Got a Problem? Try Florida Water!

I have a problem, I am addicted to Florida water. I am starting to think that the next time someone asks me what key tool a beginning witch “must have”, I am going to reply “Murray & Lanmans”. Got a spot? Dab on Florida Water. Want to spritz some sheets at the cheap motel you’re staying in? Florida Water is your guy. Energy feel funky after your Mother in Law has left the building? Can’t go far wrong with Florida water. Need to cleanse a item before you put it on an Altar? Yes you guessed it, in fact you may as well use it to wash the Altar down whilst your at it. Got a noisy spirit? Florida water, Florida water, Florida Water.

It is part of my every day routine, when I get up in the morning before I sit down to work I spritz my entire working area to get rid of anything that might be hanging round from the day before. I even clean my glasses with it before I start writing, and as I rub making sure those lenses are squeaky clean I focus on seeing through any illusion and working with clear sight. Possibly a little new age, but it works for me and its a consistent and focussed spiritual hygiene routine. Something that so many people fail to do and yet is so fundamentally important. Waiting until your all grubbied up with spiritual gunk (and I have done it myself so this tiny nag is coming from a place of experience and love) just makes it so much harder to get truly clean when the proverbial hits the fan, so why not do a little everyday?

I have a bottle on my desk and a bottle in my handbag, wherever I go I pick up unique brands and handmade bottles.

I have a bottle on my desk and a bottle in my handbag, when I visit new countries, metaphysical shops and conferences I will snag unique brands and handmade potions, often designating certain bottles for very specific purposes because I know it’s highly unlikely I will manage to get hold of the stuff again. There are probably dozens of recipes available online to make your own, if you are that way inclined (like here *) but I am forever the lazy witch and I do like to support independent businesses.

What I do though, for the stuff I use daily is doctor the mass produced stuff which I buy from Ebay. It adds a little bit of my own personal zing to the mix.  Even my husband who hates all my “pongy stuff” like fragranced candles, incenses and joss sticks likes my Florida water. Now that is saying something.

The recipe is very simple and you can adapt it as you see fit or even for specific purposes:

  • 3 parts Florida water (I make small batches so I am looking at about 9 fl. Oz)
  • 1 part good quality Rose water (3 fl oz.)
  • A good handful of Mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris) preferably the flowers, I would like to be specific but I can’t, its sort of how I feel at the time.
  • A dozen drops of lemongrass essential oil.
  • A six drops of Frankincense oil.

Shake well together and bottle it up into a spritz (I leave the mugwort in to infuse – it does sometimes block the spritz tube but a quick shake normally sorts it).

NOTE: When I first started using Florida water I have to confess I was a little nervous about telling people that I was doing it. People get jumped on for appropriation all the time on the internet. I don’t know what it is about the internet but it just brings out the worst in people. Anyway I came across people in folk magic groups claiming that unless you were an old time Conjure or Root-worker then you shouldn’t be using this stuff. So me, being me, did a little research.

Flowery Waters have been used the world over!

“Flowery” waters, because that is what “Florida” means in Latin, have been used all over the world for as long as humanity has been able to distill. We have documentary evidence of Alchemists making alcohol based distillates as early as the 9th century in the Middle East and there is even an 11th century Cistercian Abbey in Wales, now sadly ruined, which was situated in a lovely place known as Strata Florida, or the Flowery Valley. The Cistercian Order were well known for their brewing and distilling and some anecdotal stories circulate that they chose that valley specifically for the types of medicinal flowers that grew there. Its not a massive leap to think that they may well have made flowery distillates.  Rose and Orange Flower water is still used today for skincare and for cooking. And what is Bach’s rescue remedy if not a flowery distillate?  The eau de Cologne we know as Florida Water did not even appear until the 19th century so is really quite late to the party. The manufacturers even marketed it using the myth of the Fountain of Youth being located Florida, a myth which originated in Europe.  Its success was phenomenal and was being used by rich and poor, black and white alike, it’s uses were multitudinous; a disinfectant and cleanser, an astringent, a restorative tonic to aid digestion, a perfume, a cure for headaches the list was almost endless.

So although I am not sure I would encourage anybody to drink the stuff and perhaps some of the “medicinal cures” are scientifically suspect, we cannot fail to recognise that magical Flowery waters are a world wide phenomenon which have been used for healing, cleansing and perfuming us for a very long time and therefore open to everybody, no gatekeeping required.

*I particularly like the Ritual & Vibe recipe because it contains lavender, bergamot, lemon and orange which are all though to be traditional components of the original Murray & Lanmans recipe

The Faery Boy of Leith – The F Word!

