In the Witch’s Garden, July 26 2014

This morning a couple of scrub jays spent a good hour or two in the holly tree that hangs over the fence, screeching with unrestrained enthusiasm. Usually this neighborhood belongs to the crows, but this morning they were nowhere to be found, perhaps laying low until the annoying visitors moved to another block. The chickadees, on the other hand, continued their usual sedate chorus, unperturbed by the noisy interlopers. Perhaps the jays were messengers of today’s new moon in Leo energy: sing your song, loud and proud, no matter how you sound.

Later as I put down cardboard to keep the pathways clear of weeds–they’ve been making it difficult to get through the garden–all the plants in my tiny garden seemed to be clamoring for attention. From these delicious nasturtiums with foliage that looks like it was spattered with a painters brush,

new moon leo 1bto this courageous and vivid borage,

new moon leo 2bto magical vervain, they all posed for their own magical plant portraits.

new moon leo 3bAnd why not? Even the weeds are beautiful today, especially the bittersweet nightshade, trailing through a shady, unkempt corner of the garden.

new moon leo 5bThis bee, sprinkled with pollen, posed patiently on a squash leaf to have his picture taken. He looks quite pleased with himself.

new moon leo 4cThe borage and nasturtium flowers will add a nice boost of blessing energy for new endeavors as the moon begins to wax once more. I love growing my own magic.


Help Me Choose the Best Cauldron Photo, Plus Giveaway!

Today is my favorite kind of day–cloudy and windy with scattered showers and cool (but not too cold) temperatures. Yes, I was born to be an Oregonian. Though summer is far from over, today’s weather has me thinking of fall, and fall means Halloween–my favorite!

Y’all know I’ve been working on a little greeting card making project. There are a million details to hammer out, from where to have cards printed, to where to sell them, to how to package them and store them and keep track of inventory.

And of course I have to decide which images to use. I’ve been playing with filters and borders and text to design a card with one of my favorite cauldron images. But I’ve made so many variations now, I feel like I have no perspective anymore!

And that’s where you come in. So far I have three images that I quite like. I have a favorite, but I wonder which variation of the image would appeal to people who aren’t me. So here they are.

Image One.

Image One.

You’ve seen image one before. I could also change the text on this one, or make the border more consistent on all sides and remove the text all together.

Image Two

Image Two

I like the colors in Image Two quite a lot, and I’m always a fan of that blurry edge look.

Image Three

Image Three

Image three has a background with a parchment look. I like parchment. At present, these cards will be printed on white recycled paper, so the parchment look will only be on the front of the card.

SO then, my friends: which image do you like best? You have one week to vote!

To sweeten the deal, if you vote I will enter your name in a giveaway to win a free card! You can choose from either the cauldron design or the “Kiss Me” frog design. Just leave a comment letting me know you voted, and you’re in!


Creekside: An afternoon at Sain Creek

Yesterday I took my stepkids for a little picnic at Sain Creek (part of the Scoggins Valley Park). Our favorite picnic area is shady, and since it doesn’t really have any fancy amenities, it tends to be less crowded than most other parts of the park.

sain creek 5

The creek is ice cold and clear, perfect for wading or sitting on a big rock and soaking your feet.

sain creek 4

The play of light and shadows over the water was enchanting.

sain creek 2

As were the tree roots hanging over the bank of the creek.

sain creek 1

The afternoon was a nice change of pace; cool, moving water, shadows, green growing things, and a very smart crow who stole some of our potato chips. I didn’t get a picture of the thief: he or she was too fast.

sain creek 3


What’s Happening in the Studio, Pagan Greeting Cards Edition

It’s been ages since I gave you an update on Greenwoman Studio happenings.

That, my friends, is because the weather has been hot, and I’ve been busy, and a lot of what I’ve been working on isn’t really ready to see the light of day yet.

But! I’ve made some progress. Lately I’ve been playing with my photographs and researching new ways to use them. I’d never consider myself a fine art photographer, but I love my pictures and I love sharing them. With that in mind, I’ve been experimenting with Photoshop CS2. (Yes, I know there are newer versions. CS2 is free!)

Experimenting

And I’ve had a few greeting cards printed on recycled paper to see how they look. A frog prince,

frog card sampleAnd something witchy.

samhain preview smallI’m liking the results so far. Greeting cards seem like a suitable use for my homey, cottage-witch themed images. What do you all think?


