Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Reminder from the Spider...

And on the wished-for beam hung fast
That slender silken line!
Slight as it was, his spirit caught
The more than omen; for his thought
The lesson well could trace,
Which even he who runs may read,
That Perseverance gains its meed,
And Patience wins the race.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Incense Making

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours making incense that I use in offerings. One blend is for Airmid which has a green, pungent and floral scent, and the other is for Flidais that smells of a wild and lusty woodland.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday's Magic

To me the best time to do workings to draw fast luck {as well as quick money and other resources} is on a Wednesday of a waxing moon.

Pictured is a relatively simple spellworking with a candle of the appropriate colour that is engraved in Ogham script with the intent, along with a sewn charm of the same colour stuffed with herbs associated with the purpose of the spell.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bealtaine & Other Updates

Hello Dear Readers,

I hope that you all have been enjoying the beautiful Maytime! My Bealtaine was lovely, which you can read about over at the nefaeria blog if you like. I have various wares in the works for Unfettered Wood, so I hope to have more news about that soon. Also, while I do have various articles that I have been putting together, I was wondering if there is any topic in particular that the readers of this blog would be interested in. If there is, please feel free to email me or leave a comment.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

image from The Graphics Fairy

A mother's love's a blessing
No matter where you roam
Keep her while she's living
You'll miss her when she's gone
Love her as in childhood
Though feeble, old and grey
For you'll never miss a mother's love
Till she's buried beneath the clay

~From A Mother's Love is a Blessing by Thomas P Keenan

I wish a wonderful day to all the Mothers!



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wildcrafting Etiquette {from this Practitioner's Point of View}

It seems that harvesting wild and wayside plants has become more popular in the last few years, and really it is no wonder! Foraging for useful, edible, medicinal and magical plants is a great way to save money or just get outdoors. While I think it is great that folks are re-learning old skills, wildcrafting does come with its risks: whether it be over harvesting, misidentifying plants, or people making a complete mess of wild spaces, I think that all of this can be avoided.

Over the years I have developed a code of conduct in regards to my own wildcrafting practices, which I will share in this post. I hope that it will be useful for aspiring wildcrafters.

This is the place to start before beginning any wildcrafting adventure. Familiarize yourself with the land. Obviously it is important to find out if the place is private property or protected habitat. For me this is just the bare minimum.

I will visit a place for at least a whole calendar year before I even think of harvesting from it. I will observe the growth patterns, note which plants seem to do well in that location and see if there is anything that I can do to help improve the land {such as clean up trash}. I build a relationship with the place before taking from it.

Even after I start wildcrafting in a place, I will go back as often as I can, not to take from it, but to make sure that it is doing well. Besides picking up trash and the like, I do magical workings to make sure the place is protected.

Of course most will probably not go the "extremes" that I do, although I think that it is important for people to give back instead of just taking. I will talk about this a little more later in this post.

As far as safety goes, this is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. If you are not 100 percent certain of what you are harvesting, then leave it alone.

Start with plants that are easily identifiable for you. Read books of plant identification and bring those books with you. Bring a checklist of what to look for. One thing that I have found especially helpful when I am not sure what something is, I will take a photo of it and see if I can find it on great websites like Andy's Northern Ontario Wildflowers

Once you have identified a plant, make sure that it is alright for you to harvest it. Is it a protected species? Is there enough of it in the area that you won't impact it by harvesting it? Do you have the suitable equipment on you to harvest it safely?

You will probably have most of this covered if you have really familiarized yourself with a place before harvesting from it.

It is good to keep in mind why you are looking for specific plants and what they will be used for. This will help you gauge how much to take and when to harvest.

Depending on the purposes of your harvest, you will want to know when to collect what you are looking for. There are many plants that have more than one use, such as cattails, although you can only benefit for each use at certain times.

You will also want to make sure that the timing is right so your harvest is not interfering with the growth process, and if it is, that there are plenty other of the same species in the area so impact is low to nihil.

Take only what you need and you know that you will use. Over harvesting can devastate a habitat, so it is again good to note how much is growing in that area. If you are new to a specific plant, you may wish to err on the side of caution and take less than what you think you will need. As you become more familiar with that plant, you will better know how much to take.

I will be quite secretive about where my spots are unless I really trust the person that I am telling. The last thing that I want is for word to spread and have that spot over harvested.

Making sure that you clean up after yourself after wildcrafting is certainly good manners, although there are many other ways of giving back. You could do things that I have already mentioned such as cleaning up trash, you can join or create a group to protect that area, you can rescue plants from an area that is being developed, or you can leave natural and beneficial offerings {such as watering}.

Please feel free to share anything that you think that I may have left out.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Small Village Cemetery Clean Up

Last weekend some immediate family members and myself joined a group of folks {much of them extended family} in the annual Spring clean up of a cemetery where many of my Ancestors are buried. It was a wonderful morning blessed with good weather, no black flies, hard work, and warm hearts.

My purpose for being there was a deliberate act of devotion, and after seeing how lovingly people tended to the graves and resting place of our Dearly Departed, I conclude that it was the same for everyone else.

Given that Ancestor reverence plays a big role in my spiritual faith and work, I am very lucky to have a place to go to where I can directly commune with my own Ancestors. For this I am grateful and I hope that this tradition continues long after I am laid to rest in the same place.



A Promising New Book

Dwelling on the Threshold: Reflections of a Spirit-Worker and Devotional Polytheist is a collection of poems and essays by the wonderful blogger behind A Forest Door, Sarah Kate Istra Winter. I am really looking forward to reading this book! You can purchase and found out more information here.



Monday, May 7, 2012

Common Tansy {Tanacetum vulgare}


Other Names: Bitter Buttons, Faery Buttons, Buttons.

Description: Tansy is a very attractive perennial with groupings of small yellow button-like flowers and feathery leaves, and it grows to about 2 to 3 feet tall. It is native to Europe, but has become naturalized very successfully to North America.

Warnings: As with all herbs, one should make sure to be thoroughly informed before ingesting them, and is best to do so under the guidance of a qualified healer. Tansy is potentially toxic if large amounts are ingested; it can cause skin irritations to those with sensitive skin; tansy should be avoided during a wanted pregnancy, as it can induce miscarriage.

Cultivating: In the wild, tansy can be found growing along roadsides, in fields, and so-called 'waste areas'. It prefers full sun to part shade, and does very well in my climate which is a Canadian hardiness zone 3b/4a.

In the spring, you can propagate tansy from seed as soon as the ground is warm enough to work, and keep soil moist to a little dry. You will not have to worry about too many pests or diseases, and it can flourish even in poor soil.

Tansy usually blooms in July and August, and should not be harvested in the first year of growth. Harvest flowers and leaves between June and August.

Medicinal/Remedial Properties and Lore: Anthelmintic, cardiac, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, hepatic, stimulant, tonic.

Many old-time herbalist sung the praises for tansy's healing properties. Culpeper said 'It is an agreeable bitter, a carminative, and a destroyer of worms, for which a powder of the flowers should be taken from six to twelve grains at night and morning'.

Wise woman and herbalist Susun Weed suggests in her book Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year that tansy is a very effective emmenagogue for women who are even a few weeks late for their period.

Used externally, tansy can work very well for bruises, sprains, and arthritis, and can be applied as a poultice or a decoction.

The Tansy Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker
Magical/Spiritual Properties and Lore: This plant has been often associated with immortality, and was in the past used for embalming the dead. It is hinted by Paul Beyerl's Master Book of Herbalism that tansy is an appropriate herb to be used in a funeral to 'aspurge the temple, and the deceased'.

Tansy is sometimes used in rituals celebrating womanhood {motherhood in particular}, and is said to be a herb of Mother Goddesses, and sometimes the Virgin Mary. It is also associated with Venus, and the element of water.

Tansy can be placed in a shoe for safe travels, sewn into a blue cloth for healing, and hung over opening of a home {windows, doors, the hearth}, or worn in a pouch for protection from curses.

Other Uses: Tansy is an excellent insect repellent, and is said to keep away flies due to its pungent scent. According to Garden Toad's Companion Planting Guide tansy makes an excellent companion plant to cucumbers, squash, roses, grapes, raspberries, and blackberries; it is said that tansy will deter flying insects, striped cucumber beetles, ants, flies, squash bugs and Japanese beetles.

Tansy has been used in various culinary dishes like puddings, as a dye, and is reported to be excellent in a compost heap.