Archive for the ‘Original blog post’ Category

One of the best things about making jelly, jam, and other preserves is the ability to jar up some of the bright scents and flavors of summer to enjoy any time of year. That’s a nice boon when the weather heads toward late winter with gray, muddy days. Thanks to modern grocery stores and herb shops, this summery jelly can be made any time of year.

Sunshine & Roses Jelly is a recipe I created because I couldn’t find a recipe for what was in my head (a rare thing in this Internet age). There might be something like it now, but there certainly wasn’t 10 or 12 years ago. The love of these flavors combined came from a Middle Eastern-inspired cake flavored with lemon and rosewater that I made for Mother’s Day one year (my Mom was a big fan of lemon desserts). Then I read how it was popular during the Victorian era to make jellies from flowers and herbs. As creating new flavors of jelly and jam is something I enjoy (really, why make something you can buy in the store?), I decided to try using rose buds with lemon zest and juice for a jelly.

This unique jelly was the result. Some of my friends who are diehard fans of it, one even referring to it as “divine nectar.” Some people can’t stand it, but to each their own. I like using it for a jelly thumbprint cookie or fluffy biscuits – it’s a delicate and unexpected flavor.

There are a couple notes about making this. 1) Do not use florist roses, which are full of chemicals. If using roses you grow yourself, note that Damask roses are considered the best for flavoring – a lot of hybrid teas will look gorgeous but not work well for this. I usually buy dried rosebuds or petals from a local herb shop or from the Mountain Rose Herbs online store. 2) Do not let the infusion cool for much longer than what the recipe calls for. You think you can leave it to cool longer, but it can become bitter and not make a very nice jelly.

Like the idea of making jelly but never done it? It’s not that hard and only requires a few specials items in your kitchen. Check out these posts on PTM’s (rather neglected) sister blog, Hodgepodge Alley. Learn some of the basics of making jelly and jam and understand the difference between powder and liquid pectin.

Thistle’s Sunshine & Roses Jelly

2-1/2 cups water

1-3/4 cups dried rosebuds or rose petals*

Zest of two medium lemons

Juice of two medium lemons plus 2 more tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of rose water

4 cups sugar

1 package of liquid pectin

½ teaspoon of margarine, optional (to reduce foam)

Wash and sterilize four 8-ounce jelly jars and lids. Get any other items you need, such as a canning funnel, ladle, and jar tongs. Have a deep stockpot or waterbath canner filled with water and getting hot as you work. 

Put the rosebuds, zest, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, then cover and lower heat to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Note: Do be careful not to let the infusion cool too long as it can become bitter.

Pour the infusion through a strainer or jelly bag and squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can into a large saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice, rose water, margarine, and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pectin and return to a full boil, stirring constantly, for two minutes. 

Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle the jelly into the jars, leaving a ¼-inch empty space at the top. Carefully wipe off any jelly from the jar rims and seal with the lids and metal rings hand tight. Place the jars in the water bath canner of boiling water, making sure water is at least an inch above the top of the jars. Process for 5 minutes; then remove to cool. 

*Be sure to use roses that are safe to consume. DO NOT use florist roses, which are full of chemicals. I typically buy them from a local herb store or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

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Thistle’s Note: This post is quite different (and longer) than normal. I wrote this essay for a creative nonfiction/memoir writing workshop, but it feels fitting for the upcoming Samhain season. The events of this essay were almost eight years ago.

Solo Hike 

“Be Bear Aware,” the yellow sign cheerfully warned me. 

This is new, I thought to myself. The three-and-a-half mile trail was not new to me; I’d hiked it for years, though it had been a few years since I had done so. The Firetower Trail at Roaring River State Park, a small but well-built park snuggled into a cleave in the Ozark hills, had always been a trail where I figured things out or tested my determination. The park itself was a salve to my soul, but this trail was different.

This new addition, screwed into a cedar tree, made me pause as I was heading on the trail alone. It was a crisp November day, past the fishing and camping season everyone flocked to the park for. The lack of cars in the parking areas suggested I may not run into anyone else on the trail. Alone is what I wanted but not alone with a bear. 

The metal sign bore the image of a genial brown bear with different points of caution in yellow type across its heavy body. 

“Never approach or feed a bear.” Well, duh. 

“Keep your dog on a leash. Keep your children close to you. Make noise as you go.” That sounded well and good, but I really wasn’t feeling up to making noise as I hiked. Quite the opposite, I was here to avoid noise. I did have a whistle in my pack, so I took it out and stuffed it in my back pocket. Better be safe than sorry, I heard my Mom’s voice echo from a memory. 

Shrugging, I headed up the slippery incline that introduced people to the trail. The horseshoe-shaped trail started and ended with steep slopes, the latter an ankle twister loaded with rocks. These features kept a lot of insincere hikers off the trail, especially when shorter and more interesting trails lie in wait. 

Another new thing on the trail with me was a camera. In the past, my Border collie Zoe had always accompanied me, or rather, lead me. The first time on this trail, I wouldn’t have made it up the incline on damp earth if she hadn’t pulled me up in some places. I remember her looking back at me as if to say, Come on! Now, Zoe was 14 years old and stiff whenever she arose, and I doubted she could do the trail plus the mile or so back to the car. Before now, it would have been difficult handling a dog and a camera. 

After making it up the steepest part of the incline, I took it out and kept an eye out for a shot. A few images caught my eye, all pretty typical for me: fungi on logs, rock formations, lichen on the base of trees, and so on. Recent drought, however, had drained the landscape of the moisture and color that made photos pop. After a while, the camera mostly hung from my neck, the strap scratching at my skin.

The trail leveled off for the mile and a half that was flat and easy, though sometimes downed trees across the trail offered some scrambling opportunities. Walking along, having long forgotten about bears, I saw a black post amid the trees just off trail. Getting closer, I could see it was the remains of a tree that had burned, with jarring holes through it. Healthy trees ringed around it, as though surrounding a fallen comrade. Was it victim to a lightning strike or perhaps the park’s termite control? 

I touched it, as if I would be able to sense the cause of its demise. It shouldn’t matter; everything must eventually come to an end, and the healthy trees nearby did not suggest an epidemic. Yet there I stood, feeling like the tree deserved some memorial that no one else would give it. I had brought a chunk of calcite with me to leave somewhere on the trail. I dug it out of the bag and placed it on a curve of charred wood.

