Vinca

COMMON NAME:  vinca
GENUS:  Vinca
SPECIES:  V. major, V. minor; both perennial
FAMILY:  Apocynaceae
BLOOMS:  spring
TYPE:  perennial
DESCRIPTION:  Perennial vinca is a fast-spreading vine with blue flowers. V. major is a more vigorous grower and has larger leaves and flowers. The annual bedding plant vinca {actually Catharanthus roseus} has attractive five-petaled white and pink-to-red flowers and dark green, glossy leaves. The plants reach a height of 10 to 15 inches and spread almost 2 feet across.
CULTIVATION:  Annual vinca {C. roseus} is extremely heat and drought tolerant and thrives in full, hot sun. It blooms prolifically from early summer until frost. Perennial vinca is particularly useful as a ground cover because it grows equally as well in sun or shade. Blooming, which occurs in late spring, is much better in the sun, however.

Twelve species of this genus are native to Europe. V. major, also known as greater periwinkle, blue buttons, and band plant, and V. minor, known as common periwinkle, lesser periwinkle, and running myrtle, are the two species most widely grown.
Rosy periwinkle, a tropical species, contains an alkaloid necessary to make the drug vincristine, which is used to treat many forms of cancer.
The popular pink and white vinca used as a bedding plant is officially C. roseus, though it was known for many years as V. rosea. It is native from Madagascar to India and is known as rose periwinkle and old maid.
Vinca has been cultivated for centuries. The number of common names alludes to the variety of purposes for which this plant has been used and particularly to the magical powers it was thought to possess. Known as devil’s eye or sorcerer’s violet, vinca blossoms were sometimes worn in the buttonhole as protection against witches. If placed over the doorway, vinca was thought to keep away witches.
During the Middle Ages criminals on the way to the gallows traditionally wore garlands made from vinca blossoms. The Italian name for the plant is the flower of death, and it was often planted on the graves of children.
Belgians believed that the flower was a symbol of virginity and would spread vinca petals in front of bridal couples as they left the church.
It is from the pink and red vinca that the phrase “pink of perfection” originated. An old English book, The Vertues of Herbs, Stones, and Certain Beasts, suggests that “Perwynke when it {the leaf} is beate unto powder with worms of ye earth wrapped about it and with an hearbe called houselyck it induceth love between man and wife it it be used in their meales.”
Red vinca, also called joy of the ground, planted outside the garden gate symbolized an invitation to the passer-by to come in and look at the garden.
The medicinal uses of vinca are varied. Vinca tea made from the blossoms was used, according to an ancient herbal, if the “mother’s milk was running too full.” A tonic made from dried, full-grown leaves was used for intestinal problems. The leaves, mixed with other herbs, were thought to help diabetes. An ointment made from the leaves was used to treat skin disorders, particularly on the scalp, and the raw leaves were chewed to stop a nosebleed. The young shoots were boiled and eaten to prevent nightmares and to soothe nervous disorders and hysteria. Long strands of the creeping vine were wrapped tightly around the legs to ease muscular cramps. Perhaps the favorite reason for indulging in a daily dose of vinca was the superstition that it would help one be happy and comfortable and have grace.
Because it is evergreen, vinca has been chosen as the symbol of fidelity and friendship. The blue blossoms represent the pleasures of memory, red blossoms mean early friendship and white blossoms are symbolic of pleasant recollections.

Vinca has been chosen by the city of Geneva as its floral emblem.

Tulip

COMMON NAME:  tulip
GENUS:  Tulipa
SPECIES, HYBRIDS, CULTIVARS:
The most commonly used hybrid tulips are Darwin, Darwin hybrid, cottage, breeder, multi-flowered, and lily flowered. Popular species tulips include T. kaufmanniana, T. fosteriana, T. praeslaus, T. greigil, T. kolpakowskiana, and T. pulchella.
FAMILY:  Liliaceae
BLOOMS:  late spring
TYPE:  perennial
DESCRIPTION:  Though there is tremendous variation in color and color patterns, the basic flower form of the tulip, that of six petals and broad green leaves, remains the same.
CULTIVATION:  Full sun or partial shade and rich, well-aerated soil, amended with organic matter or leaf mold, provide good growing conditions for tulips. The bulbs should be planted 2 to 4 inches deep in autumn. They like the very cold weather. In mild climates, flowering will not be good year after year, and tulips are often treated as an annual bulb.

Tulips are probably one of the first flowers cultivated solely for their beauty. Tulip designs are found on pottery jars dated from 2200 to 1600 B.C., and tulips were found on the border of a ninth-century Byzantine fabric. Though they must have been known to them, tulips were not mentioned at all by Greek or Roman writers.
European explorers and traders found tulips growing in the gardens of Turkish sultans in the early 1500’s. They were of such beauty that in 1554 the Austrian ambassador, Ghislain de Busbecq, acquired some of the bulbs at a great price and took them back to Vienna. He gave them to Flemish botanist Charles de Lecluse and inadvertently planted the seed of tulipmania in Holland.
After a period of about twenty years, de Lecluse took a teaching post in the Netherlands and took some of the seeds and bulbs of tulips there. Although he had intended to sell them to plump up his slim pocketbook, the tulip bulbs were stolen, and soon tulips were growing throughout the country.
By 1634 tulipmania had hit Holland. Enthusiasm over the bulbs reached fever pitch, and their price per pound was often more than that of precious metal. When interest in the solid-colored flowers began to wane somewhat, breeders began producing unusual blossoms, because striped, feathered, and marbled varieties brought higher prices. Stripes and some other coloration are actually caused by a virus and not a mutation, making it impossible to get the same coloration from seed. These must be bred from an offshoot of the parent bulb.
One bulb of the variety ‘Semper Augustus’ is said to have sold for a record price of 5,500 florins, today’s equivalent of over $2,500.
Many Dutch citizens were extremely wealthy during this time and had large and lavish gardens at their summer estates. Tulips became a status symbol, as each family tried to outdo the next in the number and variety of tulips growing in their gardens.

In 1637 traders and dealers began to realize that bulb prices were artificially high and did not reflect the actual value of the bulbs. As the tulip market toppled, the result was economic depression and true hunger and poverty in many areas. Especially hard hit were the many farmers who, hoping for a quick fortune, had begun to grow tulips instead of food.
Learning from mistakes made by the Dutch, the Turkish government passed strict laws during the “Age of Tulips” in Turkey between 1703 and 1730. Bulbs could be bought and sold only in the capital city, and punishment for breaking this law was an exile.
The government also kept careful records, and at one time these records indicated that the Turks had over 1,5550 varieties of tulips.
One story is told of an English trader who received a shipment of cloth from Turkey. Along with the cloth was what he thought were onions. He ate some of them and enjoyed them so much he asked his gardener to plant them in the vegetable garden. Imagine his surprise when he found the glorious tulip blossoms growing among the vegetables the next spring.
Tulip bulbs are quite edible and some even call then tasty. They can be substituted in any recipe for onions. One recipe for tulip-tomato sauce calls for sauteing two minced tulip bulbs with parsley and garlic, then adding four cups of chopped tomatoes and simmering for one hour. The stamens and ovaries, sauteed in butter, are supposedly quite good, tasting something like asparagus.
Tulips were first brought to America by the Dutch colonists who settled in the northeastern part of the country. The popularity of these flowers in those communities is obvious from the prevalence of the tulip in Pennsylvania Dutch designs from that period.
The name tulip is derived from the name for the Turkish hat, turban. When traders and visitors came to Turkey to see the famous gardens, the gardeners kept pointing out that tulip blossoms resemble upside-down turbans, or Tuli bands, as the Turkish called them. Soon visitors began to refer to these flowers as Tuli bands, and this was eventually changed to tulip.
A Persian legend tells of the origin of tulips. A young man, Farhad, was in love with a beautiful woman, Sharin. One day Farhad received news that his lover was dead. In his grief, he jumped off a high cliff, and where his body landed, there the tulips began to grow. The saddest part was that the message was sent by a jealous rival, and Sharin was actually still alive.
Tulips are indigenous to the northern temperate zones from the Mediterranean coast east to Japan. T. sharonensis, or the Sharon tulip, is thought to be the “rose of Sharon” mentioned in the Song of Solomon in the Bible. The Sharon tulip grows on the Plain of Sharon, found between Carmel and Jaffa.

