Second New Moon of Spring – Elder Mountain Dreaming

By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – Greetings Dreamers, Artists and Moon Lovers! Our second new moon of Spring arrives on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 and brings forth fullness of this second of three moon…

Source: Second New Moon of Spring – Elder Mountain Dreaming

New Moon in What?

BALSAMIC WISHING MOON ~ NEW MOON IN TAURUS

We are entering the New Moon in Taurus this Wednesday, April 26th at 5:16 am (PST). Moon in Taurus slows us down and creates an earthy, sensual time. I cannot think of a better time to connect to my creative and sensual self ~ to plant the fertile seed and listen to the miracle of Mother Earth within as she shares her magic and guides us to manifesting our hearts dreams and songs. There is much going on under this Earth sign that is ruled by Venus and for this new moon, I want to share a ritual to invoke the energy of the Balsamic Moon ~ the Wishing Moon. The Balsamic Moon phase is the three days before the New Moon and a beautiful, magical time for placing your wishes in the air. As Steve Nelson says, “A wish made on the Balsamic Moon is more likely to come true because needs are felt more deeply now…the more deeply a need is felt, the more invocation energy goes into the Moon cycle and the more likely this need will be met. You may be more aware of fears, self-doubts and difficult emotional tides at the close of the Moon cycle. The old emotional cycle is breaking down and everything that is wrong tends to come to awareness ~ let’s not forget, feeling invokes healing

As the moon wanes, awareness of what you no longer need waxes. This is a time to see what is standing in your way, holding you back ~ the New Moon in Taurus is a time to slow down, clear the way and allow yourself the space to plant your seeds ~ receive the insight

healing-crystals-and-herbs

Here is a Bath Ritual for you to use under the Balsamic Moon (Today, Monday, Tuesday)

A great way to cleanse during the Balsamic Moon is to bathe in salt water. A hot mineral bath is healing when your emotional and physical toxins are ready to be released. So take a bath to support your clearing of toxins and perceptions and open up to the awareness.

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1 cup Sea Salt
  • Essential Oil ~ you can use quite a few drops and let it soak into the salts prior to using – remember the smell in the bath will be diluted so don’t be afraid to make it strong ~ a few oils I suggest are rosemary or geranium.
  • If you feel you are drawn to work on a chakra – use the color/smell to match that chakra.
  • Place a candle at the foot of the bath to aid in clearing the mind and focusing intentions.
  • Add flowers to bring the image, word, and feeling of beauty to your time…remember your own beauty matches the beauty that surrounds you daily.
  • Play soft music or create a time of silence.

new moon blessingsThen on Wednesday, April 26th once we move into the New Moon (5:16 am PST) create a vision board ~ one that can tap you into your center of creativity ~ the energy center that strengthens your ability to express yourself and your manifestations. It will be a great tool to guide you through to the Full Moon in Scorpio on May 10th.

Here are some thoughts on creating your vision board:

  1. Plan a time that will give you at least 2 hours for creating …
  2. Light a candle and tune into your vision for manifesting over the next few weeks or longer…
  3. Using a heavier paper like a Matboard ~ cut it into the circle or use it in the square…
  4. Grab magazines, colored pencils, stamps or anything that sparks you…
  5. Cut, write, paste and create….
  6. If you like, once you have completed your cuttings, blindly draw several to cover your paper and let your intuition guide you…
  7. Place your picture in a place where you can connect with your vision daily ~ preferably in the morning upon awakening and in the evening before going to sleep ~ maybe at the end of your bed!

Important Dates:

Monday, Apr 24th
Moon Phase: Fourth Quarter and Waning, Incense – Neroli, Color  Ivory

Tuesday, Apr 25th
Moon Phase: Fourth Quarter and Waning, Incense – Geranium, Color – Gray

Wednesday, Apr 26th
Moon Phase: New MoonIncense – Lavender, Color – Yellow

Thursday, Apr 27th
Moon Phase: First Quarter and Waxing, Incense – Carnation, Color – Green

Friday, Apr 28th
Moon Phase: First Quarter and WaxingIncense – Alder, Color – Rose

Saturday, Apr 29th
Moon Phase: First Quarter and Waxing, Incense – Rue, Color – Blue

Sunday, Apr 30th
Moon Phase: First Quarter and Waxing, Incense – Juniper, Color – Orange

Beltane Celebrations

Near the end of April and beginning of May, halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, you will find the Sabbat of Beltane. The Earth has awoken and is bringing forth new life and new growth to abound. Depending on your tradition, there are a number of ways you can celebrate this Sabbat: Balefires, Crafting, Ceremonies, Cooking, and Spring cleaning, to name a select few.

To the pagan Celts, Bealtaine (pronounced roughly Ball-tinn-eh), often called Beltane by modern pagans, was one of the most sacred and the people of Ireland and Scotland practiced important holidays of the year and even up until recently Beltane celebrations. Also called Bealltainn in Scotland and Bealtaine or Bealtaine in Ireland, this holiday is generally celebrated on May first and might also be called May Day, although some people believe in celebrating it based on environmental signs, such as the blooming of the Hawthorn. It is uncertain what the name Beltane means; some people theorize that it translates to “fires of Bel” while others favor the meaning “blessing fires”.

Beltane stood opposite Samhain on the calendar and in many ways represented opposite themes; where Samhain was a time of harvest and of the Dead, Beltane was a time of blessing and planting (McNeill, 1959). It was on Beltane that the herds were sent out to their summer pastures, and in the old stories, it was on Beltane that many important events occurred such as the Tuatha de Danann first arriving in Ireland. It is said that in ancient Ireland all fires were put out on the eve of Beltane and then the Druids would light a sacred fire at Tara which would be passed from hilltop to hilltop and home to home until all the fires were re-lit. (Wilde, 1991)

Beltane is the beginning of summer and was the time that contracts were renewed, herds moved, and crops planted. For modern pagans, especially Celtic pagans, a great deal of depth can be added to the celebration of this holiday by understanding the folk traditions surrounding it.

The fairies were thought to be especially active and powerful on Beltane, and in some sources for the first three days of May. It was said in Ireland that it was on Beltane Eve that the faeries moved from one hill to another and were most likely to steal children or cause mischief (Danaher, 1972). Caution was needed to guard against faeries stealing the household’s luck, dairy products, or herbs, and the best protection against this was strewing primroses across the threshold (Wilde, 1991). This belief also meant that strangers were looked on with great suspicion, lest they actually are fairies in disguise, and there were strong prohibitions against giving away or lending milk or fire on Beltane. Offerings of food might be made to appease the faeries, or else a bit of iron or Rowan would be carried as protection. (Danaher, 1972)

In Scotland, on Beltane, all of the hearth fires were extinguished and the people, along with their livestock, would gather before dawn on hilltops where bonfires had been built. The bonfires were built in two large piles so that a narrow path ran between them, and at dawn, the fires would be lit (McNeill, 1959). These Beltane bonfires were intended to bless those who passed between them, both people and animals, and were made from sacred woods, in some places oak and in others traditionally 9 different woods (McNeill, 1959). As soon as the fire was lit the people would proceed sunwise around the hilltop three times before driving the animals three times between the bonfires to bless them; later the men would light torches made of heather or sedge and carry them around the animals to protect them from evil and ensure fertility of the herds (McNeill, 1959) . After the bonfires subsided the people would rub the ashes on their faces to bless themselves, before proceeding with living embers back to their homes to rekindle their hearth fires; such fire was said to be blessed for a full year and was not allowed to go out until the following Beltane (McNeill, 1959). In the Shetland Islands, the Beltane fires were kept burning for 3 days and people would leap through them for blessing and good health. (McNeill, 1959)

