Animal Guides of the Blackthorn Druid Order

The Stag appears frequently in Celtic lore, and is representative of the Land. He is guardian of the forest and all that dwell within it. Associated with the Celtic horned-god Cernunnos, he is pictured with large antlers as he roams among the trees. If he appears as a white stag, it is symbolic of spiritual discovery or a message from the Otherworld. As the stag sheds it’s antlers in the autumn to re-grow them in the Spring, it becomes a symbol of renewal. The antlers of the stag are compared to tree branches. When the moon is viewed between the antlers of a stag, it is a blending of masculine and feminine energies. Celtic folklore tell us that the stag is a creature that can walk between the worlds.

The Salmon makes many appearances throughout Celtic lore, and is representative of the Sea. Often referred to as the “Salmon of Wisdom” or “Salmon of Knowledge”, it is the oldest creature and dwells in the ‘sacred waters’, eating the hazelnuts that fall from the surrounding hazel trees. Salmon live in both freshwater and saltwater. They swim upstream, following a familiar scent that leads them back to the location of their birth, where they reproduce. For this reason, Salmon are associated with persistence, strength, courage and determination. Eating the meat of a salmon is believed to impart wisdom. In an ancient Welsh tale, a salmon helps the legendary Arthur find the lost child Mabon and return him to his mother.

The Owl has long been associated with witchcraft, and is representative of the Sky. Because it is a nocturnal animal with keen eyesight, magical lore tells us it has the ability to “see the unseen”. There are over 200 species of owls, and they can be found in every country except Antarctica. Other owl species may be active during daylight hours when migrating or when food sources are scarce. An owl’s wings are not waterproof, which prevents them from flying in the rain. The owl is primarily a creature of the night, and can be called upon to reveal that which is hidden or kept secret. The owl sees everything. It can observe without being observed, and it’s flight is completely silent. The owl is associated with the Cailleach, the Crone of Winter. One of the Gaelic names for owl is Cailleach oidhche (Crone of the Night).

These three animals: the Stag, the Salmon and the Owl are called upon at the beginning and end of every Blackthorn ritual, to evoke and give thanks for the blessings of the Land, the Sea and the Sky.

Spell Bottles

Spell Bottles, also called Witch Bottles, are an old form of magic that dates back to the 17th Century. The bottles were first made for protection, and were believed to counteract spells, protect against magical attack, or draw in and trap harmful intentions directed toward their owners. Although they were first used predominantly in England, a number of Witch Bottles have been discovered in America as well. The bottles were filled with sharp objects, such as broken glass, rusty nails, thorns, poisonous herbs, pins, needles, knotted threads, bits of bone, sand, magnets, lodestone and other protective items. They often also contained urine or menstrual blood. The bottles were then sealed and buried somewhere on the owner’s property, under the hearth, or under the home where it would absorb harmful energy to be destroyed by the contents inside. As long as the bottle remained sealed and intact, the owner would be protected. Others chose to throw their bottles into the fire. When the bottle exploded, it was believed that any curses cast on the owner had lifted and that the person who intended harm was no longer a threat. Even though this practice of making Spell Bottles is centuries old, there are many modern witches and druids who still make them today, not only for protection but also for healing and well wishes. Modern Spell Bottles for protection may still contain the same sharp ingredients mentioned above, though not all will choose to add urine or blood. They may also attach a written spell or incantation to the outside of the bottle, and then place it on a windowsill or somewhere in full view.

Spell Bottles for healing or well-wishes are made in beautifully decorated bottles of various colors, with herbs such as lavender, rose petals or eucalyptus placed inside, along with crystals, glitter, oatmeal, seeds, flower buds or other items to symbolize health, growth and well-being. A few drops of essential oils may be added and written spells for health and happiness are often placed inside the bottle. It is then sealed with a cork, colorful ribbons, pins or wax before it is given to the recipient. Decorative items are attached to the outside of the bottle, such as shells, crystals or charms. Healing Spell Bottles can be placed on a windowsill, a shelf, a bedside table or anywhere the recipient will see it on a daily basis.

The magic of spell bottles is activated through energy, intention and vibration. The very act of preparing the bottle: gathering the ingredients, choosing the bottle itself, deciding how you will decorate it, focusing on the intended recipient, writing the spell or incantation, how you will seal it…all of this activity infuses the bottle with magic. The bottle acts as a container for the spell, drawing in and attracting the energy it needs to manifest the intention (healing, prosperity, etc) into physical reality. Reiki practitioners can infuse the bottle with Reiki energy, or make a special ‘Reiki Bottle’ for those that need healing. If I write a spell to be placed inside, at the end I will usually add:

If this bottle be broken, the spell is released

If this bottle be stolen, a curse on the thief

Your Spell Bottles do not have to be large, many people prefer smaller bottles, however, the larger bottles require more time and attention and will carry more power. You can find bottles at craft stores, antique stores or thrift shops. Before you work on them, wash them if possible and magically cleanse them of any previous energy they may have held. Spell Bottles are a fun, creative way to use Old World magic for healing and protection, whether for yourself or for others.

