Category: Blog Post

Preparing Animals for Winter While Writing A Book

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This is what we’re working towards here at Villa Westwyk. Right now it’s a dream and in a box in the big barn.

Our weather station here at Villa Westwyk measured a balmy 82 degrees F on October 14. Two days later we got our first frost and we haven’t seen anything above 50 degrees in weeks. The Average temperature for the last month is 38 degrees. The last two winters we did not see freezing temperatures until on or near the Winter Solstice. Sure technically, winter isn’t here until the Winter Solstice, but we’re certainly feeling it already. We weren’t quite ready for winter here. That can be a problem for a Permie Witch. 

We had plans to set up a poly tunnel to enclose our laying chickens in their tractor coop, but that hasn’t happened yet and this morning it was 22 degrees. When the rains return the temps will be warmer, but chickens aren’t fans of the rain like the ducks and geese are. So the tunnel gives them a respite from the rain as well and lets them get more exercise, otherwise they are prone to just sit in the coop all day, which means I have to muck it more often. Also in the polytunnel we can do a deep litter method and get all that good composted material come spring for putting on our raspberries, blueberries, black currant bushes, and more. Material management is part of so much of what I do as a Permie Witch, to include “making” it like with the deep-litter method during winter with my poultry. 

And since we’ve just gotten the freezing temperatures and there’s been no rainfall, our seasonal streams and ponds that help support our ducks and geese are bone dry. I caught them just sitting in the river bed waiting for the water. It was so pitiful. No running steam means the Permie Witch has to go out extra and make sure the water fowl have extra water. When they can’t bathe because pools and troughs just freeze, they drink even more water. Having extra barn chores is not where I want to be since I’m under contract to write a book right now. Even though I know those outdoor breaks are good for a writer who spends so much time sitting at a desk.

But here’s the thing, the animals are prepared. It’s the Witch who is not. The animals already have systems in place to set themselves up for winter success. The ducks and chickens have slowed their egg laying to conserve daily energy. They’re plumped up cold-weather feathers that arrived shortly after the Autumn equinox are doing the job of keeping them well insulated. The geese are so hardy, they will likely laugh at us (honk-honk) when we do get around to setting up that poly tunnel. Lastly, we’ve culled the number of geese we have so their winter home is more spacious, but are happy to lay beneath the arbor or against the barn. 

My chickens don’t need a heat lamp. They don’t need to be closed up air-tight (yikes! That’s like asking for illness!). I’m sure they would love to have the polytunnel just to get out of the rain (or snow), but it’s not necessary. Trees and bushes around the property do that for them as well. 

Even when the weather is inclement, my animal partners on this covenstead do what they need to do to survive and even thrive. No Permie Witch required. 

I’ll continue to improve systems and infrastructure to make sure my livestock have only one bad day in their life, including through winter. But I don’t need to pressure myself about this project or that project, since small, slow solutions and nature’s ability to survive do a lot of that work for me. So now I can work on getting the Witch ready for winter, which is mostly all about shifting my perspective. I’ve got a book to write. Pond creation and polytunnel construction can wait until the sun is higher in the sky and we’re not having to put on snow suits just to feed and water the animals. Oh, and the word count reaches 60,000 words. 😉

Putting The Permie Witch Garden To Bed

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Originally this was going on IG, so the orientation was weird. Thank you for your forgiveness.

One of my Patrons asked me about putting my garden to bed as a Permie Witch. It looks a bit different than what perhaps a Master Gardener from your local Ag extension might do. I’m still trying to grow things all winter, whether that’s garlic, winter greens, over-wintering root veggies, or just feeding the soil.

Watch the above video and you’ll see lots of weeds and plants left to die off naturally and spread its seed (cilantro, I’m looking at you). But all this vegetation provides a network for the mushrooms, which create a healthy soil system, as well as is a bio and dynamic accumulator which feeds the soil in other ways.

Villa Westwyk, my covenstead, is in the Pacific Northwest. As I walk this path and do so from the perspective of a Crone Witch, I’ve learned that the chaos in nature is actually full of the primal fire of creation. And in permaculture you’re mimicking the chaos of nature. Like the more rigid gardening that one may find landscapers doing, I’m still moving materials. I’m covering soil to prevent erosion, and laying compost over plants I hope to tend throughout winter and into early spring, and I’m pulling weeds (where necessary).

One day this space may look more master garden-esque because all the systems to support it will be in place. But, that permaculture tenet of #SmallSlowSolutions comes into play here. This space was already used as a garden by the prior owners of this property. Although it had gone fallow, we knew that a garden could grow there, and until we could determine where at Villa Westwyk we would prefer to grow food (raised beds and poly tunnels, hello!), we could start here. After three years of growing food in this space, we’ve determined that half the space needs to be a pond for water management and livestock quality of life. If we had built raised beds or other infrastructure just to turn it into a pond, how much labor and resources would have been potentially wasted because we didn’t use the other principles of permaculture to our planning, especially #ObserveAndInteract, #UseAndValueRenewables, and #DesignFromPatternToDetails? The answer is: Too Much! Instead we are now preparing the ground for pond construction – coming soon!

There was broken glass, weeds, trash, and just a whole lot of negative energy here when we moved it. I think it looks fabulous now.

Moving from the garden to our cold frame/hot house/season extender, which again was in a wild state as I will continue to grow food in this space all winter long. As of this writing, I’m still harvesting tomatoes and peppers inside that space. Again, this structure was here when we moved in and was full of pig weed and thistle. We renovated it and reinforced the structure where we could, but it’s not far from its usefulness and we do have plans to turn this into a chicken coop/yard space. A larger poly tunnel will be placed elsewhere on the property, potential near our new raspberry beds. But we’re not there yet. A good poly tunnel is a huge investment. In the interim, we will continue using this space until its absolutely not safe. But right now, can’t you see how the marigolds are thrilled? We also learned more things about growing cucumbers in a poly tunnel and that squash really don’t like it. #SelfRegulation #AcceptFeedback #ObtainAYield

So that’s what’s happening for the Permie Witch this month. I’m prepping to grow where I can, moving materials, and covering vegetation to make pond making easier as we get closer to breaking ground on that project. If you have any questions about the above, please feel free to ask me in the comments below. Have a great November!

