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Plant Spirit Medicine

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
― Rumi
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Spiritwind
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Re: Plant Spirit Medicine

Postby Spiritwind » Wed May 30, 2018 4:15 pm

Rosemary is one I love but no longer try to grow since I moved away from Camano Island, WA where it grew really well for me. Now that I live much further inland it tends to get killed off in early spring when it starts to warm up and then gets really cold again. I haven’t had much luck trying to keep it indoors for the winter either. I miss growing it though, as it is a beautiful plant whose energy is very nice to be around. Maybe if I expand the greenhouse and manage to find a viable way to heat it living off grid like we do I can give it a try again. The following is a long one, but not surprising as it has been in use for a very long time. I learned a lot I didn’t know.

http://www.adlunamlabs.com/History_of_Rosemary.html

Image

The History of the Magical Rosemary Plant
Medicinally and for purification rosemary was a mainstay in the practices of early medical and sterilization techniques.  During the plaque of 1665 it was carried and sniffed to protect against contamination from the dreaded epidemic.  Carried in either a pouch (ladies handbag), handkerchief or perhaps in the head of a gentleman's walking stick.

Tradition asserts burned rosemary emits powerful cleansing and purifying vapors and vibrations. Rosemary is one of Earth's oldest incenses.  Rosemary has been burned for centuries in sick chambers to purify the air, specifically in French hospitals during war (through WWII) to kill germs.  Burned also in churches and courtrooms and other public arenas for its antiseptic properties. Hence the French name incensier.

Centuries before the advent of the refrigerator, rosemary was used as a preservative for meats and other foods. Because of rosemary's high anti-oxident activity ancients would wrap their meats in crushed rosemary leaves. The freshness would be preserved and thus the smell and taste would remain pleasant.  Rosemary was also used to control pests such as mosquitos, fleas (the carrier of the plague) and moths.

During the Middle Ages rosemary was spread on the floor at midnight on Christmas Eve so as people walked on it the fragrance would fill the air; this in the belief that those who smelled rosemary on Christmas Eve would have a year of health and happiness.  Thus, started the long tradition of rosemary in Christmas wreaths and other holiday decorations.

Perhaps one of the more amusing tales of rosemary's magic involves Queen Elizabeth of Hungary (1305-1381).  Suffering from severe rheumatism and gout the Queen (aged 72) turned to the healing powers of the rosemary plant.  She began using a variant of Rosemary Water, also referred to as Hungary (Budapest) Water, allegedly given to her by a hermit who claimed that "it would preserve her beauty and health until her death."  In fact, legend claims, the treatment so enhanced her health, vitality and appearance that she, using her own words, "was not only cured, but recovered my strength, and appeared to all so remarkably beautiful that the King of Poland asked me in marriage." (from a text by John Prevost, published 1656).  By the way, the King was 26 years old.  Take from this what you may.

However, we do know that as we discover more about the chemical structure of rosemary and its anti-oxidental properties, the myth of the past is quickly becoming the reality of the future. As we continue to unlock the mysteries of the rosemary plant; we are validating the many applications of rosemary that have been utilized for centuries. Yet what can the marvelous rosemary do for you.

Back to Blanckes' Herbal . . . Rosemary - "washe thy face therwith . . . thou shalt have a fayre face."  "Smell it and it shall preserve thy youthe.  "And, remember Markham; "Rosemary "cleanseth away the spots of the face, . . . it
maketh a man look young."

Using the knowledge acquired over centuries and improving upon the techniques of the past, we have formulated creams saturated in the rich chemical ingredients that empower the magical rosemary plant.  Our predesessors were on to something.  They knew of the power of rosemary; now we have released it. Let Effulgere awaken the Sleeping Beauty in you.

The name rosemary is derived from the Latin "rosmarinus officinalis"; "ros", meaning dew, and "marinus", meaning sea.  This derivation probably stemming from the fact that the rosemary bush is native to the seaside regions of North Africa and the Mediterranean. Hence the ancient legend that rosemary grows "where one can  hear the sea".  One of it's common names "dew of the sea", is a likely reference to the shimmering blue flowers that cover the rosemary bush in mid-winter. Other of its common names include: Incensier, Sea Dew, Ros Maris, Rosmarine, Rosemarie, and Guardrobe.

The history of Rosemary is a story covering thousands of years.  A story steeped in the myth and tradition of many a varied civilization.  Starting with its strong association to the ancient Greeks and Romans, rosemary captivated these peoples for its mystical and healing powers.  Hellenistic and Roman gardens almost always contained rosemary bushes.  Moreover, rosemary was believed to grow only in the gardens of the righteous and protected one from evil spirits.  Today, as in the past, rosemary continues to capture the attention of those who seek its usefulness in the preservation of health and beauty.

Brought to Britain with the Roman armies, rosemary over the centuries has spread its influence through Europe and eventually to the New World.  In addition to the widespread belief in its cosmetic benefit, rosemary is again and again mentioned throughout the anals of Europeon history for it's properties of purification and it's healing powers.  Rosemary's long thought ability to increase circulation and strengthen blood vessels has also associated it with memory, remembrance and the heart (love).  Let us look at a few examples from the saga of the majestic rosemary plant.

Beginning with the written word as early as the fifith millenium B.C. references to rosemary were found written in cuneiform on stone tablets.

Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40 to ca. 90) Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist practiced in Rome during the time of Nero.  His most famous writing, the five volume "De Materia Medica" is one of the most influential herbal books in history.  Dioscorides recommended rosemary for its "warming faculty". In addition to its importance in the history of herbal science, the "Materia Medica" also enlightens us about the herbs and remedies employed by the Greeks, Romans and other cultures of antiquity.

The first book printed in English which could actually be called an herbal is Blanckes' Herbal published in England circa 1525.  Of all the various and diverse herbs listed in Blanckes' the characteristics and attributes of this "dew of the sea"are perhaps the most fascinating and charming. An excerpt from Blanks' recommends cosmetic uses for rosemary; "boyle the leves in whyte wyne and wasshe thy face therwith . . . thou shalt have a fayre face." Further advice includes . . ." make thee a box of the wood (rosemary) and smell to it and it shall preserve thy youthe."  A rosemary tea is also touted in Blanckes' "for much worth against all evils of the body.”

Among medicinal benefits claimed include a topical application for gout; "if thy legs be blown with the gout, boil the leaves (rosemary) in water and then take the leaves and bind them in a linen cloth about thy legs, and it shall do much good."

Gervase Markham (1568-1637) English writer and poet, included high praise for rosemary in his most famous work "English Housewife",first published in 1615.  He writes; "Rosemary water (the face washed therein both morning and night) causeth a fair and clear contenance."  Furthermore; "when one maketh a bath of this decoction, it is called the bath of life , the same drunk comforteth the heart, the brain, and the whole body, and cleanseth away the spots of the face; it maketh a man look young . . ."

Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654) was an English botanist, herbalist and physician, who spent the greater part of his life cataloging hundreds of medicinal herbs.  His two great works "The English Physician" (1652) and the "Complete Herbal" (1653) vastly contributed to our knowledge of the pharmacalogical properties of herbs.  Dr. Culpepper devoted himself to using herbals to treat the illnesses of his patients, greatly criticizing what he considered the unnatural methods of his contemporaries. Ultimately, he transformed traditional medical knowledge and methods via his quest for improved solutions for ill health.

The use of herbals by Culpepper was key to the development of modern day pharmaceuticals most of which originally had herbal origins.  Culpepper was one of the pioneers to translate documents discussing medicinal plants found in the Americas from the Latin.  The impact on medicine in the North American colonies by Culpepper's translations and approach to using herbals was incalculable.  His "Complete Herbal" was so highly regarded in the colonies that many of the species that he touted were imported to the New World from England.

One of the most flattering descriptions of the benefits of rosemary (rosemary water) was set forth by Dr. Culpepper.  Among the attributes he ascribed to rosemary; "the (rosemary) water is an admirable cure-all remedy of all kinds of cold, loss of memory, headache, coma."  It receives and preserves natural heat, restores body function and capabilities, even at late age.  There are not that many remedidies producing that many good effects." ("Pharmacopeia Londoniensis", Nicholas Culpepper, 1653).

Students in ancient Greece wore garlands of rosemary around their necks, or braided it into their hair to improve their memory during exams.  Others would place it in their pillow the night before to enhance memory during sleep.

As to rosemary’s power to enhance memory we have a mutitude of testimonials. Sir Thomas More,  (Aka Saint Thomas More, (1478-1535) English lawyer, author and stateman wrote, "As for rosmarine, I lette it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and, therefore to friendship . . .”

Shakespheare’s Juliet was honored at her burial with rosemary for remembrance.  Early Europeons commonly threw sprigs of rosemary into graves as a symbol that the dead would not be forgotten.  In ancient Egypt rosemary was placed in the tomb to remember the dead, used in the bouquets of funeral flowers and even utilized in the embalming practices of that time. The tradition of tossing rosemary sprigs into the grave did not end in England until the 19th century.  This tradition was memorialized in the lines of George Sewell (1687-1726) English poet and physician;

           "All must be left when Death appears,
            In spite of wishes, groans, and tears;
            Not one of all thy plants that grow
            But rosemary will with you go."

Unfortunately Dr. Sewell died indigent and alone, afforded neither a memorial at his grave nor a sprig of rosemary for remembrance.

Rosemary is still today regarded as the funeral flower signifying respect and remembrance for the departed.  The honored war dead are annually commemorated on ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Day by the wearing of small rosemary sprigs in the coat lapel, pinned to the breast or held in place by medals.  This, yet again, done for remembrance.

On a lighter note rosemary has been a long standing fixture in the lore of romance and matrimony.  As the symbol of remembrance and fidelity rosemary has been used for centuries in courtship and weddings.  According to English folklore if a girl placed a plate of flour under a rosemary bush on midsummer's eve, her future husband's initials would be written in it.  Other's believed that to see your true love in a dream one should put rosemary under your pillow.  Sleeping Beauty was said to have been awoken from her sleep by Prince Charming brushing a rosemary sprig over her cheek.

Rosemary has long held a prominent role in the wedding ceremony.  Used in weddings to help one remember the wedding vows, the bride and groom might dip rosemary in their wine cups to toast each other.  Dried rosemary has been laid in the bed linen to ensure faithfulness and a bride who gave her groom a sprig of rosemary to hold on their wedding night would ensure that he remain faithful.  In the middle ages the more elegant couples gave rosemary as a wedding favor.  Sprigs were often dipped in gold and tied with a beautiful ribbon, this to symbolize that though the couple were starting a new life they would always remember their friends and family.

Rosemary has been celebrated in song for it's power over memory. Simon and Garfunkel in 1966 revitalized an old Elizabethan ballad, "Scarborough Fair".

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
For she once was a true love of mine."

And, the Elizabethans knew rosemary for love and faithfulness, rosemary to remember.

French legend has it that if a man didn’t like the scent of rosemary, he would be an inferior lover. Empress Josephine is said to have asked Napoleon to wash in rosemary water before entering her bedchamber.  Perhaps this explains Napoleon's obsession with rosemary.  It is said to have been his favorite perfume.  Chardin, "Perfumer of Their Imperial and Royal Majesties," recorded Napoleon's use of 162 bottles of rosemary water in the first three months of 1806.  Napoleon also favored rosemary for its qualities of restoring bodily vitality, brain stimulation and it's antiseptic properties.  In his book, “Memories of Saint Helena", Victor Masson wrote that Napoleon was such a fan that as he lay dying two of Chardin's perfumed pastilles (compressed herbs burnt to release medicinal properties) were burning in his bedchamber.  And, once again rosemary exhibited its magical power over love and remembrance. Despite many affairs, eventual divorce and even remarriage, the Emperor Napoleon's last words as he died on the Island of Helena in 1821 were "France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Josephine."  Thus, their great love affair passed into immortality.  Rosemary water subsequently became so popular that it was the first herbal product to be commercially produced and marketed.

As for English royalty, Anne of Cleves wore a "rich crown of stone and pearls set with rosemary in her hair" when she became King Henry the Eighth's fourth wife in 1540.  However, even the power of rosemary could not preventrenowned womanizer King Henry from forgetting his wedding vows. Four months later the marriage was doomed as he succombed to the charms of Catherine Howard, lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne.  Yet many, many couples have had far more good fortune with the rosemary used in their wedding ceremonies.  Today brides in Europe still wear the traditional sprig of rosemary in their hair.

Medicinally and for purification rosemary was a mainstay in the practices in early medical and sterilization techniques.  During the plaque of 1665 it was carried and sniffed to protect against contamination from the dreaded epidemic.  Carried in either a pouch (ladies handbag), handkerchief or perhaps in the head of a gentleman's walking stick.

Tradition asserts burned rosemary emits powerful cleansing and purifying vapors and vibrations. Rosemary is one of Earth's oldest incenses.  Rosemary has been burned for centuries in sick chambers to purify the air, specifically in French hospitals during war (through WWII) to kill germs.  Burned also in churches and courtrooms and other public arenas for its antiseptic properties. Hence the French name incensier.

Centuries before the advent of the refrigerator, rosemary was used as a preservative for meats and other foods. Because of rosemary's high anti-oxident activity ancients would wrap their meats in crushed rosemary leaves.  The freshness would be preserved and thus the smell and taste would remain pleasant.  Rosemary was also used to control pests such as mosquitos, fleas (the carrier of the plague) and moths.

During the Middle Ages rosemary was spread on the floor at midnight on Christmas Eve so as people walked on it the fragrance would fill the air; this in the belief that those who smelled rosemary on Christmas Eve would have a year of health and happiness.  Thus, started the long tradition of rosemary in Christmas wreaths and other holiday decorations.

Perhaps one of the more amusing tales of rosemary's magic involves Queen Elizabeth of Hungary (1305-1381).  Suffering from severe rheumatism and gout the Queen (aged 72) turned to the healing powers of the rosemary plant.  She began using a variant of Rosemary Water, also referred to as Hungary (Budapest) Water, allegedly given to her by a hermit who claimed that "it would preserve her beauty and health until her death."  In fact, legend claims, the treatment so enhanced her health, vitality and appearance that she, using her own words, "was not only cured, but recovered my strength, and appeared to all so remarkably beautiful that the King of Poland asked me in marriage." (from a text by John Prevost, published 1656).  By the way, the King was 26 yearsold. Take from this what you may.

However, we do know that as we discover more about the chemical structure of rosemary and its anti-oxidental properties, the myth of the past is quickly becoming the reality of the future.  As we continue to unlock the mysteries of the rosemary plant; we are validating the many applications of rosemary that have been utilized for centuries.  Yet what can the marvelous rosemary do for you.

Back to Blanckes' Herbal . . . Rosemary - "washe thy face therwith . . . thou shalt have a fayre face."  "Smell it and it shall preserve thy youthe.  "And, remember Markham; "Rosemary "cleanseth away the spots of the face, . . . it maketh a man look young."

