Fair Flower Sorceress

I think the best love spells use flowers; they are the sexual and aesthetic virtue of the herb.   There's a million meanings for flowers, a million different names and uses, values and cautions.  The best flowers are the ones that bloom fat and warm in summer time- those are my favorite; the morning glories and roses, the poppy, lunaria, magnolias and clematis.  I suppose, because I prefer to dance in the Garden of Venus, it would make sense that I find a deep kinship in flowers.  The floral component to love magic is ancient, probably among the first forms of superstitious actions taken by humans to draw love.

In most classical examples, the creator of philters (love potions), powders and food- all of which are vehicles for the delivery of erotic/romantic magic, is female, and often regarded as a sorceress (like enchanting Kirki who seduced Odysseus), a witch (like Medea of Colchis, pharmakis and priestess of Hekate), an enchantress (like beautiful Namo, the flower sorceress) or even as simple maids beguiled into the black arts by desperation for love and beauty, as are attested to mainly in the European witch-trial documents.  However, The Picatrix and other older occult material make it very clear that both sexes were more than willing to turn to floral mixtures to achieve their ends.  The famous so-called grimoire of Marie Laveau, better known as  17th century occult charm collection, Le Petit Albert, gives us a floral enchantment "For Causing a Girl to Dance Undressed To Her Underwear" and lists the components (to be gathered on the St. John's eve, before sunrise) as:

Wild marjoram, 
sweet marjoram, 
wild thyme, 

myrtle leaves, 
three walnut leaves, 
three small stems of fennel

Marjoram's simple phrase is "blushes" (Powell, p. 146), a flower of girlish grace ruled by air, mercurial qualities and associated with Aphrodite.  In Greek symbolism, thyme flower symbolized activity, bees and restored energy, and it corresponds to Venus and water, its flowers vary in shades of pink and mauve and carry a pungent, slightly bitter and warm scent.  Vervain is just as pungent and bitter as thyme flower, only cooler and  represented enchantment as well as a warning of ill news. Myrtle, though not floral, has always been a Venusian herb associated with love and Aphrodite's servants, a sign of willingness.  By contrast, the symbolism of  warm, dry, sweet fennel in the language of herbs (from Roman origin) give us the fennel as a source of force and strength.  Walnut is associated with intellect and granted wishes.  Together, these herbs and flowers when finely powdered represent exactly what it is they are intended to do; cause a girl to be compelled to do some activity which one deems erotic.  I for one don't find pungent tones very erotic, and so my mixes tend to have more floral and earthy sweet and musky tones, or spicy and warm; scents that turn me on and attract the kind of people I would desire.  I desire people who like the smell of moon flowers and cinnamon, cloves and roses, violets and opium.

"The number 3 plays a prominent part in many ancients recipes.  3 red rose leaves, 3 white rose leaves, 3 forget-me-nots, 3 leaves of veronica enter into the composition of ancient philters."
- Cora Linn Daniels & C. M. Stevans, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World: Vol 1 1903

Of the famous flowers of magic are is of course queenly Red Rose who's virtues being numerous and far reaching is revered for her secrecy, powers over lust, remarkable beauty and intoxicating smell.  All parts of the rose are used in love, sex, secret, war, death and healing magic, and each rose by variety carries its own magic virtues.

Another of honorable mention would have to be a favorite of early alchemists the periwinkle or vinca major/minor, also known as "sorcerer's violet" used in Western European cosmetic and love charms for some time, though also used in magic relating to magic of the sea (probably due to the plant's association with the nymph Thetis).   Discordes, Galen and Culpepper all remarked upon the 'binding' nature of vinca and given the nature of periwinkles to creep and bind all over plants it touches, the association is apt.  Periwikle is symbolic of fidelity, friendship and peace in French flower lore.  In other sources we find charms and superstitions regarding periwinkle as a powder additive to charms which will reconcile man and wife.   Apuleius's Herbarium describes periwinkle as a useful wort against bedevilment, snakes, beasts of the wild, poisons, but also useful for the granting of wishes, to calm envy and terror, to offer prosperity and grace.  It is recommended to gather this plant with the utmost cleanliness of body, when the moon is 9 nights old.

Lilly of the Valley is an old fairy herb which adores to be preserved in almond oils or red wines, and is among chief plants for the love sorceress.  Of lily of the valley, a staple of the British pharmakopoeia, Paul Huson said; "The scent of the lily of the valley provides feelings of abundance and well being.  It enhances all friendships and provides affection and love."  Culpepper remarked on the medicinal qualities of the flower for improving memory and focus of mind.  Funny, like many herbs gathered specifically to ensnare or bond, the lily of the valley is poisonous, or at least the leaves and berries are, leaving the floral element safe to use in magic powders and strewing blends.

"Perhaps not surprisingly many of the Lily kin are poisonous despite their unearthly beauty, such as Convallaria, poisoning by which is characterized by dilated pupils, delirium, and cardiac arrest.  With this particular Lily, it is the crimson berries that possess the concentrated poison." - Daniel A. Schulke, Viridarium Umbris (p.93)

When blended with lavender and honeysuckle, here lies a powder to strew about a bedroom where lovers have quarreled.  When powdered and blended with gourd husk, slippery elm, black pepper and pollen, lily of the valley will cause gossipers to sicken and sneeze when they speak ill of the witch.  When the juice of the flowers are spread over tools, she will purify and enchant these objects. When the juice of the berries are rubbed over working tools in autumn, those tools will be enchanted and sanctified.  Eastern folklore paints the lily as sacred and lucky, gifted from the fairies (Daniels p.10391) with the ability to multiply good fortune for whoever grows a fairy-given bulb.
"Witches also found a use for the plant. The stems, wrapped around a person nine times, were thought to be effective in casting a wicked spell.  This magic was particularly strong if the plant was used three days before a full moon." 
-Laura C. Martin, Garden Flower Folklore 
Morning Glory will bind and ensnare with very little effort.  She adores attention and desires many lovers, ones she can slowly choke and smother and love to death if she can.  In my garden of affinity, Morning Glory shares the spotlight with creeping rose, ivy and slomanum as the guardians of the gate.  The rose of passion, the ivy of wisdom, the nightshade of death, the bindweed of sight, each one sacred to the arts of love charming and hex binding.  She adores shade and sun, she casts spells over bees and gives shade to rabbits in their thickets.  If you give her an inch, she'll take a foot.  Morning Glory stands out among these ones as the key of the mind traveler.  The extraction method of her psychedelic virtues takes work if you care to do it the long way, but the lsd-like seeds have long been taken for the purpose of sacred sight and divine hallucinations in some Mexican shamanic traditions.  It's use in psychedelic culture today is a pretty new import, and you'll find it more common that people commune more often with MG's cousin, the baby woodrose seed, which produces a second day euphoria I would describe as nothing less than a harmony hang over.