Carlton Hill at Night

I love Edinburgh; country girl that I am, it’s probably the only city that I have ever visited that I could consider living in and as such it holds a very special place in my heart. It is a city that is still truly old and is steeped in myth and legend. Body snatching, half-men, wicked women selling babies, you name it, Edinburgh has it, and best of all, it has more than its fair share of Fae.  So it was an absolute delight to visit this weekend for my birthday treat. And even more of a delight when I discovered another variation of the tale of “The Faery boy of Leith” thanks to the very welcoming people at the Wyrd Shop on Canongate (which is well worth a visit by the way if you are heading to town).

The version of the story that I have previously heard dates from approximately 1660. And places a young boy  who it is said was gifted with strong second sight centre stage in the tale. Each Thursday night he would walk up Carlton Hill and disappear between two gates that were said to apparate at his approach. Despite numerous attempts to stop him or to follow him the boy could never be caught until he reappeared again at dawn. When questioned as to what he did during this time the boy stated that he was playing the drums for the Fae folk to entertain them during their revels. Further questioning regarding where it was he actually went, he would sometimes claim that he had been taken to France or Holland either through flight or underground tunnels.

However another version places the boy just a mile or so away in the caves in Arthurs Seat. This impressive peak can be seen clearly from Carlton Hill in the old town, and has long been associated with supernatural happening including a visit from the half fae/demon wizard Merlin and (like Alderley Edge and several other locations in the British Isles) said to be the final resting place of the once and future king himself, along with his knights of the round table.  That there are are tunnels below the old city is true without a shadow of a doubt, some have other folk lore of their own including the tale of the “demon hand”. The caves below Arthurs seat are also undisputed, and neither is the fact that they have been associated with unusual phenomena including housing the coffins of 17 poppets, which may have been meant to represent the victims of Edinburgh’s most notorious serial killers Burke and Hare. In this new rendition the Fair folk speak to the boy and ask that people no-longer call them “Fairies” within direct sight of Arthurs Seat, for to do so makes them “less”.

Although this request to avoid the F word is not surprising as the Scottish Fair folk have an established history clearly showing their dislike of the word Fairy, it’s the claim that to use the word makes them somehow less that is intriguing. Less what? Less powerful? Less present in this world? Less tolerant of us and our behaviour? Less in numbers?

Naming is very important of course we all know that; its Fairy lore 101 and I would never assume to use the F word directly to any entities face when out and about on my adventures, but I have never shied away from using the F word when talking to other people, but my twisted brain is now wondering; is the request by J.M Barrie’s Tinkerbell for us to declaim loudly that we “do believe in fairies” actually perversely the thing that is killing them off? Do we need to be avoiding the word altogether?

Whilst I am blogging and writing, probably not, mostly because its a powerful word within human consciousness, and when I am writing, its humans I am interacting with; but I’m going to put some thought into this conundrum and in the meantime at the very least I will be avoiding using the F word whilst out and about just incase I am overheard.

It’s all about Lucy

This time of year, we tend to focus on a lot of male-centric mythologies. It’s not surprising really, the Solstice is nearly upon us and the return of the dying sun is forefront in our minds, and thanks to our still predominantly patriarchal society the boys tend to get the plum jobs. In the next few weeks it is likely you will hear of Odin whose eyes were said to be the Sun and the Moon, of Llew Llaw Gyffes grandson of Beli Mawr (the sun himself), Mithras and the Holly King. All of them either literally or figuratively light bringers, but it doesn’t take too much digging before you start coming across something that is mostly ignored in modern Paganism, the female light bringers. This is a subject for which I have a great fondness and love. Deities, holy women and honored ancestors, such as Hekate Phosphorus, Diana Lucifera, and most apt for this time of year the Disir and St Lucia (or St Lucy) all rocking the light and influencing humanity as only women know how.

St Lucy (Niccolo de Segna – Walters Art Museum)

The Feast of St Lucy is on the 13th of December, which prior to the change from the old Julian to the Gregorian calendar would have fallen approximately on the Winter Solstice. In Scandinavian countries St Lucy is still venerated on Jol/Jul with young girls dressing in pure white, their dresses adorned by a red sash and a crown of candles upon their heads. She is quite an interesting Saint in that she is both a very devout woman of Christ and potentially also a Witch. There are numerous folkloric tales about her, and these are region specific, but the essence of her story is that she was the only female child of a rich merchant family in Syracuse Italy. As a young child she travelled with her ailing mother to a shrine dedicated to St Agatha to pray for healing. St Agatha it is said performed a great miracle of healing which led to the instant conversion of the young Lucy to Christianity. But there was a slight problem, as was common in that time Lucy had been betrothed to a young man whose family was Pagan.