The Witch and Activism

The witch has many roles in modern society. As healers, we work with herbs and plants, and many other alternative therapies to bring healing to those who come to us. As educators, we show others the truths of witchcraft and work to dispel stereotypes and falsehoods about who we are. As seers, we give people encouragement and insight into their lives with the use of tarot cards and other divinatory methods. There is another role of the witch that is equally important: the role of activist.

As witches, it is our duty to be an advocate for others. We have the responsibility to speak for those whose voices are being silenced. Witches are called to speak out against bigotry, racial injustice and inequality. We are called to speak out against homophobia and discrimination. As a minority, the pagan community needs to be more understanding of the struggles that other minority groups face. Unfortunately, many witches shy away from activism. When gross injustices occur, such as we have seen on the news in recent months, they remain oddly silent. We are not on this path only for ourselves, but also to be of service to others. While we’re casting spells to meet our own needs, it is important that we are also doing magic to make the world a better place. Some seem to think being a witch is all about pretty crystals and Enya music. The truth is that witchcraft will often take us out of our comfort zone. It is not always comfortable.

Another unfortunate truth is that there are bigots and racists even in the pagan community. Some witches refuse to get political because they’re afraid they’ll lose business. They don’t want to offend any of their followers who might be bigots or racists, so they say nothing on these issues. After all, these followers might stop buying their books or coming to them for readings. For these unethical witches, money and popularity are more important than the people they serve.

I once had a magical blog with over a thousand followers. I wrote about many subjects related to witchcraft and magic. The blog won two awards and was moderately popular. When I wrote some posts about social issues and speaking out, some people got upset. “Why are you getting political?”, they asked. “I’m not following you anymore”. They loved reading about the spells, the herbs and crystals, but when I spoke out against government corruption, discrimination against the LGBT community and racial injustice, that was a problem. I was getting “political”. I lost some followers, but I didn’t care. I still don’t. There are far too many pagans and witches who are content to live in their little New Age bubbles. Candles and incense won’t make it all go away. Witches and druids are peacemakers, yes, but maintaining peace sometimes means being a voice and speaking out.

Being an activist does not mean you have to stand on the corner with a megaphone. There are many things you can do, and there are different kinds of activism. Join environmental groups like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace. Support equal rights for the LGBT community by getting involved with the Human Rights Campaign or the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Work with racial equality groups like NAACP and Black Lives Matter. Get involved with animal rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the World Wildlife Fund. Use social media to raise awareness, and expose bigotry and discrimination wherever you see it. Don’t just be an armchair activist. Go to rallies, participate in protest marches, boycott companies with unethical business practices. It is time that we as witches embrace our role as activist. It is our sacred duty to be advocates for others. It may not make us popular, but is that really the point?

The Art of Divination

Divination is the art of obtaining information through the use of various tools, such as tarot cards, runes or scrying mirrors. The word Divination comes from the word Divine, meaning that the information we receive through these practices is imparted to us as we connect to the divine source within. There are many kinds of divination, and most people find they are more adept at some forms than others. Here is a list of just some of the forms of divination practiced by witches and druids.

Aeromancy: Divination by observing weather patterns.

Anemoscopy: Divination by observing the movement of tree branches as they sway in the wind.

Belomancy: Divination by the flight of arrows.

Bibliomancy: Consulting a passage or line in a book at random.

Catoptromancy: Divination through a lens or magic mirror.

Ceromancy: Divination by observing the shapes formed by melted candle wax.

Chiromancy: Palm-Reading.

Geloscopy: Divination by interpreting someone’s laughter.

Oenisticy: Divination by studying the flight of birds.

Physiognomy: Divination by studying human facial features.

Phrenology: Divination by studying the bumps and contours of the head.

Pyromancy: Divination by smoke and fire.

Tasseography: Tea-Leaf reading.

Xylomancy: Observation of the position of twigs on the ground.


The origin of tarot cards is somewhat mysterious, though they are believed to have began merely as playing cards, and then evolved into divinatory tools used for esoteric/occult purposes. A standard tarot deck contains seventy-eight cards, which is divided into two sections, the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. (The word Arcana is the plural of Arcanum, which means “profound secret”). The twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana are the heart of the deck, as each one symbolizes some universal aspect of human experience. Each card in the Major Arcana has a name and number, along with associated imagery. Some names convey a card’s meaning directly, such as Strength and Justice. Other cards portray individuals who personify a particular approach to life, such as the Hierophant and the Empress. The names of these individuals vary depending on the deck you use. There are other cards with astrological names, such as the Star and the Moon. They represent the esoteric forces linked to these planetary bodies. The fifty-six cards of the Minor Arcana are divided into four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. Each of these suits stands for a particular approach to life. Each tarot card is filled with symbolism and imagery that can help the reader awaken his/her intuition and decipher its meaning in relation to other cards in the reading. Readings from tarot decks can address any area of life, from health and relationships to career and romance. There are many tarot decks available on the market, the most popular being the Rider-Waite deck. New tarot decks are released every week, while older decks often go out of print, are more difficult to obtain and become more valuable. It is advisable to experiment with different decks until finding the right one for you. It takes time and practice to become proficient at tarot reading. Many people only use the tarot for personal growth, while others offer tarot readings to the public.


Oracle decks can contain any number of cards, and tend to focus on spiritual growth and personal development. They are not as difficult to learn as tarot, which is why some people prefer them. Each oracle deck usually has a specific theme that sets the overall tone of the deck. For example, The Nature-Speak Oracle from Ted Andrews contains sixty cards, and calls upon the wisdom from nature, specifically trees, flowers, landscapes and weather. Other popular oracle decks are The Hidden Path and The Well-Worn Path from Raven and Stephanie Grimassi. These contain imagery associated with Old World Witchcraft, however, both of these decks are now long out-of-print. Other oracle decks call on the energies of herbs, crystals, animals and similar metaphysical themes.

A Word about Tarot and Oracle Decks

The increasing popularity of tarot and oracle decks has made some of them quite valuable, particularly when they go out-of-print. There are many tarot “collectors”, those who do not actually use them for divination but appreciate the artwork and symbolism. It is important to purchase a tarot/oracle deck you like as soon as possible, because once it goes out-of-print it may be quite some time before it is availabe again, if at all. Some retired decks are being sold on eBay in the hundreds of dollars. Occasionally you may find privately produced decks that are not sold in stores to the general public, and these are typically more expensive than standard mass-produced decks. I obtained one such deck, The Harry Potter Tarot, which contains exquisite artwork. It is based on the Rider-Waite deck, but with imagery and symbolism found in the Harry Potter books and films.


The origin of the Runes is shrouded in mystery, although we do know they are powerfully connected to the ancient Norse people. According to Norse legend, the god Odin was a god of wisdom, cunning, sorcery and death. To impart to his children the gift of writing, he hung himself upside-down on the World Tree, sacrificing himself for his people on the giant ash Yggdrasil. After nine days of fasting, he fell from the tree and was granted with the knowledge of the secrets of the Runes. It is believed that they began as an alphabetic system, but have become much more than that. Each Rune symbol contains within it a specific energy that can be used in divination, spellcraft or other magical workings. While there are a few different types of Runes, such as the Witch’s Runes and Anglo-Saxon Runes, the most prominent (and most ancient) Runes are the Elder Futhark Runes. The Elder Futhark contains twenty-four different runes, and were originally carved into stone or wood. Today you can find runes that are carved into various crystals, wood, resin or bone. My preference is for runes carved on wood, as they seem to carry more power and primal energy in them. Many enchanted folk like to make their own, by cutting a tree branch into small pieces and using a wood-burning tool to carve in the symbols. Making them yourself is preferable, but is not a requirement for them to work. In the magical community, there are many Runecasters, (those who specialize in Rune Divination), and offer Rune readings to the public. Runes seem to have a more masculine energy, while the Tarot contains more feminine energies. Runes and Tarot are both equally powerful, and a person should not choose one over the other based on their inherent energies. Most Metaphysical/New Age/Wicca shops carry runes in many varieties. Keep your Runes together in a drawstring pouch made of a natural fiber, such as cotton, wool or silk. There are special rune pouches available online, and even rune cloths with special markings to assist in your readings, but these are not necessary.


Scrying is the art of obtaining information, wisdom or guidance by gazing into a crystal ball, a bowl of water, or a mirror. Many in the magical community own at least one scrying mirror or a crystal ball. Some may see actual images form on the surface of the object used for scrying, while others receive impressions within their consciousness. It is a difficult art to learn that relies heavily on stream of conciousness and intuitive ability. The best times to practice scrying seem to be during “between times”, such as a Full Moon, New Moon, a Lunar/Solar Eclipse, the Solstices and Equinoxes, Dawn/Dusk, or during Beltane (May 1st) or Samhain (October 31st). Regular practice will help to hone your scrying abilities. When scrying, it is recommended to use natural light only, such as candlelight, moonlight or sunlight. Place candles near the mirror or crystal ball where they will not be reflected in the glass, and place the mirror or ball at a slight angle so that you do not see your own reflection. It is also helpful to burn incense while scrying, as this helps you enter a ritual state of consciousness and will make you more open to receive psychic messages. Many times the shapes formed by incense smoke, or shadows from the candle flame will trigger images or impressions. You may see actual images in your mirror or crystal ball, but this is not always the case. Black mirrors are popular, and some people like to make their own. Traditional crystal balls are made from clear quartz or black obsidian, but they are also available in many other varieties of crystal and in many different colors. The larger the sphere, the more expensive it will be, so keep cost in mind when shopping for your own crystal ball. Some who use crystal balls recommend rolling the ball between your palms to bond with it’s energy between readings. When not using your scrying device, keep it covered in a natural fiber, such as cotton, wool or silk. To clean your scrying mirror or crystal ball, use an infusion of hyssop or pennyroyal and then pat it dry.

Take some time to explore different forms of divination. You may find that you are skilled at more than one.

Practicing Celtic Magic

Before we explore various aspects of Celtic Magic, it is important to understand what is meant by Celtic. The term Celtic refers to a cultural tribal group who moved into Northern Europe, the British Isles and Ireland. They are identified by their use of art, language, symbolism and mythology. There are two strands of Celtic culture, each recognized by it’s language. Q Celtic refers to the Gaelic languages: Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic and Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man). P Celtic refers to the Brythonic languages: Breton, Cornish and Welsh.

One does not have to be descended from a Celtic bloodline to practice Celtic magic. Anyone who feels a connection to the Celtic gods and goddesses are invited to draw near to them. The Celtic magical tradition is focused more on culture and mysticism rather than bloodline. Contrary to what the “cultural appropriation police” may say, anyone can practice Celtic magic.

While most magical systems acknowledge the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, in Celtic magic the emphasis is placed on Land, Sea and Sky. It may appear the fire element is absent, however, the fire exists within the practitioner. The Celtic Witch draws his/her fiery energy from within and into their enchantments. Another aspect of fire being within is the concept of Nwyfre. This is a Welsh word that means “life force”, and this life force exists in everything. Nwyfre has been linked to the Dragon, another source of fire. Fire transforms, or is transformed by the other elements.

Fire burns the Land (Earth).

Fire is quenched by the Sea (Water).

Fire is fueled by the Sky (Air).

Those who practice Celtic magic celebrate the same holidays as other pagans, as most of these holidays are of Celtic origin. We know that the Celts only recognized a few of these, such as Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain, however, modern Celtic pagans celebrate eight holidays in total.

These holidays include IMBOLC, occuring on February 1st or 2nd which honors the Celtic Saint/Goddess Brigid. The SPRING EQUINOX occurs around March 21st and celebrates the newness of life and the reawakening Earth. BELTANE takes place on May 1st, a very erotic and sexually charged holiday. The SUMMER SOLSTICE occurs around June 21st. LUGHNASADH takes place on August 1st and is the first harvest festival of the year, named after the Celtic god Lugh. Around September 21st is the AUTUMN EQUINOX or MABON, the second harvest festival named after the Welsh figure Mabon. SAMHAIN, the third and final harvest, is celebrated on October 31st, when departed loved ones are honored and believed to be closer than ever. The WINTER SOLSTICE, what many pagans refer to as YULE, takes place around December 21st.

While we know very little about spiritual practices of the ancient Celts, modern scholars believe clues can be found in the lore and legends. It is true that the Druids, the spiritual elders of the Celtic peoples, did not write anything down, however, there are at least fourteen classical authors who wrote about them and some of their practices. The Celtic tales are believed to contain many hidden mystical lessons. These lessons are revealed only through study and meditation, and by placing ourselves within the stories. To be understood, they must be experienced. For those who wish to practice Celtic magic, a working knowledge of the mythology is a priority.

The primary magical tools of the Celtic Witch are the cauldron and the wand. Both of these feature prominently throughout Celtic lore. The cauldron is a container of energy and also acts as a vessel of communication. When we place our hands on the cauldron, we tap into centuries of magic and make a connection to the divine mind of the ancient gods and goddesses of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The most important cauldron is the one that belongs to Cerridwen, a Welsh goddess of Transformation and Initiation. From her cauldron is the source of Awen, a Welsh word that means “Divine, Poetic Inspiration”. Cerridwen is the original cauldron-stirring, potion-brewing witch.

Other gods and goddesses of Celtic lore and legend include:

Brigid: Goddess of Healing, Poetry and Smithcraft. She is both Goddess and Saint. Those who follow her are called Flamekeepers, keeping alive an old tradition of the Brigidine Sisters tending the holy flame at the monastery of Brigid at Kildare. Her sacred day is Imbolc.

Lugh: The Celtic Sun god. He is called The Many-Skilled One, skilled in all the arts. An accomplished warrior, athlete, harpist and poet. The holiday Lughnasadh (“Games of Lugh”) is named after him.

The Morrigan: Goddess of War, Magic and Death. She is a triple-goddess also known by the names of Badb, Macha and Anu. Her sacred animals are the Crow and Raven.

Manaanan Mac Lir: Sea God of the Tuatha De Danaan. He possesses a horse than can gallop across the waves, a ship that needs no oars or sails to travel, and a sword that can fill men’s hearts with fear. The waves of the sea are called “the horses of Manaanan”.

Rhiannon: Welsh horse goddess of magic, forgiveness and wisdom. She is also associated with birds. The “Birds of Rhiannon” are three birds who can wake the dead and lull the living to sleep.

Cernunnos: Stag god of the forest, primal, masculine ruler of animals and all green things that grow. He is often portrayed as a man with antlers.

In some versions of the tale of Manaanan Mac Lir, his wife Aoife was turned into a crane. When she died, Manannan made a bag from her skin that would hold magical items. Many Celtic witches make crane bags in which they place items of magical or spiritual significance. It can be made of leather, cotton, linen, wool or any other fabric. It can be any color, and may be decorated with Celtic symbols or imagery. The Crane Bag is similar to a Mojo Bag or Medicine Bag, and what you place in it is entirely up to you.

Such items may include:

• Crystals and Stones

• Seashells

• Plants, leaves, twigs, roots or bark

• Herbs, plants or flowers

• Seeds

• Feathers

• Fur, nails, bones, claws or other animal parts

• Animal, plant or spirit guide figures

• Ogham, runes or other items with magical symbols

• Any other items with a spiritual purpose

When practicing divination, many Celtic witches and modern druids look to the wisdom of the Ogham. The Ogham began as an ancient British and Irish alphabet, consisting of twenty characters formed by parallel strokes on either side of, or across a continuous line. It evolved into a system of divination, largely due to the work of Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess. Each ogham symbol is associated with a specific tree and a divinatory meaning.

A 15th century Irish manuscript known as the “Cauldrons of Poesy” tells us that the human body contains three cauldrons. These cauldrons are located in the head, heart and belly of each person. The cauldron in the head is the Cauldron of Wisdom, ruling spiritual health. The cauldron in the heart is the Cauldron of Motion, ruling Psychic Health. The cauldron in the belly is the Cauldron of Warming, ruling physical health. These three cauldrons are similar to chakras, as each one represents various aspects of life. Celtic witches work with them in meditation, visualizing each cauldron in the upright position.

Symbols used in Celtic magic include the triquetra and the triskele. The triquetra is a Celtic knot symbol consisting of a triple knot with with a circle in the middle. The triskele is a triple spiral that appears to be in motion, as if it is spinning. Both of these symbols represent the Land, the Sea and the Sky. They can be carved onto candles or drawn on parchment paper when casting spells. Objects with these symbols can be placed on your altar. Other imagery can be used, such as pictures of Stonehenge, Brigid’s Cross or figures of animals that appear in Celtic lore.

There are many facets of Celtic magic, and this article only addresses a few of them. The Celtic tradition is rich with symbolism and mystical lore. Those who hear the whispers of the stone circles and the misty moors are invited to draw close to the ancient gods of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Finding Peace in a Chaotic World

We are living in very stressful times. A global pandemic, racial injustice and financial uncertainties are all happening at once. Nearly everyone is experiencing some anxiety. How can we try to maintain a peaceful state of mind amidst all the chaos? There are a number of things we can do that will help relieve some of the stress in our lives.

Meditation: Setting aside a few minutes each day to meditate is a perfect way to relax and re-charge. Just start by closing your eyes and taking several deep breaths. The idea is to lower your brain waves until you reach what is called the “Alpha” state. Alpha is that sensation when you feel relaxed, yet still aware, almost like when you’re daydreaming. Another simple practice is to do a countdown while visualizing the numbers from 10 to 1 in your mind’s eye. This helps to quickly bring you into a relaxed state. Another form of meditation is called Creative Visualization. This is when you try to picture a situation, with eyes closed, exactly the way you would like it to be. Put yourself in the picture and try to involve all of your senses. What would you be seeing/hearing/feeling if this were happening right now? It is recommended to keep your eyes closed when meditating, so you are not distracted by things around you. Ten or fifteen minutes a day is a good start. Some people prefer to meditate in the morning, while others do so in the evening. Choose a time when you can meditate undisturbed. Turn off your phone. Lighting candles and incense can help with the process. Relaxing music, with no vocals or drums, can greatly assist you in reaching a relaxed state of mind while meditating. It is best to sit upright with your back straight, while sitting in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Lying down may tempt you to fall asleep, so this is not recommended. It is not necessary to hold an uncomfortable pose or use specific hand positions for extended periods of time. You may find while you’re meditating that inspiration comes to you, or you may receive a solution to a problem you are having. A regular meditation practice not only relaxes us, but also develops our intuitive and psychic abilities.

Crystals: The subtle powers of crystals and stones can greatly reduce harmful energies around us, whether at home or at the workplace. Placing these stones on desks, tables and windowsills will invite their magical qualities. Amethyst, Rose Quartz and Lapis Lazuli are all stones that will help restore peace and calm to your environment. Place them where they will be seen by anyone who enters the room. You may also choose to wear these stones as jewelry. When we wear crystal pendants, rings or bracelets, their energies mingle with our own aura and work to neutralize influences that may be harmful to us. Black Obsidian, Moonstone and Tiger’s Eye are all protective stones that will absorb harmful energies when worn. When purchasing your crystals, it is important to cleanse them before use, as other hands have handled them before you. Simply wash them with spring water and dry with a paper towel. You may also choose to carry these stones in your pocket during the day, and twirl them in your fingers to draw upon their energies. The powers of crystals are activated through energy, intention and vibration. To activate them, hold the stones in your hands, close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you reach a meditative state. Say, “I charge these stones to bring peace and calm to me and those around me”. In your mind’s eye, see the stones bathed in a brilliant white light. Bring yourself back to full awareness, open your eyes, and the stones are ready for use.

De-Clutter: There’s an old saying, “A cluttered room reveals a cluttered mind”. Over time, we can accumulate so many things that it’s hard to know where to put it all. Some people don’t mind the clutter because they “know where everything is”, but for the rest of us, walking into a cluttered room only adds to our stress. Do we really need all of this stuff? It is a good idea to do a purging of all the things you no longer need, want or use. If it’s clothing and it no longer fits or has holes in it, or you haven’t worn it in three months, toss it. If your bookshelves are overflowing, get a new bookshelf or pass along some books to your friends.

Sometimes our tastes and interests change, and the things we own no longer reflect these changes. Keep only the things that represent your personality and who you are now. Get rid of everything that does not bring you joy. (On the other hand, if you think you may be a hoarder, you might want to consider counseling). Above all, be resolved to keep the clutter down. You will have more peace of mind knowing that everything is organized and in it’s place.

Removing the Toxic: There are times when painful decisions must be made, and sometimes that involves removing unsupportive people from your life. They could be friends, employers or even family members. If they are not supportive of who you are or your life goals, it is time to dis-associate with them. If someone in your circle of friends is constantly putting you down, criticizing your decisions, or is generally negative and unsupportive of your ambitions, you may want to consider if this person is truly a friend. Realize your own self-worth. Wouldn’t you rather have people around you who cheer you on and encourage you, instead of tearing you down? Sometimes we make excuses for their bad behavior. “Oh, that’s just his personality” or “She’s always been like that”. Does that really make it okay? Many people hold on to these toxic relationships because they feel insecure or lonely. Removing these people from your life will greatly restore your peace of mind. Workplaces can also be toxic. Overbearing managers, workplace bullying and verbal abuse happen all too frequently on the job. This creates a great deal of stress and anxiety. Contact your Human Resources department and inform them of what is happening, or consider looking for another job. In addition, many of us have family members who are not supportive of our life choices. Some of us have been ridiculed by certain relatives because of our sexual orientation or because we follow a pagan path. It may be necessary to keep these family members at a distance and for extended periods of time.

Nature: When we lose touch with nature, we lose touch with our magical selves. By spending time among the trees and flowers on a regular basis, we can reawaken the magical fire within us. Go for a walk in the park. Put on your hiking boots and visit the nearest walking trail. Walk barefoot in the grass. Spend more time in the garden, planting magical herbs and flowers. Immerse yourself in the elements. Sit beside a stream, watch the wildlife and listen to the birds singing. Feel the wind blowing on your face. Place your hands on an oak tree and sense it’s powerful energy. Set aside time each week to go outside and recharge yourself with the powers of nature. This will help restore peace to your soul.

Get Creative: A great way to bring more peace into our lives is to explore our creativity. Get out the paints and watercolors. Start a blog or begin writing that book. Learn a musical instrument. Make some candles or homemade soaps. Participating in a favorite hobby will keep the mind occupied and bring a sense of peace and accomplishment. Some people find scrapbooking to be very relaxing. Expressing your creativity will help restore peace into your life. Sing, dance, create!

Music: Listening to relaxing music is another way to bring a sense of calm. Classical, New Age or Celtic music are all excellent choices. There is also music that has Alpha and Theta pulses recorded into the music. They’re very subtle, you can’t hear them, but subconsciously they produce a relaxation response in those who listen to the music. This is also something called the Earth Resonance Frequency, a measurable sound wave that comes from the earth itself, and is has been recorded into some relaxation music. You can find it in the music of Dean and Dudley Evenson and other similar artists. If you struggle with insomnia, it is a great way to relax the mind and help you fall asleep at night. Llewellyn and Juliana also have several recordings for peace and relaxation.

Surround Yourself with Things You Love: Place treasured items and other objects that bring you joy on your desk, or in various locations where you will see them. I happen to collect Harry Potter memorabilia, and regularly rotate various collectibles where I can look at and enjoy them. A friend of mine collects treasured figurines and toys, and spending time with them helps her de-stress after a rough day. If it brings you joy, who cares what other people think? I know grown men who still collect Star Wars. So what? If it makes you feel happy and peaceful, surround yourself with those things. It’s a quite healthy thing to do.

Plan Your Fun: Give yourself things to look forward to, and plan ahead for fun activities. This will create an inner sense of excitement. They can be small things, like “Wednesday night I will watch that new movie” or “Saturday I’ll buy some new clothes”. Schedule random days off during the month, just because. Planning fun activities for yourself is a great way to help you feel more at peace and in control of your life.

Disconnect from Social Media: There is so much bad news these days, it can be overwhelming. For our own mental health, it’s a good idea to limit the time we spend on our social media accounts, or temporarily disconnect from them. You can deactivate your Facebook without actually deleting it, and reactivate it whenever you want. If you deactivate your Twitter, you have 30 days to reactivate it before it gets deleted. Sometimes we sit down with our laptops for just a few minutes, and before we know it three hours have gone by. Social media has some good qualities, such as for networking and increasing awareness, but every now and then it’s a good idea to disconnect from the madness for awhile.

Affirmations: Affirmations are positive statements you make about yourself. More effective when spoken aloud, they are a wonderful way to uplift your spirits when you’re feeling anxious. Examples of affirmations are:

I am a creative, intelligent being.

I am prosperous and successful.

I am completely healthy.

I am strong and courageous.

I am always in the right place at the right time.

When you say affirmations, allow yourself to feel that they are real and true, even if it doesn’t seem that way right now. As you use them on a regular basis, visible results will eventually begin to reflect the inner reality. Affirmations work to change your pattern of thinking and ultimately changing your life for the better.

Exercise: Getting regular exercise increases certain chemicals in the body, such as endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoids. These are all associated with feeling happy and confident, as well as lowering anxiety and stress. Taking a brisk walk, riding a bike or doing some aerobic activity are great ways to release these happy-feeling chemicals.

Volunteer: By helping others in need, we make our own lives brighter. Consider volunteering for a charity such as Meals on Wheels, an animal shelter or local food kitchen. There are many ways to volunteer your time. Buy some groceries for an elderly neighbor. Prepare a meal for a sick friend. Join a group that cleans up litter in a park. Offer your time as a mentor or tutor. Helping others instills a sense of inner peace, knowing that we have contributed to the well-being of someone else.

The world can seem like a scary place. It can be difficult to find peace amidst all the conflict, but these suggestions are a good place to start.

Your Own Book of Magic

Many witches and druids keep a book, or many books, in which they document their spells and magical workings. Some refer to their book as a ‘Book of Shadows’ or magical journal. The concept of keeping a magical journal is not a modern invention. There are documentations of those who kept books of magic that go back for centuries. Traditionally, books of magic are hand-written on virgin parchment using special inks and writing instruments, such as the quill. This is the way of the Old World witch. Blackthorn Druid Witches are encouraged to keep their own hand-written books of magic. Your own book will not only contain your personal spells and rituals, but also any herbs and plants you work with, deities and spirit guides with whom you have formed a close bond, and any other information that has made your magic successful. These may include moon phases, crystals and stones, symbols, divination tools and planetary aspects. Your book of magic is where you document everything that helps your magic work.

Some like to use notebooks and journals. Others purchase very expensive tri-fold books that take months to produce. A more practical approach is to use large artist sketchbooks with at least two hundred pages. These will take longer to fill, they are not as expensive and they can be decorated with a personalized touch. Sketchbooks are designed to be used with paints or pencils, and are made with sturdier paper. It is a good idea to document your herbs and plants on the last pages of the book, as this will keep them all together in one place and you can continue adding to them. Some like to decorate the pages with staining techniques to give them a yellowed “antique” appearance. There is no hard and fast rule about how to decorate your book of magic. Be creative and make it personal. No one will see it but you. Treat it as a sacred object. Keep it hidden away from prying eyes and curious visitors. It’s contents are for your eyes only. No one is to see what you have written inside. Many keep their books of magic in a special box or wrapped in a natural fiber such as cotton, wool or silk.

The Celtic Tree Calendar

In Robert Grave’s book The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, first published in 1948, we find a description of the Celtic Tree Calendar, which Graves suggests was used by ancient Celtic peoples. There is no evidence of this, and Grave’s work has been criticized by many scholars, some of whom call the tree calendar a ‘fabrication’ and a modern invention. One could argue that the Wiccan Rede is also such, having been penned as recently as 1964, yet it is still viewed as sacred by followers of Wicca. It also should be noted that the Celtic Tree Calendar is two decades older than the Wiccan Rede.

