What is the Witches Familiar?

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

What is the Witches familiar? The short answer is “anything”.

The Witches familiar is primarily animal; however, artificial familiars are used as well. Familiars were and are the “go-between” for the Witch and Spirit world. They were also believed during the time of Inquisition to do the Witch’s bidding to harm those whom the Witch believed needing punishment. Many animals were viewed suspiciously during the Burning Times, particularly cats. There weren’t a household going what didn’t have a cat because everyone needed mouse and rat protection, therefore, everyone had a cat. And most likely, partially due to thinking the worst of the common housecat, almost everyone who had one was suspected of Witchcraft.

catsbroom706

courtesy of Google Images

“According to the Witchcraft Act of 1604, it was a felony to: “consult, covenant with, entertain, employ, feed or reward any evil or wicked spirit to or for any intent or purpose”, an act that “The Witch-Finder General” Matthew Hopkins used with zeal when extracting confessions. Hopkins also used the “Malleus Maleficarum“, the so-called Inquisitor’s Handbook. Though the Malleus offered no instruction concerning familiars in the interrogation and trial of witches, it did acknowledge that an animal familiar “always works with the witch in everything”. ” ~ from Pagancentric.org

But –

“In some cases, the magical practitioner then made an agreement or entered a pact with their familiar spirit. The length of time that the witch or cunning person worked with their familiar spirit varied between a few weeks through to many decades. In most cases, the magical practitioner would conjure their familiar spirit when they needed their assistance, although there are many different ways that they did this: the Essex witch Joan Cunny claimed, in 1589, that she had to kneel down within a circle and pray to Satan for her familiar to appear while the Wiltshire cunning woman Anne Bodenham described, in 1653, that she conjured her familiars by reading books. In some rarer cases, there were accounts where the familiars would appear at times when they were unwanted and not called upon, for instance the Huntingdonshire witch Elizabeth Chandler noted, in 1646, that she could not control when her two familiars, named Beelzebub and Trullibub, appeared to her, and had prayed for a god to “deliver her therefrom”. ” ~ from Wikipedia.org

So, the familiar clearly did not “always works with the witch in everything”.

The Witch’s familiar has many uses in our times and as before-mentioned, artificial familiars have become very popular, thanks to writer Raven Grimassi. An artificial familiar can be very effective for the Hedge witch, she (or he) who walks the hedge between the Worlds, as a protection. Being very familiar with hedge witchery, I have my Draenan Ddu, a quaint little mommet whom I feed what she wants and she in turn protects me during my Other-Worldly travels. Some have what may look like a witch bottle for this purpose. It is entirely up to the Witch and his or her needs and desires.

My mommet 1

My Draenan Ddu mommet familiar ~ photo by Karen and Ira

What I do not do is call my cat my familiar. She is never going to be charmed into doing my bidding, even if I tried…which I do not…she is a moggy with her own mind and I have done well to remember this. It does seem to me that every new Witch-ling starts calling their pet friend their familiar straight-away. This only causes me to chuckle, but I say nothing. They will learn in time. That is not to say that Witches don’t have animal familiars, they do. However, if this is the intended purpose for an animal, then I imagine the Witch knows what he or she is doing and treats the animal with the respect and care it deserves.

Hopefully this has de-mystified the Witch’s familiar for you.  There is truly so much more to tell, however, books are where you will find more information than a mere blog can allow. Regardless of whether your familiar is animal or artificial, treat it well and it will always protect you. Many warm blessings to all and thank you for reading x

Sources:

Life

Pagancentric.org

Raven Grimassi

Wikipedia.org

Posted in Cats, Familiars, History of Witchcraft, protection, Witch, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media: When is Posting Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

People love social media. I must admit, it holds appeal to me, even at my age. Where else as a handmade seller can I flog my wares so inexpensively? In fact, for free! Yes, you could pay 5.00 a day for some extra promotion on these sites or more, if you wish, but that’s up to you.  Unfortunately, some folk think the more posts they do, the better. And, more can be better on, say, Twitter. But things seem a bit out of hand on some other social media platforms…Instagram comes to mind.

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Instagram’s newest icon, courtesy of Google

People do become a bit frenzied about how much they can post about themselves or their products. Or just stuff. I counted no less than about 15 posts in a row from one person I follow. Not content about themselves and not about what that they sell…just stuff. Having to scroll through so much to get to other people’s posts whom I follow, I lose the will after a while. I certainly can’t like each post from the person with 15 posts in a row or people who follow me will get spammed by this stuff as well. Don’t get me wrong, it is likeable stuff but it is too much stuff at one go. So, I like one and move on, feeling somewhat held against my will. Instagram becomes “Insta-spam” in a hurry!

There are “rules” about posting your products or “stuff” on social media. Perhaps they aren’t rules chiselled in stone, but rules all the same. But if you prefer not to be bothered with digging around the interwebs looking for the rules, as it were, there are handy helpers which will tell you how and when and do the posting for you if you have the money to pay for their programmes.

Let’s stick with Instagram for now. Whilst on Twitter more can be better, on Instagram, more is not better. As the example above illustrates, people on IG can really vex some followers by sending out multiple posts in a day. And if you do this daily they could get to feeling as though you are the only person they follow. You must understand that if each of your followers feel compelled by politeness to favourite each of your posts then their followers are going to get these posts as well. Whilst you may enjoy the rampant posting of the person you follow, you really must think of those whom follow you. The person putting out the gargantuan loads of posts will find their social media engagement drop after some time because those who follow them will do one of two things – either they will scroll past those posts quickly to get to the other side to normalcy or they will block you.  If you are posting for your business this is not a good thing to happen.

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Instagram “crowd of people” courtesy of Google

So, how many times per day or per week should you post on Instagram? Look at your business. Is it new? Has it been around a while but not a household name yet? In that case, you should only post two to three times per week, maximum posting one per day. When I began on Instagram last year I did not have many followers yet so I posted around ten posts in a day just to get something onto my page. I would not recommend doing that many in a day now. When you first start out, post one per day to get say, ten posts on your profile. Then, try posting one on one day and wait a few days to post another. What this will do, if you have gained a few followers at this point, is give this one item a chance to “shine” before adding something new. In my situation, as a small business owner of handmade witchcraft tools, I started out posting each time I had an additional item in my online shop. Some days that could be one item and other days it could be five or six items. After some time, it became apparent that, on the days when I had five or six items being posted to Instagram, each item seemed to get minimal likes as compared to a day when I added only one latest item. Now I am spacing my posts out and getting far more likes each time.

In turn, this keeps me from spamming my followers with loads of new product. I’m sure they’re happy for that. As a bonus, I have far fewer people unfollowing me now that I have reigned in my posting. Occasionally I will post a snap of my cat or the family cats, or birds but these are randomly posted “as they happen” and mainly to show my followers that I am human and not shoving items for sale in their faces constantly. Not to mention that I love seeing their cats and all so hopefully this will encourage them to do the same.  But do curb the itch to post five or ten pictures of the family pets or your garden in one go. It is never, and I do mean never, cool to post more than one post per day – unless…

You are a very large company things can change a bit. If your posts are getting upwards of 700 to 1,000 or more likes when you post, you have truly arrived! In your case, it is fine to post two posts per day, every day, should you like. You will get high engagement on both. Many people love your name and follow you whether you follow them back and they will always like your posts. But please, if you are a large, much-loved company, please don’t think you can become rampant in your posting as there are people such as myself who will unfollow you regardless of how much they enjoy your product if all they see when they pitch up on Instagram is your products. Be kind.

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In summary, think of others on any social media platform. Consider what you want to say to people who follow you. Whether you are a company or an individual, please do not spam your follower’s feed by posting too many times in a day or week. Make sure your content is pleasing as possible and space posts to give each one the best chances of being liked, thus improving each ones engagement rate. When your followers like your posts and their followers see your posts, this could mean a new follower for you or a sale. Don’t alienate possible new followers or buyers by shoving your product under their noses too often.  Good luck and happy posting!

 

Posted in Business, instagram, social media, Social Media Engagement, Social Media Posts, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magickal Apple Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Such a plethora of information could be given on the Apple tree I would do well to write a book! But, I imagine somebody has probably done so already. So many varieties, so much lore…so let us only speak of the common Apple tree mostly and the folklore which surrounds it according to the Druids and Magickal community. Who doesn’t love a good Apple story? Everyone loved Snow White and how the evil queen put her to sleep with the poisonous apple. Snow White, mind you, did not spring to life from Mr Disney’s imagination but has been a fairy tale since Medieval times. In fact, the story made the Medieval church of the times believe that enchanted apples could be given to a victim to cause demonic possession. How times have changed!

Bramley Apple

The original Bramley apple tree bbc.co.uk

In Celtic tradition, the Other-Worldly Avalon was also known as the Avallach, the Isle of Apples, ruled by Fairy Queen, Morgan le Fay (Freeman, page 196). This is the land of faeries and the dead, where King Arthur was taken to be healed by his sister, Morgan. Like their cousins to the North, the Celts attributed the power of healing and youth, or rebirth, to apples. Apples are one of the magickal trees part of the Celtic Ogham tree alphabet, its Ogham name being Quert.

The gifts of the Apple Fairy are everlasting youth and beauty, although sadly such matters often give rise to strife….  The apple fairy invites us to enjoy sensuous pleasures of all descriptions, in the knowledge that there is plenty to go around, and that nothing that is truly ours can ever be taken away from us.” ~ From The Fairy Bible, Teresa Moorey

The Apple tree is very much a symbol of rebirth and reincarnation. Apple branches have been carried in funeral cortèges as a symbol of reincarnation.  In The Poetic Edda, eleven apples are given as a present to keep the Aesir ageless. Buckets of apples were found in the 9th century Oseberg ship burial site in Norway and fruit (and nuts} have been found in the early graves of the Germanic peoples in England. In Norse tradition, the Apple is the tree of immortality. The Goddess Idunn was the keeper of the apples, which she fed the Norse Gods and Goddesses to keep them forever young. Apple wands were also used in Norse love rituals. To the Norse, apples represented long life, wisdom and love.

Love. Love spells and offerings of Apples have long been tradition. There is an old Scottish custom of eating an apple on Samhain night whilst gazing into the mirror. Legend says that you will see your true love reflected there.

Spell for Love

Use a crab-apple, or a cultivated apple if you don’t have crab-apples available. If possible, use one that you have hand-picked. Carve the initials of the one you love and desire, and your own initials, in a ring around the apple. Bury it in the ground, or commit it to a body of water. adapted from Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Apples have form for being brilliant healing fruits, firstly by eating one but in other ways as well. Apples are particularly good for any kind of healing magic. They can be used to invoke a healing goddess into a Witch or Druid, who then can employ ‘laying on of hands’ on the patient. For long distance healing, the apple wand can be used as a catalyst to send the healing energy to the patient, or can be charged with healing power and given to the patient at a later time. If the laying on of hands is not your style, you can use an Apple wand over the ill person.  Have him or her lie on the floor, and pass the wand lying over their solar plexus or heart chakra, to help him/her take in the healing energy the group is raising. There are unlimited variations and ideas for using the energy of Apple to heal.

Apple Awen

Druid Apple Awen pendant ~ photo by i.macy

Apples trees are sacred to the Druids as an-t-uil-oc (Mistletoe), is often found on Apple trees. This makes the Apple tree an especially holy tree to the Druids, along with the Oak. The Apple Tree is closely linked to Druids in their aspect as magicians and shamans. Bards and Shamans carried apple branches/wands (with bronze, silver, or gold bells), called the Craobh Ciuil (Branch of Reason), as symbols of their office (Blamires, page 142).

Apple Druid Wand 2

Druid Apple Wand w/bell ~ photo by i.macy

 

The Ogham name for Apple is ‘Quert, the tenth month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 2nd September – 29th September by some charts, although the one we use lists Vine as this month’s Ogham. It is the tenth consonant of the Ogham alphabet. According to the Word Ogham of Óengus, Quert is the ‘force of a man’, or the epitome of health and vitality in a man or woman. The apple is in the heart of the ogham grove, and is the source of life. It is from the apple that we receive healing, renewal, regeneration and wholeness, especially after being wounded, exhausted, or ill (Mountfort, page 100). Pulling the ogham stave Quert is a mandate to rest and heal yourself from strife, illness, fatigue, or injury. It is an invitation to regain your sense of wholeness and connection with nature.

Apple Ogham Pendant

Apple Ogham pendant with Quert ~ photo by i.macy

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

Symbolism: Love & Trust, Health, Garden Magick

Stone: Emerald, Rose Quartz

Birds: Grosbeak

Colour: Yellow-Green, Pink

Deity: Demeter, Hera, Pomona, Frigga, Freya

Folk Names: Fruit of the Gods, Fruit of the Underworld,

Silver Branch, The Silver Bough, Tree of Love

 

       “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces,  I would still plant my apple tree.

– Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Many thanks for reading and warm blessings upon all.

Posted in Celtic Tradition, Druid, folklore, healing, magickal trees, spells, Wands | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Pledge to the Victims and Families of Grenfell Tower Block, London

Part 2 – The Donation ribbon-black_68

We have made good our promise and just after 1 August we made our 20% of profits earned on our Etsy shop donation to the British Red Cross London Fire Relief fund of £125.00. It’s a good feeling to help even in such a small way because everything helps. They are still accepting donations for this directly so if you want to donate, just click the link in the original blog and give. We are so thankful to our customers for helping us get this money together! #wecouldnotdoitwithoutyou

Source: Our Pledge to the Victims and Families of Grenfell Tower Block, London

Posted in Donate, Fire, Tragedy | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Magic of Alder

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Alder is a tree you don’t really find much information on around the web. I find this strange as it is a very magickal tree and is one of the 25 trees of the Celtic Tree Ogham not to mention all the things it can be used for.  Perhaps it is ignored as a tree because it is more of a shrub? The same could be said of a Hawthorn, if it were kept pruned back. But the common Alder can grow to be as much as 90 ft tall. The Alder is also a relative of the Birch tree. I think it’s quite special because if you cut a branch from it (with its permission, of course!) the white wood turns red and in Ireland at one time it was a punishable crime to fell an Alder…it may still be for all I know. It is a tree sacred to the God, Bran. “Alders are especially associated with Bran; at Cad Goddeu, ‘The Battle of the Trees’, Gwydion guessed Bran’s name from the alder twigs in his hand. The answer to an old Taliesin riddle ‘Why is the alder purple?’ is ‘Because Bran wore purple’. Bran’s alder may be a symbol of resurrection”. ~ Wikipedia

golden alder uk

Golden Alder tree ~ perfectplants.co.uk

Alder is the 5th consonant of the Ogham, Fearn (F) and it is a birth tree for those born between March 18 – April 14.  If you are an Alder sign within the Celtic tree astrology system, you are a natural-born pathfinder.   You’re a mover and a shaker, and will blaze a trail with fiery passion often gaining loyal followers to your cause.   You are charming, gregarious and mingle easily with a broad mix of personalities.  In other words, Alder signs get along with everybody and everybody loves to hang around with you.  This might be because Alder’s are easily confident and have a strong self-faith.  This self-assurance is infectious and other people recognise this quality in you instantly.  Alder Celtic tree astrology signs are very focused and dislike waste.  Consequently, they can see through superficialities and will not tolerate fluff.  Alder people place high value on their time, and feel that wasting time is insufferable. They are motivated by action and results.  Alders pair well with Hawthorns, Oaks or even Birch signs. (cre8veonline.com, n.d.)

Alder Ogham Pendant

Alder birth tree ogham pendant, Fearn ~ photo by I. Macy

Elements:  Water, Fire, Earth and Air

Ruling Planet: Venus

Gender: Masculine

Powers:  protection, giver of courage, easer of fear and doubt

When using Alder for magickal uses, take care in using Alder as a magic wand. Alder harnesses the power of the four elements and can be a bit unpredictable. Alder wands are most often used in resurrection ceremonies. Alder bark and wood is a very purposeful base for loose incense and extremely useful for driving away negativity. Teas can be made from the leaves for treating many maladies from burns to sore throats.

So, next time you see an Alder tree, give it a hug! It’s a most fascinating and magickal tree, even if it doesn’t get talked about very much! Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Posted in healing, Ireland, magickal trees, Wands, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magickal Rowan Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

It is believed the origination of the Rowan tree began in China. How many thousands of years ago is anybody’s guess, but as it happens, almost everywhere now across Europe, the UK, and in North America, you can find a variation of the Rowan tree or as some call it “mountain ash” although an Ash tree is exactly that and it’s not a Rowan tree. They all seem to appear quite alike but have different genus names, as it would happen. But I’m not here to give you a lot of scientific gardening information on the Rowan tree. I’m more interested in its magickal side and its folklore, as I am sure you are.

rowan tree in crafnant snowdonia

Rowan tree by a stile in Crafnant, Snowdonia ~ Photographer unknown

The Rowan tree is one of the most sacred in Scotland and the tradition does not allow cutting the tree or use of its timber for anything other than sacred purposes. The Druids were known to use Rowan in funeral pyres and the Seers used the wood in most likely a form of incense for divination and invocation of spirits. My Scottish grandfather would form little bundles of Rowan twigs for protection charms to be carried by his children or anyone who felt the need for a bit of extra help. His wife, my Nana, would often make little crosses from the twigs, but then, if you’ve read many of my tree blogs, you would know she made little protection crosses from about any kind of wood. Particularly Oak, Hawthorn, Holly, and Rowan as those were in the readiest supply. It was always interesting to see what new protection amulets were hanging about when I visited and to learn why they happened to be hanging where they were.

Grandfathers Rowan Bundle

Grandfather’s Rowan Protection Bundle – photo by I. Macy

The Rowan crosses were hung to prevent enchantment of the occupants of their homes and barns. The Rowan twig bundles were carried in a pocket away from home to prevent enchantment or a spell being cast upon the carrier by an evil cunning sorcerer. Also, just like Hazel is used for divining water, Rowan is said to be useful in divining for precious metals. Rowan can be used to increase one’s psychic powers (my mother felt my Nana was very psychic as she swore she would know every move she made when away from home!), and to enhance powers of healing and success.

Rowan is sacred to the Celtic Goddess Brighid who was “changed” to Saint Brighid (with the advent of Christianity/Catholicism), patroness of the arts, healing, smithing, spinning and weaving. Spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of Rowan in Scotland and Ireland.

Planet: The Sun, Mercury

Element: Fire

Symbolism: Protection and Inspiration

Stone: Tourmaline

Birds: Duck, Quail

Colour: Green

Deity: Brigantia (English Goddess), Brighid, Virgin Mary, Thor

Sabbat: Imbolc, Candlemas

Folk Names: Delight of the Eye, Mountain Ash, Quickbane, Ran Tree, Roden-Quicken, Roden-Quicken-Royan, Roynetree, Sorb Apple, Thor’s Helper, Whitty, Wicken-Tree, Wiggin, Wiggy, Wiky, Wild Ash, Witchbane, Witchen, Witchwood

Rowan is the second consonant of the Ogham alphabet – Luis and the second month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 21st January  – 17th February

Rowan Pendant

Rowan Pendant with Luis pyrographed upon it ~photo by i. macy

With flu season around the corner, here may be a useful titbit I found recently:

Use a handful of dried Rowan berries for Rowan berry tea.

Place them in the centre of a small square of white or purple cloth. Gather the cloth over the berries and tie it into a bundle with white or purple ribbon. Hang this in your kitchen during flu season or keep it for the entire winter.

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings!

Posted in Amulets and charms, Business, healing, protection, Witchcraft, wood | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the Difference Between Amulets and Talismans?

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

You may notice when you see our tweets that we have similar-looking items that we sell, however, one may be called an “amulet” whilst the other is called a “talisman”. I get the occasional query as to what makes one but not the other. Think of it this way: they are both regarded as “charms” but the amulet wards off whilst the talisman empowers. An amulet wards off evil, bad luck, and the like but the talisman is usually specific to something the holder/wearer desires, such as to help empower that person with good luck, good health, and assorted abilities.

Amulets can be almost anything such as a coin, a ring, or garlic (think of warding off vampires!). When a bride puts a sixpence in her shoe on her wedding day she is warding off the many number of dreadful things that can happen rather than being brought good luck as many would think. The original reasoning behind the sixpence in her shoe was to protect the bride and her groom. As time went on Mothers of brides insisted that their daughters have a sixpence “for luck”.  Still, they are known as amulets.

Amulets_and_Talismans_Collage

Assorted Amulets & Talismans ~ photo by i. macy

The talisman can also be almost anything, as well, if it is charged with the purpose of empowering its owner with additional ability. When I create a talisman for a specific purpose such as our Magnolia medical healing necklace or the Magnolia personal healing necklace, it is with great thought to increasing the power of the charm by using Magnolia as this is known as a complete healing tree. As you may have read in my earlier blog about the Magnolia tree, there are many parts which are used in medicine, both scientific and holistic. Simply stroking the bark of the Magnolia tree brings calmness so it is useful for anxiety. But back to the point of the talismans is that one is to increase strength and healing whilst dealing with scientific medical procedures like testing and chemo- or radio-therapy and the personal healing is more suited to the holistic healing. The pendants are even metal-free so they can be left on whilst being x-rayed or for scans. And, of course, it’s convenient if you have an attack of nerves for all you need do is stroke the bark.

Many say that talismans are “generally” made from gemstones or crystals and they can be. I have several crystals of different abilities which I may carry one or several around with me depending upon what kind of help I need in a day. My cat, Chili even has her own crystals which help with pain and other assorted healing necessities. Some also seem to be of the school of thought which believes all amulets are in a natural form (non-man-made) whilst the talisman is always man-made. I personally do not see how anybody can come to that conclusion as crystals/stones are as “natural” as can be but can give the power to you to love, to be calm, to rise above many things. By the same reasoning an amulet can be man-made or natural. The sixpence is definitely man-made, however, there are natural crystals which are protective and ward off evil/bad luck, therefore, an amulet.

In conclusion, an amulet or a talisman can be anything you like, whether nature-given or man-made. Just remember to do your research and be certain that what you use for an amulet will protect you and ward off evil and assorted terrible things whilst your talisman can help you to achieve a standard which you do not feel you possess otherwise. As always, thank you for reading and many blessings x

Posted in Amulets and charms, Crystals, gemstones, healing, Pagan, protection, Stones, Talismans, Wiccan, Witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment