Magical Missive: Home Sweet Home Candle Magic

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

A little candle magic Magical Missive to get your December off to the right start. As we know the holidays can be a really stressful time for our families. We are busy, often we get sick during this season, we are spending more money than we usually do…and on and on. There are practical ways to navigate these challenges (hello Vitamin C – I see you), but there are also magical supports we can call on to help us address them as well.

One of my favorites? This candle rite for a peaceful, sweet, and loving home and family environment.

What you will need:
1 blue or beeswax devotional candle
blend of the following dried herbs:
• dried lavender flowers
• crushed vanilla pod
• dried pink rose petals
• pen & paper
• blue & white loose glitter
• olive oil or a ritual oil for peace and calmness in the home

Significance:
Lavender is a sacred flower that has been used in soothing and restorative remedies since at least the Middle Ages. Its calming properties care called on today in herbal medicine, homeopathy, and cuisines as well. It is sacred to many Goddesses and believed to bestow a level of protection on the home as well, especially when planted near the front door.

Vanilla Pod is both sweetening and warming and called for in many enchantments where the goal is to warm people up to each other so that they are kind, gentle, and loving towards each other.

Dried pink rose petals emphasize love, friendship, and the ability to get along with each other.

Glitter to decorate your candle and make it pretty!

Ceremony:
General Instructions for dressing devotional candles ~

If you are working with a paraffin candle, poke holes in the top of it – I like to make 3 or 4. You may use an ice pick, screwdriver, knife or other tool for this.
If you are working with a beeswax devotional candle as I do, then you are going to have a much harder time poking holes into the candle. Instead you may proceed without the holes.

Combine your herb mixture. Sprinkle 2-3 pinches of your herb mixture onto the candle.

Drop 3-4 drops of oil onto the top of the candle.

Add any curios like clear quartz crystal chips, small chunks of rose quartz, or a light drizzle of honey and finish with glitter.

Note – you do not want to “drown” your herbs in oil nor do you want them to be so dry that they catch fire when you light the candle wick.

Write out your petition and anoint the petition paper with the oil you used to dress the candle.

Place petition underneath candle, bless the candle with focus and sincerity for the manifestation of your desire.

Knock the candle 3 times to “seal” it, and then light it, allowing it to burn undisturbed.

Obviously do not leave a flame unattended unless it is in a fireproof container.

Final act:
After your candle has finished burning, you may look at it and see what shapes you find in the glitter and debris. These may be construed as signs and give you information as you work to read the candle.

And, if you liked the above candle recipe or this one for fast action, then you might really like the Lunar Lights candle service. A candle lit on your behalf, with your specific petitions and intentions, every month on the full moon.
Order here. Deadline to order is December 7th.

Wishing you a blessed (and sweet!) season!

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to Honor the Full Moon

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles,

Previously I wrote about how to honor and work with the New Moon and of course many of you wrote to me asking, what about the Full Moon? There are probably few other emblems that have the ability to drop us down into magical consciousness the way that a luminous full moon does. Whether she shines out in a clear night sky or he is covered over with wispy clouds and starlight, the Full Moon radiates magic-making possibility.

The key word for the Full Moon is fertility, and that is not by happenstance. Just as women when the rhythm established by Nature will menstruate with the New Moon, we are at the height of our fertility on or right around the Full Moon. So the Full Moon can be seen literally and metaphorically as baby-making time!

With that in mind here are some ways to honor this potent magical time:

  • Plant Seeds~What seeds need to be planted in your life? What projects do you wish to imbue with a little bit more fertility, a brighter spark of life? Or, if the gardening analogy doesn’t really do it for you, ask yourself what you are trying to birth into the world right now? Why not work with the Full Moon to create an altar honoring that specific endeavor? It will give you a place to focus your intentions and make some magic. Light a devotional candle to give this intention extra mojo.
  • Celebrate Accomplishments~On the other end of the spectrum, what have you accomplished in the last lunation? Have any big projects, dreams, endeavors, or goals been met and nailed? Have you decided to let something that was not working go? There is never a better time to celebrate whatever good you have brought into the world. One of my personal favorite ways to do this: a spiritual bath.
  • See Clearly~My lunar letter goes out to subscribers a few days before the Full Moon and I always include a few questions so that readers may use the divination method of their choice and see into a question or concern by the light of the moon. We physically see different in full moonlight as opposed to sunlight, but we see differently in a spiritual manner as well. Many believe that they are more sensitive, more “skinless”, and psychic during the Full Moon, making it THE time for divination.
  • Offer it up~Making offerings is a time-honored act found in many different sacro-magical traditions. The Full Moon is a wonderful time to make any kind of offering to your allies, your guides, the Saints, Angels, or simply to the beautiful land itself. Just remember to offer things that are nutritious and completely biodegradable and don’t leave a mess. And remember, prayer is an offering too.

