Why We Should Ditch the Essential Oil Fad for Flower Essences April 05 2021, 0 Comments
Hey crystal, plant, and woo-woo lovers!
If that's not you that's okay, you can still hang out! I'm just assuming if you found this, that that's what you're into :)
Anyway, why aren't you using flower essences instead of essential oils?
It strikes me as odd that essential oils are so popular in the spiritual community, when their production and usage is anything but holistic. I'm not here today to talk about the "medical" uses of essential oils, this is going to be about their use in emotional, spiritual, and energy work.
First off, their production is unsustainable. Countless acres of soil depleting monocrops are grown and natural habitats are wiped clean due to the fact that it takes sometimes 10,000 pounds of raw material to produce one pound of essential oil.
On top of their wasteful production, they are by definition a stripped down isolate of a plant's complex synergistic system. Synergy means that all the different chemical constituents of a plant somehow work together to produce an effect greater than one would expect based off of adding up the individual parts on their own.
When you strip out the essential oil constituent from this system, all of that is quite literally going into the garbage.
Now, theoretically these producers should be obtaining plant hydrosols as a biproduct. Whether those are put to use or not is unknown by me, seeing as they're not nearly as trendy as essential oils are. But hydrosols a much safer and more holistic alternative to essential oils, and they smell just as good (albeit less intense) while maintaining more of the plants integrity.
Lastly, essential oils are just unsafe. They should never be used undiluted and, in my professional opinion, should never be smoked in a vape pen or used internally (sidenote: nothing dilutes oil besides more oil, not even an entire tub of water).
They are being marketed to be used in these ways by MLMs and their untrained representatives who claim that theirs are safe because they are "therapeutic grade". Purity means nothing when a "pure" oil can cause serious chemical burns just as much as an "unpure" oil can.
Even just diffusing them or misting them on furniture because they smell good can be extremely dangerous for pets, children, and people who are pregnant or nursing.
But I digress. I'm here to talk about flower essences!
Flower essences are liquid extracts of flower vibrational energy that are used to address emotional imbalances and mind-body well-being. They're like crystals and plants combined, and no, they're not a replacement for your medications.
They are however, dilute herbal infusions prepared from pristine garden blossoms. In fact they're so dilute that I'll come right out and tell you, if you had them tested in a lab they probably wouldn't detect any physical evidence of the plant at all. So like, the opposite of potentially toxic essential oils.
And yet somehow, people have been reporting good experiences with them since the 1930's.
You might know, my background is in the hard sciences and research. My degree is in biology. I'm a skeptic and I want evidence. But at the same time, to pretend that modern science can understand everything in our universe is just self righteous and disrespectful to nature.
That said, to make them, the fresh, dew-filled blossoms are gathered in the early morning and infused by the warmth and light of the sun.
This process creates an imprint of the unique energy pattern of the flowers into the water, which then embodies the healing archetype of that particular plant.
This is combined with the intuition of the crafter, who connects with the plant as the essence is being made. Very small doses are taken orally over a period of about a month, and they can also be used topically in creams and sprays.
Putting the flowers in water is easy, but personally, it took *several years* of working with plants for me to feel connected enough to begin this energy work.
I've been over here growing a line of my own to offer you that aren't mass produced like commercial ones are. I believe there has to be something lost when you're producing enough flower essence to be shipped to every single health food store in the "western" world.
You'll be able to find mine in the Spirit Haus Botanical Essence Collection in the April 16th update!
What do you think? Do you work with flower essences already? Would you consider making the switch from essential oils?
The Wheel of the Year: How Our Self-Care Changes Throughout the Seasons January 20 2021, 0 Comments
If you follow me on social media, I can only assume you may be a little confused by the wide range of content I've shared since reopening this apothecary in September.
You may be wondering, "Wait, is this a gardening page now? Wasn't it a self care page? And an herbal product page? And a witchy page?"
The answer is YES to all of them. And I'll explain why I won't narrow it down to just one of those topics:
The basis of all of my content and offerings is the Wheel of the Year.
What I'm trying to share with each of you is how life changes alongside nature. And I don't mean how our wardrobes change... I mean changes in what is available and abundant in nature to call upon either physically in our health and bodycare, or symbolically in our (call it what you will) internal work, emotional self care, and/or shadow work.
So yes, in the Autumn and Winter you saw more content focused on internal work, as nature was going to sleep for the season. We used a lot of evergreens and dried warming spices and we let go of a lot that we didn't want to bring into the new year, both physically and emotionally. This was Mabon, Samhain and the Waning phase of the year.
Late winter/early spring (like now) you're seeing me share ways to plan and prepare for the return of the sun and Spring. I'm planting seeds, propagating plants, and setting goals. What's done is done and we begin the work to manifest our own prosperous year. This was Yule, the New Moon, and the upcoming Imbolg.
In the Spring and Summer we're going to experience so much fresh growth and later have so much to harvest. So you'll see a lot more fresh herbal extracts and flowers available. Our personal energy will mirror this by feeling more external, taking action and reaping the benefits of all the hard internal work we did all winter. This will be Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, and the Waxing and Full moon phases of the year.
My monthly Self Care ritual kits attempt to be the epitome of these phases. I do them monthly rather than seasonally because these changes don't just occur suddenly every 4 months. All 8 Sabbats throughout the Pagan Wheel of the Year celebrate a different aspect, and the remaining 4 months I choose to honor the lunar cycle associated with that time of the year. They include tools and information to get to know each of these phases better and connect with them in an empowering and meaningful way.
