#31DaysofWitchcraft Prompt 18 (non)VR to Heather Carter

Heather Carter on YouTube put together a series of prompts titled #31DaysofWitchcraft that she’s been working her way through since the beginning of May. I really like this idea, but I can’t handle the responsibility of any more daily posts, so I thought that for the next little while I would do one (or a few at a time) for the end of week “My Pagan Perspective” posts and work through them a bit at a time.

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18. Do you use herbs and/or crystals in your personal practice? Is so, which are your favourites? And why?

I already wrote about the most commonly used crystals in my practice, so I figured that I would use this prompt to now focus on the most commonly used herbs and plants in my practice.

I would like to focus first on the why part of this question, though.  I use herbs and plants in my practice in much the same way I use crystals. To enhance my intentions, enhance the energies I’m working with, or guide those energies to strengthen their purpose.

Spellwork is like any task.  Say you want to hammer in a nail.   You can use a rock…. or you can use a hammer.  Both will work, but the hammer will be much more efficient and much easier to use.  In this analogy, the nail is spellwork… and the hammer is the crystals and herbs used in that spellwork.

Here is my “short list” of the “herbs” I use on a regular basis in my path and practice. Not an exhaustive list, but my go-to herbs most of the time.  I have included what I most often use these herbs and plants for, but keep in mind this is my personal most common uses for each plant and in no way is anywhere near the full scope of that plant’s uses in in spellwork and ritual.

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The following herbs and plants are those most commonly used in my practice as a whole (and are non-edible either because of toxicity or personal allergies)

Alder – Strength, Protection, Self Confidence, Bravery
Aloe – Peaceful Energy, Soothing, Home Protection, Luck, Lunar Magic, Silencing Rumors
Birch – Energies of Potential and Renewal, Psychic Protection, Purification
Buttercups – Reminiscence, Self Worth, Innocence, Self Love, Inner Child Work
Cascara – Releasing Spiritual or Emotional Constipation, Money Spells, Legal Matters
Cedar – Perseverance, Fortitude, Protection, Cleansing Negative Energy, Warding
Columbine – Love Magic, Life Path Work, Inner Truth Work
Douglas fir – Healing Magic, Ancestral Work, Grounding, Grounded Progress
Fern & Fiddle-heads (various) – Protection, Invisibility, Good Fortune, Exorcising Evil Spirits
Fireweed – Easing Anger, Restoration, New Beginnings, Breaking Up Spiritual Blocks
Foxglove – Protection, Love and Sex, Fertility, Psychic Warfare
Hemlock (various) – Fostering Sexual Impotence, Purification Rituals, Protection During Astral Travel
Hoya – Wealth, Protection, Inward Exploration, Future Sight
Ivy (various) – Self-Love, Cleansing Negative Energies, Abundance
Juniper – Clear Sight, Warmth, Hope, Love and Sex
Maple – Spiritual Healing, Intellectual Pursuits, Bindings, Abundance, Communication
Marigold – Healing Depression, Cleansing, Good Health Spells
Nasturtium – Encouraging Tolerance, Creativity, Independence, Free Thought
Oak – Longevity and Immortality, Wisdom, Personal Power, Protection, Doorways
Peace Lily – Harmony, Comfort, Platonic Love
Pine – Wisdom, Longevity, Healing, Protection, Purification, Banishings
Poison Ivy – Protection, Defense, Repellent Magic
Rhododendron – Intellectual Pursuits, Sussing Out Enemies
Slippery Elm – Silencing Rumors and Lies
Spruce – Resilience, Rebound Defense Spells, Spirit Communication
Stinging Nettles – Uncrossing, Dispelling Negative Energy, Purification, Willpower
Sweetgrass – Attracting Positive Energy, Purification, Cleansing Out Negativity, Spiritual Healing
Tansy – Longevity, Intention Setting, Invisibility, Curse Protection, Safe Travels
Thistle – Protection, Ancestor Magic, Boldness, Self Growth, Uncrossing
Various mosses, lichens, and liverworts – Attentive Understanding, Clarity, Abundance, Harmony

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Also, as a lot of my practice is focused on and included in food, here is a go-to list of the herbs and plants that I commonly use in my general practice as well as my kitchen witchery.

