Category Archives: Gardening & Herbs

All Articles pertaining to Gardening, Herbs, etc.

Women, Healing & Lore: Herbal Properties

 

I think we are all trying to go more green these days. If not for the environment, if not to go easier on our septic systems and land, then without a doubt, just  a chance to save a buck.

Not sure about the rest of you but I am a Self-Admitted – Cleaning – Product- Junkie. The big, fat amount of “Money Due” added to the end of my grocery bill each week, though, has broken me of that.  Pinching pennies where we can so we can save up to buy more land has made me more aware of what I can make and what I better not mess with. Plus, not sure if anyone else has noticed but while the price of products have gone up, their cleaning potential and once-alluring-power has went down. Way down. Not sure if Companies are diluting them or reworking recipes to cut costs, but either way, it sure has ruined what those products used to be able to do.

Below, you will find a list of Herbs — most are easy to find– and their beneficial properties. Some of these are real easy to come by. Some are special order but can be found online, or will take a trip to a Health Store or Herbal Shop. Some of you may grow them.

Use them to clean or work them into a tonic for healing.

HERB

PROPERTIES

Bay

Antibacterial

Bergamot

Antibiotic

Camphor

Antibacterial

Cardamom

Antibacterial

Chamomile

Antibiotic, Antibacterial

Cinnamon

Antiviral

Citronella

Antibacterial

Clove

Antibiotic, Antiviral

Cypress

Antibacterial

Eucalyptus

Antibiotic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral

Ginger

Antibacterial

Hyssop

Antifungal, Antibacterial

Juniper

Antifungal, Antibacterial

Lavender

Antibiotic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral

Lemon

Antibiotic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral

Lemongrass

Antibacterial

Lemon Verbena

Antibacterial

Lime

Antibiotic, Antibacterial

Marjoram

Antibacterial

Myrtle

Antibiotic, Antifungal

Nutmeg

Antibiotic

Orange

Antibacterial

Oregano

Antibiotic, Antiviral

Patchouli

Antibiotic, Antifungal

Pine

Antibiotic, Antibacterial

Rosemary

Antibacterial

Sage

Antifungal, Antibacterial

Sandalwood

Antifungal, Antiviral, Antibacterial

Savory

Antifungal

Spearmint

Antibacterial

Tea Tree

Antibiotic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral

Thyme

Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral

Vervain

Antibacterial

Wintergreen

Antibacterial, be careful when handling

Sources: The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegal-Maier

Women, Healing & Lore: Holly

Holly

Since today’s Ancient Calendar marks the season of the Holly King, (Read Here), I thought, what could be a better opportunity than right here and now to delve deeper into the folk medicine and lore of something we are all somewhat familiar with.

Holly actually has quite a few nicknames. For the Celtic Tree Month, we know it by Tinne, but it is also called, Christ’s Thorn, Bat’s Wings, Holm Chaste, Hulver Bush, Aquifolius and Hulm. It’s proper name would be quite the tongue twister, Ilex aquifolium or I. Opaca.

Here in the mountains, we know it as Holly and it’s something that stretches as far as landscaping to the table and wreaths inside our homes. And while today, most of us are oblivious to it’s true history or purpose, not so long ago, those dead and gone from these mountains, knew it all quite well.

While present day Pagans might plant Holly by the front door for protection, it wasn’t much different in times of old. Not only did people believe that Holy warded off evil spirits but they also believed it kept them safe from lightning, dark sorcery and poison.

People used to make something called, Holly Water. Was this the origins of “Holy Water”? They would make Holly Water by infusing water with Holly. This was used to protect babies, especially when they were first born, by sprinkling a few drops of the water upon their heads, much like baptism.

Holly was deemed so powerful, when thrown at wild animals, people believed it made them lie down and grow silent.

It was carried by people for luck – especially by men– and hung around the home at Yule for an extra dose of something special.

According to, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Herbs, there was even a special ritual surrounding Holly. It had to be done on a Friday after Midnight, but if someone gathered nine Holly Leaves (from a smooth plant) and wrapped them in a white cloth created nine knots, then they could sleep with it under their pillow– making their dreams come true.

Medically, the leaves, berries and bark is used. The berries are actually harmful to people. Animals, however, love the Holly Bush. Deer eat them during winter. Birds feast on the berries and for those who keep rabbits, a stick placed in a rabbit hut, will give them something to gnaw in order to restore their appetites. A tonic, if you will.

In olden times, Holly was used to treat smallpox, pleurisy, fevers, rheumatism, and catarrh. It’s leaves were used in tea and because of it’s tannins, it is known as a good blood purifier, diuretic and was also, highly revered as a diaphoetic (which made it good for fevers and such).

