Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butternut Squash Casserole

Here is a great recipe from The Witches Collective forum

Butternut Squash Casserole
This butternut squash casserole includes apples and is topped with a buttery spiced crumb topping with brown sugar. This is a tasty side dish for any fall meal, and it would be a perfect holiday dinner casserole.

1 small butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 lbs)
2 tart apples
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
4 tablespoons butter, cold
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Butter a 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Heat oven to 350°. Peel, seed, and cut squash into small slices. Core the apples, peel, and cut into thin slices. Toss squash and apples together. Transfer squash and apple slices to the prepared baking dish.

Combine brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; cut in butter with fork or pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over sliced squash and apples. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until squash is tender.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nurturing your Spirit

Sometimes we get caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget about the spiritual world around us. It is not surprising. We're humans, we have responsibilities in the everyday world to take care of. But we must always make time for spirit, nature, and the Universe. By nurturing our own spirit we nurture the world. So everyday, as you get up, at lunch, or right before bed take a few minutes to think about the world. think about what you love and the beauty you've observed. Let your joy and awe of these experiences bubble up and over take the mundane concerns in your life. Just letting those positive feelings wash over you and nurture your spirit allows for your positivity to go into the world and nurture the world's spirit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - Break

Happy Thanksgiving!
We at The Witches Collective would like to wish everyone happy holidays. May you all be safe on your travels. TWC blog will be on hiatus over the next 5 days holiday days. Don't worry, we'll be back fresh on Monday, the 28th.
Bright Blessings!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Collecting the Rain

When the rain has got you down, don't forget how powerful it can really be. On those rainy days, set out some buckets or pails. Collect the rain water. Go to a cemetery and set out a bowl, or go into the woods and collect it there. Make it a special trip, sacred, and dedicate it to Deity. Where ever you collect the rain, burn some incense or tobacco to give back to the spirits and Deity.

Once you have the rain water, bottle as much as you feel like for later use in cleansing, blessings, protections, and much more. If you have a good amount left over, run yourself a bath. Bless the rain water and had a couple spoon fulls to your bath water. It is great for washing away the negativity. If you still have a lot of water left, bottle some for friends, but whatever you don't use, give it back to the earth. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Ten Commandments of Mother Earth

Brought to you by the WC Forum.

The Ten Commandments of Mother Earth

I.Thou shalt love and honor the Earth for it blesses thy life and governs thy survival.

II. Thou shalt keep each day sacred to the Earth and celebrate the turning of its seasons.

III. Thou shalt not hold thyself above other living things nor drive them to extinction.

IV. Thou shalt give thanks for thy food, to the creatures and plants that nourish thee.

V. Thou shalt educate thy offspring for multitudes of people are a blessing unto the Earth when we live in harmony.

VI. Thou shall not kill, nor waste Earth's riches upon weapons of war.

VII. Thou shalt not pursue profit at the Earth's expense but strive to restore its damaged majesty.

VIII. Thou shalt not hide from thyself or others the consequences of thy actions upon the Earth.

IX. Thou shalt not steal from future generations by impoverishing or poisoning the Earth.

X. Thou shalt consume material goods in moderation so all may share the Earth's bounty.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Promoting WC

The Witches Collective would like to thank our friends on deviantart for helping to promote WC. We would like to recognize our friends here.

Pagan Crafts

Thank you to all that support us and keeping us going. You will be seeing art from these Deviantart groups throughout the year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yule Time

As Yule approaches, let's remember what it is about. We'll be going over a couple of things and yule associations as it draws near.

Winter Solstice or Yule (December 21st)

Yule or the Winter Solstice is the time when the sun is the furthest from the earth. This is a time where the world is at its darkest and it is the longest night of the year. For a couple days at this time of year, the sun seems to rise and set in the same place and not seem to move until miraculous the sun would start to make its way closer and closer. This is a time where our pagan ancestry would do rituals to coax the sun to return to the earth and warm the land once again. It is a time to honor the gods for being a constant presence in our lives and to be thankful for all of life’s gifts. This is the time when the “Sun God” starts to make his way back to the earth so that life can start anew. Yule is known as one of the Lesser Sabbats but by no means is it not a greatly revered holiday.

Our pagan ancestors held rites to “appease” the sun so that it would return again for spring. We in modern times know through the science of astronomy the way the planets move around the sun but this should in no way take away from the credit of the greatness of the power of God. This is a time for us to celebrate with one another and to come closer together. The warmth that we feel when we commune with one another is symbolic of the warmth that we will feel from the suns return.

The Christian Holiday of Christmas or the Birth of Christ is taken from this holiday. It is in essence the birth of the Sun God or the birth of The Son of God. Many modern customs of “Christmas” owe themselves to the customs of our Pagan Ancestry. The “Christmas” Tree dates back to Norse Pagans who would decorate trees with lights and sweets to appease their Gods, namely Odin. The Yule Log is another custom that dates back to these ancient pagans who would pour libations onto a decorated log and place it in the hearth fire to honour the gods. “Christmas Carolling” or Wassailing comes from these ancestors as well. The hanging of wreaths comes from our ancestors in Rome from their festival of Saturnalia. Mistletoe and Holly were symbols of life and rebirth to the Celts and were traditionally used at this time of year.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Charge of the Goddess

The Charge Of The Goddess
Written by Doreen Valiente

Whenever ye have need of anything,
once in the month and better it be when the moon is full,
then shall ye assemble in some secret place,
and adore the spirit of me,
who am Queen of all witches.

There shall ye assemble,
ye who are fain to learn all sorcery,
yet have not won its deepest secrets;
to these will I teach all things that are as yet unknown.

And ye shall be free from slavery;
and as a sign that ye be truly free,
you shall be naked in your rites;
and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love,
all in my praise.
For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit,
and mine also is joy on earth;
for my law is love unto all beings.

Keep pure your highest ideals;
strive ever towards them,
let nothing stop you or turn you aside.
For mine is the secret door which
opens upon the Land of Youth,
and mine is the cup of the wine of life,
and the Cauldron of Cerridwen,
which is the Holy Vessel of Immortality.
I am the gracious Goddess,
who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.

Upon earth,
I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal;
and beyond death,
I give peace, and freedom,
and reunion with those who have gone before.

Nor do I demand sacrifice;
for behold, I am the Mother of all living,
and my love is poured out upon the Earth.

I am the beauty of the green earth,
and the white moon among the stars,
and the mystery of the waters,
and the desire of the heart of man.

Call unto thy soul, arise, and come unto me.
For I am the soul of Nature,
who gives life to the Universe.
From me all things proceed,
and unto me all things must return;
and before my face, beloved of gods and of men,
let thine innermost divine self be enfolded,
in the rapture of the infinite.

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoicest,
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.
Therefore, let there be beauty and strength,
power and compassion, honor and humility,
mirth and reverence within you.

And thou who thinketh to seek for me,
know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not,
unless thou knoweth the mystery;
that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee,
thou wilt never find it without thee.

For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning;
and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fertility Boost Spell

Fertility Boost
The Best Time
Cast this spell when the moon is new, waxing or full.

The Best Day

Incense To Use (choose one)
Frankincense, Rosemary

Herbs To Use
Basil, Parsley, Garlic, Salt

Oils To Use
Olive, Ginger

Candles To Use
Two Red

Stones To Use

Other Supplies Needed
One Fireproof Bowl (non-metal), Charcoal Block, Food Processor/ Blender, Parmesan Cheese, Pine Nuts, 8 oz. of Pasta, 2 Candlesticks

• Gather supplies
• Place each candle into your projective hand (right if right handed
– left if left handed) to empower it. Visualize your need; feel the emotions associated with it. Once you can no longer hold the image or feel the emotions, then the energy has moved from you into the candle. Empower “Fertility” into both RED candles.
• Anoint ALL CANDLES with the GINGER OIL. Starting in the middle of the candle, perform 9 strokes going up, then again starting in the middle of the candle, do 9 strokes going down. Never rub up and then down in the same motion.
• Put CANDLES in their Candlesticks and place on dinner table.

and burn INCENSE.
• Meditate on the desired outcome –clear your mind and focus on what you want to accomplish.

Make PASTA according to directions. When finished, set aside and keep warm.


1 cup BASIL
1/2 cup stemless PARSLEY
1/2 cup grated PARMESAN cheese
1/4 cup OLIVE oil
1/4 cup PINE NUTS
1 large GARLIC CLOVE, diced
1/4 teaspoon SALT

Cover. Blend into a paste as you recite:

One and one, together are we.
Infused with your blessing,
Our co-creation will be born, in 3 times 3.

Add pesto to pasta, toss to coat.

In your own words, thank the Divine forces for their help in this matter.

Serve by candlelight and enjoy with your fertility partner. Engage in sexual relations within 24 hours after eating the pasta.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Spirit Prayer

Great Spirit Prayer

Oh Great Spirit of our
Ancestors, I raise
my pipe to you.
To your messengers the four winds, and
to Mother Earth who provides
for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children
to love, to respect, and to be kind
to each other so that they may grow
with peace of mind
Let us learn to share all good things that
you provide for us on this Earth.

-Chief Yellow Hawk

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Smudging and the Four Sacred Herbs

Please enjoy this spell from the WC Forum

Smudging And The Four Sacred Herbs

As long as time has existed for the Aboriginal, smudging, (purifying), with the four sacred herbs has been a part of their lives & rituals. Not only is it used by us but by people of other teachings as well. So many of our teachings are similar that we all hold a kinship to each other in this.

To smudge is, shall I say, an awakening of the mind & spirit. It creates an atmosphere of peace, tranquility & harmony amongst those who participate in a smudging ceremony. My children & I perform this ceremony regularly to bring about calmness of spirit, drive out negative thoughts & feelings, bring about unity in our family & ourselves. Even before bed, many times we will bring out what is needed & quietly honor each other & the Creator with the Sacred herbs. Because of life's pressures, I always take my herbs, medicine bag & bowl with me when I travel.

I would like to teach here what those herbs are, what they are used for, & about the smudging ceremony itself. One doesn't have to be Aboriginal nor Wiccan to perform this rite. Honor & love come from within, not what we believe or who we are.

The four Sacred herbs, as we believe are the gifts given us by the Spirits of the four directions. They are sweetgrass, sage, tobacco & cedar. Each herb has a place in the rite & they also have their own healing properties, whether it be for the physical, the mind or the spirit.

Tobacco ( real tobacco) represents the Eastern direction & the mind, because it opens the door to the Creator.Tobacco used in the ceremonies is of a different species.This plant is also used as an offering when planting, fishing or other activities. It is the most sacred of the native plants. The use of tobacco was originally not intended as it is today. It was revered as sacred & kept that way. Use of tobacco in the ceremonies invokes a relationship with the energies of the universe & the Creator.

We believe that the smoke that rises carries our prayers & thanksgivings to the Creator & to our ancestors whom have gone before us.
Cedar represents the Southern direction & the soul.It is also a healing herb that is very powerful when used correctly.

It works as a purifier & a way to attract good energies to yourself.
Cedar has a tradition of being used as a purifier in meditation.

Sage represents the Western direction in our teachings.White sage is the best for smudging & can be used as a singular leaf, combined with the other four herbs or in a sage smudging stick. All ways are acceptable. When ever I hang a new dream catcher in a room I always smudge it with the herbs to cleanse it & make it pure, creating only good energies. Sage is also used in the healing arts The dried plant is usually braided but can be used also in pieces in a bowl mixed with other herbs or shell.

Sweetgrass is of the Northern direction & represents the body. The smell of sweetgrass is utterly soothing as it burns, literally creating an atmosphere of peace. I use his herb all the time. It has the ability to dispel any negativity, sadness or emotional upset. I can speak from experience here as many times I have turned to this herb to help me. It has never failed me yet.

When using sweetgrass in smudging, the proper way to do it is to fan the smoke, first to the heart, secondly to the mind for cleansing, thirdly fan it around the body to purify your whole being & lastly return to your heart. Sweetgrass is sometimes tied & worn on dancers regalia in the dances. Braiding the herb not only makes it easier to use but represents unity as opposed to division.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Making offerings to your deity can become a wonderful and powerful way to connect to the Universe. Through a regular offering to deity, you show appreciation for that connection in your life. You are also forming a closer bond with the deity you make your offerings to. What you give to your deities should be from you and at a regular scheduled time. Whether that is once a day, once a week, once a month, or just on Sabbats or Esbats. Gods like structure and having a type of routine can show just that much more dedication. Here are some ideas.

Hearth and Home Gods:

Food: Bread and grains, cooking oil, salt
Drink: Milk, wine, cider
Herbs: Rosemary, thyme

Gods of Love and Passion:

Food: Eggs, honey, apples
Drink: Wine, fruit juice
Herbs: Lavender, sandalwood

Garden/Nature Deities:

Food: Bread, cornmeal, fruit
Drink: Milk, water
Herbs: Bay

Gods of Prosperity and Abundance:

Food: Grains, dairy products like cheese or eggs
Drink: Milk, beer
Herbs: Mint, pennyroyal, catnip

Ancestor Spirits:

Food: Any meal from your family's table
Drink: Drinks from the family table
Herbs: Sage, sweetgrass

Childbirth or Fertility Goddesses:

Food: Eggs, baked sweets like cookies
Drink: Milk (including breast milk)
Herbs: Rose, sandalwood, apple blossoms

Monday, November 7, 2011

MDAP History Essay - By student

In the MDAP (WC school) one of the classes is History. We take pride in the thorough education of the MDAP and push our students to be better. Here is a wonderful essay written by one of our bright new stars.

Essay - by Cora

Witchcraft in Hertfordshire through the ages
The joy of history, to me, comes when you find it in the landscape and the buildings all around you. Knowing that witchcraft was rife in the county where I live, I decided to base my essay on ‘Witchcraft in Hertfordshire through the ages’. Hertfordshire has been at the centre of witchcraft and pagan history on many occasions. I aim to prove it below. Please note that I have numbered the links and inserted relevant numbers throughout this essay to provide additional reading and evidence my research.

The Founding of Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a county in England and was founded in the Norse-Saxon wars of the 9th Century. It is bordered by London, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex. Even today it tries hard to retain its historical character and preserve its history [1]. Being born and raised in Hertfordshire you hear a lot about folklore, myths and legends and of course the Witch Trials, the evidence of which is still in existence today.

The Witchcraft Acts
To understand witchcraft in Hertfordshire it is important to understand the Laws of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales at the time. By the end of the 15th century, Pope Innocent VIII had issued a bill against Charmers and Magicians and in 1486 two Dominican inquisitors asserted in a formidable volume, Malleus Maleficarum, that the Devil and his witches were conspiring on a gigantic scale to overthrow the Catholic Church. From this point onwards, witchcraft and heresy were linked together. In 1542 King Henry VIII introduced the first Witchcraft Act [2]. It defined witchcraft as a felony and was punishable by death. King Henry VIII accused Anne Boleyn of being a witch. He tried to find grounds to incriminate her, claiming she had used witchcraft to make him fall in love with her. The monarch also feared she would harm him with poison, a common accusation against witches [3]. The first law was passed a few years after her trial and reflected the growing fear developed and embellished by the ingenuity of theologians and lawyers, regarding the concept of the demonic pact witches had with the devil.

In 1592 ‘An Act against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts’ was passed by Elizabeth I. It showed slightly more mercy towards those found guilty of witchcraft demanding that the death penalty was only sentenced where physical harm had been caused. Lesser offences were punishable by a term of imprisonment. The act was amended over the years by further Monarchs until it was finally repealed in 1951 and replaced with the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 [4]. The Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 was replaced in 2008 by new consumer protection regulations following an EU directive targeting unfair sales and marketing practices namely ‘the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008’, you may see this in act today under Psychic adverts as they have to claim 'for entertainment purposes only'. You may well think that the Witchcraft Act 1735 is a long distant memory; but in fact it is still in existence today. It had been introduced into the legal system of Israel during the British Mandate over Palestine. However Israel gained independence before the act was repealed and remains in force today.

Matthew Hopkins: Witch Hunter
With the heightened fear of Witchcraft came the atrocious Witch Trials known elsewhere as the Burning Times. These were a determined campaign to extirpate every trace of witchcraft. Not all countries were affected in the same way or at the same time. Between the 13th and 18th centuries, witches, or people perceived as being witches, were persecuted mercilessly in Britain. During one 18-year period alone, from 1643 to 1661, between three to four thousand people were murdered in the belief that they were witches. In fact, witch-hunting created a new profession, that of ‘Witch Hunter’. One infamous witch hunter was Matthew Hopkins [5]. Matthew Hopkins, a Puritan’s son, mainly worked in Hertfordshire’s neighbouring county of Essex, but he also travelled to surrounding counties. For unknown reasons, Hopkins thankfully never visited Hertfordshire. Hopkins’ work within the County of Essex is brought horrifically to life when you look at the statistics of people accused and tried for witchcraft offences. In Essex 229 people where tried for Witchcraft compared to only 52 in Hertfordshire, 91 in Kent, 54 in Surrey and 17 in Sussex. Matthew Hopkins’ reign of terror only lasted from 1645 till 1646, but in that single year he was responsible for up to 400 people being put to death for witchcraft. He would usually accuse elderly, lonely women of witchcraft - women who had no-one to defend them. In fact, woman accounted for 90% of his victims. Hopkins invented brutal, humiliating methods of torture (even though torture was illegal) in order to obtain confessions. These included devising his own way of ‘swimming’ suspects. Swimming involved tying the suspect’s thumbs to their big toes and dropping them into ponds. If the suspect floated (many of them did as the lungs hold one litre of air, and this is enough to make someone float), they were hung for being a witch. However, those who were terrified, screamed and exhaled air, sank. These people were cleared of Witchcraft but generally drowned anyway. Hopkins made a tidy profit from these trials charging 23 shillings to visit each town, and the same for each witch he discovered. This rate must have been negotiable though as seven woman from Aldborough were hung for a mere £6, but at Stowmarket he made £23. It’s important to note that he didn’t work alone, he had an entourage including his associates John Stearn and Mary Phillps. Hopkins died in 1647 and is buried in the village Church in Mistley. There is a myth that he was himself tried as a witch and drowned. However church records exist of his burial.

Hertfordshire’s Witch Trials
The impact on Hertfordshire during Hopkins reign was smaller than surrounding counties. However, Hertfordshire is a much smaller county than Essex and had the envious bonus that Hopkins avoided the area. Even so, 52 people were found guilty of Witchcraft in Hertfordshire via ridiculous accusations and suspicions which helped to spread rumours and fear throughout the entire county. In Hertfordshire, accusations included murder by witchcraft, causing Illness by witchcraft, bewitching cattle, causing storms, causing butter to fail, and stealing crops by magic. The accusations were more common in rural areas rather than in the towns [6], perhaps because superstitions linger longer in the countryside. Only a few of the accused were actually sentenced to death and the majority of those found guilty were hung. However, those who had been imprisioned often died due to high levels of illnesses. In 1729 a small pox outbreak almost cleared the Hertford Gaol of prisoners due to the rapid death rate [7]. Despite the hunts and trials, the actual Cunning folk were generally popular and rarely prosecuted. The Cunning folk were relied on to help with medical issues and aliments. In fact, of the people found guilty of witchcraft, the majority of these were mainly either poor, old woman or neighbours in dispute.

The last official Witch Trial in England
The last official trial of a witch in England took place in Hertfordshire and concerned a woman called Jane Welham of Walkern, near Stevenage [8] & [9]. The trail took place at Hertford Assizes in 1713. Jane was an elderly woman in her seventies. She lived alone, was poor and fitted the then stereotypical view of witches. A combination of incidents, such as livestock dying after conversations with Jane, led to Sir Henry Chauncy signing a warrant for her arrest. Chauncy (an educated man!) ordered Jane’s body to be searched for witch marks. Four women searched her body for an hour, but failed to find a mark. The next day Jane was ordered to recite the Lord’s Prayer before Reverend Strutt. This went well until she got to ‘Lead us not into Temptation’, at which point she said ‘Lead us not into no Temptation’, thus, to Strutt’s mind, providing him with proof that she served the devil. Sir Henry Chauncy’s son, Arthur, decided to subject Jane to another witch test. He thrust a pin up to its head into Jane’s arm several times but no blood came out only a watery serum.

Finally, a warrant was issued committing Jane to Hertford Gaol to await trial. Her trial took place in Hertford in March 1712 before Sir John Powell. Judge Powell’s sympathies lay with Jane and when one of the witnesses accused her of being able to fly, the judge said ‘there is no law against that!’. In his summary, Judge Powell invited the jury to acquit her. The jury, being made of local superstitious men, found her guilty anyway, leaving Powell no choice but to sentence her to death. However, he ordered a stay of execution pending an appeal. A disturbing fact in this case was that Jane’s key prosecutors were highly educated men and included 3 local clergymen.

Angered at the Judge’s decision not to execute Jane immediately, Francis Bragge, the Vicar of Hitchin (a key member of the prosecution) rushed into print a pamphlet claiming to be ‘A full and Impartial Account’ of the case. In fact, it was an attack on Jane’s character, accusing her of idleness, being a whore, being a thief and one who swore a lot. In conclusion he added: ‘her nearest relations think she deserves to die’. The pamphlet went into five editions, four of them printed within a month. This was the start of the Pamphlet War, with at least nine being written both for and again her.

 Sir John Powell had been sceptical of her guilt throughout the trial and subsequently intervened on her behalf and obtain a royal pardon from Queen Anne. Sir John Powell also helped oversee witchcraft being erased as a crime in 1736 via an amendment to the 1732 Witchcraft Act. It was however still too dangerous for Jane to go home again, and she was given shelter first by a Whig landowner, Colonel Plumer, at Gilston, Hertfordshire, and later by Earl and Countess Cowper at Hertingfordbury, near Hertford, where she died and was buried in 1730. Jane’s final wish was that she had a decent burial and her name was cleared. Sadly for Jane, whilst Sarah Cowper (daughter of Sir John Powell) agreed to Jane’s wish while she was alive, she decided, following her death, not to raise such an ugly issue, especially as belief in Witches was still strong. Jane was buried in an unmarked grave in St Marys Churchyard, Hertingfordbury but she was given a sermon by the vicar [10] Unfortunately despite her wish to be disassociated from Witchcraft, she is still known today as the Witch from Walkern.

Whilst my essay concerns Hertfordshire, it is worth mentioning that Scotland was ruled under different law and had the dubious honour of officially putting on trial the last witch, Helen Duncan, who was tried in 1944, a mere 67 years ago! [11]

The Unofficial Witch Trials of Hertfordshire
Whilst the Witchcraft Act of 1732 erased the crime of witchcraft, it was harder to remove country people’s thoughts and beliefs in witches, as shown in the following case in 1751. It all began when the following note was circulated around Tring, Hertfordshire:
 It says: ‘This is to give notice that on Munday next there is to be at Long Marcon in the parish of Tring two Hill desposed persons to be ducked by the neighbours consent.’ The fact they were to be ducked showed the local public that these people were witches. Though no longer punishable by law, it promised to be a great spectacle and would draw in the crowds.

Much like Jane Wenham, Ruth Osborn was a poor, old woman on the edge of society. She was often found begging for food from local farmers. Suspicions that she was a witch were aroused when she was turned away from a farm in Gubblecote, near Tring and the farmers’ animals suddenly became sick. Ruth and her husband had been taken to the workhouse when a great mob gathered. The Parish Officers feared for their safety and moved the old couple to the local church thinking they’d be safer there. The mob descended on the workhouse and when they failed to find Ruth and John they started to smash the workhouse up. John Tomkins, the workhouse master, was forced into telling the rioters where the old couple had been taken. The mob then smashed into the church and dragged Ruth and her husband to the local pond. There, the old couple were stripped naked, had their fingers tied to their toes (a Matthew Hopkins technique), and then wrapped in a blanket, before being thrown into the pond. Ruth was held under the water with a stick. She was so frail that she didn’t survive the ordeal of being stripped naked, and when she was thrown back onto the bank, she was found to be dead. Some confusion remains regarding her husband, John. Some accounts say he choked to death having swallowed a great amount of muddy water, but other accounts say he wasn’t as badly treated as his wife and therefore survived.

This image went into print at the time and shows the Tring Ducking.
 Out of the large mob, only one person was found guilty of the crime; Thomas Colley, a local chimney sweep. He was sentenced to death by hanging and was forced to sign a declaration which was read out to the crowds who came to witness his execution. The intention was clearly to send out a strong message to the people that there were no such things as witches:

It says:
‘Good people I beseech you all to take Warning by an unhappy man’s suffering, that you be not deluded into so absurd & wicked a conceit as to believe that there are any such beings upon earth as Witches… I am fully convinced of my former Error and with the sincerity of a dying Man declare that I do not believe there is such a Thing in being as a Witch. And I pray God that none of you thro’ a contrary Persuasion may hereafter be induced to think that you have a Right in any shape to persecute much less endanger the life of a Fellow Creature… So exhorteth you all – the Dying Thomas Colley’

Unfortunately the message appeared to have almost no effect, as the crowd were heard to be muttering and grumbling that it was a hard case to hang a man for destroying an old wicked woman that had done so much mischief by her witchcraft [12] Thomas Colley’s spirit is said to still haunt the area today in the form of a large black dog.

Changing attitudes?
The attitude toward witches in Hertfordshire changed painfully slowly over the years. Any old poor beggar women were instantly branded as witches. Local reputed witches include Rosina Jane Massey [13], and Sally Rainbow [14], (the ‘Witchcraft’ referred to in link 13 is the name of a cottage and is named afer Rosina), both were old poor woman. Sally Rainbow was homeless and lived in a chalk dell in Bramfield Woods, Tewin (one of my favourite dog walks). Sally was much feared and farmers would leave food at the edge of her dell so that she left them alone. It is said that Dick Turpin stayed in Sally’s Dell knowing that people feared her so much that they would not look for him there. I really feel that local people felt powerless when crimes involving witchcraft were no longer illegal. Sally Rainbow’s Dell remains today a place of mystery and many paranormal investigations take place there, for it has gained a reputation for being haunted (though these claims only appear in snippets as in link [15]), not only by Sally but the woods were also the scene of the murder of Walter Clibbon a Hertford Pie man by day, notorious and violent Highway man by night. Although not a witch, I think a little detour here to discover the story of Walter Clibbon helps back up the history and mentally of the time [16]. Such was the superstition at the time, the locals didn’t want Walter’s soul to roam free, so his body was dragged back to the site where he had been shot and a stake was driven through his heart. The stake still stands today (though it has been replaced since the original one went rotten with age) and is now known as ‘Clibbon’s Post’.

Witch Charms
With the lack of protection against witches, people sought charms and protections to ward off witchcraft. Hertfordshire Puddingstone was credited in local folklore of having several supernatural powers, including being a protective charm against witchcraft. In Aldenham, a woman reputed to be a witch, had puddingstone placed on top of her coffin to prevent her from escaping after her burial [17]. Over the years many buildings have been renovated and many charms against witches have been discovered. Knives and animals appear to be the most common. Many walled up dried cats and rats have been discovered. Also, a whole donkey was buried in a barn. Horse skulls have also been uncovered as in link [18] found on the Essex/Hertfordshire border.

Revival of Witchcraft in Hertfordshire
In the 1940’s, the birth of the first line of Gardnerian Witches occurred in Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire and became known as the Hertfordshire Coven. This saw a full turn around in the history of Witchcraft in Hertfordshire. The coven was formed after Gerald Gardner bought the Fiveacres Country Club, a Naturist club in the village of Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire, and members met within the club's grounds. It played a significant part in the history of Wicca. Many important and influential figures in Wicca were members of this coven, including Dafo, Doreen Valiente, Jack Bracelin, Frederic Lamond, Dayonis, Eleanor Bone and Lois Bourne. The coven is still active today, though it maintains secrecy and its history is only known up until the 1970s. [19]

