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The Magic of Chamomile

This post was originally published on the Seagrape Apothecary Blog.

When I think about all the magical tools that support me through the dark season, the most potent ally I can think of is chamomile. A common herb often found in calming tea blends, chamomile is an ideal herb for witches because it is gentle yet powerful. Yes, the tea can certainly be very helpful for anxiety and insomnia, but on a magical level, there is so much more to it.  

Chamomile is an herb of the sun. It’s gentle warmth is akin to the sunlight at dawn, or a gentle flame, rather than a raging fire. Magically speaking, chamomile is a guiding light. It has been a popular ingredient in folk magic and spells for centuries, because it nurtures and protects, while also amplifying magical energy and psychic abilities. Paradoxically, because of its association with the sun, it increases vital energy, but because it is also associated with the element of water, it can aid in dreamwork and other intuitive practices. 

Chamomile is, according to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, “a healing wonder” (A Beginner’s Guide To Medicinal Herbs [117]). Used as a treatment for a variety of health issues since ancient times, it also has strong healing associations, which is yet another reason to work with it during cold and flu season (not to mention during the Covid-19 pandemic). That’s not to say that it can necessarily cure or heal any of these things, but when it is incorporated into a spiritual practice, it has the powerful ability to support us on the physical, mental, and spiritual level. 

Paul Beyerl writes about Chamomile in The Master Book of Herbalism: “It is found throughout ancient Egyptian medicine where it was dedicated to the Sun god for its curing powers. Much of its lore comes from the position it holds in the garden, for it brings health to the other plants in the gardens and is said to cure nearly any plant that it grows next to” (80).  

I started working closely with chamomile when I realized that on a spirit level, it is deeply nurturing and supportive. It was literally begging me to work with it, and once I made conscious efforts to bring it into my daily life, I realized just how powerful it can be. I always keep some close to me, whether it be in a sachet in my pocket, in a dish by my bedside, or in an essential oil blend I apply to my throat before a long day at work. 

So, what is the best way to start working with chamomile? When you first decide to form a relationship with any herb, it’s a good idea to do a meditation with it. Chamomile is ideal for tea meditation. Here’s how to do it: As you sip, breathe, and close your eyes. Say hello, either silently or aloud. Then, imagine if the chamomile started talking to you, drifting up through the steam to whisper messages in your ear, what would it say? Do you notice any phrases, images, colors, or feelings coming to you? These things will tell you a lot about the spirit of the plant. Write down any observations in a journal, and do your best not to edit. Just write down anything that comes into your mind. 

After you’ve done your meditation, here are some other ways to develop a relationship with chamomile:

  1. Grow it. One of the best ways to form a relationship with a plant is to care for it and literally help it to exist in the world. 
  2. Place it around your house in sachets, bowls, or jars. I keep a little dish of chamomile next to my bed, and I run my fingers through it every night, waking it up between my fingers and asking it to protect me during sleep. 
  3. Bake with it. Chamomile adds a lovely aromatic quality to cookies, cakes, and breads. 
  4. Take baths with it. Sprinkle some loose flowers in the water, or steep a tea bag in the hot water. 
  5. Carry it around with you in a sachet.
  6. Burn a little as incense. Scott Cunningham says in his book Magical Herbalism that it “induces sleep if burned” (147).  
  7. Use the oil or tea to anoint ritual objects like scrying mirrors. 
  8. Wear the essential oil. Try dabbing a little on your solar plexus to increase your sense of personal power, on your third eye to increase psychic awareness, or any other part of your body that feels right.
  9. Wash thresholds and windows with chamomile tea to add magical protection to your home. 
  10. Draw chamomile flowers in your journal or sketchbook.

Want to try some of Little Witchery’c chamomile-infused products? Head to our Etsy Shop to check out our:

  • Sunshine In Winter Bath
  • Little Witch’s Bedtime Blend
  • Soothe Yourself Blend & Bath
  • Inner Child Bath
  • Dream Oracle Blend
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How To Be A Witch: Part 3 – What Is Intention?

Intention is a word that gets thrown a lot in the witchy world, but sometimes it can be hard to know what it exactly means. Undeniably, it’s essential for magic, living at the core of most spells and rituals. It’s the fuel that powers our spells and workings. It’s 90% of what makes magic work. 

It’s no surprise that if a spell doesn’t work, it’s probably a good idea to re-examine your intention, and maybe even re-define for yourself what intention really means. If you want to write your own spells, intention is even more important to have a working knowledge of. 

The definition from the Macmillan Dictionary: a plan in your mind to do something.

My definition: an aim or goal you hope to accomplish through magic.

Intention is the thread that connects every element of your spell, from the incantation you speak, to the candle colors you choose to use, to the moon phase you plan to perform the spell under.  

Some ideas on how to infuse intention into your daily life and magical practice:

  1. Figure out your desired outcome. What EXACTLY is it you want? Is it specific or broad? Does it come with stipulations or parameters, or are you more open to whatever the universe thinks is best for you?
  2. Formulate your wording carefully. Words are powerful and slight wording differences can be hugely influential on our spells. Fill your intention with words that are powerful, active, and clear.
  3. Write it out. First try writing it out in your journal or personal book of shadows, and then when you have it finished, you can write it and put it on your altar or use it in your spellwork.
  4. Visualize the outcome clearly. What does it feel, taste, sound, smell, and look like?
  5. Focus on abundance. Cultivate a feeling of already having your desired outcome, rather than on a feeling of lack or wanting. If you infuse your spell with feelings of neediness, that’s what you’ll get back… more neediness.
  6. Let it go. Concentrate your intention while working your magic, and then let it leave your mind. Let the magic do its work without obsessing or dwelling on your want.

