Flower Magicks

Summertime Litha Flower Blend

As many of you have seen on Instagram, I’ve been collecting and drying summer blooms like crazy. One of my favourite summertime practices is to mindfully harvest flowers and leaves to use through the year in teas, spells, incense, and offerings. This means that my altar space is loaded with hanging bundles of plants, leaving it a little crowded and chaotic. But it’s the best kind of chaos.

I’m often asked exactly what flowers I choose to dry, and the honest answer is that I generally collect a little bit of everything. You see, over the years, I have learned that the most potent ingredients for your practice are the ones that grow where you live. Of course, I still order the things I can’t find locally from my favourite witchy shops, but the majority of the botanicals you see me use are those that I’ve hand-harvested with care.

A few of my go-to magickal plants are:

White Clover – facing and overcoming fear, intuition, supports through change

Red Clover – financial spells, good luck, good health, protection

Pineapple Weed/Wild Chamomile – lifts mood, calms worries, helps with women’s cycles

Daisies – inner child work, simplifying and gaining clarity, new beginnings/opportunities

Forsythia – energizes and awakens the mind, positive shift in mindset, peaceful thoughts

Crabapple –  love (particularly self-love), connection with the Otherworld, divination

Wild Mint – good luck, mental clarity, attracts money

Red Sorrel/Sheep Sorrel – clears a space after conflict, matters of the heart, recovery from illness or trauma

Lilac – protection from wayward spirits, exorcism of negative influences from life, attracts joy

Dandelion – psychic energy, divination, calling upon the ancestors

Spruce Tips – protection of the home, strengthening spiritual practice, divination and intuition

Fir Tips – new beginnings, manifestation energy, communication

Strawberry – romance, finding solutions to challenges, fertility of all kinds

Raspberry – protection (particularly for mothers and children), divine feminine, business matters

Violets – transformation and change, calm anger and frustration, speaking truth

Yarrow – setting boundaries, courage, shield against external energies/influences

Tansy – used for spells intended to have long-term effects, honouring passed loved ones, protection from injustice

Most of these plants grow nearly everywhere in North America, and can be foraged easily. If you intend to use any of them in teas or to take them into your body in any way, please make absolutely sure that you have correctly identified the plant using at least three credible sources. If you’re in doubt, just dry and use in spell jars, sachet, or other non-edible workings.

Later this week, I will be including links to some of my favourite witchy businesses along with a free email reading for my wonderful subscribers. Make sure you sign up so you don’t miss out – in it, I’ll also be offering an exclusive flower magick treat in my shop, only available through a secret link!

Continue Reading

Celebrating Litha

Litha – also known as Summer Solstice, Midsummer, and Alban Hefin – is the longest day of the year, and is celebrated between June 20th to 22nd each year. In 2020, it lands on June 20th.

For some traditions, this is the end/beginning of the year, and is a wonderful time to reminisce about the lessons you’ve learned since last Litha. The energy around this occasion is one of a warm and sunny vibe, when we find it easier to be optimistic, have fun, and otherwise enjoy life.

Many feel motivated, inspired, and excited to be creative, make changes, and work toward their goals. We see hints of validation that our efforts are showing potential for success, which boosts our confidence and drive even more. 

For others, this season can feel overwhelming, exhausting and even stressful, particularly those who struggle to keep up with high energy people and experiences. If you find yourself in this category, you may like to dive deep into your meditation practices, take vacation time away from the world, and adopt a healthy self-care routine. 

If you’d like to hear more about Litha, head over to your favourite podcast player and subscribe to the Tarot Coven Podcast. We’ll be releasing a special bonus episode all about the Summer Solstice, and how we love to observe it.

In other exciting news, Stonehenge will be live streaming the Solstice on Facebook, from sunset through to sunrise – I will definitely be tuning in! 

I’ve curated some details about the associations of Litha, as well as some ideas on ways to celebrate with rituals and activities – I hope they get your creativity flowing, and that you find joy in this beautiful season! 