Near the base of the trunk was an oval hole like a window to the other side of the tree. I crouched down, peering through as if it would act in place of a hag stone, a stone with a naturally formed hole. Local folklore said if you looked through such a stone, you would see the Otherworld and the fairies that reside there. I saw nothing but more dry leaves. 

Sighing, I stood up and left the tree remains to return to the trail. 

Soon the old fire tower began revealing itself through the trees. You can’t see the whole thing until you get right to it – the trees block it from view. The cold, metal structure, weathered a solid rust, stood tall among the trees, taller than some of them. 

It had been years since I climbed to the top and gazed over the hills and trees of the Ozarks. The steps were constructed of narrow metal bars, and Zoe could never navigate them with her slender paws. Once, I left her tied to the bottom of the tower as I climbed up, but she was a dog who must know where her people are and she whined the entire time. As I had climbed, the thought that something could happen at the bottom before I could get back down there halted my steps about halfway up. The next time, I actually carried Zoe up the steps to the flat platform at the top, only to discover she was as nervous there as she was tied up at the bottom. 

But today I was alone, just me and a camera. I climbed, noting the metal support beams crossing in each section, the sacred geometry supporting the park rangers before they used planes and helicopters to spot fires, I suppose. Rising higher, I could feel the structure wasn’t as rigid as it looked. The breeze caught on the metal bars and made a slight swaying. Reaching the top, I was a bit disappointed. Even ten years ago, I remembered seeing the treed hills and rocky outcroppings, but too many trees had grown tall enough to block most of the view. 

Looking around instead, I noticed how strange it was to be looking eye to eye with many trees, and looking down their trunks instead of up. The perspective was interesting but jarring, and I felt a bit queasy. Lying down in the center of the lookout platform, I closed my eyes until the feeling subsided. When I reopened them, several tree branches created a canopy overhead. Their leaves still had some green mixed with the brown against the clear blue sky they framed. They surrounded and supported me much like the trees around the burned out trunk. Tears came forward in spite of their efforts. The weeks after my mother’s death had been filled with tears, but still more came each day. Alone out in the woods I was free to let them loose while in the presence of the nature that always nurtured my soul – not like shedding them in secret down the shower drain or curled up on the couch while watching a marathon of Hallmark Hall of Fame movies that Mom and I used to watch together. 

I closed my eyes and emptied my lungs into the crisp air. The memory of the top of the fire tower seemed better than the current reality, so I gave up trying to make it something it wasn’t and climbed back down. 

At the base, I turned toward the second half of the trail, feeling drained and dry. The rest of the trail was dry too. A new feeling came over me: I didn’t want to finish this trail today.

I knew if I backtracked, there would be a cut-off trail connected to the top of the Deer Leap Trail that arched over the spring that fed the river. A trail that would have misty damp areas and the sound of a waterfall landing into a bright blue pool at the entrance of a cave. Maybe it was just all the shed tears, but my soul needed the essence of water.

Readjusting the slingpack with day hike essentials, I turned back and retraced my path down the trail. Soon I spotted the white blaze for the connecting trail and turned to it. 

While walking through a shaded spot, I noticed a little flower standing tall despite the autumn leaves, its sunny face toward the light. 

Something about the flower stopped me. 

It looked out of place; a petite white-petaled bloom with a yellow center. It belonged in a summer meadow as a child’s treasure, but here it was in the autumn woods finding light in the deep shadows. The yellow center called my Mom to mind; that was her favorite color and she’d enjoyed any flower that color. As children, we would bring her armfuls of daffodils from a nearby woods that had rows of naturalizing bulbs. As adults, she loved yellow roses, lilies, or daisies. Yellow was the prominent color of the flowers that draped her casket, but she had received their beauty throughout her adult life. 

But this little bloom made me pause. For those who study the Druids, you learn about augury, or reading things from nature as signs or omens of the future. 

A few weeks before Mom passed in September, I had been lost on a trail at a women’s spiritual festival, on an unsought spirit quest. At one point I stopped and tried to calm myself (it was also a very warm September day). As I stopped trying to find my way out, I noticed things around me. About 10 feet ahead was a thistle, a plant I’d always felt aligned to spiritually. On it was a yellow butterfly. As I watched, the butterfly flew off and was soon lost in the bright sunlight. 

In that moment, I knew I was the thistle and my Mom was the butterfly, and that – though we had been thinking her condition could be helped – she would soon be leaving us. The moment was both sad and peaceful, bound together with acceptance. I turned and immediately saw the opening to the path from which I had came. Lined with trees, some vines had grown over it to create an archway. All around this arch flew dozens of dragonflies, their wings glinting in the sunlight. The primary symbolism of these creatures, transformation and transition, was not lost on me. To go back home was to accept this transition. I stepped through the arch, knowing life would never be the same.

Now in a very different woods, seeing this little flower reminded me that even though she was gone, she was like that little yellow center – always a part of me. Always the grounding center of me. Even though the world was looking dead and dry, she was there reminding me that it truly wasn’t dead. Winter would still be ahead, but spring rains would come and bring back the leaves, the grass, and all the yellow flowers. Learning to live without her wouldn’t be fun or easy, but I would get through that too.

Continuing down the trail, I trekked to the wooden platform that overlooked the spring-fed pond where they kept some of the biggest trout in the hatchery that was also part of the park. Nearby were the holding tanks for the majority of the fish, where they were released into the river to gamble their fate: evade the hooks with bait and continue on their journey downstream or fall for the trap. I leaned over the railing to get a clear photo of the layout of the hatchery. A sense of caution slipped over me, as if my mom’s hand were there to hold me back like when I was a child. I took a photo and then moved on. 

The path turned into a wooden stairway winding down the steep hill. Exiting, I turned the opposite direction of the car and walked alongside the pond toward the hatchery tanks. 

There, I spent a few quarters on fish food. Tossing the stinking feed into the stone-edged holding tanks brought a mass of slick bodies to the water’s surface. Brushing the crumbs on my jeans and glancing at the water, I was tempted to dip my hands in to wash away the remaining smell. As I leaned forward, I noticed the sign by the tanks: Keep Hands Out of Water. It seemed cruel. The water looked so fresh and inviting after the dry trail and leaves. My skin felt parched and dusty. Even though it was only in the mid-40s, it felt almost warm after the hike.

The obedient child my mother raised moved back from the edge. Looking down the row of tanks, I saw the river beyond them, beckoning me over. It was free for the taking. You could sit in it and no one would care. I walked to the river’s edge and dipped my hands in. My fingers felt alive as the frigid current swept over them. As the water seeped into the pores, I swept a handful of water up on my face, shocking myself. 

Gasping for a breath, a laugh bubbled up and I threw sprays of water across the rippling water. Looking around, there were still green mosses growing on rocks at the river’s edge and birds calling back and forth in the woods. Squirrels scolded each other from tree limbs. The earth was alive, and she had reminded me that I was too. 

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After posting today’s card where we talked about some Samhain divination traditions, it made me think about these cookies that I used to make for Samhain ritual. Truly, they are just simple sugar cookies with rosemary added in; rosemary is the herb of remembrance, which I’ve written about before.

When cut into the shapes of people or hearts, these rosemary sugar cookies are a symbol of remembrance of those who have gone before us. Some of the cookies could be eaten while telling stories or attributes of ancestors or those who have passed in the previous year. Leave some cookies by a bonfire or outdoors as an offering to the spirits traveling that night. 

While this recipe doesn’t include anything sweet on top of the cookies like frosting or a sanding sugar or glaze, one could add that if desired.

Remembrance Cookies

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and rosemary until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture and beat until dough is smooth. Refrigerate for three hours.

Divide dough into halves. Roll out half the dough to 3/16 of an inch on a floured surface. Cut out with gingerbread women and men cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with other half of dough. Bake for five to seven minutes, remove from oven, and let sit on cookie sheet a couple minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.

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It’s been a while since I’ve shared the cancer journey here as it seemed that things were on a good track, especially considering the prognosis for Stage 4 ovarian cancer. The thing I’ve learned this year is that sometimes you need to let yourself feel anger instead of suppressing it. 

A little catchup: last year, the local oncologist switched me from the second chemo treatment we tried (which was having mixed results) and I was put on a simple and inexpensive estrogen-blocking pill. Things seemed to be going well and I felt good. Because of that, the oncology center at the specialist hospital two hours away didn’t see the need to reassign me to a specialist when mine left their hospital. 

Ten months later I was scheduled for some corrective surgeries, which we knew was going to be difficult due to a lot of scar tissue that showed up in scans. When the surgeons opened me up, they discovered it wasn’t scar tissue – it was the spread of the cancer in a thin layer over my abdomen. The good doctors immediately shut me back up and called one of the gynecological oncologists to get me on her patient list. Upon talking to her while I recovered in the hospital, she told me she never would have put me on the estrogen blocker as a treatment (as a maintenance drug when the cancer is gone, yes). 

I was frustrated, to say the least.

For ten months I took a drug that only slowed the growth but did not actively fight it – because things “seemed” OK and it was deemed I didn’t need a specialist. 

Despite frustration with the medical world, I’ve been blessed with supportive friends and family!

Throughout my journey with cancer, I’ve tried to focus on the positive and to just do whatever I can to help myself, physically and mentally. I refused to become fixated on the statistics, which aren’t good. That’s not how I work. But in the weeks after my non-surgery, anger came to the fore. I tried not to let it rule me, but I was pissed off at being handed around by the medical system in a way that could have set me back. I was upset that getting scans from one hospital to another was an uphill battle and that even when they got them, they weren’t read correctly (that, or the scans weren’t that good to begin with). 

I finally realized that much like when I did shadow work focused on my family, I needed to honor my anger in order to let it go. Holding onto it and suppressing it was not helping my body fight this battle. Even the poets tell us this is true, from Whitman’s “barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world” to Dylan Thomas’ “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” 

So, off I went into the backyard and looked around for a way to get out my angry energy. In the past, I might take a shovel and dug up a new flower bed or dug out a stubborn stump. But my abdominal staples had just been taken out and physical exertion was off limits. Frustrated and feeling a bit silly, I literally bellowed my anger into the air. It was midmorning on a weekday, so luckily there weren’t any neighbors at home that felt the need to report strange yelling to the police department. With a weakened core, of course, I may not have yelled as loudly as I think, but it was cathartic, nonetheless. Thanks for that, Walt. 

It might seem silly or simple, but this act really did help me move on and focus on what was needed – healing.

Statue of Guanyin (Kuan Yin) at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum.

Not long after this yawp in the backyard, Allen and I visited the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City. While strolling through the Chinese exhibit, there was a room dedicated to bodhisattvas, or enlightened souls who put off entering paradise in order to help others achieve enlightenment. The central figure was a large statue of Guanyin (this was a masculine version of Kuan Yin, beloved goddess of compassion). Standing in his/her presence, I could feel peace radiating all around and through me. I’m not sure I would have appreciated this special room and felt the intention of it if I hadn’t dealt with my anger.

I try to carry that peace with me and to deal with my anger when it bubbles up. I have no idea how long I get on this earth, but I want to be present with my all my lovelies and loved ones – from distant family and amazing friends and our many fur critters – until the end.



Thistle and fur baby Maddie.

Note: The poems mentioned here have more complex meanings than what is shared here. Sometimes, focusing on a line or two has helped me with my own fight, though that fight is completely different than the poet’s. 

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I’ve been vaccinated since April but only trusted going out in the past few weeks (though Delta might soon change that). Recent social outings, however, left me realizing one thing – the isolation that Covid-19 required of many of us has atrophied certain muscles. 

I’ve been chattering nervously at these events and trying to figure out what to talk about other than the pandemic and social distancing techniques. But most of all, I become drained beyond anything I’ve felt in decades. Of course, I realize that I am also still fighting cancer, but others have confirmed the same phenomenon of getting zapped even by an hour or three hanging around friends and extended family. 

After some considering, I realized many of us have forgotten to shield! What has long seemed a 101 subject for many of us is now rusty from disuse. We don our masks and think that’s all the shield we need. Let’s consider that many of us had our work life altered either by working from home or by having to distance from coworkers in the office. Yes, there were stresses from isolation, but picking up tidbits of other people’s energies (especially for those of us who are empathic) wasn’t prime among them. Nor was losing tidbits of your energy to others (especially for those people pleasers). Now that many of us returned to a normal work environment and have dipped our toes back into social waters, we need to relearn – or remember – to build that protective bubble. 

Comic Con is a fun event for many, but crowds like these can be energetically draining.

If you already know how to do this but have gotten out of the habit, let this be a reminder to reclaim it. Also, I would love to hear what techniques you use!

For those who are newer to these things or were thrown into the deep end when they started, I’m going to go over the basics.

First, however, we should discuss the other two elements that often get lumped in with shielding: grounding and centering. It’s unfortunate that in many rituals or groups these concepts are frequently mentioned but rarely explained. 


In a nutshell, grounding is connecting with physical reality. It’s a great way to be present as well as to ground your energy. In recent years, many have confused earthing with grounding. Earthing is the concept of connecting and grounding by being barefoot on the ground. It is a technique that can be used to ground, but it is not grounding itself. Grounding is an energetic exercise rather than a physical one. Consider this: would you practice earthing in below-freezing temps with ice and snow on the ground? Would you be able to practice it at work? Earthing is a lovely technique, but it has practical limitations. And when you really need to ground, the conditions are rarely perfect.

A popular technique that works wherever you are and no matter the weather is visualization. A common one is imagining yourself as a tree, reaching down into the ground with your tree roots to connect with the earth and to stabilize the energy. The friend that introduced me to this concept described growing a monkey tail that reached down into the ground. Whatever works for you is fine. 

Most folks don’t think beyond these two techniques to ground, but the women’s group I am blessed to be part of actually uses chant and toning for grounding, centering, and raising energy. It helps members to focus and get into the right headspace as well as to ground by using the repetition of well-known chants. We have a specific toning to raise energy and closing chants that help us ground again. 

My boyfriend often plays a simple heartbeat rhythm on the frame drum to ground and center, using the sound and vibration. 


So often, it seems to me that grounding and centering feel like the same thing, though they aren’t. But I was trained to do one right after the other, so that they feel like one smooth process. But while grounding is rooting in the physical, centering is bringing your energy in to yourself while simultaneously releasing any energy that doesn’t belong to you. Remember when I mentioned how we pick up tidbits of other people’s energy through the day? It’s just as important to let that go as it is to bring in your own energy that’s been siphoned off by the needs and wants of others. 

Again, many do this through visualization, imagining or feeling their energy coming into their center (which can be a bit different from person to person – for me, it’s the solar plexus, but I know some who feel it’s their heart). Some see it as a white or gold ball or ray of light, but some people sense color. 


Alright, we’ve made it through grounding and centering and are back to the main topic. Shielding is using your energy to protect yourself from being attacked (oh, how dramatic!) or drained by other energies. 

Usually, this “other energy” is just from people we know, and it’s not often on purpose. As humans, we crave connection and love and yet our egos strive to compete or control – unchecked, all three can cause energetic havoc. We can be needy, demeaning, or bullying. Dealing with this throughout the day from bosses, coworkers, family, and even friends who don’t realize what they are doing can chip away at your energy and leave you exposed and drained. 

For some of us, there are nonhuman energies to protect ourselves from. Having done some paranormal investigating in the past, I can tell you shielding is a very important tool when dealing with spirits. I’ve even used this in bad storms, extending that bubble to the car or home I was in at the time. 

So how to do it?

OK, so remember the bit about centering? You start there. After you’ve ejected other energies and focused your own back to center, begin pushing that energy outward so it eventually encompasses your entire body. Then push it a little beyond that to create a layer of energy around you. Continue sending energy to this layer, growing it bigger or stronger until you feel that you have created a protective bubble. 

Again, visualization works great for this – a common one is the white light exercise – but be creative if that doesn’t work for you. I sometimes out loud or in my head recite a protective charm to Brigid a few times to get the ball rolling. My boyfriend envisions Iron Man’s suit coming around Tony (Sailor Moon might be another good pop culture reference to help some folks). Cast Mage Armor. We also plan to experiment with using the frame drum to see if that works for one of us. If flourishing your hand and calling out “Expecto patronum” gets the energy moving, by golly, use it!

Now, this is an important part that a lot of folks miss – once you have the bubble well established, CLOSE YOUR ENERGY CENTER. I know, I know, I used all caps. But this is important or you will end up even more drained than all those other needy people in the world. Close it, let yourself feel that little door shut, and let the energy you released do the work. 

Ready to try it? Well, don’t just yet. First, silence your phone, tablet, computer, or radio and get rid of any serious distractions. University of California research shows that it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to an interrupted task. Focus is required of these exercises, so limit distraction when practicing it. Eventually, you will be able to accomplish it with distractions, but it will take a little time.

As mentioned in the beginning, this isn’t advanced or difficult work, but it is important. Even in normal times, people get in trouble by attempting spiritual work or techniques without the foundational elements of grounding, centering, and shielding. Control and protect your energy – you will be amazed at what it will help you accomplish.

Blessings of Avalon,


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In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen
Snow on snow on snow

In the Bleak Midwinter by Christini Rossetti

It’s January. A difficult month for many – and that was before the stress of a pandemic was part of the equation. “In the Bleak Midwinter” is a beautiful song yet it seems to embrace the darkness and search for light that often comes with the dark season. Gone are the bright baubles and rich treats of the holidays. I would say gone are the festive gatherings of kith and kin, but many of us didn’t get those this year either. 

In short, the funk or depression that many experience in late winter could be more intense than in the past. 

While I’ve never experienced a true depression, I do sometimes have to work through a funk this time of year. Often, I turn to the goddess (and saint) Brigid and her holy day Imbolc (or Candlemas) as a focus for the dark season. Lighting a candle and thinking of the fire in her forge, the creativity she inspires as well as the warmth and caring she exhibits, guides me. It also helps to remind myself that the rest and introspection that comes with this time is spiritually rewarding and not to be avoided.

Knowing others might need a little light in the dark and encouragement to look at things a little differently, I thought I’d try to bring some fun to the season with a little giveaway (and this is definitely inspired by the amazing Jen over at Rue & Hyssop with her annual fall giveaway). 

First up is the Pagan Portals Brigid: Meeting the Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Forge, and Healing Well. The Pagan Portals series by Moon Books is great for beginning to understand a deity or subject. This 112-page book by Morgan Daimler proves an excellent introduction to Brigid, covering her history and many names, symbol and animal connections, prayers and charms, and more. 

Second on the list is The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together by Gwion Raven. I learned of this book listening to Gwion’s interview on the New World Witchery podcast and was instantly intrigued. My boyfriend gave me a copy for Yule, and I thought getting a copy to share would be perfect for this event. Then volume is a feast for the food lover’s soul as it not only offers recipes but also a history of food and ritual, how food is used in magic, and rituals and spells to try. A perfect gift for any magical hearthkeeper!

Finally, we have a cozy mystery, because sometimes the best way to get through a difficult time is to cuddle under a throw with your favorite hot beverage and a little bit of paper escapism (I work in a library – I know about these things). Bell, Book & Candlemas is the second book in the Wiccan Wheel mystery series by Jennifer David Hesse. It features lawyer Keli Milanni trying to solve the mystery of who vandalized the local New Age gift shop – without giving away her Wiccan faith that she has kept in the broom closet.

OK, so how do you enter? 

Honestly, Dryad and I would be ecstatic if you followed the Parting the Mists blog and liked Dryad Incense’s Etsy shop, but we will be happy if you just comment on this blog post as your entry (the actual blog post – not the Facebook or Twitter post). Be sure in the comment that you provide a way to contact you. Please let us know which book you’d like the most, and we will do our best to send winners the one they want, but some may want the same book so no promises. You have until Sunday, January 24, at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time to enter. We will draw three winners and announce them the next day and send the prizes on their way!

We hope you enjoy this little giveaway. Blessings of Avalon!

– Thistle & Dryad


Some legalese for you: 

  • No purchase is necessary to enter.
  • This giveaway is open to United States residents who are 18 years of age or older. 
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law – please know your local laws. 
  • This giveaway is sponsored by Parting the Mists and Dryad Incense and is not affiliated with WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter, nor can they be held liable.
  • By commenting with the intention of entering the drawing, you are knowingly agreeing to these rules. 
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Note: This is a continuation of my January post and the February update about dealing with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. 


Sometimes wise reminders come from the most unlikely of places, a thing I was reminded of recently.

I was sitting in my local cancer center, speaking to the local oncologist who administers my chemo treatments (as opposed to the oncologist at the University of Kansas who did my surgery and directs my treatment overall) as once again I could not receive treatment for a pesky lung nodule due to an elevated white blood cell count. I was also experiencing my fourth UTI since my surgery on March 4. 

Since these infections had been recurring – and because my spleen was removed during the surgery, which further weakens my immune system – I asked what I could do to improve that system. I expected a suggestion of supplements, diet, and so forth. 

Imagine my surprise when she said, “You must find the source of life.” 

She went on to say she wasn’t referring to religion necessarily, but to what it is that makes life meaningful to me. 

Immediately, tears came to my eyes. Not because what she said made me sad or was a revelation, but because I already knew that and had lost sight of it. I know that we cannot just treat a body, and I’ve focused on keeping a positive outlook. Plus, the Avalonian tradition that is my spiritual home is, first and foremost, a healing tradition. 

Hiking in nature, alone or with loved ones, is always a source of joy for me.

But . . . the fact remains that I had stopped doing many things that bring joy and meaning to my life. Some of it is due to physical limitations. Hiking the longer trails into nature would be difficult right now, and I’m supposed to avoid getting into dirt, which limits gardening. Going on short adventures with the family pretty much ground to a halt because travel has been uncomfortable with surgical drains and such (and COVID-19 didn’t help). I haven’t even listened to music much, which tells me perhaps I was heading into a slight depressive state.

Gardening proves rewarding as well as a connection to the Earth.

Well, enough is enough. 

For gardening, there are gloves. 

For hiking deeper into nature, there is taking my time and plenty of breaks until I rebuild endurance.

For adventures, we’ve restarted short local excursions to a nearby lake and trails. COVID or not, natural outdoor areas and picnics are very doable.

For music, there is remembering to turn on the radio. And figuring out how to connect the iTunes from my computer to the iPad for easy listening around the house.

Another thing I miss a great deal was actively learning and sharing the learning – and helping people connect to the information they seek is satisfying work under the same umbrella. Before health issues and the pandemic began, I worked part-time at the local library. I had enjoyed this aspect of the job immensely. Frankly, I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed it. The pandemic has taken that away for now as my library only does curbside and bookmobile deliveries and most part-time staff is on furlough. I don’t blame the director a bit for keeping it locked down – our area isn’t the safest as far as people needing to do their part. But still, I miss it so much. 

The local hearth of the Daughters of the Sacred Grail is another missing piece of this learning/sharing element. The hearth usually meets every Wednesday evening and is a place of studies and sharing as well as sisterhood, and has been a part of my life for 15 years. The pandemic has shut down our in-person meetings, and online group chats really don’t cut it for a group like ours. Yes, it’s nice for seeing the beautiful faces and hearing their voices, but a group meeting with a lot of back-and-forth among six or more women is difficult on Zoom. 

So, until this cranky year is done messing with us all, I will be continuing to do what I can to find a way to fulfill this mental and emotional need. Some of it may come through this blog, which has been a bit neglected other than the card of the day. Perhaps one good thing to come from months of limited activity is a refocus on this online outlet as well as a few other projects. I’ve got a Yule Oracle deck on the backburner as well as the idea for a compilation-style book about experiences with the Crone (both everyday women we know and goddesses). Plus a few fiction stories to complete. We shall see. 

Regardless of the steps I take to tap into my “source of life,” I know that this expression from my doctor will come up in the future when I see others struggling in one way or the other. It doesn’t matter if we are suffering, as I am, from Stage 4 ovarian cancer or severe depression or the loss of family or friend: without tapping into our source of life, we are all lost. Here’s hoping we all can connect to our source in these difficult times. 

Blessings of Avalon to you all,



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The last week has brought about the typical scene on social media with folks sharing their New Year resolutions. While I haven’t made a resolution in a few years, I usually like to encourage others. This year, all I could think of everytime a friend asked about resolutions was this: to live.

No, not to live as in living fully or intentionally – as in living in the physical sense. 

Some who follow the blog may have noticed I’ve been irregular with daily card posts, which is something I’m good at doing even if meatier posts might be less common. That’s because of a personal health issue that has rocked my family.

I have cancer, specifically Stage 4 ovarian cancer. 

When I first learned this news, I didn’t intend to share it here at all. But as the weeks went by and after the reality of my first chemo treatment hit, I realized that accepting, fearing, and fighting this is strongly linked to my spiritual life and beliefs. 

My local clinic gave me the news about the ovarian mass and that it was likely cancerous on Halloween. They quickly referred me to an oncologist at Kansas State University Medical Center. After getting such news on Samhain eve, one’s perspective of the ancestor altar and the holy day shifts a bit. Somehow, I felt closer to those whose photos and memorial cards graced our family altar – I felt their whispers in my ears more than normal. 

On the other hand, seeing the altar was also a motivator to do what was needed to be as healthy as possible going into treatments. I’m simply not ready to join these ancestors! So, chug a couple protein shakes a day (as my body is not processing regular protein correctly and I’ve lost 40 pounds) – check (though I have to admit it’s been difficult with our holiday schedule the last couple weeks)! Driving to and from Kansas City for consultations, a colonoscopy, and biopsy – check! (Though I didn’t have to do any of those alone – my boyfriend or my sister were with me.) Try to walk or do yoga as well as some arm weight exercises to rebuild muscle – check! 

Receiving my educational meeting about the chemotherapy was eye opening. Of course, there are many possible side effects and a 90% chance of losing my hair. As I’ve approached the two-week point after my first chemo treatment, when I was told to expect the hair loss, every time I run my hands through my hair or comb my hair, I’m thinking “will it start falling out now?” The hair loss actually started this weekend, and is a bit of a downer even though I was prepared for it. 

Aside from the typical identity issues women often have with their hair, my mind ran to the very witchy concern of my hair falling out in public places where people could easily get a piece of it (I dare say that’s not a typical cancer patient thought). Though I’ve cut my hair short to prepare for this change, it’s still in the back of my mind. I took to wearing a knit hat when going out this weekend. 

Another side effect is neuropathy, which has happened in my toes, bottom of the feet, and fingertips. Handling my cards for the first time after the neuropathy kicked in, I was stunned that I did not feel the energies of the cards as easily. I have no idea whether it’s the physical neuropathy or my mindset about my digits that is causing it, but it definitely sat me back in my seat a bit. 

On the bright side, my spiritual community (as well as family, friends, and coworkers) has been incredibly supportive and generous. I’ve received many care packages that spoke to my spirit as well as my physical needs, and I know there is a ton of healing energy coming my way. From “Suck It, Cancer” coloring book and healing stones to teas and warm socks and hats, my family and community is taking care of me in a way that is both humbling and encouraging. Trust me when I say there is a lot of love and kindness in this world – no matter how much you see in the news that suggests otherwise. 

Learn Symptoms to Catch it Early!

OK, I’m using the end of the post to share some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer because it can be really subtle and confused with other issues. If you have a few of these symptoms and they aren’t going away, please see your doctor or clinic! I thought I was experiencing serious digestive issues combined with premenopause; I had NO IDEA my health problem was so dangerous. Please don’t take your life for granted, ladies, and pay attention to these signs:

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Increased size of abdomen or swelling 
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount
  • Pain during sex
  • Urinary changes, such as frequency or urgency

Thank you for patience with my posting and hijacking the blog for the day. Blessings of Avalon to you all!



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Osage Orange trees (Hedge Apple or one of many other names) does call to some people. Here, a spiritual sister has a moment of reverence and healing with the Dragon Tree in Kansas.

As a child growing up in the Ozarks, I loved Redbud trees. Not just their spring-budding beauty, but also the branching structure that was as fascinating as their rosy blooms. On the wooded hillside by our house, I found the perfect retreat on a slab of limestone with two Redbuds arching over. It was shady and the stone cool, making it perfect for an hour’s reading even in summer heat. I was known to lay down and admire the tree canopy against the sky while cradled by the trees and stone.

In adulthood, I’ve become fascinated by a far different kind of tree from my childhood.

Another common tree of the Ozarks is what my family called the Hedge Apple tree, or more properly the Osage Orange tree or Maclura pomifera (though it has more common names than my pets have nicknames: Prairie Hedge, Horse Apple, Bodark, Bowwood, and more). I remember these from childhood too, of course, and some of them in our nearby woods would grow covered by vines and greenbrier and form little huts we could play in. But there was a creepy aspect with their grasping branches that my imagination took in a scary direction sometimes.

A smaller Osage Orange displaying a reaching/arching branch structure. Photo by Allen Childers.

Despite how they may look, they were an important part of rural life. Hedge Apple trees are native to south-central United States, though they easily spread into much of the Midwest and were planted on the East Coast. Early farmers of the area grew the trees close together as inexpensive fencing for their herds. With the tree’s shoe-piercing thorns and often twisting branches, it made a formidable barrier. After barbed wire became available and affordable, everyone knew that hedge fence posts were the best and would last for decades. The Osage Indians made bows from the wood, which was strong, flexible, and polished well. Even today, many archers consider hedge to be the best wood for a bow.

Though the tree is useful, there’s a profound spiritual energy to it. I’ve also seen the amazing Dragon Tree, a dramatic and huge hedge at the Gaea Retreat Center in Kansas. This tree is revered, with small altars around it and little trinkets and offerings placed in the folds of its many-branched trunk. Clearly, I’m not the only one that finds them magical. Admittedly, the Dragon Tree looks to fit its name – long, angling branches reach out from a huge trunk that would take at least three people to circle it with their arms. It astounded me the first time I hiked to see it.

But there’s more to it than merely being physical impressive. These trees seem assertively protective. They emit robust and creative energy. I’ve felt this for some time, but even my boyfriend noted a group of small hedge trees while we were out on a hike outside Springfield, Missouri. He took several photos and smiled. “I think fairies live there,” he said.

The spiritual sister who took me to see the Dragon Tree for the first time also has a studding Osage Orange open their property. It almost looks like the fingers of a hand reaching up from the ground, but the center part opens up between two trunks like a portal or fairie gateway. Visitors often climb through a wild part of their yard in order to visit it, often taking pictures with this magical tree.

Yet, the Osage Orange has yet to catch the attention of those who tend to chronicle such things and provide correspondences for magical folk. Many writers tend to focus on the trees that are prominent in Europe, presumably because many modern Pagan and Western mystery practices originate there. For example, I can find quite a bit of magical information about the Yew tree but almost nothing about the Osage Orange – yet I cannot recall seeing a Yew tree in person – ever.

So, I considered the feelings that came from being around the trees, which for me was a combination of fierce protectiveness, groundedness, wildness, creativity, and adaptability. They range from small and scrappy to huge and impressive. These aren’t lush, beautiful trees that inspire sylvan poetics, but they are striking and capture the imagination, all the same. It would be easy to imagine a Hedge Apple getting up and walking off like a character from the novel Uprooted or A Monster Calls.

Thistle (the author) by the Dragon Tree.

There is a bit of folklore and mundane facts about the Osage Orange that can be considered too.

Probably the best-known folklore about the tree is that its round, green hedge apples, when placed by doors and in the corners of closets, will keep spiders out of your house. It’s certainly a popular folk remedy against spiders where I grew up. Scientifically, it’s questionable. Hedge apples do contain tetrahydroxystilbene, an anti-fungicide. Not insecticide, mind you, but we also know that many humans have skin alleries to the hedge apple’s white sap. Who knows, maybe spiders are allergic to it as well?

Folklore about the fruit of the Osage Orange is abundant, including that they keep away spiders.

And whatever you do, do not take the name “apple” in hedge apple too seriously. The fruit of the Osage Orange is actually poisonous, so don’t get tempted to see what they taste like.

The only other folklore I could find on the tree centered on weather prediction. If Hedge Apple trees produce more fruit than normal, drop the apples later than normal, or are larger than normal, we will have a cold and snowy winter.

Another key trait of the Osage Orange’s wood is that it is extremely resistant to rot, which is why they make great fence posts. Before metal posts were cheap and convenient, hedge wood made posts that wouldn’t rot for decades (if you’ve ever dug post holes, you know you want to do that as little as possible). The wood was also used for ship masts for this same reason. As a child, I remember seeing hedge posts that looked so weathered and dry on the outside that I thought they would fall over with a push. Usually, you could hit those things with a bat and not budge them.

What I find intriguing is though its wood is so long lasting, the tree itself only lives 75 years on average. In tree years, this is not long-lived. That’s almost the same lifespan as modern humans. Perhaps this is part of the spiritual connection, for though the Osage Orange is rooted and grounded like any other tree, they do not see centuries go by as do Redwoods, Oaks, and some other Elder trees. Perhaps some of that fierce protectiveness I sensed is from knowing that its life is short by comparison and that life needs be both experienced and protected.

Another factoid: in studies, Osage Orange produces more BTUs when it is burned than other domestic hardwoods. This makes it a great choice for fuel if it is available. It might also explain the energy that comes off these dramatic tree. Thoughts?

A Osage Orange boline and chalice handmade by friends are among my favorite magical tools.

Though my infatuation could be considered just that, it does seem like the Universe backs me up. Two of my favorite magical tools, my chalice and boline, were both made from that wood. The chalice, made by another spiritual sister’s husband  and a man I respect greatly, turned it from the wood. Years later, I sent a photo of a boline to a coworker who dabbled in forging blades, hinting that if he ever made a blade like it I would buy it. He promptly decided to try it as an experiment, and – without even asking my preference – chose Osage Orange for the handle. They are both solid and beautiful pieces handmade by people I know, which amps up their special factor already, but the wood definitely helps.

So, what does the tree represent magically or spiritually? For those who like correspondences, the magical/spiritual qualities I’ve honed in on for the Osage Orange are: Protection, Endurance, Practical Creativity, and Flexibility. I’m sure there’s more one could deduce, but too much deduction tends to get my head out of the spiritual aspect of what I’m doing, so I’ll leave it to others to think of something to add.

Do any of you have experience with the Osage Orange/Hedge Apple/whatever you call it? What do you sense from its spiritual presence?

Until next time, brightest blessings!






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This is an unusual post for this blog. This came about when my crew at home (my boyfriend and his 16-year-old daughter) heard about the magic school my women’s group used to do for the group’s children every summer. Every summer, we ladies would use our weekly meeting night for five weeks to do our magical version of vacation bible school.

My family has been interested in learning about magical practices, meditation, and so forth, so when they heard about magic school they asked me to do a version of magic school for them. So, using what I could remember and tweaking it for more mature folks, we started our own little magic school.

Since then, I’ve mentioned this to some people and was surprised to see an interest by some newer folks to the path. So, I decided to share my overview information here. Understand that not everyone will agree with me (heck, I’ve even wanted to tweak some stuff already), and that’s OK. There are many ways and ideas that are all valid, but I focused on what I thought would be beneficial for my family.

Ok, I know there are many books that teach basics. (Didn’t that used to be everyone’s complaint about a certain popular Pagan and magical publisher?) Yet, many of the books I’ve seen are path specific, such as Wicca or Druidry. My boyfriend is investigating animism, Druidry, shamanism, and pop culture magic. Our kiddo considers herself a pantheist. I’m an Eclectic Pagan with influences from Avalonian, Druid, Cottage Witchery, and American folk magic traditions. Clearly, a one-path book isn’t going to work for our household. So, I approached this in a more general way.

All that being said, I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts and suggestions about this material. FYI, we are focusing on the elements next, then on to meditation and other topics – so stay tuned if you enjoy this.

Audio Discussion

Also, the three of us had a very lively conversation when we went over this material (again, this is our casual conversation, not a polished podcast). If you’d like to take a listen, click here.




Thistle’s School of Magic: What is Magic? & Intention


Magical practice involves many things other than the spells you see witches on TV flinging about. Often, the most personal power you gain isn’t through spell casting but through exercises that help you to understand yourself and to conquer habits that might be sabotaging your dreams and plans.

To cover the basics of magical practice, we will look at the following:

  • Intention, the most powerful tool you have
  • Meditation
  • Self-reflection and self-evaluation through journaling and discussion
  • Understanding the elements, symbolism, and other components of the Western mystery tradition.
  • Crafting your own unique practice by first exploring basic methods such as chants/toning, purifications and blessings, candle magic, protection and healing spells, energy work, and so forth. You will find the techniques that work for you!

During this time, we will create a notebook of information, but keeping a spiritual/magical diary or journal is recommended. We often learn much through our musings when we return to them after some time has passed.

We will start with a short discussion of what magic actually is and then cover intention before moving onto the elements, meditation, and other subject matter.

So What Exactly is Magic?

Magical and spiritual practices can be very individual.

If you ask practitioners what magic is, you will receive a variety of answers. Magic is not an exact science and the methods and beliefs vary from culture to culture and by personal preference. There is high magic (ceremonial) and low magic (folk practices). Magic can be practiced by anyone of any faith.

Late witchcraft author Scott Cunningham considered a common thought on the subject: “Magic is the art of causing change by means commonly supposed to be supernatural.” He responded with his own thoughts: “Magic is simply the use of powers not yet recognized by science,” adding that magic is a very natural art. “It is the use of powers that reside within us and the natural objects of our world to cause change.”

Early witchcraft leader and author Doreen Valiente seconds that magic is a part of nature and that old occult philosophers never considered magic to be supernatural. “To them, magic works because of nature’s laws, not in spite of them. It was something built into the universe,” she said in the opening of her classic, Natural Magic.

