Spirits of Plants and Rocks

I’ve been reading The Fire in the Cauldron by Orion Foxwood. It’s had some confirming moments for me, and others that I don’t agree with. 

However, one thing he said that struck me was when using materials in magical processes such as stones, plants and the like, that we call out their spirit rather than charging them with our personal power. There is something in that. 

The shamans have many songs that they would use while picking their healing plants that they would sing to coax out the power of the specific plant. And, if you’ll believe it, in Europe and the British Isles we have very much the same practice. 

Orion calls it “helping the plant remember”, but I find that kind of silly. The power is there, the spirit is there, it is we who are welcoming it to be used by us for our purposes. When I go out to pick yarrow, for example, for my beers I will sing to the plant the following from the Carmina Gadelica:

"I WILL pluck the yarrow fair,
That more brave shall be my hand,
That more warm shall be my lips,
That more swift shall be my foot;
May I an island be at sea,
May I a rock be on land,
That I can afflict any man,
    No man can afflict me.”

It is way of speaking directly to the plant’s spirit, and directing its purposes to our needs. We may do the same thing with rocks and metals, coaxing out the various virtues of their inner spirits to use them in our workings. 

This all ties back, of course, to animism: the core of witchery. Everything in the world has spirit, consciousness, anima, life, vitality. The witch taps into this spirit to manipulate the threads of fate to our will. We control our own fates for we know the secret names of Old Fate. We know her true intelligence behind all her guises that various cultures have set up. We know the true intelligence beyond the fragrant yarrow plant. 

It’s like what opencircle333 says about why they pray to Mary and Christ: There are powers behind those faces. Deep, cthonic, ancient powers. We recognise these powers and can tap into them. So it is with plants, stones, metals, and waters. These are the subtle occult forces that shape and reshape the world every day. And they are eternal, as long as Nature is eternal. 

Instagram user @okgriffin found a yellow vinyl version of Stewart Robb’s 1962 album “Music for the Harpsichord and Virginal,” which features early to mid-17th century sacred & secular keyboard music from the British Isles and continental Europe. Robb performs on 2 instruments, as the title indicates—the commonly-heard harpsichord, and the virginal, a plucked keyboard instrument of the 16th and 17th centuries. Share your Folkways finds—yellow vinyl or otherwise—and we’ll regram our favorites!


A tour of the British Isles in accents: for those who would be tempted to mention “A British accent” and leave it at that.

…Smart to remember, too, that all these regions will have microregional variants. The Dublin accent referenced here, for example, is only one of at least five or six that I can identify, and I bet there are a lot more I’ve never heard or can’t tell from one another. Ditto for other regions in Ireland. The “Irish accent” as normally heard in US TV and film until quite recently has never been much more than an overstated, artficial “Dublin Stage” accent.

Equally, what most people in the US think of as “the British accent” beloved of movie villains everywhere is usually the so-called Received Pronunciation or RP, a kind of by-blow of the BBC’s refusal for a long time to allow its announcers to use anything but an approved version of the Home Counties “posh” accent. (This dialectic “glass wall” has finally started cracking in the last decade.)


For everyone who believes a ”British accent” is a thing

Doggerland was an area of land, now lying beneath the southern North Sea, that connected Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age.

It was then gradually flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500 or 6,200 BC. Geological surveys have suggested that it stretched from Britain’s east coast to the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and the Danish peninsula of Jutland. It was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period, although rising sea levels gradually reduced it to low-lying islands before its final destruction, perhaps following a tsunami caused by the Storegga Slide.

The archaeological potential of the area had first been discussed in the early 20th century, but interest intensified in 1931 when a commercial trawler operating between the sandbanks and shipping hazards of the Leman Bank and Ower Bank east of the Wash dragged up a barbed antler point that dated to a time when the area was tundra. Vessels have dragged up remains of mammoth, lion and other land animals, and small numbers of prehistoric tools and weapons.