A Witch at Home: A little on Witchcraft in the Kitchen

black frying pan with spaghetti sauce near brown wooden ladle and ripe tomatoes

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Although, my last blog post had me in a position of sharing my practices, once again my guides have taken me off one path and on to another. Sometimes I think they are just as lost as I am. However, I do understand why they are having me jump around. It’s like looking through old photo albums to understand where I have been and to where I will be heading. Good and bad memories need to be left in the past to allow oneself to be in the moment. This post came from one of those moments, in how I was conversing about how cooking can be just as a magickal act as casting a spell.

The kitchen has been the heart and hearth of many homes, past and present. When you have a gathering in your home, where do most of your guests end up? The kitchen, of course! The kitchen is like an old pair of sweat pants. It’s comfortable. It’s warm. It’s where you watched your mom make your favorite meals and ate cake batter off your grandmother’s spoon. It’s a familiar place to be, even if you’re in unfamiliar surroundings. This connection to the kitchen is the same as our ancestors had with the hearth of the house. The hearth was the center of the home, it provided heat on cold winter nights, and it was where the meals of the day were cooked. The hearth was also the focal point for many magickal and spiritual practices. It acted much like a household altar. Many of today’s fireplace traditions can be traced back to the days of the hearth’s predominance in the home.

Magick in the kitchen and hearth goes back thousands of years and is practiced across cultures. Fire and stone ovens were thought to be magickal because of their transformative powers. As society progressed, a large iron cauldron hung regularly over the fire of the hearth. In many households, this is where dinners were cooked and laundry was washed, and medicines were made, all in the same pot. What we consider old world Witchcraft, folk magick, and superstitions today was a common practice that could be found in the days of the hearth. Many of which can now be seen in two paths or traditions in modern Witchcraft, known as Kitchen and Green Witchcraft.

Kitchen Witchcraft is a unique tradition of many solitary practitioners. It is about finding sacredness in everyday simple acts such as cooking and cleaning. Kitchen Witches make the simple chores of everyday life a sacred and magickal act, and for many, this is also how they honor their gods and goddesses.  Kitchen witchery can be seen as one of the oldest forms of Witchcraft in that it follows the tradition of the wise women of ancient times.  Even if you do not practice any sort of kitchen magick, the power of food and how it sparks emotions and memories is almost magick in itself. Is there a meal or dish that creates a feeling of happiness or love? It is this magick that can be shared with anyone. From cooking a meal for a significant other on Valentine’s Day to making a pot of chicken soup for a sick friend, everyone adds a little magick to their cooking. It’s about the intent and emotion behind the cooking. For Witches and non-Witches alike, we all add a little magick to what we prepare. Then there is also the concept of using food itself within spell work. Spells that use food or those that are focused within the kitchen are some of the oldest practices in Witchcraft. This may be due to the easy access and commonality of food in our lives. Witches of old did much of their practices around the hearth. Where today this can be seen as a stove and what has become known as kitchen witchery. From baking bread with bay leaves to egg divination, kitchen-based spells can be found in every tradition.

A few years ago, there was a TV commercial that would show someone drawing a heart in peanut butter before making a sandwich and then presenting it to someone. I immediately could see the potential of a spell happening to the unsuspecting mothers coping this act. Kitchen witchery is about transforming the ordinary and mundane tasks and making them sacred and magickal. Cooking is no exception; even simple morning toast can be a magickal act. Bon appetit!

A Witch at Home: Floor Washes

person using mop on floor

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I normally do not post or give away any of my personal magickal secrets. However, so many people have asked me what I did upon moving into my new home for cleansing and purification, other than using sage and your typical products. So, I decided to talk about floor washes and for the first time ever post a recipe from my book of shadows.

The use of floor washes is what I would call the tried and true traditional Witchcraft. They are a common part of spiritual cleansing and are usually found in many old-world magick and Conjure traditions. Spiritual floor washes are especially found within the Hispanic and Latin American spiritual cultures, and in Hoodoo/Rootwork and folk magick of the Afro-American cultures. Whereas, the practice of washing an area with a specially prepared herbal mixture will bring out the magickal properties of the herbs and add to the desired intention. They are often used for such things as to attract love, luck, and money but can also be used for banishing and protection.

architecture bricks building bungalow

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How are washes used?

