Interview with Charity Bedell, Author of The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells

I recently had the opportunity to virtually interview Charity Bedell, co-author of  The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells.  I asked her five questions about  this resource-filled book.
 Question 1:  One of the things I found intriguing about the book is the way it is organized. Instead of breaking it into 2 parts of Healing and Magical, its organized by separate sections then within those sections into Healing and Magical applications. Why did you choose to organize it this way?

The most important thing I want people to get out of this book is that the available  healing practices and the magical practices around herbs are deeply connected.  They have always been connected.   This truth was well-known in the ancient world.  They really believed that physical ailments were caused by magic and spirits as well as by physical conditions.  So for the ancients they needed to be able to treat the mind, the body, and the spirit all at once.,

The chapter on potions goes into this a bit more.  In that chapter I explain how remedies like Four Thieves Vinegar, Fire Cider and Carmelite water were used in medicine and in magic.  By knowing the medicinal properties of the plants we can learn several of the magical values of the plants.  Magic and medicine are connected.  They work in connection to create a better life for us.

To illustrate what I am talking about lets talk about one of my favorite spices.  Cayenne Pepper.  Cayenne pepper when combined with Arnica in a salve makes a powerful pain relief and arthritis relief salve.  Cayenne pepper is rich in capsicum which contains the chemical Capcasin.   This is a chemical found in many over the counter ointments for arthritis relief.

Cayenne Pepper also works well as an expectorant.  When used in cooking if someone with congestion eats Cayenne pepper the mucus will dissolve and they will be able to breathe easy.  The mucus will break up and be removed from the system.  It is also an anti irritant, which allows cayenne pepper to soothe throats and coughs and colds from allergies.

Magically Cayenne pepper is most well-known for being a protective herb.  It’s known to be good in removal work. This herb gets a bad rap for being used in hexes and cures specifically its known for being a key ingredient in Hoot Foot Powder.  However Hotfoot powder is not a curse so much as it is a removal work.  While the powder will cause an individual to move away, that is all the powder will be good for   If used with justification hot foot powder will cause an individual to move out of their home, job, etc.  Though you need to be careful as hot foot powder can last longer than intended and may cause the target to remain in motion unable to stay established for a long period of time.  This is why it should be avoided.

So what we see here is that the expectorant and the anti-irritant medicinal properties give way to protection and removal work.   Further looking at the herb will allow you to have insight into Cayenne pepper.  One magical property of Cayenne pepper is sexuality and lust.  This comes from the fire aspect and spice nature of the herb.  In order to understand the whole herb you need to look at the entire picture.    Only by looking at the entire picture of the plant (medicine, lore, history and magic) can one really understand how the herb works.  The more we see the connections between the mind, the body, and the spirit the more whole we can become.

Question 2:  In each section you’ve provided instruction to cleanse required objects and items of residual energies prior to use in the applications. How much importance is placed on this step and would failure to do so weaken the application?

I’m going to address this question in two parts.  First, you have the physical cleaning aspects and then you have the spiritual and energetic aspect to the cleansing process.  Both parts are important to the process.  They are both essentially to having clean and sanitized materials to work with.

The first one is practicality.  You need to at least wash your spoons, bowls, blenders, etc between each item you make.  This prevents cross contamination.  It makes sure that only the herbs and items used for that particular product or item are going to be in the items made.   It also ensure that your items are sanitized for the next use.  You want to make sure that any of the medicines made are made on clean and sanitized surfaced.  So not only the objects made need to be cleaned but the space as well.

The second point deals with spiritual hygiene.  When we are dealing with products for magical work and spiritual work we need to make sure that there is no energetic residue.  That we are set up only for the work at hand.  All emotions and all thoughts and energy for each items magical purpose must be focused solely on the individual item at hand. Any other thoughts, energetic forces and concepts can interfere and cause problems.

This does not mean that you need to do an additional cleaning with the materials.  Not at all.  That wouldn’t be practical.  You can simply add prayers, burn incense, and direct energy within the physical cleaning of the materials and space to energetically cleanse them as well.  That’s all you really need to do.

Let me explain.  The addition of prayers and ritual work removes psychic and spiritual residue.  This allows and ensure that only the magical and spiritual energy for the product being created at hand is there.  The visualization, the incense, candles, and energy work all make the physical act of cleaning into a magical cleansing.  For many who practice folk magic this is how they clean their house.  There is no difference to them between the magical and the mundane.  It is simply how life is lived.

 This simple cleansing ritual will allow you to physically clean the items you used to create your products but also spiritually cleanse them as well.

Materials:
Lemon Scented Dish Soap
Lavender Essential Oil *Use Diluted Oil Only (Medicinal properties: Antibacterial, Antiseptic Magical properties:
Protection, Purification)
Lemon Juice & Essential Oil * Diluted Oil Only ( Medicinal Properties: Natural Antiviral   Magical properties: Purification,
Pine Essential Oil *Use Diluted Oil Only( Medicinal properties: Antiseptic properties magical properties:Protection , Exorcism )
New Sponge (To be used only for making these products magical and or medicinal)
Ritual:
Fill the Dish Pan or Sink with Hot water
As the Sink or Bin fills add 1 drop of each of the above Essential Oils
Add The dish soap
Place your materials to be cleaned in the Basin or Sink
Visualize the Bin filled with a white light removing all energy that was there previously
Begin to scrub and wash the items used
As you wash the items direct the physical energy of cleaning them into them.
See the energy on the object as rust being removed by your physical efforts.
As you wash them state:
“Water cleanse and Clean
Remove that which is unseen
All that does not serve move away
Ready to serve on this day”
Once they have been washed and soaped up it is time to rinse the items.  As you rinse them state:
“Water Water Wash away
Water Cleanse on this day”
Let them dry.
As the objects dry see them enveloped in and radiating a pure white light.
Once they are dry you are free to use them again.
Question 3:  One of the sections in the book defines types of spirituality and philosophies. How important is it to follow a spiritual/philosophical path?
We are all on some sort of path in this life.  We all have different philosophies.  I do not think it is required to follow an established path out there unless you as an individual is called to a specific tradition or practice.  I do think that we should study and explore and read about different paths and philosophies and develop our own unique paths.  My own path is eclectic.  My beliefs and philosophies have come from an exploration and study of many different paths and beliefs.

By reading and exploring many other paths we can ask our selves what we truly think about things in this world.  We can question what we believe about the after life, the nature of life, magic, etc.  To me it doesn’t matter what you believe or what you practice.  What does matter is that you have an outlook on the world around us.

If you are working magic and spiritual paths you need to have some sort of view on the universe.  To me it doesn’t matter if you believe that all Gods and Spirits are aspects of the human mind created by humanity over eons or if you see them as physical beings.  They are both philosophies and both views that guide you and your practice.  Religion and exact beliefs don’t matter,  Your relationship with the universe and the forces that govern them is all that matter,

Even atheists can practice magic and have philosophy and spiritual experiences.  It’s all about your connection to the universe and how you understand the world to work.  Science has philosophy as does religion.  They are just different ways of looking at the world.  They don’t even have to be opposites.  In the end all that maters is that you have a view on life.  You don’t have to call it spiritual.  Many don’t view magic as spiritual but psychological.  These are just about making connections, reaching and understanding of the world we live in.  Call is psychology, call it belief, call it spirituality or religion it doesn’t matter.  They are all tools through which we view and understand this world we live in.
Question 4:  Balance, intent and mood–most people don’t give this any conscious thought but it is a common theme throughout the book as part of the process. How important are they are part of the focus?

I’m going to again address this in two parts.  Since this book deals with both remedies and magic/spiritual work it seems fair t address this from both points.  Intent is involved in both the remedy aspect and the magical aspect.  Intent allows us to define what exactly the work at hand is and how we are going to address it.  Intent allows us to plan out our attack on the problem to create the change regardless of it being a remedy or a magical project.

