Sorcerer’s Garden: Plants and Planning

2017/04/25

pots-716579_960_720[1]Last time I talked a bit about the sorcerer’s garden and why to have one and what it might be like.  Now I want to take some time to talk about how to set up the garden.  This will help other people set up their own gardens, but I freely admit it is also to help me think through my garden plan.  A large chunk of this is gardening 101, so feel free to skim until it gets more interesting.

 

Let’s start with the absolute basics: What space do you have to plant your garden?  It seems obvious, but I got carried away thinking about it before, and I’ve seen others do the same in conversation.  Obviously if you live in an apartment or such your space will be very limited to what you can put in some pots and planters, which is fine, it just means you have to be smarter and more selective.  What space do you have to plant your garden?  Then do you want it there?  I have a front and back yard.  My house is near two high schools and a junior public school, so kids walk by or on my lawn frequently (get off of my lawn!), and my postal carrier does too, so I might not want to put my magick garden in the front yard.  Normal veggies and flowers I’m less concerned about, but if your sorcerer’s garden is a green temple you don’t want people traipsing through unaware.  If I fenced it in with some hedges (long term plan) I could reconsider it, but right now there is no physical or visual privacy.  What about you?  Do you want your garden in all of the available space?  What areas might be better or worse for that?  If you have the space don’t sacrifice the functionality of the garden just to make it bigger.

 

Now that you know what space you’ll use for your garden it’s time to look at the environment factors of the place.  What direction is it from your house? (Or what direction is the window if you’re doing it indoors)  This will inform how much light the garden gets.  In general the side closest to the equator gets the most sun.  (So if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the south side gets the most sun)  But this is in general, in my case my neighour’s house, which is rather tall, is against the south side of my property, so it blocks a lot of the sun there for about a third of my property.  East and West both get good sun exposure, but again this is dependent on what casts shade over it, my back yard faces east, and my neighbour’s house on that side is sufficiently far away to not interfere with my sunlight, but I have a huge 50 year old maple tree in that yard which blocks the sun for much of the yard.  The direction farthest from the equator gets the least sun.  (The north side of the house in the Northern Hemisphere).  This is critical because plants evolved enjoy different amounts of sun, so you’ll be able to find something to grow no matter how much or how little sun you get, but not all plants will grow well with lots of sun or shade.  It’s important to know what sun is available before you start picking your plants.

 

The last major environmental factor to consider is your zone.  Sometimes called climate zones, growing zones, or hardiness zones, different countries and groups use different designations.  They’re broad areas that tell you what types of plants you can grow there.  They’re figured out based upon things like year round temperatures, sun light, and water.  It makes it very easy to see if a plant it likely to grow in your area.  (You can sometimes grow plants outside their regions, but it’s harder, you’ll need to take care watering them more/less, sheltering them from the sun, or thoroughly insulating them or their roots for winter)

 

We know where we can plant, and we know the sun and zone for that spot so now we need to figure out what to plant.  This is all up to you.  There are various things to consider: your spiritual tradition(s), your local plants, your family, and your preference.

 

As a Buddhist I’d love to grow lotuses, but can’t with my lack of a lake on my property.  I can grow nettles, juniper, sandalwood, and possibly figs though, so those are on my list.  From a more western practice of ceremonial magick and sorcery there are things like datura, wormwood, and rue I can grow.  I think it’s important to also grow local plants of some sort, it seems odd to set up a garden in part for the land spirits and only grow foreign plants.  For me that might be things like maple, or chokecherry.  Your family can influence what you grow too.  My garden plans to have several of my Beloved Dead’s favourite flowers to be offerings for them, but also as my family is Mi’kmaq I’ll be growing tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweet grass for my Relations.  And of course personal preference is a huge factor too.  What flowers and plants do you like, what colours, what are you called to?  I like blue and black, so most of my flowers are blue or black.  I’ve never felt called to a plant in general so nothing there for me, but I know other people probably have connections they could try to nurture.

 

Once you know what you want to plant, research it.  Can it grow in your hardiness zone?  Can it grow with the amount of sun and shade you could provide it, or the amount of rain?  As much as I’d love to grow a Dracaena cinnabari tree (Dragon’s Blood) not surprisingly something that evolved to live in the Arabian Sea can’t handle Canadian winters.

 

Finally if you can grow it, the ultimate question for the magick garden comes up…if you have the freedom how do you want to arrange the garden?  In the end the main priorities will be the plants and environment themselves, but what can you do in that?  Do you want to divide your garden for magickal purposes too?  Plants are associated with planets and elements…do you want a garden divided along those lines, so you know if you need a spark of fire for the ritual, that all your fire plants are together?  What about divisions based upon tradition, if that’s important to you it could be worth keeping them separate.  You could think about it in terms of chthonic, terrestrial, and celestial plants.  Plants for the dead and the living, and other spirits.  Really if you have the freedom to go wild with the arrangement it could be satisfying to think about that in the planning your garden, though that might be the ceremonialist in me.

 

Next time we’ll think more about the actual raising of magick plants.

Advertisements

Sorcerer’s Garden: Thoughts and Seeds

2017/04/17

pexels-photo-296230[1].jpegAlternate title: Don’t just keep green thumbs in jars.

It’s been two years since I talked about Local Spirits, and longer since I’ve talked about my Sorcerer’s Plant (and more on it here)and now I want to move farther.

For a few years I’ve wanted to make a magickal garden, so I’m hoping if I blog about it that will help keep me on track, and I’ve already bought a lot of supplies and been reading and rereading relevant books.  While I don’t think I ever frame myself as an expert, let me be clear: I’m a good gardener, but other than my Sorcerer’s Plant and eir “cousins” I haven’t done magick gardening before.  So what I’m going to discuss in my Magick Garden blog posts will be hypothetical, book based, and/or limited experience.  I hope no one ever takes what I say as gospel, but especially not this.

I like gardening, in the spring and summer I enjoy fresh herbs, spinach, lettuce, and a variety of tomatoes. While the roses and tigerlilies on my property (they when I moved in) get used magickally that’s just because they are there, that wasn’t their intent.  But I’ve wanted for a while to make a garden that is for magick and in a lot of ways is magick.

If I grow my own magick plants, I can craft my own incense, potions/tinctures, oils, fetishes, tools, satchels or whatever.  By growing it myself I can be sure of its identity and quality, something admitted harder to be sure of with a processed/dried plant, but I also get to know the plant and the spirit of the plant more intimately which will allow me to do more.  An ally is more beneficial than a tool.

A consciously planned and quickened garden can be a thing of magick too.  I’ve cultivated a few wild places to be places of magick, or enhanced it in some cases, but something that I can work with more closely will be that much more I believe.  It’s not just about having fresh ingredients, it’s about having a collection of plant spirit allies, but plant spirits aren’t the only ones that benefit from a garden like this.

My local spirit will benefit from this, it’s a cultivation of their life energy, and will be enriched giving me another way to work with them.  Think back to all the other spirits I mentioned that aren’t really local spirits, but get grouped as them: spirits that inhabit a place, shades of the dead, nature spirits, fae-type things, they will all get more of a space on my property when a magickal garden is made and they’re given space.  Other spirits that I work with can be given space.  When you have a place with ensouled tools, items of magickal power, it develops its own energy and presence, a sense of that place with a unique warping that aids your magick.  I suspect a garden of plant spirit allies will work in much the same way, not just a magickal grove but something a bit deeper.   In essence a quickened and maintained magick garden becomes a living temple for me to work in.  This is some of the what and why, next time I’ll talk about the how some more.

So far the two books I’m working with are Viridarium Umbris (my favourite book on plant magick) and The Witching Herbs (only half way through reading).  If you have any recommendations on gardening books from a magickal perspective, please let me know.


Sorcerer’s Plant: Care, Feeding, and Consecration

2015/10/13

Before I continue the post proper I wanted to address a question I got and can’t easily work into the post.

“Why do you suggest big blade aloe plants?”

There are two reasons. The first is when the angel(s) gave me the image it was the large bladed type of aloe vera, and I have kept my plants as close as possible to their vision and instruction. The second reason is because you can actually cut off a blade to use in certain rituals, but the plant is an ally, so the destruction of part of its body should be a sacrifice. If it’s dozens of small blades one removed will not contain much power, and will not be noticed, but a larger blade will make you think twice before using it.

Previously I spoke a bit about the uses of the plant, and the type of plant selected and the basic preparation, now let’s shift to the methods of consecration.

There are two elements of the consecration, a regular routine one, and an irregular one.

I mentioned that the plant is a connection to places and spirits you work with, this is part of the irregular consecration.

I’ve talked before about collecting dirt, here and here. This is how you connect the plant to different places. Follow the method I mentioned (or something similar) where you are not just grabbing dirt, but making an offering for it, gather the essence of the place into it, and then collect the dirt.

Gather Nest dirt, which I mentioned but didn’t describe in those posts, but to reiterate a Nest is a power place, often conceptualized in the West as a Nexus point, a crisscrossing of Ley Lines or flows of nature energy. But a Nest doesn’t have to be such a crisscrossing (or rather my tradition claims that some lines are far beneath the Earth and only rear their Head in certain areas), sometimes there is a place of power disconnected for the area around. Gather dirt that is important to your practice. Power places, temples, graves that are relevant to your work, holy places, whatever.

Now if you don't have soil samples from various graves, power points, and dragon's nests, then store bought is fine...actually, no it's not.

Now if you don’t have soil samples from various graves, power points, and dragon’s nests, then store bought is fine…actually, no it’s not.

When you have the dirt I recommend sterilizing it. You don’t have to, but dirt can contain harmful microorganisms which can be damaging to plants, and if you’re using it to detect magickal attacks you want to avoid any confusion if it starts wilting. To sterilize soil you bake it believe it or not. Put the soil in an oven safe container, I find mini-cupcake pans are the perfect size for my soil samples. The soil should be slightly damp. Cover the container with tin foil and pop in the oven at 90C (200F), once the dirt reaches around 82C (180F) keep it at that temperature for half an hour. Don’t let it go much higher than that, because that can actually produce (so the gardening sites claim) toxins in the soil. After half an hour take it out, and let it cool. You now have sterilized dirt that is free of damaging organisms for your plant.

My plant has soil from the various Nests near me. Places along the shore where I communicate with the spirits of Lake Ontario, places on the Bluffs, a crypt that has been a focus of my magickal work for 12 years, places like that. It also has dirt from the Blue Hole in the Pine Barrens, and sand from the Atlantic ocean, Graveyard dirt from the focal points of the various Lords of the Dead in different cemeteries I’ve visited in Canada and the US, and even stuff as far reaching as dirt from the roots of the (supposed) Bodhi Tree, and sand from the shore of Lake Rakshastal in the Himalayas (a lake of special importance to me). Think about the places that are important and powerful to you, and the places you have spirit allies. Take dirt from there.

Adding the dirt to the plant is something that I do non-ceremoniously, though I only do it when I water the plant. Before I start I hold the dirt, and use it as a link to the spirit or place, and reach out and connect it, then I speak to the spirit and place and plant, and explain that I’m giving it the dirt to connect them, so they become linked. So that offerings to the plant are offerings to these spirits, so that the plant becomes a place where I can easily speak to those far away and draw on their forces. You don’t need to add much, and if you’re like me, you don’t want to use too much, because pretty soon your pot will be overflowing. I use maybe a teaspoon each time.

(As a sidenote: I mentioned that my last plant died. I took the soil from that pot, from the edge away from the roots, just in case they started to rot, and I sterilized that dirt and reused it with my new plant. That way it kept some of the energy of the plant, and the connections I had already established. It felt like they broke, but the guidelines are there, so it’s just a matter of charging this plant back up to connect.)

Now for the part of the regular consecration, this is what helps connect the plant to you, and helps it stand in as you during magickal attacks. It also, I believe, it was largely gives it the power to become something more than just a plant, but a more conscious spirit.

It is to be watered every New Moon, and every Full Moon. (Water in between if it needs it, but not a full watering)I use rain water (or melted snow in the winter), I wasn’t told to, but it just seems right. Every Full Moon it’s not just water I feed my sorcerer’s plant, but my blood as well. *insert people suddenly being squeamish for no good reason* It doesn’t have to be much, I usually only include three drops for a symbolic reasoning. I mix the blood in with the water, and give it to the plant. As usual it’s less ceremony and more altered state chatting with the plant, reminding it that I share my blood with its water, so that I may become part of the plant, and that the plant is part of me, to bind us together and to enliven the plant. On the New Moon I offer my plant water and semen. (Those who didn’t know my sex or gender, you at least know I have functioning testicles) I cannot speak for those without the ability to produce semen, either due to medical issues or have different gonads/genitals, though I suppose other sexual secretions would work, or a second serving of blood. When I water the plant this time it is much the same, just explaining and reinforcing our connection.

(Feeding the plant my blood and semen is why my sorcerer’s plant has earned the endearing, but inaccurate, nickname of being a cum-guzzling cannibal cactus.)

This really gives the plant its own presence, and as mentioned helps it become a sort of astral double that works well as a stand in for a lot of malefic magick. There is nothing done to make it stand in, it just seems to be a nature of the plant, a natural occurrence after it builds up enough force.

Now that the plant is active and developing, you can use it essentially as a remote altar. If you need to connect to a distant spirit or place, treat the plant as you would an image or statue on an altar. Reach through it, make the offerings to it, connect to it, and speak through/to it.

I mentioned cutting off the blades. When I find I really need a boost in a ritual, I need access to more force/energy than I can easily tap, or I want to be empowered by distant allies I cut off a blade, split it lengthwise down the centre and use its gel as an anointing oil. My forehead, temples, wrists, and any other appropriate power point is wiped with the gel and I find that really sends me up and out into the ritual. Also I’ve used it as a stand in for my own blood in other rituals when I’ve not been comfortable using my own blood.

The sorcerer’s plant has inspired other such botanical familiars in my work, and I’ve come across similar ideas since then, but this post is long enough as is, so I will leave it here.


Sorcerer’s Plant

2015/10/09

For well over a year I cultivated my sorcerer’s plant, and in that time it was a good focus and tool, and in the end it proved to be a great ally. Two weeks a good I began the process of consecrating and ensorcerelling a new one. Since people asked me about it, I asked the spirits who helped guide me to the plant, and I have a green light to talk about it. (I figured since it was part of a tradition of sorts, I needed permission to discuss it exactly, rather than in broad strokes)

So to start, just what is a sorcerer’s plant? It’s a hard question to answer, but most simply it’s a living (literally) talisman. Now a lot of us magickal folks (myself included) see some of our talismans and objects as alive, but this literally is alive on a biological level. A sorcerer’s plant has several purposes. It’s a focal point of power, it’s a very lively plant, and can be used to draw energy from, far more than you could from a regular plant, but it’s more than a battery, because it’s a focal point of different entities, and nests, and sacred places. (Nest in this tradition refers to a Dragon’s Nest, what most people would understand/call a nexus point of Ley Lines, a point of convergence of flows of power across the land) Through the plant you can access, if in a limited way, places and entities that are distant. (The spirits who set me about working on the plant told me that a long-lived and powerful sorcerer’s plant would eventually shift the flows around it to become a nest of its own. I don’t know if I believe that, or if it’s true, they might have been speaking out of their ass-trals.) It also has a more active plant genus attached to it, a more conscious spirit.

The plant also becomes an early warning system. The method of consecration causes a type of mirroring or interference between you and the plant, so a lot of stuff directed at you runs through the plant. In the case of attacks or malefic magick, this means the plant can absorb it, and it will affect the plant instead or first. Also the way it’s powered and connected makes it a great ritual ingredient for heightening trance states and the like. There is more to it, but any competent magickal folk will also start figuring out their own uses to it, and potentially tweaking it.

Regarding the early warning system, that is why I’m consecrating my second plant. I was recently a target of some malefic magick (since dealt with) which involved some pretty impressive signs. A dead mouse beside my offering dish, and the wards I drew on my walls before painting literally bled through the paint, and my healthy and living plant became mush. It didn’t just die or whither, it was suddenly a pile of goo held together by its skin. I don’t know what would have happened without it, but to turn a plant to mush, I’m pretty sure it took the brunt of it. I had found it useful before this, but this really drove it home.

Larger, fewer blades

Larger, fewer blades

So first one must acquire a plant to become the receptacle. I was told to acquire “the plant of immortality,” and my first thought was the Epic of Gilgamesh, but it was accompanied by a mental image of an aloe vera plant. Now supposedly (internet says) the Khemetic people called aloe vera the plant of immortality, but regardless it matches up, and makes sense to use aloe because of its gel (more on that next post). There are a couple of species of aloe vera, I personally recommend one with fewer larger blades, rather than many small ones. If you’ve never grown an aloe before, I recommend googling how to, they can be tricky plants, especially if you’re used to “normal” house plants, not succulents.

Too many small blades. Also avoid the more squat bladed species.

Too many small blades. Also avoid the more squat bladed species.

Then you need a pot, it doesn’t have to be a fancy pot, but large enough for the plant (again google what type of pots and setups are best for aloe), and preferably a touch deeper than needed. The most vague part of the instructions I was given was “make the pot magickal.” So I repeat that to you. I did it by using food colouring to paint the seals of some of my planetary angels on the inside of the pot and a few personal symbols related to the tradition. I used food colouring because it’s a terra cotta pot, so it absorbs well, and I didn’t want to use something like paint that would potentially be harmful to the plant.

Now plant the aloe into the pot, don’t fill it with dirt all the way to the top though. Leave some room. Almost to the top.

In most cases an aloe vera plant can be watered every two weeks, which just happens to sync up pretty excellently with the lunar cycle. I was told to water the plant on the New Moon and the Full Moon. Every once and a while in a really dry period I might need to give it a bit more in between, but save the full watering for the New and Full moons.

Next time I’ll discuss more on how it’s consecrated, nurtured, and worked with.


%d bloggers like this: