A Spell for Creativity

20140714_171745I’m not much of one for spells. I don’t really think of myself as a ‘witch,’ or a practitioner of magic. Most of my spells are ritual workings, meant to honor the changing of the seasons in some way, a method of honoring the deities on the High Days.

Occasionally, though, I get crafty and branch out. Nearly two years ago, a friend and I decided to get together at our local co-op, which serves not only as a grocery store, but also as a coffee shop, cafe, and hang-out for like-minded folks. We were both interested in magical crafts, and we decided to try our hand at making witch bottles*.

At the time, I was stuck on a book and in a professional rut, so I opted to make a bottle designed to clear myself of stagnant energies and to increase creativity. A month later, I wrote a new book in a fever of inspiration, one that stands out still as some of my best work.

Did the spell itself make a difference? I’m not sure. Regardless, the MAKING of the bottle hoped to focus me, and having the prettily decorated bottle nearby in my creative space helped to remind me what I wanted to accomplish. Whether you believe in the power of the spell itself or the symbolic, focusing power of the spell’s making, it’s a useful tool, one that ought not be dismissed.

Here’s what I did.

“‘Clean Up’ Creativity Mix”: This mix is intended to soothe one during and draw one through a period of professional and/or creative struggle; to boost recovery of mental stability and creativity, it’s meant to help one regain one’s creative confidence.

Ingredients (choose from what you may have available; the more the better!):

  • chamomile: reduce anxiety
  • bergamot (Earl Grey tea): confidence booster
  • ginger: courage
  • barley: stamina, creativity
  • cloves: comfort, prosperity; helps to achieve goals
  • basil: creativity, success; promotes emotional/mental soothing
  • beans: wish magic
  • bay leaf: luck
  • marjoram: luck, ease for heartbreak
  • pyrite: prosperity
  • quartz: cleansing, absorbing negativity
  • orange peel: luck and energy, successful relationships
  • coffee beans: energy, lethargy-breaker
  • decorative items for focus; in my case, green ribbon and fresh water pearl beads to draw prosperity
  • attractive, clean, clear glass bottle, commonly available at craft stores; an empty jam jar will work just as well!

Drop the following mix into a bottle in attractive layers; keep in mind that smaller spices, such as finely ground herbs like basil and orange peel, will sink to the bottom, as will heavier items such as crystals. Larger, lighter items like chopped cinnamon and dried beans will hold their place and “float” atop smaller or more dense layers.

Once you’ve filled your bottle, decorate it in a way that speaks to YOU of what you’re trying to accomplish; in my case, green ribbon and green leaf beads spoke of prosperity and fertility, while pearl beads reminded me of the triumph of creativity through difficulty. Place the bottle in an area you’ll see it while you’re working. Because the mix is a fragrant one, don’t hesitate to handle the bottle and smell the herbal mixture: it may just give you the energizing, creative spark you need!

Finally, while I’ve provided resources I’ve used, don’t hesitate to refer to books and authors whose works speak to you. Indeed, be sure to use your own instincts and creativity when creating such a spell; since you absolutely are not consuming what you make, you may get creative with ingredients. This spell is for display only, and you can use the items that speak to you of your own needs.

Recommended Resources:

Bradley, Kris. Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery: Everyday Magic, Spells, and Recipes. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2012. Print.

Cunningham, Scott. Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2002. Print.

– Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2010.

Wicca in the Kitchen. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2011

*A witch bottle is, in its essence, a bottled spell comprised of herbs, crystals, and other symbolic items, meant to protect, incite, or inspire. If you’re curious about witch bottles and their history, I recommend reading the above resources, as well as the following websites:

All About Witch Bottles, by Jason Mankey, Patheos.com

Creating a Domestic Witch Bottle, by Kris Bradley, Examiner.com

Opening a Witch Bottle, by Samir S. Patel, Archaeology.org

 

 

 

In Our Time: The Druids

A well-researched, thoughtful, and near-neutral podcast on the origins and history of druids, “aired” yesterday and is available on iTunes.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Druids, the priests of ancient Europe. Active in Ireland, Britain and Gaul, the Druids were first written about by Roman authors including Julius Caesar and Pliny. They were suspected of leading resistance to the Romans, a fact which led to their eradication from ancient Britain. In the early modern era, however, interest in the Druids revived, and later writers reinvented their activities. Melvyn Bragg is joined by Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford; Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University and Justin Champion, Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Conversations from a Mixed Household

My husband and I are working through the ongoing process of balancing a ‘mixed marriage’ lifestyle. It’s something I’d like to write about extensively, and I’m tentatively planning on pitching an article to a ‘real’ publication. That said, I’m not an expert, but I am very lucky to have a supportive spouse. Most of our arguments are touched with humor. The following is an excerpt from a real Google Chat conversation…


Altus:
so, but we’re agreed that we tell the children nothing of your heathen ways and raise them as rigid secular humanists?

Wren:
lol
what’s a rigid secular humanist?
and what if they want to celebrate yule and imbolc?
imbolc is fun, you leave stuff outside to get blessed, and then you eat bread and butter. or cheese.

Altus:
you’re going to raise them to believe in fairies aren’t you

Wren:
no…
“if you don’t clean your room, the bad fairies will live in it and hide your toys! bad fairies love a messy room!”
:-D

Altus:
you get to field the 2am ‘The bad faries are trying to steal my liver’ or whatever then

Wren:
lol

 

There you have it. All things are possible, with just a little laughter.

Happy Lughnasadh

I’m celebrating today with a trip to the gym, a trip to the fair, some harvesting work in my garden, and a summery feast of homemade black bean burgers, corn bread, summery salads, and zucchini bread for dessert. Yummy.

garden goodies

Heirloom brandywine tomatoes, yellow cherry tomatoes, and inexplicably tiny sweet peppers.

 

 

Nom. Happy harvesting, everyone.

I’m a-Goin’ to Summer Camp!

Well, sort of. I’m really going to Summerland, the ADF gathering in Yellow Springs, OH, August 16-19.

This is my first ADF gathering… and, well, my first pagan gathering of any kind! Needless to say, I’m ridiculously excited. And also a little nervous.

Why nervous? Well, my husband can’t attend and there’s a fair chance no one else from my grove will be able to make it, so I won’t know anyone there but the priest who performed my wedding. And I’m… shy. Part of why I never actually went to summer camp (except Girl Scout Camp and one heinously boring stint at vacation bible school) is that I get really nervous and timid in a crowd of strangers.

Gulp.

Anyone I know from blog-land going to Summerland?

If so, can I pitch my tent by yours?

Handfasted

I promise, I’ll get back to writing about the Dedicant Path and/or household magic soon. In the meantime, here’s a photo taken just after our handfasting!

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That’s Rev. Michael Dangler performing the ceremony. Oh, and that’s me in the white dress.

We were worried about rain all day, and it was disgustingly hot (Notice how my hair is no longer curly? We did all the photos pre-ceremony, and I had sweat dripping from the ends of my hair by the end of the ceremony: Yuck.), but the sun started shining on us and the mockingbirds started singing from the tree just after we said our vows. I heard them, but thought they must’ve been singing for awhile and I only heard them in a brief pause (was in rather a daze), but I’ve been told by several people—Druids and non-Druids alike!—that they started singing just before the end of the ceremony.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

 

Household Magic

I’ve really gotten into household magic* and the notion of incorporating my spirituality into my home. Call it pre-wedding nesting, or the lack of a project right now, or just one of the many tangents that have diverted me from my DP work, but I’ve been spending a fair bit of time reading about the creation of a magical household and doing the work to make my home a little more magical.

So far I’ve borrowed and burned through The Magical Household by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington and Cottage Witchery by Ellen Dugan, and I’m enjoying Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen, of which I’ve actually ordered myself a copy. (Say what you will, I enjoy reading Cunningham’s work, and, yes, I take it with the proverbial grain of salt.)

I’ve started my work in the kitchen. One of my very best friends (and a fellow vegetarian) stocked me up, as a wedding gift, with cast iron cookware.

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Cast iron is amazing. It lasts a lifetime, it gets better the more you use it (and how true that is of so many magical tools), and it leaches trace amounts of iron into the food you cook, which is perfect for a vegetarian. Plus… it just *looks* magical. :)

With the arrival of this cookware, I’ve cleaned out some of the superfluous, junky cookware from my kitchen. I moved my Brighid’s Cross to hang over the food-prep area, and I’ve started making an effort to “green” my kitchen by refilling old plastic and glass jars with spices and beans and, well, everything, rather than just replacing them.

I’ve also made huge strides on my garden:

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I’m so proud of all those plants.

Up next will be improvements to my sewing/jewelry-making/general crafting corner. I’m not brave enough to post a before photo… it’s just appalling.

So, since I do lack a project right now and I am doing some pre-wedding nesting, I’m going to do a few more posts here in the next two weeks about exactly how I’m working household magic. I’d like to write about the following (maybe if I commit to them here, I’ll actually follow through):

  • some definitions and descriptions of what I actually mean by “household magic”
  • some reviews of the books I’ve read
  • creating mini-altars, and the ethics of doing so when you live with a non-pagan
  • the results of my work — how I feel spiritually, after I’ve incorporated magic into my daily life

To wrap up, I have a big question for you, dear reader: What other wonderful (or just entertaining) books do you know about incorporating the magical into the mundane, about magical housekeeping, and about daily magic? Feed my addiction: I need more to read!

*I’d really rather not try to define what magic is to me in this post — that’s one of those big questions to which I can’t yet articulate an answer. But in this context, magic, to me, means the manifestation of my spirituality and belief through intentional workings, whether those workings are cooking, cleaning, or just living in a space made sacred through that intent.