During the intervening years between Lucy’s conversion and her final Martyrdom it is said that Lucy persuaded her parents to give her the money reserved for her dowry so that she could spend it on alms for the poor, particularly those persecuted Christians who were at the time living as outcasts in the catacombs of the city. She traversed the dark tunnels with food and blankets loaded in her arms, her way lit by a crown of candles which she placed upon her head. Eventually her suitor came a calling and Lucy rejected him, claiming a life of virginal chastity dedicated to God. Outraged (and also probably miffed at the loss of the dowry more than anything else) the young man appealed to the city governor claiming the girl to be a Witch, something it seems that the Governor chose to believe. What followed is a sorry tale of abuse. Lucy is first taken to a Brothel to be defiled, but the soldiers tasked with escorting her cannot move her, even when they tie her to oxen and try and drag her. Next her eyes were gouged from her head, although in some tales these either regrew in their sockets or more alarmingly on the palms of her hands and finally they tried to burn her at the stake but no fire could be kindled. Eventually she was stabbed and died.

St Lucy has now become the Patron Saint of the Blind and is often prayed to or included in folk magic to heal afflictions related to the eyes including the effects of the ‘evil eye’. But there are some other magickal connections, Judika Illes[1] claims that in Austria the term “Lucy’s light” is another name for having psychic abilities and that in Hungary St Lucy’s eve is considered the time most propitious for performing acts of divination. As a cartomancer St Lucy is to me someone who can bring me clarity in my psychic works, allowing my deep vision to grow and develop, and it is for this that I venerate her at this time of year. A simple candle is all it takes, which I anoint with Star Anise and burn for a short while every night between the 13th and Christmas Eve saying a short spell as I light the candle.

Dear St Lucy, bringer of light,

protect me through the darkest nights,

Bring forth my powers of second sight,”

[1] Encyclopaedia of Mystics, Saints and Sages (2011) Harper Collins

I do believe in Flower Fairies

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Arthur Rackham

For many of us our first encounter with the kingdom of fairy is as a child. Girls in particular seem to get targeted with a whole range of books, toys, and clothing featuring fairies. My daughter drove me mad collecting the Rainbow Magic series when she first started reading, with such heroines as Poppy the Piano Fairy, Scarlett the Garnet Fairy and Olivia the Orchid Fairy. This isn’t a new idea either over 80 years ago illustrators such as Cicley Mary Barker and Arthur Rackham were creating delightful images of tiny fae that were associated with the seasons, trees, sacred sites, fruits and flowers. And the images they created found themselves into collections of fairy tales, play manuscripts, children’s television programs, films and books. In a bizarre way the western world has been indoctrinating their children to have an animistic world-view for over a century and not even realising it. Which secretly I find rather excellent.

The concept of a fairy or spirit being associated with a particular plant has a bit of a spotted history. The new age movement is much taken with the idea of “Plant Deva” divine spirits also known as ’shining ones’. These are connected or possibly the actual essence of each living thing. My researches seem to suggest that this name was probably first broached by the Theosophist Geoffrey Hodson but whilst the use of the old sanskrit word Deva maybe a little dubious, the idea is sound. Most of the Shamanic Cultures (North and South) have a long history of working with spirits of particular plants, rocks, and stones etc. But are they Fae? My considered opinion is yes they are, for once you work with them their sentience shines through loud and clear.

I am not a herbalist, or even a very competent amateur and cannot imagine a time where I would ever be, it’s not really my thing. But on a nature walk I’m pretty good at identifying different trees, plants and flowers and there are times when a particular plant will jump out at me. I remember the first time I consciously examined and took notice of the Blackthorn, it was like a presence inside it spoke to me. Before it was a tree that I just about recognised in late Autumn when the sloes were ready to be harvested. Because there is nothing like a good homemade Sloe Gin at Yule so picking the fruit had a purpose. I am all about purpose. However, afterwards even in winter I could even recognise the bare wood. I’d walk down paths I’d walked a hundred times before and be shocked to realise that the hedgerow was primarily Blackthorn, at times I would dream of those trees and a humanoid spirit with violet eyes and no sclera would peer at me through the branches. When I had need of a sturdy walking stick it was a Blackthorn cane I automatically picked out of a bundle at a village fair. In later years Blackthorn would come to me in my dreams, one memorable time to warn me of the destruction of the ancient hedge near where I was living. Blackthorn wasn’t and isn’t just an essence, it is a sentient tangible entity. Akin to a Dryad.

And Blackthorn isn’t the only one. Scarlet Pimpernel works with me often in the summer months. I remember being enchanted when I saw these tiny delicate orangey flowers with a deep crimson centre. So petite it’s easy to miss them, it foretells of good times and bad. Once known as “Old Man’s Weather vane” its little flowers close in foul weather, Ive come to realise that this little plant spirit most often reveals itself to me when there is a promise of good things to come. Turning up unexpectedly in unlikely locations on a memorable day, I always take note of what Pimpernel has to say.

It’s really easy to connect with these Plant Fae. If you can plant them then do, watch them and learn from them, talk to them, meditate with them, cook with them and bathe with them even, assuming that’s appropriate. The more you assimilate the physical plant the easier it is to connect to the Fae who are attached to them. And I specifically use the word attached because  it is definitely a case of individual spirits of a particular species that belong to that specific plant. But once you’ve made connection with one, it’s a lot easier to make connection with others. Like learning French from a native speaker and then going to visit France. Makes communicating so much more simple.

It’s not totally necessary to understand its medicinal purpose or the folklore associated with it the plant, but I do find that it helps to understand the nature of what this “Shining One” is trying to say or it will suddenly make that initial connection easy.  Currently my latest stalker plant is Black Nightshade. I came across a patch whilst playing a scavenger hunt in central London some weeks back and its been stalking me ever since, appearing in places I’ve walked and worked for years and I know I have never noticed this plant before. Its season is nearly over, but still I am finding it in flower in all sorts of places so I always stop and acknowledge it. Gently touch a flower or leaf and ponder why it is that I am only now noticing its presence. I can’t wait to find out what this little creature has to teach me about the Otherworld and myself.

My Big Fat Citrine Experiment

If anybody remembers back to the heady days of livejournal you may remember my “big fat citrine experiment” from circa 2005. Guess what it’s come to an end, finally, maybe, or maybe not.

For those who are none the wiser let me set the scene.

It was back in the day when both myself and the husbeast were contracting and consulting a lot and from time to time there would be short lull’s in the work available. We usually embraced this time with joy choosing to do mad things like buying a VW camper van and taking our then ‘not even out of nappies’ daughter touring France for a month. But this particular instance had me on edge, I was nervous. I couldn’t say why, I just wasn’t happy and as one month stretched to two I started fretting about money. I fret a lot about money, I fret when we have it, I fret even more when we don’t.

One evening I was asked if I would like to go to the local moot. Honestly when I heard the subject matter, I wasn’t very keen. Crystals and Feng Shui. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with crystals because I fundamentally disagree with the way the majority of them are mined. And I don’t believe suppliers when they say that what they are selling is ethically ‘sourced’ – the hint is in the word sourced, they rarely use the word ‘mined’; there is a difference and this rings alarm bells for me. I am also extremely sceptical about the actual power of crystals. Like really sceptical.

I get the whole sympathetic magick thing, Ive been using it successfully for years after all; I also cannot deny that you can pick up certain rocks and they have an energy to them. For example I went to a wonderful talk by the amazing Orion Foxwood back in February and he handed around a whole collection of stones he called scrubber stones, basically stones that have the power to cleanse and heal energetically. I am now the proud owner of a largish piece of Sulphur included Quartz which I sit with after particularly horrible days at work. But really, I look at those crystal infused water bottles and folks shoving crystals on their chakras; and if they subscribe to anything ‘Goop’ related, where the sun doesn’t shine; and well as a general rule I am just not buying it.

Anyway back to 2005, along I trotted, with just enough money in my pocket to buy two drinks and get a bus home. I have never worked out what came over me as I listened to the woman giving her talk. When she started discussing citrine, my ears pricked and my heckles bristled. She explained the difference between natural citrine and heat treated (aka Amethyst), how she used it and where in the house was optimal for financial success. She talked about several customers who had followed her instructions to the letter and within days had come into substantial sums of money. That was it, I was sold, I would call it an empirical experiment. Although I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it empirical, but there you go. It sounded plausible.

I bought a palm sized rough citrine cluster and a small tumble stone. I duly followed the instructions which was to place the tumble stone in my purse to ensure it was always full and the cluster was placed in the furthest left hand corner of the house away from the front door. I then blogged at some length and rather satirically about it. But I kid you not within days both the husbeast and myself had landed work with quite eye wateringly good daily rates. It wasn’t the citrine was it? Gah! perhaps it was, and now because I fret about money I was afraid to take the damn things away. And so for the last 15 years I’ve had a rough citrine cluster on my kitchen windowsill and a small piece of citrine in my purse. Until well, sometime in the last 5 days. The purse stone is gone!

I suspect I lost it at the weekend. I ended up with a lot of change in my purse and coins are starting to spill out from those weird little slits at the bottom of the coin pouch. It probably dropped out. And I can’t bear it so I’ve had to order a new one. And there in lies the power of magick, I have invested so much belief into that little bit of rock it now has masses of power, oodles and doodles of it. And I wants it my precious and I will do whatever it takes to get it.

I also hate the idea that I’ve potentially left the house ‘without’ so today I created an extra bit of something for the household. A prosperity/success jar. It is a super easy spell and can often be put together with things you can find in the house. I’ve made a little Youtube video (please be patient I’ve never done a full tutorial before) to get you started. It’s a fab spell and you can add to it over time; a piece of star anise here, a coin there, knotted ribbons and fake gems whatever takes your fancy. Let me know how you get on if you give it a try!