ENGLISH DAISY FLOWER ESSENCE: UNION + TRANSFORM + CARRYING A LIGHT INTO THE DARK

In my daily walks to and from my yurt my eyes are caught by various little beings. Some more vibrantly and shockingly than others. In our mixed days of spring, where the air is cool, then warm, then the sky cloudy, heavy and sometimes sunny, warm rains and some cold mists... a small flower kept catching my eye. Small white flowers, pink and purple at the tips dot the landscape, like clusters of stars in patches of grass, here and there. Continually they caught my fascination. Each soft petal of perfection, with a bright yellow center. They appeared soft, joyful and gentle.

I had long been holding the desire to make a flower essence. Something about the process seemed weirdly complicated to me, or like I would need the necessary supplies and perfect conditions to make my fragile essence of soft white flowers.

Each time I walked by them, the desire and call to make an essence grew and grew, to a fevered pitch that would not be ignored. I took this as an indicator that the plant was indeed calling, and we were reaching out to one another, to unify in some way.

Without my perfect conditions, tools and supplies I found the following: a unmarked glass bowl, a pair of regular scissors, a pretty bottle I bought for future (flower) mother essence holding and a skunk cabbage leaf to hold the snipped flowers. I checked the time and planetary hour. It just so happened to be the hour of Venus, on the day of Venus, while she is stationed in the sign of Gemini. The sun had three hours left on the day and was beaming golden and warm as it set in the west. The moon, waning, indicative of a time where we begin to shift inward as the moon becomes increasingly dark.

Medicine happens out of necessity.

And so I went to the most vibrant little cluster of flowers and asked them to impart their wisdom, healing and essence into the water I had collected from our tap, that comes from our clean well. I whispered my words over them and then went about the task of snipping the flowering tops while collecting them without touching them into the wide skunk cabbage leaf. I was mindful of my thoughts and turned them towards a soft childlike curiosity. I placed them carefully on the surface of the water, one by one in the waning golden light. Once the surface was covered, I set it up high on some bricks, surrounded by sage and yarrow to collect the light and then collect the shifting lights, the light of dusk and darkening hours. Carrying her soft medicine into shifting tides.

english daisy flower essence

The time had come to collect it, it was in the crepuscular hours, when many creatures emerge, when the air shifts, when a coolness descends upon our little valley... I decanted the magical water into my beautiful bottle and topped it off with some vodka to preserve it. Brandy seemed too dark, to off a color for this delicate little flower and her pure clear essence.

english daisy flower essence

My emotional state surrounding all this had been quite anxious. A sense of darkness and doom surrounded me. It was not halting me from operating in the day to day, but it most certainly created obstacles for me in my focus an general well being.

The next morning while it was quite early, I sat over my ritual of journaling, meditation and coffee. The bottle shown clear and shimmering at me from my table. I decide to take a strong dose of the mother essence and see what came up, with no prior knowledge to this flower in essence form.

I quieted myself and tuned into my body. I was feeling frustrated towards social obligations, behind, anxious, a little gloomy, emotionally drained and tapped out.

I took three drops under the tongue and let it settle there. I breathed deeply.

A soft radiant warmth washed down from my clavicle, over my heart and settled neatly into my pelvic bowl and gut. The feeling was that my whole torso was enlivened with a warmth and bubbling feeling in my gut. Slowly, amid my responsibilities I had for the day, a joy surfaced and I was able to smile. Even though I had tasks to attend to, I was much calmer about them. It reinstated my joy in being.

The more I sat, I got the sense of being held very gently at the back of my neck. Like a mother would support the neck of her young infant child. My thoughts turned to the gentle pinks and purple splashes of color on some of the flowers and loving femme nature this flower possesses. The intention of this being made and gathered under the guise of Venus should not be lost on the user. There is very much a nurturing femme quality to this blend. Encouraging us to soften where we may harden off, or close our eyes.

My worries did not dissipate, but it gave me a soft nurturing and joyful influences with which to approach and carry forward with in my condition, in a more constructive way.

A few scant drops lingered in my glass dropper and I rubbed them into my hand and began to shuffle my tarot cards to see if this little English daisy would like to speak through the cards.

