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.
April 18, 2019
(Image: Eliphas Levi's Pentagram)
Celtic knots, pentagrams, Trees of Life...almost everywhere you turn here at Dragonspace, you come face to face with a sacred symbol that has a long history and manifold meaning. Symbols adorn pendants and trinket boxes, journals and athames, artwork and sculptures. When you see them, your mind immediately makes a connection between the symbol and its meaning, whether that’s spiritual, cultural, historical, or even purely aesthetic.
Language itself has its origins in symbology. Right now, you’re reading ‘words’ or markings on a page and deriving meaning from them. The human ability to condense huge concepts into a succinct visual form is remarkable. And sacred symbols are are beautiful example of that.
Here, we explore a few of the most prevalent symbols featured on our merchandise in the store.
Celtic knots are perhaps the most common symbol you’ll come across at Dragonspace. We’re very inspired by Celtic culture and mythology here at the store, and knots are one of the most recurring features of Celtic design. The interwoven nature of knots makes them a popular symbol of interconnectedness and unity. They often have no beginning or end - simply an infinite loop - making them signifiers of eternity, and perhaps the cycles of life itself. The triquetra or trinity knot is one of the most common Celtic knots, symbolising the three-fold nature of life and the earth. The Celtic Cross is another popular knot—a religious symbol often found in churches or burial sites. Spiral knots are another common Celtic motif, often believed to be inspired by the patterns found in nature. Celtic knots are found in heraldry and jewelry, architecture and textiles, and have come to have universal recognition.
Pentagram and Pentacle
The Pentagram is a five-pointed star with special significance in Wiccan and Neo-Pagan practice. The Pentacle is a pentagram encased in a circle. While the pentagram has long been associated with faith and spirituality, from Christianity to Judaism, it is now commonly associated with magical practice. The Pentacle is considered a talisman that can be used in a variety of ways, such as being worn on the chest for protection, or being used in spells and ritual. While some believe that pentacles represent all of the five elements of nature - earth, air, water, fire and ether/spirit - in perfect harmony, other schools of thought - like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn - see the pentacle as a symbol of earth only. In classic tarot symbology, pentacles are one of the four suits of the Minor Arcana, and are associated with money and the material world. In general, pentacles and pentagrams are strong symbols of protection and balance.
Thor’s Hammer is perhaps the most widely recognised of the Norse symbols. Thor was a powerful Norse God, and his hammer - also known as Mjölnir - was his key weapon. When Thor throws his hammer out to defeat an enemy, it always returns back to him, similar to the boomerang of the Indigenous Australians. However, Thor’s Hammer isn’t just a symbol of power and battle. It’s a symbol of protection and defense against wicked forces. In some Norse tales, Thor even uses his hammer to help heal and resurrect, causing it to also be known as a symbol of sacred healing and strength.
Tree of Life
We explored the beautiful Tree of Life symbol in a previous blog post, The Magic of Trees. This is another symbol that has its origins in several different cultures, from Norse legend to Islam. The Tree’s most obvious symbolism is that of nature and Mother Earth, but the meanings don’t stop there. In its depiction in Celtic artwork, the Tree’s branches rise high to the heavens, while its roots dig deep into the earth, symbolising the connection between heaven and earth. In Buddhist spirituality, the first Buddha achieved enlightenment under a Bodhi tree, which is also sometimes referred to as a ‘tree of life.’ The Tree is also referenced in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, symbolising knowledge. Fertility, interconnectedness, wisdom, enlightenment, stability - the Tree means many things to many different people.
The Ankh is an Ancient Egyptian symbol — a cross with a loop at the top instead of a straight line. The Ankh was actually a hieroglyphic symbol used to depict the concept of ‘life’. It was often featured in Egyptian artwork and sculpture being held in the hands of important deities. Some images show the ankh symbol being passed from the deity to the Pharaoh, showing the transference of life from the divine to the human. The Ancient Egyptians believed strongly in the afterlife, so the ‘ankh’ is more than merely a symbol of physical life—it signifies the complexity of existence, the beauty of life, spirituality, faith and much more.
These are just a few of the mystical symbols you'll find around Dragonspace. Whole books have been dedicated to the history behind these symbols, so this merely scratches the surface. And of course, symbols are deeply personal and come to take on new and unique meanings with every person who finds a connection to them. Do you have a particular symbol that you feel drawn to? Let us know in the comments.
April 04, 2019 1 Comment
Image: The Wheel of the Year at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall, UK
The above ‘Wheel’ or calendar might look familiar to you. Maybe you celebrate some of these seasonal festivals yourself, or you might recognise them from popular culture or stories. Perhaps you’ve read about them in some of our previous blog posts, like Beltane Blessings and Sacred Samhain. Even if you don’t recognise these particular words, chances are that you’ve honoured these festivals in one way or another by different names - Christmas, Halloween, May Day, Diwali, Easter, Moon Festival and more.
