by Patricia Lynn Reilly, 1995
Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
Grace lived her entire life in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach (named for Indian chief Machiopungo), and married James Sherwood with whom she had three sons. She was said to be strikingly attractive, strong-willed, and a non-conformist by nature. These traits were resented by her neighbors, who began spreading rumors about her witch-like behavior. She was accused of blighting gardens, causing livestock to die, and influencing the weather.
|Site where the trial of Grace Sherwood was held in early 1706. Grace was jailed here for eight years after being found guilty of witchcraft. Current building on site has been renovated due to fire in 1836. (left)
Ferry Plantation House
|The area where Grace Sherwood lived, as well as the spot on the riverbanks where she was ducked has become a very affluent residential area and has been named "Witch Duck Point" after the event. (right)|
|When Grace was released from jail, she took back control of her property, gathered her sons from her relative who had been looking after them, and she moved back to her Pungo home. She tended to her herbs and oversaw the farm activities until her death at the age of 80.
There are Rosemary plants available today during the various festivals held in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach that are rumored to be clippings from Grace Sherwood's own magnificent Rosemary trees.
By Grace Sherwood's own admission, she was a healer, midwife and herbalist. In 1700s this was a bold statement. By today's standards, she would be considered a kitchen witch. Here are 13 herbs that should be standard for any kitchen witch.
13 HERBS FOR A WITCHES CUPBOARD
|Here is a photo of my flower garden with two Rosemary plants that are rumored to be offspring of clipping from Grace Sherwood's Rosemary plant.|
Healing, protection, money and safety during travel. Comfrey is associated with the feminine, Saturn, Capricorn and water.
Known as the Girdle of St John because it is so powerful against evil. It is associated with Scorpio.
|Protection and Blessing Biscuits. The fresh rosemary in these biscuits invoke the magickal attributes of protection, health and blessings to your family. What better way to start the day than with an extra serving of protection and repelling negativity. And it is yummy too.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh or crushed dried rosemary
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
First clean, purify and bless your kitchen. Then combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. As you combine the ingredients visualize the protection being stirred into the mixture with each turn.
Cut 1/2 cup butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly. As the butter is cut into the mixture, see the blessing coming into your home and pouring down onto your family.
Stir together buttermilk and egg. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times. As you knead the dough, visualize your family growing healthy and free from illness.
Pat or roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place on a baking sheet. As you cut the biscuits, imagine that you are cutting out the negativity in your life and the life of your family.
Bake at 425 degrees for 14 to 15 minutes or until golden. Brush with melted butter. Remember to offer the first biscuit back to the Goddess. I do this by crumbling up the biscuit and offering it to the birds.
Makes about 2 dozen biscuits
How researching Grace Sherwood's story has inspired me
Thirteen Goals of a Witch
1. Know yourself
Tarot Card : Ten of Rods
Tarot Card : Strength
1 white candle
Goddess candle (or any big white candle will do)
fire proof dish
fresh rosemary sprigs
Light the Goddess candle. Write all of your fears and weaknesses and concerns with the situation on the Ten of Rods card. Use symbols or images if you cannot fit all the words on it. Start at the top and write in a downward spiral on the front and back. As you mark on the card visualize the pitiful you, the confused you and the weak you that this situation has created.
Take the 10 of card in both hands and starting at your feet glide the card up your body. You can move the card around to the front and back. Imagine the card pulling out all of these negative things writing on it from your psyche. When the card is full of negativity and you feel that you have let go of it all, say something like:
I've named all the sadness and fears in my soul
And I have let go feelings that keep me from being whole
These things I do I do of my own might
As I do, I make room for the light
Hold the card to the flame to ignite it. Take special care not to burn your self or any thing else. Place the card in the fireproof dish. As it burns, say something like:
Mother Goddess, whose strength and protection is every near
Take these burdens, sadness and fear
And when this card is but a glowing ember
The determination and fierceness of Grace Sherwood I will remember.
When the ashes have cooled, take the sprig of Rosemary and drag it through the ashes. Take the Strength card and mark each corned of this card with the ash covered sprig. Hold it in front of the candle and say something like:
The ashes of my burdens make me strong
To forget all that once bound me would be wrong
With the blessings of Sherwood and memory of her strive
I will invoke her power of fierceness in my life.
Place the strength card in the corner of your bathroom mirror or some place that you will see it each morning. Occasionally you can recharge this empowerment charm with fresh cut rosemary.
|There is not a doubt in my mind that Grace Sherwood was a Goddess among us!
Many Blessing and much courage to you all,
Reilly, P. L. (1999). Imagine a woman. In B. Muten (Ed.), Her words: An anthology of poetry about the great goddess (p. 208). Boston: Shambhala.