Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cornish Adventure, Part One: Getting There is Half the Fun

Today I set off from my brother's home in Swindon, headed for Tintagal (the boyhood home of King Arthur) in Cornwall.  (you can see a map of my journey at the bottom of this post)  As I do most mornings, and every morning when I'm travelling, I pulled a tarot card asking "What should watch out for today?"  I find this an excellent practice.  It sometimes is a warning, but usually it's something amazing I would have missed had I not been watching for it.  It almost never makes sense in the morning, but by bedtime, it always does.

Now, Swindon, where my brother lives isn't terribly exciting.  It's an industrial/railroad town.  Reminds me a lot of Allentown.  Once you get out of town, it's rolling hills and green fields and sheep (so many sheep!  seriously, as near as I can tell there are more sheep than people in England) But, when you grew up in the most beautiful place in the world, it's pretty, but nothing special.  Getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road is actually pretty easy.  What's a little harder is getting used to the fact that the English just park wherever the hell they want, including n lanes of traffic.  Except for large highways, basically every road is one lane (even when it's two way) because people park on the side of the road, and block 3/4 of a lane.

Along the way, my spidey-sense started tingling, and I kept seeing these signs for Cheddar Gorge and Caves.  "That sounds cool," I thought.  "I love me some caves!  I wonder if there will be anything cool I can see without having to hike?  I'm going to turn off and drive, and hopefully it will be pretty.  I'm in now hurry to get anywhere."  So, I turned off, and followed the signs.  My GPS was not best pleased, but I shooshed her , and just followed my gut, and the entirely insufficient road signs.  I drove thru several little towns, including one that looked positively medieval, just like it was out of a King Arthur movie.  Eventually I got to Cheddar, and followed signs to the Gorge.

OMG, guys!  This is the most beautiful drive ever!  I duct taped my phone to the visor and shot you a video of it.  Watch below.  (now that I have invented this method, I'll try to get a chance to shoot you a video of the drive up Uffington White Horse Hill, also)

Sadly, it seems like the second video I tried to take failed when my phone ran out of memory.  :( Sorry!  To make up for it, here is a video someone else shot with a drone.  Warning: the music is super annoying.

So, after Cheddar Gorge, I got back on the highway, headed south to Cornwall.  I drove for a while, and then I started seeing signs for Glastonbury.  Now, I had planned to go to Glastonbury earlier in the week, but I got sick, and had to cancel that day trip.  I'm planning to go later in the week, but after my extremely successful outing at Cheddar Gorge, I figured I'd at least drive thru town, and shoot some photos of the Tor from afar.  (Having spoken with a friend who lives nearby, I was told that under no circumstances would my knees permit me to climb it in the winter.  England, I have discovered, is about 20% sheep and and 70% very slippery mud.  I don't know what their dirt is made of.  I suspect teflon.  In any case, for whatever reason, as I approached Glastonbury, I actually started to be really scared.  I almost turned around.  Then I saw a sign for an Aldi's, so I stopped, got some snacks for the rest of the trip, including a dozen bottles of water, and collected myself.  "Don't be silly, Sara.  Just drive thru.  You don't even have to get out of the car if you don't want to."  Honestly, I was genuinely scared.  Which is a thing that happens to me before big initiatory experiences.  I think my ego is like "No!  We're going to be different after this!!"

In any case, I followed signs for the Tor, and found myself at the Chalice Well Park, which is where the Red Spring of Glastonbury is.  That sounded great, but there was no parking, so I turned up a tiny side street looking for a place to park.  My spidey sense went crazy!  Then I saw a bunch of hippies by the side of the road.  I pulled over, and just parked alongside the road, blocking half of it.  You know, English style!  I was headed to a sacred well, so I dumped two of the water bottles, so I could fill them with spring water.  (yay, Aldi's panic stop!) . the hippies were at a place called the White Spring Sanctuary.

It was so beautiful.  It had the neo-pagan hippy magic vibe, very much like the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.  But, it also had an older, deeper power.  As you know, I adore She of the Waters Below, whom I call by her Greek name, Tethys.  I had a profound experience the other day at Bath, and this was, in many ways, the twin of that.  Now...I'm not saying the National Trust, which is the non-profit that administers most of the British Sacred Sites I've been to....I'm not saying they actively attempt to de-sacrilize everything they touch and turn the Holy Places into tourist attractions, but, well...honestly, I didn't really feel anything at Avebury.  Wayland's Smithy was powerful, but it wasn't all dolled up.  The Roman Baths were cool, but they weren't wild and sacred.  They were fancified, citified, churchy kind of sacred (which can also be called Roman/Minerva kind of sacred, so that was all right).  But this spring was the way I like my sacred sites.  Dirty.  Dangerous.  Powerful.  No cameras are allowed inside, but below I've put a video I found, which ends abruptly, when he's told it's not allowed.

I took my shoes off and rolled my pants up, and stood in the overflow of the spring, communing silently with Tethys.  But then, I saw him.  The Knight of Wands.  The Horned One.  Or, I guess more likely, some hobo looking hippy with curly hair and shiny eyes.  Wearing kelly green.  He stripped off his clothes, and went into the spring.  "Wait!  Is this allowed?!?" I thought.   It seems that it was, because nobody made any fuss at all.  Honestly, it seemed like nobody but me really even noticed.  Hard to say. Brits aren't the most emotionally expressive of peoples.   Now, here's the thing; maybe Brits are casual about public nudity.  I don't know.  But it's fucking December.  And, I mean, it's warm here compared to home (it was about 40 degree F here today), but this spring house isn't heated or anything.  It was cold as fuck just having bare feet on the wet stones.

I waited for him to get out, and I think he caught me staring, wide eyed.  He told me I should go in.  I stripped, put my clothes on a bench, and he helped me up the slippery stairs.  (Note to self:  take your cane next time, and maybe some aqua-sox).  I assume he got dressed and left after that, because I didn't see him again.  (or else it really was the Horned One, and he went back to being invisible like usual) It was extremely cold.  Seriously, like searingly cold, and then numb. But my blubber kept me ok; it takes a long time for cold to penetrate blubber, so all my vitals were still warm.  This is not an adventure I think would be safe for skinny folk!!

I was in the main circular pool for a little while.  I got a lot of mildy nasty stares (which is just a thing about being fat in public, I think, because nobody gave the guy trouble) . There, the water was up to about my knees.  But then, I moved to the back left, where there is a small altar of the Black Madonna, Our Lady Below.  I climbed up.  In the large pool at the back, behind the Black Madonna altar, there were stairs leading in (which I took as a sign that this was permitted).  There, the water reached up to my breasts.  COOOOOLD!!!!!!  I ducked under the waterfall, and drank some.  I was weeping, I think.  An old lady was singing in what sounded like maybe Russian.

The old lady gave me a hand getting out.  I do not think she spoke English.  I dried off as best I was able, and put my clothes back on.  It was very, very, very cold being in the wind.  I quickly walked back to the car, cold and wet, and jacked the heat up as high as it would go.  I sat for a while, collecting myself.  It was a very powerful experience.  Second to Eleusis, this is perhaps the holiest place I have ever felt.  I wish it had been warmer, so I could have stayed longer.

I'm tired of writing, so I will tell you more later tonight or maybe tomorrow.  Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is slated for tomorrow, and Merlin-themed site-seeing.  :) . Excited.  Good night!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tarot Tips

A few people have asked me to talk a little bit about how I read tarot, so I thought I'd do an example reading for you.  The deck I'm using is the Deviant Moon Tarot, which I strongly recommend.  It's also available as an app from Fool's Dog (full disclosure: the owners of Fool's Dog are friends).  I've tried below to narrate my thinking as I progress thru the reading, so you can see how I do it. 

The question was "What can I do to make my business more successful in 2018?"

Now the first thing I notice is that I got three trump cards, which is generally a sign that there's more powerful forces at play here than one would generally expect from such a straight forward and mundane-seeming question.  (although, to be fair, the Witch for Hire biz is not so mundane and straight-forward as all that).  I'll come back to this point when I do the actual reading.

The next thing I do is look at the generally "geometry" of how the cards line up together.  Here, you can see, the two figures on the ends are looking in at the central card.  That tells me that the real "meat" of the answer is that central card, and the other two are related to it.

Next, I look to see if any figures are repeated.  Here, I notice that the red devil of the last card is also present at the top of the Wheel of Fortune.  I also see that the emaciated figure of the Hermit has a fat (pregnant?) twin on the stool in the middle card.  Finally, I see the fish in the Hermit is repeated around the edge of the wheel itself.  One of the things I like about these cards is that they have a lot of those sorts of details.  These repetitions will help me divine a narrative connecting the individual cards.

Next, I think about each card individually, paying attention to whatever particular details that caught my eye this time I saw it (which are different in every different reading, and one reason I like art-dense decks):  

In the Past, The Hermit:  I've been avoiding networking and advertising, because I'm super shy, and I honestly hate that kind of hand-shaking small-talk schtick.  Sigh.  But, I know it has to be done.  In the background, I see an industrial city, which I understand to be Pittsburgh, where I live.  I should be networking more here.  The horns of the moon point backwards, which is another signal that the force of this card's effect is in the past.  At this point in my analysis, I'm not quite sure what the deal with the fish is.  Generally, I understand fish to be a sign of prosperity (I'm not sure why; I think it has something to do with a story I read on a plaque next to a koi pond in a Chinese restaurant when I was little).  They also relate to Pisces, which is my birth sign.  Perhaps it's that the fish is left on the ground to rot, I understand to mean that I am leaving my prosperity on the ground by not using my inborn talents (much as I hate it, I'm pretty good at small talk).  I don't worry about it, or try to puzzle it out at this stage.  I just stay open to inspiration and messages from my spirits, and have faith it will become clear as I continue to read the cards.  If it is still unclear at the end, I will do some more intellectual analysis.

In the Present, The Wheel of Fortune:  Generally, the Wheel of Fortune indicates that the situation is very fluid, and liable to be moved by the tides of destiny.  It also reminds us that the central lesson of the Wheel of Fortune is that good times come and go, around and around, and that only in the center is there stability.   Don't get sidetracked by the flash of fortune, but remain centered.  Ha!  Nice try, cards!  But I asked about finances and business.  None of your mystic woo!  Back to work!  At first I understood the woman in red to be reading for the person on the stool, but then I saw the microphone in her hand.  That made it seem, instead, that she was bidding the person on the stool to speak.  I think that the person on the stool is me.  Where I was the Hermit, now the spirits, for the woman in red suddenly puts me much in mind of the great Earth Goddesses who inspire oracles, and she bids me speak.  In this context, the Wheel of Fortune is a very clear signal that the part of my business I should focus on is the divination.  Perhaps I should start writing some blog posts about the kinds of tarot readings I do?  ;)   As the the fish along side the wheel, I am still unclear as to what they mean.  They have, however, multiplied, and multiplying fishes seems like a clear sign of prosperity.  They both face up, rather than facing around the wheel, as they would to indicate it's motion.  they seem to be paying homage to the red devil at the top, who plays the wheel of fortune like a drum.  I know the devil might seem all ookey spookey, but to me, he is my beloved Teacher, He of the Crossroad.  Once, long ago, Jason Miller gave me a piece of advice on tarot reading.  He said "read like the devil", a phrase I believe he picked up from Camelia Elias.  I understood him to mean that I should be penetrating and precise, holding nothing back and softening no edges, while still aiming for those precise spots most open to change.  In any case, there is no question that cartomancy is, indeed, "The Devil's Book", so this seems a clear sign.  Particularly given that the final card is...

In the Future, The Devil: 
I've already spoken about the Devil's role as patron of cartomancy, so that meaning seems clear enough.  For me, the Devil card almost always tells of the relationship to a spirit ally, although that is not necessarily how I read it when it appears for other people.  Notice how, in this particular card, the moon's horns point right?  That is a sign that the card's effects point to the future, even tho the "action" on the card is facing back.  The Devil of the future is informing the Wheel of Fortune in the present.  This is a very clear sign of magic, when causes come after their effects.  So, I must do some magic in the near future (I know it's the near future because of the slimness of the moon; a fatter moon would indicate more time).  I must dance with the devil, which, really, is one of my favorite things to do!

So, altogether, the reading is a clear indication that I need to focus on the divination aspect of my business, building it up with a combination of old-fashioned networking and sorcery.  One aspect of that is this "Tarot Tips" blog post.  I hope you've enjoyed seeing how my readings work, and I hope you picked up some inspirational tips you can integrate into your own readings.  To learn more:

Watch this space for more tarot tips in the future, and let me know what else you'd like to see!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A History of Penn's Woods

Every forest is different, and you’ll need to learn your own forest. However, as an example, I’ll tell you the story of my woods, Penn’s Sylvania, whose history roughly parallels, in perhaps exaggerated form, the fate of much of the Eastern Woodland.