First let’s look at the remedy component.  When you are creating a remedy for the flu you would want to include herbs that address the entire situation.  When it comes to the flu there are two common methods a tincture or a syrup  You would choose herbs like Elder Berry(fever reduction. immune booster, and natural antiviral), Echinacea (natural antibiotic and immune booster) and Cinnamon (anti-inflamatory).  Boil them and make a syrup base with honey (Natural antibiotic) and you have a home remedy for the flu.  Each of the ingredients were chosen to create a blend that dealt with all aspects of the intention-curing the flu.
Now on to the role Intent plays with magic.  When it comes to magic intent, mood, and emotional state are important. They all have an effect on what is going to happen.  Many people will tell you that all magic is intent but that is not the case.  Intent is simply part of the process.  It is what charges and gives the spell form.  Your intent guides you and helps you plans the spell including exact desires, any blocks in the way and related items.

When you cast a spell and create objects for magical use they are going to serve a specific purpose.  That purpose is the intent behind the work.  You need to make sure that when you are working on an object (say you are making an oil for a peaceful home) you want to ensure that the only thoughts in your mind while making that oil are ones of a peaceful home.  You can use any thought that brings out that image (happy holidays, beach visits, content faces over dinner etc) but the focus still needs to be on the aim or goal at hand.

Your intent drives what items you use for the object at hand.  Once again going with the peaceful home with that being your intent you would need to use that as a base for herbs and items to use in the product.  Chamomile, Lavender, and Rosemary would all be good for this work. I’d personally add in angelica root as well for a bit of protection.

The choice for these herbs was also based on the medicinal properties as well as the magical properties.  By choosing herbs that we know have a soothing and peaceful nature we know that a peaceful atmosphere will be obtained.    This is why peace is often a magical and spiritual property of herbs used for anxiety, stress relief, and sleep aid.

Lets take a look at each of these herbs to examine further why they are important.

Angelica Root:

Medicinal:* do not use if you are diabetic*: Colds, Phlegm reduction, Flu, Fever reduction, Expectorant,
Magical– Angel work, Protection, Hex Removal, Exorcisms, Health, Meditation,Divination
Chamomile:
Medicinal – Insomnia, Sleep, Anxiety, Stress, Fever, Arthritis, Pain relief, Indigestion.

Magical – Protection, Luck, Money, Sleep, Peace, Purification

Lavender:
Medicinal – Anxiety relief, Headaches, Antidepressant, Tension relief, Stress relief, Antibacterial, Antiseptic, Disinfectant, Indigestion, Irritable bowel syndrome

Magical – Love, Protection, Purification, Happiness, Peace, Healing, Meditation, Psychic abilities

Rosemary:
Medicinal – Focus, Memory, Concentration, Blood pressure, Circulation, Antiseptic, Antidepressant, Indigestion

Magical – Cleansing, Draws the aid of spirits, Love, Mental focus, Protection, Lust, Exorcism, Healing, Herb of a good home

So intent plays in how you plan your magical working.  The intent here is a happy home.  There are many things that go into the creation of a happy and peaceful home.  You need to account for emotional well-being, financial well-being, health, and over all wellness.  You want to be sure that any negative energy is not able to stick around and that healthy and beneficial energetic forces stay.

Angelica Root offers protection.  It will also remove anything you deem that does not serve.  Do in a happy home or peaceful home oil this herb would protect from that which causes discord and remove that which discord.  It also brings in peace through the healing of angelic forces.

Chamomile is a flower influenced by the sun.  That means it is good for prosperity. So when used in a happy and peaceful home oil it will ensure that there are no real financial issues.  This also falls into the stress reliefs aspect.  One of the major stresses in our homes is financial stress.  The protective aspect of Chamomile also protects finances and from that stress.  The other aspect of being a solar herb is that Chamomile is a mood up lifter.  By relieving stress you create a sense of peace and tranquility.  You also have the cleansing aspect which helps maintain the peace.

 

Lavender is a love herb.  So it helps bring love into the house.  It also brings peace so you know everyone is at peace.  Love and peace are essential for a healthy and happy peaceful home.  Also this would be the key component as peace is in the properties.  This will bring peace.  If there are arguments this herb will help calm things down and soothe an individual.  Lavender is really powerful for this.  Anything dealing with homes, relationships, and peace should include lavender.  The medicinal virtues of stress and anxiety relief will also be in play.  They will be magnified by the Chamomile.

