Monthly Archives: August 2013

In anticipation of Mabon

Litha Crafts- Fire Incense

Merry meet all,

An early chill is in the air. The gardens wind down in preparation for fall. Halloween merchandise haunts the store shelves. Yup, no doubt about it. Our favourite time of year is almost here. To celebrate summer’s end, I am attending a workshop led by Starhawk this weekend. I can’t wait for this retreat and I promise to blog all about it. 

If you are searching for some inspiration on how to celebrate the upcoming Sabbats, feel free to peruse my past blog posts about Mabon and Samhain. They brim with ideas and suggestions on how to enjoy Samhain, find a costume, decorate for the Sabbats, and lots more. 

Enjoy the last of the summer warmth. When the chill creeps into the air, the leaves turn, you will know it will be time for the harvest. I always look forward to harvest time. My tomatoes are growing well, I have a new pot of green peas started, and carrots. I wish they would grow faster before the frost arrives. Mother Earth takes her time though. I spied potato leaves. I might get a potato or two before the killing frost. I saved my fern from death. The fern is growing new leaves. I will miss my garden this winter. 

I have a large black cauldron on hold at the local awesome metaphysical store Little Mysteries here. I hope I get to bring it home in time for Samhain. That would be cool because I will dedicate it at Samhain! That would be really cool. I plan to use the ultra large cauldron for spellworkings, charms and as a censer. It is too large for scrying but I am sure I can find ways to use it. Once I get it home, it will never be moved. It is that large. At least, until moving day. 

Blessed Be,

Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Protective Mugwort

witches-round-the-altar2.jpg

Merry meet all,

It’s 70 more days to Samhain!! Are you excited? I am!! It’s time to be preparing for Samhain. Samhain is the traditional Celtic Witches New Year. I feel a little chill in the air this morning. 

The day of the Full Moon, I harvested a large stalk of mugwort. The mugwort is drying on a towel in my kitchen. Mugwort can be used in divinations, dream work, teas, incense, to cleanse crystal balls. It can be used to smudge a ritual area. Mugwort’s versatility for magickal spellworkings makes it a popular herb. 

I listened to a podcast by Selena Fox on Pagan Circle podcast. She talked about mugwort and its many magickal uses. I enjoyed the podcast and since I am growing organic mugwort in my kitchen witch’s magickal herb garden, I can make the most of the traditional witch’s herb. Also, trimming the mugwort allows it grow back, which is another bonus. It will soon be time to harvest your bounty from your herb garden. I hope you have a great harvest of herbs, flowers, and vegetables. I also hope they were organic and free of harmful pesticides. You retain more nutrients and the volatile oils of some of your plants by keeping them organic. The veggies, herbs, and flowers I grow are as organic. I used organic soil too. 

Now the moon is waning. The next Sabbat in the Wheel of the Year is Mabon, a magickal time in its own right. Waning moon is the time to draw away from you that which no longer serves you. Banishings and purification spells are good to do now. I steeped mugwort tea and poured it on the ground deosil in a circle all around my apartment. We had to dig up tree roots here to get them out of the pipes. There was lots of upheavel. The tea circle will now replenish and strengthen the energy here, cleanse away the negative energies, and protect the area. I was up 6 am to pour the tea. I am sure I might look strange to onlookers walking in a circle pouring out tea from a teapot. I like to be discreet when I do that. I also want to do this at Samhain. 

I also recommend smudging your home on the inside every full moon. That strengthens the magickal shield inside your home. Autumn, or the Fall season, is the best time to stock up on magickal provisions. My pantry is almost empty. I intend to stock up on herbs and other magickal tools for spell workings this season. 

Blessed Be, Lady Spiderwitch

 

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Lunar Magic Blessing

Flower Moon

Merry meet all,

Sending you sincere full moon blessings to you all out there enjoying August’s Blue Moon. I wish you all a wondrous magickal night. May all your wishes come true. May the Goddess bless you on this Full Moon eve, your gardens, your dreams, your rituals. 

