Needles and Pinlore



Leave a loaf of freshly baked bread, stuck with many nails at a crossroads, and all who pass it will be cursed.


Stick pins in your sleeve on St. Agnes Eve and you will see the the lad you'll marry.


Like a pendulum; hold a needle on a thread above the head or belly of a pregnant woman; it was once believed, in simpler times, that a circle would indicate a girl and a linear swing would indicate a boy.


If two needles named for lovers are placed in a bowl of water float together, the lovers will stay together.  But if they drift apart, so would their love.


Nine pins in a black bottle, with noxious substances and ill-wishes, buried in the garden of your foe, will hex them deeply.


A wax heart stuck with nine pins and roasted over a fire will burn the heart of he who you have named the heart for.


A dolly stuck with pins, lets the pain and evils in.


Nine needles stuck in the blade bone of a rabbit, which is then placed under the bed, will produce prophetic dreams.


Stick nine needles in a candle one by one from top to bottom and name each for a foe.  As the candle burns down, so will those named.


Want more needle-lore?  Check out this amazing contribution to the witchery community by my friend Kamden S. Cornell!  It's a sensational recipe book for good, sharp, magic.  I loved being inspired by this book and I have really appreciated Heart & Vine Apothecary's beautiful, powerful work in the folk-witch community.  Get your copy now!

The Sythe Moon and the Feast of Nuts: Part II

Another year in quarantine, another Feast Day in solitude.  The Harvest Moon is my birth moon, it is when I came into the world at the time of the scales, under the auspicious Glittering Venus, the  Morning Star.   This Tide is for corn and nuts and grains and apples.  For the late roses and the early frosts and the first rains after the relentless summer dryness.  


For me, this is the time when the lightyear turns dark, when the sun passes from spring's hands to those of the winter Hag and all those riding, nightmare-inducing, wild spirits of the crossroads who go about giving a cold breath to the land.  The Hags that ride at night on their many implements and beasts, these are the ones I follow across the night sky.

They have come for the sacrifice; for the turning of the land from fruitful and green to a time of reservation and survival.  This is the time when the horned father rides with all his host and array.  The autumn is personified as a lush woman bearing a cornucopia. a sickle, a crown of roses and the flames of burning fields around her.  And beside her, a withering pyre, where there rises shadows and spirits.  That's what I see in the subtle turn of the land, in the change of the trees.  And for this moment, where the day and night are equal and turning toward the short dark essence of a dark-year, we honor the sustenance that emerges from this tide, and taste the changes.  I think we all await it; this time of pumpkins and apples and sweet smells and savory ones.

The Harvest Is... food, family, home, sacrifice, gathering, rush, preparation, sex, finality... it is the light waning, and the all-consuming darkness and the message that it sends to us; there must always be a balance, a time of emptiness, a hunger.  All things must change, and we can only hope that the change of the tides, there will come a change... one that will reopen the world.

Death is always with us, some times more than other times... right now death is feasting heavily.  I accept this, and think on the nature of mortality. I watch the leaves wither on the trees and appreciate the change that death brings.  I watch the tearing of rabbits by the owls; this is the cost, it is the way of things.  And I look at the many dead from this disease, and prepare my mind for the change this has brought in the world.  And so, I feast.  On nuts, and grains, and apples, and corn, in honor of life, and death, and that sacred dance they do.

The Path of the Seasons


We all see the change of the year differently.  What one witch calls the calendar, another calls a Wheel of the Year, but I call it the change of the tides.  That's what the seasons are, after all; the tides of the shift of our world.  It follows a rhythm, a clock, a sacred melody whose notes conjure life and death in turn...

The seasons are everything in my work; I time so much of my practices by where the sun and moon fall, what is turning green or brown.  This is the time of pods and husks and dry grass.  It is in the moons after High Summer and before the Equinox that I call Darkyear.  When the world turns over to the hands of those old hag gods and wild hunters, there is a tangible shift in the air; a toasty smell, something bold, something brittle, sweet and acrid, a lot of smoke, a little ripeness of fruit.  It dances on my tongue and I swallow it.  I love the grain seasons just as I love the green seasons.  Transitions and the in-between are the place for me.  

How does the passage of time move for you?  Is it the churning of a wheel?  The stretching of roots?  How do you trace the path of the Sun and Moon?

Equinox Spring/Final Frost/First Flowers
It's when the violets come in.  It's when the bluebells hang.  It's when the first lilacs are just ever so perfectly purple, peaceful and perfuming the air. The March hares rise, the days grow longer and the morning is a little less wet each day.  It is the tide of the passing of the cold dark sun to the new spring.  Here there be brides of the greening and fresh antlered-gods, and virid virgins.  Hail to them all.  I do nothing but enjoy the wildcrafting and the rain-dodging, and pray the frost away.
The Feast of Hares
When the Pink Moon rises, so with it does the tide of the hares.  Rabbit spirits and Mother of Leverets make the world fruitful and populous.  Thumping the land awake, and making wild all our rites of spring.  The hare and rabbit spirits invoke the time with their mysterious rituals of sex and greening.  It's more a feast of flowers than anything else; an excuse to eat as the rabbit does, to enjoy the floral wonders of the growing and turning land.  I love this feast; it's a time to sharpen culinary and creative skills, to forage and nurture the wild senses, and to celebrate my favorite little buddy, the lagomorph.  Feast, my fluffy friends.

