castor-bean

Common Toxic Herbs and their Effects

This is not a complete list by any means, but these commonly noted plants, herbs, and flowers should be handled with care or avoided altogether. 

Aconite (Wolfsbane, Monkshood) - all parts: dermatoxic, hepatotoxic, and neurotoxic

Adam and Eve (Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wild Arum) - root: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested

African Sumac - leaves: dermatoxic; possibly fatal

Agave - juice: dermatoxic  

Angel’s Trumpet - all parts: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Apple - seeds: cytotoxic in large doses

Apricot - leaves and seeds: cytotoxic in large doses

Arnica - gastrotoxic 

Asparagus - berries: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested

Azalea - all parts: cytotoxic and neurotoxic; rarely fatal

Betel Nut Palm (Pinyang) - all parts: gastrotoxic if ingested

Bittersweet Nightshade - all parts: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; rarely fatal

Black Hellebore - all parts: cardiotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Black Locust (False Acacia) - root bark and flowers: gastrotoxic

Black Nightshade - all parts except ripe fruit: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Bleeding Heart - leaves and roots: neurotoxic

Bloodroot - rhizomes: cytotoxic

Blue Passion Flower (Common Passion Flower) - leaves: cytotoxic

Bracken - all parts: carcinogenic

Buttercup - all parts: gastrotoxic and dermatoxic 

Calabar Bean (Ordeal Beans) - seeds: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested in large doses

Cassava - leaves and roots: cytotoxic in large doses

Castor Bean (Castor Oil Plant) - seeds: cytotoxic if ingested or inhaled

Celandine - nephrotoxic 

Cherry - leaves and seeds: cytotoxic in large doses

Christmas Rose - all parts: gastrotoxic

Cocklebur - seedlings and seeds: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic

Columbine - seeds and roots: cardiotoxic; easily fatal

Corn Lily (False Hellebore) - all parts: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Cowbane (Water Hemlock, Snakeweed) - root: neurotoxic if ingested

Daffodil - bulbs and stems: gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Datura/Moonflower - all parts: gastrotoxic and cardiotoxic

Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna) - all parts: cardiotoxic and neurotoxic; often fatal

Desert Rose (Sabi Star, Kudu) - sap: cardiotoxic with skin contact

Dumbcane - all parts: dermatoxic; possibly fatal

Elder (Elderberry) - root: gastrotoxic

Elephant Ear (Angel Wings) - all parts: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic

Ergot - neurotoxic 

Foxglove - leaves, seeds, and flowers: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Garlic - all parts: gastrotoxic in some animals

Giant Hogweed - all parts: dermatoxic

Golden Chain - all parts, especially seeds: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Goldenseal - all parts: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic in large doses

Grapes/Raisins - all parts: gastrotoxic in dogs

Greater Celandine - all parts: gastrotoxic in large doses

Hemlock (Spotted Cowbane, Poison Snakeweed) - all parts: neurotoxic; possibly fatal

Hemlock Water Dropwort - roots: neurotoxic if ingested; possibly fatal

Henbane - all parts: neurotoxic and cardiotoxic

Holly - berries: gastrotoxic

Honeybush - all parts: gastrotoxic

Honeysuckle - berries: gastrotoxic in mild cases and cardiotoxic in severe cases

Horse Chestnut - all parts: neurotoxic

Hyacinth - bulbs: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic; possibly fatal

Iris - rhizomes: gastrotoxic and dermatoxic 

Jequirity (Crab’s Eye, Rosary Pea) - seeds: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; often fatal

Kava Kava - nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic 

Kidney Bean - raw: gastrotoxic

Larkspur - young plants and seeds: neurotoxic; often fatal

Lemon - oil: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic to animals  

Lily - all parts: nephrotoxic

Lily of the Nile (Calla Lily) - all parts: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested; possibly fatal

Lily of the Valley - all parts: cardiotoxic; possibly fatal

Lima Beans - raw: gastrotoxic

Lime - oil: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic in animals

Lobelia - all parts: gastrotoxic 

Mandrake - roots and leaves: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic

Mango - peel and sap: dermatoxic

Mangrove - bark and sap: dermatoxic and eye irritation

Mayapple - all green parts and unripe fruit: gastrotoxic

Meadow Saffron (Autumn Crocus) - bulbs: gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Mistletoe - leaves and berries: gastrotoxic, cardiotoxic, and neurotoxic; rarely lethal in adults

Moonseed - fruits and seeds: gastrotoxic; often fatal

Mountain Laurel - all green parts: gastrotoxic

Nutmeg - raw: psychoactive in large doses

Oak - leaves and acorns: gastrotoxic; rarely fatal

Odollam Tree (Suicide Tree) - seeds: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Oleander - all parts: dermatoxic, cardiotoxic, and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Onions - all parts: gastrotoxic in animals

Orange - oil: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic in animals

Peach - seeds and leaves: cytotoxic in large doses

Pokeweed - raw leaves, berries, and roots: gastrotoxic and dermatoxic; often fatal

Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac - all parts, especially leaves: dermatoxic; possibly fatal

Poison Ryegrass (Darnel) - seeds: neurotoxic

Potato - raw: cytotoxic

Privet - berries and leaves: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Ragwort - all parts: hepatotoxic

