Fragrances for Fall {DIY}

Without question, people adore the cozy smells of fall that brings pumpkin spice, tart apples, crisp leaves and spicy cinnamon. Bring those scents into your own home to celebrate fall without using harsh artificial chemical scents by making your own natural home fragrance on your stove. All you need to do is bring a pot of water to a simmer and add in spices with other fresh ingredients, such as apple peels, cinnamon, and cloves.

Combined together, these ingredients will send an autumn aroma throughout your home. As an added benefit, not only will your home smell like you have been baking (without all the effort) but the simmering water will help to humidify your home, which often suffers from dry air in the fall and winter.

Pumpkin Spice Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces of candied ginger
  • 1 clove of nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the candied ginger, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Apple Cider Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 apple peels
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the apple peels, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Gingerbread Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add almond extract, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Mulled Wine Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 orange rind
  • 1 apple peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2-star anise

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add orange rind, apple peel, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Pine & Juniper Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 5 juniper berries
  • 4 small pine branches
  • 1 lemon peel

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the lemon peel, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Bay Wreath Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 sliced lemon

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add cut the fruit, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.
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A Herbalist’s Guide to a Healthy Fall and Winter

Ready or not, fall is here and winter is fast approaching.  Daylight is beginning to dwindle in the northern hemisphere and there is an accompanying nip in the air.  Hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to burn brightly alongside the carefree summer sun for the past few months and are ready to begin slowing down.

Making the most of the fall in many ways means honing the mind, body, and spirit to prepare for winter.  Before we go there, though, let’s first remember to simply take a breather after the busyness of summer. Our garden plants are slowing their production, the fields and forests no longer drip with fruit and flowers, and the sun slips much earlier behind the horizon giving us less daylight to pack full of work and play. What beckoned us all summer is now disappearing. Nature is giving us permission, leading by example, in fact, welcoming us to slow down and to let go.

I take a breather in a literal sense. I am reminded of the value of a deep breath; of the pleasant spaciousness that remains after I inspire crisp fall air, hold it deep in my lungs, and then let it go. In the 5-element theory of Chinese Medicine, fall is aptly connected to the breath as well as to release. Many lifecycles are coming to an end. Witnessing nature’s small deaths all around us can help us feel comfortable in our own letting go, to perhaps even see the beauty in it. Fall is a time to lessen physical and emotional attachments, to let go of what no longer serves us so that we can go into winter carrying only the essentials. Support yourself this season by incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine or taking up meditation- both of which can be helpful in letting go.   

In the plant world, perennials are letting go of what they don’t need. Prior to shedding their vegetation, these plants concentrate all of their energy into their roots in order to have the reserves to make it through winter.  Us herbalists take note and head out with our pitchforks, shovels and digging sticks to get down and dirty finagling our favorite roots out of the ground before it freezes. Fall is considered the best time to harvest most roots since they are so power-packed right now.

One of the constituents found abundantly in fall-dug roots is the starch inulin. Inulin is considered prebiotic (aka super food for healthy gut flora). You’ll notice evidence of it in the milky yield of fall dandelion and burdock tinctures or the white liquid that oozes from their freshly cut roots.     

wild-carrot-seedIt’s a good time to shift our herbal preparations towards roots, as well. My daily tea transitions to reflect what’s in season around me. These teas also happen to be just what my body needs in preparation for winter. Instead of whimsical leaf and flower infusions, I begin making heartier decoctions by gently simmering roots and mushrooms alongside a warming spice. These plants are fortifying and they also support my immune system as we head towards cold and flu season.   

Yesterday I threw fresh burdock root, astragalus, licorice, reishi and cardamom into a big pot alongside a pinch of cinnamon, simmered for an hour and was left with a week’s worth of tea.  I chose these plants to support healthy immunity, for grounding and to support all around resilience. However you choose to take it, now is the time to start with immune tonic herbs. In both my personal and clinical experience, it makes a world of difference in how one’s immune system weathers the winter ahead.

I celebrate fall as a chance to regain balance. The equinox signals an exact balance between light and dark, day and night. It’s a chance to recompose before leaning into the cold, dark months of winter. I take the time to enjoy the certain lightness that this state of balance has to offer. I go for more walks, take more deep breaths. I gather roots, but with less haste than my summertime busy work. I harvest seeds from wild carrot and burdock to make tinctures. I prepare fewer salads and more soups. I take the yoga and meditation routines backup that got partially abandoned by summer’s end. I snack on fresh apples and indulge in pumpkin pie. And I ponder and prepare for what I’ll need to keep my body and spirit healthy through the winter months.   

May you enjoy the season’s simplicity and find sweetness in letting go of what you don’t need while tending lovingly to what remains.  May you be prepared to enter winter full of balance, resilience, and spaciousness.   

Herbs ~ Harvesting, Drying, Preserving and Storing Your Herbs.

 For the heart of the medicinal herbs! Knowing how to properly harvest your medicinal herbs will increase the potency and efficacy of the preparations you create.

Let’s understand the terminology used to describe the parts of herbs {plant parts} when harvesting.

  • Berries and Seeds: These are the fruits of the plant, harvested when they are fully ripe {usually when they have turned a rich, deep color and have softened and matured}. Rub or brush away old flower parts and the remains of calyxes {plant material between the berry and the stem}, and halve larger seeds and berries to speed up their drying time.
  • Buds: This means just the flower in its unopened state. Harvest it without any stem.
  • Flower: Harvest flowers by removing the whole flowering head, with little or no stem attached. The ideal time to harvest is just as the flowers are opening, but you can collect fully open flowers, as well. When they have aged to the point where their petals are drooping, however, their medicine is not as strong. Do not wash flowers unless they are visibly dirty.
  • Flowering Tops: This term denotes the entire flowering portion of the herb, still attached to a few inches of plant stem and leaves. The tops are best for medicine when in early to full flower, and even in late flower, in a few cases {such as St. John’s wort}.
  • Herb: This refers to the aerial parts of the plant: leaves, stems, flowers, and buds {if present} and includes only the flexible portion of the stem {which usually means the top 6 to 9 inches of the plant}. The herb is at its most potent when it’s in early flower through the full flowering stage. Once it has started going to seed, the plant’s potency has already started to decline. Do not wash herbs unless they are quite dirty. These aerial parts are usually chopped or ground for medicine making, and the thickest part of the stem is often discarded after drying.
  • Leaf: Take the leaf and petiole {the tender stem holding the leaf}, and in some cases a very minimal amount of plant stem, if it’s fleshy. Leaves that have some insect damage are fine to use but discard those that are browning or yellowing. Dust off the leaves and lightly rinse them if they’re dirty, blotting them dry before you make your medicine. Leave them whole for drying.
  • Root or rhizome: This refers to any below-soil roots, rhizomes {underground stems that have a root-like appearance}, and rootlet parts. You will mainly be harvesting roots of perennial, not annual, herbs. Dig them in the fall, winter, or early spring, when the plant has completely died back and all its energy has returned to the root for the winter months. If the plant is a biennial {such as angelica, burdock, and mullein}, harvest from the fall after the first year of growth through the spring of the second year before the flowering stalk shoots up. If the plant is a perennial, the best year to harvest varies with each herb. Wash and clean roots after you dig them, cut off the crown {the point where the stem joins the roots}, and either make your medicinal preparation or chop the roots into small, uniform pieces for drying.
  • Strobile: In the case of hops, these are the cone-shaped flowering portions of the plant. Harvest them when they are maturing from green to yellowish brown.
  • Whole Plant: When you harvest the whole plant, you take the roots or rhizomes and rootlets {still attached to the crown}, the stems, leaves, flowers, and buds – everything. The best time to harvest a whole plant is usually when the plant is in early flower. Wash the root and remove any brown or decaying above-ground portion of the plant. Then separate the aboveground and root portions for drying, since roots take much longer to fully dehydrate.

