Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trees 101: Hazel

The hazel is one of the most magickal trees of all as it's the tree that stands at the very heart of the faery realm. In the center of the Otherworld, nine sacred hazel trees stand in a circle around the Well of Wisdom and drop their nuts into the water from their overhanging branches, feeding the Salmon of Knowledge. Hazel was the sacred Tree of Knowledge in many ancient cultures, from the Norse to the Celts to the ancient Greeks. It's no surprise then that this is the tree whose wood is used most often for divination: Druidic wands were always fashioned from Hazel and it's the preferred wood for dowsing and divining rods as well. It's believed that, to this day, hazel works so well as a dowsing rod because it instinctively wants to reconnect with that first ancient well tree in the faery realm.

Want to protect yourself from evil (and especially that most evil thing of all- witches- the handmaidens of the devil)? Craft yourself a shield of hazel or use its wood to carve a protective rod or small wooden talisman. Use it at the dark of the moon in rituals, crafted as a divination tool, or eat hazelnuts before shamanic journeying to increase your psychic knowledge.

The hazel tree is feminine in energy and vibrates to the elements of both air and water. It is ruled by Mercury and the Sun and is one of the nine sacred woods of the sabbat fire in which it represents wisdom. The sabbats for which hazel is traditionally used for are Beltane and, most especially, Samhain.

Photo of this gloriously lush hazel tree courtesy of Argentem on flickr.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Full Rose Moon

Tomorrow's full moon is a potent one as it also brings with it a spectacular lunar eclipse. As an eclipse amplifies the energy of a full moon, this one will, in theory, be felt for weeks or even months after the event. Being in Capricorn, this moon represents responsibility, stability and reliability, which is a good thing if we're going to be carrying this energy around with us for a time. I'd hate to think how much more difficult things could become if this eclipse fell within a far flakier sign. And to amplify the astral energy, there will be a solar eclipse (visible only from the southern part of the Pacific Ocean and the southernmost parts of South America) on July 11. Be prepared to feel all this powerful activity on a personal level.

The June full moon goes by many names in addition to the Rose Moon. These include the Strawberry Moon, the Lotus Moon, the Windy Moon, the Honey Moon and the Full Hot Moon.

This would be the perfect moon under which to Draw Down the Moon tomorrow night but if your weather is less than perfect for outdoor ritual, work some magick indoors and take advantage of this beautifully powerful lunar event.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

True Peace

The True Peace

The first peace, which is the most important,
is that which comes within the souls of people
when they realize their relationship,
their oneness, with the universe and all its powers,
and when they realize that at the center
of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit),
and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.
The second peace is that which is made between two individuals,
and the third is that which is made between two nations.
But above all you should understand that there can never
be peace between nations until there is known that true peace,
which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.

- Black Elk, Oglala Sioux and Spiritual Leader (1863-1950)

"Appeal to the Great Spirit", bronze, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, 1909, at the entrance to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photo courtesy of AntyDiluvian on flickr.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Simple Litha Spell

Marigold Ritual for Strength

What you'll need:
at least eight small stones, one rather smooth, more for additional talismans
an earthen pot, of a size big enough to grow one or more plants
one or more marigold plants
potting soil
a permanent marker

Write your birth sign on a small, relatively smooth, stone in permanent ink and place it at the bottom of an earthen pot. You can also write words of encouragement on additional stones, such as "strength", "empowerment", "courage" or any other potent words that you draw energy from. Fill the pot with soil and plant one or more marigolds in it. Place seven stones around the plants and as you do all this chant the following:

"I honor this summer season
that bathes me in the light,
I open my heart to your power
And I feel your gentle might."

The marigold is a powerful plant that vibrates to the sun's energy. They are symbolic of summer and the fiery weather that comes with it. String a garland of marigolds over your door to stop evil from entering your home, or plant them in your gardens to protect your property. Place them under your pillow at night while you sleep and your dreams will come true. They are also known to give you prophetic dreams as well. It is said that if a girl touches the petals of a marigold plant with her bare feet, she will understand the language of the birds.*

Marigolds used in any spellwork should always be picked at noon when the sun is at its hottest and strongest. This particular planting spell can be performed anytime during the summer season, but will be most potent when performed during the waxing moon, at noon on a day closest to midsummer.

Marigold is the flower of endurance. It grows in even difficult conditions and always turns its bright face to the sun, following its path through the sky throughout the day. This ritual will give you strength and power while connecting you to the essence of the summer season.

*Legend of the language of the birds courtesy of the late Scott Cunningham.
Photo courtesy of Shertila Tony on flickr.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Like every other sabbat, Litha comes with its own beliefs. Besides the well-known and traditional rituals of lighting a bonfire (or building a smaller fire to be jumped over), as well as drinking, dancing and making love, there are many lesser known rituals linked to the celebration of midsummer.

To honor the culmination of the Oak King's rule, men traditionally wore wreaths of woven oak leaves on their heads and women wreaths of midsummer flowers. Pick some blossoms and place them under your pillow on Litha night and you will dream of your future husband.

Want to be healthy throughout the coming year? Then be sure to be up to see the sun rise on the solstice. If you're in need of healing, the calendula (marigold) plant was believed to possess miraculous healing powers when picked on Litha. The traditional healing plants to be picked on the sabbat for the coming year are fennel, rue, rosemary, lemon verbena and st. john's wort, among many others.

Place a swag of summer greenery over your front door for a year of luck and prosperity.

And despite the joy and abundance associated with midsummer, there is always at least one festival that flies in the face of love, health and prosperity. Fortunately, the medieval French ritual of burning cats on midsummer's night has long since disappeared (especially if you happen to be a cat).

A blessed Litha to you all and safety in all you engage in that night.

Photo courtesy of mermaiden creations on flickr.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Litha Recipes

Normally, the recipes I publish here are tried and true favorites that I know without a doubt will turn out just as I say they will, without so much as a single surprise for my readers. And if I have a recipe I've never used before but think it might be of interest to others, I do a dry-run before I put in on my blog so I can tweak anything that's off and be certain that I'm not telling people how great something is when it could potentially be a total disaster. But given the fact that I've been beyond-busy lately (as you can see by the unusually sporadic posting of late), and the fact that Litha is just eleven days away, I thought I'd throw caution to the wind and post a couple of recipes for the sabbat that I've never tried myself. The bread recipe does come with high praise, albeit those kudos came from complete strangers, and the mead recipe is a total shot in the dark. Together we can decide if this was a good idea or a bad one. Here's hoping it's the former.


1 quart of water (preferably spring, not tap)
1 cup of your favorite honey
1 large lemon, sliced
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Boil all the ingredients in a (preferably) non-metallic pot, stirring constantly and scraping the foam scum from the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon. When the liquid boils clean and isn't clinging to the sides of the pan, remove from the heat and add:

a pinch of salt
the fresh-squeezed juice of half a lemon

Strain into a clean bottle or pitcher and cool in the refrigerator. This gentle, non-alcoholic mead can be served with cold, fresh slices of lemon in each glass.

HONEY CAKE makes approximately 24 little squares of cake

4 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/3 cups honey (I'm going to use a jar of lavender honey I got at my local farmer's market)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325f degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 cake pan. Beat the eggs and honey together. Add the vanilla and butter and beat again. Beat in the sugar. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the wet mixture. Mix well. Turn into prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely, cut into squares and serve.

Photo of gorgeous honey cake courtesy of

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Whiling Away a Summer Afternoon

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."

-John Lubbock

Photo courtesy of honeybSF on flickr.