Once there was a haggard old woman walking in the woods. She was tired and her legs hurt. She asked forest trees for a walking stick to help, but none of the trees would help. She continued walking and finally an old broken stick spoke and offered to be a walking stick to help her. The woman picked the stick up gratefully and continued making her way through the woods. As she reached the edge of the forest, the old woman revealed her true form, a beautiful fairy. She offered to reward the selfless stick, and asked what it desired. The old stick said that more than anything it wanted to be loved by children. The fairy used her magic, and leaves sprouted from the sides of the stick and little flowers popped out from the top like fireworks. The fairy sprinkled some magic gold dust over the flowers, turning them a happy yellow, and as she did so she declared that children everywhere would always love the Golden Rod. (source unknown)
Goldenrod is not to blame for allergies –...
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Elderberry syrup is a staple in the home herbalists’ apothecary, and like every herb, there is a short window of time to gather and preserve this vital natural medicine. For us here in the Midwestern united states, the berries usually ripen in August. We use only the black elderberries, and you want to be careful when gathering wild elderberries to be sure they are not near an area that is sprayed, AND you want to make certain you are collecting elderberries, not poke berries – they usually grow right next to one another, and they are both very dark purple. But elderberries grow in an umbel shape – like an umbrella – and poke berries grow in a cluster shape, hanging down like grapes. When I go to collect elderberries, I take my clippers and a big stainless bowl and I hold the bowl under the berries with one hand and snip the stem of the berries with my other hand, letting them fall into the bowl. Be...
Where did your ancestors hail from? No matter the answer, if you go back far enough they practiced divination, or someone they respected did. Divination is part of our ancestral wisdom, and it has been practiced across cultures throughout time.
The root of the word comes from the Latin, divinare, which literally means "to be inspired by a god." People have always wanted answers, and seeking answers from the Universe either requires being naturally psychic or having some sort of tool to interface with the Universe and understand the messages.
Prayer is talking to the Divine. Meditation is listening to the Divine. Divination is getting answers to specific questions from the Divine.
There are countless tools to use for divination, and you have likely heard of many of them: Runes, I-Ching, reading tea leaves and palms, astrology, dowsing, numerology, nature oracles (like what does it mean when an owl flies across your path), reading the entrails of sacrificed animals,...
Here comes the sun... Immediately the Beatles song starts playing in my head and I think of the Sun Tarot card, Winter Solstice and Summertime.
The traditional RWS Sun card shows a naked toddler holding a huge red banner astride a big horse with a wall, the sun and sunflowers in the background. Around the child’s head is a wreath of small sunflowers, and in his/her hair is a red feather.
While the RWS imagery looks very similar to the oldest known Tarocchi deck (Visconti), the original decks hailing from France had two children and no horse.
Author Rachel Pollack offers some interesting food for thought about where the two children come from and why that imagery might be preferable.
Remember the story of Rapunzel? Most of us can recall the refrain, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,” and the image of a dashing young man climbing Rapunzel’s hair to be with his beloved. But there is MUCH more to the story. Were they discovered by the Sorceress who...
Lemon Balm is called “Heart’s Delight” in southern Europe, and for good reason. In the summer, there is nearly always an iced pitcher of Lemon Balm tea on the kitchen counter, and not only is it delicious, thirst-quenching and deeply refreshing, but it also keeps the household chilled out with its calming and soothing abilities.
To get the best of lemon balm, you need to grow her. She loses flavor when dried, so to get the delicious flavor, snip off the top 6 inches or so of some lemon balm stems, and twist and tear them into a quart jar, filling about 1/3 to 1/2 full with green. Then, fix one of two ways:
Cold water: pour filtered room temperature water over, cap and let sit overnight to draw through.
Hot water: pour filtered hot (but not boiling) water over, cap and let sit an hour to draw through.
Both methods work fine, but the cold water infusion does give a slightly better flavor.
After steeping, strain and dilute to taste, serving over...
What kind of wand did Harry Potter defeat Voldemort with? It was ELDER! And for good reason, because Elder’s magic is legendary across cultures. I will do another post about Elder’s MAGIC when the berries are ripe, but for now I want to focus on the frilly, divine FLOWERS.
Elderflowers are an UMBEL, as are Yarrow and Queen Anne’s Lace, meaning that the individual stems of the small batches of flowers that make the flower head all arise from a single point and often are a different lengths to make the flower head flat – or fairly flat – across the top. Think of the word “umbrella” and how the supports of an umbrella reach out to hold up the fabric of the top all as one piece. It’s slightly rounded, but even.
The flowers of Elder are beautiful and they smell wonderful, but they don’t last long and will wilt quickly after gathering. If left on the plant they disappear fairly quickly too, soon to be dark...
Ask any herbalist what their #1 indispensable herb is, and chances are good that most will name Yarrow. The true stories of yarrow saving lives abound – from the young man who sliced his leg with a chainsaw to internal bleeding injury from a skateboard accident*.
Yarrow’s healing properties are legendary, as her many common names reveal: Bloodwort, Woundwort, Carpenter’s Weed, and Plumajillo (little healing feather). Even her Latin genus name, Achillea, refers to her alliance with soldiers and healing. Achilles was the hero from the Iliad, and he is said to have used yarrow a great deal to help heal the soldiers he led in battle.
Yarrow is a wild herb, but she is also easy to grow from seed, and she makes a beautiful addition to landscaping. There are many decorative cultivars of yarrow in a variety of colors (pink, yellow, red and more), but for medicine and magic, stick with the original white-flowered Achillea millefolium.
Queen Anne's Lace is delicate and lovely, and one can imagine that Queen Anne might have carefully crafted the flowerhead from thread with the intention of creating a decorative doily. In fact, the story goes that the single dark reddish flower often found right in the center of a white QAL flower is a single drop of blood from where Queen Anne pricked her finger while making the lace.
This beautiful wildflower is wild carrot, Daucus carota, the mother of the sweet orange root vegetable everyone knows. I don't recommend trying to wildcraft the root, though. This is a biennial, which means she only lives two years, and the second year is the year she sends up a stalk and flowers. By that time, the root is pithy. The more edible roots are those of the first year plant, but because she doesn't have the telltale signs for positive...
Have you ever had a mosquito bite or a spider bite or a splinter that was embedded so deeply it was hard to get out? Or have you ever inhaled smoke and felt like your lungs were hot, dry, and you just couldn’t get whatever you had inhaled coughed out?
What if I told you there is a plant that is probably growing in your yard right now that could help heal those issues and more? Plantain (Plantago spp.) is a fantastic wild herb (some call it a weed!) that has amazing healing properties. It is called "Nature's Band-Aid" by many people, and it is one herb I think EVERYONE needs to know – because it grows everywhere and is potentially life-saving. In fact, I have heard other herbalists tell stories of people who were bitten by poisonous spiders who survived because of plantain – while their companions who were also bitten did not and died.
Plantain is a first-aid kit in a leaf. It has the power to draw out debris and toxins from a wound. Two of...