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Book Review: Keeping Her Keys

Cyndi Brannen’s wonderful book, Keeping Her Keys – An Introduction To Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft is a must-read! I recommend it for anyone who is interested in learning about and working with Hekate (Hecate). Filled with great information, meditations, exercises, and spell work this book is perfect for those just discovering Hekate. I found it just as valuable forthe seasoned witch and those that have been devoted to Hekate for years.

Keeping Her Keys Book Cover
Keeping Her Keys

For years I have been a huge fan of Cyndi’s blog “Keeping Her Keys”. I was eager to read this book from the moment it was announced and I was not disappointed. Having been a devotee and priestess of Hekate for many years, this book took me by surprise. The information, while familiar to me, was very well organized and easily read and absorbed. It kept this long-time scholar engaged and excited about the new information that Cyndi shared. Where was this book years ago when I had to scrape to find anything about Hekate?

Her chapters on symbols and correspondences are worth the price of the book alone. Cyndi engages the searcher with hands-on experience. There are opportunities inside to create your own altar and items of magick for your devotions. She guides us in learning to plant our own Hekate’s garden and making incense and oils. All in all, this gives the reader a complete guide to working with and creating your own personal relationship to Hekate.

Keeping her Keys

More Information about Keeping Her Keys

If I had one criticism it would be the amount of typos found in this volume. Missing and incorrectly spelled words. I found numerous grammar errors, and sentences that look as if parts of them were missing. All of these drove this Virgo witch a bit crazy. However, the superior content of the book made up for this inconvenience.

To learn more about Cyndi Brannen, and her work, classes, and upcoming books, check out her website. You can purchase her book through Amazon below.

Blessed Be!

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The Basics of Candle Magick

One of the first things I learned as a fledgling witch were the basics of Candle Magick. Candle Magick can be one of the simplest, and highly effective, forms of magick to learn and practice.  Candle Magick has been used by nearly every religion, Eastern or Western. It is widely practiced, even by the mundane population. Blowing out the candles on your birthday cake is a form of candle magick (you make a wish, don’t you?)  We have all lit a candle for a recently departed relative, seen Catholics light candles for prayers, watched (or participated) in a candlelight vigil to offer support and best wishes for the return of an abducted child.  All of this, and more, is candle magick.

In learning about candle magick you will find you can make it as simple or as complicated as you wish. During this process you will be working to imbue a candle or candles with your intentions, then lighting and burning the candle while focusing (visualizing) your goal as manifest. The spells is completed when the candle (or candles) is spent. This can be done with one candle or many, with or without spells, props or other aids, performed one time or many.  Remember, you are the magick. The candle is there to assist you in your focus and aid you in your workings.

Basics of Candle Magick – Instructions

Below are basic instructions for practicing your own candle magick.  I have listed them in basic order of operation – kind of a candle magick “recipe” if you will.  As with all good recipes, try it out then add or subtract what does or doesn’t work for you. 

  1. Write down your intention:  As with any spell or ritual you need to have a plan of what you intend to do.  Do you want a spell for love, to find money to pay your bills? Maybe you wish to discover your inner child?  Write it down!  Review it several times to make sure that a) You really need this; b) You will not infringe on anyone’s free will       (especially in regards to love spells); c) You really need this.
  2. Write your candle magick “recipe”:  Now is the time to decide how you wish to proceed.  Will it be simple with a single candle or will you need several for different aspects of the spell?  Do you want to add additional correspondences to aid the spell?  How many times should you perform the spell? What color candle should you use?  What type? Will you repeat a chant, meditate, sing or use some other method to focus your intention?  Have fun, write it down, and then gather the ingredients required.
  3. Cleanse and consecrate:  Always cleanse and consecrate all     candles, oils, herbs, etc. before beginning. Candles can be cleansed       and consecrated using most of the usual methods.
  4. Get your ingredients together:  Gather your ingredients, anoint your candles (see instructions below), then add your catalysts (herbs, tokens, etc.). Grab your Book of Shadows handy or at least your written spell, ground, center, and….
  5. Get Cooking:  Now you are ready to practice your candle magick!  Imbue your candles and catalysts with the required energies and intention. Take a deep breath, focus, light your candle(s) and perform that spell!

Now that you have the basic “recipe” lets discuss how to pick the best ingredients to add to the strength of your candle magick.

Choosing Candles

When discussing the basics of candle magick, choosing the right candle (or candles) for your spell is important. As you try to decide on your candles, keep the following in mind:

  1. Pick a color to match with your intention: Choose a color from your color correspondence tables to best work with your intention.  For example; green for a money spell, pink for a love spell, blue for a healing spell.  White is a great all-purpose color and can be used for any type of spell.
  2. Size your candle to match your spell: The size of the candle can differ depending on the time and type of spell. I prefer to use four-inch candles. However, birthday candles are great if you are short on time. If you are going to be performing the spell for consecutive days you can burn a new candle each day. Or perhaps buy one of those cool 7-knob candles. Alternately you may use a taper candle or small pillar and mark a line on the candle to separate it into sections for each day. Then you can burn it down to the line and snuff it out till the next day.
  3. To scent or not to scent: Some Witches like to use store-bought scented candles to add to the ambiance and impact of the spell. However, most are heavily scented and the aroma that corresponds best to your spell may make you sneeze.  Sticking to essential oils, or a simple, imbued, carrier oil, is usually best for those with allergies or sensitivities.

Adding the Spice to your Candle Magick

Using and choosing an oil: I feel that the use of oils for anointing candles is essential for my spell work. As you anoint your candle with your chosen oil you are adding your intention as well as giving the spell direction.  What do we mean by direction? Rubbing the oil into the candle in specific manner indicates whether you are drawing something to you or pushing it away (banishing).  To pull something towards, you anoint your candle from the top down to the center, then from the bottom to the center. To push away or banish, start from the center and rub the oils upward towards the wick, then from the center to the bottom. 

“Spices” for your recipe:   Your “spices”, or catalysts (correspondences), for a candle magick spell are the herbs, tokens, stones, etc. that are used to, a) focus your intention; and, b) add to the energy and/or vibrations require.  For example, when doing a spell to heal someone (always with their permission), you may include a picture or drawing of that person. Add in a personal item of theirs, stones and healing herbs and a healing oil to anoint your candle.  Use what has meaning and energy to you.

Imbuing with purpose and energy: Now is the time to get personal with your ingredients and imbue them with your energy and intent.  Place your candle in your hand or your hands over the candle and let your energy flow into the candle.  Tell the candle what you would like it to do, such as “As you burn you will open my mind and heart to aid me in finding my true spiritual path.” Be specific and don’t be stingy with the energy.  Remember, the candle is acting as your focus and as it burns so your intention is made manifest.

Spell repetition: Deciding on the repetition of a spell can be, for some, the most difficult step.  How much is too much and what is not enough?  There is no set time to cook your spell – the use of trial and error is your guidepost. To assist you, try using the sacred numbers of three, five, seven or nine.  Three is a good starting point for less intense spells and seven repetitions are perfect for longer and more focused spells (thus the seven knob candles).  As always, use your intuition and decide what’s best for you.

Basics of Candle Magick - A single candle flame

A Word on Candle Safety

A discussion on the basics of candle magick would not be complete without a few words on candle safety. Please, whenever you are burning candles, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.  If you know you may have to step out of the room, place the candle inside a cauldron or on a fireproof surface such as a cookie sheet. Better yet, make it portable and place the candle in the bathtub to continue burning.
  • Make sure that nothing flammable will come in contact with the flame.  Always place in a non-combustible candle-holder and keep any flammable herbs, tokens, papers, etc. out of the reach of the flames.
  • Keep pets out of the way of the candles.  Pets, especially cats, are curious about the pretty flames.  They can hurt themselves or knock the candle over and start a fire.

Now you are ready!  It’s time to put all this information on the basics of candle magick to good use.  You will find below a simple candle magick spell to help bring peace and love to the Universe.  Have fun!