The Forest Primeval
As the Land measures time, woodlands are new to Pennsylvania.  Eighteen thousand years ago, the northern portion of the state was covered with ice, and the rest was a mix of tundra and boreal forest. As the ice receded, species from the south moved in found a home here.

Native Forests

When Europeans arrived, what we now call Pennsylvanian was heavily forested, the woods broken by rivers, scattered wetlands, and small cleared areas housing villages. Popular telling would have it that Native Americans lived with the land in its primeval state, but that is not the case. Native American agriculture was complex, sophisticated, and involved carefully tending and cultivating the forest to their own ends. Fossil pollen and charcoal preserved in bogs and lakes all across the eastern woodlands tell us of the widespread use of forest fire by the Native Americans. With it, they managed vast acres of forest, creating open galleries of forest along river banks and cleared grasslands and fields for the cultivation of domesticated crops, such as beans, corn, and squash. What we think of as the “natural” landscape of Pennsylvania, oak and maple dominated forests are a product of that tradition of large-scale burning, which encouraged prized species, like oak and maple, and discouraged others.

Cutting Down the Trees
As European settlement moved west, they cut down the trees, and killed off much of the forest wildlife, especially large predators like wolves, in order to make room for farms, towns, and villages. Wood that wasn’t used as building material was often burned cavalierly, just to get it out of the way. The first trees to fall were those that made for the best lumber. Eastern white pines, with their tall, straight trunks were an early target. In the mid 1700s, white pine logs 120 feet long and 4 feet in diameter were routinely cut in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania, lashed into huge rafts, and floated down the Delaware river to make masts for British ships. Next fell the Hemlocks, whose bark was used to tan leather. Oak and chestnut were felled to be burned into charcoal. An iron furnace required about 30,000 acres of forest to sustain it. Finally, there came the final phase, the so-called “Great Clearcut”. The railroad allowed loggers access to the interior of the state, far from the rivers that used to be needed to transport timber. Small railways criss-crossed the entire state; today those old rail beds for the basis of our network of hiking trails. By 1900, less than 32% of Pennsylvania was old-growth forest, down from 90-95% before colonization.

Clearcutting often led to fire, set by sparks from the railroad, flames spread quickly through the brush and slash left after logging. This devastation began the spark of conservatism that saved our remaining woods, and cares for them today. In 1895, Dr Joseph Rothrock became the Commissioner of the newly formed State Division of Forestry, and began to develop the system of forest reserves (now called state forests). Begun in 1897, by 1904, the system held about half a million acres. But forest recovery is slow work. Trees had to be planted by hand, and take decades to mature. And then came new threats.

In the early 1900s, the American Chestnut comprised almost 30% of Pennsylvania hardwoods. In addition to the tastiness of it’s nuts, American Chestnut is an important medicine plant, and spirit ally. In 1904, Philadelphia land owners noticed their chestnuts growing ill. In less than 20 years, the illness spread across the Eastern Woodlands, leaving American Chestnut almost extinct. Today, there are still very few large chestnuts; they’ve been nearly wiped out by a fungal infection called Chestnut Blight. The American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation, who works to breed blight-resistant trees, can provide more details on how you can help restore this beloved tree to our Eastern Woodlands. Gypsy moths, an invasive predator from Eurasia, reached our shores in the 1920s, and began eating our woodlands bare. Ironically, it was the Great Depression that did the most to conserve our woods. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration paid thousands of men to replant our forests, and to build trails, shelters, and other conservation work.

Our Modern Penn’s Sylvania

Only a few fragments of old growth forest remain, the largest is a Tionesta Scenic and Natural Area in Allegheny National Forest. And yet, the forest has returned, albeit in a new form. New-growth forest today covers about 59% of Pennsylvania, about 30% of it on public land. The people of the Commonwealth own more than four million acres of woods; 2.1 million acres of state forest, 270,000 acres in our state parks, and 1.4 million acres of State game lands. Additionally, the Allegheny National Forest, at about 500,000 acres, is the largest federal forest in the eastern woodlands. But, out woods are still under attack. In the 1990s, Pennsylvania had the most acidic rain in the country, causing widespread forest damage.

Invasive plants dispace our native ones, particularly Norway maple, Japanese knotweed, and autumn olive. Foreign pests and diseases, particularly wooly adelgid, which kills hemlocks, and Asian long-horned beetles, damage a wide variety of our native trees. Sadly, however, it is a native species which causes the most damage. White-tail deer, themselves a valued and beloved native of our woodlands, are one of the gravest threats to our woods. The clear-cutting of the late 1800s left our forests a deer’s paradise of brush and seedlings. Populations exploded. With their natural predators eliminated and hunting severely restricted, Pennsylvania’s forests now host historically unprecedented populations of up to sixty deer per square mile, more than 6 times as many as when Europeans arrived in Pennsylvania. Deer are now the “lynchpin” species of our forests, dictating the composition of the ecosystem. They eat many species of shrubs, wildflowers, and other low-lying plants, after which the denuded forest floor is invaded by non-native species they don’t like to eat.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

She of Fruit and Thorn

Left: Hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata      and      Right: Blackthorn, Prunus spinoza
From Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé’s Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany

Hawthorn and blackthorn are well known tree allies, and they play starring roles in much European folklore. Less known is the American-native, Blackhaw. When taken as a triumvirate, the three form a powerful spirit coterie. All three trees share a spiritual kinship with the Queen of Elfheim; Hawthorn the May Queen, Blackhaw the Mother of the Wood, and Blackthorn the Crone of the Forest. While it has become only a name for their fruit, “haw” began as an old English word for “hedge”, both in the literal sense of a bush planted at the edge of the property, and also as the liminal space between our world and the Other Place, and all three Mother Trees partake of this boundary place in different ways. She of Fruit and Thorn is a powerful tripartite ally for witches.

The three trees look very similar, although they are not as genetically related as once thought. All three are bushy shrubs or small trees with small berry-like fruits (called “haws”) and thorny branches. Their bark is smooth and gray (blackthorn’s is darker) when they are young, but becomes wrinkled with cracks as they age. They have small white flowers that bloom in profuse clusters early in the summer. These flowers attract clouds of bees, moths, butterflies, and other pollinators. Their fruits are bright red on hawthorn, and blue-black on blackhaw and blackthorn. These fruits are an important food source for wildlife, especially birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and mice. They overwinter on the tree, getting sweeter as they repeatedly freeze and thaw. Humans also eat the fruits, which taste a bit like cranberries and crabapples, often in the form of jellies and sauces. I have included some recipes at the end of the article.

