I’m finishing up research on Medieval and Renaissance uses of stones of all kinds (even stones like gall stones and kidney stones) for the purpose of religious worship (including all Abrahamic religions), healing, and protection.
The stones you see in the picture are a string of raw amber my grandmother brought back for me from Częstochowa, Poland. She made a pilgrimage to see The Black Madonna of Częstochowa 30 years ago and returned a very different woman after that experience. They carried so much energy in them that I locked them away and lost track of them until recently.
According to the lapidary, amber or Cymbra as it was called is thought to be engendered from the breath of a whale, found at the bottom of the sea and the mouth of rivers. It guards the virtues of the body, sharpens the memory, and banishes sorrows.
In The Thousand and One Nights, all sorts of stones are pitched into the sea by a fountain, swallowed by fish and spit back out as amber.
Pliny offered us a fanciful creation story, stating that amber was produced by the sun’s rays that would leave it behind as they struck the ground at the end of the day.
In folk medicine, it is used to tranquilize the mind.
Amber plays a key role in The Woman On The Wall, As does the Cult of the Black Madonna.
More on that soon.
Tea mixing is something of an art that I started working with earlier this year. My herb gardens are, for the most part, planted with tea mixtures in mind.
This is my first tea of the season – Iranian rose and apple mint, dried yesterday and mixed this morning.
I just brewed the first cup. Absolutely romantic and soothing, like a gentle breeze whisking all cares away.
Rose and mint have a long magickal and folkloric history:
Pliny describes peppermint as a common head wreath, table decoration, and flavoring agent for wines and sauces at Greek and Roman feasts. There is evidence of peppermint cultivation by the Egyptians, and it is mentioned in 13th-century Icelandic pharmacopoeias, although it did not come into general medical use until the 18th-century in England. Mint was a popular medieval flavoring for whiskey in Scotland.
Uses: (thanks to Witchipedia for this great info)
Mint corresponds to the element Air and the planet Venus. It is a strengthening herb that aids us in psychic and verbal communication and adds strength to our words. Because mint is so often used in sweets iconic to the midwinter season, it can be used in any Winter Solstice celebration as a food additive or fragrances.
Mint was used in ancient Greek funerary rites to mask the scent of decaying bodies and was tied to Hades in myth. Thus, it is an appropriate herb to use in ritual related to the dead and the underworld.
The Key of Solomon the King recommends combining mint with vervain, fennel, lavender, sage, valerian, garden-basil, rosemary, and hyssop tied in a bundle for use as an aspergillum to sprinkle holy water while the Grimorium Verum suggests using mint, marjoram, and rosemary bundled for the same purpose.
Drunk as a tea, mint adds strength to our words, increasing the success of all oratory, including, prayers, spells, speeches and presentations, vows of love, legal arguments- or any arguments, political debates, business negotiations, and performances.
Mint is a powerful herb that can be used to increase personal strength and build up the fortitude needed to overcome difficulties and restrictions placed upon you whether through magical or mundane means. Thus, it is an excellent addition to uncrossing mixtures as well as working for courage and strength to prepare for upcoming challenges in the workplace and in relationships. It can be for breaking streaks of bad luck of all sorts and jinxes, whether self-inflicted or otherwise and it can be carried to protect from falling victim to streaks of bad luck or trickery from other people by keeping the mind alert to those “red flags” that tell us that a person or situation might be trouble down the road and helping to give us the strength to walk away before things get too bad.
Mint can be used as a floor wash or grown in and around the house to keep away trouble and troublesome people. After a disruption in the household, such as a family argument or break up, this floor wash can help return the home to calm and harmonious energy and encourage normal and fruitful communication.
Carry mint in your shoe or your pocket to prevent bad luck and other obstacles from interfering with your goals and success. Keep some in your wallet to keep your money flowing smoothly.
Combine mint with High John the Conqueror root and calamus to increase your fortitude when you’re getting ready to address whatever situation is getting in the way of your success. (Whether it be curses, crossed conditions, petty people, legal issues or red tape.)
Mint can be added to psychic-enhancing tea, incense, and fragrance oils. Placing mint under your pillow is said to encourage prophetic dreams.
Roses have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. There are 150 natural named species worldwide and thousands more cultivars. The Chinese were the first to cultivate roses and begin hybridizing them.
In the Iliad, Homer mentions that Hector‘s body was anointed with rose oil after he was killed by Achilles. The Greek poet Anacreonsays that the foam that dripped from the body of Aphrodite when she emerged from the sea turned into white roses, later, when she is mourning over the body of her lover Adonis, her tears turn a white rose red. Roses are also associated with Eros, another Greek love God. Sappho called the rose the Queen of the Flowers.
Roses were also important to the Romans. Large public rose gardens were established by the nobility. Both Horace and Pliny wrote advice on the proper growing of roses. They were used as for medicine, fragrance and as confetti at celebrations. In Roman mythology, roses are associated with Flora, Bacchus, Vertumnus, Hymen, Venus and Cupid. Roman brides and grooms were crowned with roses and they were scattered at the feet of the victorious.
In Christian folklore, the red rose has symbolized the blood and suffering of Christ, the five petals representing his five wounds. Roses have also been used to represent Mary and the purity and motherhood associated with her.
In Muslim folklore, one of Muhammed’s wives was accused of adultery. He gave her a bouquet of red roses and told her to throw them into a pool. They turned yellow, indicating her guilt. Another story says that the first rose came a drop of sweat from Muhammed’s brow.
In Jewish folklore, a man once accused a woman of a crime in retribution for refusing his advances. She was to be burned at the stake. Miraculously, the fire does not kill her, but killed him. From his ashes red roses grow, symbolizing his treachery. From the ashes at her feet grow white roses, symbolizing her innocence.
In England, if a petal falls as a rose is being cut, bad luck is sure to follow!
In Italy, only rosebuds, or partially closed roses may be given as gifts. To give a fully open rose to another marks them for death!
Rosewater is a protective agent worn on clothes.
Rose petals can be added to charms against the evil eye.
White roses worn at weddings will bring happiness and security to the couple.
Roses are used traditionally in love spells. It is great in incense and potpourri. Thorns can be used to mark wax figures.
Rosehips can be carried for general good luck or strung like beads for luck in love.
Rose hips can also be used as offerings to encourage friendly spirits to take up residence.
Productive days are the best kind. The total absorption into material and storytelling becomes meditative. The devotion to ideas and evolution of that story sparks a magic. When it was all over, I couldn’t even remember which Writer’s Studio day it was.
In the midst of it all, my brother and I even managed to fit in an Insta chat on living magical lives.
Both seekers, we’ve dabbled—or even more than dabbled—in a wide range of ideas, practices, and philosophical perspectives. He just relocated to the remote island of Wrangell, Alaska, and the world is on fire for him right now. The conversation took on its own personality, moving through fishing, friends, lost civilizations, myth, the spirit of the land, and our own sense of self.
I realized that days in which articles are read, poetry is shared, a friend leaves you a sweet voice message, your brother answers the call when you have something bizarro to share with him, are true source magic.
From that, the construct of time drops away and all that lives in that space is a direct channel to the imagination.
Words hold the greatest of power.
Here’s a quick wrap-up from my crazy-productive day: