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February 2022 Newsletter

May 30, 2022

The Element of Fire -
~ by Lisa

In Western pagan traditions, the four elements of nature, earth, air, water, and 
fire, form the basis of natural magic. Honoring these elements is a part of most contemporary pagan rituals. Ceremonies usually begin with the casting of a ritual circle, and at the quarter-points, the four directions and their corresponding elements are acknowledged and bid welcome. 

The Witch’s Supply Box for February explores the element of Fire.

"Attuning and working with these energies in magic not only lends you the power to affect dramatic changes in your life, but it also allows you to sense your own place in the larger scheme of Nature." ~Scott Cunningham, Earth Power

Element of Fire
Gender: Masculine.
Planet: Mars.
Time: Noon.
Season: Summer.
Direction: South (in most traditions).
Zodiac: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
Energies: Projective, purifying, destructive, cleansing, energetic, sexual, forceful. Heat is a manifestation of this element.
Symbols: Flame, Candle, Lava.
Deities:  Ra, Brigit, Pele, Vesta, Horus, Prometheus, Vulcan, Astarte, Bast, Bel, Chango, Kali.
Nature Spirits: Salamanders.
Colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Gold.
Herbs and Plants: Thistles, Thorn, Holly, Basil, Garlic, Sunflower, Juniper, Ash, Cacti, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nettle.
Crystals and Gemstones: Red Jasper, Amber, Bloodstone, Carnelian, Garnet, Fire Opal, Gold, Ruby, Sunstone and Tiger’s Eye.
Animals: Snake, Tiger, Lion, Lizard, Bee, Dragon, Phoenix, Lady Bug, Scorpion.
Traditional Tool: Knife/Athame.
Altar: Objects for Fire: Flame (candle, lamp, lighter, matches), Spicy foods, Candle (Red, orange, or gold), Dragons, Images of flames or the sun, Volcanic stones or ash, Bright yellow or orange plants, Gemstones, Oil (Cinnamon, Frankincense, Dragon’s Blood), Deity statues, Animal art , Tarot Ace of Wands.

The contents of your supply box may be used to set up an altar to the element of Fire.

Once you have set up your altar, spend time daily focusing on the element of Fire. Anoint yourself and the candles with Fire oil. Light the candles and glaze into the flames, feel your connection to Fire. 

The element of Fire is both creative and destructive. Our ancestors used fire to warm their homes, cook their food, and to ward of the darkness of night. Fire is a life-giving force representing the return of the sun after the dark of winter. Fire is transformative, converting the energy of other objects into heat, flame, ash, and smoke. 

The aspects of fire are change, passion, creativity, motivation, will power, drive and sensuality. Fire is used in spells, rituals and candle magic for healing, purification, sex, breaking bad habits or destroying illness and disease. 

A basic fire ritual is to write what you would like to release or be rid of on a piece of paper. Hold the paper in your hands charging it with that desire and then place it in a fire, or light it on fire with a candle flame and let it burn in an incense bowl. Visualize it being carried away with the smoke.

A fire ritual is also a good way to release magical items and spell work that no longer serves you. 

Other suggestions for connecting with the element of Fire

Spending time under the Sun.

A bonfire, either alone or with friends and loved ones.

Candle and Fire scrying. Flames and smoke from any Fire source can be read for visions and signs by observing movements and shapes that are made. The ashes from ritual fires may be used for divination or spell work.

Vigorous exercise or ritual dance that raises the heat of your body.

However, you choose to connect with the element of Fire record your experiences in your BOS, Grimoire, or journal.

Click here to check them out

Considering Elephants by Candlelight: Building Community by ~Sky Bridges 

Imbolc is a pagan fire festival that is celebrated on the first of February. It falls about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The holiday is associated with Brigid, the triple goddess of fire and hearth, change and transformation, poetry, inspiration, and healing. It is a time of cleansing, self-contemplation, renewal, and emergence. Imbolc means “in the belly” and reminds us of what is happening within the earth belly of Gaia. Seeds are stirring and developing as the time of spring birth draws near. 

As we contemplate the cleansing and transformative fires of this sabbat, I invite you to light your Imbolc candles, settle into a comfy chair, and ruminate on an old Indian folktale about an elephant and six blind men. It is a story I told my high school students at the beginning of each semester as we thought about how to build a strong community within the classroom. 

