A number of times recently, it has been mentioned that we seem to get a lot done here at WytchenWood – I will now make a confession; there are quite a few of us!
It is not unusual to find four generations of the family here at any one time and we all do our bit. For instance, Old Mother WytchenWood walks the dog twice a day; in early morning and again at night. While she’s out striding through the countryside with the hound in tow, she collects herbs and plants that she comes across ready for inclusion into our workings or recipes.
Then there is Mother WytchenWood and her sisters; there’s three of these feisty, no nonsense women. One of the sisters is regularly out in the wilds with the children, giving them their education in the natural and magical world and she collects woods, tree barks and all things arboreous. Quite a sight she can be too, standing at over 6ft, long hair flying in the wind charging over the ground with an armful of sticks!
Mother WytchenWood is like the hunter-gatherer; always out collecting berries, nuts, fungi and whatever seasonal fruits are about. She’s also the experimenter; if she suddenly gets hit with inspiration, look out – she turns the kitchen into a seething, bubbling cauldron of smells, sights and sounds and there’s no hope of normality returning until she has produced her intended result. It’s not unknown to find her standing in the kitchen, surrounded by what looks like the debris of an explosion, hair wild and unkempt with goodness knows what smeared over her face, grinning sheepishly while announcing “Think it needs a bit more work!”
Now the Toadsman, husband of Mother WytchenWood, tries to keep a semblance of order but fails miserably and so he sticks his head into bottles, vials, oils, philtres and all things apothecary. The Toadsman is always working on his healing balms and magical oils and sometimes I suspect, a flying ointment in the hope of escaping the women of the house. But in amongst his magical unguents, you’ll find bottles of sloe gin, mead and other scrumptious alcoholic beverages as he’s convinced that making “winter warmers” is a very necessary part of any self respecting apothecaries work and inventory. He also believes in tasting them regularly…
The children are not children; they are now adult children and there’s three of them; two boys and a daughter. The eldest son is the bone collector; he goes off on long treks into the places rarely visited by others and gathers up the bones that have been left behind by the carrion. He is also the gardener and has a wonderful garden stocked with marvellous plants that Mother WytchenWood often raids. The second son is the “apprentice” and helps out in any way asked of him. The daughter is as mad as a box of frogs and her speciality is charm making (she’s also a very good seer).
The grandchildren are as yet too young to contribute anything other than fun and laughter but all three are already on their magical path and will continue the cycle in coming years.
And so we come together at least one evening a week to sit around the kitchen table; making, charming, bottling and working – all helped along with generous amounts of the Toadsmans nectars and lots of chattering and laughter, before all heading off again to each respective home and leaving the Toadsman and Mother WytchenWood to fall contentedly into bed.