Saturday, April 18, 2015

BELTANE: "Summer's Lease" Begins

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease has all too short a date . . .
But thy eternal summer shall not fade . . .
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade . . .”
                                                                        William Shakespeare

Summer, the season of joy and pleasant climes, is ushered in with one last fiery blast from the bluster and rain of March and April.  May Eve, April 30, is the night when witches the world over commune to celebrate the sacred marriage, the union of the Lord and Lady, the Sun and Moon. 

German witches celebrated the night in honor of the goddess Walpurga - their May Queen – with wild festivities on the Brocken, the highest peak of Germany’s Harz Mountains.  Since Saxon times, the region had a supernatural reputation; the gods were believed to manifest there on May Eve.  With the advent of the Christian faith, the pagan celebration that had come to be known as Walpurgisnacht was truncated; the Church canonized the German goddess, creating her St. Walpurga, and moved her feast to February to discourage the orgiastic rituals that associated her with May.  But this did little to discourage her followers, who continued to celebrate Walpurgisnacht, though in a decidedly less overt manner.

“If you love me, come discretely down to meet me, under the greenwood tree.”

                                                                                                                        (Traditional rhyme.)

The festivities of Walpurgisnacht give way to the light of the fires of Beltane, May 1st, the first day of summer in the Old Style calendars.  Fire played a prominent role in Beltane celebrations; before the great bonfires were lit on the Celtic hills, the hearth-fire of every home was extinguished.  Bearing faggots and torches from the great fires, folk would rekindle their hearths, reclaiming them from the darkness and recognizing the growing light of the summer sun.
            It was common to choose a King and Queen to reign over the celebrations of May Day, but theirs was no tender love.  Indeed, in May, “the lusty month of May,” romantic love, trysts, and sexual desire blossomed feverishly alongside Nature’s bountiful blooms.  May’s association with sensuality and pleasure caused many minstrels to celebrate it as the month to “make much joy” – and the lush allure of greenery made a natural lover’s bower.  On May Eve, men and women, noble and common alike, would venture into the greenwood to go “a-Maying,” and would spend the night out, making love in woods and fields. 

“I have heard it credibly reported . . . that of fortie, threescore, or a hundred maides going into the woods over night, there have scaresly the third part of them returned home againe undefiled.”

                                                            “The Anatomie of Abuses,” Philip Stubbes, 1583.

The May Pole

No image comes more readily to mind when one thinks of May than that of people dancing joyfully around a flowered and beribboned May Pole.
            In addition to gathering flowers from the woods, it was also the custom to bring back a young tree.  Stripped of its branches, it would be set up in the midst of the village and decorated with flowers and long, flowing ribbons. 
            The May Pole was a powerful fertility symbol, representing the Sun God in the guise of Green Man, and embodying the spirit of growth and the promise of seed.  Its placement in the earth – the phallus of the god into the mother’s womb – continued the highly-sexual imagery of May celebrations.  Groups of dancers would circle the pole “sunwise” (or deosil), binding it about with the long ribbons, and “calling up the power” to strengthen it with dancing, singing, and drumming.
            Old-style May Day celebrations included the march of a white-clad virgin, representing day and the bloom of summer (another incarnation of the goddess queen), accompanied by another female clad entirely in black, representing night and the dearth of winter.  Fairs, mummer’s plays, milk and the rejuvenating waters of the new season were all celebrated in lore and superstition at this time of year.  And fire, always fire, as the power of the sun increased and the wheel of the year turned toward the solstice of June.

Celebrating Saint Sara la Kali (May 25th)

In May, the Roma (Gypsies) everywhere, but particularly in Europe, celebrate their patron saint, Sara la Kali (or “Sara the Black”) with exceptional and genuine devotion, making pilgrimages to the saint’s famous French shrine. 
Although never canonized, Sara has been venerated by the Roma at least since medieval times as the Gypsy woman who drew the three “Marys of the Sea” (Saintes Maries de la Mer, thought to be Mary the sister of Lazarus, Mary the mother of St. James and St. John, and Mary Magdalene) to safety from the waves after they had fled Palestine in the wake of Christ’s crucifixion.  She is called “la Kali” because legend speaks of her origins on the coast of Egypt, where her skin was bronzed by the sun.
Each May, on her feast day, the statue of the saint is carried from its cave-like shrine in a great procession and held aloft to the gathering of pious Roma pilgrims.  The statue is then carried to the spot on the French shore where the Roma believe the legendary meeting with the Three Marys took place.  The statue is gingerly placed in the crashing surf where it is anointed and blessings are bestowed upon it before it is safely returned to its home.  The solemnities are followed by great fanfare and celebrations among the Roma, often lasting for days. 

For generations only the Roma were allowed to enter the shrine of St. Sara, making her the most personal of intercessors for a people generally bereft of advocates.  Recently, however, the Roma-only rules were suspended and Gadje have been allowed access to the enclave of the Black Saint of the Gypsies.

All material Copyright (c) 2011-2015 by Alyne Pustanio and Creole Moon Publications.
Reproduction or dissemination in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the Author and/or the Publisher is strictly prohibited by law.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


At one time it was the responsibility of augurs and soothsayers to interpret what was considered to be signs sent from the gods.  Eventually, the predictions made by soothsayers and fortune tellers became common knowledge and passed into folklore.
            Omens have been known since ancient times and are today referred to as superstitions.  They vary from country to country and culture to culture, and sometimes can even have completely reversed meanings in different folk traditions.

            The following are some examples of how to interpret the present and anticipate the future through observing various omens, and highlight a variety of superstitions.


Divination by casting or drawing of lots, derived from the Latin sors, the word for lot, and sortilegus, meaning diviner.  An alternative name for sortilege is cleromancy, from kleros, the Greek word for lot.
            There are many types of sortilege.  In aleuromancy, answers to specific questions were baked inside small balls of dough and chosen at random, thought to have been a common practice until the 9th century A.D.  Another form of sortilege is astragalomancy, divination by casting small bones (usually the vertebrae or ankle bones of sheep).  Belomancy is divination by arrows and probably dates back to the Babylonians.  It was also practiced by the Scythians, Arabs, and some North American Indian tribes.  Opening a book at random and taking an omen from the first words read – bibliomancy – is another form of sortilege.  It is also known as stichomancy: a “stitch” is a line of verse or a short section of prose.  Divination from a book of poetry is sometimes known as rhapsodomancy.  In the late Middle Ages the works of the Roman writer Virgil were the most popular choice, and bibliomancy was known as the sortes Virgilianae – the “Virgilian lots.”
            A large variety of objects have been used for lots.  In Africa, lots could be sacred stones or carved wooden or bone divining sticks – the tradition varies from tribe to tribe.  Divining sticks are also known among North American Indians and in parts of Asia.  In Polynesia, a coconut was spun and answered questions according to how it fell.  In Japan, slips of paper inscribed with omens for the future were placed in containers and drawn at random.  Pessomancy (psephomancy) is divination by drawing or casting of specially marked pebbles.  Many African shamans keep bags of “wise stones” that are cast to foretell the future.  Greek lots were specially marked wooden counters, drawn from an urn or cast on the ground (although the oracle at Delphi used beans as lots).  In China, “fortune cookies” are used, and are familiar to almost everyone.
            Many of us have unthinkingly determined our future by lots at some time in our lives – drawing straws to select a person to carry out a particular action, for example, or tossing a coin to make a decision.  Sweepstakes, lotteries, bingo, roulette are all forms of gambling that depend on casting or drawing lots. 

Sortilege Using Stones

Choose nine small, round-edged stones; you should be able to hold all nine in one hand. Mark symbols on one side of each stone, according to the following chart. Shake the stones in your hand, concentrating on your question, and cast the stones in front of you. Using the chart provided, read only those stones whose symbols are showing face-up.

Symbol and Interpretations:

Bird: Communications, visitors
Eye: "I" the questioner
Fence (drawn as a picket fence): Delay, restrictions, self-imposed limitations, old age
Flower: Success, prosperity
Moon (drawn as a crescent): Inner life, a woman or women
Rings (drawn as a triskele, three rings intersecting to form a triangle): Relationships, marriage, harmony, union
Sun: Health, outer life, a man or men
Swords (drawn as two crossed): Drive, energy, strife
Waves (drawn as two or three wavy lines): Intellect, travel (especially by sea or over water), dreams and the subconscious.

Animal and even human bones can be used for divination and prophesy.


Top of Head: Promotion, good luck
Right Eye: A meeting
Left Eye: Disappointment
Left Cheek or Left Ear: Compliments
Right Cheek or Right Ear: Derogatory remarks
Inside Nose: Grief, bad luck
Outside Nose: Kissed by a fool
Mouth: Insults
Neck: Illness
Back: Disappointment
Left Shoulder: Unhappiness
Right Shoulder: An inheritance
Left Elbow: Bad news
Right Elbow: Good news
Left Palm or Ankle: Bills to pay
Right Palm or Ankle: Expect money
Abdomen: An invitation
Loins: A reconciliation
Thighs: A move
Left Knee: Gossip
Right Knee: Good news
Shins: Unpleasant surprise
Left Foot: Unprofitable journey
Right Foot: Profitable journey

Knives and Scissors

Dropping a knife on the floor: A male visitor
Dropping a pair of scissors: A disappointment which can be averted by stepping on the scissors before picking them up.
Scissors landing point down when dropped: Illness
Crossed knives: Bad luck
Breaking a pair of scissors: Bad luck
A knife left blade upward: Danger
Giving a gift of a knife or scissors: Can cut a friendship unless a pin or coin is given in return.
A new knife used first on anything other than paper or wood: Good luck
Placing or finding a knife in the cradle of a newborn child: Good luck


This is divination using precious stones (although colored glass beads can be used as a substitute).  In a darkened room, scatter the stones or beads.  Light a candle, close your eyes, and clear all thoughts from your mind.  As soon as you open your eyes, notice which color of stone first reflects the light back at you.

Colorless (clear): Success and happiness
Red: Romance
Dark red: Passion, a wedding
Yellow: Infidelity
Green: A wish will come true
Turquoise: An unexpected opportunity
Blue: Good luck
Violet: Grief
Purple: A quarrel
Black: Bad luck


This is divination from the flames of three wax candles.  Arrange three candles in an equilateral triangle and light a fourth candle some distance away to provide enough light for reading.  Switch off all the lights.  Using the same match, light your three candles and read the omens presented by the appearance of their flames.

A flame wavering from side to side: Travel
One flame burning brighter than the others: Great success
A glow or radiance at the tip of the wick: Prosperity
A curling or spiraling flame: Enemies plotting
Sparks: Be cautious
Rising and falling flames or candles burning unevenly: Danger
Flame sputtering: Disappointment
Flame unexpectedly extinguished: Great misfortune

Other Candle Omens:

New Year’s Candle Divination  

For this you will need twelve candles and a room with a wooden or concrete floor.

1. Remove any furnishings that might catch fire.
2. Next, arrange your twelve candles in a wide circle and light them all.
3. Name a candle for each month of the year.
4. Start at the January candle and jump over each in turn until you have completed the circle.
5. If you knock over or extinguish any candle, this signifies bad luck for that particular month.
6. Any candles still burning after you have completed the circle indicate good luck for the candles           those months represent.

True Lover Candle Divination

For this you will need a deep bowl of water, two halves of a walnut shell, and two small candles (birthday size) or wax matches.

1. Using a little melted wax to fix them in place, stand one candle in each half of the walnut shell.
2. Name one shell for yourself, the other for your lover.
3. Set the little shell boats afloat in the bowl of water.
4. Light the candles.
5. You will be true to each other if the two boats float side by side with the candles burning evenly.
6. Your relationship is doomed if the boats drift apart, overturn, or the flames go out.
7. You love more than you are loved if your candle burns longer than that of your lover, and vice             versa.


This is divination using a single oil lamp or a torch flame.

Flame with a single point: Good luck
Flame with two points: Bad luck
Flame with three points: Good luck
Flame bending, wavering: Illness
Flame unexpectedly extinguished: Disaster

Some Omens of Good Luck:

Four leaf clover
Picking up a pencil found in the street
Meeting sheep
Keeping a piece of oyster shell in your pocket
A ladybug landing on you
Carrying a rabbit’s foot
A horseshoe, prongs pointing upward
Sleeping on unironed sheets
A wishbone
Spilling your drink while proposing a toast
Bats flying at twilight
Breaking uncolored glass, other than a mirror
Walking in the rain
Sleeping facing south
A gift of a hive of bees
A sprig of white heather
A peapod containing nine peas
Seeing a bluebird
A robin flying into the house
A strange dog following you home
Hearing crickets singing
Putting your dress on inside out
A white butterfly
Rubbing two horseshoes together
Burning your fingernail parings
Picking up a pin
Cutting your hair during a storm
Catching two rats in the same trap
Finding a hairpin and hanging it on a hook
Sneezing three times before breakfast
Seeing a load of hay
Meeting a chimney sweep
Looking at the new moon over your right shoulder
Picking up a nail that was pointing toward you

Some Omens of Bad Luck

An owl hooting three times
A five leaved clover
Peacock feathers (especially in the house)
A rooster crowing at night
Meeting a pig immediately after a wedding
Opening an umbrella indoors
Emptying ashes after dark
A bat entering the house
Putting a hat on a bed
Singing before breakfast
Giving away a wedding present
Borrowing, lending, or burning a broom
Bringing an old broom to a new house
Bringing eggs into the house after dark
Cutting your nails on Friday
Bringing white lilac or hawthorn blossom into the house
Putting shoes on a chair or table
Killing a seagull
Mending a garment while you are wearing it (this harks back to when corpses were sewn into their shrouds)
Keeping your slippers on a shelf above head height
Seeing an owl in the daytime
Putting an umbrella on a table
Blossom and fruit growing together on the same branch (except on orange trees)
Meeting a grave digger
Buttoning a button into the wrong button hole
Putting your left show on before your right
Sitting on a table without keeping one foot on the ground
Killing a cricket
A picture falling
Breaking a glass when proposing a toast
Dropping a glove
Getting out of bed left foot first
Putting a pair of bellows on a table
A ring breaking on your finger
Three butterflies together
Red and white flowers in the same arrangement
Bringing Christmas greenery into the house before December 24th
Leaving Christmas decorations up after Twelfth Night (January 6th)
Looking at the new moon over your left shoulder
Taking anything out of the house on New Year’s Day
Removing your wedding ring
Meeting a hare on the road
Violets flowering out of season
Wearing an opal unless you were born in October

NOTE: The information contained in this article is presented as INFORMATION ONLY.

All material Copyright (c) 2011-2015 by Alyne Pustanio and Creole Moon Publications.
Reproduction or dissemination of this material without the expressed written
consent of the Author and/or Publisher is strictly prohibited by law.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


The Hoopoe (family Upipidae) is a colorful, medium-sized bird noted for its distinctive “crown” of feathers and a long, thin tapering bill that is black with a fawn base.  It is commonly found across Afro-Eurasia (less frequently in the British Isles) where it shares a habitat with its nearest relative, the Cuckoo, and distant cousins the Lapwing and the Magpie.  The Hoopoe is widespread in Europe, Asia and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Madagascar.  Most European and North Asian birds migrate to the tropics in winter.  In contrast, the African populations are sedentary year-round.  Like the Latin name, upupa, the English name is an onomatopoetic form which imitates the “hupupup” cry of the bird.

Hoopoes are distinctive and have made a lasting cultural impact across their range.  Islamic tradition teaches that the hoopoe obtained its golden crest from King Solomon for not paying homage to women.  Afterward, so many greedy hunters sought out and killed hoopoes for their fabulous crests that the hoopoe begged King Solomon to remove it; he turned their crests into feathers instead.  The hoopoe’s relationship with this great king is further documented in the Quran:  When Solomon was about to punish the bird for being absent from his court, the hoopoe – known for its habit of eavesdropping – returned hastily, saying:  “I have found out a thing that thou apprehendest not, and I come unto thee from Sheba with sure tidings.”  The hoopoe brought tidings of the woman who would be Solomon’s queen, and its coming to the king with the news is the origin of the saying, “A little bird told me . . ."

From the Punjab of India to Minoan Crete the bird was considered remarkable; it was thought that the Garudas of Hindu and Buddhist belief were originally hoopoes.  In the Bible, in Leviticus 11:13-19, hoopoes were listed among the animals that are “detestable and should not be eaten,” and were listed in Deuteronomy as not kosher, possibly due to their reputation as unusual creatures.  (The hoopoe was chosen the state bird of Israel in 2008!)
Hoopoes were seen as a symbol of virtue in Persia; a hoopoe was the leader of the birds in the Persian book of poems The Conference of the Birds.  The hoopoe is also cast as the king of birds in the ancient Greek comedy The Birds by Aristophanes.  One of the most infamous tales involving a hoopoe is related by Ovid in his Metamorphese, where, in Book Six, King Tereus of Thrace – married to Procne – rapes his wife’s sister, Philomela and cuts out her tongue.  In revenge, Procne kills their son Itys and serves him as a stew to his father.  When Tereus sees the boy’s head, which is served on a platter, he grabs a sword but just as he attempts to kill the sisters, they are turned into birds – Philomela into a nightingale, Procne into a swallow.  Tereus himself is turned into a hoopoe.  The bird’s showy crest is said to indicate his royal status, and his long, sharp beak is a symbol of his violent nature.
Hoopoes were thought of as thieves across much of Europe, especially in that they often partnered with cuckoos in the raiding of nests; the holes bored by woodpeckers are a favored nesting place of the hoopoe.  Epithets across their range also distinguish the hoopoe as a “dirty bird” or a “dung bird,” after the mother hoopoe’s habit of soiling its nest to discourage incursions by predators – animal and human alike.  

This habit of the female hoopoe gave rise to the old saying, used particularly against truculent women:  “It is an evil bird that defiles its own nest.”
Medical practitioners of the ancient world found that many parts of the bird were marvelously effective in the treatment of a variety of illnesses and diseases.  The Arabs call the hoopoe the “Doctor because of its medicinal qualities; as a therapeutic the bird appears in Egyptian, Coptic, and Greco-Roman medical prescriptions, in Pliny, and in the Syriac Book of Medicine; and as late as 1752, its medicinal virtues were listed in the English translation of the Pharmacopoeia Universalis.  Even today, nomads of the Sahara still believe in the bird’s medicinal powers.
Closely related to the belief is specific medicinal values is the conviction found in antiquity and still current that the whole, or certain parts of the hoopoe possess magical powers.  These parts are the heart, the blood, the eyes, the head, the tongue, the wings, and the feathers.  Magical powers are also claimed for the eggs of the hoopoe and for the fabled stone – the lapis quirinus – found in the hoopoe’s nest.
It is said that the heart of the hoopoe is especially used by magicians and people who “perform evil deeds secretly” – in other words, who practice black magic.  On the other hand, the hoopoe is often recommended as a protection against witchcraft.  Tradition informs us that the hoopoes heart, when placed upon a sleeper at night, will cause him to reveal hidden things; the hoopoe’s heart, if carried on a person, will cause everyone to love that person; drying and pulverizing the heart of a hoopoe, and placing it under the pillow at night will allow one to dream of the location of hidden treasure.
Concerning the blood of a female hoopoe, we learn from Albertus Magnus that it, mixed with the centauria plant and added to the oil of a burning lamp brings about strange hallucinations.  Medieval bestiaries warn against anointing oneself with the hoopoe’s blood when falling asleep, because then one will dream of being suffocated by demons.  It is, however, not only unpleasant dreams that the hoopoe’s blood brings, if only one ties a piece of cloth impregnated with the hoopoe’s blood upon one’s wrist.  The wearing of a wig made of the hair of a hanged man, and moistened with the blood of a hoopoe, makes one invisible.  A 15th century German tract states that the hoopoe’s blood, properly applied, can inspire a man to love a woman; in Haggadic writings, the blood of the hoopoe is mentioned as a curative. 
The eyes of the hoopoe are a counter-charm against all kinds of witchery, if they are used in a talisman with feathers that accumulate in the gizzards of owls, together with a small splinter of wood.  In order to be effective, these three ingredients must be blended in the last night of the year.  The hoopoe’s eyes are also mentioned as having been carried about in a little sack by hunters as a talisman against the Devil, evil spirits, witches, and sorcerers, and as a powerful defense against all manner of black art.
The eyes of the hoopoe can furthermore make one who carries them on his person universally loved, accepted.  They inspire cleverness and gratitude; they transform enemies into friends.  If carried in a bag they help one to buy profitably.  They assist one in being acquitted in court if worn on one’s chest in the presence of the judge; at least they put the judge in a favorable state of mind.
No merchant can ever deceive you if you carry along in a sack the head of a hoopoe.  The tongue of the hoopoe helps in overcoming forgetfulness.  Accuracy of shooting is guaranteed through the possession of a charm, composed of the hearts of three young swallows and the right wing of a hoopoe.  The feathers of the hoopoe are one of eight charms that increase the sale of bread and protect against vermin; when placed upon the head, the feathers relieve headache.  The eggs of the hoopoe are said to be of interest to witches who use them “for sorcery.  The stone found in the hoopoe’s nest – the lapis quirinus – when placed under the head or upon the chest, causes one to reveal secrets while asleep, and increases fantasies.
In the superstitions that have to do with the cry or the song of the hoopoe, we find that it predicts fair weather if its “huppuppup” is heard frequently in spring; on the other hand, if the bird cries hoarsely it is said to foretell rain.  Again, “If the hoopoe do sing before the vines bud, it foreshadows great plenty of wine”; and, if upon hearing hoopoe’s call for the first time in the spring of the year, one rolls around on the ground, one will not suffer lumbago.  In Scandinavia and northern Europe, the same cry (“huphup”) prophesies war and mourns the dead.
In Oriental-Semitic traditions, the hoopoe has the faculty of speech and occupies a special niche among speaking birds, echoing its distinction as King Solomon’s “little bird.”  The same traditions also describe the hoopoe as a waterfinder, a natural “opener,” and this serves to strengthen the bird’s title of “Doctor.”  As a waterfinder, the hoopoe is said to be able to see through the earth and point out hidden springs, a virtue that further endeared it to those living in desert regions.