Love and blessings of La Luna to you all!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magic Works When You Do

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles: One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is: what can I do to make my magical work, or the ritual work you are doing for me, stronger?

My answer has become more and more simple throughout the years. The bottom line is that magic works when you do.

When we look at the history of magic-making and sacred ritual we see this very clearly. Never is there a time when the client on whose behalf ritual is performed is expected to just sit back and let their ritualist take care of everything.

Engagement…in your personal spiritual practices, in any follow up directions the ritualist has provided, and in practical actions that increase your chances for success and happiness are all required, they are part of the magic.

I would like to illustrate this point briefly with a tale of two clients: The first client was a lovely soul who wanted more financial support for her and her child. After assessing her situation I agreed to take it on, performed the work, and followed up with her including in my follow up a specific list of directions for what she should do next.

Months went by and I never heard back from her, only to receive an email last week telling me that nothing worked and she did not believe in magic.

I responded immediately asking her about her follow up — had she contacted the person in question, had she opened the road of communication by being kind yet firm, had she taken certain actions at her own place of employment in order to secure more prosperity on her own?

Guess what the answers were?

No, No, and No.

Contrast this to another client who was recently working on her financial situation. Specifically she was going for a very high-end job that had fierce competition and numerous interview stages. This client chose to work with devotional candles. She got in touch with me after ordering her candle with the names, dates, and specific intention she had — and she did this for each phase of the (increasingly difficult) interview process.

Any recommendations I made to her were followed to the letter. She did not order work at the last minute but gave me plenty of lead time, and kept me updated on all of the changing dynamics.

Guess who got her dream job?

Does it always happen like this? I’m the first to admit that it does not. Sometimes we can pour our everything into a dream and the answer is still no. But I do know this: the best thing to remember when engaging in sacro-magical practices?

Magic works when you do.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

10 Ways to Rock Mercury Retrograde

Divination and Dreams

D

ear Miracles: Mercury Retrograde is upon us once again. So, what better time to focus on keeping communication clear, concise, and kind? Behold, 10 of my personal favorite techniques to master Mercury RX.

1. Review and follow the Golden Rule: If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say (or write, text, email, Facebook message, etc) anything at all.

2. Know that the next few weeks have some difficult conversations in store? You need a clear communication devotional candle lit for you stat!

3. Remember to bless yourself and others.

4. As Mercury RX does not just effect communication but also all intellectual endeavors keep this list in mind.

5. Don’t forget that lists are only helpful to a point, your essence is vast and cosmic.

6. Follow Paul’s advice (always, but over the next few weeks) and do what you say you’ll do.

7. If Mercury RX finds you with a broken heart, I’m sorry. Also, know that there are ways and means of healing available to you.

8. Be sweet(er). Create a sugar jar for you and your compadres so that your words, thoughts, and actions this month are meant and taken with an extra dose of kindness.

9. For all of the writers out there (which these days means all of us) read this lovely piece by Alexandra Franzen.

10. There is a lot of magical mojo in your kitchen. This is a good time to work with it.

Love and Mercurial Mojo,

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Treat Me Right Tonight-Devouring the Dark Moon

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles: Just a quick note to honor and celebrate the “other” lunar phase – the dark moon.

The Dark Moon is the period right before the New Moon. In the sky during this time the moon is almost invisible as it is when it is New. Dark Moons are WONDERFUL times for deep and meaningful self care. Typically the vibe is more relaxed and passive — these are the times where even if you are an early riser you are more tempted to stay in bed, nourish yourself with warm teas and soups (especially in the Winter months), boost your immune system and engage in some thoughtful self care.

If there is ever a time where it feels like you can take a day off from your typical ritual practices or spiritual program, this is it and the time is now. Quietude, good candles and some dark chocolate may be the order for the next few days — I know it’s a tough order but I’m sure you are willing to make the sacrifice!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Of Glass and Fire: How to work with Devotional Candles

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles: A version of this article was first published in the Summer 2013 issue of Witches and Pagans Magazine.

If you have ever wandered into a Botanica or Latin American grocery store you may have found yourself staring down an aisle or wall filled with brightly colored glass candles–some with silk-screened images on the glass, some topped with foil or Saran wrap, and others that are plain and unmarked. These are glass novena candles, also called vigil candles, vigil lights, sanctuary lights, or devotional candles, and while they often go unmentioned in the classic pagan books, they have been used in candle and fire magic for years with great success.

Glass novena candles were first used in Catholic religious devotions known as “novenas”– 9-day prayer rituals with the intention of seeking the aid and building a relationship with a specific saint usually for a specific purpose. The novena ritual does not come out of Christian scripture but is derived from ancient Greek and Roman pre-Christian rites around honoring the dead. The devotional candles sanctioned by the Catholic Church were originally 100% beeswax and poured so that they would burn for 9 days–they were sometimes affixed with a paper prayer card of the petitioned Saint which in turn gave way to large paper illustrations of particular Saints on the front of the candle and prayers for the saint on the back of the candle.

In Catholic families and communities the novena could at times take on a party atmosphere-with friends coming over to sit in vigil, feasts shared, and group prayers performed or they could be quiet and intensely private affairs. Through them, all the glass-encased devotional candles would be burning. Folk magic traditions grew up around novena rituals and their glass-encased candles and then in the early 1940s, these devotional candles started getting advertised in spiritual supply catalogs as “religious” goods.

Candle shops that catered to African Americans and stocked supplies for those working in the Hoodoo and Conjure traditions bought from these spiritual supply catalogs and thus the glass encased vigil candle found its way into Southern Conjure. Meanwhile, specialty shops known as Botanicas began to spring up as immigrants from Mexico, South, and Central America came into the United States in the ’60s and ’70s. Pharmacies and grocery stores in Latin American neighborhoods also began dedicating an aisle or two to commonly used spiritual products-often with a focal point of glass encased devotional candles-which by this point in time were no longer composed of beeswax but petroleum-derived paraffin. Silkscreen printing on glass became popular at this time as well and the devotional candles began to branch out into more mainstream culture-with candles no longer being set only to Our Lady of Guadalupe or Saint Martha for love magic-but instead also getting labeled with more generic petitions like “Love Me” or in some cases maintaining a Biblical connection with a formula like “Adam and Eve.”

By the late ’70s, glass-encased candles were available in straight up magical supply shops, as well as religious supply stores and they, are now used by a variety of practitioners for both religious and magical purposes. Pagans who were raised in or around Catholic tradition, specifically Italian or Mexican, Central, and/or South American strains of Catholicism are usually familiar with the glass novena candle already and may find the tradition of blessing and dressing a candle to be second nature. Those who do not may find that working with the magic of a devotional candle is something that appeals to them and opens new windows for the philosophy of fire, as Henri Gamache so poetically puts it.

In modern-day candle magic, there are several steps involved in preparing your devotional candle. These are: write a petition, “fixing” the candle, setting the candle, reading the candle, and ritually disposing of the candle.

Writing a petition for devotional candles

In a traditional novena, the devotional candle represents a way to honor a specific saint but it also gives light, energy, and the magic of fire to the devotees’ petition or prayer. So it is in our own magic making-we begin with our petition, our intention, or the desire that we wish to manifest. Looking at devotional candles now we often find that when the candles have paper images in the front and prayers in the back there are sometimes lines underneath the prayers for you to write your own petition. When working with plain devotional candles that do not have any papers or labels affixed to their sides a petition may be written on a small piece of paper and taped to the bottom of the candle or in some cases affixed to the sides of the candle. I have also seen candle shop and botanic owners use a sharpie to inscribe a client’s petition directly onto the glass side of the candle. Another popular way to include the petition is to write it into the wax at the top of the candle-using a screwdriver, icepick, or blade to inscribe. If using paper for your petition you may anoint the paper with ritual anointing oil, pass it through ritual incense, anoint it with your own bodily fluids if appropriate, and/or in the case of affixing a piece of paper to the bottom of the candle enclose small bits of personal concerns within the paper, fold, and then tape it to the candle.