Hertfordshire’s witchcraft in the present day
Living with local names such as Witchford, Hanging Wood, Witchcraft Hill, Witches Acre, Witches Hollow, Witches Moon, Witchwood and Gallows Hill, it’s easy to see the impact witches and the craft have had on the area, even today. Many villages still have their ‘ducking ponds’ and up until a few years ago many still had remnants of rotten wooden planks showing where ducking stools had been. The word ‘witch’ is still a word met with much fear and suspicion in Hertfordshire and the surrounding counties. In the 1960’s, black magic rituals made the headlines in the neighbouring county of Bedfordshire and the fear of witches was brought back. An incident of Black Mass occurred in a long abandoned church, St Mary Old Church, Clophill, where the graves where dug up and the bones used in satanic ritual, not once, but twice. The church still stands today, though the graves have had their headstones removed and lined up around the edges of the church. Tonnes of soil were also brought and the graves were buried under a further 12ft of soil. The church has unfortunately earned the name ‘The Black Magic Church’ and remained an active site for teenagers who wanted to be spooked at night. It certainly has an eerie feeling about it. It’s currently being turned into a Hostel for Walkers! [20]

In summary, it is fair to say that Hertfordshire has witnessed and been at the hub of witchcraft’s history over the last one-thousand years. The witch trials of the past are still there to be found in place names, walled up charms and the record books. Hertfordshire’s history shows that it wasn’t always the Witches who were the criminals and many people justified barbaric acts by stating the bible allowed it. Witches were treated as supernatural beings. When tortured, they weren’t done so as old woman, but that of demons and spirits. Ironically the real cunning people lived fairly openly and were held in high esteem. The hedgerows of Hertfordshire still grow many plants for a cunning person’s stock cupboard, from mugwort to hazel, sloes, blackberries, burdock, colt’s foot, chamomile, common fumitory, etc. In Hertfordshire we still stand stubbornly with one foot in the past refusing to let go of our history. I swear, if you visit Hertfordshire and stand for a while in one of our (sadly few remaining) ancient woodlands, you’ll still feel the spirit of the horned god. Witchcraft and Paganism still isn’t accepted as the norm here. However, you will find many open moots and meetings of like minded folk. You can attend one of our ancient festivals such as the May Day where we dance round the May Pole, or visit the Scarecrow Festivals. You only have to walk down one of our ancient streets to see upturned horseshoes above front doors keeping luck in. Hertfordshire is steeped in history of the craft and is more the richer for it.

I’d like to dedicate this essay to the memory of those killed in Hertfordshire having been found guilty of Witchcraft. This list contains those who full records exist, but many more names are missing from this list.

1590 Joan White of Hertfordshire
1595 Hellen Calles of Hertfordshire
1595 John Newell of Hertfordshire
1595 Joane Newell of Hertfordshire
1606 Johanna Harrison of Hertfordshire
1606 'Miss' Harrison of Hertfordshire
1649 Mary Bychance of Hertfordshire
1649 Elizabeth Knott of Hertfordshire
1649 John Lamen of Hertfordshire
1649 Joan Lamen of Hertfordshire
1649 Mary Lamen of Hertfordshire
1649 John Palmer of Hertfordshire
1649 'Widow' Palmer of Hertfordshire
1649 John Salmon of Hertfordshire
1649 Joseph Salmon of Hertfordshire
1649 Judeth Salmon of Hertfordshire
1649 Ann Smith of Hertfordshire
1649 Sarah Smith of Hertfordshire
1659 'Goodwife' Free of Hertfordshire
1661 Frances Bailey of Hertfordshire
1712 Jane Wenham of Hertfordshire
1751 Ruth and John Osborn of Hertfordshire

The End.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Hertfordshire
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witchcraft_Acts
[3] http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/eliza ... itches.htm
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraudulent ... s_Act_1951
[5] http://www.witchtrials.co.uk/matthew.html
[6] http://www.hertsmemories.org.uk/page_id ... p169p.aspx - Witchcraft in Hertfordshire
[7] http://www.hertford.net/history/gaol.asp
[8] http://www.hertsmemories.org.uk/page_id ... p169p.aspx - Jane Wenham
[9} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Wenham
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hertingfordbury
[11] http://www.helenduncan.org.uk/
[12] http://www.hertsmemories.org.uk/page_id ... p169p.aspx
[13] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday/d ... 000/page/6
[14] http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk ... -gaddesden
[15] http://u3asiteb.org.uk/u3asites/code/u3 ... &page=7758
[16] http://www.ourhertfordandware.org.uk/pa ... ath__.aspx
[17] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hertfordshire_puddingstone
[18] http://www.andrewcollins.com/page/articles/manuden.htm
[19] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bricket_Wood_coven
[20] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Marys_Church,_Clophill

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recommended Reading List

One of the things that most new witches look for is a recommended reading list. I thought I'd scribble down some books that I found created a good basis. More to come later I'm sure.

Beginners Books on Wicca:

Wicca For One: The Path Of Solitary Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham
Earth, Air, Fire & Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham
True Magick: A Beginner's Guide by Amber K
Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
The Earth Path by Starhawk
The Goddess Is in the Details by Deborah Blake
Witchcraft on a Shoestring by Deborah Blake
A witches Bible by AJ Drew
Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland
Witchcraft From the Inside by Raymond Buckland.
Witchcraft Today by Gerald Gardner
The Meaning of Witchcraft by Gerald Gardner
Eight Sabbats For Witches by Stewart Farrar
What Witches Do by Stewart Farrar
The Magic Power of Witchcraft by Gavin and Yvonne Frost
The Witch Cult in Western Europe by Dr. Margaret Alice Murray
The God of the Witches by Dr. Margaret Alice Murray
Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler

More Advanced or Extended Study:

The Wiccan Mystic by Ben Gruagach
By Oak, Ash, & Thorn by DJ Conway
Advanced Celtic Shamanism by DJ Conway
Wicca for Life by Raymond Buckland
Sabbats: A Witch's Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy
Living Wicca by Scott Cunningham
Wicca 404: Advanced Goddess Thealogy by Esra Free, Cosmic Goddess Coven

Spells and Spell Inspiration:

Color Magick by Raymond Buckland
Practical Candleburning Rituals by Raymond Buckland
Silver's Spell for Protection
Silver's Spell for Abundance
Silver's Spell for Love

by Silver RavenWolf
Solitary Witch by Silver RavenWolf


Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham

Metals and Stones:

Cunngham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham

Incense, Oils, Crafts:

The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews by Scott Cunningham
Magical Aromatherapy by Scott Cunningham
Spell Crafts by Scott Cunningham

Recipes, Food, and Home:

Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham
The Magical Household by Scott Cunningham
Magical Housekeeping by Tess Whitehurst

From the WC Forum

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bean Away Negativity

Brought to you from the WC Forum.

Bean Away Negativity
Would you like to keep the outside world negativity from entering your home? Let the mighty bean help!

You can do this two ways:

1) Fill small jars (think baby food jar) full of DRIED BEANS and place them in your inside windowsills.

2) String FRESH BEANS and hang them in your windows to dry. Once dried - leave them there.

Replace every 3 months.

PS: if you would like to keep the yuckiness of your workplace at bay - keep a small jar of dried beans in your desk drawer or back on your desk out of sight

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Path to Follow

Sometimes the road before us is filled with so many twists and turns we honestly rip ourselves to pieces trying to figure out what to do. The uncertainty of our path can fill us with dread and doubt ourselves. Yet these are the times where we need to hold our heads up high and trust that the Universe knows what it is doing. Know that we are where we need to be.

Water and Wax divination

-Bowl of cold water
-Candle (white or purple if possible)

Place the cold water in front of you. Light the candle and close your eyes. Think of your question, try to keep it as a 'yes' or 'no' question. When your question is in your mind tilt the candle over the bowl of water. Let the wax drip into the water, try to drip in the center of the bowl.. It may make shapes but instead pay attention to the direction the wax goes. To the right and your answer is 'yes'. To the left and it is 'no.' 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dance in the Wind

Giving of yourself is a part of worship. It is a part of magick. The push and pull of energy through the world is reflected within you. So when you give of yourself you are renewed three fold through the earth, the sun, the winds, and rain. Today, celebrate this sacred transference by giving of yourself. Go into nature and express yourself. Sing, dance, play an instrument, draw with sidewalk chalk, cry with joy, burn offerings, creating art, and give your time to celebrate nature.

Breath in the chill air, feel your body react to it. Let the winds whip around you like dance partners. Rejoice in the sensation of being alive and embrace that sacred law. Your heart beats to this ancient melody every second of every day, now is the time to take joy in that. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Last Day for the Dead

 Today is the last day to celebrate the dead. November 1st and 2nd are actually holidays very similar to Samhain. But their origins are more mainstream and more acceptable. Yet the practices are similar and can easily be used to continue your own celebration for a full three days. So if you missed out on doing something special for Samhain, try doing it before midnight tonight.

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1–2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Storing for Winter

With Samhain over, a time to prepare for the winter is coming quick. Doing your last house cleansings and protections before the cold sets in, washing the summer clothes to put away, even brushing your pets to keep them clean. All of these are good ways to show you are prepared for winter. With tomorrow being All Souls Day, leave out the pictures of loved ones for another day. Once the day has passed clean them up and put them where you normally have them.
  Another great way to prepare for the coming winter is to recharge your stones, divinatory objects, and other altar tools. Spell work is usually toned down during the cold time and reflection takes its place. During the winter I will give you some meditations, crafts, and other activities you can do to represent this energy in your life.
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