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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 ūüėČ

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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A pretty busy week.  After doing a green sojourn in a less than pristine park, I came down with a pretty bad infection.  All a part of the work, I suppose.  The place was really trying to tell me it needs cleaned up.  I was laid out for over a week.  And I just wandered about in a half daze most of it.  I visited a grave yard, continued to think deeply on the Solanaceae family and did some work for its spirits.  And I am preparing for the dark season here at the end of the light season.  I hope my photos can tell part of the story.

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Lugh

Lugh

A favorite God

Lugh/Luga/Llew is a pan-Celtic God.  He has the city of Lyons named for him, as well as a pan-Celtic holiday, Lughnasadh held is his honor or in honor of his foster mother Tailtu in August.   He is a god of many skills, granted to him by his mother and he is a god of light, he has a very bright aura like the sun.

Many of my favorite masculine Irish figures are not gods, but rather demi-gods or heroes: Fionn, Cuchulian, Ossian, and Angus.  However, Lugh is all God, so I call him one of my favorites.

We recently held Lughnasadh and we always have an excellent loaf of bread made by one of my coven mates and this year was no different. ¬†It wasn’t long before we had eaten all of him except for the best share which was offered to Him for fertility in our crops.

Lugh Bread

Lugh Bread

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I can barely think of anything that makes me happier than to croon over my mandrakes and water them with my green watering can.  I have about 5 mandrakes that made it through various kinds of over caring.  Growing strange herbs and plants is really exciting and for me and it is one of my favorite parts of witchery.

herb garden
herb garden

I have a postage stamp sized yard, but I can fit a huge variety of herbs and vegetables into it regardless.  Also I have a constant harvest of green things from spring to fall.  Today, I was inspired to make some infused oils.  I picked chamomile flowers, peppermint, lemon balm, thyme and mugwort.  Then I put them in small jars and covered them with safflower oil.  Then every three days I will need to strain out the oil and then pour it over more herbs.  I guess Iwill need to put miracle grow on my herbs so they grow enough over the next few days to supply me with a new harvest.

herb infused oils
herb infused oils

One of my favorite images from Malcom Bird’s Witch’s Handbook, is the Witch’s garden.¬† It is dirty, weedy and overflowing with weird plants.¬† I am on the path to achieving just such a plot for myself.

Witchs Handbook by Malcom Bird

Witch's Handbook by Malcom Bird

I have experienced some indescribable mysteries in growing a garden.¬† I used to think I had a black thumb, but perhaps I was growing the wrong things, it is really hard to go wrong with a pot of peppermint to build your confidence.¬† Consider giving growing a few herbs a try if you don’t already have a wild witch’s garden.

postage stamp garden

postage stamp garden

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