All that being said, intention alone is not enough. While you definitely need gas to drive a car, the gas is pretty useless without the car to power. Just the same, you need to have an action and a physical object to infuse with intention, in order for the intention to have a vehicle to work through. It’s okay if the tangible object is only your body, but it needs to be something. 

It’s also important to note that our true intentions in life are not always what we think they are. Through therapy, self-reflection, and shadow work, we can learn to uncover the true underbellies of our motivations, which will only help us to be more magically powerful.

Intention is not the law of attraction. It’s not saying that whatever you think is going to become true. It’s saying that if you want to get somewhere, and you start taking steps to do so, you’d better know where it is that you’re going! 

Intention means that what you think affects your actions, which affects your life and your magic. The best part is, by setting an intention, you get to choose!

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How To Be A Witch: Part 2 – Moon Magic

Our bodies are inextricably tied to the cycle of the moon. For thousands of years, human beings have noticed how the moon affects ocean tides, and on a much smaller level, how it influences the water in our bodies. Simply paying attention to how your body, mind, and spirit feel at certain times of the month can tell you a lot about the moon’s effect on you. Do you tend to have trouble sleeping at the full moon, or you want to stay home more often at the dark moon? Start journaling, perhaps in your personal grimoire or book of shadows, to track these changes for easy reference later. 

Traditionally, the moon was associated with feminine energy. It was deeply connected to intuition, dreams, water, psychic knowing, and receptivity. Because so much of contemporary witchcraft is influenced by the concept of the divine feminine, it makes sense that witches tend to venerate the moon. 

The moon doesn’t only affect our bodies: it influences everything on earth, including your spellwork. That’s why it can be a wise idea to plan your magical timing for days when the moon’s phase can aid your witchery instead of hinder it. 

Dark Moon Magic: What most people refer to as the new moon is actually the dark moon, the time when the moon is completely hidden and the sky is dark. This is a good time to do inner exploration and shadow work. It’s a quiet, internal time. Explore hidden parts of yourself that you don’t normally pay attention to, either through meditation, trance, journaling, or divination. 

The Waxing Moon: At the new moon, when just a sliver of the moon has reappeared and it’s starting to grow, this is a potent time for planting seeds, both literally and metaphorically. Think deeply about the goals you want to accomplish and the dreams you want to nurture and grow in your life. Write these intentions down, and visualize them coming true. What does your dream smell, taste, sound, look, and feel like? What are you wearing and who is there with you? Be as specific as you can. Imagine that as the moon gets bigger and brighter, so are you. The light is building, and along with it, your magic and intentions intensify. 

Full Moon Magic: At this time of the month, the moon shines brightest, and its effects can be felt most strongly. At the full moon, everything is intensified: emotions may run high, magic may feel more potent, and psychic information may come to you more easily. The full moon can be used for basically any time of magic, but it is a particularly good time to work manifestation magic. Just as the moon is sending out it’s maximum amount of brightness into the world, you too can send out your desires into the universe with these intentions.

The Waning Moon: This is the ideal time to do cleansing and clearing magic. It’s a blank slate, and a call to let go of anything that’s not serving you as you move into the new moon cycle. Do some gentle introspection through journaling or meditation, ask yourself what is blocking you? While imagining your blocks falling away, take action: soak in a cleansing bath with epsom salts, say “No” to things that don’t resonate with you, and slow down if your body wants you to. This is a good time to clear space, both in your physical space and in your mind. Listen closely and the moon’s intuitive guidance will help you to understand what you need to release.

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How To Be A Witch: Part 1 – Bibliomancy

So you’re a brand new baby witch, and you’re wondering where to begin. Here at Little Witchery, we have a few go-to steps for beginning a magical journey. Reading about the history and practice of magic is one of the best ways to start, but we encourage you to take it a step further and use the book itself to guide you. Using books for magical answers, also known as Bibliomancy, will help you learn a whole lot about witchery right off the bat.

Bibliomancy can be performed by flipping a book to a random page, or running your finger over random words until you feel called to stop on one. Then, the information found there can be used to answer questions, provide insight, or even foretell future events. Another way to perform bibliomancy is to run your hands over a random shelf of books in the witchcraft section of a library or bookshop; whichever book you land on is the one you should consider reading.

Our favorite way to use books for magical guidance, however, is to let our intuition pull us to whichever book seems most intriguing. It’s okay to judge a book by its cover in this case. In fact, you’ll want to look for a spine and a cover that make you feel excited. Maybe your heart beats faster when you see it, or you can’t stop looking at the illustrations, or a certain word or phrase in the title piques your interest. Maybe something about it reminds you of when you played “Wizards” as a kid, or of your favorite fantasy novel. Whatever it is that draws you to that book is much more important than it being a bestseller or “Highly Recommended.” Every witch is unique, with their own special path. An out-of-print but exciting witchcraft book might be the place where your journey is supposed to begin.

Feel free to read the book from start to finish, or to jump around. If you don’t end up liking it, go back to the bookshelf and perform bibliomancy again. Scan the shelves and pull out another one. Not all of a witch’s spells or divinatory practices work perfectly the first time, especially at the beginning, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find the perfect book right away.
While practical grimoires are essential for the beginning witch, don’t dismiss the power of magical fiction to inspire and teach, too. Fantasy books such as Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, Wise Child by Monica Furlong, and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman can be invaluable resources. Plus, they’re a lot of fun to read.

After you’ve picked your first book, be sure to keep reading, as widely and as much as possible. Knowledge is power. Because no two witches or pagan cultures are the same, you want to be sure you are learning from the most diverse range of voices that you can find. Even the most advanced witches are still learning.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the “How To Be A Witch” blog series, and check out my YouTube video on this topic, Three Ways To Live A Witchy Lifestyle.