[Guest Post By My Wild Way] Old Wives Tales: A Little Bit of Magic

Hollie from My Wild Way agreed to share with us a little magic in the form of folklore  She lives in the south of England and first began learning about magic from her aunt when she was young. She has always felt drawn to the wild way of life and now shares her pagan journey on her blog.

Old wives tales have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  They are very common in Britain and are part of our heritage. I wanted to share with you some of the tales I have grown up with, and still guide my life today.

There are some that seem to be just a way to scare children into behaving appropriately, such as “If the wind changes while you are pulling a face, it will stay that way”.  To me, this just sounds like someone trying to stop you making rude faces.

The sayings I want to share with you the ones that seem to have a little bit of magic behind them. Those that when you hear them, you know they are rooted in history and folklore. They bring a sense of wonder to the everyday and are a gift from the wild people who came before us.

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If the cows are lying down it is going to rain– one of my favourites! If you live in a rural area I hope you would have heard of this one. It is quite self-explanatory, if the cows are lying down then we are to expect rain. Now, I know what you’re thinking, I live in England so it does rain a lot. But I have to include it as I was brought up hearing it, I can’t vouch for its legitimacy but if I see a group of cows lying down then I do always expect the sky too soon pour.

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This next one takes on the form of a rhyme, I am aware that there are several different variations of this but here follows the one I grew up with;

“Red sky at night, Shepherds delight,
“Red sky in the morning, Sailors warning”

This means that if the sky is a beautiful red hue in the evening then we are to expect a lovely weather the following day. If it’s a red in the morning, then we are to expect bad weather throughout the day (a warning to sailors that there will be a storm). I still live by this one and to my knowledge, it has always been correct!

If you purchase a purse/wallet as a gift for someone, you must always place in it a piece of silver. Now that our money is no longer made of silver, we use the equivalent of a 10p or 20p piece. This is to bring good fortune to the receiver while they use their gift and to this day, I have never been given a purse which doesn’t have a silver coin inside.

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When I was younger, I learned this one; my parents took my brother and I to view a house they were interested in buying. The house was lovely, but there were spiders and cobwebs everywhere. My dad is scared of spiders and needless to say they did not end up buying it but I did learn this little gem from the owner. The lady went on to explain that it is unlucky to remove spiders and their cobwebs from your home during the month of September and October. I had never heard of that one before or since visiting the house, but I love that this knowledge has been passed down throughout the generations in her family and that she still lives by it. Therefore spiders are safe in my home during September and October.

If your ears are burning then someone is talking about you. I would place money on this that if you were to walk into a room of people (in England) and state that your ears are hot and red, someone would tell you that you are being talked about. This is just taken as fact in my neck of the woods.

I hope you have enjoyed the few that I have shared. I find them so interesting because they are Folklore, they have absolutely nothing to do with science and are based on reading the signs that nature gives you. As the name suggests they are the sayings of the women of the village, the ones who were most likely witches.

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10 Spring Crafts for Wiccans

With just a few more weeks of winter ahead, the earth already begins to warm and wake up, pushing up delicate baby green grass and soft, pastel-colored bulbs.

Spring is almost here!

Here are a few activities to get you inspired for the coming season.

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1.  Try a bird feeder wishing spell.   Choose a spring fruit and hollow it out (grapefruits are nice).  Fill it with appropriate herbs and stones and close it up, securing it with a ribbon or string.  Carve symbols in the flesh.  Cover with peanut butter and bird seeds and hang it somewhere it your yard under the full moon.  Every time a bird comes, imagine it is carrying your wish to the heavens.

2.  Decorate eggs naturally for Ostara.  Rather than using the dye kits to decorate your Ostara eggs, try using natural dyes like tea, blueberries and other naturally occurring pigments.

3.  Make an “enchanted” flower bouquet.   This one is particularly fun if you’re knowledgeable about the local flowers and plants.  Choose a theme, like “love and attraction” or “home blessing.”  Go on a nature walk and pick out local flowers, herbs and plants that you associate with this theme.  Leave it in your kitchen to bless your home with the energy.

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4.  Head to the farmer’s market to cast your first kitchen witch spell of the season.    Living close to the earth starts in your kitchen!    Search the farmer’s market for the freshest natural, sustainable spell ingredients and design a ritual around what you find.

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5.  Make an outdoor pillow with a twist.  Pick up some outdoor fabric (available at most fabric stores during the warmer months).  Throw in a pinch of lavender, mint or dried lemon rind and leave it in your coziest outdoor living space to bless the garden.

6.  Make your own bath magical products.  If you enjoy whipping up your own bath band beauty products from natural, wholesome ingredients, try making them with magic in mind.  Spring is prime time for beauty spells, so get cracking before the season slips away!

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7.  Make some new ritual wear.  Good with a needle and thread?  Try making your own ritual robe.  Choose a flattering pattern, select a pattern or color for your robe that speaks to you and go to town!  Get creative.  You can even add beading or buttons with moons or other symbols.

8.  Plant a magical garden.  You’ve always meant to do it.  This is the season!   If you’re intimidated by the green arts, start small.  A simple window box will do.  Choose herbs that are easy to grow and magically useful.  The possibilities are endless.  Bury gemstones in it, choose garden ornaments and symbols with meaning to your practice or create a space for your moon rituals.

9.  Create a spring altar piece.  The craft stores are full of items perfect for making an altar piece for the spring season.  I craft these little boxes last year, and they were a hit on my retail site.

ostara altar box with nest

10.  Craft your own dandelion wine for libation or cakes/ale.  I love the potent spiritual power of making my own wine for libation.  I also enjoy getting creative with the cakes/ale portion of a ritual.  Dandelion wine makes an excellent spring-themed substitute for Ostara and spring moon rituals.

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The Role of Fire in Witchcraft

Inspired by the success of my post, The Role of Water in Witchcraft last summer, I decided to continue it as a series for each element.

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One of my earliest memories takes the form of my mother allowing me into the kitchen to watch her make dinner.   Sternly, she instructed me “Not to touch that stove, little one.”

Naturally, the moment she turned, I place my hand unflinchingly on the hot surface, giving myself a ripe little burn and a lifelong lesson about fire:

You really shouldn’t touch it.

Like all the elements, fire bears both creative and destructive force.   Simultaneously dangerous and beautiful, our respect for fire usually begins the first time it burns us!

And yes, I got a nasty burn that day.  But my mother used it to create a hot meal for us.

Same flame, same day.

I chose fire for this season because I strongly associate it with winter.  In the darkest, coldest months, fire provides warmth and light.

Let’s go over different kinds of fire and some creative ways to use it in spell craft.

Candle flame.  Easily the most convenient, common fire tool in ritual, candles are an ideal, all-purpose source of fire perfect for altars.

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Bonfires encourage groups to gather around it, making it an extremely effective focal point for group rituals and coven meetings.  Ideal for “going big” in rituals evoke empowerment or for burning spell elements in banishing rituals.

Hearth fires warm the home and create a cozy, holiday feel.  Perfect for enjoying a winter Sabbat like Imbolc or Yule.  Or, get creative and charge it with passion herbs for a date night at home.

Sparklers.  Remember how magical it was to hold one in your hands as a child, making streaks of light across the summer night.  Use sparklers to bring that same feeling to a moon ritual or night spell.

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Torches (as in the sticks with fire on the end of them, not flashlights) look a feel very ceremonial.  These are ideal for rite-of-passage type ceremonies, particularly involving the transition to manhood, or the ascension to a clergy position.

Lanterns work nicely for spring and midsummer festivals, anything involving faeries or woodland spirits, and garden blessings.

Flash paper is available at theatrical supply stores.  It’s usually used for stage magic, but it’s also great fun in spell casting!  Write spells or symbols on them and up it goes–in a flash!

Hope some of these ideas inspire you to use fire in more creative and fun ways during your rituals.  Blessed be!

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What’s New at Moody Moons?

Check out what’s new for spring at the Moody Moon’s workshop!

Click on the photo to be redirected to the product page for full details and description.

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(Above)  Goddess oil combines organic essential oils associated with the moon and goddess magic.

Comes in a lovely corked bottle hand-painted with the color of lavenders to represent higher awareness. Tied off neatly with a goddess charm.

Perfect for use in binding spells between sisters or coven members, to honor the moon cycle or for celebrations involving female rites of passage.  Anoint candles, bless yourself or others, consecrate altar tools or pour it in a ritual bath to charge the water.

 

ostara-incense-web(Above) Ostara, or the Spring Equinox, is among the eight sacred sabbats on the Wheel of the Year. The light begins to overtake the darkness of winter, yielding newly born wildlife and soft colors. As the earth begins to thaw and awaken, pushing up early spring bulbs and bright green grass, it is time to embrace new beginnings and fresh perspectives.

Moody Moon’s Ostara Casting Blend is light, loose incense of delicate flowers and herbs chosen for their association with the magical day of the Spring Equinox.

 

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(Above)  Limited edition sea witch spoon wand.

Hand painted with acrylic in aquamarine colors and decorated with natural moss and a sea shell.  Adorned with a mermaid charm symbolizing the mythological ocean.  Turquoise ribbon grip.

 

spoon-wand-tight(Above)  Looking to add a little magic in the kitchen?

Perfect for gentle use in kitchen rituals and embellished with rich symbolism, this spoon wand makes a lovely gift to the kitchen witch in your life (especially if that’s you!).

Painted white and adorned with ribbon, a glittery heart and pentacle charm.

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Interview With Dorothy Morrison

 

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That’s right!  I scored an interview with one of the most successful pagan writers today, Dorothy Morrison, to talk about her thoughts on ethical dilemmas, writer’s block and breaking into the pagan book market.

Q:  First things first.   What’s new?  What have you been up to lately?  Is there anything upcoming that you’d like us to know about?

A:  First of all, I’m putting away my luggage.  [Nineteen years on the road is enough for anybody!  LOL!]  I have one more appearance in July in Atlanta before I do, though.  It’s Mystic South – details can be found at https://mystic-south.com/ –  and I hope folks will come out for that.  It’s going to be a great conference, with fabulous speakers, and lots of wonderful classes.  And I can’t think of any place I’d rather finish my touring.

I’ve also put my “author’s pen” away – at least for a while – but that doesn’t mean I’m retiring.  Instead, I’m concentrating my efforts toward Wicked Witch Studios – www.wickedwitchstudios.com – which offers my Hexology line of spell jars, and Wicked Witch Mojo line of candles and oil, as well as other magical supplies and accoutrements for the discriminating Witch.  And since I handle everything – including making most of the offerings – and service several retail stores across the country, I’m going to be just as busy as ever.

Q:  You’ve been writing about pagan topics for a long time.  What was your favorite book to write?  Which was the hardest for you?

A:  That’s a really tough one, because books are a lot like children:  Each one is unique, and you love them all.

If I had to choose, though, I’d have to say Utterly Wicked was the most fun to write, because I got to discuss a subject that most other authors wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole – and that was really exciting.  That book also gave me a platform to say all the things I’d wanted to say but couldn’t, as there was no way to fit that much information into a 2-hour workshop time slot.  Best of all, though, there was no heavy editing – my editor was wonderful – so my voice comes through loud and clear with every sentence, and the information is imparted just the way I intended.

The most difficult one was my novel, Lucinda’s Web.  I had no previous experience writing fiction, and while I’m fairly good at drawing folks into a story, I was concerned about the dialogue – something that has to flow properly to give life to the characters.  My good friend, M.R. Sellars – an award-winning novelist – was gracious enough to give me a few pointers, though, and it all turned out fine.  It even won an award.

Q:  Will you tell us a little about your writing process?  Where do you go looking for inspiration?

A:  When one lives as long as I have, finding inspiration is easy.   For me, it’s found in  personal experience, the mistakes made along the way- some of which have been real doozies – and what I learned in the aftermath.  So, I take a trip down memory lane. There’s always a tidbit or two that stands out – something of value that I think might help someone else – so I grab it, and go from there.

My writing process is disciplined, but fairly simple.  Since most manuscripts encompass 300 double-spaced pages – and are due six months after contract – my rule of thumb is to write three pages per day.  Sometimes, I’m able to whip that out in fifteen minutes.  Sometimes, it takes all day.  If I’m on a roll and write twenty pages, so much the better – but writing more than the intended amount does not absolve me from having to write three pages the next day.  I stay on task and on schedule until the manuscript is ready for submission.  It’s really is that simple.

So…why the “three page a day” rule?  For one thing, writing three pages isn’t overwhelming – and once that’s done, I can spend the rest of the day doing whatever I want.  But just as important, I can complete nearly a third of a manuscript in thirty days, and the entire first draft in a little more than ninety.  And with a six month deadline, I have time read it through, make any necessary changes, and still turn it in under schedule.