A Spiritual Team of Horses: Working with Ehwaz & News

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It’s been 10 months since I started working with Ehwaz. In that 10 months, my understanding of this Rune is deepening. My shorthand as described in the illustration above for this Rune has helped me kick start myself again when the outside world made things feel too hard to do much more. It was like a little team of horses was inside my solar plexus pulling me forward.

That said, I’m not a horse person. My interactions with them have always been fraught with a bucket of nerves. They are huge creatures and their size alone often gives me pause. Even though I’ve had very little instruction when it comes to those animals, I’m very aware that one wrong move could spook them and spell disaster for either me or the horse. The latter of which would make my heart break even more. But to feel like there is a spiritual team of horses pulling me forward towards my goals is an interesting metaphor to reflect on.

Ehwaz (ᛖ) looks like a mirror image of Laguz (ᛚ), which pricks my curiosity. Laguz is the fluidity of our life force. Ehwaz is duality and movement. So it makes sense to me that two Laguz put together would make Ehwaz. Fluid implies movement. A force of life creates development. They are together and apart. As above, so below. As within, so without. From that thought I moved forward in my connection to this spiritual tool.

The ‘E’ and the ‘L’ in the Elder Futhark are far apart when we put Western sensibilities on it. In my daily rune castings, which you can find on Instagram and Twitter daily — Monday through Friday — I explain the Runes’ Elder Futhark connection – its alphabet quality, if you will, this has little bearing on the spiritual or energetic meaning of it. Yet, it is a part of it. Much like many Witches have a deep spiritual life, but their spiritual life and ‘Muggle’ life may not intersect much outside of being part of the same Witch’s life.

All of the above to say that dissecting the energy of this Rune has provided even further meaning for me. Huzzah, as that was the point of choosing a Rune of the Year. How that showed up thus far (I still have some weeks before I’ll start this exercise all over again), has been enlightening, to say the least. For instance, when I didn’t want to send out my writing for consideration, I would do my meditation on the Rune (yes, I’m meditating on it near daily) and suddenly I’d have some inspiration or motivation to push a piece to be finished or send something off. Ehwaz is known as the Rune of gradual development and since January things have gradually developed, but that development has felt enormous. My client list for my services and magical goods has firmed up to a strong foundation and I’m moving towards having my goods on just my site (mostly). I have a new mystical writing group that has been such a blessing. We’ve progressed to have so many stars in our meals (meaning the food on our plate comes from right here). I’m not as frazzled when spirits knock on my psychic door unexpectedly. And if you’ve read this far you’re finding out that I am under contract to write a book! Woot! More on that in the weeks to come.

The year has been a slow and steady climb towards reaching my goals, which I often say is what being a Witch is about: always improving.

I feel that activation of energies of my inner Fetch, meaning the divine within (some refer to Fetch as the guardian within). When before I may not have had the trust in myself to move forward, Ehwaz comes in and reminds me that I have already overcome so much and stepping forward is easier than I perceive.

So although I’m not a horse person, I have a team of spiritual horses inside of me, lead by Ehwaz and driven by my inner Fetch. It’s been a thrilling gallop through the year towards new levels of creation, connection, and curation, the latter of which was my word for the year. More on that next week.

In the meantime, I need to saddle up and go write that book. 😉

Blessings,

ᚱᚢᚾᚨ ᛏᚱᛟᚤ

When It’s Mundane, Work With The Moon

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The Moon helps me remember. It’s my secret weapon to get all things mundane done. 

Dear Luna helps me remember to soak my ultra sensitive skin (something new since menopause) in a salt bath. It reminds me to sew my mending. It tells me it’s time to make another loaf of bread. It reminds me to clean my broom (more on that on my Patreon, if you’re interested). It reminds me to check in with my goals. It helps the energies within and around me to accomplish what I need to do to be my truest self and live my best life. 

Whatever her phase, there is a task that I have learned to do depending on where she is. As I’ve deepened into my Crone Life, more and more tasks are filed under either Dark, New, Quarters and Full Moons. 

For instance, on the week before the full moon, as mentioned above, I tend to any mending that needs to be done. Sewing for sure. But that can also be fences – as a Permie Witch, fences are uber important, otherwise you lose half your broccoli crop to runaway geese. But it’s also a time to look at mending or strengthening relationships. Additionally, I make a journey to the water’s edge. I’m fortunate that I live just a hop to the ocean or the mountains, so a body of water is never far away (and that was one of the reasons we chose Villa Westwyk). 

Because this full moon on Sunday is in Aries, there’s other things to consider. Aries rules the head, teeth, tongue, striated muscles, penis, gallbladder, arteries, and blood. So what of these body areas need some extra attention? If I was one to regularly cut my hair, I might plan to get a haircut this weekend. This week I’ll be making an appointment with my dentist for my next cleaning and check up. If I was on maintenance meds that required regular blood work, I might look at scheduling that work. 

Lastly, because this full moon falls in the midst of the hefty harvest season, I will likely be putting food by heavily this weekend. That full moon in Aries is all about firing up the cauldron. 

Understanding and learning how to work with the energies of the Moon has deepened my connection to the Universe and allowed me to be easily led through the mundane tasks of life to an existence that is way more Magical. 

How about you? Do you move with the moon? Do you design not just spell work and ritual around the moon, but more mundane things like cooking, cleaning, sewing, and other maintenance? If so, please let me know below.  

