24/2/2023 0 Comments
Today is the day! My second book 'The Water Witch: An Introduction to Water Witchcraft' is now available to buy in both paperback and e-book formats! I've been especially excited about this one as water witchcraft is the backbone of my spiritual practice. So, to celebrate, I thought this blog post would be a 'free excerpt' of some of the book.
If you want to know more, check out my insta @thecottagemysticwitch, as I have a lot more informaiton on there about it, including a table of contents and what you can expect to find in each section of the book. But for now, here are some excerpts from Chapter Four: Tools of the Water Witch'.
Chapter Four: Tools of the Water Witch
The water witch tends to use tools as any other witch would. However, often these can be ‘water themed’ to help us connect with water energies - for example, using a wand made out of driftwood or a piece of tree fished out of a pond or river. Whilst there isn’t actually much that a water witch uses that you wouldn’t find in other practices, they might perhaps use some tools moreso than you would find in other practices. Below I will take you through some of the most common ones, and how they are used.
Driftwood: As I mentioned above, driftwood can be used to make wands. It can also be used to create divination tools, charms, or sigils, and is great to carve symbols into. Basically, anything a stick can be used for, driftwood can be used for.
Bottles Of Water: A water witch collects different types of water, and each body of water has its own association (more on that later in the book). Try to use glass bottles as opposed to plastic water bottles. Not only are plastic bottles terrible for the environment, but over time the plastic from these bottles can leach into the water. But trust me when I say that you will never have enough bottles, so start building your collection now!
Hag Stones: Hag stones are stones with natural holes in, and are most often found on the beach or near large bodies of water. They have a rich history in folklore and tradition, but most commonly hag stones can be used to bring luck and protection. They are often worn as charms or used in magic. I have a large hag stone I found on the beach which I anointed with protection oil, and now sits by my front door to protect my home.
Sea Glass: Again, often found on the beach, it is formed when pieces of glass are smoothed by the salt in the sea. Sea glass can be of any colour, and these are useful to use as colour magic correspondences, to draw symbols and sigils on for charms and divination tools, or to decorate an altar. I also find that they make good offerings for sea deities, and pieces of sea glass are a glorious find.
Sand: Collected from the beach where it has been exposed to the water, most sand contains tiny little particles of minerals such as quartz, garnet, black tourmaline, and beryl (amongst others). The breaking down of these minerals and other things which eventually form sand is not a quick process - some sands are as old as 4 billion years! As such, sand can be used to represent the cycles of life, transformation, and anything to do with the past such as ancestor, or past life work. The sands also act as a barrier between the land and the sea, and as such can be seen as a barrier between worlds.
Mermaids Purses: Mermaids purses are the egg sacs of certain sea creatures such as the skate. They are black/brown rectangular ‘pods’, with a tendril at each of the four corners. These are very much like ‘chicken eggs’ to the water witch, and can be used in magic around fertility. As the word ‘purse’ may indicate, they are also associated with abundance and money magic.
Bladderwrack: Bladderwrack is a type of seaweed. It can be used to protect those who are sailing or flying over the sea. It is also associated with the moon and lunar energies, and despite its appearance can also be used in beauty magic.
Bladderwrack is also said to aid in weather magic. One can conjure a storm by waving it in a circular motion above their heads. It can also be hung outside of the house to help predict the weather. If the weather will be warm and dry then the bladderwrack will stay dry and crisp. However, if rain is on the horizon then the bladder wrack will turn moist.
Other uses for bladderwrack include in abundance magic and spells concerning business, financial security, helping to remove negativity, and to aid in otherworld travel.
Lotus Flower: The lotus flower’s roots are submerged in the mud and during the night it submerges down into the water. The next morning it will bloom back above the water, and then disappear back down at nightfall. As such, it is often associated with life, growth, and rebirth, especially in a spiritual sense. The Egyptians believed that the lotus had the power to bring the dead back to life in the form of a lotus flower themselves, and in Hindu tradition it is said that the Gods sit on lotus thrones.
The individual colours of the lotus also carry specific meanings. For example, the yellow lotus is associated with spiritual ascension and religious belief, and the white lotus is associated with purity, balance, faith, beauty, wealth, knowledge, and fertility.
Reeds: The reed is one of the plants/trees associated with the Irish Tree Ogham. It has had many practical uses, such as being used as flooring or roofing. You can soak them in fat to create candles, and it is still used today to make instruments.
Reeds can be used for purification and protection, and to rid yourself or your space of negative energies. It is also associated with being proactive and helping you find your purpose.
Of course we can’t write a whole book about water magic and not include a section on seashells. There are many different types of seashells, and many have different properties. Think of them as the crystals of the sea in a sense, for they can be used in the same way. As you might carry around a piece of citrine in your purse to ensure wealth and abundance, you might instead carry a small cowrie shell. One of my favourite ways to use seashells is in ‘crystal grids’, but replacing crystals with shells. I use these mainly for healing purposes and find them to be extremely effective. For example, a grid consisting of a starfish, clams, cockles, limpet shells, whelk shells, and clear quartz crystals is great for bringing relief and renewal after a period of difficulty.
Below is a look at some of the more common types of shell and their associations. If you head to the beach to collect shells, make sure you leave enough for the local wildlife - many small creatures use shells as their home. Make sure to also check restrictions in your area, as some places prohibit the removal of shells and such from their beaches.
Some shells can be difficult to tell apart. The conch shell and the whelk shell are two which are often confused, so make sure you do your research. Take into account your location and the environment around you; for example, conch’s are generally found in tropical waters whilst whelks are found in more temperate waters. Sometimes this might be the only way in which you can identify that shell you found, so pay attention.
I also recommend working with any shells you find and learning what their associations mean to you. When I first started out, I read that the ark shell was great for inner reflection. So, after a particularly bad day at work I did a smoke cleanse on myself using some ‘ocean wind’ incense, and then sat down to meditate with an ark shell. I wanted to reflect on the day, what had gone wrong, and what I could do in the future to ensure it didn’t happen again. However, the ark shell had very different ideas. I felt a very masculine energy from it, and it was one of acceptance and moving on rather than reflecting. It told me that what was done was done; there was no point in dwelling on it, tomorrow was a new day, and I had the strength to ensure that I didn’t let one bad day get me down. This was quite a surprise considering everything I had read about the ark shell. So, don’t take what I have written here as gospel. You may find the shells speak to you differently.
Abalone: Commonly used as a smudging bowl for those who practice smudging, it is also associated with healing, prosperity, and abundance.
Ark: The ark shell has quite a masculine energy, and can help us feel stable and secure. It allows us to put the past behind us and move forward with strength and determination.
Auger: The auger shell promotes focus and clarity, as well as protection.
Carrier: Carrier shells are fascinating. Often the creature inhabiting this shell will cement other shells and small stones to the edge of this shell as it grows, and there are some beautiful ones out there. As such, the carrier shell is associated with abundance, growth, development, and creativity. It can be useful to those who wish to come ‘out of their shell’ or explore their own personality, individuality, or creative expression.
Clam: The clam has many different associations; these include communication, grounding, healing, love, purification, emotional protection, and helping us connect with the world around us.
The Water Witches Altar/Shrine:
I’ll preface this by saying, you don’t need an altar. It isn’t a requirement. For years I didn’t have a permanent altar or shrine set up. I moved around a lot, often living in pretty bad rented accommodation and with people I didn’t know too well, so my ‘house’ was pretty much just somewhere to sleep. I much preferred to be out in the forest or parks and working magic discreetly. Now I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I have my own space and feel comfortable having one displayed. However, if you live in shared accommodation without much privacy, or are trying to be more low-key in your practices for whatever reason, then don’t feel like you need to have one prominently displayed. If you do want an altar or shrine, even just a small lay out on the edge of a desk can work. One of the great things about water witchcraft is that many of the tools we work with can be seen as nice little decorative pieces; statues depicting mermaids, seafolk, and other mythical creatures, shells, bottles of sand, etc.
Whether you want to go all out for your altar or shrine or go for something a bit more discreet, what you display on your altar is completely up to you. Every witch's set-up is different, and should represent them and their beliefs. The water witch is no different.
There is a subtle difference between an altar and a shrine. An altar is generally a place where practical workings take place; it holds your tools and other more general magical items (such as representations of the elements, spell jars, herbs, crystals, etc.), and many witches perform their rituals and spells at their altar. A shrine is usually dedicated to a specific deity, spirit, your ancestors, etc. It acts as a space of worship, containing statues, offerings, and anything that reminds you of that which you have dedicated it to.
Below are some items you might find on the water witches altar or shrine. Of course, add whatever feels right to you, but the below might provide you with some ideas to get started with.
As you can see, there are many different tools that the water witch could use in their practice. Have a think about the tools you already use in your practice and whether you could incorporate more water inspired versions. For example, if you read runes, could you collect some light coloured shells or pebbles from the beach and draw your runes onto them? If you enjoy working with colour magic, could you incorporate different coloured sea glass into your practice? Even small things, such as swapping out your shower gel for one with a scent more closely associated with water such as coconut, or a soap which contains seaweed, can boost your connection to water energies.
Have a think about whether you do want any sort of dedicated space, and if you do, will it be an altar or a shrine? Once you have made this decision, take your time and design your own altar or shrine. If a shrine, is there a particular deity or spirit you want to dedicate it to, or maybe you just want to dedicate it to water energies in general?
Decide what you want on your altar or shrine. You might want to sketch out a rough idea of how you want it to look, or you might just want to dive straight into it and let your intuition guide you in regards to what to include and how to display it. This space should be a reflection of your inner witch, a sacred place, so treat it with love and respect.
Having spent a week snowboarding out in Andorra, I thought it would be fitting to do a post on the Gods, myths, and legends of the pyrenees mountains which run through Andorra.
Andorra is a small principality (a country governed by a Prince or Princess, although these roles are honorary) between France and Spain, and shares the Pyrenees mountains with several other countries. Despite its small size (a population of less than 90,000), it is one of the oldest countries in the world, dating back to 803 AD. As such, there is a wide range of myths and legends pertaining to these mountains, and these can differ from region to region.
