Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lavender Chutney

I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for some time now. I bought this lovely little cookbook called Favourite Country Preserves by Carol Wilson. It sounded interesting – I wasn’t sure how it was going to taste since I’m not really a huge chutney fan but I thought why not? What’s the worst that could happen.


Lavender Chutney

20 Lavender Flowers, chopped (fresh)
2 Tblspns Mustard Seed
3 Lemons, scrubbed and chopped
Salt
3 Onions
2 oz (56gm) Sultanas
1 Cinnamon stick
Pinch ground Allspice
Sugar to taste
White Wine Vinegar



Method:

Chop the lemons into small pieces; remove the pith and the pips.
Place in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt.
Pour in enough vinegar to cover the lemons and cover the bowl.
Leave stand for 24 hours.
Next day, place the mixture in a large pan and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until the mixture is thick and the vinegar absorbed.
Remove the cinnamon stick and pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal tightly.



Voila! Lavender Chutney.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sunday Roast

We don't always have a proper Sunday Roast, it will usually depend on what we're doing but also the weather. Awhile ago I bought a Pork Belly and stuck it in the freezer. I've always wanted to try one ever since I saw it on Jamie Oliver (I think). It's not your average piece of roast meat, I believe pork belly is more often than not used to make ribs.


So this is our dear little pork belly going into the oven in the cast iron bake dish.


Here it is with all the vegies added for cooking. The potatos and onion came from the garden. We're hoping pretty soon that all of the vegies you can see will come from our garden.


And this was the deliciousness that was when cooked. I have to say the pork belly was melt in your mouth perfect! I think I could so easily eat a whole one by myself it was that nice!

Lavender



Plant Name: Lavender
Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia
Common Names: Spike, Elf leaf, Nardus
Gender: Masculine
Element: Air
Planet: Mercury
Deities: Aradia, Hecate
Magickal Properties
: Chastity, love, peace, happiness, clairvoyance, longevity, sleep, protection




Lavender flowers, or Lavandula angustifolia, are famed throughout the world, not only for their beauty but for their many culinary and agricultural uses as well. In agriculture, the flowers are used because of their abundant nectar, from which honey bees can create a high quality honey that is marketed worldwide as a premium product. Lavender flowers are also used widely as a flavoring for baked goods and desserts, and are on occasion candied to be used as a decoration for dishes. There are also references to Lavender flowers which date back to biblical times, showing that it was used to prepare the Holy Essence. The Romans also favored it to scent their bath waters and aid in restoring their skin, paying the equivalent of a farm worker's monthly wage for only a small amount. Ancient and modern spiritual practices also found great use for the flowers, using Jasmine in spells seeking love and healing, as well as inner calm or a peace of mind. With these properties it became a favored component in spells seeking money, protection, purification, or contact with good spirits.

In medicine Lavender flowers are known for being usable as an antiseptic as well as an anti-inflammatory, and even saw use during World War I disinfecting the floors and walls of hospitals. Some herbalists also believe it to be of use in healing and soothing insect bites and acne, and Lavender has been a traditional treatment for skin burns, headaches, as well as helping one relax before sleeping.

Chamomile


Plant Name: Chamomile
Botanical Name:
Anthemis nobilis, Matricaria chamomilla Common Names: Camomyle, Earth Apple, Ground Apple, Manzanilla (Spanish). Maythen, Whig Plant
Gender: Masculine
Element: Water
Planet: Sun, Mercury
Deities: Cernunnos, Karnayna, Mercury, Oshun, Ra, St. Anne, Sun Gods
Magickal Properties: Sleep, meditation, money, love, purification, luck



While known in Latin as Anthemis Nobilis, Chamomile actually gets its name from the Greek words kamai, which means on the ground, and melon, which is the word for an apple. When trod upon, it frequently produces a strong, pleasant aroma that wafts around those who step upon it, and reminds many of apples. For this purpose it was often put to use in the medieval periods for use in green garden paths, so that as one strolled from one place to another one would be accompanied by a lovely, sweet smell. In the past, herbalists and gardeners also saw Chamomile as a healing plant that would help those plants it grew next to flourish when otherwise they might begin to fail. It spiritual uses Chamomile was also frequently used in finding good luck with marriage proposals, gambling, prosperity and good fortune, and was even thought to aid in preventing lightning strikes.

In the world today, Chamomile is perhaps most famous as a component in tea that is not only smells lovely and is pleasantly flavorful, but is widely known for helping to soothe stomachs and ease indigestion as well as help you fall to sleep. It is also well known for being a soothing sedative that aids with pain and discomfort.

