I've been experimenting with DIY foot soaks lately, and been having tons of fun with it. First, if you don't have a foot soak tub, get one. They have them at Dollar Tree, sold in the kitchen stuff section as a wash bin - it's also the perfect size and depth for a foot soak tub. Find a nice fluffy clean towel to set it on, so you can easily dry your feet after.
I'm giving you the recipe I've developed for a single serving of this (enough to fill one soak tub), and you can scale up as needed. This amount goes nicely in one of those small zipper snack bags.
First, add in 1/4 cup epsom salts. Epsom salts are the go-to for relieving achy and sore muscles.
Good old fashioned kitchen witchery is a delight of mine. I've made some wonderful balms this way, and with winter and dry-hands season is coming up, I thought I'd share a bit about how to make some good, protective balms for the skin which you can charge with magical intent.
I've chosen to work with beeswax for its ability to coat and protect the skin, coconut oil and shea butter because they're both nourishing and moisturizing, and the three of these together make for a feel that I really enjoy in my balms.
Essential oils and herbs
Create a double boiler - fill a large pan with water and put it on the stove to heat up. In it, place a smaller, heat-proof dish, filled with your ingredients. Ceramic coffee mugs work really well. I pick up old ones for cheap from a thrift shop to dedicate specifically to making balms.
The ratio of ingredients varies based on how thick you want the balm to be. Usually, I use one part beeswax, one part coconut oil, and three parts shea butter, which gives me a nice smooth, but solid consistency. The more beeswax you use, the harder your balm will be. The more coconut oil you use, the softer it will be. If you live in a warm climate, I suggest going easy on the coconut oil, because it melts around 76 degrees Fahrenheit, and you'll end up with a balm that is more fluid than you may desire. Shea butter is a happy medium between the two, with a melting point around 104 degrees Fahrenheit will hold its shape in most climates, while softening nicely when it touches warm skin.
After a while, all of the components will become a clear, yellow liquid. At this point, lower the temperature of the stove so that you don't get steam burns from boiling water, and add your herbs and oils. If you are making a magical balm, this is the point at which you would start to charge the balm with your intent. If you feel so inspired, chant a little rhyme while stirring the herbs and oils in, and visualize your goal, fully manifest, on the surface of the mixture. Stir deosil (clockwise) to draw things toward you, stir widdershins (counterclockwise) to banish things from you, or to create a protective (banishing negative energies) balm. I recommend The Herbal Alchemists Handbook or Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs for more information about herbs and their magical properties.
I grew up in a Catholic church. Every Sunday, we'd get all dressed up and go sit for an hour while some man I didn't know, but apparently who had the right credentials, would tell us all about what God thought, did, and wanted from us. He would then magickally transform some wine and crackers into human blood and flesh, we'd all have a nibble and a sip, and then it was off to the hell that was called "Sunday School" for me. Sunday School was pretty much the same - more telling us what God wanted from us and what he thought, only I had to fill out worksheets to prove I was listening. By age 14, I had enough of that crap. I hated that church for a number of reasons.
I hated being told what to think.
I hated someone else saying, "I know what God thinks, but you do not. Listen up."
Mostly, I hated someone else being a gatekeeper between humans and divinity.
I've always felt very in touch with the mystical mindset. As a child, I frequently pondered the divine, spending long nights staring at the stars, but it made no sense with what the Catholic church was saying. If this is so joyful, then why am I looking upon the face of a bloodied, tortured man every time I walk into his home on earth? I hated that crucifix above the church door. If it's the true story of how things are in heaven and earth, then what about those pesky fossil records?
At this time of year, I love warm beverages. In addition to being delicious, they're good on the throat and warm in the belly. They're full of healthy stuff to enjoy on a chilly night. One of those classic images from witchcraft is of the witch, leaning over her cauldron, stirring the brew inside. Given what she's usually wearing – warm weather clothes – I guess that perhaps she's making something warm to drink on this chilly evening.
One by one, she's gathered the fruits from her kitchen herbs from her cabinet, measuring and preparing them. She blesses each, each its own unique spirit, grown from the body of Mother Earth, nurtured in the soil from seed to leaf to fruit. She describes to each component its purpose, then adds it to the pot.
She's whispering her intent over the herbs and roots she added to the pot. Over and over she chants a short, hypnotic-sounding rhyme, stirring deosil or widdershins, depending on her intent. On the surface of the swirling fluid, she watches her dream manifest. As it solidifies in the potion she brews, she knows that she will soon take that vision into herself, and make it a part of her reality.
I've been hard at work making lots of gorgeous witchy chainmaille bracelets. The results are lovely, and there are many more to come. I'm selling these in my Etsy store (and soon will be selling them through this site), and I also take commissions for custom work. Is there something special you want? Contact me!