May Day
What other day is there for snails and flour.  May's Moon is for flowers and festivals; it's a time for baskets and eggs and hares and happiness, spring is in full bloom and what is more alive than the ripening of life around us?  For some witches, Beltane and Walpurgis are these powerful moments of flight and freedom but for me, I just like to honor the beauty of the time I suppose with a little thought here and there.  Sometimes it's fine to have a relationship with a season that at some moments meaningless and at other moments, everything... There was a time in my life when Beltane meant a lot, but now, May will pass me by with almost no real notice. There's love there, and the root of that is deep.

The Feast of Pines
Nothing tastes quite as sweet as the warming sap of conifers.  Pines ooze from their cracks and craggy parts with sticky sap.  The green ends of the spruce are pale and petal soft.  The cedar roses smell like cinnamon and sunlight, and the pollen on the pines makes a fine yellow paste when mixed with honey.  The crumbling decay is dry, the needles are pliable.  This is the time to honor the greenwood walking along the land in all their fine array.

Midsummer's Eve
The sun rises, and nothing stays dead, every flower grows and withers here.  This is the time of warmth and yellows and golds.  Midsummer is a magical time, for divinations and seeing beyond this world, and for flying by firelit nights.  Witches dance round the ferns and divine by the river waves.  Find your romances on this night, go flying with that love, use it and be wild with it.  Make a wreath of flowers and let them sink or swim...

St. John's Day
The water isn't warm, but it's warming.  It's holy, the saint's water, it anoints and purifies.  A time for taking away illness and for delivering fortunes and futures.  It's of little consequence to my work but it's recently become a perfect time for purification in-between the great feasts of my faith.  I call it a "fresh root", one that may grow strong like the trunk of some great tree, or simply fade to nothing.  I don't think it's for me to know right now.  It's just part of the path.


 Highsummer/ Feast of Grains

The height of summer is a beautiful thing; it is the Feast of Grains; when wheats are ripe and breads are plenty.  The bread represents the alchemy of seasons, of human ingenuity.  It is the body of the old gods of the land, the culmination of green life made brown and buttered and good to eat.  This is the tide of sustenance, to celebrate the height of a life that is so very fleeting.

The Feast of Apples
The making of cider and chips from the ripe and ready apples of the Northwest is a wonderful time; it is the tide of Mother Apple and her brood of sweetness.  The taste of the air is full and warm and crispy. What does a witch do with the Feast of Apples?  Why, they celebrate the sweet life giver of course!  They count the seeds on their knuckles with ancient rhymes, they bob for them in pits of water and roast them by fires.  They coat them in caramel and smash them into cider.  Cut them in two, sing of their tidings and enjoy that moment of reaching into the mysterious green for that special, perfect apple.  Apple Mother is a god of mine and her feast days occur in Spring and Autumn, marking her promenade across the landscape of the year.

Equinox Autumn/ The Feast of Nuts
The sun changes hands, moving into a dark place, where the sun's power wanes and the nights begin their decent into darkness.  The meeting of day and night in this liminal space gives rise to the beginning of Autumn and all the woe and wonder it brings.  Here, the Hags of Winter rise and wink up at the fading sun.  There's nothing left but the bitter work now, the frosting of every leaf and the beating down of the land into stiffness.  The Hunter raises up with all the host of the dead and shades.

The Feast of Corn
The tide of the corn feasts is a tide to welcome the fearful return of the dark year, a proper feast to the Hags and Horned ones.  The equinox proper is a ritual moment, a time for passages... but the corn feast is for the welcoming, a way to offer your hand to the wild ride and go flying with all those underworldly things that rise with the wane of the sun's power.  Go into those fields and get scared.  Swipe your sickle at the grass in sacrifice.  Offer your foods to the spirits, souls and otherworldly gods, in gratitude.
All Hallows Eve
It's a feast of pumpkins, a time for witching things.  The sun is low and the fields are withering.  Everything smells good, even the marshes.  Everything tastes good; all the best of human memory and survival finding a place in the kitchen witching that we call the feasts of fall.  This is not my new year, this is my celebration of life.  This is the glorious reign of the dead, the damned and all dark and enduring things.  Ghosts and spirits, foul and fair gods of wicker and roses and thorns... they command the short days and chilly nights.  A witch makes off with cabbages on this day, sups with the silent dead and serves the games of love fortune.  Hail to the pumpkin feast and the prince of the field, and every cawing crow.

Hekate's Night
Mother of witches, queen of the underworld, holder of keys and patron light of all those witches and poisoners and feral beasts of the world.  To your sacred fires, we commend our very souls.

