Tag Archives: nature

Simple Witchery — Part 1


What is simple witchery? Perhaps an explanation of witchery, or practicing witchcraft, is first called for.

Truly, there are so many schools and styles of witchcraft, and so many more personal takes on each, that trying to even touch on all would be a herculean task and not at all in the spirit of keeping it simple. You have Google for that.

Know this, the first rule of witchcraft is to seek knowledge, always.

It may be easier to explain some of the things witchcraft is not.

Witchcraft is not devil worship. In witchcraft there is no devil of the widespread Christian understanding. Witchcraft holds that all that is good and all that is evil coexists within each of us, much as in the Cherokee story of the two wolves. Witches acknowledge and work with their shadow side to recognize, understand, and in most cases, temper its influence, or at least reserve it for specific use.

Spells are not conjuring or working with the devil. See above, there is no devil. Spells are focused intention, usually a petition or expression of gratitude. In that way they are not unlike a prayer. However, unlike prayer they are not always directed to a deity or spiritual entity. This makes them also like a mantra or positive affirmation. To whatever extent science confirms the success of positive thinking, self fulfilling prophecy, and fake it ’til you make it, it also supports the success of spell casting.

Spells are also science. Whatever science has proven about quantum physics, it proves the same about sympathetic (or correspondence) magic.

Ethical witches do not attempt to manipulate the free will of others. This is probably the number one rule among true witches and translates to the shorthand, “You do you.” It applies to how you practice your craft, and all the personal choices you make both in magical and every day life. A coven or other gathering of witches may have guidelines and rules, but those are upon your voluntary membership—if you are accepted and join (initiate) you agree to this and that.

This is why most witches worth their salt will not cast a love spell to inspire or change the feelings of a specific person. A love spell is worked either on yourself to prepare you for the right relationship when it comes along, or to appeal to the powers that be (energies) that the right love be sent your way.

Witches do not always belong to a coven. Many witches practice their craft as solitaries. Take appropriate cautions if you join a coven, as you would joining any group of people you don’t otherwise know, remembering that a coven is considered a family bound by oath—you will likely share vulnerability and deeply personal aspects of your life.

If a witch ever, in any situation, asks you to participate in something that goes against your values and ethics, get thee away from said witch(es) post haste and never, ever return.

So, while were on the subject of covens and groups . . .

Sky clad (naked) ritual is not necessary. It is practiced by solitary witches and covens, but you don’t fail at being a witch if you don’t dance naked under the moon, or in the hot tub or whatever else may be the setting for stripping down. The reason for sky clad ritual is to show to the deity God/Goddess that you come in perfect love and trust with nothing to hide. It also demonstrates the same to your coven.

Again, if you join a group or a coven that does make sky clad ritual a required part of their group practice, it should be stated up front and understood. You can and should decline joining if it makes you uncomfortable. You should also leave any coven in which you feel there is an abusive element to naked ritual. I do not practice sky clad; for one thing, it’s too dang cold six months of the year in my realm to even consider it.  I doubt that I would ever join a coven that requires it—but never say never!

There is no rule against personal gain. Other than those which apply to dishonor and greed in every day life. So go ahead and cast that spell for a raise, or promotion, or the winning lottery numbers. It never hurts to try.

There is no threefold rule. Other than the every day concept that you get what you give, you reap what you sow, the golden rule, etc. The idea that whatever you send will come back to you times 3 is part of the folklore, crafted by some of the early, modern day witches. However, do not take this lightly, every witch has a story to tell of the spell that manifested with consequences not anticipate, even though they thought they had considered every possible outcome.

There isn’t even a rule of do no harm. That too, was written in by the modern day practitioners. Ethical witches are also just ethical people; we practice under the same real world laws of nature, physics, human emotion, and civil laws as everybody else. The important thing to remember here is our belief that all life is connected and what we do to any one, we do to all, including ourselves. For deity witches, there is also the belief that every living thing harbors the Divine within, and so to harm any is to harm the Divine. “As above so below, as within, so without, as the universe so the soul.” ― Hermes Trismegistus

Before we leave this concept, all witches believe in complete acceptance of the consequence of our actions. We do not deflect, we do not whine, we do not say, “Woe is me.” To know this down to our bones, greatly governs our actions.