Buying Herbs

There seems to be this thought when it comes to buying herbs, a lot of new witches seem to think that all manner of ‘witchly’ herbs must be purchased. Of course saying that you have mandrake root sounds great but truth be told, you more than likely won’t use it all that often. I have mandrake root and I can count the times on one hand that I’ve used it in magical workings.

The trick to buying herbs is knowing your correspondences – and applying them to your purchases. I would have to say that the witch who can be flexible in her approach and isn’t concerned with being able to say she has the more exotic herbs in her chest will have the most success with herbal workings.

The truth is, all you need is this:


Yes, your kitchen herb and spice cabinet. A kitchen witch will tell you that this all you need, every herb and spice can and will work for you in the cooking of food and the cooking of magic. It’s handy to have and although there may be some snobbery about keeping magical and mundane separated, I tend to think that if it works then fantastic!

However there is the likelihood that you will not find chamomile or lavender or rose in your kitchen spice cabinet (although a herbal tea or preserve making aficionado may have these) there are places to purchase them. Ebay is one of my favourite places to purchase herbs, you can generally buy a small amount for a reasonable price, there is also the option of purchasing kits with samples of lots of different herbs. If you are some one who feels they are going to go into herbs full time, there is the option of purchasing through wholesale companies but for this you must have a business number – otherwise you will be paying retail.

The best place (and this is where knowing your correspondences comes in) to buy herbs is the supermarket aisle. Basil is great for seasoning Italian sauces and fresh summer salads but it can also be used in spells for love, wealth and protection as well as banishing negativity. Allspice is great for healing, Clove is a fantastic money herb, Garlic is often used for protection, Ginger for luck and love, even something as simple as Parsley can be used for protection as well as purification. If you can get past the need to have the more exotic herbs in your herb chest, your herb aisle will become the place you go to for herbs.

As for the flower types, if you don’t want to hit the net and buy from eBay, believe it or not, your tea aisle will also provide you with a plethora of flower power. You will find Rose, Jasmine, Lavender and Chamomile in the herbal tea aisle and quite frankly, just those four flowers offer a great whacking list of correspondences. Lavender can be used for Chastity, love, peace, happiness, clairvoyance, longevity, sleep and protection, Rose for Love, beauty, psychic powers, divination, healing, luck and protection, Chamomile for : Sleep, meditation, money, love, purification and luck and Jasmine for Love, prophetic dreams, money, sleep, love, healing, health and meditation. All you would need to do is purchase the tea bags and empty the herbs out as you need them.

Buying herbs doesn’t have to be a stressful or scary experience. It’s quite simple to find them, to buy them and to use them.

But hey! If you’re game, there is always the option of growing the herbs yourself!

Magical Herbalism

Magical Herbalism is the use of herbs in spellwork, ritual and other magical practices to affect change using the natural power and energy of the plant or plants you are working with. Herbalism is an ancient practice, from the first time humans or rather our humanoid ancestors were able to understand that some plants healed, others harmed and some could be used for cooking and flavouring dishes they began to use them. As civilizations grew, so did this knowledge and so the village Shaman or Wisewoman became, and those who were held the secrets and the knowledge of the plants, trees, herbs and flowers. They became keepers of the knowledge and the individuals who made remedies, who made tonics and potions and who taught the next generation of Shamans, Wisewomen and Cunningfolk.

The earliest record of using herbs was the Sumerians 5000 years ago, they used thyme and laurel. The Ancient Egyptians were another civilization that used herbs, as tools for food and tools for magic. It is well documented that the favourite form of ridding oneself of a rival in Ancient Egypt was poisoning. Written texts found, dated 1500 B.C., hold references to over 700 herbal remedies and uses, undoubtedly the Ancient Egyptians were experts in Herbal Knowledge. In China a medical journal written in 2700 B.C was found, lists 13 herbal remedies. The Chinese have been using herbs for over 5000 years. The Native American Indians also have extensive knowledge of herbs, trees, plants and roots, as did the Greeks and the Romans. Some of the more formative texts on herbal use have come out of Greece and Rome, most famously by Hypocrites who used herbs as the basis for treating diseases and other ailments.

The Druids also used herbs to help treat their villagers, but the Druids also used herbs in their ceremonies and religious rituals. Herbs were also used in Tudor times, most often at Weddings to decorate the bride’s headdress, to decorate tables and altars as well as being strewn about on the floor. At the end of the wedding, the bride and groom would sit under a “Kissing Knot”, this was made up of ribbons and dried herbs that had a special meaning for the couple.

The Welsh are also well known for being very involved in bringing herbalism to the forefront of medical practice. The Physicians of Myddfai were well known the world over for their herbal expertise. During the 12th Century they built monastaries and in these monasteries they would learn and refine their knowledge. They practiced for 500 years in continued succession in Myddfai, Wales with their last descendant passing away in 1743.

In medieval times, before medicine was fully founded, the Village Wisewoman took the place of Doctor. She knew all about herbs and their uses and she was the woman villagers went to when they needed treatment, a healing brew, a tonic to use as a method of birth control, a potion to attract that man who otherwise would not look at a particular girl, as relief during childbirth – the duties of the village wisewomen were long and plentiful, but unfortunately this knowledge was also what condemned them during the Witch Trials.

Now we come to Modern Times where herbs are used across the board for a variety of different reasons, cooking, decoration, aromatherapy, naturopathy, homeopathy, herbalism and of course Magical Herbalism.

Magical Herbalism is an integral part of Witchcraft. It states our connection to nature and its infinite ability to be shaped to affect change in our lives. Herbs hold the lifeblood of the earth in their DNA, their power is from the Universe itself. Each herb/plant/tree/flower has its own unique set of correspondences, it’s own unique purpose. During spellwork and ritual we can tap into this energy, we can create poppets, charms, amulets and a multitude of other items to help focus our power and bring about the desired change. Herbs are an endless and bountiful magickal tool. Even if you can’t afford the more exotic herbs, they should always be a staple in a Witch’s cabinet because once you begin the wonderful journey into the world of Magical Herbalism, you will want to grow your supplies as you learn more, you will truly want to work with the herbs and take into yourself all that they offer.

What is Witchcraft?

Let me start the introduction to Witchcraft not by saying what Witchcraft is but rather what Witchcraft isn’t.

Witchcraft is not Wicca. I will say it again. Witchcraft is not Wicca.

Some may be confused by this, assuming that Wicca and Witchcraft is the same thing, or at the very least – interchangeable but it isn’t. Wicca and Witchcraft are two very different magical practices. It goes to the old saying “All Wiccans are Witches but not all Witches are Wiccans” and this is very true. Wicca as it stands today is a religion; it has Rules, Credes, Laws, A Dual Deity and a set foundation of ideas and belief systems. Witchcraft is a practice. Witchcraft has no rules, except for perhaps self responsibility.

Religion
noun 1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice


Taken from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse

As you can see, this does not apply to Witchcraft. Witchcraft is simply a practice of spirituality without organization, without a set of rules, it does not follow ritual observance nor does it have a governing body that makes the decisions and edicts that one would be expected to follow. Witchcraft at its base core is an observance of nature and the practice of working with nature.

Wicca is a tradition started (although some will argue that it was “revived”) by Gerald Gardener in the 50’s. Now he did claim that it was an Old Religion, taken from the days of Goddess Worship which was run underground during the Christian Church’s revolution and domination during the Middle Ages. Who knows? One cannot really say one way or the other. However it is documented that Wicca is a new religion, one taken from old ideas and formed into an organized system of beliefs and practices.

To that end, many of the Rules and Laws of Wicca don’t apply in Witchcraft such as the Three Fold Law, or any of the other Numerical Fold Laws, neither does the Harm None philosophy. That is not to say that those who practice Witchcraft are devoid of personal responsibility, but Witches do not fear Karmic retribution because it is not something that is part of Witchcraft. If the Universe believes that the cause and affect of magic performed has been misused it will pay back in kind if the situation warrants it. Those who practice Witchcraft do not fear the darker aspects of Magic; it’s simply a larger part of the whole. Nature is both loving and cruel, so therefore it is a natural extension that at times magic will be cruel, it is balance.

Witchcraft is much more earth based than that. Witchcraft is probably more true to the ‘alleged’ Old Religion than Wicca. Witchcraft has no dual deity unless the individual Witch chooses to incorporate that into her beliefs, some Witches are atheist and choose to worship and work with nature and its power. A Witch is a person who is aware of the world around them, can connect on an inner level with their power, however the Witch is also a member of society, can be anyone. A Witch does not separate themselves from their spiritual life but include it in every day life. A Witch will apply the principles of the Craft to every day life – there is no separation of ritual in the sense that it is in Wicca. I think therein is the true meaning of Witchcraft and what it is.

A person who practices Witchcraft is a person who is in touch with their spirituality through everyday life – making cookies, cooking a roast, tending her garden, stirring the tea, writing the grocery list –it is not separated from the spirit, it is treated as part of the practice of Witchcraft. A Witch may come home and light a candle – green for prosperity, pink for love but it is not surrounded by pomp and ceremony – it is a simple craft fueled by the Witch’s own power.