There are more ways to use floor washes then there are the traditions that use them. Typically, they are used after all mundane cleaning has been done. Floor washes are not just used on the floors of your home. They can be and should be used to wash windows, walls, and doors. The direction or start of the wash depends on the intention of the floor wash. In the case of cleansing and banishing, one would start at the back and top of the home and end at the front door. Many traditional practitioners feel the front door should also be washed from top to bottom and in some cases the porch and sidewalk. Cleaning everything along the way in a counter-clockwise direction. Some traditions ask that certain candles, oils, and prayers be used after the work is done. After everything has been cleaned the left-over water is disposed of toward the east or at specific places, such as a four-way crossroads.

anise aroma art bazaar

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How are washes made?

Most Traditional or original floor washes were made with only three ingredients. Due to modern homes having multiple types of surfaces more ingredients and have been added. Others have been added over the years due to personal choice and tradition. The earliest floor washes were made by mixing salt with some form of cleaning agent such as ammonia or lye, and a variety of herbs. Some older recipes required the mixing in of urine. These items were/are all added in a magickal fashion to a bucket of water.

 

General formula for making a floor wash

  • Boil all of the ingredients for 20 minutes in 1 quart of water.
  • Allow the liquid mixture to cool.
  • Add 1 cup of ammonia to the liquid mixture.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Spiritual Water such as Florida water.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into a glass storage bottle until ready to use.

Recipe for banishing old or harmful energies in a home

Although, the basics of this recipe was given to me many years ago by an old friend’s mother, I have altered it over the years to fit my personal tastes or rather my personal smells.

2 cups water

4 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 cup rosemary

1 cup Sea salt or Epson salt (not as harsh on floors than other salts)

1 cup Pine Needles

1 cup White Sage

1/2 cup Clove

1/2 cup Basil

1/2 cup Bay Laurel

10 Cinnamon Sticks

1 cup vinegar or ammonia

Go away evil oil (or any bansihing oil) added to bottom of the storage jar

Add all herbs to the water and boil for 10 min, allow to seep for 2 hours. Solid ingredients may be strained out before or during first use. Add to bottle with oil on the bottom. allow to cool. Add vinegar or ammonia. Close the jar and store before use.

Note: Floor Washes can also be used as sprays if you have carpet. Your floors should be physically cleaned before being spiritually cleansed.

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The Art of Living a Magickal Life

(c) The New Art Gallery Walsall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Recently, I was asked to be the keynote speaker at Iron Garden. For those who don’t know who or what the Iron Garden is, it is an eclectic night-kind community found in NJ. I highly recommend checking out their website. This blog post is based of the speech I wrote for their event.

At first, I was a little reluctant about being a keynote speaker, not because of the atmosphere that Iron Garden employs, but because I had no idea what I was going to talk about. Of course, talking about the typical Witchcraft and Magickal topics would have been easy, but after looking at Iron Garden’s past events, I knew It had to be something special and different. it turned out that the very thing that brought me to this point, would also bring me to my topic. I like to consider myself a Witch, and an Artist by choice and intention, and an Author by divine persuasion and to my own astonishment. I’ve studied and worked hard in becoming a Witch and an Artist because this was the path I chose to follow. it’s what I wanted to do. Of course, I have had my teachers and guidance along the way, but It was all due to my intention.

Ten years ago, I never would have thought I would be or even wanted to be an author, let alone being asked to be a keynote speaker. The idea of writing books was never a life goal for me, it was my guides who thought otherwise. I truly thought they were out of their Divine minds, me, writing books. I was an artist not an author. Fast forward 3 years later, I have written three books, magazine articles, and maintain a blog. All while still creating art, although that has also taking a surprising spiritual turn as well.

I have a very busy and magickal life. There is not a second that goes by that doesn’t have a magickal component to my life. Even in my classroom when I am wiping snotty noses, I am connected to the magick of the universe. Maintaining this magickal life has become an art all its own. I can attribute everything I am and do to being aware and listening to my intuition, my deities, my ancestors, and who and whatever else decides to throw their mystical two cents in.

What does it mean to live a magickal life?

Living a magickal life means being constantly in tune with the spiritual world around you, it’s about listening and being open to your intuition and to the messages from your spiritual guides. It happens twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Does this mean you need to run around shouting “Love and Light to all” of course not, that’s crazy. So instead I talk to the dead and spirits of animals.

The image most people have of those living a magical life is often of a robed priest or priestess, dancing around a bonfire, under the full moon, or mixing exotic herbs in a mortar and pestle. While this can seem very exciting and theatrical, alas we are not Laurie Cabot.

Actually, most of the time life can seem pretty daunting and un-magickal, between caring for our families, going to work, going to school, cleaning the house, running around stubbing our toe on that box we have meaning to put away since January. However, all it takes is a shift in perspective to see how the mundane can become magickal. Magick can be incorporated into your daily life simply just by being mindful and putting a little extra effort into your everyday life. You don’t have to perform an elaborate ritual every day to be connected. It’s about being aware of the simple things around you.

