In the week starting Monday 16th August and ending with the full moon on the following Sunday, I decided to have what I termed a ‘Witch Week’, 7 days dedicated to my practice; to studying, learning, working and incorporating the planetary associations and their influence to each day, as well as taking advantage of the waxing moon. It’s something I would recommend for anyone who wants to re-establish their craft, make larger strides upon their crooked path or just wants to get back into the flow of leading a magical life.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the mundane, to be caught up in everyday tasks and to neglect our craft. A few days, or even a few hours from each day, spent re-dedicating yourself can be incredibly beneficial, and help rewire your mind into incorporating magical practises into your everyday. This as a concept is simple, a sort of retreat for your spiritual health, and it’s certainly not a unique idea. So of course it’s really up to the individual what they decide to do in the time they’ve put aside for magical progress. I thought now that my Witch Week is completed, I would write briefly on the things I did, for those that are curious and perhaps looking for some ideas before they embark on a similar journey. Sometimes you’ve just gotta shake things up a bit. When you feel like enough is enough, and that you’ve been going through the motions for too long, it’s time for a Witch Week!
My personal path is informed by traditional and folk magic practices, so my days may not have been spent in ways suitable to everyone’s tastes. I am also only going into detail for the first 3 days. Like many witches, parts of my craft are deeply personal, and as the week progressed and became more intense, I’ve decided to keep those days to myself, for now.
~The Moon, Water, Emotions, Divination, Dream Work~
The beginning of a new journey, a time to cleanse, refresh and view the world from a new and unencumbered perspective. I woke before day break, donned my wellies and ventured into the mists of morning to my local woodland to experience the awakening earth. Before stepping from the road into the trees, I cleared my mind; I removed all expectations and all preconceived notions, and began my meditative walk. I paid particular attention to all my senses: the feeling of the earth under my feet, the sound of birds rejoicing in their morning chorus, the smell of damp leaves and mushrooms; I observed each tree I passed and acknowledged each unique form, and concentrated on my breath. Oh to be an explorer in this new world! I greeted particular trees whose spirits I have previously connected with, and left scatterings of mealworms at their roots for the birds. Eventually I stopped by an old oak tree that stands by the edge of the wood, and watched the sun rise.
Back at home I concocted an herbal infusion (Cunningham – Incense, Oils and Brews) to add to a ritual purification bath. I gathered lavender, rosemary, fennel, rose petals, mint, jasmine flowers and vervain to steep in a bowl of hot water, ready to pour into my bath when the time felt right. Around the bath I lit candles and incense. These are potent sensory clues for your brain that you are changing your routine, embarking on something new and exciting. A herb infused candle lit bath at about 6am was definitely new for my brain, and prepared me for a week of new experiences, and the removal of old boring habits (at least for the duration of Witch Week.) I left my bath feeling charged and ready, connected to the moon and the element of water.
Part of what I wanted to do this week was incorporate magical tea blends into my practice, so after my bath I brewed purification tea (chamomile and lemon) and charged it with the intention of new beginnings, dispelling the old and welcoming the new, and mindfully sipped it in my garden, while my pet chickens competed to sit on my knee (they must have been feeling the good vibes.)
As this was also a time to explore new things, I decided to do some yoga, and it wasn’t the yoga that was new to me. I decided to do it skyclad, to set the intentions for the week, namely, self love, self exploration and just that plain old feeling of freedom! Afterwards I meditated, and pushed myself to sit for longer. I usually meditate for about 10 minutes each morning, which I know needs to be lengthened if I want to make progress. All I can say is, if you’re struggling with meditation, forcing yourself to go past the point where you want to stop is where the magic happens. I sat with my hands in my lap, and felt myself exist, tuning in to the subtle pulsing energy that the entire living, breathing body produces. I visualised my roots penetrating deep into the earth below, and my mind as sparks of light reaching high into the cosmos above. I felt very large, and very small, and content.
Monday is ruled by the moon, the ideal time for divination. So although I don’t work with them often, I decided to give myself a tarot reading. I anointed myself with my own blend of yarrow and wormwood oil, and with a cup of mugwort tea I began my reading using the Celtic Cross spread. And wouldn’t you know the first card (the present) that I picked was The Hermit. As this was the beginning of a week of my own personal solitary retreat, I had to laugh at the accuracy.
By the afternoon the sun had climbed high into the sky, and weaved for us folk down here a beautiful day. It was time for a ritual. Within my garden is a separate area reserved for my magical and baneful plants, as well as my altar where I perform workings that are more suited to the outdoors. This is of course, my Witch’s Garden. As it was mid August, many of my magical plants were ready for harvest. I decided to do a land blessing ritual. It was time to thank the Genius Loci and the spirits of my plants, to leave them offerings and give some of my energy back to the land in hopes of another successful harvest next year. As I couldn’t get my hands on a Wickerman nor a willing human sacrifice, after my ritual I instead offered beer, bread, fruit and tobacco to the spirits of my garden. This was also a purifying and blessing ritual, so I walked the perimeter of my garden with a cauldron of salt water, and lit torches of flame at each corner. I called upon the elements, the stars, moon and sun, the entities that dwell below, the Fae folk and Old Hornie himself, and thanked them.
During my downtime I read books on folklore and faerie faith, and to keep my mind prepared for more vigorous mental tasks, practised intermittently imagining my consciousness in other parts of my body (hand, foot etc.) I recommend this type of exercise in preparation for hedge crossing and astral travelling.
When twilight came I took a walk, and from behind a cloud the beautiful yellow moon peeked out to say hello. At home I had another cup of mugwort tea, and slept upon my dream pillow (lavender, rosemary, devil’s claw root, mandrake and wormwood) and prepared for the magical rigours of another day.
~Mars, Fire, Strength, Courage, Willpower~
In the morning I burned dragon’s blood incense, lit red candles and invoked the energy of Mars to empower me during my morning workout. Like the God of War, I was in a battle with myself, and I was determined my strength would win. I can complete a 30 minute cardio workout, I can! (and I did!)
I then meditated upon my will and the principles of stoicism. As thoughts popped into my mind, I looked at them, refused to react and let them go. I was just the observer. I highly recommend this practice if you struggle with a weakness of your will or overpowering emotions.
My next magical task was to brew up a ‘fire condenser’ which I was particularly looking forward to, as working with my cauldron is when I feel most powerful, and connected to the cunning folk and way-side witches of old. A condenser is a magical brew, simmered into a ‘condensed’ concentrated fluid used for later magical workings, for anointing talismans and charms, consecrating and empowering tools etc. There are many different kinds of condensers crafted for different purposes (love, protection, wealth and so on) which all would require specific ingredients. As this was the day of Mars, I wanted to create a fire condenser, to add strength to my spells and amulets in the future. With cauldron in hand I walked to my garden, kindled a fire and set my cauldron a bubblin’. With guidance from Treading the Mill by Nigel G. Pearson I added firey ingredients (peppercorns, cloves, holly, nettles etc.) into the cauldron and infused all with my magical intentions. Once the concoction had cooled and the hallowed words had been spoken, I decanted the brew into an amber glass bottle, added the same amount of volume in whiskey (to preserve the fluid) and added a drop of my own blood for increased potency. In the evening I performed a fire spell with a red candle and the aid of my condenser, the candle burned through the night until it extinguished itself, and the spell was complete.
If you’re interested in crafting your own condenser, I recommend purchasing Nigel’s book.
~Mercury, Knowledge, Learning, intellect, Communication~
A day for studying and absorbing new knowledge. Although my own craft is more traditional, folk based low magic, I have an academic interest in all forms of the occult. So after drinking a cup of rosemary tea to improve my memory, I spent the morning reading A Garden of Pomegranates by Israel Regardie, an introduction to the Kabbalistic tree of life and ceremonial magic. As always when studying, I find similarities between works, and enjoy cross referencing and comparing notes. Concealed by billowing clouds of smoke emanating from sandalwood joss sticks, I sat immersed, surrounded by books and having a jolly good time.
