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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Lammas with a Kitchen Witch: Blackberry Bruschetta

Not a fan of baking the lammas bread from scratch?  There are still lots of creative ways to honor the holiday in your kitchen.

Lammas traditionally celebrates the grain harvest.   Any bread-based meal captures this spirit nicely.

This year, my favorite idea is blackberry bruschetta.

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It’s pretty simple.

Start with a nice, crusty loaf of french bread.

I like to get my french bread from a local bakery or the farmer’s market.

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While you’re at the farmer’s market, pick up some big, juicy blackberries (or, even better, find a “pick your own” farm and gather them yourself!)

Because it ripens on the vine pretty close to Lammas in many growing regions in North America, blackberries associate with the holiday quite naturally.

More generally, use them in kitchen spells for prosperity and abundance—-the many tiny seeds on berries symbolize future growth.

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I smashed one berry per slice a bread and rubbed it on the surface to go under the cheese, kind of like the same concept as pizza sauce.  I enjoyed getting my hands sticky and making a mess like a little kid lol.

(Be warned:  you will stain everything you touch.  But for this reason, blackberries make a nice natural dye.)

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smashed blackberries on bruschetta

You might not imagine blackberries work well in savory dishes, but the acidity blends nicely with Italian cheeses and herbs.  Lucky for me, this time of year, my garden bursts with lush green, fresh herbs, so went out to grab some.

(Even the oppressive humidity in the part of the country comes with an upside—-gorgeous summer herbs!).

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In particular, my basil came up nice this year.

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Basil embodies some interesting symbolism in folklore around the world, but I especially adore Italy’s antiquitous custom of leaving a pot of fresh basil on the windowsill to signify the occupant’s “openness to romance.”

Dried basil often finds its way into traditional Lammas incense blends and makes a nice stand-in for fresh flowers on the altar.  If you buy it at the market, put the left over stalks in the vase to fill the room with its fragrant, sunny aura.

I layered fresh graded cheese and garnished with a half blackberry per slice, popped it in the oven to broil lightly, and then finished it off with the basil leaves.

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Yum.

Hope this gives you some inspiration for your own Lammas kitchen witch creations!

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10 Ways to Use Wildflowers in Witchcraft

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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.

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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.

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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 .  🙂

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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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10 Magical Ways to Use Your Chalice

There it is, on your shelf, where you’ve been neglecting it for many moon cycles.  It’s time to dust off this classic altar piece and bring it back into your ritual rotation.

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If you’re lacking inspiration, try using your chalice . . .

To pour libation.  Pour any liquid libations, like wine or juice, from a chalice for an elegant touch.

To collect rainwater for blessing.  Leave your chalice in the rain for pure, natural water to use in making moon water or herbal infusions.

In binding rituals.  If you have a small coven, and it doesn’t weird you out to drink from the same cup, Chalices are a lovely way to seal the bonds of sisterhood.  Choose a blended wine, pass the chalice around the circle, and have each member pledge their friendship to the people next to her.

In handfasting ceremonies.  Similarly, add a “unity chalice” in place of the unity candle at a handfasting ceremony.  The couple each pours some wine into the same chalice, and then they each drink from it.  We used this idea at our vineyard wedding for a rustic touch and it worked out beautifully.

For scrying.  Fill your chalice with water, then add dragon’s blood ink or another dark ink to the water.  Take it outside under the full moon and use it exactly as you would use a scrying mirror.

In place of a cauldron.  If your chalice has a heat-safe finish, place a charcoal disk inside and burn your ritual herbs in it.  The visual of smoke rising from the chalice adds a mystical quality that I just love!

To dress up cakes and ale.  Don’t use plastic or disposable cups for cakes and ale!  Chalices make everything feel so much more witchy.  Serve your cakes on a formal serving plate and add chalices for a classy ritual that would please Martha Stewart herself.

To float candles.  If you are working with the energies of fire and water, floating candles inside a chalice makes an effective way to blend these elements.

To cleanse gemstones.  Leave your gemstones or crystals in your chalice with water and place in the moonlight overnight to cleanse and charge them.  Just be sure you know your stones!  Some dissolve in water!

To blend potions.   Blend small batches of oils, infusions or brews for immediate use in your chalice.

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Ostara with a Kitchen Witch: Cabbage Dyed Ostara Eggs

Every year, I try to do something inspired and kitchen witchy for this most decidedly food-friendly holiday.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the concept of naturally dyed Easter eggs floating around Pinterest the last few years.

I thought this made for a perfect Ostara activity.

I tried tumeric, spinach and cabbage.

Spinach was a dud.  I boiled and boiled, but the dye wasn’t strong enough.

Tumeric worked okay, but it stained everything!  I can see why they use this in India to dye cloth!

But the humble cabbage, at 79 cents, proved to be both the cheapest and most effective option.

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The idea is pretty basic.  Start with a base for extraction.  In this case, we have our head of red cabbage.

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Shred it and place it in a pot with a 1 to 1 ratio of water.  I did 4 cups shredded cabbage with 4 cups of water.

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Meanwhile, make your hard boiled eggs.  Some recipes call for boiling the eggs with the dye, but I like my eggs cooked a certain way, so I did them separately.   (Place eggs in pot with cold water, bring to boil, turn off heat, let them sit for 10 minutes in a covered pot, then rinse with cold water—perfect every time!)

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Once your dye is done, allow it to cool and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar per cup of liquid dye.

Then submerge the eggs in the dye for 24-28 hours in the refrigerator.

But before you do that, there are some creative options that I didn’t try.  The internet rumor is that if you write or draw on the eggs with crayon, it won’t dye there.  You can imagine all the possibilities for spell work there!

I wanted to keep my eggs as natural as possible, so I skipped this, but I might try using beeswax in the future for a similar effect.

I really loved the way the dye turned out.  It felt so earthy and wholesome.  I see myself using this for a lot of things, maybe even cloth.

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And there you have it!  Charming, naturally dyed eggs for your Ostara ritual.  Use them on the altar as an offering, or for your Ostara meal as a beautiful table decoration.

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With eggs on sale at my market for 28 cents a dozen, my total cost for this project was a mere $1.08.

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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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