May Book Coven: Ancestral Medicine by Daniel Foor

Our next book for the May Book Coven is Ancestral Medicine by Daniel Foor. They say that once you start planning a ritual, the ritual has already begun, and I think a similar notion may be applied with certain books such as this one. Once you decide to acquire and read it, the work has already begun – and the spirits are paying attention.

This book covers foundations of ancestor work, ancestral healing, ancestor contact, ancestors of place, funeral rites, and more. Each chapter has at least one exercise to integrate the information in your personal work. Our optional activity is to simply pick one of these exercises to do on our own, then share our experiences with it at the meet-up (if you feel comfortable doing so). If you are interested in participating please email me at saganightryder@gmail.com. And if you’d like to be added to the ongoing Book Coven mailing list, let me know and I’ll get that set up for you.

Bright Blessings,

S.

Digital Detox and Witchcraft

Wind from the Sea by Andrew Wyeth

After reading Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey, I started thinking more about digital detox and, as Grey discusses in his book, the effects that the internet may have on our dreaming, short term memory, and critical thinking. For myself, I also have found that it can have adverse effects on my imagination, visualization, and ability to tune in with spirits, which are all important aspects (along with dream work) of my Craft.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think internet=bad, it can be an amazing tool for learning, connecting, and cultivating community. I do, however, believe that it should be used with awareness as just that – a tool. This is just my personal opinion – you can (and probably should) formulate your own perspective on it, if you haven’t already. We are entering an increasingly digital age, and rather than getting tossed about in the waves, you might consider constructing your own boat and making sure you have your map and compass for the voyage ahead.

I find that I tend to go through phases of mindless scrolling, and then realizing at some point that it’s really affecting my mental state and spiritual life, then totally dropping off from the digital, then repeating the cycle again… instead I’ve decided to get more intentional with it. In my mind, being a Witch includes learning self-responsibility – a Witch takes action according to her Will, often in the form of ritual, offerings, or magick. But there are mundane levels to this too, which can reverberate into the spiritual realms.

So I’ve decided to challenge myself to remain offline for the first hour of everyday – and longer if I choose to. During this time I might meditate, read, or wash the dishes… it doesn’t have to be anything spiritual, but rather just setting the intent at the beginning of the day to bring awareness to disconnecting from the digital.

I invite you to join me with this challenge if it resonates for you – I’ll also be making note of any effects of it for myself in my Mirror Book, as I am interested to see how it changes my dreaming landscape and magickal workings. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the Internet/digital world/social media means to you, and if you’ve done any digital detoxes in the past, and how that went.

Bright blessings,

Saga

Journal Prompts: Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey

The book selection for our April Book Coven was Apocalytpic Witchcraft by Peter Grey. Below are the journal prompts for diving deeper:

In the second chapter, Grey presents a Manifesto of Apocalyptic Witchcraft. (pg. 14)

  • Which points do you agree with? 
  • Which would you redact? 
  • What would you add to your own manifesto?

“The work of witchcraft is intimately connected with dreaming; some say it is simply that.” (pg. 25) “…we could go so far as to define witchcraft as the art of navigating dream.” (pg. 35)

  • What is the quality of your dreams?
  • Have you had any significant dreams recently, or repeating themes in your dreams?
  • How can you connect more deeply with your dreaming? Some ideas are keeping a dream journal, disconnecting from the digital, fasting and/or bathing before sleep, evening meditation, and using herbal aids such as lavender, mugwort, and poppy. 

“Hughes relates that: ‘The inner world separated from the outer world is a place of demons, the outer world separated from the inner world is a place of meaningless objects and machines.'” (pg. 57)

  • How do you balance the inner and outer world? Some ideas are through myth, poetry, art, dream work, active imagination, magick, and ritual.

“We do not need to begin with an exterior cult if we can diligently apply the basic exercises, and in doing so nurture the flowering of our own gifts.” (pg. 152)

  • Grey goes on to describe these basic exercises as orientation, presence, and imperative. What do you consider to be the foundational exercises of your Craft? For example meditation, ritual, offerings, etc.

