as is often said of the “patient’s” health after the leech was finished.

A little example of what I mean by ritual, this excerpt is from my copy of The Old English Herbals:
Of periwinkle: “This wort is of good advantage for many purposes, that is to say first against devil sickness and demonical possessions and against snakes and wild beasts and against poisons and for various wishes and for envy and for terror and that thou mayst have grace, and that thou hast the wort with thee thou shalt be prosperous and ever acceptable. This wort thou shalt pluck thus, saying, ‘I pray thee, vinca pervinca thee that art to be had for many useful qualities, that thou come to me glad blossoming with thy mainfulness, that thou outfit me so that I be shielded and ever prosperous and undamaged by poisons and by water;’ when thou shalt pluck this wort thou shall be clean of every uncleanness, and thou shalt pick it when the moon is nine nights old and eleven nights and when it is one night old’.

This is a short example whereas some take several paragraphs with very descriptive instructions such as the day to begin the ritual, telling the cunner to sing the Benedicite and Pater Noster [clearly a Catholic cunner!], how to harvest the wort by “sticking thy knife into work, fast and go away”, go to the church and cross thyself, go in silence not speaking to no man, the sing the Benedicite and Pater Noster again, as well as a litany…and so on. It seems it could literally take a month in some cases to gather, enchant, then make the charm, poultice, salve, or whatever the case may be for!

Mind, these days we have learned to pare down our rituals for such things and everyone has their own way of enchanting their herbs and plants. Some Christo-Pagan witches might still sing a litany over their work, for all I know but most of us do not. You will find as you go that you will perhaps use things others have done and you will also start your own ways. Just like the old wort cunners of the past, we tend to stick to the methods which give us the results we need. And, like them, we should keep strict notes on what we have done and how it worked.

I hope this has answered a few questions and if not, please feel free to contact me. Most of all, I hope I have not confused anyone more than they were! Best of luck in your wort cunning and warmest blessings to all home this way wander x

Sources:

Experience

The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922

Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England: Being a Collection of Documents Illustrating the History of Science in this Country Before the Norman Conquest, edited by Thomas Oswald Cockayne [Vol I, II, and III]

Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham, 1985

Love Spells

First posted on 05/02/2014 by Isabella via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Image

The 14th of February is nearing;  love is in the air…new beginnings are beckoning. Imbolc has arrived with the promise of Spring soon-to-come and not only are little seedlings stirring in the Earth, awaiting their birth into a sunny World, but the stirrings of passion in our hearts is making many folk – at least those who aren’t in relationships – want to take action.  Is it any wonder that at this time of year I get more requests for love spells than at any other time of the year?

Before we go any further, I don’t do love spells.  I don’t recommend them at all.  I really burned myself several years ago by doing a love spell for myself (and I don’t mean that I burned myself on a candle!).  I really, really thought he was THE one and I would do anything, within reason, to ensure he wanted to be with me as well.  So…a simple little candle spell done and 7 years later, I was still trying to get AWAY from him.  Oh yes, the candle spell worked a treat.  In fact, too well! Problem was, I couldn’t end it when it was physically necessary to do so.  I have always known that every spell needs a “get out” clause, but in candle magick I rarely think to do so.  I’ve only just finished scrapping the rot from that relationship from my boots and it’s been over 10 years gone. But..you really want love and I’m here to help .

I’m not going to put a spell into anyone’s hands that is intended for the attraction/love of one specific person only.  It would be tantamount to handing a suicidal person a noose.  Either way, someone is going to be hurt badly.  My recommendation is to anyone wishing to find love and needing a bit of a hand with that from the Universe is this:

1.  Make a list – list all the qualities you feel you want most from a future partner.  Not just how you would like the partner to treat you, but be so specific that you choose the colour of his or her eyes, if you like. Take your time writing this list, add to it, take away from it, but before you go any further with your spellwork, be absolutely certain that everything on your list is complete and to your liking.  DO NOT give this person a name.  You are NOT wishing for a certain person, only the sort of person you want to attract. However, being dead specific is the only way the Universe is to know exactly what you want in your future partner.

2.  Sleep with this list under your pillow for a week along with a small pouch filled with dried or fresh rose buds, lavender, and vervain.  All 3 herbs are coincidentally for love, however, all 3 offer protection, healing, and luck. Rose and lavender have the power to give you a psychic edge as well..this can help you know when Mr or Mrs Right comes into your life.

3.  Buy a supply of small pink candles – a week’s worth – and burn one each day during the Venus hour(s)** of each day or night, at your convenience, focusing upon your intent to bring love into your life.  Also have on hand a small bottle of rose or lavender oil to annoint yourself & your candle with. Whilst burning the candle, please do not think of a specific person, only think about the qualities you’ve written down.  Small chime/spell candles are usually only about 50p each, perhaps more depending upon where you buy them and it normally takes about an hour for one to burn completely down.  And by all means, carve hearts onto them with a pin if you like. As your candle burns, visualise yourself being loved, cared for, treated with respect, adored. Let the love you could feel for another flow throughout your body and allow yourself to feel it as though you have already found your new love.

For a full week, your main intention is to bring love into your life.  You may carry the herbal pouch with you throughout your day if you choose to.  Do try and keep your mind upon whatever work you must do, still, on your own time, allow the feeling of love and intention rise within you as much as possible.

You will need to keep your mind and eyes open at all times…just because he or she is not the spitting image of the person you have in your mind’s eye, don’t discount those whom aren’t…sometimes the most unlikely on the face of it all is the most likely to be just right.

And please remember – do not do any of this specifically for a certain person’s love.  As the herbalist & writer, Scott Cunningham, once said, “Capturing a person with love magic of this sort is little short of psychic rape”.  Here’s hoping you’ll meet the kindest, gentlest, and most loving partner this month you could ever wish for and may you both be happy ever-after.

 Happy Valentine’s Day and  Blessed be )O(

** you can find the Planetary hours table here: http://www.lunarium.co.uk/planets/hours.jsp to find what time the Venus hour(s) are for each day.  If you find it inconvenient to burn your daily candle during the Venus hour each day, simply carve the Venus planetary symbol onto your candle with a pin.

The Magickal Ash Tree

Originally posted on speakingofwitchwands.net on 07/10/2013 by Isabella

by Isabella @TheWandCarver

Image

Photo by Damien Gayle, www.dailymail.co.uk

Gender:  Masculine; Planet: Sun; Element: Fire

Sacred to Uranus, Poseidon, Thor, WodenNeptune, Mars, Gwydion

Magickal Powers:  Protection, Prosperity, Sea Rituals, Health

The ancient Teutons regarded the Ash as “The World Tree“, which was their conception of the Universe, and therefore revered as such.

Ash has been used in many magickal ways over the centuries.  Sailors of old carved an equal-armed cross from Ash to carry whilst at sea to protect against drowning.  Ash is used in many sea rituals as it represents the power which resides in water.

The leaves of the Ash can be used to encourage prophetic dreams by placing them under one’s pillow or in a sachet.  The leaves may also be scattered to the four directions to protect a house and/or property.

The Ash tree, as are many trees, is considered to be very protective.  A staff (such as a Shaman’s staff) carved from Ash, placed over a doorway, wards off malign influences.  Ash is also said to ward off snakes, as they will not crawl over its wood.  However, Ash attracts lightening, so please don’t stand beneath one during a thunderstorm!

Ash wands (which we do make!) are often made for healing.  Ash wood is burned at Yule to receive prosperity in the coming year.  Even if you don’t have a fireplace, you can burn Ash chips  from resealable packets which are sold on our Etsy shop  in an incense to achieve the same result.  Ash is also used in poppets for all the various powers it brings.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

*Some information is from Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magickal Herbs, by Scott Cunningham 1985-97, Llewellyn

The Magickal Oak Tree

First published on speakingofwitchwands.net Sept 2013

by Isabella @TheWandCarver

oaktree

Photo by  Glennie Kindred, www.whitedragon.org.uk

Sacred to Dagna, Dianus, Jupiter, Thor, ZeusHerne, Janus, Rhea, CybeleHecate, Pan, and Erato

Gender:  Masculine; Planet:  Sun; Element:  Fire

Oak was a source of food for early settlers in Britain and revered by the Druids.  The Druids (traditionally) would not meet for rituals unless an Oak tree was present.  Religious articles were often fashioned from the tree and Witches danced beneath it.  A tree as long-lived as the Oak naturally offers magickal protection and if you have two twigs of Oak, bound by a red thread in an equal-armed cross, it would be well for you to hang it in your home.

Oak Cross 3

photo by i.macy

Acorns, of course, have always been used for nature’s help – guarding against lightning strikes, drawing to the bearer wealth, among other things.  But, have you ever considered the magickal power of the Oak bark ?

Oak Bark
photo by i.macy

Logs of Oak were often burned in fireplaces to draw off illness.  Nowadays, not everyone has a fireplace, however, Oak still has a healing property in the bark.  They can be ground fine and used in incense, with the same effect.  Also, in incense to draw money and wealth, protection, luck, fertility, and potency.

Carrying a small pouch of Oak bark in a wallet or handbag draws wealth and adds protection to the bearer.  It can also be used in poppets to effect the properties that you desire for yourself or another.

Thank you for your support and many blessings!

*Some information is from Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magickal Herbs, by Scott Cunningham 1985-97, Llewellyn