In Ireland up to fairly recent times, bonfires were a large public affair that occurred on the night of Beltane, although the practices are dying out today. These fires were traditionally true bonfires, or “bone-fires”, made with a mix of wood and the bones of cows and horses as well as the horns of cows (Evans, 1957). The fires would be built in open public spaces and the people would gather, whether or not they had celebrated earlier, and drink and sing around the fire (Danaher, 1972). It seems that originally the bonfire traditions were common in every town and village but over time slowly died out in many areas. According to the oldest stories and myths during the pagan period, all the home fires would be put out and relit from a great central fire kindled by the Druids on Beltane morning. In modern practice the bonfires would be jumped over to increase a person’s fertility and show their bravery (Evans, 1957) . In earlier times, just as in Scotland, the fire would have been built in two halves and the livestock drove through, as well as the ash from the Beltane fire used to bless the fields. (Danaher, 1972)

beltane-fire-festival-edinburgh-scotlandIn Scotland up until a hundred years ago, folk celebrations included the making of a small fire and cooking of caudle, a mix of eggs, butter, milk, and oatmeal, with every participant contributing something to the celebration and the very first of the prepared food being poured out onto the earth as an offering (McNeill, 1959) . Special cakes are prepared, and then each person would turn their back to the fire and break off pieces of the cake, while naming first a protective deity or spirit that watched over the herds and then a harmful animal that might threaten the herds, and the piece would be tossed over their shoulder into the fire. (McNeill, 1959)

In a different part of Scotland, boys would gather on Beltane and make a small fire and then draw lots after which one of them would have to jump three times over the fire as a symbolic sacrifice to the pagan god Bel (McNeill, 1959). Special oat or barley cakes, called Beltane bannocks, were baked and eaten for luck and health, with a small portion given first as an offering that the person may receive abundance. (McNeill, 1959)

Both fire and water were used for blessing and as the bonfires were created to bless the herds and people, so too was water collected for a blessing. Holy wells might be visited, with due ceremony, and the person might wash in the well or take a small amount of water home with them. In Ireland, the first water drawn from a well, called “the top of the well” or “the luck of the well’, was believed to be especially powerful for either good or bad intent (Danaher, 1972) . Another practice in both Ireland and Scotland was the collection of the dew on Beltane morning, as it was believed that this water had special healing and blessing properties.

In Scotland, special hollows in rocks were found, or alternately a rope made of cow hair was used to gather the dew (McNeill, 1959). A girl might go out and gather dew-covered ivy on Beltane for luck, but it could not be touched with a steel knife or the luck would leave it (McNeill, 1959). In Ireland, the dew was collected by hand or by soaking a linen cloth on dew-soaked grass and then ringing out the cloth. (Danaher, 1972)

The Rowan was central in many Scottish celebrations as it was believed that Rowan was the best protector against the fairies, with Rowan branches collected on the eve of Beltane and hung up around the home, or tied with red thread and hung over the door (McNeill, 1959). In one part of Scotland a hoop was made of Rowan and then all the sheep were driven through it, while in another a Rowan twig and red thread were tied to the cows tails (McNeill, 1959). In Ireland, the Rowan is believed to be the best of all protections against bad luck and enchantment so on May Day morning a branch of Rowan might be woven into the ceiling to protect the house and all within it for the next year (Danaher, 1972). One ceremony noted from Laois Ireland called for the head of the family to light a candle and bless the door, hearth, and the four corners of the home, as well as each family member from oldest, to youngest, and then the area around the home where a rowan branch should be placed. (Danaher, 1972)

In Ireland, it has been the custom for the children to gather flowers on May eve, possibly a hold over of the people once going out before dawn on May morning; these flowers were then hung up or strewn around the home for luck (Danaher, 1972). On May Day itself, flowers were tied to the bridles of horses and the horns of cows for the same purpose (Danaher, 1972) . Flowers were also gathered and used to decorate wells, in order to bless and protect them (Evans, 1957). In Munster, a selection of wood boughs was gathered, generally of Holly, Hazel, Elder, Rowan, and Ash, while in Munster it was Sycamore (Danaher, 1972). In contrast, however, the boughs from fairy trees like Blackthorn were seen as extremely unlucky in one area but might be lucky in another, however, the general belief was not to disturb the fairy trees.

Any herbs gathered on Beltane were believed to be especially potent. Yarrow, a herb already believed to be good for nearly anything, was seen as being ideal if gathered on Beltane (Wilde, 1991). No herb, however, could be gathered with an iron knife because the iron would ruin any magical properties held by the plant. Plants gathered on May Day were ideally gathered at dawn with the dew still on them, as the dew itself also imparted a blessing (Wilde, 1991). All charms and magics were most powerful on Beltane so it was also believed to be a time when witches were most active. (Danaher, 1972; Wilde 1991)

Another Irish custom was the preparation of a female effigy, called the “May Baby” that was bedecked with flowers and paraded around the town or village; some theorize that this is an older pagan element related to honoring a goddess (Danaher, 1972) . As the May Baby is carried around music is played and a married couple, chosen beforehand, dances in a comically sexual manner around the effigy to entertain it; this procession is believed to grant fertility to the land and the people who observe it and believe in it efficacy was so strong that married women without children were known to travel great distances to receive this blessing (Danaher, 1972) . A related practice was the May Boys, a troupe of boys or young men that traveled around singing songs like:

Summer! Summer! The milk of the heifers,
And ourselves brought the summer with us,
The yellow summer, the white daisy,
And ourselves brought the summer with us!

A widespread Irish custom was the placement of a “Maybush”, a branch or bough of a tree (sometimes a Hawthorn or Holly) that was placed by the front door for luck and decorated with yellow flowers, brightly colored ribbons, and egg shells (Danaher, 1972) . On the night of May Day candles might be lit on or around the bush and people would gather and dance around it; in Ireland, in previous centuries large parties were held which included feasting and music (Danaher, 1972). The bush itself might be left standing all month, or until the decorations began falling apart, or in some areas was burned in the nighttime bonfire. (Danaher, 1972)

One of the Scottish divination practices of Beltane is very similar to one seen at Samhain, where stones are chosen and marked to represent the people present and then placed in a ring around the sacred fire as it is going out – the condition of each stone the next day tells the person’s fate (McNeill, 1959) . Another practice was to go out before dawn, in silence, and gather yarrow wherever it could be found; it was gathered with the eyes shut and after being picked the person would open their eyes and what they saw would be portentous. (McNeill, 1959)

In Ireland divination on Beltane focused largely on the weather for the coming growing season. The direction that the wind was blowing on Beltane day would indicate whether the summer would be a good one or a bad one, and in some areas snow still visible on Beltane was seen as a very bad omen (Danaher, 1972). Another Irish practice was to sweep the threshold clean and then lightly scatter ashes over it; in the morning a footprint coming into the home meant a marriage, while one leaving meant a death in the family in the coming year. (Wilde, 1991)

There is little historical evidence of any specific deity associated with Beltane, although in Scotland Bel has come to be connected to the holiday and some of its practices. It is a holiday with strong themes of blessing and fertility, so a modern practitioner could choose to honor any deity or deities that made sense with that energy. This will likely come down to personal preference and probably vary widely by group or person.

For modern practitioners, all of this provides a wealth of possible practices to incorporate. Offerings can be made to the fairies to avoid their mischief and encourage friendly relations with the Good Neighbors; this could be done on Beltane eve or Beltane itself. If you choose not to make offerings then perhaps carrying a bit of iron or Rowan would be wise to keep the fairies from stealing your luck. In the morning dew could be gathered as well as any useful herbs that can be found.

A May Bush could be set up and decorated, or a live tree or bush could be planted and decorated for the same purpose. The decorations themselves could be the traditional flowers, colorful ribbons, and eggshells, or could be anything else the person imagines that fit the general theme of the holiday. If possible on Beltane night a bonfire is made and danced around or jumped; if it’s possible to make two bonfires, they could be passed between for blessing.

Tools to create a Beltane Wind Chime for this special day.

 

 

To create a Beltane Wind Chime, you must gather your supplies, you will need:

  1. Ribbon and fabrics in the various shades of Beltane colors:
    – Red: represents love, strength, vitality, passion, and vibrancy
    – White: represents cleansing to disperse negativity, harmony, and peace
    – Green: represents abundance, fertility, good fortune and growth
    – Purple: represents Spiritual growth
    – Yellow: represents Joy

  2. Symbolic decorative Items:

– Bells

– Flowers

– Feathers

  1. A Circular hoop:

– Embroidery hoop

– Wire hoop

– Craft your own from sticks and shrubbery

  1. Scissors

  2. Glue

 

Steps:

  1. Cut the ribbon and fabric into various lengths

  2. Secure the ribbon and fabrics around the hoop with glue or simple knots until the hoop is full or to your liking. During this process envision what the colors represent and what you want to attain with the help of Gods, Goddesses, and the Earth

  3. Add your personal touch with Symbolic items

  4. Use a piece of thread or ribbon to hang your Beltane Wind Chime

  5. Place it within the trees or hang it inside your home to marvel at the beauty and reap the rewards

 

Whatever you do decide this Beltane, be sure to spread the joy throughout the land.

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What is a Balefire?

A Balefire is a Ritualistic small fire or bonfire that is a popular tradition in Sabbat celebrations intended for Magickal purposes. They are common during Yule, Beltane, Midsummer, Summer Solstice, Lughnassad, and Mabon. During the blaze, hopes and wishes for the upcoming season are released into the Universe.

What is a Nightmare?

What can I do overcome them?

A nightmare is a dream that can cause a strong emotional response from the mind. A nightmare is typically fear or horror related but can also include despair, anxiety and intense sadness. The dream may contain events or situations of danger, mental or physical terror and varying discomfort. People usually wake up distressed and unable return to sleep for a period of time.

Nightmares can have a physical cause. Some of these causes include sleeping in awkward or uncomfortable positions, having a fever or flu, general discomfort. They can also be caused by psychological problems like chronic stress, anxiety, PTSD and ingestion of certain pharmaceutical drugs. Eating before sleep triggers the body’s metabolism and increases brain activity which can sometimes stimulate nightmares as well. In one study of dreams, %75 of emotions evoked by dreams have a negative quality. Some people experience recurrent nightmares that can interfere with sleeping patterns, cause insomnia and affect the stress levels in the body. Depending on the severity of the reoccurring nightmares medical help may be required.

Most of the time nightmares are subconscious residue from unresolved issues or past traumas. Some people have recurring nightmares due to posttraumatic stress disorder and others can have them from other sources of fear and anxiety that influence their dreams at night. We tend to harbor these things in our day to day life and this, in turn, affects our dreams deeply. Whatever the cause may be, there are treatments available, some of them medical, some shamanic and some psychological. The fear of speaking in public, trying to run away but not moving, dreams in which you’re falling or a dream that your teeth are falling out are all common examples of nightmares people experience. Some nightmares can be much more traumatic and debilitating in varying degrees of intensity. These dreams can be interpreted as symbols for something you are experiencing during waking life. Interpreting your dreams can play an important role in your progress as a human. Dream interpretation will be discussed more in further articles. While most treatments are for people who have an actual true disorder, the techniques discussed below can work well for any person dealing with nightmares.

The first technique we will discuss here is “Imagery Rehearsal Therapy or (IRT)”. It was first explained in the 1996 book Trauma and Dreams by Harvard psychologist Deidre Barrett. It is a contemporary dream interpretation method where the dreamer comes up with an alternate outcome to the reoccurring nightmare. The dreamer mentally rehearses the outcome during waking hours and then reiterates the outcome scenario at bedtime with the intention to create something different. Research shows that this technique can reduce occurrences of nightmares, insomnia, and restlessness. This research also shows the efficacy of the techniques for improving daytime PTSD symptoms.

Another great technique for getting through difficult nightmares is the “Face and Conquer” method. This technique involves learning how to face your difficult dreams head on. Facing your nightmares can be hard but with a little practice, it can easily be done. The dreamer finds ways to become aware that they are dreaming. This is called a “lucid dream”. So in the nightmare, the dreamer finds signs or signals that can help them realize they are dreaming. Once lucidity has attained the dreamer actively engages with the nightmare head on with fierce intent. The dreamer is encouraged to be courageous. In most cases, people who face the difficult dreams or reoccurring nightmares will either never or rarely experience them again. Using this method can help the dreamer develop a valuable skill when difficult dreams or nightmares happen again in the future.

The third technique is taking certain herbs known as “Dream Herbs”. These dream herbs can allow some deep healing to happen when approaching nightmares in general. Calming and soothing herbs can help a person to confront their nightmares with less anxiety and fear. Some dream herbs allow dreamers to get to the bottom of nightmares emotionally, psychologically and sometimes physically. Dream herbs can make it easier to become lucid in a dream for people who have difficulty doing so. They also have their own unique dream qualities. These herbs may affect the scenario of the dream or give you an out of ordinary dream experience. This can really help with reoccurring nightmares since the plant’s presence in your dreams can play a key role in helping you overcome your difficult dreams.

There are other techniques out there such as Analytic, Cathartic Techniques, Desensitization, and related behavioral techniques, among others. Direct nightmare engagement that combines compatible techniques from one or more of these methods may enhance the overall treatment effectiveness. Combining techniques is one of the best forms of an intervention of difficult dreams and reoccurring nightmares. In all using the “IRT”, “Face and Conquer”, “Dream Herbs” and other techniques can be a powerful tool for overcoming nightmares and help you to learn more about yourself.

What is a Lucid Dream?

A lucid dream is any type of dreaming in which your aware that your dreaming. Whether it be a short period or prolonged amount of time. As long you are aware that your dreaming it is considered a “lucid dream”. A Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik (Willem) van Eden was one of the most widely known persons to key the term ‘lucid dream”.

During lucid dreaming, the dreamer has the ability to exert varying degrees of control over their dream environment. Lucid dreams can be extremely vivid and realistic, almost seemingly real as waking life. Being able to manipulate and alter the imaginary experiences in the dream can be quite easy once you learn how. When you can develop a sense of how to materialize and change things in your lucid dreams, dreaming becomes a whole new world and a lot more fun!

Studies show that there is an increased amount of brain activity in the parietal lobes. Notably higher amounts of beta-1 frequency bands(13-19 Hz) are experienced by lucid dreamers. The brain activity spikes during the 90-minute intervals during REM(Rapid Eye Movement) cycles.

Some skeptics suggest the phenomenon isn’t a state of sleep but a brief waking. There is no real way of proving that lucid dreams happen other than sharing your experiences with others. In fact, scientists to this day still don’t fully understand where dreams come from or how they generate. However scientific research studies do show that test subjects have pre-determined physical responses while experiencing lucid dreams. A truly mysterious and universal function of the human experience.

Almost everyone dreams every night without realizing it or without remembering their dreams. In our modern day culture, we have lost the sacred art of dreaming. There is so much potential to learn and experience new things from our dreams. Many indigenous cultures emphasize the power of dreaming and exercise their abilities to help them during waking life. The symbols and meanings can be very deep, intrinsic to one’s daily life, as stepping stones or guiding principals.

There are many lucid dreaming techniques that can help you further develop your dreaming skills.

One of my favorite ways of facilitating dreaming is using herbs. Certain herbs are known to make dreaming easier. These herbs are known as Oneirogens. From the Greek oneiros meaning “dream” and gen “to create”. The word describes that which produces a dream-like state.

In my studies as a herbalist, I have discovered herbs known to be oneirogenic in effect, otherwise known as “dream herbs”. These dream herbs can be taken to help you discover the lost art of dreaming or just simply help you develop a solid relationship with your ability to dream.

What is Dream Herbs?

A great way to facilitate dreaming is using special herbs. These herbs are known to make dreaming easier, also known as Oneirogens, from the Greek oneiros meaning “dream” and gen “to create”. The word describes that which produces a dreamlike state. These herbs are otherwise known as dream herbs.

Dream herbs are historically or otherwise known to induce or enhance dreams. Many cultures around the world, some traditions thousands of years old use these special herbs to induce Vivid Lucidity, Prophetic Dreams and Out of Body Experiences. Each dream herb carries its own special message. Traditionally these herbs are considered holy or sacred for communion with the divine. They can have certain qualities that are unique to the plant during dreaming. People may experience forest like themes with them; some may help to have deep psychological insights, others can help you become more naturally aware that you’re dreaming and some can help with Nightmares. Certain herbs can also be used to calm dream over-activity.

These rare plants not only help enhance your dream world they also have other health benefits as well. For instance “Mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris)” is a well-known European dream herb and is used as a bitter tonic for digestion. Mugwort is also mildly sedating and has an anti-spasmodic effect. Another dream herb “Indian Sarsparilla (Hemidesmus indicus)” cultivated in certain areas of India used in Ayurvedic medicine is good for heartburn and sore muscles. So these benefits come hand in hand with these dreamy plants.

Some dream herbs are bitter and some taste quite pleasant. People like to experiment and try different herbs to find the ones they prefer. Most dream herbs are made into tea or taken in tincture form but some can be eaten raw and some are traditionally smoked.

Dream herbs are taken as an herbal tonic, otherwise known as a “Dream Tonic”. This means you take the herb for 4-7 days at a time and give yourself breaks in between ranging anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or months depending on your intentions. Most dream herbs have a cumulative effect, so even days after taking the herbs your dreams may still be enhanced. Some people get results the first night of taking them. Other people will see effects in 3-7 days of use.

Setting intentions to learn from these rare and sacred plants is a great way to facilitate the best dreaming experiences. So following before bed practices and combining techniques will always be of benefit.

Passion_flower_blooms7 sensational herbs for calming the mind

1. Passion flower is a beautiful vine that has mild sedative properties and can help calm the mind. All parts of all the plant except the root are used for the mind relaxing qualities. Usually brewed as a tea, taken as a tincture or in capsules.

2. Lotus Flowers are a beautiful way to increase your calmness and say relaxed. This nonhabit-forming anti-anxiety flower brings upon a state of natural euphoria and joy. This can be a great ally when encountering anxious moments, too much caffeine or really stressful moments in your life.

3. Kava kava, a herb from the south pacific, is a potent muscle relaxer, mood enhancer and is very effective at treating various anxiety related issues, overactive mind, and general depression.

4. Skullcap has a gentle sedating quality to it bringing about a calm relaxed mind. It may also be used inflammation, sore/tight muscles, restless leg syndrome, and nervousness. This herb can nourish the nervous system and it is traditionally used to help fight restlessness, insomnia, depressive states, and even a rapid heart beat.

5. Holy Basil, otherwise known as Tulsi is a famous herb from India where it is regarded as a very sacred plant. Studies show that Tulsi shows benefit in treating anxiety and chronic stress. This herb has an uncanny ability to balance the mind and slow thoughts, in turn, calming the mind and body.

6. Mulungu is a hidden gem from the Amazon. The tree bark of the Mulungu tree has been used for thousands of years by indigenous people to relax the mind, treat hysteria, nervousness and intense anxiety. This powerful herb is also great for tonifying the liver

7. Persian Silk Tree is an abundant tree found in many places around the world. The Chinese name for this tree is called “the tree of joy”, as it is known to bring joy and happiness into one’s mind. A happy mind can be a calm mind! This herb has also been studied to treat depression and anxiety.

Now you have some herbal knowledge you can put to use! Keep in mind not all herbs are for everyone. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, take pharmaceutical medications or have a medical condition please talk with you doctor or certified practitioner before using.

 

Dream Terminology

Most of the terms and techniques were developed or became more commonly known by Stephen LaBerge, and he describes many of them in his book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.

Auto-suggestion-

A technique where, as you are falling asleep, suggest to yourself that you will have a lucid dream either that night or in the near future.

CAT– Cycle Adjustment Technique

A technique in which you adjust your sleep cycles to increase the likelihood of having a lucid dream.

DC– Dream character.

Any character that plays out inside your dreams, usually a direct reflection of the sub-conscious. Some people believe they are real people or spirit guides, others that they’re just products of the dreaming mind.

DILD- Dream-Initiated Lucid Dream

A lucid dream that begins during a “normal”, non-lucid dream.

Dream Recall–

The ability to remember details of one’s dreams.

Dream Result-

The result from a reality check that indicates that one is dreaming. Ex: Breathing through your nose while pinching your nostrils.

Dreamscape–

The landscape and scenery of one’s dreams.

Hypnagogic Imagery–

The images, sounds, etc. that you perceive as you fall asleep. Not to be confused with phosphenes.

EILD– Erotically induced lucid dream

A lucid dream with sexual activity. They may trigger a real orgasm, phenomena known as a nocturnal emission or wet dream.

LILD– Letter Induced Lucid Dreaming

The technique in which you do something in a lucid dream that theoretically will remind you that you’re dreaming in your next dream. Remember symbols, letters or other writing within a dream helps train the mind to dream better.

Lucid dream–

A dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming.

MILD– Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams.

The technique in which you mentally repeat to yourself, as you fall asleep, your future intention to realize that you’re dreaming.

Oneirogen–

A substance that induces a dreamlike state, namely Vitamins and Herbs.

Oneironaut–

A skilled lucid dreamer.

OBE– Out of Body Experience

An experience that usually begins with Sleep paralysis in which the subject experiences floating out of the body, many times being able to turn around and see your body lying in bed sleeping.

Phosphenes

Patches of color (usually red or blue) that you can constantly see while your eyes are closed.

REM- Rapid Eye Movement

The stage of the sleep cycle that some of your most vivid dreams occur in.

RC- Reality check

A simple and quick method of determining if one is dreaming. Ex: Breathing with your nose shut, faulty light switches, etc.

Real Life result–

A reality check result which indicates one is may not be dreaming. Ex: Being unable to will oneself to fly.

SP- Sleep paralysis

The body’s natural phenomenon of paralyzing the limbs of the body while asleep. This may be experienced consciously, either by accident or during the WILD technique.

VILD- Visual Induction of Lucid Dreams.

The technique in which you incubate a dream that reminds you to do a reality check to become lucid.

VD- Vivid Dream

A dream with a high level of detail and content.

WBTB- Wake Back To Bed

Is a technique in which you wake up after several hours of sleep to increase chances of better dreaming. This can be combined with other techniques. IE Dream herbs, MILD etc.

WILD- Wake Initiated Lucid Dream

A lucid dream triggered by consciously going to bed.

Oneiromancy~ The Lost Art Of Dream Divination

In every dream, there is a message, a part of us that needs to be heard, a guiding light, a healthy outlet for fantasies, creative inspiration and a way to cultivate our evolution as the beings that we are and will become. 

Dreams allow us to go on a mysterious adventure, calling us to better understand our life, our personal vocation. In every dream, there is a message, a part of us that needs to be heard, a guiding light, a healthy outlet for fantasies, creative inspiration and a way to cultivate our evolution as the beings that we are and will become. That is to say, as we familiarize with the hidden meanings of our dreams, we then are given a deeper sense of understanding ourselves, leading us to better our lives.

Don’t underestimate the power of understanding your dreams. We as a western culture have lost touch with our born right to dream, we have emphasized waking life so much that the art of dream divination has but until most recently been lost to us. We sleep one-third of our entire lives, imagine reclaiming some of that time. There is so much we are capable of as human beings and dream divination can be an important facet in the positive progress of who we are as individuals and even collectively.

Oneiromancy~ What is it?

Essentially oneiromancy is a dream based form of divination: a system based on interpreting dreams that use the dreams to predict the future and obtain useful information. Oneiromancy is in essence dream divination.

Your dreams and the art of divination come one in hand. Elements of the mystical, synchronicity and surprise are in al. They go together like peaches and cream. In many indigenous cultures to this day, dreams are a form of divination.

“Healing past traumas, finding your lost keys or figuring out how to solve a big problem in your life are all things you can obtain through the practice of dream divination.”

The colors, symbols, details, signs, smells, tastes and scenery of dreams bring messages of meaningful significance. These meanings are incorporated into one’s daily life or to help others. Healing past traumas, finding your lost keys or figuring out how to solve a big problem in your life are all things one can obtain through the practice of dream divination.