“Orientation demands a mythic topography of witchcraft to replace the lost dream of a unified cult.” (pg. 156)

  • What does the landscape of your witchcraft look like?

“The witch must be present and this presence means the body.” (pg. 158)

  • How do you practice presence and embodiment?

“The third principle is: imperative…Witchcraft is defined in that it acts. This is not a path of contemplation, but of engagement.” (pg. 162)

  • Grey presents the imperative of apocalyptic witchcraft as animism. What is your imperative as a witch?

Bright blessings,

S.

Herbal Grimoire: Rowan (Mountain Ash)

*Please note: this is not a monograph, and I am not an herbalist. This is an excerpt from my herbal grimoire, and the writings of a Witch. It is intended to supplement your own research and studies.*

Identification

The Rowan is a deciduous tree, growing 5-20 feet tall. The bark is smooth reddish brown to gray, often with a silver sheen. Leaves are compound, oblong to lance-shaped and sharply serrated and dark green with lighter underside. Small white flowers form fluffy clusters and are replaced with bright red to orange berries in autumn. This tree can be found in low-to-middle elevation forests, as well as rocky slopes in northern and mountainous regions. It seems to prefer to grow on the fringes of places, such as meadows, clearings, stream banks, and slopes. Cultivars can also be found along roadways. The berries are edible but extremely tart and bitter.

Remedial Qualities

The berries are high in vitamin C – can be added to jams, wines, beers, and bread. The Nuxalk would rub the berries on the scalp to combat lice and dandruff.

Magickal Qualities

Gender: Masculine

Planet: Sun

Element: Fire

Powers: psychic ability, healing, power, success, creativity, protection

Rowan is primarily considered an Herb of Protection as well as a Visionary Herb. For centuries it has been used for protective purposes in Europe, often being planted around the home. A traditional protective amulet is made with two twigs tied together with red thread to form a cross. The branches are often used in fashioning dowsing rods and magickal wands.

The leaves and berries can be added to incense blends, sachets, and amulets, to enhance creativity and psychic abilities, and to banish unwanted energy.

Preparation and Recipe

To dry the berries:

String the berries together along a thread with a needle, and hang to dry. May be used as is for ritual adornment (as a necklace or on your altar), or removed from thread to add to incense, sachets, etc.

You can also purchase dried berries from the shop here.

Sol Incense Recipe:

2 TBS dried rowan berries

2 TBS dried rowan leaves

1-2 cinnamon sticks

1 TBS frankincense resin

2 TBS St. John’s Wort flowers

Crush ingredients separately in mortar and pestle, then add together in a bowl and mix well. Store in an air tight jar.

Burn as needed for creative and visionary works, divination, or casting a circle for ritual.

References:

Beyerl, Paul. The Master Book of Herbalism. Blaine: Phoenix Publishing, 1984.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1990.

Pojar & Mackinnon, ed. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Auburn: Lone Pine Publishing, 2014.

Deur, Douglas. Pacific Northwest Foraging. Portland: Timber Press, 2014.

Bright Blessings,

Saga

Keeping a Witchcraft Journal: The Mirror Book

The Mirror Book is a term coined by Scott Cunningham, and refers to a Witch’s daily journal, in which you record anything pertaining to your spiritual life and Craft. This distinguishes it from the Witch’s grimoire or Book of Shadows, which is a more permanent record of recipes, spells, and the like. The Mirror Book is a valuable tool in assessing your progress in witchcraft, and life in general. Over time, as you read back over the book, you become your own teacher. As Cunningham says: “One of the goals of the Wicca is self-knowledge; the Mirror Book is a valuable tool in achieving this.”

So, what do you record in your Mirror Book? Here are a few suggestions:

-Date

-Moon phase

-Menstruation cycle (if applicable)

-Unusual weather

-Significant astrology/planetary alignments

-Dream notes

-Divinations

-Reflections on witchcraft/being a witch

-Reflections on your studies in witchcraft

-How you are feeling that day – physically, emotionally, energetically

-Successes and failures in magick spells

-Reflections on your rituals

-Mundane concerns that pertain to your spiritual life or Craft

-Synchronicities

-Repeating symbols or themes in your day-to-day life

-Significant interactions with others (humans, animals, plants, spirits, etc)

-Progress in your Craft, such as building a new altar, starting an apothecary garden, creating a Witch’s tool, etc.

These are just a few ideas to get you started – you can also check out these journal prompts on the blog for more ideas. What do you include in your witchcraft journal?

Bright Blessings,

S.

March/April Book Coven

Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey

For the March/April Book Coven we will be reading Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey. I think this is going to be a challenging read, considering the times we are in. It is a challenging read regardless. However, if you are ready to dive in, let me know (contact info below) and I’ll make sure you’re on the email thread for it! Our meet-up time is still TBD, but will be sometime around mid-April.

Book synopsis.


One of the chapters presents a “Manifesto of Apocalyptic Witchcraft”, so the *optional* activity is to create your own Witchcraft Manifesto (aka Rules, Guidelines, Laws, etc), which may include or omit from the one presented in the book. As a Witch I believe it is important to work on defining our Craft, and this would be an excellent addition to your personal grimoire. It is of course not set in stone, but rather an ever-evolving philosophy. If you feel comfortable doing so, you may share some of your Manifesto with the group at the meet-up. It would be great to get insight and inspiration from one another. 

I encourage you to purchase this book directly from the publisher, Scarlet Imprint, if possible. While they are based in the UK, my order was shipped promptly and it took about two weeks for it to arrive. Here is the link to purchase from them (or you can purchase a digital edition to start reading right away): 


Hard Copy

Digital Edition

If you do not have the resources to purchase it, you can find a free pdf for it here.

Here’s an excellent interview with the author and his partner, both who also run Scarlet Imprint:

If you would like to be added to the ongoing mailing list for the Book Coven and receive monthly updates directly to your inbox, please send me an email at saganightryder@gmail.com and I will add you to it!

Book Coven General info:

  • A monthly book club with Zoom meet-up at the end of the month.
  • Book selection announced mid-month (for the upcoming month).
  • This is a month-to-month opt-in, you aren’t expected to participate every month!
  • You do not have to be a Witch to join the Book Coven, just know that witchcraft will be a running theme with the book selections and probably a part of the discussions.
  • There will be a bonus activity (optional) inspired by the book, as well as journal prompts.
  • Email me at saganightryder@gmail.com if you want to join in for the upcoming month!

Bright Blessings,

S.

Journal Prompts: Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

We read this for the Jan/Feb Book Coven, but in case you missed it and wanted to dive deeper into this fantastic book, here are a few journal prompts to consider when reading it:

Ch. 1 (The Howl: Resurrection of the Wild Woman), pg. 30*: “Each woman has potential access to Rio Abaja Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between-worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye.”

What are some of the ways you access this “river beneath the river”?

Is there an activity you can do on a daily basis to travel to this place?

What do you seek in this “river beneath the river”?

Ch. 3 (Nosing Out the Facts: The Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation), pg. 80: “Vasalisa turned to her doll as soon as the Yaga had gone. ‘What shall I do? Can I complete these tasks in time?’ The doll assured her she could, and to eat a little and go to sleep. Vasalisa fed the doll a little too, then she slept.”

Vasalisa’s doll can be seen as a talisman, an object imbued with life and magickal intent. If you are creating a talisman, how will you “feed” it? Some ideas are: 

passing it through sacred smoke

making offerings to it

bathing it in salt and/or water

charging it with crystals

anointing it with oils/herbs/flower essences

Ch. 5 (Hunting: When the Heart is a Lonely Hunter), pg. 159: “It is good to make a meditative and daily practice of untangling the Life/Death/Life nature over and over again…When we are untangling this nature, it would be good for us to sing something like this: What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? What do I know should die, but am hesitant to allow to do so? What must die in me in order for me to love? What not-beauty do I fear? Of what use is the power of the not-beautiful to me today? What should die today? What should live? What life am I afraid to give birth to? If not now, when?

Ch. 9 (Homing: Returning to Oneself), pg. 306: “The exact answer to ‘Where is home?’ is more complex…but in some way it is an internal place, a place somewhere in time rather than space, where a woman feels of one piece. Home is where a thought or feeling can be sustained instead of being interrupted or torn away from us because something else is demanding our time and attention… Home is a sustained mood or sense that allows us to experience feeling not necessarily sustained in the mundane world: wonder, vision, peace, freedom from worry, freedom from demands, freedom from constant clacking. All these treasures from home are meant to be cached in the psyche for later use in the topside world…. Although there are many physical places one can go to ‘feel’ her way back to this special home, the physical place itself is not home; it is only the vehicle that rocks the ego to sleep so that we can go the rest of the way by ourselves. The vehicles through and by which women reach home are many: music, art, forest, ocean spume, sunrise, solitude. These take us home to a nutritive inner world that has ideas, order, and sustenance all of its own… In truth, home is holographic.”

-what physical space and/or actions bring you home?

-what does home feel like for you?

-how can you access home on a daily basis?

-how can you bring the treasures from home to the “topside world”?

Ch. 14 (La Selva Subterranea: Initiation in the Underground Forest), pg. 458: “How does one live in the topside world and the underworld at the same time and on a day-to-day basis? What does one have to do to come down into the underworld on one’s own? What circumstances in life help women with the descent? Do we have a choice about going or staying? What spontaneous help have you received from the instinctive nature during such a time?”

*Page numbers are from the 1st edition, paperback.

Bright Blessings,

Saga

Perfect Oats

In my opinion, oats should be a staple in every Witch’s kitchen – they are healthy, delicious, versatile, and inexpensive. On my own path in kitchen witchery, I’ve been focused on incorporating more plant-based, whole foods into my diet, for both health and spiritual reasons, and oats have definitely become foundational in this.

Here is what Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs has to say about the magickal properties of oats:

Gender: Feminine

Planet: Venus

Element: Earth

Power: Money

Magical uses: Use in prosperity and money spells.

I understand this to mean that oats are symbolic of the abundance of the harvest, and the generosity of earth. They have a grounding and feminine energy. You could consider incorporating certain spices in your bowl of oatmeal for their unique magickal properties as well.

These days I have oatmeal almost every day for breakfast and I still look forward to this meal as one that is both comforting and nourishing. Over time I have perfected my recipe for making oatmeal, and want to share it with you! So without further ado, here is how to make a perfect bowl of oats.

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

2 cups water

1/2 tsp sea salt

splash of vanilla extract

dash of spice such as cinnamon, cardamom, pumpkin pie spice mix (my fav), etc (optional)

1 spoonful tahini (optional but definitely recommended!)

maple syrup or preferred sweetener

milk or plant milk

Directions:

  1. put oats, water, salt, vanilla extract, and spices in pot
  2. set heat to medium and timer for 10 min
  3. after 10 min, remove from heat, give it a stir, let rest for 1 min
  4. mix in tahini to make it extra creamy
  5. add sweetener and milk , and enjoy!

That’s it! So simple and delicious. You can of course add toppings such as fruit, nuts and seeds. Get creative with it!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and if so, let me know in the comments. 🙂

Happy cooking and bright blessings,

S.

Mother Earth (a poem for my daughter)

I am your mountain

I am your tree

I am your cave

I am your ocean

My breath is the sky

My feet are the roots

My forehead is the Moon

My laughter is the Sun

My eyes are deep wells

My heartbeat is the pulse of memory.

And you, Dear One

Are a shining pebble on the shore

Tumbling in the waves

And basking in the warmth

Of a summer day.