Full Moon Magic: Consecration Oil

Two days before the last full moon, the mugwort was nearly as tall as me, and in that perfect budding stage where it could be harvested without blowing pollen up my nose and making me sneeze. The rosemary was lush and vibrant, and the garden sage was crowding the borage. It was time for my first big harvest of herbs from my little city garden: enough to make an infused oil for consecration.

witchy business super grainy 3

I went out with a basket and shears, and gathered a basket full of green. I spread the herbs out on my workspace and breathed in the heady sharpness of rosemary and sage, the bug-repellant-esque but oddly pleasant smell of mugwort.

As I stripped leaves and blossoms from twigs to fill my jar, my fingers grew sticky with resin. I entered an almost trance-like state, my vision full of green, my bare feet tingling on the hardwood floor. I often find myself in this state when I process fresh herbs, simultaneously deeply rooted and connected to another reality.

I poured olive oil from California over the fresh herbs in the jar. After poking air out of the oil with a mugwort twig, I capped it and placed it on my working altar with labradorite, calcite, and a votive candle.

witchy business super grainy 2

I had far more sage and mugwort than I needed for my oil, so I tied them in bundles to dry and hung them in the storage room.

On the night of the full moon, I put my oil out in the garden to charge in the moonlight. I’ll let it steep until the next full moon, and then decant it and charge it once more for all kinds of blessings and anointings. I think it’s going to smell amazing, and I can’t wait to use it.


Sometimes Magic Has the Last Word

Some of you may remember that I used to make charms that I sold in my Etsy shop. Usually I made charms by request, but every once in a while I would feel compelled to make something without knowing the identity of the recipient.

This happened during the last month I lived with my ex. The rosehips were extraordinarily bright, the teasel was especially abundant, and the Hawthorn tree dropped a branch–or rather, flung it, if its location several feet from the tree was any indication.

I took these signs to mean the garden was on a mission, and I set about making some charms, though I didn’t know who they were for. I made two–a love charm, and a protection charm.

Normally when I start a creative project, I have some idea of what I want it to look like in the end. But when it comes to charms, I always feel the objects have their own agendas. I usually end up feeling my way through the process. Basically, it begins with the components. I spread the pieces out on my workspace and stare at them. I drink tea. I move things around. I stare at them some more. And then somehow, something clicks, and the object comes together into a harmonious whole. The process is usually time consuming. In the case of the love and protection charms, it took hours. But they were happy, focused, magical hours.

love charm sagewoman2

I charged the love charm and the protection charm under the full moon. The love charm was so intense and potent it made me nervous. I put it in a box and waited to learn who it was for.

Two weeks later my life fell apart. (Or should I say, finished falling apart. The process had been underway for months, whether I was willing to admit it or not.) Those two charms were the last magical objects I would make in my old home: most of my herbal supplies had to be left behind, but the love charm and the protection charm came with me to the city. They hid in a box in my altar cabinet for several months while I got my feet under me.

The protection charm came out first, when feelings of vulnerability and dismay overwhelmed me.

Then, several months after my new start, I set up an altar and asked for love. I was drained and miserable, and I couldn’t summon up the reserves for a proper spell. So I retrieved the love charm from its box and placed it on my tiny altar, atop a pile of carnelian, amethyst, and rose quartz. I added two hand-knit, hand-embroidered hearts I made with a friend years ago, and some beeswax candles.

Less than two months later I fell head over heels in love. It was love at first sight–or I should say, first conversation. Last summer we adopted kittens together. Last fall, we moved in together. We’re getting married next year.

Sometimes I don’t know I’m doing magic for myself. I didn’t need the love charm when I made it. Maybe a part of me knew a time would come, several months in my future, when I would need that magic, and wouldn’t have the resources or presence of mind to do a working of that magnitude for myself. Or maybe the guides who show me what I need to know when I’m doing reiki or giving a reading directed my hands.

I know magic is largely about intention and focus, but I also know there’s a strong component of mystery to it–at least for me. When I do magic, I’m setting things in motion with my will; but I’m also joining forces with energies outside myself, whose methods might be different from my own. I think this element of surprise, the entrance of external forces into my plans, is what makes magic work when my so-called mundane efforts have failed.

It’s also why I tend to use magic as a last resort, after I’ve tried every other thing I can think of. Maybe other witches are smart enough to control all the variables of their spells, to determine the outcomes, but I’ve always had to allow a lot of room for synchronicity in my life. Yes, my spells almost always work. But they never, ever work the way I expect.

Sometimes, as in the case of the love charm, I’m really glad they don’t.


The Winner of the Goddess Giveaway

Happy Summer Solstice to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere! And happy Winter Solstice to everyone in the Southern Hemisphere.

Rafflecopter has chosen a winner at random from among the entries: Congratulations to Jan H!

If you didn’t win, don’t feel bad. I’ll probably do another giveaway some time in the near future.


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