Galentine’s / Valentine’s / Mentine’s — whatever you call it is coming up this weekend and there’s still time to give yourself, a beloved, or bestie a little token of magic and love. This is our featured item this week in the Magical Flea Market. Vintage. Cleansed. Charged. and ready to grace the neckline of its new owner.
You didn’t know that witches have special hangovers? Yep, we do. Just like overdoing it with alcohol, overusing your psychic energy can produce what feels very much like a hangover. When experiencing a psychic hangover, you may feel physically sick: fatigue, have a headache, feel nauseous or actually vomit, and or experience an extended period of malaise. Even the most practiced witch, medium, healer, and the like may fall to it, but if you are disciplined (oh, look, there’s one of the guiding principle words), you can prevent it. But to do that, we need to first understand how they happen.
In recent months as I’ve become a more and more public witch, my energy/magic/psychic output has spiked. If you viewed it in some sort of measurable graph it would look something like this:
And those highs notably follow a crash. And crash I did. How did I let it happen? I was feeling good and plain and simple was not careful. This is what happened, right around Samhain, I was doing rune casting/reading after reading, I had startedSolitary Shenanigans, and was doing daily dream interpretations. Additionally I was making magical things for my Magical Flea Market. The output was high and I was loving it.
Now, I’ve been doing those things for most of my life, but they were weekly at best, and sometimes I would go a good amount of time without doing any kind of psychic output. Life today is very different as I’ve found my new path with a constant focus on a magical life. Then the crash came. I was dumbfounded by why I woke up one day just absolutely drained. I felt hung-over but had not imbibed in my traditional nightcap of a shot of whiskey in the nights before. I couldn’t eat because I felt almost a sea sickness. My head throbbed and within a few hours I had a migraine as I’d not had in a very long time. For three days I could do only the bare minimum in my life. I had to cancel Solitary Shenanigans. And reschedule clients. Everyone was understanding. My clients were gracious. My Viking was supportive. During my recovery, it didn’t take me long to figure out what had happened. I had a magic hangover. My psychic output had been so intense, I’d overdone it. I burned my hedge witch candle at both ends. I got burned. And it hurt.
When I started coming out of the fog, I reached out to some of the other witches in my life, asking them how they deal and, more importantly, prevent such psychic crashes. All of them could relate and had lots of advice. All of them had learned the hard way, even when they had protected themselves, grounded themselves, and done other prevented measures. What I also gleaned from talking to my fellow witches is that appears that we all need to push ourselves to know where our limit is. Much like most adults know they can have “X” number of drinks so they stay away from a hangover episode.
MareLin, the PNW High Priestess, for whom I have partnered with for three-plus years doing magical work and The Country Dwellers Podcast, told me that many a witch can find themselves getting sucked in and drunk on the craft. She teaches new witches all about this through her Path Of The Moon Initiate – Foundation and its initiate course. Preparation and protection are key, she said.
Preparation can just look like scheduling things in a more meaningful and relaxed manner. My fellow witch, Jennifer Hryciw, aka Painted Goddess, who has the fabulous Astrologic Lab, told me that after her lesson of trying to do 30 readings in 30 days, she now knows she needs to only do three readings a week. Your mileage may vary, but other folks I spoke to have restrictions on how much they put out. It’s also why readings have the cost they do. If you’re making your living doing magical work — it’s still labor and skilled labor at that (but that’s another post…stay tuned).
Protection can be done by wearing specific wards, crystals, or casting a circle. When I do readings and do magical work, I call on my guides for protection and wear all the protective crystals, specifically black tourmaline and carnelian. I save circles for big ritual work, where I tend to expend a lot of magic. But I can put it in my playbook for later, if I’m feeling like I need a boost. However, I know many witches that don’t work unless they cast a circle, often calling forth the deities they prefer to work with. My circles tend to use elemental energy instead. But it’s a protective resource regardless and available to prevent a psychic hangover.
MareLin’s advice was echoed in Mat Auryn in his book Psychic Witch: A Metaphysical Guide to Meditation, Magick & Manifestation. He writes about the possibility of burnout and relays a story about his own experience with a magical crash. His experience was related to not grounding before practicing his craft. He also warns that continued pushing of the psychic limits without recovery or preventative measures can make you literally fry your ability to function. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
So how do we prevent getting a magical burnout or psychic hangover?
Like Auryn says in his book, the first thing to do is ground yourself. If you are unaware of how to ground yourself, there are a ton of resources out there. If you are wanting some guided grounding and meditative practices, besides reading books like Auryn’s mentioned above or Astrea Taylor’s book, Intuitive Witchcraft: How to use Intuition to Elevate Your Craft, I recommend you seek out someone like Tina at The Evergrove for guided meditation services which also incorporate grounding techniques. If you hurry you might be able to participate in a free session she’s giving Feb. 6 (2021).
