Yearly Archives: 2020

Are you a Gypsy Witch?

World Divination Association Virtual Conference

A fortnight ago I got to attend the very awesome World Divination Association (WDA) 1st Annual Virtual Conference. Yes as a title that is a helluva mouthful, but that jam packed moniker properly represents the jam packed content that was presented over the weekend. 44 speakers in 48 hours, it was the COVID-19 version of a 90’s telethon. Many of us staying up past our normally very sensible bedtimes to listen live to the great and good from all over the world. And ask questions too! Liz Dean, Mary Greer, Alison Cross, Caitlin Matthews, Ciro Marchetti  & Donnaleigh Rose were just a few of the speakers, plus a whole bunch of other folks whom I didn’t know then, but I am surely following now.  If you are interested they’ve made the talks available offline for a very reasonable fee, and you are bound to find something that is your cup of tea. Including a talk on Tasseomancy!

I’ve never been a very active member in the Tarot Readers and Cartomancy community and although over the years I have done endorsement programs for associations like TABI and BiddyTarot I tend not to get massively involved in the day to day chit chat. I never know what’s hot and what not amongst readers. Lenormand for an example pretty much passed me by when everyone was raving about it, I came to it years later in my own sweet time as the culmination of a natural course of study rather than some social influencer or group making it popular. But I do wonder now if I have been missing out. Anyway, one deck got mentioned  A LOT during the course of the weekend (well several did, but we will stick with just this one for the time being). The Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling deck. It’s a quirky little deck, its not Lenormand, its not playing cards, and its not Gypsy cards either. And yet somehow its a little bit of all three.

Published by US Games

A friend who also attended the conference described it as “the wild west of decks” and that couldn’t be more perfect a description. Currently published by US Games, this little deck can be bought for only £7 on Amazon (approx 6 USD). They are a 52 card poker sized deck perfect for a hand-bag or ruck sack. They have been around in some form or another for approximately 120 years, which makes them just a little bit older than the Rider Waite Smith deck. Cool huh!?! They are the result of German Lenormand emigrating to America, emancipating and getting its own identity. As an expanded 52 card deck only 35 of the cards could be considered to match the traditional Lenormand imagery, and then only just. The Garden is the Park, The Tower is “The Tower surrounded by clouds” etc. The Cross doesn’t even exist. Not to mention the fact that the playing card associations have been switched up. In addition I can’t not mention the fact that the cards are seriously ugly, they make Blue Owl Lenormand look pretty and worse still the ubiquitous ‘Little White Book” has no interpretations at all and yet there is a charisma about it you cannot ignore. If it was a boyfriend, your mum would call him “pretty ugly”. It makes for a quirky read.

The Roads turned to Dark Clouds a literal interpretation

Ive been doing my usual obsessing with a new deck, devouring everything I could find on the subject, living with the deck in my hand 24/7 for the last 10 days and the idea of it being Wild West, a Cowboy deck if you will, is really starting to ring true. Nobody really seems to agree on the exact nuances of reading this deck other than its a ‘quite literal’ and a bit ‘directional’ and sometimes ‘situational’.  However its the most direct, shoot from the hip, draw first ask questions later deck I have ever used. In a recent spread the past section of the reading was so scarily accurate I had to ask for a second opinion to make sure I wasn’t just projecting. I’ve never been a big “fortune teller” but I can see me using this this when people desperately want a yes/no reading because this deck is perfect for it. Its short sweet and oh so to the point I thoroughly recommend you give them a try.

I’d also recommend you give the WDA a go, they have courses on everything from Mexican Loteria to Russian Cartomancy. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so fired up and inspired and all because I got reminded that there is more to life than Tarot…..gasp horror!

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.