Hello and welcome to this weeks instalment of the grimoire series!
This week I’m following on from last months article of ‘the rose‘, in which I spoke about the rose’s history, folklore, colour magic symbology and more! In this particular piece, I also mentioned Lancashire’s long association with the red rose and it’s county symbolism. I also promised a follow on blog regarding one regional working called ‘the Lancashire rose sigil’. So here it is!
Todays blog will be a little more in-depth then those previous within the grimoire series, and this is because I am going to take some time to discuss the importance of regional witchcraft and folk ways, as well as how I came to build such a strong connection to the county in which I now live in, Lancashire. Now, obviously not all of those who are subscribed to this premium content service will live in or around Lancashire. However, that does not make this article completely irrelevant to those outside of this region. On the contrary, I hope it provides a valid insight, and even act as a source of inspiration as to how you can connect with your own regions- The places you call home, with it’s own lore, history, folk ways, and witchcraft.
My Connection To The County Of Lancashire.
It has been quite some journey for me, both moving to Lancashire and connecting with it on both a spiritual and magical level. I have spent eleven years in total studying it’s folklore, and then gone on to dedicate the last six years of my life into learning it’s folkways and regional witchcraft. From that, I have both learnt from fantastic community members and elders, as well as formulated my own workings that have been directly inspired by my connection to the local landscape, local land spirits, culture, history, and folklore.
My first encounter with the county of Lancashire began twelve years ago in 2011.
I had by this point been working with the goddess Brigid for bout ten years, and had hit a wall in my life. Nothing seemed to be working out quite right. My job as a room leader in a nursery setting, for want of a better word, sucked, and paid very little for the time and effort I was putting in. It’s only satisfaction came from the pre-school children I worked with. Children who adored me, and in turn satisfied a calling I had to work with children and families. My social life was becoming stagnant and toxic, as many of my friends had begun to regularly use class A drugs and partying longer and harder. At the age of twenty five, this held no interest for me, especially as I had to be up at 6am most days in order to get to work on time! I was more interested in settling down, seeking a mortgage and finding the ‘one’. As well as this, I was happy exploring the occult, and hoping to expand my love of writing.
Of my social circle, only one friend had a similar outlook on life as me. And we are still the best of friends, all these years later!
Relationship wise, I had experienced a run of dead-beat boyfriends. Largely because I had a type- brooding guitarists or drummers who were usually very immature. Don’t judge me, I was young!
The only part of my life that held any genuine satisfaction, was my spiritual life.
I was helping out at a local South London moot, attending open rituals all over London, and held a really good relationship with Brigid and a version of the horned god, known locally as “Old Jack” (sometimes also equated to, or associated with other similar land deities, such as the Bucca or Old Bucky).
I appealed to both Brigid and Old Jack for help. “Help me unblock my life. Help me find a breakthrough”.
“I’m ready to settle down, how do I move forward. How do I find the ‘one’?
“How do I find work that I both love and offers me freedom of expression?”.
“How do I move forward with my writing?”.
From each deity, I received a clear but separate response.
From Brigid, “Come to me in Brigantia.”
And from the Jack “Look for the one like me, but of the water”.
Well, Brigid’s message made some sense, at least. Perhaps she was referencing the North of England, which historically held what was then called the Brigante land, after the tribe there. I had been considering leaving London, so perhaps I should look at opportunities up in the North?
The Jack’s message on the other hand made no sense to me! Though this was not unusual, over the years, I have often found that he speaks in vague riddles that only make sense after a period of time, or when an incident has occurred. So, I decided to ‘bank’ the messages in my book of ways and means (or grimoire, as some might call it). So that I would not forget the message, and could refer back to it when needed.
Not long after this, I met a new romantic interest. He wasn’t a deadbeat musician, he was a soldier, capable of holding down a job and responsibility (or so it seemed), could drive, lived outside of London, and was originally from Lancashire- the county within what would have once been part of Brigantia. Falling head over heels in love, and not willing to slow down and look at the bigger picture, we quickly got engaged, very soon fell pregnant, and before I knew it, was living in Suffolk.
We would regularly visit Lancaster to visit his family, and although I did not like them, and they certainly held no affection for me, I did love the Lancashire landscape. Wild and rough, yet pretty and inviting. I spent time exploring Lancaster Castle, the dreary place in which the Lancashire Witches were held prisoner and tried for Witchcraft, walking along Morcombe beach, and reading books about Lancashire folklore and history.
However, this marriage was not fated to last. In November 2015, I gathered what little courage I had, and fled domestic violence with my then three year old daughter- pleading with Brigid to cover me and my daughter with her green cloak of protection.
After the humiliation of having to do police video interviews, speak to solicitors, and appear in family courts to testify, I moved back home to South London, tail between my legs (as no-one in my family had liked my first husband. They all saw in him what I could not at first).
In time, things settled, I eventually got my own flat, back in Suffolk, a restraining order ensured my safety, and I started life again. I found that with the more time that passed, I realised that I actually missed Lancashire more than I did my now Ex-husband!
Time drew on, and every time I would connect with Brigid, her answer would be the same, “Things will get better when you move to Brigante land. It is where you’re meant to be for the next chapter of your life”. “Never!” I vowed. Moving back to the North might not only be unsafe for me and my child, but also held painful memories and reminders that my marriage had failed. For a while, romance held no interest for me either. I enjoyed my own company, and the freedom that came with it. But as the winter came, and with it, long evenings alone in my new flat, my mind did begin to wonder about the possibility of companionship. Yet, the very idea of dating made me feel anxious and sick. My trust in others had been severely tested.
In the following February, I attended an open Imbolc ritual held at Christchurch park in Suffolk. During one part of the ritual, those attending were each invited to write a small wish on a piece of paper, and then cast it into the Bridie flame. In hopes of our wish coming to fruition over the course of the year. I was stumped at first. I had most of what I wanted. A safe new home of my own, back in Suffolk (a county I had come to love), Somewhere I could raise my daughter safely. A garden that was big enough to grow fruits and vegetables, good friends, independence, and safety. I was even writing again! The only thing on my list that I did not have yet was a companion. So, On the piece of paper I wrote something along the lines of…
“Brigid, I don’t know if there is such a thing as ‘the one’. But if there is, and there is one for me, I ask that you please guide us together. Because I’m not sure that I have the ‘spoons’ to actively seek them out, in case I get hurt again. My love and adoration, Zanna”.
I then cast the rolled up paper wish into the flames, and went home.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you will have many friends and acquaintances on your Facebook account. And since I had fled domestic violence, I was free to have as many friends as I liked! Friends that did not need to be vetted for approval by an overbearing husband. I added people here, there, and everywhere! Mainly fellow Pagan’s. Some were through Facebook groups, others were friends of friends. One such social media friend was a guy called Mark. We each shared a close mutual friend named Gary. In fact, it was Gary, that had suggested to me of adding Mark as a Facebook friend because he was a “plant geek”. And that if there was anything I wanted to know about trees, plants, and gardening, he was the guy to talk to. So I added him.
However, for a good length of time, we never actually got the chance to talk. He was one of those acquaintances that hovered on my friends list and never really got interacted with. Until about a year later, which happened to be about one week after the Imbolc ceremony I attended. I dropped Mark a message to see if he could recommend a decent tree identification book. One typo later, he had written ‘thong’ instead of ‘thing’, and a quick witted retort from me, seemed to break the ice. We quickly went from discussing plants, folklore, Druidry, and witchcraft a few times a week, to speaking for hours every evening on the phone. There was only one problem, Mark lived in Lancashire…
Once again, Brigid was seemingly trying to move me back towards Lancashire, and I was understandably reluctant.
However, to cut a long story short, Mark did turn out to be the one. We are now married, have five children together and live a joyful- yet often chaotic, lifestyle of urban homesteading, home educating our children, running talks and workshops on witchcraft, and more! Since taking a huge leap of faith and moving to Lancashire, just one area that was included in the original Brigante territory, my life has expanded in unimaginable ways! I write professionally, have become a Doula, Priestess, and more. So clearly Goddess was right all along. Lancashire was where I was meant to be, for at least this part of my life anyway. But what of Old Jack’s prophetic riddle? Did I ever work it out…
Well, I think so… He had said, “look for one like me, but of the water”.
This has since led me to ponder the etymology of my new married surname of Buxton. My husband is of Romani heritage, and when working on tracing his family tree, his family name of Buxton does seem to change it’s spelling fairly regularly. Not uncommon within traveller communities where not everyone was literate and clergy had to sometimes guess the spelling of some surnames. So, as well as finding evidence of my husbands ancestors being Romani and licensed ‘pot hawkers’, the name varies in spelling to include Buxton, Buxstone, Boxton, and one potential source (that I am still researching is Buccastone). As mentioned previously, Old Jack is seemingly a regional variation of a horned god-like archetype, one that is sometimes comparable to the Bucca of the West Country. So, perhaps there is an etymological link between the name Buxton and Old Bucky (another name variant for the Jack). Buxton is also a place name, with an obvious link to Buxton spring water. I cannot be sure if my analysis is a true or accurate interpretation to Old Jack’s message, but then again, he has never corrected me either…
But why am I telling you all of this, and what on earth does it have to do with the working I am sharing with you today? Well, quite a bit actually. If you have been following my articles for a while now, you will have noticed I place a lot of emphasis on my connection with the land, it’s spirts, folklore, and regional witchcraft. And although I discuss this aspect a lot, I have not necessarily told you about what led me, a Surrey/South London girl, from an Anglo-Irish Catholic family, to move to and connect with Lancashire, allowing it to influence so much of my spiritual and witchcraft practice. So, that’s what I am doing with you today, I’m sharing with you some of my bare bones and inner self. A tiny part of my life journey and how I not only came to Lancashire, but let it influence my witchcraft. Since moving here six years ago, I have expanded the initial interest I had previously explored of Lancashire folklore, to cover history, politics, music, folk ways, witchcraft, and culture. By doing this I have not only had the honour of meeting with and gleaning fascinating lore from those who could, for all intents and purposes be considered local ‘wayside witches’, but have also been inspired to create workings and rituals of my very own too. One such working is the following, which incorporates the county heraldic symbol of Lancashire.
The Importance Of Regional Witchcraft.
Despite being a small island, mainland Britain has three countries within it, and within those countries are many counties! England has a whopping forty eight counties! Scotland apparently has thirty three, and Wales has twenty two. Despite having so many counties, England can often be broken down into more bitesize regions. For example, the South-East, the West Country, the Midlands and so on. And where some regional Witchcraft can be lumped into ‘regions’ such as popular ‘West country witchcraft’, more often than not, folk witches will base more of their ways on the specific county to which they live. However, although it can be handy to breakdown Witchcraft into such regions, the truth is, there are often different folk witch and folk way practices varying from each county in those regions. For example, I live in Lancashire, and I specialise in that areas folk witchery and healing folk ways. However, In a slightly larger scope, I also work with other areas in the region known as the North West. Such as Liverpool and Manchester (historically, both part of Lancashire, but now metropolitan areas), Cumbria, but also some overlapping areas of West Yorkshire, such as Howarth, Halifax etc. There are often overlaps in neighbouring counties folklore and witch ways, but there are also noticeable differences too. Learning them, and understanding your landscape, it’s spirits and folklore can offer a wealth of information, practice and inspiration for your own witchcraft. The land on which we live holds potent power, whether that is an urban jungle like London, beautiful flat agricultural country side like Suffolk, or counties with wild moors and coastlines like Lancashire. You will also find that many of these counties and regions have energies that seem to speak completely different languages and dialects to the energies found elsewhere in the country, meaning that they will speak to and influence you in different ways.
For example, a lot of the folk ways and magic I was taught or self learned in Suffolk, had a fairy and agricultural flare to it. Workings on how to protect your crops (or boost their growth), how to stop the fey from spoiling your milk, or elf shotting your cows. How to make Witch bottles for protection etc.
Where here in Lancashire, there are some hints of agricultural and wealth workings, but their are far more protection, apotropaic workings, and practical healing ways up here. In part, this is because of the scar caused by the Pendle witch trials. It created a mass fear which heavily boomed the creation of folk tales and apotropaic workings of protecting oneself against witches. For example, the use of mountain ash, otherwise known as Rowan, to protect ones home from Witches entering. Then there is the fact that this land is heavy in moors. Dense wide spaces of land virtually untouched by man, where not your average fairy lurks, but spirits that are as old as time itself. Wild, rough, capricious and trickster like beings who can lead you into being lost (pixie led) drown you (Jenny Green Teeth), or foretell and even bring about your death (the Skriker).
Lancashire historically was an area of great infrastructure, and during the 1800’s was a hot bed of mines and mills being worked as part of the industrial revolution. Accidents and deaths within the workplace were extremely high! So workings and charms to protect oneself, or ones spouse, are also more commonplace here, than for example, the South of England.
Another example of county differences in witchcraft between Suffolk and Lancashire would be the use of witch bottles. Such apotropaic workings are often found in the foundations of old buildings in East Anglia. Yet, they are rarely (if ever) found in the North West of England. This was partly down to trading, As Southern coasts were far more likely to come across imported European bellarmine jugs, such that were used for the formulation of witch bottles. Where in the North, there are more references and current practices of using wood or coal ash as a means of of protection. For example, scrubbing one doorstep on Good Friday with ash as a way of blessing the home and stopping evil witches or spirits crossing the threshold. Or the smearing of rowan ask on the underside of a baby’s crib to stop them being switched with a changeling.
Learning and working with your own region or counties energies, folklore and witchery can be a powerful ally to the folk witch. It’s land spirits can sometimes offer protection (though depending on the spirit, not all will have your best interests at heart), it’s landscape can offer a bounty of foraged goodies, be that for food or for ritual use. And more than anything else, the land on which you live is your home and tiny portion of mother earth. Therefore worthy of you love and connection.
What Is A Sigil?
In short, a sigil is a drawn, inscribed, or painted occult symbol used to bring about a desired magical outcome. For example, this particular sigil that I am sharing with you today is for the purpose of protection. Others might be used for wealth magic, healing, a safe birth, pacts, invocations etc.
A sigil can be ancient and taken from various occult streams, or they can be created by the Witch with a specific purpose in mind. There is no link between the success of a sigil regarding antiquity. For example, just because a symbol or sigil is supposedly ancient, or has been used by numerous other people, does not mean it is any more (or any less) powerful then what you have created. The power comes from the intention and the focus you put into it, the sigil is merely the vehicle for the destination- you are the driver.
Sigils can be made up of letters, shapes, numbers, arcane languages and alphabets, ogam, runes, occult symbols and more! There will be some out there who tell you that there are set ways in which a sigil must be designed, but as with most areas of witchcraft, I have found such ideas to either only be occasionally helpful and insightful, or more often than not, pointless gatekeeping based in an individuals need to be recognised as an ‘authority’ on the subject matter. It is very rare that I come across a working or ritual within low magic/folk magic where there is a good and valid reason why a seeker ‘must’ do something in a very specific way, but for those occasions and old lore’s, I do respect them. Ultimately, it comes down to individual discernment, and being able to tell the difference between a teacher genuinely guiding you, or attempting to be a personality withing the craft.
In the realm of sigils, my personal view is this… if you have specifically chosen relevant symbology to create a sigil, and you have done it carefully and with clear intention, it’s unlikely to be ‘wrong’ or be defective. Allow your intuition, guides and magic to guide you. You can design your sigil so that it’s symbology is obvious and recognisable, or you can make it so that it is only identifiable to you. There are of course, pros and cons to either formulation.
It is also possible to work colour magic and symbology into the design of a sigil too. Specifically opting for colours that have relevance to the tone of your working.
The Lancashire Rose Sigil.
This working is designed to be used within house protection workings. It utilises the combination of both sigil and mirror magick in the prevention of negative energy and intentions entering the home, as well as reflecting it back to the sender. Mirrors being used to reflect back negative intention and the evil eye has a long history of use within folk witchcraft, with many witches choosing to hang mirrors in front of doors and at the top of staircases for many generations. From a psychological standpoint, having a mirror opposite a front door can be very off-putting to those with less than favourable intentions. Unfortunately, as a family, we get a lot of salespeople, political canversers, and charity workers knock at our door. The good news is that it’s easy to tell the ones who are not to be trusted compared to your average Joe who is just doing their job. Why? Well, because when I open the front door the caller isn’t just confronted by me, but a large pine framed mirror directly behind me that reflects back the callers own reflection. Most of the time, a caller will either not notice the mirror, or will do a quick eye glance, before making direct eye contact with me. But with the cold callers who are coming from questionable ‘charities’, or, like the time when I had a particularly pushy and borderline aggressive religious fanatic knock at the door, the caller begins to loose their nerve. They get shifty, and will keep glancing at their reflection in the mirror. They will shift their stance to try and avoid their own reflection (to which I kindly also gently and discreetly shift my stance in order to once again show the caller their reflection). Being faced with a mirror when you are being deceitful or manipulative can be very off-putting. It can offer a similar feeling to the discomfort of being near a known CCTV unit. Even though it is only your own reflection staring back at you, it can still make you feel watched and mirror back your own unworthy intentions. Therefore, this is a very useful working to utilise for protection of the home.
From a metaphysical viewpoint, the mirror works in a similar way, and reflects back any negative energy attempting to enter the home. Bouncing it back outside each and every time it attempts entry.
