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(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:09 AM)
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Herbalist or Witch?

"Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,

Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble..."

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
The traditional image of a cauldron of bubbling and boiling magical
potion being stirred by a witch originates from the large containers in
which herb women boiled their ingredients to produce simples. Simpling
was the brewing and distilling of herbs, practiced by women in most
households in order to keep a very necessary supply of medicinal
remedies on hand. Throughout the medieval period, the arts of herbalism,
alchemy, and magic were difficult to separate, and the herb women often
added the role of spell-caster to their role of dispenser of home-brewed
herbal therapies.

Herbs with Sinister Names

Many of these herbs could have been the actual ingredients the witches
were brewing in their cauldron in Shakespeare's Macbeth. For
educational purposes I have listed the folkname followed by the
modern-day common name followed by the Latin name.

Folk Name Common Name Latin Name

 bat's wings - holly Ilex aquifolim
bird's foot - fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum
 dragon'sblood - Daemonorops
bull's bloo - horehound Maaubium vulgare bull's foot - coltsfoot Tussilago farfara capon's tail - valerian Valeriana officinalis
devil's eye - periwinkle Vinca minor
 devil's dung - asafoetida Ferula assa-foetida
devil's flower bachelor's buttons -Centaurea cyanus
devil's guts dodder - Cuscuta glomurata
devil's milk - celeandine Chelidonium majus
devil's nettle - yarrow Achillea millefolium
duck's foot - mayapple
Podophyllumm peltatum - eyes
English daisy Bellis perenis - flesh & blood
tormentil Potentilla erecta - fox tail
club moss Lycopodium clavatum - hare's foot
avens Geum urbanum - hound's tongue
deerstongue - Liatris odoratissima
lion's ear - motherwort Leonurus cardiaca
 lion's tooth - dandelion
Taraxacum officinale - mother's heart
shepherd's purse - Capsella
bursa-pastoris - serpent's tongue
adder's tongue - Erythronium americanum
sparrow's tongue - knotweed Polygonum aviculare
white man's foot - plantain Plantago major
wolf's milk  spurge - Euphorbia spp.

Magical Flying Ointment Halloween AKA All Hallows Eve or Samhain is an ancient festival day marking the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It was a time to look back and remember those who had died during the past year while at the same time looking forward trying to divine what the new year may bring. It was the time of year when witches
would fly in order to divine the future. The word witch
translates from the old European word, wytche which means wise one. The word witchcraft literally means the craft of the wise ones. These people were the healers, teachers and the leaders of the ancient tribes.
The narcotic and hallucinogenic properties of many herbs were exploited in witchcraft and magic rituals during ancient and medieval times. Many of these herbs were made into ointments by adding the herbs to melted fat and then rubbing the ointment into the skin. These magical ointments created symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, tingling, numbness, delirium, weightlessness, and hallucinations which would make one feel
like they were flying.

The following herbs have been traditionally added to witches magical flying ointments which were used to facilitate astral projection. The astral plane is where all spirits move after death after leaving the physical body. It is possible to temporarily depart the body and visit the astral plane when in a trance or sleep-like state. The astral bodies of both the living and the dead are to be found on the astral plane thus it is possible for the spirits of the living to meet there with the spirits of the dead. After the effects of these herbs wore off the visions the witches had would be interpreted for clues about what the future held.

Beaver poison - poison hemlock - Conium maculatum

Christmas rose - black hellebore - Helleborus niger

Devil's trumpet - jimsonweed - Datura stramonium

Hog's bean - henbane - Hyoscyamus niger

Sorcerer's root - mandrake - Mandragora officinarum

Witch's berry - deadly nightshade - Atropa belladonna

Witch's herb - basil - Ocimum basilicum

Wolf's bane - aconite - Aconitum napellus

Celery (Apium graveolens) - celery seed was consumed by witches before flying on their brooms so they wouldn't become dizzy and fall off.

Poplar (Populus tremuloides) - added to flying ointments to facilitate astral projection.

Ragwort (Senecio spp.) AKA fairies horses - witches were said to ride upon ragwort stalks at midnight.

Magical and Anti-magical Uses of Herbs

Apple (Pyrus spp.) - AKA fruit of the underworld. Considered to be one of the foods of the dead, before eating any apple rub it to remove any demons or evil spirits which may be hiding inside.

Bay (Laurus nobilis) - place bay leaves under your pillow at night to induce prophetic dreams, burn the leaves to cause visions. The leaves were hung up around the house to prevent poltergeists from working their mischief.

Birch (Betula pendula) - gently strike possessed people or animals with birch to exorcise demonic spirits. The traditional broom of the witches was made out of birch twigs.

Borage (Borago officinalis) - borage tea was supposed to induce psychic powers.

Eyebright (Euphrasis officinalis) - a cloth soaked in an infusion of eyebright and applied to the eyes was supposed to induce clairvoyance.

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxacantha) - place the wood of hawthorn in the house to ward against ghosts.

Hazel (Corylus spp.) - wear a hazel crown or wreath to become invisible.

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) - used for exorcisms and to become invisible.

Holly (Ilex spp.) - plant holly plants around the house to protect from sorcerers, lightning, poison, and evil spirits.

Ivy (Hedera helix) - ivy was sacred to Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead. Growing ivy against the wall of a house was supposed to be a safeguard against witches.

Juniper (Juniperus communes) - juniper planted beside the front door was supposed to keep out witches; the only way for a witch to get past the plant and enter the house was by correctly counting its needles.

Mallow (Malva spp.) - an ointment made with mallow and rubbed onto the skin casts out devils as well as protects against the harmful effects of black magic.

Mistletoe (Viscum album) - used in immortality spells, wear mistletoe around the neck to become invisible. It also acted as a protection against sorcery and witchcraft.

Mullein (Verbascum thapus) - AKA Graveyard dust, regarded as the most potent safeguard against evil spirits and magic.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) - picking it while uttering an oath
against another person would have that person dead within the week.

Periwinkle (Vinca major) - it was believed unlucky to remove the plant from a graveyard, to do so would incur the wrath of the ghosts which haunted the place.

Rue (Ruta graveolens) - during the middle ages rue was considered a reliable defense against witches and their spells.

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - hung near windows to
keep ghosts, necromancers, and other evil doers from entering the house, it was also burned to banish spirits and demons.

Thistle (Carduus spp.) - wizards in England used to select the tallest thistle in the patch to use as a magical wand or walking stick.

Willow (Salix alba) - burn crushed willow bark during the waning moon to conjure spirits.

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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:10 AM)

Building a Compost Heap
Adapted from Four-Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman

So often, the obvious solution is right at our fingertips,
but it looks so simple that we fail to notice. Generations of gardeners have consistently come up with the same chain of logic: a fertile soil is the key to growing garden vegetables; compost is the key to a fertile soil. The first step in the four-season harvest is learning to make good compost. It's not
difficult. Compost wants to happen.

Pick a site near the garden so the finished compost will be close at hand. Whenever possible, place the heap under the branches of a deciduous tree so there will be shade in hot weather and sunlight to thaw the heap in spring. A site near the kitchen makes it convenient to add kitchen scraps. Access to a hose is handy for those times when the heap needs extra moisture. If the site is uphill from the garden, the heavy work of wheelbarrowing loads of compost will have gravity on its side.

Build the compost heap by alternating layers of brown ingredients (such as dried grass stems, old cornstalks, dried pea and bean vines, reeds, and old hay) with mostly green ones (young, moist, and fresh materials such as kitchen wastes, grass clippings, fresh pea vines). Begin with a layer of straw about 3 inches deep, then add 1 to 6 inches of green ingredients, another 3 inches of straw, and then more green ingredients. The thickness of the green layer depends on the nature of the materials. Loose, open material such as green
bean vines or tomato stems can be applied in a thicker (6-inch) layer, while denser material that might mat together, such as kitchen scraps or grass clippings, should be layered thinly (1 to 2 inches). These thicknesses are a place for you to start, but you will learn to modify them as conditions require.
Sprinkle a thin coverage of soil on top of each green layer.

Make the soil 1/2 inch deep or so depending on what type of green material is available. If you have just added a layer of weeds with soil on their roots, you can skip the soil to the compost heap has both a physical and a microbiological effect:  physical because certain soil constituents (clay particles and minerals) have been shown to enhance the decomposition of organic matter; microbiological because soil contains millions of microorganisms, which are needed to break down the organic material in the heap. These bacteria, fungi, and other organisms multiply in the warm, moist conditions as decomposition is initiated. If your garden is very sandy or gravely, you might want to find some clay to add to the heap as the soil layer. As an additional benefit, the clay will improve the balance of soil particle sizes in your garden.


Pit or Trench Composting

This is the simplest way for composting kitchen scraps.  Dig a one-foot-deep hole.  Chop and mix the food wastes into the soil then cover with at least 8 inches of additional soil. Depending on soil temperature, the supply of microorganisms in the soil and the content of the materials, decomposition will occur in one month to one year. 

Food waste burial can be done randomly in unused areas of the garden or in an organized system. One system is to bury scraps in holes dug around the drip line of tress or shrubs. An English system, know as pit or trench composting, maintains a three season rotation or soil incorporation and growing. Sometimes this is also called Vertical composting. Divide garden space into 3’ wide rows.


Year 1 – Dig a 1’ foot wide trench on the left hand 1/3 of the 3’ area (A). Add compostable materials in this trench and cover with soil when half an inch full. Leave the center 1’ section open for a path (B), and plant your crop in the remaining 1’ strip along the right side (C).

Year 2 – Section A is a path for year 2 allowing time for the Materials to break down. Plant your crop in section B. Section C, where you planted last year, becomes the compost trench.

Year 3 – Section A is now ready for planting. Section B is your trench for composting. Section C is in the second year of composting is it will be the path.


Reduce Reuse Recycle - Compost

Begin making your own compost. Save your lawn clippings, eggshell and other soft materials. It will only take a couple months to be ready for use in your garden.

There are various methods of making compost - open compost, under-ground compost pits, layered compost and various purchased compost boxes, bins and kits. In some areas you can even contact your local municipal govt. about their environmental promotional programs to receive a compost bin for personal use for free or for a small annual fee.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to keep it moist and turn it often.

Your compost is ready for use when it has an earthy smell and is dark brown and grainy - not muddy. If your compost begins to smell foul, it generally means that you need to turn it more frequently and may need more dry plant matter such as leaves and grass clippings.

When you are ready to add your compost to the garden; take it from the bottom first. Mix 2 inches into your soil when starting any new lawn or garden. Repeat on an annual basis before planting.


Definitions and Making Herbal Preparations
 
Compress
Soak a soft cloth in a hot infusion, decoction, or 5-20 ml tincture in 500 ml hot water. Squeeze out excess water and hold pad against affected area.

Creams
A mixture of fats and water that blends with the skin to strengthen and smooth it. Use 30 g lanolin, 15 oz beeswax, 100 g. vegetable or fruit oil, and 30 ml herb water. Melt the lanolin and beeswax in a double boiler, gently stirring in the oil. Remove from heat and whisk in the herb water. Keep stirring as it cools. Store in wide mouth jars.

Decoction
Made by simmering larger pieces of the herb, such as bark, roots, or twigs. Use 30 g. dried or 60 g. fresh herb to 750 ml water; simmer until the water is reduced to 500 ml. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day.

Infused oils
--Hot infusion: 250 g. dried or 500 g. fresh herb to 750 ml Olive or Vegetable Oil. Heat gently in a double boiler for 3 hours. Strain through cheesecloth into dark bottles.

--Cold infusion: Pack a large jar with the herb. Cover it with cold-pressed oil and put the lid on. Let stand in a sunny window sill for 2-3 weeks. Squeeze the oil through a jelly bag and repeat the process. Store in dark glass bottles.

Infusion
A tea made by pouring boiled (not actively boiling) water over fresh or dried herbs. Use approximately 30 g. dried or 75 g. fresh herbs to 500 ml water. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day.

Macerate
To make, pour 500ml of cold water over 25g of herb and leave to stand overnight. Then strain and use as you would a decoction.

Massage Oils
Use 5 drops essential oil to 20 ml carrier oil. Sweet almond, jojoba, avocado or grapeseed make good carrier oils. You can also used infused oils.

Ointment
A mixture of oils and fats that forms a protective layer over the skin. Melt 500 g. petroleum jelly or soft paraffin wax in a double boiler. Add 60 g. dried herb and simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain through a jelly bag and pour into jars while still hot.

Plaster
Wrap the chopped or boiled herbs, or a paste made from them, in cheesecloth or muslin before applying to the affected area. This is good for herbs that might irritate the skin, such as mustard.

Poultice
Boil herbs in a little water for a hot poultice, or bruise or chop slightly for a cold one. Smooth a little oil on the skin to keep the herbs from sticking, apply the herb, and wrap with muslin or gauze strips.

Steam Inhalants
Place a few tablespoons of the dried herb in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drape a towel over your head and breathe in the steam.

Syrup
An infusion or decoction preserved by adding sugar or honey. Use 500 ml infusion to 500 g sugar or honey; heat gently until the sweetener has dissolved. Store in dark glass bottles with cork tops; screw top bottles may explode if the mixture ferments.

Tincture
Steep the fresh or dried herb in a 25% mixture of alcohol and water. Do not use methyl, grain, or rubbing alcohol as they are toxic. Vodka is ideal; rum has the added benefit of covering unpleasant flavors. Use 200 g. dried or 600 g. fresh herb to 1 liter alcohol and water. Place in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks,
shaking occasionally. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and store in a dark glass bottle. Take 5 ml three times a day, diluted in a little fruit juice or water.

Tonic Wine
Pour 2 liters good quality wine, preferably red, over 500 g. dried herb, making sure all the herb is covered by the wine. Cover and leave for 2 weeks. Strain and take in 1/3 cup doses.

Wash
A tea or infusion meant only for external use. A mild form of a wash would be 1/4 ounce of herb to one pint of boiling water, steeped until lukewarm, then applied.

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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:11 AM)

Preserving Herbs
 
Harvesting
Harvest in the morning of a hot and dry day--wait until the dew is off the plants.  Snip off the top growth--about 6 inches of stem below the flower buds.

Drying
If the leaves are clean, don't wash them--oils are lost in the washing process. If they are dusty, wash
briefly under cold water. Shake off excess water and hang the herbs, tied in small bunches, in the sun until the water evaporates. Hang the bunches (upside down) in a warm, dry place that is well ventilated and free from strong light. To prevent dust from accumulating, put them in a brown paper bag that you've punched some holes in to increase circulation. If you don't hang them up, remove the stems and dry them on baking sheets, window screens covered with clear sheeting or cheesecloth, or even on a towel.
You can also dry herbs in a food dryer. For the best flavor, the temperature in the dryer should stay under 105 degrees F.

Storing
Leaves may be crushed before they are stored away, but they retain their oils better if they are kept whole and crushed right before they are used. Herbs should be stored in a cool place, out of strong light, either in dark glass jars, in tins, or behind cabinet e-mail box every Fridays. It's best to throw them out after a year and restock with new ones.

Freezing
Blanch herbs before freezing them. Hold them by their stems with tongs and dip them in boiling water briefly, swishing them around a little. When their color brightens, remove them from the water. Blot dry with towels. Remove the stems, chop if you wish, or leave the leaves whole. Lay the dried herbs out in a single layer on wax paper and roll or fold the paper so there is a layer of paper separating each layer of herbs. Then pack, paper and all, in freezer bags or wrap in freezer-rated plastic wrap. To use, break off as much as you need and use frozen. You can also thaw them out in the refrigerator- -they will keep for about a week.
You can freeze individual portions of herbs by making ice cubes out of them. Prepare your herbs by removing the stems and chopping, and then pack them into ice cube trays. Cover with boiling water (to blanch them) and freeze. When frozen, remove the cubes from the trays and store in freezer bags.

Pampering Yourself With Herbs
By Brenda Hyde

From the moment you wake  up your day is hectic. You skip breakfast and
barely have time for lunch. It  seems like you can never catch a breath, which is
why pampering yourself seems  out of the question. The thing we often have a
hard time understanding is that  we must refresh ourselves in order to do our
best. You can only travel at 100 miles an hour for so long. Herbs are an
inexpensive yet elegant way to pamper  yourself when you take a few minutes or
hopefully a few hours of quiet time. 
Quick Refreshers
Tie fresh lavender, thyme, and sage together in a small  bundle and hang near
your desk or work area; even if that happens to be the  kitchen sink. 
Flavor plain cream cheese with finely chopped fresh or crushed dried herbs 
such as basil, thyme, dill, marjoram, chives, mint or oregano. Add 1 teaspoon
of  dried herbs, or about 1 tablespoon of fresh, at a time per 8 ounces of
cream  cheese. Mix them if you wish; as long as they equal those proportions. Keep
in a  covered container to spread on bagels, crackers or French bread instead
of  skipping breakfast. 
Place dried chamomile, rosemary, lavender and lemon balm in a small cloth 
bags. Place the bags in a bathroom, under cushions or other places where 
pressure or warmth will release a wonderful smell. 
Special Treats
Lavender-vinegar hair rinse: Fill a one quart jar 1/2  full with lavender
leaves and flowers. Top with white vinegar; seal with a  plastic lid, or place
plastic wrap over the jar first before closing lid. Place  in a dark place, such
as a cupboard for 3-4 weeks. Mix one part lavender vinegar  to one part
distilled water and use to rinse hair after shampooing. 
Herbal Baths: Fresh or dried herbs can be used for a relaxing bath. Use herbs
 such as lavender, rosemary, lemon verbena or lemon balm. To infuse the herbs
 simply combine 4 cups boiling water with 4 tablespoons of herbs. Steep for
30  minutes, strain and add liquid to your bath. To create a bath bag cut a
circle  of muslin or cheese cloth and place fresh herbs in the center with fine
oatmeal  (ground in blender) or powdered milk. Gather the bundle and tie
tightly with  ribbon. Tie the bag from the faucet while the water is running and
allow it to  soak in your bath water while you are bathing. 
Room Freshener: Combine dried lavender, rosemary, southernwood, ground 
cloves, cinnamon and baking soda. Sprinkle on your carpet and leave for one  hour,
then vacuum. If you have very light carpet be sure to test an small area 
first. 
Relaxing
We all need quiet time to reflect on our life and what we are  trying to
accomplish. Don't keep speeding down the road of life without taking a  daily side
trip. Slow down and relax while enjoying the natural fragrance of  herbs.

Get a Feng Shui Garden in 4 simple steps.

Feng Shui! The mind boggles! Directions… a compass… the bagua… different interpretations- where to start- and to finish- in making sure you’ve got good Chi?

It’s my intention, in 4 easy steps, to help you create a garden that welcomes new Harmony, Prosperity and success.

How to do this? Simply, by putting in place the cornerstones of what good energy is attracted to in the garden. The basics of good feng shui can be created in 4 simple ways. From this base, feel your way to creating your own garden of personal taste and beauty. You’ll find Universal energy working for you and smoothing your path.

1. The original elements- Wind & Water

Any positive space has recreated the actual meaning of Feng Shui- wind and water. Indoors, this means there’s proper airflow in the home (wind) and there’s movement in every area- even regular dusting of an unused corner ensures that stagnation doesn’t happen. Water in the home means fluidity- that there’s nothing blocking up key movement areas, like things left in doorways.

Outdoors, a Feng Shui garden will be tapping the elements Wind and Water, too. Wind can be tapped literally by hanging a windchime, using a windmill, flying a flag or using a weather-vane. But more importantly, the symbol of Wind present will mean that every area of the garden has a purpose and is busy doing something, or is regularly tended. Water literally means that a fountain, water feature, pond, birdbath, sprinkler system or swimming pool has a place in every garden. And symbolically, there will be a flow to the garden- garden beds and paths curved or rounded, not square, or straight and sharp.

2. The Polar energies- Yin & Yang

Have you ever seen a Yin-Yang symbol? The balance of Yin and Yang underpins Feng Shui principle, and is essential to create an environment that continually attracts good chi.

Yin is the female- the dark, soft, evening energy. Yang is the loud, hard, bright, morning energy. Before we bring in a windchime or a water feature in, Feng Shui reminds us that the balance of the polar energies, Yin and Yang, is paramount.

I want you to think of your own garden, at this time. A balance of Yin and Yang means that you’d have a mixture of small and large plants; hot spots and shady corners, plants that thrive in the harsh climate here and softer ones which you nurture in a different space.

Only once you have your Yin and Yang in order, are you ready to use accessories or bring in new objects to create balance.

3. The Welcome Mat

By a welcome mat, we mean a clean, clutter-free environment. This is as relevant in the garden as it is indoors. We all know what a clean house entails. A clean garden is free of weeds and pests, as you deem them, and is neither too dry nor too wet. Hedges and bushes are neatly trimmed, borders are tidy, there’s no debris hanging around and accessories are neatly organized.

4. Positive Plants

There are three reasons why a plant can be considered good feng shui; you may divide Feng Shui plants, then, into 3 categories.

There are plants that, through symbolism, represent good fortune to the Chinese, whether by word association or image; 2, plants that absorb pollutants and/or electromagnetic radiation, and 3, plants which offer Sheng Chi, or good energy, with soft, round leaves, as opposed to those which create Sha Chi, or poison arrows, with sharp leaves or spikes.

The first category of plants offers good feng shui because of their meaning in Chinese culture. Fish in feng shui are a symbol of abundance because, in Chinese, the word is Yu, which sounds like a similar word for riches. Oranges and tangerines are given as gifts at Chinese new year because the words for these fruits sound like “luck” and “wealth”. So a plant may be considered good feng shui by association. This is the case with the Jade plant. It’s recommended to place a jade plant at every door to your home to invite wealth chi in and encourage it to linger longer. The ancient Chinese believed the jade plant to symbolize emeralds; hence it’s association with wealth to this day.

The second category of plants can be considered good feng shui for a more modern reason. Particular plants have been proven to be especially effective at absorbing pollutants and electro-magnetic radiation in an environment, and because of their abilities to transform negative to positive chi, these plants can be classified as good feng shui. Some of the most effective include:


• Peace lilies- which absorb toxicity and electromagnetic radiation (EMR)
• Date palms- they absorb xylene, which can be omitted by some art supplies and petroleum storage
• Ficus plants- absorb formaldehyde, which all interior surfaces and industrial areas omit; they’re especially good in offices.
• English Ivy- thrives in a spot of high earth radiation and a good absorber of EMR
• Baby’s tears, aka Irish Moss, an excellent de-charger, and you’ll feel your tension dissipate as you hold your hands over it’s soft leaves.

The third category of plants reason for being auspicious takes us back to the underlying principles of feng shui; creating a flow of positive chi. Feng Shui believes that negative energy is created in an environment through the presence of poison arrows- sharp corners, exposed edges and pointed objects. These sharp corners cut into positive chi and create friction. Hence, plants such as Cacti, with their spikes, and sharp-leaved varietals, are not considered good feng shui for the poison arrows they create. Conversely, all plants with soft, rounded leaves are excellent feng shui, such Banana or Rubber plants.

Outside, citrus trees are auspicious because of the fruit they bear. Plants with spiky leaves should be kept well away from doors to the home where they may “cut up” the positive chi that enters. In addition, every home seeking luck should have a bamboo plant- for bamboo

sounds like “prayer” in Chinese. Its flexible stalks also represent good health in old age, making it a welcome symbolic (as well as a low maintenance) gift to somebody elderly.

Not one of these three steps is rocket science; it’s almost obvious that to have a clean environment and healthy plants throughout garden will promote balance.

So, just to recap:

  1. Get your yin and yang- dark and light, in balance.
  2. Get your Feng- wind, or movement- and Shui- water, or fluidity- present.
  3. Make sure your garden is tidy and clutter free, and,
  4. Have the above-mentioned auspicious plants working for you.

With these priorities, you will be the proud owner of a garden which relaxes the eye and soothes the soul of all who enter. Now that’s feng shui in action!


Advice on Tools for the Beginning Herbalist
 
Herbalism, like midwifery skills, is one of the oldest parts of teaching within the craft, but is also one where we have lost a huge amount of information and where science has yet to catch up. Every pagan culture has utilized the herbalism of its particular region, and I have found no one source or teacher who could possibly know about every herb that grows on the Earth. Yet today we have the opportunity to perhaps achieve this within a lifespan or two, using the electonic communications at our fingertips. Science is now slowly begining to learn the importance of the natural herbs in healing, but they will take centuries to figure it all out because of the way they go about things, unless nudged.

The first step in herbalism is to gather the tools you will need, and that is the main point of this first message. I have found the following useful and in many cases vital to learn and practice the use of herbs.

1. A Good mortar and Pestile, one of stone or metal is prefered. If wood is used you will need two, one for inedibles and one for edibles - make sure they do not look identical, as you do not want to accidentally poison anyone!!!
2. Containers. Although you can buy dried herbs over the counter in many places these days, do not store them in the plastic bags they come in, as these are usually neither reuseable nor perfectly airtight. Rubbermaid style plastic containers are good, but expensive. I have used glass coffee and spice jars/bottles to good effect, as well as some medicine bottles. The more you recycle the better ecologically, just make sure they have been thoroughly washed and dried before placing anything inside them.

3. Labels. This is vital! None of us in this day and age can possibly recognize each herb in its various forms simply by sight. Always label your containers as you fill them, and if possible date them when they were filled so you don't keep spoiled stock on the shelf.
4. Tea Ball. A good metal teaball of the single cup size can be very useful in the longrun when your are experimenting, and when you are making single person doses of teas and tonics.
5. CheeseCloth : Useful for straining a partially liquid mixtureand occasionnally for the making of sachets.
6. A Good sized teakettle. Preferably one that will hold at least aquart of water.
7. A Good teapot for simmering mixtures. I use one from a chineseimport store that has done me well.
8. A good cutting board and a SHARP cutting knife for just herbal work.
9. A notebook of some sort to record the information in as you go, both successes and failures. Always record anything new you try that may or may not work, and also and research information you get from various sources (like this echo!)
10. An eyedropper.
11. White linen-style bandages. Some ace bandages are also useful in the long run.
12. A metal brazier of some sort, or a metal container that can withstand heavy useage and heat from within or without, useful for several things including the making of your own incenses.
13. Reference sources. Shortly you should see a list of books that I have read from in the past that I consider useful, build from this as a starting point to others and to your teachers help.

Thats it to start, you'll pick the rest up as you go. Take your time studying, take lots of notes, compare your sources and your own personal results on each herb and on herbal mixtures of any kind

Harvesting Herbs Early
Source:  Unknown
 
You can harvest small amounts of many of your herbs throughout the growing season.  Some early harvesting even encourages bushier growth of a lot of the herbs.  It's definately okay to collect up to half of hte tops of annual and biennial herbs.  After perennials have grown for one year, you can harvest as much as two-thires of their top growth in late spring and another third in midsummer.  Try to avoid harvesting much after midsummer because perennials need their leaves to continue making and storing energy for the winter months.





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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:11 AM)

A Sunwheel Herb Garden:
The Nine Sacred Herbs of Wisdom,
Copyright © 1996 by Alissa Sorenson
This work is in the Common Domain.


Then took Woden Nine Magic Twigs
and then smote the serpent that he in nine dispersed.
Now these nine herbs have power against nine magic outcasts
against nine venoms and against nine flying things
against the loathed things that over land rove.

Yes, this is the stuff of legends, but based on very real herbs and medicinal practices of the Anglo-Saxons and their contemporaries. These plants are still in use today, and most are common in Midgard. It is my intent to cover the practical basics of growing and using these nine sacred herbs, which are: Mugwort, Waybroad (Plantain), Atterlothe (unknown), Maythen (Chamomile), Wergulu (Nettle), Crabapple, Chervil, and Fennel.

These are just nine of the herbs of our ancestors: common plants found growing wild, discovered to have beneficial properties to mankind. Or, perhaps Woden discovered them himself and gave them to man, as he did the runes. No matter, it is honorable work to grow, harvest, and use them for the benefit and pleasure of the folk.


Designing the Garden

Whether or not you have decided on a site for your garden, survey your possibilities well. This project does require a reasonably-sized, sunny piece of land, at least 8 X 8 feet. Although if you live in an apartment, you can grow these herbs in containers on a sunny patio or balcony (but you may have to bonsai the crab apple tree!).

We know the Sunwheel as a holy symbol, which represents the daily passage of Sunna across the sky, the wheel of her chariot, and as a hallowing sign of the Vanir. How appropriate for a sacred garden dedicated to our Faith, our Gods, and the Earth, whether you call her Frigg, Jord or Erce! The Sunwheel also naturally accommodates nine herbs (or, eight and one tree) by its design. It also converts well, and can be used for a very small garden of only one or two plants of each herb, up to as large as you have the will and land to make!


Working the Earth

When you have chosen your site, don’t forget to approach the local landwights and offer them something for their good favor. Chances are they will be glad and excited about your undertaking. But you are planting a tree, which is a pretty big change to the landscape! Not to mention that Crabapple trees can grow very large, and you may need to transplant it again before it reaches its full height. Keep this in mind when choosing your spot.

If preparing this garden in early spring, you may want to incorporate it into a “Charming of the Plow” ritual (see Field Blessing by Winifred Hodge, this issue). Due to these herbs being connected with Woden in herblore, this project would be an ideal site, garden, or harrow dedicated to the Allfather. It may be desirable to perform the actual dedication ceremony at the breaking of ground.


Getting Started

First prepare the circle of earth where your Sunwheel will be. You may need to till up grass and weeds, and clear the topsoil of any large rock particles. Check your soil type - it will need to be fairly good, and you can correct poor soil by adding the appropriate conditioners and fertilizers. Even if you have average garden soil, add compost for nutrients and tilth.

Once your soil is ready, the Sunwheel can be formed with just about any common garden marker, including bricks, railroad ties, rock, or even out of the soil itself. However, for magical purposes it is recommended to use local cut rock or hand-gathered stones or wood. It is possible to create the form based on the number nine. Simply use sequences of three or nine when placing the markers, or make sure the total number of pieces used is divisible by nine. For example, make each spoke of the Sunwheel and each quadrant of the Sunwheel rim out of three rocks, or nine.

Begin planting your herbs after the last frost, which usually falls in March or April, depending on your region. The garden needs to receive full sun, which is at least four to five hours of direct sunlight daily.


The Herbs

Crabapple - There the Apple accomplished it against poison that she (the loathsome serpent) would never dwell in the Middle Garth.

Crabapple is a tree, of course, and not really an herb. However, the modern definition of an herb is any plant with common use, be it culinary, medicinal, household, or magical. As the only tree, the Crabapple should obviously be planted in the center of the Sunwheel.

Order the tree from a nursery, at about one year of age. There are many different varieties, just be sure you get one that produces fruit. Check its hardiness in your area. Most nurseries and mail order companies have a zone chart which will identify how well your tree will do in your area. If you are not sure, go to a local nursery and ask. Most people don’t grow Crabapples for fruit anymore, but they may have Crabapples in stock, or can order them for you.

Soak the roots of the tree in water with fish emulsion fertilizer, available at most garden or home supply warehouses. Mix the fertilizer as recommended, usually one teaspoon fish emulsion per gallon water for transplants. (Do this for all transplanted plants.) Dig a hole in the center of the Sunwheel about one foot in diameter, and the same in depth. Place the roots in the hole at a depth which will just cover the roots, but do not encroach up the trunk very high. Just barely cover the “root ball” at the base of the trunk, from which the roots start to extend. Cover the roots with soil, pack down lightly, and water well. Crabapple will sap the ground of nutrients, so you will need to fertilize the garden regularly.

You will likely need to prune the tree, especially if it has been shipped. Cut off any broken branches or bows with pruning shears. Additionally, you will need to yearly prune the branches back in late summer, and for instructions I will refer you to Tree Planting Day, by Charles Spratling (this issue) and Rodale’s Organic Garden Answers for Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs, which has a very good section on pruning bearing trees.

Unfortunately, there is not much support in herblore for the common, lowly Crabapple. It is not touted medicinally, nor for its fruit, which is nearly too bitter for the palate. However, it is of note that there is archaeological evidence for the consumption of Crabapples in Early England, and compensation for a Crabapple tree in Anglo-Saxon times was 30 pence. Crabapples make a fine jam, and have been used to flavor mead. For mead, or more technically melomel, peel and seed the Crabapples and then boil in water to a mush. Add plenty of sugar to taste, and cinnamon if you like, and then steep in the honey wort.

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Fennel - Chervil and Fennel, two very mighty ones. They were created by the wise one-eyed Lord, holy in Asgard as he hung on the tree; He set and sent them to the nine worlds, to the wretched and the fortunate, as a help to all.

Common Fennel, Foeniculum Vulgare, is a hardy perennial in temperate regions, but may be grown as an annual where winters are harsh. It is sown readily from seed, and can also be purchased as a young plant from most nurseries. To grow from seed, sow directly in the garden 15 inches apart, or sow early indoors inflats, and transplant after the last frost. Fennel will grow almost anywhere, but prefers a well-drained, alkaline soil. Depending on your soil type, you may wish to add bonemeal, lime or ash in the area you will be planting it.

Fennel grows very large, up to six feet, and needs to be planted towards the center of the garden, behind the smaller plants, and may overshadow the Crabapple the first year or two. If you are cultivating a smaller garden, one or two plants is all you will need.

Fennel’s small, yellow flowers will be seen in June and July, and will set seed in late summer. Unless you wish it to re-seed voluntarily, collect the seed heads at maturity, when they harden and turn brown. In the fall cut it back to the ground, and it should send out new shoots in the following spring. Or you can dig up the root, which can been eaten as a vegetable, and sow new seed the following year.

Fennel has a strong, licorice-like scent, and can be used medicinally and in cooking. Fennel seed, bruised and boiled in water, and then added to syrup and soda water will relieve flatulence in infants. The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper relates a common use of it, its seed or leaves boiled in barley water and then drunk by nursing mothers to increase their milk and its quality for the infant. In Lacnunga, Fennel is used in charms against all manner of ill-meaning wights, from elves to sorcerers, and even against insanity. An infusion of the leaves or crushed seeds will ease flatulence and increase appetite in adults, and should be drunk three times a day.

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Chervil - There are two plants commonly known as Chervil: Sweet Chervil, or Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) and French Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium). The first is native to the British Isles, and likely to be the chervil of the Anglo-Saxons, and therefore will be the herb discussed here. French Chervil’s use is primarily culinary, but is an adequate substitute for Myrrhis odorata in your garden, as these herbs are often mistaken for one another. Additionally, if you live in an arid region, French Chervil may prove the hardier herb.

Sweet Cicely is found in mountainous regions, and prefers a rocky, well-drained soil. A hardy perennial, it is best cultivated from root or plant, but can be grown from seed. It can reach two to three feet in height, and should be planted towards the center of the Sunwheel, not quite one foot apart. Its aromatic foliage is similar to Anise or Lovage, and its small white flowers attract bees.

The entire plant is edible. John Gerard, garden keeper to Queen Elizabeth, reports its leaves and roots were commonly eaten in salads in his day, and it is said that Chervil comforts the heart and increases a lust for life. Culpeper states that Chervil provokes menstruation, which may be why this herb is considered a valuable tonic for adolescent girls. Chervil tea is also an effective relief for bronchitis and sinusitis, being a useful tonic for the mucous membranes. Along with Fennel, Chervil was created by the wise Lord, a phrase to which I like to add one-eyed.

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Mugwort - Remember, Mugwort, what you made known, what you arranged. You were called Una, the oldest of herbs, you have power against three and against thirty, you have power against poison and against infection, you have power against the loathsome serpent encircling the Middle Garth.

I think Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is the herb best known to Heathens, due to its aid in the second sight and Seidh working. The dried herb is often burned as recels, and has an odor very similar to Cannabis. Mugwort is not intoxicating, however, but does act as a nervine, and is helpful against depression and tension.

Mugwort is grown from seed, and can be purchased as a young plant at most herbal nurseries. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden, about one foot apart, or sown in flats early indoors and transplanted. It grows up to three feet in height, more in an ideal growing environment. It thrives in ordinary, well-drained garden soil, and is related to Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). In common to that plant, Mugwort can be used dried as an insect repellent, but is not as strong as Wormwood, lacking its volatile oil. Mugwort will re-seed readily, and should be cut to the ground in late autumn. The plant is a hardy perennial, and will come back in the Spring in most areas.

Mugwort also stimulates the digestive system, and will help aid a normal menstrual flow. It can be taken as a tea of the dried or fresh leaves, or in aperitifs or tincture (alcohol extraction). To prepare a tincture, bruise and soak fresh leaves in grain alcohol, preferably vodka, for two weeks, agitating daily. Strain the mixture, and store tincture in a closed, glass jar or bottle in a dark, cool location. When properly stored, the tincture should keep indefinitely.

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Atterlothe - Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons, though you are the lesser, you the mightier, conquer the lesser poisons, until he is cured of both.

Unfortunately, the identity of this herb is not certain. Storms suggests Cock’s Spur Grass, a name which reminds me of Cockeburr, or common Agrimony. However Agrimony is known in Lacnunga as Garclife and Egrimonie. But Atterlothe is translated to mean venom loather. I think it is a fair assumption that, lacking the absolute identity of this herb, we may make an appropriate substitution based on its magical function and meaning.

Eleanour Sinclair Rohde in The Old English Herbals states that the Saxons attributed the source of all ill to the Great Worm, or the World Serpent. She uses examples of Saxon literature, including the Nine Herb Charm, to support this. Additionally, the Leech Book of Bald, a later medicinal text, is mentioned as ascribing even minor ailments to the presence of a worm. While I think this is a gross simplification, it is noteworthy to consider the World Serpent as the enemy of Midgard, and therefore mankind, and the potential spiritual source for disease.

In keeping with this, I propose Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) as an appropriate substitute for Atterlothe. Although Wormwood was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Wermod, its strong benefit to the body, and its anthelmintic properties, make it ideal in place of Atterlothe. Wormwood was the original main ingredient in Absinthe, which proved deadly for the habitual drinker. But the euphoria and madness associated with it certainly brings Woden to mind, and again reassures its place in this garden. Wormwood also is used as a nervine to soothe a nervous temperament, just the thing to calm a berserker down!

Wormwood can be grown from seed, but viability of the seed (chance that it will germinate) is fairly low. It can be purchased as a seedling from most herb nurseries, or propagated by root division. It is a hardy perennial, grows two to three feet high, and prefers a well-drained, sunny position.

Wormwood should be used carefully in medicine, despite its general benefit to man. An infusion (tea) of the leaves taken three times a day will stimulate the digestive system, treat indigestion, and help the body deal with fever and infections. This historical use is confirmed in Lacnunga in charms against Typhoid and Chicken Pox. The powdered herb may be taken in capsule to expel worms, and is particularly effective against roundworms and pinworms. For pets, vary the dosage accordingly, starting with 1/8 teaspoon of the dried herb, and increase as needed.

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Chamomile - Remember Chamomile, what you made known, what you accomplished at Alorford, that never a man should lose his life from infection, after Chamomile was prepared for his food.

Chamomile, like Balder who is associated with it, is probably the best-loved herb. Its small, white flowers and sweet-apple scent endear it to anyone who comes in contact with it. It is pristine and pure, as well as useful in the medicine chest.

There are several varieties of Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita), Roman (Anthemis nobilis), and Dyer’s Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria). For tea, German Chamomile is the best choice, and it is this variety to be discussed here. However, Roman Chamomile is a perennial, unlike German, and may be a better choice to grow in the Southwestern States, as it will tolerate an arid climate. Its flowers may also be used for tea, but it will produce less of them. Obviously, Dyer’s Chamomile is what you want if you wish to produce a beautiful yellow dye.

German Chamomile is an annual, grown readily from seed, and can grow up to a foot in height. Place this herb towards the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of the taller herbs. The seed can be scattered in the garden after the last frost, or again grown in flats indoors and transplanted. It will do fine in ordinary garden soil, and needs regular watering.

Chamomile has long been known as a sedative, and is one of the few, true alterative nervines. This means it regulates the nervous system - sedative in the case of anxiety or insomnia, and stimulant in case of depression or malaise. The tea relieves flatulence and gastritis, and used externally, Chamomile will speed wound healing and reduce swelling.

Gather the flowers in the summer, and dry by spreading them thinly on a screen or cookie sheet in a warm, dry area where they will not be disturbed. Store in air-tight containers. Be sure to leave a few flower heads on the plants, so that you can gather the very tiny seed in late autumn for planting the next spring.






Plantain - And you, Plaintain, mother of herbs, open from the east, mighty inside. Over you chariots creaked, over you queens rode, over you brides cried out, over you bulls snorted. You withstood all of them, you dashed against them. May you likewise withstand poison and infection, and the loathsome serpent encircling the Middle Garth.

Common Plantain (Plantago major) is a perennial, growing as a weed in most of the northern hemisphere. It can be cultivated by seed or rhizome, and is so proliferous it is best not to let it re-seed voluntarily. If it is not native to your region, it can be difficult to find. I was lucky to meet a lady in Oregon who was kind enough to send me some seeds from her weeds , but a few herb nurseries are starting to offer it.

Plantain grows very low to the ground, with large, broad leaves. It will survive anywhere, but needs regular rain or watering to thrive. Sow the seed directly in the garden, towards the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of the taller herbs. You can sow the seed in flats indoors and then transplant, but it really is a waste of energy. Harvest the whole, fresh leaves for use. When dried, Plantain loses much of its properties in its juice. The seeds have little benefit, with the exception of their use as a substitute for Linseed.

Gerard exclaims the juice of Plantain dropped in the eyes will cool inflammation, and Culpeper states that eating a little bit of the root will cure a headache instantly. Plantain is a useful astringent, and when taken as a tea it will aid against diarrhea. Plantain will also staunch external bleeding when applied in a salve, or simply bruised and applied to a minor wound. For a simple Plantain salve, crush the leaves and mix well with lard, and apply. An interesting parallel, both the Anglo-Saxons and the Native Americans valued Plantain against a snake bite, applied externally.

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Nettle - This is the herb that is called Wergulu. A seal sent it across the sea-ridge, a vexation to poison, a help to others. It stands against pain, it dashes against poison, it has power against three and against thirty, against the hand of a fiend and against mighty devices, against the spell of mean creatures.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) was brought to the British Isles by the Roman Legions, who would rub their arms with the leaves to keep their blood flowing in the cold, damp weather. Nettle strengthens and supports the entire body, and can even be cooked and eaten as a pot herb, like mustard greens or spinach. Itis another common weed, reaches up to three feet in height, and is a hardy perennial. It can be grown by seed, and may be difficult to find in nurseries.

To grow Nettles, sow the seed directly in place in the garden, about one foot apart. Like Plantain, it will grow anywhere, but prefers regular watering and ordinary garden soil. Nettle will take over the garden if you let it, so be sure to collect the flower heads before they set seed. The plant will readily return in the spring from its creeping roots. Also, keep the roots under control by regularly digging around the area where they are planted. Or, sink garden bed bordering underground around the area to prevent the unwanted spread of its roots.

To gather fresh Nettle leaves, wear gardening gloves! If you are stung by its stinging hairs, rub the area with Rosemary, Mint or Sage leaves for relief. Collect the leaves when the flowers are blooming. Nettle is used for everything from the stimulation of hair growth to eczema, and may be used as an astringent externally for nose bleeds. Additionally, there are recipes for Nettle Beer and Nettle Pudding.

For Nettle Beer, in a large pot add 2 gallons of cold water, 5 cups of washed, young Nettle leaves, 2 cups each of Dandelion leaves and Horehound or Meadowsweet flowers, and 2 ounces of bruised ginger root. Boil gently for 40 minutes, then strain and stir in 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. When cooled to lukewarm temperature, toast a slice of bread and spread with one cube of fresh yeast. Float the bread yeast side up on the top of the mixture, cover and allow to ferment for 24 hours. At the end of this time, open and remove the residue from the top of the beer. Add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar. Bottle as you would an ale.

Watercress Stune is the name of this herb, it grew on a stone, it stands up against poison, it dashes against pain. Unyielding it is called, it drives out the hostile one, it casts out poison, it has the power against infection. This is the herb that fought against the world serpent.

Although Lacnunga refers to Lamb’s Cress (lombescyrse) as one of the Nine Sacred Herbs, which Storms differentiates from Watercress (eacerse or wyllecerse) as Cardamine, Gerard assures us that Watercress, or Nasturtium officinale, is also referred to as Cardamine. Although there may be a minor difference in varieties, it is safe to assume that these plants are very similar if not one and the same. Considering that Gerard’s Herbal was published in 1597 C.E., one thousand years from the estimated date of Lacnunga (587 C.E.), this name may have been commonly attributed to a different herb during that time. However, Gerard’s one thousand year gap is certainly preferable to Storm’s fourteen hundred year gap.

Watercress is a perennial but is typically grown as an annual, prefers a moist habitat, and naturally occurs near springs, creeks and rivers. It is cultivated by seed, sown directly in the garden or in flats indoors, and then transplanted after the last frost. Watercress is a small, creeping plant, so place near the rim of the Sunwheel, in front of taller plants. Gather the seeds in the fall for replanting in the spring, or allow to re-seed itself. Water it daily in summer.

Watercress is commonly eaten in salads and soups, and is the primary ingredient in that favorite English Tea-time snack, Watercress sandwiches. Although not in common use medicinally, Grieve reports its use against tuberculosis during her time. Culpeper advises the bruised leaves to be placed directly on the skin tocombat freckles, pimples and other skin ailments. Watercress is an excellent diuretic, rivaled only by the Dandelion.

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Other Herbs of Note

Houseleek Also known as Thor’s Beard, Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum) planted in a pot and placed on the roof will protect a house from lightning. This plant is known as Hens and Chicks in the United States.

Cowslip or Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is associated with Freya, and it is said to open the door to her hall or mound. A wash of Cowslip water will improve the complexion.

Woodruft A sprig of Sweet Woodruff (Asperula odorata) steeped in Rhine Wine for a few hours is all it takes to make May Wine, a common beverage at Walpurgis.

Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is the plant that gives us linen and linseed oil, and has been used since ancient times. The fiber is traditionally spun and woven for clothing. Flax is under the dominion of Holda, possibly another name for Frigg, who taught us the art of growing Flax, of spinning, and of weaving it.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) was said to be revealed by the Archangel Michael as a cure for the plague. More interestingly, Grieve recounts the remnant of an old Lithuanian Pagan custom of the peasants marching into towns carrying Angelica flower stems and offering them for sale. Angelica is associated with Heimdall, used in warding, and the stems are still commonly boiled in sugar-water for a confection.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor), the “Joy of the Ground”, was used against witchcraft and sorcery in Medieval times, and therefore is of excellent protection against ill-meaning wights of all kinds (including people). The contradiction, and perhaps explanation, is that it was also called Sorcerer’s Violet. What better to fight sorcery with than sorcery?



Sources:
Culpeper, Nicholas. Culpeper's Complete Herbal and English Physician, reprint of 1814 original publishing. Meyerbooks, Greenwood, IL, 1990.
Freeman, Margaret B. Herbs for the Mediaeval Household for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1948.
Gerard, John. Gerard’s Herbal, reprint of the 1597 original publishing. Crescent Books, Crown, New York, 1985.
Grieve, Mrs. M.. A Modern Herbal - Volumes I-II. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1971.
Griggs, Barbara. Green Pharmacy, the History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, 1991.
Gundarsson, KveldulfR. Teutonic Magic. Llewellyn Publications Inc., St. Paul, MN, 1990.
Gundarsson, KveldulfR, editor. Our Troth. Ring of Troth, 1993.
Hagen, Ann. Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink. Anglo-Saxon Books, Norfolk, England, 1995.
Hoffmann, David. New Holistic Herbal. Element Inc., Rockport, MA, 1991
. Hogan, Elizabeth, editor. An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening. Sunset Publishing Corporation, Menlo Park, CA, 1991.
Lehner, Ernst and Johanna. Folklore and Odysseys of Food and Medicinal Plants. Tudor Publishing Co., New York, 1962.
Rohde, Eleanour Sinclair. Old English Herbals. Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1971.
Storms, Dr. G.. Anglo-Saxon Magic. Martinius Nijhoff, The Hague, 1948.



Previously published in Lina, the Journal of Frigga’s Web, Volume 1, Issue 4, Ostara 1996.

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This work remains the sole property of Alissa Sorenson - It may be reproduced only in its entirety. All reproductions of this work must contain or link this Common Domain Document License, as well as the traditional copyright notice (Copyright 1996 by Alissa Sorenson). Distribution of substantively modified versions of this document is prohibited without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Substantive modification means a change to the semantic content of the document, and excludes mere changes in format or typographical corrections, including translation to other languages. Appearance of this work in a collection of works, electronic or otherwise, does not constitute an endorsement by the author. This document is supplied as-is, without warranty of any kind.
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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:13 AM)

Create a Garden Altar

Adapted from The Essence of Incense, by Diana Rosen (Storey Books,
2001). Simple Solution

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants
something in his Soul.
--Thomas Merton
 
Being in nature can nourish us in so many ways every
day. Creating a garden altar is one way to honor the power of nature to
soothe and uplift us. It is so easy and so completely satisfying to
spend a little time creating a special spot outdoors. Here are some
simple, inspiring ways to begin: A garden altar can be without any
traditional religious significance but can reflect, instead, the beauty
of nature herself. Consider an arrangement of treasured pebbles, a sand
garden dotted with bonsai, a koi pond edged with protective grasses.
Anything that touches your heart and brings you peace when you look upon
it can be considered a garden altar. Planting trees or flowers to
cherish the memory of someone you love needs no altar or labeling; the
quiet loveliness of a rose, the vibrant color of a hibiscus, the
strength of an oak tree--any of these marvels of nature is enough to
remind you of that special someone. Statuary of Buddha, the Virgin Mary, or
other religious icons can be part of a garden altar, to which you can
offer morning or evening prayers or your own personal spiritual
reflections. Or consider a garden altar in remembrance of someone who
loved gardening or the outdoor life. A laminated photo of her, perhaps a
spade or a glove she used while gardening, or her garden clogs, can be
placed among the statuary or in front of a tree planted in her honor.
Add an incense burner or ash catcher to your garden altar and light
incense when you visit. The scent will carry your thoughts and prayers
to the clouds. Give yourself time to relax completely. Breathe in deeply
and observe a note of gratitude for the pleasures of your garden. For a
garden altar with religious icons, a natural choice would be incense
such as that used by temples and churches; to remember a friend, choose
the scent of her or his favorite garden flower or plant or personal
fragrance. And for your personal garden altar, select a scent that
matches the favorite flowers in your own garden or of places nearby that
you would like to commemorate. Many incense manufacturers now have
scents that echo the sea, rain, mountains, and other smells that recall nature.

Enchanting Herbs by Meg McGowan

 

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. For me it is the most authentic holiday, one with a true air of festival, frolic, and fun. Unlike Christmas, preparation is minimal and expectations are simple — camaraderie and candy. The interpersonal dramas that tend to plague other holidays don't seem to be an issue on Halloween, as our flair for the dramatic is sated in the area of playful ritual. By donning costumes we allow ourselves and others to interact with aspects of our personality that are usually hidden, giving all of us a chance to step out of our usual roles.

 

Halloween is an opportunity for us to dialogue with the dark or shadow side of ourselves. It is a night for hobnobbing with our devils and ghosts; for chatting and drinking cider with the monsters that frighten us. Halloween demands interaction with neighbors we might not know well, which results in a block-party appeal to the revels. On a ritualistic level, trick-or-treating may be read as a request that strangers, the unfamiliar parts of ourselves, give up their gifts to us.

 

Light and dark are not opposites, but two parts of the same cycle. In order to fully appreciate the light festivals that will come at the winter solstice, we must first see and know the darkness. It is the beginning of our perennial inward journey. On Halloween we believe the veil between worlds is very thin, thus great transformation is possible. But is it only the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds that thins, or is it the division between any two polarities in our minds, between any two realities that are struggling to coexist? This dark night may represent a resolution of paradox, a happy meeting of incompatible beliefs that initiates the healing required in order to let light back into our lives.

 

Magic and healing, particularly herbal healing, are also two parts of a whole. Working with personal and universal power is often considered magic. Healing with herbal medicine utilizes not only the physical components of a plant, but its unique life force as well. Part of the power of herbal medicine is that it is a path that leads to a sacred threshold. Spells are basically an acting out of our best intentions with a respectful request for help from the universe signified by including the energies we would like to engage. Casting a spell or performing a ritual serves as that crucial first movement, in this physical world, toward an intended outcome — the gesture that sets everything in motion.

 

In Simple Spells for Hearth and Home (Harmony, 2000), Barrie Dolnick lists three requirements for casting a spell: belief, intention, and allowing. Anyone who has worked with manifesting or healing is likely to be familiar with these concepts — believing that what you are requesting is possible; being as specific, clear, and objective as possible in your intention without being willful; and releasing control, trusting in the universe (or goddess or god) to fulfill your request in its own way, in its own time. Consciously incorporating these elements into your healing practices will enhance their potency. Acknowledging and requesting the assistance of the plants you are using also brings reverent mindfulness to your work and honors the universal power. Considering astrological aspects such as the moon cycles and the planetary rulers of specific days or hours, if appropriate, also aligns your purpose with universal momentum. Writing or speaking your intention as a statement or a prayer focuses energy. (Including a caveat "to do no harm" or "for the greatest or highest good of all involved" solicits protection for ourselves and others, deferring to the wisdom of the universe over personal will and safeguarding against the potentially tangled web of our own motivation while we are in the process of learning clarity.)

 

Just as the power of herbal healing can be increased by drawing on other energies, the power of manifesting through other magical rituals can be enhanced by utilizing the energies of appropriate herbs. Reference books, such as Magical Herbalism (Llewellyn, 2001) by Scott Cunningham, offer a comprehensive introduction. If you are familiar with herbs and have worked with them in other capacities, trust your own experience and listen to guidance from the plants as well as other sources as you experiment in creating your own rituals.

 

That which we don't understand can amaze or amuse us. It can leave us in awe or in fear; eager to learn more or determined to discredit the source of our dis-ease. To make magic, we must allow ourselves to believe that we can be supported in all our endeavors and that it is okay to ask for help. When we speak to the universe with the directness of a child, the universe will respond. We, in turn, can experience anew our childlike wonder and delight in the world.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Choosing a holistic approach to medicine means choosing personal responsibility for your health care. Herbs for Health offers a doorway through which to enter the realm of herbal healing, an invitation to further investigation on the part of the reader. It is in no way intended as a substitute for advice from a health care practitioner.


Focus On Herbs and Supplements for Clear Vision
Catherine Gregory


10/1/2002 9:24:59 PM

Despite the grim statistics, there are ways your customers can prevent, and in some cases reverse, the damaging effects of certain degenerative eye conditions.

Vision loss is a serious threat for those suffering from eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. As people age, their rate of degenerative eye disease increases dramatically. Each year some 13 million people are diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (deterioration of the central retina called the macula), the world's leading cause of irreversible blindness. Cataracts, though operable here in the United States, are the major cause of blindness in the world. Glaucoma also can lead to vision loss.

Despite the grim statistics, there are ways your customers can prevent, and in some cases reverse, the damaging effects of certain degenerative eye conditions. Recent studies substantiate key antioxidants—particularly certain carotenoids—as a healthy prescription for eyesight.

Antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene have long been touted for their ability to fight free radicals in the body, an important factor in maintaining eye health.

"Free radicals are unpaired electrons that come into our bodies looking for an electron," explains Diane Raile, technical support manager for NutriCology, the Hayward, Calif.-based manufacturer of OcuDyne eye support formula. "Antioxidants act as unpaired electrons saying 'take me, take me,' so they protect the healthy tissue and prevent oxidation because the antioxidant offers itself."

Carotenoids are a group of powerful antioxidants that have been shown to prevent free-radical oxidation in the eye. Many of these nutrients can improve visual acuity, as well as prevent a host of other eye problems such as dry eyes, macular degeneration, cataracts (opacity of the eye lens) and glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that leads to atrophy of the optic nerve).

There are more than 400 known carotenoids, but in the past couple of years, research has singled out lutein—found in dark green leafy vegetables—as a critical nutrient for good vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin, a similar carotene produced by the body from lutein, are concentrated in the macula and retina and act like filters, preventing photochemical damage and oxidation leading to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

"My number one nutrient for eye health, that I prescribe to everybody over the age of 50, is lutein," says Marc Grossman, O.D., L.Ac., author of Natural Eye Care (Keats Publishing, 1999). "For prevention I recommend 6 mg of lutein per day, which has been shown to cut the risk of macular degeneration by 63 percent in a study from Harvard University.

"It's very important for us as we become an older population to keep our gift of sight," Grossman says. "That's why I stress that people start taking care of themselves in their 40s and 50s, if not sooner, because they can prevent a lot of eye problems."

His approach to eye health is holistic, incorporating a "vision" diet loaded with eye-enhancing nutrients; healthy lifestyle habits including eye protection and eye exercises; as well as vitamin and herb supplementation.

His top-three prescribed supplements for prevention of degenerative eye conditions are lutein, bilberry and omega-3 fatty acids. Lutein is an excellent preventive for macular degeneration and cataracts, but he prescribes higher doses of the nutrient for those already suffering from those conditions.

"I deal with lots of people who have macular degeneration," Grossman says. "It's a lot easier to reverse when they just find out they have it, but there is still hope for those in later stages. In regular medicine, they say there's nothing you can do for macular degeneration, but it's a nutritionally responsive condition, and that's been shown definitively by lots of studies."

Though Grossman has seen conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts improve with nutritional therapy, he says that often nutrition alone isn't a cure. "I just sent my mom to cataract surgery," he admits. "We were able to slow it down for about 10 years with nutritional therapy, but then she moved to Florida and it got worse because of the ultraviolet light."

NutriCology has generated positive results with its OcuDyne formulation as well. "We have tons of letters from people with cataracts and macular degeneration," Raile says. "The feedback has ranged from they turned their cataracts around to they put off cataract surgery for 15 years."

A recent seven-year study, conducted by the National Eye Institute, showed that a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc significantly reduced the risk of developing advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration by about 25 percent. Lutein was not included in the study because during the study's planning stages in the early 1990s, the carotenoid was not commercially available. The NEI is currently conducting a pilot study to see how well lutein is absorbed in the bloodstream in people over age 60.

Most manufacturers of eye support formulas have considered the research when formulating their products, which often include a long list of vitamins, herbs and other eye nutrients that work synergistically. "When you eat a piece of fruit that is high in antioxidants, you're not just getting one antioxidant, you're getting a group of antioxidants," says Louise MacIntosh, director of research and development for Futurebiotics Inc. in Hauppauge, N.Y., developers of the eye support formula Eyes Bright. "The closer you can take [nutrients] to the way things are in nature, the better off you are. Whenever we do a formula, we try to keep the nutrients in certain ratios that resemble the way they are in what you'd eat."

NutriCology's OcuDyne, a hypoallergenic eye support formula created more than a decade ago, was recently updated to keep up with new research. OcuDyne II includes lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamins and minerals. "When you're using an eye-support formula as a main supplement, you also have to find an adequate mineral formula and antioxidants," Raile says. "This meets those needs. Its main function is for eye support, but there are so many vitamins in there, and with the addition of lutein and the minerals, it can be used as a multivitamin."

Most experts agree about the importance of nutrients for the eye, but there are differing opinions about delivery and dosage. Grossman says he prefers liquid or tinctures for better absorption. "They also might have all the right ingredients, but it's very important to look at the therapeutic dosages," he says. Lutein has been available as a commercial supplement since 1995, and though some manufacturers are including it in their eye-support combination formulations, Grossman suggests his patients take it separately from beta-carotene, because the two substances compete for absorption.

Many factors go into a preventive eye health program, including diet, healthy lifestyle habits, eye protection and exercise, as well as nutritional supplementation. By taking steps now toward a holistic approach to vision care, consumers can decrease their chances for degenerative eye disease and make the future look bright for clear eyesight.

