What is it Wednesday Herbs: Anise

Hello my witchlings! Today is a new thing I’m making both teach you and myself! Because as witches I know your favorite thing to do is learn right!?…….right? Well, hopefully you do! So I’m creating What is it Wednesday day! For right now I’ll be working on Herbs that are used for protection/purification. Because having the correct herbs and oils that can protect you are always good to have! So for your viewing and learning pleasure we have: ANISE!

 

ANISE SEED (Pimpinella Anisum) 

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It looks a bit like queen anne’s lace, doesn’t it!?

 

Element: Air 

Deity: Jupiter (aka Zues), Apollo,  Mercury (aka Hermes) 

Magical Use: Contacting other planes, divination, love, passion, preventing nightmares, protection, psychic development, psychic protection, purification Other magickal uses: Clairvoyance, cleansing, consecration, fertility, gain, good luck, happiness, money, weddings, youth

Medicinal Uses: For treating coughs, bronchitis and a stuffy nose, it loosens bronchial congestion, making it easier to cough it up and expel it. A good breath freshener in the morning, and if kept by the bed it will prevent bad dreams. Also a digestive aid and can relieve an upset stomach and flatulence when taken as a tea, and a treatment for colic. Also suggested that anise may be beneficial to women because certain chemicals in the plant are chemical cousins to the female hormone estrogen.

Anise is wonderful plant to have in your witche’s garden! You can throw it among your flower cutting garden, or along your fence! It looks very much like queen Ann’s Lace, however the difference is that they grow in rounded ‘clumps’ and Queen Ann is very flat and broad (looking much more like yarrow in shape).  The plant is harvested when the flowers are blooming (the seeds are in the center there). Hang them upside down in a paper bag so you don’t lose the seeds! As pretty as the flowers are–its the itty bitty seeds you want!

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These seeds are tiny things–only slightly bigger than poppy seeds! You know those little black dots you sometimes get on your bagles? Yeah. They’re almost as tiny as THAT!  You can use anise seeds as incense for protection when you go to astral planes, or for protection when doing your witchy work. You can also bake with them! During the Roman era they would bake the seeds into wedding cakes. Anise seeds have a really wonderful licorice taste, though for me I just find it sweet. My favorite thing to make is Covenstead Bread, and I’ll include the recipe at the end of this!  In the mean time, here are some uses for Anise that you might want to try out!

-It’s said that if you use cuttings from Anise and place it into or near your pillow it will ward you from nightmares

-If you hang it over your bed lost youth will be yours once more!

-An herbal tea made of it, drunk once a day, will help your spirituality and psychic powers grow. 1 Tsp of seeds per 1 cup of water, steeped 20 minutes.

botanicalanise-Before doing a ritual have a bath of Anise seeds added with Bay leaves for powerful protection! My advice to this, is to put it in a cheese cloth, so that the seeds or bay leaf doesn’t clog up your drain! You can also add a dash of cinnamon in to the bag as well! Mmm, cinnamon!

-Burn Anise seed for protection and meditation rituals

-Anise Essential Oil is excellent when doing divination and you need to boost clairvoyance

-You can add crushed seeds to Resin Incense like Myrrh or Dragons Blood

-For prophetic dreams of the future, make a mojo bag (voodoo)  consisting of Anise seeds, Althaea Leaf, Acacia, Calendula, and Star Anise and keep it beneath the pillow where you sleep.

As you can, these tiny seeds really pack a punch! It should be noted however, that Anise seeds are NOT Anise Star seeds. Those are two VERY different plants!The Anise Star seeds come from a tree, not a flower, and in September of 2003 the FDA banned, stating that “individuals who drank teas brewed with the spice suffered serious neurological effects, such as “seizures, vomiting, jitteriness or rapid eye movement.” Forty individuals, including 15 infants, were affected before the FDA issued its warning. As of 2011, the FDA had not changed or updated its warning.”

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THIS IS STAR ANISE. DO NOT USE THEM IN FOOD OR TEAS!

 

So that’s your lesson plan for the day! I will include links and my recipe below!  Please feel free to have a look at those links as well! And hopefully you’ll add Anise to your garden!

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COVENSTEAD BREAD: 

(Recipe by Gerina Dunwich)

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped citron (I never added this)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons anise seeds
  • 2-1/3 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used 2 tsp of each spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Directions: 

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add honey, citron, sugar, and anise seeds. Stir until the sugar completely dissolves and then remove from heat.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices, and fold into the hot honey mixture. Turn the batter into a well-greased 9 X 5 X 3-inch loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for one hour. Turn out on a wire rack to cool. (This recipe yields one loaf of bread.)

