Witchcraft, wine and the spirit of Mandragora

The day had arrived, and I took a ritual bath to prepare myself. My home was cleansed with florida water and a burning stick of palo santo.

Some folks say that before taking any sort of entheogen you need to sort out any issues with ego and the subconscious first as you may be shown things you’ve been trying to avoid dealing with. My psyche was preparing itself throughout the week, bringing me dreams of previous issues I had not properly dealt with, and after such dreams I felt more at peace with myself.

We witches gathered at my home in preparation for the mandrake ritual using the ointment I purchased from Sarah Anne Lawless  http://sarahannelawless.com/.

The atmosphere was jovial and exciting, as friends laughed with each other.

The space was sained with blessed water and palo santo incense, and Wardruna played softly in the background (excellent music for ritual). We discussed expectations from the ointment. Three of us were going to try it, the other two to witness (and luckily, one of them is a nurse, so we knew we’d be in safe hands). Those two witches decided to imbibe some red wine instead.

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We three applied a pea sized amount of the mandrake ointment to begin with. We spent some time meditating and grounding, then each witch was sained with blessed water and palo santo. Incense and a candle were lit in offering to the spirit of the mandrake ointment. Then a thorny hedge circle was cast…

“Above and below. Around and about, good keep in, evil keep out”

 

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Palo santo, blessed water and my scrying mirror

 

The ancestors and guardian spirits were called in to the beat of the drum. I felt a mild effect from the mandrake, like a slight shift in perception, it felt a bit surreal. J commented it was like he was watching everything as though he weren’t fully present.

We drummed and chanted for a little while We are the flow and we are the ebb, we are the weavers, we are the web.” and I felt my energy levels rise. I noticed the difference in the other two, they were starting to loosen up more, whilst the two wine witches were jovial. We three decided to be brave and try another pea sized amount of mandrake ointment.

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We sent some healing to a friend, and got out the cards and scrying mirrors for divination. The visions seemed to come with very little effort and more than once a few of us picked up on the same answers as each other. We were all very much in tune, and we wanted to do more with the ritual than we had planned. We certainly had the energy for more! We decided to work on some of the fears holding us back. We used the drum to break up the fear energy within us, and we used laughter to help expel it’s hold on us. We gave our fears a voice. A very silly voice. A voice that’s funny and can’t be taken seriously. Each of us used that voice to air our fears and fell into fits of laughter.

It was time to wind the ritual down, and farewell and thanks were given to our ancestors and guardian spirits, then the thorny circle was dismantled and we were free to eat and drink! I prepared some non fatty snacks of oatcakes, ham and red onion chutney, some blueberries and strawberries and angel slice cakes (kinda non fatty…) and we fell on them, devouring like wolves. Rituals usually get folk hungry, but I had ate very little that day in preparation for using the ointment.

The wine flowed and so did some of the best conversation I’ve ever been part of. It seems that witches, wine and mandrake ointment create the perfect atmosphere for discussing philosophy, physics, religion and theosophy. In between jokes and bouts of laughter of course 😉 I wish I had recorded that conversation! No doubt there will be many more in future.

Sadly I had to say goodbye to my friends as it was getting late. I could have happily stayed up all night with them. We were all rather tipsy and merry and I’m glad the ritual was a success.

I washed the ointment off and drank a lot of water before bed. But I couldn’t sleep. The mandrake was giving me the energy to do stuff whilst my drunk wine-fuelled self wanted sleep. Sarah Anne Lawless mentions that one of the side effects of mandrake is blurred vision. My left eye blurred for a while, and my other eye was seeing everything more vividly. My sense of smell and hearing was heightened too. It took a few hours for body and mind to settle down and I managed some sleep.

It was a restless sleep filled with dreams, throwing up more things I need to deal with and purge from my psyche. Mandrake has taught me a lot in a short space of time.

I would also like to add that I am not using an entheogen as a shortcut. I agree it’s better to do the work yourself to get to an altered state of consciousness. I wanted to try the ointment to see how it would affect me and my practice. It is something I will try again in future, but the majority of the time I will be doing the hard work myself without an aid and I recommend the same to anyone reading this.

Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh!

 

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep…

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“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

– Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, 1818

 

The sleepy Earth is awakening, and with it grows my need to get out into the green land. Dundee may be the fourth largest city in Scotland but luckily there are no shortage of green spaces here, there are plenty of woodlands and parks to access.

My witchy friend J and I wandered through Templeton Woods to draw in that green energy. Upon our arrival there we were greeted by a red squirrel at one of the feeders, but he disappeared before I could get a photo of him. We had both visited these woods a year before and what a difference! It was snowing last Spring Equinox:

 

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Templeton Woods, Spring Equinox 2013

It felt good to be outdoors, our feet treading the well worn paths through the woods, breathing in the crisp air and taking in the glorious sight of acres of giant trees sighing in the wind. And how does one describe the perfume of a woodland, except to say it smells like green and gold?

What do witches talk about in the woods? Well, witchcraft 😉 We discussed different ways to hedgecross and the shamanic version of journeying by using an opening in the earth, when we came across an uprooted birch tree – a perfect example of an opening in the earth for shamanic journeying/travelling.

 

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We talked about hoodoo and flying ointments (I hope to buy one of Sarah’s mandrake ointments in the near future – http://blackartsfoundry.com/ ) and workings each of us were considering doing in the near future. Sometimes a walk in the woods and a good witchy chat is all one needs to feel revitalised again.

As we walked deeper into the woods, the energy began to feel more untamed and less human. I remembered my manners and said a silent prayer to the spirit of the land to tell it we meant no harm.

The woodland floor was covered in a blanket of dead leaves and the skeletal bones of old trees. I was hoping to find the perfect branch for making a stang, but sadly I didn’t bring any cutting tools. I did find a mini stang which had a curious little face on it, but the branch had been weathered down and picked hollow by insects and I want a branch with a bit of life left in it.

On our way back to the car a deer jumped in front of our path and darted off in the dark heart of the woods. I only glimpsed it briefly, J got a better view and was enthralled.

The sun was setting and we continued our chat on the drive to get food at the witchiest of places… McDonalds lol. Then a stop at mine for tea and cream cakes and nostalgic chat about the most successful and absurd spells we cast in our youth. Some of them totally cringe worthy and ridiculous, I was definitely more than a bit fluffy back in the day. But hey we all start somewhere, no judgey 😉

I will be back in the woods as much as I can be, working with the genius loci and looking for my stang and just breathing in as much green and gold as possible.

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Templeton Woods, March 2014.

 

Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh!

(Great health and every good blessing to you!)