Catherine Gregory is a Louisville, Colo.-based freelance writer.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 10/p. 69-70

What You See Is What You Get

Marc Grossman, O.D., L.Ac., author of Natural Eye Care (Keats, 1999) recommends the following supplements for prevention of degenerative eye conditions:

  1. Lutein/Zeaxanthin, 6 mg/300 mcg. Both work like filters for the retina and macula, where they are concentrated to block photo-oxidation from ultraviolet light and prevent free radical damage.
  2. Bilberry, 1 mg per pound of body weight. Its active constituents, anthocyanosides, help with the integrity of artery and vein cell walls and improve delivery of oxygen and blood to the eye; very good nutrient for overall retinal health and circulation.
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 1,500 mg (from organic flaxseed oil or fish oil). An integral component of nerve cells, cell membranes and vital hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which help regulate circulation to the retina.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 10/p. 69

How Important Is Sun Protection?

"Very important," says Marc Grossman, O.D., L.Ac., author of Natural Eye Care (Keats, 1999)."Especially wrap-arounds and wearing a hat. Thirty-five percent of light gets in around the top and sides of regular sunglasses; that's why it's important to wear the wrap-around kind." High altitudes and locations close to the equator have increased rates of photo-oxidation in the eye caused by ultraviolet sunlight. But that doesn't mean natural light isn't good, says Grossman. He recommends 45 minutes daily of indirect sunlight without sunglasses, because the photo receptors need all kinds of light wavelengths for health. "But if we overdo it," Grossman warns, "that can cause shrinkage of vitreous fluids and photo-oxidation of the retina, which creates free radicals."


3 Wonderful Ways to Use Epsom Salts
By Annie B. Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999).

Simple Solution
I always knew that soaking in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Epsom Salts was good for relaxing muscles and drawing toxins from the body, but I could never find out why. And it wasn't until I spent some time at the Epsom Salt Industry Council website that I learned that Epsom Salts -- made of the mineral magnesium sulfate--are also a sedative for the nervous system.

When magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin, such as in a bath, it draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, relaxes muscles, is a natural emollient, exfoliator, and much more.

EPSOM SALT TIPS
Adapted from the Epsom Salt Industry Council
Epsom Salt Council
Note: Check with a doctor before using if you have any health concerns.

* Relaxing and Sedative Bath: Soak in warm water and 2 cups of Epsom Salt.

* Face Cleaner: To clean your face at night, mix a half-teaspoon of Epsom Salt with your regular cleansing cream. Just massage into skin and rinse with cold water.

* Homemade Skin Mask: Apply the mask to damp skin. For normal to oily skin, mix 1 tablespoon of cognac, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk, the juice of 1 lemon, and a half-teaspoon of Epsom Salt. For normal to dry skin mix 1/4 cup of grated carrot, 1 1/2 teaspoons of mayonnaise and a half-teaspoon of Epsom Salt.

* Foot Soak: Soothe aches, remove odors, and soften rough skin with a foot soak. Add 1/2 cup of Epsom Salt to a large pan of warm water. Soak feet for as long as it feels right. Rinse and dry.

* Skin Exfoliator: Massage handfuls of Epsom Salt over your wet skin, starting with your feet and continuing up towards the face. Have a bath to rinse.

* Remove Excess Oil from Hair: Epsom Salt soaks up excess oil from hair. Add 9 tablespoons of Epsom Salt to 1/2 cup of oily hair shampoo. Apply one tablespoon of the liquid to your hair when it is dry; rinse with cold water. Pour lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar through the hair, leave on for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse.

* Hairspray: Combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of lemon juice, and 1 cup Epsom Salt. Combine, cover, and let set for 24 hours. The next day, pour the mixture into your dry hair and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then shampoo as normal.

* Hair Volumizer: Combine equal parts of deep conditioner and Epsom Salt. Warm in a pan. Work the warm mixture through your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse.

* Soak Sprains and Bruises: Epsom Salt will reduce the swelling of sprains and bruises. Add 2 cups Epsom Salt to a warm bath, and soak.

* Splinter Remover: Soak in Epsom Salt, it will draw out the splinter.


PLANTING A FAERIE CHAIR



Flower Faeries are intriguing to have in the garden. A great way to invite them to move into your own herb garden is to plant an enticing Faerie Chair . Faerie scouts will be able to see this high rise Faerie Garden from a great distance! They will be so delighted that perhaps a whole clan will make their home near this awesome chair garden. You do however, have to make sure that your friends and relatives never try to sit on the chair. Who knows what would happen!!

Begin by finding an old wooden chair. Garage sales are a good source or in my case I remembered some chairs up in the top of the barn. Remove the seat part of the chair. And gather the rest of the needed material.

  • Chicken wire
  • Staple gun
  • Wire cutters
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Potting soil
  • Green sheet moss
  • Curly branches
  • Special herb plants for the Faeries
Lady's Mantle
So that the Faeries can shower with the dew drops. ( The dew drops from this perennial keeps away wrinkles . This is very important for someone as old as the Faeries.)
Lavender
The clan likes to have many parties and lavender infused wine is one of their favourites. (Promotes pure knowledge!) Lavender plants are where the Faeries drape their clothes to dry and the lavender scent perfumes the air so there is no stress.
Woolly Lamb's Ear
This is a perennial pet for the Faeries normal animals are just tooooo big!
Thyme
Thyme is a must! The Faeries build their homes under the mounds of thyme.
Rosemary
Rosemary is also good. Good for the memory! A trailing variety looks great trailing down over the side of the chair.
Boxwood
Boxwood can be clipped into a topiary tree and decorated for a special Faerie events, perhaps a wedding. (The small leaf boxwood would be the best!)
Sweet Woodruff
The whirly white blossoms of the sweet woodruff reflect the moon light for late night Faerie dancing.
Faerie Chair

It is best to find a work area outside to plant the chair. With any luck the Faeries will spot what you are doing and the word will be out already! Cut 2 squares of chicken wire approximately 12" wider than the opening of the chair seat. Staple the chicken wire to the sides and form the excess wire into a pouch. You might want to double the staples to insure the pouch is secure. (In the middle of filming The Gardener's Journal show all my plants started to give way! If this happens never give up . Start over again!) Line the bottom of the chicken wire pouch with wet sphagnum moss until all the mesh part is covered by approximately an 2". Fill in the pouch with a good potting soil amended with compost or well rotted manure, bring the soil up to the level of the top of the seat.
Take the herb plants out of their pots and start planting them in the soil. Remember to keep taller growing plants at the back and the shorter plants such as thyme to the front. Water well and cover the soil around the plants with the green sheet moss. The Faeries will like to hold picnics on the moss and it will help the herbs from becoming too hot on all those sunny days in July! The curly branches should be twisted down a leg of the chair, this will allow the Flower Faerie a way of climbing up to their Faerie Garden. If you have extra branches they can be inserted into the soil at the back in case the Faeries want to build a swing.
I have two Faerie Chairs in the courtyard and they attract a lot of attention. To encourage interest I have placed little mini tea sets on the moss and have given the Faeries their own sign that says "Faerie Garden" that is tied onto the chair rail with bright raffia. The Faeries like all kinds of earthly delights. Add acorns, seashells and bits of gold ribbon but most of all add your imagination and have lots of "Faerie Fun" The Faerie Chair should be watered once a day and in cold temperatures in the winter, given some protection.


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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:13 AM)

Make Fresh Herbs a Way of Life
The Food Detective
By Annie Pizey
Most people enjoy the connection with the earth that comes from gardening.
Nothing is more satisfying than growing that which brings sustenance and
nurturing to one’s own life.
Growing herbs can make you a better gardener and a better cook. A quick trip
to the greenhouse, deck, patio or windowsill with a pair of scissors, and
dinner or a cup or tea can become a culinary delight. The very smell of herbs
growing around the home and garden adds a quality to life that is simple, yet
extravagant.
Pots are a great way to grow herbs because you can grow plenty without
having them take over precious garden space, and you can bring them inside during
harsh weather. Many herbs will prosper during winter, even in our mountain
zones, such as mint, thyme, oregano, and chives.
Mint plants come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, which makes a
wonderful addition to coffee or yerba mate. Fresh mint from the garden can
be the inspiration for preparing a Vietnamese or Thai dish, such as lettuce
wraps or fresh spring rolls. The herb is also used in tabouli salad and can be
added as a garnish to any dessert.
Basil plants should winter indoors near a sunny window. Lemon basil, and
even anise and cinnamon varieties, are among the unique flavors of the herb
available at local markets. I have a Thai basil plant that resembles a small tree
and during the winter it lives on a rock slab next to a south-facing window.
During the long winter the plant looks almost dead, with a few scraggly
leaves hanging on. Our cabin has only wood heat and temperatures drop quite low
at night and while we are out skiing during the day. Nevertheless, the basil
plant, with an occasional watering and a bit of faith on my part, returns to
its fat healthy self inside the greenhouse by mid May or so. In our climate,
most basil will thrive outside in a sunny location from June through August,
but on especially cold nights it should be brought indoors.
I enjoy making basil infused olive oil by steeping the fresh herb in a jar
filled with oil for up to 48 hours and then straining the oil to be used for
special recipes and salad dressings. The leftover basil can be run through the
food processor to make pesto or added to soups and sauces.
Parsley is my favorite herb, for its combined culinary and health
attributes. I use fresh parsley in salads, fresh squeezed vegetable juices and just
about any savory dish you can imagine. Parsley is an age-old medicinal plant
that has been used to treat everything from food poisoning to the measles. It is
known to strengthen the adrenal glands, counteract halitosis and treat
kidney and bladder infections. The herb is a great source of vitamin C, containing
several times the amount found in citrus fruit, and is loaded with other
nutrients such as vitamin A, chlorophyll, calcium, sodium, magnesium and iron.
An herb that grows enthusiastically in my greenhouse – and is a hardy
perennial in an outside garden – is sorrel. I had to do some research to discover
the real culinary attributes of this abundant plant. At first I would add
finely chopped leaves to a salad for a lemony flavor, but this hardly made a
dent in the vigorously growing herb. I discovered that one could liven up a fish
or chicken dish with sorrel or add it to a potato soup. Sorrel can also be
used to make pesto with parsley, nuts, salt, and olive oil pureed in the food
processor. When the plant is cooked it loses its luscious green color,
turning a dingy brown, but the tartness mellows and the flavor is much more
palatable.
Lavender is an easy herb to grow in a pot on your terrace or in your garden.
Try bringing it inside during the winter to add a soothing and luxurious
aroma to your home. The leaves can be plucked and placed in a sachet under your
pillow to promote relaxation and sleep. It is also a wonderful addition to
homemade lemonade, muffins and ice cream.
A variety of pre-potted herbs can be purchased at the Telluride Farmers
Market, sold by at least half a dozen local farmers. Shop around as the plants
vary in quality and price. Ask a farmer for their favorite recipe when
purchasing an herb. I recently bought summer savory at the market and was told that
the leaves, finely chopped, go well with eggs, which I bought from the same
farmer. Eggs and summer savory are now a Sunday tradition in my home.
My good friend Salli Russell has had a catering company in Telluride for
over 15 years and considers fresh herbs from her garden a must in her business
and a luxury in her own life. She brings her love of gardening to her
Telluride Kitchen catering company by adding a sprig of mint to homemade brownies or
lemonade, fresh oregano in a lasagna or freshly cut chives to accompany a
smoked salmon tray. Like other garden chefs, Russell often finds that her
recipes revolve around the herbs that are in season.
“Because these herbs are from my garden I am able to share with my clients
the love that goes into them,” said Russell. “You have to nurture the plant
in order to nurture the people that you are feeding and it is a continuous
cycle. It totally makes the experience more whole.”
Though not many people can put love into food the way Russell can, the
bottom line is anyone can grow a pot of herbs. Herbs help your food look and taste
good. They naturally provide aromatherapy to your home or garden and they
have health benefits as well.
Whether it is tea time, bed time or time for a fancy dinner party, fresh
herbs are a way of life.

Herbal name - Name used

Adder's Tongue - Serpent's Tongue
Agaric - Death Angel
Agrimony - Church Steeples
Ague Root - Crow Corn
Alyssum - Madwort
Amaranth - Red thingy's Comb
American Valerian - Ram's Head
Ash Weed - Goat's Foot
Aster- Eyes
Asafoetida- Devil's Dung
Avens Herb- Harefoot, Golden Star
Bachelor's Button - Devil's Flower
Basil - Witches Herb
Bay laurel - Blue Jay
Bear's Breech- Gall blood from a shoulder
Belladonna- Devil's Cherries
Betony- Lamb's Ear
Bistort- Snakeweed, Dragon scales
Black Haw - King's Crown
Bladderwack- Sea Spirit
Briony- Snake Grape
Bromeliad- Earthstar
Buckthorn- Bone of an ibis
Bugleweed- Wolf Foot
Burdock- Beggar's Buttons
Calmus- Sweet Flag
Carrot- Bird's Nest
Cedar- Kronos Blood
Celandine- Devil's Milk
Chamomile- Blood of Hestia
Cherry tree gum- Brains
Chickweed- Tongue Grass
Cinquefoil- Five Fingers
Clover- Semen of Ares
Club Moss- Wolfclaw, foxtail
Coltsfoot - Coltsfoot
Comfrey - Ear of an Ass
Common Plantain- Englishman's Foot
Couch Grass- Dog
Cowslip - Firy's Cup
Cranesbill- Crow's Foot
Dandelion - Lion's tooth, Priest's crown
Dandelion Leaves - Swine's snout
Datura - Witch's thimble, Devil's apple
Dill - Semen of Hermes
Dill Juice - Tears of a Hamadryas Baboon
Dill Seed - Hair of a Hamadryas Baboon
Dodder - Witches Hair, Devil's guts
Earth Apple- from the belly
Elder Sap- blood
Euphorbia - Wolf's milk
Fenugreek- bird's foot
Fern - Skin of man
Foxglove- Foxglove, bloody fingers
Garlic, Wild - Eagle
Geranium, Wild - Dove's Foot
Germander - Bird's eye
Golden Seal - Indian dye
Goosegrass- Gosling Wing
Great Mullein- Hares Beard
Ground Ivy - Cat's foot
Hart's Tongue - Fern Horse's tongue
Hawkweed - hawk
Heliotrope- cherry pie
Henbane- devil's eye
Holly Leaf - Bat's Wings
Honeysuckle - Goat's Leaf
Hops - Nightingale
Horehound- Bull's blood
Horsetail - Paddock Pipes
Hound's tongue - dog's tongue
Houseleek - from the foot
Hydrangea- Seven barks
Indian Paintbrush - Snake's friend
Knotweed - sparrow's tongue
Lady's mantle - bear's foot
Lavender - Elf Leaf
Lettuce - Lamb
Leopard's bane - pig's tail
Lupine - Blood from a head
May Apple - Duck's Foot
Molukka- Fairies' Eggs
Moss- Bat's Wool
Mugwort - Old Man
Mulberry tree sap- blood of a goose
Mullein- graveyard dust
Mustard- Semen of Heracles
Ox Eye Daisy - Great Ox Eye
Pansy- Bird's eye
Parsley- Devil's Oatmeal
Pennyroyal- Organ Tea
Peony- Woodpecker
Periwinkle - Devil's Eye
Pimpernel - Poorman's eatherglass
Pine Cones - Teeth
Plantain - Adder's Tongue
Poppy - Blind eyes
Purslane- Blood of Ares
Ragwort - Fairies Horses
Resin of Draco Palm - Dragon's Blood
Rosemary - Elf Leaf
Rowan Thor's Helper
Rue Weasel
Sage Toad
Shepherd's Purse Shepherd's Heart
Skullcap Mushroom Skull
Snapdragon Dog's Mouth, Calf's Snout
Spurge Fat from a head
St. Johnswort Goat's Ears
Tamarisk Blood of an eye
Tansy Buttons
Toadflax Dragon Bushes
Tormentil Flesh and Blood
Tongue of a Turnip Lion's hair
Turnip Sap Man's bile
Valerian Rat, Capon's Tail
Walnut Heart
White Hellebore Semen of Helios
Wild Lettuce Titan's blood
Wolfs bane wolf's hat
Woodruff master of the woods
Wormwood Crown for a King, Old woman
Wormwood seed hawk's heart
Yarrow Devil's nettle, Nosebleed
 