Tomorrow the dreams and the flowers will fade...

In Thomas Moore's "In the Light of the Harem" from Lalla Rookh there exists a beautiful vision of floral sorcery, flower enchantress Namouna; a woman well-versed in charms, amulets and talismans especially those of love.  In the poem, this sorceress gathers her blossoms; including those of rosemary, amaranth, musk rose, anemones, woodbine, clove-tree, moonflower and basil, by midnight and weaves them into a wreath.  Wreath magic is a large part of my summer work, and are a tradition among many peoples.  My wreathes tend to be flowers of summer woven with charms of love, talismans and sachets that contain everything that captures or draws love, sex, romance, frenzy, sleep, drunkenness- any manner of my favorite things.   Namouna is an inspiration, an erotic herbalist who puts love and desire into every blossom picked, recounting love and becoming one with her bounty through prayer, song and sheer affinity.  The enchantress in this narrative ensnares with flowers and sweet words, a common motif of the witch in romantic poetry and prose over the centuries.

"With what delight the enchantress views
so many buds, 
bathed with the dews 
and beams of that blessed hour!- her glance 
Spoke something past all mortal pleasures, 
As if a kind of holy trance, 
She hung above the fragrant treasures, 

Bending to drink their balmy airs, 
As if she mixed her soul with theirs, 
And twas indeed, the perfume shed 
From flowers and scented flame that fed--"

Namouna, with a lengthy incantation summons the virtues of loving herbs, among them, the jasmine.  In the language of flowers, jasmine is described pleasantly by most sources.

"The image of love, that nightly flies to visit the bashful maid, 
steals from the jasmine flower, that sighs Its soul, like hers, in the shade 
The dream of a future, or happier hour, That alights on misery's brow, 
Springs out of the almond silvery flower, That bloom on a leafless bough."
In the Light of the Harem, Moore

Powell describes the jasmine as symbolic of amiability, sensuality, grace, elegance and attachment. The creeping jasmine blossoms early in spring in my town, and withers as soon as the days grow warm.

In my garden of floral sorcery there grows bluebells, magnolias and hyacinths for grief; red roses, morning glory, solanum, creeping jasmine, swamp rose and periwinkle for binding; hellebore for madness and trilium for beauty.   I love the lazy nodding of lily and the bitter sting of blackberry flower thorns.  There's magic in the preserved essence of a sweet violet in syrup, and the preserved scent of lily in almond oil.  Mock orange flowers and lavender will make magic that smells like expensive soap, melissa and basil flowers when gathered fresh and hung in doorways will send raging spirits to sleep and lure satyrs to bed.  I'm a fair flower sorceress, in my own way.

Further Reading

  • Culpepper's Herbal
  • Mastering Herbalism by Paul Huson
  • Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World: Vol 1 by Cora Linn Daniels & C. M. Stevans
  • The Spellbook of Marie Laveau: The Petit Albert by Talia Felix
  • A Floral Grimoire: Plant Charms, Spells, Recipes, and Rituals by Patricia Telesco
  • Garden Flower Folklore by Laura C. Martin
  • The Meaning of Flowers by Claire Powell
  • A Modern Herbal Vol 2 by Margaret Grieve
  • Viridarium Umbris by Daniel Schulke
  • Collected works of Thomas Moore

All Your Grandmas: Ancestor Veneration, Mixed-raced Identity and the A word

"Five Goddesses Walk Into  a Bar..." by Andrew G. Jimenez, 2017
Me, The Morrigan, Brigid the Healer, Oshun and Spider Grandmother walk into a bar...
Morrighan orders a whiskey, Brighid orders a scotch.
Oshun orders a Cuban rum, Spider Grandmother orders tequila.
I order a shot of each in a glass just for me.  I like mixed drinks.

The Meeting of Rivers...

There are a lot of dimensions when it comes to identity.  Some people would be very uncomfortable with the idea of mixed people mixing spiritualities.  Some people don't have strong enough ties to any of their cultures to feel like part of the community.  That's the tricky part about being American; often we are not surrounded by people who share the same ethnicity or culture, but we share the greater culture of being American, which in and of itself is a mixed-raced experience and can manifest in a number of ways.

When I think about myself, I don't see a native-white-black-latino-plus or a mulatto.  I see a little bit of everywhere and everything. I see my Irish and French and English ancestors, I see my West African ancestors, I see my Indigenous ancestors, I see the little bits and pieces that all come together to make me look the way I am, but does not define me.  Mostly, I see the struggle and accomplishments of all the women who came before me.  I don't necessarily envision oppression and triumph- I see humanity.

I suppose that's what makes the green path so easy for me; it is a universal among my ancestry, it is a universal among peoples, utilizing plants and their virtues for the benefit of life.  The ewe veneration of Santeria, the medicine of the American Southwest, Pacific Northwest indigenous herbalism, English wortcunning, Greek pharmakaeia; it's all a source of goodly, godly wisdom to me, and it transcends each culture and the boundaries of land and race, and extends out towards all people, urging us to commune with the garden of life.  The green path has no race, no culture, no god; it encompasses many and all; a legion of beliefs and an eternity of mysteries in between.  Whether a yerbera, osainista, cunning man, medicine woman or herbalist; whether a shaman, spiritual naturalist or hard animist, the green road rises in every direction and leads always to the heart of the woods.  By whatever name we walk and on whatever road we take, the path is verdant, alive, green.

Syncretic means blended, and that's what happened when people immigrated to America and condensed in different regions.  Curanderismo isn't Spanish and it isn't Indigenous, it isn't Catholic and it isn't spiritism- it's all of that and more.  Hoodoo isn't voodoo or Ifá, it isn't indigenous medicine, it isn't Christianity- it's all that and more and less depending on where you go.  Southwest witchcraft is one thing in Santa Fe and a completely different thing in Los Angeles.  American syncretic religious systems like Louisiana voodoo, hoodoo, conjure, granny, New English witchcraft, bruja- only exist BECAUSE of multiple cultures mixing religious beliefs and folklore.  The syncretic religious systems of the South are rooted in Afro indigenous spirituality, European Catholic symbolism, Indigenous American Medicine and various other bits and pieces; for example, Arabic medicine in Curanderismo, Chinese divination used in Cuban Santeria, or the influence of Filipino Catholicism in Louisiana Voodoo, or Basque, Jewish and African folk charms and remedies in Mexican brujeria.

When the rivers meet, where the compass converges, you get the magic of the New World.  You get hundreds of strains of multicultural intersectionality and developed religious traditions to reflect this complex, tumultuous history.  Since the colonization of this continent; the cultures and ethnicities of Europe, Asia, West Africa and America have mixed, assimilated, blended and warred.  It's everywhere.  It's part of American story telling and folklore and it's a part of you. Americans ARE a culture- full of cultures and subcultures and countercultures. Magic in the New World is unique because it no longer resembles the people who delivered this wisdom, rather, it reflects the merging of peoples.

Maybe rather than focusing exclusively on the great seas of divide between our ancestors and the complexities of culture and colonization, take some time to explore the common threads in their folk magic?  Animism, Funereal rites, Agrarian rites, Ancestor Veneration & Propitiatory Rites, Divination, Apotropaic charms, Anathemic charms, Herbalism- Medical and Mystical, Oral Traditions and Story Telling- there's a whole hell of a lot of magical principles and metaphysical ideologies in common between peoples' folklore.  Shape-shifting, dowsing, charming, conjuring, placation of spirits, laws of silence and spirit-retrieval- you can find it in Indigenous animism, Afro-American spirituality, European folklore, Southwestern witchery, East Asian shamanic systems- the mystic has some very basic commonalities, and it makes sense how these things derived from one another, emulate or conflate with one another.

The Boundaries Between Trees...

There are people who are not ethnically related to the culture in which they grew up or live.  There are people who do not resemble the dominant culture to which they belong.  There are people who are mixed with two or more different and distinct ethnicities and displaced and they are not immersed in a single culture.  There are people who come from families where nobody looks like each other, nobody is genetically related and everyone shares their cultures and faith in an amalgam, a very American thing to happen in "new normal" families. The latter is where I'm from. There are hundreds of different dynamics to culture and race, our perceptions of ownership and sovereignty- nobody has a monopoly on the situation.

All that can be said as a universal truth on this matter is that culture is a shifting and complex thing.  This is especially true in meltingpot countries like the Americas; our identity IS mixed raced, it IS blended, and not every single instance of that is a product of rape and assimilation and colonization.  Some exchanges in the world are natural happenstance with humble beginnings.  I think we Americans can obsess over identity politics to the degree that we ignore the common human curiosity that made our ancestors travel, intermarry, share religions and customs without force; that curiosity that drives people together rather than apart... we forget that the story is bigger than our shores, and more human than our historical demons.

We are so uncomfortable with being comfortable with being multicultural sometimes that it impacts our spiritual development. We literally have to question if we are allowed to enjoy our own cultures or explore our own identity.  We have to question if we're somehow being disloyal to one side or the other when the truth is this anxiety is an illusion; there is only you and your faith, far transcending culture and race. There are often no black and white areas when it comes to the transmission of spirituality across the world; each and every instance of emulation, assimilation, dissemination and yes, appropriation, must be judged on an individual level with some rational reasoning.

Not all cultural exchange is inherently appropriation, especially not faith and spirituality.  When we throw around complex terms like appropriation in the pagan community, most of the time we're talking about the legitimate problem of adopting cultural spiritual beliefs while knowing little of and contributing nothing to that culture; when one exoticizes a culture and wears a costume to fit in while having the privilege to take the costume off and leave that culture in times of struggle.  We're usually talking about someone in a place of privilege banking off the intellectual property of the people disenfranchised by the dominant group.  It's a matter of authenticity and respecting boundaries. But these days it's a term sometimes used to reinforce colorism, ethnic stereotypes and to insinuate that mixed-raced multiculturals must choose their religious identity according to shade of skin, roundness of eye, accent of voice.  It's tricky and touchy and nobody agrees on the matter, which is why it's important to be authentic to yourself and have thick skin against people who see you as a traitor to their own ideals.

It's one thing to pretense at the customs and faith of a culture you know little of and contribute nothing to and have the power to simply dismiss when needed, it's entirely another to be multiracial and multicultural following a respectful relationship with the old ways of your grandmothers.  Taking issue with mixed people blending their cultural religious systems delegitimizes and invalidates the perspectives of mixed people as well as adoptees and our unique experiences.

Take joy in who and what you are.  Take joy in your community and what you represent.  If you're a native/black/white/Latino mixed kid, go see what those cross cultural exchanges have made in the magical world around you.  Seek out and explore this uncomfortable realm if you're uncomfortable with it.  Don't be afraid that you're skin is too light to research your Orisha ancestors, don't be afraid your skin is too dark to honor your Irish or French ancestors.  Don't let that fair hair or wavy kink make you feel like you're supposed to follow gods who look like you.  Follow gods or spirits who love you; whom you love and respect.  You can do that as a mixed American without resorting to appropriating or co-opting from distant and unfamiliar sources.  Be authentic to the experiences that have shaped your entire world.  Know thyself, learn about where you live and be respectful of your limitations, of your own ignorance- hell, just acknowledge your ignorance and go from there.  You know who you are.  You know what you are.  So if the pagan path leads you to take the different roads of your ancestors, then maybe that's exactly the path you should follow.  Let no one tell you to choose between your grandmothers.

Strange Fruit...
"As a black person in America, living with the legacy of slavery and all that it entails it has been difficult for me to honor my European ancestors.  How to I honor ancestors who most likely became ancestors by raping my other ancestors?  How do I, as a priestess, honor certain ancestors while ignoring others who are also responsible for my existence?" - Szmeralda Shanel, My Blood Song, from  Shades of Ritual: Minority Voices in Practice edited by Crystal Blanton

Every time I read about her experiences with Brigid and her difficulties reconciling her loyalty to Afro diasporic ancestors and their oppressors, I am reminded at the privilege I have knowing my mixed ancestry and having a positive experience with it.  Sometimes I'm not nearly as woke as I'd like to think I am, and when it comes to mixed people, sometimes I forget not everybody is as happy about it as me.  Not everyone has a reason to be...

How do we honor a bloody history?  That's for each of us to answer for ourselves.  I was lucky to come from a place where history can be reconciled for me; it's never been a problem for me to feel the love between my ancestors through me.  This may not be the typical black American pagan experience. Maybe for a lot of melanated American mystics, there's absolutely no reason to acknowledge some parts of their ancestry, or maybe, only enough room for a little bit of influence.  Not everyone gets the privilege of being in a position where they can reconcile their ancestry with such ease, and I'm aware of that stark difference the more I speak with young mixed black women trying to find a balance spiritually between all their ancestors.

In the black pagan community I've encountered, there's a definite question as to how one can honor their African ancestors while at the same time acknowledging the ancestors who bought, sold, worked and raped those African ancestors. How do we deal with the dissonance of history?  It depends entirely on you, your familial history, your culture- but ultimately, why don't you just ask the spirits? Is there room at the altar for all of your grandmothers, or do some grandmothers need to be quietly relegated to the pages of history?  Maybe, just maybe, there isn't room at every altar for every grandma, and that's okay.

Room At The Altar.

The spirits I come from and deal in are beyond the cruelties of their past lives.  They stare across the expanses at each other, in agreement that whatever it is they were and are, they live through me.  And they love me.  And I love them.  And that bond, that contagion has formed between them through their mutual interest in their descendants.  You'd be surprised what differences can be set aside when a common goal unites you.

There's room at my altar for all of my grandmothers, I know this because they share something wonderful in common that extends beyond the scope of space and time and history.  They have me.  They have the culmination of their bloodlines, they have the reflection of their deeds and lives all personified in a single person, and that's me and my siblings.  There is no bad blood between Brigid and Oshun in my house, or between Grandmother Spider and An Morrigan.

Your grandmothers came from Europe, they sailed hellish seas and they had names.  Your grandmothers came from Africa, they were beautiful and stolen, and they had names.  Your grandmothers came from the East, from Islands and Archipelagos and continents far distant, and they had names.  Your grandmothers were in the New World when the others came, and they had names.  Your grandmothers' skin was gold, and copper, and milk white, and clay brown.  The blood of their trials and tumult runs through your veins, and while your ancestors may have warred and fought, you are their legacy united in a single form, and many are bound to love you.  Do you love you?

Saturn's Allies.

"Both fairy and demon familiars could appear in a variety of animal guises ranging from apes, stags, horses, lambs, ferrets, dogs, cats and mice to birds, bees, spiders, grasshoppers, snails and frogs."
-Emma Wilby, Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits

"And when the old hag went out, Ambrose killed the wild boar, and took out the hare; from the hare he took the pigeon, from the pigeon the box, and from the box the two shining beetles; he killed the black beetle, but kept the shining one alive. So the witch's power left her immediately-"- James Frazer, The Golden Bough

A well known witch and familiar, the beetle in many cultures and by many varieties is known as a harbinger of omens both good and bad, as well as a master of the dark arts themselves.  Western European folklore, particularly that of Ireland, England and Germany paint the beetle as symbolic of death, the bringer of rains and the storms.

"In Maryland, it is believed that if a black beetle flies in the room or up against you, it is a warning of severe sickness, if not death."
Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World by Cora Linn Daniels

In some Afro-diasporic traditions, certain snakes are revered as harmless and are the totemic animals of shamans and healers.   Now, in America, often times the snake is considered a bad omen, as is messing with snakes.  Even some Southern hoodoo paints the snake as a bringer of death and doom, however this changes as you move further west, where the snake can represent sacrifice, healing, wisdom, creation and good luck (if one survives interaction with the snake).  Snakes have different meanings to different cultures, even the variety of snake; vipers foretell gossip, garter snakes foretell rain and good gardening, rattlers represent motherhood, defense and protection from enemies,

"Slow crawled the snail and if I right can spell, 
In the soft ashes marked a curious L:
Oh, may the wondrous omen lucky prove!
For L is found in Lubberkin and Love!"
Irish Popular Superstitions by William Robert Wilde

The snail in many mythologies predicts weather and luck depending on its shape, color and location.  They are remarked upon in old English and German folk medicine as having curative properties, and also regarded magically as able to predict future lovers.  White snail shells offer luck with the weather, golden ones offer wealth, and black foretells of dire circumstances to come but, in traditional lore, also could remove warts from the body and aches from teeth.

"Dried and powdered snails are fed to enemies to cause live things to grow in the body, and they are included in recipes for Goofer Dust.  Because snails exude mucus, they are also taken to be symbolic of women's sexual organs in love work"- Catherine Yronwode, Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic

Culpepper's Herbal assigned curative properties to cooked snails and snail water.  Here in the PNW, some local tribes regard the snail as emblematic of the famed "bug-eyed" Snail-woman, a witch who fills her spiral basket with children caught playing in winter.  She ensnares them with treats and devours them, much like the hag of Hansel and Grettle far across the sea.

"Snail, snail, put out your horns, I'll give you bread and barley corns."
-Cock Robin, and Other Nursery Rhymes and Jingles by Cock Robin 

"If you see a white spider, you will see a corpse."
-old folk-saying
Step into my parlor...

African American folklore gives us the spider as a story teller who teaches moral lessons and wise parables while Southwestern witchery depicts the spider as a Grandmother who helps, heals and guides mankind.  Whether a folk hero, Biblical sign or ill omen, the spider is a complicated ally.

"The spider is thought to be creative and a weaver in many cultures, weaving the deigns of life and fate.  It is associated with words and communication."
Symbols in Arts, Religion and Culture: The Soul of Nature by Farrin Chwalkowski

She is associated with fire, thunder, sun and stars in some cultures, and moon, water, femininity and rain in others, and her medicine teaches us to mind the forces beyond our control.  Patience to the spider.

  • Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World by Cora Linn Daniels
  • The Golden Bough by James Frazer
  • Symbols in Arts, Religion and Culture: The Soul of Nature by Farrin Chwalkowski
  • Cock Robin, and Other Nursery Rhymes and Jingles by Cock Robin  
  • Irish Popular Superstitions by William Robert Wilde
  • Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways (Pagan Portals) by  Mabh Savage
  • Watkins Dictionary of Magic by Nevill Drury
  • Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits by Emma Wilby
All photographs taken by Via Hedera, King County Washington.

Green Water and Pitch Pantry

Some of My Personal River-Inspired Recipes....

Outside the sun is baking the sap in the trees, the flowers are browning, the weeds are hip-high and begging to be plucked.  Along the hillside, the vetch and broom and sweetpea pods cackle in the wind and crack at the slightest contact, raining down little brown and black spheres.  They roll into the brush with the piles of elder flower and honey locust flower.  Just now, the rowans are blooming.  And the poplars?  My gods they smell like the stuff of dreams and desires, sticky and sweet and fresh and golden brown.  They're all sex and healing, a tasty combination I adore.  The mosquitoes bite at my golden skin and the spiders slowly creep into my home, tucking themselves into corners, ready for the inevitable fruit flies.

This place is my home.  Others find it easy to pick up and leave, but I'm the ivy, with deep roots and a need to take over my area.  Reaching out over my space, in my grasp are hundreds of roots and saps and leaves and trees, fruits and seeds, fronds and nuts.  There's a wealth of work for a greenhand.  I don't have to choose between my ancestors or perform elaborate cultural rituals when I'm here; I need to honor my dead and the land.  I need to create from the collective wisdom of those who came before me.   Sometimes in dreams, usually in thoughts; random hunches and whispers on the wind, in the dark.

I leave offerings out for so many spirits, wishing everyone the best and wishing them well.  In return, I dream about the harmonies between plants, I pay attention to the way everything changed right before it eases into something else.  Sometimes it's imperceptibly slow, sometimes it's just a change of the weather. I learn everything I need to remember about life from the land, from the plants; from watching the way the cottonwood sheds right on time in April-but I wait until the sun's heated the trees' resin before skimming my portion... or from waiting until the temperature reaches a dry 80 degrees for at least a few days before wading into the patches of vecth in my mom's yard, before they twist and snap and explode to bits.  It's all following a pattern and swayed by the slightest chance.  I'm at home here, and my pantry is full of the land; in jars and gourds and little dollies.

River Suffumigation Recipe:
  • Decayed cedar bark from the highlands (I do not harvest near wetlands, tends to be rotten)
  • Poplar resin extracted in oil
  • Pine sap (fresh and a very small amount as a binder)
  • Fir bark (powdered)
  • Tincture of Lady Fern
    Love Me Dolly Stuffing (All parts dried and used as filling)
    • Wild rose 
    • Cottonwood fluff
    • Vetch flower and seeds
    • Honey locust flower 
    • Mock orange flower 
    • Symbolic Innards:
      • Cherry stone 
      • Rosehips
      • Oxalis tuber
      • Bitter cherry gum (dehydrated)
    • Pine needles
    • Cedar shavings
    • Poplar fluff
    • Cattail powder
    • Powdered Nettle
    Green River Strewing Herbs: (all dried)
    • Orange honeysucke- highlands (dried whole flower)
    • Wild daisy petals- riverside
    • Blackberry flower- anywhere
    • Salmonberry flower- riverside
    • Madrona flower- hilltop
    • Vicia sativa (dried whole flower)- everywhere
    • Hairy Vetch (dried on the vine)
    • Ocean Spray- Kent valley
    • Wild rose- Allentown
    • Mock orange flower- highlands
    Forest Floor Wash:~it smells like the forest floor, like petrichor and moss, like home should smell.
    • Tree lichen 
    • Tree moss 
      • cover these two herbs in highest proof vodka and let steep 2 months and change out every 2 weeks. Strain and mix with the following;
      • White vinegar 
      • Distilled water
      • Rainwater collected under pine branches 
    Riverton Tea Blend Recipe: (from herbs common to Riverton) used to focus before rituals of harvest
    • Rubus ursinus (native blackberry)- fresh juice of berry
    • Salal (dried)
    • Dandelion flower
    • Red Clover Flower
    • Rosehips
    • Mint leaf
    Hag of Winter Smoke: the hag of winter is a figure of local mythology as well as a beloved figure from my Western European heritage.  She personifies winter's barrenness, the needs of the home, the ravages of age and the wisdom of life.  Here, she is Grandmother of the hill, elsewhere she is a Bug-eyed woman or even a witch.  Here's a smoke I use to honor the personification of the Winter Hag these last few mid-winters.
    • Pine pitch, pine sap, pine resin
    • Snowbrush flower (dried)
    • Mahonia aquifolium flower (dried)
    • Decayed cedar powder
      • An addition of sage and mint oil
    Snailwoman Repellent~ she is a witch of regional lore, a snatcher of children with a pitch-lined basket.  Her color is black, her tools are baskets and rotten logs, she adores the smell of children, her gifts are in hexing, curses, glamour and ensnarement.  When I told my young cousin the story, she asked me to make her something to drive Snailwoman and her rotten sticks away... 
    • Sound salt
    • Seaweed (powdered)
    • Cedar needle (powdered)
    • Ghost resin (from a pine, crushed)
    • Sage (crushed)
      • An addition of cedar essential or pine oil
    Healer's Balm:
    • Animal fat or oil of choice
    • Local beeswax
    • Wild harvested poplar buds
    • Hardened poplar sap
    • hard resin from a western pine (also called ghost resin in local occult circles)
    • Pine or Spruce pitch 
      • *add 3 drops olibanum oil if desired 
    Misdummer Tincture/Perfume Base: (all fresh)
    • Mock orange flower
    • Honeysuckle flower
    • Crab-apple flower
    • Blackberry flower
    • Evergreen huckleberry flower
    • Red Clover
    • Wood lily
    • Swamp Rose petals
    • Ocean spray flower
      • high proof spirits

    Green Water of the Mountains:
    • wild bleeding heart
    • lupine
    • bunchberry flower
    • blue elder flower
    • elder leaf
    • White River water
      • this is used to bless tools and feed plant spirits

    Full Moon, Sun's Day

    "Shine fair on me sweet Luna ; for I sing to thee oh goddess, to thee Luna and Hecate earth dwelling who makes even the strong shiver as she passes, where crypts and red blood lie.  All hail to thee, fearsome Hecate! I pray you bear witness to this magic and make potent my work as that of Kirke’s or Medea’s or golden-haired Perimede"- Theocritus, Idylls

    So what does it mean?  What is it saying?  Well, that's for me and my client to know... but what I can tell you; the heart of love lies in looking ahead and seeing deeper than the surface.  I can tell you that a man, strong and angry is bound up in his drama.  I can tell you that he needs to speak to the spirits, and sacrifice his ego.

    Lady, farewell; turn ocean-ward, my steeds.  As I have purposed, so shall I fulfill. Farewell, thou bright-faced Moon! You stars, farewell, That wait upon the chariot of noiseless night.
    -Theocritus, The Sorceress

    A Riverton Magical Herbal

    My passion lies in how people bonded with plants in order to change their lives and shape their desires. Plants take on more than cultural value to me, they take on deep spiritual significance and remain at the forefront of all my work. I genuinely believe plants are unique and individual spirits which must be honored, placated, propitiated, danced for, drummed for, sang for, or prayed over in order to bond with them.  They need to mean something to you, they need to be something other than a material.  At the least, they need to be loved, picked with intention.

    "The work of herbalists was accompanied by a complex spiritual tradition, including particular prayers and formulae to be recited with gathering plants, both to ensure their efficiency and to express gratitude to the plant and plant people.  When herbs were administered they were often accompanied by prayer and song."- Suzanne Crawford O'BrienComing Full Circle

    In animistic spiritual paths, individual identity and natural gifts are of great importance; who you are, the spirits who ally with you and the wholeness of your spirit is a central theme in coastal medicine and shamanism.  Herbal healing like most forms of healing, revolved around ideas like soul-restoration, spirit-allies and public displays of devotion to the spirits of plants, animals and places to cure illness, calm the weather, and most importantly, ensure the safety of harvest.  That's what I was taught and I hold it as gospel.  I want to honor them as best I can as an outsider, and take care to remember what I learned about taking and giving with respect.  It's also a recurrent theme in European agrarian cult myths like those attested to by Frazer and Ginzberg; the reliance on plant virtues with the most auspicious importance.

    The spiritual desire to caretake the land extends to most esoteric and mystical practices, and definitely to all animistic ones.  When you don't separate the spirit from the natural, you find a balanced respect for rhythms and cycles, the way of things and where you will fit into them.  Druids know this complete immersion of land and spirit, shamans and babalawos know it, plant spirit healers and medicine men know it.  If you look for god too high up and too far away, you will miss the doorway of nature, through which we transform, thrive and die...

    "It is impossible to separate shamanic healing and herbal healing completely because these approaches converge in many was.  Like shamanism, herbal healing is strongly spiritual, being grounded in an entire belief system in which all plants and animals- even rocks, mountains, and rivers- are considered sentient beings and generous relatives of humans, having exceptional powers to assist people if treated with respect."- Nancy Turner, Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge

    The shamanic taboos regarding plant spirits, plant medicine preparation and the placation of herbal/arboreal spirits is beautifully similar across the board, from English folk herbalism to Southwestern curranderismo, Cuban Santeria, West African, Afro-Colombian, Peruvian, Venezuelan and Brazilian shamanic paths... The spirit world has laid out some clear traditions surrounding herbs throughout our spiritual network.  Herbs are usually the mechanism by which people turn to magical healing/hexing, how they retrieve the spirit or kill the mind.  There's so much in common between the indigenous animism of our cultures- of MY ancestors it makes me feel all content with the way of things, our nature.
    the kids in my life love coming over to rummage through my jar of wishes, I keep them year round.

    Much of what I know of local plants, folklore and taboos was learned simply from growing up in local indigenous education social programs, hanging out at Daybreak Star- back in the early days of the Long House, when there was the first huge push of the late 90's to get urban indigenous and mixed kids to identify with and acknowledge the local indigenous community and preserve Puget Sound cultural identity.  The rest was just my mom and her family; their work through culture centers, elder-care programs, etc.  There were a lot of resources for local kids in the Seattle district and the programs hosted in the county to get their basic education about culturally sensitive, regionally important issues like; the salmon protection programs, regional story-telling, Duwamish people and language revivals, Salish cultures, carving, weaving and textile arts, the Puget Sound habitat and local ecology.  Most schools in King County have some program or another that introduces kids to the importance of salmon, indigenous culture and artwork as well as restoration of Duwamish land.  This means a lot of class clean-up projects, salmon release trips, Alki Beach tide tours, and education on local plant life of cultural importance; cedar, stinging nettles, poison oak, wetlands and more.

    A good deal of herbal education and their traditional uses in the Northwest can be learned through practical education in community organizations/events or private naturalist circles, and from religious historians and historical societies, ethnobotonists at Burke Museum, trips to the Erna Gunther Enthnobotanical Garden, her written work, and the collective folklore of the peoples indigenous to the Puget Sound.

    "Plant spirits as the sources of direct transmission magical knowledge is a feature of the shamanic world, and rich traditions of plant-allies endure in the spiritual teachings of indigenous Americans."- Daniel A. SchulkeThirteen Pathways of Occult Herbalism

    I don't want to focus on the medicinal side of local herbs for this piece, though I fully intend to later.  Rather, I'd like to explore the basics on local plants and their functions in traditional charms.  Whether you choose to distinguish medicine from magic entirely or strictly divide indigenous medicine from Western medicine, there are no doubt some commonalities and curious coincidences in the folklore and mysticism of herbs between every person who reaches for them.
    Below are common herbs of the Green River I've come to read about or learn about practically in these last 20 years in Seattle.  While all Puget Sound Coastal tribes have beliefs that vary tribe to tribe, clan to clan, family to family, there is a lot of general lore because of shared linguistic and ancestral heritages between these people, especially those tribes centered around the South Sound.  Among the shared lore regarding cultural figures and myths is shared herbal medicinal and magical practices and taboos.  That lore is the best place to start when it comes to the green path of the Green River, about the herbs here and how to understand them on a deeper level than sheer occultism.  Most of the herbs I'll be listing have applications found in local herbal charms and herbal medicine from the Green, White and Duwamish River areas; the biodiversity of the river is consistent from Muckleshoot to Duwamish and there is a lot of shared lore, myth and herbalism in this region.

    First, locally indigenous herbs with traditional symbolism in charms, second; those indigenous plants which are not sourced in local charms but are sourced in occult herbalism, and third; those which are commonly found here but are not indigenous. This is by no means a perfect or complete list.  The plants, animals and areas listed below are ones I'm personally most familiar with through lore, legend, literature, culture and experience. 
    Arboreal Masters
    • Cedar~ the holiest tree of the Northwest; industry, purity, ritual, the spirits, offerings, utility, healing, medicine, death, life, rebirth, divination, soul retrieval
    • Fir~ fire, fishing, hunting, protection, weather, healing, divination
    • Hemlock~ typically found in the highlands, though associated with water; hunting, fishing, protection, purification (when swept over or scrubbed over body in combination with water)
    • Madrona~ world tree, beauty, femininity, nourishment, health, art
    • Willow~ healing, strength, vitality
    • Spruce~ weather, water, rain, healing
    • Cherry~ art, weaving, health
    • Western Yew~ healing, luck, strength, magic weaponry, protection, spirits
    • Hazelnut tree~ for whom Tukwila is named; hazelnuts grow along the river in droves and represent wisdom, strength and conflict avoidance in both local lore and most tree lore
    • Paper Birch
    *Indigenous, but not mentioned (to my knowledge) in the local herbal lore: 

    • Oregon Oak (Quercus garryana)~ I use the galls to make sacred necromancy ink, or in hexing charms, or to communicate messages to the underworld by sending it down the river 
    • Beech~  tree of writing and communication
    • White Alder~ grows literally everywhere, hell, there's a town near the Mountain named for the alder.  They spring up in our wetlands and take over, they're used in tool making and tool magic
    • Western Juniper~ drank in a tea for love, luck, purification and protection
    *Introduced and sourced in esoteric herbalism-  these trees being some of the most commonly found in Riverton while not indigenous.  Though they have no known traditional uses in local culture, they are so common and plentiful, they are now used in both medicine and magic by myself and others.

      • Black Locust~ used to attract bees and the thorns can be used to lieu of blackthorn
      • Empress Tree~ introduced by our Chinese immigrant population; it symbolizes femininity and good luck
      • Rowan~ the magic of rowan is traditional to Scottish and English magic and is used regularly by witches of that decent or lineage of magic in their work right here in Riverton.
      • Holly~ the berries are considered spirit food, along with snowberry and ivy, forms a trinity of food meant to be served in shamanic rites of propitiation to raven, crow and robin.
    Herbal Masters 

    "Through the use of herbal medicine, simple rituals or complex ceremonies, healers sought to restore a healthy sense of self.  This meant restoring a clear sense of individual identity and personal autonomy, while simultaneously affirming one's responsibilities towards ones kin and community." from Notes on Salish Medicine, Magic and Herbs by Suzanne Crawford O'Brien.

    hairy vetch
    Love Charms~ herbs reportedly used in love charms in this region.
    • Vetch (giant)~ all parts being reportedly used in love charms, Gunther relates that this had particular use in love spells as an edible aphrodisiac and sympathetic charm, in charms of marriage and fidelity
    • Trillium~ the bulb is used in a sympathetic charm, an edible aphrodisiac, and in the fashion of an ointment or rub to draw attraction
    • False Huckleberry~ used similar to a wand, to ensnare through touch
    • Rattlesnake Orchid and White Bog Orchid~ reported by Gunther and Turner in traditional love charms; the juice of the root was likely the component used
    • Bedstraw (Galium triflorum)~ used as a body rub, used widely as a love charm
    • Tiger Lily~ does not grow often down in the valley but once in a while in the highlands you'll find them wild.  "Flowers used as charm for love and wealth."- Nancy Turner
    • Woolly Sunflower~ said to be used in an ointment of ensnarement 
    *Indigenous but unsourced in local herbal folklore- These being native to the area and known in Western occultism for their use in love magic.

    • Bleeding Heart~ used in love keep and draw magic
    • Lupine~ falls under Venus, ruled by water, used in sachets to draw love
    • Elder~ both spirit food and love draw flower traditional to strewing mixes, Venus
    • Bunchberry~ ruled by Venus and water, draws love
    • Vanilla Leaf~ used in sacred bundles and potion mixes to draw love
    • Dogwood~ both spirit food and love draw flower
    • Cherry~ though primarily used in basket weaving, it was said to also have ties to contraception and fertility
    • Enchanter's Nightshade~ as the name implies, used to enchant those you desire, in a use like a wand or as a sprinkling branch
    • Wild Rose
    • Mock Orange
    • Morning Glory
    *Introduced and sourced in occult herbalism- These being perhaps not native to the area, but they are extremely common and well-known in Western love magic.

      • Lilac~ used in Western occult herbalism to attract beauty, peace and joy
      • lavender~ a popular herb now, introduced and found only in managed lands, used in love dream mixes
      • Apple~ always draws love, sacred to the feminine
      • Woody Nightshade~ Introduced but dearly loves Ipomoea and Hedera, usually creeps where they go
      • Periwinkle~ Vinca grows wide and far now and is ideal in Western occult herbalism
      • Fig~ some say the tree is damned by the Bible, others say it's the ideal fruit of Aphrodite, I say it is a perfect addition to love edibles and since it grows well up here, I use it often
      • Creeping Jasmine~ climbs over the hollies and chokes chimney stacks, its tincture is perfect in love perfumes
      • Blackberry~ a true Seattlite is required to love blackberries, which were introduced a long time ago to this region.  Now they are an invasive hallmark of our cuisine and a curse upon our gardens.  The indigenous blackberry, Rubus ursinus, is less invasive, very tasty but a little harder to find in the wild.  These berries are great in all love magic

    • Snowberry (Symphoricarpos)~ predicts fecundity of salmon and river health
    "The Green River people say that when these berries are plentiful, there will be many dog salmon, for this white berry is the eye of the dog salmon."-Erna Gunther, Ethnobotany of Western Washington.

    • Water lily~ used to call upon dreams, communicate with ancestors
    • Fir (Pseudotsuga)~ The cones were used in sympathetic weather magic and divination
    • Cedar~ cedarwood spirit boards were used in divination and spirit propitiation
    • Skunk cabbage~ used whole or even in a tea to avert bad dreams
    *Indigenous but unsourced in local lore-
    • Morning Glory~ used in Southwestern herbalism for divination, and can be used for similar purposes, as well as binding magic
    • Enchanters Nightshade~ used to divine and ensnare
    • Yarrow~ the stalks are used in casting lots, love charms, and in IChing divination
    • Black Cottonwood~ known as a "spirited" or inhabited tree, blesses boats
    • Stinging Nettle~ protects sailors and purified hunters- this I've seen used in person
    • Douglas Fir~ the cones of this are used for these charms
    • Trillium~ thought to bring rain if picked by children (Gunther, 29), or fog (Turner
    • Skunk Cabbage~ protects sailors, travelers and hunters- another I've witnessed used personally
    • Water Lily~ Calls the winds
    • Devils Club~ protects hunting tools and hunters alike, calms the weather and rains
    • Hemlock tree~ drives away rain and draws fish
    "Not only shamans but other individuals, too, use plants as special charms, for spiritual protection and for ritual cleansing, both internal and external, especially those who are in ritually powerful or vulnerable states,"- Nancy Turner, Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge

    Luck/Protection~ Tending to be aromatic in nature and beautiful in form
    • Stinging Nettle~ purification, alertness, protection. 
    • Wild Celery~ used to drive away evil and the dead, used in general protection throughout the area
    • Spruce~ used to protect during hunting
    • Cedar~ used as a scrub, sprinkling branch to purify the body before spiritual work, or used to literally sweep the body (a form of herbal healing utilized throughout Afro-diasporic as well as indigenous Mexican shamanic practices).  Most ceremonies I've attended here are not only festooned with cedar boughs and branches, the dried wood smoke is used for smudging large areas, the planks are used to cook ceremonial salmon and I've seen the trunk steam-bent for sacred canoe carving- though this was further north in Tulalip territory. 
    • Tiger lily~ draws wealth (Turner)
    • Pond Lilly~ protects from the dead and drives away illness
    • Douglass Fir~ Cones used in charms to protect from the weather while fishing, and to calm or bring the rains
    • Juniper~ drank in a tea for luck and protection (Turner, Gunther)
    • False Hellebore~ the root of which is used for ceremonial protection
    • Devils Club~ protects against the weather, the bark draws luck
    • Thistle~ good luck root
    *Introduced (used in European or/and Eastern magical herbalism):
      • Rowan~ In Old-world witchery, charms involving rowan are commonplace for protection and healing charms.
      • Empress Tree~ luck for a girl
      • Golden Chain~ luck for a boy
    HealingAlmost all herbs listed above have some medicinal and healing application in both ethnobotanical records and in modern herbalism.  I'll only be listing a few common herbs of healing which are indigenous to this area and used in traditional medicine and they'll be focused on later. 

    • Cedar
    • Spruce
    • Poplar (Black Cottonwood)
    • Red willow
    • Wild currant
    • Hedgenettle
    • Deer fern
    • Horsetail
    • False lily of the valley
    *Introduced wild-growing healers:
      • Lemon balm- Melissa officinalis- a common herb for decoctions, teas and poltices
      • St. Johnswort- Hypericum perforatum-(invasive)- famed in hoodoo magic, new here
      • Scotchbroom- Cytisus scoparius- favored by Gerard and Culpepper

    Garden of Aversion
    • Stinging nettle
    • Wild celery~ locally associated with curse charms
    • Poison oak
    • Queen Anne's Lace
    • *Poison Hemlock (not native but has local lore anyway due to its long use)
    • Hog's weed
    • Wild Rose hedge
    • Thimbleberry
    "The motive in the case of these Indians is simply a belief that the plant itself is animated by a conscious and more or less powerful spirit, who must be propitiated before the people can safely partake of the fruits or roots which are supposed to be part of his body."-James George Frazier on Northwest indigenous seasonal taboos, The Golden Bough

    Riverton Rootwork:  Roots and bulbs are said to have been used in magical charms by the indigenous groups of the Green River as well as many Coastal Salish tribes.  These days in modern American magic, we turn to a lot of roots for uses as fetishes, scapegoats, alrauns and other work.  It's nice to not only know that rootwork is part of the traditional charms of the area, but that it was used in similar fashions in many cultures.  Listed below are both roots known to be used in reported charms, and roots which have been introduced that are used in magical rootwork today.
    • *Poison Hemlock (Not Indigenous but sourced in local lore)~ luck
    • Bitterroot~ a holy root representing people, the seasons and spirit powers
    • Trillium Bulb~ love Draw
    • Dandelion Root~ diviner's Root
    • Arrow Root~ health/ nourishment
    • Skunk Cabbage Root~ healing
    • Old Man Root~ Protection
    • Vetch Root~ love draw and fidelity
    • Water Lily~ healing
    • Thistle Root~ Luck drawing, sweetness
    *Indigenous unsourced, used in occult herbalism:
    • Oxalis~ used in both love and luck spells, charms love and brings peace to a fighting home
    • Oregon grape root~ draws love and wealth, improves health
      • Orris Root~ love magic, spirit control, glamour and peace 
      • Pearwood roots~ beauty and sex
      • Solanum Dulcamara~ binding, dreams, protection and death
    Ediblesfor feasts, festivals of first fruits and harvest, for spirit plates and ceremonies
    • Wild rose hips
    • Crab-apple
    • Cascara (berries)
    • Arrow Root (this is sold locally in flour form and makes a good starch substitute.  You can find it in the wetlands easily)
    • Dandelion (the flowering heads of which are a staple in local indigenous cuisines, often mixed into nettle soup)
    • Agaricus campestris (meadow mushroom)
    • Stinging Nettle (the soup of which is a potlatch staple)
    • Salal berry (you'll see this referenced in Muckleshoot territory most often; the berries are mashed and formed into bread, reserved for special people on special occasions and typically stored in a bentwood box)
    • Honeysuckle 
    • Edible Camas
    • Indian Plum
    • Brake Fern root
    • Salmonberry
    • Thimbleberry
    • Huckleberry
    • Gooseberry
    • Elderberry and flower 
    • Nymphaea polysepala
    • Mint
    *Introduced edibles in the area:
      • Garlic flower
      • Rainier cherries
      • Italian prunes
      • Pears
      • lemon balm
    Spirit Foodof deep importance, the concept of a "spirit plate" exists in many cultures, but is especially important in my family. Leaving food for spirits is just a normal thing I was taught to do; my mom does it on holidays, my sister does it for certain saints and dead relatives, my auntie (mom's sister) is Cowichan and spirit plates are a huge deal for their culture. I do it every week for my dead and familiars. Usually it's actual plates of cooked food, but sometimes it's portions from harvest.

    • Spirits & Ghosts~ snowberry is also known locally as ghostberry or "corpse food" because of its traditional association with the dead and serpents, as well as raven and salmon.
    • Bear~ crab apple (Arthur Ballard reported Green River use of this), dogwood berry, glacier lily (Turner)
    • Deer~ bunchberry, red elderberry (also associated with death according to Turner)
    • Salmon~ snowberry, hazelnut
    • Raven & Crow~ ivy berry, vanilla leaf, twinberry ("crow food" to the Green River people, (Gunther, 48)
    Gifts of the Land:
    • Decayed Cedar~ a great base for incense.
    • Bonewood~ found all over wetlands and bogs, this old white husk of a tree that once was is a vessel for the dead, a conduit through which moves that magic that bonds.
    • Riverbed clay (oldgrowth clay)~ best used in medicine dolls or to shape idols (when mixed with mountain ash) of the spirits.
    • Reed~ invaluable as a weaving material, perfect to make mats and altar cloths, baskets and offering plates.
    "Control yourself; take only what you need from it."-MGMT
    On Harvesting Ethics

    1. Never pick plants endangered in the environment, especially not the indigenous plants in restoration areas and wetlands,  the integrity of these sensitive areas depends on our being conscientious. 
    2. There are some plants that are grown on public land that shouldn't be tampered with, like trillium and hellebore.  Second, many wildflowers are absolutely essential to the well-being of bees and birds.  It's easy not to think about picking a flower here and there but it adds up over time, with enough people.  I'm very conscious of trying to harvest from safe places; I dig harvesting off private land of family and friends, or in places where ethical wild-crafting and urban foraging is encouraged.
    3. Make sure you have the proper permits and abide the foraging map, that's a must.  Stealing from protected habitats is not a good way to respect the land.

    How to contribute to the Green River:

    • Taking courses in ethical wild-crafting as well as responsible urban horticulture: individuals and private groups offer ethical wildcrafting and foraging classes.  Seward Park, Schmitz Park, Camp Long and the Tukwila Community Center offer nature walks, ecological lectures and family community events geared towards preservation of the entire South Seattle area, specializing on the Duwamish river restoration projects.  South Seattle College offers a horticulture program that emphasizes ecological restoration and green landscaping.
    • Greenbelt care: Indigenous plant restoration; the Duwamish greenbelt is subject to heavy pollution which is why the fishing culture, a huge aspect of the river culture, has been disrupted.  Wetland restoration, clean-up walks and anti-pollution campaigns are vital to the salmon culture of the river and to maintaining the health of the river banks.  There are almost weekly community events hosted by a diverse list of groups dedicated to maintaining the green ideology shared commonly among Seattlites. See; Duwamish AliveDuwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and Seattle Parks and Rec for opportunities to balance the river, and your spirituality.
    • Giving support and time and receiving education through the Duwamish Long House; attend the lectures, urban nature walks, potlatches, weaving classes, story-telling and other incredible and informative events which are geared towards celebrating and preserving the local culture, something the Duwamish people have generously shared with natives and non-natives alike.  Acknowledging the land and its first people is the first step in building a respectful relationship with the land. I acknowledge the Duwamish people as a tribe, I acknowledge their sovereignty and honor their continuing commitment to the land.  Thank you.

    Resources and Further Reading...

    • Roots and Branches: The Religious Heritage of Washington State by David M. Buerge
    • Ethnobotany of Western Washington: The Knowledge and Use of Indigenous Plants by Native Americans by Erna Gunther
    • Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America by Douglas E. Deur & Nancy J. Turner
    • Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America by Nancy Turner
    • Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians by Hilary Stewart
    • Island Year by Hazel Heckman  
    • Salish Myths and Legends: One People's Stories by M. Terry Thompson, Steven M. Egesdal
    • Coming Full Circle: Spirituality and Wellness Among Native Communities in the Pacific Northwest by Suzanne Crawford O'Brien
    • Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest by Ella E. Clark
    • Northwest Foraging: The Classic Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Doug Benoliel
    • Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore
    • The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer
    • 13 Pathways of Occult Herbalism by Daniel A. Schulke
    • Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
    Resource Links:
    Duwamish Alive Coalition

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