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The Alruan is a type of plant familiar. In this case a dried root that is kept, fed and cared for to work with the witch on various jobs to bless the home.

Mandrake

Mandrake root in coffin by Sara Star

An alruan is made form a root that looks like a man, woman or child either grown that way or carved to such a shape, dried, and kept in a box-coffin or on a plaque. Alruans were traditionally made form the rare and poisionous mandrake or more often from a briony root. But at its root (see what I did there) the Alruan can be chosen from any witches plant best if it has forked in the ground to form legs and/or arms. My first one was carved from a parsnip and my friend just gifted me one from blackberry roots.

Digging up rituals are all masked with rumors of danger to protect the trade secrets of the Alruan peddlars. Despite what you may have read, you needent have a dog pull it up for you to avoid its deadly scream, ear muffs will do ;)

Mandrake Lego

A witch and her mandrake alruan

Loosen the soil around you Alruan with your working knife in a circle three times or until the soil is nice and loose.  Then very carefully pull up your root as to not break it much.  Any broken off parts can be reburied and maybe given some root hormone so they will start new plants. (Depending on the root it could start a new plant right away or take as long as a year to put out new sprouts, as long as the root is still clearly alive, firm and moist in the dirt, it could still sprout.

If you do plan to carve yours, please practice on a plentiful tuber like carrot or parsnip before taking your knife to a rare root like mandrake. If you are going to carve your root do so very carefully as to not kill the plant or damage its foilage. You should then rebury your root so it will form a skin over where you carved and look more natural.  You might bury your Alruan at an especially potent spot like a crossroads or a graveyard. Traditionally the Alruan will be the opposite gender as you. Female Alruans usually have not forked at the legs and male ones have.

To dry your root in hot dry weather, a covered box with some air circulation works fine.  You should turn your Alruan over daily to prevent it molding or worse rotting! In wet or cold weather dry your Alruan in the oven at 200-250*f with aromatic herbs such as lemon verbana.  Your root will lose half its mass when drying so choose a big one!

There are a variety of ways of keeping an Alruan. Some live on the hearth, others are made beds, and still others have mini coffins. I encourage you to look at the Alruans and Mandrakes at theonline Bocastle Musem of Witchcraft.

Mandrake Bocastle

A Mandrake Alruan in his coffin from Bocastle Musuem of Witchcraft, Richel Collection

Make your Alruan’s life nice and he will repay you in kind or so the lore says. Alruans like to be bathed, clothed, bedded, fed and given gifts. Give him gold coins for money magic and he will bring wealth into your life, bathe him in wine for love, feed him milk for fertility and dress him in white silk for happiness.

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The Witch’s Grimoire

Witches have books. I mean lots of books. I go to any witches house and she will have several shelves of books on a variety of subjects: witchcraft, mythology, herbal remedies, astrology, tarot, occult subjects, and spell books to name a few topics. Witches love knowledge, and always want to know more. But many a witch struggles with making her own book, her book of shadows or her grimoire.

Handwritten Grimoire

Handwritten Grimoire photo by all of us are lost

 

What is this book, what should go into it, what shouldn’t?

Here’s how I see it, the book doesn’t need to be pretty or perfect. It needs to be functional. You don’t need to put everything under the sun in it. You know what your various tools are and what they do. You don’t have to have a section on Athames and Chalices. That is just getting too precious. What do you use more than once but not often enough to memorize it? That is what goes in your witch book. Many witches dig up and make up a new spell for every occasion. There is no point in filling up your reference book with stuff you will never reference again, so don’t bother putting in a bunch of spells if you won’t need them again. If you need a new spell you will use just once, look it up in one of those many books on the book shelf. Lets get to using and enjoying this book, rather than staring at the blank page and trying to get a perfect order to everything it must contain.

I can tell you some things I don’t do often enough to memorize, but I do repeatedly so I need to reference them: The Brigit Flame Tending Liturgy, make Dragon’s Blood Ink, use Ogam for divination or writing, check the moon phases, maps,  to look up ailments and what herbs can treat them, make a witch’s bottle, plant seeds, job magic, make that scented oil that gets my lover going, you get the idea.

There doesn’t have to be an organized system. As long as I can find those sections in the book by marking them or having a simple table of contents as a I go along. Leave a few pages blank in the front to add more entries as you add information. A witch’s book is a reference tool.

Now many witches also keep diaries and journals of what they have done: spells, divination, prayers, and then the results after time. Those are valuable, and I read back in my journals about astral journeys I took and so on. But it is not the regular reference tool I keep handy for when I do that monthly ritual again.

How should this book look?

