What Wood is Best for Making a Wand, Part One

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Choosing the wood that you want for a wand is 100% a personal decision. Many people don’t feel the need for a wand but for those who do, I hope I can give you some insights on which woods are best for which job.  I say this because most of you probably already have a personal wand which you use for the majority of your magickal workings, however, many people use a variety of wands depending upon what will give the most direct help to their spell work. So, this  will be a bit of a guide more than a blog and I hope you find it useful in helping make your choices.

The Holly King

Handcarved Holly wand by Isabella

Another point – no pun intended – in purchasing a wand is, when you buy a “hand-turned” wand from some manufacturers you are buying a wood block which has been machine turned.  Yes, they are beautiful, but anyone can have one just like yours [or Harry Potter’s!].  Wood is wood, many would say, however, it has always been my opinion that the branch of a tree is best for directing power rather than a block of wood from the trunk of a tree.  And many handmade wand crafters, me included, can make a wood branch look as though it were turned on a lathe.  Case in point, the Holly wand I created strictly by hand with a Stanley knife a few years ago.


On with the purpose of this blog.  I have listed several woods which I am most familiar with along with a short explanation of what their best attributes are as in a wand.  I hope you find this helpful.

Apple:  Female energy. Air/Water.  Apple wood is the wood Shaman and Bards once used for a staff with a bell attached in their travels. The Apple tree is strongly linked to the holy isle of Avalon, and it is also linked to Merlin.  It is one of the nine sacred woods.  It is a protective wood and excellent for keeping order.  A very good wood for any sorcerer.

Ash:  Male/Female energy. Fire/Air.  Most associated with Yggdrasil, the World Tree according to Norse mythology.  Druid wands were often made from Ash because of the straight grains.  Closely related to sea magick, this would be a good wand wood for a sea witch, but as importantly, for anyone.  Protectiive, healing, communication, and love divination are Ash’s best powers.  Good for beginning sorcerers.

Birch:  Feminine energy.  Water.  An American hardwood also found in the UK and Europe. One of the nine sacred woods, Birch is traditionally used as the staff of the witches’ besom/broom. It is a powerful wand for protection, healing, love, and purification.  A very diversified wood that would be a good wand in any sorcerer’s collection.

Blackthorn: Masculine energy. Earth/Fire.  Called “The Blasting Rod”, it is a fierce wood which is used in many cases to banish.  It is also loyal to its sorcerer and very protective.  Blackthorn is the balance between light and dark.  Both “good” magick and dark magick are easily performed by the holder of the Blackthorn. Divines well for strength and truth. Best for seasoned sorcerers.

Cherry:  Feminine energy. Fire/Water.  Cherry is an eternal life, healing, and longevity wood, making it perfect for a healing wand.  If you are so inclined to do healing work, Cherry is a very good choice. It can also be used in prosperity and protection work, but I feel it is best suited for healing.  A beautiful wood and recommend for seasoned healing workers.

Chestnut:  Masculine energy. Air/Fire/Water.  Chestnut does best for healing, love, and prosperity magick.  It is a very strong wood and  is considered useful in longevity magick and for banishing spells.  Best for those with experience and seasoned sorcerers.

Elder:  Feminine energy. Air/Fire/Water/Earth.  Called “Lady Ellhorn”, the Elder symbolises the Goddess’ roles as life-giver, death-wielder, and transformer.  Has been traditionally associated with death.  It is also a wood  associated with abundance, prosperity, healing, and a knowledge of magick. A light wood with a spongy centre, it is quite easy to set a crystal into.  Any sorcerer can use Elder with success, but always give respect to the Lady of the Wood.

Elm:  Feminine energy. Air/Earth/Water.  Elm is another wood associated with death but also with rebirth.  It is also associated with wisdom, intuition, empathy, grounding, and endurance.  It is a wood which will serve its sorcerer faithfully and I have no problem recommending to any serious sorcerer, no matter whether learning or seasoned.

Hawthorn:  Masculine energy. Air/Fire.  Along with Ash and Oak, Hawthorn is considered one of the Faerie Triad.  It is a very protective wood and whilst very strong, a bit less harsh than is the Blackthorn.  A good tree for wishes, used as a “Cloutie” tree with strips of cloth tied to it for villager’s wishes to come true.  One of the nine sacred woods.  In my opinion, it is a wonderful wood for beginner or seasoned sorcerer.  Along with Ash, it is a wood you can’t go wrong with.

Holly Keppen

Holly Keppen wand by Isabella

Holly: Masculine energy. Air/Earth/Fire.  Holly has a many storied past and is one of my favourite woods to work with as it seems to guide my hands in shaping the branches into wands.  Sadly, I only have one Holly wand in our shop presently.  It is a wood of courage, divinity, intelligence, guidance.  It also has been associated with death and rebirth [The Oak King and Holly King]. It is one of the Nine Sacred Woods in the Beltane fire.  It is the wood of the dark half of the year and evergreen.  It teaches rebirth. For all Holly’s strength, I recommend this wood to any sorcerer, beginning or seasoned, for I find it a gentle wood for all its strength still, it will be mighty when needed to be.