Dressing & Blessing or “fixing” devotional candles

Once the petition has been created it is time to bless, dress, or “fix” the devotional candles. The top of the candle may be poked with holes or inscribed with a sigil, name, or short petition-it may also be left alone. Next, a pinch of dried herbs or a dried herb mix is sprinkled on top of the candle. Years of burning candles for myself and clients have taught me that the finer the herb mix the better-a spice grinder is ideal for this-and keeping the herbs relatively far from the candle wick is a good practice. The herbs should, of course, be ritually appropriate to whatever situation it is that you wish to magically address. Thus if you are working to cleanse and purify you may wish to use a pinch of sage, to bring about love work with red rose petals, to increase protection use ginger, to increase academic success consider deers tongue leaf, etc.

After the herbs are added you may desire to include a slightly larger curio (in Conjure the addition of lodestone grit, small pieces of pyrite, and High John the Conqueror root chips is often seen, while in Latin inspired botanicas I have been given devotional candles studded with quartz crystal tips-very pretty! pennies, and even large horseshoe confetti. Non-toxic, fine, glitter may also be added for extra sparkle and shine.

So far all of the dry ingredients have been added-now its time to add our wet ingredient-a ritual, essential, anointing, or pantry oil. Some essential oils are flammable so it’s important to do your research if you are using a straight essential oil. A more traditional method is to use a ritual anointing oil-these are also usually available at candle shops and Botanicas or you can make your own. I will say that many of the mass market available ritual oils begin with a base of mineral oil due to its cheapness and personally I steer clear of those. You may make your own ritual anointing oil by gathering dried herbs that are appropriate for your situation and soaking them in almond oil for several weeks or you may simply use olive oil out of your kitchen pantry! The important thing to remember is not to drown your herbs or the candle wick-for doing so will leave you with a weak or dirty burning candle and that will have an impact on how you read the candle. A few drops and you are good to go!

Now the candle has been dressed with herbs, oil, and perhaps some sparkle. And if you notice you also have represented three of the four elements-Earth is invoked by the dried herbs, air is invoked by the scent of the herbs and oil, and water is invoked by the liquid oil. All that is missing is fire! It is time to bless the candle. I have been taught many ways to bless a candle but my favorite way is to hold the candle up at my heart level and speak into it. Sometimes when I do this I go into a bit of a trance and sometimes I will ask my guides for a specific, physical sign during the course of the candle burn to let me know if the magic is manifesting. In some traditions practitioners will set the candle down and clap over it one or three times to seal it, tap the bottom of the candle on the table three times (this is referred to as “knocking” the candle) or using one hand to cover the top of the candle and then lightly tapping that hand with your other hand.

When preparing many candles at the same time I have been taught to take a towel or sheet, place it over them and tap it in the center-all of these are various ways to seal the candle and to let the spirits know that you are ready for them to help you in your magical endeavors! When devotional candles are prepared at a shop for clients they are often blessed and dressed and then covered with tin foil or saran wrap so that the client may carry them home and set them.

Setting devotional candles

Once your candle has been dressed, blessed, and fixed its time to set it! The best practice when working with glass devotional candles is to set them up in a place where they can burn continuously without interruption. Unfortunately, this simple instruction can cause a lot of confusion and worry.

Fire safety is important when dealing with candles of all kinds. If you are away from home for most of the day, have a cat, dog, or small children that are sometimes left unattended then working with glass-encased devotional candles may not be the best choice for you unless you can place them somewhere out of reach. It is possible to snuff out devotional candles but I strongly prefer to work with taper or figural candles if I am going to be snuffing a candle out repeatedly. I will say from my own experience of burning thousands of candles that if a glass devotional candle tips over it is most likely simply going to go out-its very hard for a fire to start from one of these lights-but of course caution is always advised.

A devotional candle should really be allowed to sit and burn. I have seen these candles placed in a large aluminum stock pot, in glass casserole dishes filled with water, sand, or lovely rocks, in the kitchen sink, in a bathtub, shower, and fireplace. When I lived in a one-room apartment and lit candles for clients I placed them in the kitchen sink and bathtub whenever I went out, when I moved into my house I had a local blacksmith make two metal candle houses for me after going to a local Catholic grotto and seeing a design there that I was able to alter for my needs. If you are setting more than one devotional candle do be aware of putting them too close to one another especially in a closed area like a stock pot-they will increase one another’s heat, melting will happen faster-especially with the paraffin candles and the glass around the wax can break or scorch.