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: June24 : Old Midsummers Day and the most Powerful Time to Gather Herbs

balanced scales

For all those who love to dabble in herbs, it is said that today, plants are the most powerful. In days of old, herbs, plants and flowers were gathered all because many believed their magical powers were at an all time high.


And, if you celebrate Old Midsummers Day, as our Ancestors did, then feel free to light the bonfires on this night to celebrate the peak of the year.

Those who lived in England, Wales and Ireland celebrated Midsummers, which merged comfortably with the Summer Solstice.

Festivals were had all across the land with Pagans dancing and celebrating around huge fires as big as men could make them.


Ancient Egyptians would celebrate the Festival of the Burning of the Lamps on this day at Zau. Zau was a city that was positioned within the Nile Delta.

Women, Healing & Lore: Black & Green Tea

While coffee can sponge up the vitamins in your body,  black and green tea have the opposite effect. Now if you don’t know what black and  green tea is—think Lipton Tea (something popular in the States) Lipton tea is made of black and green tea.

Black Tea . . .

is tea that has been fermented. It can be found in any tea isle of any grocery store. Some popular varieties are : Breakfast teas, Orange pekoe, Darjeeling, and so on.

Unlike coffee, the lower amounts of caffeine in black tea help blood flow in the brain (alertness) without putting pressure on the heart. The tea has something in it called Tannins–which is an astringent (a chemical causing retraction of body tissues and canals–Word Web)  found naturally in many herbs which have soothing anti-inflammatory effects on a person’s digestive tract.  Tannins also help the mind. Black tea also has small traces of Fluoride and is said to help tooth decay–so again, way better than coffee.

Black Tea can stop diarrhea—steep a cup of water for 15 minutes –this makes sure the tannins leave the tea and enter the cup–drink unsweetened.

Black Tea can lower cholesterol levels–drink 2 cups of black tea everyday for 3 weeks.

Green Tea comes from the same plant as Black tea only its not been fermented. And sometimes, certain types of Green tea is lightly roasted.

Green Tea . . .

has many of the same qualities as Black tea–the same tannins, prevention of tooth decay, lower blood pressure, detoxification, anti-inflammatory, improves concentration, invigorates the body, and lowers the rick of heart disease and some types of cancer.

To lesson the caffeine in Green tea–pour some water over the leaves before putting them in your cup. Strain the water off after 30 seconds.  Caffeine is the first to flood any cup of water–the longer the tea soaks, though, the more tannins enter the cup.

For those who are trying to quit drinking coffee, green tea seems to help  since it has a slight bitter taste.

Healing & Lore: The Wild Strawberry

https://thecrowinhen.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/e00c719e570f50bb1bb3a796fe370a8c.jpg?w=278&h=407 The Wild Strawberry is  apart of the “Rose” family. You should start seeing the berries around June. The seeds are actually the fruit. When you harvest the Wild Strawberry, you want to take the leaves, berries, and roots. When you dry these out, keep them out of humidity and dampness.

Leaves and Roots…

Tannins live in the leaves and roots. Tannins can be found in most vegetables and fruit. The leaves, when dried, are when Tannins pack a punch. By definition, Tannins are various complex phenolic substances of plant origin; used both in tanning and in medicine. The Tannin in leaves have astringent effects – as do most tannins elsewhere. It’s the astringent that aids in the antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory super-powers of the leaves.

 


What’s in the Berries?

www.bluffviewnursery.orgThe berries have 60 milligrams of Vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit. Not to mention the Minerals, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Manganese, Calcium, Zinc and Fruit Acids. The leaves of Wild Strawberries also have:

  • Triterpene Alcohols (Anti-Inflammatory)
  • Flavonoids (Powerful Antioxidants)
  • Citral (Lemony Scent)
  • Essential Oils

 


 

What to do with it?

  • red-wonder-wild-strawberry-75-seeds-3.gifAmerican Indians used the root for jaundice, stomach ailments and and heavy bleeding during menstruation—again, much like Raspberry Leaves.
  • For sore throats, gargle 1/4 cup chopped leaves to 1/2 cup boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes.
  • For sunburn, apply crushed berries. Leave for 10-20 minutes.
  • For diarrhea, add 1 gram root to 1/2 cup cold water. Heat and steep for 30 minutes. Drink 2 cups daily, 1 before each meal.

 


 

Now, what sort of Mountain Lore or Folk Lore surrounds the strawberry?