One way is by paying attention to the natural world, the seasons, the phases of the moon and how the world around you affect the way you feel or how it may correspond to aspects of your life. By doing this you are actually tuning in to the energies of the universe, which can give insight to how life will be during those times.

Secondly, Take the time to get in touch with nature and the land you live on. Even if you live in a big city, there is nature all around you. Just take a second and connect with that weed growing in a crack of the sidewalk. He may feel just as lonely as you do or he may have advice on how to deal with that loneliness.

Another way is to listen to your gut, your intuition. This takes a little practice but once you understand the feelings, life changes for the better. In most cases your intuition is your first thought or feeling, the first thing that pops into your mind and trust me it’s usually not the most logical of thoughts.

Lastly, when you are doing something mundane, think about how you can use it in a magickal application. For example, when you’re baking cookies, consider what sort of magickal working you can incorporate into the recipe. There is nothing wrong with adding a little passion magick to a meal you make for a lover.

Another way I found that helps is to keep a sort of magickal schedule and routine. It’s about dedicating yourself to doing one magickal act every day of the week. I believe so much in this practice that I created an entire curriculum around its use. In my second book, A Modern Witch’s curriculum, which will be released in June that is based on a weekly schedule, whereas each day, week, and month has a theme.

Of course, as with anything, this schedule can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it and not only will it keep you connected but can open the doors to learning about your path and yourself as well.

There are also a few other practices that you can incorporate into your daily magickal life, such as regularly openly communicating with your deities and spiritual guides. Through daily meditation and devotions with your deities and guides you keep the lines of communication open. This is by far is more complex of the methods of spiritual guidance there is. It doesn’t happen overnight.

One practice that I find the most rewarding is working with your ancestors. By building a relationship with your ancestors you can inherit valuable information about almost anything. Who better to get advice from then someone who has lived through it.

There are many ways we can reconnect with our ancestors, some of which you probably already do.

Some of the most common ways to connect with them is with use of:

Relics: these are personal belongings of the deceased, photos, written items by that person, even the cremated remains of loved ones.

Altars and shrines: Altars are a place to hold your collection of relics and to give offerings and whereas shrines are usually dedicated to one person and temporary at the time of death until they are moved to your altar. However, both are a place to honor and communicate with them.

Offerings: are how we feed the dead, we are not physically feeding them, we are feeding the link between us and the physical world and the spirit world.

Communication: conversations are a form of offering. At first this may seem a little strange, but once you do it after a few times it becomes easier. When starting out openly speaking to the dead I recommend you do this just before bed. You may find that you may receive answers to your conversations in your dreams

By connecting or reconnecting with our ancestors we bring the past and present together and bridge the gap between generations. They are and will become a foundation to your magickal life.

One of the most asked about of my practices is with working with animal spirits. Of course, this could be an entire blog post on its on as there is so much information. But what I will say is, if an animal spirit has something to say it will show up over and over again until it is heard. One rule of thumb that I follow is, if it shows up three times consecutively it has something to say.

Another question I am often asked is, how do you know if it’s a message or if it’s your imagination? There is two ways to answer this question.

1. Ask for validation. It’s ok to ask the spirits to validate your thoughts and questionings.

2. Be aware of possible causes. If you are constantly seeing a deer on your way home from work, is it because it’s in the evening when they come down out of the mountains to graze, or maybe it is hunting season when deer seem to be running amok?

I know of an acquaintance that swore up and down, backwards and sideways that her spirit animal was the red tail hawk and that they follow her everywhere and even circle her home. Ok, yes, she lives off a mountain where red tails frequent, however, they do not regularly circle, especially in multiples. Although, I had a feeling I knew what these birds were, I just left it alone. Until, one day we were together at an event, and she pointed out “her” hawks. I looked up and what do you think I saw circling above…. Yep, turkey vultures! Nope not a sign, just normal animal behavior.

Whether you are working with deities, the dead or animal spirits, the simplest way to connect to them is sending out your intentions to make contact.

And Although, these practices can take a little more work than the previous, they can be very helpful in making your life magickal.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try. If you open yourself up to the endless possibilities, the possibilities for yourself could be endless.

Living a magickal life really is an art, it’s about being able to balance the mundane and the magickal. it’s living consciously and subconsciously, in harmony with the worlds around us and to the best of your ability. It’s about acquiring knowledge, not only about magickal practices, but about yourself and your own life.

 

 

The Modern Witch’s Curriculum will be available for pre-order in late May.

Nominate Author, E. Massey for a Witch Way Magazine Award