November 06, 2019 1 Comment
Samhain might be behind us, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put your cauldrons away. In fact, with the cold winter months approaching, this is the perfect time for potion-making.
The idea of potions suggests magic, but you really experience the power of ‘potions’ every day, when you sip on an herbal tea for relaxation or drink a nutrient-rich smoothie for your health. Potions are a result of combining natural ingredients together into a brew or blend to reap the physical and spiritual properties they contain.
Potion making is a big part of Wiccan and other spiritual practices. Potions can have physical health benefits, but they can also be used to attract metaphysical energies into our lives, such as love, wealth, or protection.
Read on to find out more about potion making, including common potion ingredients and their properties.
Potions should always be made mindfully. You might have specific rituals attached to how you make potions, such as specific vessels to use, places to brew, or times of the day/moon cycle/season you prefer.
Be clear about the intention of your potion and what you want it to achieve throughout the process. You might include a verbal incantation or mantra as you brew your potion to imbue it with your intention.
Remember that, as with most magic, potions can’t necessarily influence other people’s actions. A love potion can’t make someone fall in love with you, but it can help you to get in touch with your own emotions and improve your relationship with others. A wealth potion can’t help you win the lottery, but it can help you to harness the talents you already have that might lead you to a windfall.
Types of Potions
- A ‘potion’ is traditionally a mixed brew of different ingredients that can be drank directly
- An ‘infusion’ is like a tea or tisane, whereby ingredients are steeped in a liquid - can also be drank directly
- An ‘ointment’ is a topical potion that is intended for external rather than internal use
Tools for Potion Making
Potions can be made with regular kitchen tools, but you might have ritual tools you use instead.
These might include:
- Ritual vessels, such as cast iron cauldrons for brewing or ceremonial chalices for serving
- Wooden spoons or utensils, to harness the earthy elemental qualities of wood
- A boline (ceremonial Wiccan knife) for cutting up herbs or other ingredients
- A mortar and pestle for crushing or grinding ingredients
There are also ways to bless and charge the water you use in your potions. You might decide to only use fresh rainwater, to charge your water with specific crystals, or to bless a bowl of water with moon energy by leaving it outside under a full moon.
Water is a common base for your potion, but isn’t the only one. Here are a few common potion bases and what they’re good for:
- Water - for cleansing and healing
- Syrup (e.g. honey, agave, molasses) - for happiness and joy
- Alcohol - for virility and longevity
- Vinegar - for change and transformation
- Milk (or whey) - for love and nurture
Common Potion Ingredients
Learning what ingredients to use in your potion-making can be an infinite study. Nature gives us so many edible gifts with powerful physical and spiritual properties, it’s hard to know where to begin! To help you start, here are some more common ingredients used in popular potion types:
Rosemary - for protection against mental ills
Blackberry leaf - for warding off evil spirits
Black pepper - for protection against disease
Garlic - for intense cleansing
Apple - for sensuality and romance
Vanilla - for pure love
Cinnamon - for heat and spice
Rose - for self-love
Orange - for youth and zest
Jasmine - for attracting beauty into your life
Eggs - for fertility
Honey - for sweetness
For good fortune:
Pine - for resilience
Ginger - for good luck
Allspice - for attracting money
Peach - for abundance
Mint - for cleansing and digestion
Cayenne Pepper - for clearing ill energies
Salt - for purification
Lemon balm - for healing
Lavender - for calming
Hibiscus - for divination and intuition
Chamomile - for relaxation
Licorice root - for easing bodily pains and tensions
Potion making is a wonderful way of harnessing the magic of the natural world. From herbs to fruits, spices to flowers, earth gives us an abundance of natural cures and gifts! Remember to brew your potions with mindfulness and intention, and enjoy reaping the benefits all winter long.
January 22, 2019
(Image: "The Creation of Summer" by Josephine Wall)
“May the Goddess bless you…” It’s a phrase commonly heard in Wiccan and New Age practice. But when you hear the word ‘Goddess’, who - or what - are you thinking of? What does the concept of the Goddess mean to you?
Wiccan and Neo-Pagan practices are largely derived from polytheistic religions, such as Ancient Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Indigenous and more. Unlike religions like Christianity and Islam, these belief systems aren't focused on one all-empowering god, but rather multiple gods, goddesses, spirits, creatures and deities. So it’s no wonder that it’s hard to pin down who exactly the ‘Goddess’ is.
We’re not going to attempt to do that in this post. The Goddess means so many different things to different people. She is Mother Earth, she is the Great Witch, she is the moon, she is femininity, she is love, she is the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone...She is a multitude of concepts and energies, each of them personal and powerful.
Instead, we’re going to take a look at some of the well-known Goddess figures from a variety of cultures and belief systems. Depending on your personal practice, you might choose to focus on one of these deities, multiple, or combine them into one central concept to guide your practice. Either way, their origins make for interesting reading and inspiration.
The Triple Goddess
The Triple Goddess is more a concept than an individual figure. She is believed to represent many of the mysterious three-fold aspects of life. For example, she embodies the three stages of the female life cycle - the Maiden (youth), the Mother (middle age) and the Crone (old age). She can also personify the three different layers of the world - the underworld, earth and the heavens - as well as the three main phases of the moon - waxing, full and waning. Looking inwards, the Triple Goddess can bring together the three components of the human psyche - the ego, the id and the super-ego. One of the most commonly worshipped figures in Neo-Pagan religions, the Triple Goddess is a figure of empowerment, transformation and wholeness.
Hecate is the Goddess of magick and witchcraft from the time of the Ancient Greeks. In some stories, she appears with animal familiars, like the dog and the polecat, which has inspired the concept of animal familiars in modern-day witchcraft. Hecate is also associated with the moon, the night, the wilderness, and the world of the dead. She is sometimes considered a necromancer, able to communicate with and raise the spirits of the afterlife. If you’re interested in the world of Wicca, the chances that you’ll come across Hecate are very likely.
Morrigan - also known as The Morrigan or Morrigu - is a fierce figure from Irish mythology. Considered a shape-shifter, she’s often depicted in the form of a crow, or having the ability to transform into a crow. She’s commonly associated with war and battle, with the old legends telling that she would fly over battlefields in her crow form, deciding who would live and who would die. Other stories depict Morrigan as a trio of three sisters or goddesses, as opposed to one entity...linking to the concept of the Triple Goddess.
Isis is a well-known Goddess from the Ancient Egyptian era. Partnered with her husband Osiris, she was one of the most commonly worshipped deities of the time. Like many Goddesses, she is considered a divine Mother and maternal figure, even protecting and nurturing the great kings and Pharoahs of the ancient kingdom. Isis is also linked to the underworld, helping to transport the souls of the dead to the next realm. Her connection to magic and healing make her a commonly called upon figure in modern magical practices.
Diana is the Roman Goddess of animals and the hunt, the counterpart of the Greek Artemis. She’s also strongly associated with nature and wilderness, in both primitive and domestic senses. Some stories give Diana the ability to speak with, and even control, animals. Like many Goddesses, Diana is also associated with the moon and nighttime. ‘Dianic Witchcraft’ is a branch of modern witchcraft that’s focused on womanhood and feminine spirituality.
Gaia is the personification of Mother Earth in Greek religion. She is considered the great Mother of all life and the world itself. She personifies motherhood in its ultimate form, as well as nurturing, fertility and nature. Gaia can also be considered a ‘creator’ deity, a type of deity that's commonly found in a number of religions from Judaism and Christianity to the animistic religions of Indigenous cultures. She’s a powerful figure, with a legend that stretches back to the dawn of time.
Kali is the Hindu Goddess of time, transformation and death. While she’s a formidable figure commonly associated with destruction, she’s in fact a destroyer of evil and a liberator of souls. Kali helps her worshippers come to terms with the passage of time, from birth to death and the turmoil in between. In her darkest depiction, Kali is a fearsome violent conqueror; while in her lightest, she’s a strong mother figure. To many, she’s a symbol of active female empowerment
Freya is the Norse Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. In the Norse legends, Freya was a pursuer of passion and pleasure, with an affinity for the finer things in life. But Freya’s love of beauty is more than simply materialistic - she embodies the beauty in all things, from nature to the internal self. Despite her soft romantic associations, Freya is far from dainty. She also rules over Fólkvangr, the meadow of the afterlife that works in conjunction with Odin's famed hall Valhalla to house soldiers who have fallen in battle.
These are just a few of the many powerful Goddess figures from cultures around the world and throughout time. Many of them have certain traits in common, particularly their connection to magic, motherhood, the moon, the afterlife and wilderness. Is it possible that some of these Goddesses are one and the same, interpreted with different names and stories depending on the culture? Is there one Goddess that you feel a particularly strong connection to, or do you draw from each of their energies in different ways? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and keep an eye out for a follow-up post in future where we take a look at more fascinating Goddesses from around the world.
December 20, 2018
Among the frenzy and flurry of Christmas, you’re probably aware that we're also about to arrive at the Winter Solstice - December 21st, the shortest day of the year, also known as Midwinter or The Longest Night. It’s a deeply spiritual time of balance and change, and there are a number of ways you can honour it.
In Celtic and Pagan tradition, Winter Solstice and the traditional ‘Christmas’ are a part of one twelve-day midwinter festival called Yuletide. Yuletide, or Yule, is intended to commemorate the shifting or the ‘reawakening’ of nature, as the longest night falls over the northern half of the world, and the days begin to slowly lengthen.
The honouring of the Winter Solstice actually dates back as far as 3300BC and possibly further. At Newgrange in County Meath in Ireland - an important spiritual site even to this day - an ancient underground cairn is directly illuminated by the sun at sunrise every year on the Winter Solstice, strongly suggesting that our ancestors designed it for this purpose. So when we celebrate this sacred time, we’re continuing a tradition that’s endured for millenia.
Here are a number of ways that you can honour the Winter Solstice today, along with some book recommendations for further reading.
Share the ancient tale of the Holly King and the Oak King
The enduring legend of the Holly King and Oak King has been shared around hearths and bonfires for centuries. In Celtic lore, the Holly King is the nature deity that rules over the winter months, and the Oak King is his summer counterpart. The legends vary, but many of them involve these two kings battling each other all year long, with the Holly King de-throning the Oak during Summer Solstice as the days grow shorter and colder. Conversely, Winter Solstice is when the Oak King wins back his throne and starts to bring back longer, warmer days. While this tale is often one of battle, it’s widely believed that the Holly King and the Oak King are two parts of the same whole, and that neither could exist without the other. Either way, it’s a fun and riveting tale to share this Winter Solstice.
Read more about Celtic wisdom and lore in
Winter nature communion
It’s common for people to lose touch with nature over the winter months, choosing to stay indoors in the warmth away from the ice and frost and snow. Winter Solstice is the perfect time to go out and re-connect with nature. Go for a walk through the stripped-back forest, have a play in the snow, or go ice-skating on a frozen lake. Gather up winter plants, such as holly, heather, thyme, snowberry, winter berry and more. Take time to thank the natural world for providing gifts even in the harsh winter months, and seed spells of hope for a fruitful spring to come.
Read more about gathering plants and herbs in
The Boreal Herbal
Create a Yule altar
Your winter nature communion is the perfect chance to gather items for a seasonal Yule altar. If you’re a practising Wiccan or Pagan, you’ll be familiar with the idea of a magical altar, which we wrote about in a previous post here. It’s common to change your altar depending on the season or relevant Wheel of the Year festival. For Yule, decorate your altar with festive colours of red, green, silver and gold. Gather evergreen plants like pine, fir, juniper and cedar. Let a bowl of snow slowly melt on your altar, symbolising this powerful time of change and transformation. You can even include sun symbols, like sun wheels and yellow candles, to summon back the sun.
Read more about Wiccan practices in
Fire is an important element during Midwinter. It helps to keep us warm and illuminate the long nights, and also symbolises the return of the sun. This is a perfect time to practice candle magic, and how you do so will be up to your personal practice. You might perform a candle spell or ritual to bless the coming warmer longer days. You might perform a gratitude ceremony to thank the powers that be for the year that’s been. This is also a powerful time for cleansing and healing, so you might turn to candle magic to heal any wounds you might have suffered during the year and to clear the path ahead for a new year. Whatever ritual you choose, candle magic will be particularly potent at this time of year.
Read more about candle magic in
A Little Book of Candle Magic
On that note, this is an ideal time for setting intentions. Like many people set New Year Resolutions, Winter Solstice encourages us to pause, reflect and look ahead. Throughout the year, we might have lost track of our goals and intentions, so now is the time to re-direct our energies again. You might choose to write your intentions down into a diary or notebook, or place your notes on your magic altar to imbue them with spiritual energy. You might want to get together with family and friends to share your goals and intentions with each other, and discuss how you might be able to help each other on your spiritual journeys throughout the next year.
Whichever way you choose to celebrate the Winter Solstice, this is a powerful time to harness the transformative energies of the shifting seasons. Most of all, be sure to relax, enjoy and celebrate the natural world and all her many gifts. From us to you, happy Yule and Midwinter blessings!