Many Branches–Plant Love with Kiva Ringtail Rose

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles: I first heard Kiva Rose’s name mentioned years ago when my mother and I were reading one of Loba’s columns in Sage Woman magazine. The Anima school and sanctuary sounded wild and wonderful and so very needed. Then years later I came across her work again in Plant Healer Magazine–and it wasn’t long before I wrote a couple of articles for that most excellent periodical. Kiva is a busy woman and I was delighted when she agreed to take some time and speak with me about plant magic and all that is wild. 

In her own words: Herbalist, author, and wild creature, Kiva Rose lives in a canyon botanical sanctuary within the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. She is also the co-director of the HerbFolk Gathering, held each September in the mountain Southwest, is co-editor of Plant Healer Magazine, and maintains an herbal blog, The Medicine Woman’s Roots.

Find Kiva on the World Wide Web:

Plant Healer and The HerbFolk Gathering
The Medicine Woman’s Roots Herbal Blog

 

 

 

Who/What is a Plant Healer? Why this term instead of a term like Herbalist?

A Plant Healer is anyone who works with the plants for the purpose of healing. We chose this term in part because of its simplicity and because of the way it keeps the focus on the plants themselves. I am an herbalist because I love the plants, and feel called to matchmake between plants and people, hopefully facilitating new and deeper relationships among humans and herbs that brings healing for us, as well as inspiring us to take better care of the earth in the process.

 

One of the many contributions you have made to the plant loving community is a return to the notion of “folk herbalism”. How is folk herbalism different from what might be considered more “mainstream herbalism”, what are folk herbalists bringing to the table that has been missing in the community?

Basically, folk herbalism is technically defined as herbalism being practiced by non-professionals or lay people, often utilizing regional or handed down knowledge and perspectives. However, given the wide range of practitioners that currently identify as folk herbalists, I think it makes sense to broaden the definition to include professionals and non-professionals alike who practice an herbalism not currently accepted as valid by the Western biomedical industry and our culture in general.

Folk herbalism has always been here, and has long been represented by an incredible spectrum of practitioners. I personally use the terminology because I value both inclusivity and diversity within the healing community. I especially like the fact that folk herbalism embraces such a wide range of ideas and practices without insisting upon a false or forced homogeny.

 

You run a clinical practice, care for a beautiful wilderness area in Southern New Mexico, teach, write, publish some of the finest books and magazines on the plant path, and organize festive conferences and weekends of education for plant healers, you are also a mom and devoted partner…how do you do it all and what are your personal favorite herbal allies?

Thank you, Bri! I’ve found that it’s my nature to cycle through focusing on what most interests me at the time, and I find that working on so many projects allows me to move from seeing folks to creating art to writing to land restoration to teaching to solitary and family time in a way that allows me to feel both fulfilled and to keep many projects going at once. Also, my wonderful partner, Jesse Wolf Hardin, does an enormous amount and keeps everything on track and on schedule!

Many of my absolute favorite plants are from the genus Salvia, I adore all that I’ve met thus far! I’m very blessed to have two native species growing right here in the canyon where I live and many more nearby. Working with the less well known Sawtooth Sage, Salvia subincisa, was a profound experience in my early herbal studies. While I don’t know of anyone else working with this plant, it is a profound relaxant nervine that is specifically indicated when tremors are present with anxiety. It’s also a wonderful ally for those who have such sensitive nervous systems that even Lemon Balm can seem too stimulating. Back when I was first studying and practicing herbalism, I was also recovering from many years of insomnia, addiction, and abuse and dealing with a very fried and overstimulated nervous system. The Sawtooth Sage helped to heal my nervous system and allowed me to sleep and relax in ways I hadn’t experienced in decades. I especially like it combined with our local Skullcap for tension, anxiety, and insomnia.

 

In 2013 you launched the Bramble and Rose–a wonderful shop where folks can order perfumes, elixirs, balms, and oils, tell us about the Bramble and Rose and what inspired it?

Originally, The Bramble & The Rose was created as an outlet for my passion for creating botanical perfumes and body products, and my desire to share the medicine of aromatics with a wider audience. As time has passed, I’ve slowly been expanding it into a more complete woodland apothecary that includes elixirs, bio-regional incense, bitters blends, and certain single herbs abundant in my area. I’d been asked for many years to make more of my herbal preparations for sale, so I’m happy to fulfill this desire from the community while sharing many of my favorite plant allies!

Part of the profits from The Bramble & The Rose go to paying for the materials used to create the herbal formulas I provide to local clients in my tiny mountain village at little or no charge.

 

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

To keep your work at its foundation, and to focus on not straying from the source that ignited your passion to begin with. To work as healers of any kind we need to avoid being drained by what we do, and a bit part of that is being able to receive vital nourishment from the earth and work at a roots level. I know that, for me, it’s very easy to get caught up in what needs to be done, and to neglect the simple, sensual delights that first drew me to herbalism. By remembering to play with the plants, experiment with new remedies, and spending wordless time on wild land, I am sustained and replenished in a circle of healing I am honored to be included in.

 

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.

Many Branches–Going Bright with Candlesmoke Chapel

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles,

I’m so delighted to introduce you all to two more of my favorite Sacred Artists. Joseph and Sara Magnuson are friends, colleagues, and collaborators who make beautiful and truly magical spiritual products. From sublime ritual oils to sweet sugar jars and of course their stellar candle services — these two run one of the most authentic spiritual supply businesses I have come across in years!

In their own words: Candlesmoke Chapel is a husband and wife collaboration dedicated to crafting high quality magical and spiritual goods. We’ve been crafting our own supplies for years and are proud to offer our products and services to others. Our work and studies include traditional witchcraft, hoodoo, genealogy, folklore, and herb lore. We are always working to better our own lives and are committed to helping others achieve their desires through the use of magical and spiritual practices.

Find them on the World Wide Web:

www.candlesmokechapel.com
www.etsy.com/shop/candlesmoke

1.) Candlesmoke Chapel fills many different roles, but one of the things that you two do beautifully is creating homemade spiritual supplies–how did you get started in this work?

Both of us have been interested in and studied various paths and traditions our whole lives. After many years of learning and practicing, we found ourselves drawn to the principles behind conjure and rootwork. This became a jumping off point for us, so while we don’t practice conjure and rootwork exclusively, we find that the tangible aspects of working with candles, roots, herbs, oils, incense, and washes speaks to us. We believe that having these items to physically work with help to focus one’s intent and purpose.

In working with these types of items, we’ve been in and out of every botanica and occult shop we’ve come across. Even though there seem to be lots of options out there, we weren’t always satisfied with the quality and the general feeling behind most of the products we found. So we decided to make spiritual supplies for our own personal work and quickly found that they were powerful and effective. We started giving items to friends as gifts and doing work for people we knew for free. The feedback we received was awesome and we’ve just kept growing!

2.) You also offer readings through Candlesmoke Chapel–what is your favorite subject to read on and what question would you like to never be asked again?

We’re going to answer this question separately because we each do different types of readings…

Joseph – I read with the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot and my favorite kind of readings are open-ended general questions. I love it when the client just says, “tell me what you see.” This gives me the opportunity to really open up to the cards and the client’s energy and look at any and all possibilities. I really enjoy all the readings I do, but if I had to pick I’d say the most difficult readings are the third or fourth go-around on the same issue; when the client doesn’t like the answer they got the first couple of times and they keep wanting another reading to see if something different will present itself. These are difficult because I know they’re unhappy with their situation, but I won’t just tell them what they want to hear.

Sara – I read with the Animal Medicine Cards and my favorite kind of readings are about how people can move forward with something in their life. I love questions about feeling stuck in some way and guiding the client to the animal spirits and energies that they can learn from and call upon to bring themselves up to the place they want to be. I love helping people see the connections between other living creatures and themselves and watching that “aha” moment when the client sees how it all comes together. Like Joseph, I enjoy all the readings I do but, due to the nature of the cards I use, the most difficult question I get is “tell me what my spirit animal is.” People are usually asking this question without a real understanding of what that means and they’re typically not interested in doing the inner work necessary to discover this themselves. It can be challenging to explain to someone who doesn’t want to look within themselves that no one can tell you what your spirit animal(s) is/are.

3.) Talk to us about bottle spells–how do they work and what you do guys love about them?

We love bottle spells and especially sugar jars! The idea behind any type of bottle or container spell is to create a magical battery. You’re creating a small space that is super-concentrated with ingredients suited to your purpose. Immersed in that super-concentrated space is a paper with your desire written on it, your handwriting on the paper adding more power to the purpose of the container. Add some personal concerns, like a strand of hair, and this can be some powerful stuff! We create the jar for your purpose, you add your written paper and personal concerns and we provide you with instructions on how to work the Sweetening Jar on your own.

There are tons of different types of bottle spells and we focus on Sweetening Jars, specifically sugar jars. They can be made with many different kinds of sweeteners, but our preference is for sugar because it tends to manifest movement in a situation more quickly than something like honey. There’s also a physicality involved with shaking a sugar jar – seeing the magical ingredients tossing about; hearing the sound it makes and getting into a rhythm like a musical instrument. Our Sweetening Jars currently focus on romantic love situations, but we’ve done custom jars to help create a peaceful home and to help draw more clients to a business. There are lots of situations that can use a little sugar!

4.) You are a married couple doing awesome work together-are there any particular challenges or benefits that you find in working together on all your different projects?

One of the biggest benefits for us is that we’re passionate about the same thing. We’ve seen lots of situations where one person can’t be very open about what they’re doing or even has to hide it because their significant other doesn’t get it or isn’t into it. Yes, we’re a married couple, but we’re also best friends – and who doesn’t love hanging out with their best friend! There are also two sets of eyes on everything we make. It’s invaluable to have someone else that you trust to smell, touch and test a new creation; it’s the in-house quality control department. Luckily, we have a very honest relationship so the quality control department takes no BS! We openly and honestly give each other our feedback without the worry of hurting any feelings. The best benefit is getting to collaborate; we love putting our minds together to develop new products and services. Even though we’re walking this path together, we each have different sets of knowledge and our own ways of looking at things. If one of us doesn’t know something or can’t figure something out, the other one can almost always find the solution. The only real challenge for us is arguing over who gets to use the big work table and who has to clean up!

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

Trust yourself. Completely block out what anyone else thinks and do what you feel called to do. Keep doing what you feel passionate about and practicing what you believe in because it will shine through in everything you do. Not only have we learned this lesson in our own work, but we also run into these issues with our clients. This advice is not just for someone following a path in life, but also for those who are working to change a situation. It’s not just about big-picture, life-choice questions and even applies to the little things. After you get a reading or use a product, trust yourself. Block out all the extraneous stuff and do what you feel called to do. Practice what you believe in and the right path will appear.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

So Fresh and So Clean – The Art of Sacred Bathing and Spiritual Cleansing

Purification and Cleansing

D

ear Miracles,

We can all feel the difference between a messy room and a clean room. Clutter, refuse, and objects that are not in their proper places create confusion, imbalance, and waste our time.  This is true for our physical lives as well as for our emotional and spiritual lives.  In our relationships, for example, we can see how continually bringing up issues from the past that need to be released and buried can damage the present.

Think of a clean kitchen. Maybe the kitchen is sparkling and spotless or maybe it is a little dingy around the corners but more or less clean.  Now imagine someone walking through that kitchen with mud on their feet, leaving their muddy footprints all over that clean kitchen floor. If this were really your kitchen what would you do?  Would you leave the muddy footprints where they are, ignoring them and hoping that they would go away?  Or would you get out the mop and go to work on them?

Most of us would not leave muddy footprints in our kitchens, but I am constantly surprised at how many folks refuse to clean up the muddy foot prints that have trekked all over their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. The problem of course is that one cannot take a bottle of pine-sol to the soul, so what can we do?

As it turns out, quite a bit. Folk healing and magical traditions world over have remedies that address the state of spiritual muddiness we all encounter from time to time. Below are some of the time honored traditions I have been taught and can personally vouch for.

 

Sacred Bathing

There is a saying in my family when one of us gets really sick. We say “I am so sick my hair hurts!” Have you ever been that ill, where your hair literally hurts? Thankfully I am not sick in that way very often these days but when I am I immediately know what to do.

I wake up early in the morning before anyone else is up, I fill my bathtub with hot, hot, water and I pour in a handful of blessed salt, Angelica Root, Peppermint, Cinquefoil, Rosemary, a chunk of Bloodroot, a pinch of Lavender, and a sprinkle of Life Everlasting. Yes, I’m taking a bath to ease my body, to get the sweat up so that my lymphatic system goes into action, but I am also taking sacred bath — a bath of healing, restoration, and blessing.