But in my experience related above I did ground myself and still experienced a crash. So what do you do if you crash and need to recover? The Universe has just told you to sit you ass down, witch. You are going to have to rest. Much like recovering from the flu or a hangover. You need to hydrate. Drink some healing teas with a bit of honey. I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but it works. Feed yourself whole foods. Nothing too high in fat, sugar, or carbs. Definitely nothing processed. As your energy expands, look at doing some light exercise like restorative yoga or a gentle stroll in nature (this is not the time to try to climb a mountain!)You can also look at doing some energy healing, like reiki or sound healing. I can recommend sessions from Steph Ananda, and her Ananda Industries offerings. Also, take a bath, if you’re able. A cleanse to purge the after effects of a magical binge is very healing.
A bath was a highlighted tactic and tip that Hryciw gave me when I reached out feeling blindsided by my psychic hangover. She told me, “If I could, I would do my readings from a bath, soak in those Epsom salts, and just charge me under the moonlight while I’m (doing) readings.”
I like it! Do your readings from a restorative bath!
But most importantly, you’re going to need to abstain from doing any magic. Seriously, give yourself a cease and desist order from anything magical. For some of us that may be tough. I mean I didn’t even do my daily coffee ritual or any kitchen witchery. We ate frozen leftovers and ordered in because I’m at the stage of my life where all kitchen work includes magical energy. For how long? Well, like everything in your practice that depends. You know you and your practice best. For me, the incident above took almost four days total to recover from. I didn’t even pull an oracle card or any small thing. Hell, I was in bed or on the couch for two of those days. You may need less time; you may need more. One thing to note is that magic hangovers get harder to process the more powerful a witch you are, or just how hard you tied on your psychic overdose. Make sense? Think back to how you could party in your younger days and still go to work in the morning (or for me, run in formation for six miles); but today, a hangover means you can barely get through the day or need to call in sick. It’s the same with your psychic (magical) energy.
Lastly, this whole experience made me recall the witch I learned the most from back in the day (you know before the internet, social media and people hearing the word witch daily), oh dear “LBT,” who wrote to me from her “Mushroom Cottage” responding to my gushing fangirling letter regarding her work. Told me to trust my gut and to rest as much as I work. And that’s how I’m playing it. In addition to preparation and protection, I’m balancing work and rest. Therefore, if I’m doing readings, for an hour. I rest for an hour, or two if necessary.
Appreciate you reading all the way through. If you have things you do to prevent a psychic hangover, please leave a comment below. And stay tuned next week when I tackle the subject of Dream Hangovers! Yep, there are those, too.
Having fresh veggies is such a blessing from Mother Earth, but unless you have wilderness around you to hunt and gather, it requires a bit of work. However, for about a $10 investment, and a tiny space, you can have fresh greens on your table just about any time you want. I’m here to tell you how.
What’s your zone? First off, if you’re living in the upper reaches of Canada or Europe or certainly Alaska, this may not work for you. My growing zone here is 8a. The lowest mean average here ever is 9 degrees F, but that tends to be balanced out with getting up above freezing quickly before it dips back down (thank you wind from the Pacific Ocean). So far the lowest we have seen this year is 22 degrees F. But my baby greens mini cold frame just keeps giving me fresh veggies all fall and winter and if I keep harvesting, it will produce consistently.
What you will need: First off you need what will serve as your mini cold frame, a clear-bottomed storage container. The one I’m using was found at a local hardware store on sale (everything storage is on sale right now) for $5. I got some seeds on sale — just $2 — of some arugala (one of my favorite greens), and a bag of all-purpose potting soil. We have since expanded to include spinach and kale. Woohoo, power greens, baby! Just be advised that this is not the space to grow deep root veggies like carrots and beets and the like. Shallow things like greens, strawberries, or even lettuce would work.
Now you need to make sure the bag of soil will fit inside the inner rim of the lid. So get the measurements of your container before you purchase your bag of soil. I carry a small tape measure key chain in my purse for just such occasions.