  • It was known for two things: Love and Luck. Perhaps one of the reasons Strawberries are a must during a romantic interlude is because back in the day, if someone was in love with you or if you were in love with someone else, you would give or serve them strawberries.
  • If you wanted luck, stuff your pockets with the leaves.
  • And like Raspberry Leaves, pregnant women often carried a small packet of the Strawberry leaf to help ease pain.

 


 Magical Associations

Strawberries are Feminine in nature and belong to the planet, Venus. Their element is Water and they are linked to the Goddess Freya.


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Women, Healing & Lore: Raspberries & It’s Leaves

 


image_thumb.pngThe raspberry doesn’t get very creative where Folk Names are concerned. It’s either called, European Raspberry, or , Red Raspberry.  And as far as Mountain Lore goes, it wasn’t nothing to bat an eye at if you happened to see a Granny Woman hang a few of the branches along the doorways or windows. This meant a death had come. With all that sittin’ up with the Dead stuff, and the coverin’ of mirrors, no one wanted to see a “Spirit” re-enter a home. That’s where the branches came into play.

Hanging the branches meant Protection.

It came as no surprise when I read that Raspberry leaves were carried by women to relieve them of some of the pain and discomfort during pregnancy. From a medicine standpoint, Raspberries and the Leaves have quite a bit of an affect on women. But before we get to that, let’s throw one more fact out there.


Most people don’t know it but the raspberry is actually part of the “Rose” Family. The leaves from this shrub can help with a good many things—intestinal problems such as diarrhea, sore throats, menstrual cramps and problems…even bronchitis. The tea can also ease flu symptoms, tonsillitis, strengthen gums, stomach upset and nausea.

The best way to preserve the leaves is by drying. Once dried, for use in a tea, simply crush and soak them in cold water. (1 tsp. per cup). Let it soak for a few hours and then boil for ten minutes. Strain and drink.


Never drink the tea while pregnant.


 

This is one of the reasons the ol’ wives tale of carrying the leaves while pregnant to relieve some of the pain during pregnancy was interesting to me. Seems the more and more I dig into Mountain Lore, the more linked it is to actual medicine—in some way or another.

Could it be, women carried the leaves in case contractions began?

The leaves are said to stimulate the uterus and bring about labor. One may use the tea once contractions begin but only under a Doctor’s supervision.

1 cup.


That being said, was that the real reason women carried the leaves and not because of some superstition? Or did the medical aspect become hidden within’ silly, superstitious lore?


I often wonder about that. History cries endless and unknowable numbers of the horrific murders of women, who were punished for things like witchcraft. When in truth, they simply had a knowledge to use the things in Nature many overlooked in order to heal. In certain communities, like those of the Appalachian Mountains, how many would have died if it were not for these Mountain Crones or Granny Women and their knowledge of plants? Doctors were not falling from the sky in abundant buckets. They were few and far between. And with so many women burned, drowned or tortured for their “knowin’ of things” did they protect that knowledge by camouflaging it with silly, little, absurd things like carrying a leaf in one’s pocket? Just a thought.


So let’s get down to some Facts, shall we?


Raspberry leaves have been used in medicine as far back as 37 A.D. Written documents date all the way back to Rome.

file000396551993Raspberry leaves have something in them called Tannins. Tannins are pretty cool things and can be found in most vegetables and fruit. The leaves, when dried, are when Tannins pack a punch. By definition, Tannins are various complex phenolic substances of plant origin; used both in tanning and in medicine. The Tannin in Raspberry leaves have astringent effects – as do most tanins elsewhere. It’s the astringent that aids in the antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory super-powers of the leaves. Did you know it can also help stop bleeding? Who knew all that existed beyond what we normally focus on—the sweet, delicious berry?

Raspberry Leaves contain Potassium, Vitamins A & C, Phosphorus and Calcium.


Now, let’s get down to the healing.


By drinking the tea, in cases of Diarrhea, it’s the astringents which aid the most. They relieve the irritation on the intestinal walls, which means they help with the irritation brought on by the diarrhea. You must make sure the tea is super-packed with tannins, though, for this to work, which means, soak the leaves in water for at least 10 minutes. For cramps that sometimes come with diarrhea, use 2 oz. of the Leaves and 1 1/2 oz. of Peppermint.


Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

  • 2/3 oz. Raspberry Leaves
  • 2/3 oz. Oak Bark
  • 1/3 oz. Yarrow
  • 2/3 oz. Wild Strawberry Leaves

Use 1 tsp. of this mixture per cup of hot water or hip bath. It is supposed to normalize bleeding and the leaves may also help with cramps.


Inflamed Skin

Wash face with 3 tbsp. of leaves that has been added to 1 quart of water and boiled for 10 minutes. (Allow to cool of course) and then wash area several times a day. The tannins are said to shrink blood vessels and prevent bacterial infections. Can also stimulate skin regeneration.


Sore Throat

1 tsp. of raspberry leaves to 1 cup of water. Let steep ten minutes. Gargle several times a day. Add calendula flowers and sage leaves to pack an extra punch.


Eliminate Toxins from the body

Equal mixture of Dandelion Root, Raspberry Leaves and Fumitory green parts. Add one tsp. to 1 cup of boiling water – steep 10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.


Lore

Raspberries are feminine in nature and represent the Planet, Venus. Their element is water and their powers are said to be love and protection.


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GWM – Old Midsummer’s Day

Old Midsummer Day today, a potent magical day, often associated with Fairies. There are stories that farmers would leave gates open so fairies could traverse their routes across the fields. It is also the Feast of St John the Baptist – the solar flowers of St John’s wort would be worn in garlands- don’t lose your head!

My friend Caroline Wise wrote this; I’d forgotten about the farmers leaving gates open for the Faer Folk to walk their lands. Next year I’ll make sure I do that for my garden.

Arthur Rackham

In biodynamics people talk about elements and elementals but how many are brave enough to actually accept, or admit openly, that the Gnomes, Ondines, Sylphs and Salamanders they talk about are real, not archetypes to be talked about or some other thing that puts a distance between themselves and reality? The thesaurus gives the following for the word archetype … models, epitomes, prototypes, originals, prime, example. Most people only feel comfortable with the first of these words – models – and use it in terms of an idea, concept of the elementals, not that they are real beings. When Jung brought the word into the general vocabulary, through his main themes, he was certainly not meaning anything so narrow. He was taking archetypes as being the essences, the personifications and embodiments of Spirit … which is what the elementals that we work with in biodynamics are.

John Anster Fitzgerald

We may well see them as Arthur Rackham style figures. Don’t mock that nor think they are only for children and romantics. Rackham, like his contemporaries John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Dadd and others painted from life, they saw what they painted. Seeing the elementals as fairy folk should not denigrate them for us, nor make working biodynamically something to be ashamed of or hide from our friends. Our ancestors saw them, even going back only as far as the 1950s and 60s when my farming and gardening uncles introduced me to them. Awenyddion, British shamans such as my hard-working uncles and father were, have never been gab-mouthed about the things they see and do but they were always willing to talk to you if you really seemed interested and unlikely to mock or act superior.

Richard Dadd

It makes a difference to your life and the life of your garden if you are willing to open up enough to accept the elementals as real. I’ve met many folk who say, after a little time in my garden and maybe a cup of tea, “I wish I could see them …” It often sounds wistful and is usually in a semi-whisper. I do my best to assure them they can, if they really wish to.

That’s the thing. You have to really wish to and make sure the elementals know that you do. Then you have to learn to see. It’s unlikely the Faer Folk will put on a full Hollywood production! You have to be aware, to notice little things. It may be that you keep getting flickers of light at the corner of your eye, noticing things flashing past nut unable to keep up with them to see them. Often the elementals appear to be very fast to our untutored eye, we have to get out eye in. Part of learning to do this is not to write off flashes and flickers and unexplained things in the manner we’ve mostly been taught to do in modern society. You have to cut that mode of thinking and allow that there might be something unexplained happening, something the TV programmes can’t account for. Yes, there really is life beyond the stuff we’re given on the TV! What was it Hamlet said?

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

“as a stranger” … mmm! Yes, to us at first, the elements are strangers; we’ve not met them before, we have all the usually prickly, not-quite-sure feeling we get when we meet someone new that we can’t instantly fathom.

The Celtic tradition, indeed the tradition of most shamanic peoples, was that the stranger was always the guest, always welcomed, invited in, given food and shelter and warmth. That applied to all, including the Faer Folk. In those times the enemy was far more likely to be someone you knew rather than the stranger. That’s actually still true today; e.g. incest is far more likely to be committed by a family member than an outsider; however we now prefer to think of the stranger as being the enemy and this carries over to anything unknown including elementals.

To see the elementals you need to turn this habit of thought around; to follow Hamlet’s advice and give the stranger welcome. There are indeed more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our everyday philosophies. Allow yourself to see the flashes, query them gently, ponder on them, notice when, where and how they happen; make correlations in your own mind. Gradually there will be enough in your mind-cauldron to spark understanding and recognition. It’s not a kids’ instant gratification thing; it takes time and patience and work on your part but the result is so worthwhile.

Try it. Then next summer, next midsummer day when the sun begins to move on again from the solstice standstill, next 24th of June, you too can leave your garden gates open and ask the elementals to walk your land with blessings.