Using the knowledge acquired over centuries and improving upon the techniques of the past, we have formulated creams saturated in the rich chemical ingredients that empower the magical rosemary plant.  Our predesessors were on to something.  They knew of the power of rosemary; now we have released it.  Let Effulgere awaken the Sleeping Beauty in you.
May the song from within come forth, Expressing itself as it may
With nary a thought or worry, For how else to spend the day
- by Me : )

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Re: Plant Spirit Medicine

Postby Spiritwind » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:06 pm

Mullein wasn’t really on my list, as it’s considered a weed by most and grows profusely in our area. I’ve had to dig quite a few up and the seeds really liked my garden. I have left a few of the more stunning specimens, because I do recognize it as a medicine and have no desire to get rid of them all. I realize even the few I left will create much work for me next year, but my inner nudge is to leave them anyway. I think, after reviewing what mullein is good for, I should actually be harvesting some for use. Like, duh! I have used it in herbal ear drops from when my daughter was little and had re-occurring ear infections. More and stronger antibiotics was actually making her health decline. In fact, when I finally quit that routine and took her to a naturopath she never had another serious ear infection growing up. They generally don’t know if there is a real bacterial infection when they prescribe antibiotics anyway, since you’d have to do more than just look in your ears to know for sure. And now, of course, I think back on the vaccines I did subject her to, even though I did not follow their little chart recommendations, may have contributed. I guess I’ll never know for sure.

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http://www.eldrumherbs.co.uk/content/co ... hp?state=1

Mullein

Latin: Verbascum thapsus
Also Known As: Aaron's Rod, Blanket Leaf, White Mullein, Mullein Dock, Our Lady's Flannel, Blanket Herb, Woollen, Rag Paper, Wild Ice Leaf, Clown's Lungwort, Bullock's Lungwort, Beggar's Staff, Golden Rod, Adam's Flannel, Beggar's Blanket, Cuddy's Lungs, Fluffweed, Feltwort, Hare's Beard, Candlewick Plant, Clot, Doffle, Feltwort, Flannel Plant, Graveyard Dust, Hag's Tapers, Hedge Taper, Jupiter's Staff, Lady's Foxglove, Old Man's Flannel, Peter's Staff, Shepherd's Club, Shepherd's Herb, Torches, Velvetback, Velvet Plant

Family: Scrophulariaceae
Habitat and Description: As you can no doubt guess by the wide variety of colourful and descriptive nicknames for this tall, stately plant, Mullein has decidedly hairy leaves, covered in a soft silvery coloured down. The leaves themselves grow in rosettes around the stem, and are large and oval in shape, a soft pale green grey in colour. The flowers grow on a tall stem rising many feet above the leaves, with randomly placed, honey fragranced yellow flowers growing up the stem in profusion – these appear in the second year of growth. It prefers a well drained soil that tends towards dryness and can be a bit tricky to grow in the herb garden as a result – I find them a bit hit and miss at times for this exact reason. The flower spikes sometimes divide at the top into smaller flower laden branches. The plant itself is a biennial, native to Europe, Asia and Western China, and can these days also be found in North America. It can be found on sunny banks, fields, roadsides and in wasteland, preferring a poor, dry, chalky soil for best growth.

Parts Used: Aerial parts – leaves and flowers. The leaves are gathered in the first year, the flowers in the second year. The roots are sometimes used.
Constituents: iridoids including ajugol; flavonoids such as verbascoside; saponins; volatile oils; tannins; mucilage.

Planetary Influence: Saturn
Associated Deities and Heroes: Jupiter, Circe, Odysseus, St. Fiacre. Given the folklore and alternative names for this plant, I suspect you could probably associated with assorted crone deities and death deities as well.

Festival: Samhain
Constitution: cool and moist but only slightly so – generally temperate.
Actions and Indications: Being a classic herb of Saturn, Mullein is used to restore balance and bring structure back to the body. It is used for conditions where the body has either worn down villi and tissues, resulting in harsh, dried out conditions, and for the other side of the coin – problems causing the body to be saturated with too much fluid, such as oedema and mucous building up in the digestive tract and respiratory system.

The root is used by herbalists in North America to soothe acute pain. The flowers are particularly good for earache, and problems affecting the nerves, whereas the leaves are better for the respiratory system and related problems, and for musculo skeletal problems.

As a softening, soothing herb, it is wonderful for old, dry, tickly coughs and conditions of the lungs where the lining has worn down, resulting in regular chest infections with a tight chest, dry membranes and a chronic, long lasting cough. Mullein softens the membranes, opens the chest and allows proper breathing, acting as a tonic to the respiratory tract and alleviating the misery of winter chest infections.

The other area that Mullein particularly suits is conditions affecting the joints – hot, dry, constricted conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis and related joint complaints, as well as broken bones, strained tendons and ligaments and torn muscles – I rather suspect it will combine particularly well with Comfrey in this general area. Indeed, it has such a long standing reputation in this area that even Culpeper recommended it as useful for gout and stiff sinews, as well as for dislocated joints and broken bones.

Apparently Mullein can also be used as a pain killer and nervine, soothing and easing conditions where the nerves have become trapped and tight. The flowers can also be used as a mild sedative for insomnia – another usage linking the flowers to the nerves. Quite appropriate really when you consider the structure of the plant and where the flowers are located – right at the very top of the stem.

Mullein can also be used to ease both acute and chronic cystitis, and to relieve water retention and bladder irritation. As a useful digestive remedy, it can be used for those suffering from abdominal pain, diarrhoea with urgency and long lasting digestive upset.

The flowers infused in seed oil is a useful remedy for ear ache and ear infections when rubbed around the base of the ear and one or two drops placed into the ear itself – not recommended, however, if you have a perforated ear drum.

Topically, Mullein can be used to make a great drawing poultice or ointment for splinters and bites, and can be used to soothe rashes, cuts and grazes, and of course to ease the pain from broken bones and dislocated joints.

Spiritual and Energetic Uses: As a flower remedy, Mullein's general appearance is a very good indication as to its uses. Mullein can be used to bring clarity and inner light, to help a person stand firm and develop inner strength (think of Mullein's appearance for a moment – strong, upright central stem, almost represents a backbone really, with the flowers at the top as the head.) It can be good for those who struggle with their conscience – perhaps to help them see whether what they did was right or wrong and how to learn from their mistakes if their choice was wrong. Mullein is a very good plant for those who feel they have lost their sense of 'self', to help them figure out where their boundaries are and develop into the people they are supposed to be. I'd be inclined to give it to those who have gone through a traumatic or life changing experience and who need help processing it all and learning from their experiences. It could possibly also be used as a bit of a safety net, to provide reassurance and prevent the descent into bitterness that can follow negative experiences.

Magical Uses: Mullein, like so many of the more well known herbs, has a long history of magical usage, and is yet another of those herbs used to engender courage in the bearer. It protects those who carry it against wild animals, and apparently if you put it into your shoe it will prevent you from catching a cold. The dried herb guards against nightmares, evil spirits and negative magic and is added to sachets and charms to hang over doors and windows for these purposes. It is also used in men's love magic. I rather suspect that, given the plant's long history as a candle substitute, it could be added to spells to bring illumination and understanding to whoever was performing the spell in question. The plant can be used to make a purple dye, suitable for colouring robes, cords and possibly altar cloths for magical works.

Folklore: Some think that the Latin name 'Verbascum' is a corruption of the original word for beard, 'barba', alluding to the wooly appearance of the plant. The plant was certainly known by the Greeks and Romans – Pliny suggested that figs should be wrapped in Mullein leaves to help them keep fresh for longer. The stems were used as replacement torches by legionaries and were dipped in wax and used as candles at funerals – this usage continued up until the middle ages. The flowers were used by Roman women to make a blonde hair wash.

Apparently both Circe and Odysseus used the plant – Circe used it as part of her spells, and Odysseus used it to protect himself from her spells, amusingly enough!

In the Middle Ages, Mullein was grown in monastery gardens as a protection from the devil. Again, conversely, Mullein was used as candles in witches spells, though if the plant was gathered in a particular set of circumstances – the sun in Virgo and moon in Aries – the plant could be used to guard the bearer against sorcery.

Dose: up to 5mls three times a day of the tincture, or 1 cup of hot water over 2tsps of the dried leaf or flower, infused for up to 15 minutes and drunk three times a day.

