Monday, March 23, 2009

Trees 101: The Oak

The second tree of the nine sacred woods of the sabbat fire is the oak. The sacred oak is the symbol of strength, of the God at his most virile. The ancient Greeks knew the oak as the "Mother Tree" and believed that man was created from the branches of the oak, a creation myth that I find much lovelier than woman being born from Adam's rib. In fact, many ancient cultures around the globe have myths that have their earliest peoples being born from oak trees. Some believe that acorns were the very first food found by man.

Everyone knows that oak is one of the hardest and sturdiest woods available and thus frequently use it for furniture and home building, but medicinally it can be used to treat sore throats, fevers and skin rashes, uses that are not as well known. Carrying an acorn brings luck to the bearer and acorns can be used in divination as well. Burning oak leaves in your home will help to clear away negative energy and the wood can be used in ritual or on an altar to represent the God. Yule is when the Oak King vanquishes the Holly King and so oak is always the traditional wood for the Yule log. Be sure to save a small piece of it to light the Yule log the next year as tradition requires! Many believe this sacred tree of the God is a doorway to other realms and if you have ever really looked in awe at an enormous oak tree, it isn't too difficult to believe. It is also believed that the roots of an oak tree extend into the earth as far as the visible tree is tall above the ground, increasing its strength.

The oak tree is masculine and vibrates to the elements of both air and fire and is ruled by the planet Jupiter as well as the sun. Oaks are one of the nine sacred woods for a sabbat fire in which it represents the God. Traditionally, oak is burned at Litha as this is the time of the year when oak reaches the peak of its power and strength.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Help for the Spring Cleaning Blues

Uh-oh! Here we go: it's time for spring cleaning once again. I tend to take my sweet time doing it and often find that I end up not finishing it by Beltane, which is a big no-no. I mean, who really enjoys cleaning out their cupboards and drawers? Yes, it feels good afterwards to be truly clean and organized, but let's be honest here. The process that gets you to that point of perfect squeaky-clean joy is not very pleasant. Still, since it must be done, here are some herbs and oils that make for a really clean home to welcome the young God to manhood.

Whether you choose to use homemade scrubs and oils or just clean the traditional way with modern products from your local market and then burn incense to purify when you're done, Mother Nature offers a wealth of herbs that can make your home both physically clean and rid it of any negative energy that's accrued over the dark winter months.

There's a reason why pine is used in so many supermarket cleaning solutions and it isn't just because it smells so good. It has been known for millennia as a plant that purifies, heals and cleanses, as does cedar, which also has the additional benefit of promoting spirituality as well. You can also use in a pinch, from your kitchen cabinet, clove, cinnamon, thyme and sage, all of which protect, heal and purify. These herbs, and many more, can be quickly ground down in a mortar and pestle to make simple incenses that can be burned over charcoal. And don't forget lemons. Lemon juice mixed with warm water makes a simple wash that cleanses all negative vibrations from your home: from the house itself as well as individual personal objects such as jewelry and small items you use regularly. Cleansing with this is most potent at the full moon as the lemon plant's ruling planet is the moon. I always like to add a little lavender to any mixtures I whip up, especially in incense recipes as it not only smells glorious, but in addition to its cleansing and purifying properties, it also adds an element of peace and calm to a home (and who doesn't want to be relaxed?).

(can be rubbed onto a candle for burning or a talisman or stone)

1/8 cup extra virgin, organic olive oil as a base
3 drops orange essential oil
2 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops lemongrass essential oil
1 drop grapefruit essential oil
1 drop lime essential oil

In a small glass container with a well-fitted lid, add to the oil base by dropper each of the essential oils. Gently swirl in a clockwise motion between each addition. Cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Use only genuine, 100% pure essential oils, not synthetics, as they contain none of the real plant's magickal properties.

(this is especially potent when burned during the full moon)

3 parts rosemary
2 parts sandalwood
1 parts dragon's blood
1 part wood betony
1/2 part dill
1/2 part basil
a few drops of essential rose oil

Grind all the herbs individually into a fine powder, cleansing your equipment between each, then mix them all together in a clockwise motion in a glass, ceramic or wooden bowl. Lastly add the oil and gently mix once more. Store in a tightly lidded glass container in a cool, dark place. Try to use both of these mixtures before they get too old as the herbs lose their potency the longer they sit.

One small caveat: Please remember that some herbs stain fabrics and surfaces and some herbs are also skin irritants. Make sure you know what you are using and what you are using it on before you leap in and start slathering mixtures all over yourself or your precious belongings. Do your research first and you'll be a happy witch whose clothing and skin stay lovely despite your magickal workings! Happy house cleaning!