Saturday, May 30, 2015

Green Water of the Mountain

The thin rivers signal a drought  for those who rely on the glacial waters... all of us here in the shadow of the mountain.
 Some of what I gather is going to become spirit food, made by hand from the herbs I was compelled and directed to gather.  The flowers all have very specific and unique properties and are all under the guardianship of the great old mountain god, Takoma, who makes the waters that feed the valley meadows where I hunt at the base.  The mountain is home to deer gods and river goddesses, to bear spirit and eagle.  Powerful place, deserving of respect, I collect my herbs from the riverside and old-growth moss covered wetlands where the grandfather waters provide all the nourishment of those who forage in the shadow of the peaks.

no metal in this work, no iron near my altar.  these herbs don't care for cold metal.
Trillium is a perfect addition to unity and bonding workings, like this elixir I intend to make, trillium leaf and bulb will add loving balance, unity and cohesive feelings to the elixir. Trillium is well known and used by the coastal peoples of the Northwest; according to ethnobotany author Erna Gunther, used sometimes medicinally but also used in love charms by the people of Neah Bay and below. 

Lupine is a deceptively simple flower that seems weak and pretty at first gaze but reveals itself as something wise, otherworldly, fairy-- something else.  While little lore surrounds lupine, it is a flower of love's expression and the sacred roads of the land.  Ellen Dugan says in her green magic book, Garden Witch's Herbal; "in the language of flowers, lupines symbolize imagination and voraciousness. Magical uses include increasing your personal power and attraction." I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment after working with my own wild mountain lupine, it holds the essence of bewitchment in it.  

Bunchberry is a relative of dogwood and it's flower is added to a different libation for the animal spirits (along with snow-berry, holly berry and ivy berry, tasty good spirit food).  All of the mountain flower herbs are under the guardianship of Venus and water, and most under the virtue of moon; meaning that each has compatible spirits all being feminine in nature and loving in virtue.  Most of them were known to the local indigenous tribes as having healing, feminine qualities. Western Corydalis, a sister to the bleeding heart, who never grows too far downhill of hearty and fair corydalis- it is strong Venusian herb of desire (particularly in its glorious but hard-to-find blue form) and its root was harvested to make a marital talisman while the leaves will go into the elixir and the petals to powder.  Elderberry was introduced (as far as I know), but it is a glorious herb, loved by fairy and guarded by a powerful old witch, so in the pot it goes!  Elder gives me the impression of being more of an exorcist than anything else, capable of driving bad things away with its spirit.  The smell of the leaves alone certainly drives things away...

Not pictured is red paintbrush flower and vanilla leaf flower (a known spirit food of the Skagit), gathered for a totally separate work.  It too will be mashed, torn, shredded but blended with spring water from up slope to make a tonic.  It grows plentifully among the corydalis scouleri, bleeding hearts and avalanche lily on the banks of the three major rivers on the pass.

The cool, hearty flowers of the mountainside are delicately clipped from their stalks and hung to dry for the powdering in another moon or so.  The leaves are placed in the clay medicine pot while the waters of Takoma, the light of the dead and the spirit vessels stand in attention, readied for our working.  As the ice cool glacial water is poured over my hands, the green spirit will be violently ripped to the surface, a sacrifice of plant blood to make aqua viridis to feed the green spirits. Gnashed and torn, under the influence of prayer and will, their essence will permeate the waters that are mother to their blood and feed many medicine spirits for a couple days if stored right.  The resulting liquid when strained and fed some local rain water is a beautiful emerald green and is used as a wash for the medicine skull, a libation to the green spirits, and used with a bit of elder wine to feed the local nature spirits (or fairy, to some), so that everyone gets a share of the spring harvest.

a little goes a long way
Next will be the creation of an oleum viride from five different elderberry trees, including two black elder that were dazzling blush pink and chocolate in the sunlight.  Harvested with a song, at the hour of Venus on the day of the moon, to be made into both an oil and a salve.  Elder's healing properties in these inedible forms was only recently taught to me by an excellent horticulture student/herbwife at my work who knows a lot more about these things both medicinally and magically, than I do. I'm more used to working with the berry itself for preserves and jams and fillings, but I felt compelled to work more closely with the mother tree after discovering a grove of it growing in the forest at the base of the mountain. 

aged fragrant clover beeswax produced at a local apiary in a different region of the Cascades and a base of joboba/sweet almond.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Some Crooked, Some Upright

   My last entry on the three different spells I was working on at the time got me thinking about the roots of those magics and how even though they are all spells, they're ruled by a different school of practice that is often the singular focus of devotion by some witches, myself included.  Even though two of those charms featured a form of black and red magic, they were still done in my way; the green way.  This got me thinking on the different kinds of paths that exist, sometimes simply categorized into good or bad, high or low, ceremonial or natural, but sometimes they are categorized by their intention and the practices which benefit those intentions.  In traditional witchcraft, this can be construed as the separation of black magic from green, red and *white* magic.  I don't know if "magic" is the right word, I never really know how to describe what I think is going on here, but I will use the term magic to mean one's spiritual and mystical influence in the world and upon other living things.

  Some witches are students of a single path, devoted to the practice of a specific kind of gift which is central to their work. Just as among shamans there may be healers, seers, exorcists or a specific kind of shaman, the same is true of practitioners of any magic, including witches.  A witch who devotes to a particular form of practice; such as the arts of necromancy, conjury of shades, divination and diabolic work may consider themselves a black magician, whereas a witch who devotes entirely to medicine, agrarian/funereal magic and all manner of magia naturalis might call herself a green witch.  Red witchcraft is usually part of the practice of most witches, though on occasion a true red witch will emerge; one who is devoted to the erotic, protective and warfaring current of the red.  White magicians are common; the curandero are a kind of white (and/or green) magician or spiritist in Mexico, usually drawing their power from prayer, purity, pious cleanliness and a strict code of spiritual healing from benevolent spirits. These days when we hear the term "white lighter", we often are led to think of someone who has devoted their energy to ignoring the balance of energies in favor of the socially acceptable new-age witchery popular among youth.  This is different from a white healer- white "magic" is a serious undertaking and an important part of spirituality for many cultures- my own included, and they have little to do with the new-age.  White healers are considered traditional folk healers and "shamans" in the American Southwest and they do not work in a world devoid of the dark, not at all, they acknowledge the darkness and strive to counterbalance it and drive it away from causing illness.

    Most witches simply practice all or some parts of all these kinds of workings; walking neither one road or another. I have a difficult time separating the green from everything else personally, this is likely the direct influence medicine and Santeria in my house, extended family and community; plantlife is necessary; their souls, medicine, animus--whatever-- is needed.  Simply necessary.  I suppose I took this to heart and now green is my way to go.

     Green Magic- all that is agrarian, botanical and natural belongs in this realm and the practitioner is usually a devotee to land and death.  Green magic is rooted in healing herbs and baleful herbs, in the cycles of moon phases and star paths, in the change of one season to the next and the worship of the divine through nature, and devotion to nature (land, sea and sky) and all the spirits thereof.

"Green magic is ruled by physicality, the land, green and growing things and living beings which are animated by sprowl.  Workings of physical healing, herb craft and material gain are acts of green magic.  The familial spirit of green magic is the Hare." - Gemma Gary, Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways
     A green witch can be all sorts of things; a witch, a shaman, a medicine woman, a cunning man, a fairy doctor- any practitioner who engages in physical healing, agrario-domestic craft, nature worship and herbalism may find themselves on the green road.  Divination and spirit-work are as much part of the green path as herbalism; the spirits that reside in tree, plant and growing thing must be communicated with, because they do not share their knowledge freely, nor are most people truly able to hear them.
 "Among the foci of modern practitioners of wortcunning are the learning, practice, teaching and anamnesis of the Green Art in its many aspects. As well as the charms and spellcraft  usually associated with herbal magic, such also includes divination, spirit devotion, occult pharmacy and practical botany."-on the Green Arts, D.A Shulke,  Viridarium Umbris,

"I prefer magick with the balls to push shaft deep into the crimson petals of the goddess." 
Peter Grey, The Red Goddess

     Red Magic- is the fiery well of erotic bewitchment, transmutation and the bending of wills.  The red thread of fate that runs through all magic is stained with the blood of passion and vengeance- but most of all it is strength.  Aside from the passions, red magic may be the deliverer of Aphrodite's soothing love or Eros's fiery lust, just as easily will it turn from love to hate, lust to madness, and boil those touched by the heat in vengeance and warfare.  Unpredictable and double-edged, the red thread is used for empowering the self, protecting the herd and absorbing the life of one's enemies.  The classical witches of ancient Greek and Roman literature employed various diabolic means to achieve their erotic ends, a dark red magic.  Most spells which were cast to drive a lover mad were considered a type of dark erotic magic- this was the difference between love charms which were driven by philia which was romantic and friendly, and those driven by eros- raw lust.  When the red witch pursues the mysteries of the flame, they divine the wisdom of protection and the decimation of opposition, this is the power of battle and sovereignty.  Red is Will, a thread running through all labyrinths. In my practice, the red familiar is the moth, who dances around the flames.

      Black Magic-  Horns blazing, eyes leering, hooves scratching at the black dirt.  Sometimes he's a horned old man, sometimes he's an antler-tipped youth, sometimes a stag, sometimes a goat, always a man of of the night. The black magics fall under the eye of the man of the crossroads and his queen; sometimes Lilith, sometimes Fairy Queen.  Black undertakings is the work of necromancy, shape-shifting, traveling, divination of the complex sort, undertakings of power, sorcerers operations for control, (sometimes) oneiromancy and the manipulation of life and death.

     The Black magic is usually diabolic, committed to nocturnal arts and its mysteries. This is a path for poisoners and diviners, for those who's sorcerous operations wake the dead and things deeper, darker than that- demons and things that never lived.  Sorcerers often tend to draw from the well of the Living Shadow, rather than from nature or passion or angelic purity as their source.   Dark dealing is a necessary part of most witch work, in my humble opinion.  By our nature, witches are usually seers who must have at least some dealings with the denizens on the otherside, necromancy being at the heart of witchery is a thing born from the shadow, and therein lies the wisdom of the spirits and gods, because the witch is illuminated and sees most things obscured by darkness. 

       White/Grey Magic:  The general idea as I was taught in my childhood, was that the spirits effect all forms of life, and so do the orisa and tricksters (in my household, Stick-man), and that these spirits are sometimes to blame for what has gone wrong around us or our miseries.  This concept exists in many religions in different forms; angels vs demons, etc.  And so, to draw out the evil spirits which afflict us, one must perform purification and prayers to the spirits who will protect and heal us. This is where white magicians become useful; they are holy and are supposed to lead pure lifestyles in order to bring the healing waters to those they touch and pray over and this is the only power they practice.  In conjunction with green medicine, white magic becomes the science of temperance; healers, medicine men and curandera are usually agents for the people (where a witch is agent of the self and the seeking) and work towards purifying and balancing the body by expelling bad spirits and appeasing good ones, laying hands, administering herbal medicines and performing prayers.

Further Reading

The Red Goddess by Peter Grey
Healing with Herbs and Rituals: A Mexican Tradition by Eliseo Torres
Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways by Gemma Gary
Ancient Greek Love Magic by Christopher A. Faraone
The Golden Bough by James Frazer 
Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Agrippa
Viridarium Umbris by D.A Shulke

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Get Witching.

A busy week for a witch can mean suddenly needing to perform healing prayers, rites and charms for a grandfather diagnosed with a serious illness. The second I left the hospital I went straight for the best magic I know, the kind I was raised around; healing medicine.  Mine is very different from mi Tia's, different from my moms, from my various aunts; I'm a green sorcerer, that's what I go to.  Well, gramps needs healing, and all I can do to help on a spiritual level is what I know I'm good at--  and I know I'm a damn fine witch.  So I get witching; stuffing herbs, baking the clay dolly for its work, catching the right moment when Venus was high in her healing phase and my star in the constellation of the hunter shined in my sight, the smells of meadowseet, sweet-grass, palo santo and sage are a soft reminder that the ancestors and beloved dead are everpresent, ready to lead my hands and whisper over air and darkness the secret things I need to know to stay focused and offer all my support to someone I love dearly.

Another busy day for a witch can mean a lot of meditation and fasting and preparation in the arts of dust making... In this particular case, a dust made for a friend from a recipe in my cunning book.  Poison things are a dance with death and devil, a twisted thing that can corrupt all it touches.  I'm careful in the preparation of crab dust; a protection and hexing dust requested of me by a good friend who felt she needs more protection at her disposal against an unwanted guest in her life.  Crab dust does nasty things to nasty people.  

 During the full moon lunar eclipse I got to take a break from the heavy stuff and do the type of magic I'm best suited to; ardent arts- Love Magic.  Venus and Eros were a huge force that evening.  Venus, being the axis upon whom I perfect my nature and know myself, the beacon of the flaming current I feel myself upon; warm, sensual, alive and ripe, was my muse for the evening as I prepared for all the drinks for me and my partner would need for the creation of joyfully red magic.

Drink of the Blood Lunar Flame:
1/2 vial of dew from the woodhorn of an appletree collected on the full moon, hour of Venus
1 cup skyriver mead
1/2 cup cherry blossom water collected on full moon in hour of moon
1 tbsp honeydew honey 

Drink of the Glittering House of Venus:
1/2 cup rosewater
1/2 cup orangeblossom water
1/2 cup sweet red- sweeter the better
A pinch of blue lotus.
- Served in a silver cup on a round copper plate of Venus with the square of Venus etched on the top and the figure of Venus and Eros (with flaming arrow, comb and apple) etched on the back.

Damiana liquor, jasmine water, with vanilla bean, anise and catnip steeped two weeks prior are another favorite ritual drink for rituals in which love talismans and amulets are being created and the red spirits need feeding.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Holy Water and Hexes

Hate and healing,
hex and harmonies,
actions weighed and balanced by people-
who sit in the company of spirits.
They know better than to walk in the sun, or in the moon. 
The truth is found in the middle road, where the best herbs grow,
 in the shade.