Posts Tagged ‘protection’
Garlic and superstition have gone hand in hand for millennia. A tasty, natural curative –garlic’s power as a magickal protective charm and as a potent remedy has remained strong from ancient times through to the present day.
Worried about vampires? No problem. Carry some garlic and decorate your doors and windows with it. The use of garlic to protect against these pop culture prevalent denizens of the night is perhaps the most ubiquitous use of the aromatic bulb known today.
But its usage as a form of apotropaic or warding magick is far more ancient. The ancient Egyptians would utilize it to protect the sanctity of contracts and oaths. Medieval miners would carry it down to the mines with them to ward against evil spirits like the invisible and mischevious German kobolds. The pungent odor and easily portable bulb and cloves of the garlic plant ( allium sativum) made and, indeed, still make it, an ideal charm against evil in all of its multiple forms. Its Sanskrit name Rasona or Lasuona actually means ‘Slayer of Monsters.’ But not all of the monsters it protected against were of the fiendish variety. More often then not, it was the monstrous interior medical ills that garlic was utilized to protect against.
The second century AD Roman physician Galen of Pergamon labeled garlic as a ‘theriac’ or antidote which eventually translated into its widespread usage in imperial Roman medicine as a universal panacea or curative. In Ayurvedic medicine, one of the earliest ongoing systems of homeopathic curatives, garlic was utilized as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, and charm against virulent diseases like smallpox. Indeed, the sulfur and selenium components within the garlic bulb which presumably originated as a defense mechanism against hungry predatory animals result in garlic’s scientifically recognized properties as a valuable antiseptic, which does indeed aid in protecting against bacteria, inflammation, and viruses. Recent studies indicate that the consumption of garlic may help prevent against certain types of cancer. Garlic was recognized early on for its curative powers, but we are only just exploring the tip of the iceberg of what its wonderful biological magick can do for our own biological systems.
Biomagick aside, my particular favorite fact in the litany of garlic’s history (some of which is included above and others of which you will encounter in Sacred Mists fabulous Herbalist Course ) relates to its ritual usage. Garlic was once the primary offering to the great Greek goddess of magick herself: the mighty Hekate. The third century BCE philosopher Theophrastus recorded in his botanical texts Enquiry into Plants and On the Causes of Plants how garlic would be offered at crossroads and in front of the three-faced statues dedicated to Hekate found at such places.
SO the next time you throw a bit of delicious garlic into your cooking, take a second to speculate about the long legacy of interaction between garlic and humankind. For at least five thousand years men and women have consumed this tasty plant and utilized it in their magico-medicine practices. It is a tradition of tastiness and superstition predating biological scientific fact, one which you are continuing by adding it into your daily diet.
Black Bags and Wrapping Paper: Magickally Warding off Evil One Tinsel Bow and Strip of Scotch Tape at a Time
I’ve been unpacking my suitcases the last few days and am bemused by how many plastic shopping bags I acquired over the past three months of excavation out in the deserts of the Middle East. And while the plastic bags from the cities of Jordan do often follow the same Safeway, Target, boutique store X model; the bags from the smaller stores, and especially the stores out in the boondocks middle of nowhere (like where the dig I work with is based): are all black. No logo, no design, no nothing. Just black. Initially I had thought this was a question of economy. That some black bag producing mini-wonder had cornered the Middle Eastern bag market. But actually, it turns out, it is mostly a question of superstition and folk magick.
The black bags of Jordan are not simply bags. They are a practical device which also wards off evil spirits and bad intentions. They are modern pieces of protection magick practiced by a living culture.
Local superstition holds that if someone were to see what you had purchased (i.e. if you were just carrying it around or used a more see-through type of bag), their envious Evil Eye could curse your purchase. And so when you went to drink your soda or use your shampoo, the bad luck cast upon the item would transfer onto you for having utilized it. The black bag keeps your purchases secret, safe from the nefarious Evil Eye which so haunts the Eastern Mediterranean imagination and customs.
It’s bad enough when You use the cursed object, but its deemed particularly bad form in Jordanian culture to pass on any jinxed purchases. And thus, when you present a gift to your friends, neighbors, or in the case of this past season: your local awesome Department of Antiquities representative; you promptly hand over your gift still in its black bag, and just after you enter their home but before you are introduced to the rest of the household in the ubiquitous social room of their house. The black bag keeps the evil energy of onlookers at bay while outside, but once inside, a quick opening of the present at the doorway is still necessary, lest other guests watch you unwrap the gift and curse it in the tiny window remaining before ownership is firmly transferred.