Long ago in a small Indian village lived six blind men. One day they received news that an elephant had wandered into their town. They all agreed that they would like to go and experience the elephant. As it happened when they approached the elephant, they came into contact with different parts of its body. One man, as he ran his hands over the side of the elephant, exclaimed that the elephant was just like a wall. Another man felt the breeze from the large flapping ear and yelled in disbelief, “A wall? It is obvious that the elephant is like a great fan!” The third man declared that both the other men were wrong as he felt the trunk and said the elephant was like a snake. Another man feeling the tusk said the elephant was smooth and sharp like a spear while the man at the tail declared the elephant to be like a rope.

The sixth blind man feeling the leg argued that the elephant was like the trunk of a tree. The blind men became increasingly frustrated and agitated as they tried to convince each other that they were right in defining the elephant. They quarreled furiously and just before it came to blows, a wise man walked by and asked about the commotion. When he discovered the problem he told the blind men that each of them was partially correct in their assessment, but completely wrong in declaring that what they were experiencing was the full nature of the elephant. I wonder how differently the story might have ended if the men had tried to communicate deeply with each other. What if one had invited the other to come and stand where he was standing and feel what he was experiencing? What if they had calmly shared their experiences instead of bickering? 

Each of us looks at life from a particular vantage point. Yet if you could stand exactly where I am and look out through my mind’s eye to the view I am currently seeing, we would not interpret the view in the same way. You might wonder how that is possible. 

Each of us is looking through multiple lenses as we look out onto the world - the lens of our upbringing, the lens of our religious training, the lens of our educational experiences, the lens of our political affiliations, and so on. The vantage point from which we stand and the lenses through which we look inform our perspective. If we shift our vantage point or use different lenses to consider the view, the perspective changes. What if we could recognize this and fully take it to heart? If we recognized the significance of perspective, vantage point, and the informing power of the lenses through which we see, how might this transform our community? 

Imbolc is a time of new growth and unfolding. Lighting a candle symbolizes our intention to bring our wishes and desires to fruition. As you light candles during the days of Imbolc, I invite you to remember the tale of the elephant and six blind men in light of these words from Rumi: 

“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.” 

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” 

May our inward journey home connect us with the divine presence and may our outward journey with community be one of listening, understanding, and deep and meaningful conversations that help us bridge our differences.

Q:  How do readers handle it when they see bad news in the cards? Do you hold back, or risk traumatizing the querent (client)?

A: Many people are especially nervous about hearing bad news before their first reading. The classic idea that psychics/readers predict a set-in-stone future has evolved, because time is measured very differently on the other side of the veil, and the free will of many people can be involved in a situation. Most readers now offer choice-centered readings to help you cut through confusion and choose the most rewarding path forward.

In other words, a reading is not like flipping to the back of a workbook to get the answers. Think of it more like the reader handing you a candle to illuminate your path, reminding you how you got this far, and offering you a compass to guide you to your True North, reminding you of who you really are, and helping you align your decisions with your life purpose.

A more modern analogy is that a reading is like a GPS. You can decide at any time to change your route, and that will change how and when you arrive at your destination.  

When I have “bad news” coming up, seeing it show up in the cards helps me to prepare to:
*Make choices to avoid it altogether.

*Be pro-active and minimize the damage

*Understand the higher purpose of what feels “bad”, so I can shift my perspective and focus on my best option.

*If it is beyond my control (usually because it is someone else’s situation that impacts me, or part of a bigger picture) I can prepare myself, gather resources and increase self-care to handle it more gracefully.

Of course, all readers work a little differently.  Personally, I answer predictive questions with percentages rather than a flat yes or no, remind the querent of their power to change the outcome or at least the impact of what the cards show, and help them align their decisions with their goals and higher purpose, so they leave with more tools to handle the situation than before.  

If you are nervous about getting bad news, feel free to ask your reader how they address it before the reading. I also recommend choosing a shop or event that tests their readers or otherwise vets them for ethics and accuracy. 

Book of the Month: Botanical Magic by Amy Blackthorn.
~Review by: Sam

As the winter slowly begins this season, I had begun to notice it calmly creeping over the shadows of the night, freezing the dew-filled mornings. My mind, at this time, cannot help but wander to the coming spring. During the winter, I tend to sit in my living room, my mind leans toward a gloomy place during the holiday months. Winter, sadly, has always had this mixed effect on me. 