Blessed Be,

Lady Spiderwitch

 

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Meeting animal totems on the Path

Crowinsunset

Merry meet all,

Recently a garter snake, chickadees, spiders, and a black cat visited me when I was outdoors. The chickadees enjoy the seeds from the feeder. But the garter snake is a sacred creature of the Goddess and a black cat is a traditional animal familiar of Witches. I am always on the watch for auspicious signs and you can’t get a more auspicious sign than a visit from the creatures that are the most associated with Witches. Perhaps a toad will visit me soon, too. 

Every August, spiders rule the garden here. I was outside to check on my garden before heading out on the trail. I became tangled in a spider web and the spider went down the front of my dress. I shook and freaked out and the spider crawled away on the ground. I like to fancy myself a calm and collected person when it comes to spiders. I love spiders and I never harm them. But I don’t want them crawling on my body. Spiders are symbols of patience, cunning, and are excellent predators. 

I was out on the nature trail and looked down at the ground. There, on the paved road, was a snake. I lightly tapped it with my foot and to my wonder, the snake slithered into the protective foliage. Snakes are symbols of rebirth and the oroborus. 

The black cat is a well-known anima familiar. A black cat lazed in the sun and mewed at me, enjoying the sunny weather and the cool shade under the trees. I greeted her and petted her soft head, then continued on my way. Black cats are associated with witchcraft, magic, mystery and the moon. 

These creatures are also connected to the Goddess. The Full Moon is tomorrow night. Samhain is three months from now. I take the visits from these critters to mean that I should prepare now for the Full Moon and the harvest season. I would love to hear from you if you’ve had any visits from critters in your life. It’s all right if you have pets. I would like to hear about that, too. 

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Early autumn musings

CIMG1702

Merry meet all,

Today the moon travels from Sagittarius to void of course to Capricorn. The moon is in Mercury and today’s corresponding colour is purple. Capricorn represents structure and Mercury represents action and wisdom. Also, Friday is Freya’s Day. Magickally speaking, today is perfect for perhaps planning a date or a romantic outing. On August 20th, the full moon rules the night sky. 

My garden looks beautiful today. The tomatoes are growing large on the vines, I began a fresh crop of shallots, radishes, and peas. The vines smell absolutely delicious. I love to run my hands over the vines because the scent is divine. The flowers and herbs are great too. Bees love to visit the bee balm. Of course. 

I see signs now that the garden is preparing for fall. The sea holly thistles are brown, and i can soon save the seed from the sea holly. The comfrey isn’t producing more flowers. The early pea vines are withering. I don’t like to think it but fall is around the corner. Lammas is the first of the three harvest Sabbats. The next turn in the Wheel of the year is Mabon, and following that is Samhain. Every Witch anticipates Samhain. 

I enjoy Mabon, not nearly as much as I do for Samhain. Mabon is magickal on its’ own. The chill is in the air and leaves turn those gorgeous colours of crimson and gold. Pumpkins ripen on the vine. We’ll be ready for the fall festivities on this blog. 

Blessed Be,

Lady Spiderwitch

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Herb Harvest

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Merry meet all,

How to gather herbs

Wildcrafting is the gathering of herbs in their natural environment. When you are searching in the wild for chicory, chickweed, mints, or nettle, please respect the earth. Collect as much of a plant or herb as you need at the time. Never deplete an entire patch of wild raspberry or nettle. Let the patch or tree continue to grow in its wild state. Leave an offering for the plant and the goddess. Nature maintains a natural balance.

A difference can be found in the taste of store bought herbs and your own garden grown herbs. Herbs should be gathered when they flower. When gathering leaves, cut above the node on the stem. Pick off the faded leaves and store in a dry place. When gathering flowers, cut the flowers just before they flower. Seeds should be gathered when they turn a brown color. Collect roots in the dormant season.