Two of Cups + The Hermit

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The Two of Cups suggests a unification within us and outside of us (as within so without) like a reconciliation of our parts. We all desire to merge and I believe that a good practice in this work starts with ourselves. This card also holds quite a bit of joy in that unification. This is the erotic, sympathetic attraction. Which should be recognized that when we are called strongly to make a medicine, this is eroticism in action... The Hermit speaks to carrying this light, the light that this particular flower collects into the darkness. That this then generates an ability within us to hold on to this guiding light and joy and not become lost, as we are in transition or undergoing transformation, or quiet introspection.

All flowers are naturally of the realm of Venus.  

Daisy may be a corruption of “day's eye” and can be sourced from the Anglo-Saxon doeges-sege meaning “eye of the day” as the flower is open during the day, and closing at night. Bellis seems to have its etymological roots in the word, “pretty” and perennis meaning “everlasting” - so here we have Beauty Everlasting, Eye of the Day. Who would not want to carry her into the night in a lovely safe container, or lantern such as the Hermit carries?

There is also perhaps a legend, but I cannot find any proof if it in classical texts of the Roman god Vertumnus giving chase to the nymph Belides of who the genus of this was named after. In his quest to dominate and seduce her, she transformed herself into a daisy, thus escaping him.

In this, it made me wonder these stories of women and nymphs transforming themselves into a plants, flower or bird to escape their oppressor. Why do we have these stories and myths? To give solace to the oppressed, to find wisdom in our traumas be they personal, collective or handed down through generations.

Upon further exploration of the Belides, we find that this is another name for the Danaides. The 50 daughters of Danaus. Ovid gave them the name Belides, which stems from the name of their grandfather, Belus. These daughters were made to marry the sons Aegyptus, a king born of a river god and watery nymph, and then compelled to to murder their husbands on the first night. All of them did this with the exception of one. The 49 daughters who did commit the crime, were subsequently punished, and made to pour water into a bottomless vessel. 

There's much to explore from such a humble low growing flower...  

And so, after having sat with this delicate medicine this is what I feel it has to offer those who have need of her wisdom, grace and gentleness.

  • To reinstate soft, compassionate joy.
  • Holding a light while going into darkness.
  • Exploring purity and innocence of our being.
  • Warm gentle Venusian support.
  • Joy amid our responsibilities.
  • Maintain a tether to joy and softness as we shift into deep introspection.
  • Sweet bubbly feelings in the gut.
  • Turning into our torso: clavicle, heart, gut and pelvic regions.

This essence will be available in my shop. Presented in a small ½ ounce bottle with a dropper and a hand-painted label infused with the daisy essence itself. Just a reminder, all Patreon supporters receive 5% off in my shop, no matter the donation level $1-$20.

References

  • The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green
  • Theoi.com
  • Alchemy-works.com
  • Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel Moerman

Beginning in Tarot Part 1: Books & Resources

So, you wanna learn how to read tarot? Or you have a deck and don't know exactly where to begin. That's what this little series is here to cover!

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I'm gunna start off light and easy here and cover books and resources because this is a question I get asked the most.

Since books, websites and resources are a huge help when getting started with your tarot practice, I want to do this first. This is by no means a super comprehensive list, but a great place to start. You don't need a lot of books on the tarot to learn how to read it. These are books I have read myself, know of through other folks who opinion or publishing I hold in high esteem.

This list is short and sweet, as too much will muddle your mind. Books and resources are great, because they can open you up to new ways of seeing the cards and diving deeper into mythological and historical meaning. That said, the best way to learn the meaning of the cards is so simple: look at the card and notice what you see and feel come up around your situation. There's your meaning.

BOOKS

78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack

The Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot - Ever! by Dusty White

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A. E. Waite

The Ultimate Guide to the Rider-Waite Tarot by Johannes Fiebig 

Tarot for Yourself by Mary Greer

21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary Greer

Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen

The Game of Saturn by Peter Mark Adams

WEBSITES

Biddy Tarot  

The Tarot Lady 

Little Red Tarot (Queer friendly!) + Alternative Tarot Course! 

The Queer Tarot Project 

Learn Tarot (so simple and wonderful)

The Wild Unknown One by One 

And there y'all have it! Let me know if you have any questions at all, or if there's something very specific you'd like for me to cover around tarot for my next post. 