Redoul - all parts: gastrotoxic, neurotoxic, and causes respiratory issues; can be fatal in children

Rhubarb - leaves: nephrotoxic

Skullcap - hepatotoxic

Spindle (Spindle Tree) - fruit: hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic; possibly fatal  

Stinging Tree (Gympie Gympie) - bark and sap: dermatoxic; sometimes fatal

Strychnine Tree - seeds: neurotoxic; often fatal

Sweet Pea - seeds: neurotoxic and damaging to connective tissues

Tomato - leaves and stems: cytotoxic in large doses

Uva Ursi - neurotoxic, dermatoxic 

White Baneberry (Doll’s Eyes) - all parts, especially berries: cardiotoxic; possibly fatal

White Snakeroot - all parts: gastrotoxic; often fatal

Winter Cherry (Jerusalem Cherry) - all parts, especially berries: gastrotoxic; occasionally fatal, especially to children

Wisteria - gastrotoxic

Yew (English Yew, Common Yew) - leaves and seeds: gastrotoxic if ingested and respiratory issues if inhaled


definitions of terms used in this list: 

  • carcinogenic - a substance that can cause cancer
  • cardiotoxic - toxic to the heart 
  • cytotoxic - toxic to living cells
  • dermatoxic - toxic to the skin
  • gastrotoxic - toxic to the gastrointestinal system (stomach, intestines, etc.)
  • hepatotoxic - toxic to the liver
  • nephrotoxic - toxic to the kidneys and urological system (ureters, bladder)
  • neurotoxic - toxic to the neurological system (brain, nerves, brainstem, spinal cord, etc.)
  • psychoactive - pertaining to substances that change brain function and result in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness

last updated: 6-29-2016

Quick N’ Dirty Protection Wards for Resisting the Power

All right, fellow Witches. I know things have been tumultuous, and it’s a very scary time to be in the United States. I’m back to being an uninsured American, and am watching my home state fight against a death sentence due to climate change. As a person of color, and a mixed race person, I feel like the need to ward up, protect yourself (no matter who you are), and resisting is of utmost importance. I wanted to share some magical methods of protection you can use.

1. Jar of Security: Create an adapted version of the traditional witch’s bottle. Place traditional ingredients for protection and warding in a bottle or jar - in this case, the nastier the components, the nastier the retribution on the one who crosses it. You’re gonna want nails, you’re gonna want spit (you’re gonna want to be safe about biohazardous ingredients), you’re gonna want irritating peppers and much gnashing of teeth. Finish the spell by putting the cork/lid back on, sealing it with wax (I recommend going with the retribution/fire theme and using red). Place it outside your front door, or near your room door, depending on where you live; hiding it might be a good idea. Bam, you’ve got one more shield up.

2. Ward your Room: Create a quick stone seal for your room by tying a rope or string around a stone for protection. Hematite would be a good choice, or bloodstone, or obsidian. Hold the stone and envision a stone barrier, with a stone gate, protecting your living space. Hang the stone behind your door, and use it to swing the ward open and shut when your door opens and shuts.

3. Sigil Up: Take a white candle and inscribe sigils on doorframes and window frames for reflective magic, protection, warding, and marking your territory using the white wax. It’ll be hard to read, but seals up the entrances and exists to define your space.

4. Purge: Write grievances onto small papers, and burn them in a heatproof container. Works great as a daily purifying ritual, and also has the added bonus of frying your grievance’s subject. 

5. Armor Up: A classic but just as effective as ever. Craft a set of “armor” for yourself by visualizing a set of armor, or outfit, that makes you feel powerful. Now, actually moving your hands, put on the armor when you need it, before you leave the house, or when you need extra support. Crafted “psychic armor” can be taken on or off as you need.

6. Dissuade Idle Gossip: Or, “silence untrue rumors and words”, which is a lot less snappy - this is essentially prevention for slander and mud-raking. Place a single castor bean in a small bottle/jar, and seal. Keep sealed for use. Use a coffee bean instead for the economic witch, use a juniper berry for added protection.

7. Shield of Black Wax: Keeping a black candle burning is a super easy way to put up a shield of absorption while you’re working magic. As far as precautions go, you can just plug in and go.


You now have the tip of the iceberg of an arsenal of protective and reflective methods at your hands - now, work your magic from your vantage point! Get creative! Resist!!

Other non-witchy things you could do from said vantage point include calling your representatives and speaking out on issues, such as Trump’s cabinet appointments or the restart on both pipeline projects, or the silencing of the EPA, or releasing his tax returns… the list is endless! If phone calls aren’t your bag, write postcards to your representatives. Donate to Planned Parenthood! Volunteer your time! Run for local office! Make art, and donate the proceeds! Punch a Nazi in the face!!!

Cat-Toxic Plants

There are tons and tons of plants out there. Many of them can kill your cat even if they just nibble a tiny bit. So why risk it? Here is a list of plants to avoid if you are a cat owner. It’s probably a safe bet that if you are a dog person, this would poison them too. Please keep your fur babies safe!