Midwinter's Day, New Years & Epiphany
When we dream of Christmas Eve and New Years-- we think of the food, the family, the ferns and fine fir trees strung with lights. It is a cold time of year but full of such warm tidings.  I've never liked Christmas.  But I love the turn of the year, the wassailing of the apples orchards, the shaking of snow off boughs in a ritual of awaking for the land.  Midwinter is a dark and dreary realm in the roots of the yearly tide, but it's when we most gather round our traditions and pray, pray for the year to turn safely, and for the food to never run out.  Epiphany is this witch's time to honor the apple orchard and the burning of the evergreens.


St. Valentine's
It's just a little love, and I live for the excuse.  I am a love witch; not the manipulative, cold kind, but the pleasing and fickle kind.  This isn't the magic of forever, this is the magic of now, and wherever souls gather their wants and needs and desires and give them an altar to live on; one festooned with hearts and doilies and sweet-nothings... something there is summoned.  On this day, we summon the spark of curiosity.
 


Witchy Recommendation: Motherland: Fort Salem


It's about witches, military service, sex and sound.  Get in on this wicked good fun.

Yall know me, I tend to stick to reviewing occult books, card decks and magical tools exclusively, but even this folk-witch has her mundane delights, and television is my other altar...

And, like most practicing witches, I'm both hungry for magical media and skeptical of every new occult-themed movie or show that comes out.  The day I heard that a production company was filming a young adult series about a female-dominated alternate United States of America whose military's is run by witches, I was pretty much sold on the idea immediately.  It's just what I've been waiting for- less sparkles, less Satan, less schtick and shlock, more original substance.  Just the idea that anyone would want to explore a universe like that was thrilling to me.  It tickled the part of me that loves American history, the part of me that lives for fantasy, thrills and magic...

Witches are all the rage right now in pop culture.  Each year a new round of witchy-movies makes their way to our screens and we witches of the real world spend hours enjoying or hating the new trend.  Personally, I only see the witch-media market getting better over time; Anna Biller's 2016 insta-classic The Love Witch, Eggers' stylish horror The VVitch, the revival of The Craft (not an improvement on the 1994 classic but an interesting spin all the same) and a host of new binge-series; The Magicians, Salem, Netflix's interesting but ultimately difficult The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and fan-favorite AHS: Coven & Apocalypse-  there's a lot of witchy media to nosh on,  but a shining gem of a new-comer is Freeform's Motherland Fort Salem.

It sounds almost ridiculous; the US Army run by witches, mystic mycelium and sonic superpowers... but trust me, it is a strange, gritty, fascinating and altogether completely unique take on the word "witch".  Imagine an America where the Salem trials uncovered "real" witches, and that those witches agreed to conscription into military service in exchange for their freedom.  This is an America that did not develop a dependency on firearms, probably because even the most simple of whispers could disintegrate a bullet... or brain.  Motherland's America is even shaped differently, with a great river dividing East and West coasts.  Here there be witches, and they are absolute killers.  Even the terrorists of Motherland are witches, causing political and religious hysteria with the pop of a balloon. Literally.

There are no brooms and wands, no cauldrons (yet), but rather- empty wooden boxes full of deadly sounds, tuning forks that measure vocal power, skrying-stone security cameras and some kind of fungus that isn't above healing or harming whenever she desires.  The "work" in this show is sound-based, emphasizing the power of the voice, the power generated from our vocal cords-- no glittery sparkles, no god-forsaken blue sky beams.  Even the witches' flight is achieved through a type of flying-ointment-like chemical patch (like an external acid dose to the neck), not a broom.  Beltane is a military-sanctioned teen orgy, empty balloons are potential bombs, and little yellow birds climb into the mouths of dead men while young lovers float in the night sky.  Yeah, it's a hell of a ride.

Battling terrorist's, the politics of forced-service and the complexities of a culture that has always seen and known magic as a tangible reality, this is how the show opens right off the bat, following our three heroin protagonists as they navigate what service and sacrifice mean to them.

Izadora and Raelle

Our favorite young cadet, Raelle Collar, is a fierce, gifted, rebellious young lesbian, growing increasingly more distrustful of the Army who now own her life, safety and fertility as a weapon of warfare, as an incubator for future warmongers.  Her necromantic love interest, Scylla, is aptly named- she's a monster (or appears to be).  Cadet Collar is joined by the admittedly irritating but wildly lovable Abigail Bellweather- the high-society leader who embodies feminine sexual prowess and bitter blind nationalism all at once.  Rounding out the group is the heart of the team, and maybe even the show: sweet, kind, wise and tame (if not sheltered and overeager) Tally Craven, a seer from NorCal who just might be the most naïve and unlucky patriot around.  Under the dutiful eye of Anacostia Quartermaine and General Sarah Alder, the girls not only develop themselves, but a friendship that transcends imagined power and possibilities.  

mother mycelium tests, S:2-E:3

General Alder is a righteous bitch with a cold heart, but just when you come to hate her, she reveals a humanity that leaves you questioning if we really understand the pressures and perils of war.  She condescends to her allies and friends, she unscrupulously uses everyone she meets and most terrifyingly, she's not above running the country from the shadows via some dark work.  I've loved her complex character development; from ruthless shatterer of dreams, to merciful mother of lost daughters.  The actresses' playing these characters are each exceptional at what they do; Taylor Hickson's cadet Collar is easily one of the most likeable leading ladies in a long while and Hickson was a perfect choice to bring intensity to the role.  Personally, I think Demetria McKinney's Anacostia is probably one of the best characters on the program: she is moral, she is just, she has compassion and steel in her spine... and maybe something a tad bit self-destructive inside too. 

I love that the gifts these women (and men, who attend a separate militaty school) have is referred to as "work" rather than magic.  In fact, I don't think the word "magic" appears in the show at all, even the "spells" being used (which are notes and harmonies) are called seeds  I. Love. It.  I love that the cast is full of women and nonbinary people of every shape, size, sexual identity and fluidity-- representation in every corner and an emphasis on powerful women of color.   I've got to respect the normalization of free-love, pansexuality, queerness, butchness, femmness, and body-diversity, it is so affirming.

I highly recommend Motherland: Fort Salem, available on Freeform or on Hulu.  I think it's the kind of refreshing take on witchcraft and magic that many of us everyday practitioners might crave, have missed, will need to wash the taste of so many magical-media failures out of our mouths.  it's a breath of fresh air, or rather, a freaking storm. So far, this second season has been everything I've wanted and I'm really pleased at all the little details (Izadora's skrying-stone x-ray anyone?).   This show certainly deserves a bigger budget, and a wider audience, and I'd probably sell (what's left of) my soul to play an extra in the background.

So cheers to you, Motherland, and I hope witches give this show a chance, it's good fun, and so very stylish too!  I really hope to see more Motherland cosplay, I've been searching for uniform replicas everywhere but no luck yet...  Hopefully, I can look like real war-college material come Halloween.

Catch Motherland: Fort Salem Tuesday nights on Freeform or Wednesdays on Hulu.


Say the Words.

Your Favorite Teacup

Toasted rice tea "I Got You" from T Project in Portland

You know, tea culture is incredibly important.  So many cultures around the world, so many kinds of fascinating and unique human groups boil a plant and drink it with friends and family in a social ritual that creates bonds, establishes trust, and occasionally, reveals the future. Sharing tea with others or with yourself is so... memorable.  It's a moment taken, a silence enjoyed.  That's what it really symbolizes to me; pleasant memories.  Good memories.  Solid and stable memories that always warm me.

I grew around a lot of tea lovers. Our grandma took us to some of the most beautiful tea-houses whenever she could afford to.  I'll never forget how incredibly fancy and special I felt having high tea at The Empress in Victoria B.C, or the quaint little tearooms up North of Seattle by the lake, with all their perfect porcelain and delicious flavors.  I love that "hot-leaf juice"; red rooibos and thick green matcha…  I'm partial to black teas with lots of cream and sugar; Yorkshire Gold, or Market Spice...  But then again, I fairly swoon for a strong mango black or pure peppermint.  I love my mother's teas too; Russian tea, hemp tea, southern lemon sweet-tea.  The Perennial Tearoom used to carry my very favorite kind of tea; Blue Eyes- so tangy and fruity, my sister and I haunted that place after college just to get that Blue Eyes, or Sakura.  Right now, my addiction is toasted rice and green tea from T Project, it is legitimately one of the most interesting and thoughtful flavors I've ever enjoyed, and smells like some odd and wonderful bakery.  I'll be going back to Somehwere for another batch soon.

Delicate, cold, painted china balanced on little round saucers... or big ole glass jugs of dark honey colored sweet goodness.  Fruity teas in summer, spicy teas in winter; long steeping and tablespoons of sweet glorious sugar (I can literally feel my English friends groaning at that part haha).  Oh, and the ritual.  The fancy hats and pretty pearls, and all those doilies stacked with every kind of food that feels familiar and comforting to me.  I don't know what it is, locked inside my memory, but I feel giddy every time I see those three tiers of cucumber on white bread, lemon tarts, biscuits and petit fours.  Nice, pleasant conversations, smiles, and all those marvelous tea pots hanging from their hooks behind the counter, or ringing the room, stacked in glass shelves.  

More than anything, I remember the connection that tea-ware made between people.  You see, the kind of tea cup one holds dearest, or their favorite teapot, says a lot about them.  You can see all kinds of history and personality in one's choice to teapot or of teacup.  There's emotions, wishes, dreams and history in there; broken-hearted tears that fell into steaming cups, trembling hands gripping the porcelain for warmth....  Each hairline crack may tell a story.  For some people, a teacup is just a means to an end.  For others, their teacup is sending a message-  I am delicate.  I am stern.  I adore fine things.  I have an edge...

Whenever I'd go to a teahouse or shop, my favorite part (other than opening very cannister for a sniff) was connecting with other people over the tea-set they were picking out.  I cherished my girlhood tea-sets, and I still have quite a few of them in storage and in regular rotation.  My favorite sugar cannister, teapot and creamer are the thick, white porcelain ones with the blue roses I was given by my aunt while she was alive, when I was twelve.   She was a wonderful painter, and she painted my set.  I have good memories of her. My favorite tea cup is the "Canadian Dogwood" teacup that my grandma gave me (pictured above).  I don't know if it has any collectable value or where it really came from- that's not why it's special.  It was a special gift, saved just for me because she knows I love dogwood and collecting favorite cups was our thing.  It was one of the last things she gave me before her memory went.  Every little gold line, every curve in the cup holds decades of memory and joy. Secrets.  Lies.  Fortunes read. I love how perfectly soft the texture of the cup is, there's something about it that feels good against the skin. If ever I had a favorite cup, mine is the dogwood cup.

I do believe that my tealeaf readings tend to be a little bit more informative in my favorite cup.  As far as divinations go, it isn't at the top of my tool kit but I do occasionally turn the cup and read the remains...  And in my favorite cup I always seem to get a warning, some symbol that lets me know that in some ways, the spirits are looking out for me even in small ways.

Pine Pollen Honey Cakes:  nothing quite goes with a good cup of tea like biscuits, cookies and cakes.  For this year's Feast of the Pines, we made foraged pine pollen cream cakes.

Your favorite teacup or teapot might say a lot about you.  Mine say that my values lie in sentimental connections between the women in my life and myself.  That I feel connected to my elders and also to the dead.  I am feminine and maybe a little remote.  I don't do matching sets and I'm a sucker for my vices. My favorite teacup says; I'm old school, and I value memory.  I wonder what yours says about you.  I bet your favorite teacup has a wonderful memory inside it.  Rituals have a way of forming those kinds of bonds, creating a magic within the places we pour so much memory into...  I still have tea parties.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I'll sit on a blanket in the shade with my rabbits or teddy bears and pretend I'm at the Empress again.


Me, my tea, and my favorite teacup... and all the wonderful memories.



P.S:

Happy Pride Month!

Regional Witchcraft Challenge

When I first posted the #regionalwitchcraftchallenge on Instagram, I had no idea that it would take off into such a unique phenomenon.  The idea was for people to show me what the magical toolbox of their own region looks like.  I wanted to see how magic is shaped by where we live and where we came from, and for us to share those experiences.  When I posted it, I was knee deep in Puget Sound story-telling lore for a project, and was just hoping to connect to a few people about their own bioregional animism.  

But then, something happened; the connection was made and an explosion followed.  Magicians, brujos, sorcieres, charmers, witches, healers, sorcerers and magical folk from all over the world posted a picture of the tools that best represent the craft in their region. From France and Germany, from Italy and Denmark, from Scotland and South Wales, from Australia and South Africa, from New England and Alaska; witches the world over-- over 145 people so far, jumped on this hashtag (or a related one) and shared their tools.  Lo behold- we really are a very distinct spiritual group.

Horseshoes, rusted nails, shells, twisted branches and animal skulls it would appear that every folk witch in the world has their own use for red thread and woven magics.  It has been incredibly connecting, and affirming, this realization that no matter the denominations of magic we practice, we share a common spiritual center, a common animistic thread that tells each of us to collect from the land and bind what we find together to make a practice that is whole and good.  The familiarity was fascinating; if you take a look at the pictures posted, you will see a definite trend in what folk witches the world over need to do their works, and it would appear we are riding similar waves in our practices.

What we share in common in our practices, far outweighs our cultural and religious differences, and binds us together in the common faith of spirit and magic.  I want to thank every single one who participated and made the Regional Witchcraft Challenge a huge success. May the red thread that binds us magical folk never unravel.  

I'd like us all to come together after vaccination and restrictions lift, and meet at some place, some camp or resort, to host our Goblin Markets and share our magical humor.  I picture witchy movie night, ancient board-games, trading skills, karaoke, mischief in the forest, general hell raising.  I want to gather round the fire at a crossroads in the woods and hail to the father and mother of witches, play some banjo and cat's cradle...  I'm picturing a whole lot of sea-shanties and a whole lot of food.

I encourage you so join in, share your regional toolkit and bond with those fascinating humans from all over the world who understand where we're coming from.  I think bringing awareness to diversity/similarity is important-- it's part of the way I was raised and has brought me a lot of good friends and family to share this life with.  Highlighting our beautiful variety and bonding over that shared experience, is an affirming thing, and I'd love to learn more about each and every one of you.  Folk-witches of the world, unite and take over.

My Puget Witchery

It started with a simple picture, of my Puget Sound Magic, the toolkit of a witch who lives along the river, in the shadow of Rainier.  The Puget Sound region is water and earth and sky energy in such perfect balance, so much life hidden in shadows. We are quiet people in a way, often introverted and socially calm, so often we miss each other.   If you are a Puget Sound animistic practitioner of magic, seek me out, we should congregate as the rivers do.  I look forward to reaching out to the other Pacific Northwest Witches-- and those around the world, to meet up, to share. The land of mountains and rivers is home to everything a witch could need to work their will. There are whispers in those dark woods and swamps, there are ghosts and monsters in these lakes.

It smells like cedar here, and damp, and that cloyingly sweet scent of tree resins baking in the sun.  It's a land of ghosts, woodland devils, ogres, sea-kingdoms and witches, a good place to be.  Our magic is riparian, our mountains are gods, our forests are haunted and witches are devourers.  There are many demons to dance with in the wood, and underworlds to fly to. Baskets and stones, reeds and bones, there's a lot to love here in the Evergreen woods, and in the whole of the world.

In My Toolbox...

Clay Babies- Famously found on Fox (and McNeil) Island in the Sound and surrounded by a wealth of local lore, these incredible, strange curiosities of geology are the children of the maiden of the sea, and tokens of sadness, sea-divinity, gift giving and messages.  The ones found on the private beaches are now protected from being gathered, but they were free-game not that long ago and still occasionally find their way places.  At this point, most people seem to receive them as gifts from old rock-hounds, like the one I was given by a deceased local, or they gather them from some of the rivers and estuaries in the State that occasionally find themselves populated with these little water-messengers.  They aren't always found on private islands or preserves but that's usually the places they get the most attention; either way, they are children of earth and water and time.  Clay babies from this particular region house water-spirits, small folk imbued with life over the long stretch of time by the sea gods.  Layer after layer, building itself by combination of water and earth over (often) an organic material (such as a worm).  One source claims that they are related to the souls of infants, others claim they are tokens of affection from the sea.  They can represent the spirits of the water and should be kept carefully, and kindly cradled.

St. Helen's Ash-  when the mountain blew her top, her tears went EVERYWHERE.  As far north as Canada, as far south as who knows where, this ash accumulated all over the Pacific Northwest, with all the fury and destructive magic of the mountain.  A little bit of this in any averting dust brings a sense of finality to the charm.

Poplar Fluff- Also known as the Summer Snow, the fluff from the poplar trees smell heavenly but they accumulate everywhere the wind blows and can irritate allergies like crazy.  But watching them dance in the stillness, capturing the light of the sun, rolling along in great piles as you ride by on your bike... it's incredible.  The fluff is an excellent poppet stuffing, but frankly, I like to keep a small pile of the fresh stuff for my spirit to fly with.

Sound Salt-  Some people like to evaporate their waters for the salt, but I prefer to imbue.  I bought some salt on Bainbridge from a local and placed it in a jar with a large sprig of algae from the beach.  Over the months, the salt took up the moisture and scent of the sea from the red algae and now the salt, years later, is perfectly sea-worthy, and cleanses everything it touches, leeching impurities as moisture was leeched from the algae.

Geoduck Shells- when geoduck season comes you'll see a great deal of people out on the beach clamming, it's a Northwest tradition.  Geoducks are symbolically sexual creatures, with a history of use as an Aphrodisiac outside of the USA.  They are swift, sexual, powerful and (apparently) delicious?  Their shells make a good offering bowl to the amorous spirits.

Decayed Cedar- is perhaps one of the most useful incense bases that can be found all over the place-- even in the more lush and wild backyards with a rotting stump out in the fringes.  Cedar is god.  Cedar has every kind of use and is about as close to a world-tree here as one will get.  When decayed, the red bark becomes a sweet, spicy-scented powder that fills the room with the food of the spirits.  From the death of some of these trees comes a new life, found in the flames.  When sprinkled in foot-tracks, the powder conjures spirits (for me at least).

Pitch- from pine and spruce, a tool of dark witching indeed, associated with the magic baskets of the ogresses and snake and snail witches who haunt the woods and waters.  The pitch is perfect for woodwife torches (wood, sticky pitch and dried moss/lichen).

River Clay- the grey mud along the banks of certain creeks and brooks is soft and murky and easily filtered and poured into molds, and the rock clay dries quickly outside the shelf of the riverside away from all the moisture, and when powdered can become some of the most beautiful brown pottery.  There's a lot of death in the clay, those spirits must be appeased and respected and placated before granting consent to be taken.

Spring Water-  The closest to me is the Lynnwood Well and it was pretty sweet, tasty, refreshing and easy.  But the best come from the springs near the mountains further South.  There's just so much more magical UMPH to it, you know?  Those woods are full of demons, snail witches and ogre tribes; whispering wetlands and malefic meadows, and the waters that come from those places hold the spirit of that dark and mysterious medicine.  Spring water is a go-to base for all kinds of potions and notions. 

Glacial Sediment and Silt- as a magical dust.  The glacial sediments give lakes like Diablo their pristine colors, their clarity and coldness.  A tiny pinch of these kinds of dust make an excellent addition to offering sands to the jay spirit, among other gifts.

Cascade Crystals- the devil haunted mountains are a forge operated by old gods and dark spirits, and from the heat and fire of the volcanic ark, one might stumble across a quarry of raw crystal with orange and red sediment impurities within them.  Beautiful, full of the magic of death and fire and forge.  My grandpa would take my sister and cousins and I with him rock hounding up North in the quarries; we'd come back with small handfuls of only the most beautiful little crystals we could dig out by our own hand.  I'd share when with friends at parties and talk all about my cool hippy Scandinavian grandpa and his traveling spirit.  I feel his spirit in the crystals, and every time I pass by the mountains.

Quarantine Tarot: My Top 2020 Decks

A year.  An entire year now in basic quarantine.  Even as we phase to reopening, we have only recently become vaccinated enough to start hanging out more, planning events.  Like many tarot readers, I found myself incredibly blacked-out divination-wise during the lockdown.  I didn't want to explore the past, present or future.  I was tired of seeing disaster on every horizon, grief in every path... I just took a break and started focusing on practical crafts to keep my wandering mind busy.  The crushing anxiety of a pandemic, chronic illness, book release and personal losses made everything about reading for my path (or anyone else) just a nauseating thought.  And frankly, I've never gone so long in my life without being asked for a reading, which was honestly a breath of fresh air.  

But, all that aside, I never let go of my love for the cards.  I kept the collection growing, exploring what these incredible authors and artists from around the world have to offer.  And while 2020 may have been the dickiest year I've ever lived through, I have never been so impressed with the direction that cartomancy is taking. If you have been at a loss for inspiration and direction after a year sitting with this ridiculous nonsense of a past year, then maybe some of these fabulous offerings from 2020/21 will give you some fire.  I mean, these decks are fire.


1. The Infernal Tarot by E. Pollitt


I had begun backing this project in 2020 and it is a phenomenal deck, one that should prove very interesting for readers into that old-world demonology vibe.  Bendy, smooth, thinner cardstock, great gold edges, the etching/woodblock style is fascinating and the colors were a nice slash against the more muted background.


2. Materia Prima by Uusi


Uusi is basically the premium deck maker of our day with some really astonishing offerings in their catalogue, this large deck based on the periodic elements and their relationship to our universe is an interconnected journey through the spiritual interpretation of science and really takes some getting used to.  Those who know their chemistry will really excel with this deck, but people a little less familiar with the science will need to make sure they get the booklet that accompanies.  Perfect cardstock, silky and probably some of the highest quality you can get. Unboxing below...


3. Jonasa Jaus 5th Edition

Every green witch in the world needs this deck.  It's literally green!  And yellow, and black, and white.  It's seriously a wonderful pallet.  Floral, feminine, sensual and emotional, it is my favorite overall artwork for the 2020 picks and I highly recommend ordering her other editions as well.  What I loved was that the cards tell everyone a different story, and they tell me the story of a lush, wild, shaded garden and a woman's romantic journey through it. All of the editions are fascinating, and this edition is wider than a typical deck, but not too difficult to shuffle.  I'm a big fan of the overall aesthetic and you will be too. Unboxing below...


4. Ad Orbita

A wonderful offering through Old Rose Press is an interesting combination of nature and space, teaming planets and stars with rooted vines and seashells.  For those who prefer to do some work in interpreting and who dig the poetry of the abstract, this deck is very appealing.  While the cards are a bit heavy, and the deck is thick enough to be a little difficult for a traditional shuffle, I can't complain because as always, the quality is just so damn fine and the simplicity is refreshing.


5. True Heart Intuitive Tarot

Beloved figure in the world of witchy media Rachel True brings us a long awaited gift that really stood out last year in the best way.  Offering hope, guidance, positivity, color and inclusion, this deck was a splash of good vibes in a dreary year, and really reflects the wonderful evolution of tarot styles.  Frankly this is the deck I'd get anyone looking to start because it is so easily interpreted.  The packaging was great, the accompanying booklet was thorough and useful and frankly the whole thing looks really unique and classic at the same time.


Seriously, if you need to reawaken during these, the vaccine times, then these decks are ready to guide you.

North American Witches

Cover-art by A. Jimenez, from Folkloric Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience by Via Hedera


Nightflyer, Spirit Wanderer-  we fly in our dreams, or by other means, alone or in teams, under moon beams, on the backs of horses, without their skins, to the hilltop with the Devil and all of his friends.


Shapeshifter-
changing into beetles, black and fat; wandering through keyholes as a frog or a cat. To unshoe horses or just to make mischief, or to haunt the barn like a common milk-thief.


Healer- of the living


Hexer- unforgiving


Diviner of unknown things: tells fortunes from eggs and rings, makes friends with the damned and reads omens in hands and sees whatever your future will bring.


Conjuror of spirits- who dwells between worlds, who opens doors for the dead; and makes spirits tremble as they wander the wood, in awe, and in honor, and dread.


Speaker to bees,

Fly as we please;

Worshiping at idols,

And braiding our bridles.

Knotting up love charms,

Cursing your side-arms.

Summoning the blue-jay,

keeping rivals away,

put lizards inside you,

make nightmares that ride you.

Snake-rooter, dairy looter,

Hair-ball and bullet-shooter.

Hilltop matron,

Crossroad patron.

Hair-tangler--

Mind-mangler;

Bone-boiler,

And body oiler.

Through a keyhole,

And through the sieve;

Dancing at Midsummer and All Hallows' Eve.

Through thick, through thin
and way over the hillside;
we are new world witches,
and that's how we ride.

-Via Hedera

Vernal Awakening: News, Revisions and Spring


Awakening:

It's up to the cherry blossoms and dandelions now... it's up to the sun and the new day.

Whoa this has been a lot.  I mean a lot.  Have you ever stood in the shallows only to look over your shoulder at a massive wave as it inevitably rolls towards you?  I have.  I remember that moment on a beach in California.  Vague memories of visiting the wildlife center, and then down to a crowded beach with waves so sudden and high, they scared me to death.  That what Spring has been since last I wrote here- a tremendous wave coming right at me.  Thrilling, fun, daunting, humbling, sad.

Out there, beyond the walls of pre-vaccinated restrictions, there is a world itching to open up.  We plan to hit the road for summer, see the Oregon high desert, Yosemite, the Bay and back up the Coast again, scouting new living locations along the way.  We're westerners to our bones and prefer to stay over here, but the world is changing and it's time to go see it.  Spring is about movements, and we are all so jittery.

If you're feeling very jittery, one way to pass the time is by going outside- to the garden, wide-open parks, to the greenbelts, national parks to places where the land is greening and changing (and you can be safely distanced from others).  Watch those changes each time you go to a place, the turning of buds overnight into bushels of flowers, the awakening of spiders in every corner.  Remind yourself that life is a cycle, and it is always changing to a rhythm.  Not much left to do after that but dance the jitters out.


Spring:

Did you know that I have a YouTube channel?  Featuring folk charms in real life; everything from clay withering hearts, to tarot unboxing, to black witch-bottles  The channel hasn't been updated in a little while due to winter/covid, but now that the daylight has returned, so will the videos.  I'm working on covering every aspect of folk-magic that I find interesting, including rat-letters and egg fortunes.  Mostly. I'm aiming to get better equipment and take more time to show off the beauty of the Northwest.

Updates:

Last I wrote here, I was waxing poetic on the sweetness of Valentines Day, but since then there's been a lot of spring changes; small improvements to my long declining lung health, a scheduled vaccine, a new bunny buddy, a book debuted to kind and compassionate responses, I've finished a bunch of deadlines and now have more time for art, parks volunteer opportunities are restarting for the spring, I'm transferring to complete my major, looking to leave the area and start new adventures elsewhere... but then again, who isn't trying to move right now?   Seems like the pandemic has given us all the itch to get closer to family and further from the expense of the metro areas...  I guess we're all free-falling a bit, standing before the wave...

I've been getting a lot of wonderful questions and feedback about my statues, the writing and some of my social media content and it's been incredibly humbling and kind.  Being able to speak with the fine folk over at That Witch Life Podcast was a highlight of my year honestly, they were so welcoming and forward and funny and open-- it's that kind of energy that makes me grateful for the community we've built- a sentiment I expressed recently with Cory over at New World Witchery Podcast.  It's always a pleasure to speak to Cory, to bond over our mutual appreciation for so much magical shit in the world.  And if you somehow didn't know, Cory has a new book out that you simply MUST have in your collection!

Those of us flying free on that wild magic seem to be coalescing into a mutually respectful and supportive niche community of witchy weirdos and being able to nerd out like this the last month or two has brought me some incredible peace at a time of incredible fear and stress in the world.  A huge de-stressor was hanging with Lori over at My American Melting Pot Podcast and vibing on the mystique and media of witchery.  Hanging out with so many writer and speakers and thinkers in the world of multiculturalism and magic has been incredibly humbling, and I'm thankful for it.


Authors Note: A Vital Revision to Folkloric Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience: A Crucible at a Crossroads

In the process of writing and publishing we meet all sorts of challenges and difficulties.  Most authors I talk to walk away feeling just a little more anxiety, as there are always parts of their books that needed  a seconds more attention in the editing process.  While there are a few noticeable inconsistencies in the punctuation and typeface, a glaring error that must be addressed is the misidentification of the tribal affiliation of story-teller Vi Hilbert, who belongs to the Upper Skagit people of the Pacific Northwest and is a revered figure in the cultural restoration movement of Lushootseed-speaking tribes of the Puget Sound.  It is imperative that I correctly identify this elder and I apologize for this mis-affiliation and ask that readers please make a note of this change going forward in current editions, and be aware that that e-books will be updated and print editions revised going forward.  With love, support and acknowledgement to the first people of the Pacific Northwest and their traditional territories.


"by way of ivy"
via Hedera
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