Q:  You have decades of experience as a practicing witch.  What was the most difficult ethical problem you faced as a practitioner, and how did you handle it?

A:  Believe it or not, it had nothing to do with any magical effort on my part.  Instead, it presented itself in those that other practitioners planned to perform – magical operations that went against my grain – and whether or not it was my place to stop them when they asked for my advice.  That was tough for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, butting into someone else’s business often does more harm than good; moreover, it can also keep someone from learning personal life lessons.  The other thing, though, is that nothing in the world can stop someone from doing something they really want to do.  The best you can hope for is a delay – and that’s just a temporary fix.

I finally decided that my ethical responsibility began and ended with saying something if I saw a problem.  And with that realization came a solution that was simpler than I ever imagined.  It was just a matter of asking the practitioner the right questions.  What was the desired outcome?  Was the proposed operation was going to bring the desired result?  Or was it only going to relieve the practitioner’s frustration?

In asking those questions, I honored my ethical obligations.  And the practitioner, in answering them, saw the bigger picture and what was necessary to achieve the desired results.  It worked out well for everyone concerned.

Q:  As a leader in the pagan community, what do you feel is the most important issue facing the pagan community today?

A:  While I’m sure there are many who will disagree with me – and maybe even be appalled at my answer – I think it’s the lack of a good old-fashioned reality check among a large portion of its members.

For one thing, sweetness and light doesn’t solve everything.  There are times when one has to grab some gumption, defend oneself, and fight.  Someone who’s harming you or yours simply cannot be stopped with a hug, or an “I love you” – and it’s ludicrous to even think it might.  What’s more, the deities with whom we align ourselves never took that route.  And expecting Them to protect us when we won’t even try to protect ourselves is absolutely absurd.

Magic doesn’t solve everything, either.  There are times when a conversation – no matter how uncomfortable – is in order.  Times when a face-to-face confrontation is necessary.  And times – mere words can’t even begin to express how important this is – to pick up the phone and call the police.

The point is, we can’t fix any of the other issues facing our community-at-large until we fix ourselves.  Until we grow up and stop living in a fantasy world.  Until we stop hiding behind magic and take some responsibility for ourselves and our actions.  Until we finally come to the realization that we live in the mundane world, and give it equal time with the spiritual.  Only then will we be able to conquer any other problems that come our way.

Q:  On a personal note, I very much appreciate your willingness to approach subjects others tend to shy away from.  You’ve written about some pretty controversial topics in modern witchcraft.  Particularly, the book Utterly Wicked: Curses, Hexes & Unsavory Notions comes to mind, among several others.   Why did you feel it was important to contribute to discussions like these?

A:  The reasons are many.  But first and foremost, they involved subject matter about which everyone was curious, but no one in the community would discuss.  At least, not out loud.  And I thought it was high time that someone not only offered a reasonable explanation, but offered some good, solid, useable information.

Of course, one of my pet peeves with “modern Craft” has always the one-sided focus on the light – something that came about in an effort to make the ancient arts seem harmless, and appear more mainstream.  It was one of those things that looked good on paper, but really didn’t serve anyone well, because it presented a skewed view of magical practices.  Had that view not been passed on through generations of up and coming practitioners, it might not have been a problem.  But it was.  And that not only left magical practitioners without the tools to defend themselves, but scared to death that the sky might fall if they tried.

So, I felt it was important to remind folks that our world is designed on a system of checks and balances.  That everything we encounter in this life- whether emotional, physical, or scientific – is balanced with a complete and opposite measure of equal value.  We find those balances in night vs. day, yes vs. no, guilt vs. innocence, cold vs. hot, and on and on and on.  That said, there is no way we can have the light without the dark – especially when it comes to the Craft.

The other thing is that everything that could even remotely be seen as “negative” seems to have gotten a really bad rap.  Even worse, those who subscribe to the “harm none law” seem to have dismissed the fact that they, too, are part of those who should not be harmed.  And those ideas have caused some real problems.  How?  Because to truly practice the ancient arts, one has to first come to an understanding of his or her emotions, and get them in balance to strengthen the spirit.  And if they’re completely ignoring some, or pretending they don’t exist, that just isn’t going to happen.  Embracing both the positive and negative with equal measure is imperative toward spiritual health.  And when the spirit is healthy, what was once seen as dark ceases to be scary, it becomes more than reasonable to defend oneself, and worries about the sky falling fly right out the window.