But, I enjoyed this morning, the windows open as I breathe in the chilled air one morning in early January. Encircled by my blankets, and some pillows. My familiar laid next to me, purring in contentment of the warmth of the blanket and my hand on her fur.

As my eyes watched the sunrise, watching it slowly peeks out from the hills and the neighboring buildings next to my own. My mind drifted a little bit. Thinking of the plants I can start in the coming months. 

Muttering my little mantra of “A little bit of greenery, never hurt anyone….too much.”

But, it is almost impossible to start seedlings in this weather without the proper tools. And living in a small apartment, with two cats, it’s hard to not have them try to eat said seedling. So, my attention always turns to the perfectly good apothecary kit I keep on my altar. Decorated with gold, with clean bottles that I can mix little concoctions into. And whenever I am in doubt of what to use, I go to my number one essential oil book: Amy Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic; The Green Witch's guide to essential oils for spellcraft, ritual, & healing.

For me, there are many pros to this book. 

I believe that it is a wonderful addition to any green/hedge witch’s reference library. 

Not only does it have useful information about the plants and their essential oils, but also the corresponding deities/planets. It brings in a lot of but it comes with information about crystals that these oils thrive with. So, in theory, you could add them to your favorite potted plant to give it an extra boost of energy.

Also, the pace of the book? Wonderful, I can read it so many times, without fail. It’s inviting, welcoming, and tells you amazing things.

But, that does lead me to the con. My true con for this book is that there is no index. So, you need to flip back through the book to find things. And with that, comes hope you don't accidentally flip through the section(or the page, gods forbid) that you’re looking for. I really wish, we had an index. 

But, even with that, I do hope you consider it on your next stop at the shop. Picking it has helped me in my incense making, and my spellcraft. So, maybe give it a try if you’re feeling stuck, and gloomed by not being able to have plants of your own at the moment.

Divination for January – a one-card draw and interpretation 

DeckEveryday Witch Oracle by Deborah Blake, art by Elisabeth Alba, published by Llewellyn.
Card: Plant the Seeds (Earth: Grounding and Practical Action) 

February can feel a bit like a transitional month. It’s still winter in north America, but hints of spring tend  to pop up periodically. While it might be a bit premature to begin starting actual plant seeds for many  parts of the country, it is never too early to begin dreaming about what might be grown or what seeds  to order.  

This month is a good time to consider exploring something new—be it a new project, a new job, or  maybe even a new relationship. Just remember that metaphorical seeds that are planted still need  tending just as much as actual plant seeds do. 

Scents-ibility for February: Aromatherapy by Star 

This month, I’ll explain why knowing Latin names matter. Anyone who has ever bought a bottle of essential oil will have likely noticed that in addition to its common name, it will also have the Latin name listed, usually in italics beneath the common name. 

This may seem like a repetitive and even unnecessary extra bit of verbiage but the reality is that it really matters and possibly a lot more than one might think. Ask any serious gardener about Latin names and you will very likely get chapter and verse about why it matters. Common names are exactly that, “common.” Many flowers and plants may be called by the same common name but are completely different plants. Buttercups and bergamot are both excellent examples of this. 

As a child, I knew “buttercups” as a small, yellow flower with glossy petals that appeared almost waxy, and had dark green compound leaves that grew close to the ground. Imagine my surprise when a friend referred to yellow daffodils as “buttercups.” The buttercups I knew are in fact, Ranunculus repens of the Ranunculaceae family while daffodils are Narcissus jonquilla and members of the Amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae. 

The plant commonly known as “bergamot” which is perhaps best known as “bee balm” is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family, and its Latin name is Monarda fistulosa while the plant that produces bergamot, petitgrain, and neroli essential oil is Citrus aurantium of the Rutaceae family. The skin of the bitter orange that produces bergamot oil is of the subspecies, bergamia. Petitgrain oil is derived from the leaves and neroli from the flowers are both of the subspecies amara

Are you confused yet? 

It is a lot and many people have no idea when they embark on the journey of scent that it will include acquiring an understanding of botany and learning a bit of Latin. However, knowing the Latin names of plants is every bit as important as understanding the difference between different methods of magical practice. It matters. 

Another great example is Lavender essential oil which can come from a variety of slightly different plants of the same genus, Lavandula in the Lamiaceae family. Generic lavender oil is frequently a blend of oils from different subspecies. What most would call “true lavender” is known as Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officinalis as it is sometimes still referred to as. 

However, the other most common varieties of Lavender are: 

Lavandula latifolia – spike lavender 

Lavandula x. intermedia – lavandin 

Lavandula stoechas – maritime lavender (sometimes also called cotton lavender)

As one might guess, the various varieties of lavender have differing properties and they are not necessarily interchangeable, especially for clinical aromatherapy practices. For instance, Lavandula stoechas has a chemical composition that is often much higher in ketones, which raises concerns of toxicity. While spike lavender is often favored by gardeners due to its brighter blooms and more agreeable nature, a well-attuned nose can tell a marked difference between it and true lavender. 

Lavandin or Lavandula x. intermedia is a hybrid resulting from crossing true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) with spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia). Lavandin oil is often used to adulterate oils sold as true lavender. And many products like laundry detergent, soaps and even cosmetics that have “lavender oil” in them actually have lavandin and not true lavender added. 

This is largely due to the fact that lavandin plants are much hardier, grow larger and faster than either L. angustifolia or L. latifolia, producing a higher yield. All lavender oils have a calming effect, but the constituent responsible for that action—esters—is found in much higher concentrations in true lavender. Consider this, it takes roughly 250 pounds of those tiny lavender blossoms to make just one pound of essential oil. 

While the constituents of an oil matter less for magical purposes than they do for clinical aromatherapy, how they are applied is still always a factor to be considered. Remember, anything applied topically is akin to ingesting it. The body may absorb much less through the skin, but it still absorbs it. 

All of this is to say, knowing the scientific Latin name of an oil matters, and in some cases can matter a great deal. The art of aromatherapy requires knowing the nature of the essences being worked with, and clinical aromatherapy demands having more than just a cursory understanding of their chemical composition in order to craft blends that will have the desired healing effect. 

Blend for relaxing

7 drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil 
3 drops of Roman chamomile* 
(Chamaemelum nobile) essential oil 

*Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricara chamomilla) are two  different species, but members of the Asteraceae family. While both have similar properties, their  chemical makeups are very different. German chamomile is also a dark, inky blue, and Roman  chamomile is a pale yellow. Chamomile tea is derived from Chamaemelum nobile. 

To apply topically

Blend with 1-2 oz of Sweet Almond  
Shake well before each use 

To use as a spray:

12 oz of distilled or filtered water 
½ oz of witch hazel or alcohol 
Add witch hazel to spray bottle, then drops of oil, and finally water.  
Shake well before each use 

A note on safety and how to conduct a skin patch test 

As with all essential oil blends, a skin patch test should be done before topically applying. Simply apply a  small amount of the blend to the inside of the upper arm. If no irritation develops after 24 hours, then it  is safe to use. If at any point during a skin patch test if irritation develops, the application area should be  immediately treated with either a dairy-based product like milk or yogurt to halt the irritation. Then the testing area should be thoroughly washed with mild soap and water and cleaned of the substance  applied. 

Please note that no matter how safe and natural you believe essential oils to be, they are not  recommended to be applied straight or “neat” directly on the skin. There are a few exceptions for regular  use, but even those should only be used that way under the advice of a certified or registered  aromatherapist. Young children, the elderly, anyone with a compromised immune system, and those who  are pregnant may require a formula that is much reduced in active ingredients. Essential oils of any  variety should always be cautiously used around pets, and never used on cats or in any way that would  allow them to ingest it—like breathing in vaporized spray or licking it off of their fur.

And finally...

The U.S. is currently experiencing one of the worst blood shortages in over a decade. At times over the past few weeks, the American Red Cross supplies over 40% of the blood that hospitals need to perform surgeries, transfusions, and other live-saving procedures. This shortage in blood has led to hospitals receiving on average 25% less of the blood they need to save lives. For those who are eligible and able, donating blood is easy and saves lives.

Using the Red Cross' website you can find places locally that are conducting blood drives:  https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive
https://www.redcrossblood.org/blood-donor-app.html--just the number of places holding drives over the next week give a good idea how bad things are. 

Here is a link with local blood drives:  https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/drive-results?order=DATE&range=10&zipSponsor=28803

Here is the link for the donor app: https://www.redcrossblood.org/blood-donor-app.html

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