Three Easy Lughnasadh Crafts

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Lughnasadh is a celebration of first fruits and grains. It is the wake of Lugh’s foster mother, Tailtiu- Great One of the Great Earth. Lugh is a god of many skills and has many roles. His name is associated with light, but contrary to popular belief, it is the flash of lightning, not sunlight, with which he has been traditionally associated. In County Mayo thunderstorms were referred to as battles between Lugh and Balor. Balor’s evil eye represents the scorching late-summer sun. Lugh’s defeat of Balor represents August storms defeating the crop-threatening summer heat and drought.

The theme of these three crafts are wheat and blueberries. Blueberries are a traditional Lughnasadh food, and according to Mara Freeman, the Sunday nearest August 1st was called “Bilberry (blueberry) Sunday” (Kindling the Celtic Spirit). Blueberries, to me, also represent the color of the stormy skies hoped for at Lughnasadh. It is good luck and a good omen if it rains on Lughnasadh.

blueberries and wheat crafts

salt-dough blueberry beads
The first thing you’ll need to make is the salt dough blueberry beads. Take a handful of salt dough, add a generous squirt of blue food coloring, and a few drops of red food coloring. Knead in the color well. Adjust if necessary to get the color you want. Roll into blueberry sized balls, poke a hole through the middle with a skewer, and let dry.

wheat & blueberry crown
Measure two inches down from the top edge of a brown paper grocery bag and cut in a straight line to get an even strip. Fold this in half lengthwise. Wrap around your child’s head to measure for size. Remove, tape in place and trim excess. Arrange placement of blueberry beads and wheat heads. Glue in place.

wheat & blueberry necklace (or wall hanging)
With heavy-duty thread and a yarn needle, string blueberry beads and wheat heads, piercing through the middle of the wheat head. Stop and tie off when you reach the length you want. You may want to trim the long bristles of the wheat.

wheat mobile

Lughnasadh mobile
To make this craft, you’ll need: blueberry beads, wheat heads, heavy string or yarn, marker or crayon, scissors, glue, a hole-punch, stained glass paint (or white glue mixed with food coloring), painbrush, and waxed paper (or re-purpose some clear plastic packaging).
First, trace three shapes onto your wax paper or plastic packaging. Use your wheat heads to help you decide how big they need to be. My shapes were a half-circle, a circle, and a triangle, but you can choose whatever shapes you like. Paint the shapes, the color of your choosing, with the stained glass mixture. Let dry and cut out. Punch holes in the top and bottom of each shape. Arrange wheat heads on shapes with color peeping though. Glue in place and let dry. Thread onto string or yarn, interspersed with beads, tying knots to hold each item in place. Hang from a sunny window.

three Lughnasadh crafts

salt dough wheat plaque

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With Lughnasadh/Lammas coming up in a couple of weeks, a fun project to work on is a wheat plaque to decorate the family altar, hearth, or nature table. I used ordinary salt dough for this project (1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, and around 1 cup water). You can add paint or food coloring to the dough if you like, or paint after the project is completely dry.

First, I rolled out my well-kneaded dough, thickly and evenly. I used a mixing bowl and pizza cutter to get a clean even arch at the top. Then I used a ruler to cut a straight bottom edge. I used a teardrop shaped clay tool to press in tall grasses, and a knife tool for the wheat stalks. I used a couple of methods for the wheat grains; one is to press in each grain with the teardrop shaped clay tool, and the other is to make little snippets up and down the stalk with the end of a pair of small scissors. The latter method is my favorite, because it adds interesting dimensions to the plaque. I added swirls and small holes for a finishing touch. The plaque can be hung on the wall when dry (don’t forget to poke a hole in the back with the blunt end of a tack when turning over to dry the back), or propped up on a shelf.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try curving the plaque around a foil-covered vase to dry, then attach salt dough rings to the back to hold candles. If you poke holes all the way through the plaque with a straw, you can add amber colored beads that would shine in the light of the candle.

wheat plaque

magical sachets

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A little bundle of magical objects and herbs wrapped up in a flannel cloth and empowered as an active charm are traditionally called sachets in the Appalachians and Ozarks, but in other parts of the country they are known as mojo, charm, or spirit bags.

In making sachets, I use a square of flannel — not felt, felt is too thick and stiff! I use this instead of a drawstring bag, so that I can see the materials I am using and arrange them just so in the center of the fabric. I fold or bundle them up tight and tie with a cord when finished, though it is more traditional to fold it up and sew it closed. I usually use whatever color cloth suits my work. My go-to is the traditional red.

general ingredients (3 to 13 items)

  • plant materials (herbs, flowers, root, seeds, etc) a blend of several counts as 1 item
  • mineral- rock salt, charged crystal or stone (obsidian absorbs negativity)
  • a coin, usually silver (spirit money)
  • personal items of the person the sachet is for (hair/nail clippings, spit)

fixing the sachet
After arranging everything inside, closing, and sealing, the sachet is ready to fix. Consecrate it with sage or pass over a flame and through incense or breathe into it. Name it. It is a thought-form, a golem of sorts. Sweet talk it, tell it what you’re trying to achieve. Pray over it. (Being a Heathen, I use Sigrdrifa´s Prayer.)
Wrap up and tie with a miller’s knot. To feed the sachet, dress (dab) it with a tincture (see my articles on how to make ginger tincture and honeysuckle tincture). Some practitioners it spray with whiskey or rum through their teeth.

Keep the sachet against your skin for about a week (not tied around your neck where everyone can see, but tucked into a pocket, in a sock, etc.). After this, you can hide it where you want it to be doing its work. If it has to do with the home, hide it in the home. If for nightmares or prophetic dreams, under your mattress, etc. If it is primarily to work on you, continue to wear it in a pocket or shoulder bag you use every day. Feed it once a week with tincture or alcohol. Don’t show it to anyone. If anyone sees it, feed it and hide it somewhere else. Don’t let anyone else touch it, or the magic could be lost. You’d have to bury the sachet and start over.

magical sachets

color magic for kids

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Below is a sequel to All About Magic part 1, a booklet I wrote last year as an introduction to magic for kids. Print out, color, cut away the margins and fold into a book. For folding instructions see my article magic one-sheet-of-paper mini book. Have this little booklet be but a starting point in learning color magic. You can give your own examples and methods after using this fun introduction.

all about real magic part 2

witch’s stitches

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Goldenseal has been used to treat digestive problems as well as the common cold and respiratory tract infections, and many other ailments. The chemical berberine found in goldenseal may be responsible for it’s effects against bacteria.

The bulk of my experience with goldenseal is it’s use topically for skin conditions and wounds. Goldenseal can be used on the skin to treat ulcers, infections, cold sores, eczema, acne, and itching.  It makes a good antiseptic skin cleanser.

Combine goldenseal root powder with a pinch of cayenne pepper to make an excellent first aid for wounds called “witch’s stitches”. What cayenne adds to the equasion is a fair bit of pain relief and it helps stop bleeding.

I keep witch’s stitches in a bottle close to my first aid supplies. A small sprinkle on a cut before adding a bandaid can prevent an infection. Once I used it to treat a wound that may have otherwise needed a couple of stiches… my daughter had been jumping on the bed and fell and busted open a little gash on her chin. A sprinkle of witch’s stitches and a butterfly closure bandage, and she was good as new. Her older sister had gotten a gash in the exact same spot a few years earlier while running in the halls at school and was sent to the hospital for stitches. Her gash may have been a little wider, so actual stitches may have been warented, but I feel good knowing I could possibly have treated it myself if we had been in a zombie apocolypse situation and hospitals were not available.

As always, do not take this as medical advice. Check with your health care practitioner for answers to questions about your health and the use of herbs. Seek emergency medical help for serious injuries.

witch's stiches

honeysuckle tincture

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Those beautiful golden flowers and intoxicating scent is, to me, the embodiment of Summer.

In herbalism, honeysuckle has been used as an expectorant, a diuretic, depurative, relaxant, and an astringent. It has been used to treat the common cold and fevers, and may be be a suitable substitute for elderflower. (But as always, check with your health care practitioner for answers to questions about your health and the use of herbs.)

To capture some of that summer magic, you can use honeysuckle blossoms to make a tincture. A tincture is a liquid extract, usually made with a strong odorless 80 proof alcohol like vodka or Everclear. Tinctures can also be made with vinegar, which are usually just referred to as herbal vinegars. Vegetable glycerin can also be used to make a tincture (use half glycerite, half distilled water), and the resulting extract is called a glycerite. Glycerites are especially suitable for children, as they are sweet and alcohol-free.

Sterilize all your equipment in boiling water. Fill a canning jar with the honeysuckle. Pour in alcohol (or your other choice of liquid) to fill the jar. Lid tightly and keep in a cool dark place. Take out and shake every once in a while. Let steep for several weeks to a month. Strain out into a bottle and keep out of direct sunlight.

They say honeysuckle is a cure for homesickness and excess nostalgia. Honeysuckle is traditionally used in love spells, and the tincture makes a powerful love elixir. Use it to dress magical objects such as charms, talismans, and sachets (mojo bags). It can also be used as a room spray.

honeysuckle tincture

easy drawstring bags

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I’ve been making some drawstring bags for the kids of my grove to use for the Midsummer sun coin hunt. These sturdy little bags made from sunny bandanas are so simple to make. To make one, all you need is: a bandana, matching thread, sewing needle (or sewing machine), scissors, iron, a ruler, pins, a safety pin, and a 30 inch cord or ribbon.

STEP 1: Iron creases out of your bandana and turn to the faded side. Bring the corners in to meet in the center, or as close as they will get, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Iron the edges to make a crease.

STEP 2: Flip the bandana over and bring corners to the center again. Iron edges to crease.

STEP 3: Measure about and inch in, all around the outer edges. This is your sewing line. Mark with pins.

STEP 4: Sew all the way around, through all layers, by hand or with a sewing machine. Don’t sew the corners closed- this will be a casing.

STEP 5: Attach a safety pin to the end of your cord to thread it through the casing.

STEP 6: Thread it all the way around to the beginning and tie it to the other end of the cord.

STEP 7: Pull cord to gather the top of the bag closed. You can pull some of the cord out at the opposite opening to create two handles for your bag. Attach trinkets (beads, buttons, bells) to the ends of the cord, if desired.

Notice the inside of your bag has eight little side pockets! The layers created in folding helps this bag stand up on it’s own.

easy bandana drawstring bags