The Wheel of the Year is the annual calendar of eight seasonal festivals (also known as sabbats) observed by Wiccans and other neo-Pagan groups. From the midwinter festival of Yule to the midsummer festival of Litha, these holidays are centered around celebrating the changing seasons and the cycles of the natural world.
ORIGINS OF THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR
Celebrating the solstices, planetary shifts and changing seasons is an ancient custom. Civilisations from prehistoric times recognised the cycles of the earth and created rituals to honour them. They adapted their lifestyles, their work and their eating habits to align with the changing seasons and the offerings of the natural world - e.g. autumn has long been a time for harvest and preparation for the winter, while spring has been a time for sowing seeds and celebrating new life. In this way, the concept of the Wheel of the Year is as old as the Earth herself.
However, this clear separation of the year into eight distinct festivals is actually quite a modern manifestation, commonly observed in Neo-Pagan and Wiccan groups. While the Wheel is heavily derived from the old traditions of Celtic, Germanic and Viking cultures, this neatly divided structure is evocative of a more modern trend towards order and organisation.
THE EIGHT SABBATS
The eight Wheel of the Year festivals, or sabbats, take place roughly one and a half months apart, splitting the year into defined eighths. There are two solstices (summer and winter), two equinoxes (autumn and spring) and four cross-quarter days that sit roughly in between the solstices and the equinoxes. The solstices and equinoxes are influenced by the sun’s position, and are sometimes referred to as ‘Lesser Sabbats’. The cross-quarter days are referred to as ‘Greater Sabbats’ or ‘the fire festivals’. While each sabbat has a long and rich history that could fill whole books, here’s a quick summary of what they symbolise and celebrate.
Note: Naturally, these festival dates are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Winter Solstice
Mid-end of December
The Promise of Spring
Beginning of February
Imbolc is a cross-quarter day that celebrates the first signs of spring. It actually aligns with the modern North American tradition of 'Groundhog Day', which is based on the belief that groundhog behavior on the 1st February can prophecy when spring will arrive. In Pagan tradition, Imbolc is a time for spring cleaning and purification in preparation for spring's impending arrival. It's also an ideal time for reaffirming one's intentions for the year ahead.
Varies between 19-22 March
Ostara is the spring equinox, celebrating the coming of the light. It's named after a Germanic goddess Ēostre, which is also where the word 'Easter' comes from. While Easter is traditionally considered a Christian holiday that honours the resurrection of Jesus Christ, both festivals are a time to celebrate new life and the reawakening of the natural world. Buds start to sprout, baby animals appear in the fields, and the days become warmer. It's a perfect time for planting seeds and spending time out in blossoming nature.
Beltane is another cross-quarter day, also known and celebrated as May Day. This is a festival of flowers and light, joy and fertility. Common traditions include dancing around the May Pole and crowning the May Queen, the personification of spring and summer. Homes are bedecked in flowers and greenery, and rituals relating to fertility and vitality are commonly performed.
The Summer Solstice
Varies between June 20-22
Litha is the summer solstice, or Midsummer festival. It marks the longest day of the year and the pinnacle of the sun's full power. As such, it's a festival to celebrate the sun. Bonfires are often lit to symbolise the sun's energy, and candle magic is strong at this time of the year. Summer fruits, flowers and plants are eaten and used around the home and in ceremonies. This is a time of abundance, growth and strength, before the days begin to shorten once more.
The First Harvest
Beginning of August
Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, is the cross-quarter day celebrating the first harvest. While summer is still going strong, this is the time of year when the first peeks of autumn start to become visible - trees begin dropping their fruit, and the first grains of the season become ready to harvest. Bread is an important symbol at this time, and a common tradition to celebrate Lughnasadh is to bake bread from the season's first grains to eat or to use in ritual.
Varies between 21-24 September
Mabon is the Autumn Equinox, celebrating a time of harvest and the impending winter. It's a time of balance, just like the Spring Equinox, when light and dark are equal. Traditionally, days were spent working out in the fields, harvesting crops, feasting and preparing for winter. Rituals that help to protect and prepare for the colder months are also popular at this time, and talismans and amulets might be created to ward off the dark energies that might come knocking during winter.
October 31st/November 1st
Samhain is the cross-quarter day that celebrates the transition between autumn and winter, and also the thinning of the veil between worlds. It's traditionally observed as a time to honour those who have passed into the afterlife, which is where the popular holiday of Halloween comes from. It's common to perform ceremonies to celebrate the lives of the dead and honour one's ancestors. It's also the last chance to dry and preserve autumn's bounty for the winter ahead. Mischief and revelry are also common at this time, with parties and feasts being held. For some neo-Pagans, Samhain is considered the Witches' New Year and is the most important of the eight sabbats.