Soil here in the Pacific Northwest can run anywhere between $3 for about 1 cubic feet (which is what you see in my photos here) to about $9 for the fancy organic stuff. For my experiment I went with the cheaper bag just to see how things went. Later on as I began to love this little gardening hack, I spent $6 on a bag(s) of soil. Since you can spend up to $6 for one harvest of greens at the market, I felt it totally worth it. You’ll also need a small watering can, but hopefully since you’re a witch, you have one of those. Grab an old pitcher, yogurt cup, whatever in the meantime if you don’t. Lastly you will need a box cutting knife. As a permaculture-focused food grower, a box cutter is part of my tool belt, since cardboard is used as weed block, path makers, etc. Box cutters with exchangeable blades run pretty inexpensively. If you don’t have a box cutter, you could use an exacto knife, or a pair of scissors you don’t mind getting a bit mucky.
Find a spot: You will want your little greenhouse to be somewhere it can get the most sun light possible, especially during the winter months. Ours are against the barn on a table on the north-end of our property, but face south. That’s prime, but honestly, when I started this, it was only getting eastern light and then a bit of south light, and it still worked. If you have questions about your particular set up and where it’s facing, etc. comment below and I’ll see if I can’t help you decide.
I have mine on top of a beat-up picnic table so I don’t have to bend to harvest; but, it can sit on the ground just fine. If you want to get it up off the ground you can use just about anything — an old filing cabinet, milk crates, heck some cinderblocks.
Put the lid where you want to keep your cold frame and put the bag of soil on it. Poke some very small holes intermittently all around the soil to allow for water drainage. You could use a screwdriver for this part if you like. Don’t make the holes too big or you’ll lose to much water.
Flip the bag of soil over and take the box knife, cutting a rectangle out of the soil bag, leaving a border of the soil bag so soil and seeds and the like don’t spill out. Now water the exposed soil and wait a bit — go have a cup of tea and take 10 minutes to be mindful. Or do a Chakra alignment exercise. You decide. Just let it sit while you focus on something else. For me, I went and pulled weeds in my herb bed. However, if you open up the bag and discover it’s super wet (which sometimes happens here in the PNW), skip the watering and just let it sit the same as if you wet it.
Once the moistened soil has sat for a bit, come back and take your finger, a trowel, the tip of your knife, your scissors, etc. and draw a serpentine pattern in the exposed soil. Be sure to pay attention to the depth suggested on the seed packet and don’t go too deep. Next you will sprinkle your greens seeds into the serpentine trough throughout the exposed rectangle. Gently push the soil over the seeds and do another light soaking of the soil. Put your cover on and wait. Now it’s time to talk to your seeds. Tell your baby greens how excited you are to meet them and that you will always take care of them. Or tell them whatever you prefer.
Be sure to check daily for soil moisture in these first couple of days. Seeds need a good bit of water to make sure they germinate. The moisture from the enclosed heat will help keep them moist, but be sure to check. Don’t forget. Add water as needed. Do not make mud. Just so that it’s moist to the touch.
Once the greens take shape, you may find you need to thin. Don’t thin too much as the you are harvesting these before they get to big and the plants close together help keep themselves warm. Once the shoots lose that little heart shaped baby leaves and have about a 1 to 3-inch regular leaf you can harvest. You are welcome to harvest the microgreens, too (those heart shaped leaves I was talking about), I just prefer the stronger flavor of the bigger ones. Snip with scissors and rinse and eat! Be sure not to pull the roots. You want your greens to keep growing. Add to your morning eggs, on your lunch sandwiches, or your green smoothies. So many options!
One word of note, I recommend you turn the frame around so that the north side of it — however you have it oriented, gets flipped at each harvesting. Mine is oriented north to south, so I bring the north end to south at each harvest. That way the natural moss that will likely grow on the north end, doesn’t really have time to take shape.
Weekly check for water needs. The more you harvest, the more it will grow. Each frame for me gives me about two meals for the two of us each week. And I’m not stuck with plastic bags or containers from the market. So good for me and my planet. We started this cold frame back in Late October. From the first week of November, onward I’ve had a harvest of fresh greens at least once a week. That initial $10 investment has paid itself over nearly four times. I’ll take it! And all I have to do is walk out my back door, snip, rinse, eat!
If you wanted to grow a variety in one frame, you could do that, too. Just use 1/3 a packet of seeds per 3 varieties.
Knowing and growing your own food is so satisfying, I’d like to inspire everyone to do what they can no matter what kind of space they have. An apartment balcony? You can do this. A small city lot? You can do this. A condo with a small patio? You can do this. And on and on. You don’t have to be a declared “green witch” to have fresh greens right from your own sacred space.
Again, if you have questions, feel free to comment below and we’ll get you going on growing your own food. If you do undertake this quick and easy baby greens mini cold frame, let me know below how it works out.
Until next time, be your truest self and live your best life.
During my 20s in my life as a witch, I learned from my very first coven (also the one that made me realize I was more powerful as a Solitary), the practice of spelling magic, as magick, adding a ‘k’ to the end of the common word magic.
