Ever heard of a familiar or a familiar spirit? It is a witch’s mascot, her supernatural spirit companion that takes the form of an animal, but an animal with its own magical powers. This special creature is a guardian, lending support to its witch when needed and, if she is young, guiding her as she comes into her powers. In witch lore, the creature is usually represented by the oh-so-clever black cat, but the familiar takes a form that best represents the individual nature of the witch and, in my next book, the young witch is going to discover hers, once she discovers she’s a witch that is. This majestic creature with eyes of blue and feathers the color of freshly fallen snow is Rasool, an Arabic name that means messenger, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet him in my next bewitching novel.
In my novel, DISENCHANTED, sixteen-year-old Sophie, a white witch, has to learn a little bit about the exotic plants from her quirky aunt’s enchanted garden. During my research for this part of the novel, I discovered a lot of interesting applications for the everyday and not-so-everyday plants around us. Below are a few that will appear in the book.
Devil’s Bit– A small purple meadow flower and a good source of nectar, which Sophie applies to her lips everyday to help her lie (this only works for Wethersfield witches), because when you’re a witch in a small, Puritanical town, you need a little help blending in with the ordinaries.
White Willow Bark– A natural anti-inflammatory and hemorrhoid reliever–in powder form, of course. Sophie jokingly wants to apply it all over Zeke Mather, Alexavier’s taunting older brother.
Munstead Lavender– Sophie’s pillow is filled with the summery scent to help her sleep through her haunted dreams, but lavender can’t compete with the tenacity of a four-hundred-year-old witch’s spirit.
Calendula/Chickweed– Combined in a teabag, cooled, and applied to Sophie’s eyes, this powerful anti-inflammatory reduces puffiness from her sleepless nights.
Annatto– Wards off evil and eases stomach distress, but this natural pigment from achiote seed pods also tints Sophie’s teeth orange which does little to impress the glitterati who already think she’s weird.
Lemon verbena, valerian, and rose petals– The fragrant combination brings lovers together and, as Sophie inhales the perfumed scent, her bad boy love interest, who happens to be her family’s enemy and devastatingly handsome with a to-die-for British accent, enters the scene.
As soon as my eyes roved over this American gem, I immediately knew it was the perfect setting for a coven’s castle in an upcoming novel.
Gillette Castle was designed by the late William Gillette, an American actor, engineer, and railroad enthusiast. It is now owned by the Connecticut state government and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Besides its haunting and distinctive exterior design, the extraordinary amenities within are what make this castle worthy to be a setting in a well-spun tale. The door knobs are unique along with all forty-seven hand-carved wooden door locks, which were designed by Mr. Gillette. He also employed hidden mirrors for surveillance of the main rooms. Very mischievous of you, Mr. Gillette!
Outside the castle walls, he installed 3.2 miles of railroad to showcase his estate and its fantastic views of the Connecticut River and a few years ago, a steam locomotive was charmingly restored and returned to the property to the delight of visitors.
Gillette Castle is only a thirty minute drive from Wethersfield, one of my favorite historic towns and the setting for my debut novel, Disenchanted.