a kitchen witch’s wooden spoons

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Wooden spoons are an essential item in any kitchen witch’s tool kit. They are sturdy enough for mixing thick concoctions without scratching surfaces. Wood is naturally resistant to bacteria. Here is how to prepare and transform an inexpensive set of wooden spoons for magical cooking.

preparing wooden spoons

Your wooden spoons need to be cleaned in mild soapy water before you prepare them for use. Rinse and let dry.

Sand the surface, taking special care to smooth any rough edges.

At this point, you can carve or wood burn meaningful designs onto your spoons. Trace your design lightly with a pencil. An art-gum eraser works quite well on wood. Then carve it with an exacto knife or wood-burn with a pyrography tool. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Mine are very far from it! It’s the meaning, feeling, and thought behind it that counts. You can dedicate different spoons to certain deities, spirits, or powers, using symbolism and intent. Their power will be invoked when you use them. Mine are a sun for Sunna, a moon for Mani, a heart with an amber teardrop for Freya, and a goose with a basket and broom for Mother Hulda. That one is my favorite, and I have burned on my name in runes and the bottom of the handle.

Sanitize spoons in five parts warm water and one part vinegar. Let them soak about 5 minutes. Let dry completely.

Now it is time to cure them. Dip a clean rag in melted coconut oil and rub down the spoons generously with it. This keeps them from drying out and cracking. Let spoons set overnight in a warm place to soak up the oil, or use the residual heat of the oven after baking something; place spoons on a baking sheet and leave in the warm oven for a while.

You’ll want to re-oil your spoons once a week when you oil your cutting boards.

a kitchen witch's wooden spoons

Pagan Spirit Revival

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It is difficult, at times, to be a Pagan in a monotheist society. In some areas of the U.S. (the bible belt, especially), you may feel isolated, like you’re the only Pagan in the world. You may feel a lot of pressure to conform, or even hide your beliefs. These pressures may even shake your faith. You may even begin to think it would be easier to believe in nothing at all. My fellow Pagans, I write this to remind you. May it offer hope and inspiration if ever you feel lost…

“He who wanders in the woods perceives how natural it was to pagan imagination to find gods in every deep grove and by each fountain head. Nature seems to him not to be silent but to be eager and striving to break out into music. Each tree, flower, and stone, he invests with life and character; and it is impossible that the wind which breathes so expressive a sound amid the leaves – should mean nothing.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1822

the divine in nature

Not hearing the voices of the gods/spirits? Go into nature. Merely being in the presence of trees (forest bathing) is scientifically proven to be good for you; mentally, physically, and spiritually. So, rest assured, you benefit from just being there, without even trying. Be still and just be. Notice everything around you. The most ordinary things are magical. It’s all a matter of perspective. Mother Nature is truly amazing. The Gaia theory proposes that the earth is self-regulating; that it actively keeps conditions just right for life to persist! What a strange and wonderful thing is this we call existence.

Norse Pagans had a practice called Uti Seta, or out-sitting. They would go out and sit on a grave mound or high place to do divination, trance-work, or magic. If you don’t have the answers you seek after meditating out in nature, consult the runes. Many of us are used to the popular notion of divination being a window to our own subconscious only. Runes are, after all, Odin’s gift to us; our life-line to the gods, lest we forget.

revering nature

If your modern adult mind can no longer grasp the ancient idea of a world full of gods, then think of them as “powers”; like electricity, rich life-giving ecosystems, natural forces. We know those things exist because we see, feel, experience them. According to the Gaia Theory, natural forces are working together to actively regulate the Earth’s systems to maintain life. So I find it no great leap of faith to believe that these powers, and Earth as a whole, are sentient.

And what of us, and our ancestors? Is there life beyond death? We have only to observe the cycles of nature to know our answer… day follows night, waves ebb and flow, and ebb again, and the seasons roll around in an ongoing circle. So it is with us, for we are a part of nature. Energy animates us, and energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed. We are eternal. I can only think that our energies join with the powers I mentioned above, or go out further into this universe or into others. Perhaps quantum parallel universes are what the ancients knew as the Otherworld or Valhalla. Energy returns to the source, like electricity completing a circuit.

ancestors

Our Pagan ancestors were not superstitious idiots. Norse people had their own devices for navigating the seas that were every bit as accurate as our modern instruments. Neither was their lore merely what it seemed on the surface. Norse myth, like their language, was is rich in metaphor and meaning. In Maria Kvilhaug’s lectures on youtube, she so eloquently explains some of these deeper meanings, along with the idea that the Norse may have had pantheistic beliefs in addition to being polytheists. In Myth and Reality – Hidden Knowledge in Old Norse Myths pt.6, she describes a near death experience that drastically changed her world view. I find it quite a convincing idea that knowledge of the gods arose from people’s near-death experiences.

Paganism is compatible with science, and science is awesome, my friend. If you understand the metaphors used in the Norse creation story, it reads more like the big bang theory (see Soundwaves and the Big Bang in the Poetic Edda). Pantheism is especially in line with science. The universe was born, not created. All that exists is related. We are all truly “star-stuff”.

