On Sages and Smudging

     Dried herbs have been burned for ages to rid people of negative energies, to cleanse the sacred space of our homes, and perfume a divine temple as offering to Gods and nature deities. We burn sage on Samhain as a gift to our beloved ancestors. Our ancestors burned dried sprigs of sage and other herbs in their temples and during rituals. My European ancestors burned many different herbs in their practices, and though I prefer the smell of white sage, I do not think this was on hand in those locations. Those ancestors most likely burned common garden sage and a variety of other herbs. 

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Salvia officinalis

      I prefer to grow everything I use. Would this deter me from smudging? Not at all. Common garden sage grows like wildfire here in Kentucky. There’s no struggle. Salvia officinalis makes itself at home here because it is at home. If you are working with more of a European type of magick then I’d even recommend using common sage. 

     This woody herbaceous plant is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. It is a perennial salvia with soft, almost fuzzy, grey-green leaves, and an amazing smell soothing to even walk by. I just love eating it. 

Cut sprigs of sage in the garden

     I read somewhere in an article awhile back that smudging with common sage was unsafe. Nowhere in the article did they bother to give any scientific proof of this. I totally disagree. Smudging with any herb can be unsafe if you aren’t taking the proper safety precautions as far as ventilation and fire safety. Common sage isn’t any more harmful that white sage. If you have scientific evidence and results proving otherwise I’d be delighted to read it. 

     In my opinion the smell is quite nice. My sister on the other hand detests it. She prefers white sage. I do agree that white sage smells better, or maybe I’ve grown accustomed to it because I didn’t know I could use common sage, I’m not sure. But in my magick I’m not so much concerned about the smell as I am the power. 

     There are so many ways so use common sage (Salvia officinalis ) in both natural medicine and in witchcraft, but focusing on smudging with it common sage is perfect for clearing negative energy out of your home and ritual space. If you are experiencing overwhelming emotions, perhaps you are dealing with grief or loss, and having difficulty in grounding yourself  then this is the sage to burn. When asking for answers to a specific question or path to take I feel this sage is great to burn during your magick.

 

     In the United States, sage is also the name commonly used for a group of native plants called Sagebrush. It is most often found in the western region of the US.  Sagebrush is in the genus Artemisia, in the daisy family Asteraceae, and it is not a member of the common culinary sage family, and not a salvia. Some of the species included are protective and dreamy mugwort, demon dispelling  and spirit-working wormwood, and cleansing big sagebrush. When burned they smell shockingly similar to marijuana. They are spiritual, powerful, and medicinal. I love all of these. When doing ritual and magick more closely associated with my Native American heritage I gravitate towards these. 

     Desert sage (Artemisia tridentate), is excellent for the purification of spirit entities,  removing negativity, psychic work, and house blessing rituals. I use this sage to purify ritual tools and to clear a space after rituals. You never know what spirits are going to leave behind. It is also very helpful during divination.

     White sage (Salvia apiana) is an evergreen shrub in the Lamiaceae family and another in the genus salvia. The white sage bundles we so often see in occult shops have probably come from California where it comfortably grows. In the area I am located at in Central Kentucky white sage is not going to be growing in the wild (to my knowledge), as it prefers a dry environment and well drained soil more like sand. We experience sub-tropical weather here and it is often humid, and what some would say is a bit on the smothering miserable side of humid in the summer. Generally our soil is rich.

     This is excellent to burn when preparing for any type of ritual. Most people prefer it’s fragrance over all others. I think it leaves a note of eucalyptus and hint of rosemary in the air, but some would disagree. White sage makes a perfect base to built incense upon as so many herbs work well with it. Use sprigs of loose white sage to protect rituals tools wrapped in cloth.

The three sages mentioned here are only a small list of the countless powerful choices. There are numerous plants to choose from when smudging and exciting creative combinations when blending herbs. It’s important to research each one before your ritual and magick. I wouldn’t just grab any smudge bundle and light it. Personally, I feel it’s greatly beneficial to choose the perfect one and properly thank the plant it comes from for the power it will provide you.

Some great combinations are:

  • white sage and sweetgrass
  • white sage and cedar
  • common sage and rosemary
  • common sage, rose, and juniper
  • desert sage and lavender
  • desert sage and mugwort
  • desert sage and white birch

     Don’t be afraid to try something new. Your magick depends on you making the best choices.

©2017 Tabatha Land. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Witchcraft didn’t come from your Grandmother! (Well, most of us anyways)

Can I rant?

This will be short and maybe not so sweet.

I am so sick of the “About” sections of witchcraft blogs where the author tells everyone a load of bull, including my favorite- “My GRANDMOTHER taught me”…..

What-the-fuck-ever. No one believes you. Let’s just get that out in the open.

Why is it always someone’s grandmother? Why not their dad, their cousin, their mom, or their aunt? Why is it that a grandmother only teaches her grandchildren? Because this is bullshit most of the time!

For anyone who honest to goodness was actually taught by their very own grandmother I applaud you and hush my foul mouth. For all you fibbers- take that shit down, it makes you look stupid.

In my own personal situation, my grandmother did not teach me witchcraft. She may have done a few things unknowingly (and not thinking it was witchcraft) in front of me, but she was most definitely not trying to teach witchcraft. I’ve heard a lot from her, while I was eavesdropping and not minding my business, about attempting séances when she was a kid with her sisters, dowsing for water, using a pendulum to determine the sex of a baby, and using herbs to heal.

My mother would’ve grown another head and bit mine off before teaching me witchcraft. She knew about blowing in a baby’s mouth to cure thrush, she knew about smudging, and no one I know could match her power with herbs, but she would’ve never called it witchcraft. I had no family members claiming to know magick, yet I picked up on magick from them.

My biggest spiritual and magickal inspiration growing up has to be from my sister who’s only five years older than me, and with the same amount of experience as me. She was pulled to it, and told me right away, and we just kind of did this together.  It does not make it any less mysterious, special, magickal, or amazing that it did not come from my grandmother.

Admit it, maybe you are one hell of a witch, but you learned it from delving through a bunch of books. Maybe some were corny, some were scary, and some were awe inspiring powerful. Or maybe you learned it from someone unexpected. That is pretty cool.

I can admit where I learned it and be proud. A bit of watching and learning, and a bit of partnering up with my sister to learn something. In my area of Kentucky, what we see as magick growing up came in the form of “old wives tales”, and that shit is strong magick!

 

©2017 Tabatha Land. All rights reserved.

Oh Belladonna…

I can hear Stevie Nicks singing Bella Donna in my head and I catch myself smiling.

I wish Stevie was a witch. Of course, I was disappointed to discover that she wasn’t.  I always had this idealized image of her, like the American Horror Story version of her in Coven, and I was sure the Bella Donna she sang of was the belladonna growing in my garden.

In her words:


Bella Donna’ is a term of endearment I use and the title is about making a lot of decisions in my life, making a change based on the turmoil in my soul. You get to a certain age where you want to slow down, be quieter. The title song was basically a warning to myself and a question to others. I’m thirty-three years old, and my life has been very up and down in the last six years.
~Stevie Nicks, Rolling Stone, 1981

The white outfit I’m wearing is the exact opposite of my black outfit on Rumours. Over that it says, ‘Come in from the darkness…’ [which is] the dark side of anyone, the side that isn’t optimistic, that isn’t strong. I’ve got to become stronger because I am very sensitive, and everything really touches me.
~Stevie Nicks, Rolling Stone, 1981

I need to do this to fulfill myself as a writer. I mean, it says, ‘come in out of the darkness.’ That’s saying, save yourself and come back. And it’s a serious thing. I had to do that to do the LP. I had to stop being crazy, or it wasn’t going to be done. Bella Donna was serious ~ I was not talking about a beautiful woman. I was talking about a beautiful woman becoming old and not beautiful. And skinny and too tired, the woman disappears.
~Stevie Nicks, High Times, 1982

This is sort of…the end of a dream. We practiced for like four years to do that. Thank you girls.
~An emotional Stevie after singing the song Bella Donna in concert, 1981

The song Bella Donna is about getting a little bit of my normal life back.
~Stevie Nicks, Everything You Wanted to Know About Stevie Nicks, 1985

Does finding out Stevie Nicks isn’t a witch singing about belladonna ruin this for me? No way! I’ve loved both her and this song since I was a little girl. Eventually I had to grow some belladonna for myself.  It just seemed to call to me.

Many people cannot get their belladonna seeds to germinate or they only get a small percentage to develop. It’s possible that their patience wears thin. Waiting for them to have their cold time in the fridge, or sowing before winter, is no fun. But, if you can force yourself to wait you can grow magic.

When I grow belladonna nearly every seed germinates and develops into a sturdy seedling. I feel like they want to be with me and that they know just what to do.

It won’t be long now before my poison garden of atropa belladonna,  daturas (innoxia, stramonium, brugmansia), black henbane, mandrake, and hemlock is flourishing and awaiting to do their magic.

©2017 Tabatha Land. All rights reserved.

Losing Our Cat

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Dracula, beloved friend and companion who we could never forget.

How very cruel to give us this perfect pet and then take him so suddenly. I am so angry, yet I do not know who to be angry with.

One summer night I had asked for a magickal sign, and the next day in the garden I look down to find this perfect doll looking up at me. I sure didn’t need another cat, I had three, but there was something about him. We knew he was meant to be with us.

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Always so peaceful, so please rest in peace little friend, we love you

He would wake me in the night sucking on my neck, so he became Dracula, our new baby. My husband fell completely in love with him and claimed him, though he was ours, the whole family. No one could resist him.

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I will miss your soft fur, velvety black paws, your soft meow, everything.

And just as swiftly as he came he went. Someone saw fit to poison our baby. How could anyone be so cruel? I couldn’t poison any animal. My poor husband is so heartbroken. He had never loved a pet in this way and it has been especially difficult on him.

I want to think Dracula is with Freyja and all her other cats. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I need to know he is happy and peaceful.

Egyptians have Bast, but they aren’t the only ones to worship a Cat Goddess. Norse mythology tells of the Goddess Freyja and her love of cats. She is depicted many times with cats around her. Cats are so charming and amazing even the Gods cannot resist them.

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While Freyja’s cats look on, the god Thor is unhappily dressed as Freyja in Ah, what a lovely maid it is! (1902) by Elmer Boyd Smith “Ah, what a ugly maid it is!” by Elmer Boyd Smith. The god Thor is dressed to appear as the goddess Freyja by two maidens, while the god Loki laughs. Two cats watch

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“Freya” (1901) by Johannes Gehrts. The goddess Freya rests her hand upon a shield. Published in 1901

The Rainbow Bridge
‘There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body begins to quiver.
Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.’
-Unknown

With all the comforting words I’ve read it’s just too soon for any of it to help. Maybe later. Right now I can’t even write any more.

08/16-02/17 We didn’t have you long enough.

Goodbye sweet kitty Dracula. We love you so much and painfully miss you.

 

And here I am…

I want to  share with others witchcraft as I know it. For so long the only information and books I had that actually used the words “witchcraft” and “witch” were all Wiccan sources. And while I enjoyed much of this reading it left me confused and ultimately disconnected. I didn’t feel anything towards the Wiccan religious aspect and so I assumed I was doing everything wrong. Not once did I see any of these sources explain that Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same exact thing. I won’t say that it wasn’t there, I’ll say I never saw it. You can be a Witch and not be Wiccan, and you can be both, but the two words are not the same thing. I was young and I needed it spelled out for me. I nearly gave up because Wiccan rituals and dedications made me feel nothing that I thought it was supposed to, and it felt more like I was acting and memorizing a play. I felt silly. I’m not saying that Wicca is silly, not at all, I have a lot of respect for Wicca and the authors of those books as well. A couple of my favorite books are written by Wiccan authors. I felt silly because I was going through the motions but feeling nothing and continuing to do it. Eventually I had to stop and step away from it all to gain perspective. Years later on down the road instead of feeling silly and fake I then felt alone and empty. I questioned everything, “Now what?” I thought to myself, “This cannot be all that there is and I have so much left inside me.”. I began studying the history of Wicca, Christianity, Mesopotamian Religions, Thelema, Odinism, European, Asian, and Egyptian religions and then back to Wicca and every section of it. I did this for years questioning everything over and over. Wicca has so many beliefs it left my head spinning, that’s not always a bad thing. There’s Monotheism, Duotheism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Agnosticism, and Atheism. And then Dianic, Gardnerian, Asatru, Odinism……Help is what I cried out inside! I had to just stop it all. I stopped practicing all forms of magick for awhile. I stopped trying to find a name to what religion I was. I just stopped and started focusing on living. I had bad relationships I had to get out of my system. I had a few businesses to start and then end. I became a mother and that was such a gift! I focused all of my attention on him. Through that joy I eventually found strength to begin a wonderful relationship with my soul mate and now husband. I stepped back and let it be for awhile. Then I felt great about it! Do you really need a label to practice Witchcraft? To pray? To cast? To believe in power? To be in tune with something powerful? No. I can sit on the bare Earth and feel the power and it be enough. I don’t need a labeled path to say I am a Witch.

©2017 Tabatha Land. All rights reserved.

Pre-Spring Fever

We have 32 days until spring is technically here, but I’m already excited. Outside in our yard so many flowers and plants are blooming that I cannot help but to be intoxicated by their seductive charms.

Today I am stalking the mailman. I’ve been waiting rather impatiently on my seeds, Belladonna, Henbane, Hemlock, Mandrake…I can hardly take it. My hands have been out of the dirt too long. I need to plant and dig and bitch some about all the weeds I’m battling. Is it me, or has this been the longest damn winter ever? I’m over it.

I moved this Lemon Balm late in the season last year as it was dying. I didn’t think it would survive all the trauma of being moved. I have been proved wrong.

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Lemon Balm, (Melissa officinalis)

And here the lovely Petunia Prissy Paws shows us some delicate parsley popping up again from last year. Watch out Vanna, she’s quite the helper.

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Parsely, (Petroselinum crispum), and the lovely Petunia pointing it out.

Ok, Vanna is more lady-like, but it shows how comfortable she is with all this emerging plant growth. I have struggled growing strawberries here. They keep coming back though, so maybe they will find a way to get through this year.

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Miss Priss posing with the strawberry plant

I am impressed to see how well the sage has done over winter in the raised bed. It seems to have appreciated the blanket of leaves spread over it. It’s surprising how much sage you can get from just one pant. I will make several fragrant sage bundles this year. Last year I assembled quite a few and dried out more than enough to powder for cooking. Delicious.

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Sage, Salvia Officinalis

Female Holly Bush, How do I know it’s female? Because only female holly bushes produce berries. She scratches too.

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Fennel, other garden plants may not like you, but I am going to eat you.

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Fennel

Nandina berries….beautiful but not for eating unless you’re a bird.

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Nandina berries, Nandina domestica

Yes, I am always this pale, I just don’t seem to notice it unless I’m staring at a photo of myself. I had meant to gather a few of those sunflower seeds so I could replant them this year but it looks like the birds enjoyed them first. I grew sunflowers for the bids anyway so it’s a win.

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Empty Sunflower pod

No one could ever convince me that magic isn’t real. Just look around you.

© 2017 Tabatha Land. All rights reserved.