• English Ivy
• Spanish Thyme
• Tulip and Narcissus Bulbs
• Yew
• Chrysanthemum
• Kalanchoe
• Lilies
• Peace Lily
• Sago Palm
• Amaryllis
• Autumn Crocus
• Azaleas
• Rhododendrons
• Castor Bean
• Cyclamen
• Marijuana
• Oleander
• Pothos

  • Aconite/monkshood – numbness in face and limbs; inability to walk or move arms; chest pain, heart attack; irregular heart rhythms; nausea; vomiting; abdominal pain; diarrhea
  • Angel’s trumpet/moonflower – inability to differentiate reality from fantasy; heart attack; bizarre/violent behavior; amnesia; intolerance of light
  • Asian Abrupt-bulbed Lepidella – kidney failure
  • Autumn skullcap/Deadly Galerina – symptoms begin 8-24 hrs after ingestion; abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting; symptoms stop for about 24 hrs, during this time toxins attack the liver; death occurs 5-7 days after ingestion from coma, kidney failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Azalea – salivation; watering eyes and nose; abdominal pain; loss of energy; nausea; vomiting; weakness; difficulty breathing; paralysis of arms and legs; coma
  • Bushman’s poison/dune poison bush/wintersweet – heart attack
  • Castor beans (contain ricin) – severe diarrhea; nausea; heart attack; seizures; hypotension; survivors have extensive organ damage; take 3-5 days to kill
  • Chestnut dapperling – damage to the heart and liver; headache, dizziness, back pain, gastrointestinal problems
  • Chokecherry/common chokecherry – poison found everywhere but the berry; digestion by stomach enzymes releases cyanide; giddiness; vertigo; rapid breathing; leads to deep coma, pulmonary edema, and heart attack; victims may have cherry red skin
  • Daffodil – poisonous bulbs; vomiting; diarrhea; convulsions; can be confused for onions; handling them gives you “daffodil itch”: dryness, scaling, thickening of skin beneath the nails
  • Daphne (laurel tree family) – poisonous seeds; handling fresh twigs causes rashes/eczema for people with sensitive skin; victims experience choking sensation; common ornamental plant
  • Deadly conocybe – takes 10 hours to affect body; symptoms include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney and liver damage; usually remission period lasting 1-2 days before death
  • Deadly nightshade/Belladonna – eating 2-5 berries fatal to adults; eating 1 leaf fatal to adults; roots also fatal; slightly sweet taste; leads to delirium, hallucinations, heart attack, slurred speech, constipation, confusion, sensitivity to light, blurred vision
  • Deadly parasol – 1 mushroom is deadly; victim feels fine for a day, then sick as intestines are damaged; then the victim appears to recover before dying from liver failure
  • Deadly webcap – easy to mistake for the prized chanterelle mushroom; symptoms delayed for 2-3 days before flu-like symptoms, headache, and vomiting occur, followed by kidney failure
  • Death cap (Latin American, East Asian) – looks like the edible honey and paddy straw mushrooms; half a cap can kill a human; toxicity not reduced by cooking, freezing, or drying; taste good; early symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting; symptoms go away from a few days; symptoms return in form of jaundice, diarrhea, delirium, seizures, tachycardia, and kidney failure; survivors usually need liver transplants; fatality rate before the 20th century was 70-80%; now it’s around 10-15% in developed countries; people usually die in 6-10 days
  • Destroying angel (Eastern North American, Guangzhou, Great Felt Skirt, Western North American, European) – easy to confuse with edible white button mushroom; see death cap for symptoms, as they both contain the same kind of toxin
  • Doll’s eye/White baneberry – entire plant is poisonous; poison fatally slows human heart; handling plant causes blisters; eating it causes gastrointestinal distress as well as a slowed heartbeat
  • English yew – highest concentration of poison in the seeds; blue-colored lips, difficulty breathing, coma, convulsions, enlarged pupils, irregular heartbeat, nausea, muscle pain, trembling, vomiting
  • Ergot/St Anthony’s Fire (archaic) – poisonous fungi that grows on rye; symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, itching, gangrene, vision problems, confusion, spasms, and convulsions

Keep reading

HERBAL SUBSTITUTIONS

When you can’t find the right ingredient, you can substitute the following herbs.
* As a basic guide use Rosemary for any other herb, Rose for any flower, either Frankincense or Copal for any gum resin and Tobacco for any poisonous herb. *