“There are as many atoms in each molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. This is true for dogs, and bears, and every living thing. We are, each of us, a little universe.”
- Niel deGrasse Tyson

“As above, so below. As within, so without.”
- Hermes Trismegistus

All the cells of your body are working together for your continued existence. Your consciousness, sentience, is their god. So too may it be with other powers in the universe. Don’t fall into the mind-set of the monotheist who becomes angry with his god when bad things happen. The fact that bad things happen does not disprove the existence of the gods, it only disproves the existence of omnipotent-omnibenevolent ones. We are co-creators with the gods, and I think a bit of chaos exists in the universe as well. Life is not perfect, but it is magnificent.

homemade watercolors

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I know water color paints are cheap and easy to come by, but why not make your own anyway? You can use this recipe when you run all out of one color and not the others- just refill in your old watercolor trays. You can also make a lot of just one color. My lil’ guy was obsessed for a while with one particular color, so this formula really came in handy. I used an egg carton for these, however, and have given the proportions that fit that container. Egg cartons make great paint trays. Fill one side with paint and use the other to hold paint brushes.

watercolor ingredients

To make these watercolors, you’ll need:
3 tablespoons baking soda
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
food coloring
*1 egg carton
measuring spoons
cup for mixing

making watercolors

For each egg carton cup, mix: 1/2 tablespoon baking soda, 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/2 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/4 tsp. syrup, and a generous squirt of food coloring. Stir well– it bubbles up! Make the mixture darker than you think you’ll need it; it will lighten when it dries. Pour it into the egg cup and let dry several hours or overnight. You may need to stir it a couple of times while it’s drying to keep the mixture from separating. It dries completely hard and is used with a wet paintbrush just like regular watercolors.The only different is the finished paintings can have a bit of a cloudy quality to them. *Note: if using a cardboard egg carton, brush the insides with melted wax and let dry, to prevent the paint from seeping through.

watercolors

Hallow Magic for the High Days

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Most ADF rituals emphasize worship over magical workings, or so I’ve heard. It doesn’t have to be so… why not have it all? The Druid-style rituals I piece together tend to be short and sweet, so there’s plenty of room to add a little magic. Here are some ideas I’ve had for High Day themed magical workings that are aligned with the Triple Hallows. Most of these ideas are for outdoor rituals. For some of these, you may want to have a crafting session ahead of time, then have participants bring their finished work to the ritual, ready to give it that final “oomph” of energy before activating in the Hallow.

In the following workings, I use the word “intent” a lot. What I mean by this is the goal of your magic, and the act of thinking about it and letting the energy of it flow into what your are crafting or doing. Your intent can be for increase (like for prosperity, wisdom, love, for a few examples), or your intent could be something you want to release to the universe (like negativity, bad vibes… things that hold you back) for the Kindreds to transform it into something better or make use of somewhere else.

As a general guideline, do “releasing” work in the waning part of the year (Lughnasadh to Yule) or during a waning moon, and “increasing” work in the waxing part of the year (Imbolc to Midsummer) or waxing moon. Whatever your intent, you can often change it’s nature by perspective and wording, to flow with the season. For example; if you want to do prosperity magic, but it’s a waning season/moon phase, make it a “poverty banishing” working instead.

FIRE
These are items that are fashioned to be burned in the Fire Hallow.

  • PRAYER LEAF: Hand out big Sassafras leaves (or other big leaves) and markers for participants to inscribe their intent through words symbols or pictures. This one is ideal for any High Day. I like to use it for Samhain, and with bay leaves on Imbolc. (For indoor rituals, use slips of flash paper instead; to avoid having a room filled with smoke.)
  • SUN SYMBOLS: Hand out thin straight sticks or wheat stalks and sun-colored yarn/raffia for participants to make rustic “god‘s eyes”, weaving with the energy and intent of their goal. This one is ideal for Summer Solstice.
  • HARVEST FIGURES: Hand out string, sticks, corn husks, raffia, and/or other dried plant materials for participants to shape and tie into human or animal form, representing a goal or intention completed. This one is ideal for Harvest holidays. I like to use it for the Autumn Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Fire and burn them.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Sky, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

WELL
These are items that are fashioned to be placed in the Water Hallow. Consider using a flowing stream for your Well Hallow.

  • PRAYER BOATS: Hand out paper and markers/crayons for participants to make origami boats and inscribe their intent on them through words, symbols and/or pictures. I like this one for Lughnasadh/Freyfaxi.
  • FLOWERS: Let participants choose from a basket of flowers, the one that represents their intent, or make paper flowers. This one is ideal for Beltane.
  • PRAYER SLIPS: Hand out pens and strips of water soluble paper for participants to inscribe their intent. This is another good one for Imbolc.

“At this time we shall infuse our _____ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Well and set them afloat.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Waters, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

TREE
These are items that are fashioned to be hung from the branches of the Tree Hallow.

