Herbcraft

Hallowe’en Spell Jar

I hope everyone had a good Hallowe'en last night! I wanted to share with you a spell jar I’ve put together to celebrate Hallowe'en and to refresh and strengthen the house charms ready for the darkness of Winter. It’s my first spell jar so I’m thrilled with how it turned out and wanted to share it with you.

What you’ll need…

Small jar
Candle of your chosen colour
Black peppercorns (for protection and banishing)
Crushed dried chillies (to give any harm bringers a good kick!)
Black onion seeds (protection)
Sea salt (protection, cleansing and purifying the house)
Sand (protection, cleansing, washing away of problems)
Ash from incense you have offered to your house spirits
Sigils (Below)
Cinnamon (prosperity)
Lavender (for a peaceful home)
Frankincense (blessings of the gods)
Rose petals (for love and joy)
Dandelion seeds (for luck and wishes)

Get your ingredients ready. Light the candle to start melting the wax. Ask your house spirits to join you, watching as you put together the jar. Begin layering your ingredients, with the protection ones at the bottom of the jar and the dandelion seeds at the top. Focus on the meaning of each ingredient. You can chant their correspondence as you use them to help stay in the right frame of mind and to build energy. Alternatively, I like to hum as I work, I find that my house spirits enjoy music and so a tune is a small offering I can give them.

Once you have put your black pepper, sea salt and garlic in the bottle, it’s time to deal with your sigils. I used two sigils this time:

“House spirits are content” and 

“My house is safe from harm”        

Once you’ve drawn them, breathe life into them and then burn them carefully. Take the ash and pour it into the bottle along with your incense ash. Continue layering your bottle with the rest of the ingredients.

When you are finished, pop the cork in and spend a moment with the bottle clasped in your hands, so that your warmth goes into the jar and think about a happy, peaceful and protected home. When your jar is warm and you are ready, dip the jar in the candle wax or dribble wax over the jar to seal it. The wax can be a colour that you associate with protection or happiness. I chose natural beeswax because yellow is my favourite colour! Yellow means warm, happy days full of light to me, and the beeswax symbolises prosperity and productivity thanks to the bees that spent their days working hard to make it.

Leave the jar near the heart of your home, somewhere you will see it often or somewhere you most associate with your house spirits. I leave mine on my hearth, of course! Ask for the blessings of your spirits and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Altar Offering - Health and Beauty

Our health is something we do not think about when we are well. When the trundle pedal moves easy and the stitches of our life are tight and straight we pay no mind to all the moving pieces, but it is important to recognise our good health and to give thanks for it. Here is a flower fascinator that you can place on your altar, bedside table, or mantle as an offering for good health and beauty.

You Will Need

  1. Carnation, Evening Primrose, and Yarrow Flowers (in any combination and quantity)
  2. Twine or string
  3. A bowl of water


Preparation

If it is part of your practice, cast a circle. As you sit with your ingredients before you, centre yourself. Ground yourself in the present moment by focusing on your breath, the sensations of your body, and your connection to the earth.

Casting

Loosely gather your flowers, about a small handful should suffice, in any combination. Carnations can come in multiple colours, select the one that speaks most to you—the element you work with or the need you most feel. Because they are readily and inexpensively available through most flower shops, they are a good base flower. Evening primrose and yarrow flower can be added as you see fit or based on availability. Take a short length of twine, wrap it about the flowers five times and secure with a knot. As you secure them, repeat the following:

Health and Beauty, both are mine
Bind them to me with this twine
Grant me bliss, wither never
‘Til this twine I do sever

Touch the blossoms to water and then to your brow, just below the hairline. Place the bowl of water on your altar and the fascinator flowers across the bowl. When the flowers begin to wither, cut the twine to dispel them. You may begin again with a new set.

Notes

Carnations: associated with Fire and the sun; promotes healing, strength, and balance
Evening Primrose: associated with the Moon and Diana; promotes health and enhances beauty
Yarrow Flower: associated with Water, Venus, and the divine feminine; dispels melancholy, promotes health

Herbal Infusions

Creating infused oil is a low-tech way to expand the use of your herbs.

Herbal-infused oils can be used to create:

  • lip balm
  • body/hand cream
  • soap
  • ointments

OR to simply add a new flavor to your cooking.

Most recipes will suggest one of two ways:

  • Cold Infused Oil

Use flowers and soft parts of herbs - pack a sterile jar tightly with herbs and fill with oil. Seal and allow to sit for one month, shaking jar occasionally. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, squeezing out the remaining oil. Store in a dark bottle to extend the shelf life.

  • Hot Infused Oil

Use 1 pint of oil per 8 oz of herb. Fill a sterile jar or bowl with your ingredients and place in a sauce pan with water. Allow the water to simmer for 3 - 6 hours. Cool and label the jar - store in a dark bottle.

