Still Learning ~ Keys and Incense

I spent most of yesterday meditating on keys. No surprise there since the key is one of the primary symbols of Hestia.

Some of you may know that I recently got a new tattoo on my arm of a key, to symbolize my devotion to Hestia.

The top part of the key, within the circle (the circle being the artistic liberty of DO who designs and applies all of my inkwork) is a symbol we found online connected to Hestia, representing the hearth-fire.

This is probably my most meaningful tattoo to date. I wanted it somewhere I could easily see it because it represents, not only my devotion to Hestia, but my devotion to my home and family as well as my path as a Kitchen Witch.

In my meditations yesterday, I asked myself what keys specifically symbolize to me.

I remember the very first key I owned as a child and that was a very small key that came with a diary I was given for Christmas one year. That key symbolized privacy and the keeping of secrets.

A common symbol of keeping a secret as a child was to mimic the turning of a key over your mouth and toss the key away.

The next key I owned was a key to my childhood home. If you’ve been following the Facebook page, you probably know I’ve been dreaming a lot about that house recently. Perhaps it’s because of the thinning of the veil, perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking so much about keys, and that house was the first place I owned a key to. For me, that key symbolized maturity and sanctuary. I had been deemed “old enough” to be responsible for a key to “home”. I could never be locked out or denied entry.

Another key from my childhood that I did not own but that I had access to, and was very important to me, was a key to what we called “under the house”.

Not a basement  really. You couldn’t stand upright and the floor of it was dirt. It got smaller as you went deeper in. This was the home of the hearth fire. The furnace, with the pilot light that was forever going out when you opened the outside door or a gust caught the gap at the back porch just right. It was also home to my most prized possession, my bicycle.

That key symbolized both the freedom my bicycle offered and protection. The safe-guarding of my bike was my first lesson in protecting the things that mattered to me.

Moving through life, keys have been a sign of status, a symbol of protection, a representation of holding the key to someone’s heart (remember the necklaces that were a heart and key), a symbol of safety and security, and a symbol of secrets.

We only “lock up” things that matter to us, things we wish to protect. We lock our cars and homes to prevent theft, we lock our doors to protect ourselves and those we love.

We lock up anything of value, including ourselves and our hearts, sometimes.

I realized that keys have played a major role in my life since my earliest childhood memories.

I also took some time last night and this morning to study the making of incense (a study that is on-going), another thing that has held much meaning in my life.

I have a thing about smells, both good and bad. My mother had the nose of a bloodhound and was all about smells. I’m sure that’s where I get it from.

Some of my other early memories are of my mother obsessing over smells. I was what my family called a “yard child”. Growing up, we weren’t allowed to sit in the house all day like kids are now. I was also a tom-boy. One of my mother’s first commands was “go take a bath, you smell like sweat and yard” or if I’d been playing with someone’s pet “go take a bath, you smell like wet dog”. She could tell where I’d been and what I’d been doing with one sniff.

She was just as funny about house smells. She was forever cleaning and being in her twenties in the 70’s, she was always burning incense.

I grew up with incense, lava lamps and bead curtains, some of the things I still love.

Even I find it surprising that I never learned to make incense. I’m really not sure how that skill passed me by other than because of the ease of simply purchasing them nearly everywhere until recently.

However it once escaped me, I decided one of the things I wanted to include in the shop next year (and make for myself) was incense and I’ve made it my business to start researching it. It’s a good thing I started early because I’ve gotten rusty on some of the associations for things outside of my spice cabinet in the kitchen, so part of that learning curve will be to familiarize myself with those associations again.

It’s been busy, as you can tell. I’m realizing that it’s a blessing in some ways that I haven’t been able to jump head-first into the store. This time to think and plan may very well end up being the difference between success and failure for me.


Finding Focus – Finding My Way

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Pisces, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoy spending time near water. Luckily, there is a lake about 45 minutes from where I live.

I had to make a run today for some craft supplies and it just so happens that we cross that lake going both ways.

On the way home, we found a little out of the way place and had lunch on a little bank looking out over the water.

Water does a lot for me. It soothes and recharges me but it also helps


me focus and sort out problems. Today was no different.

As I sat looking out at the rolling waves of a heavy chop, I thought about a few questions that’s been reoccurring a lot lately. What makes me happy? What kind of life do I really want?

I know, some of you may be thinking, “Wicked, you’re almost 40. Shouldn’t you have figured this out a long time ago?”

Maybe I should have, but the truth is, I’ve never really had roots anywhere. The unwanted child, threatened with being sent to a girl’s home until I was 12 and went to live with my mother.

Between 12 and 17, we moved three times.

At 17, I was out on my own with the boy who would be my first husband. In two years, we lived in five places.

After we separated, I lived in a number of places, including my car, until I meet DO.

DO was in the army when we met and went on to drive a tractor tailor for over a year. Home was wherever we parked at night. Because of this wanderlust, we traveled light and didn’t really own anything until about 2 years after we got together.

Since then, I can’t count how many places we’ve lived.

“Stability” has been measured by staying together, not by staying in one place.

EQ asked me a year ago (and again a few months ago), what kind of life I wanted. I parroted off what I guess you’re supposed to say when someone asks you that, but the truth is, I wasn’t really sure.

The last year has been an exercise in trying to find out what that actually was.

What I ended up finding out was all the things I didn’t want.

Roots and wings don’t usually go hand-in-hand. An effort to find a balance between them landed us in the camper back in March.

It wasn’t a completely horrible experience. There were parts of it that I actually loved and under different circumstances, I’d gladly do it again.

I will say this. Don’t assume that just because a smaller one is easier to transport, that it’s easy to live in. Don’t underestimate the importance of dedicated rooms and a decent-sized bed. Don’t buy a really old one and think you can fix it up, especially if it’s been siting unused for a while. More things break than you think will.

I suggest buying new, or nearly new. One with a living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen at the very least for full-time living.

What I loved most about it was it being a more rustic-style of living and cheaper to run. I loved the idea of a portable washing machine, clothes hanging on a line, trees all around (once I got used to the large wildlife anyway, lol), feeling so close to nature in so many ways.

I missed regular plumbing, but if we’d been somewhere with septic hookups, it wouldn’t have been as bad.

What I didn’t love was lack of space. Space for storage and space to move. Feeling like I was tripping over everything we owned with no where to put anything. The tiny kitchen was a pain, too, for someone that loves cooking as much as I do.

So I spent time thinking about all that and then I spent some time talking to DO and doing a little research.

After all that, I realized that it wasn’t the camper I wanted, exactly. The camper was one way to accomplish that goal, but not the only one.

There is a name for the kind of life I want. It’s called Modern Urban Homesteading.

I like having certain things. I’m a blogger and now I run all the online interests of mine and EQ’s business as well. I’m not giving up computers, internet or cell phones unless I have to.

What I would like to do is spend my days crafting, canning, baking bread, making cookies and homemade wine and writing.

I like for the TV to be off when there’s nothing on. I like the idea of idle moments being opportunities to be creative or productive.

I like the idea of knowing (at least mostly) where my food comes from and what is in it.

One day, if we ever do buy a place, I’d like to walk outside and get my eggs directly from the chicken in the mornings.

As I’ve found out, all of that is still considered homesteading, just not in the extreme sense. It’s Modern Homesteading in urban areas. People who still have internet, electricity and indoor plumbing but try to reduce their impact and develop a closer relationship with their life and the things they use and consume.

We aren’t vegetarians, so DO is considering eventually hunting and fishing for our meat. We’ll then use whatever other parts of the animals we can. Some of those things might eventually turn up in the Etsy store since EQ and I are both part Native American, RH was a Boy Scout and DO grew up on a farm. We all share the idea that if you’re going to hunt, do it for food and use everything you can.

People may scoff at the idea of living this way within the modern world, and I’m sure not everyone will understand, but this is the life that I think would make me feel happy and fulfilled. It appeals to my roots as a Native American and also my ideals as a Pagan. DO agrees and wants the same life.

I credit, and give thanks, to my Gods for helping me see this. For giving me the direction and space I needed to figure it out and for leading me to an afternoon spent on the bank of the river to find the focus to figure it out.


Sunday Dump ~ Finding my way

This weekend, Draco is working again and so am I, but not in the way you might think.