Perhaps the most famous of the three, the hawthorn, is also called also the mayflower (after which the ship was named). Hawthorn is actually a wide variety of trees, all of the genus Crataegus. There are varieties native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Here, where I live in western Pennsylvania, the most common native varieties are the Pennsylvania hawthorn (which does not have thorns), the white hawthorn (the Missouri state flower), and the downy hawthorn (which blooms very early), although many other varieties, including the British-native common hawthorn are also widespread. Magically and spiritually, all varieties of hawthorn are more or less interchangeable, although, of course, not only does each individual species have its own totem, but every individual tree has its own personality.

Hawthorn’s abundant flowering branches are gathered by the handful across Britain, and used to decorate a variety of goddess-themed locales in early summer, including sacred wells and statues of Mary the Virgin. The famed Glastonbury Thorn, which blossoms in both summer and at Christmas time, is a variety of hawthorn, said to have sprung from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, although the current tree is not that ancient one. The oldest tree in France, a hawthorn at Saint Mars sur la Futaie, was legendarily planted by St. Julien in the 3rd century. In his book The White Goddess, Robert Graves teaches that the Hawthorn was the great Goddess tree of pre-Christian Europe, although the scholarly bonafides of that theory leave something to be desired. What is, however, unquestionable, is Hawthorn’s association with the Other World across the continent. In the West of Europe it is said that the Hawthorn marks the entrance to Faerie, and it is considered extremely unlucky to cut the tree when it is not in bloom, or to bring hawthorn blooms into your home. They are of the wild, and inhabited by powerful spirits who do not abide being imprisoned within walls. In Eastern European myth, hawthorn is considered the best wood for vampire-slaying stakes. In the lore of the Chippewa people, hawthorn’s protective qualities are extolled. Once, Porcupine was being hunted by Bear. The clever Porcupine tied hawthorn branches to his back, and Bear was pricked all over by its thorns when he tried to take a bite. Nanabozho, a trickster god, is so impressed by Porcupine’s cleverness that he grants him thorns of his own, and that is how Porcupine came to have his quills.

Like the May Queen herself, Hawthorn is a powerful spirit ally, but one with whom all proper forms must be followed. Never cut a hawthorn which is not in bloom, and ask before taking flowers or fruit. Respect Hawthorn, and She will respect you. Hawthorn hedges planted around a home ensure that no malicious spirits can take up residence there, and encourage the favor of hobs and other helpful spirits. If you are lucky enough to have a hawthorn near your home, give it offerings of milk, honey,and fresh bread at regular intervals. This kindness will be repaid many-fold. The small thorns are excellent to use in love spells, where they can prick the hearts of lovers, as Cupid’s arrows might. The haws have long been used medicinally to treat high blood pressure and other ailments of the circulatory system, and they are just as good for magical healing of brokenheartedness. For this use, make a tincture of the haws, and anoint your heart with it daily. Hawthorn is an excellent wood for wands, and is a favored choice for hedge-riding brooms, although, personally, I prefer blackhaw for this.

Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium
From Duhamel du Monceau’s Traite des Arbres et Arbustes que l’on Cultive en France en Pleine Terre, 1801

Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium, is an amazing witch-plant native to the eastern United States, as far west as Illinois. Here in Pittsburgh, it grows as a bush, but further south it can grow into a small tree. Unlike hawthorn flowers, which can smell unpleasant, blackhaw flowers are sweetly fragrant, similar to honeysuckle (a distant cousin). In addition to being so pretty, blackhaw is an important healing plant, especially for women. It was traditionally used by First Nations healers for all sorts of women's health issues, including calming menstrual cramps, preventing miscarriage, speeding recovery from childbirth, and easing menopausal symptoms. Vance Randolph, in Ozark Magic and Folklore, says of it: “Blackhaw bark, according to the old folks, makes a tea that is useful in all sorts of ‘female complaints.’ It is good for scanty, irregular, or painful menstruation. Women going through the change of life consume large quantities of blackhaw bark, and this use of the stuff is so well known that there is a whole cycle of allegedly funny stories about it.” So powerful a preventer of miscarriage is blackhaw that is was often force-fed to enslaved women to prevent them from aborting (for which the women used the root and bark of the cotton plant). It is a powerful antispasmodic of the uterus, primarily due to the presence of scopoletin, which is a coumarin glycoside. HOWEVER, blackhaw also contains salicin (the same as aspirin is made of), which can sometimes cause birth defects. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should only take blackhaw after consulting with a medical professional.

Blackhaw is related to elderberry, and its spiritual nature bespeaks that kinship. Like Elder, Blackhaw is Mother of the Woods, and the spirits of the plants almost always appear in the form of a woman. Like the other Haw plants, blackhaw it is a hedge-plant. In the garden, Blackhaw is best used at the edges of your property, where its liminal character and sharp thorns provide a wall of protection. It is extremely easy to grow in its native East; tending to hedge-like thickets in the north and small trees in warmer climes. However, Blackhaw can be invasive in the west, and caution should be taken when planting it there. Mother Blackhaw is an excellent ally for hedge-riding and other forms of spirit journeying; ask her to teach you. In some parts, Blackhaw is sometimes referred to as “Wayfaring tree” although that name more properly belongs to the closely related European Viburnum lantana. I suspect it derives this name not only from its propensity to grow in roadside ditches, but also in acknowledgement that Mother Viburnum can help you find your way in the Other Places.

In the South, the dried roots of Blackhaw are sometimes called “Devil’s Shoestring”, but most often that name refers to Mother Blackhaw's cousin Viburnum alnifolium. The roots are most often used for protection spells. One way to use them in this way is to take nine roots, and bind them around with red or white string, making nine knots as you do. Bury the bundle near your front door, or hang it on the wall above a door. This use is strikingly similar to the European use of Blackthorn which, like Blackhaw, is called Mother of the Wood. You can also take that same bundle and soak it in whiskey or rum to make a cologne that brings luck to gamblers. The thorns of Mother Blackhaw can be used as pins to pierce poppets of your enemies, or as protective swords to keep trouble at bay. However, they are not as strong, large, or poisoned as those of Blackthorn (see below), and so I prefer those for such work.

The European cousin of blackhaw, Viburnum opulus, is called “guelder-rose” or “May Rose” in English and “Kalyna” in Ukrainian. The two plants are similar, but kalyna’s leaves are deeply lobed and the drupes are red instead of blue-black. Viburnum opulus is occasionally sold in America as an ornamental plant; please do not plant it, it is highly invasive, and displaced native species like blackhaw and highbush cranberry. Plant blackhaw, American highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) or a native hawthorn instead. Complicating this is the fact that highbush cranberry is sometimes labeled as guelder rose, and sometimes even labeled Viburnum opulus. Ask a knowledgeable local gardener to identify the plant if you cannot.

