The Balefire.


“Oak logs will warm you well,

That are old and dry.

Logs of pine will sweetly smell 

But the sparks will fly.

Birch logs will burn too fast,

Chestnut scarce at all;

Hawthorne logs are good to last-

Cut them in the fall.

Holly logs will burn like wax,

You may burn them green;

Elm logs like smoldering flax,

No flame to be seen.

Beech logs for winter time,

Yew logs as well;

Green elder logs it is a crime

For any man to sell.

Pear logs and apple logs,

They will scent your room;

Cherry logs across the dogs

Smell like flowers of broom.

Ash logs, smooth and grey,

Burn them green or old,

Buy up all that come your way-

Worth their weight in gold.”


So says an old Dartmoor verse*.

Nothing quite like a Balefire in the centre of your Sacred Space when working ritually outside. Traditionally, a Balefire is made up of nine different woods; with the addition of  poplar, dogwood, sandalwood, cedar, and juniper to the ones listed above. But fire can add warmth and focus to a ritual, and I think that no matter what wood it’s made from, it is sacred. I have a dedicated fire pit, surrounded by stones in my garden. Many a good night has been spent around it and I cook on it too, when the occasion calls. I’m lucky enough to have a tripod and cauldron made by my beloved, essential items for any Witch with space for a fire in her garden.

I like to collect thistle heads, birch bark and dry grasses to light my Sacred fires with. This I do in autumn and keep them tinder dry till needed. A small amount will soon flare up under a spark from a tinder-strike, the eagerly licking flames consume the twigs and small sticks laid on top of it, and as the flames grow higher the larger sticks catch fire and the fire is well and truly lit when the logs catch fire. It has a life of it’s own, and I love to scry in the flames, embers and smoke. 

There is something wonderfully mysterious about making fires this way; my actions seem to echo those of my Ancestors, and this leads to an awareness of how important fire was to them. We in our warm centrally heated homes with our modern cookers and microwaves, can often forget how easy it is for us to keep warm and cook our food.

© Cymraes 2008 – except *From Paul Husons excellent Mastering Witchcraft.



2 thoughts on “The Balefire.

  1. I have never heard that Dartmoor verse before. Thank you. Fire seems to have been at the very centre of every home a place for the magic of cookery, the magic of smithcraft, the magic of healing and the art of story. My hearth is my altar. Just thinking when the focus of a home shifts from the fire to the television a great deal is lost.

    Have a very blessed Solstice and may the present full moon bring you delight and magic.

  2. Thank you Paul; you are quite right about the hearth of the home being the heart of the home. I’ve seen the shift away and back to the fire as the centre of the house in my life time; much HAS been lost, but much can be regained! I have a wonderful little wood burner, hand made and I cook daily on it-oh for a Rayburn!

    Solstice Blessings to you too, and may the returning Light brighten your life and bring a little Magic into these dark nights.

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