Pretty stoked about this one… hope you enjoy, and wishing you a blessed and abundant full moon.
Pretty stoked about this one… hope you enjoy, and wishing you a blessed and abundant full moon.
The Goddess of the North is an in-depth look at the female aspects of the Norse pantheon and cosmology, drawing on primary research, mythology, and personal interpretation. Welch focuses on the divine female as the triple goddess of Mother, Grandmother, and Daughter, and discusses other divine female figures such as the Valkyries, Norns, Giantesses, and Disir. In the introduction, Welch explains that the book was written in part to address the lack of literature on the Norse goddesses, as well as the common (and erroneous) perception of the Norse tradition being male-centered. She ultimately argues the case for a primordial goddess found in the Norse tradition, hidden from the history books but clearly seen within the mythology and cosmology; and the necessity for bringing the primordial goddess back to the forefront of these studies and spiritual practices.
Overall, I found this book incredibly helpful in providing a general overview of the concepts and figures of the Norse tradition, as well as describing the cosmology in a cohesive way. Welch clearly put a lot of research, thought and care into writing it. Yes, she does include her own personal interpretations (Welch is a Norse polytheist), but it is generally presented as anecdotal to the research.
Welch begins with a comprehensive overview of the Norse pantheon – she includes a brief overview of the Norse gods and giants, and then goes into a more in-depth discussion of the giantesses, divine seeresses and guardians, and the Asyniur (goddesses). She touches on their characteristics, associations, mythologies, symbolism, and more, while keeping the information succinct and easy to follow. It’s effective in representing the rich, complex, and multifaceted mythologies and concepts of the Norse pantheon. She also includes a chart displaying the attributes and associations of each goddess, which may be helpful for those who wish to incorporate them into their rituals and magickal workings.
Along with this overview of the Norse pantheon, I would also recommend this book for those wishing to better understand the Norse cosmology, particularly as is it represented by the World Tree, Yggdrasill. This cosmology is so incredibly complex and nuanced, I feel like one could write an entire book on this subject alone, but Welch manages to cover the most important aspects within a chapter, and then weave the concepts and symbols from it throughout the remainder of the book. These include the worlds contained within Yggdrasill, the animals that participate in it, as well the aspects of the tree itself. Welch provides an illustration of the World Tree, but for anyone wanting to further absorb and comprehend it’s complexities, I’d recommend drawing/mapping out your own World Tree, and/or doing some visualization practices with it.
The only part of the book that I take issue with, is where Welch attempts to categorize everything into triads, beginning with the Mother/Daughter/Grandmother, and then applying it to the goddess pantheon in general, as well as symbols and concepts discussed earlier in the book. While it’s an interesting exercise, I simply can’t accept that everything within the Norse tradition could fit into these neat and tidy categories.
To her credit though, Welch does acknowledge the impossibility of drawing any hard lines, when she says, “A wonderful example of this intertwining is the Grandmother’s dark night being replaced by the Daughter’s brightening of dawn, and then by the Mother’s clarity of day, and then again by the Grandmother’s colorful tapering into dusk. These three aspects are constantly enveloping, embracing, and enhancing each other, aptly demonstrating the beauty and magnificence of the Goddess of the North.” (p. 171)
These were my key takeaways from the book – overall I would give it 4/5 Broomsticks.
If you are looking for a succinct yet depthful look at the Norse tradition, with a focus on the divine feminine, this is your book. I have personally read it twice now, and will probably re-read it again at some point. It is a great resource if you are interested in mythology in general.
I hope you find this review and helpful, and if you have read this book, let me know your thoughts!
Here is the very first Witch Mix playlist, for your listening entertainment! Draw a bath, light some candles, and enjoy. Happy New Moon, darklings.
There have been many iterations of this, the majority of which originally comes from Aradia (Gospel of the Witches) by Charles G. Leland, but I prefer this version, created by Doreen Valiente. I have put in bold the portion that I recite during my Full Moon ritual.
“Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who was of old also called Artemis; Astarte; Diana; Melusine; Aphrodite; Cerridwen; Diana; Arianrhod; Isis; Bride; and by many other names.
Whenever ye have need of anything, once in a month, and better it be when the Moon be full, then ye shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all Witcheries.
There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not yet won its deepest secrets: to these will I teach things that are yet unknown.
And ye shall be free of slavery; and as a sign that ye are really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.
For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and mine also is joy on earth; for my Law is Love unto all Beings.
Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it; let naught stop you or turn you aside.
For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth; and mine is the Cup of the Wine of Life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality.
I am the Gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice, for behold I am the Mother of All Living, and my love is poured out upon the Earth.
Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess, she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven; whose body encircleth the Universe; I, who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the heart’s desire, call unto thy soul. Arise and come unto me.
For I am the Soul of Nature, who giveth life to the universe; from me all things proceed, and unto me must all things return; and before my face, beloved of gods and mortals, thine inmost divine self shall be unfolded in the rapture of infinite joy.
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou will never find it without thee.
For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”
This is the framework I use for formulating all of my rituals:
Source: Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practicioner. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications, 2019. (First edition, revised)
It is evening – the sun has set, dinner is done, and the table has been cleared. It’s time to do some clean-up in the kitchen, and prepare my nettle infusion for the next day.
First, I fill the kettle with fresh, cold water, and set it to high heat on the hearth. As the water heats, I grab a 1-quart mason jar from the cupboard, and my stash of dried nettle. Using a scale, I measure out one ounce of the nettle and pour it into the jar – I also add a pinch of dried mint from the garden. By the time I am done with this, steam is billowing from the kettle and it is starting to whistle. I grab the kettle from the hearth, and pour the bubbling water over the herbs, giving it a good stir to make sure that the herbs are fully immersed. Steam floats up and I revel in the earthy forest fragrance of wild nettle and mint.
Nettle is a somewhat unassuming plant in appearance; lush, green and leafy. But you will immediately recognize it if it makes contact with your skin, as it has nearly invisible spines that will deliver a searing sting! This plant likes a bit of cool shade and moisture, and can be found somewhat easily in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. It is also one of the most nourishing plants on the planet. While it must be handled with care, nettle is most generous with its nutrients and grows in abundance, happy to heal those who seek it out. Once you begin consuming nettle, whether eaten as a cooked food or imbibed as a nourishing infusion, you will quickly become aware of its zippy and generous personality. Nettle delivers a boost of fresh energy and vibrancy, and will give you a rosy glow and a pep in your step! The infusion is a dark green, almost black liquid, loaded with healing chlorophyll, and it makes my Green Witch heart happy.
Once I have filled the jar up with boiling water, I cap it and place it on the windowsill to infuse overnight. In the morning I will strain it, and chill it in the fridge, before sipping on it throughout the day. I feel immense gratitude and respect for this potent plant spirit.
I first learned about nourishing infusions several years ago from the book Healing Wise by Susun Weed, and have been consuming them on a regular basis ever since. Nourishing infusions are a true Witch’s brew – healing, simple, effective, and a beautiful way to connect with plant spirits. They are also inexpensive – in fact, several of these plants can be wild harvested or grown in a garden, depending on where you are located.
An herbal infusion is different from a tea – in Healing Wise, Susun Weed describes it as “the most medicinally potent water-based herbal preparation.” Here is the standard preparation:
Here are the herbs Susun Weed recommends for use on a regular basis – generally speaking, you will want to infuse these individually, and rotate as you go (eg. nettle infusion on monday, oatstraw infusion on tuesday, red clover infusion on wednesday, etc):
Nettle – This zippy plant is a true powerhouse of nourishment! It is a kidney/adrenal ally, digestive restorative, respiratory strengthener, hair and skin nourisher. Contains proteins, macro and trace minerals, and nearly all the vitamins we need. With regular consumption, this infusion will give you a significant boost of energy. If you are harvesting these in the wild, be sure to wear thick gloves at all times while handling them, until they have dried.