Fresh Herbs vs. Dry Herbs

Drying your herbs first is an important step when making infused oils. This minimizes risks of mold and bacteria growing in your infusion.

When using fresh herbs, minimize exposure to bacteria by keeping your preparation environment clean, and your storage areas sterile.

Remember: Always do your own research. There is no universal recipe for making infused oils. Experiment! Safely.

Harnessing Darkness Spell

One of the things I struggle with is a fear of the dark. I often feel silly given that I’m mid twenties, but it’s one fear I’ve not been able to overcome. Being outside in the dark means my adrenaline starts pumping, the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I can feel a sense of the unknown lurking in the darkness.

Now, how awesome would it be to harness that primal response for magic? If I could control the idea that death lurks in the shadows, I could do some really powerful magic in the dark. So here is my solution: a charm that protects from harm and brings courage. 

Things you’ll need:
Something to charm (I chose a pendant)
Bowl to put it all in!
Egg shells crushed to a powder (protection)
Dew - if you have any - (related to Selene by Sappho)
Basil leaves (courage, protection)
Holly leaves (protection, counter-magic)
Lemon Balm leaves (the moon, protection, cleansing, releasing tension)
Garlic or onion - I use black onion seeds (powerful protection)
Nettle leaves (protection, related to the Underworld)
White rose petals (the Moon)
Thyme (courage, strength in adversity)
Two incenses: one with fresh, uplifting scents/one you associate with the moon and one with deep, earthy/midnight scents
A bay leaf with the words “The Moon protects me” which you will burn
A bay leaf with the words “The dark shelters me” which you will burn for the second half.
Sigil for “The night empowers me”, burned.

At the full moon, mix small amounts of the dry ingredients together into the bowl (you don’t need much of each), concentrating on the influence you want each ingredient to have or asking each in turn if they would lend the power of e.g. protection to your spell. I also find just chanting the key influence the ingredient is bringing e.g. “protection, protection, protection,” really helpful. Anoint the item you want to charm with a little dew, and then bury in the bowl. Place the bowl on a windowsill that is going to catch some moonlight. Burn the fresh smelling incense next to the bowl as an offering to the moon and ask the moon to protect you in the darkness and grant its power to your spells. Once the incense has finished burning, you can tip the ash into the bowl too, if you want. Burn the bay leaf with “the moon protects me” written on it and add it to the bowl. Burn the sigil and add it to the bowl.

Next morning, retrieve the item you’re charming, brush it gently clean with your fingers and set it on your hearth or altar to charge. Thank the herbs for their help and save the bowl of ingredients because we aren’t done yet! The moon won’t always be there to guard us in the night, so for true help harnessing our fear we need to ask the night itself for help. 

On the night of the new moon when the skies are completely dark save for the stars, get your bowl of ingredients back out and place it back on the windowsill. Thank the ingredients again for their help in making the charm and ask that they are willing to lend you their assistance once more. Anoint the charm once more with dew water and bury it in the bowl. Burn the deep incense next to the bowl as an offering to the night. Burn the bay leaf with “the dark shelters me” written on it and add it to the bowl. 

Next morning, retrieve the item you have charmed and brush it gently clean with your fingers. You now have a piece of both the moon and the night in your hands. Bury the contents of the bowl outside near your home, and keep the charm somewhere safe, to wear whenever you venture out into the night - to perform magic or just to go to the shops!

Books I'm (going to be) reading.

I’m currently (re?)reading Clan of the Cave Bear and plan to go on with the rest of the series after I’m through. These are some well researched works of fiction and have ignited in me an interested in herbcraft. So I got to go shopping! (The first two books are actually recommended by the author of Clan and are therefore a little older and might be trickier to track down.)

1) Earth Medicine, Earth Food by Michael A. Weiner

2) All Good Things Around Us: a cookbook and guide to wild plants and herbs by Pamela Michael

3) Herbal Remedies: a practical beginner’s guide to making effective herbal remedies in the kitchen by Hedley and Shaw

4) Homegrown Herbs: a complete guide to growing, using, and enjoying more than 100 herbs by Tammi Hartung

teas, teas, teas

Just finalized and wrote up the recipes for Jenni’s teas.

A black with rose.

A green with honeysuckle.

An energy tea with rhodiola, red clover and flowers.

A soothing tea with holy basil and three kinds of mint.

A tasty tea (“tastea”?) of licorice rt., mint and sunny herbs like chamomile and cinnamon.

A love tea of damiana, red rose, rose hips, licorice rt., cinnamon and stevia fl.

Haven Craft’s Beginner Witch Tips, Part Four

Something I’ve noticed about online beginner spells for witches is that a great deal of them involve herbs that are inhaled, drunk as tea or potions, or bathed in. So let’s go over the basics of herbalism as spellcraft.

First off, understand that herbalism is a very, very dangerous thing to dabble in just enough to think you know what you’re doing when you don’t. I’ve had quite a few people into Haven Craft who’ve started exhibiting very dangerous symptoms because their witchy hearthcraft friend recommended this or that for them, and they’re having allergic reactions or medication reactions or because it’s just a dangerous plant to begin with.

My favorite of these so far was someone who was on lobelia, for weight loss, because her friend recommended it. She came in exhibiting symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, constant nausea, and stomach pains. Lobelia is also called puke weed and she was close to the LD50 (lethal dose in fifty percent of the population) in the amounts she was taking.

Her herbalist friend had never bothered to Google the other names by which the plant was known, what medications it interacted with, or what the dangerous warning signs of its use were, because it was “just an herb” and “herbs are safe.”

No, they aren’t safe. 

Even external application can be dangerous. Especially bathing in something, which can give it access to mucous membranes it is absorbed through.

My favorite example of this is hyssop oil. Essential oils can be dangerous anyway, causing chemical burns and photo-sensitivity if they are not diluted properly, but some are dangerous for other reasons. Hyssop is one of them – it can cause people with epilepsy or other neurological conditions, including depression, to experience dizziness, difficulty concentrating, trouble focusing, and even cause seizures. It can be lethal to apply hyssop oil if you have a history of seizures.

And yet it is commonly listed as something to apply to the body to banish negative energies, with no warning. You hope people Google things before using the, you hope people look them up on WebMD, but if they don’t, they may hurt themselves or others severely, because they’re “just plants.”

So is atropa belladonna. It’s “just a plant.”

Ethics of Herbalism, Kitchen Witchery, Etc.

Like all magickal practice, herbal witchcraft requires that you determine your personal ethical stance. My advice is to determine what you are an are not willing to do in the real world – because magick, including herbal magick, is part of the real world and affects the real world. A practical way of looking at it is, “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do with your own two hands.” For example, if you aren’t willing to physically assault someone who has displeased you, sending a malicious spirit after them probably isn’t for you. If you aren’t willing to roofie someone, love spells to bind a particular person to you romantically and sexually probably aren’t for you.

However, there are some specific lines of ethics that come into play with magickal herbalism, in particular. Please keep in mind that these lines come from my own tradition – I can only advise based on my own work and experience, so these guidelines may not work for you.

Working for Others

I believe an herbalist should always ask someone before you perform magick on their behalf and DEFINITELY before you cause them to ingest any kind of herbal magick. Obtain permission beforehand, even for what you consider “positive” workings. Try to remember that your idea of what’s positive for someone’s life may not be their idea of what’s positive for their life. And that you may have no notion as to someone’s allergies or intolerances. You may think a rose and strawberry potion for self-love is a great idea – until you need to rush for an EpiPen, or until it turns out you didn’t have a full grasp of why someone was struggling with self-love in the first place.

I recommend that you don’t interfere with someone’s free will – don’t presume to know their full desires on any situation, even if they’ve been forthcoming with you. As for not causing someone to ingest something without their knowledge – go back to those real world consequences. What would the real world consequences be for powdering ambien and slipping it into someone’s drink be? What would the real world consequences be for powdering viagra and putting it into someone’s food?

Just ask.

Magick is real. Herbcraft is real – and it has real world consequences, from allergic reactions to possible reactions with someone’s medication, that you might not know they are on.

Anyone you perform herbal magick for should always be advised appropriately of the possible risks and benefits of a particular herbal magick and encouraged to make an informed choice about it.

Confidentiality

When practicing herbalism and herbal magick for someone else – whether you’re making them a potion for household protection or crafting them an herbal spell to help them get over a bad breakup, it is not your place to share their personal business with anyone – not their friends; not their family.

Referrals

Sometimes people approach witches and herbal practitioners for solutions to problems that really require more help than we can give.

For example, when approached regarding a domestically abusive relationship or a stalker ex, an herbal witch can provide magickal protection, but not physical, which may be required. A witch can stop a person from feeding on someone’s energy or using magick to manipulate and control them or to bring them bad luck – but a spell won’t stop a person from assaulting someone or breaking into their house. A person who approaches you for aid in a situation like that really also needs help from the police – you can provide spells of warding, spells to help them feel strong enough to escape from that negative relationship, and spells to calm the anxiety, fear, and depression that probably come along with the situation – but you can’t provide a safe place for them or a protective order, both of which they likely need.

Also, keep in mind that all spells for anxiety, fear, and depression that require ingesting, inhaling, or bathing in something should really be thoroughly checked for whether the herbs work for the kind of struggle they’re going through – is it laconic depression? Chronic depression? Situational depression? Anxiety? PTSD? – and any contraindications for those. For example, chamomile should not be used to treat chronic laconic depression, nor should kola nut be used to treat anxiety, despite both being listed in common herb recommendations for depression and anxiety.

Another example is medical necessity. Herbal magick for depression, anxiety, stress, pain, strain, exhaustion, and etc. can only help so much before someone really needs to seek a mental health professional, physical health professional, or other alternative therapies, like massage, to deal with their difficulties. It is often the responsibility of the practitioner to refer someone to a person who can help them, when magick isn’t enough or isn’t the correct solution. Err on the side of caution – if someone is exhibiting worrying physical or mental symptoms, provide them with what help you ethically can, but please refer them to outside help as well.

It is the practitioner’s responsibility to know their own educational and magickal limitations and to refer out when specialist treatment is required to serve the best interests of the client.

Always double check herbs that are to be ingested, inhaled, or bathed in for contraindications through WebMD, Drugs.com, and Epocrates.

Seeking Medical Help

It is very important to note that there is a difference between using an herb magically and ingesting it. Be safe when using herbs in magic – some that are safe for potions that were never designed for internal use are definitely not to be ingested. Please don’t take anything in a manner that may be potentially harmful to you and please don’t give something to someone else that you aren’t sure of. The proper dosage of herbs for an internal tisane versus a bath tisane is very different – proper research is paramount.  

If you have created an herbal magickal remedy or spell, something ingested or inhaled or bathed in, and either you or the person who is using it begin exhibiting a negative response, such as an allergic reaction, medicine interaction, or increased, rapid heart palpitation or uterine contractions, and etc., be responsible. Contact emergency services, poison control, or your personal physician as soon as possible – seek Quick Care or an Emergency Medical Technician – do not disregard symptoms of something potentially dangerous to yourself or someone else.

Environmental Commitment

It is the responsibility of herbal practitioners to have some awareness of the geographic and cultural origins of the main herbs used in his/her practice. Magickal herbalists should not utilize herbs or herbal products that are derived from any wild species known to be threatened or endangered.

It is the duty of all herbalists to remain cognizant about those herbs that are endangered and threatened and adopt appropriate practices in the harvest and use of those herbs. Magickal herbalists have also a responsibility to train the next generation of herbalists not to promote the use of wildcrafted herbs whose survival is threatened or endangered. Be responsible – keep informed.

Magickal plants that are currently endangered include, but are not limited to, Red Sandalwood, Wood Aloe, Himalayan Mandrake, North American Indian Paintbrush, and Centaury. White Sage is also increasingly endangered.

When collecting and harvesting plants, please be responsible, and avoid endangered species. By the same token, when buying herbs and botanicals, please check your suppliers for ethical conduct. Herbs are big money business these days and money is unfortunately a prime consideration to many pickers and wholesalers – buy ethically sourced, Fair Trade, and non-endangered whenever possible.

For those skilled and wise in the use of green wisdom, all sorcerous art may be accomplished by means of plants. An exemplar may be found in the Round Entire of the life-of-man, which may be wholly circumscribed by herbal cunning. From fertility charms to aid in conception; to the good midwife’s medicine to aid in childbirth and protect mother and newborn; to the various needs of body and spirit in life; to the palliative care of the dying, and the diverse funerary rites and preparations to ease passage of spirit and provide for the dignified preparation of the corpse, each station of body and soul may be attended by Green Wisdom, and made better thereby. For the Wortcunner or Herbarius, all powers of blessing and bane, healing and harm, proceed from a source singular and eternal, showing themselves in the face of a leaf or a flower…
—  Daniel A. Schulke, Viridarium Umbris

some idle da elf headcanons:

in addition to tapedum lucidum, elves have sharper incisors and more cutting/tearing teeth like full carnivores, and less molars than humans.

elves need more meat in their diet than humans; most city elves tend to be Very undernourished bc they rely on vegetables that they can grow or buy for cheap - meat is harder to come by, and their diet suffers. they’re still onmivores, but less meat hurts them more than it would hurt humans.

despite the quickening, most elves live 10-20 yrs longer than humans in their equivalent poverty level. similarly, pregnancies take longer to come to term and adolescence is slower. dalish elves tend towards longer lives than city elves - not through ancestral knowledge or whatever, but the fact that they hunt more and have a better elvish diet. they’re less likely to be overworked, malnourished, or abused, and have greater access to medical care via their keeper and ye olde herbcraft.

hearing is way better than human hearing, also. they can hear u bein a little bitch from much further away.