The formality of the black bag social customs initially struck me as quite a deliciously bizarre facet of modern Jordanian culture. But then it occurred to me that really, western culture is no different. We just wrap our presents in much more expense, even more highly stylized formats. Birthdays and the long list of fabulous winter holidays up for celebration (we do them all in my family) are not complete without some well-wrapped presents. And while much of the importance of the wrapping is placed on the idea of keeping the gift a surprise, realistically: the tradition of and psychology behind wrapping gifts is literally all wrapped up (pardon the pun) in that same idea of controlling the kinds of thought focused onto the gift. Once its unwrapped, the gift is open to all kinds of judgment: from the recipient and from those at the unwrapping. Let’s face it, it’s hard not to immediately judge a gift once given: Was it the right gift for that person? Did the recipient give an equally appropriate gift back to the giver or did they spend more or less money on their gift? Isn’t that just like what so and so got for such and such? All of these swarms of thoughts are out there, presumably affecting the now naked gift. It makes sense to keep it under wraps for as long as possible, just to keep all the potentially negative energies at bay.
It is almost conceivable that the brightly colored, intricate wrapping paper which is used for gifts in the western world adds some good energy to the gift. In such situations where ‘it’s the thought that counts,’ surely a thought that comes with spangly, glittering wrapping paper and bows counts a bit more. Be it stupidly expensive designer wrapping paper or cleverly done up comic books (hipster style!): that bit of extra energy that goes into a lovely wrapping job, that extra dollop of creative good will may well be a form of psychological magick in and of itself. Not only does it feel good to give beautifully looking gifts, it feels good to get them. If the energy of the gift can be altered by the wrapping, it makes sense that the joy of a well-wrapped, well intentioned gift would invoke good energy just as much as it protects against the envious Evil Eye.
So ladies and gentleman, bust out your mini-baubles, your ribbon fringers, your fancy labels, and colored tape. And send out positive energy as you wrap your presents this holiday season. It adds a little bit more magick to every gift you give!
P.S. It’s good to be back in the states (and with working internet!) More blogs on the past few months of archaeology and anthropology-tastic travel, as well as a slew of holiday topics and History of Witches in the Western World promos coming soon! So watch this space! xxx
Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Bird in the fire goes to represent when the Lady knows.
Oak in the forest towers with might, in the first it beings the God’s insight.
Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazle, the tree of wisdom and learning, adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.
Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.
Elder is the Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Oak was a very important tree and wood source for many of the Indo-European people. Being a very dense wood it was a main source for fires and was also used for fashioning everything from shelters to boats to weapons such as bows and spears. An ancient 8th century Irish text called “Bretha Comaithchesa”, meaning “judgments of neighborhood”, was a legal document that dealt with issues of farming, animal care, and overall laws between neighbors, lists seven “noble woods”, oak, hazel, holly, yew and ash, detailing their economic value to the community. Oak was listed because the acorns were useful for many common tasks such as woodwork, tanning, and feeding pigs. The document listed that the fine for damaging any of these noble trees was five séta, roughly two and a half cows. If the bark was stripped of an oak tree, which was used for tanning, other fines were imposed ranging from a single cowhide to a single oxhide depending on how much oak bark was taken. The individual would then have to treat the wounds of the tree with a salve until new growth of approximately the width of two fingers could be seen.
For many of us, when we think of the mighty oak trees, one of the first images that may be called to mind is that of the white robed Druids, images that we may be familiar with from history books and documentaries on the Celts and the Craft. The connection between Druids and the oak tree reach all the way back to the word Druid. The old Celtic word druwis is thought to have Indo-European roots and means “oak” and “knowledge”. Old Irish sees the word druí meaning “oak”. However it’s the work of the Romans and Greeks that most modern scholars look at in regards to the etymology of the word Druid, breaking it down as being derived from their word drus meaning “oak tree” (though some will point toward the pre-Indo-European deru meaning “firm or solid”) and weid meaning “to see”. Together these root words the word Druid holds the meaning “Strong Seer”, something that the Druids were certainly seen as. Still others see Druid as being derived from druí and wid to give it the meaning “knowledge of the oak”.
In modern Pagan and Wiccan practice, whether you are specifically working with the practices of the Druid tradition or not, the power of the oak tree can be harnessed and used for many different purposes. We’ll look briefly at two specific uses, herbal and magickal in the form of charms.
The leaves and bark from the oak tree can be used to make an astringent which can help to tone the skin as well as heal skin tissue from scraps and cuts. Oak can also help heal sore throats, fever and chest congestion. It’s also been suggested that a tea made of oak and used externally as a rub on the skin can help to reduce varicose veins. Boiled water infused with oak can also be used as a rinse on hair that is dandruff prone to reduce a dry or irritated scalp. A poultice made of oak leaves and bark can be used to reduce redness, swelling and pain resulting from a burn on the skin. Overall oak can be a very useful tree to be familiar with, especially if you find yourself camping or hiking in the woods, and you find that you need a remedy for a common injury or illness.
A Word Of Caution
The bark used for oak remedies needs to be taken from the branches of the tree and not the trunk as this could kill the tree. It should also be done in the early part of the spring and it can then be dried and stored for use throughout the year. The leaves need to be gathered before Summer Solstice because after this time the leaves will contain too many plant alkaloids which can make some people very ill and cause hallucinations.
Oak bark, leaves and powder are often available through apothecaries, markets that sell natural healing aids and through many online herbal sources. If you’re not sure of the specifics of a tree and you wish to use oak for medicinal reasons, please check with a retail provider and purchase from them to ensure you are getting something safe for internal or external healing use.
When it comes to internal use white oak is the most preferred as it has the least harsh taste. English oak can be used internally as well however most other oaks, including black and red oak, should only be used for external purposes.
Oak Bark Tea: To make a tea that can be used for internal healing, use a tablespoon of dried White or English oak bark and simmer in a pint of water, in a nonmetallic pot, covered tightly, for ten minutes. Drink up to three cups a day to help with sore throat, fever, stomach problems, or diarrhea.
Oak Leaf Tea: To make a leaf tea which can be used for external healing, such as to dress cuts, scrapes and burns, steep two teaspoons of shredded White or English oak leaves in one cup of boiled water for about twenty minutes. You can then take strips of clean cloth, soak them in the water, and then wrap them around the area to be treated.
Healing Salve using Oak: This salve uses oak as one of its ingredients and can be used to help soothe irritation on the skin as well as help to heal small cuts. Melt 1 ounce of beeswax in 8 ounces of warm olive oil. Mix in 1 teaspoon each of the following in a powdered form: White oak bark, Myrrh, Comfrey. Store in a canning jar, bottling while still warm, and keep in a dark place. This makes about 10 ounces and will last a good long while and can be simply smoothed on the irritated or injured area when needed.
Oak as a Charm
Oak, having many different magickal and spiritual properties, can be used for a number of different charms. Here are a few simple ones that can be used for protection and prosperity.
Oak Charm for Prosperity: For this charm to help protect either yourself or your personal property, such as a home or car, you will need 2 oak twigs and some red thread.
- Gather two oak twigs from any oak tree. If you cannot find fallen branches and you decide to take live ones, ask permission first, take small pieces, only the two that you need, and leave an offering of blessed water on the roots of the tree.
- Form a cross with the twigs by laying one across the other.
- Tie them together at the center with the red string using a chant such as: “Oak tree tall, oak tree strong, guard me and mine against all wrong.”
- You can then either place the oak charm in your home near your main entry way, such as the front door, in your car or carry it with you in a red charm bag.
Oak Charm for Prosperity: If you are looking to use the oak to draw a little financial fortune your way, the acorns from an oak tree can help. For this one you’ll need one acorn, a green charm bag or green piece of cloth, and three oak leaves.
- On the evening of a full moon, either go out and gather your acorn, or take an acorn you already have outside, and while standing under the moon and stars, hold the acorn and say: “Seed of the stars, I plant my wish, blessed with the power of the forest.”
- Plant the acorn in soil either at the based of the oak tree, in a small pot, or in another sacred place on your property. Do this while visualizing your finances growing and improving.
- Take three oak leaves from the tree and leave an offering of of blessed water on the roots.
- Place the leaves inside your charm bag and either carry it with you to help increase your financial situation or you can keep it at your home office or desk where you work on your bank statements or pay bills.
If you’d like to learn more about working with trees, check out some of these books in the Sacred Mists Shoppe:
Whispering From the Woods: The Lore and Magic of Trees by Sandra Kynes
Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine by Ellen Every Hopman
Celtic Tree Mysteries: Practical Druid Magic & Divination by Steve Blamires