“Magic is just science we don’t understand yet,” said science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. One of his three adages is that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Most modern magical practitioners will say that magic does not so much change the world around us, but changes us and our ability to maneuver within the world. Inevitably, people who practice magic ethically will find themselves feeling empowered, more creative, and more confident. All of these can greatly change how you are treated out in the world.

This falls in line with many polytheist and nature-based faiths and our relationship with the gods and spirits. For those of us who have gods, ours are not usually the kind to bestow gifts or favors based strictly on prayers. While veneration can help build a relationship with a chosen deity, our gods want you to learn to help yourself. They want to inspire you to be strong, creative, confident, kind, and independent – not to simply lay these or other gifts at your feet because you begged for them.

If this sounds like the magical power that you want to infuse your life with, continue on and we shall see what powers you have lying within you.

Questions to Consider

What do you think of the idea of magic as science that hasn’t yet been discovered or understood? What has been your perception of magic up to this point? Write your thoughts on this in your journal.

What Magic Looks Like

While Hollywood films about magic workers are entertaining, they are rarely accurate (like the much-loved film “The Craft”). Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Movies and novels have done a great disservice to us when it comes understanding true magic. Magic does not usually entail wands that shoot sparks or throwing objects or levitating people with a gesture of the hands. Real magic is subtle. Real magic shines from within you.

Like anything we do to improve ourselves – for example, losing weight or quitting a bad habit – magical results don’t happen overnight. It is not an easy fix, despite how it is often presented. It requires work and dedication, as does anything worth pursuing. If it takes weeks or months to change something physical, it can take even longer to change the mental and emotional aspects of yourself – which is where much of our magic comes from. Oftentimes, we have to move through cycles of self-examination and change before we can really be in the mental and emotional place that we desire.

Another thing to understand about magic is that results do not always look like what we imagine. For example, asking to find your soulmate. Your soulmate may not be the love of your life – the definition of soulmate is misunderstood in Western culture as a romantic relationship. It’s actually a soul with whom you made an agreement before reincarnating to help each other grow from a soul perspective. A soulmate could be a good friend, lover, or even someone you cannot stand who pushes you in ways that challenges and grows your soul.

Another example is your work. The dream job you desire may not truly be a good fit for you so if you do a job spell to gain the job, the Universe may not answer by giving you that specific job. It might wait months or even years but position you so that you will see the right job when it does come available.

In short, keep an open mind when looking for your magical results – they may simply look different than you envisioned.

Questions to Consider

Have you ever felt something happen that seemed magical? For example, maybe you felt that a friend was in need, so you called them and, indeed, they were in need of you? Write in your journal about any experiences you’ve had that seemed magical even a bit.

The Importance of Intention

Magical tools are wonderful to have, but your most important tool is your intention.

Most forms of magical practice use a lot of stuff: wands, crystals, herbs, ritual knifes and clothes, cauldrons, tarot and oracle cards, and so forth. All of these can be great tools, however, the greatest tool you have for magic is yourself, specifically your intention.

Intention is simply the power that comes from your own mind and heart, and it is much more powerful than people imagine. It’s the same fuel that powers prayer or even effective meditation. It’s your will focused on the outcome you desire, whether it be physical healing for yourself or someone else, clearing a toxic person from your life, gaining courage for a speech or performance, or whatever you need.

While herbs and stones can lend their own energy to your workings, they will go nowhere without your own clear intention. Likewise, tools such as wands, staffs, and prayer beads can help you direct your energy, but again, intention is the key to having energy to direct at a problem or goal.

To help build the power of your intention, follow a simple process before doing any magical working or spell:

First, make sure that you truly wantwhatever the working is for. Be clear headed and don’t be doing something because it seems like the thing to do. If your heart isn’t into it, don’t do it.

Second, believe that whatever you are aiming your intention at can really happen. There’s no wishy-washy middle ground here. A common magical adage is “will it, do it.” Basically, feel that you have the power to make it happen, elsewise, you will probably not have good results.

Finally, you need to believe that what you want is actually about to happen. You have to act it as if it’s not a question that it will work. It WILL work. Part of intention is having confidence in your will and your energy working in the Universe for good. Prepare yourself for the positive outcome.

A lot of intention is about focus and confidence. You must be able to clearly focus on what you want or need, and you need to feel like you can achieve it.

Making & Using an Intention Candle

A simple method for using intention (and practicing it, I might add) is through simple candle magic that I call an intention candle.

First, think of something that you want to bring into your life. Mental/emotional healing? Peace? Love? Confidence? Make it a simple concept that you can easily relate to.

Next, find a candle that will burn several times – a pillar candle or glass prayer candle are both excellent for this. If you buy a colored candle, be sure to pick a color that feels like it represents your chosen focus. If you choose a prayer candle but can only find white ones, you can always paint the glass a color to fit your purpose.

  • When you have the candle the color you want it, feel free to add some extra focus or intention with one or more of these methods:
  • Paint (prayer candles) or carve (pillar candles) a related symbol on the side of the candle Apply essential oils that align to your purpose to the candle
  • Sprinkle herbs or even tiny shells or stones on top of the candle to add another element of symbolism

One example of a candle I made was a jarred seven-day prayer candle for a friend who was in mourning. I painted the candle a soft purple and silver (spiritual and yet soothing colors), infused it with lavender and vanilla oils (for relaxation and comfort), placed an bead bracelet I had made with rose quartz and other grounding stones around the candle, and tucked a few sprigs of rosemary under the bracelet to signify remembrance. This one is fairly elaborate, but even a simple candle will do the trick.

When the candle is ready, place it somewhere where you can light it and be in its presence for a while. When you first light it, focus on the candle and concentrate on your intention. See whatever it is in your mind as a reality. After several minutes, you can go about whatever you need to do, but try to keep the candle in your view and think of your intention whenever you catch a glance at the candle. You can snuff the candle after an hour or so (though prayer candles often burn longer than pillar candles, so adjust your time accordingly). Do this every day for at least a week.

Questions to Consider

Did you choose any colors, symbols, oils, or anything else to add to your candle’s focus? If so, what were they and explain why you chose them. You can write your answers in a journal. 

How did the week of intention building go? Do you feel it was helpful – or do you feel you are good at directing your intention anyway? Discuss any thoughts you have about this exercise in your journal. 


Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham

Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente

Thistle’s Freaky Brain


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