The kitchen was full of activities. Women filled it to its capacity with the energy of warmth and togetherness. Prime preserving time was upon them. It’s the season when everyone, young and old, were at their busiest. Avril saw that the garden harvest had been abundant. Fresh, ripened and unblemished fruits and vegetables had been washed and dried. The food grown was done, not merely as a hobby, but a need for their survival.
Beads of sweat had formed on the women’s foreheads. Some dabbed at the moisture with their aprons to remove the proof of the hours spent preserving and canning for their winter use. The homegrown preserves would be greatly appreciated during the cold months. The women had become seasoned canners. They knew best how to seal in summer’s bounty. Close to the sink, there were mothers who checked the canning jars for nicks, cracks or uneven rims. Beside them, the dish rack held a full supply of freshly washed jars and two-piece caps. Steam rose from the large, black kettle which contained jars and lids that had been left to simmer in hot water until ready to use. Women sat in comfortable wooden chairs around the large oak kitchen table. They examined the canner lids of the full jars for a good vacuum seal. The jars were then taken to the root cellar to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place.
Avril was startled by a voice that spoke directly behind her. Standing at the bottom of the stairs Angelica was watching her. “I’m glad you came. Come, join the maidens,” she said quite cheerful.
Avril followed the Priestess. As Avril walked to the maidens she saw there were racks of glass jars with well fitted, screwed on lids, lined with greaseproof paper or foil, filled with different dried herbs. She noticed bundles of small-leaf, aromatic plants like thyme, rosemary and lavender, as well as the big-leaf herbs comfrey and angelica. The array of herb scents gave pleasure. Shanna, Hanna, Cortney, and Marley said their hellos. Avril stood beside Hailey and Corena. Lilith ignored her presence. Marley managed a smile. Priestess Angelica walked back and forth in front of the herb racks. The maidens listened to the Priestess’ lecture. “Over thousands of years herbs have been used as important drugs and simple medicinal remedies,” she said. “Certain plants improve diet and health. Others could be used to relieve and, sometimes, cure ailments. Our ancestors experimented with different herbs and gained knowledge by trial and error of what was harmless and safe. Women are natural healers and tonight we will put our talents to use. The herbs and plants we have here have been cut with a bolline, a white-handled knife and a traditional grimier prayer was performed.” She explained further, “The traditional grimier prayer was said before the herb, plant or wood was taken. The gatherers attuned with the herb, plant or wood’s energies and asked permission for it to give of its bounty to aid in the craft. They asked the Divine Energy for powers to be given for the plant to grow stronger and healthier as each day passes. After the plants, herb is gathered an offer of bird seed or bread crumbs was left to give thanks for their sacrifice to aid our work.”
The maidens held their silence as the Priestess reviewed the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the body part each governed.
ARIES - HEAD, FACE
TAURUS - NECK AND THROAT
GEMINI - ARMS, CHEST, LUNGS
CANCER - STOMACH AND BREAST
LEO - HEART, SMALL OF THE BACK
VIRGO - BOWELS AND INTESTINES
LIBRA - LIVER, KIDNEYS
SCORPIO - REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS
SAGITTARIUS - THIGHS
CAPRICORN - KNEES AND CIRCULATION
AQUARIUS - BACK AND LEGS
PISCES - FEET
Avril stood, staring at the rows of bottle herbs, her eyes moving from the end of one rack to the end of the next. Reaching over, Angelica slid her fingers around a bottle filled with powdered herb, and lifted the herb-bottle from the rack. “I have a friend born under the sign of Cancer whose trouble area in health is the stomach,” Angelica declared. “The herb I have chosen is a dried powder form of mint because it was known to be a digestive aid. Mint has the ability to relax the muscles that separate the stomach from the esophagus, to relieve bloating. I would like you to think of someone who is ill and needed relief. Then choose an herb that is best suit the healing of that particular ailment. If you are unsure what herb to use, I will be pleased to offer suggestions.”
“WAX corresponds to the physical body,
WICK corresponds to the mind,
FLAME corresponds to the soul.”
The maidens settled in at the picnic table. They listen to the Priestess reciting information to carry on what was taught in the past. “When candles are hand made, the object becomes charged with magickal powers because the designer’s energy – intent mingles with the candle’s energy,” she said. “The intent is absorbed into the wax and wick. When there’s a flame our spirit guides connect with us, soul to soul, and our intent connects with the invisible web lines to an outcome. Candles are an important elemental tool in magick. Making the candle is as much a part of the ritual as when they are lit. I advised you not to take shortcuts when candles are crafted. The waxes we will use tonight are made from forty-eight percent paraffin and fifty-two percent beeswax. It contained no animal fats known as tallow. The candles we will design will be fashioned from the honeycomb beeswax.” The Priestess sat at the head of the table, and explained, “The lunar phase, the Waxing Moon, the time from the New Moon through the first quarter, to the Full Moon, is the perfect time to hand craft herb-healing candles. Our intended goal of the magical candle would be to prevent illness or restore health. I assured you that honeycomb beeswax candles are the easiest to make.”
Avril sat gazing at the supplies as if taking stock of what was being offered. Angelica continued to describe the process. “I want you to use three separate sheets to create one candle,” she said. “Once the wick is applied to the first sheet then rolled, the other two sheets would be rolled to overlap each. The herb to aid in the wellness would be sprinkled once inside each of the previously rolled folds.”
First, Avril laid a wick along the length at the edge of the first sheet of beeswax. She folded the wick and crimped tightly so the honeycomb beeswax had a snug fit. The herb was sprinkled along the fold that had been crimped tightly around the wick. She repeated the process when the other two sheets of honeycomb beeswax had been added. She found it very easy to get one sheet of honeycomb beeswax to roll around the next. Finished, she looked at the healing candle, radiating satisfaction at her creation.
Hailey picked up her healing candle. “There are a lot of superstitions that surrounds the candle,” she said, her eyes still on her candle.
“Tell us,” Corena urged.
Hailey shifted her gaze to Corena. “A single taper must not be used to light more than two candles or bad luck will ensue. Difficulty in lighting a candle is a sign that rain is on its way. A sparking wick predicts the arrival of an important letter. A candle should not be allowed to burn to the very end as this would attract great misfortune. A candle knocked out by accident signifies a forthcoming marriage,” she replied.
“A candle with a tall, straight flame indicated the arrival of a stranger,” Cortney claimed, reaching for a sheet of beeswax. “If a candle will not light it is a sign a storm is coming. Burning a candle placed in a window will ensure the safe return of family or a mate.”
“I know that a wish would be fulfilled if all the candles on a birthday cake are blown out with one breath,” Corena added.
Lilith shot Corena a cold stare. Corena rolled her eyes back at her.
Avril turned to Hailey, whispering in her ear, “Lilith is such a mean witch."
"I know," she answered softly. "She gives witches a bad name."
Shanna looked at her healing candle between her fingers. “Two pins stuck through the middle of a red candle at midnight will make your mate arrive when the candle burns down to the pins.” she said, putting her healing candle down on the picnic table.
Avril slid a glance in Shanna’s direction. “I know two simple candle spells,” she said. “The first, to attract that which is desired, take two candles and place them apart. Assign one to symbolize self, the other that which you want or need. Move one candle toward the other to draw something to you for seven days in a row. The second is to bring forth cooperation. Advance two candles toward one another for seven days until they meet.”
Angelica cut in and continued to lecture on the subject. “Candle burning is based on sympathetic magic,” she said. “The candle represents something real. Whatever is projected onto the candle would cause the same thing to happen to who or what the candle represented. The procedure is to identify a candle as a particular person or thing then project intention toward it for a desired outcome. In candle magic it can take three days to three months before results are obtained.”
Angelica turned to Hannah, and asked, “Why is the candle an image for humanity?”
Hannah stopped rolling the beeswax, looked up at the Priestess and, with confidence, she answered, “Because the wax corresponds to the physical body, the wick, the human mind, and, the flame, our spirit or soul, the point of focus.”
Angelica, smiled her approval. “Candles symbolize the ancient element, fire, and are a sacred tool for magickal information. The date of origin is uncertain. Each candle color emits its own individual and special vibration which would attract different influences including spirit communication,” she said.
Avril glanced across the picnic table where Lilith and Marley sat beside each other. Lilith was having a breakdown right in front of her. “This is an absolute waste of time, right” Lilith said just barely above a whisper, frustrated trying to craft the healing candle with awkward hands. “You do it if you like. I’m not doing it.”
Avril’s eyes were watching, Marley looked at her healing candle fascinated by her craft, then set down the candle and glanced back at Lilith’s attempt. “Well” – she shrugged lightly, “you really don’t know what you’re doing,” she said under her breath.
Lilith’s face, eyes angry her hand shook her healing candle at Marley. Marley looked unimpressed still.
Lilith pushed her healing candle at Marley. She arrived at the point where she hated doing what needed to be done. “Here, you do it,” Lilith said sharply, firmly.
Angelica sat quiet, turning a little more, looked at Lilith trying to warn her visually to control her behavior. Lilith scowled as the attention went straight to her. “Forget this,” she hissed under her breath, her hand still holding her candle.
Angelica sat a moment longer, and then said, “Try to do it again. There are no short cuts in candle crafting, beyond intent, simple patience and disciplined.”
Annoyed, Lilith her eyes on the Priestess was forced to calm herself. “Impossible,” she simply said, placing her attempt of a healing candle on the picnic table. She rested her chin on her fist. Marley glanced in Lilith’s direction, then away. Lilith’s scowl only deepened.
Though tension lingered, the maidens finished wrapping the three honeycomb sheets of beeswax around the wick with the addition of their chosen herbs, and to enhance the shape; the wax on top was cut in a slanted angle away from the wick. The Priestess held a small brown glass bottle in her hand. “The candle needs to be anointed with oil from the center out toward each end. I’ve chosen jasmine oil so your magick would be successful,” she said, demonstrating how. The girls paid attention when the Priestess held her candle and rubbed it with jasmine oil from the center out to the top, then from the center she worked her way down to the opposite end to consecrate the healing candle as a magickal tool. The Priestess passed the small brown glass bottle to Marley. “Please, do what I did then pass the bottle for all to follow suit.”
Marley took the bottle of jasmine oil from the Priestess, began to anoint her healing candle.
The remainder of jasmine oil was returned to Angelica. “Hold your healing candles in your hands and concentrate on the person the healing candle represented and the purpose. Sit and breathe deeply with your eyes closed, and concentrate on your goal, to focus exclusively on the objective,” she said looking at the maidens.
Shortly after, Angelica announced, “The last thing that we need to do is wrap the healing candle in the green paper supplied and tie with the hemp rope to protect the magick.”
The kitchen witch Hilda walked up behind the Priestess. “Maidens, you are all beckoned to the bonfire to melt marshmallows.”
In a hurry, getting to their feet, Lilith and Marley slipped their healing candles into their pockets, and were the first to leave the table. Shanna and Hannah followed directly behind. Hailey stood. She paused and stared at the dirt in disbelief.
Concerned, Angelica asked, “Is there a problem?”
“I think I need a few minutes,” she answered.
“All right,” she said. She turned and walked away to join the conveners.
Cortney and Corena glanced over at Hailey and Corena asked softly, “What’s wrong?”
Hailey just looked at them in disbelief. “I cannot believe my eyes,” she said surprisingly. She took a deep breath and dropped to one knee. She stood again, stunned. Avril moving closer asked, “What’s the matter? Hailey smiled as she recovered from her distress. She opened her hand. A lace rope fell through her fingers. On her palm was the crocheted heart that held Lilith’s spell – the enchanted snare to keep Hal at her side.
The sister-friends stared at crocheted heart for several seconds, and then Corena shook her head astonished once the connection was made to what Hailey had in her grasp. She quickly moved to Hailey’s side and focused on the magical tool. She could feel the negative energy emanating from the enchanted snare. Corena’s hand couldn’t touch the crocheted heart. Her face looked too scared to get to close. “I don’t like the feeling I’m getting from that,” she said concerned.
Cortney looked at Corena’s small, terrified face and asked, “You don’t want to be near it do you?”
“Lilith had sewn each stitch by hand,” Corena answered very concerned. “The creator’s personal and psychic energies had been absorbed into its making.”
Hailey stood a minute longer. “Upon closer examination,” she claimed, “The crocheted heart is a magical pouch known as a pocket. I’m sure it is stuffed with various items that Lilith felt would bring forth her desire. It was probably worn close to her skin, so that she could easily slip in any new ingredient that she spotted to support her goal.”
Corena cut her off and asked, “Like my lock of hair, broken finger nail and missing love talisman are all in there?”
“I’d say yes,” Avril answered, looking at her.
“We should break it open and see what is inside,” Cortney said, standing by her side.
Hailey nodded in agreement. “But first,” she said. “We should try to cripple the protective spell that has been cast.” Avril turned to look at those by the bonfire. Many had gathered to enjoy the roasted treat. Lilith was too busy doing her own thing to take notice of them. Cortney, Corena, Hailey and Avril quickly ran into the dark night to decide the fate of the crocheted heart.
Corena held her hand up. “This is a secluded area. The trees are completely surround us,” she offered. The three maidens moved to her.
“I agree on this place. I’m sure it will be free from interruptions,” Hailey said, removing a white candle and a matchbox from her satchel. She struck a matchstick against the side of the box then lit the candle with the flame. Hailey adjusted the white candle to stand on its own on the ground.
“Cortney and Corena would you go gather thirteen stones, and Avril, gather some small twigs and dried leaves for a fire,” Hailey ordered.
“Okay. Let’s move,” Avril announced. The three walked out into the woods.
Hailey crouched down and rummaged through her satchel. She removed a black-handled, double-edged athame with a six inch blade, and placed it east on the ground. She removed a shiny gold pentacle placing it in the north position on the dirt. In the west position she put a glass container filled with water from the last summer storm. A silver cross lay at the bottom in the liquid. The white candle burned brightly at the south position to help protect them from attack by evil influences. When the maidens returned carrying the stones, sticks and dried leaves, a magic circle nine feet in diameter was erected with the thirteen stones. The maidens made sure the circle was completely closed once all were inside. Cortney built and tended to the small fire, the four sister-friends sat down around. The crocheted heart with the spell attached was laid upon a large, dried oak leaf. The fire crackled as Cortney added more fuel to it. Corena was the first to speak, “I’m amazed that something so delicate and beautiful could cause so much turmoil.”
“Looks can be deceiving,” Cortney replied.
Hailey’s voice was serious, “No matter how simple or complex the charm, spell or incantation is, Lilith’s will and energy was applied. The most effective magic generally combines both words and actions.”
Avril looked over at Hailey and said, “I believe phrases and formulas were used that included gestures combined with words that resulted in the enchantment cast on Hal. I’m sure Lilith’s charm has been strengthened by the repetition used.”
“I’m not altogether sure what Lilith did. I hope we can figure out how to use our personal power to create the needed change,” Cortney told them.
“Maybe we should bury the contents in a bottle along the path where Lilith would walk,” Corena suggested. “The Karma sent would rebound back onto her. I truly believe the method would neutralize the evil sent.”
Hailey leaned over, and squinted her eyes, examining the crocheted heart. “If Lilith had been thorough she would have had each item inside baptized in the name of her intended victim.” She sat straight up. “The crocheted heart needs to be set on fire to destroy the power and dispose of the enchanted snare!” All were silent for a brief moment while Hailey sat in deep thought. Finally she said, “To procure the dissolving of bewitching or constraint, the best magic to use as defense is love.”
Cortney agreed. “Our happiness is love, unselfish and good. If we let goodness, kindness and love function within our beings we can break the spell without being harmed.”
Hailey glanced down at the enchanted snare. “The plan needs to utilize an equivalent solar power against the dark. The positive light would change that which was done,” she said.
Avril looked at the crocheted heart, and then back at Hailey. “Use our spiritual power to overcome this difficult situation,” she said, understanding.
Hailey nodded in agreement, but said nothing more.
Corena stared down at the crocheted heart, her heart pounding, her hands trembling. Avril noticed her sister-friend found it very difficult to calm herself, and asked, “You’re really okay?”
Corena paused for a moment. “I’m fine,” she lied.
Avril shook her head. “I don’t believe that!”
“You can’t guarantee this is going to work,” she said.
“There are no guarantees,” Hailey countered.
“We have the elemental tools and knowledge how to get it done. All we can do is try,” Cortney said patiently.
Hailey smiled reassuringly. “We can’t change Lilith, however we can try to change your circumstance,” she said.
Avril eyes moved over the crocheted heart. She turned her attention back to Corena. “Have no fear, none,” she said without hesitation. “We can do this.”
“I will be grateful when I’m no longer recipient of Lilith’s selfish magic,” she said her eyes still on the crocheted heart. She sighed, trying to keep a realistic lid on her optimism.
No Spoilers Here!
Parts of my book the Enchanted Snare have been left out on purpose. I can't give it all away... The end of this chapter will reappear when the teen, new adult, young adult witchy book is released. Until we meet again, merry we part and I wish you joy-joy - bliss- bliss. So mote it be.
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