Launching a Patreon

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A little snapshot to get you going…

Well I did it. After a year plus of people asking me to set such a space up, it’s here. I’m on Patreon now, creating a digital Witchcraft-learning Covenstead. And you don’t have to live exactly like I do to participate. This is a place to help you connect with our generous and awesome Earth, whether you’re a city mouse, a suburban bird, or a country opossum.

I still will be blogging here. However, much more content, learning opportunities, spells, and the like will be available over on my Patreon. Want a weekly Rune casting? Join my Patreon. Want monthly Witch Calendar? Join my Patreon. Want to learn more about Permaculture, Dream Work, Kitchen Witchery, and everything else this Crone lives day and night? Join my Patreon.

Go over to Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=53229226&fan_landing=true&view_as=public and see what fits for you. Join me at the Garden Gate, On The Front Porch, Under The Willow, In The Witch’s Garden, At The Witch’s Table, or Around The Fire Circle. Lots of opportunity to learn from a Witch whose been walking this path for more than 40 years.

Thanks and Blessed Be.

Categories: Announcement Blog Post

Planning Your Witches Thanksgiving

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Wishes for a Festive Mabon from my home to yours

Witches Thanksgiving is coming. Also known as Mabon (MAY-bn), or the Autumn Equinox. It is the second harvest. It’s a big one, too, for those living close to the land and growing food. Although I can harvest a little bit every day beginning about the full moon after the vernal equinox, each harvest sabbath (Lughnasah, Mabon, and Samhain) simply means new crops are coming in at each harvest. The first harvest is typically grain and berries. The second harvest is fruit and corn. And the third harvest is everything else, including squash (jack o’lantern pumpkins!), tomatoes, peppers, culling of the herds, etc. 

If you’re wanting to have a gathering of your Witch sisters and brothers, this is a wonderful time to do so. So much food is in season. And the weather, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, is still nice enough to gather around a fire circle outside. 

Most gathering of witches means potluck of some sort. There’s always the witch that will bring the wine and party favors, another who’s got the sweet treats covered, and another who brings the appetizers. If you’re hosting, the entree will fall to you, along with one or two sides or a salad, as well as making sure your space is welcoming. Maybe some post-meal concoction to sip by the fire whilst you tell stories of your year thus far. You decide how much you take on. Just don’t take on too much, please. Hosts as well as guests should be enjoying themselves. This is a celebration of our gratitude. Our connections are likely at the top of that giving-thanks list. Roast the stuffed turkey, but let everyone else do the rest. However, if you just love creating wonderful food for friends and family, do what you think you can handle without stressing. 

Other things to make your Witches Thanksgiving festive are doing things like gourd candles (maybe make enough to allow your guests to take one home), corn dollies, or having the activity of making a scarecrow for the pumpkin patch or front gate, or pressing apples and pears into cider (as might be the case here at Villa Westwyk). Maybe one of your guests would like to do some divination for everyone for the season ahead. Or maybe you watch the new Halloween flick that was just released. Take your inspiration from the landscape around you, the energy of the group, and go forth and have lots of Witchy Fun. 

Today I put together a Mabon menu to hopefully inspire, instruct, and initiate you into this upcoming season. Inspired by what’s growing here at Villa Westwyk or available nearby (e.g. sablefish), each category should have you covered no matter which part of the potluck you want to cover. As well, there’s a fire circle ritual to help you welcome in Autumn and prepare yourselves for winter. 

First you need to set the mood: and that’s certainly good fun. Decorate your space. Many of my seasonal decorations are actually wards. (More on that here on the blog soon!) Refresh your altar for autumn. If you have a fire circle where you’ll be hosting the ritual, make sure there’s enough seating and table space for everyone. Make sure there’s blankets for everyone to stay comfortable. Again, if you’re hosting, ask your guests where they may like to help. A good guest will ask, as well.  

The menu below is by no means the only menu for your Witches Thanksgiving. Again, take your inspiration from what is available to you and your kindred. This is just what will be on the menu at Villa Westwyk this year. Be sure you understand any food preferences and allergies from your guests before using this menu or creating your own. 

Please note to access the links of these recipes, you’re going to need a passcode. It’s easy:  Mabon2022

Villa Westwyk Mabon Menu:

Grilled Sunflower Head with Chimichurri sauce

Welcome Autumn Punch

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Fall Harvest Salad

Grilled Sablefish collars with garlic confit

Elote Corn on the Cob

Herb buttered grilled Winter Squash Rings

Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Whipped Cream and Brandied Cherry sauce

The Ritual

Gratitude is at the center of Thanksgiving. So the ritual is focused on that. And it’s focused on the fire element, which is necessary to help us survive the upcoming winter season.

Here’s what you’ll need for this activity:

A spot to gather around a fire

Candles or torches that mark the four directions

Small slips of paper and pens or pencils for each guest

A small altar with Autumnal decor

Cleansing herbs (rosemary, sage, mugwort, lavender, etc. – you choose your adventure here)

If you don’t have a fire pit available to you, feel free to gather around a table with a centerpiece of lots of candles. Plan on one candle representing each guest, so 7 guests = 7 candles. And please, for Freyja’s sake, please follow candle safety. You’ll also need a fire-proof container (cauldron).

 

This is a very casual ritual and more about pulling out the recognition of all the abundance in our lives – there’s more than you think. Doing this little exercise, if you’d prefer that word over ritual, helps you and your guests ground down in gratitude around the fire. I set up the tiki torches around the fire circle to mark the four directions ahead of time. If your tradition calls for casting a circle, feel free to do that. But it’s not necessary for this. 

There’s a small altar, mostly hosting all the symbols of Autumn: squash, apples, colored leaves, anything that makes it festive for you. Perhaps offerings for the land spirits or your particular deities. For me it’s offerings to Skaði, the goddess of the Hunt (an autumn activity) and Winter and Tyr, the sky god. Appropriate because of the planetary movement of the equinox. As always, you do you, Witch. 

Remember, a table with candles and cauldron works, too!

In the center is the fire pit, which I’m sure the Viking will have made larger than necessary. Before going around the circle (sunwise, aka clockwise) some cleansing herbs are added to the fire. The host may do this, or everyone can take a little bit of the herbs and toss them into the fire. Again, candles and a cauldron around a patio table works well, too.  Our warm, rainless summers these last 5 years or so here in the PNW means fire rituals often are simply tabletop affairs as fire bans for safety are necessary. All good. This is an opportunity for the host to thank their guests and invite them to consider what they are grateful for. To help your guests get in the mindset of expressing their gratitude, you may ask them to consider three things they are thankful for at Mabon. 

Often I’ll ask them to consider their journey since last Autumn to highlight what abundance and blessings they’ve encountered, especially where their personal growth is concerned. What personal quality are you thankful for? What non-human thing are you thankful for? What other person are you thankful for? As the MC, really ask them to explore the why. Why are you grateful for your work ethic, for instance? “Well, Runa, it helped me finish X project before the equinox…” This is a conversation, to a degree. And a time of reflection. As one guest speaks to their gratitude, the others are invited to fire scry or just meditate on the flames. 

After the gratitude expressions are complete, this is when your guests will put the one thing they want to leave behind as this new season begins. Starting clockwise again, have the person approach the fire (carefully) and toss their completed release note into the flame, saying “I release what does not serve me.” They do not have to say what the thing is that they are releasing. That is between them, the fire and, if appropriate, their gods. If one of your Witch guests wants to announce what they are releasing, that is fine, too. 

End the ritual officially by offering blessings to your guests and again your gratitude for them in your life, for their contributions to the circle, etc. Close your circle here, if you so choose. 

Afterwards, it is a great time to pull out a nightcap of some sort. This can be anything like some hot tea and honey, maybe hot cocoa, or here on our covenstead, it will likely be some Cassis (black currant liqueur) or apple cider that we brewed. Then simply hangout by the fire and visit with your kindred. Make plans for a winter gathering now during this conversation, if you like. Play guitar or ukulele. Sing acapella. Laugh. Connect. 

Be sure to extinguish all flames before leaving the area. Practice good candle and fire safety. Because Samhain is coming and we want to be able to celebrate the Witches New Year together, too. Stay tuned as I’ll be offering the same kind of post for that Witches Sabbat as well. 

How do you celebrate Mabon the Witches Thanksgiving? What of the above might you adopt for your celebration? 

Spider Season Witchcraft

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Keeping Arachnids at Bay on the Covenstead

CW: Spiders

It’s September in the Pacific Northwest, or Spider Season as it’s more locally known. Literally spiders show up everywhere. Now, we’re not as bad as some places in Australia, but funnels, webs, and strings of baby spiders in flight are everywhere. Sunrise & Sunset chores here on the covenstead if viewed from the outside looking in, appears as if we’re practicing some unknown form of martial arts as we try to avoid and untangle ourselves from the ever-present webs. Do not leave the house without a hat right now.

Keeping critters off our temporary clothesline is easy with this Witch’s Brew!

As we live closer to the land here, the prevalence of creepy crawlies is a bit higher. So how do we keep our sanctuary, our home, from being infested? Witchcraft to the rescue! Specifically herbalism and the principles of Permaculture.

Like many Witches, I try my best to live in harmony with all the creatures. Spiders found inside the house here at Villa Westwyk, are escorted outside, unless they show up at the base of the toilet at 0333 hrs when The Viking is half asleep, or if they scurry down one of their seemingly invisible threads while I’m in the shower. A Crone has to have some boundaries! But this happens rarely, even in the PNW Spider Season, because I have a secret weapon: bay.

Bay leaves, bay oil, and even a properly placed bay tree helps keep the spiders at bay, along with a few other pesky insects we don’t want in our homes. Also, I welcome them in my pastures, gardens, and green house. Heck, two of them have my house looking like I already decorated for Halloween. But inside, and certain places outdoors, like my clothesline, potting shed, and barn walkways, are off limits. They are welcome anywhere else.

Granted, doing your weekly cobweb dust in the house does do wonders to make spiders feel your private abode is inhospitable. But there will always be spiders about, even in the cleanest and protected homes and cars. Spiders do good work getting rid of other even more annoying bugs like flies, beetles, and even other spiders. But I prefer that my carnivorous plants (venus fly trap, etc.) do that job, which I highly recommend. If you’re in Western Washington, you may source them from Predatory Perennials.

For more than a decade, I’ve been relying on natural insect repellents and plantings. (I’ll do another blog post down the road on why certain plants on the covenstead are where they are.) Bay oil is my go-to primary in this regard. It is an essential oil of Bay, made from those same little leaves you put in your stews and such, Laurus Nobilis, or Sweet Bay as it’s known, can be like an invisible fence to spiders, and often ants, too. I spray it on my outdoor clothes line, which always seems to attract the little arachnids. But under the full moon in August and September, I repeat this ritual to help keep the spiders at bay (haha, pun intended). When we lived on our sailboat, this happened monthly because spiders just LOVE sailboats. They seem to love RVs, as well. So this little recipe and full moon working has come in handy, a lot. I can tell you that it works. I’m sharing it here in case you just might want to add it to your witchy repertoire, regardless if you’re in the PNW or not.

Now before we get to the recipe, allow me to let you know that it’s important that whatever you’re putting on this may react poorly to it. For that reason, be sure to test a small, inconspicuous spot before you apply this spray to any material. I’ve not had any problems, but I also don’t spray it directly on anything, but rather via a micro cloth that absorbs the concoction. But I’m also mostly putting this on natural materials Additionally, I talk to the spirits of the land, or specifically to spiders, in this case, and tell them why I need them to respect this space. And I offer them alternative areas, where I think they will have a bit of sun, a bit of shade, and lots of good hunting (hint hint: anywhere but here).

Escorting an evictee to the garden

Yes, my neighbors have caught me talking to the spiders. I normally have my polarized shades on and my big straw hat and pay them no mind. But this talking is important because I have livestock, which can really draw flies if you are not practicing regenerative agriculture. But because I don’t shoo down the Orb Weaver’s giant web between the tree and the fence, but rather walk around it, I think the spiders are really doing their job to help keep the flies down to what anyone without 9 geese, 10 chickens, and 11 ducks would experience in their homes. I am sure to mention that to them, how much I appreciate their work. It is important! Also, I noted that many a yellow jacket were in their webs, too. And that’s a bonus as well, especially since the long, cool summer diminished the number of praying mantis that hatched around the covenstead. In short, you need to establish an energetic exchange with these critters. CoExist, baby. I am very careful of my language here, as with any Craft working. For me, I imagine I’m talking to the children of Loki when addressing the spiders. If you want to be clear, be sure to write down what you’re asking first to check yourself before moving forward. Like with the Good Neighbors I avoid apologies or expressions of debt or gratitude (sorry, thank you, no bueno). But the bottom line is that all the creatures that reside here at Villa Westwyk see the work that The Viking and I are doing. They attach their webs to the trees we’ve planted. They revel in the scent of the flowers and bushes we are planting. They see the care with which we raise our livestock. That positive energy extends throughout our four fences.

Lastly, if you cannot get your hands on bay oil, a part of this ritual includes bay leaves, which are helpful, too. However, you can substitute or combine any of the following oils: lemon verbena, lemon essential oil, lemongrass (you get the picture that spiders hate lemon, eh?), peppermint, citronella, or tea tree. But bay just kicks the most spidery butts here.

There are few poisonous spiders here in Western Washington. If you live in an area that has more dangerous varieties of arachnids, please be cautious with this witchy rite. Understand what you’re up against, before you take the time to spray this brew about your home. Also I make no claim how this works against scorpions, but if you try, it, I’d be interested in your results! Comments make my day.

Spider Season Lodgers 2022

Alright, here’s how to make the spray:

Spider Season Spray

Equipment:

Spray bottle (a brown glass one is best, but as you can see from my photo, whatever you have available works!)

Ingredients:

40 drops of essential oil of bay

4 ounces of distilled water

4 ounces of 190-proof alcohol

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Instructions:

Mix the oil, water, alcohol, and vinegar into the bottle. Close tightly and shake to mix.

Typical Use: Spray on a micro cloth and wipe on areas you want to deter spiders.

Tip: when you wipe down the inside of drawers, cabinets or closets with this, it helps make those areas smell so good!

CoExist With Spiders Ritual:

Equipment:

Spider Season Spray

Microcloth

A handful of bay leaves crushed

A broom if you need to sweep away actual cobwebs

Instructions:

I choose to do this on the full moon in August and September, as the relationship between myself and the spiders is heightened. But honestly, you could do it any time. Because I do this annually, these lunations in the late summer help me come back to this over and over again. As I mentioned, it’ makes sense to do this now in this space because it’s Spider Season. Witches in the Southern Hemisphere might find this more helpful on the full moons in February and March.

  1. The day before the ritual, I give “notice” to the Spider and the general spirits of the land. I tell them how certain spaces (as mentioned above) need to be free of intrusion, and a space is waiting for them in the (pick your spot). Also, test your inconspicuous spot.
  2. On the day, first ground and center yourself. Then clean and declutter any area you want to spray this herbal ward. As you clean – especially if you’re going to be dispatching webs and egg sacs – repeat your reasoning for this working and remember to be careful with your language. Example: “Spiders, spiders Here and there, Do not fret But you can bet There’s better parts You should depart To spin your place Beyond this (sacred) space.” I often will carry a spider to a more desired location. I know this can be tough for some, but find yourself a Green Witch, perhaps that can help you with this part if it’s difficult for you.
  3. Then moisten your cloth and wipe down the areas (after you’ve tested thoroughly) e.g. your front entry way. Be sure that you are not stingy, but that it is well “oiled” in the area.
  4. If you are creating a spider-free zone in an entry way, take your crushed bay leaves and sprinkle them in front of the threshold. Feel free to repeat your request and offer of place beyond this sacred space. (Note: you will find whole bay leaves in every cupboard and drawer that I have. Guess what gets replaced each late summer in my kitchen? Yep. Those bay leaves.)
  5. Repeat at the next full moon.

I hope you have found this helpful. If you decide to actually make a ritual of it as described above, please let me know how it goes for you. As with everything in the craft: your mileage may vary. I am simply sharing my experience and knowledge.

Flipping Off The System

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A Lesson in Onions & Worth

The 12 Tenets of Permaculture

In the last week or so I’ve harvested enough onions and garlic to use in our meals for months and months.  The red onion harvest alone should keep us in red onions for nine months. I look at these harvests as a big screw-you to the horrendous systems we have created on this planet. Growing my own food has been a constant rebellion for me against Earth-damaging capitalism. It also is a double fisted flip-off to the patriarchy, which continues to try to keep women from an autonomous existence or doing the things that bring us joy. Yes, friends, growing your own food is a big fuck you to the establishment. 

However, I’m also finding that some of the ways I have felt pressured to establish the worth of these efforts I’m ready to give the middle finger to as well. Over the years I have been growing food (more than 20), I’ve kept track in one way or another of our harvest totals. I say “our” harvest, but it’s mostly just this lone crone doing the #PermieWitch work around #VillaWestwyk. This spring, I found I was resisting the kinds of metrics found in pages of spreadsheets: how much lettuce did I just harvest? How many eggs has our flock produced for us? And what’s the break down between chickens, ducks, and geese? How much meat have I bartered for homemade sourdough bread? Blah, Blah, Blah! 

Part of my Onion Harvest

I know there’s abundance here. Who else do I need to prove it to? My spouse? Not even. I’m fortunate that my Writing Witch, Permie Witch, Green Witch, and the like are all fully supported by my partner. His father grew up on a farm. He knows how hard it is to grow food. Do I need to prove it to my community? This crone does not care if they think the 80 pounds of potatoes I grew last year (this year’s totals TBD) is a waste of my time. But being able to understand just how much I have produced is important. Of course I had to put my little rabble rousing ways on that, too. Let’s take a look at my Star System. No, we’re not talking astrology; however, my Taurus midheaven and North Node are all about Earth Healing.

For about a decade now I’ve referred to meals I’ve made containing ingredients from our gardens and pastures by a star count. Homegrown onions on the plate? One star. Freshly harvested potatoes on the plate? Another star. Greens from our hot house on the plate? You guessed it, another star. 

When this season it just gave me ZERO joy to worry about measuring, marking, and doing all that data work, I went back to the end result and the satisfaction that it brings. When I know or can share that there is at least one thing, if not many things on the plate for our meals that was grown or raised right here in this little 2-acre parcel – that, my friends, is just pure and utter delight and satisfaction. Consuming the stars on my plate – again one for each thing that is homegrown/made and ½ a star for those I bartered or procured from farming neighbors – is some of the regular joy and balance in my life. And again, as I’m fat and happy, I’m flipping off the establishment.

If you follow me on instagram, I regularly post photos of my meals and how many stars there are on our plates. Those metrics make me happy and smile. It tangibly shows the percentage of food I’m growing/raising is making an impact as opposed to data on a spreadsheet. For instance, breakfast this morning contained our eggs, zucchini, green beans, and chard. Four stars. Yum. 

Oftentimes, I verbally make note how much these items may have cost at our local market while eating this farm-to-table meal with my meal guests (in this COVID-19 World, that’s mostly The Viking). But then my Viking asked me how much the entire Onion harvest would cost us at the local farmer’s market. It took me a minute to do the arithmetic and I did have to do some measuring and whatnot, but the results were surprising. I conservatively estimated that my red onion harvest will shave approximately $130 off our grocery bill over the next six to nine months. Again, that’s conservative. If Whole Foods was selling it, it would probably be closer to $230. Ha! Plus I don’t have to worry about recalls because of listeria or any of that nonsense, which is worth even more money. I grow my veggies organically. They are fertilized with compost and seaweed tea. Pests are dealt with naturally (our slug and snail population has gone down so much, thank you ducks), in part due to our permaculture approach. That’s $130 in our savings and that’s not counting the sweet onions and garlic I harvested, too. 

I’ll take it. 

That simple question from my Aquarian hubby – who is so good at looking at situations from a different perspective – totally changed my perception about the work I’ve been doing. I started thinking about how so much of this late-stage capitalism is just fucking up our planet. How it devalues such cottage revenue as a vegetable garden or small-holding livestock. In short, there isn’t a societal value placed on the work that I do to feed my family and friends.  It’s looked at as a hobby. Whatever dude. Sweat your butt off in the summer trying to ensure a tomato harvest, or move your animals to higher ground during a flood event, or even just have a planter of strawberries on your patio, and talk to me about how it’s not valuable. 

However there is value. Part of that value is in the sustainability that we practice and are working hard to increase. And you can’t really put a price tag on that. Healing the Earth is priceless. Saving the planet one row of onions at a time is pretty fucking cool, though. 

This realization of value I recognized quickly fell within the Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback tenet of Permaculture (#SelfRegulate #AcceptFeedback). The lesson here came from myself first in that simple spreadsheet calculations were not bringing me joy. Is there food on our plate that we produced? Win. The other feedback came from The Viking. He saw the value in another way, not just the #ObtainAYield, another of the 12 tenets of Permaculture we’re applying to our lifestyle here at Villa Westwyk. That segues into the  Design From Patterns To Details tenet. Onions grow well here. They are low labor and work as pest control (#IntegrateDontSegregate) around my Brassicas. Surround your broccoli with onions. The pests will be way less. Also, when you cut an onion you grew yourself, the tears are worth it. 😉

A lot of the capitalist world may look at my daily life as less than, but I understand the Magic that is being created by focusing on healing the Earth (and meanwhile myself and my family – #EatYourselfWell) and working with her is more valuable than metrics and a paycheck. But, honestly, I am creating value and abundance, even if the patriarchy and capitalism can’t see it. I see it. Therefore, I’ll continue to rebel in my own way.

How about you? Are you growing food? Even herbs? Where can you increase your own food security? Please let me know in the comments below. 

I would like to acknowledge that Villa Westwyk resides on the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived in the Salish Sea basin, throughout the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades watershed, from time immemorial. I hold the deepest respect and gratitude for our Indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.

Working with the Seagoat Energy in 2022

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Intentions Set in January, Where Are We Now?

Here we are the cusp of the Full Buck Moon in Capricorn and Lammas is coming up very fast! That means that it’s time to check in on the goals I set at the beginning of the calendar year.

First I want to share with you how much that setting intentions at a new moon and working on those goals through its corresponding full moon is so Magical. I use the book New Moon Astrology by Jan Spiller as a guideline. If you’ve not stuck your nose in this book, I highly recommend it. In the book she details the areas of life ruled by Capricorn. It includes future needs, responsibilities, goals, success, authority, excessive control, joints of the body, and rules management. I looked at areas in my life ruled by Capricorn and figured out where I wanted to make changes. 

We had the Capricorn New Moon on Jan. 2, 2022 (1033 hrs PST).  Diligently, I worked with the Cosmic Energy of this lunar transit and set my intentions. These intentions revolved around my health, finances, mental outlook, and time usage. All these things were ruled, in part, by Capricorn energy. Today I can happily say that improvement has been made. Some of the intentions I’m still struggling with to a degree but things have definitely made positive changes. Doing Magic works.