Symbology
Sun, seashells, feathers, fire, butterflies, bees, candles, wands, fairies, flowers, forests

Practices & Rituals
Storytelling – share tales from your family’s (or culture’s) history
Faerie magicks – leave out a small bowl of milk and honey
Feasts and gatherings – this year, try meeting virtually to celebrate
Make sacred tools from items collected in nature – especially wands
Divination – excellent time for forecasting the dark half of the year, through to Yule
Refresh your altar and set new intentions 
Burn /discard spellwork from Yule – final release of the energy, workings are complete
Study the mysteries of herb & crystal magicks
Collect herbs to store for your practice
Shake a few drops of dew from your collected herbs into a glass of water to sip from

Crystals
Jade, emerald, tiger’s eye, amber

Herbs
Chamomile, Thyme, Mugwort, Rose, Sunflower, Calendula, Lavender, Rosemary, Mint, Fennel

(other sacred plants for non-edible use – ivy, holly, marigold, mistletoe, iris, daisy)

Incense
Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Oak, Fir

Altar
Add fresh flowers or potted plants, holly, oak, shells, ivy, flower chains, and any other collected items. You may like to leave an offering of some shiny coins, small sweet cakes, candy, or even a splash of wine for the Faeries.

Colours
Gold, red, white, orange, yellow, blue, green

Food & Drink
Citrus, any fresh fruits and veggies
Mead, wine, ale
Add edible flowers to salads, drinks, and desserts

Faerie Queen Litha Beverage
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 cup cold water
1 sprig rosemary
7 lilac blossoms 

If lilacs aren’t available, substitute any edible flower in bloom where you are

Deities

Cerridwen – The day of Cerridwen and her cauldron – she is keeper of the cauldron of inspiration (Awen) – holds the knowledge of all that was, is, will be. Goddess of many things, including prophecy, wisdom and transformation

Holly & Oak Kings – Details can vary, but essentially, the Holly King (ruler of the dark half of the year) defeats the Oak King (ruler of the light half of the year). They battle again at Yule, when the Oak King wins and brings the dawn of the light half of the year.

Sol/Sun – illumination, inspiration

Minerva – goddess of wisdom and enlightenment

Blessed Litha!

Continue Reading

5 Steps to Create an Altar

For some, the altar is the center of all their magickal power. For others, it’s more of an optional piece of their spiritual practice. Still more aren’t interested in altar work at all. No matter where you fall on this scale, the important thing is that you’re honouring your own preference. But never feel as though you need an altar; if it’s forced, it won’t hold power for your practice. 

Personally, I keep several altars, each with its own significance; one is dedicated to observing the Wheel of the Year, another is my “working” altar, where most of my manifestations and workings take place, and the third is an outdoor altar, tucked away in a grove of fir trees, where I go for quiet and contemplation. 

If you’ve been guided to create your first altar, or simply to seek out ideas and inspiration for your existing one, here are five steps to get you started:

1. Choose the space/placement

This will vary from person to person – some traditions have strict guidelines about how, when, and where to set up your altar space, right down to the orientation and materials it’s made from. You are free to be as elaborate as you like. I would suggest starting simply with a small set up in whatever space feels comfortable to you. Over time, you’ll figure out your preferences, and make shifts accordingly.

Note: If you plan to burn incense, use essential oils, light candles, or use smoke bundles, make sure your space has good ventilation, and won’t pose any safety hazards with an open flame.

2. Choose what to include in your altar.

This will depend on several factors; if you’re setting an altar space in honour of a specific deity, you’ll want to use symbols and offerings associated with them; for a seasonal altar, you can collect natural gifts from the Earth, and incorporate them in your design as the Wheel turns; for a ritual or ceremonial altar, there is a good chance that you’ll want symbols of each of the elements, a working candle, specific crystals, and incense. 

Get a good idea of what your intentions are, then collect the elements that resonate most. If you follow a specific tradition, you’re sure to find some good references in any books or other resources for your chosen path. If all else fails, Pinterest holds a wealth of inspiration!

Note: It is a great idea to have a notebook, journal or binder near your altar, so that you can make notes as you work. There’s nothing worse than losing your train of thought as you dash around looking for some paper and a working pen.

3. Prepare the space and tools.

In order to start with a completely clean slate, it is important to cleanse not just your soon-to-be-altar, but also everything that will be added to it. If possible, open up nearby windows to let the air refresh the room, and consider lighting a candle, incense, or essential oil mister to clear out any remaining energy. If these aren’t options, a spray bottle filled with salt water can be used to spritz a little magick into the atmosphere.

Continue by wiping down the area, as well as each of the elements that will adorn it with a clean damp cloth. To add more punch, drop three generous pinches of salt to a bowl of warm water, as well as three drops of your favourite purifying essential oil (Rosemary is my go-to!). I also love to place a carnelian crystal into the water, then let it sit in the Sunshine for a few minutes to charge up.

For items that can’t get wet, set them in a bowl of salt, hold them over a candle flame, or pass them through the smoke of a cleansing incense stick or smoke bundle. 

4. Setting up your altar.

Now comes the fun part. Start arranging your elements on your altar. I generally suggest starting with an altar cloth, if you have one. And by altar cloth, I mean table runner, scarf, old pillowcase, scrap of pretty material – whatever is pleasing to your eye. Of course, this is completely optional, but with the amount of (messy) magicks I work, the surface of my altar needs the protection. 

Start with the larger/most prominent items, then work your way into the smaller details and decor. Follow your intuition at first, but also keep in mind that the space should be visually pleasing. It doesn’t need to be Instagram ready, but it should be something that you enjoy looking at – this will ensure that you actually want to spend time in it. 

5. Consecrating and dedicating the space.

Once your altar is set up to your liking, and you’ve tidied up the surrounding area after the creative process, it’s time to dedicate your sacred space. I like to take my time with this step over a small pot of tea, and really pour my energy into the altar.

Because the Tarot is so close to my heart, I sift through one of my decks and pick out cards that I feel embody the intentions I hold for the space, and place them in various places on my altar. Other options are to write down your intentions in a journal or on loose paper, speak them into the atmosphere around the altar, or simply sit quietly and meditate on them.

Remember to hold gratitude for the blessing of having this space, and for all of the tools that have been provided to you for your practice. Remain humble, yet recognize that you hold full domain over it, and everything that dwells there. Set boundaries about what energies you will allow in the space, and those that will not be permitted. You may even like to ask for the lessons you wish to learn with your spiritual practice, which could give you a themed lens to look through with future contemplations and reflections. 

A few extra notes:

Resetting the Energy.

Over time, the altar will build up energy from the rituals, spells, ceremonies, practices, prayers, and all other sacred activities performed within the space. You may notice that the results of your workings aren’t as potent, that you’re not feeling “into” your practice, or simply are sensing stagnancy when at your altar. 

When this happens, refreshing your altar may be the key to reinvigorate the space. To do this, simply clear off the surface, discard any completed spells, debris, dust, spilled wax, and all other tired remnants left behind.  This is a great time to switch it up, add new elements, and/or remove old ones that need a break. Once the space is empty, just follow the steps outlined above – this is also effective if you wish to shift the intention you had set during a previous dedication that is no longer resonating. 

Travel/Mobile Altars.

If you travel often, or you find yourself wanting to take your practice to the park, beach or any other open space, you may like to consider a travel altar. You can purchase complete kits from many pagan shops, or create your own. Just find a container that fits in your purse, pocket, glove compartment, or suitcase, and fill it with miniature elements to use when you set up your sacred space.

Here are some ideas:

  • Match, birthday candle, or wood ash in a vial to represent fire.
  • A doll-sized cup (or shot glass), small shell, or water in a sealed vial to represent water.
  • Small crystals, a coin, or soil in a vial to represent earth.
  • An incense cone, feather, or a dandelion seed in a vial to represent air.

Inconspicuous Altars. 

Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that some witchy and pagan folk feel the need to keep their practice undercover. In some situations, it would be downright dangerous for them to openly practice. If you feel that you are unable to create a full-blown altar, but still want to have a sacred space, consider these alternatives:

  • A special reading nook, where you can sip magickal teas and journal.
  • Arranging standard home decor items on a shelf to include symbols or colours of each of the elements.
  • Creating centerpieces for your dining or coffee table to reflect the turning of the Wheel.
  • Hanging a collection of symbolic art on a wall.
  • Arranging your desk or office space with art, items, or colours that are meaningful to your practice.
  • Growing houseplants sacred to your deities.

I hope this has inspired you to create (or update) your personal altar; I would love to see your set up! 
Share photos of your altar with me on Instagram, or tag me in your post (@tarot_and_thyme).

Continue Reading

Right vs Happy

Monday morning well-being tidbit for your consideration: “Do you prefer that you be right or happy?” ~ ACIM

On many occasions over the course of our lives, we will find it impossible to be both at the same time. True strength is the ability to forego debate and defense, and to accept that the other party will never concede or agree that you are correct.

Move on, and exert your energy elsewhere. Their lessons in humility and integrity will come in their own time, without your help. Smile and detach from the situation. Then, consciously choose your own peace over your ego’s desire to feel superior.

Your time is much better spent nurturing the relationships that add joy to your day. Doing so can inspire a ripple effect of positivity that will radiate from you. This will empower others to echo this higher vibrational state.

Continue Reading

River of Shadows

​I have spent a lot of time alone in my own mind over the last ten months. I recognize that, in the past, I had the habit of making sure that I spent very little time alone, most likely to avoid going so deep within myself. This was never a conscious decision, but a decision all the same.

Before all of my children were of school age, I had an easy and completely valid excuse. After that, I had a job, which I made sure to use as a replacement excuse. Sure, I had days off, but I didn’t use them effectively. I failed to dig much deeper than the surface of my wellbeing, and so I was able to find solace in little more than a hot bath.

More often, though, I would be sure to never allow myself to stay alone for long. I would take a walk to the mall, or make plans with friends, or otherwise distract myself. That was when I lived in a place surrounded by people I knew, and within walking distance of any number of retail outlets to appease my discomfort with silence.

But now the game has changed. I don’t have the luxury of distraction anymore. I am alone for the majority of each day through the week, and although I love the quiet, it has become just as exhausting as the heavily booked schedule I used to keep. I learned quickly that when you spend large amounts of time in solitude, you inevitably begin to face the gateways of your conscious awareness, journeying deeper and deeper until you reach spaces akin to the dark, cold water in the middle of an unfamiliar river with only the moon lighting the way; at first, there’s exhilaration, then you are overcome with a feeling of uneasiness as you realize your own vulnerability, afraid to open your eyes for fear of what you may find to be swimming alongside you.

When you make the commitment to work with your shadow on such a level, I feel that you are unlocking your own personal Pandora’s Box. Memories and emotions that you had long forgotten will present themselves with enough strength to take you back in time. Trauma from which you had convinced yourself you had recovered ages ago will take you to your knees. Forgotten pain that you had locked in a dungeon in the back of your mind will escape and seek you out with a vengeance. You may find yourself sitting as judge and jury, scrutinizing past decisions, reliving shame and sorrow as if you had made them yesterday. Unpacking chests full of guilt and humiliation, inspecting each one until you remember every detail. Turning the pages of imaginary photo albums, remembering family and friends who no longer exist in your physical life, separated either by distance or death. Recounting every missed opportunity, and each unanswered question that you never allowed to escape from your lips.

Not only will your own actions be revisited, but you will also scrutinize your relationships under a figurative microscope, learning more about the people in your life than you may want to know. Your feelings toward some of them may even change. You will see people who surround you in a new light, and be forced to face your true perception of them, with neither ego nor infatuation clouding your vision.

These are the shadows that cry for love. The weight that we hold within our Spirit, denying ourselves the ability to rise above. Poisons that we have voluntarily injected into our Soul, by means of unforgiveness, anger, resentment and judgement. The usual tools of smoke cleansing, meditation, connecting and grounding have helped to keep me centered as I move through this time of self-awareness and realization, but they are only comparable to bandages when it comes to healing wounds that have festered, unchecked, for so long.

I am learning that there is no ten-second cure for healing at this level– I can not build a bridge over this river. The only option is to dive in, head first, and embrace the unknown creatures that reside there. They may not be beautiful, but they are of my own creation, and as such, deserve my acceptance. Only by giving love to each and every one can I expect them to carry me to the sunnier banks on the other side of the River of Shadows.

Once you have seen and felt these raw awakenings, as painful as they may seem, they can never again be forgotten. A greater understanding of your own values, needs and tolerance levels will make you acutely aware of what you will and will not allow in your life, and it will be easier to find the spark of your inner fire, with which to enforce your newly discovered boundaries. You will have no choice but to become your authentic self, because you will no longer fit inside the confines of the shell from which you have just emerged.

At that moment, your life will change, because you, yourself, have been transformed from within.

Continue Reading