Tulips are considered the symbol of perfect love, and the Turks used them as a love potion. If a tulip was given to a girl, the color of the petals determined the meaning of the flower. Red petals meant a declaration of love. Yellow petals meant hopeless love, and variegated petals meant beautiful eyes. A black center meant a heart burned with love.

Peony

COMMON NAME:  peony
GENUS:  Paeonia
SPECIES, HYBRIDS, CULTIVARS:
P. lactiflora {Chinese peony}-many hybrids; single or double. P. suffruticosa {TREE PEONY}-shrub; does not die back in winter.
FAMILY:  Ranunculaceae
BLOOMS:  late spring
TYPE:  perennial
DESCRIPTION:  Peony greets spring with offerings of very large, beautiful blossoms in pinks, white, and shades of red. The foliage is neat and attractive, and the plants create an appealing, low {2 1/2 to 3 foot} shrub during the summer months. Peony flowers are full and measure 4 to 6 inches across.
CULTIVATION:  Probably one of the greatest attributes of peonies is their longevity. Some peony plants are reported to be more than 100 years old. Once established, peonies should not be transplanted. The plants are tolerant of a wide range of soils but will perform best in neutral or slightly alkaline soils that are light, fertile, and rich in organic matter. Peony roots should be planted so that the eyes are exactly 1 1/2 inches below the soil level. Mix in generous amounts of humus or peat moss before planting. In northern areas, plant in full sun. In hot southern climates, provide a bit of shade.

Called the blessed herb, peonies have been used for centuries for their magical and medicinal properties. Among the powers that peony was thought to possess are the ability to protect shepherds and their flocks; to ward off storms, demons, and nightmares; and to preserve the harvest from danger. Peony is the Greek symbol of healing and the Japanese symbol for a happy marriage and virility. It is the Japanese floral emblem for the month of June.
The Chinese have grown this flower for over 2,000 years. The name for it there is Sho-yo, which means “the beautiful,” and it is considered the flower of prosperity. One Chinese emperor called peonies roses of spring, and a single specimen sold for as much as 100 ounces of gold. According to the Chinese calendar, the tree peony is the floral symbol for March.
The medicinal powers of the plant are legendary. It was named for Paeon, physician to the Greek gods, and a student of Asclepius, {god of medicine and healing}. Leto,  goddess of fertility, told Paeon about a magical root growing on Mount Olympus that would soothe the pain of a woman in childbirth. When Paeon went to get this root, Asclepius became jealous and angry and threatened to kill his pupil. Leto begged help from Zeus, who saved Paeon from the wrath of his teacher by changing him into the peony flower.
Perhaps because of this legend, peony seeds have been given to pregnant women for centuries. It was also thought that the roots, held over a person’s head or around the neck, would cure insanity. Other medicinal uses included the prevention of epileptic convulsions and soothing the gums o teething infants. Pliny, a Roman statesman, said that peonies are the “oldest of plants, and are an important medicine that cures twenty ills.”
Superstition warns us, however, that the plant is protected by woodpeckers. If you try to gather peony for medicinal purposes while a woodpecker is in sight, your patient might die.
The magical powers of peonies were thought to be even stronger than the medicinal ones. Mothers in rural areas hung strings of peony seeds around an infant’s neck as a protection against the “Evil Eye.” The seeds, particularly if soaked in rain water, were worn as an amulet for protection against witchcraft and the devil. The plant’s reputation for supernatural powers was enhanced by its phosphorescent qualities-some plants actually glow in the dark. For the most potent magical powers, seeds and roots were gathered in the dead of night.
The first peonies, considered important healing herbs, were brought to England by the Roman legions in 1200. They have been cherished in England since then, first for their medicinal value, and then for their unparalleled beauty. Peonies have been in the United States since early colonial days. For the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, peony was used to symbolize the American spirit, ambition, and determination to adapt and thrive.
The only country ever named for a flower was Paeonia, located in what is now northern Greece. It was a legitimate country complete with a government, army, and imperial ring, but it was conquered during the Persian Wars.
Peony is the state flower of Indiana.

  The language of peony is shame, for it was thought to be the hiding place of a dishonorable nymph.

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/