There is a fine line between fabrication and inspiration. Fabrication implies an intent to deceive while inspiration is a creative idea imparted by divine influence. Unfamiliar concepts are often regarded as fabricated or invalid simply because they are new. Inspired works do not always come with footnotes and references to back them up.

The origins of the Celtic Tree Calendar are irrelevant, as it still provides a fascinating study of tree lore and it’s mystical associations. It has been adopted by many druid groups and others who follow a Celtic mystical path. Witches and Druids often look to the tree calendar when choosing the wood for their personal wands. Some trees on the calendar may be difficult to locate where you live. If you feel an affinity with a different tree than the one specified by your birth date according to the calendar, then follow your heart and choose your wand wood from that tree instead. You may also wish to acquire seeds for your chosen tree, and grow the wood yourself. Blackthorn, for example, is especially hard to find in the United States and I had to order seeds from the UK. Take note of any special planting instructions for each type of tree, including the type of soil and when to plant.

The Celtic Tree Calendar

  • Birch: December 24 to January 20
  • Rowan: January 21 to February 17
  • Ash: February 18 to March 17
  • Alder: March 18 to April 14
  • Willow: April 15 to May 12
  • Hawthorn: May 13 to June 9
  • Oak: June 10 to July 7
  • Holly: July 8 to August 4
  • Hazel: August 5 to September 1
  • Vine: September 2 to September 29
  • Ivy: September 30 to October 27
  • Reed: October 28 to November 24
  • Elder: November 25 to December 23

Specific days, such as Samhain (October 31st) has been attributed to Blackthorn, and the Winter Solstice (December 21st) has been associated with Yew. It is interesting to note that this calendar does not begin with November 1st, the beginning of the Celtic new year. We do not know how these specific dates were arrived at for each particular tree, but each tree corresponds to the Ogham characters. Ogham is an Early Medieval alphabet used to write the early Irish language (1st to 6th centuries), and later the Old Irish language (6th to 9th centuries). The Ogham has evolved into a system of divination, in which the first character is linked to the Birch tree, where the tree calendar begins.

Below are some of the magical associations of each tree in the calendar, including Blackthorn and Yew.

BIRCH: Beginnings, healing, renewal, tradition.

ROWAN: Protection, dedication, imagination, grounding.

ASH: Communication, ambition, poetry and storytelling.

ALDER: Ferocity, defense, prophetic utterance, strength.

WILLOW: The moon, clairvoyance, empathy, sensitivity.

HAWTHORN: The faerie realm, plant spirits, male sexuality, virility.

OAK: Power, protection, druidry, doorway to the Otherworld.

HOLLY: Immortality, new life, regeneration, protection.

HAZEL: Knowledge, wisdom, mystical inspiration, illumination.

VINE: Harvest, fruitfulness, Mabon, Autumn Equinox.

IVY: Life, death and rebirth, rootedness, healing, binding.

BROOM/REED: Flexibility, water, cleansing, purification.

ELDER: Endings, sacrifice, death, protection.

BLACKTHORN: Strength in adversity, protection, light in darkness, witchcraft.

YEW: Ancestor communication, spirit contact, rebirth, regeneration.

Ogham Staves

Correspondence Course Coming Spring 2021

I have had many requests from people wanting to take the course, but could not attend the in-person classes because they live too far away. For this reason, I have prepared the course in way that it can be completed by correspondence. This is no substitute for studying with a teacher in person, but those unable to do so can still receive much of the teaching through these correspondence lessons. I keep the cost low to make them affordable. There will be a limit of 12 students per year taking the correspondence course, in addition to those taking the course in person. Those who complete the 13-lesson course receive a certificate and the title Draighean: Blackthorn Druid Witch.

Correspondence lessons will have the same fee at $25 per lesson. Lesson books will be mailed monthly and they must be taken in order. It is recommended that students take at least one month to study and integrate the information from each lesson, which also includes homework assignments. Those who take the correspondence course by mail will receive additional items in their lesson packets. Students may also choose to receive lessons via email in PDF format.

Correspondence students will receive a password to access a private page on this website. This page will have information just for you.

The first lesson will be available March 1st, 2021.

I do hope you will consider joining us on the path of the Draighean, the Blackthorn Druid Witch.

Rick S. Potter

Wisdom of the Blackthorn

Blackthorne blossom 9

The blackthorn reminds us that even in the midst of darkness, light can still be found. It teaches us that in some aspects of our lives, destruction must occur so that we can be renewed. To achieve inner growth, we must overcome obstacles, and embrace our darkness as well as our light. The spirit of Blackthorn encourages us to boldly speak our own truths, and live our lives without regret. The Blackthorn brings light into the darkest places, and helps us find strength in adversity.