I set nine intentions on that cold January day. Nine is a power number for me in Numerology, too. And that alone made me feel confident that I was working the energies in myself and my environment. Nine represents completions and new beginnings. Perfect. I’ll detail each intention and how I’ve progressed in my goals over the course of the year thus far. I’m also going to check in again when the next New Moon in Capricorn comes around December 23, 2022. A whole year of working these intentions. Documenting it here on my blog helps keep me focused and accountable. So don’t let me forget another check in come the Winter Solstice. 😉

My first intention was wanting total healing to occur in the area of my joints. As the Pandemic Pause continued in my life, physical activity, especially during winter, was too low and my arthritis pain was increasing. To that end I upped my yoga game and took on learning Tai Chi, all things to help keep those joints lube up and supported. Also upped my supplements and diet to lend itself to joint health as well. I could feel the energy coming from that Capricorn placement of the wintery new moon. It opened up ideas and pathways of motivation that felt unattainable. 

Next I wanted to easily find myself responding to the aging process in a way that is in my best interest. This is one area where I’m still struggling. New things pop up all the time as you get older and our society does NOT talk about the aging process at all. I feel like it should be like a course that juniors or seniors in high school take or maybe when you hit 50, there’s a class you take to understand it more, but so much about getting older is determined by how you’ve lived those previous 50 years. However, what I did realize with this intention very quickly was that understanding that my age is a privilege that many people do not receive, and for that I’m grateful. That attitude of gratitude is a powerful balm when you are struggling with something. Aging gracefully is not exactly what I’m going for, but understanding it more and like Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady says, “Being Prepared, Not Scared” was more my focus. So I turned to what I turn to often when I’m trying to understand something better: books. I have been reading so many tomes on aging and they are providing new information that has allowed me to understand I’m on the right track and doing better than I thought. And that allows me to respond to the aging process in my best interest. Win. The reading I’ve done and other research here regarding aging, merged in with my next intention which was to easily find myself approaching the situation of menopause in a mature, sensible way that is in my best interest. These readings also highlighted blessings of being a Crone that I hadn’t yet realized. More gratitude.

Next intention was to easily find myself making decisions that provide a secure financial base for my golden years. This was probably the scariest intention I set. Money stuff can always feel like something out of our control. Such a lie we tell ourselves. Funnily enough, I had already taken a step towards this goal back in my Birthday month (November) by investing in solar energy for Villa Westwyk. Within a few weeks after the Capricorn new moon, we started producing our own energy and my next electric bill was so low, it felt laughable that we hadn’t worked towards this before. Now each month, I’m putting aside what I would have paid for in electricity into a retirement fund. There were several other smaller decisions that were presented to me and with the mindfulness of my Capricorn New Moon intentions, I am making smarter decisions with my finances. Sometimes just asking myself if this expenditure or investment or other money question is going to give me security as I age makes all the difference. 

Another resource that was a target of my intentions on that second day of the calendar year was to easily find myself consciously using time to my best advantage. When you sit down and consider how you use your time, it’s amazing the Divine Downloads you get. Basically, I was empowered to say ‘No’ to anything that did not benefit myself, my family, my home, my business, or my community. Being able to say ‘No’ to time stealers allowed me to say yes to things that were going to benefit me. It brought me to a new community that supported my efforts to live as a MidGardening Witch – healing the land, myself, my kindred, and my community. New friendships deepened. New connections inspired me. Time became my own and my days are truly my own now. If I need to take a mental health day (which I believe you should do at least monthly), or double down on work hours, it’s on me. That is so empowering and breeds harmony and balance. It’s something I want to wish for everyone: may your time be your own. 

This next intention is the big struggle, which I know so many of you will understand. I wrote in my journal that New Moon day: I want all fears of incompetency totally lifted from me. I had to reach out even now while I pen this to my network of friends to get encouragement and strategies to beat that inner editor into productivity and not baneful, negative self-talk. (Shout out to Divine Hand Jim for helping me reframe the problem!) That voice of imposter syndrome now has a name, Joyce. This allows me to make friends with that voice and give her a job. I highly recommend this tactic. Now when that voice of fear and loathing, Joyce, tells me, “No one cares about what you’re writing!” I tell her things like: your job is to make sure that when I edit this post, I get the mechanics of punctuation and spelling right; that while I’m writing I’m sitting in a manner that won’t irritate that sciatica. Now that Joyce has a job, I can focus on being all I can be. This to say I’m learning. I’m getting better. Even today. Joyce, too. 

I’ve not had anyone tell adult Runa that I’m lazy. But I’m recognizing that there is an inner dialogue for me that if I’m not actively doing something I’m loafing. This is so inaccurate when I examine it mindfully. Therefore, my intention next was to easily find myself welcoming the hard work that leads to success. I’m still struggling with little things around the work – like there’s new computer stuff I need to learn, or it’s too hot to weed, or daydreaming about a better desk, or AWS updated something and crashed my website again.  I’m not really afraid of work. I feel good when I work hard. But, I can get myself distracted. But like Joyce above, I need to embrace and be grateful for the challenges that my work brings. When I look at what success looks like, things are building slowly, but they are building. I will take that. For instance, I was all focused on my family gathering over the 4th of July weekend (the first to include the whole family since the pandemic!), and was just inundated with Magical Supply Orders, Dream Interpretations, and Rune Casting orders! What a great reminder that the foundation is there and since I built it, “they” are coming. Additionally, the harvests are coming in, the planning back in January, the planting in March, is now filling our bellies and our larder. It inspires me to continue that work and make plans to make it easier and more plentiful as my efforts build on those foundations. As well, the secret project I began to design and plan following the summer lunar eclipse in 2020 is birthing a life of its own almost and I can see its path to be released to the rest of the world. Gotta get my sunglasses on because the future is bright. 

In January, I was suffering from a massive dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I felt like there was nothing I could control in my life, so into the New Moon in Capricorn intentions it went. I wrote, “I want to easily find myself successfully taking charge in every area of my life.” Such a powerful spell, this one little intention. And of all my intentions, this one has been the most dynamic change in the last six months. Every choice I made, again, was about what was best for me, my kindred, my home, my business, my community. Relationships now have more energy from me; my writing has more energy; my self-care has more energy; and my craft has more energy. All of these energies add even more value and abundance in my life. Standing in your power is easily done by taking charge of your life. I’m here to witness that you can do the same in yours. 

