The History of Hemlock House
Hemlock House includes the Shop and Wycksted School of Witchery where we teach our workshops.
Appointments can be made between the hours of:
Summer and Autumn (October-April) 9.30am - 4pm
Winter and early Spring (May–September) 10am - 3pm.
Orders and Payments
There is currently no power connected as we decided the Power Company charged too much for a second dwelling and thus we deemed it unnecessary and had it disconnected. We are looking into solar power but for now we are happy making do. There is no Eft-pos or Credit card facilities, so payment for any items will need to be made by Cash or Cheque only. Mobile phone coverage may be limited so Paypal payments may or may not work and there is no computer at Hemlock House.
Please Note - Not all items on the Wycksted website will be in the shop and not all items in the shop will be on the Wycksted website. If there is a particular item/items you would like, please let us know as soon as possible so we can ensure we have them ready for you to pick up, depending on what is to be made, we may need three days to a weeks’ notice.
The History of Hemlock House
As many of you are aware of, Hemlock House is now part of Wycksted and the space in which we do most of our work, when of course not out in nature. But here is a little history on its origins. Originally workshops were held at the house and stock were purchased from a tiny cottage beside the house but by the time we sorted out animals, the forever clean up and organisation it became apparent that we needed a separate space and one away from the home.
Further away from the house and with its own driveway and power supply stood HQ. A large shed surrounded by farmland and in front of a small forest of pines, HQ used to house exotic birds when they first came into the country for quarantine purposes long before we moved here and it was set up inside with a metre walkway along the outside of a refrigerated panelled room which took up most of the remaining space. Air ducts and large vents were inside it and these were later taken off and given to the zoo. No lining and no windows were existing other than a glass front door and a large roller door. It became a place of storage and not much else for many, many years. Surrounding the building was a large wire fence, used to keep animals out and for security reasons, very handy when we had emus in the enclosure or the sheep were put in to graze.
One particular year we got together family, friends and animals and stood outside the building. We stood outside for a long time looking and thinking, and then walked away. Life went on and a year later we went back up and stood outside again. One brave soul ventured further than the rest of us and bravely opened the large roller door and then as if in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock, ‘The Birds,’ a stream of black feathered bodies in full force came out through one of the small door holes and continued until at least a hundred if not more birds freed themselves and flew off into the distance only to circle and rest in the trees surrounding us watching intently with what was going on. As we entered into the 80 square metre space we gagged and ran for cover. Many years of bird droppings were before us and the smell was nearly one to knock you out! Items that had been stored including the concrete floor were just about white and thick with bird poop and whatever else had managed to survive in there. It was obvious that this was the local hang out for all birds especially the blackbirds. The big guns had to come out and I do not mean that literally, no I mean serious adult clean-up stuff, gas masks, water pressure hoses, brooms, shovels and lots of good food to keep the workers going. It was like a tag team and as there were no windows it was hot and humid and with wet weather gear on the guys were soon wearing out but knew they could not let it get the better of them. These guys were the stuff that Vikings are made of, but a few of them nearly cried defeat as the heat and smell tried to take them. Being a Leo I am a wonderful delegator but I did keep the workers topped up with food and brews when they took breaks and once the initial cleaning had been done, I jumped in boots and all.
The next part was working out the rooms and space needed for each. Windows were a must and the roller door had to go. Demolition and salvage yards were our best friends and we got a house lot of windows for a pinch including a set of French doors that were donated, yay! Carpet was also given to us and the wall lining boards were at a great wholesale price. Paint was from friends and so was the plastering, sanding and painting work. Hubby did all the woodwork on the roof and kick-boards, all beautiful reclaimed Oregon pine. With time and other matters that happen in one’s life it took nearly another year in which to get the building all ticket-tee-boo but after much sweat, tears, tantrums and fine words, Hemlock House eventually took hold. On a beautiful April day just before Samhain we moved in and did all the accessorising. Furniture and boxes of stock were moved by wheelbarrow, tractor, quad bike and trailer from the house, from the barn and the little cottage until after many trips and only losing a few items into the creek we did it.
