The celebrations are over, but an enchanting Samhain indeed☕️🍂

Well I have been preparing and sprinkling and seasoning and decorating since Samhain morn. I am sitting here now with a strong cup of coffee with a bit of sugar and nutmeg, and I’m sipping it and feeling pretty great that I got it all done. I made a place at the dinner table for my dad who’s passed, and have a large tree stump that faces the woods where the other dinner is served.

Candles are lit in the window to give light to the spirits, and an offering for the wood spirits and the Cailleach was left in my circle in front of the ancient oak. The golden pentagrams where placed on the branches within the circle and where twisting and blowing about in the breeze, as the snow softly drifted to the circle’s floor. I did a fire scrying at the bonfire, and later did a Samhain oracle reading as well. I also have a black porcelain caldron with wormwood tea in it to do a scrying in my circle in the wood. My flying ointment, and some warm mugwort and mushroom tea warms me and aids to my hedge flight. Into that mighty oak tree…

Day of Samhain

Tonight I brought in the last of the harvest from my gardens. I grew and tended my plants by the moon, 🌙 it was an amazing harvest. When I moved to the woods and my seclusion I began to grow things, and l learned the dark secrets that working the land brings. Once one dedicates themself to the reaping and sowing of the land, it’s the voice of the moon you hear, and she tells a different tale…..

As I was carrying the baskets in the sky darkened, and the winds began whirling through the trees, and it started to hail. The Cailleach has arrived. Offerings of libations will be made tonight, as she rides the Samhain night sky hissing wildly…

The dark season has begun. Dark and Wild blessings all! Samhain, night of the Cailleach.

Preparing for Samhain

So much to do before Samhain. I am noticeably feeling anxious, and can hear and see things that tell me of Samhain’s arrival. I go through endless recipes I’ve collected over the years to figure out a menu for what I will be serving. This year will be wild pheasant, harvest soup with roasted root vegetables and wild rice from the river, cranberries from the local woodland bogs, corn bread skulls, a rosemary ancestor bread, balsamic mushrooms that I grew, and for dessert pomegranate and dark chocolate bark, for it’s connections to the underworld. Spiced mead will be poured and offered as libation, as will pine resin, anise biscotti, and wormwood.

The bonfire will be grand
burning all the excess branches from the fallen trees of this year’s storms. Samhain smudges have been made, their smoke to be inhaled, the poison taken in as the dance begins…
A dark night of cold winds and wolf songs, with a dance that’s become something else… Flushed cheeks, dilated eyes, and frenzy, fixated on the shadows who have joined. A night of wood spirits, uncertainty, and the Cailleach in her hag guise, screeching about the woods and freezing what she can.

I wish you all a dark, wild and magickal Samhain.🍂💀🎃🍂

I love fall 🍂

I love fall days.🌞 🍂 I go out in the early mornings with a mug of warm wormwood and anise tea being so close to Samhain, while the morning mist is still rising from the garden. I harvest thyme, oregano, orange mint, acorn squash, stinging nettles, rose hips, rowan and hawthorn berries, dandelion and chicory roots, and whatever else has still withstood the freezing nights in these woods. I’ve been splitting my days up between making tinctures, elixirs and canning the bounty of my moon garden, with shipping out orders for the shop. Around twilight which is getting earlier and earlier every day, I do my readings for the day, that time between day and night… I find the most revealing. So many Samhain readings this year, but then that makes sense as we have all had a lot to be uncertain about in this changing world of late.

I must say though I love the nights
🌙 🍂 even more, I literally dance and twirl about the candlelit house late at night as the coyotes howl and sing. Oil burners scenting the house with patchouli and cloves, dinners of roasted root vegetables from the garden with ancient grains, elderberry spiced mead, warm fires and spell work fill my evenings. I finally curl up in my big chair near the fire place and watch old movies of Vincent Price looking dashingly shakespearean and going insane… I love fall. 💀🍂

Autumn Equinox within the Wood

The Autumn Equinox has arrived in the woods, and I awoke to a different realm. The sky is both sunny and then clouded, the house has a real chill in the air, and the woods are golden brown and filled with fruiting fungi. I went to the pine grove in the full moon’s light last night, as I feel it the best time to forage for fly agaric. This magickal fungi favors the pines, and the moonbeams above shining through is bewitching.

Fly agaric, or in my case “Amanita muscariavar. formosa” known as the yellow orange fly agaric, is a hallucinogenic and poisonous basidiomycete fungus of the genus Amanita, and my Midwest version from the classic European one differs in that it is bright yellow / orange, instead of the classic red.

My full moon forage.

Volumes have written about fly agaric and it’s subtly infused Anglo Saxon culture. A magickal mushroom to find, and I’ve come across some with caps as big as my hand in diameter. I wrote a blog about some of the winter folklore of this fabulous mushroom, called “Shrooms, and the Shaman… Winter Folktales.”🍄❄️ https://www.patheos.com/blogs/witchofthewoodwithravenwood/2019/12/santa-shrooms-and-the-shaman-a-holiday-folktale/

I am drying some and making spore prints so that I may grow my own indoors as well. The fauna here loves them too, so it’s a first see first gets kinda situation. The red squirrel bitches at me every time he sees me enter the pine grove, so it might be sage to just grow my own. I make a mushroom essence of them by moonlight instead of sun, a tincture for healing, and detoxify some to consume their medicinal properties. So just as other baneful species, what can kill can also heal….

The making of a spore print.

I strung acorn bells to my two Azaleas (Rhododendrons) alongside my deck this Autumn Equinox morn. The azaleas are turning a beautiful blood red, and the bells chime in celebration of the balance in light and darkness, and the arrival of the dark season.

I have fall leaf garland wrapped around pine on my windows, with strands of acorns, cinnamon sticks, dried apples, fungi and pinecones. The house is scented with cloves, pine, and patchouli, and of Mabon bread and blackberry pie baking in the oven. There are two taper candles I made on the kitchen table, one of light the other dark, and the cornucopia is in the middle, full of the seasons abundance. Goldenrod and Black eyed Susan’s, ghost white pumpkins, acorns and fungi decorate my altar, and sunflowers that seem to have an eerie glow about them, Mabon is here..

Doll Eyes

Actaea pachypoda, white baneberry, or also known as doll’s eyes….

The berries and entire plant body (stems, leaves, and roots) are rather poisonous indeed to humans.
The berries, although enchanting are in reality the most poisonous part of this plant. They contain cardiogenic toxins which can have an immediate sedative effect on human cardiac muscle tissue; in short relaxing the heart.

Ingesting enough of these deadly berries can lead one to cardiac arrest and death. Oddly enough, the berries are harmless to a few species of birds and mice, probably due to the fact that they are the plant’s primary seed dispersers, and are therefore spared by this wicked plant. Symptoms associated with White Baneberry poisoning include burning of mouth and throat, heavy salivation, moderate to severe stomach cramps, headache, diarrhea, dizziness and in some cases hallucinations. The word Baneberry is from the Old English words “bana” or “bona”, which both mean “slayer” or “murderer,” quite fitting I’d say after knowing the potential of this baneful plant. My wicked side curls my lips into a crooked smile at the thought of having berries that can stop an annoying heart… One of the many poisonous plants in a witches woods.

The Golden Days of Goldenrod

Good evening all, this summer is flying by is it not? I always realize that when I see the goldenrods appear in these woods. Goldenrod or Solidago nemoralis, woundwort, and coyote plant, is one of the very last to arrive, and one of my favorites. I think I love them because when I see them I know that fall will soon be here. That is simply my season! Not to be ghoulish but as things die off here in the woods, I awaken. It’s like I get this energy serge, I think it’s because I don’t fare well in the heat, and have more zip in the cooler temperatures. I also favor the dark seasons. Goldenrod is a magickal plant of the Sun for it’s ability to draw money and abundance. Place goldenrod in your wallet to aid your cash flow, or use it as decoration in your harvest celebrations. Native Americans used it as an incense in rituals, and I make an incense with it to work with the coyote spirit.

Goldenrod is also a plant of Venus, and is enchanting to use for the skin and divinations. I literally search every year for the one with the longest plumes and use it as a pendulum. I sit right down in the field and begin my fall divination, it works perfectly. I also make a delightful fall tea with it at Raven’s Hedge.

Watch for a new goldenrod oil for aid in your divinations and abundance, and a new incense to work with the coyote coming to the shop. 🌼🍃

The Lore of the Elderberry

The black elder tree Sambuscus nigra has been considered a folk remedy for many a moon. The berries and flowers of the elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that boost the immune system. They also tame inflammation, lessen stress, and can help to protect one’s heart as well.

But that is not my first interest and love about this tree, for the black elderberry is entwined with dark magick and the devil…. Also known as the Devil’s Eye, for the many pitch black berries she possesses. Using the elder as firewood was not the thing to do, and a sure fire way to invite the devil into one’s abode.

My favorite folklore of this tree by far is from northern Europe, and tells of how the Black elderberry was a well known Witch tree. The lore goes that a witch spirit had inhabited the tree and was able to shape shift back and forth at will…. Ya

Full Moon in Scorpio Magick

A few years back I was gifted the amazing experience of an indigenous people’s sweat lodge and ritual, from a very dear friend of mine. Although we are both spiritual people, we had not up to that point shared any of our own personal ceremonies or rituals with each other. But this was something my friend wanted me to experience.

A sweat lodge is traditionally a low standing hut or dome-shaped shelter, made with easy to source natural materials. This shelter is simple in design actually, consisting of saplings covered with in my case animal skins, but can also be covered with blankets. The ceremony is performed in the hut being called a “purification ceremony.” Large rocks are ladled with water for steam. Traditionally a ceremony that is to be led by elders who know the language, songs and traditions.

There has been some negativity about non indigenous peoples imitation of these rituals per say, a feeling by some of the elders that it is disrespectful to these ceremonies. But there where others who practiced this type of cleansing as well. Vapour baths were in use among the Celtic tribes, and the sweat house was in use in Ireland to the 19th century. Beehive shaped shelters that where covered with clay.

I ended up going to the sweat lodge again this weekend, and although it was amazing I returned home feeling as though I hadn’t completed the purification. So I decided to head to the woods where I have a small tee-pee tent set up. I have a steam canopy from my spa days and I ended up packing it and taking it out with me to the woods.

I brought some divination tea, oils, incense, and a writing tablet. I spent my time steaming and chanting, drifting in and out of a conscious states, writing my experiences down and then sleeping deeply.

I had some really different but needed experiences and ended up staying there until yesterday when I awoke. Today I spent the day catching up on the shipping for the shops, but I have to say it was a beautiful and magickal experience.

Now I’m completely ready for tomorrow’s night ride, and the May Day celebrations that follow. See you at the mountain…..

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