Aug 27, 2013

Little Witcheries

In my previous post I spoke of the little witcheries that have, over the years, crept into my everyday life.  How it becomes habitual to speak to the garden, chant over the bowl I'm stirring, and draw symbols on doors or mow them into my lawn.  I thought I'd jot a few down here, just for fun, and perhaps you'll find some inspiration or an idea you'd like to try in your own home.

Some habits started out as superstitions or little eccentricities that I've picked up from my family. Throwing spilled salt over your left shoulder, tea and chicken noodle soup as cure-alls, foretelling weather by the color of the sky, and certain seasonal 'tells' that let us know it's time to plant or bring in the last of the harvest before the frost.  Always have a sugar pot out - even if no one uses sugar - just to keep the home sweet.  Always take your shoes off at the door.  Plant red geraniums at the front of the house.  A cut potato pulls out slivers and bee stingers.  Don't ever run out of vinegar. Some of these traditions were explained to me and some of them were just activities I noticed as I grew up around a strange mix of British and Eastern European customs, all tempered with a modern Southern Baptist attitude.

Here are some of the habits/witcheries I practice:


I keep a broom behind the front door.  It serves as my gatekeeper.  When it is standing bristles-down, it is welcoming and functional.  When it stands bristles-up, it is protective and does a great job keeping away unwanted company as well as door-to-door salespeople and proselytizers.

Leave your crap at the door.  That means your dirty shoes and your bad attitude.  If the little gargoyle behind the door doesn't take care if it, the broom sure will.  The only person who's ever broken through my wards is my father, gods bless him (or hit him over the head,) and that's on me.  He's got a special kind of bad attitude and I'm not as 100 percent immune to it as I'd like to think.

I draw symbols on my doors, inside and out.  When I'm cleaning, the symbols are drawn on the doors with an oil after they are washed.  When I'm running in or out and want to place something on the door quickly, I use my saliva.  I use runes or other symbols that resonate with me, or sigils I've created for a certain purpose.


The kitchen is a very magical place for me.  Aside from cooking, I spend a good amount of time in there processing herbs and creating products for my home and practice.  I have a small kitchen altar that houses an offeratory plate, as well as a candle that is always lit when I'm working.

While adding ingredients to a meal or an herbal product, I take time to acknowledge where those ingredients came from and call on any wisdom or symbolism they might offer.  Sarah Lawless recently posted a great list of kitchen staples and their magical uses on her blog - it is definitely worth the read.  Do yourself a favour too - pop these two books on your cookbook shelf:

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs - Scott Cunningham
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic - Catherine Yronwode

I'm a firm believer in thinking for yourself and putting your own thoughts into plant symbolism and correspondences, yet I also find these books invaluable as far as listing traditional and folkloric uses of herbs, spices and roots.

I'm also sure to keep the kitchen clean and organized.  When I'm cooking, all my ingredients are close at hand so that, rather than using my energy hopping around the kitchen trying to find items, I can focus on what I'm creating.  Depending on what I'm making, I might speak prayers, chants or even sing over the creation.

Let's be honest for a moment.  I don't operate like this at every meal, every single day.  Sometimes I do run into the kitchen, slap together a sandwich, and run back to the office.  But taking the time to be aware of what I'm creating - especially if I'm putting it in my body, or offering it to neighbours or family, is important to me.  I don't want to be thinking of the drama happening at work, while making a batch of cookies to brighten up someone's day.


Not everyone is blessed with a little piece of earth to muck about in.  Apartment dwellers may only have a small balcony or merely a window sill to attempt to grow something on.  There are several herbs that will grow indoors and houseplants or flowers that can brighten a small space.  I may mow a rune into my lawn before I start the real grass-cutting, but if you don't have a lawn, you can simply trace symbols into the earth of your houseplant.

I chat with my gardens. I offer libations (they prefer whisky or dark rum - go figure.)  I give a foolish amount of thanks when harvesting.  And while I'm sure the neighbours fully believe I'm crazy, I have no problem whispering secrets and blessings to the plants - and even the compost bin.

Seeds aren't the only things I put in the gardens.  I tuck in petitions for things I'd like to bring to me. Each spring I bury the corn dolly I created several months earlier when the corn harvest began.  And at hallowtide I bury the plate of offerings that was left out for the passing spirits.

There are more practices than I can write about in one post, that find their way into my everyday life or seasonal celebrations.  This is just a snippet of what happens in and around my household.  I have a friend who passed on the habit of placing garlic in the window sills and changing them out every new moon.  My grandmother always had a kitchen-witch floating high above her sink, but I've found that I'm more attracted to witch-balls hanging in the kitchen.  So many little fascinations.

Small things, really.  Many of them developed into habits that I found meaningful for some reason or other.  Little witcheries and random supersitions and a handful of charms I've decided I don't want to live without.

We knock on wood around here, acknowledge our ancestors, and never come to another's home empty-handed.

Should you like to delve a little deeper into folklore and the practices, superstitions and witcheries of common folk, do check out:

New World Witchery - Resources
Starr Casas - Old Style Conjure Hoodoo Rootwork

And for a look into how one witch runs her household:
Kris Bradley's book - Mrs. B's Guide to Household Witchery

Pictures are via Creative Commons
Broom - link
The Love Potion - link

Aug 22, 2013

The Deeper Places

Today, while pondering when I might get some time to do some magical work, I whispered blessings and thanks to the garden as I harvested vegetables, I chanted while I made cookies for my nieces, I napped and dreamed strange dreams, and I mowed a rune into my lawn as I was cutting the grass.

I speak often about daily practice because it is important to me.  I've not spent much time meditating this summer. My yoga routine has completely fallen by the wayside. I haven't sunk deeply into ritual in quite a while. It pleases me that it is almost habitual to imbue my daly activities with enchantment - it does lend to a very magical-feeling life. But those little fascinations don't actually replace the practices that have always anchored me. And today I felt a bit...adrift.

 As the season slowly begins to shift, the gardens wind down, and the nieces return to school, it will also be time for me to re-commit to my own praxis. It is time to return to those daily observances that offer me a firm foundation when the winds (or the full moon, or moody teenage girls,) press against my sanity.

 Tonight I'm going to spend some time with the gorgeous crow rattle that a friend of mine made, and see where the rhythm takes me. There is much that needs to be done around the house, but those things can wait one more day. I'm in need of a little communion with the deeper places that have been waiting all summer long for some quality attention.

Aug 16, 2013

On Teenagers and Summer's Remains

This weeks' theme, at the House of Rue, seems to be "How To Survive Teenage Girls."  (Hint: it involves rum.)  For those who are newish to the blog, you should know that I spend a large amount of time with my neices.  Their mother is unwell, and their father (my brother) works long hours as a winemaker at a local vineyard/winery, and so I have had the pleasure of helping to raise them.

Something happened at about age thirteen though.  Suddenly, Auntie wasn't funny or cool anymore. Getting them outside and away from the television, cell phone or video games became impossible. And everything became The End Of The World.

In all fairness, I remember being a teen.  Mostly because I wasn't very good at it.  I preferred the company of my grandmother and her garden and land, and her teapot, to the company of most of the people at school.  Every moment seemed rife with drama and the hormones rushing through my body were no help at all.  Add to that a persistent feeling that I wasn't good enough in any way, and I pretty much failed spectacularly at enjoying the years between thirteen and seventeen.  So I do understand (although, not what it is like to be a teen at this very moment in time.)

This summer, I've mostly let them be.  They sleep late, eat everything in the house, use a staggering amount of towels, and glue themselves to any screen they can find.  And they both work summer jobs. But these next two weeks - the last days before school begins here in B.C. - we will find adventure! the very least, lakes, dirt and a roasted marshmallow.