So now we have Hemlock House, a building placed amongst pines and paddocks that houses the shop area, workshop room, a kitchen, storage room, and a country style toilet, for now. As Wycksted was an online website the stock was always kept in boxes and potions and lotions were on a made to order basis as required. Over time and with workshops happening Witchlings and students alike wanted to be able to purchase items while they were there and many like myself are people that like to touch and hold items, see them in front of us rather than on a big screen. So we started renovating, again. The office and stock room with the help of a large hammer and crow-bars were opened to make one big room which now is the shop, the old shop is now the herb room and the old herb room is now the stock room. As for the office, it did not make it into the space so was moved down to the house, thus why there is no computer at Hemlock and over winter, I prefer working down at the house by the wood-burner and all the cats and possums around me. It gets very cold up here and we seem to have six - seven months of winter and the rest an in between spring, summer and autumn.
The workshop has the altar and seasonal decorations are always to be had throughout. A lending library is available and plenty of tarot and oracles that one may borrow and work with are also in this room. Most coven work is done within the workshop area depending on the season as to whether we work indoors or out. The kitchen is equipped with a gas burner and although we have the entire building hooked up to the mains electricity we decided that the cost to keep it running was not a necessity and will look into solar energy for hot water but for now nothing wrong with boiling the billy, cauldron or the whistling kettle on the gas. And as we get many power cuts out here, sometimes no power for a week, we are not fussed about having the power anyway. A wood-burner may makes its way into the workshop room so we do not freeze over winter, thus why no workshops are held during that time. The indoors ‘outhouse’ is temporary until we move it outdoors to an old shed that delights many with its ramshackle falling down look, complete with wildlife. That is a future project and will be cleaned up, lined and painted but for now the indoor toilet is in use. During winter we have floods through the creek so sometimes we are unable to get up to Hemlock or in the odd case unable to get back down to the house until the creek goes down. Always fun to be had!
So for now there are plans for the future to move the big old Bedford bus that for now sits on the front paddock to an area closer to Hemlock and this will become sleeping quarters for those who stay over during weekend workshops. There will also be space for a few tents over summer or even sleep out under the stars, my preference. Even as I type I look out to the bus that has lain in the paddock for several years and although the tyres are still firm and round, if I remember rightly it was locked in gear as to why it still sits there. Fortunately Hubby is a jack of all trades including a mechanic of both cars and diesel so hopefully we may be able to get the bus moved without trying to tow it across the paddock, down a small hill without brakes and into its new resting place. Perhaps the Gods of travel may be called on for help for this. The bus is in dire need of a clean out but was originally fitted out as a camping bus. It has the gas cooker that goes or did when we last camped out in her and it also has the water pump that works and is set up for battery use. But as mentioned needs a good clean inside and out, possible paint job and sorted with perhaps some bunk beds and so forth, maybe enough for four to five for sleeping, we shall see. So if any of you ever want to offer your help in any of this, please don’t be shy…
Why the name Hemlock House?
Because we liked the name and HQ seemed to be in agreement more so. Hemlock (Conium maculatum) a feminine plant, ruled by Saturn and the element of water. A highly poisonous or bane plant and it was Socrates the Greek philosopher that drank a potion of hemlock after being condemned to death. But all that aside it was the name that was chosen and yes, it is a potent and protective herb but if handled with care and consideration it can be of great medicinal and healing value. The same with Hemlock House, treated well, it will look after us and all those that come under her roof with this in mind.
Witchy note – for common sense purposes do not go out and use the hemlock plant for any reason whatsoever unless you are a qualified herbalist or medical practitioner that knows what they are doing!
January has been quite a busy month and we actually got to paint Hemlock House which has been a job on the to-do-list for quite some time. Armed with brushes and rollers we got together and painted while trying to keep ahead of the sun as once he was out, wow it was hot. Fortunately at the end of the painting the pool tempted many of us for a cool dip before feasting outside under the shade of the tent. A good job done by all who helped out.
The pics below show it previously, ply covering and then after its new coat, which is a very dark brown and looking black from a distance. It was a blend left over from paints of the fence, barn and house giving us a nice dark cacao/espresso colour, two of my favourite things! Also a picture of the Pine Tree walk. So lots more to do...
The shop was moved into the old herb room and the old shop is now the Apothecary room plus with the addition of some French doors. It is now a good open space and one that we can easily fit into when conjuring, casting and herbing at our workshops and meets.