Blessed Samhain!

I want to wish you all a blessed Samhain!

Last weekend, the clock was turned back, meaning it is now darkening at about 6. As a ‘dark’ time of the year, I associate it with death, ending, which is why today I have honoured those who have passed on. On my cabinet, I’ve placed photos and objects of my ancestors, lit a candle and meditated a bit. Not very spectacular, but quite enough. Samhain is also a good moment for divination because, as some people like to say, ‘the veil between the worlds is thin’ at Samhain (hence also the connection to the ancestors and afterlife). Which meant for me that I practiced a bit with my rune set, because I am still learning 😉

Halloween is not yet very big in the Netherlands, but more and more people like to carve pumpkins and organize trick-or-treating for the children. Since we live in an apartment 3 floors high (and I like to display pumpkins if I carve them), I’ll be cooking with pumpkin tonight. For the first time ever, so fingers crossed! And I’m making another dish as well, just in case…

Should you have time and you are looking for some craft ideas connected to Samhain (which is obviously not limited to this day only, but, in my opinion, is a seasonal thing), try looking on Pinterest for ideas. I found great ideas for food, ghosts in the yard, pumpkin carving designs (including pagan themed carvings) and seasonal decoration. What I would like to do myself is to make an ancestor cloth. Last year I told you how I have started genealogy, researching my family tree, and I’ve always admired the huge tapestries or papers that show someone’s lineage. It just looks amazing! I would like to make something similar, but then a whole lot simpler 😉

In addition, I would like to make a small, portable shrine out of an old book. This is easier than it might sound, since it is quite similar to making a treasure chest. You have to cut out a center portion of the pages and glue them together, so you have a sort of box. In it, you can place small items, for example jewelry, an old watch or letters that have belonged to the deceased loved one. Just to add to it, I would cut out a center of the front and paste the subsequent page to it with only three sides. Are you visualizing (I don’t have a picture, sorry)? Yes, it would be a kind of envelope you might put something in. And for me personally, a photo inserted there would make it a more personal shrine, indicating whose it is.

So plenty of things to do, but most important: celebrate in any way you feel comfortable with! Blessed Samhain!

Crafting your own tools

Autumn really brings out craftiness! Perhaps the colours and seeing all the cobwebs with the spiders make me creative.

When I started researching Wicca, I was overwhelmed by the requirements. You have to dedicate yourself, you can only be Wiccan if you’re in a coven and you really need all the tools. I got the impression everything was really strict, and perhaps in traditional Wicca it is, but when learning more about paganism, I realized it doesn’t have to be. Yes, you can choose to do a self-dedication or to join a group, but you don’t have to.

Tools especially I find interesting. I’ve found that you actually only need yourself. You are the vessel of power, you can influence the world by focusing, exerting your will and projecting your intent. Of course, tools can help you focus, raise and guide energy, but a characteristic of a tool is that you can do without. Tools merely make it easier.

The wand, for me, is the the tool that speaks to my imagination. In all fantasy stories, it is the essential tool of wizards and witches such as Harry and Hermione. And I decided I wanted one. A couple of months ago I found a perfect branch outside, and as I was feeling crafty, today I crafted my wand. I kept it real simple and just stripped most of the bark away. I still have to consecrate it, but I love how it looks and feels! Can’t wait to work with it.

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So tools aren’t really necessary, though they can help in your practice. Should you want tools, I advise you to make them yourself. You’ll use natural material, it costs less, is fun to do and most importantly: the energy you put in will help you in using it, as you feel more connected to it. Just try it!

Finger-knitted scarf

Hand-made gifts are the best gifts there are. Years ago, you’d create your own gifts merely because it was less expensive. Now… well, I like the fact that it costs less, but hand-made gifts really show how much you appreciate someone. You put in time and effort to make something that people will like. Quite different than walking into the first store you see and getting a gift card, or even easier: money in an envelope. I’m as guilty of that as anyone, because it’s so easy. And you know for sure the receiver can get something he or she likes. But trying to actually give something is more fun. Even when I’ve asked for money for my birthday, I love it when people come up with gifts that suit me. It means much more to me. So I’m trying to practice, find out how to make simple but fun things that I can give as presents.

At my dad’s home, we have a book about crafting everything… yes, EVERYTHING. Bags, musical instruments, toys of all shapes and sizes. I still have to go get it some time, cause the book gives endless possibilities. What I liked best as a child, though, was yarn. I tried crocheting, finger weaving, knitting (though my grandmother had to set up for me) and knotting. Mainly as experiments or for bracelets. Loved it as pastime. Looking into Waldorf education, where hand-working is promoted and even taught, I found a precursor to knitting: finger knitting!

I’d never heard of it before, so I looked at how it works and it’s incredibly simple. I understand they teach this to children for fine motor skills. You basically weave the yarn between your fingers and pull the bottom loop over the top loop all the time.  Here’s a video that explains it.

It’s a bit like spool knitting, but using your fingers instead of the spool. You can quickly knit a long piece. And I did! Just knitting whilst watching TinTin, I made a thin scarf. Probably I won’t wear it myself, cause I’m not a scarf person, but it looks real nice and I might be able to make someone else happy with it. Perhaps I’ll work a bit further, making a shorter but slightly thicker scarf, but I’m not quite sure yet. Anyway, a great technique to make a simple scarf fairly fast.
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Apart from finger weaving, crocheting and the other techniques I mentioned, there are still many more ways to work with yarn. I’m planning on trying arm knitting next, making a big scarf. What would you like to give a try?

Bread dough ornaments

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Bread dough ornaments are easy to make and to paint. These are the ornaments I made yesterday, except for a candle holder that came out of the oven a bit smaller than I intended.

Should you or your children want to do something similar, just mix 3 parts flour, 1 part salt, 1 part water and some oil and after shaping it into what you want, dry it in the oven on low heat for several hours.

Ornaments for your altar

With the children of one of our best friends at our home today, I found an excuse to become creative and make some ornaments for my altar. The children had fun, and so did I, and the ornaments we made are now in the oven, drying.

It’s so simple! You take 3 parts flour, 1 part salt, 1 part water and a bit of oil to make a salty bread dough. Don’t eat it though, it’ll taste real foul. When you have the dough, you can make it into any shape you want and dry it in the oven. It takes a long time on low heat, but it is very sturdy and you can paint it to complete it.

The girls made mainly hearts and cakes, some of which for their grandfather, others because they liked them. My creations included a curled up snake similar to the Egyptian board game I saw at the museum (but quite a bit smaller), the three faces of the moon and a candle holder. Most of my dough was stolen away by the kids, but I was able to make what I had planned. In winter time, with Yule approaching, I might make some tree ornaments.

Great fun to do with kids, and a nice way to create things for your tradition. Tomorrow I’ll post some pictures of the finished products!

Embroidery and cross stitching

Mabon altar

Mabon altar 2011: The cornucopia cross stitch pattern is in the back

Embroidery… It used to be one of the women crafts. Young ladies would sit at the window and cross stitch. Perhaps you’ve seen the big pieces of art, almost as big as tapestry, in musea. Or smaller versions, kind of embroidered paintings in your grandmother’s house. Almost half of the women in the nursery home I work at this summer have these kind of paintings. Some people also have very small pieces of embroidery, with very small stitches. It’s amazing how patient people were then.
Nowadays, I believe it is considered old-fashioned to embroider. It is way easier to print out a picture and put it in a nice frame than to use cross stitching. The same way it is easier to buy clothing than to make it the way you want it. But in my opinion it’s not as rewarding. I don’t know how to sew (yet), but my grandmother taught me to knit and my mother taught me to embroider. The basis of both is relatively simple, but you can make nice things already. For example, my mother was working on two big pieces depicting cake on a platter. Some people use cross stitching on cards, which also looks good.
What you need for embroidery is fabric, preferably tip-less needles and floss (I assume you all have scissors). There are fabrics and floss especially for embroidery, but as long as you have thick enough strands of floss and fabric where you can see the woven pattern, it’s fine.
You always start by pulling the floss through the needle, but I think you could have guessed. After you’ve put the needle through the fabric for the first time, you have several stitches you can use. The basic two I use are back stitching and whole cross stitches. This video shows exactly how to work!
There are (free) programmes on line that allow you to convert any photo or picture into a pattern, so you can basically make anything you want. About has some nice free patterns of which some are Pagan or related, such as the four elements. On my altar in the harvest season is a cornucopia, which was great fun to make!
Cross stitching is not very expensive, you can make whatever you like, and it is great to see a piece come together as you add more stitches. Though you need a little bit of patience, cross stitching can be relaxing as well or even be used as meditation. A bit like rose-beads counting. You could also consider embroidery as part of making an amulet. One way or the other, it’s a great way to slowly create an image.

If you are ready to try it, it’s easy to begin. Have fun!

Lemon & ginger body scrub

Yesterday I’ve made a lemon and ginger body scrub, inspired by this Dutch website. Scrubbing (though not done too often) can have some advantages. It takes away the dead skin cells, so your skin can brown evenly. The oil used in scrub can nourish the skin and make it nice and soft. I wouldn’t advice you to use a salt scrub when you have even a small open wound, though, because it stings! The beau
Here are the ingredients for the lemon and ginger body scrub:
300 gr salt (fine grains, otherwise you’ll hurt your skin)
coconut oil (microwaving it shortly makes it liquid)
almond oil (I didn’t have it, so I used olive oil)
lemon zest from 3 lemons (or more if you want it to smell stronger)
grounded ginger

You pour the salt in a bowl and add the oil in parts, stirring it. You can make it a dry scrub or a more slushy scrub by adding more or less oil. If it has a consistency you like, add the lemon zest and stir it in. The scrub will turn yellow now! Finally you can add the grounded ginger, as much as you like. Then you can put it in a nice jar, close it off (and make sure no air can come through, lemon zest won’t stay good long) and put it in the fridge. If you want to use it, you can better take a bit out with a clean spoon and put it in another cup to take into the shower, because water won’t help you keep the scrub long.

Obviously I took a shower immediately afterwards, and my skin was as soft as it has ever been, and it smelled real nice!


Making any kind of scrub, I discovered, is actually very simple. You take salt or sugar as base, add oil and add whatever smells you like. This lemon and ginger scrub is great to wake up in the morning, but if you want something relaxing after a long day, you could take sugar with almond oil and lavender. Salt with just a little olive oil (making a dry scrub) and eucalyptus essential oil could potentially be great in winter, to open up your nose. You can find plenty of other possibilities on the internet!

Have you ever made body scrub before or are you planning to do it? If so, what would be your suggestion for a nice scrub?