Historical Names of Herbs


Tongue of dog? Blood of goose? Do you really think witches cut of
tongues of dogs? Or take blood from geese? Ummm.no! They were just
psudonym names for the herbs to keep them secret. Here are some old
time names for herbs:

A bone of an ibis: buckthorn
Adders tongue: dogstooth violet
A titan's blood: wild lettuce
A lion's hairs: tongue of a turnip (i.e., The leaves of the taproot)
A man's bile: turnip sap
A pig's tail: leopard's bane
A hawk's heart: heart of wormwood
An eagle: wild garlic
Ass's foot or bull's foot: coltsfoot
Blood: eldersap or another tree sap
Blood of hephaistos: wormwood
Burning bush: white dittany
Bread and cheese tree: hawthorne
Blood from a head: lupine
Bird's eye: germander speedwell
Blood of ares: germander speedwell
Blood of a goose: a mulberry tree's milk
Bloodwort: yarrow
Blood of hestia: camomile
Blood of an eye: tamarisk gall
Blood from a shoulder: bear's vreach
Bat's wings: holly
Black sampson: echinacea
Bull's blood or seed of horus: horehound
Bear's foot: lady's mantle
Calf's smout: smapdragon
Cat's foot: canada smake root and/or ground ivy
Candelmas maiden: smowdrop
Capon's tail: valerian
Christ's ladder: centaury
Cheeses: marsh mallow
Chocolate flower: wild geranium
Christ's eye: vervain sage
Clear-eye: clary sage
Click: goosegrass
Cucumber tree: magnolia
Clot: great mullein
Corpse plant: indian pipe.
Crowdy kit: figwort
Cuddy's lungs: great mullien
Crow foot: cranesbill
Cuckoo's bread: common plantain
Clear eye: clary sage
Crow's foot: wild geranium
Devils dung: asafoetida
Dragon's blood: calamus
Dog's mouth: smap dragon
Daphne: laurel/bay
Devil's plaything: yarrow
Dove's foot: wild geranium
Dew of the sea: rosemary
Dragon wort: bistort
Earth smoke: fumitory
Eye of christ: germander speedwell
Elfs wort: elecampane
Enchanter's plant: vervain
Englishan's foot: common plantain
Erba santa maria: spearmint
Everlasting friendship: goosegrass
Eye of the day: common daisy
Eye of the star: horehound
Eye root: goldenseal
Eyes: aster, daisy, eyebright
Frog's foot: bulbous buttercup
From the loins: camomile
Fat from a head: spurge
Fairy smoke: indian pipe
Felon herb: mugwort
From the belly: earth-apple
From the foot: houseleek
Five fingers: cinquefoil
Fox's clote: burdock
Graveyard dust: mullein
Goat's foot: ash weed
God's hair: hart's tongue fern
Golden star: avens
Gosling wing: goosegrass
Great ox-eye:ox eye daisy
Hairs of a hamadryas baboon: dill seed
Hair of venus: maidenhair fern
Hag's taper: great mullein
Hagthorn: hawthorn
Hare's beard: great mullein
Herb of grace: vervain
Hind's tongue: hart's tongue fern
Holy herb: yerba santa
Holy rope: hemp agrimony
Hook and arn: yerba santa
Horse tongue: hart's tongue fern
Horse hoof: coltsfoot
Hundred eyes: periwinkle
Innocense: bluets
Jacob's staff: great mullein
Joy of the mountain: marjoram
Jupiter's staff: great mullein
King's crown: black haw
Knight's milfoil: yarrow
Kronos' blood: of cedar
Lady's glove: foxglove aka witches' gloves
Lion's tooth: dandelion aka priest's crown
Lad's love: southernwood
Lamb's ears: betony
Little dragon: tarragon
Love in idleness: pansy
Love leaves: burdock
Lovelies bleeding: amaranth or anemone
Love man: goosegrass
Love parsley : lovage
Love root: orris root
Man's health: ginseng
Maiden's ruin: southernwood
Master of the woods: woodruff
May: black haw
May lily: lily of the valley
May rose: black haw
Maypops: passion flower
Mistress of the night: tuberose
Mutton chops: goosegrass
Nose bleed: yarrow
Old-maid's-nightcap: wild geranium
Old man's flannel: great mullein
Old man's pepper: yarrow
Oliver: loive
Password: primrose
Pucha-pat: patchouli
Peter's staff: great mullein
Priest's crown: dandelion leaves
Poor man's treacle: garlic
Queen of the night: vanilla cactus
Queen of the meadow: meadowsweet
Ram's head: american valerian
Red cockscomb: amaranth
Ring-o-bells: bluebells
Robin-run-in-the-grass: goosegrass
Semen of helios: white hellebore
Semen of herakles: mustard-rocket
Semen of hermes: dill
Semen of hephaistos: this is fleabane
Semen of ammon: houseleek
Semen of ares: clover
Seed of horus: horehound
Sparrow's tongue: knotweed
Soapwort: comfrey or daisy
Shepherd's heart: shepherd's purse
Swine's snout: dandelion leaves
Shameface:wild geranium
See bright: clary sage
Scaldhead: blackberry
Seven year's love: yarrow
Silver bells: black haw
Sorcerer's violet: periwinkle
St. John's herb: hemp agrimony. (this is not st. John's wort)
St john's plant: mugwort
Star flower: borage
Star of the earth: aavens
Starweed: chickweed
Sweethearts: goosegrass
Tarragon:mugwort
Tartar root: ginseng
Thousand weed: yarrow
Thunder plant: house leek
Tanner's bark: common oak
Toad: toadflax
Torches: great mullein
Tongue of dog: houndstongue
Tears of a manadryas baboon: dill juice
Unicorn root: ague root
Unicorn's horn: false unicorn: helonias dioica
Unicorn horn: true unicorn root
Wax dolls: fumitory
Weazel snout: yellow dead nettles/ yellow archangel
White: ox-eye daisy
White wood: white cinnamon
Witch's asprin: white willow/willow bark
Witch's brier: brier hips
Weasel snout: yellow archangel
Wolf foot: bugle weed
Wolf claw: club moss
Wolfs milk:euphorbia
Weed: ox-eye daisy
White man's foot: common plantain

Source: unknown

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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:14 AM)

THE CUNNING ARTS OF HERBCRAFT

As the spiritual communities delve into the indigenous traditions of North
And South America, Siberia, Africa, Australia and many other countries, we discover more about the prevalent practice uncovered of inducing
Spiritual/religious vision/experience through the usage of psycho-active drugs known as plant teachers and plant spirits.
Psycho-active drug use is not a form of shamanism encouraged in modern western society because of the epic levels of drug abuse and, consequently, the drug hysteria produced by the politician's "drug wars." Yet, psycho-active drugs are not those drugs connected to the get-high mentality of street-drug users or the synthetic street-drugs manufactured as a form of big business. The Psycho-active drugs of shamanism are those plants, such as Carlos Castenada's Jimson weed (Datura stramonium, L.) and Terrence McKenna's psilocybin
Mushroom.
In Peru the Matses Indians use an herbal powder called nu-nu for divination and hunting (visions involving animal imagery; shamanic "power animals").
Other indigenous South American use secretions from a sacred frog to induce visions before hunting. In the Middle East there is the visionary khat.
Some American Indians hold peyote sacred, and have developed a church around its sacred ceremonial usage: The Native American Church. In earlier times, Native American elders (often referred to as medicine people or witch doctors) created the elaborate paintings at the Pecos River, that are believed related to the visions they received during trance states induced by ingesting Mescal beans, the fruit of the mountain laurel, a potentially fatal hallucinogen.
Mescal bean cults are well known from the historic period when this hard
Shiny red seed with its magical qualities was traded as far north as Canada.
The use of psycho-active drugs are common within traditional shamanic
practices, the handling of such plant teachers are usually limited to individuals who are trained, who are the shamans of their culture's spiritual practices.
At this point in our culture, however, such traditional paths and boundaries
are largely missing.

As already discussed in Chapter One, in a traditional shamanic culture the future shaman often had a special mark placed upon her or his soul: the
ability to naturally have profound vision at a young age. Such a child was
designated as special, set apart from her or his community and closely observed by an Elder shaman. In time, if the child continued to demonstrate special abilities, the elder would apprentice her or him. The shaman for soul-searching, communing with spirit powers, and experiencing a unity of creation could then administer plant teachers. Such plant teachers are used with full ceremony and specific ritual. In such rituals the shaman carefully attends the vision seeker. Such plant teachers are not ingested simply to get high, as is the emphasis of street-drug usage in Western society, but like any drug -- psycho-active or not -- their usage can be abused without proper guidance.
Of course, Western society does not celebrate the status of the seer; it has developed its intellectual capabilities and experienced the birth and growth of an technological age that far exceeded anyone's expectations. However, when any culture shifts away from the natural world and into that of machination, spiritual practices take a back seat until such ancient spiritual practices are remembered and seekers of wisdom begin to bring such practices back into their society, which brings us to the reweave of shamanic practices into Western society.

In the past decade many European pagan traditions have become acknowledged in the United States, naturally so, since there are so many European descendants living on this continent. With the environmental movement, the women's movement, the Goddess movement, and Native American Indian movements rising in society, European descendants who are frustrated with the sterility of the new mainstream religions have turned to their ancestral roots.

The Ancient Psychoactive Drugs of Faery Seership

Within folk traditions, the debate over whether religious experiences
Induced or enhanced by psychoative drugs is purely a twentieth-century matter. If we reach back into the European roots of Faery Seership, we find that the tradition is not without its own teacher plants, described, for example, as "flying ointment" and the "Faery eye ointment" -- such as are described in these ancient tales:

The jug being emptied, one of them cried out, "Is it time to be gone?" and
At the same moment, putting on a red cap, she added--
"By yarrow and rue, and my red cap too, hie over to England."
Making use of a twig which she held in her hand as a steed, she gracefully soared up the chimney, and was rapidly followed by the rest...
In a very short time they had crossed the Wicklow hills, the Irish Sea, and
the Welsh mountains, and were charging, at whirlwind speed, the hall door of a castle.
I used to hear about a girl who [who was a] nurse to the child of a
gentleman... The gentleman warned her never to touch a box of ointment which he guarded in a special room, nor even to enter that room; but one day in his absence she entered the room and took some of the ointment. Suspecting the qualities of the ointment, she put it on her eyes with the wish that she might see where her master was. She immediately found herself in the higher part of the orchard amongst the pixies, where they were having much festivity and dancing; and there saw the gentleman whose child she had nursed. For a time she managed to evade him, but before the festivity and dancing was at an end he discovered her and requester her to go home; and then, to her intense astonishment,
she learned that she had been away twenty years, though she was unchanged.
The gentleman scolded her for having touched the ointment, paid her wages in full, and sent her back to her people. She always had the one regret, that she had not gone into the forbidden room at first.

Such herbal concoctions were used for "seeing," working with an ally of the OtherWorld, talking to ancestors, communing with the Ancient Ones,
experiencing unity with creation, and eventually seeing the sun at midnight.
*A warning: many of the psycho-active herbs used in the following historical recipes are known to be poisonous.

Formula One: Poplar leaf, fleur-de-luce, cinquefoil (five-fingered grass) -
equal parts of the three; add a thickening agent of soot and oil, or fresh
lard.

Formula Two: Abortificent parsley, aconite, belladonna, hemlock, and cowbane - equal parts of the five; cinquefoil and the ever elusive four-leaf
shamrock; bat's blood to assist nocturnal flight.

Formula Three: The fat of a newly-born lamb; eleoselinum (smallage) will
help the cramps; skiwet (wild parsnip) used for poulticing; soot; bat's blood to be obtained at the wake of the new crescent moon; pentaphyllon (cinquefoil -- five-fingered grass); poplar leaves

Formula Four: Equal parts of mugwort, wormwood and cinquefoil (five-fingered grass), mixed with winter ashes from the Yule fire; one shamrock that has four leaves and was harvested between La Baal Tinne (1 May) and midsummer (21 June); yarrow for the heart's ease; with these herbs mix aloe and lard; breath three times upon the mixture in a black jar; let set from dark moon to dark moon; anoint the eyes and say this three times with eyes shut: "Docuitim bolad an eireannait binn breutait faoi m'foldin ducait," and you will see, what you will see!

Obviously, these formulas are offered as a study only, rather than for
ingestion. All four recipes present inadequate measures of the herbs and other ingredients. Several of the ingredients are quite ridiculous. After all, who is going to kill a bat or lamb? Finding a four-leaf shamrock is rare, let alone between the month of May and June?
Many of the herbs are obscure, while others produce narcotic effects,
causing: disorientation, nausea, headaches, and dehydration. The amount of the concoction to be applied to the body is not provided, therefore quantity usage is guesswork at most, which basically communicates the knowledge that such recipes, necessitate trial and error.

Spiritual vision, or religious experience, is also gained through a form of
discipline, connecting the body-mind and merging these with Spirit. Which allows the participant to enter non-ordinary states of consciousness at will  meaning to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality in order to
acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons. For many, undergoing a disciplined training program is too much work, which (in my opinion) is why plant teachers have become so appealing today in attaining vision.
Mind-altering herbs, if abused, do have serious side effects, possible
addiction at the very least, and potentially death.
 
Because of this, today's Faery seer does not encourage such practices. Therefore, let us turn to altered states of consciousness that can be achieved through the disciplined practice
of meditation and guided visualizations, which are by far safer forms to
practice, and although such methods require diligent practice, non-ordinary states of consciousness are successfully achieved. This happens when the creative intelligence (imagination) is allowed to work.
Psychoactive drugs bypass the mind-body-Spirit connection and affect only the mind. This explains why drug-induced visions can often be "mind-blowing."
Meditation and guided visualization is an psycho-active discipline; yet once achieved, such a discipline can, and often will produce vivid visions.
Rather then turn to plant teachers for their mind-altering properties the
Faery seer works with herbs primarily for their healing properties. In the Oral Faery Tradition the cunning art of herbcraft -- like everything else -- is
an on-going study. Whether one learns about herbs through books or through the guidance of an herbalist, or in the case of Faery Seership, from an Ollamh, the important factor to bear in mind is that it is not how many herbs have been memorized but how many herbs are truly experienced and known.