A friend visited and brought to light how often I apologize or justify myself to others. It was illuminating. I needed the intention of the habit of justifying myself to others totally lifted from me. This sent me on an internal journey about why I have this negative habit of apologizing for things I do not own, that I carry this need to justify my actions. Why? I’m not exactly sure necessarily, but as I worked towards that goal I recognized I didn’t need to know why, but to just stop doing it. I began to stop myself when I was about to say “Sorry.” I asked myself instead “Do I own that?” “Am I responsible for that?” When I was unable to do something for someone, I began to recognize that I didn’t have to give a reason. I didn’t need to carry the responsibility of the whys. No is a complete sentence, I wrote on a sticky note and put it in a cupboard I open daily. Reading that each day multiple times began to change my thought process. Saying no began to change relationships that weren’t serving me. It began to strengthen other relationships – those who wanted to see me succeed and be the best version of myself. Instead of apologizing, I started to express appreciation for my friend’s patience, or my husband’s understanding, or my own discipline to do yoga. There’s that attitude of gratitude. It’s a power source, I tell ya. 

My last intention that cold, dark, wintery mix of a day on January 2 was to easily find myself seeing life in a way that brings joy. This was a doozy. The climate of our country is so heavy right now. It is a joy killer for sure. But, I can’t control the whole country (see prior intentions). Simple things like sitting before the fire with a good book and my puppies in my laps were noted in a “joy finding” notebook. Feeling happy that our efforts to heal our property helped the flood on our property not be as bad as it could have been. Joy making for sure. Oh, and look that embracing of hard work is happening there, too. Watching the wildlife and livestock here at Villa Westwyk is endlessly joy making. Finding new friends and compatriots in the Magical community lends itself to that, too. Doing a daily coffee or tea ritual is joy making. It’s all there, you just need to say, “Oh, hey, Joy, I see you. Thank you for being here.” 

This Capricorn cycle with all its cardinal earth energy has grounded me so much and I’m motivated to keep working on these intentions through the rest of the year. Capricorn season splits my fifth and sixth house, the houses of growth and blooming. 

Are you seeing a theme yet? I am. I’m excited to see where I am at with these goals come December. Do you know what intentions you set or desires you had last January? If you do, how are you stacking up against your expectations? Where can you say you’re still struggling, but are, yes, still working on it? Tell me below in the comments. Let’s chat about this miraculous Capricorn energy. 

Retrograde Reassessment

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How is it June already?

Looking at the calendar, the summer solstice is right around the corner. Given that Mercury is moving back direct from its retrograde (I started this post when it was still fully retrograde), I wanted to take some time and reassess how I’m doing on my goals for 2022’s calendar year. 

Back in January I posted that I wanted to:

Curate a healthy existence to keep learning while leaning into abundance that comes with knowledge by consistently practicing mindful Magic and Earth healing while writing it all down. 

Currently, we’re eating more and more healthily. I am literally harvesting in the morning, a lot of what we will eat in the day. And if it’s not coming from the greenhouse or perennial garden, it’s coming from my larder of food put by the last growing season or from my fellow Grow Food neighbors. 

Daily Kitchen Witchery is not only enhancing our life nutritiously, but also spiritually. Living and moving with the seasons feels so natural and right-on that there is a sense of calm I haven’t had in many years. Our healthy existence includes exercise every day by way of yoga, walking, or Tai Chi, the latter of which we are so new in learning, but oh wow is it amazing. I still have to have some dark chocolate, ice cream, or baked goods on occasion, and well those are one of the joys of life. Plus I wanted to lean into abundance. A special ice cream sundae to celebrate goslings being born on the Covenstead is allowed. It’s what makes life worth living sometimes. 

More Flowers all over Villa Westwyk is a Goal for 2022.

Mindful Magic has continued as Runa Troy’s Magical Services & Goods continues to build, slowly but surely. My work doing dream interpretations, Rune Castings, and the like is so fulfilling and its growth has been such a blessing. My intuition is being sharpened by deepening my knowledge of astrology, and intensifying my connection with Runes, my ancestors, and the Spirits beyond the Veil. 

Earth Healing is a huge focus now that Spring is in full force (finally!) here in the Pacific Northwest. We have seven goslings, six chicks, and nearly a dozen duck eggs a day coming in. We have planted hops this year, which is new to us, to aid in The Viking’s brew haus activities. I have finally moved all the raspberries from the very bad, no good spot they were in (not by me) and put them in their own garden, which allows for expansion and UPick opportunities down the road. The space where the raspberries once occupied will be a garden of things just for the Beastlings – everything from amaranth grain to kale to sunflowers to zucchini. 

Eating straight from the land is so healing.

Plans are underway to host gatherings here for friends and family because we have the outdoor space to do so safely. We’re excited to share Villa Westwyk’s gorgeous energy with those we love and to celebrate our Patriarch’s 85th birthday, a girls’ weekend or three, and so much more (Can you say Witch Camp ‘22?). 

Writing it all down not only includes this blog, but my secret project which is gaining some much needed traction in the right direction. Additionally, I’m in a writing group of other Mystics via The Tarot Lady’s Hierophant Writing Group. With their encouragement I have progressed so much further on this work in the last three months than I would have otherwise. This Writing Circle is powerful Magic and I’m happy to have opened the door to this curation. I’m learning so much as well as producing and that aligns with my goal for this year as well. 

Although Mercury Retrograde gets a bad rap and now Saturn is going Retrograde, it’s an opportunity to work with the energies and make even more Magic. Oh and Venus is in Taurus, so love yourself. Love your kindred. And let’s move through the rest of this year taking steps forward curating our truest selves and best life.