I like to light my devotional candles with wooden matches. You may light them and say a charm or prayer over them or you may light them in silence. You have now added the 4th element-fire to your magical candle-may it burns brightly!

Divination with devotional candles

One of the nicest aspects of working with glass devotional candles is that after they have finished burning you may perform a simple divinatory reading of the glass and candle to determine whether your work is on its way to manifesting or needs to be repeated or refined in some way and you can also pick up other important signs and symbols that may have specific meaning to you and your situation. When reading a glass candle there are three main parts I look at: the glass itself, remaining wax and debris from the candle, and if the candle has a paper petition or label attached to it the paper. On the glass of the candle, we may see black soot, discreet scorch marks, a gray fog or haze, or the glass may be completely clean and clear. I have found over the years that performing divination with glass candles is a very personal and subjective art but in most cases, a clean and clear glass casing indicates that your road is open and the petition has been heard “loud and clear!” Black soot indicates resistance or obstacles while gray haze or fog can indicate a lack of clarity or a scattered intention. Discreet scorch marks may indicate that the work will manifest in many ways but there may be one specific challenge that is first addressed.

Some people read the candle from bottom to top-meaning that the base of the candle is considered to represent the “present” while the further up along the candle we travel represents the near future and future. Others, including myself, read the opposite way-the top of the candle indicates the present situation and as we move down the candle towards the base we may forecast future events. When considering the wax and debris inside of the candle we may notice that some of the wax has not melted completely, that there is wax-often is specific shapes-along the sides of the candle, and that debris from our herbs and such may also adhere to the inside of the glass-again, often in specific shapes. There are many good books out there that can assist you in decoding the meaning of specific shapes and symbols-books on Tasseomancy and Bone Reading are particularly useful in this respect I find. However, the more you work with these candles the more you will discover your own unique language of symbols for those of us that come to magic from inherited traditions we often find that a symbol that has deep meaning for us also has meaning for someone else in our family! Sometimes rings of wax will form on the candles and these may indicate the numbers of days/weeks/months you will need to wait before your work full manifests. Often when there is residual wax at the bottom of the candle it may indicate that a similar candle should be lit again for the same purpose.

Paper labels and petitions are usually not affected during a candle’s burn-but every now and then a candle becomes so hot that the paper will singe, scorch and in rare cases catch fire. The specific meanings of these events must be considered within the context of the candle’s intention and the purpose of the papers in the first place.

Devotional Candles as part of the ritual

So far I have written about devotional candles as a spell in and of themselves-you have a specific need or request, you create a petition, dress your candle, light it and let the magic spiral out into manifestation. But devotional candles may also be used in more elaborate altar rituals as part of the altar set up or as “magical backups” to your main ritual work.  In these cases, one would usually fix and set the devotional candle first so that they are burning and then turn to the more intricate ritual components. Candles worked with in this way may be read in the manner I described above and they are often read in conjunction with other aspects of the completed ritual.

Tricky burns and other situations

Often when we first start working with devotional candles we will encounter the candle that refuses to light, the wick that continues to drown, the herb that catches on fire, floating wicks (especially in paraffin candle and other similarly trick situations. Schools of thought diverge on what the best methods for dealing with these candles are. On the one hand, some practitioners believe that messing with the candle at all destroys the ability to get an accurate read from the candle. For those of us who light candles for clients professionally, this is especially difficult because often part of the candle service includes a report wherein the candle is read. Others, like myself, believe the physical manipulation of the candle to ensure that it stays lit and burns as best it can without interruption is part of the service and caretaking of the candles. When a candle has to be physically altered in some manner a note is made and this is considered when the finished candle is read for signs.

Ritually disposing of devotional candles — environmental concerns:

Devotional candles have a long history of use in religion, magic, and American folk magic but as we progress into the 21st century I feel some remarks about their environmental impact should be considered. Many old spells call fur burial of candle remains and some practitioners have taken this to mean the remains of glass candles as well. For ecological reasons, it is preferable to recycle glass candle casings or better yet-reuse them! The majority of glass encased devotional and novena candles today are made of dyed paraffin. Paraffin is a petroleum by-product and the wax is whipped with air to create a softer, malleable product that can be easily poured into glass containers. Whereas these candles were originally for novenas or 9-day rituals, today’s candles last an average of 4-5 days if there are no difficult burn situations. Parrafin has a specific scent and burning it does release toxins into the air, including the assortment of chemicals that are found in diesel fuel. Some paraffin glass devotional candles also contain lead in their wicks so you have the added worry of burning lead. On the other hand, many people love these classic candles because they grew up with them and they are also very inexpensive. Pull out paraffin candles are available at many spiritual supply stores so that once your original candle has burned out you may clean out the glass casing and insert a new candle in.

For those who do not wish to burn paraffin for whatever reason (I stopped burning paraffin candles myself several years ago due to health concerns and because I had birds that could not tolerate paraffin), there are alternatives. You may buy empty novena style glass containers or any other style of a glass container and read your candle, you may also order beeswax glass devotional candles from several suppliers. Whereas paraffin has many negative properties, sustainably harvested beeswax has wonderful properties-including color, scent, texture, the release of negative ions into the air, and the added magical properties of bees and honey! Last time I compared a beeswax novena candle when burned alongside a paraffin novena candle-outlasted the paraffin candle by 4 to 5 days. The downside of beeswax is that it is considerably more costly-but as far as I’m concerned that’s a great motivation to get to know and support your local beekeepers!

The presence of fire through a prism of glass has a magical allure all its own. Glass encased devotional candles are considered a standard magical necessity by some and exotic tools by others–but their ability to function as both spell and divination reading makes them one of the more versatile magical tools and allows for one more way in which our lives might be blessed by the power of fire!

Sources:

Cunningham, Scott. Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewelyn. 1985.
Dey, Charmaine. The Magic Candle. Original Publications, 1982.
Gamache, Henri. Masterbook of Candle Burning. Original Publications, 1985.
Yronwode, Catherine. Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic. Lucky Mojo Curio Company, 2002.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Many Branches–Setting Roots with Jen Holmes of Rue and Hyssop

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles: So you guys know by now that I seriously love every single one of the people I profile for Many Branches but Jen holds a special place in my heart. First of all, her gardener’s salve is truly amazing and my soft hands are the proof! Secondly, she is not only a dear friend and colleague, she is one of my students and she brings magic wherever she goes. Finally, she has one of the kindest, most down to earth voices, in the entire Pagan blogging community — not an easy feat for a bunch of dirt loving folks! Enter into her wild garden of delights–you will be sure to find a magical treat or two!

 

jen 2In her own words: Jen (Rue) Holmes is the lime daiquiri-wielding hostess of the blog Rue and Hyssop, a wandering little adventure in Paganism, gardening and herb-craft, folklore, silliness, and the joys and trials of trying to maintain some semblance of a daily practice. Jen believes firmly in sharing your harvests, daily laughter, and in wearing as many strange hats as you can find.

Jen can also be found at her shop, Three Cats And A Broom, where her gardens in the verdant valley hills bring you herbal goodies to delight your bath, body, and home.

 

 

Find Jen on the World Wide Web:

Rue and Hyssop – www.rueandhyssop.blogspot.com

Three Cats And A Broom – www.threecatsandabroom.etsy.com

 

 

Why Rue and Hyssop–do these plants hold special meaning for you and if so what is it?

Picking a name for my blog was no easy task. I was going to be writing about my journey and all that it entailed – the garden experiments, my travels, the ups and downs of my personal practices, and the things that were bubbling away in the cauldron. I didn’t want to mislead anyone. The blog was always about my adventures in Paganism, but it was important for me to present it through the lens of my real life, and not try to come off as someone I wasn’t. It had to be real. Although I don’t discuss my uber-personal stuff (who I’m dating, my familial issues, and other too-close-for-comfort tidbits), I do lay it all out when discussing my struggle with keeping up a spiritual practice, or how I’m working through other issues like fear or self-esteem. It’s the kind of thing I appreciate in other bloggers, so there was no chance that I wasn’t going to be genuine.

“Rue and Hyssop” was a perfect fit for me. It served a dual purpose – it was a play on my at-the-time public name (Rue) and highlighted my interest in herb-craft, as well as providing a bit of symbolism for me, a girl who came from a Bible-based upbringing (hyssop being a prominent biblical herb) who grew into a woman on a magical-based path (rue being a beloved charm, most notably for the Strega). As for the herbs themselves, they are a cherished part of my garden. Even after working with them for years, I still find the wisdom to glean from them.