Acacia /Acacia Gum = Gum Arabic
Aconite = Tobacco
Arabic Gum = Frankincense, Gum Mastic, Gum Tragacanth (For Binding Wet Ingredients)
Ammoniac Gum = Asafetida
Asafetida = Tobacco, Valerian
Balm Of Gilead = Rose Buds, Gum Mastic
Bdellium , Gum = Copal, Pine Resin, Dragons Blood
Belladonna = Tobacco
Benzoin = Gum Arabic, Gum Mastic
Cachana = Angelica Root
Carnation = Rose Petals Anointed With A Few Drops Of Clove Oil
Cassia = Cinnamon
Castor Bean = A Few Drops Of Castor Oil
Cedar = Sandalwood
Cinquefoil = Clover, Trefoil
Citron = Equal Parts Of Orange Peel & Lemon Peel
Clove = Mace, Nutmeg
Clover = Cinquefoil
Copal = Frankincense, Cedar
Cowbane = Tobacco
Cypress = Juniper, Pine Needles
Deerstongue = Tonka Bean (Not For Internal Use), Woodruff, Vanilla
Dittany Of Crete = Gum Mastic
Dragons Blood = Equal Parts Of Red Sandalwood And Frankincense
Eucalyptus Oil = Camphor Oil, Lavender Oil
Euphorbium = Tobacco
Frankincense = Copal, Pine Resin
Galangal = Ginger Root
Grains Of Paradise = Black Pepper
Gum Ammoniac = Asafetida
Gum Bdellium = Copal, Pine Resin, Dragons Blood
Hellebore = Tobacco, Nettle
Hemlock = Tobacco
Hemp = Nutmeg; Damiana, Star Anise, Bay
Henbane = Tobacco
Hyssop = Lavender
Ivy = Cinquefoil
Jasmine = Rose
Juniper = Pine
Lavender = Rose
Lemongrass = Lemon Peel
Lemon Peel = Lemongrass
Lemon Verbena = Lemongrass, Lemon Peel
Mace = Nutmeg
Mandrake = Tobacco
Mastic Gum = Gum Arabic, Frankincense
Mint (Any Sort) = Sage
Mistletoe = Mint, Sage
Mugwort = Wormwood
Neroli Oil = Orange Oil
Nightshade = Tobacco
Nutmeg = Mace, Cinnamon
Oakmoss = Patchouli
Orange = Tangerine Peel
Orange Flowers = Orange Peel
Patchouli = Oakmoss
Peppermint = Spearmint
Pepperwort = Rue, Grains Of Paradise, Black Pepper
Pine = Juniper
Pine Resin = Frankincense, Copal
Red Sandalwood = Sandalwood Mixed With A Pinch Of Dragons Blood
Rose = Yarrow
Rose Geranium = Rose
Rue = Rosemary Mixed With A Pinch Of Black Pepper
Saffron = Orange Peel
Sandalwood = Cedar
Sarsaparilla = Sassafras
Sassafras = Sarsaparilla
Spearmint = Peppermint
Sulfur = Tobacco, Club Moss, Asafetida
Thyme = Rosemary
Tobacco = Bay
Tonka Bean = Vanilla
Trefoil = Cinquefoil
Valerian = Asafetida
Vanilla = Woodruff, Deerstongue, Tonka Bean
Vetivert = Calamus
Wolfsbane = Tobacco
Wood Aloe = Sandalwood Sprinkled With Ambergris Oil
Woodruff = Deerstongue, Vanilla
Wormwood = Mugwort

Getting Started With Magic

This post is based off of my experiences. YMMV.

If I could go back in time and talk to my (more) inexperienced self, this is the letter that I would hand me.

A Warning

No matter how weak think you are, you are powerful enough to destroy your own life. Respect what magic can bring you. Respect what it can take away.

Bits and Bobs

“Magic” means to make stuff happen through nonphysical means.

“Visualization” means imagining. Visions are spontaneous visualizations.

Never let anyone take away your power.

Never, ever, invite a spirit in to your mind or body.

Never let anyone or anything make you believe you do not have the power to do something.

Magic is dangerous. Respect it.

It is okay to want validation that your beliefs are real. It is not really very nice to go around casting spells on people just to prove to yourself that you have power.

Your beliefs will evolve. Don’t marry yourself to one system.

Magic is reflected in Nature. Nature is reflected in magic. If it doesn’t happen in Nature, it doesn’t happen in magic.

Order of Operations

Get started with magic in this order:

Prepare → cleanse → protect → prosperity → spells and divination. During all of this, continue your research and education.

Preparation

There are a few things you will want before you get started in magic.

  • A journal – keep a regular diary of things that happen to you in your day to day life. Include all divination you do, visions you have, your dreams, interesting things that happen to you, and all spells you cast or magical workings you perform. Remember that a journal can also be on your phone or laptop. As a side note, a Book of Shadows is a Wiccan tool with special significance to that path. If you are not Wiccan you do not need a BOS. A plain journal and spellbook will suffice.
  • A spellbook – if you want something separate from your journal to keep spells in. Record in this notebook, binder, or text document different spells you want to try and have tried, as well as any magical recipes you find interesting. I find that a side Tumblr blog makes an excellent spellbook.
  • Three plant friends – acquire any three of these dried herbs:  rosemary, sage, rue, agrimony, angelica, anise, basil, bay leaf, caraway, castor beans, cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, hyssop, lavender, mint, mugwort, mullein, valerian, vervain, or wormwood. Getting them from the kitchen or grocery aisle will be just fine. These herbs are all very powerful protectors and will work with you to your benefit. Get as much as you can of each.
  • Arts and crafts supplies – depending on your inclinations you will want to be able to craft your own poppets, sachets, wish boxes, magical inks, and the like. Any hobby can be adapted to become a magical outlet. If you would like a shopping list, here you go: A good pair of scissors, a box of pins or needles, some good red or black thread (cotton or biodegradable if possible), jars of red and/or black ink, dip pens, a book of cardstock for making paper talismans, neutral colored fabric (cotton or biodegradable), a variety of candles (white unscented tea lights are fine, get a carton of 100; jar candles are excellent in any color; and taper candles in a variety of colors), candle holders, incense in any scent you prefer, incense holders, charcoal self-lighting disks, a live herbal plant (one of the herbs listed above will work great), a fire-safe dish in which to hold the charcoal disks.
  • Storage containers – you will be needing plenty of these! Mason jars or jars of any type are excellent. Get also plastic baggies, and start a collection of boxes of every size. You will thank yourself later.

If you are short on money (hopefully, not for long) or you must necessarily remain “in the woods”, then simply acquire a journal and your three plant friends, and let the rest come as it will.

Begin by choosing for yourself a magical name. This is any name or word that you enjoy. If you are part of a tradition with rules on how to choose a magical name, follow that tradition’s rules. Otherwise, choose any name you like. Record your magical name in your journal and always use it when doing magic or interacting with spirits.

Cleanse

It is time to do your first magic! In magic, cleansing is a vital tool. Just as you clean your home physically, you also need to clean it spiritually. There is no need to agonize over doing your first spell. Cleanse as soon as you are able; do it today if possible.

Take a portion of your three magical plant friends. Put them in a cloth sachet, and tie the top closed with some thread or yarn. Now it is time to do your first spirit work. Over the sachet, repeat these words with the correct names substituted:

“Spirit of [herb], I humbly request you visit me today. Please bring your renowned powers of cleansing and protection to my spell. Infuse with the water and make me pure.”

Repeat this three times, one for each of the plants you have chosen. As you say these words, visualize (imagine) that the spirit of the plant returns to the dried herbs and glows a vivid color. Drop the sachet in a hot bath and soak. Scrub yourself down with the herbal water starting at the crown of your head and going down towards your toes. As you wash, visualize the vivid colors of the plant spirits washing over you and carrying away all gunky energy, all parasites, and every bad and negative feeling you have. Even as you finish your bath and dry off, the colors remain around you in a protective shield. Perhaps when you close your eyes and think about being protected, you will feel safe and see those colors again.

Congratulations – you have performed your first spell! Drain the tub as normal and thank the plants (“thank you [herb] for your help today.”) Then dispose of the plants in the compost if possible; otherwise toss them. Keep your cloth sachet for later use. If you do not have a tub, do this instead: ask the plants for help as usual, but instead of adding them to a sachet, put them in a quart of boiling water as if making tea. Once the tea has cooled, take it to the shower and pour it over yourself, using that water to wash instead. Use the same visualizations and closing.

After you have cleansed yourself, record the process in your journal and how you feel afterwords.

Now it is time to cleanse your home. Again you will be calling upon your plant allies. The easiest way to do this – and perhaps the most traditional – is to burn some protective herbs as incense and fumigate your home with them. You will again want to invite the plant spirits back in to the dried herb matter. Carrying the burning plants from room to room, repeat a chant of purification and protection (the simplest being, “purify, protect, and bless.” But I encourage you to write your own.) It is okay to think your magical chant as well. When you think magical spells, have a device that signifies you are speaking words of Magical Significance. I do this by imagining my voice turns a certain color and emanates throughout the worlds. Find your own way to focus your thoughts so that it is clear to you when you are and aren’t using magical thinking.

Unfortunately not many of us can hotbox our entire house with rosemary smoke. A good second option is to again brew your herbs as a tea, and strain it out, then pour the tea to a spray bottle and spritz your home with magical water instead. Again repeat your magical chant.

Here is a third option: take a bowl of your enspirited plant allies in to each room. Sit quietly and imagine their vivid spirits filling the room, pushing out any bad or negative energies or spirits. If you cannot fully imagine each room being filled, then it isn’t being totally purified. As the spirits fill the room, again, say or think your magical chant.

Especially if you chose that last option, you may find yourself to be rather drained after two cleansings in a day. This is quite normal. Magical energy is an energy, just like any other, that us humans use in our day to day life. Just as we are tired after expending emotional or physical energy, we are also tired after expending magical energy. Eat plenty of nutritious food and get lots of sleep. Be sure to record your spellwork in your journal.

Protect

In general you will want to protect yourself, your home, and whoever lives in your home, from all forms of spiritual attack. No defense is totally foolproof. In Nature, the stronger a defense is, the more burdensome it is on whomever it is protecting. Lock something up in Fort Knox and it is very well protected, but not very flexible or accessible. You do not want to lock yourself up in an ivory tower; you just want to add a few fortifications to your home.

Start by crafting a personal protection for yourself.

Cross Protection

Take two nails or twigs from holy trees. Hold one vertically and imagine that it is an extremely powerful barrier, carrying with it either the virtue of iron or the virtues of the tree it came from. Hold the other twig or nail horizontally and imagine a barrier shooting out from it, so that nothing could possibly pass. Place the two twigs or nails together so they form a cross or X shape. As they touch, imagine a mighty clang ring out as your two protectors seal together to create an impenetrable shield. Bind the twigs or nails with black or red thread. Ensure the sticks never come apart again; if they do, even for a moment, the enchantment is lost. Tie more thread to this amulet or attach it to a necklace to wear it.

SATOR Square

Draw the SATOR Square on good card stock if available; an index card will do – otherwise, plain paper. Use black or red ink – magical ink is awesome, otherwise a Sharpie is fine. As you draw each line, be aware that you are drawing an immensely powerful protective amulet. With each line and letter you draw, imagine the power within building up and up until it is almost exploding. As you make the last mark, watch the power “click” together and become a cohesive unit. Like a wave, the power will spread out and form a complete and powerful shield, perhaps golden or yellow in color. Nothing malicious can cross this barrier. Punch a small hole in the paper (the square itself does not need to be large at all; make it as small as you desire while allowing the lines to remain distinct) and string it on thread to wear.

Jewelry Enchantment

Take any one or three of the protective herbs listed above. Burn them on charcoal disks or make a tea out of them. Hold your chosen article of jewelry over the smoke or place it within the water. Chant three times, “purify, protect, and bless.” Call to the spirit of the plant: “Rosemary, I call on you today to lay a powerful enchantment on this [ring, necklace, etc]. Make it the strongest shield that you know, which no malicious force could dream of crossing.” Take some whiskey, red wine, or raw egg. Put a drop if it on the jewelry as payment to the plant. Perform a sign of sealing (such as saying “so mote it be”).

Practice crafting personal protections for a few days. Have many on hand, with different words and plant spirits used in their creation. Carefully record each enchantment in your journal so you always know which enchantment to use when the time comes for defense.

Now you will need to protect your home. Take a jar or other container. Put in it some dirt from your property and put it in the jar. Draw an accurate picture of your home or apartment and put the picture in the jar. Now choose three of your plant friends. Call their spirits as you have been practicing. “Spirit of [herb], I request your aid in my spell today. Bring ultimate protection against all evil and malicious force to my home.” Use your intuition to determine how much of each herb to add to the jar or container. When the you are done, imagine the vivid colors of the plant spirits growing massive in scale, covering your entire home in a powerful and impenetrable shield. By the power of three no malicious force may cross this barrier. Close the container and light a candle on top of it to charge it and seal it. Store the container in a safe space and recharge it with candles once a month. In times of crisis, recharge the jar either weekly or daily. Also leave it in the sun for a few hours, once a month. If the dried herbs within rot, you are experiencing a major spiritual attack. Immediately redouble your defenses and take care of your business.

As with all your spells, be sure to record these in your journal.

Now you have performed cleansings and protections and already have your first experience in magic and spirit work. Now that the basics are taken care of, let’s roll around to building an altar and taking care of a few basic problems in your life.

Prosperity

A prosperity altar is in my opinion the first non-protective magic someone should attempt. If you have a major crisis in your life, take care of that first; otherwise, turn to prosperity. Prosperity does not mean greed or wealth. Think of all the areas in life you can be prosperous: In your hobbies, in your job, in your school work, in your motivation, in your friendships. A prosperity altar brings muchness in to your life. It removes blockages that prevents you from being successful.

Traditionally an altar is a cleared away space such as a table or shelf where things can be arranged and placed with magical intent. Not everyone is able to have such a space, however. Consider creating a Tumblr blog as an altar, or a large jar or box.

First you will want to cleanse your shelf or container. Again bring out your plant allies (I hope you really did buy a large quantity of them) and cleanse in your own personal way. Consider laying down an altar cloth. I use folded up sarongs for my altar cloths. You can use anything you wish. Consider sewing or knitting your own altar cloth for a personal touch.

Begin to collect and add a variety of items to your alter. Here are some suggestions.

  • Candles in the color of money or valuable gemstones. Green, gold, and silver are traditional.
  • Real or fake money, and as much of it as possible.
  • Costume jewelry, glass ‘gemstones’, and rocks painted gold or silver.
  • Rice, grains, almonds, allspice, cinnamon, chamomile, dill, fenugreek, mint, and basil.
  • Images of magpies, dragons, or other entities that collect treasures.
  • Drawings or images of yourself being highly prosperous, receiving everything you want, and having things going your way.
  • Statements of power, such as “I am prosperous” or “I receive every good thing.”

Give each item a purpose. “This candle acts as a beacon to draw prosperity to me. This stone acts as an anchor to hold prosperity in my life. This statement of power directs the energy in my life.” Meditate with your altar once a day or however often it is possible for you to do so. Visualize your altar steadily gaining more power, overflowing with prosperous energies. This altar acts as a center point for prosperous energies to enter your life. Expect to see changes in your prosperity soon.

Spells and Divination

Think of what you would like to change in your life. Most adults have one or two things they would prefer to change. Would you like more hours at work? Or for your co-worker to get out of town for a little while? Or, perhaps you want to heal a relationship with an old friend, or make enough money to go on a trip next spring. Make a list of things you want to change.

Listing each individual spell is outside the scope of this basic guide. However, I can go over some simple spellcrafting.

Each spell should have three components. Your willpower and focus, the power of a spirit ally, and a physical action that supports your magical goals.

Your willpower and focus means directing the energies you raise through words, actions, and visualizations. In the home cleansing, you may have visualized the spirits filling a room while you repeated the phrase “purify, protect, and bless.” This is using your willpower and focus. Another example is meditating before your prosperity altar and imagining good things happening to you. Working with tools and ingredients can focus your willpower. Consider the power of stabbing a poppet with a needle; this is an excellent point of focus. I prefer to specifically use a visualization and a spoken phrase to raise and focus willpower.

A spirit ally may be one of the plants we have been using up to this point. It could also be a crystal, or the flame elemental from a candle. It could be the spirit of the Sun or Moon, or the land you live upon. It could be a feather or a dish of water. When constructing your spirit call, speak directly and honestly. Ask the spirit of whatever it is you are working with to come to you and aid you in your magic. Of course you will want to align the spirit work you are doing with the spell at hand. You would not call on a plant of purity to curse someone, for example.

Lastly, you will need to make physical actions that support the intent of your spell. For a job spell, this means making calls and turning in resumes. For a friendship spell, this means going out to try and meet new people. Imagine that reality is smooth as glass, and magic is floating above it, trying to get in. But the surface of reality is too dense and smooth for magic to get a foothold. When you take physical actions that support your spell, you create grooves in reality that allow your magic to come down and manifest.

To craft a spell, first write down what you want to happen. “I want more hours at work,” for example. Decide what spirits you would like to include in your spell, and what props you would like to use. Simply do your research on spirits – in this spell, let’s use almonds and basil. I think a good prop would be to make a mock time sheet, and fill it out with you receiving exactly how many hours you want. Don’t go overboard or you may be asked to work too often!

Invite the spirits of almond and basil to your spell. “Spirit of Almond, I ask you come to my spell today, to bring me great treasures and wealth. Spirit of Basil, I ask you come to my spell today, to bring me prosperity unbound.” Explain to the plant spirits what you want to happen: “I require more hours at work. I want to work forty hours a week.” Then, employing your willpower and focus, visualize the plant spirits flowing through your life and opening up pathways that will give you more hours at work. Perhaps store your mock time sheet with the herbs and forty pennies (one for each hour you wish to work in a week) to create a jar spell. Or, burn the herbs and time sheet to release their power in to the universe. After this, employ your physical actions by reminding your boss that you are free to work more hours.

Just remember to use your focus, have a spirit ally, and to back your spell up with physical actions. Here are two other ideas for spells:

To make yourself more open and friendly, create a poppet of yourself (remember that poppets can be made out of anything – cloth, wax, clay, flour paste, paper mache, etc.) Call on the spirit of allspice to make yourself more warm and friendly. Mix the allspice in with the poppet you create or coat the poppet with allspice. Explain to the poppet what you want to happen. Store it in a safe place. Then, watch youtube videos or read books on how to open up and be more charismatic.

To increase your psychic awareness, draw a picture of yourself with a large purple third eye. Take some bay leaf, cinnamon, rose, or star anise and call upon their spirits for their renowned powers of psychic awareness. Place these herbs on the third eye of your drawing and meditate, imagining your own third eye opening and shining out a brilliant purple light. Store the herbs with your drawing as a jar spell and meditate with it once a day for three weeks, then after that once or twice a week. Your physical action should be practicing intuitive thinking.

Just as you practice spellwork, you will probably want to practice divination! Acquire some tarot or oracle cards, runes, or three pennies for the I-Ching. Or, simply use a book for bibliomancy. I will leave it up to you to research exactly how to divine, but let me tell you that spirit work and divination go hand in hand. Also consider using your plant or crystal allies to promote your divination skills and guide you to draw the right cards and make the correct interpretations.

Closing

I hope this post was helpful to some. If it raises any questions for you, feel free to contact me.

Poisonous Herbs + Plants

I saw a post with a list of poisonous herbs already, but I thought I’d add to it since there are several more dangerous plants that are commonly used. First post can be found here. Check it out for additional herbs.

Arnica: Should not be taken internally as it is potentially toxic, but it provides one of the best remedies for external local healing of bruises and strains.

Bleeding Heart: May be poisonous in large amounts. Has proved fatal to cattle.

Buttercup: Irritant juices may severely injure the digestive system.

Daphne: Fatal. A few berries can kill a child.

Elderberry: Children have been poisoned by using pieces of the pithy stems for blowguns. Nausea and digestive upset.

Elephant Ear: All parts. Intense burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue. Death can occur if base of the tongue swells enough to block the air passage of the throat.

Golden Chain: Severe poisoning. Excitement, staggering, convulsions and coma. May be fatal.

Hyacinth: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. May be fatal.

Iris: Severe digestive upset.

Jasmine: Berries. Fatal. Digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.

Larkspur: Digestive upset, nervous excitement, depression. May be fatal.

Lily of the Valley: Irregular heartbeat and pulse, usually accompanied by digestive upset and mental confusion.

Monkshood: Digestive upset and nervous excitement.

Moonseed: Berries. Blue, purple color, resembling wild grapes. May be fatal.

Nightshade: Fatal. Intense digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.

Oak: Acorns. Affects kidneys gradually. Symptoms appear only after several days or weeks. Takes a large amount for poisoning.

Oleander: Leaves, branches. Extremely poisonous. Affects the heart, produces severe digestive upset and has caused death.

Rhubarb: Fatal. Large amounts of raw or cooked leaves can cause convulsions, coma, followed rapidly by death.

Rosary Pea: Fatal. A single Rosary Pea seed has caused death. One or two Castor Bean seeds are near the lethal dose for adults.

Wisteria: Mild to severe digestive upset. Many children are poisoned by this plant.

Grimoire Entry: Herbal Substitutions

From Scott Cunningham’s The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews

When you can’t find the right ingredient, you can substitute the following herbs. 

As a basic guide, you may safely use rosemary for any other herb, rose for any flower, either frankincense or copal for any gum resin, and tobacco for any poisonous herb. 
 

Specific substitutions

Acacia /Acacia Gum =  Gum Arabic 
Aconite = Tobacco 
Arabic Gum = Frankincense, Gum Mastic, Gum Tragacanth (for binding wet ingredients, not for incense) 
Ammoniac Gum = Asafetida 
Asafetida  = Tobacco, Valerian 
Balm of Gilead  =  Rose Buds, Gum Mastic 
Bdellium , Gum  =  Copal, Pine Resin, Dragon’s Blood 
Belladonna  = Tobacco 
Benzoin  = Gum Arabic, Gum Mastic 
Cachana  = Angelica Root 
Carnation =  Rose petals anointed with a few drops of Clove Oil 
Cassia  = Cinnamon 
Castor Bean  = A few drops of Castor Oil 
Cedar = Sandalwood 
Cinquefoil  =  Clover, Trefoil 
Citron = Equal parts of Orange peel & Lemon peel 
Clove =  Mace, Nutmeg 
Clover  = Cinquefoil 
Copal  = Frankincense, Cedar 
Cowbane   =  Tobacco 
Cypress  =  Juniper, Pine Needles 
Deerstongue  =   Tonka bean (not for internal use!), Woodruff, Vanilla 

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Herbal Substitutions


When you can’t find the right ingredient, you can substitute the following herbs.
As a basic guide use Rosemary for any other herb, Rose for any flower, either Frankincense or Copal for any gum resin and Tobacco for any poisonous herb.


Acacia /Acacia Gum = Gum Arabic
Aconite = Tobacco
Arabic Gum = Frankincense, Gum Mastic, Gum Tragacanth (For Binding Wet Ingredients, Not For Incense)
Ammoniac Gum = Asafetida
Asafetida = Tobacco, Valerian
Balm Of Gilead = Rose Buds, Gum Mastic
Bdellium , Gum = Copal, Pine Resin, Dragons Blood
Belladonna = Tobacco
Benzoin = Gum Arabic, Gum Mastic
Cachana = Angelica Root
Carnation = Rose Petals Anointed With A Few Drops Of Clove Oil
Cassia = Cinnamon
Castor Bean = A Few Drops Of Castor Oil
Cedar = Sandalwood
Cinquefoil = Clover, Trefoil
Citron = Equal Parts Of Orange Peel & Lemon Peel
Clove = Mace, Nutmeg
Clover = Cinquefoil
Copal = Frankincense, Cedar
Cowbane = Tobacco
Cypress = Juniper, Pine Needles
Deerstongue = Tonka Bean (Not For Internal Use), Woodruff, Vanilla
Dittany Of Crete = Gum Mastic
Dragons Blood = Equal Parts Of Red Sandalwood And Frankincense
Eucalyptus Oil = Camphor Oil, Lavender Oil
Euphorbium = Tobacco
Frankincense = Copal, Pine Resin
Galangal = Ginger Root
Grains Of Paradise = Black Pepper
Gum Ammoniac = Asafetida
Gum Bdellium = Copal, Pine Resin, Dragons Blood
Hellebore = Tobacco, Nettle
Hemlock = Tobacco
Hemp = Nutmeg; Damiana, Star Anise, Bay
Henbane = Tobacco
Hyssop = Lavender
Ivy = Cinquefoil
Jasmine = Rose
Juniper = Pine
Lavender = Rose
Lemongrass = Lemon Peel
Lemon Peel = Lemongrass
Lemon Verbena = Lemongrass, Lemon Peel
Mace = Nutmeg
Mandrake = Tobacco
Mastic Gum = Gum Arabic, Frankincense
Mint (Any Sort) = Sage
Mistletoe = Mint, Sage
Mugwort = Wormwood
Neroli Oil = Orange Oil
Nightshade = Tobacco
Nutmeg = Mace, Cinnamon
Oakmoss = Patchouli
Orange = Tangerine Peel
Orange Flowers = Orange Peel
Patchouli = Oakmoss
Peppermint = Spearmint
Pepperwort = Rue, Grains Of Paradise, Black Pepper
Pine = Juniper
Pine Resin = Frankincense, Copal
Red Sandalwood = Sandalwood Mixed With A Pinch Of Dragons Blood
Rose = Yarrow
Rose Geranium = Rose
Rue = Rosemary Mixed With A Pinch Of Black Pepper
Saffron = Orange Peel
Sandalwood = Cedar
Sarsaparilla = Sassafras
Sassafras = Sarsaparilla
Spearmint = Peppermint
Sulfur = Tobacco, Club Moss, Asafetida
Thyme = Rosemary
Tobacco = Bay
Tonka Bean = Vanilla
Trefoil = Cinquefoil
Valerian = Asafetida
Vanilla = Woodruff, Deerstongue, Tonka Bean
Vetivert = Calamus
Wolfsbane = Tobacco
Wood Aloe = Sandalwood Sprinkled With Ambergris Oil
Woodruff = Deerstongue, Vanilla
Wormwood = Mugwort
Yew = Tobacco

Pollen from a variety of common plants as seen through an electron microscope: sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory Ipomoea purpurea, hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis). The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 ¼m long. The photo was taken at the Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College. (Date of Image: Unknown).

Castor bean (Ricinus communis)

A musical fruit if you’re into funeral dirges.

Castor beans, the seed of the Ricinus communis plant, aren’t actually beans, but they’re close enough that the name stuck. Ricinus communis produces castor oil, which is used for a wide variety of medical uses: a laxative, a skin conditioner, and an antibacterial/antimicrobial agent are just a few of its many jobs.

The bean, though? Well, it’s pretty good for killing political dissidents.

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