Coco’s Beloved Witch Workshop

Coco Blignaut and her “witch” coven. Back row from left to right: Juliet Colitre, Morguinn Korbonski, Alexis Neal, Faye Gaines, Stacy Waneka. Middle row: Claire Bryett, Lily Bleu, Skye Smith, Eldrid O’Driscoll, Eve Gaines, Lisa Anderson. Front row: Coco Blignaut, Julie Friedrichsen, Skipper Farley. Photo by Claire Fordham

Topanga’s resident (good) witch, Coco Blignaut, hosted the first in a series of three workshops in her garden where 14 “beloved witches” convened to learn the truth about witches and learn how to make magic. The workshop began with a history lesson from 2,000 years ago when druids lived under oak trees in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Druids were members of the learned class among ancient Celts. They communed with nature, especially oak forests, and worked as priests, teachers and judges.

“I believe some of us are druids reincarnated to continue the work of communing with the divine through nature,” said Blignaut. “It is an especially important time for female druids to regroup, find each other and do the work together. What if we are capable of holding the matrix of the force we call God in this world and maintain it so the political changes that are happening—in this country and globally—cannot fully take root? I have a feeling it is so. The witch must rise now, whether it is to pray or to legislate. We need to become active out there and especially within.”

Blignaut talked about the word “witch” and its definition, quoting from a gigantic tome, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary. It describes a witch as being a woman considered to have evil magic powers. And how witches are popularly depicted as wearing black cloaks and pointed hats, and fly around on broomsticks.

“No wonder we have been hiding,” said Blignaut. “This negative propaganda is unacceptable and needs to be transformed by us and through us. Our female power—of wielding the tree wand, brewing healing herbs, and listening to the wind through the leaves for messages from the divine—has been stripped from us. We were persecuted, burned at the stake, stoned, drowned, because of our power. But we are back. Let’s re-infuse this world with our woman power. Which, by the way, is sourced from high vibrational love.”

Attendees at the workshop also learned why witches have a magic wand. “She pulls it from a tree, allowing its intelligence to communicate to her. The tree grounds her and shares its secret to having sustained for so long. Which she must also do. We always decorate our wands with purely natural things: wool, string, herbs, flowers, crystals, stones. All these natural objects help create the flow of intelligence from tree to woman. And in full Celtic circle, she returns her intelligence to the tree and the natural elements bound to it.”

Wand-making was this reporter’s favorite part of the workshop. We sat in community and sisterhood as we fashioned our wands. There was nothing spooky or weird. It was more of a craft class where we made beautiful objects, surrounded by nature while the sun shone.

Blignaut explained how druids sained (blessed) themselves and their animals, often, a ritual akin to the Native American tradition of smudging. Druids used juniper instead of sage, which was their go-to magical herb.

We delved into the art of scrying—looking for visions in things like crystals, smoke and water. To attempt this with some measure of success, one has to be in a meditative trance-like state, with eyes set in a soft gaze. This takes lots of practice and patience, and an empty mind with no expectations. There was only time for three young witches to attempt scrying in a cauldron of water and petals, but no one mentioned if they saw anything.

After the morning session, we broke for a superb and scrumptious lunch: apples with lemon and salt, along with other delicacies like dried orange, herbal tea, and Blignaut’s gluten-free pumpkin muffins with cherries, raspberries and blueberries.

The workshop ended with a “sound bath.” As we lay under blankets, Blignaut took us on a storytelling journey set to music. Using her acting talents, she weaved a fairytale of a woman’s life journey using bells, music boxes, bird whistle and flute.

Born and raised in Topanga, sisters Claire, 20, and Lily Morgan, 17, had a great time at the witches workshop. “We went because we wanted to be around like-minded women and learn from and with each other. It was better than we could have dreamed, full of history, practical skills to implement into our lives, delicious food and conversations with a group of women that we are so glad to be able to call our coven.”

For anyone interested in communing with female energies in a magical setting, the next workshop is on Sunday, November 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where “beloved witches” will learn about shape-shifting, fairy energies, and the rune alphabet of the druid language. Freshly brewed dandelion honey tea will be served with poppy flower brioche, rose petal lavender chocolate, dried oranges and apples. Incidentally, the apple is an aphrodisiac in druidic lore, symbolizing the womb with its seed.

The final workshop in this series, is on Sunday, December 3. Attendees can weave elder tree crowns, learn about broom flying, and brew a cauldron recipe of herbs, flowers and various unusual ingredients.

This recipe will be compared to the one in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. “We will drink daisy wine to warm our bellies, eat gluten-free fruit and nut bread with butter, dried oranges, apricot goat cheese, and apples. Our time together will be sealed with a sound bath,” said Blignaut.


For more information and to RSVP for future gatherings:


Claire Fordham

Fordham worked for the BBC, ITN and Sky News in the UK and wrote a weekly anecdotal column for Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, The Sun. She currently writes regularly for Huffington Post, The Malibu Times and the Messenger Mountain News. See "A Chat with Claire Fordham" on this website under Podcasts.

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