Covenstead Bread tastes better the next day, but you don’t have to. The flavor DOES get better after a day though, I won’t lie! Just remember to cover it so it doesn’t go stale! It’s an ideal bread to serve during Lammas and Autumn Equinox Sabbats, but you can bring it to any ritual or coven meeting! I find that it especially tastes good with honey drizzled on top! This loaf of bread is dense and can be a wee bit dry (maybe add more honey?), so the honey defintely helps when eating! The flavor is out of this world though!

(This “Covenstead Bread” recipe is from “The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes” by Gerina Dunwich, p. 169, a Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994)

LINKS: 

http://www.hxcorp.com.vn/news/432-what-is-star-anise.html

http://gardening.smeak.com/growing-anise/ (how to grow them!)

http://herbalriot.tumblr.com/post/53752617078/magickal-uses-of-anise-plant-seed

http://www.wolfmoongrove.com/Herb%20Info%20Pages/herbal_properties.htm (this also has a bunch of other herbs! A nice site!)

Protective Candles

I love this time of year.  The time of year when the air starts to get cooler, the rains start to come (although not here in California, sadly!), and the air is filled with the scent of damp leaves, pavement and soil. Fall is my favorite time of the year followed by winter and spring. But Fall….I could write sonnets about it. I won’t of course, because this isn’t a post about sonnets! My point is that it’s fall, and that means its time for prepping, to be ready for a long winter and cozy living. Knitting up blankets and socks to keep warm, stocking food, craving stews and meat….and protection. That’s right, you totally have to stock up on protection! It sounds silly, but think about it: You’re going to be hoveled up in your home because its getting colder, and that means that other things are crawling out of the woods to join you. Some of them are cute fluffy bunnies–and some of them aren’t. Also, spending all the time indoors with people….that can make you edgy.

You might start thinking about how much your younger or older sibling is annoying you and how fun it would be to just hack her hair off while she slept one night…..ahem! So to stave off the entities that you might not want staying with you through the winter months, or to ease any negative feelings that begin to build from having to spend a lot of close time with family, we prep! Black candles are phenomenal for getting rid of unwanted negative energies, but if you just HAVE to craft (I get the itch to do mega crafting right around this time) then this is the perfect thing for you to do! This is an especially good project if you like candles but don’t want to spend hours dipping them by hand! I haven’t made these in candle stick form, but I might try my hand at it someday! For now, here’s something that’s easy, and makes great gifts as well as using for yourself!

 

PROTECTIVE VOTIVE CANDLES 

Supplies: 

White votive candles

Sage (I used white and sweet sage that I gathered from the back hills and were charged by the full moon. But you can also use different herbs that are protective, like Bay)

Oil (optional)

A baking tray (or coffee brewer. Remove the coffee pot and use the heating pad)

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Directions: 

First, cleanse the votive candles with incense, as you want to remove any energies that it might have held onto. These are magical candles after all Incense wise you can use a charcoal one and put on frankincense or Myrrh. Or if you’re me, I used a cedar incense stick! You pass each votive through the smoke and say:

 

By Fire and Air I release all past energies and negativity. 

So mote it be

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Once you’ve cleansed all your candles pass your herbs through the smoke and say the same thing as above to remove any past energies. I didn’t have to do this step, as my sage had already been blessed and charged with moon energy when I made my own smudger. Now comes the fun part! Go to your kitchen and place the cookie sheet length wise across the front and back burner. Have the flame be on fairly low. I put mine on the 2. It’ll take a couple of minutes, but it’ll happen quickly once the wax starts melting. As a note, you’re melting them so you don’t have to spend an hour hand dipping things! See how nice I am!?

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Once they’ve completely melted carefully (with mitts on!) take the tray off the burner and put it on the counter. DO NOT REMOVE THE CANDLES FROM THE COOKIE TRAY! Learn from my mistakes witchlings! Learn! Also, seperate them at this point, so that the metal isn’t touching each other (like in the pictures) so that cool air can circulate and actually cool the candles off! Next you’re going to add in however much oil you’d like (you don’t have to do this. I made these for a friend whose having issues and felt these needed to be super strong!), then some of the sage or herbs of your choice.

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Once you’ve put in the herbs and oil wait for them to turn milky white. Not completely solid. It should be squishy feeling. Again, learn from my mistakes! I tried to transfer them onto the counter to cool off faster and instead ended up with spilled wax. Ugh. Just have patience and common sense (unlike me). In all I think it takes about 3 to 5 minutes for them to turn milky-ish. Once they’re a milky color, add in more herbs on top. Trust me, they’ll stick! You can even press them in a bit.

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Also, have a chopstick or a thin thing to retrive the candle wicks. They’ll float down an bit and could become in cased, so when the lights are milk colored and you’re putting in your herbs, look for the wick and pull it up, otherwise you don’t have a candle! After they’ve cooled you can do what you like with them! Pack them up to use for later on in the season if something unwanted comes in (or you have a fight), or send them to friends and loved ones as gifts! These are great little candles and I can see making all sorts of different kinds of candles from them for different reasons and seasons! Make as many of these as you’d like (or have herbs/candles for)!  I wish you luck and hope I’ve helped stock up your pagan cupboard a little more for coming fall and winter!

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Delving into Tarot: An Interview

This is a wonderful post on Tarot. Every thing she talks about are things I’ve learned or experienced myself–especially about feeling like some one is saying “tell them this”. Happens to me every time I wonder if I should say something to the person that sounds crazy or weird. And when I do, the client is always surprised and how accurate the meaning was.

Magickal Connections

What is the role of a Tarot Reader?

I’m going to start by telling you what a tarot reader is not…A tarot reader is not a mystical mysterious person who’s going to tell you precisely what your future will hold, set in stone, on a particular day or date.  A tarot reader is not someone who will give you instant solutions to your problems.  A tarot reader is not someone who can instantly cure your financial ills or physical disease.

What a tarot reader is…A Tarot Reader is someone with the gift of intuition (clairaudience, clairsentience, clairvoyance– sometimes one or the other, sometimes all three), who will use the esoteric connections and images on a set of cards to look into your life.  It’s a window of your past, your present, with a hint at future possibilities.

Now…What is the role of a Tarot Reader?  Her role is…

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Altered Altars

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my altar for may day!

Let’s face it. When you’re ready to construct your first alter after you’ve looked into the eight million books you’ve collected, you feel intimidated. If you’re anything like me when I first started you’ll look to your right, you’ll look to your left, then say:

‘uhhh….which side does the goddess go on again?’

For the first couple years of becoming pagan I did everything the books I had read told me to do. God statue went on the right, goddess went on the left, etc. But every time I placed the Goddess on the left I felt it was wrong. Very wrong. So one night, while constructing my altar, I determinedly put the goddess on the right. Ahhhh, yes. That’s where it should go! But I felt guilty. The books on my bed stared at me accusingly screaming ‘how dare you not listen to us! We are wiser and know better!’ And they clearly stated that the Goddess went on the left. I ignored them however, and continued to put the goddess on the right, shoving away the feeling of guilt every time.

So you can imagine my surprise when I picked up a book on Celtic altars and what should appear but the statement that “the goddess goes on the right.” And here I had spent years feeling guilty about doing it! Books are wonderful things, and are filled with wisdom and traditions, but sometimes you have to go with your instinct, because more often than not, it’s right! Now I’m going to say something that might scare and shock you. Or quite possibly have you throwing hexed fish at me. Ready?

It is OK to alter your altar.

Are you done freaking out now? Great! That’s right everyone, it’s OK to alter your altars. The gods won’t smite you, and you won’t run into seven years bad luck. Sure there is something to be said for tradition, and if it feels right to put the goddess on the left and the god on the right, then do so! Heck, maybe you feel closer to Male divinity and want him in your power hand, or maybe you’re a lefty! If you feel the need one night to place water (typically female) onto the god’s side, there might be a reason for it! And who’s to say that in some other culture, this is correct?

What books tell you (and what authors will often say) is that you should use their book as a starting point. Or maybe the books you read tell you that ‘this is the only correct way’. Either way, I encourage you to do what feels right when making an altar. Maybe you don’t feel the need (like me) to have every single thing that books tell you to. You know the bits. The wand, the anthem, the statues, the water and salt, the incense, the wand. All of it.

Personally I’m good with my statues, my wand, and a bowl of salt and water. That’s it. Do I light incense? If I feel I need it. But in general, I feel the need for very little (even when I do a ritual). But that’s just how I roll. So please, take the books advice, use them as guidelines but don’t feel you have to follow them to the letter. Listen to your feelings and intuitions. That’s what being a witch (or pagan) is all about! And remember, altering your altar is OK!

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