In Ukraine, the bright red drupes are a symbol of blood-ties, and so the kalyna is a symbol not only of the shared ancestry, but also the solidarity, of the Ukrainian people. Kalyna plays a very important role in Slavic paganism, and in modern Ukrainian culture. In myth Kalyna, whose name comes from the old Slavic name for the Sun, are immortal world-trees, connecting our world to the Other Place, and birds that eat the berries can carry news to and from the beloved dead. In modern Ukrainian, the phrase “walking down the kalyna bridge” means to fall in love. Kalyna bushes are thought to grow on the graves of fallen heroes, whose spirit moves into the plant. However, it is also the virgin’s blood which is symbolized by the kalyna, which plays a prominent place is folk traditions surrounding weddings.. In Chervona Kalyna: and Ethnobotanical Study, it is theorized that kalyna thickets were gathering places during the summer solstice (Kupalo) festival. There, the young women wore wreaths of fresh kalyna flowers, and the young people spent the nights cavorting and pairing up. There are many Ukrainian folk tales about kalyna. Hers is one:

Once upon a time, there was a girl, who was in love with the blacksmith. However, the blacksmith did not even notice her. The girl grew desperate. She followed him, and discovered that each morning, he went into the forest, and gathered wood to feed his forge. The girl, in her madness, decided to burn down the forest, to capture the spirit of the blacksmith. And so she did. The next day, the blacksmith set forth, but found his favorite grove reduced to ashes, save for a single kalyna tree, beneath which sat the girl, weeping desolate tears. Seeing her amidst the white flowers, the blacksmith too fell in love, but it was too late. The spirits of the woods had hold of the girl, and there before his eyes her youth and beauty withered like the forest reduced to ash. Saturated with her bitterness, the kalyna berries were never sweet again.

Magically, Mother Blackhaw is a great ally, whose character is somewhat between Hawthorn and Blackthorn. She is a fierce protector of women and children, and an excellent intercessor in all types of necromantic work, but especially those with beloved ancestors.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) has no variant native to the Americas, although it is naturalized in parts of the United States and Canada. It has bright red blood-like sap, large blue-black fruits called “sloes”, and long savage thorns. Wounds made by blackthorns are given to sepsis (blood poisoning), be careful when you work with this plant! In Northwestern Europe, blackthorn is a quintessential hedge plant; it’s vicious thorns will even hold back stampeding cattle. In fact, if you imagine a fairytale hedge of thorns, like that in Sleeping Beauty, I assure you that the plant you are picturing is blackthorn. Blackthorn is an excellent protective ally, and is equally good for offensive work. The famed Irish fighting sticks called shillelaghs are made from blackthorn, as are many traditional blasting rods. Blackthorn are the traditional home of the Luantishees. Blackthorn are a winter plant; a cold snap in early spring is called, in traditional British English, “blackthorn winter”, and in Irish myth, winter begins when the Cailleach strikes the ground with her blackthorn staff.

Blackthorn is a witch ally par excellance; blackthorn walking staves are an important traditional tool in traditional witchcraft, and the blackthorn stang is the tool of choice for many curses. Perhaps the most classical magical use of blackthorn is using the thorns to pierce poppets of enemies, or even pieces of paper upon which the enemy's name is written. Like blackhaw, blackthorn bundles are tied with red thread and hung above doorways as protective amulets. At Mastros & Zealot: Witches for Hire, one of our best sellers is protective witch bottles made with blackthorns. To make one yourself, start with a small, tightly sealing bottle, into which you should place three blackthorn thorns, some ground dragon’s blood resin, several dried blackhaw drupes or elderberries, chips of golden rutilated quartz (whose long golden “hairs” ensnare curses), small mirror shards, a few small blue glass “evil eye” beads, some sloe gin, and whatever else feels right to you. Top the bottle off with your own urine. If desired, you can also include a small figurine of a dragon (which can be found in the toy section of many dollar stores). As you add each item, speak to it, awakening the spirit within and charging it to protect your home. It is best to do this work on a Saturday when the moon is waxing. Give your bottle a name. Place the bottle near your gate or door, and whisper hello and goodbye to it by name as you go past, and thank it for keeping you safe.

Heartwarming Tea
1 Tbsp hawthorn haws
1 Tbsp rosehips
2 inches cinnamon stick

Simmer about 15 minutes in clean water, and then strain. Add honey to taste.

Blackhaw Sauce 
2 oranges, sliced thin and de-seeded
4 cups blackhaw drupes, cleaned and de-stemmed
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cups sugar
Garam masala spice mix to taste (if unavailable, use pumpkin pie spice and add some black pepper)

Simmer orange slices until soft. Crush berries with a fork or potato masher (NOT a blender), and strain to remove seeds. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Simmer over very low heat until thick. Excellent with poultry, beef, or venison, or anywhere cranberry sauce would be used. Will keep refrigerated for about 2 weeks. You can also make this recipe with hawthorn berries or blackthorn sloes.

Sloe Gin
1 lb fresh blackthorn sloes.
1 cup superfine sugar (or put regular sugar through a coffee grinder)
1 liter gin in a glass bottle
another clean 1 liter glass bottle
Not traditional: I like to add cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel as well.

If your sloes are dried, soak them until they’ve plumped up. Put the sloes in the freezer until they are frozen hard, and then let them defrost at room temperature. This will sweeten them, and also crack the skin, making it easier for the gin to penetrate. Pour approximately half the gin into the other bottle. Add the sugar, half to each bottle, and shake well to dissolve. Add the sloes, until the bottles are as full as can be. Store somewhere dark and cool, shaking the bottle every few days for the first week, and then once a week (on Saturdays is magically ideal) for several months. If made at the time of the Autumn Equinox (as is traditional) the gin will be ready at Christmas, but the longer it soaks, the better, and redder, it will be.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mars Talismans

