Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Belladonna

Sharing some information on Belladonna from one of our lovely Kitchen Witch students, Vervenna ♥

Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)
Atropa belladonna

This is a plant found in central Europe, South-West Asia and Algeria and has been cultivated in Northern America and the British Isles, although recently it is becoming more and more difficult to find in Britain. It is a member of the Solanaceae genus of plant. To look at, it has a thick, whitish fleshy root which is about 6 inches long and have a branching formation. It is a perennial plant, with a purplish coloured stem which is described as being annual and herbaceous. It is stout, about 2 to 4 feet high and undivided at the base, but dividing a little above the ground into three (or more rarely two or four) branches, each which again branch freely. Its leaves are a dull, darkish green and uneven in size, often between 3 and 10 inches long. The lower leaves are solitary whilst the upper leaves pair alternately from opposite sides of the stem, one leaf of each pair being larger than the other. They are oval in shape, acute at the apex, entire and attenuated into short petioles. Its black berries resemble cherries, and it flowers in June or July until about September. Its flowers are a dark, purplish colour tinged with green and about an inch long and bell-shaped. 

It is also known as Deadly Nightshade, Devil's Cherries, Divale, Great Morel, Banewort and Dwayberry. It is believed that its name derives from the Roman or Greek meaning either 'Lady of Death' or 'Beautiful Lady' and some legends also tell of how, on certain nights, the plant would take the form of a beautiful lady to lure men to their deaths.

Belladonna contains an alkaloid (atropine) which is highly toxic, even in small quantities and can be fatal. The root is the most poisonous part of the plant, although no part of it should be ingested. It is said that the poisonous effects may be countered by drinking an emetic, such as large glass of warm vinegar or water and mustard, as soon as possible. 

German folklore says that Belladonna belongs to the devil himself and that he tends to it all year long except on Warlpurgisnacht (Beltane) when he is preparing for the witches sabbat. In Scottish folklore it is said that Macbeth poisoned an entire army of Danes by mixing the poison into the liquor that they offered the Danes as a truce. It is also believed that priests who worshipped the Goddess of War, Belladonna, would drink the poison in rituals invoking the aid of this Goddess and has also been linked with the deities Hecate, Circe, Dionysous, Atropos, The Valkyries, Freyja, Odin and Medea.

Atropine can be used medicinally though, and has been used to treat eye diseases and as a natural sedative and narcotic as well as heart, lung and nervous system problems.

Metaphysically, Belladonna has been associated with flying and has long been thought to be an ingredient in a witches 'flying ointment'. It is also associated with hallucinations and psychic exploration, although because of its high toxicity it is recommended against using it at all. It has long been regarded as a 'power plant;' by witches, sorcerers and shamans and used to induce trances. In the past it was also used to aid in divination, visions, and various magicks to do with sleep. A herb of the underworld, it is generally connected with deities of the underworld and can be used to consecrate tools to be used in the contact of underworldly deities, especially tools made of lead or onyx. It can be added to Samhain incense (provided that it is used in open air) to attract the ancient dead to the feast. Other attributes associated with Belladonna are protection, invisibility and love.

It is considered to be a feminine plant, ruled by the planet Saturn when it is in Libra and is associated with the element of water.



Monday, 29 September 2014

The Spiral...by Starlitenergies

We wanted to share some fabulous information on the spiral symbol from one of our lovely Kitchen Witch students Starlitenergies ♥

The spiral of time and the spiral of the universe you might say! And so the spiral dropped into my life once again, from the golden to the marvellous! The spiral to me is all about evolution, growth, letting go, release, connectivity, union, revolutions of time, the stars, planets and the way of natural progress, which directly related to the Hellenic idea of the Cosmos.

"The human mind always makes progress, but it is a progress made in spirals." 
~Madame de Stael

It was in the Dinosaur museum of all places that the spiral of a long extinct Ammonite caught my attention. Ammonites are perhaps the most widely known fossil, with a ribbed spiral-form shell. They lived in the seas between 240-65 million years ago, and became extinct along with the dinosaurs. The name “ammonite” originates from the Greek ram-horned god called Ammon , also related to the Egyptian god Amun! 
Ammonites are the great great great great great great x 10 grandfathers/mothers of such creatures as octopus, squid, cuttlefish and the nautilus. The nautilus is the creature I’d like to pick out; its shell is perhaps the best example of a logarithmic spiral in the natural world!  The logarithmic spiral is also known as the spira mirabilis, which is Latin for “miraculous spiral”.  This spiral is different to the golden spiral in that the spiral gets bigger but the shape isn’t altered as with a spiral using the Fibonacci sequence. 

Another example of an approximate miraculous spiral can be seen in the bands of the tropical cyclones that make up such weather systems as a hurricane.

According to my research hurricane winds blow in a counter clockwise direction into the storms low pressure relatively calm, roughly circular centre, called the eye.

Around the eye is what’s called the eyewall, a wall of thunderclouds all spiralling toward it and long bands of rain appear to spiral inward to the eyewall – these are called spiral rainbands! Powerful, scary, and brilliantly spiral!

Going a little further out and off of our planet brings me to one of my favourite spirals of all time – spiral galaxies! Spiral galaxies consist of a flat, rotating disk containing stars, gas and dust, and a central concentration of stars known as the bulge! These are surrounded by a much fainter halo of stars. 

They are called spiral galaxies because of the spiral structure that extends from the centre into the disk; the spiral arms themselves are sites of ongoing star formation and are often brighter because of the young hot stars that inhabit them. Excitingly our own galaxy, the Milky Way has several spiral arms, each of which is roughly a logarithmic spiral!

The picture to the left shows a spiral galaxy known as the whirlpool galaxy, which brings me back the earth with a bump… well oceans, rivers, ponds and the bottom of waterfalls anyway! I’m talking about whirlpools firstly, this is a vortex of water that’s being forced through a narrow straight, on the surface a whole forms in the centre which sucks in air and other objects including in the extreme a boat and humans, but the water spirals inwards just like a storm and is sucked down into a spiralling vortex.

On a quick note before I return to dry land, have you ever dropped a stone into a pond? Or watched as a nut or a leaf or a seed falls into a still pond? Maybe you would have noticed the spiral of the ripple outward from the point the object hit the waters surface!

OK I’m back on dry land and the list continues on, I want to look at plants next.  There is a type of aloe called a spiral aloe in English which is only found in the cool and rocky crevices of the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa also known as the dragon mountains. It has a strikingly symmetrical, five pointed spiral of growth about it which is absolutely stunning!

Pinecones can do spirals; they can also do mathematics, specifically the golden ratio! All cones grow in spirals, starting from the base where the stalk was, and going round and round the sides until they reach the top, the best way to see this is from the bottom, I was surrounded by pine cones on holiday, and believe you me it blew my mind to see the spiral when I was collecting some. Interesting there are two sets of spirals for each cone, going in different directions.

The head of a flower is also subject to Fibonaccian processes. Typically, seeds are produced at the centre, and then grown towards the outside to fill all the space. Sunflowers provide a great example of these spiralling patterns.

Interesting the five petaled rose which you may pop into a five pointed star category forms a spiral, the five petals spiral outwards from the small petals in the centre and become larger the further they go out. 

One of my favourite things to do in the spring is go the forest and watch ferns unfurling, the frond (leaf) has a coiled tip and reminds me of the head of a fiddle! When it wakes up it seems to stretch out its spiral! Speaking of leaves, a palm leaf will very often spiral so as to capture what little rain falls in tropical areas and direct that much needed moisture toward the stem!

Finally I want to show some animals with surprising spirals which have blown my mind…

The shell of a snail, with this particular photo because the line of the spiral is brown to the yellow of the shell (I’m not sure if this is photoshopped, I hope not I really do) you can really see the spiral from the centre to the outside of the protective shell. Another example of the golden ratio in nature! I don’t think I would have ever noticed a snail before now, but this is stunning and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for snails in the future!

The next picture may scare a few people but I think spiders known as the typical orb-weaver spiders are not only the most common group of builders of spiral wheel-shaped webs often found in gardens, fields and forests but they build one of natures most delicate and beautiful examples of the spiral, and something I’ve been trying desperately to get a photo of since starting this homework! LOL! Without really realising why I wanted one…


Staying with insects, did you know that insects tend to fly in spirals toward light?! Interesting! Speaking of flying, a bird of prey with circle it’s prey in spirals on the updrafts which travel from the earth into the atmosphere in spirals.

Remember earlier on I spoke of Ammon of Greece and Amun of Egypt? Well that got me thinking about the ram, they have very strong spiralled horns which they use to show off to the ladies and to rut with other males to become the dominant in a herd. The ram is also the symbol of Aries (my sun sign) which is interesting given the Aries constellation has among other things a spiral galaxy within it!

Finally, I think! I’d like to show you a photo I found quite by accident while searching for spirals to illustrate the points I wanted to make, it’s a spiral by accident that made me smile from ear to ear! If you can’t quite figure out what it is it’s the trunk of an elephant curled up into a spiral while he eats! FANTASTIC!







images from:
www.fossilmuseum.net
nationalgeographic
kewlwallpapers.com
wikipedia

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Meet the Kitchen Witches...


We thought we would give you a peek behind the scenes and introduce you the Kitchen Witches...

The Kitchen Witch Online School, Kitchen Witch Coven, Goddess Pathways and Herbal Pathways are run by:

Rachel Patterson & Tracey Roberts

We have followed the path of Witchcraft for many years and both journeys have twisted and turned along the way to bring us to our pathway of Kitchen Witchcraft.

Both of us have worked through and completed the three Wiccan degrees and we both hold the title of High Priestess.

Between us we have studied, completed courses on, received the certificates and got the t-shirt for: Herbalism, Tarot, Aromatherapy, Crystal Healing, Reiki, Empathy, Affirmations, Qabalah, Yoga, Historical Paganism, Witches Runes, Hedgeriding, Mediumship, Progressive Magick, Celtic Tree Lore, Hoodoo, Druidry, Shamanic Practice and Pendulum to name a few.

We also have a regular column in the Mystick Way with our recipes and a regular slot on the Moon Books blog with our Goddess writings.

For full details see our website www.kitchenwitchhearth.net

Rachel is a published author and also writes regular columns for Pagan Dawn, Mystick Way and The Magical Times, for more details on her books please see her website www.rachelpatterson.co.uk


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Kitchen Witch rituals...


We (as in Kitchen Witch) ran a survey recently just to give us some idea of how to plan out 2015 for events, rituals and workshops.

We were quite overwhelmed with the positive response - so a huge thank you to everyone ♥

Just to cover some of the queries/suggestions:

- Day trips to Glastonbury and Avebury are covered by several groups in the area already, let us know if you need details.
- Online lessons, study halls and rituals are already covered in our online school www.kitchenwitchhearth.com as well as mentoring (we also have Webinair planned for the school)
- Evening moon rituals and meditation evenings are also covered by several groups in the area - again let us know if you need details (we don't want to duplicate what others are already doing!).

One of the main requests was for us to continue holding open rituals (and in fact the majority asked us to do more!) which we will be doing in 2015.  The other main request was for more online courses...watch this space...

However a few people asked us to hold rituals in other locations, this is a tricksy one...for a few reasons. When we made the decision to start holding open rituals we were (as far as we were aware) the only witchcraft group holding open rituals in the area, we made sure of that because we would not want to upset any other covens!   

We researched carefully the location to hold our rituals with some important (to us anyway) factors in mind.  It had to be a lovely nature setting, it had to be easily accessible with not too much walking to get to, it had to be in an area that other groups didn't currently use and for me...it had to have toilets..the onsite cafe was an added bonus!

There are certain restrictions that some may not be aware of when holding an open ritual, it is classed as an 'organised event' and that comes with all sorts of Health and Safety and insurance issues.  Whilst you can just roll up to a field and hold a ritual if you want, you may find that you get caught out.  Most forests and fields are owned by someone, whether it is a farmer, landowner, a society or the local council so most places require permission from the owner first (which is only good manners after all).   Most places also have restrictions on numbers of people and the use of fire/open flame.

The Queen Elizabeth Country Park were amazingly helpful and open to us holding our rituals and although the first field we used was OK, the spot (Larkwhistle site) that we moved to at the top of the hill is perfect with the yew tree grove and the beech trees, but we have to book each date officially with the park for legal/Health & Safety reasons, we also have to state the number of people attending (although they don't charge us a hire fee) and we are not allowed to light fires...which actually makes total sense when you are in the middle of a huge forest!

We, as Kitchen Witch also have Public Liability Insurance...not that anyone would blame us if they fell over a log during a ritual but you never know...

So for 2015 our rituals will still be held on a Saturday at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park but we will be avoiding the sabbat dates as we don't want to clash with other local groups (the Genesis Order of Druids hold sabbat rituals at Hilsea Lines on a Sunday and a couple of other groups hold regular open rituals at Kingley Vale nature reserve - see facebook or contact us for more details).

Monday, 28 July 2014

August with Kitchen Witch

We have two fabulous workshops in August...

Both will be held in the Forest Annexe at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Horndean, Hampshire

Sunday 24th August 2014
10am to 3pm
WORKING WITH TAROT 
in partnership with Lift Your Spirits Tarot

Amazing price of £20 for the workshop
to include unlimited teas & coffees and as much homemade cake as you can eat
and includes a reading for each person by the fabulously talented tarot reader Carol Riley
(£15 for Kitchen Witch students)

Open to all levels - we will do a brief overview of the cards but focus will be made on reading intuitively, readings, spreads and layouts - really getting hands on with it!

To book see our website www.kitchenwitchhearth.wix.com/coven

Payment required before event to secure place.
 


and...

Sunday 31st August 2014
10am to 3pm

Join us on a journey to meet and connect with eight Celtic Goddesses
Myths, connections, meditations
Make your own clay goddess
Create Celtic Goddess prayer beads
And make a unique Celtic Goddess medicine bundle

Rhiannon, Sulis, Elen, Cailleach, Bridget, Danu, Arianrhod and Cerridwen

£30 to cover all materials, unlimited tea & coffee, homemade cake
a £15 deposit is required to secure your place, thank you
(£25 to Kitchen Witch school students) Everyone welcome

https://www.facebook.com/events/240444976160519
To book see our website www.kitchenwitchhearth.wix.com/coven