Tag Archives: healing

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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Women, Healing & Lore : Daisy, the “Day Eye”


Daisy, belonging to the Aster Family, means “Day Eye”. . .


 

For the simple fact that when night falls softly over the world, so does a Daisy shut its eye. Even on shady days, a Daisy is known not to even peek.

In Latin, the Daisy’s name is Bellis Perennis, meaning “beautiful.” The reason I’m including the Daisy in our Medical Plant List, is that it grows everywhere– Europe, Asia, North America, etc–and is very easy to find.

The Daisy, often thought of as a weed much like Dandelion, will grow absolutely anywhere: paths, lawns, wooded areas, meadows. Accused of being a stubborn weed or not, doesn’t change the fact that for decades, this plant has been well admired and used from folklore to remedies.

Daisies contain something called saponines and tannins , both really good stuff. Saponines are famous for kick starting and stimulating the old metabolism, by way of the liver and gallbladder. While also being famous for helping the appetite and having a mild analgesic (pain killer), antispasmodic (relieving muscle spasms) effect, as well as aiding gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) functioning. And Tannins, the miraculous good stuff which is also found in Green and Black teas, is considered a bitter astringent, toning tissues and helping to remove the body of toxins. (Note: This is why many age defying creams now have green tea in them.)

Now, while you won’t find doctors writing out prescriptions of Daisies, in Folk Medicine the plant was treasured. Not only for its pain killing effects, metabolism support, and or all of the wonders I listed above, but also for its ability to purify the blood, relief of gout, rheumatism, lung congestion, illumination of swellings, bruises, varicose veins, sprained muscles, healing of wounds, and many infections including that of flu and bronchitis.


 

The fresh flowers, leaves, and stems can all be dried, stored, and saved for Medical purposes.


 

Tea for Metabolism:

1 cup of boiling water for every teaspoon of dried flowers and leaves. Let it soak for ten minutes, then strain. Drink two to three times a day and remember, the tea can be mixed with other Metabolism supporting herbs as well.


Compresses:

Take a washcloth and soak it in Daisy tea (warm or cold–whichever is needed). Then, place the cloth over the desired area.


Tincture:

Soak 1 oz of the dried Daisy in 5 oz of Vodka for a total of two weeks, shaking it up every day. Strain and then store in a closed bottle. Take twenty-forty drops 3 times a day.

 


 And now to reflect back on all our ancestors who were Mountain Mommas and Granny Women.


  • Wear a Daisy and you will attract love.
  • Sleep with a daisy underneath your pillow and your lover will return to you.

 


 

Resources:

 The Complete Guide to Natural Healing

Wikipedia

Gardening the Daisy

Healing & Lore: The Wild Strawberry

https://thecrowinhen.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/e00c719e570f50bb1bb3a796fe370a8c.jpg 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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Love and Pain

I don’t think I’ve ever been significantly wounded by a stranger, in body or in mind. Statistically, you’re more likely to be raped, assaulted or murdered by someone you know well, than by some random nutter. It’s the people we love and trust who have the most power to injure us, and that’s a lesson most people learn quickly.

It’s a very natural response to want to avoid that kind of pain once you’ve been close to it. Only where there is deep trust can there be the anguish of betrayal. If we do not trust, we cannot be betrayed in that way again. Only the people we love unconditionally, utterly, with all our hearts, hold the power to break us entirely. And sometimes they do. Some of them do it because they do not love us in return. But not all. The hardest ones of all are the folks who shred us, and love us, and still need us to love them in return.

We do not ever get to keep anyone. Loss is inevitable, because if nothing else does it, death will divide us from everything, so far as we know.

For a long time, I saw no difference between love and pain. The measure of how much I loved was also the measure of how much pain I experienced. I opened to love conscious that I was also opening myself to wounding. There was no shortage of wounding. The nature of love, and life, I had felt, is that we tear each other apart, an unmaking process that strips us down to our most essential selves, or breaks us entirely. Where love and pain are the same thing, fear will always be in the mix too. Love becomes the anticipation of pain, the fear of betrayal. Love becomes fear.

I still think all of these things are true, but I’ve travelled a long way in the last six months or so, and I can see there are other stories as well. Betrayal is not inevitable. To love someone does not inevitably mean giving them permission to take you apart. There are other ways to learn that do not make you bleed and weep.

