The Flying Ointment Necklace, inspired by an old hedge-rider’s recipe.
Flying Ointment, the poisonous balm that aided witches in flight, has many recipes. Modern ones might not get you there, as the most potent and potentially lethal ingredients will have been omitted. In this necklace, however, I’ve included three of the most dangerous. Datura, henbane and nighshade are represented with Czech glass flowers and the beautifully detailed little Queen stands in for the beeswax vehicle. Soot is often mentioned as an ingredient– hence the black colourway of the piece. I’ve included the skulls because if the recipes for flying ointment teach us anything, it’s that witches were skilled poisoners as well as herbalists, and the nuanced proportions of ingredients in the ointment could either aid in soul flight, alleviate the pain of childbirth or other woes through “twilight sleep”, or of course, kill you.
One of the oldest recorded accounts of the use of flying ointment is from the 2nd century in Apuleius’ delightful Golden Ass. There are also recipes mentioned in Margaret Murray’s exhaustive (and exhausting) Witch Cult in Western Europe, which modern day witches can only read critically, trying to decipher the truth through the lens of these “confessions” often elicited under torture. Much of the evidence we have left to us from our powerful female ancestors is weighted with such distortions. Perhaps by flying ourselves to visit them, through soul-flight and meditation, we might know a better truth. Often witches are depicted flying in groups, communing– there are few solitaries where flight is concerned! So were such ancestral Sabbats the ultimate destination of their night flights as well? Did they also meet with those who’d come before, not at a literal Brocken but somewhere else beyond this time and space?
This necklace was made to honour the hedge riders of the past who risked everything for wisdom and the healing of others.
Image of witches concocting flying ointment before the sabbat (Hans Baldung Grien, 1514) from PotShot
Meet the new logo for Feral Strumpet, created by Alaura of Desnoir. After seeing the work she did for Black Moon Cosmetics, among other brands, I knew she was the woman for the job! After giving Alaura some ideas she was able to create this design which is medieval, gothic and also based on some of my best selling designs, the Nahusha hoops and Pennanular brooches as well as the Worry Ring. She created the perfect design on the first version– I love it and feel it encapsulates the mysterious, delicate and beautiful world of Feral Strumpet that I have created. Alaura was a joy to work with and I recommend her highly.
Imbolc is just a few days away, and it is one of my favourite days on the Wheel of the Year. This year is comes aided by a new moon and I don’t know about you, but I can already feel the rising sap, up in my bones, as I look for the first snow drops to appear, heralding a change. Above I’ve chosen a selection of pieces that remind me of this energy– clockwise from the upper left– The Snowdrop Fairy Flower Earrings, The Mother Troll Amethyst Necklace, The Griffin Milk Earrings, The Gerd– a delicate sterling silver strand with faceted chrysoprase, the silver scent locket (what would you put inside to herald spring?) and lastly the Cosmic Hug pendant of Rose Quartz.
Tomorrow I’ll be putting together my altar, and cleaning and oiling all my tools in honour of the heathen Charming of the Plough. I’ll give thanks to Brigid, who in the form of Brigantia, was the goddess of the tribal ancestors of this area– she was also the goddess of the forge, brewing and poetry; she has guided my hand in all these things and I am eternally grateful. What do you do to celebrate Imbolc and herald the first glimmerings of spring?
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Getting ready for a few more months of winter, I’m turning to music that got me through the difficult years of high school– specifically this X song, The Hungry Wolf. This Full Wolf Moon comes between the long night moon and Imbolc, before spring starts make a brave show through the frost. This moon was named for the hungry wolves that surrounded villages back when stores were getting lean, from a time when perhaps we better understood we were part of a living cycle, just as vulnerable as the wild things around us.
The moon is a constant inspiration for me, and you can find the latest moon-inspired designs in the Howling Moon Collection.
I thought it was fitting today that the Tarot card I pulled was the King of Stones from the Wildwood Tarot– a beautiful wolf howling at the moon.
We are making room for new designs in 2017, and are busy filling up the Boxing Day Sale Section at feralstrumpet.co.uk. Starting on Boxing day, you’ll find some old favourites there and many more new pieces– one offs and prototypes, all an additional 50% off with coupon code KANGAROO. This offer is good from Dec. 26th-Jan. 2nd, 2016. (This offer can’t be combined with other coupons or offers and can’t be used retrospectively.) Here’s a peek at just a few of the designs that will be on sale!