The Queen of Sheba and the Little Hoopoe

The power is, usually, inherent in some magical object (stone, herb, root, worm, etc.) which the bird owns or which is accessible to it.  In the case of the hoopoe, it is said to possess the famous Shamir, one of the ten marvels that were created in the twilight of the earth’s first Sabbath-day.  This Shamir is said to be an exceedingly small worm, in size not larger than a grain of barley, and was thought to have been used by Moses to engrave the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on the breastplate of the High Priest.  Later it was employed by Solomon, who obtained it through cunning means, to assist in the erection of his temple.  According to legend, the great king went to the stone quarries, drew the outline of every stone that would be needed in the building, and placed the Shamir worm on these outlines.  As the worm crawled along, the stones split asunder without any noise, “so that there was neither hammer nor ax, nor any tool or iron heard in the house while it was building” (I Kings: 6-7).
In extra-Solomonic “opener” legends, the use to which the hoopoe’s opener is put is of a much less exalted nature.  Ordinarily, the hoopoe employs the Shamir to burst through obstacles separating it from its young; it is also said to be placed by the hoopoe in its nest to “ward off fascination.”  If a man, usually through stealth, obtains possession of the magic object, he abuses it by gaining through its power treasures that do not belong to him.  One of the earliest mentions of the hoopoe’s possession of the Shamir is found in Aristophanes’ legend of Tereus, Procne, and Philomela.
In some legends the hoopoe’s opener is a magic plant – sometimes the centauria, in other texts the cornflower – that has another distinct virtue, that of restoring to well-being one who has imbibed too much of the fruit of the vine. 
The Egyptians held the hoopoe in high honor for its devotion to its parents, and for this reason made it the symbol of gratitude in their hieroglyphs and engraved it on the scepters of their rulers.  One legend, c. 1100 B.C.E., describes the hoopoe as “plucking the feathers and licking the eyes of the old birds, and “the young warm them under their wings, and sit over them until they have grown young once more.”  Leonardo da Vinci later confirmed this ancient observation when he noted in his Bestiary, “The young [hoopoe] build a nest for the parents, feed them, pluck out old feathers, and restore eyesight to their parents by licking and by means of an herb.”  Because of this practice, the hoopoe became associated with the ability to restore youth and impart immortality on those found worthy.

Among the English, who knew the hoopoe but little, and then only in temperate seasons when the birds would follow waves of warmer weather that might encompass the region, it had the reputation of “feeding upon dirt and dwelling among graves.”  This seems to add weight to examples of its use in Medieval “nigromancy,” or necromantic magic.

  • A 15th century necromantic manuscript tells how to summon a demon in the form of a horse by using conjurations, a ring with the Tetragrammaton inscribed on it, and the blood of a hoopoe.
  • Another manuscript, instructing in the matter of love magic, states:  “. . . If you draw it on a Friday with the feather of a hoopoe and with its blood on a freshly prepared piece of parchment, and touch a person with it, you will be loved by that person above all others forever.”
  • And, “There are recipes for madness . . . which involve not imitative magic but poisons (made from the body parts of a cat, a hoopoe, a bat, a toad, and other creatures) to be taken in food or drink, or a fume to be inhaled, whereupon the victim will be bedeviled (demoniabitur), losing his senses and memory, and not even knowing who he is.”
  • And also, “The markings on this cloth are to be made with the blood of . . . a hoopoe, [and] the magician is meant to use the heart of this bird as a writing instrument.” 

In the Americas, there is only one known instance of a hoopoe having been sighted.  In 1978, in Alaska, a lone European hoopoe was seen by birders feeding among natural debris that had collected in the waters of a thawing creek.  The sighting was duly noted with the annotation, “Possibly significant that the bird is feeding at Old Chevak shaman’s garden.” 
No doubt the magical little hoopoe knew exactly why he was feeding there; but maybe this is something he will never tell.

NOTE: The information provided in this article is collected from folklore, and
is presented as INFORMATION ONLY. Animal abuse is punishable by law.
The Author and Publisher are not responsible for the intentional misuse of the 
information provided herein.

All material Copyright (c) 2011-2015 by Alyne Pustanio and Creole Moon Publications.
Reproduction or dissemination of this article in any form without the expressed written
consent of the Author and/or Publisher is strictly prohibited by law.


Plant, Transplant, and Graft:                        

Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces.  Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are good second choices.

Build/Repair Fences or Garden Beds:        


Control Insects/Pests, Plow and Weed:      

Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius, or Aquarius.


Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius.  During a waxing moon, pruning encourages growth; during a 
waning moon, growth will be discouraged.

Clean Out the Garden Shed:                        


All material Copyright (c) 2011-1015 by Alyne Pustanio and Creole Moon Publications.
Reproduction or dissemination of this article without the expressed written
permission of the Author and/or Publisher is strictly prohibited and punishable by law.


"Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble."
-- William Shakespeare

Such sinister ingredients would surely deter all but the foulest of hearts from filling the cauldron. Or, would they?
To learn to prepare any recipe, be it for a hearty stew, herbal remedy, powerful poison or an offering to summon entities of the darkest nature, you must have the proper ingredients and in the proper concentrations.
So how does one begin to decipher the instructions found in those grimoires penned in darkness and secrecy hundreds of years ago?  As Glinda the Good Witch said to Dorothy, "It's always best to begin at the beginning."
Our short garden journey begins with lessons in history and vocabulary, necessary essentials to understanding all that follows. The path to discovery leads back to the first century A.D. to a Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides who lived approximately between the years 40CE and 90CE. Dioscorides was a physician, pharmacologist and botanist during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. As a surgeon with the emperor's army he traveled extensively studying and gathering knowledge, elements and herbs from locations all over the Roman and Greek world. In the waning days of the Roman Empire, Dioscorides compiled a volume of manuscripts called the "De Materia Medica" which described more than six hundred remedies of vegetable, animal and mineral origins.  Within the manuscripts there also existed a substantial discourse on poisons.
These volumes remained in use over generations and throughout the Dark Ages, most especially in Europe. Found within these widely distributed and greatly respected writings of science were strange and exotic substances such as "Fat of a Head" and "Semen of Helios."
In the second century A.D. there came a Greco-Roman doctor, pharmacist and philosopher named Claudius Galenus who lived from 131CE to 201CE. Claudius Galenus, better known as "Galen," continuing Dioscorides’ traditions, furthered the quest by writing approximately 500 books and papers, becoming, without question, the most respected scientist of his day. His writings, which covered every aspect of medical science, shaped the methods of formulating in meticulous dosages the herbal tinctures and potions that could be used for means both sinister and benign. Galen's work surpassed the longevity of the "De Materia Medica" exacting a heavy influence on physicians and herbalists throughout the Middle Ages.  Galen eventually made his home in Egypt as a practicing physician until his death in 201CE.
The word "galenic" is still used today to describe medications made from vegetable or animal ingredients. Once again, in a widely distributed and respected scientific work were the sinister references to the severed body parts of animals and men. 
So what, aside from developing the exacting proportions of elements animal, vegetable and mineral required for all manner of uses, did these two men perpetuate and indeed, validate?
The answer is...a secret code.

The use of code names assigned to various herbal ingredients had been initiated in a series of Ancient Greek texts dating from the second century BCE to approximately the fifth century CE.  These texts, known today as The Greek Magical Papyri, contained fragments of spell books...repositories of arcane knowledge and mystical secrets. The papyri's spells, recipes and formulas were written in code and shorthand and detailed everything from the summoning of dark gods and demons to "folk Remedies," love potions and poisons for ridding oneself of unwelcome lovers. Both physicians obviously were well familiar with and borrowed heavily from (perhaps even contributed to) the texts and of the Papyri.
Remembering that what is used to cure may also be used to kill, Dioscorides and later Galen saw to it that the elements and herbs used in the makeup of potions used for both curses and cures were obscured within the tradition and used the same code as that found in the Greek Magical Papyri. Since both Dioscorides’ and Galen's works remained in use for centuries throughout the world, the use of these code names for herbs was continued by all manner of physicians and sorcerers, many of whom were likely unaware of the names’ sinister origin. The concern was that if the learned did not take precautions, the general population would have access to the instructions for all manner of working with elements and herbs. That is to say, the secrets to making all manner of magic with these substances would be available to all.
That simply could not be allowed.
Of course, these secrets inevitably were murmured from one to another and over time, the eye of newt and toe of frog found their way into the cauldron and craft of the grune hexe.  And so it is here that we begin our vocabulary lesson.
Going back to Shakespeare's formula for a "hell's broth," here are some of the translations:

"Tongue of dog" is referring to hound's tongue (Cynoglossom officinale), an herb allegedly having the power to quiet the barking of dogs.

"Adder's fork" is adder's tongue (Ohioglossum vulgatum), a fern reputed to have healing properties. 

Thus, knowledge of apparently simple and straightforward products of the natural world was all that was necessary to decode the formulae and treatises of the wise.

A further list of translations taken from the works of both Dioscorides and Galen, as well as The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, including The Demonic Spells by Hans Dieter Betz, follows:


Adder's Tongue: Dogstooth Violet; Plantain
Ass's Foot: Coltsfoot

Bat's Wing: Holly Leaf
Bat's Wool: Moss
Bear's Foot: Lady's Mantle
Bird's Eye: Germander, Speedwell
Blood: Elder sap or another tree sap
Blood from a Head: Lupine
Blood from a Shoulder: Bear's Breeches
Blood of a Goose: Mulberry tree's sap
Blood of a Hamadryas Baboon: Blood of a spotted gecko
Blood of a Snake: Hematite
Blood of an Eye: Tamarisk Gall
Blood of Ares: Purslane
Blood of Hephaistos: Wormwood
Blood of Hestia: Chamomile
Bloody Fingers: Foxglove
Blue Jay: Bay laurel
Bone of an Ibis: Buckthorn
Brains: Cherry tree gum [this phrase usually designates any fruit tree gum]
Bull's Blood or Seed of Horus: Horehound
Bull's Foot: Coltsfoot
Bull's Semen: Eggs of the blister beetle


Calf's Snout: Snapdragon
Capon's Tail: Valerian.
Cat: Catnip
Cat's Foot: Canada Snake Root and/or Ground Ivy
Clot: Great Mullein
Corpse Candles: Mullein
Cuddy's Lungs: Great Mullein
Crocodile Dung: Ethiopian Earth
Crow Foot: Cranesbill, wild geranium, buttercup


Devil's Dung: Asafoetida
Dog: Couch grass
Dog's Mouth: Snapdragon
Dog's Tongue: Hounds Tongue
Dove's Foot: Wild Geranium
Dragon's Blood: Resin of Draco palm
Dragon's Scales: Bistort leaves


Eagle: Wild Garlic or Fenugreek
Ear of an Ass: Comfrey
Ears of a Goat: St. John's Wort
Englishman's Foot: Common Plantain
Eye of Christ: Germander, speedwell
Eye of the Day: Common daisy
Eye of the Star: Horehound
Eyes: Inner part of a blossom; Aster, Daisy, Eyebright


Fat from a Head: Spurge
Fingers: Cinquefoil
Five Fingers: Cinquefoil
Foot: Leaf
Frog: Cinquefoil
Frog's Foot: Bulbous buttercup
From the Belly: Earth-apple
From the Foot: Houseleek
From the Loins: Chamomile


Goat's Foot: Ash Weed
God's Hair: Hart's Tongue Fern
Gosling Wing: Goosegrass
Graveyard Dust: Mullein
Great Ox-eye: Ox-eye daisy
Guts: The roots and stalk of a plant


Hair: Dried stringy herbs; ripe male fern
Hair of a Hamadryas Baboon: Dill Seed
Hair of Venus: Maidenhair fern
Hare's Beard: Great mullein
Hawk: Hawkweed
Hawk's Heart: Wormwood seed or wormwood crown
Head: Flower of a plant
Heart: Walnut; bud, seed, or nut
Hind's Tongue: Hart's Tongue Fern
Horse Hoof: Coltsfoot
Horse Tongue: Hart's Tongue Fern


Jacob's Staff: Great Mullein
Jupiter's Staff: Great Mullein


King's Crown: Black Haw
Kronos' Blood: Cedar


Lamb: Lettuce
Lamb's Ears: Betony
Leg: Leaf
Lion's Hair: Tongue of a Turnip [i.e., the leaves of the taproot]
Lion's Tooth: Dandelion, also known as Priest's Crown
Lion Semen: Human Semen


Man's Bile: Turnip sap


Nightingale: Hops


Paw: Leaf
Physician's Bone: Sandstone
Pig's Tail: Leopard's Bane
Privates: Seed


Ram's Head: American Valerian
Rat: Valerian
Red Cockscomb: Amaranth


Seed of Horus: Horehound
Semen of Ammon: Houseleek
Semen of Ares: Clover
Semen of Helios: White Hellebore
Semen of Hephaistos: Fleabane
Semen of Herakles: Mustard-rocket
Semen of Hermes: Dill
Shepherd's Heart: Shepherd's Purse
Skin of Man: Fern
Skull: Skullcap Mushroom
Snake: Bistort
Snake's Ball of Thread: Soapstone
Snake's Head: Leech
Sparrow's Tongue: Knotweed
Swine's Snout: Dandelion leaves


Tail: Stem
Tears of a Hamadryas Baboon: Dill Juice
Teeth: Pine Cones
Titan's Blood: Wild Lettuce
Toad: Toadflax; Sage
Toe: Leaf
Tongue: Petal


Unicorn's Horn: False Unicorn Root; True Unicorn Root
Urine: Dandelion


Weasel: Rue
Weasel Snout: Yellow Dead Nettles/Yellow Archangel
White Man's Foot: Common Plantain
Wing: Leaf
Wolf Claw: Club Moss
Wolf Foot: Bugle Weed
Wolf's Milk: Euphorbia
Woodpecker: Peony
Worms: Thin Roots

By the Queen of Sorcery I this garden lay:
Malediction, deep affliction May it bear both night and day.

By the Devil conjured, spread out sick and sere,
Evil, deathly blossoms, may they alone thrive here!

All material Copyright (c) 2011-2015 by Alyne Pustanio and Creole Moon Publications.
Reproduction or dissemination of this article without the expressed written
permission of the Author and/or Publisher is strictly prohibited by law.