Be sure that you are selecting the correct herbs when you are gathering wild herbs. Bring a friend and a guidebook with you. It might be easy to mistake poison ivy for another plant.

How to dry herbs

Fresh herbs should be picked before the heat of the midday sun or the volatile oils will evaporate. The drying of the leaves of herbs intensifies the flavor. Small leaves dry faster than large leaves. As a precaution, do not take more than two cups of any one medicinal herb in twenty-four hours. Some herbs are stronger than others. Moderation with herbs is strongly advised.

First, the basics of herbs: harvesting, drying and storing of herbs. Autumn Equinox is the ideal time to gather and harvest herbs. You can use scissors or a boline. Try corresponding the color of the plants and the earth element with your tool for cutting. The color of the scissors could be green. A boline has a white handle and can be used to harvest herbs.

Next, wash the herbs in a nearby lake or in a clean kitchen sink. Once clean, bind the herbs with embroidery floss or a rubber band. Tie a loop around the ends and hang the herbs from string in your kitchen to dry. Allow the herbs to dry for several days. When the herbs are crisp to the touch, they are ready.

For instance, lemon balm has small leaves on its stems. When it is dry to the touch and easily crumbles, it can be ground in a mortar and pestle, and stored in a dry canning jar. While the leaves are drying, the tiny black seeds fall out. Store bundled lemon balm herbs in a paper bag to collect the seeds.

If you are freezing the herbs, wash and dry the herbs in cold water first. Press the leaves into plastic bags. Put the leaves in single layers in the bags. Remove the hard stems and do not thaw the herbs before you use them.

If you prefer to use jars, label the jar and write on the date on the jar. Ensure the jar is not damp or wet as this can cause your herbs to mold. Store somewhere dark and cool in a cupboard or pantry in labeled brown paper bags with a date written on them. The herbs will be properly prepared and easily accessible for your cooking or magical purposes.

Herbs have a rich history. The ancient Mayans decorated graves of their loved ones with herbs such as marigolds to aid them on their journey in the afterlife. The folklore of herbs is fascinating. However, I urge those who want to use herbs to use caution. The power of herbs should not be underestimated.

Enjoy the bounty of your gathered herbs!!
Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch

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Filed under drying herbs. gathering, herb harvest

Store seeds for spring

Merry meet all,

How to Store Seeds
Store seeds for the next spring season! Collect the seeds from the herbs you grew and there will be no need to purchase new seeds next spring. This saves you money in buying seeds and if you grew organic herbs, you will know they contain no pesticides. If you store seeds properly, then they should be fresh and viable by the time spring returns. Saving seeds is economical and enjoyable.

It is important to keep seeds clean for storage. How you collect them, when you collect the seeds, and how you clean them determines how the seeds will last till next spring. You have to wait till the seed heads have signaled they are ready to be collected. You don’t want to discover the seeds are molded come next March. That will ruin your efforts.

Supplies
Invest in paper envelopes, a sharp pair of shears for cutting herbs, twine or embroidery floss, and Mason jars. Dry jars and paper envelopes are invaluable in saving seeds properly. They cost pennies. Seeds can be stored in jars, paper bags, and envelopes and at certain temperatures. It takes patience and effort to store seeds but well worth the effort.

Collecting Seeds
Seeds vary in how they can be collected, cleaned, and saved for storage. It depends on the herb and the type of seed you wish to save. Some seeds require threshing, winnowing, and some seeds shatter when still attached to the plant. All of this has to be taken into account before collecting seeds.

Some wet seeds need to be fermented first. Dry seeds can be winnowed from the chaff. Try to wait as long as you can before removing seed husks from the plants. The longer you wait, the better quality of the seeds in the husks. These seeds reach maturity while attached to the plant.

Preparing Your Seeds
To clean wet seeds, scoop the pulp and seeds into a slanted bowl filled with water. Healthy seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl. Non-viable seeds float to the surface. Repeat the process a few times to rinse the seeds clean and to collect as many healthy seeds as possible. Rinsing the seeds keeps the seeds from sticking to whatever surface you place them on.

To dry wet seeds, line a strainer with a paper towel to absorb the remaining moisture from the seeds. Next, spread the seeds on glass or a ceramic surface. Place the glass or ceramic plate somewhere dark, dry and warm for several days before putting the seeds in a jar. Make sure the seeds are thoroughly and that the jars are completely dry. Storing seeds or herbs before they are properly dried or putting them in damp jars invites mold, thereby ruining your efforts and time. Remember to date and label the jar. Store out of direct sunlight.

To store dry seeds, wash the seed heads to remove insects and dirt. Then if you saved the flower, seed husk and stem, bundle it together with twine or string and hang to air dry. Wait till the leaves and husks are crisp and dry before removing the seeds. Or cut the seed heads from the plants, wash, and leave the seed heads on a screen or towel to air dry. Once dry, winnow the seeds to remove the chaff. Dry the seeds again. It is crucial that you leave the seeds to dry as long as you can to ensure the seeds don’t mold. You have to be patient to properly dry seeds.

Common Herbs
I have included some commonly used herbs below with tips on how to dry them to store the seeds.
Ocimum Basil
You can harvest the seed heads when they turn brown. To harvest the seeds, resist the urge to pinch your basil plants. Let the seed heads dry out. Separate the clusters from the seeds in a bowl. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. You can blow off the chaff or shake the bowl to remove the chaff. Basil seeds are small, round and black. Store the seeds in a dark airtight jar and label and date the jar.

Chamaemelum Chamomile
Chamomile is a perennial herb belongs to the Aster family. The flower head is an achene, that is, one dry indehiscent, fruit bearing one seed connected to the flower ovary. Wait until the flower heads have dried and turned brown before collecting seeds. Dry the seeds on screens or paper towel then thresh the seeds. Store the seeds in a labeled and dated jar or paper envelope.

Lavender angustifolia Lavender
To save the seeds from a lavender plant, wait till the stems turn brown. Cut the stems with a clean pair of sharp shears. Bundle the lavender stems together and place in a brown paper bag. The stems should face upward. Leave the bare stems in a tied bag in a dark, dry place to dry out. When the stems are dry, run your fingers down the stems to separate the seeds and discard the stems. Empty the contents of the paper bag onto a flat surface. Separate the seeds from the flowers. Store the seeds in a dry, airtight jar.

Lemon Balm Melissa
Bees and people alike love lemon balm for their warm lemony aroma. Lemon balm is a perennial and a member of the mint family, like lavender. The flowers are white but do hold tiny black seeds. Each flower has four single-seed clusters. Put a plastic bag over the flower heads to save the seeds outside. When the plant has matured, go outside early on a dry morning and remove the stems and plastic bags. Once inside, spread the stems on a screen or paper towel. Rub the seedpods to get the seeds. You can store them to dry in a plastic bag. The stems should face upward. The seeds will then land in the bottom of the bag. Store the seeds in a dry airtight jar out of direct sunlight.

Mentha x piperita Peppermint
Mint is a perennial valued for its flavor. A variety of mint exists such as peppermint, apple mint, spearmint, and chocolate mint. The flowers grow in spikes. Wait until the spikes turn brown. Store the seedpods in a cardboard box or envelope for two weeks to dry. Open the box or envelope and shake the seedpods to remove the seeds. Pour the seeds into a labeled and dated envelope. Store the seeds in the paper envelope at a temperature of forty or fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

Storing and saving seeds allows you the convenience of knowing where your herbs came from, saves you money, and enables you to share your bounty with your friends and family. If you grew organic herbs, you will have the satisfaction of knowing they contain no GMOs or chemicals. Seeds may be of similar shape or color, so sort seeds in their own jars or envelopes and label them clearly. Otherwise, you may end up growing lemon balm when you wanted chamomile. If you save and store your seeds properly, you will be blessed with an array of seeds to choose from to germinate in the spring season.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Herb Magick

Merry meet all,

On Monday, August 5th, the Celtic tree month of Hazel began. The moon is waxing- and helping our plants grow. August 7th was the Lammas crossquarter day. The sun reached 15 degree in Leo. This is a magickal time. The days stretch closer to Mabon, when the first chill creeps into the air and leaves turn to gold and crimson.