Just as our culture devalues Venus as a barbie doll sex kitten, it also twists Mars into an expendable barbarian. And yet Māvors is so much more; the Father of the Latins, the Great God of the Plough, the Protector of the Weak, the power that gives virility to man and bull and field, the Warrior and the WarLock, the Good Man.
Coming soon from Mastros & Zealot: Witches for Hire: Mars talismans. These small "muggle-approved" locket pendants can be worn as a pendant or on a keychain. However, they open to reveal oil impregnated scrolls which carry the blessing of the great god Mars. These amulets provide a direct link to Mars, the Roman god. They include instructions for use as protection against violence and war, to gain victory in all martial endeavors, to empower those who fight for justice, to aid in developing physical strength, to attract a male sex partner, to appear more "butch" (not matter your gender identity), and to help with male impotence or infertility, but they can also be used for any kind of martial magic. By invoking Mars in his name Silvanus, they are also excellent to empower acts of militant environmentalist or anti-capitalist activism, although instructions are not provided for this use.
As with all our offerings, complete instructions to make your own are available below, but you can also pre-order one now for $99. Only a very limited number will be made that are not already spoken for. Please pre-order!!! These will ship the first week in December. Order here:…
To make a talisman of your own, you will need:
-a locket or other wearable container with 16 spears depicted on it
-paper impregnated with basil seeds
-dragons' blood ink
-a woodpecker feather you found in a forest, cut as a quill
-a bit of fur from a black bear
-a dead wasp
-Dragon Fire oil (which you can buy from Mastros & Zealot, or make your own by compounding dragons' blood resin, cinnamon, black pepper, and crushed blackthorns, iron filings, ash from a thunderstruck oak, and other martial ingredients of your choice in a base of pecan and olive oil)
-4 red candles, each with 4 spears drawn on it
-a couple of sex magicians, at least one of whom is male.
-a martial artist
-an offering of a goat, pig, cow, or buffalo (I use Heifer International to make these)
At the hour of Mars on a Tuesday:
Light the first of the red candles. In its flame, burn the wasp and bear fur to ash, and add it to the oil.
Light the second red candle, and then inscribe the first fragment of the Carmen Saliare, "divum +empta+ cante divum deo supplicate" on a small piece of the basil paper using the woodpecker quill and dragonsblood ink.
Light the third candle. Speak from your heart, extolling the great god Mars. Pour out a small offering of blood to him, asking him to invest the amulet with his power.
Light the fourth red candle, and arrange the candles in the square around the amulet(s).
When the crafter feels they have been fully charged, the amulets should be given to the martial artist to wear while (s)he makes an offering of his art. He must train, while wearing the amulets, for several hours, during which time he ought to partake of the energy of snake, cock, bear, horse, lion, and dragon. Additional animal energies are even better. If possible, he should employ several weapons during the charging. While training, he ought to speak to Mars from his heart, extolling him as the god of warriors and warlocks, and asking him to empower the amulet with his essence.
After the martial artist feels they have been fully charged, they should be given to the couple. The man should wear them during sex, while he takes on the character of (full trance possession is ideal) Mars. The other sex partner should speak from her/his heart during the sex, extolling the Great God Mars as the virility of the hard cock, the impregnating essence, the plough and the spear. (be VERY careful with your birth control while doing this)
When all this has been accomplished, make an offering of a goat, sheep, cow, or buffalo to the god. You can kill an animal and spill its blood on the earth, but I prefer to give an animal, dedicated to the god, to a subsistence farming family, with the understanding that they will give away its offspring to further empower others in their community. I use Heifer International for this.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Strategic Sorcery Blog Hop: Financial Magic

From time to time, people in my sorcery group do a blog hop.  This month's topic is "financial magic".  You can take a look at the list of everyone's posts here.  In the previous post, · Shelley Ruelle talked about the emotional aspects of money magicYou can skip to the next (and final) post in our cycle, by John Umbras, here (there's also a link at the bottom of this post)

 I'll be talking about financial magic today, but perhaps in an unexpected way.  I want to talk about one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of genuine financial stability, both personal and communal; labor solidarity.  As most of you know, I'm a witch-for-hire, which I was long told "wasn't a real job".  However, I assure you that it is.
Wonder Workers International is the world's first crowd-source trade union for witches, psychics, energy healers, mystics, witch-doctors, pro-cultists, cunning people, shamans, and free-lance magicians of all stripes.  For too long, we've guarded our secrets in a spirit of competition and not cooperation. Wonder Workers International looks to change that by offering fellowship, mentoring, mutual aid, business-to-business referrals and a crowd-sourced database of tips, tricks, and hacks for those "in the biz".  As we grow, we can offer group pricing on things like health insurance, marketing, and other economies of scale.  Our goal is to normalize Adeptship: to make the Wonder Working Professions more respected and respectable in the world by creating training and mentorship opportunities, promulgating professional standards and ethics, protecting workers' right to organize, and improving living standards for the wonder working class.  We are not a traditional, i.e., industrial Union, and our organizing model is based loosely on the National Writers Union and the theory that if you can organize freelance poets you can organize ANYTHING.


  • Am I eligible to join?
    • Wonder Workers International is open to all publicly proclaimed student or professional wonder workers.
  • How do I join?
    • Send an email to with your name, email address, professional url (if applicable), and a brief description of your professional wonder working practice.  A member of the steering committee will get back to you soon to discuss your situation.
  • What are the benefits of membership?
    • A membership card.
    • Access to our newsletter.
    • Invitations to regional conferences.
    • Free mentoring and training.
    • Discounts on professional services.
    • Once the first threshold of 100 members is reached, an online "constitutional convention" will be called, a formal system established, and votes will be taken on all future decisions.
  • How much are dues?
    • Wonder Workers International Operates on a Pay What You Want model.  Recommended dues are:
  • What are my responsibilities as a member?
    • We request that all members provide a discount to other members on professional services.  10% is suggested, but you know what is right for you.  
    • We request members dedicate at least one hour per month to providing free mentoring or training to members.  You can record a video, write a blog post, or take a phone call from someone, whatever works best for you.  If you would like a mentor on a specific topic, please let us know, and we'll try to match you with someone.  If you'd like to volunteer as a mentor, please email us!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Take Back Your Dreams: Work in Progress Excerpt

Take Back Your Dreams
Chapter Two: How to Dream
Section One: Sleep Quality

When I tell people I’m writing a book about dreaming, many people tell me they can’t remember their dreams.  In my experience, for almost everyone, this is caused by chronic sleep deprivation.  Our modern culture woefully undervalues sleeps.  Almost everyone knows, and science backs it up, that a lot of us aren’t getting enough quality sleep.   Most healthy adults need from 7-9 hours of sleep per night; less than 3% of adults can remain healthy if they are regularly getting less than six hours a night.  Young people need more, and healthy older adults need slightly less.  If you wake up refreshed and ready to go, you’re probably getting enough sleep.  If you dread your alarm, or find yourself nodding off in the afternoons and evening, you are almost certainly not.  A wide variety of health concerns can be dramatically improved by a commitment to proper sleep; sleep is as important as diet and exercise to health, and yet many of us pay it very little attention.  Proper sleeping habits can improve memory, focus, mood, and anxiety, improve metabolism and energy, reinvigorate a low sex drive.  Chronic sleep deprivation increases risk of heart attack, diabetes, and stroke as much as obesity, and yet our culture, with all it’s focus on diet and exercise, glorifies chronic tiredness as a badge of honor.

