|Posted by Felicia on October 31, 2009 at 2:13 PM||comments (7)|
Just want to wish everyone a very Happy Samhain. I hope the new year will be full of joy for you all.
|Posted by Felicia on October 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM||comments (5)|
Its nearly Samhain, the new year for us Wiccans, and the time when the veil between us and our ancestors is at its thinnest. Samhain is a time for honouring those who have come before us, for celebrating those who gave us life, for without them we would not exist. It is also a time to look back on the past year, and make wishes for the new.
Although a lot of the old traditions from the Pagans who lived long ago are lost, some still survive with us, and we can create our own. Every year on Halloween children dress up in all kinds of outfits, unaware that long ago people were doing the same thing, not for candy, but to stop the spirits of those unrelated to them taking them back to the spirit world. It was believed that if they could not recognise you, they could not take you. Jack o' lanterns are modern versions of the carved turnips set in windows to guide the visiting spirits of friends and family who had passed on back home. The dumb supper, a silent meal with a place set and served for visiting spirits, is still happening in some homes every year. Originally this time was not for fearing ghosts, goblins and the supernatural, the visit of the spirits was a happy time, for they love us their descendants, and just wish to spend time with us again. Much of this has been lost, but Wiccans and many other religions still maintain the honouring of the dead each year.
Ways We Can Celebrate
Here are a few ideas for celebrating and honouring those who came before us, as well as celebrating the new year.
The dumb supper
As mentioned before, the dumb supper is a silent meal with an extra place laid and served, so that visiting spirits may join you. If you have children then silence may be difficult, but a place could still be set, and a few pieces of food placed there as an offering. Seeds, nuts, halved apples and bread are good, as after Samhain they can be put out for the birds to enjoy as well.
Jack o' Lanterns
The origin of these, carved turnips, can easily be done, but apples, gourds, squash and pumpkins are all easy to do as well. Remember to place one in the window or by the door with a candle lit, so that any visiting spirits can find their way.
Garlands made from slices of dried apple, nuts, leaves, berries and other natural objects are easy to make, and are good decorations, as well as being more eco friendly and having symbolic meaning.
Tree of Remembrance
If there is a tree near you that you have always viewed fondly, then take a white ribbon, and tie it gently onto a twig in honour of friends and family that have moved on. If possible encourage other members of the family to add one as well. Another option is to place a crystal amoungst the roots or branches.
Place a plate of halved apples, or a favourite food of a loved one, on your altar, or outside.
When you have your circle, give thanks to your ancestors for all they have provided, and honour anyone, be it friends, family or pets, that you have lost this year. Remember to write a wish or goal for the new year on a piece of paper, and bury it outside.
Placing photos or tokens of anyone you have loved and lost, or of some of your ancestors, on your altar, is a good way to honour them. Light a candle and hold a minutes silence for them, while you remember all the good things about them that you can.
There are many more things you can do, try to come up with some fun and unique ideas. Remember to have fun, but stay safe, and always take care with the use of candles.
|Posted by Felicia on October 10, 2009 at 10:28 AM||comments (25)|
Hagstones, Holeystones, Witchstones and Earth's Eyes, all names for the naturally occuring stones with a hole worn through it. Often found at the beach or near rivers, these stones have been long been used for protection and the raising of power. Hagstones are believed to provide protection from hexes, spells and negative energy, partly because the holes are worn by water, and water disappates most spells. Anything thrown at the owner is channeled through the hole, and as it passes through it is broken and left harmless, although some believe it is redirected to the source (thus speeding the process of the threefold law. Many people used Hagstones to protect them or their goods from witches, but their use predates that.
Hagstones are also used for the raising and focusing of power, and are believed to bring good luck. Some like to seek one out, and on finding the right one will cleanse them, then carry them with them or keep them on their altar. Often Hagstones are given as gifts, for they are strongest when either used by the person who found them, or when they have been given in love.
When finding or choosing a Hagstone, you should always go for the one that calls to you, but often people find that theirs reflects their personality, for instance, a pale soothing colour would suggest a calm personality.
Do you use or own a Hagstone, or would you ever use one? Let me know what you think in a comment. I myself have a Hagstone I wear as a necklace and I keep a few dotted around, and my eldest niece keeps one by her bed I helped her find.
|Posted by Felicia on September 12, 2009 at 8:51 AM||comments (10)|
This is the first ever post of the new website blog. Each week I'll be adding a new article on various things to do with Wicca, and there will also be an extra post for each of the Sabbats.
Growing Your Own Herbs
At some point in their life most Wiccans will want to grow herbs, even if it is just a little pot of sage on a south facing windowsill. This post is here to help start you off.
Where Will They Go?
The first thing you need to do is choose which herbs you will be growing. Look at where you will be growing the herbs, indoors, or outdoors, how much sun will they be getting? If growing herbs indoors its best to keep them on a windowsill that recieves sun throughout the majority of the day. If the herbs are outdoors, then you will have to go for the right herbs for the space you can work with, shade loving herbs for shady spots, and sun loving herbs (such as sage) for sun loving spots. Also you need to decide if they will be in pots or planted straight into the garden. Personally I like to grow my herbs in pots, its easier to keep them from overrunning other plants (especially the fast growing mint) and they can be moved indoors to avoid frost if needed.
Buying or Growing your Plants
When you have decided what herbs to go for its time to either buy or grow them. When growing herbs from seeds or cuttings its vital to make sure they are of good quality. Use cutting taken from a healthy plant (or in the case of mint, a healthy offset with a decent amount of the runner root it grew from attatched), and when useing seeds make sure they are fairly new, don't use ones from a dusty old packet from the back of an obscure shelf. Always make sure seedlings or cuttings have grown to a good size and developed strong roots before planting into larger pots or the garden.
If you are buying your herbs from a garden center there are many things you should look out for. First, check that the soil is moist, if it is dry reject the plant. Look for plants with healthy leaves that are not drooping, strong sturdy stems (never go for a plant that is tall and leggy with spindley stems, it has not recieved enough sunlight) and new shoots forming. Plants with white waxy or powdery covering on the leaves or stems should be rejected, as well as any that have lots of bugs on them, fluffy cotton like stuff forming anywhere, yellow blotches on the leaves, or damage such as a stem has been broken off. Also check to see if there are roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, and if possible take a look at the root ball. If any roots are starting to come out of the bottom, or there are lots wound roung and round the rootball then reject it, as it has been in a pot for to long and should have been put in a bigger one long ago. Try to go for organic herbs if possible.
These are the herbs that in my experience are the best for beginners, and make good staples for a Wiccan herb collection.
The one herb I say should feature in any Wiccan's home or garden is Sage, it features very heavily in most rituals, and may well be the most used herb in Wicca. There are many different types of Sage, I'd advise going for white Sage as this seems to grow best. Sage likes warm sunny spots, and is very easy to care for, as long as it has sunlight and water it should do fine. It can often be cut back twice a year, wait till it gets to a good size then trim it back, drying anything you cut off by hanging it upside down in bundles (make sure any herbs you dry are out of sunlight and draughts). Never cut sage back when it is flowering, as the plant won't have enough energy to begin to grow much more.
Mint is one of the fastest growing herbs, it sends out loads of little "runners" (roots) which can extend far across any garden or patch of soil, and each of these runners can have many shoots pop up. Mint is best grown in a pot alone, as it soon overwhelms other plants. It is easy to grow more plants from Mint, simpely dig down around one of the runners shoots and carefully remove it with a good sized piece of root, then plant into its own pot and keep well watered while new roots grow and establish themselves. Only cut Mint back once a year, allow it to get very large then cut it back, leaving most of the center untouched. Make sure you cut it back before it flowers, and when flowers appear remove them.
Thyme is a hardy little plant with beautiful plesantly scented flowers. It does not gain much height, but spreads pretty far across the soils surface. It can be cut back for drying more than once a year, as longs as it is given enough time to recover and regrow.
Rosemary is a hardy evergreen with two main types. The best to go for is the shorter more bushy type, although if you don't have much room for wide plants the less bushy taller version is fine. Often used in beauty spells, Rosemary is also good for headaches, rub a little of its oil on the back of the neck and the temples to increase circulation. Rosmary can be gathered for drying twice a year.
Lavender is a lovely plant to have, with a soothing fragrance and pretty flowers it is wonderful for aiding relaxation and sleep. There are actually many types available, but for drying french Lavender is best as it has the strongest scent. Cut Lavender to dry when the flowers are only just opened, if you allow them to be pollinated then produce seeds your drying area will soon be covered in them. Lavender should be cut back in winter if it is starting to develop any thick woody stems.
Most commonly used in wealth and abundance spells, Basil is a fragrant little herb with round green leaves that are a beautiful shiny emerald colour. Like most soft stemmed herbs it can only be cut from in a decent sized amount for drying once a year.
Gathering for Drying and Taking The Odd Little Bit For Spells
Gathering for drying, or cutting back, is when you take a large amount from a plant in order to sry and store it. Depending on the plant this should only be done three times a year at most, otherwise the plant may not recover. It should never be done when the herb is flowering as most of the plants energies are going towards that, so there won't be much left for it to begin to regrow with. It is fine however to take a couple of leaves from the plant every now and then, even if you've already gathered a large amount from it for drying, as long as its not a huge amount.
Over the years I've gotten into the habit of burying apple peel underneath the roots of my herbs, the slow release of nutrients keeps the plants happy for ages, and apples are sacred, so there is a two in one benifit. Plus its organic, so there is no need to use unnatural chemicals.