So, that’s us back from England, and this is one of many articles that I’ll be posting about my time there…
I wanted to talk about Graveyard Dirt today; It’s collection, payment for said collection and uses.
This trip home I collected a new graveyard dirt to add to my collection – That of a graveyard attached to what once was the Benedictine monastery of St. Michael’s Mount, just off the coast at Marazion in Cornwall. As Legend tells it, an apparition of the Archangel Michael is said to have been witnessed by fisherman in 495, and by the sixth century AD it is thought that the Mount was a thriving religious centre. After the Norman Conquest, the abbey was granted to the Benedictine monks of Mont St Michel in France. The church on the island’s summit was built by the French Abbot, Bernard le Bec, and through the Middle Ages the Mount became a major pilgrimage destination. Four miracles, said to have happened here between 1262 and 1263 would have only added to its religious magnetism.
It was a glorious day as The Wolf and The Sprogling and I hung around on the beach, with my brother and his girlfriend, waiting for the tide to retreat and to uncover the hidden causeway to the island (Oh and having the most wonderful Cornish, 3 Cheese Ploughman’s I’ve had for quite some time, chased down with a pint of Cider – There’s nothing like English cheese & cider, I must say!). We made our way up the cobbled causeway to the magnificence beyond.
My collection has grown far too big for my personal needs only, so I will be bottling some up which will be available for purchase on my new ‘Services’ page, which is now up and running for readings, etc… Over the next wee while, I’ll be adding some photos of original oils, incense and other delicious Witchy bits that will be available for purchase at some point soon…
This graveyard dirt has been collected and paid for, respectfully, from some of the oldest, most beautiful cemeteries, graveyards & burial sites in England and Scotland.
T he first batch of graveyard dirt that I ever brought was from Highgate Cemetery in London. The oldest part of the cemetery opened in 1839, as part of a plan to provide seven large, modern cemeteries (known as the Magnificent Seven) around the outside of London. The inner-city cemeteries, mostly the graveyards attached to individual churches, had long been unable to cope with the number of burials and were seen as a hazard to health and an undignified way to treat the dead.
Bunhill Fields Cemetery was the second site, and just as atmospheric as Highgate, it is the oldest cemetery in England, shaded by mature plane trees, is situated on the edge of the City. Bunhill Fields was first set aside as a cemetery during the Great Plague of 1665. The ground was never apparently consecrated and twenty years later it became a popular burial ground for Nonconformists, who were banned from being buried in churchyards because of their refusal to use the Church of England prayer book.
Over the years I have collected, and brought, graveyard dirt from many beautiful places, such as St. Johns at Glastonbury in Somerset, the Glasgow Necropolis, Dunfermline Abbey’s graveyard, Well’s Cathedral graveyard and many local graveyards that I have visited. It also includes a sample of dirt from the glorious ruins of St Mary’s Chapel in Crosskirk. A simple dry-stone chapel, probably build in the 12th-century, directly on the coast right at the tip of Scotland, in which I was battered by wind, and narrowly dodged being complete drenched by rain!
I’ve brought graveyard dirt from beneath the sacred Yew in the graveyard at Fortingall, reputedly the oldest tree in Europe, which is close to the geographical centre of Celtic Scotland. This sacred tree is currently believed to be around 5,000 years of age, making its origins to about 3,000 B.C. and lies at the entrance to Glenlyon, the longest and arguably the most spectacular glen in Scotland. In a land which is drenched in ancient Celtic legends relating to the Faerie realms and Otherworldly beings, such an elderly yew tree would have been highly venerated during the remote ages of past antiquity. Indeed, it has been said that Bealtuinn fires were at one time lit at this site.
As well as actual ‘graveyard’ dirt, there’s some dirt in here that has been collected from burial sites more ancient, such as the Wayland’s Smithy, West Kennet Long Barrow and from the The Grey Cairns of Camster at Caithness. Caithness is the most northerly area of the Scottish mainland, and is absolutely stunning with hundreds of Cairns adorning the wind-battered landscape. The Kingdom of Cait was one of the seven Pictish kingdoms of Alba…
Uses for Graveyard Dirt are many. You can find out a lot about the uses over at Miss Cat Yronwode’s site – Lucky Mojo. I want to talk more about the non-hoodoo aspect of Graveyard Dirt, and my own personal usage here.
I collect these dirts from the graveyard itself, not from any particular grave (available soon, but not just now), so as well as the uses stated already I have come the use this dirt in communication with the Ancestors, the dead & those spirits and beings who dwell in the Otherworlds and Underworld. It has been used in offerings, incense and to make sigils for chthonic deities & psychopomps, such as my patron god, Cernunnos. As well as being a generally fantastic magical amplifier in any working, it’s also very good for workings involving protection, love, laying tricks on enemies and for workings than take place ‘between the worlds’ or Otherworldly journeys and the like, in particular. I usually place some around the bottom of my stang before I begin, or to mark out my working area.
I feel that when working with any ingredient that one shouldn’t feel tied down to ‘just’ traditional correspondences, yes, use them as a guideline, but by working in a partnership with your gods and guides you can forge your own personal uses for them.
When I go to a burial site, etc I usually go armed with a variety of offerings for the spirits of the place, and the dead. Such as a good Scottish Whisky, a traditional ale, fine red wine, incense offerings, red food (or food ‘made red’ by ritual) since the dead are said to eat red food, flowers, and coins – I usually use pennies, the older the better. A collection may take more than one visit; sometimes it can take a while to build up a communication with the spirits of the place, and the dead, sometimes the offerings you take will not be fitting and they may request something else, sometimes the spirits of place and the dead are harder to please than others.
I usually take a walk, silently around the graveyard to get a feel for the place, and talk to the spirits informally as I go. I then find a spot I’m drawn to for collection to start my petition, to those who consecrate the place and to the spirits of the dead, I burn some incense as an offering and to feed them. In communication with them I tell them why I would like to collect some of the ground dirt, etc. Most of the time I have collected graveyard dirt, I get a straight yes or no answer – And you’ll know when the answer is no, trust me! But sometimes a simple divination is called for.
Once the earth has been collected, I thank those who I have communed with, and leaving my offerings to them, and usually spend a little more time in the area, visiting some graves and tidying up a little; picking up trash that others have left behind.
I was taught that the more sites you visit and buy from, the more spirits you petition, the more powerful the dirt… Such as Crossroad Dirt collected from more than one crossroad, etc, etc…
I hope that whoever chooses to purchase this Graveyard Dirt can feel it’s power, and the devotion and effort I have put into collecting and buying it.
Over the next few days I shall be posting an article on the Witchcraft Museum at Boscastle and Cornish Witchcraft, as well as posts about my Sprogling’s Saining on the top of Glastonbury Tor, my re-dedication and oath renewal to Cernunnos, and some other articles focused on my time back in England. As well as what I was working on before I left for England.