Contraindications: If using any of the plant as a tea, strain the resulting liquid through muslin as the hairs growing on the leaves irritate the mouth.


And this is from another site:
http://www.alchemy-works.com/verbascum_thapsus.html

This magick herb also has various connections to the idea of returning, which we can see as a Saturnian power (emphasizing borders and staying inside them). For instance, in Great Britain it was used to help bring back children who had been kidnapped by fairies. Various Native Americans knew a good thing when they saw it and used this Eurasian native that became naturalized in North America to return people to their right mind. For instance, the Hopi mixed the leaves with osnomodium to be used as a smoke by crazy people and those who had been betwitched. The Navajo wrapped the leaves in a corn husk to be smoked to help a mind return if it was lost, and the Potowatami smudged unconcscious people with the leaves to help them return to consciousness. Consider mullein useful in centering the spirit and add it to the pipe smoked as an aid to astral work.
May the song from within come forth, Expressing itself as it may
With nary a thought or worry, For how else to spend the day
- by Me : )

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Re: Plant Spirit Medicine

Postby Spiritwind » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:56 pm

I'm going to make another detour here, seeing how the solstice is upon us, and indeed, St. John's Wort is in full bloom, and the wild kind just happens to grow here in abundance. The following is an awesome article on making solstice cookies. I would check out the link to see all the images, as they are beautiful, and I feel quite inspired.

SWEET MAGIC: SUMMER SOLSTICE HONEY COOKIES

https://gathervictoria.com/2016/06/10/s ... y-cookies/

Then followed that beautiful season… Summer…
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if newly created in all the freshness of childhood. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Looking for a festive way to celebrate the upcoming summer solstice? Well, these aromatic sunny cookies may be just the ticket. Made with sacred herbs and flowers of the sun, they’re filled with the gathering magic of midsummer traditions. And served up at a summer solstice picnic, they will delight young and old. After, all doesn’t everyone love a pretty cookie?

Image

And what better way to capture the magic of the longest day of the year? This is the day (June 20th) the sun’s powers are at their peak, from now on the sun will recede from the sky a little earlier each evening. For our Northern European ancestors, summer solstice was the turning point between the waxing and waning cycle of the great year. And they marked the occasion, as they so liked to do, by throwing a party. Feasts, bonfires, and dancing, all in celebration of the glorious midsummer sun. And they still do today!

Across old Europe, summer solstice had many different names. In Britain it was known as Midsummer, in Latvia, it was Kupala Day or Herb Evening, and in Scandinavia, it was celebrated as Litha. For women, this was a “Gathering Day”, an important day of ritual first harvest. Wearing ceremonial clothing adorned with symbols of the sun, they would weave flowers into garlands and crowns. Then they would go into the fields and forests to gather plants and herbs.

On this day plants were believed to be vigorous with the heightened life force of the sun – so it was common knowledge that a curing or magical herb plucked on Midsummer doubled its powers! Folklore tells if you picked nine flowers or the leaf of plantain and put it under the pillow – you would dream your future spouse.

St. John’s Wort, with its solar yellow flowers, is the herb most associated with Midsummer. According to old herbals, it blooms on this day, and along with its many healing abilities, it brought protection from fire, disease, disaster and the evil eye.

Image

While it was renamed by the Church after St. John ( it’s bright red red sap mimics the blood of St. John) it’s association with female powers and witchery is strong. It’s flowers were left at the feet of statues of Greek and Roman goddesses, such as Hecate, the goddess of ghosts and sorcery, and Circe, who distilled its leaves and flowers for potent charms. And my favorite herbalist, wise woman Susun Weed, steadfastly refers to this herb as St. John’s Wort.

Other herbs bearing the magical power of the sun include rosemary, vervain, hyssop, fern, mullein, basil, lavender, thyme, fennel, and wormwood. These herbs were associated with powers of invigoration, healing, purification and protection, and the flowers (rose, daisy, marigold, cornflower, calendula and more) represented beauty and love.

