Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Blessed Mabon

These are a few of my sacred wares that I 'purchased' (we used silver stones, shells, and little treasures for currency) from our Children's Mabon Faire. This was the best holy-day I've ever had.

It was a gathering of old souls and new friends, us and our spirited children, totalling about 20 of us. A perfect small community. We started out with the faire, a sort of re-enactment of a harvest market. The children made crafts and goods to 'sell', all good enough for a real faire and all indicative of their creative niche. My daughter crocheted Medicine Pouches, enough for every attendee to get one. She also made stick sculptures Andy Goldsworthy style and sold out of every one except our favorite, a sort of Labrys, which perhaps was strategically placed out of sight. My son made killer lemonade which everyone adored and needed on such a perfect warm fall day. The little lemon candle you see in the photo was the side benefit of each person's order, and they later adorned our feast table like a hundred fireflies in a row.

More beautiful wares were made by my friends children, sweet catnip bags for the kitties, amazing mint tea and tussie mussies, beautiful herb sachets for our home, herbal tea bags ready to comfort on a chili fall night, exquisite handmade herbal bath salts and infused oil for the body. Delightful incense, after meal herbal kits, tennis balls with anise for our dog companions, Lego sculptures, and an incredible pirate ship built by our five year old engineer! Did I miss anything? There was such a plethora of creativity and beauty from these children it was a sight to behold.

My dear friend, whom I affectionately call Demeter, blessed us with an incredible meal. She cooked organic, local, free range steak which was absolute heaven and worth extra meal blessings. She made Chili with andouille sausage and a pinch of clove, fresh green salad, tomato and mozzarella salad, curry wild rice, fresh corn on the cob, and I am probably forgetting something because by that time I was totally intoxicated by the richness of the day. I only regret not taking many more photos.

My husband blessed our meal with a beautiful passage from one of our favorite books:

We join with the earth and with each other

To bring new life to the land

To restore the waters

To refresh the air

We join with the earth and with each other

To renew the forests

To care for the plants

To protect the creatures

We join with the earth and with each other

To celebrate the seas

To rejoice in the sunlight

To sing the song of the stars

We join with the earth and with each other

To recreate the human community

To promote justice and peace

To remember our children

We join with the earth and with each other

We join together as many and diverse expressions

of one loving memory: for the healing of the earth

and the renewal of all life.

-U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program


During supper, our engineer, also a deft storyteller, told us the story of Persephone and the story of Pandora. Couldn't have been better!

And one of our little sprites ...... lost a tooth! She got an extra medicine pouch for that! A tooth pouch!

Then we feasted on homemade apple crisp, ripe off the tree and baked with perfect love by my very own Pop. My Godfather/stepfather who blesses my life in countless ways and with unconditional love.

At the beginning of the day, we drew a child's name from a basket, assigning each child to an Elder for the day, not their own parent. The sacred crafts (a charcoal drawing and the making of dream pillows) were done together, acting as a meaningful activity through which we could better observe our child. Later during ceremony we shared the innate gifts of the children that we observed.

We wished into the wishing gourd that watered our gratitude flowers.

Ceremony was at twilight and even more members of the community showed up, our young adults. My Mother brought her most special smudge wand which she made at the Women's Herbal conference, and blessed all who entered the circle. We called in the directions with fervor around a blazing bonfire. We shared the gifts of the children, spoke on the meanings of the Equinox, drummed, planted our gratitude flowers and wishes, and celebrated.

And of course what I can't capture here in writing, are all the in between moments; of flushed cheeks, hugs, moments of eye contact, and sheer joy that pulsed through each of us on this sacred day of yin and yang meeting in balance. The sun shone warm all day and the moon rose with sharp brightness after ceremony. All hearts glowed with fullness. The children played contentedly.

And we brought home goodies.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blue Beauty

Can someone please tell me what this little beauty is? I thought it was lobelia, but no, no sharp heat in the nostrils. It's mild and sweet, like a salad green. Stunning in the woods, hiding under the brush like a shy maiden!

back to school - wild school

Ahh yes. Back to teaching at the Wilderness school which I blogged about once before. An amazing place to be wild, free, and learn from all of Natures wonders first hand. I have the honor of teaching the Jr. Herbalist program, part of the Friday program for homeschoolers. I get 10 eager, magnificent, brilliant young minds to unleash into the plant world. I am grateful to this place, a gift in my life and my children's.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's that time