When to Harvest Your Herbs:

Follow the guidelines above for the correct time of year to harvest each plant part. In general, the best time of day to gather any of the above-ground portions of herbs is mid-morning or early evening. Start your harvest after the dew has dried but while the herbs are still cool since excess moisture can lead to mold and blackened leaves. Herbs harvested in very hot weather or under the midday sun can bruise or wilt, causing them to lose their medicinal constituents {particularly their essential oil content}. Keep them in the shade while you are collecting, and do not pile them too thickly. Roots can be harvested at any time of day that the ground can be worked, but not when there’s soggy soil: You’ll compact the soil and destroy all the aeration those under-ground critters have worked so hard to tunnel in. remember that the soil is home to beneficial earthworms and a host of other allies.

Plan ahead: Harvest just before you make your medicinal preparations, or prepare and dry them immediately. Herbs will begin to lose potency a soon as they are harvested. Keep them in the shade while you’re working, and if you need to hold them for a time, be sure to refrigerate them right away. The faster they cool, the fresher they will stay.

After harvesting, wash them as little as possible. Do not drench your herbs unless they are caked with mud or extremely dusty. You can fill a sink or bucket with water and, hold a bunch firmly, swish the tops quickly. Gently shake off the excess water and blot them dry, or lay them out on paper or cloth towels to dry.

The Right Tools for Harvesting Your Herbs:

It’s important to use the right tool for the job. Use scissors that you have dedicated to your herbs to harvest very fragile flowers, stems, and leaves. Invest in a good-quality pair of clippers for sturdier plant parts; this will be your most frequently used tool, so buy the best. A hand trowel is versatile, especially if it has a thinner profile for maneuvering in smaller spots. If you’re gardening outside, use a digging fork rather than a shovel for most root-digging harvests. A fork is gentler on the roots, lifts them out more efficiently, and disturbs the surrounding area the least.

Always use clean tools when you’re digging and clipping plants. It’s often recommended that clippers be dipped in a weak bleach solution and rinsed periodically to disinfect them, especially before taking stem cuttings or after pruning a diseased plant.

Drying, Preserving and Storing Your Herbs:

Since you can’t have fresh herbs year-round, and because you do not always use everything you harvest, a drying area at home is the key to preserving your bounty and building your home medicine chest. There are three elements necessary to dry herbs effectively and safeguard their medicinal potency.

  • Darkness: The most crucial factor is to avoid drying your herbs in direct sunlight. Generally speaking, the darker your drying area, the better {although there are a few exceptions, such as some roots}. You can use a closet, a cupboard, an old oven, an attic, or even a barn loft for drying. If you use an area in an open room, be sure to store herbs immediately after they dry, or their color {and their medicinal components} will fade before too long.
  • Air circulation: Choose a breezy area or keep air moving throughout the drying area so your herbs will dry evenly and quickly before mold can grow. Even in foggy or damp weather, you can set up a fan to counteract moisture buildup. The percentage of moisture in the air should be 25 percent or less. {You can gauge it with a hydrometer.} If humidity is an ongoing problem, you may want to invest in a small, portable dehumidifier.
  • Heat: A steady heat source really makes a difference in the time it takes to fully dry herbs. You can set up your drying system near a wood-stove or radiator or in a hot water heater closet. You can also make use of the heat rising up to your attic or into your uninsulated summer garage. Forced air dryers, such as food dehydrators, are great for small quantities of herbs, and for larger batches, you can find plans and sample designs for electric and solar dryers online. The ideal temperature for drying most leafy plant material is 90 degrees to 110 degrees F; for thicker, woodier parts, the temperature can go up to 120 degrees F. But you can dry herbs effectively at a typical range of indoor home temperatures if you have good airflow.

Drying Racks:

To dry herbs quickly and evenly, set up screens or racks and lay individual leaves, flowers, berries, and root slices on them.

You’ll get excellent airflow on all sides, and you can move the racks around easily. Window screens or screen doors can be set on blocks, boxes, or any kind of support. You can stretch shade cloth, netting, or fabric over wooden frames, racks, poles, or sawhorses to use as a drying surface {but do not use synthetic sheets because air doesn’t pass through the fibers well}. In a pinch, you can lay herbs on butcher paper or art stock spread over tables, taking care to turn and fluff the material frequently. Be sure to brush off the drying racks or another surface before each use to remove dust and particles from previously dried batches.

Spread your plant material thinly, without clumping or piling it. If you’re planning to dry roots or other parts that need to be cleaned, wash them immediately after harvesting, pat them dry, and spread them out on your drying racks. Try to keep all of the above-ground portions of herbs as a whole as possible {you can sort them after they have dried}, but slice your roots to speed the drying time. Chop them into uniform-size pieces either horizontally {like carrot rounds} or vertically {like tongue depressors} if they’re large enough, so they dry evenly.

Turn over the herbs daily until they’re completely dry. This avoids uneven drying where plant parts overlap and pockets of moisture hide. Some very delicate flowers shouldn’t be turned because they’ll bruise and break, but most other leafy plants will need to be turned at least twice before they are crispy and dry.

Dehydrators:

A food dehydrator is handy for drying small batches of herbs, especially leaves that are separated from their stems. It’s a bit of a financial investment, but a fast and efficient food dehydrator can become the home herbalist’s favorite tool.

Hanging Your Herbs:

You can bunch long-stemmed herbs with elastics and hang them to dry. Take care not to create bunches that are too big or too dense, as this prevents air circulation in the center of the bunch, where molding can easily occur. The ideal bunch size at the elastic is the same as if you put your forefinger and thumb together in the shape of a circle. Thread a long length of twine or other sturdy line material through several bunches, like they’re hanging on a clothesline, and suspend the line somewhere warm, dry, out of direct sunlight, and convenient – like your kitchen, attic, or spare room. You can suspend bunches on hooks, clothes hangers, or even on a line hung along a wall. Just be sure to store them before they fade. This method is not ideal for leafy herbs that lose their color and potency rapidly {such as spearmint, lemon balm, and oregano}; be sure to store these herbs immediately after they have completely dried.