In Native American traditions and many other cultures dreams are shared with the utmost importance. These dreams are shared with the entire community, rather than just with the people closest to them. Often they are signs or symbols that the tribe uses for predicting successful hunting expeditions, healing the sick or wounded and even to foretell upcoming events.

“because we are all unique in personality and preference, we have dreams that are catered to the symbols and objects we are in contact with in our lives, our own personalized experiential library”

We even find ancient books throughout history that discuss this subject in detail. An ancient Greek book written in the 2nd century AD by Artemidorus is called the Oneirocritica (The Interpretation of Dreams). In his book, Artemidorus suggests that each individual’s dreams are significantly unique and that a person’s waking life experience will affect the symbols in his or hers dreams. That is to say, because we are all unique in personality and preference, we have dreams that are catered to the symbols and objects we are in contact with in our lives, our own personalized experiential library. He mentions that the dreamer’s mind has a capacity to use these metaphors as messages as if understanding our dreams were a tool of sorts. Aristotle and Plato’s various works also discuss dreams in such a way, though many of these texts have been destroyed or lost, only fragments of this particular knowledge remains.

Our hardwired ability to dream and interpret the cryptic realms of our subconscious, we find deep insight, on many levels, information for the mind, body, and spirit.
So how do we utilize this innate skill?

Well, it’s actually quite simple! To start, I recommend using a Dream Journal. Something medium sized that can be easy to find during the evening and your preferred writing utensil. I personally use a pencil. If you haven’t ever used a dream journal, start making it a regular practice to write down your dreams as soon as you wake. Better yet I suggest this to almost everyone beginning is to: write all the dreams you have ever had, that you can remember off the top of your head. This is a good way to start firing off those neurons to create some brain muscle memory so to speak. This will jump start repeatability. So in the future writing them down will become second nature.

After you have written down any and all dreams off the top of your head. Look at the signs, symbols, characters and anything the stands out to you. What do they mean to you personally? What metaphors do these things represent? How can you apply those metaphors specifically to your waking life? How does it reflect what you’re going through in your life now? If you’re having a hard time interpreting your dreams on your own, ask your friends or family. Look up the meanings online or better yet get a dream dictionary so you can look things up right away. Here’s one of my favorite dream dictionaries~ 12,000 Dreams Interpreted: A New Edition of the 21st Century You’d be surprised at how meaningful even the most seemingly mundane dreams can be!

Also, I love to mention that there are certain herbs out there that can help you have increased levels of lucidity during dreaming, this can be a huge stepping stone for people looking to understand their dreams on a deeper level. The more dreams you have, the more information you get.

Now that you understand a little about oneiromancy and art of dream divination, it’s time to start delving into how you can personally utilize your innate ability. Remember to take your dream herbs, start using your dream journal, your dream dictionary and interpret them for yourself. Share them with your friends and family, you could even start a dream meet-up group! You’ll be amazed at what you discover if you continue working with your dreams in this way and since dreaming comes naturally to most all of us, this should be a “dreamy” piece of cake!

So be sure to check out the website Dream Catcher Botanicals. You’ll find many dream herbs there. They are all from ethically wildcrafted, organic or grown chemical-free sources. The best you can get! www.DreamCatcherBotanicals.com/

A Tour Of The Charleston Capitol Market – A Gorgeous Farmers Market Like No Other!

The beauty, activity and sheer size of the Charleston Capitol Market are simply stunning. Take a tour of this West Virginia showplace.

Source: A Tour Of The Charleston Capitol Market – A Gorgeous Farmers Market Like No Other!

Medicinal Trees: Elder

Elder {Sambucus nigra}

Also, Known As:

  • Bourtree
  • Elder
  • Elder-berry
  • Elder-flower
  • European Elder
  • Pipe Tree

The plant called the elder is used to describe a bushy shrub like plant that can reach a few feet in height as shrub-like forms normally do or it may be referring to a tree reaching up to fifty feet in height – the elderberries which are borne on both types of plants range and differ markedly in the shape and taste. The flowers are usually formed in aromatic clusters of many star-shaped and white colored flowers, which can vary from bunches with flat-topped to the globular types of arrangement. When ripened, these will mature to produce berrylike and limb sagging fruits which can range in color from stark blue to an amber, and even red to a complete black – the variation in the taste of these elderberries is also markedly different.

The long and hollow stems which tend to be very straight were used by the early Native American tribes for making arrow shafts as such stems become woodier with age, such stems were particularly selected during the springtime, they were typically then left to dry with their leaves still on them to be turned into arrows. The native tribes also used the woody stems for other purposes, and they often took out the soft and poisonous pith within the stem using hot sticks, these were sometimes employed as spouts to collect maple sap and the sap of other resinous trees. Such stems were often also bored with holes and fashioned into flutes for making music. One reason, the elder is often called the “tree of music” lies in its use in this role, even though its main uses was as an herbal medication. The elder stems were also turned into animal bugles to pipe elk like sounds and some traditional native hunters still reliant on the old ways of tracking game have often used the stem to bugle elk-thus the elderberry stem whistle has often been employed to successfully lure a handsome elk buck during a hunt. The areas in which the elderberry plant is likely to grow includes very rich and moist soils, especially those soils found in heavily forested areas, the plant also grows well in the soils in rocky slopes and often prefers soils in cool ravines which are heavy in moisture. The plant is considered a native inhabitant of both hemispheres and grows mostly in the temperate and subtropical regions of the world.

The elderberry is actually a drupe which is berrylike in appearance; the elderberry consists of three to five single-seeded nut – lets or stones in the fruiting body. Traditionally, eating too many berries is believed to cause digestive problems and the traditional wisdom suggests that only a few berries can be eaten raw at any one time so as to avoid disrupting the stomach. The taste of the elderberries is not remarkable and the taste is better when they are taken along with other edible berries, raw berries are not preferred by people and in general, the berries are much better to eat in the dried or cooked form. The elderberries are used as a decongestant and in the treatment of some conditions which can induce the excessive accumulation of mucus within the lungs of the affected person. These include disorders such as common asthma, problems such as bronchitis, the common cold, diseases such as influenza. In addition, phlegm production is also induced by smoking or the inhalation of second-hand smoke. The elimination of such accumulated yellow or green mucus from the body is aided by drinking some fresh elderberry juice, particularly the juice of the red drupes – this herbal remedy is excellent for the removal of excess mucus in the respiratory passages.

Plant Parts Used:

Flowers, berries, bark.

Herbal Remedy Use:

A variety of herbal medications are derived from different parts of the elder plant, for example, the mucous lining of the inner nose and throat is toned by a remedy made from the flowering tops of the plant. This treatment leads to a better resistance from infection in these areas of the body. The herbal remedy made from the flowering tops of the plant are used in the treatment of disorders and complaints such as chronic congestion in the respiratory tract, they are used in the treatment of different types of allergies, they are used in the treatment of all kinds of ear infections, in the treatment of fungal diseases such as candidiasis and in the toning of mucous linings in the respiratory system. The flowering tops of the elder are also used in the preparation of herbal infusions along with other beneficial herbs; these combination treatments can reduce the severity of allergenic reactions during hay fever when they are taken as a precautionary measure some months prior to the onset of hay fever season during a year.

The detoxification of the body is also achieved by taking the herbal remedies made from the flowering tops of the elder flowers, this remedy promotes perspiration and the production of urine in the affected individual, as a general remedy, the flowering tops of the elder aid the rapid elimination of metabolic waste products from the body – for this reason, arthritis patients often receive great benefits by taking the remedy.

Rheumatism and erysipelas – a type of skin infection – is also normally treated using the vitamin C rich elderberries. The mildly laxative actions of the elderberries enable the body of the affected patients to overcome diarrhea and other stomach disorders.

Disorders of the upper respiratory tract and various infections in the area leading to colds, problems such as tonsillitis, long-term laryngitis, and flu can be treated effectively by drinking a hot infusion of the elderflowers. Elderflowers will stimulate the circulatory system and induce perspiration in the individual and should be taken during the very first signs of malaise, physical aches, soreness in the throat, bodily chills, or the appearance of restlessness and fever. The remedy made from the elderflower will induce detoxification in the system and cleanse the body by rapid elimination of metabolic toxins out from the pores of the skin; the remedy resolves persistent fevers and infections in this manner and does so in a very rapid way. Elder-flower infusion is also used for the treatment of any type of eruptive diseases caused by viruses including the measles and chickenpox, the herbal remedy induces rapid rash formation and increases the speed of recovery from the disease. When taken in the form of fresh infusion along with the infusion of the yarrow and the peppermint herb, the elderflowers quickly reduce mucus formation and move phlegm out of the respiratory tract – thus, as a hot herbal infusion, they are strongly decongestant and are very good for the treatment of common colds, in the treatment of catarrh, in the treatment of sinusitis, and problems such as bronchial congestion, various types of chest infections and in the treatment of asthma – the remedy speeds up the rate of recovery from all these illnesses. Catarrh and bronchi-spasm are effectively relieved by the relaxing effect of the elderflowers and the remedy is, therefore, ideal for asthma patients.

Fluid retention in the body is also treatable using the elderflowers which tend to promote the overall functional effectiveness of the kidneys and in this role, they can be seen as renal decongestants, which enable a quicker elimination and cleansing of all metabolic toxins in the body via the urinary system – they also transfer out excess heat in the renal system. Remedies made from the elderflowers have also been utilized in the successful treatment of long-term rheumatism, in the treatment of gout and in the treatment of arthritis.

Traditionally, the relaxant quality of the elderflowers has a very long history of use in the herbal lore, it was used for soothing and relaxing frayed nerves, the remedy was given to nervous individuals to allay and beat anxiety and it was used as a general tonic for the treatment of depression in individuals. A soothing and very restful sleep can be induced in a person by making him or her drink a hot infusion during the night, this remedy is particularly very useful and beneficial in the treatment of restlessness or irritability in children during the earliest period of an apparent infection in the body.

Topical remedies are also made using the elderflowers, and the herbal infusion or ointment form of the elderflowers can be applied to various cuts and wounds on the skin, it can be used in the treatment of chilblains, in healing skin eruptions and cracks, in healing sunburn, and to decrease the irritability in sensitive skin – the elderflowers in ointment or infusion form can serve as a general herbal tonic for the affected individual.

Fevers are often “broken” by inducing heavy sweating in the patient following a drink of herbal elderflower tea. Chills in a feverish person are particularly suited to be treated using the elderflower, in such treatments the herbal elder tea is drunk very hot and as soon immediately after it has been boiled. A sore throat is traditionally treated using a cup of cold elder infusion as a throat gargling solution. A mild diuretic action is also attributed to the flowers of the elder and the plant is used in this limited role as well.

Diuretic, as well as laxative abilities, are also believed to be possessed by the juice of the elderberries – this juice is prepared by initially cooking the berries and then pressing the cooked berries to let out the juice.

Traditional healers in Europe usually treated disorders such as sciatica and neuralgia by giving the elderberry juice to the affected patients. Elder flowers and the elderberry extracts are often included as ingredients in some kinds of multi-ingredient herbal preparations for the treatment of rheumatic pain in Europe.

Other Medical Use:

  • Wrinkles

Growing Elder:

The elder grows wild in many European countries and it is a native species of the European continent. The plant grows abundantly in all kinds of wooded areas, along hedges, and also on waste or uncultivated grounds around the continent. Nowadays, many temperate regions of the world also contain wild populations of the elder; the plant is also cultivated in many areas these days. Spring time is the usual season when the cuttings of the elder are sown and the plant is propagated in areas where it is cultivated during this time. During late spring, harvesting of the flowering tops is carried out, on the other hand, autumn is the time when the elderberries are normally picked, sorted and stored or processed into different herbal preparations.

Research:

Generally speaking, the elder is a poorly researched plant, though the limited research conducted on the different properties of the plant suggests that the elder flowers can bring about a reduction in inflammation on the human body. Though not fully understood, one property of the elder namely its effective diaphoretic effect – an ability to increase the perspiration in patients is quite well known.

Components of Elder:

Elder contains volatile oil, flavonoids, mucilage, tannins, vitamins A, C, a cyanogenic glycoside, viburnic acid, the alkaloid.

Herbal Remedy:

Dosage for different herbal remedies made from the elder plant varies, however, the liquefied elderberry extract usually taken two times daily at dosages of 5 ml for children and young adults, while the dose for adults is 10 ml – this dose is repeated throughout the duration of the treatment period. The herbal elderberry tea can be drunk thrice every day of the treatment period, and this herbal tea is usually prepared using 3 – 5 grams of the dried flowers, this is normally boiled in 250 ml or a cup of water, and steeped in the water for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, it must then be strained, cooled and used in the dosages indicated.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

Eating the twigs, seeds, leaves, branches or roots of the elder in excess can be toxic as they contain cyanide which produces glycoside. Ingesting too much creates a poisonous build up of cyanide in the organism. Also, the unripened flowers and berries enclose a poisonous alkaloid. Because of the chance of cyanide poisoning, kids should not be encouraged to make toys, slingshots, or whistles out of elder wood. On the same note, “herbal teas” that are made with elder leaves should not be taken in a surplus and should be regarded with caution. On the other hand, ripened berries are perfectly OK to consume.

How Elder Works in the Body:

Due to the presence of the chemical compound called ursolic acid which has an anti-inflammatory action, the elderflower is recognized as an effective aid to reducing inflammation in the body. Most of the beneficial actions attributed to the herb are with reference to the problems associated with the respiratory system, and the herb is used as a specific remedy for the treatment of nasal catarrh besides other related problems associated with the nervous system. Hay fever and other allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis can also be treated using the remedies made from the elderflower; in general, this herb is very effective against allergies of all kinds. The detoxification effect of the elderflower is also significant, and this is due to the strong diaphoretic effect possessed by the plant, that promotes the elimination of toxins through sweat. For this reason, the herb is of especial usefulness against common colds and the flu, during such conditions the herb can actively and effectively bring about a reduction in elevated temperatures due to the fever while also reducing excessive catarrh at the same time. The herbal infusion is also used as an oral gargle for sore throats, the herb is also effective at relieving earache, arising as a result of accumulated mucous in the auditory canal. A mild diuretic effect is also evident in the herb and the elderflower can be used to treat disorders of the urinary system, its detoxification effect is also apparent in this region of the body where it promotes the rapid elimination of accumulated metabolic waste matter, people affected by arthritic conditions directly benefit from this property possessed by the herb.

Applications:

Flowers:
INFUSION – The elder flowers can be turned into an herbal infusion for use as a treatment of different disorders. The infusion must be used hot during feverish disorders and during the treatment for accumulated mucous in the lungs or in the upper respiratory tract of patients. The herbal infusion of elder flowers is also used in the treatment of allergic reactions such as hay fever in different patients during pollen season. Herbs such as the yarrow, the boneset, and the peppermint can also be combined with the elderflower infusion and used as an herbal combination formula for various disorders in the respiratory system.

TINCTURE – The flowers of the elder can also be used to prepare an herbal floral tincture, which can be used against common colds and influenza in patients, this remedy is also useful against the symptoms of hay fever during the hay fever season early in the springtime of each year.

CREAM – The flowers of the elder are also prepared into an herbal cream, sores on the hand and chapped skin on the body and chilblains can be topically treated using this cream.

EYEWASH – The floral infusion of the elder are also used in the preparation of an herbal eyewash, for cleansing the eyes, these can be applied cold and strained to bring soothing relief to sore or inflamed eyes.

MOUTHWASH/GARGLE – The floral elder infusion can be used as a mouthwash or a gargle for the throat, it can be used to treat mouth ulcers and chronic problems like tonsillitis in patients.

Berries:
SYRUP – The elderberries are used in the formulation of an herbal decoction, which can be taken as a prophylactic tonic for the treatment of winter colds, it can also be used for coughs when combined with other known expectorant herbs, like the thyme.

TINCTURE – The elderberries are often mixed with other herbs like the bog bean or the willow, to make an herbal combination tonic for the treatment of rheumatic conditions in patients.

Old-Fashioned Elderberry Wine

  • 16 cups (4 liters) water
  • 2 Ib (1 kg) elderberries
  • 1 oz (30 g) toasted bread
  • 1 T (15 g) wine yeast
  • 2 lb (1 kg) brown sugar
  • 1 t (5 g) allspice
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 T (15 g) pieces of ginger
  • 1 earthenware or glass jar

Crush the berries, place them in the water, add the spices and gently boil for 30 minutes at low heat. Pour everything into the jar and add the toasted bread and the package of wine yeast. Store the container at 68 F degrees (20 C degrees) until fermentation is complete (10 to 20 days). Then strain, bottle and store in the cellar or in a cool place for at least 2 months. Drink 1 oz (25 ml) before meals. In the case of anemia, this is an excellent stimulant and tonic for the immune system.

Elder-Flower Champagne

This, of course, is not really a champagne, nor is it alcoholic, but it is a refreshing and deliciously fragrant drink to serve on a summer’s day. Elder bushes grow wild in many places, so if you do not have one in your garden, take care where you pick the flowers. Avoid picking those that have been growing by the roadside, and always wash them before use.

  • 4 liters/1 gal water
  • 625 g/1 1/4 lb caster sugar
  • 2 juicy lemons
  • 4 large elder-flower heads
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Boil the water, then stir in the sugar until it has dissolved, and leave to cool. Squeeze out the juice from one lemon. Scrub the other lemon if it has been waxed, and cut into 4 pieces. Place the elder-flowers in a large, non-metallic container. Add the lemon juice, lemon segments, the sweetened water, and the vinegar. Stir, cover with a cloth and leave for 24 hours. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve, squeezing the flowers to extract all the flavor. Pour into clean screw-top bottles, and leave for up to 10 days, until effervescent. Drink within 3-4 weeks.

Medicinal Trees: Oak

Quercus alba

Also, Known As:

  • Gospel Tree
  • Oak
  • Tanner’s Bark

The oak is a mighty and majestic tree that has the aptitude to grow up to a height of 90 feet (30 m), have a circumference of about 33 feet (10 m) and survive for as many as 1000 years! The oak is indigenous to North America where over 80 species of the tree are found. All species of the oak are beautiful deciduous trees having grayish, furrowed barks and shed their leaves during the fall. The roots of the tree are spread over a wide area and a mature oak tree may often dominate lesser locations. The timber of the oak is light brown in color, solid and weighty having a compact grain and are ideal for making furniture and flooring. The leaves of this imposing tree are bifurcated into quite a few curved sections. The fruit of the oak is an even acorn (an ovoid nut) that turns caramel hue when ripe and having a carved cap that wraps almost one-fourth of the fruit. Usually, a healthy oak tree that is about 25 years old is capable of bearing as many as 25,000 acorns annually.

The oak blossoms during the period between April and May and its seeds mature in October. The flowers of the oak are monoecious (each flower has only one sex – male or female) by nature and are usually pollinated by the wind. However, most oak trees are found to bear different flowers having either of the sexes. The oak tree has a preference for loamy or medium and clay (heavy) soils, but they are able to grow in heavy clay soil too. The plant also has a preference for basic (alkaline), acid and neutral soils. The plants need an arid or moist soil and are able to grow in sunlight as well as semi-shade conditions as in the slightly forested areas. Although the oak plant is able to endure strong winds, they do not survive well when exposed to maritime conditions.

The botanical name of the oak – Quercus, is derived from the Celtic terms ‘quer’ denoting ‘good’ and ‘cuez’ meaning tree. In addition, the tree has a common name – chen, meaning beautiful. Long back, the Celts believed the oak to be a sacred symbol. In fact, the Druids harvested mistletoe on the sixth lunar day of December with a gold sickle and heralded the arrival of the New Year chanting ‘To mistletoe, the New Year’. On the other hand, farmers used the acorns to make flour for several years. Even to this day, a number of members of the Berber tribes use the acorns to produce a nourishing breakfast cereal known as ‘racahout’. References of the oak are found in the Greek and Roman mythologies too. While the Greeks related the oak to the ruler of the Greek gods Zeus owing to the might and muscle of the tree, the Romans associated the majestic tree with Jupiter, the Roman god considered to be equivalent to Zeus. In fact, the custom of reveling in ceremonies under the shade of the mighty oak trees persisted even after Christianity was introduced. Therefore, it is not surprising that the oak tree has obtained it English designate ‘the gospel tree’ or ‘the prayer tree’.

The Goths or people inhabiting ancient Germany regarded the oak tree as a mark of might and victory. Hence, the term ‘as strong as an oak’ came into existence and is profoundly establish in people’s memory even to this day. During the Middle Ages as well as the Renaissance, unidentified healers utilized the leaves as well as the bark of the oak internally to treat hemorrhaging, diarrhea, tuberculosis and even rickets. They were used externally as a poultice to heal wounds discharging pus. The powder of the leaves and bark were applied externally to stop bleeding nose, while talc prepared with them were used externally to end the hemorrhaging or uncontrolled loss of blood.

In addition, the bark of the oak tree was frequently blended with iron salt to color textiles black. However, to some extent, people across the globe used this combination to tan hides. The timber obtained from the oak tree is economically very viable and used as a raw material for making furniture, flooring, constructing house frames as well as railroad framework. However, in the ancient time, the most important use of the oak tree was perhaps building ships. In fact, the oak was a natural resource that was extremely desired by the new settlers, especially in North America. Within a span of around two centuries, the English, as well as the French, totally pillaged hundreds and thousands of acres of white oak trees from southern Quebec in Canada.

Plant Parts Used:

Several parts of the oak tree are utilized for different purposes. While the buds and tender leaves of the oak are collected during the early phase of spring, the fruits or the acorns are harvested in fall and the outer bark, as well as the sapwood or inner bark, are utilized during the end of winter.

Remedial Purpose:

The Native North American tribes frequently used the white oak for remedial purposes. In fact, these indigenous people of North America held the oak tree in high esteem particularly for its antiseptic and astringent virtues. They used different parts of the oak tree to treat various medical conditions. Unfortunately, the oak is of little or no value at all in the present day herbal treatments. The inner bark or sapwood of oak encloses 6 to 11 per cent tannin, possesses potent antiseptic and astringent features and is additionally utilized as an expectorant (a medication that promotes the discharge of phlegm or other fluids from the respiratory tract) and a tonic (a medication that revitalizes or strengthens). To heal diarrhea and bleeding piles, sporadic fevers, asthma, consumption, coughs and colds, lost voice and other conditions, boil the oak bark in water and drink the infusion at regular intervals for a number of days. Many people often chew the oak bark to heal their mouth sores. The bark is also effective for external application to treat conditions like skin infections, rashes, bruises, burns, ulcers and other problems. It is also used as a vaginal douche (wash). It is best to collect the outer bark as well as the sapwood (inner bark) of oak trees during spring. All types of galls or blisters produced on the oak tree are potently astringent and may possibly be made use of in treating chronic diarrhea, hemorrhages, dysentery and several other conditions.

The timber of the white oaks is perhaps their most valuable possession as it is among the best available anywhere. However, often timber merchants mixed inferior quality oak wood along with white oak wood and market them for more profits. Compared to the timber of other varieties of oak, the wood of the white oak is more resistant to rotting. The cellular structures of the white oak are known as tyloses that provide the timber with a compact cellular structure even disallowing water to penetrate the wood. Tyloses actually grow inside the cells of living timber parenchyma (the fundamental tissue of plants, composed of thin-walled cells able to divide) into the cavities of cells controlling xylem. Timber of white oaks containing tyloses is utilized for making wine and whiskey barrels and outdoor furniture. White oak timber is especially used to make barrels to store whiskey and wines as they do not allow any leakage of the liquors. On the other hand, red oaks do not possess tyloses and, hence, it is not as impregnable as the white oak timber. In fact, the wood of the red oaks is mostly used as construction material, interior finishing of houses, cooperage (making or repairing barrels), shipbuilding and making agricultural instruments.

The Japanese use the timber of the white oak comprehensively or the manufacture of specific weapons for martial arts, such as ‘bokken’ and ‘jo’. The white oak is considered to be a valuable timber owing to the compactness of its grain, strength, resistance to water, honey fungus, rotting etc., and being comparatively splinter proof when it is broken due to any crash or force. Compared to the white oak wood, the red oak wood is significantly inexpensive. According to urban fable, the Japanese White Oak, known as ‘Kashi’ is the preferred wood, but the prevailing law in Japan prohibits harvesting any white oak trees. Hence, most of the white oak wood used to make weapons for martial arts in Japan is actually imported from the North Western United States.

Compared to the fruits of red oak, even the acorns of the white oak are a lot less bitter to taste. Although the acorns of white oak are comparatively smaller than the fruits of other varieties of oaks, but serve as a very beneficial food for the wildlife, especially for woodpeckers, turkeys, rabbits, deer, wood ducks, pheasants, grackles, jays, nuthatches, deer and thrushes. A number of indigenous tribes of North America also used the white oak acorns as a food. In fact, the white oak is the only identified food plant of the caterpillars belonging to the Bucculatrix ochrisuffusa and Bucculatrix luteella species.

The seeds of the white oak have a slightly sweet flavor and may be consumed fresh or after cooking. Usually, the seeds of the white oak are one-three cm in length and they mature in the first year. Chemical analysis of the seeds has demonstrated that they enclose approximately 66 per cent of carbohydrates and a mere six per cent of protein. They contain very poor amounts of tannin and require a bit of filtration or leaching. It is believed that the white oak seeds that have a reddish or pink spots on their shells comparatively have a sweeter flavor. The presence of any tannin that has a bitter taste in the white oak seeds may be filtered by meticulously washing the dried and pulverized seeds in water. However, during the leaching process, the seeds lose a number of their nourishing properties. The process of leaching the entire seeds may take a number of days or sometimes even weeks if done properly. An alternative process to leach the seeds is to cover them in a cloth bag and put them in a stream. Compared to leaching the whole seeds, it is much easier and faster to leach the powdered seeds. One is able to distinguish whether the tannin content in the oak seed has been removed by simply tasting the seeds or the powdered seeds. Traditionally, people leached the oak seeds by burying them in a marshy ground all through the winter. Later, during the spring, the seeds that had just begun to germinate were dug out and by this time they would have lost their astringent or bitter flavor. Many people consume the oak seeds after roasting them. Roasted oak seeds taste something in between popcorn and sunflower seeds. Interestingly enough, the roasted oak seeds may be used as a substitute for coffee, without the caffeine content of coffee.

Applying mulch or covering of leaves at the base of an oak plant helps to keep away slugs, caterpillars and other of the like. However, it is not advisable to use fresh leaves to cover the base of the plants because they have an aptitude to slow down the development of the plant. The bark of the oak tree contains rich amounts of tannins. The galls on the bark of the oak trees are basically outgrowths that are occasionally generated in large numbers. They are said to be caused by the actions of larvae of various insects found on the tree. In fact, the insects inhabit these galls and collect their required nourishment’s from within these outgrowths. After these insects develop from the larvae stage to the pupa stage and leave the trees, these galls or outgrowths on the bark of the oak trees may be utilized as valuable source of tannin that is used for dying fabrics black. The brown dye extracted from the bark of the oak trees or from the galls does not require any mordant or caustic. However, using a mordant or caustic may also help in obtaining dyes of different colors, including gold, yellow and chrome.

The timber of the oak trees is perhaps the most prized produce of this species of plant. The oak tree wood is tough, has a considerable weight, solid and strong. In addition, the grains of the wood are condensed making the timber durable. The weight of one cubic feet of oak timber is approximately 46 pounds. The oak wood is among the most significant timbers available in North America and is extensively used for a variety of purposes, including making cabinets, furniture, construction framework and agricultural instruments. One of the main uses of the oak wood in the earlier times was shipbuilding. The oak wood is also very useful for making the planks for barrels used for storing whiskey and wines. In addition, the oak wood also serves as a high-quality fuel.

Other Medical Uses:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Foot odor
  • Frostbite and chilblains
  • Gangrene
  • Goiter
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Laryngitis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Pregnancy problems
  • Stomach ulcers

Habitat of Oak:

As they are large and majestic trees, the oak grows well in grasslands or lands cleared of vegetation close to mixed deciduous wooded areas. As discussed earlier, the plants have a preference for high-quality, profound luxuriant loam that may be on the stiff side. The oak plants are capable of enduring acidic soil. When the oak plants are young, they are able to endure some extent of shade or semi-shade. The young plants also have an aptitude to tolerating reasonable exposure and survive well, but their development is slightly undersized. It may be noted that the white oak trees have a preference for summers that are warmer. A number of named varieties of oak trees are grown for their edible seeds. Normally, it takes around 30 years for the oak trees to produce good crops of seeds. Once the trees are 30 years old or above they produce plenty of crops once in every three years and moderate crops in the years in between. The oak trees can be harvested for their seeds for as many as 120 years, i.e. till they grow up to around 150 years. The oak trees blossom when the new growth appears in spring and the seeds mature in the first year itself, in October. The oak trees generally do not accept any kind of disturbance to their roots and, hence, they need to be planted in their permanent positions when they are young. However, the plants may need shelter from frosts during their first two winters. The oak trees have the ability to hybridize with other species in the genus quite easily. In addition, plants belonging to this genus are remarkably defiant against honey fungus.

The seeds of the oak are very sensitive and become unsustainable if they are permitted to dehydrate. Hence, they need to be preserved in a moist and cool condition during the winter, but it is advisable to sow them in seed beds outdoors immediately after they mature. However, it is essential to ensure that the sowed seeds are not consumed by squirrels, mice and other animals. They require adequate protection from such menace. In addition to sowing the oak seeds in outdoor seed beds, a small number of them can also be sown in pots having considerable depths in a cold frame. Even if the seeds are sown in deep pots, it ought to be remembered that oak trees have deep taproots and, hence, it is essential to plant them in their permanent positions outdoors at the earliest. In effect, the seeds that are sown outdoors in their permanent positions without any disturbance to their roots will develop into most excellent trees. It is important not to leave the oak plants in a nursery bed for over two growing seasons without transplantation. In case this happens, the transplantation or relocation of the plants will be severely affected.

Constituents:

  • Bark: gallic acid, tannins, minerals (calcium, iron, potassium).
  • Leaves: vitamins A, C and E, chlorophyll, mucilage’s, carbohydrates.
  • Fruit: starches, sugars, tannins, calcium oxalate.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

Consumption of oak bark in excess may result in acute constipation. It is advisable to not cook any food with oak bark in cast-iron pans or pots since this results in the tannins present in the oak bark turning into toxins for the kidneys. It needs to be noted that when the oak bark is exposed to iron, it becomes toxic.

Mother Tincture:

The buds of the oak are utilized to prepare a mother tincture in alcohol. To prepare the mother tincture, use one part of the oak buds to 10 parts of alcohol. When taken in the dose of 20 drops before a meal, the mother tincture helps in lowering blood pressure, fighting impotency as well as common physical and mental tiredness. A decoction prepared with tender oak leaves is drunk to encourage the flow of bile, purify the spleen as well as provide relief from irritable bowels. To prepare the decoction, use one leaf for one cup of water.

Usually, the outer bark and the sapwood or inner bark of the oak are collected from trees that are seven years old or above. After harvesting, the bark is sliced into smaller parts and then boiled in water for a few minutes. This herbal preparation requires one ounce (30 g) of the oak bark for every four cups (one liter) of water. This preparation is taken internally to heal poisoning due to lead, copper or mercury as well as bloody diarrhea. For best results, take a 10-day treatment with the preparation. The infusion may also be applied externally as a compressor to heal contagions in the anus or vagina, hemorrhoids, leucorrhea (a thick, whitish ejection from the vagina or cervical canal) as well as all different anomalous skin infections.