10 Ways to Use Divination During the Dark Moon

As the moon wanes and the days begin to grow shorter, both the time of year and the lunar phase create ideal conditions for experimenting with the art of divination.

From traditional methods like the Tarot, to lesser known arts like smoke scrying, from techniques that make use of exotic ritual tools to the simple act of gazing into the clouds, I compiled a list of ways to pay closer attention to the messages of a deeper reality.

I tried to include divination systems that are readily available, as well as some more esoteric systems worth exploring.

Divination is an art form.  It takes patience, practice and concentration!  Just like anything else, the more you do it, the more you will be rewarded with new insights and clarity.

1.  Kaleidoscope scrying.  I love this idea!  Simply look into the kaleidoscope, rotate the dial, breath deeply and let yourself be mesmerized.

2. Cloud scrying.  I wrote extensively about cloud scrying here.   I love this method because with a very few exceptions (in certain climates, clouds are rare), cloud scrying is available to everyone.  Plus, laying on the lawn during a pleasant afternoon is just good for you!

3.  Smoke scrying.  Personally, I find this method extremely spiritual and healing.  Incense sticks are cheap and will do in a pinch, but there are lots of variations.  Smoke bombs in a cauldron have a theatrical quality and are great for group rituals.  For solitaries, burn herbs known for their tendency to heighten spiritual awareness, like belladonna and mugwort.

Photo: SunsparkPhotography.com

4.  Reading tea leaves.  The first records of tea leaf reading in Europe date back to the 17th century, right around the time that the Dutch merchants brought tea back from China.  Since that time, tea leaf reading evolved into a spiritual discipline practiced around the world.  Try it!

5.  Bone Casting.  Another form of fortune telling with ancient roots, references to bone casting appear in biblical scripture, Roman mythology and Chinese prophecy.  This system might be as simple as using a collection of chicken thigh bones.

6.  Ink water scrying.  This method works just like a scrying mirror, except with water and a dark ink.  You can even use the ink from a fountain pen or a ball point.  Dye the water dark enough that it almost looks black, dim the lights (candles are best) and allow your eyes to lose focus.  Wait.

7.  Tarot cards.  If you struggle to find anything in scrying techniques or systems the require too much visualization, the Tarot gives you more to grab onto mentally than many other systems.  However, learning the “traditional” meanings of each card requires a lot of dedicated memorization.  While the tarot relies on very subjective imagery and creative interpretation is usually encouraged, most readers know a basic, near-universal tarot “language.”

Photo: SunsparkPhotography.com

8. Runes make perfect additions to the crafty or artistic practitioner’s tool kit.  Easy and inexpensive to make, carve a set of runes into wood or paint them on tiny pebbles.  Much of Runic history is complex or lost, so many interpretations of the symbols of themselves exist.  Read about them, come up with your own interpretation and apply it consistently.

9.  Pyromancy.   If you’re a fire sign, working with fire as a “porthole” may really appeal to you.   Use a single candle flame or a full on bonfire.  Flash powder is especially fun for this.

10.  Palmistry.  While many systems tend to be introspective and involve very little interaction with others, palmistry is perhaps one of the most intimate, connective, sensual forms of divination.   


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Pagan Parenting: Natural Living for Toddlers

Raising a child in my tradition poses some unique challenges.

For that reason, I periodically like to update you all on our progress so that other pagan parents know they’re not alone!

I last talked in depth about this subject in my post Pagan Parenting:  The First Year if you’d like some background context.

Please note:  There are lots of wonderful ways to raise a child.  None of these ideas are meant to be definitive.  I submit the following suggestions humbly and with respect for our diversity as parents looking for ways to raise our children in a natural and spiritual environment.

I enjoy coming up with creative ways to introduce my toddler to a life centered around natural living, compassion and heightened sense of spiritual awareness.  I hope the ideas here inspire you to come up with your own unique pagan parental journey.  🙂

To start, I always try to take a step back and observe my child’s abilities.   What do we do on a daily basis?

How might I best modify our routine or activities to creatively guide him towards an enlightened, open-minded path?

How do I steer him away from all the flashing lights and plastic and television that surrounds him and encourage him seek out the intrinsic beauty of the world?

Those are some pretty big questions!

The first goal I made for this year started with eliminating plastic toys.

Instead, I aimed to surround him with more natural materials like cloth, wood & metal.

A lot of people think natural toys come attached to big price tags, but I found this completely untrue!

To begin with, for us, minimalism works when it comes to toys.  I discovered (quite to my surprise) that while plastic toys with flashing lights and noisy gizmos engage my child briefly and intensely, he lost interest in them quickly and they became useless objects discarded in the toy box.

This made them addictive, and I found myself purchasing new ones almost weekly to keep him occupied.

Now that gets expensive!

On the flip side, when I introduced him to simple, traditional toys, it took a while for him to become interested, but once they engaged him, he played with them for hours and returned to them over and over.  Which in the long run, works out to be much cheaper.

But even the upfront investment in natural, simple toys need not be prohibitive.

If you are open to purchasing used or antique toys, thrift stores offer a great opportunity to find affordable toys like wood cars, rocking horses and blocks.  Just be mindful about things like lead paint, and small parts that pose a choking risk.

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However, if this idea makes you too nervous, you still have lots of options!  I found wood and cloth toys very affordably at IKEA.  Or, if your budget gives you some freedom, Plan Toys makes excellent toys made of sustainable materials.

Anyway you get them, I found less is more when it comes to toys.  Rotating a few toys proved more effective for us, engaged my toddler longer and let his natural abilities shine through to me.

For example, he loves wheels, and will play with the gears on this cast iron toy bike, endlessly hypnotized by the way it moves.

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All of this inspired us to make a decision I never thought we’d make:  We opted to enroll our child in a Catholic Montessori preschool. 

I know a lot of pagans have difficult or complicated histories with Catholicism and Christianity in general and I don’t want to negate that.

Personally, my experience with Christianity has been largely positive, so sending my child to a Catholic school poses no conflict for me or my husband—although filling out sections in the application truthfully without raising any eyebrows proved amusing:

“What denomination are you?”

(Uh, Unitarian Universalist?  We’ll go with that.)

I know his school teaches religious education as part of the curriculum.

I’m personally very comfortable with that.

I really want to steep my child in a spiritual community——even if it’s not mine.

Neopagan religions generally don’t encourage proselytization.

My husband isn’t pagan, no one in my (biological) family is pagan and I’ve never suggested any of them should become pagan.

To me, that extends to my child.  Of course I’d love to raise a “second gen” and have a child who is as enthusiastic about my path as I am—but I expect him to carve his own way, and I see my role as one of guided exposure, not predetermination.

I will teach him about my traditions as we go, but ultimately, when he reaches adulthood, I am called most to expose him widely to many different faiths so that he might make his spiritual and religious choices with as much information as possible.

Although Catholicism piques my interest spiritually (in particular, the idea of prayer to Mary, the high ritualism of ceremony, and the sacredness of art in Catholicism fascinate me) the “Catholic” part of this preschool seemed almost beside the point.

What really intrigued me was the Montessori approach, which has no association with paganism, but it feels pagan to me—the emphasis on both individuality and community, a progressive approach to education and the respect for children as human beings with their own minds really appeals to me.

Oh, and in the school we chose, there’s no plastic toys!  🙂

So we’ve covered toys and school.  Now let’s eat.

Food and mealtimes gave me another great opportunity to encourage natural living in my toddler.  In this respect, the universe blessed us generously.

I know not all parents have the time to prepare homemade food for every meal.

I was very lucky to have the option to work part time and I chose to do just that, so I have room in my schedule to cook a lot.

Having said that, if feeding your child “real food” from scratch is something that’s important to you, don’t be discouraged!  It’s not impossible to do it with even time constraints.

Actually, although I enjoy cooking, I don’t really need to cook much at all.  Raw fruits and veggies make up most of my toddler’s diet.  I buy some prepackaged things, like plain Greek yogurt and whole wheat pasta, but for the most part, I stick with totally unprocessed foods.

I make large batches and freeze them in single serving portions.  Homemade bread, quiche to reheat for breakfast, sweet potato mash, and all the other 10,000,000,000 recipe ideas on Pinterest I’ve yet to try make great freezer meals without the preservatives.

I also banned plastic tableware.  I noticed something whilst traveling overseas to . . . almost any other country in the world—-Americans take for granted that everything a child touches must be made of plastic.

I noticed in other places, families sat even the smallest children at the table to use tiny versions of the adult tableware.  Very early on, the children learn to handle these items with care, whereas American children treat tableware roughly well into the preschool years.

I picked out several wood bowls, as well as small “toddler sized” metal and wood spoons.

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I compromised on sippy cups.  If you live overseas, you might be quick to point out that everyone else also teaches their children to drink out of a glass between 12-16 months.  You guys are awesome.   I don’t how you do it.  My kid throws a cup across the room as soon as I put it in front of him.  So we do sippy cups.

In small ways, we even started to help our toddler make the connection to his food and the places it comes from by visiting pick-your-own farms where he could actually eat fruit right off the tree.  We particularly enjoyed our experience at the peach farm last month!

squick with a peach

Finally, one positive step forward to natural living that nearly everyone will find rewarding and achievable is a “screen free” hour every day.  I don’t let my toddler use any screened device at all yet, but I also don’t want him to constantly be surrounded by other people using them, so I try to take him on regular nature walks and I make it a point not to bring my phone.  It’s good for both of us.

And we have the good fortune to live near the Civil War battlefields, which are among the most beautiful trails in the world.

Towards the end of this year, I look forward to celebrating the Sabbats with my toddler, because he’s already old enough to start appreciating little things about them.  I’ll try to make some footnotes around the coming Sabbats about how that goes!

Blessed be!

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Quiz: What Kind of Witch Are You?

This quiz takes a unique approach to helping you find your particular path in the Craft.

No one fits perfectly into any one of the following profiles, and this list of profiles is not meant to be exhaustive. 

You may find you fall into more than one category—or even see parts of yourself in all of them.  Rather than trying to pigeonhole yourself into any one specific category, think of this quiz as a general guide to help you figure out which aspects of the Craft resonate with you the most.  At the end, I listed some suggestions for further exploration depending on your answers.

quiz what kind of witch are you

There’s no need to click on your answers.  Simply read through the questions and get a gist for the number you get most often (mostly 1s, mostly 2s, ect).  Then scroll to the bottom to view your results.

The goal is not to typecast yourself, but to draw out and explore different aspects of the Craft in you.

(All the images in this post are my work. If you are interested in learning more about my photography, please checkout my photography website.  Also, be sure to check out my handmade witchcraft items.)

Okay, here we go!

Question 1:  Which collection of images most appeals to you?

1.  are you a sea witch crop

2.  are you a green witch crop

3.  are you a mind body witch crop

4.  are you an urban witch crop

5.  are you a shadow witch crop

6.are you a solar powered witch cropped

Question 2:  My favorite part of ritual is:

1.  Generating energy during the power raising.  Building powerful emotion is intensely spiritual for me.
2.  Burning the incense or ritual herbs.  I always blend my own!
3.  Grounding & centering.  I find it easy to move from one frame of mind to another smoothly.
4.  Spending time alone.  Sometimes, I feel overstimulated by my rushed life.
5.  Working outdoors at night or with the lights out.  There’s a sacred quiet in darkness for me.
6.  Lighting the candles.  I find natural light soothing and meditative.

Question 3:  My ideal vacation involves:

1.  A beach.
2.  Camping equipment.
3.  Finding a yoga class close to my hotel.
4.  Looking up the local occult shops before I go.
5.  A ghost tour.
6.  The desert.

Question 4:  As far as the kitchen goes

1.  I love making seafood or sushi.
2.  I especially like cooking things I grew myself.
3.  I enjoy kneading bread.
4.  I haven’t turned the oven on since I moved into this apartment.  I’m not even 100% sure it works—and I don’t care.
5.  I enjoy making rich desserts that some people call “sinful.”  Wink.
6.  I love to barbecue outside.

Question 5:  On my altar, you are most likely to find:

1.  A jar of ocean water.
2.  Seasonal herbs from my garden.
3.  Meditation balls.
4.  A very few select items.  I have a small space, so my altar is tiny, but meaningful.
5. An offering to Hekate.
6.  Fresh cut flowers.

Question 6:  Of the following Sabbats, the best one for me is

1.  Mabon.  The summer crowds are gone, but the beach is still warm!
2.  Ostara.  The anticipation of gardening season jolts me out of my winter blues.
3.  Imbolc.  The candles burning everywhere make me feel serene and peaceful.
4.  Yule.  All the lights and parties lift my spirit.
5.  Samhain.  If you knew me, this would be obvious.
8.  Litha.  The sun in its full glory revitalizes me.

Question 7:  My clothing style is best described as

1.  Light I like easy, flowing clothing that’s both pretty and comfortable.
2.  Natural.  I favor wholesome clothes like hemp & 100% cotton.
3.  Stretchy.  I have, like, ten pairs of yoga pants.
4.  Edgy.  I don’t mind pushing the boundaries with clothes that make a statement.
5.  Dark.  If I’m looking for a specific shirt, I can never find it because almost everything is black.
6.  Bright.  I like reflective accessories and shimmering fabrics.

Question 8:  My favorite moon phase is:

1.  Full Moon.  I love the effect it has on the tides.
2.  New Moon.  I like to nurture things from the beginning.
3.  First Quarter/Last Quarter.  I like the balance & symmetry of equal halves of dark and light.
4.  Full Moon.  The full moon infuses the nightlife with so much energy!
5.  Dark Moon.  I enjoy the deeper night sky.
6.  Actually, I usually do my ritual during the day and use the sun’s energy as my guide.

Question 9:  If I had to pick a divination system to try, it would definitely be:

1.  Cloud scrying.  I have difficultly enjoying rainy days, and this is a nice way to spend them.
2.  Reading tea leaves.  I feel a deep connection to herbs and the messages they contain.
3.  The I Ching.  I appreciate the orderly nature of numbers in fortune telling.
4.  Scying mirrors.  I love the peering into “the abyss” to see what secrets and mysteries there are waiting to be discovered.
5.  Bone Reading.  I see intrinsic beauty in studying natural artifacts with a past.
8.  Runes.  I love the historical ties of this system to ancient sun worship.

Question 10:  My friendships are:

1.  Intensely emotional, but sometimes unstable.
2. 
Grounded and down-to-earth, but sometimes boring.
3.  Intelligent, but sometimes cold.
4.  Exciting, but sometimes lack depth.
5.  Private, but sometimes lonely.
6.  Open and honest, but sometimes leave me feeling exposed.

The Sea Witch (Mostly 1’s)

are you a sea witch

You feel a magnetic pull to the ocean and the Element of Water.

Though staying afloat in the rough waters of your life sometimes means riding strong currents, your spiritual world brims with intense, profoundly insightful revelations that you often keep to yourself.

Try keeping a paper Book of Shadows to record the “changing tides” of your inner world.

Consider visiting the ocean during the off season for a more private beach experience and better opportunity to conduct rituals away from prying eyes.

Maintain a sea witch altar to harness the power of the ocean and bring it indoors.

Play sounds of the ocean during your meditations or rituals to get your “beach fix,” especially if you live far away from the nearest shore.

Hedge Witches make lovely companions for the Sea Witch as they tend to usher in a sense of grounded-ness and stability.

Hedge Witch/Green Witch (Mostly 2’s)

are you a green witch

Everyone knows you were born with a “green thumb.”  You feel a special connection to the Element of Earth and take particular satisfaction in making things grow—-in the garden, and in life.

You feel silly admitting it, but your efforts in the garden are so heartfelt, you sometimes experience a twinging sense of loss if a treasured  plant doesn’t make it through the growing seasons.  You may even design an elaborate garden blessing ritual to welcome good vibes into your planting beds.

Your realistic approach to magick makes you solidly grounded in reality, and your like-minded friends respect you for it.

The winter months are the hardest for you, especially if the weather forces you to skip your otherwise regular nature walks.

To nourish your earthy vibes during the colder months, try working with your stock of dried herbs to make herbal cold remedies or combine your knowledge of witchcraft with your knowledge of plants to create magically-infused homemade bath and body products.

The Solar Powered Witch makes a great match for you in friendship.

The Mind/Body Witch (Mostly 3s)

are you a mind body witch

With a well-worn yoga mat and a bookshelf groaning under the weight your vast personal library, you intuitively sense the inseparable link of mind and body.

Your friends describe you as a “thinker,” and you often engage them in thoughtful conversations about spirituality.  You have a special ability to debate ideas without offending or alienating people who disagree with you.

Whether perfecting your downward dog or learning strong breath control, mastering the physical plane as it relates to realm of the mind makes up a big part of your journey.

You may have tried fasting for spiritual reasons or made natural childbirth a goal during pregnancy.

Expand on your special gift for uniting (or, more accurately reuniting) the mind, body & soul.  Try a dance form that encourages spiritual expression (see Belly Dance for Pagans) or join a meditation group and use your strong cerebral awareness to connect with others.

Consider using your special gift to align body and mind by getting licensed as a midwife or try exploring hypnotherapy.

The Urban Witch (Mostly 4s)

are you an urban witch2

Whether or not you call a major metropolitan home, bustling cities get your blood pumping—which, for you, works its own kind of magick.

In your coven or community, you are the most likely to have stepped “out of the broom closet” to publicly acknowledge you practice the metaphysical arts.

And why not?  After all, you tend to surround yourself with people who are quirky and open-minded.  Your own esoteric interests sometimes even seem vanilla by comparison.

The challenges of practicing a nature-centered religion in a major city sometimes frustrate you, but you work around them with simple adaptations, like creating a window garden to cultivate herbs or taking advantage of the abundant temples and diversity around you.

The Shadow Witch (Mostly 5’s)

are you a shadow witch

While others misinterpret your tendency to retreat to the shadows in contemplation as moody, those who know you best appreciate your intrinsic sense of mystery.

You understand that darkness has a place in spiritual life.  Rather than fearing it, you embrace it and recognize that without it, light has no contrast.

Your natural curiosity and fearlessness draw you to exploring spiritual matters that other, less bold witches shy away from.  While you respect the risks of experimentation, ghost hunting, the Ouiji board and other related subjects appeal to your adventurous tendencies.

Consider exploring spiritualism to nurture your curiosity about the afterlife with people who understand this instinct.

With their accepting nature and extreme open-mindedness, the Urban Witch makes an excellent match in friendship for the Shadow Witch.

are you a solar powered witch.jpg

Your luminous optimism brightens any room you walk into.  The  light that shines out of you draws others in and encourages them to gather around you like a bonfire.

You often find yourself in leadership roles because you appear transparent to those around you and that inspires trust.   Your gift for bringing people together is best used to organize them for a good cause.

This powerful combination of ambition and the ability meet the minds of even deeply divided people uniquely qualifies you for public service in your spiritual community—–but only if you can stay humble and keep your ego in check.

Magickally, you’ve never quite been satisfied with the heavy emphasis of modern witchcraft, the moon and the seemingly lopsided role of solar energy in ritual.  Try exploring sun magick.  You may find it more satisfying.

Particularly, your “sunny” optimism makes you well-suited to the art of joy spells and spells to banish depression.

You often feel tempted to rely only on your own judgement, but your powers are fullest when you keep the wise counsel of others.  The Mind/Body Witch makes a wonderful companion for you in business and charity work.

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10 Ways to Use Wildflowers in Witchcraft

use wildflowers in wicca

Freeze them in ice cubes.  Pluck flower heads and place them in an ice cube tray.  Fill the tray with water and freeze for some “summer energy” during the darker, colder winter rituals or to use when the flowers aren’t in season.

Leave a bouquet of wildflowers at the crossroads as an offering to the goddess Hecate when you are facing a difficult decision or major life change.

Make flower crowns for summer rituals.  Weaving flower crowns from local wildflowers you gathered by hand the morning of the event lends power and meaning to any ritual.  And you can make them any time of year.  I posted instructions for a winter version here, but the same basic technique applies.

quinceanera

Make a blessing jar.  Get a vase or mason jar, place some meaningful gemstones in the bottom, fill with water and create wildflower arrangement that includes herbs & flowers chosen for their intent.  Place it near a window to bless your home, or give it away to a friend.