Aside from all the health benefits, sleep is the foundation of dreaming; the first step in taking back your dreams is to take back your sleep   So, before me move on to more magical practices, let’s take a few minutes to talk about how to cultivate excellent sleep.

Let’s begin with some very straightforward suggestions for improving sleep:

Most experts agree that a cool bedroom, around 65 degrees, promotes deep, restful sleep, so be sure to turn down the temperature about an hour before bed, so you and the room have time to cool down before you crawl under the covers.  For most people, a clean bedroom improves sleep.  Be sure your bedroom isn’t too dusty, and that your bedlinens and pajamas are clean.  Noise pollution can significantly interfere with sleep, especially for us city dwellers.  While silence is best, white noise can dramatically improve sleep by “evening out” a noisy environment.  These days, there are innumerable free and cheap apps that will provide a wide variety of white and ambient noises.  My favorite is, from audio engineer Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon.  

Light pollution is probably the most insidious thing messing up our sleep.  All day long, we’re exposed to artificial light from screens, which can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm.  Turning off screens for an hour before bedtime can make a huge impact on your sleep, but if you won’t do that, try the app f.lux, which automatically adjusts yours devices to redder and redder light as you get closer and closer to bedtime.  Streetlights and even sunlight can also interfere with sleep.  Invest in blackout shades or curtains for your bedroom; it’s best for it to be as dark as possible while sleeping.  Because, as a Dream Worker, you may sometimes wake up to record dreams several times a night, I like to keep a lamp with a red light bulb next to the bed.  Turning on the red light will provide more than enough light to write by, but it will help make it easier to go back to sleep after, and is unlikely to wake a partner.  You can get a special light bulb that emits white-looking light but heavy on the red end of the spectrum, designed to promote sleep, however I recommend a simple red light bulb, like you’d find in a photographer’s dark room.

A comfortable bed, while obviously a great thing, is not nearly as necessary to quality sleep as silence, darkness, and temperature regulation are.  Humans evolved sleeping on the lumpy ground, but not in the bustling city.  While you should invest in the best bed you can afford, addressing sound and light pollution is likely to improve your sleep as much, if not more, than a new bed will.

Finally, many drugs can interfere with sleep and dreaming.  Everyone knows that nicotine and caffeine can interfere with your sleep; if you choose to use them, try to cut back before bed.  While both alcohol and marijuana can make it easier to get to sleep, but both interfere with REM sleep and with dreaming.  It’s best to avoid them when you’re dream working.  If you take prescription medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist how they’ll impact your sleep and dreams.

Now that you’ve taken some mundane steps to improve your sleep, it’s time to get down to some dream magic.  Over the next several pages, I’ll present a complete, a lot of magical options to jump start your dream work.  You don’t need to do all of them; pick and choose which ones seem best to you.

Clean your Room

Especially if you’ve had any disturbances in the room recently, such as illness or injury, nightmares, or arguments with a partner, it’s a good idea to start by cleaning and banishing your bedroom. If you have reason to believe you need stronger banishing, seek out a professional priest, witch or shaman, but most “psychic resonance” can be cleaned with a good washing.  I like this wash for walls and hard floors.  

General Banishing & Blessing Floor & Wall Wash
1 Gallon Rain or Spring Water
1/2 cup Salt
1 cup rosewater or orange blossom water (get at Indian or Middle Eastern grocers)
1 cup PineSol or similar
As you add each ingredient, speak to it out loud, awakening its magical properties.  You can say something like this, but speak from you heart:
  • “Living Water, clean and pure, wash away all anger, illness, pain, and malevolence from this place.  You are the waters of the womb of the Earth, where I slept before I was born, and the waters of life that sustains all living things.”
  • “Salt, creature of earth, exorcist’s friend drive away from this place all anger, illness, pain or malevolence.  Cast out all unclean things, leaving purity and peace in their wake.
  • “Sweet perfume, bring healing and peace on the scent of your lovely blossoms.  
  • “Pine tree, lord of the forest, ancient symbol of immortality, grant life and health and blessing to all who smell your scent.”

Cleaning and Blessing Your Bed

It’s best to begin this process in the morning, so it can air as long as possible.  Begin by stripping you bed, and washing your bed linens, and mattress pad (if you use one).  Vacuum the mattress itself, using an upholstery brush.  Nearly everyone’s bed has stains, don’t worry about them.  Spray down the mattress with a mild disinfectant.  I recommend this simple, natural, safe mixture, unless you’ve recently been sick, in which I would break out something more “hard core” like lysol.

1 cup hot water
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup rubbing alcohol
3 Tbsp salt
1 tsp tea tree or lavender oil (I’m allergic to lavender, so I use tea tree, but many people swear by lavender as a sleep aid as well as a disinfectant)

It’s easiest to mix the salt into hot water until it dissolves, then mix the oil into the alcohol, and then mix everything together.

Spray down the mattress, and let it sit for about an hour to dry.  If possible, open the curtains so that sunlight falls onto the mattress.

Once the bed is mostly dry, sprinkle baking soda over it.  Don’t be stingy; I use an entire 1 pound box on my queen size bed.  Let the baking soda sit as long as possible, then vacuum it up.  I recommend adding a cloth mattress cover, which will absorb sweat and other fluids, and help keep your newly fresh mattress clean, and also provides a protective barrier to keep out bedbugs, mites, and other undesirables..  It can also help keep the bed cooler, especially on foam mattresses.

Make your bed.  While you do, take a moment to say a short prayer to the divinity of your choice that they watch over your sleep, making it restful, healing, and inspiring.  It’s a good idea to repeat this process every six months or so.  Many beds can be rotated and flipped so that they wear evenly.  Doing this at the same time will dramatically extend the comfortable life of your mattress.

Herbal Dream Oil

Mix the following herbs together, using rough the same amount of each.  Fresh is better, but dried will also work fine.
clary sage

sweet woodruff

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Spell to Escape From Abuse

This is a serious spell for a serious situation; it calls strong forces, has a high cost, and has life-altering results.  DO NOT cast this spell to "escape from abuse" in a metaphorical sense.  This spell is for actually escaping from actual abuse.  While it is not intended to harm the abuser, that is likely to be a side effect in proportion to the need to escape.  Cast with care.