Basil – Peace, Happiness, Protection, Prosperity
Bay – Uncrossing, Employment, Protection, Prosperity, Psychic Boost
Blackberry – Protection, Prosperity, Healing
Chamomile – Healing, Gentle Energy, Harmony, Breaking Curses, Unraveling Unfamiliar Spells
Chili Pepper – Uncrossing, Banishing, Love, Protection
Cinnamon – Energy Boosting, Intention Boosting, Abundance, Prosperity
Cloves – Silencing Rumors and Lies
Dandelion – Healing, Divination Boost, Protection, Encouraging Smooth Cycles
Garden Sage – Protection, Purification, Healing, Cleansing, Luck, Wisdom
Garlic – Healing, Luck, Dispel Negative Energy, Thief Warding, Repel Harmful Spirits
Ginger – Protection, Sex Magic, Prosperity
Lavender – Cleansing, Clarity, Relaxation, Healing Relationships, Releasing Negative Emotion
Lilac – Energy Boost, Balance, Romance, Metaphysical Doorways
Mint – Resolving Misunderstandings, Prosperity, Lessen Accident Proneness
Mugwort – Dreams, Psychic Boost, Protection, Purification
Orange Peel – Prosperity, Success, Positivity
Oregano – Comforting Warmth, Protection, Purification, Vitality, Peace
Pansy – Gentle Energy, Love, Kindness, Self Love, Bright Ideas, Happiness
Raspberry – Protection, Love, Kindness, Youthfulness, Creativity
Rose (incl hips) – Health, Love, Anticipation of Love, Abundance, Emotional Healing, Secrecy
Rosemary – Warding, Purification, Protection, Psychic Cleansing, Repels Negative Energy
Shepherd’s Purse – Healing, Protection, Healing, Renewal Magic
Thyme – Loyalty, Luck, and Dispelling of Grief, Nightmares, Depression, and Negativity

As mentioned previously, these are far from the only herbs and plants that I use in my practice, but they are the ones that I use most often. Nor have I listed all of the possible uses for each plant, just the what I most commonly use them for.

Herbs and plants have a wide variety of different uses to boost spellwork, divination, intention setting, and other purposes.  I use plants and herbs, as well as crystals, daily in a variety of different ways.

I think it’s important to stress, though, that I have training as a botanist that allows me to handle a lot of dangerous plants much more safely than the average person, and that there are a handful of dangerous and even deadly plants on the list shared above that I do not recommend being used by those without the training and knowledge to do so safely.  Without the proper training and care, one could very easily end up not just hurting themselves, but possibly killing themselves, a loved one, or a beloved pet by accident.  It’s always important to research plants used in any magical working thoroughly before jumping in with both feet.

#31DaysofWitchcraft Prompt 28 (non)VR to Heather Carter

Heather Carter on YouTube put together a series of prompts titled #31DaysofWitchcraft that she’s been working her way through since the beginning of May. I really like this idea, but I can’t handle the responsibility of any more daily posts, so I thought that for the next few weeks, I would do one (or a few at a time) for the end of week “My Pagan Perspective” posts and work through them a bit at a time.

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Today’s prompt is #28, and is about how I was raised and the path that it lead me to be on now.  This is a topic I’ve probably posted on before and definitely one that I’ve discussed with you… but I didn’t want to leave it out.

28. What belief system, if any, were you raised with? How has that impacted your personal practice?

I was raised in a Wiccan/Buddhist household.  My mother is Wiccan and was pretty much almost solely responsible for the spiritual upbringing of my sister and I.  We were raised to follow the wheel of the year and worship the god and goddess and their cycles.  We were taught spellcraft and ritual from a young age, and I do not have a memory of a time when we were not participants in my mother’s sabbat rituals and often participants in her spellcraft as well.

Much of my mother’s path in Wicca resonated… but much of it also did not.   When my sister and I were around nine years old, my mother introduced a pagan parenting mentor to our family unit.  This person helped in mentoring our mother on different ways to include us in her practice and guide us in her beliefs, bur in truth Z (that is the mentor) really ended up taking over a huge majority of our spiritual upbringing herself, as well as teaching us about independence, autonomy, and the development of ethics and a moral compass.

When I moved out on my own at 16, I took those beliefs I had been raised with along with me into my independent life, and Z encouraged me to adjust my practices to fit what felt right for me.   The first thing I dropped was deity, as the god and goddess part of things never really felt right to me.

From there my personal practice was born.  I already had a vast amount of experience and knowledge in spellcraft and rituals, and I took that forward with me into my path and practice, weeding out the things that didn’t work for me, and planting the seeds for those things that did fit.

For this reason, although sixteen years have passed since I’ve been under my parent’s roof, there are still traces of Wicca and Buddhism in my practice.   These lingering bits and pieces are those things that still “fit”.

#31DaysofWitchcraft Prompt 12 & 13 (non)VR to Heather Carter

Heather Carter on YouTube put together a series of prompts titled #31DaysofWitchcraft that she’s been working her way through since the beginning of May. I really like this idea, but I can’t handle the responsibility of any more daily posts, so I thought that for the next few weeks, I would do one (or a few at a time) for the end of week “My Pagan Perspective” posts and work through them a bit at a time.

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12. Do you have a separate witchy name? Why, or why not?

My “witchy name” is the same as my online name.  It’s Twist the Leaf.

This name comes from a line in a ritual that my sister and I wrote together as children.

To be fair, when I first came online, I used just “Twist” and then “Twist the Leaf” for circles and pagan events and activities.  But over the years, the two have melded and I now use Twist the Leaf in most places, and “Twist” as the shortened version here and there.

As for why.  My mother used to take my sister and I to a lot of Wiccan functions, and having a “witchy name” was all the rage in those circles.  I chose my “witchy name” initially in order to finally get them to stop pestering me about choosing one, but over time it’s become… more than that.

I no longer go to those events and haven’t for… at least fifteen years or more. Other than my sister (and our mentor recently as she’s been living with us for a bit now), my practice is primarily solitary.  But the name has stuck, and these days it seems that I’m actually more comfortable being called Twist than I am called by my birth name.

13. Do you write your own spells, use pre-written one or do a mix of both?

I write my own spellwork, or at times work on it together with my sister.

This falls back on the way we were raised. To be honest?  I don’t spend a lot of time reading pagan/wiccan/witchcraft books.  This isn’t how I learned my craft.  Because of this? Although I knew that published books had spells in them, I didn’t realize these were actually spells people used.  Like, letter for letter and word for word, used like a recipe to bake pastry.  This realization that people actually do that was baffling to me.

My sister and I were taught to write our own rituals and our own spellwork.  We were taught that it is a part of the process of casting a spell to do the work behind the spell, which includes doing the research to know what elements to include in the spellwork, and constructing the spell and wordwork ourselves.   I guess that because of this, I assumed that the spellwork in published books was there as a “jumping off point”?  You know, providing ideas and examples… but not there to be used as-is.

#31DaysofWitchcraft Prompt 5 & 8 (non)VR to Heather Carter

Heather Carter on YouTube put together a series of prompts titled #31DaysofWitchcraft that she’s been working her way through since the beginning of May.

I really like this idea, but I can’t handle the responsibility of any more daily posts, so I thought that for the next few weeks, I would do one (or a few at a time) for the end of week “My Pagan Perspective” posts. This is the third installment!

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5. Have you had a teacher in the craft? Have you ever taken a course or classes to help you learn witchcraft? What were your experiences? If you haven’t, how are your thoughts and feelings on such courses?

I have had a teacher in my craft.  In fact, I’ve had a couple. The first was my mother, who raised my twin sister and I in the Wiccan path, while my father provided influences from his Buddhist beliefs.

When we were around the age of nine, my mother reached out into the pagan community and welcomed a pagan parenting mentor into our lives to help with better teaching us the Wiccan path and incorporating us into the rituals and celebrations of that path.

What really ended up happening is that the mentor (Z) ended up being our main teacher and guide concerning not just our spiritual path, but also our moral compasses, learning self worth and independence, and many other things.  She cared for us a lot, and we spent a great deal of time at her house and attending different rituals and celebrations with her throughout our youth.

When I emancipated from my parents, she was there to help encourage me to find my own path.  A path that would fit me and feel right to me.   Even now, she is a part of my life and I consult with her often.   In fact she’s currently living with my sister and I because she’s stuck abroad while things are closed down and restricted due to the pandemic.

I have never taken a class about witchcraft.  I actually wasn’t even aware that there are classes available for witchcraft.  Apparently there are, but I’ve never seen them or heard of them before.  This is probably because I am primarily solitary, though.

I don’t really have a lot of thoughts and feelings concerning the idea of classes and/or courses on witchcraft.  Primarily, because I haven’t taken one and have no idea what they cover or if they would encourage individualization… or require conformity.  I lean in the direction of individualization… obviously.

8. Do you refer to yourself as a witch? If not, why not? If so, what does the word mean to you?

Okay so, yes.  I refer to myself as a witch.

In my opinion, the term “witch” is just another label for “person that does spellcraft/magic”. So therefore, whether you call yourself a witch or not is pretty irrelevant. A duck is a duck is a duck… call it a mallard (witch)? It’s still a duck.

As I do not live in a place where calling myself by what I am puts me in any real danger, nor am I in the closet or trying to hide myself in some way, I see no reason not to use the term.

I do understand choosing to not adopt a label tho. Labels can be problematic if taken the wrong way by family, society, etc and can even create personal safety issues. I think it’s okay to not use the label… but important to acknowledge that you are a part of the underlying group that includes that label, even if only to oneself.