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Why is the great rite, I asked myself, the chalice and the blade and not the cauldron and the wand? For truly the ecstasy of sex is alike to the fervent stirring of a wand in a cauldron and not at all like the stabbing of a knife into a cup. And now, years later, I collect an answer.

For like the maiden bleeds afore she can create life, so must ritual sacrifice let blood to make its will manifest.

The menstrual current underlies magic and this is why the price is blood. Because the woman must bleed before she can conceive.


For Eve the cost was blood.
For Cain the cost was blood.
Sarah gave her pagan idols blood.
Delilah gave Dagon blood.

And to this day, the witch knows the prices is blood. The original meaning of sacrifice is blood intrinsic to the menstrual current.

By Sara Star

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Invocation to the Holy-Stone

I have found
A holy-stone upon the ground.
O Fate! I thank thee for the happy find,
Also the spirit who upon this road
Hath given it to me;
And may it prove to be for my true good
And my good fortune

hagstones by Sara Star

When you see a holey stone or hag stone on the ground you should say something in gratitude to the spirits that left it there for you. The above is just an example from the Gospel of Aradia.

Now once you have one, what do you do with it? You can’t really hold it in front of your eyes all the time to look for the fae.*

Making a hagstone cord is a useful project. You can make it with one hag stone and multiple knots, or multiple hag stones and multiple knots. The number varies between spells. I say chose a number with meaning to you. Chumbly’s consecration has 7 knots in a black leather cord, Bramshaw’s has nine knots and up to nine hagstones on a red string.

Either way, the point is to concentrate on a different otherworld setting for each knot, including at least one at a witches sabbat. Visualization is important on this one. Each knot is a place you want to go to. Once you have tied the knots you will string the hagstone(s) on and tie it off as a bracelet.

As you string the knots through the hagstones picture you are running each destination through the gate to the otherworld, fey land, underworld, astral, and so on.

You will hold the bracelet with at least one of the stones in your off hand (non dominant hand) as you sleep. Your dreams shall be significant astral or otherworldly dreams rather than regular dreams. You will travel to one of your chosen destinations.

If you don’t remember what happened in the astral dreams, but remember you had them. Then some part of you does remember and it will still impact your knowledge and practice.

If the you find it isn’t working and you aren’t going anywhere. Meditate with your stone specifically on one of the chosen dreams and journey there in meditation. There is plenty to be done that way as well.

I have found this tool to be very powerful and my dreams have changed when I wear my hagstone cord. I know where I have gone each night, but unfortunately I cannot remember much of what happened when I wake up. But I feel different somehow and I stopped having nightmares.

*Spiderwick Chronicles art by Tony DiTerlizzi

Black, Holly. Spiderwick Chronicles. 2004 http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiderwick-Chronicles-Boxed-Set/dp/0689040342/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335197860&sr=8-1

Bramshaw, Vicki. Craft of the Wise. 2009 http://www.o-books.com/book/detail/616/Craft-of-the-Wise

Chumbly, Andrew. “What is Traditional Craft?” http://www.xoanon.co.uk/xoanontraditionalcraft.php

Leland, Charles. Aradia, Gospel of the Witches http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/aradia/ara06.htm

Traditionalwitchcraft.com wiki “Hagstone.” http://www.traditionalwitchcraft.com/Hagstone

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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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salem witch trial

Examination of a Witch, by T.H. Matteson 1853.

Sometimes European witches get defensive of their traditional craft. While there are always welcoming people, there are also those that are more closeted and want to keep their culture to themselves. Some still comment that we left their country and created a new one and we don’t need to keep coming back and taking all that is good culturally from them and mutating it. Some don’t understand why many American append a hereditary country to our self identification: Irish American, African American, etc. In most cases our mothers and grandmothers were born in America and so why the obsession with the old country? I can express for myself that Ireland is a mystical homeland in addition to being a land of my ancestors. In the melting pot that is America, most people like to hold onto their original roots and preserve cultural traditions of their immigrant or native ancestors. It is part of the American culture to treasure the old country culture whilst still assimilating the language and culture of the states.

However, when seeking traditional witchcraft, Americans do not have to go back to an old country or bastardize Native American practices either. There are American forms of traditional witchcraft that are every bit as rich as the European ones. In addition, the American traditions have a more homey and American feel. They are built around the land, the dominant religions and the feeder old county cultures of the families who have dwelt in this country so long that no one in their family speaks the old language of their “home” country.

I have been enjoying an excellent book The Silver Bullet and other American Witch Stories that imparts the lore of the Appalachian witch tradition. The stories come complete with rituals to become a witch, to create a witch ball, and to attain a familiar. Long before Gardner came out and charged Buckland with spreading the word when he was sent to America, there were witchcraft traditions already. I learned a lot about these various traditions by reading Her Hidden Children by Chas Clifton. Chas writes about both Wiccan, neo-pagan, and traditional witchcraft and pagan practices in America before and after Gardner/Buckland. Clifton makes the case that much of contemporary popular witchcraft and neo-paganism has been influenced heavily by a rather particularly american activist spirit.

Her Hidden Children had a strong affect on my path, and since reading it I have sought out sources on American traditional witchcraft–especially those tied to the American West since that is where I am from. Hopefully I will get time to share my findings as I get a more solid idea of them here.

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Many traditional witchcraft blogs are rather sporadic. One reason is because the witch has a busy life and can’t blog all the time. But another huge reason is privacy and silence having a huge amount of value in the craft. Some bloggers are very daring and write out detailed experiences of their rituals including the berries they ate, the offerings laid on the table and the ecstatic vision and dancing that resulted. However, as interesting as that is, it is not suited for everyone.

For one, it can be very exposing to lay your practices out there. A lot of people have very strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong. They will say you are doing it a wrong way and that their way is the only acceptable way. This has lead to a lot of difficulty and discomfort. So many behave as though describing your own way of doing things is forcing someone else to do it your way or at the very least evangilizing.

Of course, that is not what these kind of traditional witch blogs are about. They are for us to connect with other witches on similar paths and to share experiences, not to force our way on anyone, nor is it to be told we are outright wrong for our practices. Being a witch can be dangerous, all the things we do are weird, some are especially weird even to other neo-pagans and witches.

That results in different approaches. I highly commend my peer the Witch of Forest Grove for her solution of having some password protected entries about certain topics. It frees her to write whenever the bug hits her without wondering before she even sits down if it will be fit to print for a wider audience. I am considering doing something similar. Basically to see if it will lead me to blog more often, if I don’t feel nervous about my exposure doing so. I may make some entries password protected if I can figure that out. And that could be very good for the blog because it will help me sit down and write without over thinking before hand.  When I am done writing a post, I can decide if it is general or private. That will free me up to write more often and better posts.

On the other hand, sometimes I get the bug to write and I have like ten entries in mind, but I feel odd just posting ten entries in one day and so I only do one. I think I will get out of that and do as much or as little as I want whenever. I saw a splendid meme for this called blogging without obligation. It means if I want to post ten entries in one day, but then no entries for three months, then so be it. I am sure that my few readers will still enjoy popping in when they get notice I have made a new post and it will make me feel more comfortable about posting.

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A photo of a magical place outdoors:

Our outdoor ritual space by Magical Musings

My coven has a few outdoor areas we work in, but the most magical is when whatever space we are in seems to lift out of place and time and we are surrounded by mist or darkness and all that is there is the magic.

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A myth or story from folklore.

Here is my own retelling–mostly from memory so it could be quite off in time line and such–of the Morrigu’s role in the death of Cuchulain.  I connected events with characters I thought might be related as in a organization together to give some unity:

The Morrigu

The Morrigu Triptych, Banshee Maiden, Warrior Queen, & Milking Crone by Sara Star

The Morrigu queens wanted to ally themselves with the winning side in the upcoming battle between Queen Madb’s army and the Men of Ulster.