Oatstraw – Cooling and soothing, strengthens the nervous system and endocrine system, eases muscle spasms and inflammation, restores sexual flow. Contains proteins, macro and trace minerals, and high amounts of B vitamins.
Red Clover – anti-cancer, aids in fertility, nourishes hormones, nourishes skin, helper to the lymphatic system, boosts immune system. High in proteins, macro and trace minerals, vitamins, and is an excellent source of phytosterols.
Comfrey – AKA “Bone Knit”, strengthens and heals bones, skin, and other tissues, improves digestion and respiratory health. Rich in proteins, and a great source of folic acid, vitamins, minerals and trace minerals.
Linden – Anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, cold and flu preventative, relaxing nervine, benefits the heart. Rich in antioxidants, tastes like sunshine. 🙂
Speaking of taste, if you find the flavor of any of these herbs challenging, try adding a pinch of mint. I really enjoy adding a bag of peppermint tea to the nettle infusion, and a wedge of lemon (after straining) to the red clover infusion.
Having a constant rotation of these nourishing infusions as part of your daily nutrition will build a strong foundation for your health. If you are interested in learning about herbal allies, and getting to know the personality of the plants, pick one of the herbs listed above and try drinking a quart of it every day for a full week- you will get to know the plant very well! In a way, you will embody the plant, and get a good sense of its personality and healing qualities.
To learn more about working with herbs, I can’t recommend Susun Weed’s book, Healing Wise, enough. It is a go-to reference and constant guide for me in healing with plants.
As mentioned above, you may be able to harvest some of these herbs in the wild or grow them in your garden. This is ideal, just be sure to do your research on foraging and drying first! You can also purchase them online from Mountain Rose Herbs or Frontier Co-op.
What is Magick, anyways?
“Magic is the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” – Aleister Crowley
“Magick is the art, science, and practice of producing ‘supernatural’ effects, causing change to occur in conformity, and controlling events in Nature with will.” – Gerina Dunwich
“Magic is the art of effecting changes in consciousness at will.” – William Butler
“We do not affect fate by our magical operations, we affect ourselves; we reinforce those aspects of our nature which are in sympathy with the powers we invoke.” – Dion Fortune
“Magic is a comprehensive knowledge of all nature.” – Francis Barrett
“Magic is making something happen that you want to happen.” – Raymond Buckland
“Magic is the act of using your will to cause change, by focusing and directing your psychic energy.” – Jennifer Hunter
“Magic…is the art of obtaining results without resort to the ordinary mechanism of cause and effect.” – Serge Hutin
“The work of magic involves transformation, and the first transformation is the shift of perception.” – Marion Weinstein
“In its true sense magic is a high art and science itself, that should release the powers of the imagination for the benefit of any other part of life.” – Gareth Knight
“Magic is the science of the control of the secret forces of nature.” – S.L. Macgregor-Mathers
“[Magic is] the mastery of occult forces and their use in order to produce visible effects.” – Frank Gaynor
“Magick is the art and metaphysical science of manifesting personal desires through the collection and direction of energy.” – Raven Grimassi
“Magic is concerned with the conversion of universal energies into practical frequencies that can be utilized according to the needs of the occasion.” – Murry Hope
Buckland, Raymond. Wicca for One. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2004.
A useful reference I go back to, any time I feel like I have lost my way a bit on this crooked path…
Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications, 2019. (First edition, revised)
Greetings, web-traveller, and thank you for stopping by on this tiny facet of a seemingly infinite prism of places to visit. Please, grab a mug of cider and come sit by the fire with me, and we can discuss all things wondrous and wonderful.
My name is Saga Nightryder – I am a seeker, a psychonaut, a traveler of realms, a magician, a creator, a tinkerer and more. Here I will tell you of the things I have learned, the places I have explored, my studies and creations, all on my path to becoming a Witch. Please chime in if you feel so inclined (in the comments below!) – it would make my heart all a-flutter.
The fire glows strong and the stars shine bright, and there is so much to tell…