Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Turning Wheel

This is a post that had been percolating on my computer for a month or so, gathering dust, being re-written and edited several times - I just wasn't sure I had put everything into words that I was thinking. But for better or worse, here it is.


Life can throw you an interesting turn on occasion. Sometimes you find yourself starting out on a path not knowing what lies ahead - before you get to far down the path you realise shit just got real and there is more going on than you know. You look all around you and there are things waiting for you, demanding, asking, cajoling - wanting. It really becomes a question of whether or not you can keep walking that road; can you accept what lies down that road? Can you look to what is waiting and keep moving forward without fear? Can you accept that you are no longer a completely autonomous being, that others are making a claim on you? Can you walk the path of mystic and witch, knowing that if you accept what has happened and what is to come, life will change? Can you accept that your entire path may change – or if it doesn’t change – grow in ways that you had not anticipated nor expected? Can you get past the terrifying idea that you can no longer be so half assed and lackadaisical about practicing your Craft because those who have become known to you and claimed you will not allow it? Can you walk in this world and the next and not lose who you are?

These are questions I have found myself asking lately because there has been a rather dramatic shift in my path. Things have been happening that were – are – unexpected and have me questioning everything. The door has been thrown wide open and what is on the other side is no longer content to wait for me to make up my mind and take that last step.   They’re now seeking my attention, they are now expecting things of me, I don’t know what those things are yet – and I’m not ashamed to say I am a little bit afraid of what lies ahead. It’s no secret I’ve always been a bit lazy about my Craft, I’ve written about it often enough but there’s been a shift this year for me, a slow build that has now kicked itself into overdrive. I have found myself the beacon of interest for two very interesting Others – and they are not polite, fluffy sorts. They are primal, ancient and as yet unnamed. They are very different from one another, they exist in different spaces and they each have made a claim on me. I am running scared because I now realise that what has passed for my being a witch up until now is no longer acceptable and I am going to have to wear the mantle of Green, truly walk the path I spoke of because they will have it no other way. In this world I was once a simple witch with a simple heart and a lazy attitude but from here that kind of attitude will not be acceptable.

From this I understand that I am required to make more effort, to actually put more into my Craft, my practice and learn, grow, change. I am standing on a precipice and all it would take is one shove – I can feel the fingers on my back already, an insistent nudge from those who require something of me. I imagine soon it will become a proper shove. I never quite realised when I started on this path, working with my wonderful mentors, that I would find myself challenged, changed, confronted and consequently choosing to walk roads that had often been too hard. I have learned that when those who choose to claim you, choose you as their student and initiate, hard becomes a very real part of your life; because of who they are they require absolute attention from you when they reach out to you. I promise one day I shall speak of them, but right now the relationship is new, I do not know them well nor they me however I have the feeling they see deeper into me than I do myself. Within me they have chosen to see something that is full of potential. It’s humbling if not somewhat terrifying. 

Because of this, I have found myself leaning toward a more introspective path right now, taking time to explore what it all means and how it is going to impact what I do long term. I feel as though there is one final step before the parts of the whole are revealed and I need to be able to focus on taking that final step otherwise I shall never do it. And if I don’t I feel that I will miss out on something incredible. So as such, there has also been a downturn business-wise.

I have deleted my items for sale from my Facebook page and left only the readings and Wormwood kit in my Etsy store – it is all part of the changes I am feeling right now. I want to craft for the love of it, to do it when the mood moves me to and let my inner creativity forge something with hand or herb that is beautiful, powerful and honest. I haven’t been all that inspired lately, there have been some flashes of ideas, but for the most part I’ve not created anything new in months and it is because there is a plug somewhere that is blocking it all – whether that is my latest run of ill health or lack of motivation I don’t know. I am seeking inspiration again and as always, I look to my garden and the world around me – it’s speaking to me and sharing its ideas and spirit with me. I will still sell artisan handcrafted items – they’ll be listed as and when I make them.