Often in my work I advise someone to take a “sacred bath” — it is an easy and inexpensive ritual act that may be done at home whenever the need arises. Many of my clients know the basics of sacred bathing, quite a few of them have sacred bathing traditions in their own families. Even so we are well served in revisting the art of the sacred bath.

First we must ask ourselves, what is a sacred bath? I use the term sacred bath to denote a bath taken for ritual or ceremonial purposes as opposed to a bath taken only for physical cleaning. Sacred bathing is a tradition found throughout the world. The use of water in combination with the just right botanicals and minerals, blessings, and focused intention has been with us since ancient times. Special waters  herbs  roots, oils, and other preparations are often involved in sacred bathing. Blessing ways, petitions, affirmations or mantras may also be part of you sacred bath. Though sacred baths are taken for a variety of reasons, they usually have something to do with cleansing and purification of the body, mind, and spirit. To that end, let us consider the one element that every sacred bath has in common.

 

It all begins with water ~

Water is one of the four classical elements honored in the Western Sacred Arts, the element of Water is also acknowledged and represented in many Asian and African traditions as well. Universally water is seen as an ideal element to work with in rituals concerned with healing, restoration, and cleansing. It is also commonly included in ceremonies designed to deepen an individual’s relationship to their intuition and inner knowing.

Tales of sacred springs, holy lakes, and blessed bodies of waters populate both myth and fairy tales while even today in largely Catholic areas holy water is gathered and used in the daily blessing of family, home, and land.

Often the realm of the dead and the realm of the living are separated by, among other things, a river or body of water. This has found modern translation in the teaching that whenever one is visiting a graveyard or trafficking with  spirits of the dead,  a good way to cleanse away any negative or malicious energy is to cross running water either in a vehicle or by foot as the belief is that the departed will not be able to move past that natural boundary line. We also find the notion of water’s protective qualities emphasized in the belief that setting a glass of clean water on a bedside table may protect whoever slumbers from unwelcome nightmares.

With the level of emphasis placed on water it should come as no surprise that the kind of water we use in a sacred bath is quite important. In myth and folklore we often find very specific rites given that involve bathing is specific bodies of water at specific times of day and even during specific times of the year. To this day in many countries pilgrimages are made by people of all faiths to bodies of water that are believed to be particularly blessed.

For our purposes I will assume that sacred bathing is a rite my readers desire to perform at home, where there is not necessarily a sacred body of water near by. I will also note that for some of us who, like myself, live in water-poor parts of the world any body of water is sacred! No matter where you are bathing, it is always advised to procure water from a natural source usually a spring or underground natural aquifer.  If your water comes from a man-made reservoir or desalination plant for instance, you may want to represent water from a natural source by taking a cup or bowlful of spring, river, or lake water and adding it to your bath. If you choose to do this please note that some water does contain bacteria and other impurities that can be dangerous. Many rivers, streams, and springs have information about their bacteria levels available on the web, but if you cannot make sure that the water you have is safe then boiling it for at least ten minutes is a good way to quickly purify it for use.

Those are the outer, external considerations around the most essential element. But as you prepare your sacred bath, I encourage you to consider your inner relationship to the element of Water as well. What does water mean to you? What do you think and feel and envision when you hear the word “water”? How much water do you drink every day? How many ways do you use water on a daily basis? How many aspects of your life are directly supported by the presence of water? You are going to water for sacred purposes so take a few moments to reflect on your relationship to it, practically and spiritually, will do nothing but deepen your entire experience.

 

Name your purpose ~

After you have decided on the right source of water for your sacred bath you will want to take some time to think about why you are creating a bathing ceremony to begin with. What are the muddy footprints you are seeking to clean up after? When, where, and how did they appear in your life? Are you dealing with the debris that follows in the wake of lack of self-care? Are you seeking to heal a broken heart or bandage wounded pride? Is your desire to celebrate sensual beauty and pleasure? You can get clear on your intention by asking these two questions:
1.) What outer change am I looking for?
2.) What inner changes are required to support that outer change?