Controversial or not, these are the sorts of things that really do bear discussion.  Otherwise, the world winds up with magical practitioners who lack the tools to work effectively.  And a practitioner who can’t work effectively doesn’t serve anyone well.

Q:  With its diverse cast of colorful characters, whom among pagan writers do you admire most?  What authors influenced you as you developed your writing style?

A:  I admire all Pagan writers, for they willingly share their knowledge and techniques with the world.  Those I admire most, though – far too numerous to list here – are those who do more than just write about the magical life.  They live it.  They breathe it.  They walk their talk.  They’re out there serving our community, and doing what needs to be done.  They’re excellent role models and prime examples of that to which every Pagan leader should aspire.

I began writing long before I came to Paganism – I even won several extemporaneous writing competitions while in high school – so those who influenced my writing style weren’t really other authors, per se.  A lot of credit goes to my mother, who was big on literacy, and never allowed us to write the language improperly.  But it was Pat Moore, my senior English teacher, who believed in me, took me under her wing, and honed my skills.  I only wish she’d lived long enough to see my first book published.

Q:  What advice would you give to aspiring pagan authors?

A:  Don’t quit your day job!  LOL!

The fact of the matter is that Pagan authors don’t make a lot of money.  They spend six months writing a book that – unless they self-publish – could take up to two years to see publication.  Once the book is published, they only make 10% of the wholesale price of the book – about 50% of the cover price – on books for which the book store has actually paid the publisher.  And if the book store returns the books, that money is deducted from the author’s royalties.  Of equal importance, royalties are paid only twice per year.  What that means is that you won’t see a check for the period of July through December until April or May.  So…it can be a long time between checks.

Going the self-publishing route might be a bit more lucrative, but I really don’t recommend that for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, anyone can self-publish these days.  So unless you’re an established author with a following – even if you’re an excellent writer and have a great book – there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to the self-publishing route, and that can be costly sales-wise.  For another, even e-books can be returned now, and those returns will really take a bite out your profits.

Please understand that I’m not trying to discourage aspiring authors.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Everyone has something to say and something to share, and there’s room in this business for everyone.  It’s just that it would’ve been really helpful to me if I’d understood the business a bit better before jumping headfirst into the world of Pagan publishing!

Business issues aside, though, the most common concern of aspiring writers seems to be conquering writer’s block – so I thought I’d share my favorite remedy for that here, too.  I simply picture myself having coffee with a dear friend, think about what I’d say about the subject matter in that time and place, and then…write it.  I don’t worry about my sentence structure, or whether or not the explanation flows.  All that matters at that point is getting something down on the page.  Writer’s block is yesterday’s news, and it’s easy to go on from there.

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Candlemas with a Kitchen Witch

I decided to whip up a little something in honor of the upcoming Imbolc/Candlemas holiday.

In the past, I generally neglected Imbolc.  Maybe because by February, I was over-holidayed, or maybe because unlike Mabon, Samhain, Yule and Ostara, there aren’t really any corresponding mainstream holidays.

But now, Imbolc is one of my favorites.  I love that while every else considers the winter holidays to be over, we have one more to look forward to, and it’s the coziest of the year.

I chose a poppy seed cupcake for this Sabbat.  The key ingredients represent some of the classic, deep-winter symbols of Candlemas.

For reference, I used this recipe.

Because of Imbolc’s strong association with seed blessing, I wanted something that features seeds.  Poppy seeds in particular symbolize deep meditative states and spiritual insight.

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In this context, powdered ingredients like sugar and flour represent the lightly falling snow of the season.

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Known sometimes as the “Festival of Lights,” Candlemas celebrates the return of the sun and the waxing of the light after the Winter Solstice.  Lemon symbolizes solar energy and light.

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Imbolc celebrates animal husbandry and dairy farming in particular.  For this reason, I am adding a cream cheese frosting in addition to the light lemon glaze in the recipe.

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The inclusion of butter also compliments this theme.

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I kind of imagine the time in the oven as “when the magic happens” in baking.  So for a ritual meal, I like to say a blessing before it goes in.

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And like magic, out they come!

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Happy Imbolc!

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