I want to write more too. I have so many ideas for articles and blog posts but I never find the time to sit and write and this needs to change. I love writing, I’ve always been intensely passionate about it – the reason for originally starting this blog was as an outlet for the crazy ideas running around my mind. If you looked at the first couple of years of posting to now, you’d see there was a dramatic downshift in the amount of posts I was posting. I didn’t feel I had anything to say or anything to contribute to the wider world. I almost hamstrung myself because I had embraced that silent enemy of all writers – self doubt. Now I find that I want to write again – fiction, non fiction, blog posts – all of it. Perhaps this new journey, this new road will open up new possibilities, new ideas, new experiences to be written about.

Come the New Year, I think the Country Witch’s Cottage will have some big changes happening – what those are yet, I’m not entirely sure but I have a feeling it will begin unfolding soon and a better, brighter future awaits.


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Garden Porn or PDU: Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox will soon be on us, but I rather think Spring is quite in full swing in my garden right now. The photos are but a sample of what is going insane in the garden right now, I kid you not, all this and more is right outside my door.

(Somehow half of that ended up rhyming...)














Monday, 14 September 2015

PDU - The Element of Air

I’m taking a different approach this time to the PDU topic and looking at the element of Air in another way.

The Tarot.

Yes, I said the tarot.

Traditionally in a tarot deck, Swords are the symbol of Air. It make sense I suppose, they cut through things, tend to be a decisive and quick action insofar as their purpose. They move through the air when being used and overall have always had the association of Air – intellect, swift action, logic (so on and so forth). 

The funny thing is, I could never fully gel with the idea of Swords being Air. My first ever tarot deck was The Celtic Dragon Tarot, beautiful deck (especially for a dragon mad sort as me), the Swords in this deck are Fire and it just felt right. It made more sense. The basic pointy-ness of them, the pain they could inflict, the absolute burn of a cut seemed to be more on the Fire side of things rather than Air. So I relegate Swords to Fire and it works for me. 

Wands are the epitome of Air to me, so Wands read as Air in any deck I use, whether they are associated or not. I could never understand why they were assigned Fire – it made no logical sense (not to contradict every tarot author and creator out there), Wands are definitely a tool of the mind, I also feel that, while they pack a punch, they also have a gentler energy, one more reminiscent of the mind. They’re also not a rigid as swords, they will bend so far before breaking (much as the mind does), they grow, change, evolve as the mind does (yes, yes I’ll concede fire does too) but most of all, when I think of Wands, I think of Air – I mean, fire burns wood – why would you give it an association that is practically it’s mortal enemy?

I find that in readings especially, Wands resonate better as Air; I often get clearer readings with Wands/Air. Swords scream decisive action to me, a fire in the soul to get things moving whereas Wands/Air signifies careful thought, intellect and rationale in situations. I’m sure there are some tarot purists who would have a heart attack with my approach, but it works for me.

And for your enjoyable perusing - here are some of the images of Wands from a few of my decks - definitely Air to me.

Tarot of the Secret Forest

The Wildwood Tarot

The Shadowscapes Tarot

The Celtic Dragon Tarot

The DruidCraft Tarot

Sunday, 23 August 2015

PDU - Advice for Beginners

From here.

There is only one really important bit of advice I can think of for a beginner.

Never take anything as writ – do your research, find out as much as you can and make up your own mind.

I could really stop there because honestly, it’s the best advice I could give anyone. There is a habit of taking everything as writ – as being right, true and the one way (we all know the kinds who do) and it becomes limiting. Take the time to discover what you feel called to and explore it fully; this way you’ll build your own path instead of an imitation of some one else’s.

And because I’m on a roll:

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong – if it’s right for you that’s all that matters.

Never read only one book and think it is the answer – it rarely is.

Always know what you’re doing before performing any workings or rituals.

However spontaneous magic is a powerful thing as well. Do it often.

Don’t try to run before you can walk, you'll only trip up and face-plant.

Take your time, there’s no rush – walking this road is lifelong, you'll never learn everything there is to learn so enjoy the process.

Never ever presume to tell anyone else what they’re doing is wrong – especially if it is a more experienced witch – besides being rude, it might not end well for you.

If you love herbs, start with the easy ones – the more obscure and baneful ones are not for beginners (unless you have a death wish, then by all means).

Being new to the Craft is exciting, and some of us who have been on this journey longer don’t mind helping you out but don’t get shitty if we say no – sometimes we’re busy, have other things to do or prefer to keep our practice private. A sense of entitlement and expectation of obligation will not go over well.

If you want a magical name, then choose one that suits but by all that is holy, please don’t run around calling yourself something like Lady Morrigan Faery Unicorn Glitter. Really. Don’t.

If television is your source for knowledge – please meet Google, it will be your friend.

Exception to above rule: Hocus Pocus. All Hail Queen Winnie.

Witches do magic for personal gain.

Not everyone follows the same path – some witches will hex, bind, curse, use bone or blood and do a multitude of other things. If you walk another road – awesome – but please bear that in mind while speaking on another’s Craft.

Shading magic is generally annoying (white/black/grey).

Always be respectful to other witches, if you respect others that respect will be given in turn.

Bouncy enthusiasm is great but when embracing the feeling of shouting your witchiness from the rooftops; check the temperature of those around you – they may not particularly be supportive.

Online forums are a great place to chat or meet new people – beware of the propensity for drama – it can get uglier than a pissed off wasp in a heartbeat.

Stuff is not necessary. Tis awfully nice to have but one can find oneself become somewhat of a hoarder without meaning to.

Always have good ventilation for incense burning.

Don’t go sticking people with your athame – it’s not the done thing.

Ouija boards – not a toy.

Never leave your candles unattended.

Never invoke, summon or invite that which you can’t banish (although, being a beginner, I have absolutely no idea why you’d be invoking, inviting or summoning anything – perhaps best not to attempt it).

And finally – and probably most importantly:

May your path be long, your journey be fruitful and your knowledge real and not from Sabrina or Charmed.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Datura - The Moon Lady

For informational purposes only – I do not recommend experimenting with, growing or using Datura unless you’re an experienced herbalist or horticulturalist. It is a toxic herb and not to be played around with.


Datura

Devil's Apple, Mad Apple, Stinkweed, Sorcerer's Herb,
Thorn Apple, Toloache, Witches' Thimble

One of my favourite banes by a mile is the Datura; it has a wicked reputation and its pods look like they are from another planet but even with all of this, I adore this plant so very much. So much so I’ll be experimenting with growing different types (especially the purple ones!). I’m looking forward to my inroads with the beautiful, dangerous moon lady. 

Datura, in all her guises, is a plant that people either love or fear. And one would be right to fear her if you do not know her, she has quite the reputation. Ingested or abused, Datura is toxic, fatal even – at the very least it will give you some incredibly mad hallucinations. There is a story of British soldiers during the 17th century in Virginia (USA) eating some (mistaking it for vegetable greens) and suffering the effects for over a week – when they came to, they recalled nothing of their experience but it was reported they were acting quite mad. She is not one to suffer fools lightly. The ability for madness comes from her chemical make up of scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine – these tropane alkaloids can cause all sorts of havoc in the system, least of all the ability to poison. This is why, in times past, a good understanding of Datura was needed in order to administer it safely and properly in a medicinal (and yes, ritual) capacity. A fair example would be the compound ‘Atropine’ derives its name from Atropos, one of the Moirai or Greek Fates; she is the one who severs the life thread, a perfect example of why Datura is not a herb to be messed with recreationally or without any knowledge of her.

You will notice I  refer to Datura as “she”, this is because Datura is a feminine herb, of the element of water and Saturnian in nature. She shares this with her cousins in the Solanaceae family – you may have heard of them – Ms Belladonna, Ms Henbane and Mr Mandrake – her cousins, as darkly delightful and deadly in nature as Ms Datura– interestingly enough in the Solanaceae family we also find potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and tobacco to name a few. 



