Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blessings to You All This Samhain

royalty free photo
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

May your loved ones, both ancestor and alive be with you to celebrate this sacred time! Warm hearts & hearths to all of you dear readers!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

As Samhain Approaches

original photo by Crystal Woroniuk
With Samhain & Hallowe'en being just a few days away, this is a good time as any to share some seasonal resources that might be of interest to you folks.
Over at the nefaeria blog I did a post a couple of years back about Samhain & Hallowe'en, which covers a bit of the history and lore and I did a post on Ancestral offerings {and of course there is quite a bit about offerings and Ancestor reverence and workings that you can find by looking through "ancestors" and "offerings" tags}.
Tairis as usual has a treasure trove of information about the Gaelic history and lore of Samhain, ideas on how to celebrateturnip carving,  and a wee bit on divination, too.
Three Shouts on a Hilltop has a neat post called Necromancy in the Irish Tradition, as well as another great post about working with an Irish deity associated with death.

Over at the Tuacondate website the group has shared two beautiful {Celtic Reconstructionist} ritual outlines that they did in 2009 and 2010 for Samhain.

Should you want more ideas on traditional Irish ways of celebrating Samhain, Hutman Productions shares some, along with instructions on how to make a Parshell, or Samhain Cross.

For some awesome story-telling, check out Story Archaeology's exploration of Samhain in Irish myth and folklore and New World Witchery's podcast episodes of spooky legends from here in North America.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Leaf Candle Holder

At this point there are more leaves on the ground than on the trees, so I decided to bring some in to start getting our home all gussied up for Samhain. One of the uses I found for them was to make a fall leaf candle holder. I think that the leaves look so pretty with the candle glowing behind them!
These are really simple to make and might be a craft activity that children would enjoy.You can find instructions on how to make them here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cross Quarter Waters

Tobernault Holy Well grotto in Sligo Co, Ireland. Photo by BA_Banks
During the cross quarters {to many neo pagans these are called the high sabbats} there are traditions of collecting water, whether it be from dew on a leaf, a holy well, or by leaving a bowl out to collect rain. Below you will see some of these traditions found in Ireland, Scotland & the Isle of Man, and I will share some of the ways that I collect water and what I use it for. If I am able to collect enough water, I will keep it in clean corked bottles {I usually re-use old whiskey bottles}.

There are a couple traditions that I have come across involving water for Imbolc. Sometimes water would be left outdoors or by the hearth on the Eve of Imbolc for Brigid to bless, which would be used for healing and fertility. Water was also collected from holy wells associated with Brigid which would be used to bless the household and livestock.
Since I do not live by a holy well, I will collect clean snow and leave it in a bowl for Brigid to bless. I use this water for house blessings and clearings {or saining}, as well as in purification rituals and for workings involving women's sexual healing and fertility.


Many folks would visit holy wells and sacred water sites around the beginning of May to drink and bathe in the waters for healing or to take some home with them for luck and protection. The first "cream" of the well or spring collected for Bealtaine was thought to be the most potent. Dew was also collected and used by women and girls to bring beauty; both dew and the first cream was also used for blessing the milk cows and butter churns.
On Bealtaine morning before sunrise, I will collect dew {especially from lady's mantle} and bring in the bowls I left out to collect dew and/or rainwater. Some years I am also lucky enough to share some of the first "cream" of a friend's well. I use this water for consecrating seed, blessing livestock and farm buildings, as well as other agriculture rituals. The water is also useful for lust and romance workings.

It seems that people would generally go to sacred water sites and take care of business there, instead of bringing the water home with them. Sometimes horses and other livestock were put in the water for blessings, or people would immerse themselves and drink the water to heal all sorts of ailments.
I will collect rainwater {or river water if there is no rain} which is mainly used for harvest/reaping blessings; since Lughnasadh was historically a time for making contracts and paying taxes, I will also use it in workings involving engagements, marriage, oaths, business and finances, as well as other commitments. 


I haven't come across many traditions involving water for Samhain, although the Tairis site mentions that water from a wise woman was sometimes used to bless folks for protection from the evil eye. If you happen to know of any traditions, please feel free to share them in the comment section!

On the Eve of Samhain I will leave out bowls to collect rainwater {there is no shortage at this time of year!}, which is used for workings involving divination, death and working with ancestors, protection against malignant forces and magic, and for hexing.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Orange Peel Fungus

I harvested these orange peel fungi {Aleuria aurantia} in my garden a couple of weeks back when I stumbled upon them while doing a fall clean up of one of my veggie patches. It likes to grow in areas of disturbed soil, and I see it quite often on the side of the road and in local parks.
While there are reputable sources that claim that orange peel fungus is safe to eat, I cannot confirm this. After carefully cleaning the dirt off, I dried them and will be used in a charm for justice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And the Winner is....

all entries
First, thanks again to all who participated. To be completely honest I was surprised that so many entered! I have enjoyed reading your contributions, and there are a few new blogs that I will definitely be keeping an eye too.
And finally, the winner is...

entry 31, Dusken
Congrats Dusken! I will be getting in touch with you to get a mailing address and an email to send off your cyber gift certificate! Or you can email me at unfetteredwood(at)yahoo.ca.{Something that I forgot to mention in the original giveaway post is that all info given to me for these giveaways will not be used for anything but mailing the prizes. I will not re-sell info or spam folks!}

I have every intention of doing another giveaway in the near future, I am aiming for the next one to be for around Imbolc.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Samhain Giveaway Now Closed

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that the Samhain giveaway is now closed and I will be posting the results of the random draw tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you who entered, I have been enjoying all of the wonderful traditions and lore you folks have shared!



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sparrow Wings, or Always Carry a Bag in Your Pocket

I have been preserving sparrow wings that were found on my doorstep; the aftermath of a kitty no doubt. All the was left was a pair of partially intact wings and a few feathers. Usually when I come across such a find I hold a little ritual and bury them. Besides items like feathers and shed antlers, I usually do not collect animal parts myself, although I have kept some dead insects that I have found, such as the bee that sits on my altar in a little bottle.

Given where I found the wings and their placement, I felt that I was meant to keep them. So I left them in cornmeal for one month in a shoebox in a dark, cool place. After the month was up I then carefully dusted off the cornmeal with a small paintbrush. I got the info on how to do it here.

Finding the sparrow wings reminded me of when a group of us first graders found a dead sparrow on the school ground, and we had a little funeral for it near the baseball diamond. The recess monitor who caught us in the act was horrified, marching us to the bathrooms to wash our hands, when one of my friends proudly pointed out that the bird was handled with a plastic bag that she had in her pocket. Turns out her smart Granny advised her to always carry one on her just in case. Bless her!

Since that day I have carried the advice and a bag with me, because you never know what witchy folks will find when out for their adventures. ;) 

For those who are called to work with found animals and want to do your own preserving, some great resources for you to check out are Ms. Graveyard Dirt and Sarah Lawless for practical info. Another great source of information for those who wish to purchase or sell animal parts, Lupa from The Green Wolf has a list of laws for these transactions {mostly focused on the U.S., but there is some info for other countries}.

Just one final note: I have no intention of selling animal parts; I am a complete greenhorn in this department and I am definitely not qualified to do so.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Black Witches Butter {Exidia glandulosa}

Photo from AnneTanne

Other Names: Black Faery/Fairy Butter, Black Jelly Fungus, Black Jelly Roll, Warty Jelly, Devil's Butter, Troll-Smor.

Description: One could not say with a straight face that Black Witches Butter is a pretty fungus, and I have come across a few that are very reminiscent of poop. But physical beauty is certainly not everything!

Black Witches Butter is a jelly fungus, just like the similarly named Gold Witches Butter. It is anywhere from a greenish brown to almost black in colour, and comes in masses up to 30 cm in diameter. Although generally jelly-like, when in very dry weather, it becomes crusty and can sometimes look like a completely different fungus. It can be found in North America and in many places in Europe.

Warnings: As with all herbs, one should make sure to be thoroughly informed before ingesting them, and is best to do so under the guidance of a qualified healer.

I have not ingested it myself, so I am certainly not qualified to say if Black Witches Butter is edible or not. There also seems to be quite a wide disagreement on its edibility, so with that said, it is probably best to err on the side of caution.

Photo from Cornell Fungi

Cultivating: Black Witches Butter is a fairly common sight in hard and mixed wood forests, most often seen in cooler regions. It is generally found on recently fallen hardwood branches, especially on those that once belong to an oak, birch, and alder tree. The fruits are seen in Spring and Autumn, and sometimes during a cool period in Summer and a warm one in Winter.
Medicinal/Remedial Properties and Lore: In Asia, many different jelly fungi have been used for their healing properties for hundreds of years. They are most coveted for being immune boosters, and to help with health conditions effecting circulation and breathing.

According to The Hiker's Notebook, jelly fungi have been found to:

...reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and are useful in the treatment of allergies and diabetes.

The Hiker's Notebook goes on to say:

A group of Israeli and Ukrainian researchers evaluated fungi of the Tremella genus in 2000 and confirmed that they exhibited antitumor properties and that they could be used to "improve immunodeficiency … and to prevent senile degeneration of microvessels."

Photo from amadej2008

Magical/Spiritual Properties and Lore: In Popular Names of British Plants by Dr. R.C. Alexander Prior, it got its name from:

its buttery appearance, and unaccountably rapid growth in the night, which has given rise to a superstitious belief, still prevalent in Sweden, that witches milk the cows, and scatter about the butter on the ground.

The authors of English Botany give credit Johann Jacob Dillenius for inspiring the name, because according to him, Black Witches Butter was thrown on a pyre to counteract malignant witchcraft.

I have personally used it in this manner for banishing magic, and have found it quite effective. I have some in my possession and will be using it for this purpose again soon.

Other Uses: None really that I know of, although it could be perhaps used in a prank to mimic poop! ;)



Monday, October 8, 2012

One Week Left to Enter for the Giveaway

This is just a wee reminder that this is the final week to enter the Samhain/Hallowe'en giveaway {closes Monday October 15th}!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Season of Death & Decay

Being in the Autumn woodland reminds me that death is sacred; the colours and smell of the rotting leaves reminds me that dying can be a beautiful transition.

When we are faced with our own mortality, we are often at our best. In our twilight days we make amends, and pass on the knowledge of our lessons learnt. Many of these lessons come from the mini deaths in our lives, the big changes that makeway for something new. Through our mini deaths and twilight time our frailties are most obvious.

The trees wear their own badges of vulnerability in their fall colours, and just like those colourful leaves we are stunning in our mortality.

It is no wonder that this time of year has long been associated with ancestral reverence, when the veil is so thin and the Dearly Departed are so close that it seems we could reach out and almost touch them. Those who delight in our stunning mortality. Those who bring comfort of promise, and promise of wisdom.

I welcome the Season of Death and Decay! Blessings to the Beloved and Mighty Dead!