  • CLOOTIES (prayer flags): Pass around a basket of various colors of thin natural fabric cut in strips (or participants may bring their own; the magic is especially powerful when it is cloth torn from one’s own clothing). Participants choose color and pattern of cloth based on their intent and infuse them with the energy of their intent with touch and prayer. Each dip their cloth in the Well and tie to the tree. Ideal for any warm weather High Day.
  • TREE ORNAMENTS: Hand out toast, peanut butter, birdseed, string, and cookie cutters. Participants cut shapes from the toast, spread on peanut butter, and sprinkle on birdseed (all with intent!) then poke a string through for hanging. This one is a good one for Winter Solstice.
  • BLOWN EGGS: Hand out raw eggs, paints, markers, nails, tacks, string or pipe cleaners, and a bowl. Participants use paint and markers to inscribe their intent through words, symbols and/or pictures on the eggs, then poke a small hole in one end (with the tack), and a larger hole in the other end (with the nail, also piercing the yolk) and blow the inside of egg into the bowl. Use breath for intent as well! Resulting hallowed out eggs are then strung onto pipe cleaners or string.  Do this one for the Spring Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Tree and tie them.”
After all are tied, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Land, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

egg magic

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This weekend I’ll be celebrating with my protogrove, but on this day, the actual day of the Equinox, I welcome in the season in my own way. As a Heathen, I hail the gods and wights, praise Sunna, Freya, and Idunna in my blót.

As a kitchen witch, I have yet more customs to enact; in addition to the cooking, music, and other festivities, I bury a red egg for the fertility of the land and continued blessing of the Landvættir.

red egg

I dyed this egg red with purple onion skins. First I wrapped it in a piece of onion skin with small leaves and rice, tucked that into a piece of stocking, and brought to a boil with water to cover, more onion skins, and a splash of vinegar. I then turned off the heat, popped a lid on, and let it steep and cook. When cooled, I refrigerated the contents of the pan to steep even more.

And, just as Imbolc was the occasion to do a thorough spiritual and physical house cleaning, I see the Spring Equinox as an auspicious time to do another kind of spiritual cleanse…

egg cleansing

egg cleanse
An egg cleanse removes the body of any built up negative energy, including the evil eye. You can perform this on yourself or others. Use a cold white fresh egg. If using an altar, prepare it with a cleansing incense (like juniper or frankincense), a bowl of spring water, and symbols of the deity you have chosen to assist you.

When you are ready, begin by saying a prayer to your chosen deity. (I use a Prayer to Eir.)
Roll the egg over every part of the body, starting at the crown of the head, and ending at the soles of the feet. After this is done, toss the egg into a river or a crossroads, or you can crack open the egg into a glass of water to divine what was released from the body:

  • If the water is clear, with no strange shapes or smells, then all is well.
  • If the water bubbles, then guardian spirits have taken negative energy from your body.
  • If the yolk looks like it contains an eye, you were affected by the evil eye.
  • Blood spots and/or a bad smell are signs of bad luck or negative energy being worked on you.
  • Murky water indicates soul loss or damage.

cascarilla
And as a last bit of egg magic for the day, I dust myself with a bit of cascarilla (egg shells ground into a powder) a friend gifted me with, to protect against negative energies and ill wights. I may sprinkle some across the threshold as well.

cascarilla

figurine makeover

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Recently while thrift shopping, I came across a figurine of an angel holding a rabbit. “Oh neat”, I thought- “that can be a depiction of Ôstara for my Spring Equinox altar!” I didn’t much like the colors though; it never seems to look right to me how small figurines have the details painted in. Then I remembered what I did for altar statues before I started sculpting; I made them look “rustic” with layers of acrylic paint. So now I’ll share that method with you…

You’ll need:
paintbrush
sponge
white acrylic craft paint (or acrylic gesso)
dark acrylic craft paint
light beige or off-white acrylic craft paint

1. First, clean all the dust and grime off your thrift shop treasure.

2. Next, paint a layer of thick white acrylic paint or acrylic gesso. This will make the subsequent layers of paint look even. Let dry thoroughly.

3. Now give the figure a rough layer of dark acrylic paint, concentrating on getting paint into the creases. I used a shade of green called “thicket” for the figurine shown here. Let dry thoroughly.

4. For this next step, use a sponge instead of a paintbrush. Dip the sponge in a light shade of acrylic paint like “parchment”. Lightly blot the sponge and dab over the figure; mostly getting the raised parts. Don’t try to get paint down in the crevices. Let dry.

There you go! From cheesy to rustic in four simple steps.

figurine makeover

vintage bottle makeover

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If your looking for inexpensive containers for storing small amounts of herbs, I have an idea for you… You’ve probably seen these 1970′s style spice jars with the plastic stopper in a wooden rack at thrift stores. They’re pretty easy to find. Find ‘em, get ‘em. Soak them in hot soapy water. The old labels scrub off pretty easily. (If not, goop remover will help it along.) You can replace the plastic stoppers with tapered cork size 10, found at your local craft store.
vintage bottle makeover
You don’t need fancy materials or even a printer to make these labels. All you need is masking tape, a permanent marker, and a flame! Write the name on the masking tape, cut or tear it off, and touch the edges to a flame. When the edge catches fire, blow it out real quick, and watch those fingers! The resulting label will look like aged parchment. Masking tape makes an excellent label on glass and plastic surfaces. It sticks well, but comes off easily when you want it to.

masking tape parchment