Naya's chainmaille art on Etsy
The witches' ladder hangs on my patio, where I often sit to write, work, read, or let my thoughts wander. It sway and spins with the slightest breeze, yet the little charms at the bottom give it just enough weight that it stays in place. I like to lean back in my chair and get lost in the slow, hypnotic motions of the bright feathers, while meditating on the purpose for which I built it.
The witches' ladder is easy to make. Three pieces of yarn, braided together with nine feathers braided into the cord is the basic idea. I use red, black and white to represent the middle, lower, and higher souls, but any colors that contribute to your goal are great. I add some charms to the bottom of mine to add decor as well as to give it weight, and I tied nine knots with nine pieces of ribbon along the length of the cord.
When built with magical intent, it can draw something desirable into your life, whether it's something specific or general blessings. The constant, gentle twisting of the feathers collects those natural energies of the earth, continually sending and directing them toward your goal. For this reason, I consider witches' ladders to be excellent for long term magickal goals - the kind that may take months or years to manifest. I also consider them excellent for blessing magick, as amulets that protect or draw blessings to the space they inhabit.
I've got a great astral homestead set up. On it, I have a wardrobe of astral clothing, a workshop full of astral gadgets, a tool locker filled with astral tools, the astral lab filled with experiments, and, of course, the Astralnet, which is sort of like the internet. There are the astral temples, the sacred groves, and the hedge, beyond which the mysterious wildwood arounds. There is technology, logic, and creativity here. And there are faeries, lots of faeries.
When I create a talisman in this world, I travel to my astral workshop and forge its astral component. The astral labs and workshops are open 24/7/365, whenever, whereever I can get a quiet spot to get there. And, of course, the laws of reality are a lot more flexible there, so any crazy thing I want, I can make.
Putting it together might require a quest. Perhaps one of the components I determined my astral component to need for a talisman of cleverness was the feather of a very smart bird. I can wander through the astral landscapes to find such a bird from whom I can receive that feather. A little quest onto itself, one that bestows cleverness to the one who completes it, yields the treasure I need to create this item.
With the people in my outer court, coven and some good friends, we plan to use part of the day on Imbolc to make candles for the upcoming year. At Imbolc, we honor the fires in the belly of the earth, the stirring seeds, the light waiting to burst forth. The creation of tools that bring light seems absolutely perfect to do at this time of year. We made a big order of candle-making supplies and we'll get my kitchen messy as we make candles to light our way through the year. It's all very worthwhile, though, when we get to take home a bunch of beautiful, hand-candles, custom crafted with love and care.
I use the words, "the Craft" to describe my practice more than anything else. Part of my love for the term is the implicit implication of a hands-on element. The Craft of the witches is not just head-in-the-clouds mysticism nor is it hands-clasped-in-prayer religion, but a hands-on approach that blends both of the above with motion to manifest what we have discovered in our mysticism and prayer into our physical reality.
The act of creating magical items like candles reinforces this "Craft" angle. As above, so below - as we create the item in our hands, we create the reality on earth of the desired effect. There are as many ways to do this as there are people on this earth, but one way many have found to be universally powerful is through the simple, magical act of burning a candle.
As I create the candles, I imbue them with my will. I often make candles with specific magical intentions, which as I burn transform that intention into reality. After doing my initial divinations and solidifying the goal in my mind, I take time to meditate upon the desired outcome, creating a mental scene of the goal achieved. Once the scene is built, I will move around in the scene, observing the reality I am creating as I let my heart swell with joy at the knowledge of the outcome.
Onix and I were at the Dollar Tree in Memphis, and we made a most interesting discovery. There, in the back of the kids' section, were two pegs of these funny little Tarot decks in blister packs. For a buck, how could I resist?
I was quite delighted with what I found. First of all, I love the art. It's a little Carnivale-esque, and I like that. They definitely have a "Gypsy Fortune Teller Deck" kind of feel. The imagery is bold and sharp, all in reds and golds, blacks and whites; With no blue tones in the deck, it's cheaper on printing, to be sure. Personally, I think the style is lovely.
Last weekend, we went on an amazing camping trip and crystal mining excursion near Lake Ouachita, just a little bit west of Hot Springs, Arkansas. We spent all morning at Wegner's Quartz Crystal Mines digging in the dirt and climbing on rocks, and found some amazing crystals. Here are a few photos of the area, and some of the wonderful finds we unearthed.
If you ever are in the area, let me highly recommend digging your own crystals. It is very satisfying to find your own treasures which you can use in your magic. I created a little shrine outside with some, which I dedicated to my work with the Faery (since, they, like the crystals, are also beings of the underworld.). I blessed a few and charged them with various magical intents. And some, I plan to wrap and make jewelry out of to wear, and to give as gifts to friends.