Plant them in your garden.  While many wildflowers tend to be invasive in the regions where they grow, that also makes them almost impossible to kill if your thumb isn’t so green.  Many produce seeds that can be gathered, but some you can just pull up by the root and transplant to a pot.

Add them to cupcakes for the Cakes & Ale portion of a ritual.  Hopefully, it goes without saying that you need to check to make sure the flowers are actually edible, and especially to make sure they aren’t poisonous.  Lots options exist within those boundaries.  For inspiration, check out this example of fairy cakes made with candied violets.

beltane faerie cakes

Press them in your Book of Shadows.  If you have a specific spell that requires a flower which grows seasonally in your area, gather a few during the growing season and press them into the pages where you wrote the spell.  That way, when you go to cast, your key ingredient remains conveniently nestled in the pages with it.

Mark the circle.  Go on a nature walk before your ritual and gather enough flowers to ring your casting circle.  This makes an  especially lovely bonding experience for coven rituals.

Create seasonal smudge wands.  Nothing adds a delicate touch to the ritual like fresh, local foliage.  If you know your local flowers and their associations, making smudge wands puts put that knowledge to use in visually pleasing way.  And if you don’t know your alchemic way around queen anne’s lace or black-eyed susans, you can always I’ll be happy to make one for you .  🙂

large floral smudgesmaller

Roll them into candles.  Gently heat a pillar candle in the oven until it’s just beginning to melt on the outside, then roll it on dried flowers.  Looks gorgeous on the altar.

Make salves and tonics to treat mild ailments.  If you’re well-versed in the medicinal or magical properties of your local herbs, take this time in the season to make a store of home remedies for cold & flu season.

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40 Ideas for Your Handfasting

Planning a handfasting?

Don’t want it to look like a cross between a goth convention and a renaissance fair?

Or maybe you’d like to include a few subtle pagan touches to your traditional wedding that your pagan friends will understand, and your other guests will probably miss entirely?

Here are some modern ideas for the chic witch.

40 elegant ideas for your pagan handfasting

Consider a candlelight-only ceremony.   Nothing creates an ethereal, “elevated” atmosphere like candlelight.  Consider cutting electric lights and using lanterns and candles alone to light your ritual.

Choose your color schemes with magic in mind.  It need not be as obvious as “red for love.”  Perhaps you choose deep purple because you feel a psychic bond with your partner, or emerald green because your connection feels “earthy” and honest, or a deep yellow because you share an air sign.

Fill cauldrons with fresh wildflowers and floating candles to use as centerpieces or table decor.  It doesn’t have to be a super-witchy, Halloween-inspired affair.  Dutch ovens in french country blue are lovely for a rustic theme, for example.

wildflowers and floating candles

Carry a bouquet of herbs.   Botanical herbs make gorgeous bouquets and they smell amazing,  Choose local, in-season herbs with meaning for marriage, like rosemary for love, life-everlasting for longevity, or dill for marital passion.

If your ceremony is seated, leave scrolls with a prayer or chant on the chairs for your guests to repeat at some point during the ritual.  The united voices of all your loved ones blessing your relationship adds a powerful emotional and spiritual element to the ceremony.  (Better for full-on handfasting where all the guests are comfortable with full rituals).

Speaking of seating, try a spiral seating arrangement.  Aside from very unique advantage of letting everyone have a front row seat to the aisle march, the spiral subtly symbolizes the feminine divine as well as the lifelong inward journey of relationship commitment. 

Mark your circle with something beautiful.  Wherever you plan to stand for the ceremony, make a fuss about marking the border of where your clergy will cast the circle.   Be creative.  Here are some examples:

-For a spring or summer handfasting, ring the circle with fresh wildflowers.

handfasting circle

circle of flowers 4

circle of flowers

-For a fall handfasting, use autumn leaves, acorns and harvest fruits.

-For a winter handfasting, play with evergreens, pine cones, and molded ice create a wonderland feel.

-For a seaside handfasting, arrange seashells, hurricane lanterns, or nautical rope.

-For vineyard weddings, use grapes or grapevine.