A little later I had more work to do in the Witch’s Garden, and as Wednesday is ruled by Mercury, I thought it would be a particularly potent time to communicate with the spirit of Datura. Having fasted since morning, I partook of a nightshade truffle containing a conservative amount of Datura (Made by Seamus @emporiumblack13) to better connect to this particular spirit’s energies. I have a Datura stramonium plant that I’d grown from seed in spring which needed transplanting to a larger pot. I whispered to my plant as I re-homed him, speaking his many names and informing him of his power and attributes. Many people see Datura as a feminine energy, but as I began to tune in to the truffle I’d eaten, my own particular plant came to me, as a small black devil looking creature with a thornapple at the end of his tail. He passed me a Datura bloom and said – “Beauty and magic are everywhere, if you know where to look…” At that moment I opened my eyes to see a shimmering starling bathing its iridescent feathers in my pet chickens’ water bowl! That was beautiful to me. I looked down at my datura and smiled, then lay down to meditate quietly for a while among the fragrant wormwood bushes.
When I got back to the house a new book I’d ordered arrived in the post, Of Chalk and Flint by Val Thomas; I spent some hours reading this beautiful and poetic work, and waited for twilight. After a cup of Old One brew (Dandelion root, Mugwort and Mullein) I drove a few miles to an abandoned churchyard to perform the Witches Cross, a small spirit communication ritual created by Gemma Gary (Serpent Songs.) With flickering lantern in hand I ventured into the depths of an avenue of yew trees, and settled down in the roots of a tree of the dead. With cross marked upon the earth and hallowed words spoken, I let my blood drop upon the earth, and waited. A tawny owl hooted in the distance, then a chorus of frenzied crows began to call. No wraith appeared, but a comforting feeling washed over me, a feeling that I had been welcomed and that I had become one with the night. I blew out the candle of my lantern and melted into the shadows, watching the shades of bats flitting across the darkling sky.
~Jupiter, Prosperity, Good Luck, Blessings~
Connected with Pan, partaking of another Nightshade truffle and wandering in an evergreen forest. Weaved a prosperity charm, practiced a little candle magic and drank peppermint tea.
~Venus, Love, Lust, Beauty, Happiness~
Performed a breaching charm to communicate with the Otherworld, the unseen, where the King and Queen of Elfhame reside. ( Ritual from An Carow Gwyn by Robin Artisson)
Crafted a healing charm for someone recently injured, incorporating the old charms from the trials of Isobel Gowdie. Drank apple and strawberry tea as well as lavender tea with maple syrup. Practised self love by mindfully taking part in things I enjoy.
~Saturn, Earth, Discipline, Structure~
Familiar Spirit working, honouring and strengthening our bond.
Reading and studying continues.
~Sun, Life, Healing, Fire, Ego~
The culmination of witch week and the full moon. Went to a mind, body and spirit event in Barnsley, met beautiful people and purchased a singing bowl to aid in my meditations.
Connected with the moon and the spirit of the hare in ritual, listening to @solaceinthesky’s new powerful album The Witching.
As night drew in and the moon began to rise (behind clouds) practised hedge riding with flying ointment and stang.
Mindfulness is key! It was the energy of my thoughts that really made the biggest difference throughout this week. I didn’t just mindlessly do these things, hoping for something strange and miraculous to happen. Witchcraft starts in the mind. I put an intense amount of will into my workings and into the ordinary tasks I completed on these days. By Sunday, I was not only physically but mentally exhausted. 7 days of non stop witchcraft is tiring indeed, it takes a lot of energy. So although weeks like these are incredibly empowering, you mustn’t over do it. Above all though, I feel more in tune with the crooked way I’ve chosen, more confident in my will and my own power, and more connected to the spirits and entities I’ve been working with for so many moons.
I learned there are many new things I would like to incorporate into my everyday (herbal teas, new breathing techniques, lots more candle magic!) and that I’d like to add many more Witch Weeks to my year. Experiencing and learning things that one finds exciting and stimulating, make up a life well lived, and although this is something we all should be striving to make time for everyday, sometimes immersing yourself completely for a good length of time adds another exhilarating dimension to the human experience. Just remember that magic is everywhere, if you know where to look for it!