This weekend, for me, is about self-awareness and self-improvement. Making a plan as the Mercury Retrograde disrupts ideas, concepts and behaviors that are no longer useful.

I’m finding the energy of this retrograde feels a little different. Samhain shifts me into my time of self-reflection. The retrograde energies make me aware of what’s not working. This all leads to feeling a need for some pampering, contemplation and, of course, writing.

As I watch summer fade into fall, I watch the colors burst and then die as if giving us one last hurrah. I feel the need to reflect this in my own life.

As Samhain approaches, I’m ready for my one last hurrah before winter sinks it’s icy grip on the world, stalling changes until after the Spring Equinox.

In spite of the retrograde energies, my spirit longs for that burst of change to prepare me for winter. Perhaps it’s these last-ditch changes that makes the winter more bearable.

I find as I deepen my connection with Hestia, my concept of the seasons, and life reflecting those seasons, is becoming more and more important to me.

It makes sense from a Domestic Witch perspective (working with the fruits and energies of the season is a big deal in the life of one who celebrates the Wheel with food, drink and decorations), but it’s more than that.

I’ve always loved and respected nature (Mother Nature). I’ve always felt connected to the earth, the energies of where I live, the changing of the seasons.

It’s been a hardship in my life to love nature so much and to be allergic to nearly everything about spring and summer. I find ways to reflect those energies in my home (open windows with screens until it’s too hot, fresh flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, etc), but most Pagans will tell you, you can’t touch nature physically from inside the house. Still, I get by.

This year feels more intense, a change I can only credit to a deepening relationship with, and understanding of, deity.

I can feel Hestia moving even further into my life and changing even more about my life. The changes are good, but they’re leaving me feeling a little lost at what to do with myself. A feeling that I’m hoping will change.

As for right now, I’m just doing the best I can, trusting in her to lead me where I’m supposed to go.

Do you go through cycles that reflect the seasons in your life?


Magickal Housekeeping ~ Removing Negativity

The last two days, I’ve found myself handling “the season” for family. I’d already reinforced my protective wards for where we live, and today, I found myself doing the same for a family member along with a sweeping and a few days ago I had to give long-distance info to the kids on sageing their home because something is waking the grandbaby in the middle of the night. We can’t be having that.

My family is full of sensitives. It seems we all can either see, hear or feel spirits. It also feels like the spirits know this, like we send out a beacon or something, and it’s always worse in October.

For getting rid of negative/unwanted energies, I’ve seen almost as many methods as Pagans who do it. Keep in mind, I follow no particular path anymore except my own. I don’t do elaborate spells. Witchcraft runs in my family but the two generations before me were Christian, so I’ve had no training other than reading. I usually just do what feels “right”.

For the kids, they asked about using sage. They don’t have a car and there are no occult stores near their house, so getting a proper “bundle” is out. I told them my quick fix. Ground sage from the grocery store and a charcoal briquette. Simple and cheap.

As for the sweeping, it’s exactly what it sounds like, and something I do daily at home. I sweep with the intent of sweeping out negative energy.

Magick doesn’t have to be complicated if you don’t want it to be. Just apply a little common sense, intent and imagination!


Which Witch Blog-Hop


The links are starting to go up for the Witch Witch Blog-Hop over at my friend, Saxton-Corner’s blog, Way of Wytch. I promised I’d participate, and even said I wanted to write a new post because I knew some of my ideas on the topic had already changed, I just didn’t realize how much was going to change before I could get it written.

In truth, this about the 5th time I’ve re-written this post because my views are changing so rapidly.

It’s hard to call yourself out publicly, but when I wrote my initial post on this topic, it was in defense of a friend. There were a lot of emotions tied up in what I said and I admit it could have been a little better thought out.

To be honest, now probably isn’t the best time for me to be writing this post because of being in the middle of all these drastic changes in my own spirituality, but I’m a Witch of my word, so here I am. I’m just going to do the best I can with it, lol.

Over the course of the last week, I’ve run into a number of people addressing aspects of this topic and I’ve come to see that at least some of the controversy seems to be about people who are solitaires and call themselves Wiccan Witches and the Traditional British Wiccans who are members of, and initiated by, a Coven.

I used to consider myself a solitary Wiccan. My path began 20 years ago with a book by Scott Cunningham. There were no Covens in my area, so I self-dedicated and went from there, considering myself a Solitary Wiccan Witch. I did not know anything about Traditional British anything back then and still don’t really know much about it now other than it is a path that you must be initiated into by a Coven to follow. I did not learn Traditional Wicca or Witchcraft.

What I do know, is that 20 years ago in the deep southern Bible-Belt, there was very little information on paganism at all other than (American? Not really sure how to specify the difference on that one) Wicca. I wouldn’t realize until several years later that there were so many paths.

Wicca, as I learned it from reading Cunningham, and paganism, were synonymous for me. Call it ignorance or lack of available resources, it was what it was.

I’ve come to realize that I’m not Wiccan, although I think there’s a lot to be learned from that path, and not just because I wasn’t initiated by a Coven.

My path has evolved many times in 20 years, and it is continuing to evolve. It’s not always a comfortable process, and this is becoming the most drastic spiritual shift I’ve experienced since leaving Christianity and embracing the Pagan path.

I used to think that what people called themselves was unimportant. With all this in-fighting about what people can/should call themselves I’ve had to revisit and reevaluate that idea.

So, what do I think it takes to be Wiccan? Well, by the original definition and intent, as I’ve come to understand it, I think to be Wiccan in the sense it was created in, that you should belong to, and have been initiated by, a Wiccan Coven.

Do I think you can practice the concept and spirit of Wicca as a solitary practitioner? Absolutely. I’ve come to feel that it’s really a matter of the difference in practicing Wicca as a religion verses practicing it as a form of spirituality.

As far as being a Witch, of any path, is concerned, I do feel that you must practice Witchcraft in some form to be a Witch. I don’t believe you must be in a Coven to be one.

Personally, my spell-work is very limited. I do consider myself a Witch because even though my focus is on domestic Magick, I still deal with, and utilize, energy.

What most would consider actual spell-casting, is generally limited to simple candle Magick. I use color, herb and scent associations and that’s usually it.

I perform most of my “work” in my everyday life with cooking, cleaning and petitioning my deities and spirits for aide. “Formal” or “Ritual” Magick just doesn’t get used much in what I do because what I do works for me and I generally don’t see a need for anything more complicated.

As I’ve already said, this became a much more complicated post to write than I thought it would be. My thoughts and feelings are still changing. I know the second half of the hop is supposed to be what you’ve learned and how your thoughts may have changed and it sounds like I skipped ahead to the second part but it’s only because this hop seems to have caught me at an awkward moment in my own path and I had to work with where I was.

I’m sorry if my thoughts seem disjointed. Apparently I’m still learning.


All I had to do was ask…

Finances have been topping the list of “things we’d rather ignore” in the Lair, as of late. There have been mixed rumors about how long Draco’s overtime would last and the holidays are coming. The company will be closed 2 days for Thanksgiving and since Draco is currently a temp, he won’t get paid for them. Needless to say, it’s had me a little concerned.

This morning, out of the blue, Tiger calls me. Looks like we’re back in business. I’m so excited I can’t see straight.

Honestly, it couldn’t have come at a better time for us.

It takes so much worry off my mind as well as giving me something to do. Between this and the Etsy store, I might find myself working damn-near full-time, but doing things I enjoy rather than punching a clock.

Also, it gives me an excuse to spend more time with Tiger, who I have seriously missed since we moved out. Sounds like a win-win to me.

I’m not sure how much of an effect this will all have on my recent plans for blogging, if any, but I do still have a house to run in addition to any work I do as well as having time for myself, my hubby, my spiritual path and just general down-time. I suppose that part I will just have to play by ear.

As for now, I have to go do dinner prep because I have to pick up Draco in an hour.

All in all, I can seriously see Hestia moving through my life, helping me bring security to my home…and all I had to do was ask…


Taking a moment ~ Sunday Dump

Well, at least I can say I don’t feel as “out of whack” as I did a week ago. Not that life hasn’t been eventful. Quite the opposite.

I think I’m finally seeing the other side of the spiritual shift I mentioned before. For those who didn’t read my post on being passed around by deities, I basically got handed off from Hecate to Hestia this week.

Don’t fret, it really is a positive thing, although I think I may have panicked for a second.

This new connection is turning out to be a good match. My life holds enough similarities to Hestia to give us things in common, but she also embodies some traits that I don’t possess, but wish I did.

I haven’t quite figured out what vibe our relationship is going to take on (if it’s going to be more friends, teacher/student, Deity/Follower or parent/child…although I doubt the last one and suspect a combination of the first two).

As with any new relationship, I’m taking it slow. I feel that I’ve learned about all I can about her via resources. The rest, I will have to learn directly from her.

There isn’t much out there, that I could find, about working with Hestia directly, so I’m pretty much flying blind at this point (please, if you have worked with Hestia and have any information/advice/pointers to offer, I’m all “ears”).

My other relationships seem to be mostly working themselves out now, too. My spiritual stability obviously has a direct effect on the relationships in my life. I’d come to assume as much but this last shift seemed to prove it.

As for right now, I feel like I’m just trying to catch my breath.


How I became a Witch

When I began writing this post, it was with the intention of linking it to the Which Witch Blog Hop, but I soon realized that I’d never really told the story of how I found my path here and this post didn’t really address the topic of the hop, so it became a prelude to my blog hop post…

My name is Crystal and I’m a Hestia-following Kitchen Witch.

For those who are unsure what that means, let me explain.

I was going through a hard time in my life. My marriage had turned into a nightmare and we were divorcing. My ex-husband and his family were taking my only child and to say I was suffering a crisis of faith was an understatement.

I’d always known I was different. I’d never felt comfortable in main-stream religion. I’d always felt that I didn’t belong. I had an almost unnatural relationship with animals and nature. I sometimes saw, and often heard, spirits. Strange things seemed to follow me everywhere I went and I was shunned by my peers and adults alike.

In spite of all of that, I’d always been intensely spiritual, constantly seeking a connection with the Divine. Unlike the others in my life, I felt that connection most strongly when I was outside, not in Church.

After my marriage fell apart, I had a chance meeting with an old friend from high school. Her and her then-husband spent a lot of time listening to my drunken rambles about loss of faith and martial nightmares.

Eventually, she handed me a book I’d never seen before. The book was Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. I was 20.

I’d never heard of Wicca. I’d never heard of paganism. I’d grown up in the Bible Belt of the south and it was 1995 (for those doing the math, I’ll be 40 on my next birthday).

I read that book cover to cover, then read it again. I knew before I finished it the first time that it was like something inside me stood up and applauded. It made sense in a way nothing else ever had. It didn’t take me long to begin identifying myself as a Wiccan.

I performed a self-dedication ritual and committed myself to my path and to the God and Goddess. I also began searching for others like me.

I don’t know what life was like for other Pagans, in other places, in the 90’s, but in the South, it was practically unheard of. If there were Covens, I couldn’t find them.

I resolved that alone or not, this was my path and I intended to heed the call of my heart.

In the years that followed, I found others here and there. Other solitaires that thought they were the only ones, too. We celebrated Sabbats together and I began to teach our children the path. I suppose in some ways, we were like a Coven, but there was no real structure, rarely did we practice together, it was just companionship for the most part.

The Wheel has turned many times since then. I’ve read many books by many authors. I’ve found more Pagans since then, especially since the internet has exploded.

I read a book back in the late 90’s on Magickal housekeeping and it resonated with me. I’ve never been one for involved and detailed rituals except for special occasions and that book helped me understand that for some, complex rituals aren’t necessary.

For some, like me, Magick and ritual are performed in everyday life without a bunch of bells and whistles being necessary.

My home is my temple and my kitchen is the heart of my home. The Greek Goddess, Hestia, and her brother Zeus, rule both with an occasional appearance from the Fey.

Loki, who is my husband’s patron God and a host of dragons, who are my husband’s totem spirits round out the mix.

I find that for me, elaborate rituals are unnecessary. I live Magick in everything I do from making dinner to sweeping the floor.

When I do find a need for a little something extra, I turn to my very simplistic use of candles, oils, herbs, incense and the moon. That’s pretty much it.

So, now you know how I became a Kitchen Witch and what it is I do in my practice.

