Archive for Charms

Cingula

Posted in Folklore, Projects with tags , , , , , on May 9, 2015 by manxwytch

Of late, I have been weaving traditional Manx cords; a process that allows much time for thought and contemplation in the repetition of the weaving and twisting, and is also a potent vehicle for tactile connection with the Lineage in the materials, the spirit, and the passing on of new cords.

The materials and colours of the weaving and binding of the cords connect us with the old faery heritage of the Isle and reflect the dark and light energies with which we work, and must master in the course of our training. One strand of the cord is left its natural colour, another is dyed by hand with oak and iron, both puissant substances and linked of old to witches and our Craft. Twisted together they embody the ophidian power bequeathed to us, and the dual paths of blessing and bane traversed by the Traditional Manx Witch.

As umbilicus, the cord feeds us with life-giving Land and Lineage; as bond, it ties us to our Oath. In being worn, it defines personal otherworldly space, in being seen it shows a badge of office. Its magick is that of connection, (a magick much needed nowadays), whereas the blade separates and directs.

In the old Manx tradition, there are different cords made and given at different times, and used for different purposes. Some of the uses in magickal workings are widely known: the wheel, the ladder; some are shared by many traditions, for measuring and wearing; and a few have fallen out of popular use and knowledge, for controlling the flow of blood in the body and conjuring liminal states of consciousness.

Viriditas

Posted in Musings, Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by manxwytch

hyoscyamus nigerI’ve always had a strong connection to plants, particularly unusual plants – living fossils, carnivorous plants, armed and venomous plants, plants that walk or move, magickal and medicinal plants – in short, plants that have power. As a child I grew plants in my parents’ garden. In fact, I turned the entire property into garden, banishing the tedious, ordinary and useless grass and colourful annuals in favour of sacred plants. I worked my first alraun as an early teen – an heroic first year Verbascum specimen that I spent a day conversing with, digging around, loosening the sandy soil of the cliff on which it stood and teasing it away from each and every root to take up the plant entirely intact.  My parents seemed oblivious to what I was filling their yard with – dwale, jimson weed, and henbane mixed in with their petunias and tulips. So long as there was something pretty and recognizable, I got away with a startling amount of weirdness. I also grew the bright cousins of the venificii, lunar, solar and venusian plants alongside my beloved saturnian and martial specimens.

Atropa belladonna
Up until a decade ago, I always had gardens full of plants. As an adult I became semi-nomadic, moving great distances following my career, and I stopped cultivating plants. But I roved and foraged and related to wild plants wherever I travelled. I had completed academic training as an herbalist, and had begun to widen my practice beyond myself and those closest to me before embarking on my travels, and continued to practice as I went.
This past summer I committed to renew my relations with witchcraft and fairie associated plants, regardless of my location. Perhaps a little like a veneficic Johnny Appleseed, I will leave Daturas and Belladonnas in my wake as I move from place to place. But the first challenge I set myself was the cultivation of that Ultimate Diva, the one plant spirit I have never been able to coax into my life, even when I tried religiously and repeatedly in my youth; the Mandrake.

This was back in the dark times before the internet, when seed catalogues were printed on paper and virtually none of them offered mandrakes of any variety. When I found one that did, I ordered an embarrassing quantity of seed and tried every trick I had ever seen to get them to grow. For years I kept this seed company in business, or at least could have, considering the amount they charged per seed, and for years I waited in vain for any sign of life from the mandrake seed they sent to me.
This summer I had the good fortune of finding more than one online source for Mandragora seed, as well as groups of folk online who successfully grew this Holy of Holies from seed. In the end, I ordered from Harold Roth at Alchemy Works in the U.S.A., packets of white and autumn mandrake seeds, twenty seeds of each, and followed his instructions for their preparation and planting. I eagerly awaited their germination according to the timetable Harold provided…
And waited…
And waited…
Months went by. The peat pellets I planted the seeds in mouldered, so I broke them up and mixed them into the top layer of soil in a couple of large plastic pots. Still I watered them, and kept looking for signs of life. I was just about ready to admit defeat and, like the fox after the grapes, decide that mandrakes weren’t that big a deal anyway, when for a completely unrelated magical working I collected water from a Holy Well. I figured I had nothing to lose by throwing some of my holy water on those barren pots of stubbornly ungerminating and ungrateful and probably not even worthwhile mandrake seeds.
And the bloody things sprouted that night.

Mandragora officinalis
The few that sprouted, I have cared for like newborn babes, and they have waxed strong and large in my care. I swell with pride at the sight of them under my plant lights each morning, and my success with them has regenerated my enthusiasm. There was some marital strife, however, when I brought the little darlings into the house. It seems that Mandragora is aligned with Beelzebub, and they brought the flies and their Lord in with them in the form of swarms of tiny little fungus gnats. I bound them with incantations and fly paper, and their numbers gradually dwindled as millions of tiny bodies were sacrificed on the sticky strips.

I have since bought Atropa, Hyoscyamus, and more Mandragora from Harold (his incense and resins are also of the highest quality, I’ve bought and used them with great success too), and look forward to planting them in my garden this spring to surround myself with a proper witches garden once again.

I have come to think of plants as totemic, as I have ever had stronger connections with green things than with the more typical, winged and furred spirits of the contemporary neoshamanic world. I find this particularly appropriate on the Isle of Mann, where there are few ‘wild’ animals left, and the sacred land animals tend to be domesticated ones.
But more of them in another post.

Mill Museum: Lucky Coal

Posted in Folklore, History with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by manxwytch

Here is another display piece from the old Mill Museum on the Isle of Mann.

coal and card

Here is a small chunk of lucky coal and a card.  The card is about 1 1/2 inch long by 3/4 inch tall and the lump of coal is only a wee bit larger.

The card reads:

Lump of coal, found in the street by Miss Devean, and given to me on my return to London, “For Good Luck”

April 1917

Coal card front

It is written on some kind of advertisement card stock and I have reproduced a photo of the back of the card as well because I found it amusing with its reference to a “Holy Island”.

coal card back

I’ve always considered coal lucky myself and if in the middle of the bleak, cold, dark, damp Winter Solstice the Devil offered me coal and St. Nick offerred me a trinket – I’d accept the Devil’s gift.

Mill Museum: Ash & Elm Charm

Posted in History with tags , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by manxwytch

This is another intriguing display of Traditional Witchcraft, folklore and magic, from the old Witches Mill Museum.

Two sticks cut of the same length, bound with green ribbon and wax.  The top stick is painted and labelled:

ASH, Coles Pits, August: 1918

The second stick is labelled

ELM, Wadley, August: 1918

The Ash and Elm are secured onto a mat board and the writing explains the charm saying:

Ash and Elm Charm, placed on a mantel shelf

To keep off Ghosts and Hobgoblins.

And in very tiny script it continues saying:

As used in Cheshire 1895.

 

Hag Stone Necklace

Posted in Art, Folklore, Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2012 by manxwytch

I’ve collected Hag Stones for many years and have always wanted to make a necklace.  However, not just a necklace with a single stone, but a  magical necklace that would mark some kind of passage of time and vision.  Waiting for the right Holed Stones has taken years of collecting and though I’ve had plenty of stones for many years, none were the right feel and fit until now.

I’m recently vision impaired so tying a knot alone can be a real challenge for me.  Stringing a thread onto a wee beading needle is a lesson in patience for even those with 20×20 vision.  My ability to create now takes an incredible amount of time, but I’m still an artist and craftsperson and I won’t let that part of me go as it helps to feed my soul.

As I said, I wanted to make a Hag Stone necklace for many years and I’ve wanted it to mark a point in my life.  This is the first piece I’ve made since the loss of my vision and a great challenge for me.  It truly marks a pivitol point of my life, a rite of passage in my way of being and seeing in the world.

Thirteen holy Hag Stones, one for each of the full moons.  I will begin the consecrations of each stone on the full moon closest to the new year, in the dark half, Samhain.  So each full moon will be marked and the necklace will be fully charged in a full year’s cycle.

Twelve round pieces of Amber stone to mark the solar cycles of time and light.  The passage of the Twelve Houses of the Sun.  Amber is a stone symbolic of life, light and energy.  Amber, like Quartz, can hold an electric charge and be seen to glow as if from an internal light.  It also smells heavenly when warmed, heated or drilled.  It has been used in ancient medicines for many years and is said to hold healing properties, bearing the lamp of the sun.  Many priestesses wear Amber and Jet necklaces to symbolize the eternal cycles of life and death.

Rather than use Jet, I decided to go right to the source and I’ve used carved bone as the third bead.  There are Forty Bone Beads.  Bone is our mortality.  The stone of our bodies.  Our inner strength and our support.  It’s what holds up this bag of skin, sinew and cell.  It is white to remind us of the Light where we originated.

The circle of Hags, Amber and Bone is held together with silk thread and copper wire.  Copper for the Green Venusian Current, and Silk for its opulence and  strength.  Fine materials for a precious piece that I hope I will one day hand down to a Priestess of my lineage.

During the year’s cycle, I will make a pouch or box to hold the necklace.  Right now, I don’t know how it will look.  The dream hasn’t manifested and neither have the materials, but I’m sure that Providence will bring the right tools at the right time.  She always does.

The centrepiece stone was chosen because of the natural Runes, yods and crescents carved by Fortuna’s hands. It was also the latest of the Holy Stones to come in to my possession, being found just a few months ago.

The Clagh-Array: a Watchstone

Posted in Folklore with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2012 by manxwytch

The Clagh-array is a heterotopic eye bestowed from nature and given to the witch as a magical gift from the Ancient Ones.  This never blinking vigilant sentinel is used for a multitude of purposes, the least of which is protection, warding and warning of the approach of danger.  It is sometimes placed in a window, on the pathway to the house, or on the outer lintel of the main door to the home.

It is not a seeing-stone per se however; one of its more interesting uses has been to place it in an area where a witch would like to keep vigil.  It therefore forms a third-eye link to a terrestrial area that the witch may not be able to physically inhabit.  Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall?  This is the means for the adept of vision.

The Clagh-array is highly sought after in Manx Traditional Craft and its power can’t be underestimated.  Greater than eyes of glass or beast or crafted by the hands of man.

A magical tool formed through hundreds of years by Nature Herself and Fate’s spinning webs that shaped the eye through rolling turns in sea and sand.  It is considered one of the most powerful vision stones to possess.

At the bottom right hand of this photo is a Clagh-Array placed in a window.

 

Mill Museum: Lucky “Nine Peas in a Pod”

Posted in History with tags , , , , on August 31, 2012 by manxwytch

This small and unassuming item was once part of a display in the Witches Mill Museum on the Isle of Mann.  There were various displays of folk charms, curses and cures.

We  feel that it is important to publicly archive some of the items that we own because they are withering with time.  That said, there are also many people, who for various reasons, may be interested in these windows of Traditional Witchcraft history and specifically its relationship to Gerald Gardner.

The card is written by an unknown hand and states:

Lucky “Nine Peas in a Pod”,

Take out two peas and hide them on the mantel shelf, place pod with 7 over door and good luck will follow.  A long absent unexpected friend will arrive, or may have some unexpected money, or the first man who passes under the doorway will be your husband.

London: Aug 1918.

We hope you enjoy this small perspective of an item once displayed at the Witches Mill.

More to follow…