Choose a dress with a connection to your ancestry.   Was your mother born in Mykonos?   Pay homage to her homeland with a drape-y Grecian gown.   Irish roots?  Try a delicate dress of intricate lace.

Give your handmaidens something inspired by your tradition as gifts (especially if many of them are also in your coven).  Here are some ideas:

-Gift certificates for a tarot reading.  Most tarot readers will be happy to creative gift certificates for bridesmaids or handmaidens even if they don’t normally offer them.

-A sachet of herbs blended for friendship and sisterhood.

-Rose quartz earrings or necklaces (symbolizes love in friendship).

-A bottle of herbs steeped in high-quality olive oil.  Choose herbs for friendship, loyalty or bonding.

-Personalized spell kits (baby blessing for the pregnant handmaiden, home blessing for the new home owner, passion spell for the newlywed in your circle, ect)

Give out mini smudge sticks to your guests as wedding favors or to use during your send-off. 
Floral ones like these are especially lovely for handfastings.

floral smudge 2

floral smudge

handfasting smudge

Feature the Elements.   Be creative.  If you think about the setting and mood, a few obvious options will likely leap to mind.  Consider the following examples:

-Hang wind chimes from tents (Element of Air)

-Use elegantly potted herbs as centerpieces at garden handfasting (Element of Earth),

-Have a fire pit at the reception of a backyard handfasting (Element of Fire)

-Use floating candles in your centerpieces (Element of Water and Air)

-Release butterflies during the ceremony (Element of Air)

-Feature exotic seashells in the bouquets of a beach wedding (Element of Water).

-Give your guests bubbles to blow for your send-off (Element of Air).

-Give your guests sparklers for your send-off (Element of Fire).

Begin your reception with a traditional cakes and ale.  Instead of serving cake at the end, start your reception with dessert.  Serve mini cakes with ale during the toasts.

Tie cloth napkins with love herbs or spices.  Rosemary or thyme are both nice, subtle  love symbols for spring and summer months, or cinnamon sticks for winter and fall.

handfasting place setting

Serve seasonal, local food.  Farm-to-table catering provides earthy, delicious food that is connected to land around you.  I can’t think of anything more pagan than that.

Let your handmaidens/bridesmaids wear flower crowns instead of carrying bouquets.

Make lavender-filled sachets for your send-off (or let me make them for you!).  You will never forget running through a cloud of lavender.  This classic love herb smells amazing!

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Faerie Cakes with Candied Violets

Spending Beltane in the kitchen this year?  Make it magical with these charming little faerie cakes.

beltane candied violet faerie cakes

Whimsical yet elegant, candied violets make a striking addition to love spells, wishing magic and faerie rituals.

Use candied violets in faerie cakes for a spring ritual, a “dressed up” cakes and ale or to serve at any spring gathering — especially Beltane!

beltane faerie cake

The best part is, they’re practically free!  If you’re in the Eastern US and you haven’t put down pesticide this year on your lawn, there’s a good chance your yard or a nearby one has wild violets in abundance.

violets

Go spend some time outdoors, bring a basket and gather those little beauties up for a Beltane with a splash of purple.

wild violet

Gather a clean, washed, dry paintbrush with a fine tip, an egg white, and some sugar.

eggs, paintbrush, sugar

Start by gently washing the violet blooms.  A spray bottle and a strainer work well for this, but be careful!  Even for flowers, wild violets are delicate!

washing violets

Allow them to dry on a paper towel.

wild violets

Dip the paintbrush in egg whites, and paint each blossom.

candied violets

Then sprinkle sugar on the violets.  Most recipes call for powdered sugar, but I use granulated because it reminds me of late frost.

sugar on violets

Finally, bake some cupcakes!

Any vanilla cupcake recipe will do, but make it from scratch.  The more you put into your ritual food, the more “fragrant” the magic of it.  Be connected to the process.

Bonus points for making the vanilla extract yourself.  Vanilla inspires passion in kitchen spells.   Here, we use it to wink and nod at Beltane’s celebration of “spring romance.”

Pipe on some cream cheese frosting and arrange violets in tiny “bouquets.”

beltane faerie cakes

beltane faerie cake

Serve and enjoy!

beltane cupcakes

mabon incense 3

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