Next week, I will be posting my response for the Which Witch Blog Hop which will give my answer to what makes a Witch, a Witch.


When “aha” feels more like”duh huh”

For the last three years, since the death of my mom, I’ve worked with Hecate. I was always a little uncertain about our relationship though. It always felt temporary and situational.

After 20 years as a Pagan, I admit, I’ve often despaired of ever finding a true patron, often wondering if I was meant to walk this life alone, without the spiritual bond with a deity that so many others seem to have.

I’ve been going through a lot of personal stuff lately that’s sometimes made focus on my spiritual path hard.

Recently, I’ve even felt as if I were starting over.

I’ve been an Eclectic for most of the years I’ve called myself Pagan, wandering from one path to another, one pantheon to another, never really feeling rooted or grounded. It’s often seemed that the only spiritual stability in my life was my love and passion for hearth and home. Keeping a Magickal household has always been very important to me.

Not having many social skills, I’ve always felt most comfortable at home. The world around me stressed me out at times to the point where I didn’t want to leave home. Home was safe, the world was not.

For those familiar with the Greek pantheon, some of this may be sounding familiar. I am familiar with the Greek pantheon and all of my life, the connection escaped me.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany of sorts. I crossed a huge hurtle with my childhood, my past and my relationship with my mother. As I crossed that hurtle, I could feel Hecate’s connection fading, almost as if she were saying goodbye.

Today, I’ve felt lighter in a lot of ways. Unburdened from my past, but also at loose ends from the absence of Hecate.

I made a lot of decisions today, most importantly, to refocus on my home and my family. To make those things a priority once again. I felt good for the decisions for the first time in a long time.

Tonight, I was reading and came across a name I was familiar with but couldn’t remember who she was. The name was Hestia.

I immediately started googling, wanting to know why suddenly my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. Why it seemed like I could feel my soul sighing in relief.

It turns out, there’s not a whole lot of information on Hestia.

She was the first-born daughter of the Titans, Cronos and Rhea, sister to Zeus and the other Greek Gods and Goddesses. She was the last of Them to be regurgitated by Cronos, giving her the title of oldest and youngest (a position I hold in my own family associations), first and last.

She chose to remain unmarried and a virgin to keep the peace between two of the Gods who tried to court her. As a reward, Zeus gave her the keys to Olympus and charged her with caring for her family and their home.

She was quiet, unassuming, rarely leaving her home, and took pride in her responsibilities.

She is the patron goddess of hearth and home.

She offered refuge to those in need and although she was never patron of a particular city, she fostered a sense of community and fairness and she was honored with both communal and home hearth fires.

This sense of caring for home and family resonate strongly with me. I feel as if I have been honoring Hestia my entire adult life without knowing it.

I took some time to discuss all of this with Draco earlier. I was afraid that this instant and sudden connection with Hestia might be all in my head. I read him what information I could find (most of it is repetitive since she preferred to stay out of the lime-light, unlike her siblings). He began digging through one of his boxes while we talked and presented me with a key on a chain. He said he would get me a more decorative key later (this one is simply an old key we no longer remember what it goes to – I’ve long had an issue with throwing away keys and we often have a stash of them somewhere). Even though it is not the kind of key you would normally associate with sacred keys, it will always be special to me now.

Tonight as I wind down and prepare for bed, I feel a kind of inner peace that is foreign to me. I’m really not used to feeling at peace in my life. I give Hestia full credit for it. I feel as if her peace and calm are settling over my life and I feel extremely grateful.

My life is changing and it’s a welcome change. I feel as if I finally know where I’m going and what I’m doing.

I truly feel blessed.


Which Witch Blog-Hop


The month of October is going to include a blog hop over at one of my favorite blogs, The Way of Wytch. I will, of course, be participating and I encourage you to do the same.

You can find the details for the two-part hop at the link below, but the first part will be about What Makes a Witch a Witch.

Although I recently touched on this subject, I will be writing a new post for the hop itself. I encourage you to join me by writing a post of your own and linking up over there. Just follow the instructions Saxon-Corner has left within the linked post.

I’m looking forward to participating and to seeing what all of you have to say on the topic!

Which Witch Blog-Hop.