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.