The Dance at Earthbone Forest

The History of Herbal Medicine and Essential Oils

The history of essential oils is intertwined with the history of herbal medicine, which in turn has been an integral part of magical practices. Herbal medicine has been used for more than treating minor ailments and disease; it has been instrumental in providing life-enhancing benefits. In most ancient cultures, people believed plants to be magical, and for thousands of years, herbs were used as much for ritual as they were for medicine and food. According to medical herbalist and healer Andrew Chevallier, the presence of herbs in burial tombs attests to their powers beyond medicine. In addition, fourth-century BCE Greek philosopher Aristotle noted his belief that plants had psyches.

Aromatic plants in the form of oil and incense were elements of religious and therapeutic practices in early cultures worldwide. In addition, anointment with perfumes and fragrant oils was an almost universal practice. Burning incense in rituals provided a connection between the physical and spiritual—between the mundane and the divine. The word perfume comes from the Latin per, meaning “through,” and fume, meaning “smoke.” It was a common belief that contact with the divine could be achieved through the smoke of incense.

The ancient Egyptians believed that deities were embodied in the smoke and fragrance of temple incense. In addition, aromatics were used to deepen meditation and purify the spirit as well as to add subtlety to their sophisticated system of magic. Dating to approximately 1500 BCE, the Ebers papyrus is the oldest written record of Egyptian use of medicinal plants. Along with the physical details of plants, the manuscript contains related spells and incantations. It also mentions fine oils for perfumery and incense. Made from healing herbs, many of the perfumed oils doubled as medicines. Likewise, Egyptian priests often doubled as physicians and perfumers. Those who specialized in embalming the dead also used their expertise for the living by creating mixtures to beautify skin and protect it from the harsh, damaging desert climate.

Always a valuable commodity, frankincense was considered the perfume of the gods and was used in temple rites as well as a base for perfumes. Because perfumed oils were highly prized, the use of them remained in the province of royalty and the upper classes. These oils were often kept in exquisite bottles made of alabaster, jade, and other precious materials that were functional as well as beautiful. Some of these flasks retained scent until they were opened by archaeologists thousands of years after being sealed.

When the Hebrews left Egypt around 1240 BCE, they took the knowledge and practice of perfumery with them to Israel. Their temples contained two types of altars, one for burnt offerings and the other for incense. The Babylonians also employed the use of aromatic plants and became a major supplier of plant materials to other countries. Both the Babylonians and Sumerians prized cedarwood, cypress, myrtle, and pine for their deities. The Assyrians were fond of aromatics for religious rituals as well as personal use, and the Mesopotamians used ceremonies and special incantations when gathering herbs. In the thirteenth century BCE, the Mycenaeans used scented oils to honor deities as well as for grave goods. Throughout the ancient world, information flowed from one culture to another, and by the second century BCE there was a thriving trade in herbs, spices, and oils among Europe, the Middle East, India, and Asia.

Some of the earliest writings from India, known as the Vedas (circa 1500 BCE), contain praises to the natural world along with information about aromatics including cinnamon, coriander, ginger, myrrh, sandalwood, and spikenard. Working with herbs was, and still is to a certain degree, considered a sacred task in India. This eventually evolved into Ayurvedic medicine, which is believed to be the oldest system of healing. Its name comes from the sacred Sanskrit language, with ayur meaning “life” and veda, “knowledge.” Written by the physician Charaka in 700 BCE, the Charaka Samhita details approximately 350 plants and is still widely consulted today. In addition to healing, oils play an important role in the religious rites of India. Anointing with perfumed oils is used to purge worshippers of spiritual impurities. In preparation for the funeral pyre, bodies are cleansed with sandalwood and turmeric. Although the tenth-century Middle Eastern physician Avicenna (980–1037) is often credited with discovering the distillation process, archaeological evidence from the Indus Valley in northern India indicates that distilling aromatic plants into oils was achieved there around 3000 BCE.

Herbs are also integral to traditional Chinese medicine, which dates to approximately 200 BCE in a text called the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. This system of healing is separate from Chinese folk medicine, which included the use of aromatics in religious rituals. Herbs were also important for maintaining beauty and hygiene. Chinese herbalists influenced the practices of Japan and Korea, as fifth-century Buddhist monks transported spiritual and medicinal information with them on their travels. There was also movement westward as Phoenician merchants traded scented oils around the Mediterranean region, bringing aromatic treasures from the East to Europe—most notably to the Greeks and Romans.

Greek historian Herodotus (circa 484–425 BCE) and Pythagorean philosopher Democrates (born circa 460 BCE) visited Egypt and then distributed the wisdom of perfumery they found there to a wider world. As the popularity of perfumes increased among the Greeks, the medicinal properties of herbs and oils became common knowledge. Unlike Egyptians, Greeks at all levels of society used perfumed oils. The Greeks used aromatics to honor deities at feasts and used perfumed oils on themselves to please the gods because they believed that anything extracted from plants held spiritual qualities. Greek physician and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides (circa 40–90 CE) compiled the first herbal manuscript in Europe, De Materia Medica, which served as a major reference well into the seventeenth century. The ancient Romans carried on the Greek use of botanicals for medicinal and perfumery purposes. In addition, they scented their entire surroundings, from their bodies, clothes, and homes to public baths and fountains.

Elsewhere in the world, the aboriginal people of Australia closely integrated their culture with their medicine and developed a sophisticated understanding of native plants. Their eucalyptus and tea-tree remedies are now used worldwide. In South and Central America the ancient Maya, Inca, and Aztec had herbal traditions that were intertwined with religious rites. Some of the practices from the Aztec, Mayan, and Spanish cultures evolved into modern Mexican herbal medicine. North of the Rio Grande, plants were also employed for both healing and ritual by Native American peoples. European settlers in the New World adapted some of these herbal practices into theirs, and African slaves brought their herbal and religious traditions, adding to the melange. The influence of the Yoruba from West Africa created a rich Afro-Caribbean culture and herbal medicine that still maintains a separate identity.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the use of perfumery waned as Europe was plunged backwards into the Dark Ages. To escape the upheaval, many physicians and other learned people relocated to Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey, today), and along with them went a storehouse of knowledge. As European civilization foundered, the works of Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and others were translated and widely distributed in the Middle East. Experimentation with plants continued and the tenth-century physician Avicenna extracted plant essence, producing otto (or attar), the oil of flowers—in this case, roses. As European culture slowly recovered, the practice of perfumery was spread by the Moors from the Middle East into Spain, where it became popular. After the Crusades, the perfumes of Arabia were in great demand throughout the Continent, and by the thirteenth century, a booming trade between the Middle East and Europe had been established once again.

By the mid-sixteenth century, perfumery had made a strong comeback in Europe. In France fragrance was used as in ancient Rome: on the person, in the home, and in public fountains. Experimenting with local plants, Europeans began distilling lavender, rosemary, and sage oils. While essential-oil blends were popular for masking body odor, they were also used medicinally. Juniper, Laurel, and pine were widely used for combating illness, including the plague. In England, physician and master herbalist Nicholas Culpeper (1616–1654) published his great herbal treatise The English Physitian. An edition of this book was the first herbal published in the American colonies in 1700.

For a time the use of herbs and perfumery were stifled with a double whammy: universities and the emerging medical establishment fought to take herbs out of the hands of the so-called uneducated, and the Christian church steered people away from personal adornment in their bid to hold power over people’s lives. As a result, the use of aromatics, even possessing oils and unguents, became a way to identify Witches, and culture again took a backward step. Under Great Britain’s King George III, who ruled from 1760 to 1820, a woman’s use of scents or potions was equated with seduction and betrayal, and was met with “the same penalties in force against Witchcraft.”

Eventually, herbal practices and perfumery made a comeback as attitudes shifted, but by the mid-nineteenth century, essential oils were being replaced by chemicals in medicine. By the twentieth century, perfumes and cosmetics contained mostly synthetic fragrance, which was cheaper and easier to produce. Ironically, a French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, was responsible for resurrecting the use of essential oils during the 1920s. After burning his hand in his laboratory, he grabbed the nearest bottle of liquid, which turned out to be lavender oil. Intrigued by the rapid healing effect of the oil, he devoted the remainder of his career to studying essential oils and named his discovery aromatherapy.

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Bobinsana~ From Help Healing Grief, Heartbreak and Pain to Shamanic Lucid Dreaming

by  | May 18, 2017

A relative of the mimosa tree, Bobinsana (Calliandra Angustifolia) is a water loving plant that belongs to the Pea family (Leguminosae). It grows around 4-6 meters high and is usually found alongside, rivers, streams, and bodies of water in the Amazon basin. It is found in regions of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. It produces an abundance of gorgeous pink to reddish powder puff-like flowers.

Traditionally bobinsana is taken by tincture in an alcohol made from cane sugar called aguardiente or a strong tea (decoction). All parts of the plant are used for healing. The roots, bark, leaves and flowers.

Bobinsana is a well-known “plant teacher” sometimes used in conjunction with a psychedelic amazonian brew called “Ayahuasca”. While bobinsana alone is not hallucinogenic, it is considered a plant teacher or master plant and is sometimes added to ayahuasca recipes to help the shaman connect to and learn from the plants. The plant is typically taken on a special diet or during these shamanic ceremonies for opening and healing the heart, to enhance empathy, to deepen one’s connection to nature and provide grounding. According to many Ayahuasca curenderos “doctorcita bobinsana” as they say, is a very gentle healing plant spirit increasing clarity, focus, compassion and for addressing heartbreak, grief, and loss.

“According to many Ayahuasca curenderos “doctorcita bobinsana” as they say, is a very gentle healing plant spirit increasing clarity, focus, compassion and for addressing heartbreak, grief, and loss.

Many times in our lives we have experienced forms of heartbreak, sadness, sudden loss, emotional struggles. It’s human nature to experience these feelings. And it’s good to know that you can have support during those troubling times. This plant is just one of many that can hold our hand along the way, while we process our feelings and life experiences. The plant is also becoming very well known for producing profound lucid dreaming experiences, colorful shamanic visionary type dreams in which new insights about one’s life are found and healing can occur.

“profound lucid dreaming experiences, colorful shamanic visionary type dreams in which new insights about one’s life are found and healing can occur.”

Among other uses, the Shipibo Conibo people of the Ucayali area in Peru and other Amazonian indigenous tribes use the sacred plant to treat arthritis, bone pain, rheumatism, uterine cancer, edema, nasal congestion, fevers, colds, inflammation, and to purify the blood. They also bathe in the freshly grated bark to improve dexterity, increase resistance to illnesses and protect against colds and chills.

Now that we see how useful this plant can be. It’s a good thing to share the information and see if it’s the right herb for you, your family or your friends. Whether you or someone you know is experiencing grief, loss, pain or intense sadness, this sacred plant can be a gentle ally during the healing process. AND If you’re interested in having enhanced lucid dreams then this special plant is right up your ally! People can also use this for deepening their shamanic, meditation, dreaming or yogic practices. Which makes this herb one of a kind!

“People can also use this for deepening their shamanic, meditation, dreaming or yogic practices.”

As always I love to share the joy of being a herbalist and since this plant is very useful and quite rare it’s hard to find a good place to get it. So I’ve made a very potent 1:2 liquid extract tincture of ethically wild-harvested bark and leaves made with organic alcohol, organic honey, and Colorado mountain spring water. You can find it here>>> Bobinsana Tincture

Disclaimer~ Bobinsana is traditionally used as a contraceptive in Peru. While there is no research to confirm this possible action, those seeking to get pregnant should avoid this plant. Should not be used during pregnancy or lactation. If you take pharmaceutical drugs or have a medical condition please consult your doctor before using. Make sure to always do your research and talk with your medical advisor before adding any herbs to your diet. This post’s information is not approved by the FDA to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases. The information presented in this post is provided for informational purposes only.

Modern Herbal Smoking Blends

There’s something fascinating about the alchemy of herbs and smoke. Part of it is visual. We can see the plants undergoing a violent physical change as they are transformed into smoke and ash. It’s also something that we can experience as we breathe in. The smoke has a taste and a texture, and it resonates with us at an emotional and physical level. We resonate with it as well.

Whether used to help or to harm, there are over 1500 plants that have been documented for use as smoke at some point in the past. Uses for these plants varied widely. They were used for repelling insects, for supporting the health of the lungs, for veterinary needs, to balance or influence the emotions, or even as weapons during warfare.

Below, we will take a look at the anatomy of modern herbal smoking blends and how to make your own.

Modern Herbal Smoking Blends

Herbal smoking blends now encompass herbal cigarettes, pipe tobacco alternatives, and even herbal vape liquids.

Despite a long history of use for many botanical ingredients, it’s important to remember that smoke is smoke. Besides gunking up the lungs with tar, smoking also lessens the amount of oxygen you are taking in and increases your exposure to carbon monoxide, neither of which are healthy.

Herbalist Howie Brounstein has noted that some people may find it helpful to use herbal smoking blends when they are lessening their dependence on tobacco. The blend of herbs can be customized by combining ingredients such as lobelia and calming herbs, incorporating expectorants and mullein to support the lungs, and eventually transitioning to using mullein only (Brounstein, 1995).

Creativity can be a virtue in home herbalism, but do not use any herb in an herbal smoking blend unless you know for sure that it can be safely used in a smoking blend.

How To Craft Your Own Herbal Smoking Blends | Herbal Academy | Learn how to create your own herbal smoking blend for health or pleasure.

The Anatomy of an Herbal Smoking Blend

It can be helpful to think of herbal smoking blends as three parts:

  1. the carrier or base herbs
  2. herbs with a specific supportive role
  3. herbs used for flavoring.

A fourth category, herbs used for adding body, can make the smoke more like a tobacco smoke by adding “weight” or other characteristics to the smoking blend.

Let’s take a closer look at each part in order to better understand its purpose.

The Base

Ideally, a base herb is light and fluffy. Mullein, red raspberry, and damiana make good bases (Harmony, 2013). You can also experiment with any combination of the three when you are developing your own recipes.

Tips for Storing Dried Herbs

Herbs with a Supportive Role

Herbs with a supportive role for the lungs or nervous system are good additions to an herbal smoking blend.

For lung health, consider herbs like

  • Horehound
  • Mullein
  • Hyssop
  • Thyme
  • Marshmallow
  • Lobelia

For the nervous system, some of the following herbs could be used:

  • Skullcap
  • Passionflower
  • Mugwort
  • Hops
  • Catnip
  • Rose
  • Damiana

Flavoring Herbs

Other herbs can be added as a flavoring.

Good candidates include:

  • Angelica
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Monarda
  • Lavender
  • Anise

Adding Body

Tobacco smoke has a certain heaviness and smoothness to it that is sometimes missing in herbal mixtures. A similar “body” to your herbal blend can be created by adding barks and astringent herbs.

Some of the herbs that work well for this are:

  • Uva ursi
  • Willow bark
  • Blackberry leaf or root

How to Formulate an Herbal Smoking Blend

The ratio of ingredients in your herbal smoking blend is a personal decision. You can start by measuring in parts, like tablespoons, to create a small amount. Keep notes on your recipes so you can recreate the ones you like in larger quantities.

I like starting with a basic formula like this:

  • 2 Tablespoons base herb(s)
  • 1 Tablespoon specific herb(s)
  • ½ Tablespoon flavoring herb(s) (or 1 teaspoon of powdered seeds or spices)

For a mullein based blend that includes an expectorant herb (in this case, horehound), here’s a recipe that you could try.

Winter Mullein Blend

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons mullein leaf
½ Tablespoon horehound leaf
1 teaspoon peppermint leaf
1 teaspoon water + a few drops of honey

How To Craft Your Own Herbal Smoking Blends | Herbal Academy | Learn how to create your own herbal smoking blend for health or pleasure.

Putting it All Together: Crafting Your Herbal Smoking Blend

Once you’ve decided on your recipe, you will need to blend the ingredients together. Gently rub your base herbs in your hands to fluff them up so they can help carry the other ingredients. Mullein and red raspberry are both a bit fluffy when dried anyway, and the friction of rubbing them together helps fluff them up even more.

Crumble any leaves or flower petals you are using until they are small. You could also powder them if you like. If you are using rolling papers, you will need to powder any roots or barks. If you are using a pipe, it’s fine for them to be a little coarser.

Combine all of your ingredients in a small bowl and fluff them together until everything is evenly mixed.

You’ll notice that the recipe calls for water. Besides blending your herbs, it’s important to take into consideration the dryness of your smoking blend. A little moisture goes a long way to making an herbal smoking blend more palatable. Herbs that are dried for storage are sometimes too dry to make a good smoking blend, so spritzing your smoking blend with a little water and storing it in a closed container to allow the herbs to absorb the moisture can help. Adding a little honey to the water is a nice touch, too.

Spritz with enough water and honey to moisten and store the mix in a tin or glass jar with a lid. The amount of water you need will depend on how dry the herbs are. If you accidentally get things too wet, leave the lid off overnight for some of the water to evaporate.

Using Herbal Smoking Blends

It’s believed that the use of plants by smoking them has been present in some form in every culture and society in human history (Jenner, 2015), so the study and occasional use of plants in this capacity is nothing new. It transcends boundaries of time and geography for a fascinating glimpse into botanical history.

Although some people do use herbal smoking blends as they lessen their dependence on tobacco or use them sparingly on occasion for other purposes, smoking is not a healthy practice in the long term. Extracts, teas, and other herbal preparations are more appropriate for general use because they don’t carry the risks that smoking does such as carbon monoxide exposure and tar buildup in the lungs.

Some herbs with a historical record of use in smoking blends may be problematic from the perspective of modern safety standards, while other herbs may be too irritating to use or have other contraindications, so it’s also important to make informed decisions about which herbs are included in your herbal smoking blends.

Infusion

The process by which one medium is encouraged to permeate another, usually herbs in water or oil. The most famous infusion of all is your basic cup of tea and if you can make a cup of tea with leaves rather than a tea bag, then you already know a good deal about making an infusion. Infusions allow you to insert true botanical powers into your magick potions, enchanted bath or floor wash.

The standard recipe for a water infusion is one teaspoon of dried herb or one-and-one-half teaspoons of fresh herb to every cup of boiling water. Maintain that same proportion even if using a combination of herbs, unless otherwise advised. Put the herbs into a nonreactive pot or container, pour the water over the botanical material and leave it to brew for a period of time, usually between five to fifteen minutes. Following the brewing period, the herbs are usually strained from the water.
The process of creating infused oils is slightly more complicated but still easily adaptable to your kitchen. The standard proportion suggests that for every cup of oil, you will need one ounce fresh herbs or one-half ounce of dried. Unless otherwise advised, do not exceed that proportion, even if using a combination of herbs, as a balance needs to be maintained.
1. Pour the oil over the herbs into a stainless steel bowl.
2. Heat over simmering water, either in a true double boiler or an improvised water bath, a saucepan one-quarter filled with water. The bowl with the herbs must not sit on the bottom of the pot but float in the water. The process needs constant supervision for safety. Keep the oil covered. Stir once in a while and simmer gently for thirty minutes. Make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot because if it smokes, bubbles or burns, an acrid fragrance can develop, spoiling your infusion.
3. Allow the oil to cool and then strain out the herbal material through four layers of cheesecloth or another fine nonmetal strainer. Strain twice if necessary: all herbal material must be removed to prevent the oil from turning rancid.
4. If an infusion-spell includes essential oils or flower essences for enchantment, they should be added at the end, when the oil has been strained and is cool.
* A crockpot can be used instead of the water bath. Maintain the same proportions and leave on low heat for two hours. Strain as above.
* If you can depend upon some consistently warm, sunny weather, you can go real low-tech but high power and create an infusion through solar power. Place the herbs in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and pour the oil over them. The herbs must be completely covered. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Leave the jar to sit in the warm sun all day and in a warm cupboard at night for two weeks. Strain as above.

Psychic Shield Infused Oil*

Rub this oil on your body or add it to your bath, to bestow psychic protection before embarking on any magickal work and also to replenish psychic energy or to repair a damaged aura.
1/4 ounce dried St. John’s Wort
1/4 ounce dried yarrow
{if using fresh herbs, increase proportion to 1/2 ounce of each herb}
1 cup sunflower oil
6 drops essential oil of rosemary
4 drops angelica flower essence {FES, Green Hope, Pegasus}
Use any of the three methods above {water bath, crockpot or solar} to create an infused oil. Strain the botanicals well. If St. John’s Wort blossoms {rather than just the dried leaves} have been used, your oil may display a pretty, red hue. Pour the infused oil into a bottle. Add up to six drops of essential oil of rosemary as well as the flower essence. Close the bottle and roll gently to blend.
* Not recommended for pregnant and nursing women or those who are actively trying to conceive.
If you are making large quantities of infused oils that you wish to store, it’s best to add a natural preservative. One-quarter teaspoon simple tincture of benzoin, available from many pharmacies, can be added per cup of infused oil. Benzoin is prepared from the gum of the styrax, an Indonesian tree, considered to have sacred properties and often burnt as cleansing incense. {Make sure that you have simple tincture of benzoin, not compound tincture, also known as Friar’s Balsam.}

Our Herbal Grimorie

Agrimony *

Agrimony for matrimony, perfect herb for the -couple- soon to Handfast. Place a red sachet fill with Agrimony and place between the mattress of lovers to ensure a long relationship/marriage. Agrimony belongs to the element Air, also used for protection spells. Agrimony has also long been used to reverse spells sent against the magician. Used in ‘sleep’ sachets, place under the pillow for a ‘deep’ rest. Beltane herb.

* Allspice *

Whole Allspice berries hold a wonderful scent of cloves. They look & feel like wood berries or beads. A very vitalizing spice, they are perfect for health amulets. Put out a dish of Allspice in a sick person’s room to uplift. Promotes determination and energy.

* Angelica (root)* 

Protection, Exorcism.Grow in gardens as a protection, Carry the root with you as an amulet. Burn the dried leaves in exorcism rituals.

* Anise *

Protection, Purification. A good, general cleansing bath is made with a handful of Anise seeds and a few Bay leaves. A pillow of Anise keeps away nightmares.

*Apple *

Apples are the symbol of immortality and sexuality, associated with the planet Venus. Perfect for “couple” magic especially on Friday the 13th… In the language of flowers, the Apple stands for Temptation, Love & Fertility. Held in high esteem by witches, as Apples possess a Natural Pentacle at its center. In Celtic lore, Avalon was an isle of enchantment. Avalon means the “Apple-Place”.

* Balsam Fir Needles * 

Balsam fir OR The Silver Fir is associated with the moon and with the planet of Jupiter. This tree belongs to the triple aspect Goddess in Celtic lore, offering learning, choice and progress. The tree is sacred to many Goddesses. Silver Fir is used for magic involving power, insight, progression, protection, change, feminine rebirth, and birth.

The wood chips or needles are sometimes used as incense and carry a sweet forest scent, these can be burned right on charcoals or mixed with other herbs as an incense mix. Balsam/Silver Fir is the quintessential Yule tree. Its branches can be used as decorations at Yule time either as wreaths or as garland, where it will provide protection for the household and its occupants.

* Basil * 

Purification, Protection, Love, Money. Add to money incense, put a pinch of Basil in four corners of you home at the start of each season to bring prosperity your way. It is said that if you grow Basil in your garden, yell and scream at it, to make a strong plant.

* Bay Leaves *

Protection, clairvoyance, purification, healing. Burn the leaves to induce visions. Wear as an amulet to ward off negativity. Burn and scatter on the floor to purify the area. Make a dream pillow of Bay, and put under your bed pillow to induce inspiration and prophetic. For the best power do this with the full moon in ‘Scorpio’. Write a wish on a ‘bay leaf’ with ‘dragons blood ink’ for a powerful outcome.

* Black Salt *

Black Salt is used in banishing and binding rituals. Great for bothersome neighbors. Magically used to remove negative energies from items. Often used to remove hexes and other harmful or negative energies. Cleanse your magical implements in a bath of black salt and water… and then wash in a bath of sea salt to purify the item and allow in only positive energies.

A PERFECT ingredient for filling ‘Binding Poppets’ for a powerful outcome. Place a black candle in a pile of black salt for Samhain Remembrance rituals, sprinkle Ouiji Boards with Black Salt before use.

* Bearberry Leaves *

Magical uses: Use in amulets for animal magic, animal shapeshifting. Burn like sage leaves to honor Celtic Gods & Goddess. Burn with meditation incense to heighten one’s psychic powers. Sprinkle powder leaves on shoes to take you to your true love. Wonderful little leaves for spell crafting in candles, around candles on the altar.These small, sturdy, elongated leaves are up to approximately 1″ long.

* Bergamot *

Bergamot leaves or oil when rubbed on money will ensure the return of riches; it is also well known for prosperity spells. End bad conditions and promote new love with a mate or draw a new lover. Ruled by: Mercury

* Caraway *

Protection, Passion. Add to love sachets and charms to attract a lover (physical sense) Carry the seeds to strengthen memory. Especially powerful to “Gemini’s”. This herb is where Rye bread gets its smell.

* Catnip *

Chewed by warriors for fierceness in battle. Large dried leaves are powerful markers in magical books. Give to your “familiar” (cat)to create a psychic bond with the animal. Use in spells for “courage”

* Chamomile *

Meditation, relaxation Prosperity. Use in prosperity charms to draw money. Burn as a relaxation incense for meditation. Make a tea with one tablespoon of Chamomile to 8 oz of water, and drink to relax or induce sleep. Sprinkle about the room to calm the energy. Add to a pouch & hide in the mattress to calm fighting couples.

* Cinquefoil / Five finger grass *

The five points of the leaves represent love, money, health, power, and wisdom. If carried, all these will be granted. Good for love magic and to promote an abundant harvest. Contains the energy to manifest one’s ideas. An ingredient in medieval flying ointments.

Placed under the pillow to dream of your future lover or mate. Money, Protection, Prophetic Dreams, Sleep. Used to make witch charms for all its properties.

* Devils Shoestring (root) *

To attain & keep employment, gain control in your work environment. Good luck for job search. Power in the workplace, Employment.

* Dragons Blood (resin) *

Energy, Protection, purification. You will know if you have the real thing if it burns pinkish/red smoke. Used in the Druidic ritual “The Pelan Tan” during “Samhain”. Put a pinch in with your magical tools, to keep unwanted eyes away. Use in “binding” spells to resemble human blood.

* Elder Berries * 

The ability to protect; induce vivid dreams, particularly of the Faerie realms; to heal, and to exorcise or remove negative spells and influences are among Elder’s pagan attributes. It was said that to wear or carry Elder wood, leaves, flowers or berries would protect you from attack. Elderberry oil or water was used in blessing rituals. Protection, Prosperity, Sleep and Healing.

 Elder Flowers * 

Sacred to the “White Lady” and midsummer solstice. The Druids used it to both bless and curse, Burn at “Beltane” to comfort the Fae. These small tiny yellowish flowers carry a strong pungent smell.

* Frankincense (tears, resin)* 

Grown in the Middle east. when a “Frankincense tree is cut” the sap makes ‘tears”, hence the name. Burn to raise vibrations, to purify your Magical working area. Burn during sunrise rituals of all kinds. Mix with Cumin for a powerful protective incense useful for all general workings. There is NOTHING that smells like it, soapy, sensual and the smoke is thick and white.

* Hawthorn Berries *

Also known as the May tree, the Hawthorn tree is sacred to the Druids. The small berries are wrinkled and red and perfect for adding to your Beltane altar for Mayday offerings. Add to amulets for power & strength of the ancient Druids.

* Hops *

Wonderful in healing sachets and incenses. A pillow of the dried white to gold “fruit” like buds, helps bring on sleep. String a bunch of the fresh buds and hang in the bedroom of a sick person, for improvement in health.

* Jasmine * 

Good luck in love and wealth. Aphrodisiac. Alleviates depression, and tension. Raises self-esteem. Opens the heart chakra and stimulates clarity of thought. Enables one to lucid dream, when it is used before sleeping. Mix with Lavender for the ultimate Dream Pillow.

* Juniper Berries * 

Used with Thyme in Druid incense for visions. Juniper berries strewn at the door discourages thieves. The mature berries can be strung and hung in the house to attract love. Crush berries in a mortar to release their “pine filled” aroma, mix with cedar or pine needles for a wonderful “Winter Solstice incense” burn on charcoal tabs.

* Lavender Flowers * 

Love, purification. Used in love sachets and incense. Put 2 handfuls of “Lavender Flowers”into a square of cheesecloth and tie with a white ribbon use this aromatic “washcloth” in place of your usual one. Lavender was thrown into Midsummer fires by witches as a sacrifice to the ancient Gods. Also used as an insect repellent.

* Lemon Grass *

Properties: Mercury, Masculine, Element Air Lemongrass planted around the home and in the garden it will repel snakes. It is also used in lust potions, as well as in an amulet to aid in developing psychic powers & divination, Add a handful of Lemongrass to your Tarot bag to keep cards attuned. Scatter the Lemongrass around the table before Tarot or Rune reading.

* Life everlasting Flowers *

Purify, protection. Use in charm bags to keep young.Burn at Midsummer to honor the maiden. Bundle flowers with white ribbons and put under the pillow to give sweet dreams.

* Mandrake (American)(Mayapple)* 

Place in the home for a powerful protective charm or poppet. The roots are used in image magic, as the American version (Mayapple) and the European version, resemble the limbs of humans. Grind and sprinkle in cupboards, Book of shadows to keep away prying eyes.

* Marigold *

Magical attributes include prophecy, legal matters, the psychic, seeing magical creatures, love, clairvoyance, dreams, business or legal affairs and renewing personal energy. Be sure to gather your Marigolds for magical workings at noon. A fresh Marigold flower can be worn to court for a favorable outcome of a trial. If you place Marigold in your mattress, you will have prophetic dreams… and if you place it under your mattress it will make whatever you dream come true. Since the Marigold embodies the sun, it can make a person more attractive and confident. Add Marigold to your bath water to make this happen. A vase of fresh and bright Marigolds in a room brings a renewed surge of life to those in the room. The leaves can also be eaten as a salad and a yellow dye has also been extracted from the flower, by boiling.

* MiloBerries (Pink) *

These tiny berries are clustered on stems & about the diameter of a tomato seed. Bright HOT pink these berries are perfect for Faery magic, Friendships spells, and Peace rituals.

* Mistletoe *

Protection, love. Wear as a protective amulet. A good anti-lightning charm.Extinguishes fires. Hang Mistletoe and kiss the one you want, hence “Kissing under the Mistletoe.

* Mugwort *

Clairvoyance, Scrying, Physic healing work, divination, Protection. Rub this herb on Magic Mirrors, Crystal balls or Tarot decks to strengthen their powers. Add to scrying,clairvoyance and divination incenses.

Use 3 tablespoons to 1\2 gallon spring (or rain) water to cleanse your “Magical mirrors” crystals and stones.To experience interesting dreams that are said to reveal one’s future, stuff a dream pillow with about a pound of this herb and sleep on it.

* Mullein the ‘Candlewick Plant’*

A truly magical herb, this plants texture is like wool or cashmere, extremely soft and fuzzy. I just had to include a pic. Hope you can tell from the photo (scanned) just how textured it is. In the olden days folks would use the dried leaves as “Candlewicks”, hence the name. The shape of the leaf resembles a candle flame. They burn similar to cotton. I use these leaves in “Remembrance Rituals” at Samhain. One is burned for each soul remembered. They burn quite unusual, as the flame creeps up the main stem. ” Nick name’s Hag’s tapers, Feltwort, Candlewick Plant. Carry to keep animals away from you in the woods. Wear to instill courage. The powdered leaves are known as “graveyard dust” and are acceptable to use when such is called for in old recipes”. A must for a “witches garden”

* Myrrh (resin) *

Myrrh is used in magic for protection, peace, exorcism, healing, consecration, blessing, meditation and heightening spirituality. As an incense, Myrrh can be used to help deepen meditation and to aid contemplation. Myrrh can be used in any ritual to the Goddess Isis since Myrrh is a Goddess plant of the moon’s sphere and is sacred to Isis. Myrrh can also be burned so that its smoke can purify and protect an area, and the smoke can also be used to consecrate and bless objects like rings, amulets, and ritual tools.

* Oak Moss * 

A natural wonder, Oak Moss belongs to the element Earth, growing on barks of trees, with a gray suede-like appearance. Use this sweet smelling ‘moss’ in Prosperity spells, Gnome magic and spells to Mother Earth. Use in -Witch Bottles- for home & business. Oak Moss attracts Male lust, placing a sachet of Oak Moss in bra When MALE lover is near. A natural scent fixative, use in incense blends and magical potpourri’s, it will help ‘hold’ scent.

* Olive Leaves * 

Healing, health & peace. The Olive leaf has long been used to symbolize peace, hence, the saying ‘extending an olive branch in peace’. Use in spells to calm and quiet a quarreling home. Use after performing a house blessing or -spring- cleaning. Strew about home under doormats, corners of rooms etc. Add 9 Olive leaves to spring or rain water, soak for 3 days, strain and use as blessing water for house blessings, magic circles. Place olive leaves & wine in Chalice as altar offering.

* Passion Flower *

Passionflower is a vine and should be planted where it can climb. Use in protection and love magic. When Passionflower is used, it calms and brings peace to the home. You can sprinkle dried or fresh Passionflower over the doorsteps of your house or apartment to keep harm away. If you carry some of the herbs in an amulet bag, you will make friends easier since it will work to increase your personal charisma making you more attractive and more likable. Place Passionflower in a dream pillow and it will help you get a good nights sleep. place it in power bundles and use in love spells to attract love. You can also burn it as an incense to promote understanding.

* Pennyroyal *

Put in the shoes to prevent weariness. Add to summer incenses and to prevent getting lost in the woods. Tie it to your bedpost for, not only does it keep mosquitos away, but it is said to make one more aware and alert, and increase brain power Brings peace between husband and wife when kept in a small bowl on a table or a dresser in the home. Carry Pennyroyal when traveling by water and never know the pangs of seasickness

* Rose * 

Rose is known as *THE* herb of love. Add Rose bud petals to bath water to conjure up a lover. Put red Rose petals in a red velvet bag and pin this under your clothes to attract loveYou can wear Rosehips as beads to bring love to you. Rose oil and Rose incense are both used in love spells. If you wash your hands with Rosewater before mixing love potions, the potions will be stronger.

Different color Roses have different meanings so you can use Roses to give someone a message magically.Below are what the different Rose colors mean:

~ Red ~ I love you~ White ~ I love you not~ Yellow ~ I love another~ Moss ~ I admire you from afar~ Pink ~ My love for you is innocent~ Orange ~ I love you vigorously~ Amethyst ~ I will love you forever~ Wild ~ I love you because you are fair and innocent

* Rosemary *

Wear a chaplet of Rosemary to aid in the memory. A good protective sachet for boat and ship passengers. Make a fresh wreath of rosemary for protection, hang in the home. Burn Rosemary and Juniper for a recuperation incense. Use for remembrance in Samhain rituals.

* Sage (White) *

Burn to purify a ritual area or magical tools. Used as the main ingredient in”Smudgesticks”and “herb bundles”. Put in with “Tarot” cards or “Runes” to protect and keep clean. Sage is used for fertility, longevity, wishes, wisdom, protection, money attraction, purification, healing, and health magic. Sage that is being gathered for magical use should not be cut with a metal knife known as a Boline. It is said that if you eat Sage you will become more wise and also immortal. Sage is often a herb used at handfastings since it will help bring about a long life and domestic virtue for the happy couple. Sage can be added to almost any healing spell. A good healing amulet may be made by putting a clove of Garlic, a bit of Eucalyptus and Cinnamon, two pinches of Sage and one pinch of Saffron into a small blue bag. This bag can then be worn or carried to promote healing. Sage can be used for attracting money and for wish manifestations.

* St.Johnswort * 

Celtic tradition held that the druids wore it in the battle for invincibility. Burn to exorcise negative spirits and calm a space.

* Sun Flower Petals *

Sunflower belongs to the Sun, it’s gender is male (God) and belongs to the element Fire. Magical uses are Fertility, Health, and Wisdom. Powerful flower to use on Sunday as an offering to the God for home as well. Use for Mayday & Beltane offerings and charms

* Thistle (Blessed) *

Thistle has great value in protection spells and also is used to bring spiritual and financial blessings. Thistle can be carried in an amulet bag for joy, energy, vitality, and protection – in fact, men who carry Thistle become better lovers!. Thistle can be burned as an incense for protection and also counteract hexing. Thistle powder can also be added to ritual baths to give added protection. Thistle can be grown in the garden to ward of those dreaded vegetable thieves, and a bowl of fresh Thistle will give off such good strengthening energies that it is the perfect thing to have in a sickroom. Thistle is a wonderful material to use to make magic wands for spirit conjuring and magical walking sticks. In England, the wizards of old were said to select the tallest thistle and use it as a wand or walking stick.

* Valerian * 

Love, Harmony, Use in love spells and to keep fighting couples together. Use in a bath sachet for a calming effect. Valerian has been used to treat nervous tension and panic attacks. Use 1 tablespoon to 8 oz water for a calming tea. Wonderful for folks who suffer from “panic attacks”.

* Wolfsbane, ( Aconite Also called monkshood, blue rocket )* 

Protection & Invisibility. Use this herb with great caution to consecrate the athame or ritual knife. Make an infusion with the leaves or root to banish prior energy from magical blades and to infuse it with protection. DO NOT DRINK ! The root or leaves may be burned as incense for the same purpose. Brings protection and magical watchfulness against negative energies in ritual. Wash a new cauldron in the infusion or burn aconite in its first fire. Used to invoke Hecate. Carry to become invisible at will. Also as protection from and a cure for werewolves. *POISON* Don’t ingest.)

* Wormwood * 

Throw onto fires on “Samhain” to gain protection from bad spirits roaming the night. One of the major ingredients in “Absinthe” Burn in incense to raise spirits.

* Yarrow *

The witches herb. Love, Clairvoyance.Used in love sachets and marriage charms, as it has the power to keep a couple together happily for seven years. Worn as an amulet it wards off negativity. A tea made of 1 tablespoon to 8 oz of water will enhance one’s powers of perception. Held in the hand it stops all fear. The beautiful flowers are a welcome addition to any magical altar. Yarrow is nicknamed “A witches best friend”.

The Making of a Maiden The Folklore of Blodeuwedd’s Flowers

“So they took the flowers of the oak and the flowers of the broom and the flowers of the meadowsweet and conjured from them a maiden, the fairest and most beautiful that man ever saw … and they gave her the name of Blodeuwedd.” – from the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion(Math fab Mathonwy).

Most people would quite rightly associate Blodeuwedd with the Mabinogion but she is also mentioned in the Cad Goddeu (Battle of the Trees), which is told in the thirteenth century Book of Taliesin. Here, the flowers which go into the making of Blodeuwedd are nine in number – a figure significant in Celtic numerology as three times the sacred number three:

“Not from mother or father was I engendered [but] … from the nine elemental forms – from fruit, from fruition … from primroses and highland flowers, from the flowers of trees and shrubs, from soil and earth … from the flowers of nettles … was I charmed [into being] by Math [and] by Gwydion …” – Cad Goddeu.

However, most accounts of Blodeuwedd, including the Mabinogion, mention only three specific plants so I will concentrate on those – Broom, Meadowsweet and Oak.

Amy Brown's image of Blodeuwedd

Broom (Cytisus

scoparius)

– Banadl

Broom has the physical quality of being hard, dry and unbending so was a very popular material for making the sweeping broom. Some sources claim this is the origin of the plant’s name, though others contend that the word derives from the Anglo-Saxon brom, which simply means ‘foliage’. The broom flowers themselves, however, despite their sunny colour, were considered unlucky if brought into the house, especially during the month of May. Traditional rhymes extend the warning to the plant’s domestic function:

“If you sweep the house in May,
You’ll sweep the head of that house away.”

“Sweep the house with broom in May
And you sweep the luck of the house away.”

Christian tradition has its own take on the unyielding characteristics of broom. It is said that when Mary and Joseph fled into Egypt with the infant Jesus all the plants spread their branches wide to fashion a path for them, all – you’ve guessed it – except broom, whose stems remained stiff and unbending.

The plant was punished for its lack of cooperation by retaining these qualities for the rest of its days – though many a housewife, as we’ve learnt, may have regarded this legacy in a more positive light.

This golden flower had a sunnier disposition as well for it was the custom to carry a decorated bundle of broom at weddings. This gesture may have symbolised the marriage vows as it was said that broom would only ever grow well in a place where two lovers had met in private and pledged their troth to each other: should this trust ever be broken the plant, like the sweethearts’ love, would die.

Amongst other beliefs is that the smell of broom can tame wild dogs and horses. The travelling people who once roamed Britain knew their time had come to decamp and move on after the winter months ‘when the yellow came on the broom’. As well as its invaluable use in fashioning broomsticks, broom was also used for building huts and heating ovens and for making very hard-wearing rope and yarn. Such widespread domestic usage seems to belie the numerous injunctions against bringing the plant into the house.

Meadowsweet

(Filipendula

ulmaria) –

Erwain

Also known as Queen of the Meadow for its acres of cloudy beauty in summer fields, and Bridewort, as it was at one time strewn at weddings. Its more familiar name may however be derived from its use in flavouring mead rather than being simply a reference to where the plant is usually found.

It is believed that meadowsweet was one of the most sacred plants of the Druids. Its Gaelic name of lus Cúchulainn or rios Cúchulainn commemorates the tale that the great Irish hero is said to have been treated with meadowsweet baths (presumably successfully) to cure his uncontrollable rages and fevers. In Russian folklore the heroic knight Kudryash suddenly became terrified at the prospect of his own death and refused to fight. In shame, Kudryash planned to drown himself but a maiden emerged from the water and gave him a garland of meadowsweet flowers, telling him that no harm would befall him if he wore it in battle. Sure enough, Kudryash remained unscathed and undefeated thereafter.

It is said that no snakes live where meadowsweet grows – possibly a Christian tradition, which generally regarded snakes as embodiments of evil, in which case, meadowsweet would be the antithesis of evil, a beneficent plant. Laying meadowsweet on water on St John’s Day (24 June) was believed to be one method of revealing a thief: if the plant floated, the miscreant was a woman, if it sank, a man.

Meadowsweet’s reputation isn’t all good, however, for, along with many other white or pale-coloured plants, it was considered unlucky to bring it indoors. There was a belief that if one should fall asleep in a room containing meadowsweet then that person would soon die, or simply not wake; a similar fate awaited those who fell asleep in a field of meadowsweet.

Oak (Quercus

robur) –

Derwen

No-one can fail to be impressed by the mighty and majestic oak. Its imposing stature and exceptional longevity has ensured its place as a sacred tree from ancient times to at least the Middle Ages. Many gods of many cultures are associated with the oak, including the Greek Artemis (Roman Diana) and Pan, the Middle Eastern Cybele, the Celtic Brigid, Blodeuwedd and Cernunnos, and the Scandinavian Odin. The Greeks and Romans dedicated the oak tree to their chief deity, Zeus/Jupiter. They pronounced oracles by interpreting the sound of the wind in the branches of the oak and fashioned crowns of oak leaves to honour their heroes. Ancient kings wore crowns of oak leaves to symbolize representation of divine power on earth. The Druids, of course, venerated the oak tree above all others: indeed, the very name ‘druid’ is probably synonymous with the Celtic word for oak – rendered in modern Welsh as ‘derwen’ or ‘derw’ – as are possibly the Greek tree spirits known as ‘dryads’. Mistletoe, probably the Druids’ most potent and magical plant, frequently grows on oak trees, while the Merlin’s wand was supposedly fashioned from oak. Joan of Arc is said to have first heard her voices while sitting beneath an oak tree.

This most revered of trees is called upon in varying ritual capacities at each of the cross-quarter ceremonies of Imbolc, Beltáne, Lughnasadh/Lammas and Sámhain. It also has a tradition of love magic as couples were regularly married under oak trees. Men who wished their wives to remain faithful whilst they were away at war placed two halves of an acorn in her pillow. Clever lovers, however, outwitted the husband and his would-be charm by placing the two halves of the acorn together, keeping them for six days, then eating half each.

The oak’s imposing size and presence long continued as a potent symbol of authority. Both kings and civilian law-givers customarily meted out justice beneath an oak tree. Up until recent times many parishes contained what was known as a ‘Gospel Oak’, a prominent tree under which part of the gospel would be read during the annual ‘Beating of the Bounds’ ceremony.

The long history of the oak tree is still with us, as is its magical qualities. In Somerset are two very ancient oaks which have earned the respective titles of Gog and Magog, said to be the last male and the last female giant left in Britain. The two trees are reputed to be all that remains of an oak-lined processional route up to nearby Glastonbury Tor.

The Rose and the Mandrake.

Two of the plants most commonly assigned magical properties are the rose and the mandrake. We have all seen bouquets of roses in grocery stores around Valentine’s Day. But the most beautiful roses are the species roses or heirloom varieties that were bred before the first hybrid tea rose, La France, appeared in 1867. Those old roses have the true rose scent and are still used in the making of perfumes and oils.

There are more myths associated with the rose (Rosaceae species) than with any other flower. One concerns how the rose was created. A Corinthian maiden named Rodanthe was so beautiful that she had many suitors. But she had dedicated herself to Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt, and vowed to remain unmarried in honor of the goddess. One day, as she was walking outside, she was surrounded by her suitors, each asking her to choose him. They began clutching at her, tearing her dress. Rodanthe fled into the nearby temple of Artemis. Her suitors followed, breaking into the temple. Artemis was furious. Wanting to avenge the desecration of her temple and protect Rodanthe, she turned the maiden into a rose. The blush on her cheeks became the color of the rose’s petals. Then, Artemis turned her suitors into the rose’s thorns, so they could guard her forever.

Another myth concerns how the rose originally became red. The goddess Aphrodite fell in love with the mortal youth Adonis. Unlike Artemis, who was a Goddess of the Hunt, Aphrodite did not relish hunting, and would rather have spent her time bathing and adorning herself. But Adonis was a hunter, so she even went on the hunt for him. The god Ares was jealous and vowed to revenge himself on Adonis. One day, Aphrodite left to visit her shrine in Paphos, taking her chariot drawn by swans. Adonis went out hunting in her absence. Seeing his opportunity, Ares disguised himself as a wild boar. He led Adonis’ hounds on a long chase through the forest, then circled back and charged straight at Adonis, goring him in the side. Adonis was badly wounded, and Ares left him to die. But Aphrodite heard his cries and turned her chariot, flying back through the sky to Adonis. When the chariot touched down in the forest, she ran to her beloved. Her feet were torn by the tangled briers that covered the ground, and her blood fell on the white roses, turning them red.

As these myths demonstrate, the rose has always been associated with both love and death. After the battle of Roncesvalles, where the knights of Charlemagne fell, the battlefield is said to have bloomed with roses and twined roses grew out of the grave of the lovers Tristan and Isolde. Roses were often planted on graves, and modern rosarians have resurrected a number of old varieties after finding them in graveyards. It was once believed that if a maiden scattered rose petals over a tombstone on Midsummer’s Eve, she would have a vision of her future husband; if she kept a posy of roses sprinkled with pigeon’s blood under her pillow, his identity would be revealed in a dream. Roses also made for an effective love charm. If a maiden took three roses, white, pink, and red, and kept them next to her heart for three days, then steeped them in wine for three more days and gave the wine to the man she loved, he would be hers forever. More prosaically, a red rose was considered to be a charm against nose-bleed.

Roses have always been used medicinally. Because the Romans believed roses protected against drunkenness, they put rose petals in wine and scattered them over the floors of banquet rooms. Rose teas have been used to sooth sore throats, and to fight colds and chest infections. Dried rose leaves were used for sore eyes, as in this eighteenth-century recipe:

Take half a pint of Alum Curd, and mix it with a sufficient quantity of Red Rose Leaves powdered, to give it a proper consistency. This is an excellent application for sore moist eyes, and admirably cools and represses defluxions.

Roses were also used for cosmetic purposes. Dew gathered from a rose could be used to bathe the face, creating a beautiful complexion. A gall that grows on roses could be mixed with bear grease and massaged into the scalp to cure baldness. The Roman naturalist Pliny lists more than thirty cures prepared with roses, and by the eighteenth century about a third of all medicines contained some part of the rose.

You may be familiar with the mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) from the Harry Potter books or films, in which mandrake roots look like particularly unattractive infants and have an intolerable scream. Mandrakes were so important, magically and medicinally, that twenty-two treatises on them were published between 1510 and 1850. The Egyptians were familiar with the mandrake, which was associated with the goddess Hathor. Egyptian families would keep a mandrake plant in a corner of the house, with a lamp burning before it, and make offerings to it daily as the guardian of the household. It was also known to the Assyrians, who mentioned it on clay tablets as a cure for a toothache. The mandrake was even mentioned in the Song of Solomon:

Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages.

Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourishes, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranate bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.

The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.

It may have been mentioned in the Song of Songs because the mandrake was believed to be an aphrodisiac. The ancient Greeks called the fruit of the mandrake “apples of love,” and dried mandrake roots were carried as a charm to promote fertility.

Perhaps the most famous lore about the mandrake concerns how it must be gathered. The Greek philosopher Theophrastus, who is often thought of as the first botanist because of his treatises Enquiry into Plants and On the Causes of Plants, says that the person gathering a mandrake should draw three circles around the plant with a sword and cut it facing west. When cutting it, the gatherer should dance around the plant and talk about the mysteries of love. Perhaps all that talk of love has to do with the mandrake’s use in love potions; like the rose, it was also associated with Aphrodite, who was called the Lady of the Mandrake. The Herbarium of Apuleius Platonicus, written between 1000 and 1050, provides more specific instructions on gathering the mandrake:

When first thou seest its head, then inscribe it thou instantly with iron lest it fly from thee; its virtue is so mickle and so famous, that it will immediately flee from an unclean man when he cometh to it not with the iron but thou shalt earnestly with an ivory staff delve the earth.

And when thou seest its hands and its feet, then tie thou it up. Then take the other end and tie it to a dog’s neck so that the hound be hungry; next cast meat before him so that he may not reach it except he jerk up the wort with him.

This is a confusing account, but the iron is probably a sword used to draw the magic circle, and the ivory is likely a staff used to loosen the earth around the roots. Why does the hound appear in this account? The Anglo-Saxon poet Philip de Thaun, in his Bestiary of 1121, makes clear that the hound is there to act as a scapegoat for the gatherer: when the plant is gathered, “Such virtue this herb has, that no one can hear it but he must die and if the man heard it he would directly die. Therefore, he must stop his ears and take care that he hear not the cry, lest he die as the dog will do which shall hear the cry.”

Mandrakes were so important because of the doctrine of signatures, the belief that plants resembling parts of the body could be used to treat those parts of the body. The root of the mandrake can look like a human being. Therefore, it was believed to cure a variety of diseases. Hippocrates thought that a dose in wine would relieve depression and anxiety although he was aware that if given in large quantities, the mandrake was a dangerous plant, causing delirium and even death. According to Pliny, the root beat with oil and wine cures “defluxions of the eyes and pains in these organs, and indeed, the juice of this plant still forms an ingredient in many medicaments for the eyes.” The Romans commonly used mandrake as an anaesthetic and to put patients to sleep before surgery.

In the Middle Ages, since mandrake roots were difficult to come by, the roots of other plants were artificially shaped and manipulated to look like mandrakes, and sold at a high price. Andrea Mattioli, whose Commentaries on the Materia Medica of Dioscorides was published in 1544, says that a doctor he met in Rome would sell such false mandrake roots: “These false mandrakes he palmed off on childless women, some of whom gave him as much as 5, 20, or even 50 gold pieces for a single specimen, fondly expecting to become joyful mothers of children.” These false mandrake roots often carved to resemble small men, look much more like the ones from Harry Potter than natural mandrake roots ever could. Since they resembled human children, it was believed that they would aid conception. But they were also believed to bring good fortune. As part of her trial for witchcraft, Joan of Arc was accused of carrying a mandrake root in her bosom in the hope of acquiring riches; of course, she denied the accusation.

Our Dreams.

Dreams allow us to receive and transmit magickal communique although we may not remember them upon awakening nor do we always understand them. Sleep and the dream state are where healing and rhythmic readjustments most frequently occur.

Although some use the phrase “just a dream” to indicate a hopeless cause or a figment of the imagination, there are many who believe that we each possess a special dream soul that actually journeys while we sleep. The experiences we have in dreams are genuine, just operating on a different plane of existence. We can meet the ones we love, have adventures, journey to spiritual realms and seek crucial information.

Ancient temples of healing, the first hospitals, offered herbal therapies, hydrotherapy, aromatic essences and cleansing smoke, but also invited the ailing and infertile to sleep and dream on the sacred premises. It was believed that divine spirits would communicate remedies through dreams and perform miracle cures.

Although states of tension and fatigue can occasionally stimulate an energy surge effective for emergency enchantment, unless you are sufficiently rested you can’t consistently access your true magickal potential.

How much sleep do you need? Enough to wake up feeling refreshed and enough to dream. Some believe that the true purpose of sleep is to provide access to the dream state. Our souls need these opportunities to visit other realms and other powers, to replenish our own forces and solve personal mysteries. The malady known as sleep deprivation may actually be dream deprivation.

There are of course always exceptions. People suffering severe disharmony, on any level, physical, spiritual, emotional, are often unable to sleep. Some have dreams too intense to handle. Others are petrified of communication with the Other Side; they cannot believe that Earth and her universe mean them any good.

Whether you recall your dreams or not, you do dream. Some people dream in color, others solely black-and-white. People typically have five dreams every night, each successively longer than the last. The longest, most significant dream is usually the last one, the one that occurs on the threshold between sleep and waking.

You can train yourself to remember your dreams. You can, if you wish, develop techniques of lucid dreaming whereby you retain consciousness and awareness during your dreams. Using this technique you can actively participate in your dreams, ask the questions you want, have the adventures you want versus just having your dreams happen to you. You can induce the dreams you wish or need to have.

Active dreaming is a process that requires patience and focus. Many of these skills can be acquired on your own. If the topic intrigues you, there are entire books devoted to lucid dreaming as well as dream laboratories, societies, and workshops that can encourage and assist you to take control of your dreams.

There are people who make dates with others to meet in dreams. When they awake, both can recall the shared dream. Twins, in particular, are believed to have an aptitude for this art. Lovers, separated by distance, have trained themselves to meet in the dreamland, where they can enjoy the romance denied them during the day.

You are most likely to receive

communication from other life forces during your dreams. If you request information or assistance from any spiritual entity, you will likely receive the answer in your dreams, perhaps immediately but also perhaps days or weeks later. Sometimes the information you receive is intended for someone else. When others turn up in your dreams, share the information and request that others share with you.

Remembering Your Dreams

The second you move abruptly or even sit up, you begin to lose fragments of your dreams. That’s why noisy, ringing alarm clocks that make you jump are so destructive to dreams. If you need an alarm consistently to wake you, try to set the volume as low as possible or better yet, wake up to music that will transition you awake rather than jolting you up.

Keep a pad and paper near where you sleep. Think of the dream state and the waking state as ends of a spectrum, rather than rigidly divided. You need to be awake enough to write but asleep enough to recall your dream accurately, one foot in both worlds, as it were. As soon as you transition out of a dream, write down everything you remember, every tiny detail, with minimal movement and minimal light. Don’t go back to sleep, intending to write down the dream later, assuming that because it was intense or significant it will be remembered. Try this experiment: write down a dream immediately and then later when fully awake, before you read what you’ve written, try to reproduce the dream. You will be amazed at how many details have already dissipated into the air. Write down all your dreams, even the ones you think are boring and insignificant now. Months later, go back and read your journal. You will begin to discover your personal vocabulary, the symbols that pop up over and over. Write down the dates of your dreams and keep a daily journal as well. You may discover you have prophetic abilities you’ve never recognized.