Witch Hovel in the Woods, the Light of Usnea: Home Now

After sleeping in a warehouse for three weeks after my 5 month hike on the PCT, I find myself driving to Eugene one sunny fall afternoon to look at a home. I found it on a whim on Craigslist while dreading reintroduction back into "regular world." The people who lived on the property liked me immediately and in our email changes we communicated with a familiar language. 

I am greeted by M, who shakes my hand and the shirt he is wearing tells me I am with my people. Local environmental activism. We walk around the property and he picks up acorns which he will dry, leach and grind into flour later. We talk about lichen and fungi dyes.

My heart breaks when I enter the main central building on the property. Filled with skylights, wood panels and that smell. Why is it that us more feral folk have that smell? A large wood stove anchors the room together and the walls on the southeast facing part of the building are just windows. A nuthatch crawls on the oak outside the window, chickens peck in the yard and a bobtailed cat suns itself on the couch.

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I leave with my heart pounding and my fingers crossed as I drive back to my warehouse couch. 

I move in a month later.

witch hovel

And, I sit. I sit and I stare out the window of my small yurt dwelling, perched up on a hill, surrounded by oak, pine and swaying usnea. I make a small altar at my own southeast facing window, where I watch the glow of the sun come up over the far hill. Sometimes, it lights the lichen up in the canopy first. Setting the whole place aglow, with brilliant shimmering mossy light reflected out of billions of dew droplets.

I pull out my old friends one by one, my crow bones, my squirrel bones and fox from a box labeled "WITCH SHIT". They feel cold, as we haven't seen each other for almost 9 months. My bone throwing set feels coldest of all, I breathe on them and they stir a little. They need fire, warmth, touch.

And so I make fires, as it's my only source of heat. I set the newspaper up, the kindling and wait and watch. "A watched fire will never lite correctly," I tell myself. 

I track mud into my room, lichen finds its way in and into my hair, alder sticks in my bed.

At night the rain hits the oculus skylight in the center of my roof. I panic, my trail mind going into survival mode. The drops sound like a leaking tent wall, and it takes me a little while to find the rain soothing during cold times. But isn't that for the domesticated? I ask myself. 

How to I keep my feral creature awake? 

The deer family, a small herd of doe and their young, greet me on my dimly lit morning walks down to the main house for coffee. Fine mist swirls in the air and fills my lungs. I hear them bounding off in their elegant leeps thunk! thunk! thunk! Hearing the ground bear the weight of their lithe prancing bodies, they look back at me with caution. My favorite is a young buck, the cutest of all.

I brew coffee and watch him out the window eating the usnea and the fallen lichen. His fur is thick and ruffled in some spots. He turns away and follows his mother up the hill and into the forest. My landmates wake and they make bird calls to each other in the morning, while coffee brews and eggs turn white in bacon fat and well conditioned cast iron.

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The anxiety of the rain never leaves me, I still wake sometimes at night and panic a little. 

Going To Town becomes an ordeal of maintaining my anxiety levels. I can breathe right when I finally get home again. But the town holds me better than Portland did. I see the usnea hanging from rearview mirrors. At the small grocery store, I buy dried pineapple and the old man behind the counter wishes me a happy solstice, instead of happy holidays. 

Eugene was an old bastion of green anarchism and radical environmentalism, since gone silent. Much that is wild and feral seems to be going silent as time passes. You can see see it though persisting like dormant seeds in the soil: in the bathroom graffiti, on the street corner, in quiet passing conversations, back patches and zines left to be seen.

Waiting.

On the solstice night, coming up from the house after a shower a wren flies into my room - in the pitch black dark. I try and try to shoo it away, but instead it roosts in my oculus and blinks at me. I shrug and eventually put myself to sleep. All night the little wren sleeps quietly. We wake at the same time, right as the sky begins to shift into light. I open my door and it flies away like nothing has happened. I feel it was an omen, but of what I have no clue.

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I keep sitting, for a month. I cry a little, I develop a romance with someone to distract me, I try to write but I cannot, I sit in hot springs and see the decaying leaves of Aralia californica, drooping weeping, my body aching for warmth and I stroke the lines the sun made on my body, remembering. Nothing can come out. Nothing wants to come out. 