Candle Magick Spell for Universal Peace and Love

Items required:

  • 1 white candle – marked with a line to separate it into three fairly equal sections or 3 tea lights
  • Oil for peace and love such as gardenia, lavender, peppermint, vanilla

Anoint your candle with the oil.  Imbue with your energy and your intention to bring peace and love to all that inhabit this Universe.  When ready, light your candle and say:

May peace and love embrace each being that dwells within this Universe divine,

May the peace of the God fill your essence

May the radiant love of the Goddess upon you shine.

Repeat the chant three times visualizing a Universe of peace and love. 

Burn your candle to the first line (or let your tea light burn completely). Repeat for two more consecutive days. 

Blessed Be!

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Creating a Devotional Practice

Rubbing her sleepy eyes, she yawns and then hits the “off” button on her alarm. Raising her arms above her head she stretches, trying to shake off the last of the sleepiness. Turning, she places her feet upon the floor and slowly rises. She grabs her robe from the side chair, slips it on, and with soft steps moves towards her bedroom altar. She pauses, breathes deeply, then lights the candle placed on a crystal plate. Another deep breath and she begins to recite her morning litany, the beginning of her daily devotional practice.

Devotional, as defined by the Miriam Webster dictionary is “a short worship service”. The Free Dictionary further defines it as “relating to worship; “a devotional exercise.” While most Wiccans have no problem relating to worship, some Witches may get stuck with this word. The act of worship itself is defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” Perhaps you don’t work with deity but instead invoke a Universal One, Nature, or power. If so, you may still wish to worship – express reverence to that energy. A devotional practice does this.

I am often asked about daily devotional practice by my students and community. While sometimes a controversial subject because of its Abrahamic religious undertones, I find it an important one. I have touched on this subject in previous blogs, but have never gone into much detail. However, before we delve into the makings of a devotional practice, we must first understand the “why” of doing so.

The Importance of a Daily Devotional Practice

By performing a daily devotional, we are giving thanks, reverence, and energy towards our chosen Deity or Power. We are sharing with them, speaking words of praise, and using the time to gain a closer relationship with them/it. This act of worship and reverence, to me, is crucial for our Craft and our spiritual well-being.

Another plus of a daily devotional practice is allowing ourselves to ground and center, rooting ourselves in the here and now. Grounding and centering only takes a few moments but it can change the entire course of your day. When done first thing in the morning, at the beginning of our devotionals, we are giving ourselves a head start towards a mindful, purposeful day, rooted in serenity and peace. Done at the time of evening devotionals, we are able to put aside the craziness of our day and reconnect with the Earth, the elements and the great web of creation and life.

The second aspect of a devotional is an offering to deity or our higher power. Whether it be a poem, a thank you, a litany, or a prayer, each time we perform our daily devotional, we bring ourselves closer to them. This aids us in all of our workings. When we are closer spiritually to those we choose to honor, our rituals, our spells, and our daily lives are enriched.

Devotional Practice - My current altar honoring Hekate where I do my devotionals to her.
My altar honoring Hekate. I do both devotional and other workings here.

Beginning Your Practice

As we’ve discussed, a daily devotional practice can enrich your life, your connections with deity, and improve your personal practice. But how do you begin?

  • Create a dedicated space for devotionals.: A shelf, tabletop, or even a flat stone in the yard can be set aside for your daily practice. It can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Make sure that there is enough room for things you may wish to incorporate into your daily ritual.
  • Cleanse and dedicate the space.: Using your usual methods, cleanse the area and all items you will place upon it. Then dedicate this space and the objects to the deity or power you choose to honor in your devotionals.
  • Decide on a time to do your devotionals.: Mornings or afternoons are fine, (or both). Just try and keep the times as consistent as possible. Currently, I do both a morning and an evening devotional. The morning is more of a connection with deity and the All and the evening is for thanks and praise for a wonderful day. You may have to work with it a little to see what feels right to you.

Now that you have the place and time decided upon you can begin to perform your devotional. Below is a suggested format for a daily practice. This is just a guideline. Take what works for you and add or subtract to customize your own personal working.

