#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 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.

Systems of Correspondences

Today’s prompt is brought to you by one of the Discord servers that I am a member of.  Just as a side note… the reason I do not link these Discord servers is because each server has their own rules about if you’re allowed to share them publicly and how, and it’s a pain in the ass to look it up for each one so I just don’t share them.

On to the question… “What systems of correspondences do you tend to work with most? How do they play a part in your practice? (Ie: the cardinal directions, elements, magickal herbs, etc)

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The Elements – These are essentially the touchstones of my craft.  I do not have five points when I create a circle.  I have four.  This is because the representative for “spirit” resides inside the circle, not at one of the outer edges.  I (not surprisingly) connect most strongly to the element earth, with water following close behind.  Then air… and lastly fire, which is an element I’ve never had a very close affinity with.   The elements in spellcraft and my path align up with the same correspondences that you see for the elements in the tarot.  That is to say….

Fire (Wands) represents the inner spark of passion, willpower, and drive.
Water (Cups) represents the emotions, relationships, creativity, and intuition.
Air (Swords) represents the mind, intellect, and communication
Earth (Pentacles) represents the physical realm including health, resources, finances, etc.

Spirit/Divinity – As previously mentioned, for me spirit/divinity is not a point upon the circle’s perimeter (not that I cast circles all that often), but resides at the center of that circle. Spirit/Divinity (in my practice), is defined as the energies of creation, evolution, and balance.  Because of its distinction as being separate from “The Elements”, I gave it its own section in these correspondences.

Plants of All Kinds – I’ve always been very connected with plants and rich, moist soil. I have two green thumbs and eight green fingers, and I love plants of all kinds so much so that my university education was focused in the areas of botany and horticulture.  It is no surprise, then, that plants and soil would be something that I incorporate strongly into my spellcraft and practice both through their spiritual symbology, practical uses, medicinal uses, and otherwise.

Lunar Cycles – I depend on the cycles of the moon to lend energy to both my spellcraft and my gardening.  You can learn more about that latter part here:  Farmer’s Almanac – Why Garden By The Moon

Seasonal Cycles – My wheel of the year is built around seasonal cycles (as opposed to the god/goddess journey or whatnot).  My celebrations align with the solstices, equinoxes, and cross quarter points lined out by seasonal changes. Which, I suppose, means it could also be said that I work with weather cycles as well.

Stones and Minerals (esp. semiprecious stones and precious stones) – I’m a jeweler.  I make amulets and pendulums and other magically enhanced items.  It would be weird to me to do this without using the appropriate stones in the process.

Colors – This one is more rare, but there are magical correspondences that have to do with colors, especially when using candle magic, thread and knotting magic, etc.  I do occasionally incorporate this into my spellcraft, but not all that often.

I’m sure there are plenty more that I’ve not included, but this is a list of some of those I use most often.

Using Visualization in Spellcraft

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about visualization and how it’s used in one’s practice and in everyday life.

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Topic for the Week of 1/13: Although the word makes us think only of vision and our sense of sight, the practice of visualization involves any and all senses, not just sight but also scent, sound, touch, and even taste…”

There are multiple questions included in the continuation of the topic for this week, so I am going to break those questions up below, because I think it’ll be easier to answer that way, rather than taking the whole thing on at once.   So…

1) Do you practice this skill or use it in your path?

Oh hell yes.  All the time.  Anyone that reads a book and imagines what’s going on in the book in your head, or writes fiction, or daydreams about this or that is doing visualization.

In spellcrafting, especially, it is an extremely valuable tool used to set intentions and direct energy into those intentions.

It is also an excellent method of meditation.  One of my favorite meditations when I was first starting out at meditation was to visualize peeling and eating an orange, as it is one that has a very distinctive and strong ability to incorporate all five senses.

2) What do you actually DO when you ‘visualize’ something?

Visualization triggers the parts of the brain that have to do with receptors for each of your senses.   So it’s not just “thinking” about doing something, but awakening those parts of the brain that register sensation and… well, playing with them.

3) Do you find that it comes easily to you, or do you struggle with it?

I’ve been doing visualization all my life, both in my practice and path, as well as in the day to day.  So it’s not really something I think about anymore, to be honest.

4) Are certain inner senses easier to use than others? For example some people may find inner sight difficult, but hear things easily, and so on.

Because of my synesthesia, the hearing one always feels a bit weird because with visualizations it doesn’t always kick in as it does with actual auditory input.   But other than that… not really.  I would say that visualization-wise, my sense of smell is the weakest.

5) What do your physical eyes ‘see’ when you visualize something?

They don’t.   I don’t hallucinate when visualizing.  Whatever I’m visualizing plays out in my mind, not in the physical world in front of me.

6) Do you have any tips for others working on this skill? For those who struggle, what are other things that can be done instead?

I think a lot of people don’t realize that creative writing is a type of visualization.  That reading a work of fiction is a type of visualization.   They think that it’s some esoteric skill they can’t tap into, but have been doing it all along and not realizing it.   Use those ways of visualizing that are familiar to you and take steps to begin reaching beyond them.

Instead of reading a book, make up a story in your head.  Pay attention to what you’re doing in your head beyond just producing words, yeah?  Do you see your character doing those things?   Can you feel what that character feels?   That is visualization.   Practice and pay attention, yeah?

7)  Does struggling with visualization prevent growth in our practice?

I believe it could.   Without visualization, the energy placed into intention setting wouldn’t have the same kind of -drive- behind it.  That drive is what pushes the energy forward into creating the results you seek, so I sort of wonder if spellcasting without it would even work?   I’m not sure, as this isn’t a problem I deal with personally.