That was nearly 30 years ago (yikes!). Since then I’ve interspersed that spelling when speaking to my craft, spells, feelings, vibrations, anything I wanted to code as belonging to my practice of witchcraft. However, the inner editor in me and pin-up grammar girl rejected it consistently throughout those decades. Now I’ve slowly been undoing the practice of the use of the ‘k’ when referring to magic.
Now, if you’re a witch and use the ‘k,’ that’s your prerogative; but, I’m feeling more and more that it harkens to things that don’t resonate and certainly raise some flags for me personally. But as I always say, you do you, witch. This article only relays why I’m choosing to spell magic without the k. Before I detail why I’m choosing to lose the ‘k,’ let’s take a look at where the practice of that within witch circles began.
The practice ‘magick’ apparently was popularized by the infamous Aleister Crowley when referring to work within the occult or mysticism. That spelling was then adopted by Gerald Gardner, the father of modern Wicca, and, L. Ron Hubbard of scientology fame. Crowley, who focused much of his practice on sex magic while under the influence, often explained the use of the ‘k’ at the end of magic to distinguish himself from the likes of the illusionist Houdini’s of the world. Crowley was also a big believer in numerology and having a six-letter word for an action we signify with mysticism felt more accurate and important to him. The number 11 was significant to Crowley also, which is the position of ‘k’ in the alphabet. Clearly it was a ‘thing’ with Crowley and he had to make sure everyone else knew it was a thing. He needed something to distinguish his magic from a top-hatted scarf wrangler on stage.
When you search further for the origins of its use, you will uncover there are multiple ways of spelling magic throughout the ages, including writings that date back well before Crowley ~ 16th century. The tl;dr of this is that language has not always been standardized. Anyone who knows me, can tell you my word nerd quotient is a bit high. I’m a complete language dork — it’s hard to be a writing witch and not have some love for all that is words. Old and Shop used to have an extra ‘p’ and an ‘e,’ but no longer do. How it sounds when you pronounce it is exactly the same, whether it’s old or olde, shop or shoppe. It is the same with magic. If you say magic or magick, it sounds the same. You don’t add an extra ‘k’ sound at the end and sound like you’re a skipping record.
Also, given that my favorite season is The Fall of the Patriarchy, I am fully suspect of Crowley, who by all accounts was a power-seeking drug & sex addict. My gut tells me that the bawdy accounts of his “True Will” efforts was less than sincere. My gut is my intuition and every flipping time I don’t listen to it, I get burned. If Crowley is the reason modern witches use the word Magick, I’m not buying it.
There is also this scratchy voice of my ancestors in my head screaming that we are magic and we don’t need to spell it separately or make it something different. We already are lumped in with “other” in so many ways as witches, we don’t need something else to signify we walk a different path. We are magic. We own it. We don’t need the extra ‘k’ to detail that.
Again, there are many within the witch community who use it with a K, and as I admitted, I have in the past. I’m not against it, simply don’t feel the need to use it that way myself. You may need the ‘K;’ I don’t. I am claiming the simple common word magic for everything that I practice as a witch. If you feel so called, I’m here to give you permission to do the same. If you need the K — I hope you have a reason beyond some of those above.
Let me know how you use the word and what your preferences are.
Right around my solar return in November, a question was posed to me — and honestly, I don’t recall where it came from — I mean, obviously, Source. But what vehicle for which the message was delivered, I’m unsure of, and does it really matter? Not really, except to understand that we can get messages from Source or our Spirit Guides in just about any manner. We need to allow ourselves to be open to receive it.
This particular message was regarding my Personal Guiding Principles, my own witch’s creed if you will. It was then it occurred to me that I may not necessarily be able to spout out something succinct. But in the complicated world we live in, can such things be succinct? Perhaps. Regardless, I had my mission and set out over the last months to detail exactly what they are.
I set about by meditating, first. I imagine if you had been a dragonfly on the window sill of my studio I would have looked quite the stereotypical new-age westerner. Lotus position. Lights dimmed. Candles lit. Incense wafting. But, hey, it worked. I saw words flash into my mind’s eye. I saw little vignettes when in my life I had exhibited the words in my head. It was almost like a beat as I breathed in and out and focused solely on the things I hold dear.
Following meditation I did some automatic writing. This is when I just let things flow out from my hand to the pen and paper (or keyboard, if appropriate). What followed was a bit of a mess, which it normally is and requires much interpretation and revision. After the follow-on editing, I produced my personal guiding principles. They are not in any kind of order, just as they came out of my head. All nine are important regardless of order. I do find it interesting that there are 9, as that is an important number to me, but that exploration is for another day. However, what I did notice is that there’s a bit of a mnemonic to it. I call it my WiTCH D-REPS. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out why.
My personal guiding principles:
Worth:Know your worth; understand you are a survivor. Prioritize your well being. You are worthy.
Truth: Is it true? Truth in speaking; truth in writing; truth in expression; what does your gut say? Do not dismiss your truth meter, your gut.
Courage:To do the hard work, even when it pushes me physically, mentally, emotionally (out of my comfort zone). Kill your fear, witch.
Honor:To do the honorable thing even when no one is looking; to honor the planet and its creatures.
Discipline:Take small steps each day; even if you don’t finish, showing up is half the battle. One step forward every day (even if it’s just taking a shower); this includes practicing patience.
Respect:Self, Others, Earth
Energy:It is in us; all around us; we must be cognizant of how it is connected and used.
Perseverance:Never Give Up!
Self Reliance:Take care of yourself as much as possible and as independently as possible so you are able to help others with ease.
As the new calendar year unfolded, it may have seemed very basic to be examining such things, but honestly, in my more than half century alive, I haven’t sat down and said, here’s what guides my life. So, as our nation faces great threat from right inside its own borders, and a deadly virus rages without containment, it seemed as good a time as any. I mean, #Ronalife, right?
Now I imagine this will be what is called a “living document” and I’ll add and adjust as I focus even more on it. But these words basically could be tattooed on me and they wouldn’t change. Therefore, at present, I feel like these are a solid foundation to move forward for the next half century of my life.
Do you have a personal creed or guiding principles? Have you attempted to write or author your own? I’d love to know how you approach this if you call yourself a witch, pagan, or a mystic.
Last year was, well let’s be frank: a complete shitshow. Like many folks in 2020, my life was turned completely on its ear and I’m still trying to recover from all that the year brought, most explicitly the global pandemic that is Covid-19. Because of it this now formerly traveling witch (maybe I should do a sigil representing that ala Prince?) is not traveling any more. I know without hesitation it was the right choice to put all that travel on pause and hunker down. I’ve spent a good three months in shock once we made that move and another three months grieving, all while trying to process the trauma that the sudden life change deposited on myself, my Viking, the rest of my family, and friends.
I lost a lot of hope in the bulk of humans on this planet since March 2020; but, beginning in June, I found a new tribe, anchored by some very dear ones, that has blessed my life in innumerable fashions, and for that I have to thank the fall-out that was 2020.
I’m still grateful for all the traveling I (we) did do between Oct. 2018 and March 2020. It was a leap of faith and a dismissal of fear that allowed us to sell everything and live nomadically. And I’m ever grateful for the strength and heart it took for My Viking and I to do that. But by mid-April we recognized that such a life relied on the world being healthy and much more peaceful than it is now. And while we waited for things to return to an improved version of The Before Times, we needed space to prepare for the next chapter. In between we could make some plans to enact some strategies and apply some lessons we learned during our time living alternatively as we were. When I look at my natal chart, it all makes sense. But I digress.
Today’s entry is about my word for 2021, which I notice a lot of folks have adopted. It’s something I’ve personally done for many years. A word or a mantra each year. To come up with it a spend a good bit of time around the end of the calendar year journaling and meditating. Some automatic writing and a bit of dreamwork lead me down the path to find a good focus for the months to come.
My word this year is Explore. That is the part of traveling that I miss the most, that facet of exploration that goes hand-in-hand with it. Although exploration will look much different than travel life, but it will still be thrilling, enlightening, and educational. I have a list of things I want to explore, to include some that will end up populating my public witch life, so you will eventually find them in this space.
As January really gets rolling and many of us here in the States are focused on Inauguration Day, I can say that I’m more focused on the positive things I can bring into my life, be it a borrowed book from the library, a walk along an empty (hopefully) trail, or trying out a new recipe. Exploration will be my balm to distract me from the fact that I haven’t been able to hug my kids at this point in more than a year. Exploration will be my drill sergeant to tear down the old me and build up a better self. Exploration will be the compost for 2021 to enrich my life and let me grow. Exploration this year, for me, will be magic.
Tell me what word or words you are focusing on for 2021? How did you come by finding this new focus? Where are you sprinkling magic, growth, and exploration for your year ahead? I’d love to see your comment below so we could chat further on it.
I’m doing a little giveaway because in 2020 my life turned upside down (I know, join the club, Runa!). Because of ::gestures wildly at the state of the world:: I was led to open my Magical Flea Market and easing down the path to public witch life.