While I feel torn to choose a direction to focus the content I share with you, that wouldn't be authentic and, to be honest, I think it would be kind of boring. I don't advocate trying to feel and act the same all year round, so I'm not going to pretend Spirit Haus Botanicals can either.
So while some posts you see may seem hyperfocused on one aspect of a this all encompassing concept, know that it all stems from this core value.
Letting Go: The Glorious Autumn to Winter Transition November 11 2020, 0 Comments
Recently, on the shop's instagram, I made a bit of a switch in gears with the sudden onslaught of body care offerings after quite some time of being more spiritually ritual focused...
Traditionally, I like to wait until we're more into Winter to bring in the "body" aspect of our mind-body-spirit self care rituals, and I'll explain why.
Stay with me here...
Winter is ruled by the Water element, represented by our emotions and heavy with introspective Yin energy. Winter can be a dark and emotional time for a lot of folks so I often try to balance it out with some spicy Fire and some grounding Earth. Earth is represented by the physical body and the material world, keeping us present in reality rather than drowning in our thoughts and emotions. THAT'S where the body aspect comes from (there will also be a lot of Fire in the December Yule Kit so don't worry)
I think I just got excited to get these gift sets launched for y'all in time for the holidays!
But to stay on the original course following the Wheel of the Year, we're still in the waning part of Autumn, letting go of thoughts, habits, patterns, and relationships that no longer serve us. Speaking of which, how are those November Waning Moon Banishing kits going??
So, until Yule, days continue growing shorter, darkness continues growing longer, and we welcome the death of the year for its own sake as well as for the sake of welcoming and embracing her rebirth in Spring. What if we tried to find beauty in these endings, rather than seeing them only as a means to a new beginning?
Hang tight I'm almost to the best part...
Don't get me wrong, new beginnings are usually the best (or at least the "not worst") part of endings. But perhaps finding some beauty in endings themselves can help ease our fear of them if we learn to embrace these transitions with the same grace that nature does each Autumn and Winter...
We don't see her grasping at her falling leaves in a desperate attempt to maintain the appearance of a prolonged Summer.
We don't see her apologizing for not having buds and blooms.
She boisterously exclaims "look at my gorgeous leaves of red and orange tumble!"
Not blossoming. Not green.
But awe inspiring in their grace and vibrance. They know it is their end, yet they don't hesitate. She knows the frost will weigh heavy on her branches and the wind may cause some to break. And she accepts the challenge, knowing that she has grown all year in preparation, sending down deep roots and trusting her strength to hold fast.
And yes, Spring will come again. But with such a display of strength and resilience, maybe we won't need to feel so desperate for her arrival.
So hold fast my friends. We may have a bumpy road ahead but we're now well seasoned (pun intended, or is that just where the phrase comes from?) and fortified to withstand any storm that can be thrown our way. Literally and figuratively.
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My Ultimate Witchy Book Recommendations October 28 2020, 0 Comments
This was an Instagram post that I was NOT expecting to turn into an entire blog article until I ended up writing so much that it wouldn't fit on a single post!
Witch With Me is hosting a #witchwithhalloween Mini-Challenge and today's prompt was: Books
I'm a research and information black hole. There's no satisfying my craving for information. So as much as I often wish I lived in the "old country" or in the Roaring 20's or 1800's New Orleans, the privilege of living in the Information Age is not lost on me.
Without further ado, let's jump right in:
This book called to me during my first trip to New Orleans. I wish I could remember the shop name because it was so much more authentic than a lot of occult shops there, and didn't have bad vibes like others. The book is a blend of memoir, folk wisdom, and Afro-American beliefs written by actress, storyteller, and priestess Luisah Tesh. With VooDoo and Voudoun not being my culture, I am careful to respectfully learn about it while not attempting to appropriate or call upon their traditions in any way.
2. Religion and Healing in America
This was assigned reading way back in my undergrad days. I think it was a biomedical ethics class? It touches on how religious views have both conflicted with and worked alongside medical practice throughout history. It would probably benefit me to re-read it again, knowing what I know now!
3. Drunken Botanist
by Amy Stewart "explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries." I couldn't describe it any better myself and as a bartender of ten years this combines two of the things I've spent a lot of time pondering!
4. Spiral Dance
by Starhawk is very near and dear to my heart. I don't even remember what called me to buy it or where I got it from, probably a New Age Bookstore in Portland. I've opened it up a thousand times without thinking and each time it's when I've been searching for answers. Several times over the years when my spiritual practice has been lacking, I'll seemingly out of the blue decide to start reading it again and am reminded that it wasnt a coincidence. That my intuition is always looking out for me. The musings in the book delve beautifully into the how and why of Earth centered and goddess religions, putting into words the feelings I've always carried so deeply. It was first written in the 70's, when Neo-Paganism and goddess traditions we're beginning a rebirth, so be sure to get the later versions with commentary that adjusts with the times.
5. Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions
by River Higginbotham and Joyce Higginbotham is everything you want an introductory Pagan book to be. I picked it up originally when I was becoming curious about what Paganism was and why it was always demonized in movies when, to me, it just sounded like they worshiped nature and Christianity was threatened by this (spoiler: I wasn't wrong). I still find myself going to back to it to look things up so many years later.
These last 3 books didn't make it into the photo because I forgot they were on my kitchen table haha.
6. Grimoire for the Green Witch
by Ann Moura is one that I'm still exploring. Personally I feel everyone should make their own Book of Shadows, but so far this is a thorough reference for ritual work, spells, and divination.
7. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
was written in 1985, and is a compilation of really cool history and lore that folks couldn't just find on the internet at the time. It's an A-Z book that is sometimes lacking on plants you'd think there'd be a ton of info on, and surprisingly thorough on plants you'd least expect. Basically this is the book all the first Green Witch blog posts had to use to list correspondences.
8. The Green Witch
by Arin Hiscock-Murphy is a *beautiful* book, however I haven't spent much time with it since it definitely has more of a beginner vibe. For that reason I do recommend it for a starter guide to the "Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More"
What books do I need to add to my collection??
Let me know in the comments below!
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Regarding The Witchy Elephant in the Room... October 15 2020, 0 Comments
“Can someone purchase your products if they aren’t a witch? I don’t want to be disrespectful.”
Someone asked me this recently and I LOVE questions like this. Why? A lot of reasons.
1. Because I never would have thought someone would be thinking it
2. It takes a lot of guts to ask something like that and I have mad respect for that.
3. It gives me a chance to learn about how my work is being perceived.
4. It's also a trip to be asked this because I only "came out of the broom closet" publicly in August of this year, so it still feels weird even openly acknowledging my spirituality.
Anyway, the short answer is: you definitely do NOT have to be a witch, Wiccan, or even spiritually inclined to use my products. I apologize if I’ve made anybody feel that is the case (I’ll admit I use a lot of #witchy hashtags but that’s not meant to exclude anyone, just extend my reach).
The long answer is: some of my creations (like the Spirit Bottles) may certainly seem silly if you aren’t witchy or Pagan, but for goodness' sake: I started the entire shop in 2011 by making Pitty Party Deodorant... Hardly spiritual >D
Back then, I grew the line for a few years to incorporate as much of what I had learned in my postgrad studies in Herbalism and Holistic Nutrition as I could, mainly focusing on what herbs could do for the physical body.
But after reading Staying Healthy With the Seasons by Elson M. Haas M.D. I became completely enamored with the concept of helping people adapt their lifestyle to coincide with the seasonal changes in nature. I read about other traditions as well, and the more I learned about seasonality in wellness the more I realized how much this resonated with ancient Pagan cultures and the Wheel of the Year. Then seeing how the elements Fire, Earth, Air, and Water correlated perfectly with the seasons and the plant medicines I was already using was what really sealed it for me. It's like my intuition was way ahead of me, and my brain just had to catch up.
So when you see me talking about the Pagan Sabbats like Mabon and Samhain, it’s not to teach you about witchcraft or religion. It’s to shed light on how ancient cultures lived in such a way to celebrate nature while simultaneously living at her mercy year-round. The symbolism involved in the endless cycle of death and rebirth in The Wheel of the Year provides a profound sense of appreciation and respect for every moment we have.
So do you have to be a witch to use my creations? Definitely not. Everything you choose to bring into your life is what you make it. If it’s a pretty candle that smells good and makes you smile, then that’s all it is. If that same candle is a tool someone else uses in practicing magick? Then that candle is magick. Other makers may feel differently, but that's my stance in my shop.
There’s nothing secret or taboo about a bath or a cup of tea. And it’s even pretty mainstream these days to practice breathing, meditating, and setting goals for how you want your life to be. In witchcraft we just call it grounding, setting intentions, and manifesting.
At the end of the day, all I really want is for y’all to have the best tools possible to create your own self-care rituals, however they may look. To find small, mindful habits you look forward to that are completely self-loving and soul nurturing, and then getting as into it as you are comfortable with.
Some folks can dedicate a whole day every week to self-care (I can hear the collective “HA”). Others (the ones who just laughed) just barely have time to put on their deodorant, but if you actually look forward to it, that’s still self-care! Rituals can be sneaky like that.
So find little things that feel good to you and you look forward to, then make them a habit. That’s your #radicalselfcare.
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Apples: Boring? Or Universal Embodiment of Life and Death? September 29 2020, 0 Comments
When I first started seeing “apples” on recommended lists of autumnal offerings I thought, and I quote, “BORING”.
Apples are ubiquitous. We take them, we leave them. We don’t think about them, they’re apples. They’re just there. Sure, we like them. But we don’t pay them any mind… THEY’RE APPLES.
How can they be associated with the Autumn Equinox and Samhain? With the death of the year? They’re so sweet and unassuming. Sure they’re harvested at this time, but that’s not enough of a qualification to be considered “the food of the dead”.
I’m gonna need to see some credentials.
Turns out, apples have a long history in folklore of being associated with immortality, death, and love.
The first stories that come to mind to many are, of course, the poison apple the Evil Queen offers to Snow White; and, obviously, the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden that resulted in the banishment from the garden of eternal life and perpetual damnation of women thereafter. More on that later…
Maybe apples aren’t so boring. Or, perhaps apples simply bore the brunt of this responsibility due to the fact that as late as the 17th century, the word "apple" was used as a generic term for all (foreign) fruit other than berries. Even potatoes, or pomme de terre in french, translate to “apple of the earth”. Or, perhaps still, due to the fact that “mălum”, a native Latin noun which means “evil”, and “mālum”, another Latin noun borrowed from the Greek word for apple, are so easily mistaken for one another.
This is one explanation for how the unnamed Forbidden Fruit became portrayed as an apple...
...Yet another explanation is the influence that apples from Greek and Norse mythology had on biblical translations. No matter how you slice them, apples have been used throughout history to represent immortality.
