A Green Witch’s Guide to Nature Walks

A simple walk in nature has the remarkable power to promote well-being, reset your spiritual awareness and expand your knowledge as a practitioner. Today, I’m going to tell you why you should take the time to do them, how they will benefit you and how to get the most of out them.

A Green Witch Guide to Nature Walks

Tips to make the most of your nature walks.

-Try wild crafting.  There are all kinds of useful things in nature.  Bring some home, get creative, and even save some money.  Instead of paying $45 for a wreath from the craft store, go outside, find some lovely evergreens, and create something truly unique for free.

Cook with nature.  Obviously, never eat anything if you don’t know what it is and make sure it doesn’t have any residual pesticides.  But it doesn’t take long to learn.  Did you know the annoying wild onions that sprout up incessantly in your lawn are actually pretty tasty if you fry them in butter?  Wild strawberries make a beautiful topping for ice cream?  You can candy wild violets and top cakes and cookies with them?

-Focus on the tiny details.  The veins in a leaf.  The tiniest flowers.  The dime-sized mushroom you almost stepped on.  These things are magical.  Broad, sweeping landscapes may take your breath, but the perfect geometric symmetry of honeycomb will leave you with a sense of wonder.

the small things

-Bring home the seasons.  Cedar branches burned in the fire place in the winter make the whole house smell divine.   Pine cones in a bowl make a simple, elegant centerpiece.  And field flowers are so much more charming on a spring table than anything store-bought ever will be.

-Pay special attention to the animals you see.  Any and all animals, but particularly if it’s a rare animal.  Many cultures around the world regard the appearance of unusual wildlife as a sign. Once, I was walking with my husband hiking a few miles from our home when we spotted a large (40 pounds?) wild black cat about 15 yards off the path.  I’m glad my generally skeptical husband was with me, because I wouldn’t have believed my own eyes had he not seen it, too.  I spent weeks searching the local wildlife data bases trying to identify it, but no large black game cat is known to our region by any of the local wildlife authorities.  I will always wonder where that cat came from, and why it appeared to us.

turtle

-Find a secret hiding spot.  Whether it’s a off-the-beaten path grove of trees, a secluded beach or part of the desert you know well, discovering hidden gems in the land is one of the awesome things about getting to know your local natural surroundings.  Having somewhere to go that is quiet and away from everything else in your life is a tremendous gift.

-Do whatever you have time for, and nothing less.  If you only have 15 minutes to go outside today, then go outside for fifteen minutes.  If you have two hours to wander aimlessly across the landscape, then take an extended journey.  Think of your nature walks as mini vacations.  The time spent immersed in them will make the life you go back to that much richer and more peaceful.

-Make it a point to learn the local plant life.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a blank composition book.  Every time you go on a nature walk, snap a photo of a plant you don’t recognize.  When you get home, identify it.  Within a year, you’ll become an expert on your local plant life.  This is an excellent skill for any witch.

the little things

-Create an outdoor altar.  Any sort-of flat surface will do.  A large rock, the cleanly chopped trunk of a tree.  An oak in my mother’s yard was struck down by lightening ten years ago.  I asked the landscapers to leave the stump, and for me, it still holds all the power and charge of that one stroke of energy.  Whether it’s on your land, or tucked away in local park, periodically leave items you find there.

Look up.  Every day, the sky is a new work of art.  Lie on your back.  Look for shapes in the clouds.  Notice the pastel colors of the sunset.  Like everything else in life, this moment is fleeting.  Take the time to let it capture your imagination.

Benefits of nature walks:

-Live healthier, happier and longer.  One 30-minute walk a day has a profound impact on your body, your mind and your emotions.  Try it for a week and witness the powerful transformation.  You won’t believe what a difference it makes.

Reduce the amount of time you spend around electronics.  There’s no way around it.  We’re all “wired.”   The more time you spend in front of a computer or glued to your phone, the less in touch you are with the world that surrounds you.  This is includes your loved ones, your spiritual awareness and your natural environment.  Most people don’t have the luxury of retreating to Buddhist monastery or living on a commune.  But you can keep your screen time to a minimum, and nature walks are one way to do this.  If your kids think the outdoors is boring, it’s time to show them that their iPhone is the real snooze.

-Increase your sensitivity to environmental issues.  The first time you cringe when you see a plastic bottle floating down the creek by your walking path, a bird’s nest made of paper litter or (worst of all) a wildlife animal struggling to free herself from tangled debris, you will begin a lifelong journey of sensitivity to the earth around you.

-Become in tune with the seasonal cycles around you.  Direct experience with and awareness of the subtle shifts in seasons creates harmony in the spirit, promoting internal balance.  You may (depending on your climate) think of the seasons broadly, as in Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer.  But the turning of the seasons is actually very gradual, yet distinct.  When is mating season for butterflies?  Horseshoe crabs?  Have you ever noticed turtles are everywhere for like a week in the spring?  People who go on regular nature walks pick up on these things, and they are worthwhile observations.

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Celebrate Litha: A Trip to the Lavender Fields

I thought it might be nice to complete our herb and wildflower theme this week by sharing with you our trip to the lavender farm.

Litha at the Lavender Fields

Those of you who have been around for a while know I’m a big fan of taking advantage of local farms. Earlier this year, I went with some friends to pick tulips for Beltane, and last year, we did sunflowers for Lammas.

It’s a wonderful way to stay connected to your community, learn about local plant species, pay homage to the cycling of the seasons and support independent farmers.

Summer Solstice

That said, I have a confession:  I did not actually need any lavender.

I have three of my own lavender plants, which are all thriving and should yield more than enough lavender for the coming year.

Litha Lavender

But it’s pretty hard to have too much of the stuff.  And the good folks at the flower farms are always full of helpful tips for cultivating beautiful flowers.  Not only do they know their specialty plants, they know specifically which varieties grow best in your region, what pests to watch out for and can answer your questions with the experience and knowledge of people who’ve been doing it professionally for years. Besides, the scenery alone was worth the drive.

Midsummer Outing

Plus, the gift shop was a tremendous inspiration for lavender crafting.  Who this lovely little plant was so versatile?  Check out some ideas for how to get the most of your bundles.  Lavender goes way beyond sachets for the drawer!

-Candle makers can make a simple, elegant, lightly scented pillar by adding handful of lavender petals to a white pillar.

-Lavender is edible.  There are loads of recipes for cookies, cakes and icing that include lavender.

-Make smudge sticks from lavender.  No, seriously, they smell amazing, and you can keep them all year.

-Lavender can be brewed into tea.  Have it by itself, or mix it with chamomile and mint for a light, dreaming blend.

Add lavender to a muslin bag and drop it in your bathwater for a soothing bedtime ritual. Enjoy!

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Celebrate Midsummer: A Walk in the Wildflowers

Welcome to Herb and Flower Week at Moody Moons!

Now that the longer daylight hours begin to turn our focus away from the home and into the outdoors, I’m going to spend the next few posts talking about how to take advantage of the weather to expand your magical practice.

We will pay special attention in the coming week to flowers and herbs, their uses and how to seize the season to its full advantage.

First things first.  If you haven’t yet, go flower picking!  And take the dog.  The dog really, really wants to go with you.  Lets explore:

Witchcraft with Wildflowers

We are lucky to live near some beautiful natural scenery, so I packed my dog, my flower picking basket, a pair of scissors and a camera, and off we went.

I tried to pick fairly common wildflowers that you shouldn’t have any trouble finding and are not generally protected as rare or endangered.  In fact, for farmers and gardeners, these flowers are mostly pests—ask first, but people are usually pretty happy to let you take as much as you want.  These flowers are in season all over the US right now, so get out there and get some for yourself.

Here’s what we found.

If any of these are misidentified, speak up, but I think this is all pretty accurate.

Field Thistle, or Common Thistle.  This lovely purple bloom is beautiful but poisonous, so handle with care!  You can use it in reversing spells, spell breaking, for protection or grow it in the garden to drive away dark spirits from the home.  It’s super spiky, so wear gloves if you’re going to pick it.  It’s easy to find in wastelands, along highways and in open fields.

Witchcraft with Common Thistle

Viper’s Bugloss, or Devil’s Weed.  Also sometimes called snakeflower, this pretty (but prickly!) wildflower can be used to work with serpent energies, the Kundalini, or snake rituals.  Incorporated into sun festivals or placed in mojo bags for protection.  For the (experienced!) herbalist, this flower can be made into an alcohol tincture to treat bug bites topically.

Magick with Viper's Bugloss

Black Eyed Susan.  Incorporate into court case spells, use to loosen emotional blockages, work with gentle spirits, place on the altar as a symbol of solar energy, and to lift depression.  The roots and the juice from the roots are used for medicinal purposes, including for the treatment of earaches, cold and sinus infections, and to boost the immune system.

Wiccan Uses for Black Eyed Susan

Queen Anne’s Lace.  With such a regal name, one might expect an equally elegant set of uses.  I like to call this one Lady Night.  Adorn your moon altar with these to encourage “brightened” lunar energy, work into fertility spells, lust spells and passion magic.

The Magick of Queen Anne's Lace
Daisies.  If you’re planning a Midsummer ritual, gather some of these on the morning of.   They make beautiful flower crowns and altar decorations, as a goddess offering, in love spells and in hand fasting ceremonies to bless marriage.

Love Spells with Daisies

And whatever else you find on your journeys, here’s a handy link for identifying wildflower species.  It has served me well:

Wildflower Identification Tool

A note on bees: 
This is an easy way to celebrate Litha, and everyone should go wildflower picking at least once.  Your only excuse not to is severe allergies.   Particularly if you allergic to bee stings, this may not be the best activity.  But if you’re not, or you’re comfortable being near them with an epi pen, here’s a tip:  Wear muted clothing.  Bright colors look like flowers and attract bees.  And let the bees be!  Even if one lands on you, it probably won’t sting you unless you freak out and start flailing your arms and legs about like a crazed maniac.  Chill out.  Don’t panic.  Most bees have no more interest in you than you do them.  Look!  I got this close to one with a wide angle lens, and he sooooo didn’t care.

bee on lavender

Sources:

Herbal Riot

Nefaeria

Wiccan Together

My Wildflowers

Witchipedia

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Foxglove

Foxglove

As part of my Pagan Summer Bucket List, I pledged to grow three new flowers or herbs in my magical botanical garden. While we were on our weekend getaway in Berkeley Springs last weekend, I spotted these lovely foxgloves for only $3!! So I snapped them right up and in the ground they went.

Foxglove has special meaning to Wiccan practitioners. Long associated with fairies, potions and flying ointment, this enchanting flower is both beautiful and poisonous.