Simple Guideline for a Daily Devotional

  • Ground and Center: Using your usual methods, ground and center yourself. You may also wish to add in a simple smudging of yourself and your area if this is your tradition.
  • Greetings and salutations: Begin your devotional with words of greeting. A simple “good morning” can suffice or you can do elaborate hand gestures, clap, bow, or stomp your foot to “awaken” and signal the start to your devotions.
  • Statements of Purpose: You may also wish to add in a statement of purpose as to why and to whom you are performing your devotional. Something as simple as ” I give greetings to (insert deity) on this beautiful morning. I ask that you look upon me as I start my new day.”
  • Add in elements that honor your chosen Deity/Powers: Lighting a candle in their honor, chanting, singing, or offering a litany to the day are just some of the elements you can add to your practice. Read a poem, place flowers on the altar, or give offerings for a bountiful day. Do whatever feels right to you.
  • Closing statement: When you have completed your devotional, be sure to acknowledge and thank the powers for their presence. Just a simple, “Thank you and farewell.”, may suffice. Do what feels right an natural to you.

A devotional practice does not have to take a great deal of time. It may only take 5 minutes, or it could take an hour – depending on your personal preference. The important thing is the connection, the focus and intention that we create and then share with our deities/powers and to ourselves.

Speaking from personal experience, there is no better way to start (and/or) the day than by giving thanks and connecting with Deity and the Universe around me. It’s lifted my spirits on gloomy days and downright saved my sanity on bad ones. The understanding of, and relationship I have achieved with my chosen Goddess has enhanced my personal Craft ten-fold.

May your own daily devotional practice bring you as much joy and spiritual connection and awareness as mine has.

Blessed Be!

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Camellia – Plant of the Month

Camellia Plant of the Month - March 2019

Our plant for March 2019 is the ornamental Camellia flower, Camellia japonica. Known as common camellia, Japanese camellia, or tsubaki in Japanese, this is one of the best known species of the genus Camellia. The other most common type is Camellia sasanqua. The Camellia is an evergreen shrub which is related to the tea plant. It is grown for its showy flowers and shiny leaves.

The name camellia is of Latin origin, and means ‘helper to the priest.’ It was named after a Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, although he knew nothing about the plant.

Camellia Flower - 4 red camellia flowers
4 Red/Pink Camellia flowers

Plant: Camellia

Higher Classification: family Theacaea

Scientific Name: Camellia japonica, Camellia sasanqua

Folk Names: Rose of Winter

Gender: Feminine

Elements: Water

Deities: Benzaiten, Shichi Fukujin

Planet: Moon

Magickal Uses of Camellia

Parts Used: Petals or Whole Flower

  • Confidence
  • Decision Making
  • Divine Feminine
  • Friendship
  • Good luck
  • Gratitude
  • Humility
  • Perfection
  • Reasoning
  • Riches
  • True Prosperity

Substitutions: Roses can often be used as a substitute for Camellia

Growing Camellia Plants

Camellia Plant - A tall camellia tree
A Camellia Tree

Camellias are long-lived trees and shrubs that provide year-round glossy-green foliage and cool season flowers.  There are 100 – 300 describes species with perhaps thousands of different hybrids.  Ranging in colors from pure white, to pink, to red, purple and yellow, these easy to grow plants are a favorite with gardeners everywhere.

Planting Tips:

  • Camellias need to be planted a little high, so that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the soil. This helps water drain away from the trunk.
  • Camellia roots are shallow, so avoid planting them under shallow-rooted shade trees such as birch and maple. They are often grown in the light shade of tall, deep-rooted pine trees.
  • Smaller varieties can be grown in containers. Use a potting mix designed for camellias, azaleas, or rhododendrons for best results.

Timing is critical when planting your camellias. Gardeners in warm areas (zones 8-10) can plant in the fall, winter and spring. If you are in zones 6 and 7 you’ll need to plant in springs so the plants will have a chance to establish its root system before cold weather sets in.

Camellia plant - White Camellia flower
White Camellia

Medicinal Uses for Camellia

The information provided below is for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Additional information

  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antihaemorrhagic
  • Astringent

The flowers of the Camellia plant are astringent, antihaemorrhagic, and haemostatic.

Because they are an antioxidant and antimicrobial they are excellent for salves and tonics. When mixed with sesame oil they are used in the treatment of burns and scalds.

Camellias can be a rich source of Omega-9, squalene and multiple vitamins and minerals.