There are many different varieties of Datura – my personal favourite is Datura inoxia (gorgeous white flowers) but I’m branching out and experiencing other Daturas – my current interest is in those with purple flowers. I’m growing purple Datura metel (var fastuosa) and Datura stramonium (var tatula). They are currently in a teeny hothouse, I’m hoping they’ll pop their heads out before long; I’ve always had relative ease growing Datura so fingers crossed my luck continues. I’m also going to be trying the considered Australian native version Datura leichhardtii. The seed pods of the Datura are wicked looking, spiky, prickly and can give you a rather nasty poke if you’re not careful. They house hundreds of seeds which go forth in a projectile fashion when the seed pod opens. This is how Datura can become an invasive weed, in fact my first round of Datura plants came from some I found growing wild along a stretch of highway up here while on my way to Adelaide one day, they’re not there anymore, I would assume that they were sprayed by the council of that area – it’s a shame really but not a surprise. Given I live in an agricultural district, anything not considered useful for livestock or cropping generally gets the toxic end of a spray bottle.


Datura is shamanic herb, having been used for countless centuries in religious rites, spirit travel, rights of passage and witchcraft – the Aztecs held it as sacred, and it is often thought of as a plant of the Gods. It’s not hard to see why; the plant is quite powerful, even in passing, you can’t help but notice her energy. It is sometimes quiet, but taking a moment and listening, you will hear her temptress whispers as she beckons you forth to touch, to smell, to hold. She will reel you in before she strikes, enamoured and caught in her snare; you barely notice that as she plays coy and innocence, she is weaving her dark web around you. 

Datura is used for hex breaking, sleep and protection but her Saturnian nature lends her to workings of a chthonic nature, underworld journeying, flying ointments and trance work. Datura is also considered a plant for oracular and prophetic purposes but also for healing – but unless you know how to use Datura for healing, I wouldn’t recommend trying. 

To grow this rather beautifully deadly plant, seeds need to be soaked in some warm water to soften the shells; she prefers heat so when planted out into your sowing medium, make sure there is plenty of warmth hitting the seed bed. I prefer to start mine in jiffy pellets in a little hothouse until they get to a size ready for planting. Datura has a relatively short germination, 5 – 15 days but it can be stubborn as well so patience is key. Datura grows to about 1 – 1.5 mtrs (sometimes slightly larger), with dark green foliage and the flowers grow to a trumpet shape. When the flowers have formed, they slowly unfold to present their gorgeous faces (I took some photos once of a flower evolving here), however they do begin to wither the next day rather quickly. The flower then turns into the wonderous seed pods the daturas get. The seeds, depending on the type of Datura, will be either black or variations on brown.


If you choose to walk the path of the Moon Lady, be wary, be careful and be cautious for she will ensnare you without a thought, pulling you gently to her side whilst dancing a beautiful song around you. She will hold you within her petals as you lean toward her, eager to scent her beauty. She will have you as her own then and you may find yourself ensorcelled unable to walk away. Then you will truly be owned by the spirit of Datura – the herb of the ancients.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Around the Garden

Early signs of spring coming in the garden. It is heading toward one of my favourite seasons, the buds are beginning to form, flowers are starting to unfurl, bulbs are looking gloriously wonderful and soon, the garden will be a rainbow of colour.











PDU - Imbolc

The Almond tree is such a beautiful sight this time of year, it represents everything that Imbolc is about, the reawakening of things slumbering deep through the winter months coming to life as the days begin to be that little bit longer and the sun begins to kiss the earth, preparing her for the coming spring.






Tuesday, 28 July 2015

PDU – New Ideas

Or there lack of?

The Pagan community is an interesting place whereby everything old is new again. Whether it is traditional witchcraft, shamanism, making flying ointments or crafting an eclectic path – there aren’t any real “new” ideas; just old ones re-invented. It’s not a bad thing by any stretch, it’s an amazing thing, to take ideas seemingly lost to time and bring them back into the public eye, creating new traditions from old traditions, creating new products from old ideas (witch bottles, flying ointments, spirit traps). It brings a new depth and creativity to the Craft, preventing it from stagnating and becoming something that everyone is doing the same of.

However, these old ideas made new do become new ideas in of themselves and they create opportunities for growth on the path. I have found of late that so many are taking old traditions and incorporating them into their Craft, me being no exception to that. It is creating a rich, vibrant tapestry of witchcraft, giving every practitioner an individual path that is different from the next practitioner. We all interpret things differently; the ideas presented or created being no exception. I’m now finding myself moving into the art of shapeshifting (early stages) and have found a wonderful mentor and teacher to guide me on the journey. This is an old idea, but for me, it is a new one, a new road in my journey, a new art to learn and use.

Although, I do find somewhat amusing how when it rains it pours in the Pagan community, and with new ideas or repurposed ideas, more than one person seems to have them at the same time. An idea I had in August last year but didn’t act on immediately was an idea others had and have acted upon. It’s an interesting dilemma but also interesting how some of us think of the same things. I’m not sure if I’ll go ahead with my idea or not – I don’t really want to be accused of copying or imitation (which is also another issue with new or “old made new” ideas in the community), I think I’ll see how I get on (so many things on my plate right now).

I hope the continuation of new ideas continues, it offers a rich tapestry of information, practice and eventually history to furnish the Craft with. I’m proud to be some one who is contributing to that, in whatever way I may be doing so.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

PDU -Ethics

Ethics is always an interesting topic. A long time a go I wrote a lesson on ethics for part of a course I was teaching but I think, even now, my views have changed again somewhat.

So what are ethics?

Ethics:

1. (Used with a singular or plural verb) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture. 
2. The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics. 
3. Moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence. 
4. (usually used with a singular verb) that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

From here.

I hold to ethical idea of personal responsibility. I don’t believe in, nor adhere to, the ‘karma’ or ‘threefold’ or ‘harm none’ philosophy. I find them quite unrealistic and honestly, a bit of a control mechanism. I do believe that the universe keeps a balance on its own, I tend to ascribe more to the ‘equal and opposite reaction’ idea. But I don’t believe that all magic attracts consequence or an opposite reaction. I think if you work magic for petty, mean-minded reasons then you more than deserve an ass kicking in return in equal measure, but if the actions are necessary, justified or for personal gain that is not at the (deliberate) expense of some one else, then there’s not going to be any sort of consequence or reaction. My personal theory of course, I’m sure there are many that would disagree. I do believe that some actions bring about our own destruction as much as they bring about good things for us – it depends on your perspective. To be clear, I do believe in cursing, hexing, binding and all manner of “black magic” (oh how I hate that whole shade thing – it’s just magic people, just magic!!) and I do believe that in some cases those actions are absolutely necessary.

Another of my personal ethics is never to discuss exact usages of entheogenic herbs in public, I’m a cynic, people tend to be stupid and not exercise much common sense (that sounds a bit harsh huh?) so to put that info out there where it could potentially end up in the wrong hands would be irresponsible of me. If I was to teach some one or was to work within a coven or circle I would share it, but not outside of that. I will discuss generalities though, it’s good to share some things, and information on certain topics can be hard to come by so if I know it, I’m happy to share it to the extent I’m comfortable with.

I suppose my ethics are pretty flexible, I’m not a malicious person so my nature isn’t toward magic of that sort, but I see no reason to not do magic to protect, gain or change. I’ve done all of those and will continue to do so.