 

I think you are one of the brightest voices in the Pagan blogging community –why did you start blogging? As a pagan blogger, what would you like to see more of?

That’s a really generous compliment, Bri, and one I’d like to keep working at deserving. When I started blogging almost five years ago, there was not an easy-to-find Pagan community locally. Fortunately, that has changed, but I could never regret that it sent me searching online for like-minded people who shared my love of getting dirty in the garden and the wilds, who were fascinated by folklore, and who embraced and celebrated the land and the seasons. I’m thrilled to have met so many wonderful people in the blogging and Pagan communities, and I’m beyond flattered when anyone stops by to read or comment at my little spot on the web. I’m especially surprised at the volume of readers I have that wouldn’t consider themselves Pagan, but who stop by because we share some interest or concern that brings our separate journeys closer together.

I’ve found that this year, the Pagan community seems to be struggling a great deal with divisiveness. This isn’t new, I know, but there seems to have been many opportunities for people to say “we don’t know everything, let’s explore this together,” that instead, have become derisive. The magical and spiritual communities whose boundaries we wander over and through boast some of the most learned, creative, generous, and gifted people on the planet. I truly believe that we can find better ways to express ourselves and our explorations of our chosen path than to knock someone else down to show that we can wield the verbal sword impressively. Having said that, I am often in awe of the strength, kindness, and wisdom of those I’ve met in the blogging community. I’m confident that the people with these traits will outshine the ones who prefer to squabble, and my hope is that we’ll see more bloggers, podcasters, authors, and magical businesspeople stepping out into the public eye and showing the world a diverse community that can work together.

 

You make wonderful herbal remedies that are both healing and magical–how did you get started in this work and what are your favorite things to make?

When I was ten, at the height of summer I walked through a field of clover barefoot. The bees gorging on clover-nectar took exception to my intrusion and I was stung. My grandmother immediately noted that a stinger remained in my foot and cut a potato in half and placed it on the wound. Within a short time, the sting lessened and the stinger fell out. To me, that was the most magical thing I’d ever experienced. Within the year I was weeding her gardens (very non-magical, if you had asked me) and I was forever bitten – or stung – by the garden bug.

After relying far too many years on over the counter drugs for common complaints such as colds, sleeplessness, or skin concerns, I turned to herbs to help combat these issues. I’d always grown veggies and culinary herbs, but medicinals were new to me. I grabbed a handful of books and found some organic seed companies and never looked back. My current passion is replacing the chemical-laden cleaning and beauty products in my home with my own organic herbal alternatives. And, of course, I grow a few plants specifically for magical use too.

My current favorite creations are the herbal-infused oil products. There’s just something about seeing those plants suspended in golden oils, releasing their invaluable treasure. I put together a herbal salve that is crazy-healing, as well as a massage oil, and I’m working on a facial oil that should be coming out soon. I’m testing it right now and I’m loving what it’s doing to my skin!

 

What projects are you working on in 2014? What would you like to learn more about?

I’ve been operating my business as a hobby for the past few years and it’s been fun. When I look to my future, I see myself growing and wild-harvesting plants and making herbal creations full time, so there are some big decisions to be made this year in as far as putting a plan into action to see that outcome.

My herbal studies are always ongoing – I was gifted with about a dozen herbal books this year and I’m enjoying working through them. I’m always playing with and testing new herbal creations. Some will make it to the shop and others may end up being more private runs. I made some sample scrubs for a local spa and they’ve ordered them for their permanent line now.

The thing about plants is that you can spend a lifetime studying them and still have only scratched the surface. The same thing applies to spirituality and magical work – there is always something to discover and experience. I’ll never be finished learning.

 

If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

I’ve spoken of this often lately, but it’s because I’ve really been living it. Find one thing to be joyful about every day. We’d all like to win the lottery, or be a size 2, or hit it out of the park in the IQ department, but even if we are not feeling like our best selves or life is not being generous with the “good stuff” we can still find something to be joyful about. Just one thing. Really dig it. Smile. Dive into that chocolate bliss. Become intoxicated by the scent of that flower. Giggle mercilessly at your crazy cat. There’s always something to squeal about. It will keep you young, I promise. And people will wonder why you are always smirking.

And be kind. It’s not that difficult.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.