 

Then add Botanicals and Blessings ~

Your purpose or intention is what will guide your choices in botanical, mineral, and blessing elements to add to your sacred bath blend. While there are many herbal books and encyclopedias that will list out various plants and their spiritual associations and uses, I have been taught that the individual bathing should have their own relationship with whatever ingredients they choose to work with. If you grow plants yourself always look at your own garden for inspiration. If you responsibly wildcraft then take a walk in the woods and consider what botanicals might be willing to lend you their medicine. Of course you can always look at the books but starting in your own kitchen gives you a much more direct relationship with the entire process.

The same is true of the blessings, petitions, prayers, affirmations, mantras, or words of power that you intend to use. Your stated goal, the external change you are hoping to achieve, will go a long way in helping you determine the best way to make your prayer and bless yourself. If in doubt, you can always go with a general blessing like this Blessing of the Body.

This is also the part of the process where you consider what kind of bathing preparation you wish to create. Are you creating a mineral rich restorative bath soak? Are you going to create a delightfully fizzy bath bomb or a specialty bath melt? If you only have a shower and think that you cannot have a sacred bathing experience because you do not have a bath tub then I have news for you: a bundle of fresh herbs tied directly to your shower nozzle is fragrant and pure magic. For great ideas on the art of bathing and the many preparations that are possible I strong recommend the magazine Willow and Sage. Keep in mind that after taking your sacred bath you might want to anoint yourself with an oil, lotion, or dust yourself with powder – all of the same principles apply to making or choosing these formulas.

 

The Bath itself ~

As I always say, look first to your own traditions and the practices you have made your own — because water is such a universally recognized element and sacred bathing is a sacred art found world over, many of you will already have ways and means of sacred bathing that work beautifully for you. However, if you do not have a framework within which to work, then allow me to share some of my own approaches.

In my family sacred baths are usually taken at dawn because the sun is considered one of the most important celestial bodies to observe. At dawn the sun begins to rise and is viewed as both young and strong. Whenever we wish to draw something to us — be it cleansing, renewed health, love, wealth, or specific opportunities, we take our sacred bath at dawn to attune ourselves to that nascent solar potency. In rarer cases a sacred bath may be taken at dusk when the sun is setting. The purpose behind that choice is concerned with banishing something or someone from our lives — such as illness, cross words between friends, etc.

Lunar phases may also be taken into consideration following the common motif of working to draw good things to you during the period from the New Moon to the Full Moon and working to remove things from your life during the period from the Full Moon to the New.

Once you have decided on the right time for your ritual I recommend that you gather whatever you will need. Clean towels, clean clothes, and in many traditions clean shoes or socks are all highly recommended. If you are going to bed after your sacred bath then clean sheets and a lovely scent in your bedroom might be added to your list. If you are going to recite specific words during your sacred bath then have a copy of those words at the ready. Candles, essential oils or incense, music, and whatever other ceremonial items you may wish to have present can all play a role in your bathing experience. You might even want to have a special drink or delightful treat on hand as you bathe – it is traditional to end ceremonies with some kind of feast after all! You will also want a small cup or bowl, the purpose of which will be explained below.

The Details are in the Disposal ~

As I have been taught, the final part of the sacred bath is the most important. Once you have finished bathing you may wish to anoint yourself with an oil or lotion and/or dust yourself with powder. Traditions like African American Conjure place a great emphasis on allowing yourself to air dry. Other traditions such as Currendera encourage wrapping up in a special towel or blanket. Choose what makes sense and feels in best alignment with your stated purpose. The next step is the most critical: before draining the tub or stepping out of the shower you will want to collect some of the water with which you have bathed. This water now carries your imprint, your essence, and as such it has become a magical material. Like all such materials it must be disposed of with respect and purpose. So if your desire is to draw blessing and abundance then pour out the water at the base of a large and healthy tree facing east. If your desire to remove affliction pour the water out at a four way crossroads while facing west — and when you turn to go home go in a different direction than the one you came, and never, step back over the place where you have poured out the water.

Although the steps to sacred bathing may sound time consuming and exhausting at first, this really is one of the most simple and straightforward ritual acts you can perform. It is also a kind thing to do for yourself and your precious body – be careful, you may soon find that every bath you take becomes a sacred bath!

 

Spiritually Cleansing a space or vehicle~

A sacred bath is one approach (and my favorite) to spiritual cleansing, but it is important to keep in mind that the places and spaces we physically occupy can also accrue their own energetic funk and need to be cleaned up from time to time. When it comes to cleaning any physical space there are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind.