What are your ethics when it comes to magic?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

PDU - Yule

Lucious, ripe Firethorn

I always struggle with Yule at this time of year. It’s not really cold enough for me to think ‘winter is here’ – not to go all GoT but winter is coming, just not yet. It’s very cool, yes, and being that I’m a soft touch, I have a water bottle, flannie sheets and a very warm doona but still, I think winter won’t show until July proper. I’m looking forward to it, I like the cold, I like to curl up with a hot water bottle and a book. I like an excuse to have those few extra minutes in bed simply because it is too cold to get up and the cocoon I’m in is so cozy.

Winter is also interesting where I live; it’s unpredictable from year to year. Some years we get high rainfall, other times biting cold, even the very occasional bit of snow (which tends to melt before it hits the ground). We have dewy mornings, frost – some years ‘black frost’ which tends to kill everything that is sensitive. Last year we had a black frost, it temporarily killed off my Jacaranda (a surprise) yet the things you think would die off didn’t. But no two winters are ever the same. This year we’ve had relatively decent rainfall, no frost as yet and the cold is obvious in the morning, but hit mid morning it’s brisk but not cold. The coolness doesn’t start setting in til about 3pm or so, depending on the day. Some days we have lovely warm sun at 4pm – our verandah is a good place to be sitting when it comes. Even our Oak was late to the party; she’s still hanging on to some of her autumn leaves.

I didn’t celebrate Yule on the 21st of June, I likely won’t be celebrating yet for quite some time, I would rather have a meaningful connection with it and have it make sense than to enact a hollow acknowledgement to it. I will know when it’s time because the Cailleach will be breathing down my neck, her icy breath letting me know that it is now time to pay tribute to Winter, to see the season in it’s full glory and revel in the highs and lows that come with this season. Winter is my quiet time, my reflection time, my planning time and my indoor herbal madness time. I have plans for this season and I’m looking forward to enacting some of them.

Like cheese-making.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

PDU - The Element of Earth

For my PDU entry this fortnight, I thought I would share some of the photos from my trip to the cemetery. It might seem like an odd choice but a cemetery to me is almost the epitomy of Earth, for when we pass it is where we return to - it is what we become a part of. The great heartbeat of Mother Earth and those who lie upon and within her, serving her in some capacity as stewards, keepers and creators.









 "Eternal slumber long and deep
Returning to the Mother
As the Earth spins and spins
Life is life is death is again
Lying below, lying above
The trees whisper, taking root
Part of all and part of none
Changing, evolving, growing
Into a spirit of Earth"

© Stacey Carroll

Monday, 1 June 2015

PDU - Underworld

The dirt beneath my fingers, the earth calls to me. I lay within her bosom and I hear her heartbeat.

A breeze touches my mind
And lends to me its strength
As I walk into the darkness
Of a forest hidden in shadow

I feel the earth tremble beneath
Its power so potent and strong
The energy rises inside me
To meet the challenge to come

I walk further into the darkness
To find the cavernous heart 
Nature is my spirit twin
My heart beats to its rhythm.

For the magic held within these woods
Is older than the oldest
Primal and ancient it calls
I heed, I join, I know.

Embraced within her natural womb
The darkness is no longer frightening
As I meld my mind and spirit
I feel its call to me, its pull.

To be within this earthy womb
Is to feel like coming home
To know that within this place
I will find who I am.”

© Stacey Carroll

This poem speaks to me, it came from a hidden part of my mind long ago (I may have even published it here on the blog before), it reminds me of the path we all walk, from the surface, to the Underworld and back again. It’s perhaps not the most traditional imagining of the Underworld but for me, as I walk the hedge witch path, the Underworld is not necessarily the domain of Hades or some dark, mysterious place but another realm on a journey, another place to seek knowledge, to walk with spirits and talk with those who know of things that I do not.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Autumn Flowers

It might be getting cold now but the flowers are coming out now, showing their beautiful faces to the small flashes of sun. Small flashes of colour here and there amongst the burgeoning green. 

Stevia

Carnation

Elder

Feverfew

Climbing Geranium

Lavender

Bulbs

Blue Potato Bush

Rose

Rose

Snapdragon