Our camping trip was cancelled for this weekend, so instead we are going to do a farm stand tour in the next valley over.  Also on the list is a visit to a gouda farm, a dip in at least three lakes, and a run across the border into Washington where I will introduce them to real Mexican food.

I think a round of mini-golf is also in order, as well as some serious goat-love from the resident kids at a huge farm-stand two hours north.  The gods are my witness (insert fist pump here,) we will drive this valley and experience something other than work and video games before this summer is through!

There will be much eye-rolling and sighing, I'm sure.

How will you spend the remains of August?

Aug 13, 2013

On Time

The gardens are overgrown and the lawn is monstrous.  Although I've been keeping up as best as I can, the weeds are winning.  I'm covered from head to toe in freckles, even though I use a SPF 70 sunscreen and wear a floppy hat when I'm out in the yard.  I've not dipped my toes in the lake once.

And still, summer does its best to keep the heat on, rolling out scorching weather each day.  And I do my best to keep the house full of groceries and clean towels for the necies living with me until school begins again.  I am exhausted.  And I am happy.  

I grin at the blue jays who fly by with peanuts in their beaks - gifts from the neighbours.  I watch as the squash and sunflowers seem to double in size daily.  I glance at the zucchini sitting on the counter, waiting to be shredded and transformed into muffins or cake, and I say..."perhaps tomorrow."
I could fill up every spare moment and still not strike off the entire "to-do list" but I still take friends to catch a bus, make muffins for the neighbours, and find brief moments to have a nap.  I even took an entire afternoon off on Sunday to sit in the shade and read a book and drink daiquiris with my best friend.  It's rather amazing how good that felt - to just sit for a while.

The other day I caught myself saying " the Fall, when things slow down..."  and I laughed, because I seem to say that every season about the next - and it's never true.  Things don't slow down.  The list never ends. And that's okay.  It's about realizing that some things on the list are not so important - or, not more important.  Not more important than watching the jays.  Not more important that taking some time to read or nap, or bake things you'll never eat because you just keep passing the muffins down the road.

I'd like to spend some time in the lake.  I'd like to drive through the valley - north to the farmland and the cheese factories, or south through the orchards and vineyards.  I'd like to spend long afternoons in the shade, devouring books.  But today, carrot cupcakes call.  And checking in on a friend's mum. And office work. And tonight I have a date with the lawn mower, when the sun heads lower into the west.

The spirits are calling too.  It's time to head back to the cemetary to see my grandparents.  The flowers I took not long ago will be withered.  The river that I spend so much of the year walking beside and have completely abandoned these last fiercely hot weeks, is showing up in my dreams and even in my waking hours, speaking to me of the geese leaving it for more southern waterways, and of the tansy that is running rampant down the sides of it like a long yellow scarf.  Summer energies are beginning to lose their hold, and others are now slipping through.  

Summer is not done for yet.  I'll continue to harvest and mow, clean and bake, and still find little moments to partake in this delicious season.  There is time.

Aug 7, 2013

Away With the Fae

July was a whirlwind and it startled me, a week ago now, to realize that August had arrived without me even realizing that it was sneaking up so quickly.  The next few posts will catch you up on what I've been up to.

My nieces and I, along with some of our best friends, headed down to Oregon on the last weekend of July for our 2nd annual Faerieworlds trip.  We've enjoyed the event so much that I think we'll be doing this for years to come.  The travelling was...trying.  A wildfire closed our route, and the detours we took added hours to the already long 11-hour journey.  Still, we arrived in good spirits (once a glorious frozen lemonade was in hand,) and had an amazing weekend.

Here are just a few pics from the weekend.  I've yet to upgrade my vintage iPhone, so the pictures are simply fair, not excellent, but it will give you a tiny taste of the magic of that weekend.

The torches are lit as the sun fades into the west:

Some sort of tree-beast:



Dancers, great and small: