Ascension Day Cleansing/Blessing bath herbs

Get a packet of Ascension Day bath herbs at Seraphin Station.

There’s a lovely Italian tradition relating to the Madonna of the Baths (patroness of the region’s numerous hot mineral springs). This annual blessing and cleansing at the Feast of the Ascension is under her aegis. The Feast of the Ascension is on May 26th this year.

So if you can get your hands on clean, unsprayed, food-grade roses and mint, this is a nice little cleansing and blessing rite you could do with those.

If you can’t get your hands on fresh, organic roses and mint, I have made a blend of dried mint leaves and rose petals available in the shop as Ascension Day Bath Herbs.

The Bath Rite

On the day before Ascension Day, gather rose petals and mint leaves before dark and put them in a bowl or basin of water. Ideally, this would be spring water, but since most of us don’t really have fresh springs anywhere near us anymore, use whatever makes sense to you and is sanitary here. Traditionally, you would invoke the blessings of the Madonna of the Baths, praying and asking her to bless the roses and mint as you added them so the water will bless and sanctify the body.

Leave the basin outside under the sky all night, and in the morning, wash with the water for spiritual cleansing and blessing.

Additional Uses and Considerations

It is nice in a full bath as well, and it can be used in home washing/cleansing, but I will tell you from personal experience that it does *not* keep well AT ALL. If you bring it inside and refrigerate it, you could very well still get mold pretty quickly, so unless you want to preserve it with a sufficient ratio of ethanol or some other real preservative, you should divide it into portions and freeze it if you want some for later. (And frankly, the scent is extremely delicate and light – ethanol would probably completely obliterate it.)

Mint in hoodoo is well known as an uncrossing, purifying, and protective herb that deals with troublesome people and troublesome spirits. But I’ve found that mint is especially good for troublesome thoughts as well — stuff like anxiety loops, negative internal dialogue, invasive thoughts. It can kind of short circuit that stuff.

And rose, although commonly thought of as a love herb, is also an herb of blessing. It’s strongly associated with Mary, and beyond that, has deep associations with many figures of the Divine Feminine in religions and cultures throughout history, across the globe. In some folk traditions, it’s used to clear up negativity and crossed conditions around your love life, and it finds its way into blends for psychic vision, protection, friendship, and general luck, as well. (Though if I wanted to use this for protection or home cleansing, I’d probably add a handful of basil, personally. And if you did that, you’d actually have a pretty good Peaceful Home blend, too, come to think of it…)

It’s especially useful for matters related to *self* love – self esteem, self confidence, and self-forgiveness. As such, it pairs with mint to give you a blend that can help remove negative thoughts and negative influences in the realm of love, absolutely including self-love, self-esteem, internal dialogue, all that kind of thing. And then of course the Madonna of the Baths is associated with healing.

Read More

Read more about the bath herbs, or order some now, at Seraphin Station.

Learn more about the Madonna of the Baths via Storie di Napoli.

Hear a traditional folk song for the Madonna of the Baths (and read a traditional prayer, as well, if you can read Neapolitan) via Italian Folk Magic.

January Prosperity and Relationships Honey Jars

January honey jars start tonight, for Love/Relationships and for Prosperity/Success/Income. The prosperity jar is Pay What You Can.

Community altar work services focus on a particular goal or area and have a limited number of “seats” for each working. They are a great compromise between big workings open to any number of folks (inexpensive but with little customization available) and hiring a worker to do 100% custom, private services just for you (completely tailored to you but often considerably more expensive since the costs of time and materia magica are not being shared by more than one person).

Learn more or book now at Seraphin Station.

St. Raymond Altar Service: Stop Gossip, Court Case, Peaceful Home, Employment

San Ramon Nonato, Jose Aragon, American (New Mexico), c.1820-1835
Philadelphia Museum of Art. Public domain.

This work begins the night of August 31, the feast day of St. Raymond Nonnatus, but there is some wiggle room and you absolutely can book late, as long as you see slots still available.

