My wife and I are bone collectors. We stop for roadkill and reverently take what is offered up. It may sound gruesome, but it is a way of honouring the lives and spirits of these animals. Perhaps a year ago we came upon a porcupine at the side of the road. Its quills were scattered everywhere, far further than we could imagine. I blessed the animal with herbs and seeds and salt from a tiny pouch that I keep with me, sacred. Then we collected some quills and my wife took four claws. The claws she preserved in Borax, and last night I felt called to make something from them. I wanted a powerful, large necklace — black, to remind me of the ‘darker’ realities of death and destruction that are valid parts of life. I don’t know if I can truly embrace death and destruction, and I do not seek evil. But I do seek the neutrality of the universe.
I’ve been busy in the kitchen! I made hair oil for a friend, ‘passion’ candles for my collection, and I tried something new — bath bars made of beeswax, honey, and sea salt. The idea is a moisturizing scrub and I tested it last night — the sea salt is pretty scratchy and the beeswax is quite hard of course, and the honey is sticky — but it does work, and they look lovely anyway:
My next experiment is a muscle/sciatica salve for my wife and others in my family.
I have refined my ointment-making skills, now that I have proper ingredients like grapeseed oil and beeswax. My wife came home with belladonna a week ago and I’ve been playing with it (carefully) ever since! I’ve also found that passion flower does nice things for me, which was unexpected, and the result is almost a spiritual ADHD remedy. I’ve been making mystical lip balm as well, with milder but still potent herbs.
Here’s a small jar of flying ointment I made for a friend:
Here is some ‘mystic’ lip balm and ointment:
One way to honour your totem animals, or spirit guides, is to make representations of them as reminders. This can be as simple as painting a sketch on flat stones. This weekend I made some clay animals for my altar.
Today I made some lip balm and an amber-scented massage lotion with beeswax and grapeseed oil. It’s so easy and so fun, and makes great home-made gifts for kitchen witches!
My wife and I are spending the afternoon making candles. Some done with ice, to achieve a holey effect; some done with herbs, stones, and magical intent.
Here’s my wife in the kitchen:
And the finished products:
Last night my wife and her dear friend and I went on a country drive to enjoy the extra-bright full moon. I had wanted to do something for the full moon but thought I needed something more than candles and incense and prayer. So I slathered myself up in my homemade flying ointment and off we went.
I was very surprised when I began to feel physical effects from the ointment, since I used none of the more poisonous ingredients. It felt like the veil between worlds had thinned; everything felt alive. I felt wonderful and slightly distracted by pretty glowing streetlights, though my mind was still sharp.
We drove for about an hour and a half, sighting two raccoons and — surprisingly — a possum. I prayed and asked for communion with the spirits. Earlier that day I had pulled the Communion card from my Earth Magic deck, which I have pulled several times recently.
I’m not a very visual person; I wish I could say I saw spirits last night. But I felt them. I knew they were there, speaking to me. And there is nothing disappointing in that. I need to open my mind a little more and stop harping on the visual side of things, since I access the spiritual realms in a different way. I am learning, slowly.
Yesterday evening I held a ritual for an important otherworld journey to seek advice about my wife’s leg pain. I bathed in salt water and prayed for protection and a vivid journey. I drank tea with sage, sweetgrass and mugwort. I selected a long comfy dress I’ve never worn to be my ritual clothing. I created sacred space and burned wormwood and mugwort. I rubbed my homemade flying ointment on my inner elbows, wrists, neck, and ankles. Then I took up my rattle and began to journey.
The journey felt intense and I received much-needed answers. I was told an herb for arthritis pain and one for sciatic pain. I had my doubts but researched them later and found them both valid — they have been specifically studied for these ailments. I need these kinds of verifications once in a while and they always blow me away. But the main message was not herbs but of action, and I need to pay attention.
I love looking at altar pics. My own household altars follow no rules and tend to grow beyond their boundaries, organic as the plants that make my living room into a jungle.
This is the main altar in the living room. It is shared between my wife and I, and much adored.
A moose skull I found on some rocks up north, for my wife.
This is a work-in-progress altar in my meditation room.
Up to now I’ve used my rattle and drum music by Sandra Ingerman to ease the passage of my shamanic journeys, but I am beginning to experiment with incenses and ointments to enhance the experience and add to the ritual quality of the work.
My first incense blend is rich-smelling but gentle, using the herbs more as a vessel to carry my intent.
- juniper berries
- star anise
My new blend is a gift from my wife, who surprised me with sachets of wormwood and mugwort from the local metaphysical store. These herbs I consider more powerful in themselves (and potentially dangerous), so please do your research if you wish to use them. In addition to burning them as incense, I have mixed them with an ointment base and cedarwood oil. This is not a refined way to make a flying ointment! It’s messy, but I like the rustic quality of whole herbs in the ointment rather than an herbal infusion. It may, however, prove to be a disaster.
Giving due respect to the herbs, I will pick an evening to journey with them when I can devote my full attention and intention to creating sacred space and enacting ritual. I think it’s important to look forward to it as a deepening of my practice, not an attempt to fly around the room.