The Craft is an everyday practice, an everyday way of living much the same as our ancestors who practiced the Craft did. They were called Cunning folk, Healers, Shamans and Village Wisewomen. They treated people with herbal potions, poultices and teas; they tended their herbs in the garden and often helped deliver the village children. They did not pray to a dual deity, nor did they attend secret coven meetings where they worked their way through Initiations to achieve degree levels, they simply lived practicing their Craft in a quiet, practical manner.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Banana and Blueberry Muffins

I love muffins, especially blueberry muffins but I cannot for the life of me knock out a decent muffin mix to save my life. And I mean. Absolutely Cannot! However I do make a pretty mean cake so I had the brilliantly bright idea to create mufficakes. I made my banana blueberry muffins using a cake mix. The recipe is actually an adaptation of a Carrot cake recipe.


The recipe is from a book that is over 30 years old. Some of the recipes are actually completely old school with lard and dripping and all of those other lovely artery thickening ingredients. As I understand it a lot of traditional recipes (most of the recipes are really traditional and obviously older than the book’s publication date) had lard, dripping and other ingredients like this to make a person fuller because most couldn’t afford to eat huge portions. Adding lards and other type fats would make the person feel fuller. Back then fat was also fuel for the body, burned up during a long hard day’s work.


As you can see the 1970’s cookbook has an older feel, almost as though it is an old fashioned family heirloom. I would love to have a family cookbook, one with recipes passed down through the generations. Given the wide and varied background of my recently discovered ancestors, that cookbook would have been very interesting had it existed!


As you can see my mufficakes didn’t really get the high top muffins do but they were light, moist and oh so delicious.

The search for the best doable muffin recipe continues……..

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Full Moon Rising

A Beautiful Sunset

I Am The Morrigan

I am the Morrigan. The Phantom Queen, the Great Queen and Queen of the Fae. Men fear me, for I also stand at the battle field and wait for those who have passed to come to me. I am seen as Death, as Fate and as a Demon Queen but that is not all of who I am. History has not been kind to my legend, but I must say I am not Morgan le Fay, I do not command demons and I do not collect souls out of spite or pleasure.

I am The Morrigan.

I am the Phantom Queen, Queen of the Fae, but I am also Patroness of Priestesses and Witches, a Goddess of Magick and Queen of the Witches. Those who follow the old ways, those of the Craft are my daughters, my legacy. My divinity and who I am shines through their magick, their power. When they look to a scrying mirror, crystal ball or tarot deck they will feel my power, my strength and my guidance. I transform energy into will; I help create renewal from death. As the water runs pure so does my strength.

On the night when the moon is dark, call to me. Drink a tea of Mugwort, burn Willow and look deep into your Obisidian crystal or scrying mirror and you will see me, you will hear me. My message will come to you and you will know it is me. So too will you know it is me when the Crow calls to you. Heed her well for she has something to tell you.

I am Queen, I am Goddess and I am Magick.

I am the Morrigan.

Copyright of The Country Witch's Cottage - Do not use or repost without permisson

Friday, 18 November 2011

Mystic Faerie Tarot

Mystic Faerie Tarot
By Linda Ravenscroft and Barbara Moore


"Step inside the enchanting world of the fey with rich watercolor images by renowned artist Linda Ravenscroft that capture the vibrancy and grace of faeries, sprites, elves, and nymphs in their lush gardens, telling their story within this fantastic tarot. Each suit tells a faerie tale as the nature spirits embark on magical adventures. A water nymph and wood elf learn that love is a gift not to be taken lightly, while a foolish faerie queen and her kingdom are nearly overtaken by a magical blue rose.

These stories offer lessons and fresh insights in all matters of life, while remaining true to tarot archetypes. The Mystic Faerie Tarot kit includes a 288-page book that introduces tarot and describes the major and minor arcana in detail. Perfect for beginners, you'll also find faerie-themed spreads to use, along with sample readings and a quick reference guide to the cards."

I recently bought this deck and I haven’t been this excited about one since I got my Celtic Dragon Tarot one year as a birthday present. The artwork, done by the phenomenally talented Linda Ravenscroft, is stunning and so very very magickal. The companion book is written by Barbara Moore, who has worked on interpretations on decks for artists such as Davide Corsi (Vampires of the Eternal Night tarot), Ciro Marchetti (Gilded Tarot, Legacy of the Divine Tarot) and Jessica Galbreth (the Enchanted Oracle).