This concludes my synopsis of the recommended woods for wand-making this week, however, pop by next week for Part Two.  Keep in mind these are only recommendations and I’m not telling you what wand you must have because I know my Sisters and Brothers well enough that they will have what they want 😊  I do hope you find this information useful and if so, please share via the social media buttons below and like our blog.  I always welcome comments and answer quickly.  Warmest blessing to all who wander this way and for the upcoming Yule season. x



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The Magickal Fir Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

douglas_fir_trees Scotland Forestry

Douglas Fir Tree ~ Forestry Commission Scotland

I learn something new all the time and  I like that.  But what I learned this week, after thinking I knew all the trees native to the UK, is that the Fir tree is not a native tree! Not even the stunning Fraser Fir which sounds like it could very well be a Scottish tree, probably because it was named after the Scottish botanist John Fraser [1750–1811], who made numerous botanical collections in the region where he found the Fir in the Appalachian Mountains in the southwestern United States.  The equally beautiful Douglas Fir has been growing in Great Britain since around 1827 when it was introduced to the UK in 1827 by Scottish botanist David Douglas.  Amazingly, it can grow to about 55 metres high and can live to be around 1,000 years of age.  It thrives mainly in the western UK where rainfall is higher.

douglas-fir-needles-and-cones-andrew-cleave-NPL woodlandtrust

Douglas Fir Cones ~ WoodlandTrust.co.uk

The Douglas Fir came from the US with a bit of Native American folklore for you, per the Woodland Trust says, “A Native American myth describes the unusual pointed cone bracts as the tail and hind legs of mice. It was said the mice hid in the cones to escape forest fires.” I find that disturbingly funny because apparently, the mice ended up as pine cones [who would ever think!] and apart from that it seems surreal that forest fires would have happened pre-global warming.  Of course, they would do from untended campfires or flaming arrows, I suppose. What else is very cool to find out is that Fir cones respond to rain by closing and the sun by opening. Something else I never knew!

Because of the opening and closing of the Fir tree cones, it is said the Celts and Druids also recognised the Fir to be a portent of weather conditions. They noticed that the cones would open to the rays of the sun, and close against impending rain. This lent meanings of prophecy and perception to the long list of symbolic meanings of the Fir. I am beginning to think, however, as far back as the Celts and Druids go, this information may have been about Pine cones as before-mentioned, the Douglas Fir tree was not naturalised in Britain until 1827. Still, if one cone can do this, I imagine all may do so.

It is also said that legend has it that Firs were markers for important grave sites for the Druids and Celts. It is said that even from a great distance, certain firs could be identified as the markers of great chieftains and heroes among the Celtic people. Thus, the Fir is also considered a symbol for reverence and remembrance to brave souls that have passed on to the Other-worlds.  Again, this may have begun with the Pine tree as it also grows mightily tall and has been here longer than the Fir.  I must investigate this further.

When given the tree sign of Fir [Jan 2-11 / Jul 5-14], one is eager, practical, and dedicated to achieving their dreams, yet reasonable and logical when necessary. They give of themselves completely, after much thought.” from What’s Your Birth Tree is the New What’s Your Star Sign

There has been much debate over the tree representing the ogham, Ailm, which is for Scots Pine.  It had been assigned in The Ogham Tract to the “Fir” tree.  But so were others.  Author Robert Graves named the tree representing Ailm as Silver Fir based on the above.  However, the Silver Fir was not introduced into Scotland until 1603 but the Scots Pine is native to all of  Britain, therefore, we believe [like the story about the Fir cones] that it was the Scots Pine originally meant to be the tree for Ailm.

fraser fir christmas tree scottishchristmastrees.co.uk

Fraser Firs ~ scottishchristmastrees.co.uk

No matter what, the Douglas or the Fraser Fir always makes a stunning Christmas tree! And, as we can’t burn a traditional Yule log in our fireplace, one or the other is always chosen for our Christmas tree.  With its permission, of course.  And please dispose of your tree after holidays responsibly.  Save the needles for spell work and cut up the trunk and limbs for other magickal work or to make something with.


Fir is one of the nine sacred woods burned in the Beltane fire which includes Apple, Birch, Oak, Rowan, Hawthorn, Hazel, Willow, and Vine.  Each has its representation and Fir is that of Immortality.  For this reason, it makes sense to use Fir in any spell work dealing with healing, ancestral work, and past life regression; the Douglas Fir Tree encourages you to stand with your own power, solidly rooted in your legs like tree trunks. This helps you to ground your ideas and step forward with practical action.

For blessings, gather fir needles and cones. Tie the needles with a thread, then burn them in your cauldron [safely, please]. Pass the cones through the smoke, thinking of your blessings.  Place the cones in a conspicuous place where you will be reminded of your blessings and give thanks.

Fir is known as the Birth Tree. The needles are burned at childbirth to bless and protect the mother and baby.

Fir resin can be used to seal a spell.

Fir trees are one of several trees that symbolise immortality.  You can substitute the Fir for other trees that a spell may call for if other kinds are not available to you.

Simmer the fresh needles in a light carrier oil or water to lift negativity in your home.  Dry Fir needles work wonderfully in loose incenses for spell work.  Of course, the needles, fresh or dry may be used in sachets or poppets for spells to do with prosperity, protection, and clarity of vision.


The inner bark of Fir was used to treat colds and fevers.

Balsam fir resin has been used as a cold remedy and to seal wounds and the needles can be steeped in water as an infusion for a source of vitamin C.

A bath tea of fir needles is helpful for rheumatic conditions.

A de-coction of white fir bark and needles can be drunk to help with chest colds and similar complaints. Essential oil of fir can be added to chest rubs to help relieve congestion.

Before using fir, do a skin patch test to check for sensitivities.  And, as always, unless you are a trained holistic healer please check with your GP before trying any kind of self-healing information from this blog or any online source.


Planetary:  Mars, Saturn

Zodiac:  Aries

Gender:  Masculine

Element:  Air

Powers:  Abundance, Birth, Protection, Prosperity, Rebirth and Regeneration, Transformation, Shadow Work

Deity:  Audhumla, Artemis, Diana, Frigg, Idun, Inanna, Isis, Persephone, Sif, Adonis, Attis, Bacchus, Pan, Dionysis, Osiris

I hope you have enjoyed this writing about the Fir tree and find it helpful.  If you have, please share via the social media buttons below and give the blog a like.  Many thanks for reading and warm blessings to all who this way wander. x


Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

The Magic of Trees, by Tess Whitehurst

The Woodland Trust




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Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Witch – What Kind of Witch are You and Does it Matter?