If you have harvested your herbs from the garden, now would be a good time to perform some herbal magick. The moon is increasing in size. Focus on what you wish to attract to you. Clean up your garden, clear the weeds, and harvest your herbs and flowers. You can perform divinations, scrying, or cleansing of your magickal space with your herbs.

Clean your herbs and allow them to dry. Store them and when they are crisp to the touch, store them again or perform your herbal magick. The herbs in the garden by now will be ready for harvest. I have a lovely mugwort stalk that I plan to harvest soon, as well as coneflower, mints, and lemon balm. These herbs are good to use in teas.

I wish you the best in your herb magick

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Dog days of summer

Merry meet all,

Are you having a magickal summer? I’ve worked hard on my garden, and harvested shallots, peas, and chives. Oh they taste so good. Bees visit the bee balm, astilbe, and dead nettle. I am enjoying the fruitful verdant bounty of my garden. I just came in from watering it. Ah the joy of gardening.

I hope you are all enjoying Lammas. I believe that Mabon is a little more magickal. The leaves turn those gorgeous colors, and pumpkins show up everywhere. Mabon is a good time for a harvest. Everything is still young and on the peak of harvest. My radishes are almost ready. The tomato vines are bigger and I have planted more pea seeds to extend the pea season. I can’t wait to bite into a garden grown radish. I wish the slugs would keep off!

Enjoy summer while you can. Summer is fleeting. Before you know it, September rolls around and you’ll be facing classes and midterms. Or maybe you work and dread the alarm clock for work. Three weeks before the beginning of September can fly past quick.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Lammas Harvest

Merry meet all,

Are you all excited? Today marks the beginning of Lammas. Lammas is the first of the three harvest Sabbats. The Wheel of the Year turns again. The sky darkens earlier now. Fields are ripe with wheat, and gardens are ripe with vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

I shall soon reap the bounty from my garden. I have braved torrential rains and slugs to grow the peas, radishes, carrots, and shallots. Mmm I wish I could share the delicious taste of my peas from my garden. The seeds were organic. I believe that is why they are so tasty. I plan to preserve some seeds, too. My book tells me how to store seeds from over 300 plants. Good thing I have so many Mason jars.

I plan to celebrate Lammas tonight with a solitary feast. I will add what I have grown in my garden to the feast. I have chives, garlic chives, and shallots and lemon balm, bee balm, and some other culinary herbs. I would harvest the leaves of the bee balm, because the bee populations are in decline and the bees are all over the bee balm. They can’t get enough of the bee balm. Lemon balm and coneflower also grow well in my garden, but I see the bees visiting the bee balm the most. They like native brightly coloured single-petaled flowers. Bee balm attracts hummingbirds.

I am ordering organic white sage seeds, organic witch hazel seeds, and a book on how to grow and worship tulsi. I am growing organic tulsi plants, which is holy basil and is worshipped in India. The herbs are growing beautifully. I will enjoy growing and harvesting my own organic white sage plants. I will definitely be smudging with leaves from the plant. Though I often end up with more seed doing it this way, I like to begin from seed and know the seed is not poisoned with GMOs. I find I have better control and a better plant starting from seed this way. I may never buy white sage smudge sticks again, when I can create my own.

Lammas is a time of celebration and feasting. Reflect on the bounty of nature and be grateful for it. Share your celebration with friends and family. Offer a bit of your harvest to the God and Goddess as thanks for the bounty they offer and help with your gardens. Do everything you can to help bees. No bees, no plants, no harvest. So help the bees.

Enjoy the magic of Lammas
Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch

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