Too Much, Too Soon – Hurricanes

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

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Hurricane Irma on her path of destruction ~ from NOAA 

All the world has watched in horror as a hoard of hurricanes have descended upon not only the United States but more sadly in poorer countries of the Caribbean. Oh, it matters not whether a country is rich or poor…it is horrifically sad to see people lose everything. First came Harvey to Houston, then Irma was all over the British Virgin Islands which are part of the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos, and Cuba before going to Florida to wipe out as much of the Florida Keys as it could before it travelled up the West coast to wreak more havoc. And no one…no one, could predict where it was going until the last minute. At one point early on, it was predicted to go up the East coast of Florida but then gradually ended up skirting the West coast.  You may think that would have saved the East coast but in news reports it seems the East got, in many ways, the worst end of the stick. I’m sure the West coast survivors may want to beat me with a palm frond for thinking that but then…news is news. I should say that the power cuts were, indeed, worse for the Eastern side, still, 74% – 74%!!! – of the state was without electrics for days!! It will take many months for Florida to get back to normal but for the other countries, it may be years. Haiti, for once, was largely spared a direct hit by Irma but they still received a lot of damage to crops which they could sorely afford.  The last time the Leeward Islands were hit by two hurricanes in the same season was 1899 and now it is looking at getting three of them in the same season, with newest named hurricane, Maria, approaching.

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British Virgin Islands aftermath of Irma

This hurricane season is going to be the most expensive on record. And the scariest, what with so many Category 4’s and 5’s.  Makes one wonder why anybody would live in these areas any longer…but it is home to them. And, although this is the hardest hitting season in a while, this sort of thing has happened before. I think it’s a lot like having a baby…once it’s over you forget. Until you’re going through it again. All of this does make me feel sick and causes tears. Do you ever just wish you could pop up and save the world? I would, if I could. But all I can do is to try to send everything I can to those who need it in hopes that however much or little, it will help.

As many of you know, whom have read our blog “Hurricane Harvey Help is on the Way”, we are going to donate 20% of our Etsy shop earnings to the Harvey relief fund through the American Red Cross at the end of October. Normally we only run a fund raising for a month but Harvey was brutal and we want to raise more if we’re able. Now, in the light of the present situation for the Caribbean and Florida, we shall carry on our quest through the end of December. We shall still send the money to Harvey victims at the end of October as planned but we shall donate 20% more to the Caribbean and Florida from November through December’s earnings.

I hope everyone will help us but if you prefer to make your donation directly rather than buying from us, please go to American Red Cross and give. Many thanks for your help and I’m sure the people of these countries will be most thankful. Warmest blessings to all x

Sources:

NOAA

Wikipedia

American Red Cross

New York Times online

Caribbean Buzz

 

 

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The Lucky Birds, Crows and Ravens

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

They get very bad press, crows do. Some farmers would as soon to shoot one as to suffer its existence in many cases and people in general are afraid of them simply because of the rhymes, poems, and stories which have caused superstition to run rampant over the course of time. The fact is, crows are amongst the most intelligent of birds, with the Australian crow being the cleverest of all. And, they have been found to be more of a saviour of crops than harm for they indeed eat many pests which cause harm to growing fruit and veg.

murder of british crows

from dailymail.co.uk

The crow, or Corvus, the genus which comprises all crows, ravens, and rooks are part of the Corvidae family, which includes jays, magpies and nutcrackers. There are more than thirty species but the science and biology of corvids is not why I’m writing this.

I simply love crows and ravens. Watching them live their lives and learning the meaning of what they do and say [or caw?], is a favourite past-time of mine.  I’ve had a murder, or probably should say “family” of crows, living in a nearby Oak tree for a very long time. Their cheery morning caws when I walk outside with a cup of tea on a nice morning makes me feel special, in a way. Of course, I say “Good morning, crows!” and they stop cawing. Coincidence? I don’t believe in it. It has been proven that crows recognise faces. And if they see one they aren’t familiar with or who looks like a bad character, they will kick up a right old fuss and in some cases, mob the dodgy so-and-so if he seems to be a real and present danger.  The main reason for the cawing down of said suspect is so the other crows will remember this ones’ face if seen again.   How clever are they?

Crows, like many birds, predict the weather as well. Many have been the times when “my” crows would leave their roost in the Oak tree ahead of severe weather. Generally, when crows leave the roost, they have a call which alerts the rest of the murder and then leave at dusk. Predictably, they stay away for several days until the danger has passed. There is an old saying that if a crow is the first bird you hear of a morning, you will have rain that day. Not so with my crows…they are almost always the first bird I hear and it does not always rain that day.