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

If you don’t like confrontational subjects and wish to walk away now, I quite understand as things may get ugly here in the next few paragraphs.  Only because I feel very opinionated about things that I have been reading in my Google News briefings of late.  Most recently a Washington Post story [I’ll read anything, me] called “An Entire Generation is Losing Hope.  Enter the Witch”.  That doesn’t bother me.

This writer attributes the loss of hope people are feeling to the increase in witchly spiritualism.  Nothing wrong with that either.  He goes on to say that Witchcraft is “generally an occultism with a paganist bent, often with an emphasis on feminine power.” He then goes on to say, “The term can be used to describe anything from astrology to Wicca to older syncretic traditions such as VooDoo and Santeria.” Hang about!  NO! You cannot tar anything remotely Pagan with the same Witchcraft brush, you uninformed being!  Firstly, not ALL astrologers have any remote interest in Witchcraft so please don’t insult the ones who do not. And, all Wiccans are not Witches, either! Apparently, Mr Ill-Informed has not read that Wicca is now a recognised religion although it is not set in stone into UK law just now, but in the US since 2015 some areas of the US and the US Army do recognise Wicca fully as a religion:

Military Courts of Justice in the U.S. have also found Wicca to be a valid religion, deserving of protection under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In United States v. Phillips, (42 M.J. 346) in 1995) the concurring opinion by Judge Wiss stated: “First, Wicca is a socially recognized religion.  It is is acknowledged as such by the Army.  From Religious Tolerance

It is a religion, it is not necessarily Witchcraft,  although there are practitioners of the Wicca faith whom are Witches.

cunning woman

Cunning Woman at Home ~ British Witchcraft Museum

Next, he goes on to say that Witches are an eclectic group – yes! He gets a biscuit for he is correct here.  We are very diverse and bring many things learned from many kinds of practise from all over the World to the Witchy table.  So, his next remarks threw me into fits of laughter and fits of anger at the same time and that is what you call a tempest in a tea pot, my friends! Mr Doesn’t Know He’s Born says, “There are even Christian Witches – a new tradition that seems to have cropped up within the past five years.”  How many years??  Only five??  Beg pardon, sir, but my Nana was a Christian Witch… in the late 1800’s all the way to her death in 1977! No, of course he wouldn’t know my Nana – or the thousands of Witches like her who were called cunning women in their time.  When they gathered their herbs, they prayed over them. Intermingled with their spells were religious litanies.  And they went to church every Sunday…unless like my Nana, she got where she only went for Christmas, Easter, and Mothering Sunday.  And long before my Nana these are the same kind of Witches whom were dug out by the Witchfinder General and whomever the Witchfinder of American Witches was and then burned them at the stake, buried them alive, drowned them, and more insufferable acts performed upon them.  So how very dare he say that Christian Witches are a new thing?  Aren’t journalists taught to get all their facts straight before putting pen to paper or fingertips to keyboards?

Sigh.  Sorry, a little edgy after reading about all the sudden interest in all things witchy lately from not only this author but others as well.  The upsurge in Witchcraft interest is probably partially down to a new Sabrina film which interests me not, but more importantly, because men and women are losing hope in all else because of government, climate change disasters, and all kinds of mayhem in the world and getting no help from whomever is their God…or so they believe. One thing I have learned is, no matter who you believe in, the Divine do NOT wave a magick wand over the problem just like that.  It took time to get into the messes we’re in and it will take time to get out of them….and if we aren’t given some degree of hardship, how are we to appreciate the good when it comes?

This means, of course, everyone whom is feeling the pain of the world’s problems must bear the pain and do their bit to fix the problems, no matter how small.

But what good is magick if it doesn’t help capture the attention of a Higher Source for help? Or to make the Universe send that Abundance that so many say the Universe has for our asking?  Magick is not worth a tuppence.  Not worth a bean.  Never will be unless you make some changes first.  No, I am not talking about changing your wardrobe to a witchy one or anything superficial.  The changes must come from within…did your mum or your therapist ever tell you this?  Well, it is true.  The first and most important thing you must relinquish is your Ego.  Ego really has no place in magick or any other situation.  Ego is the part of you which makes you think you know everything when indeed you do not.  Ego is the thing which makes you become angry when you don’t get your way.  Ego also makes you give up if something doesn’t go your way.  I can’t spend a blog meant for something else explaining why so if you want to know what I mean, please see Eckhart Tolle. And, if you want to see an Ego on steroids, see this other fellow I shall not mention.

You also must have a healthy belief in your power.  We all have great power, believe it or not.  It is how we tap into it and own it that makes the difference.  There is much discipline to making your power work for you.  Oh yes, I know many whom have only begun as a Witch and their first spell worked.  Then, in a lot of cases they had a series of flops.  You can’t go into spell work with doubts or disbelief in yourself.  But you said I need to drop my Ego…yes, I did and Ego and belief in yourself and your abilities have nothing at all in common.  There is a huge difference between standing on your pedestal proclaiming yourself to be the greatest Witch in the World and simple trust in yourself.  It is all you need. And if the next spell doesn’t work, keep learning and experimenting til you find the way to create one that will.

Discipline, discipline, discipline!  Don’t cut corners.  Long ago, Witches/Cunning Folk grew all their own herbs or wild-gathered them, as many of us do now.  When they harvested them there was a time of day which corresponded to the planet which ruled the herb being harvested and so they only harvested during that herb’s planetary hours.  They also many times sang a religious litany or prayer during the harvest.  Whilst preparing the herb for a spell or for use in healing, there were many prayers said over it.  And this was carried out each time.  There were prayers and such, even chanting the Psalms, for every part of their craft.  Nowadays I’m sure many the Witch – or the neo-Witch – doesn’t care to spend hours preparing his or her herbs or other needs like tools in order to use them.  Still, it is important and a good discipline.  I can say from experience that my spell work in which I prepared for properly have all worked very well.   You don’t necessarily need to chant Biblical verses over your herbs and so forth unless you do this already, but you can find a way which works for you and discipline yourself to do so every time for best results.

Lastly, believe!  Not only in yourself but in the Higher Source[s] whom you put your faith into.  Trust this Source.  Trust the Universe.  Yes, I know…when things go wrong, people’s first reaction is often “the Universe is against me”.  I can assure you this is not true.  Try working with the Universe, no matter if it is good or bad and see what happens.  You must realise the bad things are not the Universe taking a dig at you, but a lesson to be learned.  Does anyone ever say “thank you” to the Universe when things go right or excellently?  No, didn’t think so…but you should do.  Whatever or whomever is the driving force of the Universe does enjoy appreciation.  Especially when things seem overwhelmingly bad.  Remembering the good things and saying thank you for them never goes amiss with the Universe.  Nor does thanking the Universe for the bad things if you can see your way to understanding that bad is not always the Universe’s fault but that we are truly masters of our own destiny and nine times out of ten it is ourselves who cause our own problems.  Obviously, that does not apply to every bad thing.  And don’t have my head on a plate because I say to be thankful for bad things, for particularly if a lesson is learned and adhered to in future, it is something to be grateful for.

I’m not trying to teach you to suck eggs…or in this case, to know how to be a Witch.  There are loads of books for that, and journalists who think they know everything there is to know about being a Witch or why one wishes to become a Witch.  I will be the first to hold my hand up and say unequivocally that I do not know everything about being a Witch even after some fifty-odd years and  having learned everything I know from my cunning woman Nana. But even at my age, I still love to learn.  And, I have learned that discipline, self-belief, trusting in the Divine Parents and Universe, being grateful, and letting go of my Ego have all made me a much better Witch and person.  A happier person…a more caring person.


Sabrina ~ from Google Images

So, what kind of Witch are you? And, does it matter? Of course, it does.  I don’t mean whether you are a Hedge Witch, a Solitary Witch, an Eclectic Witch…Are you a Witch whom is grounded in his or her beliefs and puts faith into his Higher Source and in herself? Are you a Witch who believes she already knows everything or a Witch whom is willing to learn all he can, no matter the age? And if you are one of the many “neo-Witches” whom have entered the realm of the occult, welcome.  We are happy to have you if you are doing so for the right reasons.  Upon entering any kind of belief system, we must not enter into unadvisedly or because we feel it is the only way.  And don’t enter believing you will suddenly be performing spells that will save the world.  Still, if one person could do, I will not hold them back! But to enter because you felt you identified with Sabrina or the Charmed Ones could possibly be a fading phase you will go through.  It would be unwise to purchase loads of Witchcraft items if this is the case.

If I ruffled a few feathers in this blog, then my job is well done.  I wrote this to get people thinking.  I want you to know, beyond a doubt, what you expect of Witchcraft as well as of yourself before you enter this door.  It is a beautiful world to live in and one in which you can bring much good about from, if you are ready.  I hope that if you do, you will take heed to my above advice.  It could save you from throwing in the wand so to speak in future.  Good luck and warmest blessings to your new future!

Many thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment, I do answer to all and share via the social media buttons below. Warmest blessings x


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From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet – Poppy

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

poppy red norfolk wildlife trust

Red Poppy ~ Norfolk Wildlife Trust

As it is November, I felt it is a fitting time to talk about Poppy.  It is the flower representing firstly the lives lost in WWI and in succeeding wars.  It is a talisman to spark the memory of others to pray for our troops in the here and now, and to buy a Poppy these days means you support those troops and their families.  No matter how you feel about war, be grateful we have trained men and women who will protect us come what may.

End of my Poppy Appeal.  Let us move on to the magick.  Poppies have long been associated with death and sleep.  It was once believed that Poppies would grow where men died in battle.  Was it  coincidence that so many men died in the brutal battle in Flanders Field full of Poppies? For Poppies have represented the dead long before we adopted them as our official remembrance flower.

In the Victorian Language of Flowers, Poppies symbolise sleep, and imagination.  Red Poppies mean pleasure, white Poppies are for consolations, and yellow Poppies mean success.

In the World of the Gods and Goddesses, Demeter loved a youth named Mekon. When he died, she turned him into a poppy.  And, Hypnos, Greek God of Sleep and Dreaming, sometimes carried a Poppy stalk or a horn filled with Poppy juice.  The Minoan culture featured a Goddess wearing a garland of Poppies in her hair, and Poppies in Christian art can represent both the blood of Christ on the cross and Christ’s death prior to his resurrection.


Poppy is a useful ingredient to put into loose incense for love spells or any kind of love working.  It is also used in Moon incense and in any incense for prophesy, fertility, psychic awareness, dream magick, and spirituality.


Poppy seeds ~ Google images

I have heard from people who practise HooDoo magick  that they mix Poppy seeds with Inflammatory Confusion Oil [which I’ve never heard of]  and rub the mixture on black Mustard seeds which are also widely believed to disrupt the activities of troublesome people.

Poppies are a flower favoured by Hecate and any magickal work you do using Poppy when you evoke Her name should go favourably with you.

Sleep with a sachet under your pillow stuffed with Poppy seeds to bring relief from insomnia.

The dried leaves and flowers of the Poppy can be used just as the seeds are if you don’t have the seeds.

We put Poppy in our Love Witch Bottle Necklaces to help people attract love and to learn to love themselves.


poppy white whiteflowerfarm dot com

White Poppy ~ whiteflowerfarm.com

Historically the white Poppy has been and probably still is used for creating narcotic medicines.  And, they are still very much in use for creating heroin, unfortunately.  I’m afraid I can not speak to healing with Poppy as I am not at all familiar with it and a bit afraid to lead anyone else to dabble with it unless you only use it in sympathetic medicine.  Of course, using Poppy seeds in small amounts or even dried Poppy probably would not harm anyone, however, I do hear that ingestion of Poppy seeds can make a urine test positive for narcotics so if you think you may be tested in future, don’t eat the buns with Poppy seeds!

An interesting fact –  Roman surgeons used an anaesthesia made from Opium [morphine for numbing pain and limiting movement], Henbane seeds [scopolamine for inducing sleep], and Mandrake [for slowing heart rate and deadening pain].  Please do not try this at home.

Nicholas Culpeper in his 17th century tome, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and the English Physician has much to say about Poppies, although for our purposes nothing which can be used.  He recommends “the garden poppy heads with seeds made into a syrup, is frequently, and to good effect used to procure rest, and sleep, in the sick and weak, and to stay catarrhs and defluctions of thin rheums from the head into the stomach and lungs, causing a continual cough, the forerunner of a consumption; it helps also hoarseness of the throat, and when one has lost their voice, which the oil of the seed doth like-wise.”

No doubt the patient was at the very least, quite happy!


Planet:  Moon

Zodiac:  Cancer

Element:  Water

Gender:  Feminine

Deity:  Demeter, Kore, Hypnos, Thanatos, Nyx, Somnus, Ceres, Aphrodite, Hecate

Powers: Calm Energy, Communion with the Infinite, Invisibility, Overcoming Addiction, Making Peace with Death, Perspective, Relaxation and Sleep, Surrender and Release

Other Names:  Corn Poppy [red], Corn Rose, Opium Poppy [white], The Black and White of the Garden, Erratic Wild Poppy

Many thanks for reading and wishing warm blessings to all who pass this way.  I hope you found something of use in my blog and if so, please don’t hesitate to share via social media buttons below.  I also invite you to like and comment as I always answer.  X



The Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham

The Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpeper

The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohdes


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Samhain, The End of Harvest and Witches New Year

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

At one time in Gaelic history, this was exactly what it meant – the end of harvest season. Nowadays, thanks to supply and demand “harvest season” has been mutated a bit. If you can get away with planting and harvesting during less opportune times, you do. Mind, it still does not keep every country from buying another country’s fruit and veg.  It is very telling in some of the produce we have in supermarkets…even some green grocers have taken to having produce brought in from Spain and the like.  What happened to being in or out of season?? I’m sure the Ancient Ones sigh often.  I would apologise for my bit of a diatribe there but I’m only an old crone who remembers a time when, if you wanted a strawberry but they were out of season, you jolly well did without.  Unless, of course, like my Mum, you had some frozen ones put up from the May or June pickings.  Still not quite the same.  Still, I can guarantee my Mum’s frozen stash of strawberries were sweeter and tastier than any rubbish you pick up in the supermarket when it is out of season.

samhain bonfire

Samhain bonfire ~ Google images

I’m sure some of you are still worryingly eyeing the “Gaelic history” bit. Yes, Samhain is an original Gaelic celebration spelled Sammhuin in Scots Gaelic, not Celtic as you may have imagined. The Gaelic Goddess Cailleach has been long  known to herald in the beginning of winter.  Of course, nowadays it is celebrated by most all Pagan people.  It is technically celebrated on 1 November, although the true beginning is 31 October as All Hallows Eve, the night, of course, when the veil between worlds is the thinnest and the best time to contact those long gone.  Celebrations include burning bonfires, mummer’s plays, guising – costuming and visiting homes for treats, feasting, and connecting with one’s ancestors. It is a time to not only celebrate the end of harvest time but also the beginning of winter based on the Celtic Calendar which I have written about in two separate blogs.  The Irish and Welsh, insular Celts, were next to have begun celebrating Oíche Shamhna [Ireland] or Calan Gaeaf [Wales].  If you happen to live down under, at this time you will be celebrating Beltane.

Have you ever wondered why we call two weeks a fortnight? The word was fashioned upon the longer nights of winter in a manner of speaking.  There was once a word called ‘se’nnight’ which means one week, but it has now become obsolete.

samhain The Crossing, by ErinM31

“The Crossing!”  by ErinM31

As you can tell, I get off track easily!  It’s because I love Samhain so much, I want to include everything pertaining to and some things not entirely pertaining to.  I love the longer nights because I have an affinity for darkness [and rainy days]. I do like sunshine, don’t worry, and my propensity to love darkness does not mean I’m an evil, daemonic witch.  Far from it.  Samhain is the beginning for me in a sense.  It is when I ride the hedge, or, my annual meeting with the ancestors. All the fun ways to celebrate are great and I do participate when I can, however, this is my special night…where I commune with those whom have gone before me and have made me what I am. It is when I can see their faces and learn from them.  Mind, sometimes there is not much to be said, but to see them and just be with them is enough. It is my time for looking into the past and into the future, for protection, both psychic and physical, for overcoming fears, especially of ageing and mortality, and insights into the future and how to manage the present.  It is my time to give them the thanks they are due for their part in creating me. Of course, they did not know this is what the total of their endeavours would bring, but I have no doubt my gratitude must make them feel better about it 😊 It is the beginning for me because it seems to set me up for the coming year in a better frame of mind and often with new knowledge.

On 31 October, I shall be wearing my necromancer’s witch bottle which helps with reaching and communicating my ancestors, my draenan ddu [Blackthorn] mommet for protection, candles lit, and psychic incense burning, and a hopefully respectful moggy beside me.  This will be her first hedge ride.  Fingers crossed.

samhain ancestral

Image by Jess Carlson

All of this gets me wondering…how many of you celebrate All Hallows Eve and the beginning of winter as a solitary, like me? What are your favourite ways of spending the evening and the following day? Many of you probably have a stunning altar set up in memory of your ancestors.  I have found that it seems most solitary witches seem to set up an ancestral altar alongside their working altar and the working altar gets a passing nod to end of harvest with a few related things and colours.  And, the pagan families I know and have known set up the family altar more in the end of harvest sense with beautiful small pumpkins, gourds, apples and the like but only a few pictures or artefacts of most recently passed family as a nod to ancestry. Mind, I realise this is not always the case with all solitary and family pagans. One year when the children were young, we nested a gorgeous wicker cornucopia in the centre filled with beautiful fruits and vegetables we later used in our Samhain supper.  It was almost a shame to use it but the stew and the tarts we made were worth it 😊.

What if you are a solitary witch with no desire to visit beyond the veil but would like to honour your ancestors? Perfectly alright! Every witch has his or her methods.  If you are unsure what to do or how to set up an ancestral altar, it is easy.  You will need to determine how may photos you would want to include.  You can frame them or simply place your photo album open on the altar space.  Place white candles on the altar.  I normally place a one on each corner of my altar.   Be sure not to have the altar near anything flammable such as window curtains.  Do you have any artefacts, personal items belonging to some of your ancestors? You can use anything you find meaningful.  For my father, I really don’t have anything small of his, but I place a red poppy badge by his picture because he fought in WWII. I also place a filter less cigarette by his photo as he smoked those.  The picture I use is of him with his first hunting dog whom he loved. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything small and meaningful of my mum’s, but I have her picture.  No  photos of her parents but I do have a small studio portrait of my father’s parents which I include.  My parents were along in years when I was born, making their parents very much along in years as well so finding small pics of them is nearly impossible.  I simply add other bits of memorabilia from places I believe they visited to fill in.  And they were both staunch Royalists so of course, Queen Elizabeth has her small place on my altar.

I think you get the idea – anything goes if it means something.  Offerings are nice to include…can be anything you would know they enjoyed – food, wine, cigarettes [hence the ciggy I put near my dad].

Divining is a very popular way to contact the ones whom have passed on amongst many witches for Samhain, particularly solitaries.  Many may use a pendulum to dowse for yes or no answers from the Old Ones.  Some do a tarot reading to get answers to questions they have wanted to ask.  And, for some, the Ouija board is a popular way to go. Just mind you are properly protected and grounded.  And yes, you can use a Ouija board alone but again, be very careful you know what you’re doing. I have gotten valid and good insights divining this way.

You may celebrate Samhain and honour your ancestors in any way you find comfortable to you. All that ever really matters is that how you do it means something to you.  How I celebrate may help you if you are new to this and need a few ideas, however, they are only ideas and I don’t mean to tell you what you should do, for there is no ideal “should”.  No right or wrong, just your way.  I always invite comments at the closing of my blogs and I really do look forward to hearing how you celebrate or set up your altar!  I hope everyone has a safe and happy All Hallows Eve and a Happy Samhain.

Thank you for reading and many warm blessings to all who wander this way.  Please feel free to leave a comment, I always answer them, and share by the various social media buttons if you feel this article may be of use to others.  Blessed be! x

samhain blessings

art by Spiritrong

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Folklore of the Blackthorn – Dark Crone of the Woods

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

With Samhain around the corner, I thought it a good idea to re-visit our favourite Samhain tree, the Blackthorn. As I do attempt to keep my blogs short enough for readers not be bored it also means I am unable to share everything possible about a tree – or whatever I’m writing about.  This blog will not be about the usual – magick and healing – but it will be more about the lore, or folklore of the tree.  But yes, there will be some magick in it for you 😊

I shall be sectioning each of Britain’s country’s folklore about Blackthorn, so no-one is confused as to where the information comes from.

treeid-blackthorn woodlandtrust

Blackthorn hedge ~ Woodlandtrust.org,uk


Blackthorn is a prolific grower in the UK, notwithstanding in England, where it is planted in every hedgerow surrounding fields.  If you are from another country and you have seen the aerial photographs of the stunning crop fields of the UK, you have seen where Blackthorn resides.  Obviously, it grows elsewhere as well but it has a home in the hedgerows for good reason – protection.  If you have never seen those wicked thorns/spines be sure to read my last blog on Blackthorn!

From Christianity, Blackthorn is seen as a sinister tree and associated with Witches. Blackthorn was [and is now] often used for ‘binding and blasting’. A ‘black rod’ is a Blackthorn wand with fixed thorns on the end, used to cause harm to others.  In British folklore, a Witch will use a Blackthorn stang in rituals of cursing. The sharp thorns were reputedly used by English witches to pierce poppets in their curses, called the ‘pins of slumber’.  In South Devon folklore in England, Witches were said to carry Blackthorn walking sticks, with which they caused much local mischief. Witches and heretics were burned on Blackthorn pyres. The Devil was said, in medieval times, to prick his follower’s fingers with the thorn of a Blackthorn tree.

In England Witches would carve the Norse rune thorn on a Blackthorn stave for protection.

In Dartmoor,  you may hear talk of, “‘ow the slones be doin’” which is not referring to the rich city folk and their Chelsea Tractors, no, a ‘slone’ [or sloan] is local dialect for sloe berries. Folk would also shudder at the sight of a tree heavily laden with slones for: “many slones, many groans“. This meant that a heavy crop of berries was a sure sign that the coming winter would result in widespread sickness [groans].   But the most popular use of the slones was to make juice, wine and sloe gin.

When the trees began blooming [around early February / March] my father, would always speak of the old English warning of a coming “blackthorn winter” and “the cold blow” ahead.

“When winter comes in earnest to fulfil

His yearly task at bleak Novembers close,

And stops the plough and hides the fields in snows;

When frost locks up the streams in chill delay

And mellows on the hedge the purple sloes …”.

John Clare – The Shepherd’s Calendar – 1827

Blackthorn is often purported to bloom on Christmas Eve, going by the holy thorn at Glastonbury. It is one of the trees, which were reputed to form the thorny crown of Christ at His crucifixion.  I think that at one time it may have done before the calendar changed for most of us to the Gregorian Calendar.

Ireland / Celtic

In the Irish legend, the Pursuit of Diarmaid and Grainne, a passage describes Sadhbh eating sloe berries and becoming pregnant as a result. She gave birth to a son who was born with a lump on his head. The lump turned out to be a worm or snake. The snake was eventually killed in sacrifice for another man. In the Sword of Oscar, sloe berries are part of a sacrificial theme as well. Blackthorn’s theme in traditional stories often indicate a warrior’s death in service to the High King or tribe.

At Samhain, because its berries ripen in the Winter, it helps us to prepare for the dark season to come. At this time, the Morrigan and Dagda, are said to mate.

We use Blackthorn in amulets and spells of protection for our shop. In Irish tales, heroes were aided by the Blackthorn tree – if they threw a twig of Blackthorn after them, it would take root and form an impenetrable hedge or woods, thwarting the pursuing giant.

Blackthorn can also herald the presence of the darker deities in your life, such as the Irish Morrigan and Dagda.

Blackthorn has been used for divining rods.  As a method of trial [according to Irish legend], when Mochta’s axe was heated in a fire of Blackthorn, it would burn the skin of a liar but others were unharmed.

Blackthorn is Draighean in Irish Gaelic.


The Blackthorn tree is linked with warfare, wounding and death, associated with the Scottish Cailleach – the Crone of Death, and the Irish Morrigan. In Scotland, winter begins when the Cailleach [also the Goddess of Winter] strikes the ground with Her Blackthorn staff.

In the Word Ogham of Cuchulain Blackthorn is ‘an arrow’s mist’ and ‘smoke drifting up from the fire.’ These are both kennings for death.

Blackthorn is also associated with early [and present!] Witchcraft in Scotland. In 1670, in Edinburgh, Major Thomas Weir was burned as a Witch along with his most powerful magical tool – a Blackthorn staff, carved with a Satyrs head, which was said to have fantastic powers – it was even able to fly. Major Weir claimed that he received this magic staff from the Devil, but it is more likely that he obtained it while he served as an officer under General Leslie in Ireland. The Major was a pious Covenanter, and people came from miles around to hear his sermons. He was considered the ‘Saint of West Bow’, until one day in 1670, instead of his usual sermon, he confessed years of debauchery with his sister, Jean, to the congregation. Brother and sister were both tried and condemned to death. His ghost, along with the infamous Blackthorn staff, is still said to haunt the Edinburgh West Bow district.

Blackthorn is Draighionn In Scots Gaelic.


Very hard to find Welsh folklore concerning Blackthorn, but I have no doubt there is more than I did find.  A good blog in the making, that! What I did find is this:

Lastly, a few of the wells in that part of Gwyned may be grouped together and described as oracular. One of these, the big well in the parish of Llanbedrog in Lleyn, as I learn from Myrdin Fard, required the devotee to kneel by it and avow his faith in it. When this had been duly done, he might proceed in this wise: to ascertain, for instance, the name of the thief who had stolen from him, he had to throw a bit of bread into the well and name the person whom he suspected. At the name of the thief the bread would sink; so the inquirer went on naming all the persons he could think of until the bit -of bread sank, when the thief was identified. How far is one to suppose that we have here traces of the influences of the water ordeal common in the Middle Ages? Another well of the same kind was Ffynnon Saethon, in Llanfihangel Bachettaeth parish, also in Lleyn. Here it was customary, as he had it in writing, for lovers to throw pins (pinnau) into the well; but these pins appear to have been the points of the blackthorn. At any rate, they cannot well have been of any kind of metal, as we are told that, if they sank in the water, one concluded that one’s loverwas not sincere in his or her love.” ~ Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx, by John Rhys

Blackthorn in the Welsh language is draenen ddu.

On Nos Galan Mai or May Eve, villagers gather hawthorn [Welsh: draenen wen, “white-thorn”] branches and flowers which they would then use to decorate the outside of their houses, celebrating new growth and fertility.

In Anglesey and Caernarfonshire, it would be common on May Eve to have gware gwr gwyllt “playing straw man” or crogi gwr gwellt “hanging a straw man”. A man who had lost his sweetheart to another man would make a man out of straw and put it somewhere near where the girl lived. The straw man represented her new sweetheart and had a note pinned to it. Often the situation led to a fight between the two men at the May Fair.

Being the time between Summer and Winter, Calan Haf would be the time to stage a mock fight between the two seasons. The man representing Winter carried a stick of blackthorn and a shield that had pieces of wool stuck on it to represent snow. The man representing Summer was decorated with garlands of flowers and ribbons and carried a willow-wand which had spring flowers tied on it with ribbons. A mock battle took place in which the forces of Winter threw straw and dry underbrush at the forces of Summer who retaliated with birch branches, willow [Welsh: helygen] rods, and young ferns [Welsh: rhedyn]. Eventually the forces of Summer would win, and a May King and Queen were chosen and crowned, after which there was feasting, dancing, games and drinking until the next morning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of extra Blackthorn information and please do feel free to comment!  And, as always, likes and shares are very much appreciated.  Many warm blessings to all who wander this way x



Tree Wisdom, The Definitive Guidebook, by Jacqueline Memory Paterson, 1996

Celtic Tree Mysteries, Secrets of the Ogham, by Steve Blamires, 1997

Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx, by John Rhys, 1901

Famous Edinburgh Crimes, by Ross MacDonald, 1977

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes, 2007

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How Do I Deal with Fear?

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

How do I deal with fear, indeed.  Many of us, no matter how intelligent… no matter how ‘tough’, no matter how young or how old, we all seem to have that common denominator:  Fear.  And often I am asked, ‘How do I get rid of fear?’.  You don’t, my friends.  In case you don’t know, fear is one of those built-in things we have that, for no matter how hard we try, we can never 100% rid ourselves of it.  But that’s alright.

You’re mad, you are thinking now… it’s alright to go round feeling as though fear just hangs over you like a rain cloud? No, not quite that way, but I’ll explain.

People have had fear built into them since the first of mankind walked the Earth.  It was necessary to keep them sharp and on watch for natural enemies like huge animals what might eat them to other tribal people who might want to take over their patch.  But early mankind was most likely much simpler thinking and once they had seen off the object of their fear, they relaxed and felt happy.  They did not go back into their cave or hut and ruminate about the next thing that could happen to ruin their happiness.  As far as they were concerned, it was sorted. Until the next time.

As time progressed and religion began taking shape, early Pagans feared their Gods and Goddesses.  Anyone would do when your God was the God of lightning and storms.  The first time you saw a mate struck by a bolt of lightning, you would be fearful of that God, wouldn’t you?  Perhaps that is where sacrificing one of your fellow tribe came from…Let’s give Thor/Indra/Zeus one of our own first and perhaps he won’t take another one in that manner again.  The Ancient Ones had to kind of make it up as they went in many cases but suffice it to say, it is probably how they handled that kind of fear.  But much like their ancient ancestors they would also feel fear when fighting off enemies, then, they would go back to a relaxed and happy state once they won the battle.  Not many would sit at home and start worrying about the next time he or she had to go to war.

The point I’m making is, until recent-ish history, say, over the last two-thousand or so years, people were able to deal with each fear as it came and then relax – at least for a while.  People began living in fear in earnest when Theodosius passed legislation prohibiting all pagan worship [c.392] and it did not improve when the Crusades began c.1095 and the Inquisition began [12th century].  We then added to our natural enemies, occasional human enemies, and fear of our Gods with the fear of literally everyone, for no one really knew who would be against or for them.  We were becoming trapped into an endless cycle of constant fear which has had devastating results upon mankind individually and together.

Is it any wonder we are fearful?

“The first duty of a man is subduing Fear” [Thomas Carlyle c.1846]

So… how are we meant to subdue Fear? People pray for it to go away.  It won’t.  People think they are not brave if they are fearful… not true at all because if you can still push yourself to do a thing no matter how afraid you are then you are considered very brave.

“Human beings face a multitude of difficulties and dangers which must be confronted if they are to live a human life.  The human body is extremely vulnerable, always exposed to the possibility of accident, illness, pain, and death.  Yet, people are not usually obsessed with these undoubted dangers, and life would be scarcely possible if they were.  All pleasure in life would be lost were we overwhelmed by all the actual and possible dangers that surround us.”  ~ John Casey

In Mr Casey’s Pagan Virtue: An Essay in Ethics [1990], he goes on to describe how he “might” rid himself of fear by virtually pretending there was no danger from the item which causes the fear in him.  We all know that is no good.  If the spider which you are pretending to be not dangerous really is, then you are not allowing Fear to do his job.  You might want to back away from that spider!  This appears to make one think it is alright to cheat Fear of his due.  I’m afraid Fear may redouble his efforts on future scares in that case.  Casey goes on to say that he might do better at ridding himself of fear by having more self-confidence.  Ah… well, in theory, that sounds smashing, still, in practise, it is impossible.  I know a good many people with bags of self-confidence, however, they are visited by Fear now and again.  As well it should be. And I won’t go on with Mr Casey’s dissertation as to when he begins saying that he must develop anger to dissuade Fear, I closed the book.

What Mr Casey seems not to have learned by 1990 is that Fear is a part of everyone.  Fear is not going to be “gotten rid of”.  Would you chuck out the part of yourself that causes you not to step off a ledge? The part of you that says “RUN!” when you need to get out of the way of something or someone barrelling toward you?  The part of you that stops you from getting into a car with a drinking driver?  I would not.  Not even when it has nearly driven me round the bend on a couple of occasions.  But that was not Fear’s fault.  It was mine for allowing it to rule my thoughts over everything else that I knew was common sense.  Too much of a good thing can be bad for you, clearly, if you let it be.

So, what is the answer?

I think I have one plausible answer.  It works for me.  It does take a bit of getting used to and it needs a bit of discipline.  It is not a one-shot attempt kind of thing.  You see, Fear is not a separate human-type individual sitting your shoulder, still, Fear does hear and listens and has his own personality of sorts.  Mine tends to be quite clingy at times and I have come to think that maybe he needs me more than I need him.  I guess that’s why he hangs around longer than he should.  But on to my method.


Quote by Tim Ferris, Artist unknown

I talk to Fear.  Aloud.

Fear, my friend.  I know you are a part of me.  We need not try to part ways, I have come to realise that yes, I need you.  You have been there at the right time for me and I do appreciate this.  However, it seems to me you tend to overstay your welcome and I find myself feeling fearful over some rather silly things.  Now you and I both know this is unnecessary.  What if I get fed up and stop listening to you and end up in trouble?  I would say you weren’t doing a very good job of things then, wouldn’t you?  So, let’s do this… you go sit over away from me and wait until you see some real danger.  When you do, please notify me. Until then, please stop waving small matters and imagined matters in my path.  This does me harm if nothing else.  I can sort out these little things without you.  Thank you so much for your real help in past and future.  We are friends, we just don’t need to be in each other’s pockets.

Afterwards, I feel absolutely wonderful.  I know he is still lurking but that is a good thing.  I am sure I will need him again in future.  But not because the rash on my arm might be something deadly – which it isn’t, or because of a million other little things that would only take a bit of common sense to fix.  This may or may not work for you.  If you really want it to, it will.  You’ll need to be assertive but kind.  No need shouting at Fear. And you may have to do this every day for a while until you get your Fear put into his place.  But the thing is, he will cool down and leave you in peace more and more.  And this is how I deal with fear.

I would love to read your comments on how you deal with your fear in the comments below!  Everyone has different ways of doing things and it’s always good to have varieties of ways.  Many thanks for reading and please don’t forget to like and share on social media!  Warmest blessings to all who wander this way x

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