A Witch’s guide to getting through the lockdown

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In the UK a lockdown was announced a few days after the Spring Equinox in order to prevent the spread of Covid- 19. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be aware of the coronavirus pandemic spreading from country to country.

It’s an uncertain time, and that uncertainty can lead to feelings of fear, depression and anxiety. Our government advised we can leave our homes pretty much once a day for exercise and essential trips to shops, doctors, etc. But going outside is also anxiety-inducing as there is the fear of coming across someone with the virus.

So in this period of helplessness and housebound isolation, what can we do to stay strong and defeat boredom whilst gaining control of our lives?

Knowledge

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A witch knows that no matter how much they study and learn, there is always more to be learned and they will never truly know it all. However this need not prevent us from enjoying the pursuit of knowledge.

Being stuck indoors is a good time to really get into a witchy project. I’m sure there is something you’ve always wanted to sink your teeth into but always convinced yourself you didn’t have the time or the energy?

If there’s nothing you can think of then have a look at the list below and see if anything calls out to you:

  • Learn tarot
  • Astrology
  • Herbalism
  • Sigils
  • Palmistry
  • Tea-leaf readings
  • Runes
  • Gem, stone and metal magick
  • Reading and interpreting the aura
  • Meditation techniques
  • Visualisation techniques
  • Astral projection
  • Glamour spells
  • Talismans and Amulets
  • Ancestor veneration
  • Spirit work
  • Folklore and mythology
  • Dream interpretation

 

Δ The Netflix Witch

 

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If you don’t have the focus to get into a study practice then that’s ok, maybe you just need some time to switch your mind to something that requires little effort, to just relax and unwind. Cue the multitude of streaming services available such Amazon, Netflix, Hulu etc.

Maybe you want to relax and get immersed in a witchy story? My recommendations are:

  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • The Originals
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • Legacies
  • Luna Nera
  • Always a Witch (Siempre Bruja)
  • Good Witch
  • The Magicians
  • The Witcher
  • Once Upon  A Time
  • Grimm
  • Supernatural
  • American Horror Story
  • Bitten
  • Mortel
  • Salem
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
  • A Discovery of Witches
  • Midnight, Texas
  • Penny Dreadful

 

♦  Get Brewing

 

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I was raised on the merits of a good cup of tea from a young age. Tea was the go-to in a crisis, a time of uncertainty, and to unwind. A hot and sweet beverage that was warming and reassuring to seven year old me. Having a cup of tea in my hands made me feel rich beyond my imaginings. Which is interesting as black tea used magically is to aid in attracting prosperity and abundance.

And then in teen-hood I discovered the wonder of herbal teas and their magical properties, adding a whole new dimension of wonder to the steaming brew. Teas of all kind are very witchy drinks, and can be used as a potion if you want to add a magical twist to your daily beverage, hell you can turn the whole thing into a ritual if you want.

You should always check the contraindications of any herb before you ingest it, and if you’re on medication check with your doctor first.

You may be interested in herbal teas that aid in easing anxiety and stress, or for boosting the immune system, or to get a good night’s sleep.

Camomile is a relaxing tea and good to drink an hour before bed to get a good night’s rest.  Lemon balm is drunk to ease stress and anxiety, and nettle and green tea are full of nutrients to boost the immune system.

⊕ Lay the cards, throw the bones

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At times like this, when worried and uncertain, you may find it helpful to pull out a few tarot or oracle cards, or throw the bones for guidance.  They can help to put your mind at rest, but if you can’t get a clear reading then you should turn to a like-minded friend to read them for you.

Skype Coven Night

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So you may not get to meet your dearest witches in person, but being at home during the lockdown doesn’t have to mean no contact with the outside world. Arrange a time with your best witches to chat online, to have a laugh and discuss new ideas, practices, books and spell ideas. Make these calls as regular as possible to keep in touch with each other and to help you feel connected with people.

 

Bless and de-stress

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Keep your home clean and cleansed during this time, an untidy home will scatter your energies and cause discomfort. Once tidy, burn something cleansing such as sage, cedar or juniper to cleanse the space of negativity. Use an incense stick if you don’t have any of these.  Once done, light a white candle for harmony and peace in the home.

⊗ Curl up with a good book

 

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Fiction can take you to another world that can take your mind off of this one, well, unless you choose to read a dystopian novel. I wouldn’t recommend that right now. Most witches I know have a to-read pile as big as a house and now would be a good time to get stuck into that reading list. Currently this is one of the things I’m doing, and I’m trying not to buy any more books until I’ve got the to-read list reduced.

Δ Get it all out on paper

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Journalling is a good way to get any stress and anxiety out of yourself and onto paper. It’s very cathartic being able to put into words the things your struggle to say or feel you cannot say. Paper gives you the space and freedom to do that.  For an extra cathartic boost, if you have an indoor fireplace or wood burning stove, tear out the papers of your angst and cast them into the fire to be burnt away. You may feel like a weight has been lifted at this point. Got to love a bit of fire magick.

Alternatively, this is a good time to update your book of shadows/grimoire with thoughts, spells, recipes, rituals etc.

Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream…

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Meditation is a fantastic stress reliever. When things are getting too much, go someplace in your home that’s quiet and where you won’t be disturbed and take 5 – 10 minutes to tune everything out and find some peace.  Breathe, ground, and centre your energy.  Light a candle or some incense if you can.

If you struggle to switch off, you might find it easier to follow a guided meditation, or listen to relaxing music and nature sounds. There are a lot of these available on Youtube just now.

◊◊◊

At the end of the day, you’re not alone. We’re all going through this struggle together. It’s important to remember to look after yourself and to show kindness at a time when people may tend to react more out of fear and selfishness.  Pick up the phone and speak to people, check on your family, check on your friends. Stay connected this way and know that this situation is only temporary, things can and will get better ♥

Stay safe and be kind x

Witch, Heal Thyself!

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I’ve been sick with a cold and chest infection for the past week and I know chest infections can last a while (had one before that took 2 months to clear!) so I’ve opted to use some herbal remedies alongside the usual ibuprofen.

***Please check with your GP if you are pregnant or have a health condition before using herbs***

 

Cold and Flu preventatives

If, like me, you are prone to getting colds and flu then you might want to look at ways to prevent the viruses taking hold by changing to a healthier lifestyle. Increase your water, fruit and veg intake, get some regular exercise, take time to relax and get plenty of sleep.

Other aids include echinacea. You can take this in tablet form or tincture form. Echinacea is said to help boost your immune system. The trick is to take it for 7-10 days straight then give your body a two week break then take them again. If you took it all the time your body would just get used to it and it wouldn’t provide any benefit to your immune system.

Elderberry tincture is said to help shorten the duration of colds. Can be taken as soon as you feel a cold coming on or if you’ve been in the presence of people with the cold. I usually make my own elderberry tincture but this year I was late in going foraging and missed out. I opted to buy some from the supermarket instead but it tastes too sweet. Elderberries are generally available to harvest between August – September. As well as for medicine they are good to use in cooking too. Elderberries are full of Vitamin C.

Here is a link about how to make your own elderberry tincture:

https://whisperingearth.co.uk/2010/09/12/elderberry-recipes-for-health-and-for-pleasure/

 

Herbal Tea for colds

I learned to make this in a herbalism class I was attending many moons ago. It has been my go-to tea when I feel a sniffle/sore throat coming on. I know most folk are put off herbal tea because the taste of some of them are really vile, but this one has the added benefit of tasting light and warming.

You will need:

  • A teapot
  • A mug
  • A tea strainer
  • 1 peppermint teabag
  • half a lemon
  • 2 inch slice of ginger root
  • half a cinnamon stick
  • a teaspoon of chopped licorice root
  • a spring of mint
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • a tablespoon of honey

Add the teabag to the pot, with the sliced ginger root, mint, licorice, cinnamon and thyme. Take the lemon and slice two pieces off. Cut off the rind and add the lemon to the pot, and with the remaining lemon squeeze the juice into the pot. Be sure to remove lemon seeds. Add boiling water until the pot is full and then the tablespoon of honey, stir it clockwise and put the lid on leaving the pot to brew for 5 minutes.

Strain and pour into your favourite mug. Drink 2 cups per day.

The peppermint and mint are great for headaches and blocked sinuses, ginger can help with pain and inflammation and its warming. Licorice root helps to clear the respiratory system by helping the body to produce healthy mucus which helps to keep the respiratory system functioning without old, sticky mucus clogging it. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and thyme contains an essential oil called thymol which helps alleviate coughing and fights bacteria. Lemons are rich in vitamin c and are great for flushing toxins out of the body, and honey is soothing on sore throats as well as being antibacterial.

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Onion Poultice

Great for treating congestion and chest infections.

Supplies:

Frying pan

3 tablespoons water

White dishtowel or any clean linen

2 onions

1/4 cup grated organic ginger, optional

Directions:

Chop and lightly saute the onions and ginger in a bit of water. The onions should be lightly cooked, not browned or caramelized.

Carefully drain the cooked onions and optional ginger and spread them out in the center of the dishtowel. Wrap the mixture in the towel burrito style, that is, fold the longer sides over the onions first and then fold the ends.

The onion poultice is now ready to place on the chest of the person suffering from congestion. Make sure the poultice is not too hot before doing this.

Alternatively, the onion poultice can be placed on the soles of the feet to draw the congestion out of the lungs to facilitate normalized breathing.  It is normal for very productive coughing to occur shortly after using the poultice as mucus is expelled from the lungs.

Leave the onion poultice in place for 20 minutes.  It can be gently reheated in the microwave and reused as necessary throughout the day.

It is best to make a fresh onion poultice every 24 hours or so.

Vapor Rub

Rubbed into the chest this can help treat congestion enough to be able to breathe more clearly. The most common is Vicks VapoRub but an alternative can be easily made at home.

You will need:

  • A tub of petroleum jelly
  • Eucalyptus essential oil
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • a bowl
  • a spoon

To make as you go along:

Take a tablespoon of petroleum jelly and add to the bowl. Add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil and 2 drops peppermint and mix together. Use by rubbing onto the chest or on the soles of the feet before bedtime.

If you can’t stand the thought of using petroleum jelly, there is an alternative recipe here: https://wellnessmama.com/3527/natural-vapor-rub/

Eucalyptus oil is also great to add to an oil burner to help ease congestion.

 

Foods

I generally increase my intake of spicy foods like curries, and onions and garlic when I’m sick to help fight the infection faster. Spicy foods can also help to sweat out the flu especially if you’re feeling feverish. One time I made an onion syrup to use as a cough medicine and it was foul! Never again, I’ll stick to frying them and eating them!

Magical healing

While you are sick I would recommend staying away from trying to do magic yourself. If you have some friends in the reiki or witchy communities willing to help, you can ask for them to send you some healing energy. IF you do not have a support network of fellow pagans then do something simple, and try to avoid using your own energy to do it. Try not to charge or empower spells using your own energy; ask the spirits, the gods or the ancestors. Pray to the moon, the sun, stars and planets, pray to the elements and ask for their aid. Use the correspondences, the power of time, the phase of the moon, the properties of the herbs and crystals. Otherwise you may make yourself feel worse and hinder how quickly it will take you to heal.

The most important thing to do when you are ill is to take time to rest. Any plan or project that is not absolutely essential can be left on the back burner until you are fit and well again. Please practice self care when you are sick. If you can barely keep your eyes open then close down Netflix and get your sick bahookie to bed.

Slàinte mhor! (great health) to you dear reader.

 

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Adventures in the Undergrowth

 

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I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.255-60)

Herbalism can seem like a daunting project to take on board, what with their being over 10,000 species in the world. However, you don’t need to know what thousands of herbs do. You don’t even need to know what a hundred herbs do. You’re most likely only going to use a small number of herbs regularly in your life anyway.

I don’t have a garden but I’ve found the best way to learn about herbs is to go outside and LOOK. See what’s growing on the land YOU live on. Don’t know what kind of plant it is? No problem.Take a photograph of it and research it online or with a reference book. Or even better, talk to the plant and ask it what it does. I would recommend not touching the plant, as some can irritate the skin and some are poisonous.

I get excited when I spot a herb I don’t know, and it’s not uncommon for me to dash up a muddy hillside to get a closer look at it. One minute you could be talking to me, the next I’m running up that hill before you’ve even noticed I’ve disappeared!

There’s nothing wrong in learning from herbal books alone, but it’s no comparison for doing your own field work. Also some books tend to focus on plants that aren’t native to your home soil. Walk throughout the land nearby you, through all seasons and you’ll soon be able to spot what certain herbs look like in their different stages of growth, and when the best time of year is to harvest them.

So get outside folks, get back in touch with the spirits of the land, remember your manners too –  herbs are living organisms after all – ask permission before taking any cuttings and never harvest more than 10% of a plant. It’s always nice to leave an offering too.

Over time you will have compiled a sizeable knowledge base of herbalism all by yourself 🙂

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