Let’s Talk Witch – Smudging Rituals

GOTHIC WITCH
Smudging Rituals

While burning incense is traditionally associated with Wicca and other forms of contemporary Witchcraft, the practice of smudging has been used in sacred rituals around the globe since ancient times. Both incense and smudging involve the use of dried herbs, but incense is usually made from a more complex blend of powdered herbs, oils, resins, and bark, which creates a richer, more perfume-like scent. Incense is often an ingredient in spellwork, and various types of incense have specific correspondences with particular magical purposes. Smudging, on the other hand, is usually done before spellwork, and generally has a singular purpose: purifying the energy of a space, or a person.

The particular herbs used may depend on the reason for the purification, which can range from healing from a physical illness to eliminating negative, “haunted” energy from a house. (Incense can also be used for purification, but because it doesn’t tend to burn as cleanly as simple dried herbs, many Witches prefer smudging for this purpose.)

These days, you can find smudge sticks— bundles of dried herbs tied with string— at most New Age shops, as well as other places where medicinal herbs are sold.These are easy to handle and tend to last a long time, so they can be used repeatedly.

However, you can also burn loose sprigs of dried herbs for a “single use” smudge, which requires a bit more caution, but allows you to choose exactly which herb( s) you want to burn, depending on your purpose. (The two workings described below make use of loose herbs, but you can substitute a pre-made smudge stick if you prefer.)

The easiest way to approach smudging with loose herbs is to find sprigs of the dried herbs, ideally four inches long at a minimum, that you can hold with your fingertips. However, you can also place the herbs inside a fire-proof dish, and then place the dish in a skillet, using the handle of the skillet to carry the smoldering herbs. Whichever method you choose, be sure to thank the spirits of the herbs before lighting them. Remember that it’s the smoke from the herbs that does the cleansing, so only light them enough to get them smoldering, rather than trying to set them completely on fire. As with anything involving flame, use extreme caution. And if you’re working indoors, be sure to leave at least one window cracked open so that the energy being removed from the space has a way to get out.

When the smudging is finished, you can put out the burning herbs in a pot of soil or leave them to burn out on their own in a heat-proof dish. Many smudging traditions use a feather to fan the smoke around the space, or over the person, being purified. This is symbolic of the element of Air.

Likewise, many use a sea shell to catch the ashes from the smoldering herbs, which honors the element of Water. (Earth and Fire are already represented by the herbs and the flame.)

Whether you incorporate these items is up to you— you can also use your hand to wave the smoke around, and a bowl to catch the ashes, if you like.

Lisa Chamberlain, Wicca Herbal Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Practicing Wiccan Herbal Magic, with Simple Herb Spells

Herbal Etiquette

Herbal Etiquette

by Amber S.

When studying herbology within witchcraft, it is important to learn about how plants work and the best ways to gather our stores, whether they come from wild plants or plants in our garden. There is more to herbs and trees than meets the eye.
All things have a soul: rocks, trees, animals and people. The soul is the energy of an object that exists in the same place and time as the physical body. Things that exist on the physical plane can be seen on the astral plane because of their energy. When you remove part of a plant, it is customary and proper to ask before you take any part of it and thank the plant once you have finished.
Plants that you grow and raise in your garden do not need to be asked for their permission to take leaves and flowers. Because they depend on you for protection and sustenance, you can remove what you need when you need it. It is an understood relationship between the grower and the plants. They give their leave and fruit in exchange for protection and care. Prayers and spells should be said over the crop at significant times such as planting, watering, pruning, and harvesting.
Wild plants are a little different. these plants are dependant on themselves for their health and survival. When you remove part of a plant, you must first ask the plant. Do this by closing your eyes and imagine just for a moment what you want from the tree. Normally, you will get no answer in return or a feeling of acceptance, in which case, you may remove what you need. Occasionally, however, you will receive a feeling of mistrust or an uncomfortable feeling telling you that you may not remove any part of the plant, in which case, you must move on.

When gathering wild herbs:- Never remove the bark from a tree. Bark covers a tree to keep out disease and fungus just the way our skin does for us. removing the bark can result in infection and the death of the tree. If you need bark for a recipe, remove twigs instead and strip the bark from the removed twigs with a knife.
– Try not to remove the entire plant. If possible, take only a few leaves or flowers and move on.
-Always ask a plant before you remove any part of it.
-Always thank plants after you have taken from them.

Plants are very sacred to witches. All plants should be given homage when we take something from them. There are many different ways of giving thanks. Any act of devotion is acceptable. Traditionally, gifts of apple cider, milk, honey, tobacco, or prayer are given. You can also give shiny coins or fertilizer as a gift. If you have nothing to give, a prayer for the health and well-being of the plant is more than sufficient. Leaving gifts for the tree spirits is also a good thank-you idea. Fairies enjoy music. Performing a song and dance for them is also a good thing to do if you have not brought any gifts with you.

Calendar of the Moon for July 7

Calendar of the Moon

7 Duir/Skirophorion

Day of the Dagda

Color: Brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a brown cloth lay a wand made of an oak branch, a great cup of ale, a bowl of porridge, and four brown candles.
Offerings: Feed the hungry.
Daily Meal: Soup, stew, or porridge, enough to feed more than just the House. Let the rest be given to those who need it.

Invocation to the Dagda

Hail Eochaid Ollathair, Father of All!
Hail Ruad Ro-fhessa, Lord of Perfect Knowledge!
Lord of the Oak Tree,
Phallus of the summer saplings,
Rough as tree bark is your wisdom,
Yet deep as sunken roots.
You who can call the seasons with your harp,
You are called upon by the common people
For your gift of fair weather.
You whose club is so great
That nine men are required to carry it
And even then it plows a great ditch;
Whose terrible end slays hundreds at a blow
And whose other end can restore them to life;
You stake your life on the fertility of the land
That others may survive the cold winters.
You who build great fortresses,
You know what it is to be the sole protection
Of those you love, and to go forth
In battle to save their lives.
You are a king, yet you go among the people
In the rough clothing of a peasant,
Rejecting the trappings of the wealthy.
Your great cauldron is never empty,
Nourisher of your people, and of all people.

(The ale is passed, and then poured out as a libation. The stew is ceremonially carried into the kitchen, and the day’s chant sung over the kitchen table.)

Chant: May you never hunger, may you never thirst.

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Collecting and Preparing a Magickal Wood

Collecting and Preparing a Magickal Wood 

Most Witches prefer to use a fallen branch rather than cutting a limb from a tree, feeling that taking from the tree with a blade is disrespectful. Others believe that if you ask the tree and indicate your purpose, you can tell if the tree gives permission by laying your hand softly on the bark. If you feel unhappy, sad, or like you’re being brushed off, permission is not granted. If, however, you feel a warm flowing sensation, then the tree has give its permission. An offering should always be left at the base of the tree if a branch is taken in this way.

The wood should be left in a warm, dry place and allowed to cure, if it was living when taken. Fallen branches may already be sufficiently dried. If in doubt, treat it as living wood. Some Witches prefer to leave the bark on the wood, where others peel away the bark with a pocket knife, then sand the surface with sandpaper until smooth to the touch. The soft surface takes paint and wood-burning techniques better than the bark. The choice is yours. As a final touch you may wish to wrap the handle portion with leather or other soft cloth. Some Witches add crystals and gems to the point that will direct the current, either gluing or wiring the stone into place with thin copper or silver wire.