Every night I dream about being on the PCT. Sometimes, it's snowing and I am still out there. Waiting in some warm building wondering to myself why am I waiting? It's done. I did it. Go home. Then I am filled with sadness and the deepest longing.

Sometimes I accept and refuse my post trail depression. Mostly, the sitting was deep metabolization of... everything that happened. And I loved it, I swam in it, drank deeply from it.

In those last cold Washington days, as I approached the Canadian border I knew, I was going to find my witch hovel in the woods. Where I would incubate myself with plants and spirit and fire.

And they must have agreed, because here I am.

My mornings now filled with incense and water in offering to the spirits of this land, to my own spirits that watch over me and walk with me, and to my ancestors. I write my dreams down and pray for more rain, as our winter so far has been so dry. It makes my nerve endings feel sapped and brittle. Like usnea left to dry. 

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I snap dried alder twigs for tincture and pour pine pitch salves, I set the florida water out under that Cancer full moon. I find my flow. I let myself sink into the difference of now vs. then. I manage to find ways to make myself suffer for my pleasures. For the goodness I have.

Funny, how for some of us, we feel we must suffer to have good things and so we create this ourselves. "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven," I mock to myself. "So the John Milton says." Sometimes I tip my head back and cackle at myself.

I find my plant allies that will help me with my mind and they soothe me. 

A wind rattles through the trees one night, leaving piles of usnea glowing on the ground. They mesmerize me. If I am so attracted to them, they must be attracted to me. So I collect them, they fill all corners of my room. Leaving the scent of air, the trees, the wild.

Which I try so hard to keep within me.

A Reading & Resource List for Every Witch

These are the titles and books that every witch should have in their collection, or somehow get their hands on and read. I am sharing this in reference to questions I have received from Instagram on book/resource recommendations. I have read many of these books and there are many that I have not read yet myself but are on my never ending to-read list. This is by no means super comprehensive, or an end all be all list, but it's a good jumping off point for those looking to expand their knowledge. 

My reading list leans towards traditional witchcraft of primarily European origin. I lean in on my heritage and understand my ancestors and their pre-Christian traditions. Our ancestors are our greatest guides, they want to see us do well and we need to remember them because they are being forgotten. Folk magic is a huge part of my practice as well, so I do have an emphasis on reading about folklore and low down dirty magic. As well as Shamanism, mythology and working with spirits and gods. I'm a dirty ol' witch, pagan, animist and polytheist if you were wondering. 

This list will also include books that have influenced my craft and some recently discovered zines and small independent publishers that I am super excited about! If I am missing anything of note, please leave a comment and I will add it.

Reading and Resource List for Every Witch

Classics

More Modern Classics

  • Rebirth of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente *a must read to understand the origins of modern resurgence in Witchcraft
  • Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente
  • Witchcraft for Tomorrow by Doreen Valiente
  • Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens by Paul Huson
  • Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson
  • The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
  • THE BLACK PULLET by anonymous

Witchcraft & Practices

  • The Sorceror's Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magick by Jason Miller
  • Protection and Reversal Magick by Jason Miller
  • Craft of the Untamed: An Inspired Vision of Traditional Witchcraft by  Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold 
  • The Witches Sabbats by Mike Nichols
  • Spiritual Cleansing: A Handbook of Psychic Protection by Draja Mickaharic
  • A Century of Spells by Draja Mickaharic
  • Crones Book of Charms & Spells by Valerie Worth
  • Treading the Mill: Practical Craft Working in Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Nigel G. Pearson
  • The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Robert Cochrane

American Witchcraft, Southern African American Hoodoo & Conjure

  • Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure by cat yronyode
  • Pow-Wows, or Long Lost Friend: A Collection of Mysterious and Invaluable Arts and Remedies, for Man as Well as Animals by John George Hohman
  • The Silver Bullet & and other American Witch Stories by Hubert J. Davis
  • The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root-Work by Orion Foxwood
  • Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson, 2005
  • The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic by catherine yronwode
  • Hoodoo in Theory and Practice An Introduction to African American Rootwork by cat yronwode

