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

Joie Grandbois: Participant in Portland Maine’s Woman’s Rights March

Joie Grandbois is one of the members of the Maine Pagan Unity Day Association and is on the board of directors.  She participated in the Woman’s Rights March in Portland Maine.  This is her experience and reflection on the March.

Q:Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you participated in this march?

A: My name is Joie and I live in Portland, Maine. I am partially self employed as a performer, artist and teacher but I also work part-time as a paralegal and research assistant. I have many fears and concerns regarding the actions of the new administration.

As a woman I worry about my reproductive rights being taken away, as a non-traditional worker who has health insurance through the ACA which is under threat of repeal and as a member of a community that is made up of a diverse group of LGBTQ people, immigrants, women, minorities and other who are greatly at risk from the promised policies of this administration.

I could not in good conscience stand aside and do nothing. I do make calls to my representatives and voice my concerns in other ways as well, but sometimes it is important to physically stand up and be counted. To be a part of a strong visual representation of those who are not in agreement with the way things are heading.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience at the march? How many were there and how you felt while you were there?

A: I marched in Portland. When I was there I guessed that there must be a couple of thousand at least but then the Portland Press Herald said it was over 10,000!!! It really was awe inspiring to be a part of such a large slice of the community all coming together. It was a little overwhelming but in a good, good way. At the end of the day I felt so hopeful. Just knowing I was not alone meant so much.

Q: That’s amazing.  Can you tell us about the sign you were holding?

A:Sure. I carried a sign that had the names of several friends who could not be a part of the march. Some were disabled, others were fighting the flu, a couple had to work or had other obligations. It felt good to be able to help them be a part of the march even though they could not be physically in the space a that time.

Q: Have you been involved with any other political movements like this?

A: I was pretty heavily involved with the peace movement leading up to the Iraq war. I was very active with Peace Action Maine and Bridges for Peace (we did vigils on bridges across the state on Sundays). I have helped organize buses to DC for national marches and helped organize several other local protests and events.

I stepped back from organizing for a time as I, like many activists, started to become a bit burned out. I am still pretty active on a personal level. I’m one of those folks who calls and emails my representatives and I often show up for marches and protests of causes I support. I think as a citizen it is important to make your voice heard in as many ways as possible.

Q: I was there in 2004 when Michael Moore was supposed to visit and hold a rally for peace and voting.  That was the first and only time I have been able to be active.  It was an experience still hearing him from the conference call they had.    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved but are not sure how to?

A: There are a lot of resources out there for finding out when actions are taking place. Facebook groups, peace organizations, women’s health groups, LGBTQ organizations, group for people of color, immigrants and so many more. Deciding what you want to support can be a bit overwhelming particularly when there are so many worthy causes and actions to support and we all have only 24 hours in the day.

It also means taking a look at yourself and seeing what you are capable of. Some of us are able to take part in direct action activities like the Greenpeace activists on the crane in DC today and others may find calling their representatives or showing up for a march to be more in line with what they are capable of doing.

There is no action too small really. Any action is better than nothing. I would suggest attending an organizing meeting for the particular issue you are interested in. Bring a friend if you are worried about going alone – when I went to my first protest I had a tiny little sign made from a pizza box top. It had a peace sign painted on it and I was sooooo nervous. I just felt like I had to do something and I heard about this protest outside of Senator Collins office. When I arrive folks were friendly and welcoming. It was a small step but every first step generally is.

I would also remind folks that activism can be a heady thing. It is easy for it to become all consuming; it is exciting and a relief to finally feel like you are doing something. But remember to take time to regenerate and rest too. Burn out is all to common in the activist community and I think even more so for women as we are culturally conditioned to be caretakers.

I am remember now too, when I think of being an activist. I was one of those kids in my high school who was boycotting Coca Cola and other companies to pull out of South Africa when apartheid was still in effect. I have always considered my self a feminist since I was very young. So I have been politically active and aware for much of my life. I think maybe because of that was easier for me to take a stand on things.

For others who are new to the idea or who have only recently had their eyes opened to the troubles of the world it can be an overwhelming thing – there is SOOOO much to be fixed.

Q:  Do you think these marches and protests are going to have any lasting effect? If so how do you think we can ensure that they are successful?

A: Hmmmmmmm….yes I do. Maybe not on their own, though the images of the marches from around the world and the sheer numbers are crazy impressive, but I think it inspired a lot of people to get involved. There are a lot more folks coming out for this than I saw at peace events in 2003. I think you are seeing a lot of folks who have been pretty comfortable with things; we do tend to live in bubbles.

Sometimes it takes something becoming personal to spur someone to action – it would be nice to have everyone instantly empathize with each other issues but that sadly isn’t always the case. It can take having something personally impact someone or someone they love to inspire them to act.

My hope is that whatever brought people out to the marches this weekend, that they connected with others, that they have begun to see that issues like fighting racism and sexism, reproductive rights, protecting the environment, healthcare, equality, LGBTQ rights, etc. are all connected. We need to stand up for each other if we are going to make an impact.

We need to show up for each other. I think at least a few people likely made that connection on Saturday and will take steps to stay active.
So that is my long winded way of saying yes, I think the marches will have a lasting effect in that it showed people they do have a voice. Hopefully on they keep using

Q: Is there anything next on your agenda to continue this work?

A: For me it is continuing to make my voice heard by calling my representative in the state legislature and congress. It is showing up for events as much as I can. It is also doing things like building community, reminding folks they are not alone in this, and also remembering to celebrate the victories when we have them and to use those victories as foundation to work towards more. And it is a lot of one on one, face to face conversations. We need to continue to connect. Social media is great for organizing, but we need to go deeper than that and start more human to human conversations.

Q : Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A : I’ll add that we all need to take a look at our lives and see where we can make changes. I think that one thing Saturday showed us was that while we all feel we are just one person, when we all come together we can really make our presence known. There are other ways we can do this – by being careful where we spend our money for example.

Are you spending it locally when possible?

Are you supporting companies that are doing good things for the communities they are in and the environment? You may show up for environmental protests, but what are you doing in your own life to support that.

You may be all for equality, but have you looked at what ways you benefit from inequality?

Do you come from a place of privilege?

We think of activism as something we do “outside” ourselves – we make calls, we march, we post on Facebook and Twitter, but it also has to include a deep look inside ourselves and at our lifestyles. We are after all the only thing we really have any control over and if we don’t work to change ourselves our impact on that which outside of us is reduced. Integrity means something….

Trite as it may sound, we do need to be the change we want to see in the world.

 

 

Interview With the NEW HeadMistress of the Ball! (And Bazaar)

gerri

For those of you who do not know there is now a new head of the ball, Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb. She has allowed yours truly to stalk her for a few so that we can bring you all some highlights of what goes on behind the scenes of an event most of us look forward to for an entire year. 

How do you feel about taking over as Head Mistress of the ball, were you nervous, excited, or wondering what in Hel’s name were you thinking?

All of the above!!!! And it also depends on the day you ask me this! Like most things in my life it wasn’t really a matter of deciding to, actually there wasn’t much thought involved! (Which could be my problem) Mostly it was the love of it being at such a wonderful event, watching others have a great time, and knowing that we need to keep it moving forward!

What is the wildest, craziest idea you’re thinking up for the ball?

I am definitely a free thinker, which usually gets me in trouble, however if I let you in my brain you would probably runaway screaming, so I’ll keep the crazy ideas to myself and committee to shoot down politely as not to scare the locals.

Are you happy to be getting the reigns? Or do you feel like telling everyone to shove the reigns where Ra won’t shine?

I’ve always been a take “the reigns” type of person, but again it does depend on the day you ask on whether I am on top of the mountain, or trying to crush someone with it!

Any advice you’ve asked of your mentor?

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t speak to Gordon, he is absolutely incredible at what he does and my work is really cut out for me to fill his shoes, but somehow ill get it done, and probably in heels!

What is the most insane question you’ve heard Gordon receive about the ball?

I can’t even begin to answer this question, but a book could be written on some of the crazy things people have asked or requested.

Anyone ever ask either of you would there be any human sacrifices, death magic, or Sex Rites involved (don’t give me that look cuz people have asked me was it some type of orgy party, Ha! The world is full of fidiots.)?

Actually and unfortunately YES they have! And depending on WHO asked sometimes they got an answer that probably still left their tongue on the floor for weeks.

What would you like to see happen within the future of the community?

Of course I can give the “beauty queen” answer! But it still holds true! I would love to see unity in the community being non judgment of each other!! I can’t begin to tell you the nasty things I hear behind my back even from people who don’t even know me, it’s okay, I know they must really have issues and I have big shoulders. This is the only community in the world where you can be who you are!!! I know that must scare some people, but acceptance is key!

How rich would you be from all of the times you’ve heard Gordon being asked if both Wiccans and Pagans were allowed, even though it clearly states WITCHES ball?

I can honestly say I have never heard that one, but have been asked if NON-Pagans can come!

Ever been tempted to hex someone for saying witches aren’t real? Any regrets?
No one has ever said that to me, surprisingly. But I’ve had my share of my right wing friends patronizing me with stereotypes.

Do you think you’ll ever wish you had just stayed in the shadows instead of becoming a figurehead?

This made me giggle…… I think you need a balance of both shadows and limelight. Sometimes more fun can be had in shadows…..

What is the dumbest thing you’ve witnessed during the ball once everyone was liquored up?

Oh let’s see, people going into wrong rooms at the hotel, falling into bushes, urinating in public, okay enough about my ex…..

Do you think if there had been an All Witch Lives Matter movement in Salem that would have stopped the Witch Trials sooner?

Um no….but I am thinking I need this on a t-shirt LOL!!!

Did you know? Salem College is the oldest female college in America.
Did you know? Salem College is the oldest female college in America.

Should only witches be allowed to attend Salem University (yes, it is a real school, Nessa wants to go, she even had me make her a t-shirt with their school colors, motto, and name for College day last school year. Such a Minnie me. It’s nothing like Hogwarts though, THAT would be fangtastic, nut they don’t teach magic.)?

Well how could you tell? Anyone can call themselves a witch! (Much like any other religion). Actions speak louder than words in this case. I can tell when I see a true witch, but to limit anyone of learning anything to me would be silly. I believe the only valuable thing we truly own is our knowledge, everything else can be lost..

Why is there never a cauldron there? There could be a huge one filled with liquor, and a lil bit of punch.

I am not sure…. Probably because we have to play by the “Royalty house” rules, lol, but great idea!!!

Will you have one for next years ball?

Well, since this question was left unanswered, I just might sneak one in. I still play in the shadows. Muahahahaha! LOL!

Thank you Gerri for being such a good sport and answering my insane questions. I think some crazier ones for next year. PROMISE!!