TRADITIONAL IRISH HERBS
In Ireland, the homeland of the Oral Faery Tradition, there are found two
sets of herbs the seer considers important to know. The first set of seven
herbs, which are considered of great value and power, are:

Ale hoof or Ground Ivy (Glecoma hederacea)
Elder tree bark (Sambucus nigra)
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Hawthorn (the green shoots of) (Crategus monogyna)
Vervain (Verbena officinalis)

Traditionally, these herbs must be gathered at night for the star from which Tuatha De Danaan originated governs them.

The second set of seven herbs considered important by the seer because it is believed that nothing natural or supernatural could injure them, are:

Speedwell (Veronica officnalis)
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Mallow (Malva Sylvestris)
Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
Vervain (Verbena officinalis)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Unlike the first set, these seven must be pulled at noon on a bright day,
near the full of moon to have power. Yarrow is considered the best herb for cures and potions; it is sewn-up in clothes as a preventive of disease. Vervain And Eyebright, however, are the herbs most commonly used for healing, while Hazel (Corylus avellana) was considered the most magickal of all, although it is not found in either group.
 
MATERIA MEDICA OF TRADITIONAL IRISH HERBS

Alehoof
Glecoma hederacea
Common Names: Cat's-foot, Ground-ivy, Gill-go-by-ground,
Gill-creep-by-ground, Turn-hoof and Hay-maids.

Where to find: The plant is common to North America and Europe. It spreads and creeps along the ground. It is found under hedges, on the sides of ditches, in shadowy lanes and on waste land.

Plant Description: Roots shoot forth at the corners of tender-jointed
Stalks, set with two round leaves at every joint. Its blooming time is early to late spring. The hollow, long flowers are a bluish-purple color with small white spots on the lips that hang down. The green round leaves endure every season except when the temperature falls below freezing point.

Medical Virtues: This herb is of Venus, and therefore cures all diseases
That she causes. The leaves are the part of the herb used, and are solvent in water. Gather the herb at night, late spring, when the flowers are still fresh.  The Bodily Influence (Table II): Stimulant, tonic, pectoral.

Uses: All inward wounds, ulcerated lungs or other parts indicating the same conditions. Eases gas pains, and choleric conditions of the stomach and spleen. Expels poisons and also the plague. Eases menstrual cramps. Eases sciatica, hip gout or arthritic hands and knees. Excellent gargle for sore mouth and Throat. It was praised to cure insanity and melancholia by opening the stopping of the spleen. It regulates the heart beat by making the blood more fluid.

Mineral Content: This is one of the most wonderful of all herbs for it
Contains iron, copper, iodine, phosphorus, potassium.

Dose: 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of boiling water; powder, 1/2 dram to 1 dram.

TABLE OF Definitions of the Medical Actions of Herbs And Herbal Medicines

TERM MEANING

Alterative Producing a healthful change without perception.
Anodyne Relieves pain.
Anthelmintic A medicine that expels worms.
Aperient Gently laxative without purging.
Aromatic A stimulant, spicy.
Astringent Causes contraction and arrests discharges.
Antibilious Acts on the bile, relieving biliousness.
Antiemetic Stops vomiting.
Antileptic Relieves fits.
Antiperiodic Arrests morbid periodic movements.
Anthilic Prevents the formation of stones in the urinary organs.
Antirheumatic Relieves or cures rheumatism.
Antiscorbutic Cures or prevents scurvy.
Antiseptic A medicine that aims at stopping purification.
Antispasmodic Relieves or prevents spasms.
Antisyphilitic Having affect or curing venereal diseases.
Carminative Expels wind from the bowels.
Carthatic Evacuating from the bowels.
Cephalic Remedies used in diseases of the head.
Cholagogue Increases the flow of bile.
Condiment Improves the flavor of foods.
Demulcent Soothing, relieves inflammation.
Deobstruent Removes obstruction.
Depurative Purifies the blood.
Detergent Cleansing to boils, ulcers and wounds, etc.
Diaphoretic Produces perspiration.
Discutient Dissolves and heals tumors.
Diuretic Increases the secretion and flow of urine.
Emetic Produces vomiting.
Emmenagogue Promotes menstruation.
Emollient Softens and soothes inflamed parts.
Esculent Eatable as a food.
Exanthematous Remedy for skin eruptions and diseases.
Expectorant Facilitates expectoration.
Febrifuge Abates and reduces fevers.
Hepatic A remedy for diseases of the liver.
Herpatic A remedy for skin diseases of all types.
Laxative Promotes bowel action.Lithontryptic
Lithontryptic Dissolves calculi in the urinary organs.
Maturating Ripens or brings boils to a head.
Mucilaginous Soothing to all inflammation.
Nauseant Produces vomiting.
Nervine Acts specifically on the nervous system, stops nervous excitement.
Opthalmicum A remedy for eye diseases.
Parturient Induces and promotes labour at childbirth.
Pectoral A remedy for chest affections.
Refrigerant Cooling.
Resolvent Dissolves boils and tumors.
Rubifacient Increases circulation and produces red skin.
Sedative A nerve tonic, promotes sleep.
Sialogogue Increases the secretion of saliva.
Stomachic Strengthens the stomach. Relieves indigestion.
Styptic Arrests bleeding.
Sudorific Produces profuse perspiration.
Tonic A remedy which is invigorating and strengthening.
Vermifuge Expels worms from the system.



(Message edited by Autumn_Heather On 02/13/2009 06:18 AM)
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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:19 AM)

Elderberry
Sambucus nigra
Common Names: Sambucus, American Elder, Sweet Elder.

Where To Find: Hedge-grows and moist places in all parts of the United
States, Canada and Europe.

Plant Description: A shrub that can grow from 5-12 ft. High, blooming in
June and July, with star-shaped fragrant flowers 1/4 in. Across, grouped in flat flower clusters about 8 in. Across. Purple black berries containing three or four round seeds, maturing in September and October. The fruit is edible. The branching stems are covered with a rough, pitted gray bark; large central stems are smooth. The European Elder, though larger than the American, is in general characteristics and properties similar.

Medical Virtues: Under the dominion of Jupiter. All parts are solvent by
water. Gather the bark at night.

Bodily Influences: The roots, inner bark, leaves, berries are used as a
emetic, hydragogue, cathartic; the flowers as Diaphoretic, diuretic, alterative, emollient, discutient, gentle stimulant.

Uses: From the tree top to root's end is a symbol of medical properties.
Flowers, berries, leaves, inner bark and roots express gratitude for many in conditions of headache due to colds, palsy, rheumatism, scrofula, syphilis, jaundice, kidney and epilepsy. The Elder is also the herbalist's cosmetic tree as every part will aid in complexion beauty, removing spots, allaying irritation, removing freckles and preserving and softening the skin if applied faithfully, internally and externally. Can be used as a poultice or bathe when skin is broken.

Mineral Content: Flowers contain oil, rutin, vitamins and minerals
extensively for treatment of rheumatism, appendix inflammation, bladder and kidney inflections, intestinal conditions, eyes, and external skin trouble.

Dose: Outer bark -- take 1 to 2 young branches and scrap off the gray outer bark, and steep 2 ounces of it in 5 ounces of boiling water for 48 hours. Strain and drink wine glassfuls. The flowers -- 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of boiling water; simmer for 10 minutes. Berries -- can be juiced; 1 oz three times a day.

Mallow
Malva sylvestris
Common Names: High Mallow.

Where To Find: Hedgerows, edges of fields and waste ground. There are about thirty species native to Europe, North Africa and Asia, several of which have been naturalized in North America.

Plant Description: The species is erect or branching, 1-3 1/2 in. high, with
rounded heart-shaped leaves; small flowers are pink-veined against purple appearing clustered or single flowering from late spring to October. The whole plant abounds in mucilage, more especially the root; slight odor; taste sweetish.

Medical Virtues: All Mallows are under Venus. It is solvent in water. Gather the herb at noon on a bright day near the full of the Moon.

Bodily Influences: Demulcent, Emollient.

Uses: The entire herb is used, but the root has the most virtue. The leaves, dried or fresh, are put into decoctions for clysters. The root may be dried
but is best fresh, if chosen when there are only leaves growing from it, not
a stalk. The leaves and flowers are soothing to the urinary tract,
intestines, and respiratory organs. Infusions are made for cystitis, coughs and colds. The leaves, soft stem and flowers can be made into a poultice and used for running sores, boils and swelling.

Mineral Content: Malva contains a large amount of mucilage and sugar, plus Vitamin C, minerals, kerotin and coloring matter.

Dose: 1 teaspoonful of the herb to 1 cup boiling water. Drink one or two
cupfuls a day. Of the tincture 1/2-1 fl. dram. Of the infusion 1 oz of the
leaves or flowers in 1 pt of boiling water is taken in a doses of 2 fl. oz.

St. John's Wort
Hypericum perforatum
Common Names: Johnswort, St. John's Grass, Klamath Weed.

Where To Find: Grows abundantly in the United States and Europe in shady woods and copses, meadows and by roadsides. An ornamental herb to our meadows, often considered a pest when too freely mingled in corn and wheat fields.

Plant Description: The upright, woody, slender stem reaches a height of 1-2 ft. The leaves are stalkless, 1/2 in. long, growing in pairs on opposite
sides of the stem. The dark green leaves are full of transparent holes, which can be plainly seen when the leaf is held up to the light, and sometimes marked with black spots on the underside. Throughout summer the yellow flowers of five petals a piece, bloom at the tops of the stalks and branches in close clusters with many yellow threads in the middle. When bruised, the flowers yield a reddish juice like blood, after which come small round heads, wherein is contained a small blackish seed smelling like resin. The fruit is a three-celled capsule.

Medical Virtues: Under the celestial sign of Leo and the dominion of the
Sun. Solvent in boiling water and alcohol. Gather the herb at noon on a bright day near the full of the moon, or at midsummer.

Bodily Influences: Expectorant, Diuretic, Astringent, Sedative.

Uses: This herb has an affinity for nerve endings and is used in all cases
where there is nerve irritation, whether it be a thickly cough, referred pain,
neuritis or neuralgia. An old custom of the Native American Indians was to
dry Hypericum and use it as a meal, as they did Acorn. They were also known to eat the fresh leaves for their soothing effect. It has been known to eliminate bronchitis. Is a remedy to overcome bed-wetting if taken every night before going to bed. For treatment of dysentery, diarrhea, bleeding of the lungs, worms, jaundice, suppressed urine, and/or pus in the urine, hysteria and nervous irritability. Helps correct irregular menstruation along with proper diets.

Dose: Of the tincture, 8-15 drops in water before meals. As a tea, 1
teaspoonful of the tops and flowers, cut small or granulated, to 1 cupful of boiling water; sweeten with honey.

Vervain Blue
Verbena hastata
Common Names: Wily Hyssop, Simpler's Joy, Indian Hyssop.

Where To Find: Native to temperate and tropical America; Mediterranean
region and the Near East; introduced elsewhere in the Old World. Grows usually in dry, hard soils in waste ground, roadsides and dry grassland.

Plants Description: This complex perennial has 352 known specific and
sub-specific natural and artificial hybrids. Numerous species have been employed medicinally in various localities. The herb reaches heights of 3 or 4 ft., usually with a four-square stalk, branching limbs, whitish flowers, followed by long slim tassels of seeds. It flowers from June to September.
Medical Virtues: An herb of Venus. Solvent in water. Vervain can be
harvested either at night or at noon, however, both times should be near the full of moon closest to midsummer.

Bodily Influences: Diaphoretic, Expectorant, Emetic, Anti periodic, Nervine, Tonic, Sudorific, Antispasmodic.

Uses: Excellent for the womb, and will bring on obstinate menstruation. It
strengthens and remedies all cold distempers.

Dose: 2 teaspoonfuls of the herb to 1 pint of boiling water. Drink cold 2 or
3 teaspoonfuls six times a day.

Yarrow
Achillea millefolium
Common Names: Milfoil (a thousand leaves), Nosebleed.

Where To Find: Perennial plant of the composite family. Yarrow inhabits
Europe and North America. It is found in pastures, meadows and along roadsides, flowering from summer to autumn.

Plant Description: The stems are rough and angular, growing to heights of 3 ft. with alternate leaves 1-6 in. long, pinnatified, clasp the stem at the
base, are slightly woolly and are cut into very fine segments. The flowers are white, yellow or pink, borne in flat-top daisy-like clusters up to 1 ft.
across. The plant has a faint, pleasant fragrance, and an ether sharp, rough astringent taste, which properties are due to tannic and achilleic acid, essential oil and bitter extractive achilleic.

Medical Virtues: Under the influence of Venus. Solvent in water, and
alcohol. Gather mid to late summer, at noon on a bright day, near the full of the moon for fullest power.

Bodily Influences: Astringent, Alterative, Diuretic, Tonic.

Uses: A tonic for run-down conditions and indigestion. Useful in colds,
influenza, measles, smallpox, chickenpox, fevers and acute catarrhs of the respiratory tract. The properties have the ability to keep up the strength and act as a blood cleanser, at the same time opening the pores to permit free perspiration, taking along with it unwanted waste and relieving the kidneys. Will help both suppressed or repressed menstruation and in menorrhagia or profuse continued menstruation. Chewing the leaves helps soothe toothaches.

Dose: Infusion of 1 teaspoonful to 1 cupful of boiling water is given in
wine glassful to cupful amounts, three or four times a day. The essential oil, from 5-20 drops three or four times a day.
When working with herbs, the seer takes into consideration the moon cycle, as well as the season and weather conditions for the harvesting of herbs.
Once the herbs have been harvested, the work has just begun because next comes the usage of the herbs in the form of tinctures, ointments, teas, and poultices. All of these elements are combined with the element of incantations (which is the focus of the following chapter) to maximize the effects desired when performing spellcraft of either a healing or magickal nature.

Traditionally, when someone went to an Ollamh for healing, no money was
expected for the services that were rendered. However, for the person, seeking healing, to offer a gift to the Ollamh in exchange for her or his time, energy and resources, was considered the honorable thing to do and would be considered acceptable.

Herbs to Ease Transitions

by Meg McGowan

  In one of my past lives I was married briefly. While we were getting divorced, I began to garden. I planted flowers rather than vegetables, seeking nourishment of my spirit rather than my physical body. Vegetables, I felt, might require too much regular attention, might produce harvests that would demand to be prepared and preserved. (My nurturing was, at that time, reserved for my small son. The point of the garden was to nurture me.) Flowering plants simply rewarded my sporadic attentions with blooms. They offered themselves to be gathered up into vases or not, as time permitted. Creating my gardens gave me a focus for re-creating beauty and joy in my life.

On the outside, the gardens helped to transform what had been our home into my own home. The work itself had unexpected benefits on a deeper level. The time I spent in silent communion with the plants helped me to reestablish my connection to the natural world, and, though I had no language to describe my experience at the time, to the plant spirits as well.

Eventually, I was compelled to create an herb garden just outside my back door. Herbs were as undemanding to grow as flowers, yet they acted as a bridge between my spirit and body, adding nutrients and flavor to the food I prepared. I found that the energy of my herb garden was different than the energy of my various flowerbeds. In the front of my house the energy was playful and exuberant. Columbines, in shades of magenta and tawny gold, waved in the breeze like elaborate Japanese kites; sky-blue balloon flowers unfurled their petals to become stars, and snapdragons sprang to life under the fingers of neighborhood children. Bordering the south side of the house, my white garden, like the herb garden, depended on texture rather than color for interest -- yet its energy was airier, more ethereal. The herb garden had an energy that was solid, grounded and sacred, quite unlike any garden I've had since. In retrospect, I don't think it was a coincidence that the placement of the herb garden separated my back door from that of my next-door neighbor, whose energy was similar in many ways to that of my ex-husband.