Love is also compassion and patience. It is a shared faith and a dedication to companionship. Love has the power to heal as well as to destroy, to give as well as take. The kind of ‘love’ that forever reduces, diminishes, strips down and undermines, is something to look at hard. Stripping away can be a process of refining and improving, but it can equally be brutal and pointless. If love turns you from rough stone to shining diamond, that may be something to embrace. If it grinds your stone self down into sand and blows you away to nothingness on the first wind, is that really a gift?

It has always been in my nature to love people. I took too much wounding, and I withdrew, pulling tight into myself and being wary about who I loved, and how much I let myself open to that. I became fearful of giving anything of myself, and especially closed to letting myself care for anyone new. Being protective, I isolated myself. I don’t have to do that. I had something of a revelation late last night, about the possibility of feeling love without drowning in pain at the same time.

I have absolutely no idea how anyone else relates to any of this stuff, but it’s been an odd sort of journey, and I thought it might be helpful to share it in case it does turn out to have wider resonance.

Feeling Sad?

Go here – only an emotion Play the song, and then read. Only an emotion is by Cornish singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid and it’s a very beautiful and true piece.

Grief and sorrow are natural aspects of human experience. Or at least, they should be. How can we be rounded, complete individuals if we do not know loss or regret? You can’t live fully without experiencing pain and setback, to insulate yourself from such feelings is to not live at all.

But as the song expresses, culturally we aren’t good with this. We aren’t supposed to be sad. And yes, I’ve had total strangers tell me to cheer up, that it’ll never happen, at times when I’ve had to bite back the ‘but it already did’. When your heart is breaking and your world falling apart, this kind of well meaning bullshit is one of the least helpful things a person can do to you. But the gods help you if you let on it is so. Well meaning people who are sure you should be over it by now tend to find you unreasonable if you don’t conform to their expectations.

I hate crying in public. I’m not a big fan of crying in front of most people, because it feels like too great an intimacy to share. But sometimes, the emotions are just too strong and I cannot prevent myself from weeping. Tom (my wise and lovely bloke) once pointed out to me that if your body needs to cry, then it needs to cry and the best thing is to go with that. Suppressed emotion does no good at all to the heart, soul, or mind. What we feel doesn’t evaporate just because we refuse to let it show. And if you keep locking it down and hiding it away, sometime it explodes. Then there’s a great rush of startling emotion, and the people who couldn’t handle the regular grief certainly don’t take that kind of unleashing well.

There is healing in tears. Often I don’t even know what I’m crying for, it bubbles up, painful, intense and absolutely necessary. I’ve spent too many years not shedding those tears. I suspect I’m crying more than many people would consider reasonable, but this is mine, and for me, and I need it. I am not apologising for it. I’ve watched a recently bereaved friend through similar things. There are always folks who think that surely, you should be getting over it by now. No. Some things we choose never to get over, and we all of us have the right to live with our sadness if that is our preference. It is convenient for others if we mend our broken hearts, but that doesn’t mean we should. Some things take more time to get through than people on the outside of it can understand. The tears are part of the recovery process. It’s important to grieve; there can be no true moving on until the grieving is finished. That’s true for any kind of sorrow.

I’m learning this one, day by day. Learning to cry without feeling shame. Learning that I am entitled to my own feelings, no matter how inconvenient they are for others. I might get so that I can cry without feeling like I’m doing something unfair to those around me. It’s natural, crying. People can either put up with it, or move away, but I am never going to let anyone get away with telling me again that I can’t, or shouldn’t, or that I am being ridiculous and over reacting. No one else is going to get away with telling me that my tears are an assault upon them, or get away with trying to make out that my distress is really emotional blackmail. Enough. I have learned some lessons, at least.

I offer you blessings of tears, the freeflowing release of weeping when it is needful, and wish you all the courage to swear colourfully at anyone who does not respect that natural process.

Wounding and Healing

Last spring at a poetry slam, I listened to a lot of young people expressing a great deal of pain. Much of it clearly came from their relationships with their peers. I remember being a teen all too well – the confusion, hunger and need it created, coupled with no idea how to do relationship. We go out into the world barely knowing ourselves, with little clue of what we want, driven by hormones and social pressure. And so we wound one another. Most of us don’t do it deliberately – some of course do. The process of falling in and out of love, which so seldom happens tidily or at the same time, causes wounds that stay with a person.

The process of being wounded is also the process of growing up, learning who we are and how to relate to each other. It’s the process of being hurt that teaches us compassion. In making mistakes we find out what we actually want and need – or at least – we have the opportunity to. Avoiding such pain means avoiding life and the chance to grow, but plenty of people do their best not to learn. As with all things, the key element is accepting responsibility for what we do, and where we go wrong. Both in terms of how we wound others, and how we open ourselves to the risk of being hurt. It’s not about learning not to take the risk, just a matter of getting a better sense of which risks are worth taking.

There’s also a process of forgiveness that needs to happen here. It’s not one that should come quickly – with heart broken and sense of self in shreds, forgiving the one who turned out not to love us in return is neither possible nor desirable. We move away, move on, learn what we can and try not to make the same mistakes again. There’s a process of forgiving ourselves for those mistakes, for the moments of poor judgement, for the times we did not let go when we should, or walked away when we shouldn’t. Hindsight is seldom a comfortable thing. Sometimes it’s also needful to explore forgiving ourselves for what we did to others – in ignorance, in innocence, in downright stupidity. The process of growing up is littered with mistakes, and the likelihood of hurting others. It’s important to know where we went wrong and why, but no one should spend their lives beating themselves up for that.

There was a friend, once, some years older than me who said he had given up on relationships because either he ended up getting hurt, or he hurt someone, and he could not bear to go through that process anymore. He’d been single by choice for years. It seemed like a great waste to me.

To love someone is to enter into a state that is going to hurt one of you, at the very least. All relationships end – either they falter, or someone dies. No one gets out of this unscathed, that’s the nature of the thing. Focusing on the pain of endings is about as useful as focusing on the inevitability of death – these are just things we have to accept. In the meantime, there is life to be lived, joys to know, hearts to break, and the peace that comes from forgiveness. We will all of us cause hurt, and be hurt in our time. We can’t avoid that, but we can step up to it with all the honour and integrity we can muster. That way, where there is pain, there is also learning, healing, and life.

Grief

It’s not just bereavement that brings grief. Any kind of loss or trauma will very likely take a person into the process of grief. Having been through some stuff myself, and watched others going through things, grief is not an experience that makes any kind of sense, but it is a process. So, I offer these words in the hopes that they are helpful to others who find themselves facing hard times.

The first challenge grief creates is that it doesn’t always kick in immediately after the event. If there’s a great deal of stress around the loss or trauma, we may not be able to grieve over what has happened – feeling like you are the person who must hold a family together after a loss, or being so deep in crisis there is no time to deal with emotions, would be two obvious causes of this. Grief is pushed aside. When this happens, the need to go through the process doesn’t actually go away. At some point, it comes back. That could take days, or years, and it’s not entirely predictable. Delaying the grieving process often makes it a lot harder to go through, and because delayed grief makes even less sense to onlookers, it can reduce the available support for the sufferer. In the meantime, the person who needs to grieve can find themselves numb, or otherwise emotionally troubled – depression may occur, feelings of helplessness and other expressions of suppressed distress.

Working through grief is a painful process. It’s very tempting to want to resist that pain, but doing so makes it worse. Recognising that it is a process and that it needs going through, make it easier to handle. There is a far side, and things do change. In the meantime it is necessary to mourn what has been lost, to weep and howl where necessary, and to adjust to whatever change trauma or distress has created. 

It’s not unusual for it to take a while for loss to sink in. The loss of a home, a job, a friend… or anything that connects you in some way, can trigger a grief process. It’s usually once the mayhem created by the loss is over that the grief process begins. Grieving is something that needs quiet, and often privacy and the sense of available time. It’s not something that can happen while a crisis is in full swing. So sometimes it’s when everything seems to be ok and stable again that the pain truly kicks in – which can be disorientating. But it is fairly normal, and not a thing to fear.

Once the grieving process begins, it comes in waves. In the first days after bereavement, I’ve spent more time crying than not. Then it eases, the raw pain becoming intermittent, until by slow degrees something a bit more like ‘normal’ returns. Sometimes the grief returns, triggered perhaps by Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, days that carry resonance, objects that bring back memories. And again, there is nothing to do but accept this process and allow yourself the space to go through it. In the longer term, working with the process of grief is far less painful.

One of the few things that reliably seems to help, is to tell stories. If you’ve lost a person, talk about them – you don’t need a wake to do that, although gathering together to share memories is a good thing. Find someone who will listen, and speak of what happened – it works for trauma too. If all else fails and there is no one to hear you, write it down, that too brings relief. It is in the making of stories that we get some sense of control over our lives, and in the sharing of them we reinforce bonds of community. In times of grief and pain, stories bring healing and help people move forward. It may seem like burdening others, but sharing grief is a good thing, it deepens relationships, and it means when that other person’s time comes to face something, they will know what to do – they will know to talk, and that others can understand what is happening to them.