The Pyrenees has captured the imagination for thousands of years. With its rugged, breathtaking landscape it is difficult not to see where myth and mystery abound in its snowy peaks. In fact, some of the most well known myths of the Pyrenees actually comes from Ancient Greece and revolves around the creation of the mountains themselves.
In one version of the tale, Pyrene was the daughter of King Bebrycius, and lover of the Greek hero Hercules. She gave birth to a serpent like monster and was so terrified she fled into the woods where she died. Stricken by grief, Heracles built a tomb by piling rocks on top of one another, and this became the Pyrenees mountains, named after his love.
In another version, Pyrene was the lover of Hercules but abandoned by him, which is why she fled into the forest where she succumbed to her death, devoured by wild beasts.
In another tale, there was a three headed creature named Gerion who gained control of the Kingdom of Tubal (Spain). This creature was in love with Pyrene, but she in turn was in love with Hercules. Fearing for her life from this terrifying monster, Pyrene fled. When Gerion failed to find the princess, he set the whole area on fire, despite knowing that the princess would most likely perish in the flames. The fire spread and destroyed everything in its path, with entire villages being utterly destroyed.
Surrounded by flames and knowing death was near, Pyrene screamed for help. Hercules heard and ran to the princesses rescue, but was too late. He then built her tomb out of rocks, and this became the Pyreneese mountain range.
Other tales from the Pyrenees describe the mountains as giants. This isn't unique to the Pyrenees, but it was said that the highest peaks of the mountains were actually sleeping giants, and their laments could be heard on the storms, specifically the Aneto summit in Spain. Another myth holds that the Puigmal summit is actually a human, whose presence guarded and protected the natural mountainous environment.
Other creatures can also be found in tales from this area. Tantugou, who is known throughout the Louron and Larboust valleys was a figure who protected shepherds and their herds. He was depicted as a tall, bearded man who dressed in a hooded tunic with animal skins, who carried with him a club. There is some debate as to whether he was a God or some sort of other being - accounts differ depending on the source.
There was the Basajun, which translates as 'wild Lord', who despite also being a protective figure was more feared due to his human/animal cross appearance.
Then we have the Drac, who was sometimes described as being dragon like, sometimes like a leprechaun, and was actually a form that the devil took in order to lure people away. From the lakes and rivers which run through the Pyrenees we have the Duanas d'aiga, feminine water spirits akin to mermaids or the fae who could be spotted in these bodies of water before they retreated to the caves they lived in.
As well as creation stories and mythical creatures, several deities have also been associated with the Pyrenees. Thanks to various inscriptions and other historical evidence, we know of roughly 45 deities associated with the pyrenees. Some of them are only mentioned the once, such as the God Xuban. Of these deities, it is difficult to be able to discern much about them. However, it is worth noting that similar names pop up. For example, at Escugnau (in the Val d'Aran), an inscription can be found dedicated to Iluberrixo. This name resembles other deity names, such as Iluron or Ilumber, and even some Pyranean Roman towns such as Illiberis. As such, it has been wondered if rather than separate deities, these are all in fact one deity who has been adpoted and adapted slightly across different regions and dialects.
The most well known of these is the God Abellio (also known as Abellion), with roughly eight insciptions being found dedicated to him. One of these depictions can be found on the Croix de Beliou. This is a stone cross, believed to be the grave of Millaris, a 1,000 year old patriarch who can be found in tales from across the region. Historians believe that he was a solar God, or possibly associated with apple trees, and he is often spoken of in the same vein as the Roman Apollo, and also the Celtic Belen (Belenus). However, it is worth noting that Abellio is only attested among the Aquitani, a people neither Greek nor Celtic.
This is just a very brief snapshot into the myths and legends of the Pyrenees mountains - there is a lot more information out there, but for now I thought this was an interesting insight into a culture which is never really spoken about in much detail.
Imbolc is a time of hope and renewal; the sun is starting to warm the land, the seeds of creation being sowed, and the rains bring nourishment and life to the lands. I've usually found Imbolc a quiet affair, and one which I prefer to observe by myself. Unfortunately when the Sabbats fall on weekdays (like this one), I find it difficult to find the time to do anything too ceremonial. However, there are some small yet meaningful actions you can take to celebrate this Sabbat!
Celebrating Sabbats which seem to have such an earth and fire focus can feel misplaced as a water witch. But never forget, the waters are needed to bring life into the world. Life originated in the waters of the world, and so don't underestimate it's importance or its place in the Sabbats. Below are some quick and easy, water based ideas, to help you celebrate Imbolc.
The water witches Imbolc tool kit:
Cockle Shells: Represents opportunity and new beginning
Green Aventurine: Represents opportunity and abundance
Amazonite: Represents peace
Pine Needles: Represents hope and new beginnings
Lavender: Represents hope and peace
Rose Petals: Represents peace
Rose Quartz: Represents peace and comfort
There are a few ways you can use these items to help you celebrate Imbolc. Below are just a few, but feel free to come up with your own!
The Weekly Witch:
Once I week I talk about something 'witchcraft' related I have done with my week. How we incorporate witchcraft into our every day lives is always a topic that has interested me, so I wanted to start this blog to explore it further!