The response from all of you to that move has been steady and clearly building. I feel very blessed. With each new heart on my Etsy shop, every new order, each Solitary Shenanigans attendee, and all the positive energy being shared, I see a clearer path to living a magical life and sharing my gifts.
The people I’ve connected with through this have often become much more than customers and I see new expansive horizons for 2021 for this path I’m on. Giving back seemed a natural part of this journey. Therefore, I’m giving away a Year Ahead Runic Reading, which gives you a full Elder Futhark reading. This includes a digitally sent transcription with photos. You will also receive a coupon for a 50 percent off coupon for a future triple rune casting for you to use or gift for later.
But you need to enter the giveaway. Here’s how you do it:
For me, caring for the land in my trust is part of the creed I live by. It has been a guiding principle in my life for many decades now and will always be a part of who I am.
It is natural then, when the Yuletide Season begins, I’ll want to bring the cheer and festivities outdoors. In the last couple of years we’ve not been able to do this; but, there was no stopping us during our time at home in the midst of a pandemic.
There are a ton of recipes out there for the how and why. For our tree this year we made a garland of popcorn, cranberries, and dried oranges. We also spiked mandarins with black sunflowers pierced into the rind and hung them. They act as nutrient rich liquid supply as the birds peck at them, as water sources can freeze this time of year, which the day after we put all this into place we got the following:
We also took the last of the pumpkins from our garden and cut them in half and filled them with birdseed and coconut oil. I had just recently made Sun King Soup and used the center piece of the two halves of the pumpkin I roasted for that, which contained a cool looking stem, and rubbed the inside with vegetable lard — fat intake is critical to birds right now toothpicked cranberries inside of it and made little cranberry perches for the birds.
We also took apple slices and put natural peanut butter on one side and dipped it in wild bird seed. Lastly, we created holiday cookie cutouts of bird seed and coconut oil; but, I don’t have any silicon molds, which was recommended, so it didn’t quite work. More exploration for perhaps a Imbolc tree for the birds? At least we learned and can better prepare for next Winter Solstice.
As I write this we haven’t yet seen our feathered friends; but, there is evidence they have found the goodies. One of the oranges has already been pecked of its seeds and something with sharp teeth bit at the rind. Of course now, that orange is under the snow; but, it’ll be there when it likely melts in the next day or so.
This holiday tradition is deep in its pagan roots of caring for the earth and its inhabitants. And it was fun and fulfilling to do. We have hours and days of watching the wildlife enjoy our offering and as a food-grower, this area will become one that will be for the wildlife always and hopefully they’ll leave our crops alone (haha!) One can hope.
I’m happy to entertain any questions if you want to try to do something similar. You don’t need a whole tree; but, that certainly is prime. But over the years, I’ve hung these types of things from apartment balconies, along my favorite trail, or from a shepherd’s hook near a prime viewing window or door. A potted plant at the entrance can help bring you and nature together at Yule time.
Bright Solstice, all and a Blessed Yuletide. ~Runa
My ancestral roots in harsh Northern European winters run deep, that coupled with the years I spent living there have given me a deep respect for the Yule Log tradition. It has grown to be my favorite tradition. When the longest night of The Big Dark (that’s what we call most of the winter in the Pacific Northwest) hits, there is nothing better than snuggling up next to the fire, drinking Wassail, and watching the Yule Log burn, remember the day that the items for it were gathered and the display created. I also must add that the years I stuck to this tradition on the Solstice, the following calendar year was one of great abundance and growth. This has cemented my commitment to doing a Yule Log each year. In addition to the positive magic it creates, I love how festive it makes things and you can do it so on the cheap! Natural and inexpensive? I’m here for that!
The Why of the Yule Log
In ancient times, heck even before electric light was prominent in most homes, winters were super harsh. The cold, the dark, it was oppressive. Think how awful it feels in modern life some days. Now take away all our modern comforts of indoor heating, plumbing, water, and central heating. And there was nothing like Netflix or The Internet. Winter sucked. Finding food was awful. People starved to death every winter. Having plenty of firewood, food, grain, and even company was important. Our ancestors knew the importance of surviving the winter depended mightily on the ability to keep the fires of warmth and food making going.
In the Norse tradition, for which I am aligned with most closely, Odin was the god of not only mead-soaked revelry that you would find with the Solstice — the turning point away from the darkest times of the year; but, also the god of death. Jolnir was another name for Odin. The Solstice was often done to call upon favor of the All Father to bless the village — since no one did anything with just their little tiny nuclear family, but the whole damn town — with it would take to survive winter: warmth, food, strength, and shelter. Jolnir’s blessing or the celebration of Jolnir on the Solstice morphed over the eons to Jul. The Jul Log or now in English, the Yule Log developed into a symbol of the gifts of the gods and the Earth to help us survive.
The Yule Log tradition isn’t just if you’re European. It did make it’s way to America. There is a series of paintings by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris of the Mount Vernon Yule Log event(s). You know Mount Vernon like the ancestral home of our first president, George Washington? Not to be confused with the Tulip-crazy town in Western Washington. It’s been here in North America since Europeans first came to these shores.
The How of the Yule Log
There are many different practices of how a Yule Log tradition is done — some with many secrets and downright formality to it. For instance, you will not find me keeping the ashes of my burned Yule Log under my bed for the rest of the year in order to keep witches and evil away. No, the ashes from my Yule Log traditionally get put in my compost. Excellent ingredients to make better harvest the following year. Besides, my Ancestors were not really a formal bunch ever, even with western society got ahold of them. So my tradition, which I’ll detail here, is way more casual, and honestly, I believe, approachable for anyone to add into their own Bring-on-the-Light Celebrations of the start of Winter.
My Yule Log tradition always starts with a journey of gathering. In the fall when mushrooming season is high, I normally find a log that will work for my formal Yule Log. The Log normally seems to call to me. You’ll know which will work for you. Just make sure it will fit in your fireplace, wood stove, or fire pit. After gathering it, I let it sit by the hearth to dry out and remind me that closer to the solstice I’ll need to decorate it and honor it with other symbols of a festive and easy winter. You can’t have the light without the dark — our ancestors understood that and our high-powered lives of the 21st century would do well to understand that. It’s easy to forget the duality of life in this modern age. The Yule Log helps us remember, allows us to feel gratitude for the blessed times we live in.
About a week before the Solstice, there’s another gathering session — this time to procure things like holly, evergreen branches, snow berries, pine cones, whatever natural item you can find to bring some winter wow-ness to your Yule Log. I normally save one white, one red, and one green candle for the Yule Log. Some years they have been tapers, other years tea lights, one time we had a huge outdoor celebration and our Yule Log was a giant log so that year we had pillar candles on it. Next, I’ll swipe some cinnamon sticks and Star Anise from the larder to help decorate, too. In years past I’ve only sprinkled ground spices on it. The French are famous for soaking their logs in wine so that it smells yummy while it burns. You decide what speaks to you.
I have a tray that I put the log on and a red cloth to “tuck in” the log. I take what I’ve gathered from outside, and put it on and around the log. Sometimes I drill holes to put the candles in. Sometimes I just melt the wax of the bottom of the candle and stick it to the log. It just depends on how creative I’m feeling.
The When of the Yule Log
On the night of the Solstice (this year it’s Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 — but feel free to celebrate the day before or after), we light the candles on the Yule Log. Because there’s typically evergreen boughs that are now very dry, I will always be in the presence of the lit Yule Log. By the light of the candle we have a festive menu supper accompanied by the warmth of a pot of Wassail. We build a fire in the fire place (or when we’ve had outdoor celebrations, a bonfire) and ruminate on our most recent year and retell the stories that made this year — man will there be many stories about this year! During the telling of the stories, we think about all the things we’d like to leave behind and those things we’d like to hold onto from the year, and we write these things down on small notes. When the candles have come to the end or the evening is coming to a close (whichever comes first), we blow out the candles, remove them from the log, and then toss the yule log — decorations and all (and that is why using natural things to decorate the Yule Log is best) — onto the fire. We toss our notes on top of the log and pause a minute in silent reflection and watch as the flames burn away the past and fire-up the future. We wish ourselves the strength and resources to get through another winter and see the light of Spring as easily as possible.
Another Year Another Yule Log
See? Nothing too elaborate or difficult. Just takes a bit of planning and setting aside time to actually enjoy the fruits of your labor. And given 2020s challenges, I am so needing the magic of the Yule Log this year. From writing this post, to actually gathering the log, decorating it, and preparing to do the traditional ritual of it, I’m flooded with the gratitude, joy, and peace of the Yuletide Season. I wish you the same.
If you decide to do a Yule Log, please take a picture and post it here, or tag me on your IG, etc. I love seeing how different everyone’s Yule Log center piece turns out each year. A Bright Solstice to you and a Blessed Yuletide Season.
It’s the Yuletide season. The traditional gift-giving season for most of the world, whether you celebrate Yule, the Winter Solstice, or some other “bring the light to the big dark” time of year. I have to say, giving a gift to a pagan a/o witch is easy because we love so many simple things. So here’s a top 13, because, well, we love the number 13 given all its magical energy.
