Reclaiming my inner Witch, & exploring Magical Herbalism

 Even back in childhood I loved reading about witches and magic. A number of years ago I started researching the witch trials and Medieval magic, but most of it was so far removed from the forest and nature that I put it aside. That longing for connection remained, however, and it became a part of my spirituality. It’s why she doesn’t show much on the surface, but dig a little deeper and my Witchy nature is there. She called to me in February, but other things took over. I had a dream at the beginning of June where I discovered a powerful Witch in a tomb, and when I looked at her face she was me. I am rediscovering this part of me.

The ‘higher’ magics, in general, are not for me; that journey is for others. In relation to my work with my Northern Beloveds my path is with the greener and wild denizens of the Woods. It’s in the plants, the trees, the flowers and fruits. It’s with the animals and birds and insects. It’s with the Spirits, Elementals, the Fair Folk. It’s in charms and amulets, cleansing and protection. It’s the healing practices of the wild wood Mothers, in nature and land, in Runes, dreams and symbols. It’s in dance and the movement of my body. It’s in song and the power of words, in sound. And who knows what else?

As in February I feel Angerboda’s presence again. While She values physical strength, strength of will and strength of heart also speak to Her. Ours is not a ‘close’ connection, but I feel Her presence aiding me in connecting to the denizens of the wild woods once more, alongside Laufey, Whose presence I have begun to feel again on the periphery. The magical side of Herbalism  has long fascinated me, and it complements my Aromatherapy training and experiments; but the thought of studying so much at this time is overwhelming. I wondered what I could do, how I could do this. The morning after that wondering I awoke with this Inspired thought: start with three.

I have a deep love of, and connection with, Elder, Hawthorn and Blackthorn. They all grow in our current garden, all have lots of magical-related folklore, and all would have been growing in Viking-era Scandinavia – and thus perhaps the Iron Wood. Each have strong associations with magical practices, protection, witches and Fairies.

I was told recently by an intuitive that I have an Earth Mother/ Warrior vibe at the moment. Perhaps that’s why Angerboda and Laufey can start to come in again. I am reclaiming myself for myself, as Odin sacrificed to Odin to claim the power and knowledge of the Runes.

I’m sure more will be revealed to me as time moves on. For now, however, I’m welcoming home this part of me long-feared and long-ignored. I thank Angerboda and Laufey for Their gifts of the instruction to come, for however long that may be, whatever form it may take. And let us not forget that Loki has magics of His own – perhaps learned from His mother and Angerboda?

Musings on the Goddesses of the Jotnar, Angerboda and Iron Wood Magic

Despite the more obvious practices of Seidhr, spells, enchantments, divination and shapeshifting, there is another powerful magic in the Iron Wood: the women Themselves.

The women are the fiercer, more powerful sex among the Jotnar – think of Angerboda and Skadi, of Groa and Gerda. But this strength isn’t just physical, and nor is it purely ‘magical’. Their true power lies in Their personal power, Their Sovreignty, Their sacred expression of Their Selves. They are empowered women, the ones who stand up for Their needs and desires, standing Their ground, asserting Their boundaries.

To the writers of the time these powerful, self-assured women must have been seen as a real threat to the ‘way of the world’. These are independent Goddesses who know Their needs and magics and are respected for it. How much of the ‘terrible and terrifying’ description of Them is really true, and how much is the filter of the writer?

While these amazingly strong Goddesses can be fierce and awe-inspiring, is there a chance They have been somewhat misrepresented? How much of Their true nature has been rewritten or lost? Just as Sigyn is reduced to the long-suffering wife of Loki in the Eddas, with the gift of her magic as galdr fetter hinted at in one epithet, how much of the Jotnar and Iron Wood has been lost?

In being drawn back to the ways of nature, the Earth and the crystal, plant and animal kingdoms I feel  my inner ‘wild woman’ calling. This is part of me I have been too afraid to claim, but now I’m tentatively curious. Whereas Angerboda used to terrify me I can now be in Her presence with a great deal of respect for Her power. I know She values physical strength, but She also values strength of will and heart.
Beside Her more obvious Iron Wood connections, to me She is a Goddess of empowerment. Part of Her gift is bringing us into our own power. While this manifests differently in each of us – due to different personalities, abilities and paths to follow – She is the embodied Powerful Feminine.
Although Hers can be a tough love, She does love… and fiercely. She is loyal and true to Her Self and to those She loves. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.