A Trick to Remembering Your Dreams

A trick to remembering your dreams:

keep a glass of water or mugwort tea by your bed. Take a sip before you go to sleep, telling yourself, “When I awake, I will have another sip and recall my dreams.”

If you’re aware that you dream but the dreams remain elusive, just out of reach, rub warmed hazelnut oil into the soles of your feet at bedtime. Add a drop of mugwort flower essence to the warmed oil for intensification, sort of like fine-tuning a television to improve focus.

Dream Pillows~Herbs and Fragrances

There are many herbs and fragrances that are beneficial for dreaming. You’re not restricted to only one dream pillow. The only stipulations are that you don’t want an aroma so stimulating that it keeps you awake. Also, make sure you like the smell. It doesn’t matter what it’s supposed to do if the smell irritates you and keeps you restless and awake. You also don’t want any sharp edges in your pillows. All materials should be considered from that standpoint. Rose petals are thus better than rosebuds, which can be hard and pointy. Grind dried herbs in your mortar and pestle to make them softer and powdery.

Combine the herbs as you wish. You can use one or many. You may want to balance herbs that promote restful sleep with those that promote active dreaming. Some recipes are included in this section of the blog: use these guidelines to proportion rather than as a rigid amount. A standard-size dream pillow takes about 8 to 10 ounces of dried herbs but everything depends on the actual size of your pillow and whether the intensity of the fragrance pleases you. Don’t stuff the pillow too full: you want it to remain loose and flat so that it’s comfortable under your head, not lumpy and hard.

* Because crystals need to be cleansed frequently, they are better kept out of dream pillows but dream roots may be added, such as High John the Conqueror or wormwood. Use only a small piece and bury it in the center of your pillow, covering it with softer herbs.

Mix your herbs in a container. If you’re adding fragrance oils, add only a very few drops of liquid. Mix with a wooden chopstick or twig. Allow the mixture to dry completely before stuffing your pillow. If the smell isn’t strong enough, add the liquid in batches, drop by drop, allowing the herbs to completely dry out before adding more, although be aware that fragrances tend to seem stronger in the dark when there is less outside stimulation. If the herbs get too wet, they may rot or smell acrid and are more likely to produce disturbing dreams than beautiful ones.

A Selection of Dream Herbs

Alecost facilitates contact with the Earth Mother.

Angelica provides prophetic dreams, visions and protection.

Anise: repels nightmares-use only a smidgen of the seed, as many find the fragrance of anise to be stimulating. A little should stimulate pleasant, romantic, sexy dreams. Anise may also increase psychic potential.

Bay Laurel: provides prophetic dreams and creative inspiration, gives spiritual protection and inspires self-confidence. Crumble the dried leaves, as whole bay leaves, can be very sharp. The tips can stick you right through the fabric.

Bee Balm: provides restful sleep.

Black Mustard Seeds: repel night demons and malevolent forces.

Calendula Blossoms: promote sound, peaceful sleep and physical healing, soothes nerves.

Catnip: promotes romantic dreams and restful, sound sleep providing you don’t have a cat who will claw you in an attempt to reach your pillow.

Chamomile Blossoms: provide romantic and financially inspirational dreams, spiritual protection and sound restful sleep.

Cloves: the initial scent is stimulating, but for most, continuous inhalation produces relaxation and deep, restful sleep. It promotes psychic and erotic dreams. Cloves also provide spiritual protection. Grind the cloves {smash them in your mortar and pestle} so that they’ll be more comfortable.

Henna brings good fortune, protection, fertility, romantic and erotic dreams. Henna produces a grounding effect, provides links to the Earth Mother and the Fire Angels.

Hops: provides peaceful, healing, very sound sleep.

Lavender Blossoms: promote peaceful sleep and sweet dreams. Lavender’s fragrance is reputed to allow you to see ghosts.

Lilac Blossoms: provide access to past life memories and heal broken hearts.

Linden Blossoms: promote inspirational dreams, sound restful sleep.

Mullein protects against nightmares.

Peppermint: encourages visions of one’s future.

Purslane: protects the sleeper from spiritual dangers.

Rose: brings romantic, erotic and psychic dreams. Rose eases grief and provides protection; promotes intense healing while one sleeps. Rose is beneficial for threshold states including premarital, premenstrual and postmenopausal.

Rosemary: some find rosemary’s scent too stimulating to permit sleep, so experiment with only a little bit at first. Dried blossoms may be preferable to the leaves. Rosemary provides mental stimulation while one sleeps and is excellent for students. It promotes romantic dreams and provides psychic protection.

Saint John’s Wort: promotes psychic healing and soothes stress. Saint John’s Wort strengthens resolve and is beneficial for those battling addictions, it also stimulates psychic power and provides spiritual protection.

Spruce Needles: pulverize them into powder. A Shoshone charm to prevent illness, spruce needles will also provide deep, peaceful; sleep.

Vanilla Bean: promotes romantic and erotic dreams.

Vervain provides protection and sound sleep, financial inspiration and romantic dreams. A Pawnee recommendation for pleasant dreams.

Wormwood {root}: provides protection, romance, psychic enhancement, encourages communication with the spirits.

Dream Pillows

Although dream pillows can be created to stimulate whatever dreams you desire, some specifically promote sleep, encourage the dream process and facilitate your psychic capacity and skills.

Insomnia Pillow

You’d love to dream, if only you could get to sleep….Hops provide sound slumber.

4 ounces dried hops

2 ounces dried rose petals

2 ounces either calendula, cowslip or lavender blossoms

Prophetic Dream Pillow

When you need to know what happens next.

4 ounces dried peppermint leaves

4 ounces dried rose petals

A few drops essential oil of sandalwood

Fly Me To The Moon: An Astral Projection Pillow

Artemis is the Greek goddess of the moon and magick. If you’re trying to fly, sample Artemis’ two favorite herbs.

4 ounces dried mugwort

4 ounces dried Dittany of Crete

To provide a grounding effect beneficial for safe astral projection, place individual jasper crystals over each of the seven chakra points.


Dream Oils

A warm bath before bedtime soothes the spirit and relaxes the body. Add a fragrance that elicits dreams. Some of the most powerful psychic fragrances, gardenia, and heliotrope, for instance, are rarely available as essential oils, although, in theory, they exist. Because producing an essential oil from these flowers is so labor intensive, or yields such tiny quantities, what is commercially available is almost inevitably a synthetic reproduction. Some smell so similar that they may stimulate your psychic imagination anyway and may be effective; however they do lack the physical properties and power of the true plant. Make infused waters from fresh blossoms. Add these to bathwater, place in a spray bottle and spritz the bedroom or sheets, or use as a facial toner before bed.

Sweet Dreams Bath

Bay leaves

Lilac blossoms

Yellow rose petals

Make an infusion with a fistful of each of the dried botanicals and add to your bath. If you have fresh flowers, just let them drift in the tub. {Don’t clean up the residue left in the tub until after you wake up; the effort will awaken you.}

Remember Your Dreams Bath

4 drops essential oil of juniper

4 drops essential oil of lavender

Four drops of essential oil of mimosa

Draw a warm bath and then add the essential oils. Swirl them around and enter the tub.

And if cost is no object…

Luxurious Remember Your Dreams Bath

4 drops essential oil of jasmine

4 drops essential oil of lavender

2 drops honeysuckle absolute

2 drops essential oil of neroli

Draw a warm bath and add the essential oils just prior to entering the water.

There are other ways to use plants to promote dreaming. Try placing one of these under your pillow.

Ash leaf promotes prophetic dreams.

Bay leaf keeps the tone of your dreams pleasant. Placed under your pillow on Valentine’s Day, a bay leaf helps you dream up your true love.

Calendula blossom provides prophetic dreams and helps you to identify a thief.

Cinquefoil normally has five points. A rare seven-pointed specimen under your pillow will help you call up the image of your true love.

Daisy roots bring dreams of absent or long-lost lovers.

Eucalyptus Seedpods guard against colds and infections and help build up physical immunity while you sleep.

Four Leaf Clovers bring dreams of love and help you to visualize your true love.

Only a very little is needed at a time, so use these drop by drop, in combination with dream pillows or independently.

* Place a drop on your sheets or pillows or rub one drop onto your forehead at bedtime.

* For a luxurious and relaxing bedtime ritual, warm up a little walnut or hazelnut oil.

* Add a few drops of the dream oil of your choice and massage into your feet and ankles.

* If you share a bed, massage each other and make a date to rendezvous in dreamland.

Dream Plants

Bergamot: soothes nerves, aids peaceful sleep.

Coconut: provides spiritual protection, promotes romantic dreams.

Frankincense: encourages deep, rhythmic breathing, soothes worries and stress, provides spiritual protection, calls in powerful spirits.

Gardenia: brings romantic and erotic dreams, provides psychic protection.

Heliotrope: promotes healing, prophetic dreams, and financial inspiration.

Hibiscus promotes erotic dreams and prophetic dreams.

Honeysuckle: promotes erotic dreams, psychic dreams, used to access buried memories. Honeysuckle will also help you forget a lost love and lessen destructive nostalgia.