I know a lot of witches who use fancy scrap book papers, or water color entire pages for their books of shadows. Hours  upon hours go into how the book looks. I worry that these witches will spill something on all their hard work or when twenty years have passed the scrap book pages will look dated instead of timeless. I find that a simple line drawing to help me find different sections does the job and looks very timeless and elegant. Some witches are so afraid of committing something into a book that they might mess up that they use three ring binders. That is fine, but I think that something smaller and bound will be a bit more useful and pared down. A binder can get so full of stuff printed off the internet that you can’t find what you need anymore, and the rings tend to bend and wear out fast. I perfer the personal touch that comes from information written and conceived by the witch rather than print offs from the internet.  Commit to something, put it down, make your own and mark in that blank book!

I think a nice bound journal does the job nicely. I like to write in my own brew of dragon’s blood ink, but that is not necessary, as long as you can clearly read what is written and the style helps you get into the mood, then it will function for assisting you in your workings. The scent of the dragons blood ink is a trigger for me now to go into an altered state.

The only wrong way to make your witch’s book is to never get around to making it because of fear or perfectionism, or making something you won’t use. If you make it and it functions for you on a regular basis, then you are good to go.

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Keeper and Companion

Keeper and Companion painting by Sara Star in sepia tone

A favourite Goddess.

One of my favorite Goddesses is Brigit. I paint her aspect as a Saint quite a lot. And I hope to paint her more in pagan art.

Brigit is so many things, a hearth goddess, a well and spring water goddess, a muse, a healer a forger. I find she is all things relating to creation the spark of inspiration the making and the repairing/treating of the created.

As an artist I find her especially helpful and I think of her often and am devoted to her.

There are so many traditions associated with Brigit. From the Brigit’s mantle that you set out to collect due on Imbolc Eve, to the Brigit’s dolly and bed, to flame cells, to well dressings.

Brigit is my ama chara, my heart kindred friend. I love her and want to be alike to her.

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Hekate

Hekate by Sara Star

In my attempts to keep you updated on what I am doing, here are some paintings I have been making for a coven mate:

Above you can see the goddess of crossroads, Hekate. She is also the goddess of where sky, sea and land meet. In recent folklore, she is associated with the three faces of the moon, and the three ages of woman. She is also, in recent folklore, considered a Witch goddess. Here here crone face and the void moon are facing the viewer.

Demeter

Demeter by Sara Star

Demeter has already found her place on a makeshift altar my coven mate’s daughter put together. In fact, a five year old took this photograph. Both of these paintings are based on ancient sculptures and reliefs, but of course I add my own touches. Demeter is the patron goddess of the Elysian Mystery Cult. And for this reason, the image of her with golden grain is very descriptive. Demeter is also a two faced goddess of summer and winter. When her beloved daughter Persephone is with her lover in Hades, Demeter is sad and desolate.

Despite moving this into a new house a week ago, I have already set up my Yule tree, and I will get a good photograph to share with you soon.

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Pentagram Blackberry Pie

Pentagram Blackberry Pie

I inscribe my pies with magical symbols. The pies are spells, in of themselves. I choose the spices, the fruits, and the symbols carefully.

My guest asks, is this pie bewitched? I say , yes. My guest asks, what will it do, is it good or bad? I answer, you’ll have to eat it to find out.

My pies are good enough that he takes the risk.

Ginger Peach Triskale Pie

Ginger Peach Triskale Pie

There are many aspects of a perfect pie. Number one is picking the fruit from the tree or vine. Number two is not following the recipe, there should be more fruit and less sugar.  And most of the time tapioca is a better thickener than cornstarch or flour (except in cherry).  Pick the spice or herb for your pie that will infuse it with its purpose as a potion and seal it with the perfect symbol in the crust. I brush my crusts with egg so they really shine.

The typical pie is over spiced, over sugared and made from premade pie filling. The magical witches pie is made as much as possible with hand picked fruits, garden grown herbs, spices chosen for their mystical properties, and not too much sugar, we witches aren’t so sweet unless we are tricking you ;)

Triple Moon Blackberry Pie

Triple Moon Blackberry Pie

The right pie is a perfect Sabbat feast treat and offering for cakes and ale. Blackberry is great for the upcoming fall festivities, as is apple. Pumpkins are going to be ready soon.

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I have been busy painting and creating all month.  I finished a commission of a greek goddess, I started on another one.  I finished an icon of Brigit for my coven and I created a mounted print of  the same–which is for sale in my shop .

Sacred Brigit Icon

Sacred Brigit Icon

I am fascinated with Brigit, she is a goddess and a saint of both water and fire.   I feel akin to her and I strive to be like her.  She is one of the two patron saints of Ireland.  And she just has an incredible energy.

Brigit signature symbol is the Brigit’s cross which is made of reeds or rushes.  She has a temple and well at Kildare with an eternal flame that was tended in the past by 19 priestesses and now is tended by 19 nuns.  Every 20 days Brigit tends the flame herself

My coven is going to put this icon atop a candle stand for 20 candles.

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