Magical Spiritual Herbalism & Witchcraft

  • Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Christian Rätsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl
  • The Pharmako Trilogy by Dale Pendell
  • Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
  • Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green
  • Magical and Ritual Use of Aphrodisiacs by Richard Alan Miller
  • Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs by Richard Alan Miller
  • The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines by Matthew Wood
  • Plant Spirit Shamanism: Traditional Techniques for Healing the Soul by Ross Heaven & Howard G. Charing
  • Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants by Elliot Cowan 
  • Medicinal Herbs of the Mountains West by Michael Moore *if you live in the western United States
  • The Green Book by Heliophilus

Spiritwork, Ancestors and Gods

  • Cunning-Folk & Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic by Emma Wilby
  • The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century Scotland by Emma Wilby
  • COMMUNING WITH THE SPIRITS: The Magical Practice of Necromancy by Martin Coleman
  • Communing with the Ancestors: Your Spirit Guides, Bloodline Allies, and the Cycle of Reincarnation by Raven Grimassi
  • Dwelling on the Threshold: Reflections of a Spirit-Worker and Devotional Polytheist by Sarah Kate Istra Winter
  • Hekate in Ancient Greek Religion by Robert Von Rudloff 
  • Gods of the Greeks by Karl Kerenyi 
  • Hekate Soteira: A Study of Hekate's Roles in the Chaldean Oracles and Related Literature by Sarah Iles Johnston
  • The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion by Daniel McCoy

Women's Mysteries

  • The Wise Wound by Peter Redgrove and Penelope Shuttle
  • Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
  • Pomba Gira & the Quimbanda of Mbùmba Nzila by Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold
  • The Red Goddess by Peter Grey

Small Presses, Zines and Publishers

  • Hadean Press occult books, journals, and pamphlets in standard and handbound editions.
  • Scarlet Imprint "Our work is intended to support practising magicians, students of the occult arts, the esoteric community and the fine book arts." Hands down one of the best publishers right now in the occult world. Incredible work and fantastic blog as well.
  • GODS & RADICALS "Gods & Radicals is a non-profit Pagan anti-capitalist publisher. Our focus is simple: inexpensive print and digital works to inspire hope and rebellion." Fuck yeah!
  • Three Hands Press The premier publisher of contemporary occultism and metaphysica, representing the new generation of esoteric scholars, artists and practitioners. 

Blogs and Fellow Witch Folk

And that my friends, is all I've got right now off the top of my head! I will likely update this and add to it over time. Again, if you feel there is something to add here, please leave a comment. 

A WITCHES RESISTANCE & ACTION LIST

 yarrow demonstrating its resilancy, strength and potency when growing in a harsh place

yarrow demonstrating its resilancy, strength and potency when growing in a harsh place

Just last Tuesday, like so many others I saw the headline that Trump silenced the EPA, USDA and it's scientists and a whole host of other horrifying events. I found myself hunched over my laptop or over my phone, white knuckled, jaws clenched, shoulders caved in, knots in my stomach. I went to bed that night my mind a swirling chasm of dread. Crushed under the weight of what to do, how to act, we're doomed I thought. It's happening. 

It's happening. And so very fast.

Times are fucking scary and very intense right now. For all of us, and even more so for so many other people. As I laid in my bed, unable to move from anxiety and the depression I have felt the past several weeks I realized, this is the exact reaction they want. Several people and friends I follow on Instagram talked about this very crushing weight we're all feeling right now and that we need to take care of ourselves and each other. We need to connect with each other and reach out. Build community or further strengthen those bonds, however that manifests for you.

Yesterday morning I woke up and dove into the news first thing, not the best idea for mental health. Somehow I surfaced from the deep current of it all and grabbed a breath of air and began a list for myself. I'm sharing this list with those who will pass by this. It's a reminder that small acts, the tiniest acts do in fact have an impact. Even if it means taking a hot bath with crushed red cedar leaves you found in your local forest. Resistance can be as subtle as a weed growing out of a crack in the concrete, or as bold as hanging signs in front of the White House and defying orders to stay silent.

So, this is my list of actions, prompts for more learning and understanding and self care for the witch in these times.

If you're reading this and have something to add, please leave a comment. This is by no means a list of perfection. Its things that feed and placed to start.

Be well, be strong.