Jasmine: promotes romantic and sensual dreams, invigorates the libido and provides spiritual healing.

Juniper: provides protection, assists in accessing buried memories, promotes healing on all planes.

Lavender: promotes sound sleep, peaceful and romantic dreams.

Mimosa: promotes prophetic dreams, provides a shield for those who are psychically and emotionally vulnerable.

Mugwort Infused Oil: intensifies the entire dreaming process. Use only a tiny bit at a time, as mugwort tends to provide exciting, adventurous dreaming. Some enjoy it but others find the dreams too intense and wild and wake up more tired than rested.

Myrrh: promotes erotic dreams, offers spiritual protection and has a soothing, healing effect.

Neroli: provides peaceful sleep, protection and eases stress.

Rose: relieves stress and tension, allays grief, heals a broken heart, provides romantic dreams.

Tagetes: stimulates erotic dreams and encourages communication with those who’ve passed from this existence, whether to receive or transmit a message.

Orange blossoms were traditionally placed upon a bride’s pillow to arouse erotic interest while assuaging her fears. Essential oil of Neroli is extracted from orange blossoms and is among the most expensive oils. Petitgrain, extracted from the twigs and unripe fruits of the orange and comparatively inexpensive, is more than adequately substituted. Petitgrain’s ability to induce sound sleep may be even more potent.


* You’re not limited to oil. Sprigs of any of these plants on your pillow or a potted plant placed near your bed so that its scent wafts over you can be effective, too.

Dreams: Incense, Stones, and Crystals

Herbs can also be burned in the bedroom to provide restful sleep and stimulate dreams and psychic protection. The incense is prepared and burned before you sleep.

1. Close the doors and windows.

2. Walk through the room with your incense, fanning the fragrance into all corners and especially around the bed.

3. Allow the incense to burn out naturally and dispose of it safely.

4. When you’re ready to sleep, open doors and windows as desired.

Dream Incense

Chopped or powdered bay leaves

Cedar wood shavings

Lavender blossoms

Pulverize equal parts and then burn. This incense should stimulate more vivid dreams and help you to remember them better.

Sweet Dreams Anti-Insomnia Incense

Frankincense resin

Storax resin

Rose blossoms

This incense promotes deep sleep while stimulating sweet dreams. Storax has served as a remedy for insomnia since ancient Mesopotamia. Pound the two resins together in your mortar and pestle, then add the rose blossoms and burn.

Calea za cate chichi, a native of the Mexican rain forest also known as Dream Herb is treasured for its ability to facilitate reception of spiritual advice and information in dreams. The traditional method of use is tea, however, newcomers beware: it doesn’t taste very good. Unlike mugwort, which can be doctored with a little peppermint and lemon balm, there’s not too much you can do to improve the flavor of za cate chichi. Try burning it as incense before you sleep, the effects remain profound. No need to venture into the rainforest to gather za cate chichi; it grows easily from seed indoors. Burn it alone or partnered with dried sage.

Stones and Crystals

Stones and crystals can also facilitate dreaming and protect slumber.

* An amethyst under your pillow encourages sound sleep and promotes prophetic dreams.

* A garnet under your pillow keeps nightmares away.

* Citrine serves to stimulate dreams.

* Red coral attached to a bedpost dispels nightmares and protects against spiritual dangers.

* A moonstone worn upon the body while you sleep performs the same function as red coral.

* A precious gemstone isn’t necessarily your most powerful tool. Finding a plain old pebble with a natural hole in it is a gift from the Earth Mother, to foster communication and enable you to receive healing dreams. Run a cord through the pebble and attach to your bed or yourself.

And finally, are you having too many dreams? Do you need a break? Hang a sprig of lemon verbena around your neck at bedtime as a temporary cease and desist.

Honeysuckle – August Flower of the Month.

Lonicera japonica

Family: Adoxaceae, syn. Caprifoliaceae

honeysuckleThis lovely, cascading, woody vine, with its divine scent, is often planted as a landscape attraction. It dazzles the eye with its gorgeous blooms in warm weather and retreats to a pleasant but unremarkable placeholder at other times of the year. Its name refers to the fact that fairies {and everyone else} love to sip the nectar from the flowers. There are well over 100 different species, and at least 15 are used medicinally.

Description..

Honeysuckle is a perennial, deciduous or evergreen climbing shrub that typically wraps tightly around other plants or a support. It can grow to over 20 feet long and is invasive enough to be considered a noxious weed in the eastern United States. The tubular flowers bloom in the summer and are a pale yellow, sometimes tinged with pink, that turns a darker golden color as they age. Orangish red fruits that are rather nasty-tasting but are attractive to birds occur in clusters following the flowers in the fall.

Preparations and Dosage..

Make a strong infusion by steeping the flowers for as long as 30 minutes, or even gently simmer them, and drink 1/2 to 1 cup twice daily, or as often as desired. Honeysuckle also makes a delicious syrup. It’s found commercially in powder, granule, extract, and tablet form. Follow the directions on the product label.

Healing Properties..

The flowers {or flowers plus young stems} are mildly antibiotic and antiviral and are used to treat colds and flu. They are also recommended in traditional Chinese medicine {TCM} for relief of upper respiratory tract infections, fevers, bronchitis, sore throat, heat stroke, and diarrhea. The tea is also known for healing boils and other skin infections, as it helps to remove “fire toxins” {a TCM description that refers to metabolic waste buildup and inflammation} from your body. Teenagers and anyone who is prone to acne, boils, and sties can drink the refreshing tea daily to reap the strongest benefits.

Western herbalists recommend taking the flower tea or extract to relieve hot flashes, to prevent and promote healing of urinary tract infections, and to treat skin conditions like acne, boils, and eczema. The whole vine, including the leaves and twigs, can be decocted and used as a compress for treating burns, sores, and acne.

Safety..

The flowers and twigs are considered nontoxic by traditional Chinese medical practitioners.

In the Garden..

Honeysuckle is frost hardy, heat tolerant, and sturdy; it’s an easy plant to have around. If you want to create a hedge or fence-row, plant honeysuckle vines 3 feet apart, and expect them to push those bounds unless you trim them back during the dormant season. Honeysuckle likes moist, rich soil but is adaptable and somewhat drought tolerant once it’s large, and it will do well in full sun {or even partial shade, in hot climates}. Start it from seed, if you’re willing to wait a month or two for germination {stratification helps}, or take stem cuttings in the spring or woody cuttings in the fall. Easier yet, try layering a neighbor’s plant. Be sure to provide a trellis or fence for it to climb. Stems will trail along the ground, and you may want to prune them back for a tidier look.

Harvesting Honeysuckle..

Collect the flowers when they are just starting to open and are lovely, fresh and have a creamy hue. {Older, orange flowers will dry to a brown color.} Be sure to pick them every few days. As with all flowers, honeysuckle blooms are fragile and will bruise easily, so gather them in the morning, before the warmth of the day has compromised their freshness. Dry them immediately after harvest, at a low temperature and out of the sun. Tender stems may be collected also; they contain many of the same compounds.

Let’s Create Some Herbal Remedies – When Cold and Flu Season Arrives.

These two recipes are prepared as teas but are not taken in your tea cup – they help with the discomfort of flu season in other ways.

Winter Inhalation

living-herbs-for-cold-flu-thymeThis traditional herbal steam helps open your sinuses, discourages bacterial and viral growth, and reduces pain and inflammation. Remember to stay a comfortable distance from the steaming pot to avoid burning your face.

8 – 12 teaspoons fresh or 4 teaspoons dried eucalyptus leaf {Eucalyptus globulus}

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaf

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme herb

3 cups purified water

Essential oils of the herbs above {optional}

Place the eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, and water in a saucepan and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and uncover. Drape a large towel over your head and the saucepan, forming a steam-filled tent, and inhale the medicated steam deeply for 5 minutes or so. Repeat several times daily as needed, warming the decoction each time just to the boiling point.

You can enhance the inhalation by adding 6 or 7 drops of essential oil to the brew after you remove it from the heat. Try oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, and thyme, and add one or more as desired. {Because essential oils can cause dizziness and light-headedness, do not use enhanced inhalations more than two or three times a day, and discontinue use if redness of the mucous membrane develops.}

A Soothing Throat Gargle

herbs for cold and fluThis decoction soothes throats that are sore from illness or hoarse from overuse; it’s ideal for public speakers or teachers even when it isn’t winter. You will notice that this recipe calls for simmering above-ground portions of the plant that are usually steeped; this is because you will be extracting deeper compounds that are only somewhat water-soluble.

5 -7 tablespoons fresh or 2 1/2 tablespoons dried echinacea leaf

4 – 6 tablespoons fresh or 2 tablespoons dried lemon balm herb

3 – 5 tablespoons fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried sage leaf

3 – 5 tablespoons fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried licorice root

2 tablespoons dried witch hazel bark {Hamamelis virginiana} or marshmallow root

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh or dried usnea lichen, if available {Usnea spp.}

5 cups purified water

Place the echinacea, lemon balm, sage, licorice, witch hazel or marshmallow, and optional usnea in a saucepan. Pour the water over the herbs and stir to thoroughly combine. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and steep for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and compost the herbs. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Gargle with 1/4 cup of the warm or room-temperature tea four or five times a day; swallowing the liquid after gargling will provide extra benefits. For portability, put some in a little dropper bottle, and gargle with 3 or 4 droppersful for 30 seconds as a quick fix for an irritated throat.