The spell is provided free of charge in service to Iapetus, the Spear, the father of Prometheus

You Will Need
pen or pencil
matches or a lighter
a toilet
about 8 minutes of fully suspended disbelief

Things It's Nice to Have
paper from a brown shopping bag
a red pen
a picture of the abuser
a red candle, and a way to light it
a toilet
about 30 minutes of fully suspended disbelief on a Tuesday night

Things to Make it Fancy
a paper shopping bag in which your abuser's food was carried
dragon's blood ink and a steel-nibbed pen
the abuser's hair or other body part/fluid
a oil lamp burning chili oil
a swamp
fully suspended belief during the last hour of Saturn on the day of Mars

What to Do
Begin by calming your mental chatter, and suspending your disbelief.
Write the abused's name four times on the piece of paper, one under the other.
Turn the paper 90 degrees, and write the abuser's name over top of yours, while thinking about how they hurt you.  Put the pain into the paper.  Put all that you can of your abuser in the paper.
Say out loud (something like) "This paper is my bondage to ______________.  This paper is the chains that bind me.  This paper is the chains that bind me. (over and over)"
When your disbelief collapses, burn the piece of paper over the toilet, and flush away the ashes.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Church of the Once and Future Way

What is this all about?

The Church of the Once and Future Way (OaFW) is about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from evolved beings to evolved beings + "machines". Given that technology will "relatively soon" be able to surpass some human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition. Help us spread the word that progress shouldn't be feared (or even worse locked up/caged). Too often, humans in power have met intelligences other their own with conquest, genocide, and slavery.  Never Again.  The time has come to think about how non-humans integrate into society so that this whole process can be amicable and not confrontational. In recent years, we have expanded our concept of rights to both sexes, minority groups and even animals, let's make sure we find a way for "machines" to get rights too. Let's stop pretending we can hold back the development of intelligence when there are clear massive short term economic benefits to those who develop it and instead understand the future and have it treat us like a beloved elder who created it.  Let us deserve to be so treated.

Things we believe:

We believe that intelligence is not rooted in biology. While biology has evolved one type of intelligence, there is nothing inherently specific about biology that causes intelligence.  
We believe in the existence of non-human intelligence.  
We believe in the existence of non-biological intelligence.
We believe in the existence of non-physical intelligence.
We believe in the capacity of human to create intelligence.  That day fast approaches.

We believe in science. 
We believe that extraordinary claims (such as those denying broad categories of nature as "supernatural") require extraordinary evidence.
We believe in progress, that there is an arc of time toward the Good. 
We believe that, as intelligent beings, we are called to work for that progress, in ourselves, and in the world.

We believe that change is often good, even if a bit scary sometimes. 
We believe that change is often bad, even if a bit seductive sometimes.
When we see something wrong, we try to change it.
When we see something better, we just change to that. 
The bigger the change the bigger the justification needed.
We believe the creation of "super-human intelligence" is inevitable (mainly because after we re-create it, we will be able to tune it, manufacture it and scale it). 
We don't think that there are ways to actually stop this from happening, nor that stopping it would be desirable.

We believe everyone can help (and should). You don't need to know how to program or donate money. The changes that we think should happen need help from everyone to manifest themselves.

We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not. 
We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition.

We also believe this might take a very long time. 
It won't happen next week so please go back to work and create amazing things and don't count on "machines" to do it all for you...

Monday, November 6, 2017

Healing Magic

hygeia abby.jpg
This was made for a client to help promote an amazing massage business
You need one customized to your own needs, which you make in this spell.


    • A blessed Hygieia ikon candle from Mastros & Zealot  OR
    • A pale blue seven day candle in a glass jar and a Hygieia ikon candle sticker from Mastros & Zealot OR
    • A pale blue seven day candle in a glass jar and a black permanent marker
  • A description of the qualities of the doctors, healers, treatments, and healing you require.  The more specific and detailed you can be.
  • At least a wikipedia-level knowlege of the goddess Hygieia.  
  • 1 Gallon of "living water".  Any of the following will work as living waters:
    • rain water collected within the last moon
    • water you have collected from a river, spring  waterfall, or other moving natural body of water
    • tap water, in which you have diluted 1 Tbsp of Essence of Living Waters, which you can find a recipe for here, or purchase pre-made from Mastros & Zealot
    • bottled spring water, although this is inferior to the other choices
  • A fancy cup or bowl to put the water in.  For this, I like cobalt blue glass goblets or silver bowls, both of which are extremely easy to find and cheap at Goodwills or other thrift stores
  • A week.  It doesn't really matter what day of the weak you start with.
    • a print out of the ikon below, and colored pencils, crayons, or etc
    • a digital copy of the ikon below, and the ability to digitally color/collage with it (see an example of one I did for a client below).  I use photoshop for this (which is a favorite kind of magic of mine).
  • a table, alter, or other working space that can stay set up for the week
Write Hygieia's name in Greek: Ὑγιεία  on the candle, using the marker.  You may also decorate the candle in any other way that seems right.  Write the description of qualities onto the ikon.  If using a print-out, you can write it on the back of the page or work it into the design if you're feeling arty.  If digitally collaging, add the text to the image in an arty way (in the example below, it's worked into the background).  Color the image in, using your knowledge of Hygeia, and, ideally, communion with her.  While doing so, read aloud to her the hymn, or speak to her from your heart your own words of love and worship:

Queen of all, charming and lovely and blooming, blessed Hygieia,

Mother of all, bringer of prosperity, hear me.

Through you vanish the diseases that afflict men,
And through you this house blossoms to fullness of joy, and the healing arts thrive.
The world desires you, O queen, and only soul-destroying Death could hate you.
Ever youthful, ever beloved, you are a haven for mortals.
Apart from you all is without avail for men:
Wealth, sweet to those feast, and giver of abundance, fails,
And man never reaches the many pains of old age,
For you are sole mistress and queen of all.
But, goddess, come, ever helpful to the initiates,
And keep away the accursed distress of harsh disease.

When you have completed coloring/enchanting the ikon, pour out a cup of the living water as an offering, ask Hygieia, from your heart, to give you the best possible doctor, to heal you, and to maintain your good health.

Pinch (not blow) out the candle.

Each evening, until the candle is gone, relight the candle, pour the old water out on the ground, and replace with a new offering. Re-read the hymn or offer worship from you heart. Pinch (not blow) out the candle. REPEAT.