...... to start making remedies. Folks are asking about congestion, sinuses, kid's colds, coughs, and the pending flu. I received an email for a lovely customer from 10 years ago, who has not been able to find a chest rub since that worked like mine :). How flattering! So of course I had to heed her request for more of my good old "Phlegm-Away". And I made extra for my own kids. How sweet the feeling to have something come around like that, to know that your remedies achieved some longevity, to know they were well received and remembered. I imagine how it might feel to watch it pass through a whole generation or two.
{Oh - and if any of you are actually curious enough to enlarge the picture only to be shocked by the words 'true wintergreen', don't worry. I don't even attempt to buy this anymore, it is actually a little bottle of real Wintergreen that I have been safely protecting for near twelve years now. Amazingly it smells as good as it did before. }

Divine Goo

I know this just looks like a plate of globby yuck. But if you could smell this divine goo you would see it through a different lens. This is freshly harvested Pine pitch, from my Aunties huge old pines in her back yard. The two trees were virtually gushing and I couldn't resist. This plate is only about 1/4 of what we got. We were sure to leave a coating on from each spot through, not to leave the tree raw.

The white powdery looking coat is where the sap had begun to dry out, the area where it was exposed to air. Th more mature the sap gets, the harder it gets. Some Red Pine sap that my son recently found was nearly hard, and not nearly as sticky. I'm guessing it was at least five years old. It takes a long time.

Usually what I like to do with the pitch is make smudge. I make little rolled balls and 'flour' it in Lavender or Rose powder. This helps keep it self-contained and keeps your fingers from gluing together. Plus it smells really sweet. When you have finished rolling them, lay them out on a wax-paper covered tray, indefinitely. If you jar them up you will have a jar full of melted sap and good luck getting it out. The little balls are easy to pick up and add to a hot rock or glowing ember to bless your home or ceremony. However, I don't recommend using it in your fireplace or wood stove. To easily remove the sap from fingers or floors or clothes, apply rubbing alcohol.

Another superb use for this wonderful gift of the trees is for splinters or slivers. Our beloved Kiva has dealt with this recently only with glass. Sucks it right out and keeps the infection at bay. A wound or cut in the woods is treated swiftly with an application of fresh pitch. Blisters can be helped when nothing else is around and you're mid-hike. Gum infections are also traditionally helped with sap - although I have to say it's not palatable. Natives also used it as glue and water sealer for their canoes.

Amazing stuff.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We'moon Date Book

Finally - this year I sprang for one. I've been coveting this incredible work of art forever and never got one. Then, last year, my close friend bought me an awesome calender and so I didn't need one.
This year I wasn't about to let it go ... so I ordered way early and got the early bird deal. Can I tell you how excited I am? SO excited! It has to be the most amazing, beautiful, moving, and empowering book to date. (pardon the pun) I love the poems, the art, the colors .....
mm. It's not '08 yet but I take it out to peek sometimes anyway.
To get one of your own (and you WILL want one) ..... go HERE and since the website does not do it justice, I may have to take a few photos of my own to post. (is that legal? probably not.)

Book of Shadows

This is my Sacred recipe book. My third one, actually, and it's almost full too. It doesn't really have spells, or strange languages, or rites. It's full of herbal recipes, and most of them are for applying to your body, not taking internally. For me, this really is my book of shadows. It's where I put my magic concoctions for health and beauty, healing, and recipes I make to put out to the world in exchange for goods or money. Recipes that I've used only once, say, for healing from a vasectomy or a neighbor with a herpes outbreak. And even recipes that I legally don't even own, such as for my private labels.

I Love this book. I treasure it like an heirloom jewel. It's indispensable. It's proof that I live my life in love with the plants and life as a sensory, self-loving journey. And in service to myself, my Gaia, my family, and any who may take something I make and remember the wisdom of our Grandmothers by it. It's my way of keeping the lineage alive.

Green abrewin'!

And what's more ... I'm brewing up a fresh pot of Comfrey leaf infused oil. I can't live without it! And since Paypal won't let me sell it through them .... it's up to my beloved patrons to some to me and ask for if they need any. Oil or salve.

Nuptial Flight

Beauty the Herbal Way .......
This week I've been a busy bee, making very special gifts for my Niece and her Bridal Party. These have to have the best of the best ingredients ... and ones that will please any woman since I don't know any of the ladies there (she lives far away). So, here's what I've done. A very seductive "Lakshme Bath Crystals", with Rose petal powder to give it a pink hue. It smells amazing, my infamous Cocoa-spice blend that makes you smell like a mug of Chai. Plus, it's great for both sexes .... so go on! Preserve water - bathe together! (now, I may have to go back and re-do these labels. Most people spell Lakshme with an "i".... we'll see.)
The little vials are my all-time favorite perfume blend. Simple, yet complex and utterly perfect, it's Turkish Rose Otto and Indian dark patchouli. There's nothing like it in the world I'm convinced. So the bride and all her ladies should have some.
What's a lifetime ahead of luscious smooching without a Ruby pout? So of course I had to make up a special batch of my Crushed Rubies Lip and Cheek Glow - which I've been making for near ten years now and it's still a classic must have. I think I have one in every room and every bag, it's just yummy stuff.
Then there's the beauty cream, a French Lavender recipe with extra cocoa butter of the unrefined kind. Soothing and feminine.

The Bride gets extras. She gets the bigger size of the perfume and bath salts, and she also gets a beautiful body oil and a Nuptial Flight Sacred Yoni Balm. Happy Honey Moon :)
I took special joy in this order, since it's my most favorite to make the really sensual, seductive herbals, but also because of the nature of the order I could opt-out of writing ANYthing on the label other than the name and a pretty picture. This alone makes the product look way more elegant. The struggle of forcing an ingredient list much less business info or user instructions/disclaimer stuff onto little bitty labels from a stone age computer program is NO FUN. So I like these prettier, more mysterious labels. They all know I spare no expense on ingredients - natural and best!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Echinacea ~ post #2

Fall has begun dressing herself for the season. The golden plumes lay heavy on high heels and long green legs. The Russian olives dangle like earrings. The leaves are showing off their streaks of green/gold, green/yellow.... green/red, as if the wind came by overnight with a hairdressers bag and made-over the trees that lined up for her along the road. The sun is comforting and warm by day, and the moonlight cool at night, conducting the orchestra of insects and the dance of the winds and tides.
The harvests are here, peaking with all her splendor; tomatoes, lemon balm, basil, parsley, and so many more, satisfying our hunger for abundance and beauty. Yet once it is all picked - it starts to wane. The last of the good weather, the last of the longer days, the last of the garden fresh vegetables. The herbs dry and get packed away into jars or various preserving liquids until the annual viruses knock. Reaping also means sacrifice. It reminds me that whatever I collect must be properly stored and cherished. I am grateful for the intellectual harvests of the last year, which I have internalized deeply in order to pick from it what I need when I need it. I am grateful for my emotional harvests, the lessons I've learned and the friends I have gained. For my healthy, happy family. I'm grateful for my herb harvest, albeit smaller this year than previous, what I didn't harvest is what flourishes strong in my garden only to grow heartily on into next year.
And I let go.
Things are changing for me. And although they are changes I have requested, it is still a change. Which means letting go of old expectations, habits, patterns, and allowing new ones to thrive. But when those old patterns show up - expecting to be obeyed - it's only human nature that I react with a sense of grief. Saying goodbye to ways that once brought immense joy, self-actualization, and success, is hard. In the moment it's hard to remember that good things are on the horizon and will serve me well. Changing relationship to career, work patterns, and most poignantly my self-identity has struck a chord of mourning in me.

So as I lay, sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of a sleepless night, I sob deeply into the roots of my Echinacea plant. She called me into the garden from my dark porch step, asking that I shed my tears into her lap and let it all out, into the soil, into the arms of Mother Earth and daughter of the stars. And so I did, my back to the cool night air and my face cradled by the large green leaves. Her flowers are so tall, I felt completely protected. She seemed to drink in my wretched potion of feeling like a fertilizer.
I think about mourning, how it really means "to remember". I give thanks for the good things I remember from before. And I remember my new goals, new wishes, and new ways.

In the morning, my throat hurt terribly. I knew I was coming down with a cold. So I collected some roots and leaves from her and have been drinking the infusion of it throughout the day, along with some other cold fall allies, Osha (which I use rarely - but I could use some bear energy right now), ginger root, and licorice root. And I am taking my lovely oregano tincture. I don't think my cold will last more than a few days ...... if I take care enough to grieve properly and allow change. It is annually a hard time for me anyway, as I vehemently despise winter and become resentful that I have to suffer through so many weeks of cold weather before my green friends and warm sun return.

And so, I feel Echinacea is a tremendous ally for grief. Personal identity crisis, and seasonal adaptability.

Blessed be.