You can also place your loose herbs in paper bags and hang them in a warm or sunny place. The paper protects the herbs from light and allows air circulation. You can even punch tiny holes in the bag to increase airflow. Shake the bag every day or two so the herbs don’t clump and check them for dryness after a week. This is a great way to dry flowers and save seeds: Remove the entire flower-head or seed-head with a nice, long stem; carefully lower it, flower pointed down, into a bag; and cinch the top of the bag loosely so debris and dust do not enter.

Oven Drying:

Oven drying is a fast and slightly unpredictable method of drying herbs, yet it’s a good choice if you need to dry herbs quickly or if you don’t have ideal conditions to dry dense roots or big berries that might mold over time. Herbs dry very quickly in the oven so you will need to pay attention. Place the plant material on a cookie sheet, and turn the oven to the pilot light or lowest possible setting, taking care to leave the oven door open during the whole process. This is a touchy method, and it’s easy to over-dry delicate herbs because the temperature level is unpredictable.

 

We do not recommend drying medicinal herbs in the microwave.

Assessing Dryness:

No one who’s worked hard to plant and grow herbs wants to go to the cupboard to find a gray, fuzzy mass of moldy chamomile flowers a year after putting them in storage. To avoid this scenario, you need to carefully judge the dryness of your herbs. A completely dried herb will be brittle and breakable in your hand. If stems are still bending and leaves are still pliable, they are not dry. The woody stems and denser parts of the plants will take the longest to dry, so test them first. Flower-heads {such as calendula} might seem dry on the surface, but the interior could still be damp. Press your finger all the way into the center of the flower-head and feel for brittleness in the core of the head to be sure it’s dry all the way through. It’s a common mistake to bag up calendula flowers that are not fully dry and then find the entire crop lost. Be vigilant. You’ll find that atmospheric moisture will dramatically affect the final stages of drying: Herbs can reabsorb moisture overnight and be slightly damp in the morning, so wait until late afternoon to take your herbs off the drying racks so they have the heat of the day to get “crispy” dry.

Don’t leave your herbs on the drying racks or hanging in bunches for too long; remove them as soon as they feel completely crispy. If they keep drying beyond that point, they will soon brown and lose their medicinal and nutritional qualities. The end product of your efforts should resemble the living plant, both in color and texture. A good indicator of success is how recognizable your herb is as it sits in its storage container.

Fast-drying, delicate herbs generally take 3 to 5 days under ideal conditions and as long as 2 weeks in damp conditions. Roots and barks are denser and can take 2 weeks longer. Check your plants regularly, and make no assumptions about drying times.

Storing and Preserving Your Herbs:

Once your herbs are dry, put them in storage immediately. The best storage is clean, dry, dark, and cool. Glass jars, paper bags sealed tightly shut, stainless steel {non-aluminum}, and natural fiber containers work perfectly as long as they are airtight and protect from light and heat. If you need to use plastic bags temporarily, be sure the plastic is food-grade. {Avoid stiff white, gray, or black grocery bags.} Label your container with the name of the herb and the date.

Most flowers, leaves, and other above-ground portions of plants will retain their medicinal potency for a year {and in many cases, even longer} if stored correctly. Roots and barks can retain their potency for up to 2 years.

If your herbs are not carefully stored, you may find yourself with a pest problem: Mice just love dried elderberries, astragalus roots, and rose hips. Moths may get into your containers and lay eggs on drying seeds, flowers, or berries. If you find a layer of minute brown particles at the bottom of a container, with webbing or disintegrating material among the pieces, you will have to discard your medicine. When this happens, set several insect traps in your storage area and monitor them daily. If the infestation hasn’t progressed too far or you’d like to make sure a batch is protected, put the herbs in a plastic bag in the freezer for 14 to 21 days. Make sure to let the bags return to room temperature before opening them.

Keep your herb-drying and storage areas sealed off from rodents, insects, and cats looking for a comfortable place to nap. Wash your hands before handling, turning, and bagging your herbs.

Freezing is an excellent way to preserve certain herbs if you have space for it. They will emerge from their frozen state somewhat discolored and mushy, but they will smell and taste potent.

Generally speaking, this applies to leaves and fleshy roots only {such as comfrey and burdock}, because flowers tend to lose their color and roots lose their texture.

You can freeze herbs two ways. With the first method, brush off or lightly wash the leaves or roots, chop them finely, and place them in closed plastic freezer bags that are labeled with the name of the herb and the date. Use them within a year. For the second method, brush off or lightly wash the leaves or roots, chop them coarsely, pop them into a food processor or blender with enough water to barely cover them, and process them until they are finely chopped or pureed but not paste. Pour this puree into ice cube trays and freeze. When the cubes are frozen solid, break them out and put them in freezer bags. Label and date the bags put the herb cubes back into the freezer quickly, and use them before the year is out.

Now, after months of planting, growing, harvesting, and storing, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy knowing that you have created a home medicine chest that will give back for years to come!

How to Make Peaceful Sleep Sachets Using Herbs, Essential Oils, and Crystals

Folklore and ancestral wisdom tell us that the right blend of herbs, essential oils, and crystals can assist the body in experiencing restorative sleep.

one of my favorite ways to incorporate each of these elements into a daily remedy is to create peaceful sleep sachets…

…sleep sachets have been used for centuries. By creating a synergistic blend of herbs, essential oils, and crystals one is said to be able to:

  • induce restful sleep
  • experience vivid and meaningful dreams
  • receive relief from nightmares
  • ward off negative energy
  • help us relax + unwind
  • increase positive vibrations in the space they occupy
  • improve mental health

If you, or someone you know, has trouble sleeping…bless them with the gift of a peaceful sleep sachet!

Healing Properties of the Herbs + Essential Oils

  • Anise – Repels nightmares, but be sure to use sparingly.
  • Calendula Flower – Used to induce restful sleep.
  • Catnip – Increases restful sleep. Especially good for babies and children.
  • Cedar Leaf Tips – Repels bad dreams.
  • Chamomile Flowers – Used for relaxation and pleasant dreams.
  • Hops – Aids in restful sleep and healing.
  • Jasmine Flowers – The dried flowers are useful for romantic and erotic dreams, especially for women.
  • Lavender Flowers – These flowers have the ability to ease stress, soothe, and relax. A simple pillow made only with lavender can be simply perfect.
  • Lemon Balm – A known for its ability to reduce anxiety and insomnia. Also valuable for relieving headaches and stress.
  • Mugwort – Protection.
  • Mullein – Guards against nightmares.
  • Rose petals – Adds loving and peaceful thoughts to dreams.
  • Rosemary – Repels bad dreams, but use sparingly due to the strong scent.

Healing Properties of the Crystals used as Sleep Aids

Note: I like using smaller crystal chips in my sleep sachets. I find they are easily incorporated into the plant material and weigh less.

