College Witchery

Hemlock and Crafting

Today I journeyed to the forest to seek out some Eastern Hemlock (tsuga canadensis) in an absolutely breathtaking part of Northeast Ohio that’s only about a 15 minute’s drive from my front door. Here exists one of a few forests almost exclusively dominated by eastern hemlocks – a sight to behold at any time of the year.

Walking through the forest feels ancient, even though most of these trees are under 100 years old. Some old trees still stand, living reminders of how beautiful and aged hemlock can be, and remnants of ancient trees since removed linger on the forest floor.

It was chilly today, and rather overcast – overall, a good day for being out and about in the forest, it wasn’t too warm and the beautiful canopy of hemlock boughs above my head protected my from the light February drizzle.

Being in this area is really quite amazing, it’s botanically and geologically fascinating, and as I moved through the forest I was overcome with a feeling of respect for the trees (specifically the hemlocks). While I noticed that a good many people have carved their initials into trees in this place, the hemlocks remain untouched, as though they exude some kind of aura that keeps people from defacing them. (I always get upset when people carve their names into a tree… but that’s a rant for another day)

My intent was to harvest some hemlock boughs for smudge sticks, incense blends and medicines, but in coming to the forest there wasn’t really a need for me to harvest anything at all. A recent windstorm damaged some branches and downed a good number of beautiful full (and still very fresh) boughs, and I quickly gathered all that I needed. I was also quite pleased to find a bough with a few cones still intact! I then headed home and happily started sorting, separating and crafting.

I  believe I ended up with 9 large smudge bundles, 7 miniature (and we’re talking teeny tiny) bundles and a whole slew of leftovers for incense and other uses. Historically hemlock has been used medicinally, for food, as a natural dye material, and in the tanning of animal hides. Did I mention that it smells divine? After hours of wrapping and handling all that hemlock goodness my kitchen (and hands) smelled amazing!

So, now that I have a big pile of these smudge bundles, all that’s left to do is put them up to dry before sending them off to some of my witchy pals (with their long overdue letters we’ve been talking about for ages). Oh, and those cones? Well, they still had some seeds left in them, so perhaps there will be hemlock saplings in my future! I’d love to plant them somewhere, perhaps on my cousin’s property… he’d totally let me have my own trees.

The eve of a new semester…

Hello blog! I’m finally back after an insane conclusion to the fall semester and an equally insane winter break. Not a whole lot of witchery has happened between my Halloween post and now (well, there has been some – and it was pretty interesting  and successful too, but it probably won’t get blogged about) but the spring semester is looking to be a little less work intensive than the fall was, so it should leave more time for crafting of all sorts, and I’m gaining a more positive outlook the more I think on it.

For those of you at all interested in the more mundane aspects of my life, I will be taking the following courses (as of now, the day before school starts): Introduction to Formal Logic, French Conversation, Feminism and Christianity, Contemporary French Culture and Politics of the Global Economy. French Culture is probably going to be the most work-intensive, but it’s only one day a week, and I have a few good friends in that class – so we should be able to get through it if we work together. Everything else should be relatively easy if I just keep on it (so I’m planning a variety of college-y magical goodness to aid in that pursuit, which I probably won’t blog about either).

On a more magical note: I have been cleaning / rearranging all the stuff I use in my craft – but I still need to put shelves on my walls because the lack of a permanent altar space is wearing on me, and certain things demand and deserve a permanent place in my home (which really means my room because roommate likes to touch things on altars in the common areas…). So, look forward to another post by the end of the week of my newly cleaned magical space and some of my recent magical acquisitions (from thrifting and a swap with my dearest darling Benjamin who is back in his Findlay stomping grounds). Oh, and by the end of the week I’ll have some new online shopping goodies too! *squees*

Oh and for chatting, feel free to hit me up on Twitter – which I’ll eventually link in the sidebar. I love talking to people of a magical persuasion on the Twitter!

An Evening in a Graveyard

I am fortunate to live in the city of Kent just a short drive away from what is touted to be the oldest historical site in the city : Pioneer Cemetery (also known as Stow Street Cemetery).  The cemetery was established in 1810 and the last interment occurred in 1914. Many of the families buried in this graveyard have streets named after them in the city as these were the people who settled here and thrived here with the help of the surrounding native population without (to my knowledge) infringing on their land. It’s an interesting cemetery to say the least, and one that I’ve on occasion visited. I thought it fitting that my first formal introduction to the spirits of the dead here (as a local witch) be on Halloween.

I arrive at the graveyard in the early evening, watching the surrounding area to ensure that I am alone here to perform my rite. Respectfully I lay down a payment to the guardian of this resting place and cross the threshold bounded by an old wrought iron gate. Greeting the dead as I pass their resting places I make my way to a secluded spot under the largest tree in the place, one that is bounded by two graves.

The oldest tree in the graveyard, bounded by two graves...

Receiving permission to create my altar here, I proceed to set out my candles and offerings, lighting sweetly perfumed incense to gently rouse the spirits for my work. As I look out over the weathered sandstone grave markers mixed in with their recently replaced granite counterparts I introduce who I am and my reasons for coming here. The spirits here are (for the most part) very warm and welcoming.

Graveyard altar at the base of an oak with offerings...

As I give my offerings to the spirits of this place, some whiskey for the adults and pretty flowers and sweet smelling herbs for the children, I thank the spirits of the dead for allowing me into their resting place. I tell them that they are not forgotten, and they politely inform me that they already know that… I state my goals and intentions for future spirit work here and receive a positive nod of permission.

The altar again...

Having said and done all that I had come to do, I sit and watch the river, letting any spirits who wish to make themselves known to me. I feel a strong pull from the family graves near my altar, noting their names to research and promising personal gifts of thanks on my next visit. As the dark continued to approach I said one final thanks to the spirits of the dead, blew out my candles and packed my belongings.

A weathered sandstone marker...

As I left I made a final round of the place, noting  other areas shielded from the road that will serve as future places of work. As I close the heavy iron gates now that it is truly dark, I again thank the guardian of the place, knowing that my payment was bien accepté. 

I leave feeling tired, hungry and drained. All other evening plans of spirit or ancestor work were dashed. I ate a meal and then slept, knowing that the spirits of the dead in this area are willing to work with me, and knowing that they won’t stand for being one stop on a list of “to-do”s.

P.S., Oh, by the way…

I have a Tumblr now, which I’m filling with some witchy images and links to fun stuff, so if you feel like checking it out, feel free. I’ll have a link to it on the sidebar soon.

Oh, and if you have a tumblr, please please please shove the link in my comments or something – because I’ll totally follow you. :)

my tumblr

Ugh.

School owns my life. The tiny fraction of my life not owned by school? Oh, well that’s clearly possessed by a bunch of mundane shit, like bills and roommate issues (seeing as we say something close to 5 words to each other per day you wouldn’t think there’d be issues, but yet we have them) and planning trips to see my family.

So, that thing called a social life? I’m quitting it temporarily as of tomorrow, maybe I can finally get to doing what needs done then.

On a more positive note, I’m in the planning stages of some awesome witchy-goodness in time for Halloween (think some ancestor work, perhaps some graveyard happenings if I feel up to it, the construction of my first ancestor altar, and the diving of a recipe for some incense for ancestral work).

If I ever acquire a decent sized mortar and pestle I’m definitely going to get up to some incense crafting, which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now. I’ve already come up with a couple of perspective recipes to try, so when I have time, that’s what I’ll be doing.

For now though, I have school work. Maybe things will get better now that midterms are over… but frankly I feel like they came up really quickly, and I doubt that things will let up until finals – but I can hope and plan, that’s all I can do.

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