The deck is whimsical and fun, painted in water colour each card is bordered in gold. It is really visually impacting and you can almost feel yourself falling to this magical mystical world full of faery, elves, dwarves and more.  Their energy is incredible and there is almost an eagerness to work with you. If you let yourself connect with that energy, it is almost as if the beings in the cards speak to you.

It’s a stunning deck full of fun and mischievousness and if you are a fan of the Fae Folk, this could be the deck for you!

I’ve been feeling a pull toward the Fae lately so when I saw this deck I knew I had to have it. We’re still in the getting to know you stage so we don’t work in harmony quite yet but we’re getting there. It has a real sense of lushness; I especially love the Devil card – so cute. It has this sense of, if you walked out into your garden you would see them all there and it wouldn’t be weird or strange. It would be as though they were meant to be there. It is fun, insightful and powerful and I would recommend this deck as one to add to your collection!

For some stunning images from this deck, go here.

Garden Witch’s Herbal by Ellen Dugan


Enrich your Craft—and your spirit—by working with the awesome energies of nature. In this follow-up to Garden Witchery, Ellen Dugan takes us further down the path of green magick, revealing the secret splendors of the plant kingdom. 

From common herbs and flowers to enchanted shrubs and trees, Dugan digs up the magickal dirt on a wide variety of plant life. Encouraging Witches to think outside the window box, she shares ideas for incorporating your garden's bounty into spellwork, sabbat celebrations, and more. Tips for container gardening ensure that city Witches can get in on the green action, too.

This stimulating guide to green Witchery—featuring botanical illustrations of nearly fifty fascinating specimens—will inspire you to personalize your Craft and fortify your connection to the earth.”

I am a fan of Ellen Dugan; I find her writing interesting, fun and conversational. This book is quite possibly one of the best I have read on Garden Witchery, how to create a garden for magick and enjoyment. It is divided into sections called: Conjuring a Garden with Heart, Green Witchery in the City, Wildflowers and Witchery, Magick of the Hedgerows, The Magick and Folklore of Trees, Gothic Herbs and Forbidden Plants, Herbs and Plants of the Sabbats, Herbs of the Stars and Magicakl Herbalism.

Each chapter delves into the different areas of creating, maintaining and using a magickal garden, my favourite chapter was on the Magick and Folklore of Trees, it inspires a sense of wanting to create that perfect little outdoor sanctuary with the Oak, Ash and Thorn, a sacred circle to invite in the Fae folk. The section on forbidden plants was a fun and interesting read, it takes a look at the historical “Witch’s Plants” such as Hellebore, Black Nightshade, Belladonna and Yew, she doesn’t advocate using these plants by any stretch but it is an insight into the days of old when Witches were thought to use these herbs for baneful magicks.

Perhaps the most helpful part was how to create a container garden and what plants are best used for this. Now I have to admit I have the luxury of living in the country so I have the space but it has inspired me to create some larger pot gardens to place around my yard.

I’m an avid Witchy Gardener, I like to grow things and it seems that quite often I have great success growing things – except for Basil, they keep dying on me. I think they are very fussy herbs, they either like it where you put them or don’t, but I have found that putting them in pots has a greater success.
If you can get your hands on a copy, I really do recommend this book. It would be a fabulous addition to any witch’s book collection.

Oracle of Shadows and Light Review

Oracle of Shadows and Light
Created by Jasmine Becket-Griffith & Lucy Cavendish



Within the Oracle of Shadows and Light, you will be greeted by honest, delightful, fascinating beings, from guardian angels to protective faeries, wise little witches and sweet ghosts. Quirky, haunting and shadowy-sweet, these tell-it-like-it-is magickal messengers of shadows and light will deliver authentic, clear and straightforward guidance to help you make decisions every day. By connecting with these wonderful beings, you will develop your courage, your intuition, your happiness, and your belief in your own true self.

Created by bestselling author Lucy Cavendish and brimming with enchanting illustrations by the acclaimed artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith, The Oracle of Shadows and Light offers you 45 exquisite cards, an in-depth guidebook, featuring messages, and clear step-by-step instructions on how to give accurate, powerful and very healing readings for yourself and others. Walk through the veil, and enter the magickal world of the Oracle of Shadows and Light!http://www.wholesalefairy.com

This deck is an incredible deck. When I first held mine in my hands, before I even opened the box, I could feel the beings that lived within these cards speaking to me. Their energy was palpable and I could feel them connecting with me. It’s a feeling that soon won’t leave you and to be honest, will probably be the feeling that you will look for every time you purchase a deck.


Reading the cards is so much fun; there is a lot to see and many interesting Angels, Fairies, Witches, Spirits and Beings who will guide you to the answer you are looking for. There is the Angel of Time, if she appears – you’re working too hard!! The Fairy of the Green World will let you know that the natural world needs you, and the Eclipse Mermaid? Well she’s letting you know about a powerful energy shift that is about to occur, and if A Clockwork Pumpkin appears, you’re about to have a wonderful idea or an epiphany!


There is magick in this deck and for anyone who loves to read Oracles, or even just loves to read cards, this deck will enchant and bewitch you! It is quite honest with you, sometimes brutally so, this deck will never hide the truth from you and I have found that it is also incredibly accurate. Be Warned: If you don't want the truthful answer to your question, don't ask the beings in this deck because they will not lie to you. They will guide you and support you, and the most incredible thing about this deck is that it comes alive for you. You can imagine the Sea Beacon Fairy lighting the way for you, the Two Little Witches helping you magickally clear your space, the Nautilus Princess holding your hand as you go through powerful, personal growth and the Candy Cane Angel will give you a treat.


Overall this deck is a powerful tool for personal growth and transformation. It's a wonderful divination tool and I think if you love the kooky and strange, this is the perfect deck for you. I have to say, after using it, other Oracle decks pale in comparison and this will most definitely always be my go-to deck.


For more images for this deck, go here.

Pictures and description courtesy of www.wholesalefairy.com

Flowers from the Garden

Here are some of the flowers from my garden this year. I like flowers, I love to walk outside and see the splash of colour and brightness. I'm trying to turn my garden into a fabulous cottage garden!


The Sunny Daffodil


Lovely white Calla Lillies


Stunning Red Rose (taken yesterday)


Almond Blossom


Calendula


Not sure what these flowers are, I bought them unlabelled but I think they're pretty


My gorgeous cottage style Snapdragons

Sunday, 13 November 2011

All About Oracle Cards


Oracle cards are a wonderful divination system. They have a long history and a rich history but it is important to note they are not like Tarot cards. They are not divided into suits, usually don’t have any astrological or elemental associations and are often a picture with a one word association or phrase to be used as the interpretive starting point. Oracles are definitely more intuitive based than Tarot as you don’t have a reference point such as Pentacles to give you an idea that the answer is connected to earth or prosperity.

Like Tarot decks, there are a multitude of styles and artwork when it comes to Oracle decks. Oracle decks are usually themed (witches, faeries, mermaids etc) so it can be great fun finding a deck that relates to your particular interest. I love Oracle cards, I find them easy to read with and surprisingly accurate! My favourite deck to work with is the Oracle of Shadows and Light by Jasmine Beckett Griffith and Lucy Cavendish, I've found I am quite accurate with this deck. I also have the Druid Plant Oracle by Phillip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm and Will Worthington and the Wisdom of the Hidden Realms deck by Collette Baron Reid.

All About Tarot


The tarot is a great way to read into the future, see what’s coming up or get an answer to a problem or situation. It is also great just for general guidance. It’s an artform that has been around for a very long time, 500 or more years. It was quite popular during the renaissance but was kept strictly for the rich and aristocratic. However nowadays, thankfully, the tarot is essentially available to everyone! But what is in a Tarot deck?

A tarot deck consists of 78 cards, 22 in the Major Arcana and 56 in the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana cards represent or cover the bigger things in life whereas the Minor Arcana represent more day to day stuff. The Minor Arcana is separated into 4 suits most often Swords (Fire), Cups (Water), Pentacles (Earth) and Wands (Air) however they will differ from deck to deck depending on the author/illustrator. Each part of the Minor Arcana, like a deck of playing cards, is made up of 10 numbered cards and four court cards.

I’ve come a long way with my Tarot reading skills and now have a tarot stall at Firefly where I give readings. I most often use the Celtic Dragon Tarot by Lisa Hunt and DJ Conway but I also have the Mystic Faerie Tarot by Linda Ravenscroft and Barbara Moore. The Death card in the dragon deck (see above) is perhaps the most evocative and powerful representation I’ve seen and really speaks true to the meaning of the card.

Divination

Divination: What is it and what forms are there?

I like divining. Divination is one of my favourite aspects of being a Witch. Now that’s not to say that all witches like divination but the vast majority that I know do. It is interesting to see how much we differ on our preferred methods though. Some like Tarot, some like Oracle cards others like pendulum, it goes on and on really. I prefer Tarot and Oracle cards but I do also like to occasionally do pendulum work and I found I have a bit of a knack for Tasseography. I will be doing a short blog post on each popular method of divination so I hope you can read through each one as they come up and get a feel for the type you think would best suit you!

Before you read on, a suggestion: When choosing your first Tarot or Oracle deck it is very important that you choose a deck that speaks to you, that resonates with you on a deeper level because let me tell you, if you can’t connect to your deck, you will not be able to read it.

In the Kitchen

I like to occasionally fuss in the kitchen; I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am looking to the path of Kitchen Witchery because I am a mood cook, if I feel like cooking I will. I’m a bit of a messy cook (another reason why I don’t cook often) but I do like to bake on occasion, I’m a brownie lover, blueberry muffin muncher and definite donut queen. I also like the occasional cake.

My mum loves to use her dutch oven in winter to cook and she went through a whole time there where she cooked everything in it. I love to wind her up and call it her cauldron – the funny thing was, after awhile she started calling it the cauldron…..hehehe.

So here is a look at a few of the kitchen adventures of late.


Here is the Shepherds Pie being made in the cauldron
(ahem Dutch Oven)


The beginnings of Tomato Ketchup
(be wary when using Red Wine Vinegar, make sure it's not an aged one)


And here is the recipe from the 'Jamie At Home' cookbook by Jamie Oliver


Here is my first ever attempt at a Carrot cake from scratch, it tasted delicious.


The Orange Marmalade Brews!


Here is the finished Orange Marmalade


Here is the Lemon Curd!

Friday, 11 November 2011

All About the Written Word

I’m sure no witch will disagree when I say that most witches appear to be major booklovers – almost to the point of an insane addiction (or maybe that’s just me). Some witchy friends and I were chatting online one day and decided to have a “mine’s bigger than yours” argument (purely in fun of course) and as I suspected, fairly well all of us had bookshelves groaning under the weight of our addictive passionate love for books (mine curses at me occasionally). It’s a habit I developed when I was young. I’ve always loved books, I can’t for the life of me see why people buy ebooks or those kindle thingys. To me there is nothing that can beat the feel of a book in your hand or the smell of a brand new book when you crack open the pages. But I’m equal opportunity, older books seem to have this unique feel to them and you can’t beat that old book page smell, it takes you right to heaven.

As you can see, my bookshelf is crying out for help!!


I remember growing up my favourite author was Enid Blyton. Every birthday and Christmas and even as special treats my parents would buy me one of her little hardcover stories. I have an epic collection now although it is all packed away. I was reading before I went into school, as a 1st grader I would read the Enid when so many other kids were learning words or just reading beginner books. I thank the stars above everyday that my parents taught my brother and me to read at a young age. I don’t know what I would have done without books in my life. I think her books on The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair first began my love affair with all things magical and I think contributed to the path I am on now.

I began to wonder if these days’ kids don’t read enough. If I ever have kids (and for those who know me, this is a very large IF) they will be read to at a young age and they will also begin to learn to read at a young age. I am thankful to authors like JK Rowling for inventing Harry Potter because it got kids interested in reading again, the lines around bookstores when each was released was a testament to that fact and I hope that now that series is done, another author can write something as interesting and fun and get kids into the bookstores or libraries.

There is a magic in books, in reading and I hope that it never gets lost. Witches, I know, will always covet the written word; will always have enviable and large book collections because of the thirst for knowledge, the need to learn and to know. I do hope that children continue to want to read and parents encourage and develop that in their children.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Being Solitary

I’ve been a solitary witch for the whole time that I’ve been a witch. There are a lot of witches out there who are solitary, some of us by choice, some of us because we don’t know how to connect with others in our respective areas. I would say that I am mostly solitary by location (I live so far out in the country) and sometimes I do wish for others to work with.

The benefits of being solitary are that you can devote as much time as you like to your chosen path. You are able to chart your journey and learning progress to your specifications without having to consider how it will fit with another’s. You are free to learn what you want, how you want, when you want. However it can also be of benefit working with a coven or even a few other likeminded individuals. There is also the wonderful knowledge that you have people who actually understand what you’re about. There is no explaining this and that and you are pretty much free to just get on with it.

My experience of working with others, as it were, is strictly in an online environment. I teach at an Academy. This is where I am also initiated and currently studying through the Clergy program. The online world is a unique place and can offer likeminded folk to work with. I have made some great friends online but it still doesn’t fulfill the wish for physically working with others.

There are some pitfalls to working with covens or groups. You are not always going to agree with each other and quite often, your ideals, beliefs and way of doing things may conflict with the rest of the group. I would suggest that if you want to work with or form a group it is best to go the Eclectic route. An eclectic group will allow everyone the freedom to be who they are and keep their own spiritual beliefs/practices but still come together to work and learn.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to connect with other Pagans in the area. I don’t know if a poster with ‘Witches Wanted….phone here’ would necessarily be the best way to go about it after all, it would invite those who wished to ‘save’ me or the completely mentally unstable to harass me. I’ve considered ads in the paper and notices in windows. It’s hard to know what to do because it makes you wonder if people will take you seriously doing it that way or if they will think you’re a little strange and ignore it completely. I am trying to be mildly optimistic and think that when it is time I will find other witches but I also don’t like to leave things up to fate. It often tends to come back and bite you in the ass.

I guess my quest will continue……..

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Making Herbal Oils

I like to work with herbs; it’s more often than not the medium I choose to use. I am also a bit of a candle nut but herbs are my main interest. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always felt more connected with them.

I generally use them to make incense powders or use in charm bags and spell work but I one day I was perusing eBay and saw some one in the UK was selling oils with herbs in them for magical use. I would imagine that these oils are for the magical purpose alone because unless you added essential oil, they wouldn’t be especially perfumed.

Coming up to Christmas I thought a little prosperity boost was in order so I decided to create Prosperity oil. I chose one of the small jars I bought awhile ago from Cheap as Chips – cheap shops are great for little jars and bottles. My herb selection was weirdly kitchen-witchy with Basil, Marjoram, Chamomile with a little Galangal Root and Vervain. I filled the bottle with grapeseed oil. I’m practical when it comes to making my magical bits and pieces so I tend to go with what’s available to me. Grapeseed oil, fortunately, is available in any supermarket oil section. I’m sure there are those who like Almond or Jojoba but you can get a litre bottle or so of Grapeseed from the supermarket for less than $10.

My oil is currently sitting on my bedroom windowsill. Its east facing so it gets plenty of sunlight. The formula I followed recommends a little shake a day and full sun for three weeks. Fingers crossed it goes well…



Making Herbal Oil

Herbal oil is relatively straight forward. Just follow these easy steps.

1) Choose your bottle or jar and make sure it is clean
2) Choose your base oil
3) Choose your herbs (I prefer dried for this)
4) Put your herbs in your jar and cover with the oil
5) Give the jar a little shake and place in a sunny spot for 2 – 3 weeks
6) 2- 3 weeks later, strain the oil through a strainer into new jar
7) Label and keep out of direct sunlight


Voila! Magical Herbal oil.

P.S Using fresh herbs or making a culinary oil can involve more steps so I would suggest doing your research!

Beltane

I will admit I am not the most Sabbat involved witch but I do like to do a little something each time one comes around. I like to make dinner for my family, it’s usually three course but sometimes two, depends on how I feel on the day. This year I did a two course dinner. I was going to make Nettle Soup with Cheese Scones for the starter but I got side tracked outside planting a nectarine and kiwi fruit. So my dinner was pork chops, garlic potato and peas with a dessert of hot custard and banana. Not the most inventive I’ll grant you but it tasted delicious.


I also like to set up a little family altar (my family isn’t Pagan they’re atheist for the most part but they do enjoy seeing me put one together) and I tend to select things that represent the holiday to me. As you can see above, the chalices and flowers stand most present on the altar. The flowers are White Rose, Aquilegia and Larkspur. I actually really love my chalices, I was never one for the fancy style and I never found one that spoke to me but I happened to be in Gladstone one day in the Op Shop and saw these there and for some reason I just could not leave the shop without them. They suit me and I believe will last a very long time. Who knows? They could become a family heirloom should I ever change my mind on having children (I am firmly in the Not camp).

More Halloween Fun

So I had a little fun at Halloween. I set up a little indoor altar, a nice little patch of decoration on the front verandah and of course, my lovely carved pumpkin was set up when it came on dark and lit up. And to continue the fun revelry, I donned my black felt witch’s hat with it’s bent point and watched Hocus Pocus – the ultimate, fun Halloween movie, after all, who doesn’t love Bette Midler as Winnie??


I like to make little altars, so here is my Halloween one. The centre pumpkin is actually a lolly jar. I think it's adorable. The two witches are salt and pepper shakers I got at the Laura Folk Fair a few years ago. I've called them Ismelda and Griselda.


Here is my little verandah display. I found the Witch ornament on eBay, you can't tell by looking at her, but she is hefty!


This is how my pumpkin looked at night outside. Isn’t it just fantastic? I love that the candles almost glow the outline of the pumpkin.