  • Clear Quartz — Clear quartz is the most powerful healing and energy amplifier on the planet. It is wonderful when used to enhance the energies of other crystals. I add it to these sleep sachets to amp up the energies of the amethyst, rose quartz, and lepidolite.
  • Amethyst — Amethyst works by blocking stress and negative environment energies. It is extremely beneficial where insomnia is caused by an overactive mind and protects against recurrent nightmares.
  • Rose Quartz — Rose quartz is the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace. It gently draws off negative energy and replaces it with loving vibes. Rose quartz is an excellent addition to sleep sachets as it brings deep, restorative inner healing and self-love.
  • Lepidolite — Lepidolite is extremely useful in the reduction of stress and depression. It halts obsessive thoughts, relieves despondency, and overcomes insomnia. It is a calming stone that soothes sleep disturbances and emotional stress, bringing deep emotional healing (Note:: Lepidolite contains lithium and is helpful in stabilizing mood swings and bipolar disorders. It is excellent for overcoming any kind of emotional or mental dependency.) 

How to Make Peaceful Sleep Sachets

Supplies Needed

  • cotton muslin bags

Ingredients

  • choose any number of herbs from the list above based on personal needs/desires (use an equal amount of each herb)
  • choose any number of essential oils from the list above (use 5-8 drops of essential oils total for each bag)
  • choose any number of crystals from the list above (use a few chips of each crystal)

Method

Add the herbs and crystals into a bowl and mix well using clean hands. Transfer mixture into the muslin bag(s) to fill, add 5-8 drops essential oils and tie it closed. Give the bag a little shake. Set the sachet somewhere near your bed. You can alternatively sleep with it under your pillow or slip it into your pillow case.

Get creative and enjoy!

Note: Naturally the results will be different for everyone.

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.

 

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/

Gardening 101: Lungwort – Gardenista

Read our design guide for lungwort (Pulmonaria) for tips to grow and care for this quiet, jewel-colored flowering perennial in a spring woodland garden.

Source: Gardening 101: Lungwort – Gardenista

Herbs: A -Z List: (…The Medicinal, Spiritual and Magical Uses of…)

The following information is for reference only. Herb-lore is an art which must be respected, and several herbs can be as equally dangerous as beneficial if not used correctly.

  • Aloes:

General: Aloes are indigenous to East and South Africa, but have been introduced into the West Indies (where they are extensively cultivated) and into tropical countries, and will even flourish in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. The drug Aloes consists of the liquid exuded from the transversely-cut bases of the leaves.

Medicinal Use: The drug Aloes is one of the safest and best warm and stimulating purgatives to persons of sedentary habits and phlegmatic constitutions. An ordinary small dose takes from 15 to 18 hours to produce an effect. Its action is exerted mainly on the large intestine, for which reason, also it is useful as a vermifuge. Its use, however, is said to induce Piles. From the Chemist and Druggist (July 22, 1922):

‘Aloes, strychnine and belladonna in pill form was criticized by Dr. Bernard Fautus in a paper read before the Chicago branch of the American Pharmaceutical Society. He pointed out that when given at the same time they cannot possibly act together because of the different speed and duration of the three agents. Aloin is slow in action, requiring from 10 to 12 hours. Strychnine and Atropine, on the other hand, are rapidly absorbed, and have but a brief duration of action.’

Aloes was employed by the ancients and was known to the Greeks as a production of the island of Socotra as early as the fourth century B.C. The drug was used by Dioscorides, Celsus and Pliny, as well as by the later Greek and Arabian physicians, though it is not mentioned either by Hippocrates or Theophrastus.

Spiritual Use: The word Aloes, in Latin Lignum Aloes, is used in the Bible and in many ancient writings to designate a substance totally distinct from the modern Aloes, namely the resinous wood of Aquilaria agallocha, a large tree growing in the Malayan Peninsula. Its wood constituted a drug which was, down to the beginning of the present century, generally valued for use as incense, but now is esteemed only in the East. The Mahometans, especially those in Egypt, regard the Aloe as a religious symbol, and the Mussulman who has made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Prophet is entitled to hang the Aloe over his doorway. The Mahometans also believe that this holy symbol protects a householder from any malign influence. In Cairo, the Jews also adopt the practice of hanging up the Aloe. In the neighbourhood of Mecca, at the extremity of every grave, on a spot facing the epitaph, Burckhardt found planted a low shrubby species of Aloe whose Arabic name, saber, signifies patience. This plant is evergreen and requires very little water. Its name refers to the waiting-time between the burial and the resurrection morning.

  • Arnica:

General: Other Names: Mountain Tobacco. Leopard’s Bane. Parts Used: Root, flowers. Habitat: A perennial herb, indigenous to Central Europe, in woods and mountain pastures. In countries where Arnica is indigenous, it has long been a popular remedy.

Medicinal Use: The tincture is used for external application to sprains, bruises, and wounds, and as a paint for chilblains when the skin is unbroken. Repeated applications may produce severe inflammation. It is seldom, (if ever) used internally, because of its irritant effect on the stomach.

A homoeopathic tincture, X6, has been used successfully in the treatment of epilepsy; also for seasickness, 3 X before sailing, and every hour on board till comfortable. For tender feet a foot-bath of hot water containing 1/2 oz. of the tincture has brought great relief. Applied to the scalp it will make the hair grow. Great care must be exercised though, as some people are particularly sensitive to the plant and many severe cases of poisoning have resulted from its use, especially if taken internally. British Pharmacopoeia Tincture, root, 10 to 30 drops. United States Pharmacopoeia Tincture, flowers, 10 to 30 drops.

Magical Use: Thought to be especially potent on the summer solstice. Bunches are gathered and set on the corners of fields to spread the power of the corn spirit and to ensure a good harvest.

  • Basil:

Medicinal Use: As a tea for calming the nerves, settling the stomach, and easing cramps and good for the bladder. Use as a poultice on chest for bronchitis and chest colds. All basils are antibacterial and act as good insect repellents, and as Culpepper noted, “Being applied to the place bitten by venomous beasts, or stung by a wasp or hornet, it speedily draws the poison to it”. Basil, Ocimum sanctum, was originally a native plant of India and its use only spread outwards to Europe and the West in the sixteenth century. Ocimum sanctum, or Tulsi as it is known in Hindu, is used in traditional in religious ceremonies and in ayurvedic medicine for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria

Sacred Use: It is sacred to the Hindu god Vishnu and his avatar, Krishna. Magical herbals occasionally refer to it as St. Joseph’s Wort. Best known for its properties to aid and strengthen love. Although known to bring about prosperity, love spells are the general domain for basil. It is used to soothe communication and heal relationships between two people. Basil is originally native to India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years, reached Europe in the sixteenth century. Basil brings prosperity and happiness when planted in the garden. In Europe, they place basil in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey. In India, they place it in the mouth of the dying to ensure they reach God. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks believed that it would open the gates of heaven for a person passing on.

  • Bay:

General: Parts Used: Leaves, Fruit, Oil.

Medicinal Use: Use as a poultice on chest for bronchitis and chest colds. Oil of bay, the fixed oil expressed from the berries, is used to treat arthritic aches and pains, lower back pain, earaches, and sore muscles and sprains. Bay leaves are the source of an essential oil with the same analgesic and warming properties. Bay laurel contains parthenolides, the same chemical in feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) that is thought to prevent migraine headaches. Do not use Internally.

Spiritual Use: Bay leaves come from the laurel, and have a strong tradition as a Greek sacred plant. When the nymph Daphne wanted to avoid the passions of Apollo, she turned into the first laurel tree, which Apollo then adopted as his sacred tree. Wreaths were made from the leaves, which were also chewed and burned by Apollo’s prophetic priestesses at Delphi.

Magical Use: is used for purification, dreams, healing, protection, psychic dreams (place bay leaf under pillow at night), psychic powers, clairvoyance, good wishes, fame or glory and change. Bay leaves were worn as amulets to ward off negativity. Wishes can be written on bay leaves and then burned to make them come true.

  • Calendula:

Medicinal Use: Calendula is particularly good treatment for cuts, scrapes, bruises, insect bites and minor wounds. Calendula is also antifungal and so can help to cure thrush (Candida albicans). Mabey, pp46 The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of calendula make it a good face wash for dry, irritated skin and acne. Fresh calendula petals can also be infused in boiling water and used to treat minor infections, conjunctivitis, and mouth sores. Calendula tinctures are also a concentrated and convenient way to treat sore or infected gums

Magical Use: Can bring about prophetic dreams when tucked under your pillow. Brings the ability to see fairies and for psychic powers. Work with calendula for help in making dreams come true, joy and remembrance. Calendula, called “Marygold” or “Sunbride” in the Middle Ages, was sacred to the Norse goddess Freya and was used for love magic. Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Wolf-Deieter Storl Witchcraft Medicine(1998)Marigolds are called after the Virgin Mary. In Macer’s Herbal it is stated that only to look on Marigolds will draw evil humours out and strengthen the eyesight.

  • Chamomile:

Household Use: Known as the “plant’s physician”; grow near ailing plants to perk them up. Make into an antifungal spray for tree diseases. Spray infusion on seedlings to prevent “damping off disease” and on compost to activate decomposition. Boil the flower for a yellow-brown dye. Wash blond hair with infusion for lightening. Use in potpourri and herb pillows.

Medicinal Use: Sedative, antifungal, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory. Relieves gas, heartburn and colic. Applied externally in teabags to heal burns and rest eyes. Ointment is used for eczema, and genital and anal irritation. Mouthwash heals mouth inflammation. Inhalation of steam is good for phlegm and hay fever. May get an allergic reaction from some people. The Sun is also associated with the innocence of children, and Chamomile is the safest possible herb for them, easing the pain of colic when a mild tea is mixed with mother’s milk and giving them rest without the aid of allopathic drugs.

Spiritual Use: Brings energy, wisdom, drives away nightmares, helps with past life knowledge, is relaxing and promotes peacefulness. Did you know that the more that chamomile is trodden upon in your garden, the more it spreads? It is good for meditation and is a symbol of the sun. Chamomile is thought to be a garden tonic to the plants growing around it.

Traditional Magical Use: A solar plant, associated with the sun and the god Baldur. It is used to attract money, and a handwash is used by gamblers. Use in sleep incenses (and tea!); makes the best sleep potion. Removes curses and hexes when sprinkled around the property. Used magically, it can be a powerful antidepressant.

Shamanic Magical Use: This is the plant of Asgard, the land of the Aesir. Its English name Maythen was originally pronounced Maegthen, as can be seen from the Lacnunga poem, and maeg is cognate to mage, meaning powerful. Chamomile is a solar plant, and it harnesses the power of the Sun. As the plant of golden Asgard, it can be burned in recels or scattered as a way to send your words straight to the Aesir and have them hear you. It burns away the darkness and the creeping negativity, as its medicinal nature as an antifungal demonstrates.

  • Fennel:

General: In Ancient Greece, fennel was the symbol of success. In medieval England, fennel was thought to make the fat thin and the blind to see.

Medicinal Use: Soothes digestion, especially flatulence, constipation, and indigestion. Promotes milk production in lactating woman and animals. The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper relates a common use of it, its seed or leaves boiled in barley water and then drunk by nursing mothers to increase their milk and its quality for the infant. Used in China for food poisoning. Infusion is used for gum disease, loose teeth, laryngitis, and sore throats. Chew to relieve hunger pangs. Fennel has a mild stimulant effect. Recently found to reduce the toxic effects of alcohol on the system. Fennel seed, bruised and boiled in water, and then added to syrup and soda water will relieve flatulence in infants.

Magical Use: Romans believed that serpents sucked the juice of the plant to improve their eyesight after shedding their skins. Greeks used it to magically lose weight and grow thin. Grown around the house or hung in doors and windows, it is protective. Carried, it wards off ticks and biting bugs. Burn for purification and healing mixtures. In Lacnunga, Fennel is used in charms against all manner of ill-meaning entities, from elves to sorcerers, and even against insanity. Take a fresh sprig of fennel and dip it into water and sprinkle that water around your home for protection.

Shamanic Use: This is the herb of Svartalfheim and Nidavellir. Together with Sweet Cicely, it is used to protect against elf-shot, and to treat cases of that remedy. Also like Sweet Cicely, Fennel aids in the Gift of Sight, but it gives the ability to see the darknesses in life – the hidden anger and pain, the inner rot, the creeping deaths. This makes it useful in shamanic client-work when one must discern hard truths about someone’s behaviour, or find hidden disease or poisoning. Drink in tea or smoke it or eat the seeds (preferably seven of them). Fennel helps you to spiritually understand, to open your heart, promotes stability.

  • Garlic:

General: It was beloved in most ancient societies that had it, to the extent that the builders of the Pyramids were paid partially in garlic, and at one point went on strike to get more (according to graffiti inside the Pyramids, left by the workers).

Medicinal Use: Eases tension, eases colds, and improves circulation. Can be used to disinfect wounds and soothe rheumatic pain and any common pain. Shrinks warts, relieves pain from teeth and earaches. Good for high and low blood pressure and removing parasites and infections. To ease the pain of aching joints, a toothache or an earache., place a crushed raw bulb of garlic on a piece of gauze and place over the area of pain. For joints, try using garlic paste.

Magical Use: Garlic is one of the few “herbs” whose powers have survived into modern superstition, where it gives protection against vampires. The Greeks attributed it to Hecate, the primary goddess of magic. It is also sacred to the Great Mother, Cybele. Its use actually goes back even further to the Sumerians. Besides its strong psychic protection, it also protects health when eaten regularly.

  • Lavender:

General: Lavender is for ecstasy – that’s what you feel when you inhale the fragrance of lavender! Lavender connects with God awareness, for meditation, to help with fears of aging, for fears in general, acceptance, helps facilitate altered states of consciousness. Wear lavender to draw love. It is a symbol of truth and parity. Pure joy.

Medicinal Use: Has strong antiseptic qualities. Mild infusions make a good sedative, headache treatment, and digestive aid, a great antibiotic, antidepressant, sedative and detoxifier Used in oil or tincture form to heal cuts, burns or scalds, bites. an excellent aromatic, usually mixing well with other floral scents. An ingredient in the Purification bath sachet, also used in purification incenses. Lavender is well regarded for it’s skin healing properties as well. It’s effectiveness in treating burns was first discovered by French biochemist René Gattefossé when he cooled his hand in a handy vat of lavender after burning it in a lab accident.

Magical Use: To induce sleep, long life, peace, wishes, protection, love, purification, it is thrown onto the Midsummer fires by Witches as a sacrifice to the ancient gods. In Spain and Portugal it is used for strewing the floors of churches and houses on festive occasions, or to make bonfires on St. Johns Day, when evil spirits are supposed to be abroad. Growing lavender in your garden is said to bring good luck. Traditionally fragrant bundles of lavender were placed in the hands of women during childbirth to bring courage and strength.

 

  • Lemon Balm:

General: Herbalists refer to the plant as lemon balm, aromatherapists use the botanical name Melissa, both refer to the same plant, Melissa officinalis.

Medicinal Use: Lemon balm can be very helpful for those times when nerves, headaches and/or mild depression are preventing you from relaxing and getting a good nights sleep. Combined with valerian, it may even be more beneficial than many prescription sleep aids. Lemon balm’s sedative and analgesic properties make it a favourite remedy for women having cramping, painful periods or any kind of stomach upset.

Lemon balm has antibacterial and antiviral properties, and like all of it’s mint family relatives, a cup of hot lemon balm tea induces perspiration to help break a fever. Lemon balm extracts are also effective against herpes, cold sores and mumps viruses.

Spiritual Use: Lemon Balm is used to help in past life regression for understanding current life; to fulfill and balance your karma, for psychic properties. A relaxant to release tension and achieve spiritual growth. Raises your spirits, is healing; for bouncing back after a mishap.

  • Marigold: (See Calendula).
  • Melissa: (See Lemon Balm)
  • Marjoram:

General: Attributed to Venus by the Romans, but also sometimes to Aphrodite, Thor and Jupiter. Sweet marjoram has been long used historically to treat anxiety and insomnia. Today it is more a culinary herb used in favour of the more aromatic, relative ‘Oregano’.

Medicinal Use: Its properties are stimulant, carminative, diaphoretic and mildly tonic; a useful emmenagogue. In the commencement of measles, it is useful in producing a gentle perspiration and bringing out the eruption, being given in the form of a warm infusion, which is also valuable in spasms, colic, and to give relief from pain in dyspeptic complaints. Marjoram was also used in combination with other calming herbs to promote healthy restful sleep, and the dried leaves make an excellent stuffing for sleep pillows.

Magical Use: Used for protection, love, healing, given to a grieving person to bring them happiness.Marjoram is incorporated into charms and spells to draw love and fertility. It is rumoured to help keep a married couple happily together.

  • Mint:

General: Mint is for symbolic of success, motivation, money, healing. It is a cure-all, relaxes the nerves and stimulates the brain.

Medicinal Use: Mint in tea form aids upset stomachs, flu, and can be used to ease hiccups. Inhalations of the leaves in boiling water is recommended for head colds and asthma. Mint tea used instead of aspirin is great for headaches, particularly premenstrual headaches. Aids the respiratory and circulatory systems. An anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic. Ideal for treating indigestion, flatulence, varicose veins, headaches, migraine, skin irritations, rheumatism, toothache, and general fatigue.

Magical Use: Used for healing, strength, to augment power, luck, travel.

  • Mistletoe:

General: Mistletoe is for romance, searching and fertility. Is one of the most sacred Druid herbs. Helps you to perceive the other world, for overcoming difficulties, health and searching.

Medicinal Use: It diminishes high blood pressure and regulates the heart beat. A reputation for curing the ‘falling sickness’ epilepsy- and other convulsive nervous disorders. It has also been employed in checking internal hemorrhage. Mistletoe herb was used historically in Old Europe for treatment of epilepsy and other convulsive nervous disorders and was used extensively in the 16th and 17th centuries. Mistletoe is a nervine, and a narcotic, that is, it has a profound effect on the nervous system. Extreme caution is advised with this herb. It is not to be used while pregnant.

Spiritual Use: Mistletoe was sacred to the Druids, and branches of mistletoe were hung from the ceilings to ward off evil spirits in ancient Europe. The British Celts decorated their house with holly, mistletoe, and ivy to celebrate the winter solstice. The European mistletoe, Viscum album, figured prominently in Greek mythology, and is believed to be The Golden Bough of Aeneas, ancestor of the Romans. The Norse god Baldr was killed with mistletoe. He was restored to life, and mistletoe was then given into the keeping of the goddess of Love, and it was ordained that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to show that the branch had become an emblem of love, and not of hate.

Magical Use: Carry or wear for aid in conception; protection against lightning, fires, and misfortune; burn mistletoe to banish evil; placed at the head of the bed, it gives restful sleep and beautiful dreams.

Medicinal Use: Leaf tea diuretic, induces sweating. Regulates erratic menstruation, brings on delayed periods, expels afterbirth, helps with menopausal symptoms. Promotes appetite and bile production, tonic for digestion. Tonic for nerves; mild sedative. Used for bronchitis, colds, colic, kidney ailments, fevers. Bath additive for rheumatism and tired legs. Juice relieves itching of poison oak. Disinfectant and antiseptic. Used for moxibustion.

Traditional Magical Use: In the Middle Ages, mugwort was connected with St. John the Baptist, who was said to have worn a belt of the herb during his time in the wilderness. St. John’s Herb, as the plant became known, had the power to drive out demons, and sprays of the herbs were worn around the head on St. John’s Eve as a protection against possession by evil forces. In China, bunches of mugwort were hung in the home during the Dragon Festival to keep away evil spirits. The Ainus of Japan burn bunches to exorcise spirits of disease, who are thought to hatethe odor. Planted along roadsides by the Romans, who put sprigs in their shoes to prevent aching feet on long journeys. Carry to ward against wild beasts, poison, and stroke. Prevents elves and other evil things from entering houses. Said to cure madness and aid in astral projection.

A pillow stuffed with mugwort and slept upon will produce prophetic dreams. Mugwort is burned during scrying rituals, and a mugwort-and-honey infusion is drunk before divination. The infusion is also used to wash crystal balls and magic mirrors, and mugwort leaves are placed around the base of the ball, or beneath it, to aid in psychic workings. Pick just before sunrise on the waxing moon, preferably from a plant that leans north. A Roman invocation to be used when picking mugwort is: Tollam te artemisia, ne lassus sim in via.

Shamanic Magical Use: This is the plant of Midgard, burned at the start of a ritual. One starts and ends with Mugwort, as one starts and ends with Midgard. Its shamanic purpose is purification. We tend to think of purification, in these days of advanced medical antisepsis, as being sterile. To us, “pure” has come to mean “without life”. When we use something whose basic power is purification, we expect, on some level, for it to clean everything and leave it a blank slate. However, that’s not what magical purification actually does.

Mugwort is the herb that is most often burned as recels, the Old English word for incense; pronounced ray-kels. The act of burning it is referred to as recaning, which can be pronounced various ways, but the most graceful seems to be reek-en-ing; the verb recan is cognate to our work “reek”. Celtic-tradition people use the term saining. It’s an alternative to the Native American-derived term “smudging”, and it can be bound in lashed bundles and burned in the same way as white sagebrush. It also has a clearing effect on the mind, and a heightening of the extra senses, so it is a good thing to start any working that is going to involve an altered or trance state at some point.

  • Parsley:

Medicinal Use: Fresh parsley leaves in tea form are a treatment for cramps, while dried root decoctions eases urinary infections and arthritis. Externally, crushed leaves relieve insect bites, and may be applied in poultice form to sprains. Both parsley leaf and root can be used in teas as a diuretic to rid the body of excess water. This may explain its folklore reputation for helping gout and rheumatism. Parsley does inhibit the histamines that trigger allergies so may help treat sinus infection and congestion.

Sacred Use: Sacred to Persephone, parsley was used in the victory wreaths of the Isthmian games by the Greeks. Some also attribute it to Aphrodite and Venus, and with Mother goddesses. Parsley was thought to come from from the blood of Archemorus, a servant of Death.

Magical Use: Used in magic for purification and protection.

  • Plantain:

Medicinal Use: Rub fresh juice on nettle stings and insect bites. Roots and leaves help urinary tract, kidneys, and bladder. Heals gastrointestinal ulcers. Used in ointment for hemorrhoids. Use in external wash for sores, boils, inflammations, and ringworm infestations. Decoction used for thrush in children. Seeds are edible and can be ground into flour, their mucilage lowers cholesterol. Confirmed antimicrobial; stimulates healing processes.

Traditional Magical Use: Bind with red wool to the head to cure headaches. Like mugwort, place in shoes to cure weariness on long trips. Hang it in your car to prevent evil from entering. Carrying the root protects from snakebite. Said to cause regeneration – Pliny claimed that if several pieces of flesh are boiled in a pot with plantain, it will join them again.

Shamanic Magical Use: This is the plant of Helheim, the land of the Dead. Its shamanic uses are many and varied and rather subtle. First, it can create a certain amount of invisibility for a short period of time. Notice how the weedy plantain manages to make itself so inconspicuous? That’s a power that you can harness, especially if you are journeying or pathwalking. Second, it can be used in recels to speak to the ancestors, or to find your way to the Helvegr. Its name “waybread” echoes this usage – waybread will help you find the way.

  • Rosemary:

General: Rosemary is a common European Herb, used for remembrance, for mental agility, purification and loyalty. It was placed on the graves of English heroes.

Medicinal Use: Promotes healing of wounds, acts as an antiseptic, and can be a mild stimulant. Good in teas for treating flu, stress, and headaches or body aches. Mental and physical booster. Used for treating muscular sprains, arthritis, rheumatism, depression, fatigue, memory loss, migraine headaches, coughs, flu and diabetes. Excellent remedy for acne or cellulite. Oil of rosemary is excellent in hair conditioners, and the flowers of this herb may be added to lotion recipes to improve the complexion

Magical Use: It is used as a smudge or dried and sprinkled on coal to release the smoke to purify an area. to improve memory, sleep, purification, youth, love, power, healing, and protection. Place a sprig under your pillow for sleep and healing. Rosemary has a long herbal tradition as a herb that improves concentration and memory, Greek students would braid Rosemary into their hair to help them with their exams. Modern science attributes much of rosemary’s action on the central nervous system to it’s potent antioxidant, rosmarinic acid.

  • Sage:

General: Sage is a shrubby perennial herb of the mint family native to the Mediterranean. There are over 500 varieties of sage, and most are medicinally useful. They grow throughout the tropical and temperate zones and many of them have medicinal and culinary value.

Medicinal Use: The colonists also considered sage a valuable remedy for colds and fevers in the harsh New England winters. Sage has excellent antibacterial and astringent properties, which explains it popular use in gargles for sore throats, gingivitis and sore gums. A strong sage tea or tincture diluted with water can be used. Sage is an excellent natural disinfectant and deodorizer, drying perspiration and helping to eliminate body odor. Extracts of sage are used in personal skin care for its capacity to heal the skin as well. Chinese medicine uses red sage, Salvia miltiorrhiza, combined with dan-gui (dong quai), to regulate menstrual flow. Both clinical studies and traditional wisdom agree that sage (Salvia officinalis) or Spanish sage (S. lavandulifolia) has positive effects on memory and concentration in both older people with cognitive problems and younger people with AD. (1)

Shamaic Use: Sage is for health, longevity, wisdom, esteem, wishes, happy home and safety for children. Sage’s Latin name comes from the word salvere which means to be healthy. Sage was a sacred ceremonial herb of the Romans and was associated with immortality, and was interestingly said to increase mental capacity. The Greek Theophrastus classified sage as a “coronary herbe”, because it flushed disease from the body, easing any undue strain on the heart. Salvia divinorum also known as ‘Diviner’s Sage’, ‘Sage of the Seers’, or simply by the genus name, Salvia, is known as the most psychoactive of the salvias.

  • Valerian:

General: Also called ‘All Heal’.  Common throughout Europe and Asia.

Medicinal Use: The root of V. officinalis is intended when Valerian is mentioned. Valerian is a powerful nervine, stimulant, carminative and antispasmodic. It has a remarkable influence on the cerebro-spinal system, and is used as a sedative to the higher nerve centres in conditions of nervous unrest, St. Vitus’s dance, hypochrondriasis, neuralgic pains and the like.

The drug allays pain and promotes sleep. It is of especial use and benefit to those suffering from nervous overstrain, as it possesses none of the after-effects produced by narcotics. During the recent War, when air-raids were a serious strain on the overwrought nerves of civilian men and women, Valerian, prescribed with other simple ingredients, taken in a single dose, or repeated according to the need, proved wonderfully efficacious, preventing or minimizing serious results. Though in ordinary doses, it exerts an influence quieting and soothing in its nature upon the brain and nervous system, large doses, too often repeated, have a tendency to produce pain in the head, heaviness and stupor.

It is commonly administered as Tinctura Valerianae Ammoniata, and often in association with the alkali bromides, and is sometimes given in combination with quinine, the tonic powers of which it appreciably increases. Oil of Valerian is employed to a considerable extent on the Continent as a popular remedy for cholera, in the form of cholera drops, and also to a certain extent in soap perfumery.

Ettmuller writes of its virtues in strengthening the eyesight, especially when this is weakened by want of energy in the optic nerve. The juice of the fresh root, under the name of Energetene of Valerian, has of late been recommended as more certain in its effects, and of value as a narcotic in insomnia, and as an anti-convulsant in epilepsy. Having also some slight influence upon the circulation, slowing the heart and increasing its force, it has been used in the treatment of cardiac palpitations. Valerian was first brought to notice as a specific for epilepsy by Fabius Calumna in 1592, he having cured himself of the disease with it.

Culpepper (1649) joins with many old writers to recommend the use both of herb and root, and praises the herb for its longevity and many comforting virtues, reminding us that it is ‘under the influence of Mercury, and therefore hath a warming faculty.’

In the Middle Ages, the root was used not only as a medicine but also as a spice, and even as a perfume. It was the custom to lay the roots among clothes as a perfume (vide Turner, Herbal, 1568, Pt. III, p. 56), just as some of the Himalayan Valerians are still used in the East, especially V. Jatamansi, the Nard of the Ancients, believed to be the Spikenard referred to in the Scriptures. It is still much used in ointments. Its odour is not so unpleasant as that of our native Valerians, and this and other species of Valerian are used by Asiatic nations in the manufacture of precious scents. Several aromatic roots were known to the Ancients under the name of Nardus, distinguished according to their origin or place of growth by the names ofNardus indica, N. celtica, N. montana, etc., and supposed to have been derived from different valerianaceous plants. Thus the N. indica is referred to V. Jatamansi (Roxb.), of Bengal, the N. celtica to V. celtica (Linn.), inhabiting the Alps and the N. montana to V. tuberosa, which grows in the mountains of the south of Europe.

  • Verbena, Lemon:

General: Chile and Peru. Cultivated in European gardens.

Medicinal Use: Febrifuge, sedative. The uses of Lemon Verbena are similar to those of mint, orange flowers, or Melissa, as a stomachic and antispasmodic in dyspepsia, indigestion and flatulence, stimulating skin and stomach. The leaves, which have been suggested to replace tea, will retain their odour for years and are used in perfumery. They should be gathered at flowering time.

Spiritual Use: Verbena or Vervain has long been associated with divine and other supernatural forces. It was called “tears of Isis” in Ancient Egypt, and later on “Juno’s tears”. In Ancient Greece, it was dedicated to Eos Erigineia. In the early Christian era, folk legend stated that Common Vervain (V. officinalis) was used to staunch Jesus’ wounds after his removal from the cross. It was consequently called “Holy Herb” or (e.g. in Wales) “Devil’s bane”. Other European examples of sacred herbs include Yarrow, and Mugwort.

  • Tiger Balm:

General: Originally named for containing tiger bone, an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine dating back 1,500 years to treat pain, inflammation and to strengthen muscle. Tiger Balm now consists purely of herbal ingredients.

General: Other names – ‘Milfoil’, ‘Old Man’s Pepper’, ‘Nosebleed’.

Medicinal Use: The chemical makeup of yarrow is complex, and it contains many active medicinal compounds in addition to the tannins and volatile oil azulene. These compounds are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and help relax blood vessels. It’s feathery leaves making an ideal astringent swab to encourage clotting. Yarrow skin washes and leaf poultices can staunch bleeding and help to disinfect cuts and scrapes; taken as a tea it can help slow heavy menstrual bleeding as well. Note: Avoid in pregnancy, can cause allergic skin reactions in sensitive people who suffer from allergies

Spiritual Use: Chiron, the centaur, who taught its virtues to Achilles that he might make an ointment to heal his Myrmidons wounded in the siege of Troy, named the plant for this favorite pupil, giving his own to the beautiful Blue Corn­flower (Centaurea Cyanus). Yarrow stalks are still used by the Chinese for casting I Ching predictions.

Magical Use: Inspires courage, psychic abilities and the tea drunk prior to divination will enhance one’s powers of perception divination, often used as a component in incantations.

Self-Heal, Heal All {Spring Herb}

You’d think a plant with a name as auspicious as this one would be dramatic and imposing. Instead, it camouflages itself in your lawn. But it has been used internally and externally since at least the 2nd century in both China and Europe. Its botanical name, Prunella, derives from the German word brunella, which comes from die Braune, meaning quinsy {a throat abscess}, for which it was commonly used in the Middle Ages.

Description:

 
Self-heal is a creeping perennial that volunteers in moist places like woods, pastures, sub-alpine meadows, and, of course, lawns. It sends up a flexible, branching, flowering stalk that can reach 1 foot tall, with soft oval or lance-shaped leaves and beautiful pink to blue-violet flowers on spikes.
True to its name, this herb traditionally “heals all,” from simple eyestrain to whole-body inflammation.

Preparation and Dosage:

 
Self-heal is used as a tea, in tinctures, and as an extract in capsules and tablet form. Make a strong infusion, and drink 1 to 3 cups a day. For the tincture, use 1 to 2 droppers full of warm water or tea two to four times daily. Follow the label instructions on other products.

Healing Properties:

 
Self-heal is a great example of a herb that is used both in traditional Chinese and Western cultures. In Europe, the herb has been used since the Middle Ages and is mentioned in 16th-century herbals as a wound-healing herb and a gargle for diseases of the mouth and tongue.
In China, self-heal has been used since at least the 14th-century as a cleansing herb that normalizes liver enzyme output and reduces fevers. In traditional Chinese medical thinking, each internal organ associated with a sense organ, and the liver is associated with the eyes. Thus self-heal tea can be used as either a wash or a tea to help ease eyestrain, red and itchy eyes, sties, and other eye inflammation. The tea or extract can also help relieve dizziness and headaches when these symptoms are associated with a liver imbalance.
Self-heal is loaded with protective and antioxidant compounds known as phenolics, which act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties similar to the ones found in pomegranates and green tea. Since the taste is mild and refreshing, the herbal tea or extract can be used regularly as a healthy, calming drink for the liver, the skin, and the whole body.
A number of current studies show that self-heal can protect the blood vessels and has antiviral effects against influenza, herpes sores, and HIV-AIDS.

Safety:

 
No concerns are known.

In the Garden:

 
Seal-heal will want to be placed in partial shade; you can grow it in full sun, but it will need ample water. Give it fairly moist soil, and don’t fertilize it too much. Once the flower heads have turned brown, cut them back to the ground to encourage another bloom. Seal-heal is low and spreading and can die back during dry summers. It’s somewhat frost tolerant, and though it’s often a short-lived perennial, it reseeds and spreads easily by runners. Self-heal is a very pretty ground cover, weaving in and around other plants, and it also looks lovely cascading over the edge of a pot.
The seed sows best after cold stratification, or you can start it early in spring, before the last frost. Cuttings have a low success rate, but dividing the plant is nearly always successful.

Harvesting Self-Heal:

 
Gather the flowering tops and any additional leaves below the flowering tops. In Western medicine, we consider the flowers to be potent as long as at least one-third of the head is blooming and no more than one-quarter is browning. In traditional Chinese medicine, however, the flowers are gathered when they are “wilting,” meaning already brown. Make sure this herb is dried at low heat since it degrades quickly.