And a good time was had by all?

ant-crow

anting crow ~ from factsandopinions.com

Did you know that the North American crow will literally stand on an anthill to allow the ants to climb all over them? Then, the bird will rub the ants into their feathers. This behaviour is called “anting” and is used to ward of parasites. Ants can also cause birds to get drunk from the formic acid released from the ant’s bodies. Not my idea of a night out!

 

Why are crows thought to be unlucky?

Because of superstition, I say. After battles, the crow was usually the first to pitch up after the battle was finished to feast on the dead. Mind you, the crow was only doing its job – to clean up! But for ages now the crow has the symbology of death hanging above it. And I love the old rhyme “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for girl, four for boy…” Who knows? I count one crow as lucky as two, personally. They are not harbingers of death and doom. At least, if they are around, I know the weather will not be horrible! It’s more likely when they leave you should worry.

morrigan on Cúchullains shoulder

Morrigan as a crow on Cúchullain’s shoulder ~ artist unknown

Perhaps the reason one crow seems to be associated with dreadful things is the story of the Morrigan where she is mentioned in the Tain Bó Cuailnge, Queen Medbh’s famous Cattle Raid of Cooley. Here she shape-shifts into the form of an eel, a wolf and a cow, as well as her more habitual crow. She has various interactions with hero Cúchullain, finally showing him an omen of his own death. Mortally wounded, he ties himself to a standing stone so that he can die on his feet; she alights on his shoulder in her crow form to show his enemies he is dead.

I think it only makes sense she should take on the form of the crow as I very much doubt Cúchullain would have liked her in cow form sitting upon his shoulder!

There are many reasons crows are thought to be unlucky but they really are not. They are the amongst the cleverest birds around. Just take the time to observe them; get to know them! They can teach you some pretty wonderful things, my crows 😊

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Sources:

BBC Earth

Wikipedia

Life

Posted in Corvids, folklore, Lore, mythology, the Morrigan, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magickal Maple Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

 

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Chew Valley Trees, UK – Field Maple

Some may not think of Maple as being magickal, particularly if they live in Europe or the UK. There are mainly two Maple genus’ which are native and almost native in the UK and those are the Acer Campestre or Field Maple which is native to Britain, and the Acer Platanoides, or Norway Maple which is a naturalised tree in the UK. Both are quite different from the Acer Sapindaceae which is native to North American countries, US and Canada, and can produce the sap from which Maple syrup is made. If I’m correct in thinking, there are still around 127 other Maple species in the region. However, whether they all produce sap for syrup, I do not know.

Sticking to North America for a short bit [and to tempt your taste buds] the Native American symbolism of the Maple, Acer Sapindaceae, is that of offering, generosity, balance, promise, and practicality. The Maple tree was of importance to the Algonquian tribes of the north-western United States and western Canada, who developed the art of processing Maple sap into Maple sugar, Maple syrup, and taffy candy.

Maple trees hold the wisdom of balance, promise, love, longevity, money, and practical magick. Special for its sugar and syrup it represents success and abundance, most likely because the Native Americans used it in trade and could purchase goods with their syrup when no coin could be made or spared.

Maple has both feminine and masculine energy. Libra and Virgo consider this tree to be sacred. Associated with the elements of Spirit and Water. Planetary Associations: Moon, Jupiter.

The great horned owl is the sacred bird of this tree.

Magickal Properties: Some cultures primarily use Maple wands for spiritual healing. Maple is a traveller’s wood. It enhances intellectual pursuits, acquiring knowledge, and communication. Spells concerning art, beauty, binding, and abundance should consider using this wood. The gypsies believe Maple brings gold and that eating the seeds draws love.

Maple Bark

Maple bark from our Etsy shop ~ photo by i.macy

A peaceful wood used for purity and healing. Seeks a strong, devoted companion who cares for others. Excellent for cleansing spells, for use in money and luck spells as a base for loose incense, inside a poppet or in witch bottles. Maple reveals the options – even those that are hidden in plain sight – which lay before you. It enables you to make sound choices rather than rely on blind luck. It is also a wonderful wood for divination, and therefore, we shall be soon make some pendulums with Maple.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Some sources include:

Encyclopaedia of Magickal Herbs by Scott Cunningham

Wikipedia

Posted in Divination, folklore, healing, longevity, Lore, Love, Magic, Magickal, magickal trees, money, Pagan, pendulum, Prosperity, protection, spell work, spells, traditional witchcraft, Wands, Water Element, Wiccan, Witch, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lady Ellhorn, the Magickal Elder Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

 

elder-tree

Elder tree ~ photo courtesy of Google images

She may provide a potent link with the Mother Goddess and facilitates contact with spirits of other trees. In a sense, she acts as a mother figure within the woodland. She carries the wisdom of the Crone, and is mistress of the deepest magic. ~ The Fairy Bible by Teresa Mooney

The Elder tree, or Lady Ellhorn, as we lovingly call her, is a tree of beginnings and endings, of birth and death, so the elder faery is a spirit of transformation and the crossing of thresholds. The Elder faery, seen as a crone, advises on what to cast away and what to take up.