Petals were scattered in water or dried in love charms. In Bohemia, girls wore chaplets of mugwort while dancing around the Midsummer bonfire. And on Midsummer’s Eve Italians washed their faces in bowls of water containing flowers, rose petals and herbs.

And of course, this herbaceous solstice bounty was also consumed! Fresh herbs and traditional midsummer feasting are a long-standing culinary tradition. They were used in dishes made from the first harvest of the season; vegetables (peas and mint, new potatoes and dill), fresh cheeses (like the Latvian Caraway cheese) and alcoholic libations (the Scandinavians made Aquavit with dill, fennel, and coriander). And in Provence five sacred aromatic herbs-rosemary, thyme, marjoram, hyssop and sage, are gathered to make an “infusion aux herbes de Saint Jean.”

In Nordic countries, midsummer feast included “sun breads”, cakes or buns made with honey (also a golden sun food) believed to bring fertility, prosperity, and abundance to the community. One Scandinavian folk tradition recommends including midsummer dew in the dough to cure diseases! Roman’s had their own summer solstice celebration Vestalia, during which priestesses Vestales made sacred cakes with water from her holy spring.

So inspired by these many summer solstice food traditions, I decided to a do a little baking ritual of my own – midsummer sun cookies! Infused with herby aromatic flavours and flowers of the sun (like rosemary, thyme, lavender, and sage) then coloured golden with a few drops of orangey St.John’s tincture and adorned with symbols of the sun – they would be food magic indeed.

And I think they turned out beautifully. So if you’re looking for a way to mark the turn of the seasons and connect with mother nature, celebrate Gathering Day. Summer solstice festivities traditionally occurred somewhere between June 20th to early July according to differing calendars. So you have plenty of time!

Wear something sunny, and take the children (or not) for a flowery, herby harvest. But however you decide to enjoy nature’s midsummer bounty, remember that above all, “On Midsummer we eat and dance with abandon, leaving all worries behind. The sun never sets and there are flowers everywhere.” Seems a good a reason as any to celebrate with cookies!

Summer Solstice Herby Honey Cookies

Ingredients:

1 & 3/4 cups of flour
¾ C. softened butter
¼ C. honey
¼ brown or cane sugar
1 teaspoon minced thyme
1 teaspoon lavender buds
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 teaspoon minced sage
a few crushed cardamom seeds
pinch of salt
NOTE: I used more like a tablespoon of each herb in my cookies, but this might be too herbaceous for some, so adjust accordingly. And I also added 3/4 cup oatmeal to another batch of cookies and cut back on the flour. Feel free to experiment or use whatever cookie recipe you like…after all it’s not the cookie that matters as much as the spirit!

Icing:

3 teaspoons milk
1 cup icing sugar
wee bit of grated lemon rind. ( I also added lavender buds to the second batch of icing)
Colouring. I used a combination of golden beet juice, St. John’s Tincture and a pinch of turmeric powder, but of course, you could use a store-bought natural food dye. Recipe for a carrot-based colored icing here.
Combine your milk and icing sugar. Slowing add in your colouring and mix until you find the desired colour/consistency
Directions:

Preheat Oven to 300
Beat flour, sugar and soft butter together until creamy.
Slowly drizzle in honey while beating until mixture pulls together.
Add minced herbs and petals, mix well through the dough.
Divide into four balls and chill for an hour or so.
Roll out and cut into round shapes. Add flour as needed.
Bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes.
Let cool.
Decorate using the flowers and herbs of the sun: petals of calendula, daisy, St. John’s Wort, rose, or sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage.
May the song from within come forth, Expressing itself as it may
With nary a thought or worry, For how else to spend the day
- by Me : )

Herbnut
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Re: Plant Spirit Medicine

Postby Herbnut » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:02 pm

Spiritwind wrote:Mullein wasn’t really on my list, as it’s considered a weed by most and grows profusely in our area....


One of my favorite plants... Thanks for the invite.


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