St. Raymond Nonnatus gets his name — which means the not-born — by virtue of his being delivered by C-section. Considering this happened in the early 13th century, it was quite an unusual event (and doubtless quite grisly), but his poor mother died in childbirth and this was the only way Raymond could be saved.

This is where his patronage of pregnant women, childbirth, midwives, and babies comes from. But as is typically the case, there’s a whole slew of additional lore and tradition that has sprung up around him that accounts for many aspects of his veneration today, as in ages past.

He’s sometimes pictured with his lips padlocked shut. This happened when he was in North Africa to ransom captured and enslaved Christians, which was the primary purpose of his religious order, the Mercederians, Members of the order would offer themselves in place of the Christian captive if they couldn’t meet the ransom demands of the Moors. This is how Raymond found himself in prison, held by captors who were not at all interested in being preached to or converted. Apparently he tried anyway, and the padlock was their response.

The link with gossip and covering the mouths of slanderers came about from popular associations with this iconography, so people petition him for help to stop gossip and slander and to silence their enemies and opponents (especially in court case work). This usage overlaps with peaceful home work in a lot of cases, where some element of gossip, slander, backtalk, or nagging is contributing to the lack of peace in a home, and I’ve seen him petitioned for this most often.

The second most popular usage I’ve encountered is probably money drawing/job-getting tied with peaceful home issues that don’t overlap with gossip/slander. Pregnancy and childbirth probably run a very distant third. (St. Gerard seems to have largely cornered that market among the folk practitioners I’ve talked to.)

Nonetheless, St. Raymond can be petitioned on issues relating to any of these. As with many saints, it’s traditional to thank him publicly for his intercession when he works for you.

Learn more or book your spot now at Seraphin Station.

St. Martha, from Gospel Figure to Medieval Legend to La Dominadora: Sources, Resources, and FAQs

St. Martha in Scripture

st martha woodcut
Woodcut by Jacobus de Man, haven’t tracked down the specific publication yet, but it’s late 1600s, early 1700s and public domain. [1]

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
– John 11:5

The Gospel of Luke tells us how Martha invited Jesus to her home in Bethany. She cooked and cleaned and catered while her sister Mary sat at Christ’s feet and listened to him speak. Martha pointed out that Mary wasn’t pitching in.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, NIV)

Christ’s point is that in the grand scheme of things, your eternal soul is more important than social conventions and what people think about your housekeeping. But we need to understand this in context. It’s not that Martha had no imagination or faith or respect or that she was too small-minded to want to sit at Christ’s feet, too.

In Martha’s mind and in her culture, these were her duties, and her performance of them comprised her reputation, value, and trustworthiness as a member of her culture — in a society that valued hospitality quite highly, that in fact didn’t even work as a society without hospitality as a huge part of the glue that held it together.

She wasn’t saying nobody should value hearing him teach. She also wanted to hear him speak; she was also his disciple and believed in him. She was just pointing out that people needed to eat and wash and sit, and somebody’s efforts had to make that happen. (You can imagine that Jesus was accompanied by an entourage, too, all of whom also needed to eat and wash and sit.) She was determined to do her duties well for such an esteemed guest as Jesus, but she wasn’t a doormat. She was pointing out that she was not the only one who could be doing these things, that she *could* be sitting at Christ’s feet right now, too, if she just gave off doing the less glamorous stuff. But somebody has to do it. Dramatic events are unfolding, but somebody has to make the setting they’re unfolding in happen.

In John 12, Christ is in Bethany again before Passover at a dinner in his honor. Lazarus is reclined at the table with him. Word of his resurrection has spread like wildfire; Jesus’ followers are increasing and so are the machinations against his life. Mary makes a spectacle of herself pouring half of liter of precious perfume on Christ’s feet – worth a year’s wages – and wiping them with her hair. Christ is constantly, increasingly aware of the massive cosmic drama he’s part of and what’s right around the corner, his every action and word heavily symbolic. Every step he takes is under the weight of prophecy and its fulfillment, is part of a massive dramatic ritual. In this play, Christ has simultaneously the perspective of the main character and the omniscience of the author. The drama in John’s portrayal is thick indeed.

Martha during all of this? John writes only, “Martha served” (John 12:2).

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