Rosemary is a herb sacred to the home.  One of the spirits it is sacred to is Mother Mary.  In several traditions she is a patron saint of the home.  So Rosemary is sacred to her and used to bring about a peaceful and sacred home.  This is also a love herb.  More specifically this is about family love.  So this ensures a strong bond of family love.  This herb is cleansing as well.  You often see it in smudge bundles with Lavender.  The two together keep and area cleansed. The antidepressant and memory aspect here work in connection with peace, protection, love and cleansing to create a home full of happy memories.
Only by fully examining the intent behind a spell or object can you create the most effective spell or ritual for change.  When you gather and combine all of these energetic forces into one you can fully charge your oil for the spell or ritual use at hand.  Intent builds up the emotion and images, but it is the combination of the direction and manipulation of those energetic forces towards your ideal goal that create the charged spell item.
Question 5:   I like that in Part 3 there is a section that mentions diet. How important is diet or dietary considerations during times of magical preparation?
With everything we should strive to be balanced.  I personally wouldn’t eat to heavily for magical work. I also wouldn’t eat anything with too much sugar in it.  My energy for ritual should be balanced.  A little sugar for quick energy and some protein for longer lasting energy.  Both together also are very grounding. Ritual work where an invocation to the Gods has been given I will eat to ground after the ritual and to partake in their blessing.  In general unless one is fasting for cleansing rituals I see no reason to severely change your diet.  Just be mindful and eat in moderation and a balanced diet.  On the sabbats enjoy a feast.  On Esbats enjoy a munchies, sweets, and appetizer type spread.  The rest of the time just be yourself and do the best you can to eat healthy.
You can follow Charity Bedell  on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LoonaWynd/
Lenore Sagaskie is a writer and artist living in self-imposed exile in Michigan.
You can follow Lenore on Facebook and on Twitter @Lenorewrites

Book Review – The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells by Shawn Robbins and Charity Bedell

 

 

Available at Amazon.com

The Good Witch’s Guide is truly what it sets out to be: an excellent reference guide for skilled practitioners, novices or those just beginning to take interest in the magickal arts. The book is well-organized, insightful and provides explanatory summaries within each section that provides clarification of purpose.

The Good Witch’s Guide is broken into three parts, the first of which is Ye Olde Witch’s Wisdom, Rituals and Formula’s. This part of the book gives a brief history of the folklore, aromatherapy, and use of crystals and gemstones. I like that this part of the book explained the “doctrine of signature” which is thematic in traditional folklore. I found the essential oil list comprehensive; the chapter provides a list of common ailments, points of improvement and essential oils that are recommended to provide relief. The essential oil section is also divided into healing and magickal and provides several recipes for each. Required items that many of these recipes call for are easy to locate.

The chapter, Crystal Power, provides information on charms, elixirs, and explains chakra balancing in a concise manner. The chapter also provides a list of crystals and gemstones and their applications as well as recipes for healing and magickal applications. The list provides a great number of commonly utilized crystals and gems.

The second part of the book, Spirit Spells and Spirituality, outlines the importance of well-being and visualization. I absolutely love the spells for well-being and self-love. The focus segues into spells that can be utilized to heal others such as the Healing Poppet Spell. The section then transitions to cleansing, protection and magical spells. Chapter 5 covers candles, their colors and uses.

Chapter 6 has spells for health and also some for removing fears and phobias. The section is rounded out with a section that defines types of spirituality and philosophies. I like that it gives a brief summary of those listed without a bias toward one or another. “A Good Witch’s Guide” encourages and promotes self healing in daily life and encouraging use of healing of others and then extend it outwards to include wildlife and the environment. It contains a gentle reminder to be kind, be mindful and act with love.

The third part of the book, DIY Brews and Potions, continues to remind the reader to look in your kitchen and your yard for sources for herbs and plants. As well as defining animism, this section contains a terminology of infusions, decoctions and tinctures. A list of common herbs and uses for them includes information on possible prescription drug interactions, information that is vital to all practitioners. As a kitchen witch, I really appreciated Chapter 8, Kitchen Witchware: Cooking up Magick. There are several recipes that are definitely going to be incorporated into my repertoire!

The A to Z of Health Remedies is a nice addition to the appendix. I enjoyed seeing remedies from other practitioners. The Good Witch’s Guide also provides a great resource list for supplies and also a recommended reading and reference material list.

I enjoyed The Good Witch’s Guide. It is a good read. The book provides a summary explanation, directions for self use, healing, magick and then encourages focus outward to use the knowledge to benefit others and the environment around us. Throughout the book there is significant emphasis on cleansing the items you work with of residual energy as well as a focus on energy, mood and intent. These things are very important to keep in mind whether you are creating an essential oil for a ritual bath or baking a loaf of bread for a family dinner.

I appreciated the liked that the format of the book was user-friendly. Each of the three sections is broken down into healing and magickal applications and each of these sections lists herbs, spices, plants, supplies uses in either application. I also liked that the authors encourage the practice of “look in your spice cabinet” and also to look for plants, herbs in your environment.

I recommend The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells to anyone who is interested in learning or continuing to seek knowledge with healing lore or has an interest in the arts. Rating: 5 stars

 

Lenore Sagaskie is a writer and artist living in self-imposed exile in Michigan.

You can follow Lenore on Facebook and on Twitter @Lenorewrites

Keeping the Faith

 

I love this time of year.  I love bundling up in bulky sweaters with leggings, pulling on boots over wool socks then donning a final exterior layer of a warm coat, mittens and a hat. I like wearing my protective warm cocoon while the world around me is cocooned in a shroud of snow as the plants and trees slumber until spring.  Warm drinks like cocoa and cider are nurturing and comforting, warming your core while magically lifting your spirit. The time for celebration is here and I adore celebrating the Winter Solstice and Yule, sharing cookies and potlucks and social occasions and sharing Yuletide spirit.  I have to admit, while I have much love for the season, sometimes the reasons I celebrate and how I choose to celebrate according to my beliefs are also why I have a bit of trepidation for the season. Why is that, you ask? Well, as a Pagan I feel an underlying dread of confrontation by the question asked at least once during the holiday season—how are you celebrating Christmas?

Yeah, that question. I do try to keep my calm, though I do feel a sense of defensiveness start to rise. I know I shouldn’t anticipate that I will be personally attacked for launching the “war on Christmas” and that the situation will get ugly, though several times in the past my response has generated backlash. I’ve been questioned as to what I do actually celebrate, then after calmly explaining I celebrate Yule, I’ve had some people respond angrily, “Jesus is the reason for the season!”

It’s when I hear that I find that I have to pause, take a breath and decide how I will respond. Do I tell them that Jesus was Jewish and that Hanukah was celebrated by the people in Israel first? Do I tell people that many non-Christian religions also have celebrations at this time of year and that many of the symbols that have been incorporated into Christmas celebrations, items such as wreaths, pine boughs, trees and mistletoe are things traditionally used by pagan people to celebrate their ceremonies? Do I even mention that I attended divinity college for two years to define my own personal spiritual relationship with my creator?

No. I breathe. I explain there are many different reasons for the season but the important reasons are that we are able to celebrate in our own ways, according to our belief system and share a little bit of our traditions and include each other in our celebrations and joy for the season. I’m a kitchen witch. I love to make jams and jellies and teas, and I bake to my heart’s content over the season, making cakes and cookies to share with family, friends and neighbors. I enjoy driving around my neighborhood looking at all the lights and decorations. I take time to donate items to help out however I can, and I try to maintain my anonymity and stay humble. I’ve quietly paid for someone’s meal in a restaurant or paid for the vehicle behind me in a drive-through. I make sure that I continue to celebrate my holidays as I choose to.  Just as I don’t expect Christians to explain to me how they celebrate, I don’t feel the need to explain to them why when we get a tree we leave an offering or why we decorate our home and adorn a Yule log. We are grateful to have a warm house, a solid roof over our heads and to have each other as well as family and friends. I’m incredibly thankful I have so many positive things in my life and I know my faith keeps me focused and grounded. I remember all these things as I say, Yuletide Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Eid, Joyous Kwanza, Happy Hanukah and Happy Holidays. I enjoy the ritual and celebration of the Yuletide season, and I’m comfortable enough with my faith to want others to enjoy theirs as well. As to those people who ask me to explain my beliefs? I tell them I will be happy to openly discuss my beliefs with them—after the holidays are over.

 

(wreath image via http://files.all-free-downloads.com)