Clean from top to bottom (this is just practical sense, you dust before you vacuum) and back to front.  This applies whether you are cleaning a room, cubicle, entire house, or vehicle.  My favorite spiritual cleansing agent is one that my mother and I make every year — we call it Momma Hen’s Fabulous ‘n’ Famous floor wash. I also like Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena scented products which are made from essential oils, are biodegradable, and phosphate free. Lemon Verbena is one of many herbs used to spiritually clean, unlock doors, open the way, and attract good luck.  As always consider what botanicals are your natural allies in this endeavor.

Whether cleaning a single room, home, or vehicle start in the back and move to the front. When cleaning multiple rooms after the first room has been dusted, mopped, and vacuumed you can say a blessing over the space, light a bit of incense, and/or light a small candle.

If you have co-workers who are negative and difficult for you to be around, stuck in a job that is not rocking your world, or dealing with aggressive supervisors then magically cleaning your work space, office, or cubicle is a good idea. Follow the same basic guidelines for cleaning a house. Obviously, skip lighting the candle or incense, reciting the blessing is just fine. If vacuuming is not feasible then lightly dust your area with finely ground botanicals you associate with abundance and good fortune.

Vehicles are another area that can benefit from spiritual cleanings.  Again, the principle is the same: cleanse from top to bottom and back to front.  Make sure that you clean the inside and outside of the vehicle, including the tires.

In closing I would simply say that it is not merely coincidental and that in myth, in folklore, and in many spiritual traditions that art of sacred bathing and spiritual cleaning are strong emphasized. During these acts more than perhaps any other we are able to fully see ourselves – our broken places, our beauty, and our blessings. From that clear vision we are able to call in all that is whole-making, healing, and holy – what greater magic is there?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The best herbs and curios for Academic Achievement+Success

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles: As school starts back up for many of us, it is time to work a little magic to craft the best possible approach to academic success and victory this year! Walk with me down the green path and let’s meet ten delightful natural allies that can help you do just that…

1.) Alkanet Root (Alkanna tinctoria) this root comes from a plant known as Dyer’s Bugloss and that should give you a clue about one of its uses — alkanet root creates a lovely and natural red dye. In Conjure folk magic the root is also used to hurry things up and speed things along (alkanet is one core ingredient in many a “Fast Luck” type formula). Since sometimes academic or work success needs to be hurried along a bit, working with Alkanet can provide that speedy edge.

Do: always add a pinch of alkanet to any sugar jar work you have going as sugar jars can be known to take their time before going into effect. If you have a lot of learning material to get through and comprehend, work with peppermint, rosemary, alkanet and bay leaf-perhaps making a mojo hand of all three and then wearing it on your person.

 

2.) Bay Leaf (laurus nobilis): This is in your kitchen drawer right now and is SO awesome! This aromatic leaf is wonderful in chile and soup but is also known for helping one achieve victory and high-flying success. In fact, Bay leaves were used to crown both poets and warriors in Ancient Greece and Rome and our esteemed appellation of “laureate” comes from the second part of Bay’s name: laurel.

Do: Write a petition for success and victory directly on a bay leaf. Add it to a prayer bundle, mojo bag, sugar jar, or wear it in the bottom of your right shoe.

 

3.) Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus): a Southeast Asian aromatic grass with many magical uses, lemongrass is used to open the road, clear out muck, and improve your luck.

Make: a magical floor wash/housecleaner by steeping lemongrass (and maybe some of the other herbs on this list too!) in boiling water or better yet, some vodka. You then use the liquid to wash your floors and clean your home before the start of each semester at school. Not sure about that? You can also buy commercial Florida Water and simply add some lemongrass to the bottle-let it sit for 9 days, and wash your home that way!

 

4.) Lillies (Lilium spp.): These beautiful flowers are sacred to St. Joseph (and various other holy figures) and St. Joseph is the individual who blesses the work of a person’s hands. If you are in a situation where you need to refine a skill set or have your own work be blessed and noticed (because it is excellent of course) the Lily is a good flower to work with!

Offer: lilies to St. Joseph with a petition or prayer that the work of your hands and the thoughts of your mind be blessed, improved, and generate prosperity for you and your family.

 

5.) Peppermint (Mentha pepirita) Peppermint is known for its clean, cutting scent, culinary uses, the ability to spiritually cleanse and to replace bad luck with good, and, in some circles, its use in money drawing magics. This aromatic herb is also wonderful to work with when you need to increase your ability to focus and concentrate.

Blend: Peppermint essential oil with Rosemary essential oil for a fantastic, fresh scent that will also truly aid you when you need to buckle down and concentrate.

 

6.) Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis): Rosemary is another beautiful aromatic herb best known for its culinary use. It has also been sought out for its protective properties and its ability to bless a home and family. Rosemary aids in mental clarity and concentration and the best part of all? You probably have it in your kitchen right now!

Infuse: Olive oil with rosemary — not only can you use it for cooking, you can also use the oil to lightly anoint your third eye before a big test to bring you wisdom and success in all your work.

7.) Sage (Salvia officinalis): when we say that someone is sagacious we are really saying that they are wise. It should be no surprise then that the herb sage-another culinary favorite that is probably hanging out right now in your kitchen cabinet-is used for intellectual success and smarts.

Burn: sage and use it to smudge your body before big academic events. When you do this, pay special attention to your head, hands, and feet.

 

8.) Solomon’s Seal Root (polygonatum officianle, p. biflorum, etc): King Solomon is reputed to have been the wisest man on earth and has long been invoked by magical sorts of all stripes. Solomon’s Seal Root is an essential ingredient for any work aimed at creating greater mental clarity, acumen, and wisdom.

Make: at the beginning of the academic year or when dealing with a situation where you need smarts and success make a poppet that represents you. When you do this, be sure to add hair from your head so that you are blessed with wisdom and add fingernails to the dolly to refine the work of your hands. Add Solomon’s Seal Root throughout, so that you are imbued with Solomon’s legendary wisdom. Pray over the poppet daily and speak affirmations of wisdom and success.

 

9.) Sugar: A lot of magical work that goes into academic success focuses on the student. As we all know, however, a great teacher can make a huge difference! Whether we are teacher OR student, sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where someone we need to favor and support us has taken a disliking to us or seems uncooperative. In cases like this, it’s time to bust out the honey, sugar, or your sweetening agent of choice. Sugar and its relatives has long been used to sweeten someone up and bring them to your side. It is most frequently referenced in love magic but can absolutely be used to influence a teacher, administrator, or supervisor in your favor.

Make: a magical sweetening jar  or toss a bit of sugar in the path of the person you would like to influence while petitioning that they work with you, favor you, and come over to your side of things.

 

10.) An intellectual giant’s graveyard dirt: I am pretty herb focused here but one curio that I absolutely wanted to mention the graveyard dirt of an intellectual powerhouse. A quick search on Find A Grave will help you see who is buried in your area. If you are comfortable and proficient in graveyard work, go buy or collect dirt from a smart spirit and use it to give you aid from beyond.

Add: graveyard dirt to candles, sachet powders, and mojo hands so that you can work in close connection with a brilliant spirit. Only do this work if you are already experienced in spirit work.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to make a honey jar (with pictures!!!)

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles,

Life is sweet but sometimes it needs to be a little sweeter, yes? So it is that honey jars were born and have become one of the most popular and well-known techniques in folk magic. Today I wanted to share with you both in words and pictures on how to put a honey jar together.

As it turns out, honey jars are not just for tea and biscuits! There is actually a long history of folk magic traditions working with sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, simple syrup, and other sweeteners to promote love, kindness, joy, harmony, goodwill, and favored status. The theory is simple enough and a great example of sympathetic and contagious magic: because the primary medium (a sweetener of some kind) is used in a directed manner towards a specific person the intention is that said person will become “sweeter,” more kind, tender, loving, and harmonious.