They had a few things to take into consideration.  In the past, their war queen, Emain Macha had cursed the men of Ulster.  The Ulster men had grown into her disfavor twice.  Firstly when she was in hiding in Ulster and living with an Ulster Farmer, and pregnant with twins, she admonished him to tell no one of her.  However, at the King’s horse races he bragged that his wife Macha could run faster than any horse.  Macha begged the men of Ulster to excuse her from the bet because she was heavily pregnant.  But they would not back down, and she was forced to prove her husband’s claim.  Macha won the race and miscarried her twins at the finish line.  Then she cursed the men of Ulster to be weak with the pains of child labor when most needed by their country.

Yet, the Morrigu wanted to give Ulster another chance, perhaps she considered handing them this out because she had wished it for herself that day long ago when she was heavy with twins.  Perhaps despite the men’s treatment of her, she loved the land of Ulster and wanted it to be protected.  For whatever mysterious reason, Macha offered Ulster another chance.

The foster son of Fergus, the  exiled king of Ulster, Cuchulain was free of the curse because he was of divine birth, his father being Lugh.  The Warrior Queens of Morrigu intercepted Cuchulain and offered him victory if he would couple with her.  Cuchulain had already recently lost a battle at the border of Ulster because he was off in a tryst so he angrily denied the robed woman without paying attention to her.

He should have noticed she was a goddess, for she had the red eyebrows and her horse was white with red ears, both obvious signs of the otherworlds.  But Cuchulian was too distracted.  He looked away from her in disgust at her sexual offer and when he looked back, the woman, the chariot and the horse were gone, and he saw a large hoody crow.  He immediately knew his mistake!  It was one of the Morrigu, how could he have missed the signs!  It was too late, he had sealed his death warrent by spurning her.

The youngest fair maiden of the Morrigu waited by a river where Cuchulain would have to ford and she sang his death dirge and washed a spectral bloody shirt on a rock that was clearly Cuchulain’s shirt.  This Banshee was foreboding a second time the failure of Cuchulain and therefore (as Ulster’s only abled bodied man) the loss of the ensuing war to Connacht.

The Morrigu was on the warpath!  She would get revenge on all of Ulster, and on Cuchullain!  She sent three of her witches to intercept him. Cuchulain had a major geis or weakness, he could not eat dog, his totemic animal.  And his code of honor was to always accept food and drink offered to him as a guest.  The Morrigu whispered these secret weaknesses to her witches, and they cooked up a stew of dog.  They waited near the river where Cuchulain crossed and invited him to eat with them.  He received the dog stew and ate it.  It burned his mouth and disabled the s

The Morrigu in her three forms turned each into an animal that would attack and wound Cuchulain.  The watery banshee Morrigan turned into an eel and tried to strangle Cuchulian.  The sovereign Cuchulain turned into a white heifer and came out him and tried to gore him with her horns.  The wild wood Morrigan came at him as a she-wolf and bit at him.  Each time Cuchulian injured her, she was crippled and half blind when they were done.  But he too was weakened.  She would get her revenge yet!  But first she had to be healed.

The Morrigu went together, one is the form of a Heifer, and the other as an old crone woman.  They waited near the battlefield where the Connacht men were preparing for battle.  The third Morrgan when to dance upon the tops of the Connacht men’s swords and call a storm in to aid them in battle.  The old woman Morrigan milked the Heifer Morrigan as Cuchulain passed.  He was hurt and thirsty and she offered him some milk.  Out of gratefulness, Cuchulain offered her healing for each cup of milk she gave him.  The old crone was able to walk, see and was healed after sharing the milk with Cuchulain.

Ultimately, Cuchulain died fighting the men of Connacht and the Morrigu queen came down in her crow form and ate his intestines out of his belly in triumph.  In this way the Morrigu’s wrongs were righted upon the men of Ulster.

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