Witchcraft in and of itself is not a religion. Wicca is a recognized religion, but not all witches are Wiccans. In fact not all witches practice the craft as a religious/spiritual practice. Some practice strictly as magic, magic being the understanding of the laws of nature and the physical world, and using that understanding to create (manifest) their intention, to the extent that many modern day witches study quantum science and string theory. Some witches are simply on a path of personal betterment without high magic.

Many self identify as folk, garden, hedge, herbal, kitchen, or green witches (not referring to skin color, but working with nature elements). Others identify by the deity they primarily worship, such as Hekataen witches, Dianic witches, etc. There are traditions pertaining to pantheons, such as Celtic, Norse, Italian, Slavic, etc. This is a comprehensive list.

Witchcraft is not all about the magick, but the magick is fun. First, magick with a  K differentiates the craft of the witch from the art of illusion practiced by magicians.
Magick is real. Think of it this way. Fire was magick to the ancients – sent by the gods in lighting bolts. It remained magick until they discovered the science behind fire, until some astute being observed that friction could also create fire and that s/he could create friction. And so it went until we were cooking with gas, not to mention short wave radiation! Magick happens all around us, understanding how it happens allows us to discover ways of harnessing it.

And while we’re on cooking . . .

Cooking is magic by definition. Taking any number of ingredients, applying either heat, cooling or some physical action, to arrive at an end result that is more than just the sum of its parts, is alchemical magic. Take the simple act of whipping egg whites into meringue, or churning milk into butter. Or combing milk, butter and sugar to make caramel. In a time before these things were common skill, they were first magick. Once upon a time, only nature could make a diamond, but not any longer.

Your near ancestors were witches. Women mostly, but men also, were kitchen, hedge and hearth witches, they were water diviners, weather predictors, and tillers of soil. Whether they called themselves such or not, their ways were the ways of the witch, they worked with the seasons, natural elements and physics. They practiced folk remedies and cures with plants and herbs. They tossed salt over their shoulders, hung symbols in their homes, planted their gardens and harvested their crops by the moons. Some of their traditions were part of a religious faith, but not all of them were. They lived with an understanding and working knowledge of the physical world around them.

Witch, as we know it, is a word and concept that was created by the early patriarchal religions of the world to wrest the power of a relationship to the natural world, divinity and faith, and cultural belief, from the hands of the masses. Power was shifted to the governing body of the church. Pagans were simply the unlearned, unbaptized country folk in the beginning—the simple folk. Most often, when they were persecuted, tortured and murdered, it was for ulterior agendas (such as property and land grabs) or out of ignorant fear.

As I said in an earlier post, my practice of witchcraft is a reflection of my reverence for the Divine signature in all living things, especially humanity. It is an ongoing effort to rise above ego and seek the greater good. My practice is rooted in the simple faith that there is something bigger than myself, bigger than humanity, bigger than this life as we know it. It doesn’t matter what I call it or how I aspire to connect with it, because when I do, when any witch does, we are woke to the knowledge that God and Love are one and the same.

Blessed be and journey well.

Click here to read Simple Witchery — Part 2


Sweet Fern

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47dc-4fae-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.rThe fragrance of Sweet Fern after a summer rain is unmistakable. It’s as if somebody peppered the very air with an exotic spice. Fresh and refreshing are the words that spring to mind each time I breath in the aroma of this versatile plant.

Once you know that Sweet Fern (Compton Peragrina) is cousin to Bayberry (Myrica cerifera),  you begin to understand the lure of this lesser known member of the Myricaceae family.

Also known as Meadow Fern, and Spleenwort Bush, the plant is not a fern at all, but a deciduous shrub. It grows in rocky, sandy habitats, often on sunny hillsides along roadways. It reaches a height of two to three feet. Sweet Fern was a well used medicinal remedy among Native American tribes.

As a flower essence, Sweet Fern opens energy channels, making it an important component in my Energy Healer blend, along with Lilac to reconnect deep memories, and Lady’s Mantle to imbue Mother Earth’s nurturance.

The blossoms of the Sweet Fern are small. They can be easily missed when they present in late spring. There are male catkins and female, cone-like buds. Pollinated buds burst into a tiny fruit, or more correctly seed pod.Seed PodIt’s late in the season to be seeing the bright green seed satellites with their spiky hulls, especially this year, with the unusually high temperatures and drought like conditions we’ve been experiencing in the western Lake Superior basin, but I spied a few on my morning walk today.Brewing

Since I’m running low on last years stock of Sweet Fern essence, I decided to give it a go with the fruits of the plant. After all, the theory behind flower essence is that the plant’s vital energy is primarily in the blossom, and at it’s height in early morning. It seems to follow that the same would be true of the fruits and seeds—the progeny of the blossoms and method of procreating the plant. I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out.

Bottled Sweet Fern Stock Essence

Sweet Fern is a very versatile plant medicine. All parts of the plant can be utilized in many different forms. You’ll find loads of information and uses with a simple search.

Normally after I’ve bottled up my stock solution, I use the mother essence to water my houseplants. This time I’m saving it to add to a weak infusion of the leaves, which I’ll cut using sterile water. I want to try it as an astringent eyewash.

Finally, I’m going to harvest the leaves to dry in bundles along with my prairie sage to use as a smudge.

Blessed Imbolc – Gently The Light Returns

Sunrise - Gently the light returns

The wheel of the year turns in its own time. Sometimes it seems not fast enough for us, and others it seems to speed along at breakneck pace. By our human nature, we’d all like the season we most enjoy to last the longest. For me, living in northern woods bordering Canada, that season is summer. I want it to arrive sooner, stay longer and take slow leave.

When I want to understand the wheel of the year, I think of the ancient peoples who followed it.

Based on the seasons, it marked the times of darkest winter, when survival depended on warm shelter and stocks of food, on trapping or hunting—or perhaps migrating to warmer climates for nomadic tribes. It followed the cycle of growth in the return of vegetation, foraging and gathering. Later it marked the times of cultivating and planting, then harvesting, of tending stocks and the timing of breeding.

Spring and fall are what I think of as in-between seasons. We watch the signs, consumed with anticipation of longer daylight and warmer weather, or filled with urgency to prepare for the dark and cold half of the year.

Imbolc marks an in-between time. The sap begins slowly rising up from the roots into the tree trunk, making it’s way to branch tips. We cannot see it, nor hear it, but we know it’s happening and that it will soon be time to tap the trees. This is the time of the earth’s quickening. Any woman who has borne children knows that time, when the child growing in the womb first begins to stir, as gentle a touch as a fly lighting on your arm.

Spring is stirring in the womb of mother earth and soon, like a woman whose belly swells round with life, the signs of the new season will burst forth around us.For now we wait, we anticipate, like zealous detectives we scrutinize the earth form for visible signs of spring’s impending arrival. When it seems there are none (or none we can yet see), we create celebrations to honor them, perhaps to coax them along.

Imbolc is more widely known as the secular holidays of Candlemas Day and Groundhog Day. A folk rhyme told, “If Candlemas Day be sunny and bright, winter shall have another flight.” Of course we know if the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, we are in for six more weeks of winter.

Even during my lifetime these predictors once seemed reliable, but in recent years, the weather patterns seem to fluctuate wildly within all the seasons. Those of us connected to the planet and nature in our spirituality, see this subtle and have no doubt the climate is in upheaval—a transition phase marking a change.

This Imbolc, spend time in nature wherever you are living. Connect with the Earth Spirit through the souls of your feet walking her surface, through the scent of the air in your nostrils and the feel of it on your skin, through the vision of the landscape beyond your doorstep. Look for the signs she is giving you. Listen to what she has to say. Honor her as Mother and thank her for the life she gives.

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