Although “honey jar” is the preferred term, I actually like to use Whole Foods’ vegan sugar in my jars. I like sugar because it is less messy than honey, it’s easy to take petition papers out and add new papers if the need arises, and sugar is also less expensive than honey. I use vegan sugar which might seem strange until you understand that most sugar is processed through filters made of animal bones (due to the high heat required during the refining process). Vegan sugar is not.

honey_jar_contents

Honey Jars and sweetening bottles are created and worked with for a variety of reasons. Some like to make a jar that represents themselves so that they will be kinder and more loving to all of the people in their lives. Others choose to create a honey jar to mark a marriage or special anniversary and to bless a couple with years of love and tenderness. In other cases, honey jars may be used in a more compelling manner–to make a difficult boss like you better, to encourage a judge or jury to find in your favor, or to persuade your students or clients to work with you and follow your lead. Making honey jars is relatively easy; because of this they have become one of the more popular forms of magic–and because of the materials involved, you can get very creative (or stay simple) in the creation process.

First, you need to write a petition:

honey_jar_petition_1

The petition made for a honey jar tends to follow a specific format. First, you will write the name of your target (the person you would like the honey jar to effect), then you will turn the paper 90 degrees and write your name on top of the target’s name. If you are doing a honey jar on yourself then you do not have to do this second step.

Some people like to use pencil for the target’s name and then a pen or permanent marker for their own name–the idea behind this is that permanent ink is “stronger” than a pencil (which can be erased) and therefore exerts more influence. I personally like a strong ink that I can see well for both names. After the names have been inscribed its time to create a magical circle around them like this:

honey_jar_petition_2

During the writing in a circle around the names, the pen cannot be lifted from the paper and this is why it makes sense to use a short and sweet prayer. In this demo, I used the prayer: “love and blessings” over and over again.

An optional but fun step is to embellish the petition paper:

honey_jar_petition_3 (1)

Once the petition is completed you can anoint it with oil and then fold it towards you. Turn the paper 90 degrees and fold it towards yourself again. Now you are ready to add it to the sweetening jar. Different people have different attitudes about the jars themselves. Personally, I like Ball Canning Regular Mouth Half Pint Canning Jars. I like using a regular, inexpensive jar and then embellishing it myself–that is part of the magic! It’s also essential to have a metal/heatproof lid if you want to burn candles on the jar.

honey_jar_complete (1)

You will add your sweetening agent be it sugar or honey but then you will also want to add roots, herbs, and curios that are appropriate for whatever situation you are working on. If you do not know the first thing about herb magic, don’t worry–I have an Amazon store chock full of my favorite herb books! Once you have added what you want in the way of herbs, roots, and curios your jar will look beautiful and you can tuck the petition right in. Make sure that the petition is totally covered by the contents of the jar. Now in some cases at this point, people like to ask if they can use the sweetening agent that is in the jar and the answer is…it depends on what you put in it!

Obviously, if you used any toxic roots or herbs when making the jar you will not be able to consume the sugar/syrup/honey. However, if you used edible plants (of which there are MANY) you can eat the sweetener and you can also use it in baking, cooking, and beverage making. In fact, one very simple and stripped down honey jar spell involves putting a whole vanilla bean into the family canister of sugar–it is believed that this leads to a happy and peaceful home. The sugar, of course, is used in the day to day doings of the family and its magic extends through use!

At this point, you could stop. These days a lot of people are making sugar jars and then they work them and magically impart their intention onto them by praying over them, stating their desires and shaking them rhythmically. However, some of the oldest honey jar workings do center around a candle and adding a candle to your honey jar is a wonderful way to imbue the magic of fire into your work–and it also can provide you with a great focal point as you pray or charge up the jar.

Choose a candle that resonates with you–many people like to work with specific colors of candles. For the demo, I went with a blue and yellow candle since the jar I was demoing was made for love, communication, and healing. You will want to anoint the candle with a ritual anointing oil appropriate to your situation. Hold the candle at heart level and draw the oil from the base of the candle towards your body. You may also want to dress the candle with ground herbs, ground herbs and magical sachet powder, and of course glitter:

dressing_a_candle_for_honey_jar

Set the candle on top of the honey jar and it’s time to light it!

I consider honey jars an endurance type of ritual work. Typically they are fashioned with the intention of being worked for a long time — at least several months and often for years. The jars are usually set up on an altar or dedicated working space. Candles can be burned on them and they can be prayed over and put to work every day, two or three times a week, or on a monthly basis. Pay attention to the way the wax of the candle melts and the way the flame burns when you are working your honey jar–these are two of the main ways that you will receive confirmation and affirmation that your magic is doing its thing! And remember, when in doubt you can always order a custom-crafted honey jar of your very own.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.