Gods across Greek, Roman, and Christian belief systems are said to have to bestowed apples that granted immortality upon Earth as a gift, warning mortals that they must not be eaten; dangling the allure of eternal life in front of them only to promptly take it away in order to display the futility of attempting to attain god-like status. The Golden Apples, Forbidden fruit, and immortality, belonged to the heavens; and the god(s) easily took these gifts back.
In Celtic mythology, possession of the Silver Bough, an apple branch that bore flowers, buds, and ripe fruit simultaneously, allowed the posessor to enter the land of the gods.
In Norse mythology, Iðunn, keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness, is abducted from Asgard and her absence causes the gods to grow old and grey. Similarly, when Thiassi stole Iðunn's apples and hid them, the gods grew old; they only regained their youth when Iðunn found the stolen fruit.
There lies an example of the eternal balance offered by nature. We cannot discuss eternal life without discussing death. Life, eternal or temporary, is a gift and we must treat it as such. As often as apples appeared as symbols for immortality in ancient lore, they also appeared in tales of death.
Not only do apples have life sustaining flesh, but that flesh protects seeds that contain toxic arsenic.
Perhaps that is why Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur, was condemned to be burned as a witch after she gave an apple to St. Patrick just before he died.
In Celtic traditions, apple trees grew in the underworld where they provided food for the dead during the bleak winter before resurrection by the goddess Olwen in the spring—a story similar to the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone.
Apples also symbolized the Norse goddesses Freya and Hel, queen of the Underworld.
In Wiccan traditions, Samhain altars are often piled high with apples, as they also considered apples a food of the dead. Apples are also buried on Samhain, the day marking the death of the year and the time at which the veil between the living and dead is thinnest. This offering is made to nourish and sustain the souls that have crossed over, until they are reborn along with the returning light of the new year in Spring.
Celts also associated apples with rebirth and buried apples in graves as food for the dead. This practice dates back over 7,000 years in Europe and West Asia, where petrified remains of sliced apples have been found in tombs from 5,000BC.
More recently, colonial culture led to apples being depicted as a symbol of the land where white men lived. Sioux author Zitkala-Sa portrays how colonizers promised that if she came with them, she would find apple trees with fruit growing so close to the ground that little girls like her could reach right up and pick it.
This red apple became a symbol of the world that white men and women lived in, and the resulting death of indigenous people and culture.
As far as I can tell (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) we don't see apples often in North or South American indigenous mythology since apples were brought during colonization, long after the majority of indigenous mythology had been established.
LOVE, FERTILITY, & ABUNDANCE
In Greek and Roman mythology, apples were associated with the goddesses Gaea, Artemis/Diana, Hera/Juno, Athena, and especially Aphrodite/Venus. Aphrodite and Venus, the Greek and Roman goodess(es) of love, beauty, pleasure, passion, and procreation, is/are associated with apples. Apples’ robust, juicy, ripe flesh makes them the quintessential fruit to represent fertility and the female womb, as they are essentially big ol' ovaries that envelop and protect the tree’s seeds: the future of that tree’s life force. “Fruit of my loins” can be taken quite literally here!
Apple trees are not typically stingy with their production, either. A single semi-dwarf apple tree can produce up to 500 apples per year, for 15 to 20 years! Certainly berries and other small fruits may produce as many, if not more. But when you compare the size, apples provide a much more bountiful and life sustaining harvest. This is what brought the apple to be a symbol for abundance.
Apples prefer growing in a cooler, more moist climate than is generally available in regions like China, so they used to be imported from Korea and Japan. This made them an exotic luxury that was considered a symbol for peace and beauty.
In some cultures, it was customary on one’s wedding night for the bride to eat an apple, ensuring sexual desire, fertility, and abundance within the marriage (as though two people weren't involved in those aspects of a relationship, and that responsibility lay solely on her shoulders)
There is a belief that one way to discover the first letter of your true love's name is to peel an apple with a knife, keeping it as long as possible and in one piece. When the piece breaks off, toss it to the floor and observe what letter it most closely resembles. You can also say each letter of the alphabet as you are peeling and if/when it breaks off, the letter you were on is the first letter of your love's name. Sticking an apple seed on your forehead and reciting the alphabet was used the same way. The seed should fall off at the initial of your beloved.
Cut an apple in two and count the number of seeds... If they are even, you will soon be married. If one of the seeds is cut it may be a stormy relationship. If two are cut, widowhood is foretold. But if an uneven number of seeds are found, you will remain unmarried in the near future.
In Austria, throwing apple seeds into a fire while reciting, “If you love me, pop and fly; if you hate me lay and die,” is an apple variant on “He loves me, he loves me not.”
Hold an apple in your hands until it is warm, then give it to your intended. If they eat it, your love will be returned.
“To banish illness, cut an apple into three pieces. Rub each piece onto the affected part of the body, then bury the pieces during the waning moon.”
“Before eating any apple, rub it to remove any demons or evil spirits hiding inside.”
“Unicorns live beneath apple trees and you might see one if you quietly go to an apple orchard on a misty morning.”
I’ve struggled to find history and lore regarding apples in Japanese, South American, Polynesian, Indigenous, African, Indian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern traditions, just to name a few (basically everywhere else in the world aside from Europe).
Admittedly, this is yet another Eurocentric summary of apple symbolism. I am a practicing Pagan with undergrad level education in Greek mythology, so my realm of personal expertise is not all encompassing (I'm an herbalist, not an historian or anthropologist). As much as I would like to elaborate on other cultures, I simply lack the education, experience, and, well, culture to do so.
I’ve included what little information I did find, but it’s important that these stories are carried on as well, not only for Google’s algorithm, but for the preservation of these ancient cultures that are just as important as European ones.
If you have stories from your culture to add, please share them in the comments!
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7 Reasons Licorice Root is the Ultimate Guide Herb September 24 2020, 0 Comments
Originally written by me, Jovie Belisle, for Witch With Me
Having fallen out of popularity in its true form in mainstream culture, “Licorice” has become almost entirely associated with the polarizing anise-flavored candy. But before you make any decisions, let’s take a look at what real licorice is and why it’s so useful.
Licorice Root, Glycyrrhiza glabra and Glycyrrhiza uralensis, has a history of over two thousand years of recorded use as a potent medicinal plant for a multitude of conditions. The oldest records of its use date back to ancient Assyrian, Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian cultures. Large quantities of licorice root were even found in the tomb of King Tut (1356 to 1339 B.C.E.). Its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine dates back to 190 AD, and this was where it earned the title of “guide herb”. Here are 7 ways Licorice Root has been used as a powerful plant ally:
~As a Sweetener~
1. The word licorice is derived from the Greek word glukurrhiza, meaning “sweet root”. Due to its glycyrrhizin content, which is thought to be 30-50 times sweeter than sugar, licorice root has long led the way as a sweetener; first in beer, then in confectionaries by the 13th century. Since modern licorice candies don’t contain the herb at all, our association with licorice flavor actually comes from the anise and fennel that is used instead.
~In the Garden~
2. Licorice is an amazingly beneficial companion plant in the garden. As part of the legume family of plants, it is a nitrogen fixer, as well as a dynamic accumulator, guiding nutrients from deep at the tip of its roots to more shallow depths so that they are available for other plants nearby. It provides food and shelter for beneficial insects and wildlife, and helps control erosion. Licorice root can easily be grown from divisions or root cuttings planted 1 to 1-1/2 feet apart, or you can sow seeds outdoors in spring or fall. You’ll want to wait to harvest it until after 2-3 years of growth.
3. Both Eastern and Western medicine have long documented reports of successfully using licorice root for its immune, liver, digestion, respiratory, antiviral, and antimicrobial benefits. Chinese medicine uses it as a “guide herb,” combining it with other herbs in a single prescription to enhance the effectiveness of the other ingredients, generally raise Qi, reduce toxicity, and improve flavor. It has a particular affinity for dry coughs and flu symptoms affecting the throat and lungs, and has been shown to be as good as codeine for unproductive coughs by helping to guide out phlegm. It also raises blood pressure and has estrogenic qualities.
4. Licorice Root is associated with the planet Mercury, which rules communication & movement of thought, since Mercury was said to be the messenger of the gods. Mercury also rules the sixth house, which is the house of health. This corresponds pretty directly to licorice’s role in supporting the immune and respiratory systems, as well as its role as a guide herb if we look at the way it's thought to command and direct other herbs that are taken in conjunction.
5. It is also associated with Jupiter, in that it is used as offerings on altars or burned in religious ceremony. In ancient times, rites of passage weren’t complete without an herb from the Jupiter spectrum – that’s why licorice root was buried in tombs in ancient Egypt.
6. In modern times, in its most broad capacity, licorice root is used to heighten power in spell work, guiding the other elements of the ritual to higher effect.
7. When it comes to conjuring, it’s a very assertive plant. Hoodoo practitioners have used licorice in commanding, mind-altering, and control spells for generations. Both European lore as well as Hoodoo traditions believe that licorice root guides lust, love, and fidelity magick work (likely due to its estrogenic qualities and ability to raise blood pressure). Simply drinking the tea may even act as a stimulant between two lovers. Add it to love sachets that you or your beloved carry, chew on it for sexual potency, or sprinkle it in the footprints of a lover to guide them away from wandering.
While licorice root has very low toxicity, you should avoid using it internally (or even chewing on it) if you have high blood pressure or are sensitive to estrogen. Prolonged use of large amounts can cause decreased potassium levels.
You can find licorice root in many of my WATER element line, like the Water Spirit Bottle, Water Spirit Ritual Bath, and Monthly Ritual Self Care Bundles.
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Herbal Liqueur Spotlight: Liquore Strega & Italian Witchcraft Lore September 11 2020, 0 Comments
Liquore Strega, an Italian digestif distilled from a secret recipe of around 70 herbs and spices, has been produced out of the same factory in Benevento, Italy since 1860. Amazingly, the distillery is still run by the original Alberti family and is now in its fifth generation.
The city of Benevento claims to be an ancient site of witches’ rites. Witches from all over the world are said to have gathered at night around a magical walnut, where they created a magic potion that forever united couples who consumed it.
As legend has it, Giuseppe Alberti, a spice merchant, was out gathering herbs for his elixirs with his father when he came upon a witch trapped beneath a fallen tree branch. He and his father helped her, and as a reward, she bestowed upon them the secret formula for this magical liqueur. The only condition was that they never reveal the recipe to another living soul. To this day, only two people alive know the secret formula for Strega, which is the Italian word for "witch".
With so much mystery surrounding the formula, what we do know is that of its 70 herbs and spices, it incorporates Ceylon cinnamon, Florentine iris, Italian Apennine juniper, and Samnite mint, which grows along the riverbanks in the whole region. The liqueur gets its characteristic yellow color from the precious Saffron that is added to the herb distillate.
We also know that it is aged in ash barrels over a long period of time to ensure a perfect blending of the different aromas. The resulting distillate is 80 proof, making it as strong as any standard spirit like vodka or gin. Only after the aging process is the liqueur bottled and distributed all over the world.
The classic and dreamlike label of Strega depicts both a hooded crone possessing a broom, as well as an ensemble of sparsely clad women, raucously dancing hand in hand with satyrs in the forest.
Based on Strega's lore of being a magic potion that forever united couples who consumed it, and knowing that the liqueur's recipe incorporates saffron to create its distinctive color and flavor, we're going to take a closer look at saffron and its uses.
Saffron, likely the most precious and expensive spice sold on the planet, is deep yellow in color and pleasantly sweet in flavor. It's made from the dried stigmas of the Crocus flower, which originates in Southwest Asia and can be found in some parts of Europe. Though it is said to grow well enough in most gardens, each flower only contains 3 stigmas, thus requiring over 75,000 flowers to make a pound of saffron. Harvesting is done entirely by hand during only one magical week per year. It's for this reason that saffron can be found for no less than $500-$5,000 per pound!
The Greek legend of Crocus and Smilax details not only their love affair, but also explains the vivid color and magickal effects of the crocus flower that gives us saffron. The story goes like this: "Crocus, a handsome and virile man, fell in love with a nymph named Smilax. During a brief period of idyllic love and passion, Smilax, flattered by his amorous advances, was under the spell of his devotion. But soon Smilax became bored by Crocus’ attentions. After he continued to pursue her against her wishes and became obsessed with her, Smilax bewitched him, transforming Crocus into a saffron crocus flower. With its bright orange stigmas, it is said this remains a symbol of Crocus’s undying passion and eternal flame of love for Smilax."^
It's no wonder the witches of Benevento incorporated saffron into the love potion thought to have become Strega!
Not only does saffron's story date back to ancient Greek times, but we see its use dating back 50,000 years to prehistoric sites in Iran, where cave wall depictions contained saffron-based pigments.
Saffron's Modern Use
Of course, saffron's use extends far beyond that of ancient history. Western use primarily associates it with traditional cuisine, lending its distinctive color and flavor to Italian risotto milanese, French bouillabaisse, Spanish paella, and Indian biryanis.
Medicinally, it has been used for a broad variety of conditions, including coughs, colds, stomach ailments, insomnia, depression, fever, heart trouble, and fertility. Ancient healers Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Hippocrates touted saffron as a panacea-like herb.
It is still thought to be effective for these ailments, but, realistically, has become too expensive to be worth using in any sort of effective quantity. Adding to its price and scarcity is the fact that climate change and overproduction of monocropping pose a significant threat to the future of the crocus plant. For that reason it's important to research the source of your saffron, should you choose to explore its benefits more closely.
Fortunately, for magickal use, one can get away with using the smallest amount of saffron for just as much benefit as more. For that reason, I recommend using Strega! You not only get the benefits of saffron, but also the symbiotic benefits of all the other 69+ herbs in its formula. If we imbue saffron's associations onto Strega, we see that they are associated with:
- The Fire element & Leo
- Eos: Titaness and the goddess of the dawn
- Venus: Roman goddess of love, sex, beauty, & fertility
- Aphrodite: Greek goddess of love, sex, beauty, & fertility
- The Sun & the planet Mars.
- Wealth, power, and rarity.
- Powers: Love, Healing, Happiness, Lust, Strength, and Psychic Powers
If it isn't clear by now that saffron is a powerful ingredient in rituals and spells for passion, love, lust, and fertility, then I didn't do my job. It can used straight or diluted with moon water to anoint candles and sigils, but be aware that it can stain.
Due to saffron's high value and rarity, it is an excellent offering for any deity and is a traditional ingredient in crescent moon cakes made in honor of the Phoenician Goddess Ashtoreth.
Add it to your bath to channel the Fire element, drawing passion, strength, and intuition.
Drinking saffron infusion is thought to enhance psychic abilities. If you're using Strega in its place, however, I urge just the smallest amount (1 ounce or less depending on your alcohol tolerance). While some traditions call for intoxicants in order to channel other realms, I personally feel that alcohol intoxication threatens a genuine connection to the higher self.
I formulated the Scarlet Enforcer for the Spirit Haus. Light and herbal yet still potent and spirit-forward, it is a delicate but strong slow-sipper, versatile enough for any time of year.
1 1/2 oz Gin
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Liquore Strega
Add contents to a glass stirring vessel, add ice, and stir for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh mint in spring and summer, or a star anise pod in autumn and winter.
If using for ritual purposes, replace the gin with plain water or moon water if that's in your practice. Otherwise, enjoy heartfully during some much deserved "me" time, or with your sweetheart to see if the legends are true!
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Autumn Equinox: How to Celebrate Mabon's Harvest & Ground For Winter September 08 2020, 0 Comments
What is Mabon?
Mabon is a celebration of the Autumn Equinox and occurs over Sept 21st to Sept 29th in the Northern Hemisphere. The days have been growing shorter and, on the Equinox, are exactly as long as the nights. Days will continue to grow shorter and nights longer through the season.
"As a holiday, Mabon represents the time of honoring the dead, visiting burial sites, giving thankfulness for the end of the harvest season and the bounty it provides. These are the themes of closing, letting go, and remembering. For the year, the harvest, and for those who were lost to land of Avalon during the year.
Although many view the Harvest season as a celebration of life, it is also a celebration of death. The bounty you gather from your garden provides nourishment for you, family, and friends. But it is also the death of those plants and vegetables which have been harvested from that garden. Thus Mabon is a celebration of the cycle of life."
- Magickal Winds
What Does It Mean?
"The Time of Change is upon us again –
the Equinox comes, the Wheel turns…
The Goddess and the God prepare for
Their journey to the Otherworld,
as the Earth and all of Her children
prepare for the Time of Quiet and
Reflection that lies ahead…
May we use this Autumnal period
to seek for the strength and power within
to assist us on our own quests for
vision, feeling, and peace…
May we see and feel the presence of
the Goddess and the God within, though
without, the Earth begins Her slumber…
Keep us in Your light…
Who Was Mabon?"
-by Dana Corby
Buddleja | Butterfly Bush: Graceful Transitions with this Resilient Flower September 05 2020, 0 Comments
Oh so lovely Buddleja, often called Butterfly Bush, while revered by butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, is actually cast as a noxious weed here in the US, despite her prominent beauty and lingering soft honey aroma.
The same qualities that categorize Buddleja as a weed, however, can also be seen as positive attributes in energetic qualities: It is highly resilient and adaptable to many environments, growing and spreading rapidly, even in earth that doesn't seem conducive to growth...rubble, cracks in concrete...it's even been called the "bombsite plant" because it was the first plant to grow where bombs fell in London during the Blitz^.
These enduring qualities translate seamlessly into Buddleja's beneficial properties. Energetically, her gentle resilience lends well to use in courage, endurance, breaking barriers or patterns, the hope of freedom, and rebuilding, all while maintaining grace and poise. Meditate or pray with the flowers, keep a sachet under your pillow, use it in rituals, or on your altar as an offering. "Empty-nesters" may find comfort in Buddleja's presence during that particular transition.
Medicinally, Buddleja has traditionally used for inflammation, rheumatism, and skin conditions. It also offers protection from UV damage and is particularly protective for mature skin*. Infuse dried flowers into oil to make a skin defensive salve or liniment with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
Due to Buddleja's wildly prolific nature, many regions in the US require that non-sterile varieties not be planted. But if non-sterile plants already stand, it's best to remove all of the flowering or seeded heads each August (in the northern hemisphere) before they can be spread.
What better excuse to make your own Buddleja concoctions for your Mabon festivities!
*Raja S and Ramya I: A review on ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Buddleja asiatica. Int J Pharm Sci Res 2016; 7(12): 4697-09.doi: 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.7(12).4697-09.
6 Ways to use Echinacea That Aren't a Cure For the Common Cold August 25 2020, 0 Comments
Echinacea I dried from the garden is looking mighty moody today and I love it. Can you even with that color?
A History of Indigenous Use
The name Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos, a word used to describe the nature of a hedgehog or sea urchin (referring to the bristly, pokey cone at Echinacea's center). This North American native plant, also called coneflower, has been used extensively by indigenous populations for all manners of ailments. In Western tribes like the Ute, coneflowers are associated with elk and called "elk root," due to the belief that wounded elk seek them out as medicine. Roots were used as traditional healing herbs by many tribes, especially in the Great Plains and Midwest, to treat many types of swelling, burns, and pain. Coneflower has also been chewed ritually during sweatlodge ceremonies and is considered one of the sacred Life Medicines of the Navajo tribe.
Echinacea in Modern Use/Misuse
With such a purposeful history, it's unfortunate that echinacea got broadly promoted as a "cure for the common cold" by the masses. While it has been shown to increase T-cell counts and stimulate the immune system, it is not an antibiotic or antiviral that attacks pathogens, as it's been painted to be. The truth is, there is no one herb that is perfect for everyone. Especially if it isn't used properly. Herbs aren't like drugs where you take them to get rid of a symptom, causing wild side effects in the process. Herbs work with your own body's chemistry to restore balance so that it can do the work on its own. They aren't a bandaid or a cure-all.
TV doctors and supplement companies would like us to believe that a single herb will work for everyone in order to get sales. But since all herbs aren't for everyone, if it doesn't work for you then you're naturally led to believe that herbs in general don't work. Echinacea is just one herb that can be used to bolster the immune system, but many herbalists are more inclined to work with plants like elder, astragalus, turmeric, yarrow, and many others, depending on the individual. Hardly any herbalists I've spoken with during COVID have been recommending Echinacea for herbal toolboxes.
That said, if we do think about echinacea solely as an herb with constituents that can help bolster our immune system, we can find other ways to use Echinacea if we look deeper at what our immune system actually does. In it's simplest form: It protects us from pathogens that wish to do us harm. For that reason, I'm personally more inclined to use echinacea in its whole dried flower form as a protective energy. Her cones are shockingly spiky and her petals dry to an elegantly intimidating shape and hue, lending to her forceful presence.
Here are 6 ways to use Echinacea that aren't for the cold or flu:
+Echinacea is associated with the Earth element, lending a grounding and protective energy. Carry the dried root or flower during meditation to assist with spiraling, uncontrollable thoughts.
+Carrying Echinacea is thought to provide inner strength during trying times. Keep a small jar or sachet of it in your bag, pocket, or office drawer during these times.
+Keep echinacea in a jar near your front door or on your nightstand to shield from negative energy.
+Grow it around the house or cut it for a vase to draw prosperity into the home and protect the family from suffering from poverty.
+Use it as an offering, to a loved one you wish to protect or in your spiritual practice for place spirits and river Gods/Godesses.
+Including Echinacea in any ritual use is thought to increase effectiveness. It has been used historically as a tool to add powerful strength to rituals used in money, fertility, and abundance.
Soon, you'll be able to find echinacea as the grounding ingredient in our Water Element Bath, which helps center your self-care ritual on attracting abundance.
You can shop our growing ritual line here.
What has been your experience with Echinacea? Do you take it when you feel a cold coming on? Let me know in a comment below!
Persons with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae family should exercise caution with Echinacea, due to the presence of Echinacea pollen. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
How to Harness the Moon's Reset Button [A 5-Step Ritual] August 17 2020, 0 Comments
Hours, days, weeks, months, and even years seem to be passing by faster and faster, don’t they? How many times have you not realized that a conversation you thought happened yesterday actually happened a week ago? That the friend you thought you hadn’t seen in a month has actually been away for a year? Time sneaks up and escapes us when we aren’t looking. But nature provides us with markers for this passage of time. Reliable markers that have existed since the earth was born.
If we can take moments to be mindful of these markers, maybe we can slow time down a little and squeeze out a few more precious minutes. Not literally, of course, but the more we’re on autopilot the more our minds let the forgetful things slip away. If nothing stands out as worthwhile then nothing gets saved. If we draw our attention to nature’s regular and consistent markers of change, perhaps it won’t all blur together as much.
A Constant Cycle of Renewal
Let’s take a look at what these markers of time are, so we can more clearly see the numerous ways nature’s cycles offer us a chance to achieve an end and begin anew…
The daily rising and setting of the sun.
The monthly waxing and waning of the moon.
The yearly passing of the seasons.
The birth, life, and death of an individual.
From a single day to an entire lifetime, nature is in a constant cycle of rebirth. We only get one life as far as we know, but each morning that we wake up we get to start a new day. Each spring when the snow melts we get to start a new year. And each month the sky becomes dark during the New Moon is no exception to this rebirth. It’s a chance to reflect upon our recent lessons, but more importantly, it’s a chance to set new intentions and goals for the coming cycle.
The New Moon
The moon has 8 phases, each one with its own specific energy to call upon and draw from. As you learn to bring your awareness to each of them, or at least a couple of them, you’ll feel time in a different way. Much like living with the seasons, you’ll naturally come to a flow that allows your own personal energy to move in cycles, with energetic times and restful times. We weren’t designed to be go-go-go all the time. I’ll get into each of the 8 phases in future posts, but for now, let's start at the beginning.
The New Moon occurs when the sun and moon come into alignment in the sky. This actually results in us not seeing the moon at all on Earth, giving us dark nights with only the brightly contrasting stars popping through the black sky to light our way. When this happens, energetically, it’s time to find stillness and plant new seeds of desire. During the New Moon, you are given a chance to breathe new life into any areas of stagnation or places where you would like to impact positive change. This time for rest and reflection is the perfect opportunity to practice a simple ritual to turn inward and examine what you want to call into your life.
A Simple Ritual
Your New Moon ritual doesn’t have to be elaborate or dramatic unless you want it to be. There’s no right or wrong way to pay respect to your plans and dreams, only what feels powerful to you.
This is an important step and physical representation of the blank slate the New Moon is giving you. I highly recommend taking part in all of the following if you have the time, but if not just choose one:
- Taking a bath with candles, salt, and calming herbs like lavender, rose, calendula, and yarrow.
- Sweeping the house, finally folding that laundry, doing the dishes,
- Smoke cleansing your space or yourself with dried herb bundles.
Offer a destination to any wild or spiraling energy that is causing you racing thoughts, anxiety, or stress.
- Call upon a source of energy that you connect with the most. A diety, spirit guides, angels, the Earth, the tides, the elements, the directions, etc.
- Practice yoga or a meditation where you visualize yourself with roots that send any unruly or negative energy deep down into the Earth, through the layers, into the core, and then draw positive energy back up through your feet again.
Write down the things that you wish to call into your life. Self-love, a new job, a new outlook, financial stability, a romantic relationship... Focus on the positive things you wish to begin, rather than the negative things you wish to avoid. Be detailed and specific. Conjure what seems out of reach and create the vision.
Now speak these dreams aloud as if they are already in your existence. Take note of the feelings that come up when you say them aloud. This is not just throwing a penny into a wishing well. As you write these dreams and wishes down and speak them aloud, you are committing to do your part to make them a reality. Light candles and add a symbolic act to make your intentions concrete.
- If your wish was to ignite your creativity and intuition, burn a piece of paper with your idea written on it.
- If your wish was to put yourself out there more in business or love, tie your wish to a paper balloon and release it.
- If you have several intentions, meditate on each one as you focus each on an individual bead. Give each intention it’s own bead and tie them one at a time onto a string to make a bracelet or keychain.
Now sit quietly, follow your breath, and visualize your life as it is now, except that your desires have already come to fruition. Resolve yourself to be open to these energies coming into your life, along with any other lessons in growth you may need along the way.
Find ways to keep these intentions at the forefront of your awareness. This is a very important part. Put your written intentions in a visible spot on your mirror, at the front door, or in your wallet. Put your beaded keychain you made on your keyring. Make notes about your progress. At the full moon, find ways to take action on those intentions and celebrate any progress.
End your ritual with a showing of gratitude to whatever energy source you called upon. Acknowledge and be grateful for all that you have right now at this moment in time, all that you have been given in your life to make it this far, and all that you will receive for the rest of your life. Blow out any candles that are still burning and find a home for your new intentions where you will be reminded of them until the full moon.
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