Halfway Through Making a Stang


I am in the process of making a stang, which unfortunately is getting interrupted by This Damn Wedding of mine.

I have oak wood for the stang, which was given to me by a tree I often talked to.  The wood is split into three pieces, which I will put together by dowel rods.  It’s being delayed because I first have to make a water blessing so I can give the tree I take them from an offering.  The wood for the main body of the stang was lying in the water, so I did not have to make an offering.  Then I will have to wait for the wood for the dowel rods to dry and carve out the spaces for the rods in the wood which will make up the body of the stang.

I was told by one of my goddesses that I was to attach the bones of the sea, the bones of the earth and the bones of the air to my stang.  I was given a mouse and four birds courtesy of my cat.  Normally there is nothing strange in this, but before now my cat had caught three birds in the entire eight years I have had her.

I have to wait for the mouse and birds to decompose so I can attach the bones to the stang, some of which are going to be put between the pieces of wood.  I have seashells for the bones of the sea, but need something to cut the shells up so they look like bones instead of shells.

After that I need an antler for the top and a nail for the bottom and it will be finished.  Unfortunately this is not a quick project and is even slower with wedding s**t intruding upon it.  I want to get it finished this year (my year begins at the Spring Equinox) but I am not sure this will happen.

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Experiments in Infused Oils


I have three lengths of seasoned oak wood, which I am planning to join together to make into a stang.  A couple of months ago I realised that the wood, which should be oiled every year needed oiling urgently.  Seasoned wood needs to be oiled otherwise it will start to become brittle and snap.  Some people varnish the wood to seal the natural oils in, but at the time I was not sure what I wanted to do with the wood, so I plumped for oiling it.

I used olive oil, because it was what I had to hand.  The wood really drank the oil and I used a lot of olive oil, but what surprised me was the kinship I felt with the wood after oiling it.

I know some people say that you don’t need to oil the wood, but I think that by feeding it with olive oil and taking the time to care for it, you make a stronger bond with the spirit that resides in your wood.

A few weeks ago on a foraging (wildcrafting) expedition I picked some oak leaves to try to make an infused oil.  I used olive oil as my base.  If your infused oil is going to be used for healing purposes I advise you not to use olive oil as the olive oil that is bought for cooking has little medicinal value.

But in this case, the oil was not going to be used for medicinal purposes, and since I had used so much a couple of months ago, I erroneously thought that I was going to need a jam jar full of oil.  Other base oils such as almond and grapeseed are much more expensive and with the quantity I was making would have cost me around £10 for the base oil.

Infused oils are easy to make.  You pick some dry vegetable matter, chop it up and put it in a container and pour the base oil over it, making sure it covers the vegetable matter.  With normal base oils, such as almond and grapeseed you wait for three to four days, when the base oil will have taken on the smell and the spirit of the vegetable matter and then you remove the vegetable matter and you have an infused oil.  This oil took ten days to infuse, because until then it still smelt like olive oil.

Other witches do things like leave the oil and infusing matter in the sun or the moon for a various number of days.  I’m just starting to do infused oils, so I’m going slowly and keeping what works and discarding what doesn’t.  I will keep you updated with my experiments.

I made an oak infused oil for my wood because the wood itself is oak, and I wanted to remind the wood of what it is.  This is another reason why I used olive oil as a base for my infused oil, as I wanted an oil that has come from trees as it will remind the wood of what it is far better than a base oil from plant matter.

The oak infused oil worked much better than olive oil and the wood now feels much more of the characteristics of oak when I hold it : I can feel the strength and stamina oak has to stand up to almost anything, instead of it just being a piece of wood.

I have a lot of infused oil left over.  On reflection, I didn’t need as much to oil the wood as last time because the wood had already been oiled a month or so ago.  I have kept the infused oil, and will see if what they say about infused oil having degraded after six months is true.

Next time I plan to use sacred numbers in the making of the infused oil.  For example, I could gather nine, twenty seven or fifty oak leaves to make the oil.  All three are sacred numbers to the Irish.

Foraging


Foraging is more often called wildcrafting, but I prefer to call it foraging.  It’s the art of collecting food from the wild.

Last weekend I went into the woods to forage and to introduce my betrothed to our tribe’s tree.  The introduction went smoothly enough, as it was not a ritual, just as you would introduce one friend to another.

Then my bloke stepped back and said “first thoughts : our tree is at a crossroads, is there any significance in this?” upon which I hit my head because I should have realised that!

There will be a ritual to solemnize the relationship between our tree and us, but I’m still working on it.  I’m using a form of poetry called quatrains, which are used in the Irish texts and I’m finding it very hard going.

We found some blackberries, which I will eat for breakfast with yoghurt, hawthorns which I have a chutney recipe to try out and oak leaves.  There were only a few rose hips and a good few sloes, but I have a bottle of homemade sloe gin sitting at home.  I’ve only recently remembered that I should have taken the sloes out six months ago, so I’ll have to do that soon and tell you all if it’s drinkable…

The oak leaves are for an infused oil that I’ve started making for the wood of my stang/rod that I’m also making.  I don’t know if the leaves will infuse properly, plus I’m using olive oil as my base instead of sunflower (because olive oil comes from trees) so I’ll have to see what happens.

We also found the old part of the forest.  It has some marvellous trees – a huge hawthorn, the biggest I’ve ever seen that towers up to the sky.  I really wanted to investigate it properly, but time was getting on and we needed to forage.  It’s going to take me a lot of time to get to know this wood properly.