If you can source these gifts from other pagans and witches and they are local, you just scored even more good karma not just from your recipient but the universe in general. Throughout the article, there’s links for some of the markets and shops of goods from witches I know. Support other witches and you know the karma is tenfold.
These are not necessarily ranked from good to great, since most pagans practice attitude of gratitude and are more likely to be giving you any of these things as opposed to worrying about receiving them.
13. Candles. Whether it’s just to up the ante of Hygge in the home during winter, or for ritual or spell casting. You can never go wrong with giving candles to a witch, especially if they are self contained. Those 7-day candles at the corner market or bodega? Those are inexpensive and a staple in so much craft work. Get your pagan friend a set of them and you will glow with the light of thousands of candles to them. Is your witch siSTAR a tech witch? or travels lots? LED candles are awesome, too.
12. Incense. I prefer cone incense, because it’s easier to make black salt with. But I still have a few stick incense holders, too. Know which kind your witch prefers and get them one in several scents. Ritual work often requires sage incense or frankincense or dragon blood. But, some good ol’ nag champa or patchouli will work, too.
11. Herbs. Dried or potted, you can’t go wrong. Herbs are used in so much of the craft, from kitchen witchery to spell bags to rituals. If you’ve grown and dried your own, that’s even more magical. Some to focus on? Whole cinnamon, star anise, whole clove, rosemary, sage, lavender, and bay. Also, aligned with this category is things like garlic braids or chili pepper wreaths. These are many a kitchen witch’s dream.
10. Crystals. Whether raw, polished, a grouping, altar tools, or in jewelry, crystals are loved by witches. I honestly don’t know any pagan or witch that doesn’t love any and all crystals. Some all around good ones to give include rose quarts, black tourmaline, selenite, and citrine. You also could consider things like quartz or amethyst book ends, which is on my wish list
9. Books and Calendars with a Magical Focus. Whether it’s a book by another witch about how they became a witch, how they practice, or a particular subject like astrology, numerology, healing, or another path of magic, books are well loved by most pagans. On my wish list is actually a pagan book of poetry by Jason Ralls called The Oath: A Heathen Poet’s Journey. Additionally, calendars that focus on moon cycles and wheels of the year are well-loved, too.
8. Gifts For & From Nature. Whether it’s a beautiful sea shell, an unusual feather, berries or mushrooms you’ve gathered, pinecones scented with essential oils, animal skulls, or handmade seasonal garland, the witch on your list is going to love it. Even better? Take her on a hike and do these things together. If not directly from The Mother herself, give something to your favorite witch that is kind to Gaia: a reusable water bottle, wax food wraps,
7. Essential Oils. I go through a lot of essential oil. Most witches I know do as well. Rose oil, lavender, orange and lemon, and clove are some favorites. I use bay oil to create a safe “anti insect” spray for around my property and gardens. Tea tree is used medicinally and with lots of beauty recipes. But just about any are great.
6. Divination Tools: Tarot Decks, Runes, I-Ching, Pendulums, Scrying Bowls/Balls, and Oracle cards. You name it.
5. Readings. Get them a reading by another witch. Witches love supporting other witches, so have their natal chart read, get them a deep tarot reading, or rune casting for the next year, or even a Reiki session. If there is a service one pagan provides that your giftee would love, you hit a gift homerun.
4. Statuary & Art. Art work featuring gods, goddesses and other figures that speak to their path are great gifts. I would add book ends that represent the outsider, too — owls, gargoyles, or the like.
3. Altar/Ritual Cloths, Runners & Tools: There’s nothing like keeping your altar in sync with the Wheel of the Year and to symbolize things that mean lots to witches — nature, the heavens, and symbols of the season. Altar Tools are always appreciated. Does your favorite witch have a wand?
2. Decorative Containers or Jars. Containers to keep candles, tarot cards, an athame or pendulum in are always in demand as well. Many can be used as travel altars if they have secure latches. Jars to store dried herbs in (maybe include things from item #11), potions, and tinctures are always appreciated. If there are protective sigils or runes on the outside of it, you just upped the magical-ness of it as well.
1. Witchy Clothing. A modern witch cap, a ritual cape, a scarf, oh, and the always favorite, striped socks or tights! Is she a seawitch? Maybe it has sea symbols on a shawl. Is she into astrology? How about some fingerless gloves with constellations on them? Anything earthy or ethereal will likely be a hit. You know your witch best. Or even something in her favorite color, even if it’s just black.
Whatever you gift or receive, may you have a blessed season and a healthy 2021. May the next year bring us back together again.