But where does the heraldic symbol of the Lancashire rose come into all of this? Well, I originally took my inspiration from a conversation I had overheard at the gift shop in the Pendle heritage centre. There are of course, all manner of trinkets there, many of them made by local artists, and lots of them depicting the famous Lancashire Rose. Two ladies were looking at some glass window charms and debating on whether or not to buy one, when one of them said “You know what, I think I will get one. My mum said it was lucky to own a Lancashire rose if you were Lancashire bred, because it kept you safe and brought you luck”. When her companion asked why this was, her friend laughed “I don’t know, maybe because we beat the York’s. Up the house of Lancaster!”. It was an amusing conversation to witness, but it did make me wonder at the possible application of heraldic and other associated county symbology within the realm of folk magic. After doing some researching, and practice attempts at creating a rose based sigil, I eventually formulated this working and sigil. However, should you wish to change this and create a working that uses relevant symbology from your county or metropolitan area, please do!
Instructions And Tools Needed.
- 1 mirror that has a suitable backing that will be able to be marked with a black permanent marker pen.
- 1 black permanent marker.
- Suitable hammer, nails, or other suitable tools for hanging the mirror.
- Suitable items to cleanse your mirror. For example, four thieves vinegar, Sage, Mugwort, salt water, etc.
- A copy of the sigil that you can use to copy from. Or, if you are creating your own sigil, a copy of it on paper that you an refer to when drawing it on the back of the mirror.
Important Note! If, like me, you love good second hand, pre-loved, and antique finds, it’s always a good idea to cleanse the item before putting it to use within the home. This is especially true with mirrors and beds/bedding, cradles, and a rocking chairs. There are multiple ways of energetically cleansing objects and tools, and I will be discussing the in more details for the next instalment of the folk witchcraft series. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy method, you can try one of the following:
- Cleansing with the smoke of Mugwort or Sage (in some cultures, this is called smudging or saining)
- Washing the item with salt water or four thieves vinegar (where appropriate, this will not be suitable on certain items).
- Reciting a blessing or prayer over the item.
Cleansing an item of its old energies aids in releasing any ties, negative memoires the item may have, or any potential spirit attachments. Mirrors are especially known for holding onto memories, images, and attachments. Hence why it is good practice to always cleanse a mirror that is not brand new.
Step 1: Set up a clean working area that is big enough to do this task. An altar may not be big enough, but a Kitchen table or desk may be better.
Step 2: Ensure the mirror is both energetically cleansed and has been physically cleaned of any dust, price tags, stains, or smudges.
Step 3: Hold the mirror in both hands, or if it is too big to do this, place both hands on or over the front of the mirror and say:
“Mirror of glass, mirror of reflection, send back evil, send back hate.
Show enemies their own true reflection, may they be unnerved by
their secrets and dark intentions.
Mirror of glass, mirror of reflection, reflect back harm, reflect back
Those who are untrustworthy, those who spread trouble.
Send them back, send them home.”
Step 4: Turn the mirror over and with the black permanent pen, mark upon the back of the mirror the below sigil. As you do this, you will need to be free of all other distractions, so that you can set your intention clearly. So, if possible, turn off your phone, tv, radio, etc. If like me, and you are neurodivergent and find it hard to focus in silence, I sometimes find playing music that has no vocals to be beneficial. One album I find helpful to listen to is Omnia’s ‘naked harp’. Which you can find on Spotify.
Step 5: As you set your intention, clearly visualise your workings objective. For example, imagine an unwanted visitor or intruder feeling compelled to suddenly leave, or be physically blown away from your home. In your minds eye, imagine negative energies and intentions being rebounded so forcefully, it is though they are being struck with an electric shock. If you struggle with visualisations, you may find it helpful to draw the sigil and then hold both hands over the sigil and recite specific objectives, for example;
“You can’t come in here. It’s not safe or welcome for you because the house knows you’re here to cause trouble”.
“We can see you. We see all of your motives and intentions, leave now before you’re discovered!”.
“Every time negative energy, dark spirits, or malevolent intentions try to enter this home, they will be painfully zapped back to wherever they came from. They cannot enter here!”
Step 6: Once the sigil has been marked upon the back of the mirror, recite the following:
“Mirror of glass, mirror of reflection.
Now you are done, now you are completed.
Set to work, do your job.
Send back evil, hate, and wrongdoing”
Step 7: Your mirror is now ready to be hung up! You can hang it in a porch, opposite your front door, in a front room window, whatever works for you!
I hope you enjoyed this weeks instalment of the grimoire series! Our next article will be part of the divination series in which I will be talking about automatic writing!
From the time, mists and distance between us, blessings from me to you.