Elder Ogham Pendant 2

Elder Ogham Pendant with Ruis pyrographed on ~ Photo by i.macy

In the Celtic Tree Calendar, The Elder is 13th month,  November 25 – December 21, and 13th consonant of the Ogham alphabet – Ruis. Elder marks the darkest time of year and so is associated with death and the Crone aspect of the triple Goddess. Indeed, funerary flints have been found in megalithic long barrows in the shape of elder leaves and in others an Elder leaf shaped portal has been carved out between two slabs of stone showing that its association with death goes back beyond the Celts into pre-history.

 

 

Born during the Elder month?

Elder archetypes among Celtic tree astrology tend to be freedom-loving, and sometimes appear to be a bit wild to the other signs of the zodiac. In younger years, you may have lived life in the fast lane, often identified as a “thrill seeker.” At the time of your birth the light of the sun was fast fleeting and so you take the same cue from nature. You are often misjudged as an outsider as you have a tendency to be withdrawn in spite of your extroverted nature. In actuality, you are deeply thoughtful with philosophical bent. You also tend to be very considerate of others and genuinely strive to be helpful. These acts of assistance are sometimes thwarted by your brutal honestly (which you openly share solicited or otherwise). Elder Celtic tree astrology signs fit well with Alder’s and Holly’s. ~ Celtic Tree Astrology

Folklore

Like the Willow, Elder seems to have strong feminine associations. In Denmark, peasants would not cut down an Elder for fear of Hyldemor, the Elder-mother, who dwelt in its trunk. This belief is also found in Eastern England. In Lincolnshire until quite recently, it was important to ask permission of the ‘Old Lady’ or ‘Old Girl’. The correct way to approach the tree was to say: ‘Old Woman, give me some of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree’. If this procedure was not adopted, ill-luck could befall.  In Ireland, Elder was a sacred tree and it was forbidden to break even one twig.  In other parts of the British Isles the Elder was less feared, but still retained its magickal associations. If the eyes are bathed in the green juice of the wood, you might see faeries and witches. If you stand under an Elder tree at Samhain in Scotland, you can see the faery host riding by. Elderberries plucked on Midsummer’s Eve confer magickal powers. In the Isle of Man, Elders are the main dwelling-place for elves.

In Ireland, it was one of the magical trees carried in procession at Beltane. If you celebrate this merry month, let the EIder-Mother once more take her place in summer’s bouquet as this ancient Beltane song declares:

Holly and hazel

eIder and rowen

and bright ash

from beside the ford

 Correspondences

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

Symbolism: Judgment, Transformation, Death & Regeneration, Fate, The Inevitable

Sacred numbers:

Five: each elderflower has 5 petals, 5 yellow stamens, and 5 sepals which form a tiny green star.

Thirteen: Elder is associated with all superstition surrounding the number 13.

Stone: Olivine, Jet (Black Amber)

Flower: Dandelion

Birds: Pheasant, Raven, Rook

Colour: Black, Dark Green, Blood Red

Deity: Hel, Hela, Holda, Venus, Hilde, The White Lady

Folk Names: Alhuren, Battree, Boure Tree, Eldrum, Elhorn, Hylder, Lady Ellhorn, Old Gal, Old, Lady, Pipe Tree, Rob Elder, Sweet Elder, Tree of Doom

Elderberries

Elderberries and leaves ~ photo by Norm’s Farms

Medicinal properties:

Traditionally all parts of Elder are useful medicinally. The berries and the leaves are both rich in vitamin C. The leaves can be made into ear drops to treat pain and inflammation. The flowers make a tea that is good for treating coughs and irritable throats, as well as being made into a skin cleanser and lotion. The bark of the new small twigs can be made into a laxative. The bark, roots, berries and leaves can all be used as a dye.  And the berries are good for making jam, wine, vinegar, and syrups.

Magickal properties:

Exorcism, Prosperity, Banishment and Healing

The leaves and berries are used for protection and in breaking spells that were cast against you or to undo spells of evil intent. Growing an elder in your garden will protect your property from misfortune and harm. In Europe, they planted elder in cemeteries to keep away the evil spirits

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Posted in amulets, Amulets and charms, Beltane, Celtic Tree Calendar, folklore, healing, Ireland, Magic, Magickal, magickal trees, Pagan, traditional witchcraft, Wiccan, Witch, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magic of Yew

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

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Yew leaves and berries, courtesy of Google images

Yew is a tree that commands much respect. If you don’t, it can kill you. Harsh? Not at all. Yew is a very poisonous tree, every part of it from bark to berry seeds, however, the fleshy fruit of its berries is not poisonous but the seed within is. This is because of Taxine, a toxic alkaloid component in the leaves, bark, wood, and seed of the Yew. Even when the Yew tree has died, its toxicity is still there. Handle with care.

handle of my wand

My Yew wand with crow fetish

So, how is it that you see so many lovely objects made from Yew? Everything from boxes to wands! As a matter of fact, my personal wand is Yew and I’m still here. The people who make objects from Yew wood know chapter and verse on how to protect themselves during construction of their beautiful items. It is essential to wear a good respirator mask, especially whilst sanding Yew wood, and gloves. It is also best to wear long sleeves and trousers and shoes…. this is not a job for wearing your shorts and vest top on a hot day. You don’t want the dust from sanding settling on your skin. Of course, most people would bath or shower after working in this way, however, it is very likely if you have a pet that the pet could lick your hand before you had a good clean up. This would end in tears, I’m afraid.  Yew is as toxic to pets as it is to humans so please don’t give Yew to your dog as a chew stick. If you have a Yew wand, keep it in a place where pets can’t get at it.

Hoping I have made my point about the dangers, let’s talk about the magick! The Yew is one of the most magickal trees for protection, reincarnation/rebirth, necromancy, and longevity spells. It is the 5th vowel of the Ogham alphabet, Ioho. It is called “Tree of Resurrection” or “The Tree of Eternity”. It is the Ogham of Winter Solstice and the Dark Half of the year. Yew is a wood of great strength.

5000 yr old yew in dafynnod wales graveyard

5,000 year old Yew in Defynnog, Wales

Yew is wonderful for connecting with your ancestors.  As it is the only biological creature capable of living indefinitely, possibly forever, it is much sought-after for longevity spell work. It is also exalted as a tree of rebirth which gives way to a Breton legend that the tree is said to grow a root into the open mouth of each corpse buried in the graveyard. This root is a symbol of rebirth with the spirit reborn in much the same way as the tree itself is reborn. And, so it may be as so many graveyards have Yew trees growing in them.

“Just as the Yew tree possesses an immortal ability to renew itself, so too do you.  Living for centuries, it is a silent witness to the passing of time. Evergreen, its red, waxy cup-shaped berries, enclosing a small poisonous seed, predict protection. A good thing in your life will continue, just as a branch grows down inside the hollow trunk, embedding itself in the soil to sprout a new tree. If you remain working quietly at what you want, like the inconspicuous small green female flowers, you will attract your aim.  Communication will surprise you in the same way that the large bright yellow flowers on male trees throw out clouds of yellow pollen when ready to mate.” ~ Tree Magick by Gillian Kemp

Yew Necromancer Witch Bottle

Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace ~ photo by i.macy

Because of the possibility of poisoning, some witches or practitioners of delving into the past and connecting with their ancestors or other forms of necromancy, are not comfortable with using Yew outside of some form of containment. One of the things I have fashioned for myself as a hedge witch, travelling the hedge between Worlds to connect with my ancestors, is my Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace. It is a simple glass bottle, filled with enchanted herbs and Yew, then sealed, not to be opened. I won’t divulge every item that goes inside this witch bottle but it has herbs which summons Spirit, help Spirit to manifest, eases the souls of the dead, appeases and relaxes any traumatised Spirits, to make the Spirit manifested tell the truth, and tobacco to show hospitality to the Spirit(s). The small stick of Yew is included to banish malevolent Spirits.  We do offer these in our Etsy shop. This witch bottle is also effectively worn when doing any spell work which may concern longevity or for doing any kind of past-life regression work. It is very protective and helpful in the case of the latter.  It is also said to be a bringer of dreams and helpful in overcoming fear of our own death. Yew teaches death as transformation, not an end. The witch bottle also can facilitate connection with your Spirit Guardian.

Correspondences:

Planet: Saturn and Pluto

Element: Earth and Water

Symbolism: The Tree of Life, Immortality, Rebirth, Protection, Longevity, Change, Divinity, Strength

Metal: Lead

Stone: Olivine

Birds: Eagle, Hummingbird

Colours: Black, Dark Green

Deity: Banbha, Dione, Artemis, Persephone, Hecate, Astarte, Odin. Yew embodies the crone aspect of the triple Goddess. Yew is one of the Guardians of the Underworld that assist in guiding souls from one world to the next.

Old Yew, which graspest at the stones

That name the under-lying dead,

Thy fibres net the dreamless head,

Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.

~Tennyson

Many thanks for reading, be safe when handling Yew, and warmest blessings.

Posted in Druid, folklore, Hecate, longevity, Magic, Magickal, magickal trees, necromancy, occult, protection, sorcery, spell work, spells, Talismans, traditional witchcraft, Wands, Wiccan, Witch, Witchcraft, wood | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Necromancy – It is not a Dirty Word Anymore

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Necromancy

noun [ U ] UK ​ /ˈnek.rə.mæn.si/ US ​ /ˈnek.rə.mæn.si/

​the act of communicating with the dead in order to discover what is going to happen in the future, or black magic (= magic used for bad purposes)

Source: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/necromancy

Right.  I think we can do better than this. I chose this snip because it is annoyingly narrow-minded and clueless. And I needed a little shove to get me blogging today. I think this shall do nicely.

Yes, necromancy can be used for bad purposes. But, so can potatoes. Let’s give necromancy a bit of good credit for a change. Necromancy is most generally understood to connote the manipulation of the souls of mortals and the reanimation of their corpses. That would be the old-school basics. Personally, I am not at all interested in making the dead rise. Can’t imagine it would smell very nice either. Let’s let those buried rest in peace as they should, shall we?

Modern necromancy is about re-animating souls, not bodies. Have you ever wished you could speak to a long dead relative again? Perhaps you can. For many years I have practised the All Hallows Eve Raising of the Ancestors.  With special preparations of my own, I can many times raise the spirits of an ancestral line from one side of the family or other with favourable effect. There are gaps in our ancestral story which, I have found in my genealogy research, and necromancy helps me to find valid answers. It is also a way of honouring the dead in my family and to find out what direction they might like me to take the family as it stands today. Throughout the year I keep a small ancestral altar with photos and relics meaningful to not only myself but to my deceased family members as well.

ancestral altar

My ancestral altar ~ photo by i.macy

It is not only witchcraft practitioners using necromancy to contact the dead. There are many cultures in different countries who keep the practise…some do so as in days gone by, so yes, there are people still raising the dead out there. Not so, for most of the modern necromantic community. You obviously don’t need to be a witch to practise, either. But you will need to have a healthy respect for the dead and embrace death as part of living, not fear it. Modern necromancer Leilah Wendell writes in The Necromantic Ritual Book that the necromantic rituals she describes contain no “brutality, desecration of the dead or any other practice that one would consider the antithesis of reverence.”

Whatever way you decide to practise necromancy, please first learn about it in detail and especially how to ground and protect yourself before contacting spirits or literally raising the dead. Know what you truly want in your contacting of the spirit. Do not use this as a parlour game. It is a serious business and not to be undertaken lightly. Be polite and respectful and all should go well for you.

We are just spirit ourselves, after all…having a human experience.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings.

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Hurricane Harvey Help is on the Way

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

 

Hurricane-Harvey-Cars-Flooded-Street-Trees

Hurricane Harvey flooding, courtesy of Google images

The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is news all over the world. It is a heart-breaking natural disaster which can’t be fixed quickly. We here at Speaking of Witch Wands firstly wish to send our most heartfelt condolences to all whom have lost family members, homes, livestock, businesses, and more. Secondly, as we have done in the past when a disaster happens, no matter where it happens, we want to help.

Interstate+highway+45+is+submerged+from+the+effects+of+Hurricane+Harvey+seen+during+widespread+flooding+in+Houston,+Texas,+U.S.+August+27,+2017.

Hurricane Harvey Houston ~ Courtesy of Reuters

Beginning from today until 31 October 2017 we shall set aside 20% of all sales in order to donate directly to Hurricane Harvey fund with the American Red Cross. As with the Hurricane Matthew Haitian fund and the Grenfell Tower London fund, you can be assured that every time you purchase an item from our Etsy shop, no matter how small or large, during the next two months, 20% will be given to the American Red Cross to help the survivors of Harvey put their lives back together again. It is the least we can do. We have customers in Texas and whether they were affected or not, we need to help. And to our Texas customers, we hope so much that you and your families and friends weathered the storm and are well.  Please join us in our endeavour and if you would prefer to donate without purchasing, please go to the American Red Cross website or any charity of your choice. Let us all work together to make a difference.

Many thanks to customers whom have helped us with other donations and we hope you will again. Warmest blessings to all #wecouldnotdoitwithoutyou

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