In times of transition, rediscovering the gentle support of the plant spirits can ease feelings of being alone and adrift. Even those who may not recognize divinity in nature have felt stress and anxiety leave and peace descend when cocooned in a forest or lost in a meadow. Stress and anxiety often accompany major transitions; it makes sense that bringing the plant spirits into our daily lives can help us to cope more effectively with change.

Not everyone will find their connection to plant spirits through planting. No matter. Finding a sacred space in nature to walk or sit quietly can be a point of connection. So can enjoying a garden someone else has planted. Holding a leaf or a flower and meditating on it (best if picked with the plant's blessing), focusing on its life force, can be a powerful experience. An additional benefit is that taking time to develop your personal relationship with the spiritual nature of plants can help you to determine which herbs, essential oils, or flower essences are most appropriate at any point in your life.

Communing with plant spirits where they live and grow is vital. You can tap that power in other ways as well, by using herbs, essential oils, and flower essences with a reverent intention. This can enhance the spiritual benefits of any herbal application.

Incorporating ritual into your life can lend stability when all else is in flux. Essential oils can be used to anoint your chakras at the beginning and end of each day. You can choose specific oils to support your individual situation. The Fragrant Heavens and The Fragrant Mind, both by Valerie Worwood, are excellent references that address properties of essential oils beyond their physical effects. For anointing, Worwood recommends diluting one or two drops of essential oil in a half teaspoon of organic vegetable oil, preferably almond oil. In The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews (Llewellyn, 1989), Scott Cunningham suggests New-Mown Hay Oil to facilitate shifts in perspective and to aid in times of transition and transformation. A blend of woodruff (Asperula odorata), tonka bean (Pipteryx odorata), lavender (Lavendula officinalis syn. L. angustifolium), bergamot (Citrus aurantium bergamia) and oakmoss (Evernia prunastri or E. furfuraceae) essential oils, it carries a vernal energy of new beginnings. Other essential oils that may be appropriate are cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), lemon (Citrus limon), orange (Citrus sinensis and C. aurantium), sandalwood (Santalum album), spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi), vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) and vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides). Meditation and prayer rituals can also be enhanced by using essential oils in diffusers, incense, and aromatic candles.

Cleansing old energy from yourself, your belongings, and your space can set a clear intention for change. Wearing a medicine pouch containing herbs that speak to your purpose can keep the power of the plant spirits close throughout your days. Essential oils can be used for actual cleaning as well as energetic clearing. Herbs and essential oils can be combined with salts for intentional bathing. Using essential oil room sprays and burning smudge sticks are ways to both dispel old energy and bless new spaces.

Flower essences are, by nature, perfect for smoothing the trauma out of transitions, as they work to shift the vibrational energies of the body and soul subtly into alignment. (See "Herbs for Health: Flower Essences & Soul Work," Conscious Choice, April 2001.) As with essential oils, look for those that resonate with your immediate concerns. Two to consider are Sturt's desert pea (Clianthus formosus) and coconut (Cocos nucifera). According to Clare G. Harvey and Amanda Cochrane in The Healing Spirit of Plants: A Practical Guide to Plant Spirit Medicine (Sterling, 2001), the message of Sturt's desert pea is, "'My tremendous strength gives you the power to release all pain, initiate profound change, and start afresh,'" while the coconut says "'My sweet milk uplifts, nourishes, and helps one to endure life.'"

Herbal supplements that support the immune system, such as astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus), echinacea (Echinacea angustifloia and E. purpurea), garlic (Allium sativum), grapeseed extract (Vitus vinifera) and green tea (Camellia sinensis), will help to support your whole self through times of change. Codonopsis root (Codonopsis pilosulae), a lesser-known tonic herb, may also be helpful. Codonopsis is a Chinese herb that is similar to ginseng, but gentler. Like ginseng it is an adaptogen and a mild stimulant. It is especially effective for stressful situations because it reduces adrenaline while balancing energy levels. Codonopsis is a suitable tonic for both men and women.

The plant world nurtures, nourishes, and sustains us in measurable and immeasurable ways. As children we were more aware of their inestimable powers. In becoming reacquainted with what we once knew, we can, again, gratefully accept all that they have to offer us.

DISCLAIMER:  Choosing a holistic approach to medicine means choosing personal responsibility for your health care. "Herbs for Health" offers a doorway through which to enter the realm of herbal healing, an invitation to further investigation on the part of the reader. It is in no way intended as a substitute for advice from a health care practitioner.
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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:20 AM)

Herbs to Aid Grieving

by Meg McGowan

One month after surviving an unfortunate encounter with a raccoon, my best friend, my feline companion and familiar, Mopsy, has been diagnosed with heart disease. As is usually the case with cats, the diagnosis was precipitated by a crisis. His prognosis was guarded if his system tolerated the prescribed medication, which it did not. For the past week and a half I have experienced the ongoing process of trying to dialogue with Mopsy in an attempt to respond to his needs and desires rather than my own. Unlike other animal healthcare crises I have experienced, the answers have not been clear. Perhaps Mopsy has ambivalence about making his transition; perhaps it is my own difficulty in staying connected when I am in fear or pain. Or perhaps Mopsy's illness is to be as much of a transformational gift for me as the rest of his life has been.

The paradox I am wrestling with is how I can allow myself to be fully connected in love, knowing that loss may be imminent, and that it is always, eventually, inevitable. For me, the answer is that what exists in love becomes eternal. It will always be present as part of me and, through me, as part of the world. My grief is real, but avoiding grief and pain is not an option. Change is very often accompanied by grief, and to paraphrase Tennyson, it is better to mourn the loss of that which we have loved in this world than to mourn the passing of each opportunity to love. We will mourn one or the other.

For the last four days, my former house cat has spent virtually all of his time either on my screen porch or out in the yard, taking slow meditative walks through the lawn and garden beds before settling himself into a contemplative pose in a protected spot.

Mopsy is being supported by the earth. He is alive during these days outside in a way that he is not when he is indoors at night. I am being supported by the earth as well. Drawn outside to sit with him, to reassure myself that he will not wander too far afield, I am soothed by the movement of leaves, the touch of the breeze, the gentle interplay of light and shadow. The fresh violet and dandelion leaves in my lawn offer additional support. Another name for violets (Viola odorata) is heartsease -- pansies (Viola tricolor) may also be referred to by this common name. The leaves of violets or the flowers of pansies can help to ease emotional as well as physical afflictions of the heart. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is cleansing both physically and emotionally. Dandelion works to unblock, keep things moving, and allow expression of emotions such as grief. Borage (Borago officinalis), marjoram (Origanum marjorana) and rose (Rosa spp.) are other plants helpful in times of grief. Borage and marjoram leaves and rose petals can be nibbled alone or in salads. Leaves and rose hips can be steeped in water for tea.

I have been using several flower essences including the Bach Flower Five-Flower Formula, which promotes calm in emergencies and helps to relieve anxiety. I find it is difficult, if not impossible, to make conscious decisions amidst the tumult of anxiety and fear. Saguaro (Carnegiea giganteus) is a flower remedy to allow trust and peace into the emotional experience. Angelica (Angelica archangelica) assists in calling on angelic realms for protection, support, guidance, and information. Other flower essences that may be appropriate include angel's trumpet (Datura candida), cerato (Ceratostigma willmottiana), holly (Ilex aquifolium), sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), sage (Salvia officinalis), and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa).

The essential oil of helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium, H. italicum or H. orientale), also known as immortelle, addresses many aspects of my current situation. It facilitates acceptance of change and grief, helps to alleviate confusion, and promotes calmness and understanding. Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), frankincense (Boswellia carteri), rose (Rosa centifolia or R. damascena), and vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) essential oils enhance receptivity to wisdom while offering sustenance through grief and sorrow. Depending on the nuances of a changing situation, hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis), lavender (Lavendula officinalis syn. L. angustifolia), melissa (Melissa officinalis), or neroli (Citrus aurantium) are other possible choices for aid in processing grief.

As the days pass, I am trying to allow my consciousness to absorb and believe the truth of my experience, that a positive outcome is not synonymous with recovery. I am grateful for the support of the earth and of my spirit guides, including Mopsy. I am also grateful for my friends who have held me up when my heart was so heavy that I felt, like Mopsy, barely able to breathe or move.

DISCLAIMER:  Choosing a holistic approach to medicine means choosing personal responsibility for your health care. "Herbs for Health" offers a doorway through which to enter the realm of herbal healing, an invitation to further investigation on the part of the reader. It is in no way intended as a substitute for advice from a health care practitioner.

An Enchanted Faery Garden
By Lynn Ward

Creating a garden for faeries is a bit of a gamble. No matter how inviting your haven is for these wee-winged creatures, you will  probably never see Tinker Bell sprinkling fairy dust over your lily-of-the-valleys. Fairy gardeners-like good deeds-are seldom rewarded in obvious ways. [Well perhaps not obvious to mundane, but if you pay attention you WILL notice.) I once told an insightful mundane
friend of mine to leave gifts in her garden for the faeries. She did and a week later all of her poppies burst into bloom-a MONTH before they were supposed to. :)]

It's the illusiveness of faeries that makes the idea of creating a miniature paradise for them so appealing. Faeries have been flitting  about our lives for centuries [longer than that], but they rarely
show themselves.

Although they are always associated with humans in faery tales, the truth is that faeries are wary of humans [probably due to being ignored by humans for so long] and distrustful by nature. They are
private creatures that, according to experts in faery lore, prefer to mind their own business.

Although there is no way to ensure that faeries will show up themselves, this easy-to-grow garden will surely entice them to your yard. Keep your eyes open. You never know what's possible in faeryland.

The Basics:
Faeries like to live in quiet, secluded areas. A garden away from heavy traffic areas in a cool, semi shady spot provides privacy and protects plants and faery furniture from sun damage. A perfect place for your faery garden is around the base of a mature tree that sits tucked away in a corner of the yard. If you lack a large yard, try planting your garden along the east side of a house or garage.

Plant Selection
Faeries love plants with tiny moving parts, such as lily-of-the-valleys. When the bell-shape blooms dangle in the breeze, the movement inspires faeries to sing and dance.

Work some structure into your faery garden with a big planter of heliotrope. Top it off with a moss-lined basket planted with fuchsia. Calla lilies act as giant goblets for faeries, while their leaves provide
shade from the morning sun.

Plant dwarf pennyroyal around the perimeter of the garden, and watch it grow into a dense mat of fragrant foliage that faeries will fancy. Low-growing Brunnera, with its tiny, compact purple flowers, adds delicate color to the garden, and creeping thyme hugs the ground with its aromatic foliage.

Decorate by hanging tiny bells or shiny crystal sun catchers from arched copper wire and adding tiny comfy faery chairs. Soon your garden will be home to a family of faeries.

Materials for Faery Chairs:
12 reasonably straight twigs, under a foot long, of varying widths to form the seat frame and legs
Curling or twisted twigs for decorating a chair back
Small dried flowers
Lichen, dried
Tweezers
Bypass clippers
Glue gun and glue sticks [personally I do NOT recommend glue sticks. I've used them on wood in the past for outside things and the mixture of dew in the morning and heat in the afternoon caused my
stuff to fall apart. I would suggest wood glue or epoxy]

Tips:
Twigs should be dry, don't use green wood, it shrinks and the bark comes loose, which will cause your furniture to collapse. Look for wood with notches; other branches will naturally fit naturally in the grooves. The thicker the twigs the easier it will be to make the chairs. Use sharp clippers for accurate cutting and to prevent wood from crushing. Always make sure the glue has dried before moving on to the next step.

Step 1:  Assembling the Chair Legs and Seat Frame
Cut four equal-size twigs, 2-3 inches in length, arrange and glue them into a square holding the twigs together until the glue dries.

Select slightly thicker twigs for the legs of the chair to provide balance. Measure before you cut to ensure that all four legs are the same height (2-3 inches), or your chair will rock. Hold each leg
perpendicular to your work surface, place glue on the top, and then press a corner of the seat frame into the clue. For support, add leg braces made of slightly thinner twigs by gluing them an inch or so
below the seat twigs. It's easiest to glue the braces to the outside of the legs, about halfway down the leg.

Step 2 Creating the Chair Back
Use one straight twig and one slightly curved twig. Glue the straight twig to one corner of the seat frame. Glue the curved twig to an adjoining corner so it curves naturally across the straight twig.
For added support, select another twig, cut it, and glue it to fit horizontally between the other two seat-back twigs.

Step 3 Making Arms
Cut two small armrest supports (approximately 1 inch long), and glue them to the two remaining corners of the seat frame. Choose two more twigs (1-2 inches long) for the arms. Glue one end of each arm to the armrest support and the other end to the back of the chair.

Step 4 Attaching Decorative Pieces of Chair Back
Use thin, odd-shape pieces of twig to fill in the back of the chair. It's up to you to choose the twig size, width, and how many are needed. Be creative with your designs. Glue twigs in place as desired.

Step 5 Filling in Chair Seat
Use four or five more small twigs to fill in the seat frame. In some cases, you'll need to split twigs in half to make them lie flat on the seat. Place glue on the seat frame, and to prevent crushing your chair,
use tweezers to hold the littletwigs in place until the glue dries.

Step 6 The Finishing Touches
Decorate the chair with pieces of dried flowers and bits of lichen. Apply small amounts of glue with an end of a toothpick. Use small dried flowers and foliage, such as creeping zinnias, individual
lilac or hydrangea buds, bluebells, pieces of grass, dogwood blossoms, pansies, tea roses, and pieces of statice. 'I would try and imagine what a faery would find comfortable and pretty when I decorate my furniture,' Lynn says. 'I think a faery would just love a colorful pansy pillow.'

Lynn also makes faery beds, sofas, trellises, houses, and arbors, garden benches, tables, lamps, and picture frames. Some decorate her home, but she sells most of the faery furniture she makes.
from an old Better Homes and Gardens article.



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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:20 AM)

Do you remember your first home-away-from-home? It was your fort! Well, how about building your child's fort out of sunflowers? Kids love sunflowers, and it's a great way to get them excited about the garden.
 
  

Materials

sunflower seeds
filler seeds (morning glories, scarlet runner beans)
garden rake
tape measurer
string
stakes

Step 1: Pick your site
The first thing to do is choose where you want your sunflower fort. Choose a sunny spot, but don't be too picky about the soil. Sunflowers can grow in just about anything. Once you've got your spot, rough up the soil with a rake and remove all debris, including any large clods of dirt. This will loosen up the soil, and make it easier to plant.

Step 2: Measure the area
Using the tape measurer, map out the size of your fort. Remember, every fort has an entrance, so don't forget to measure it. Mark the corners of your measurements by pushing stakes into the soil. Next, grab some string and connect the stakes. The idea here is to create a life-sized blueprint in the soil and define the dimensions of the fort.

Step 3 Choosing the seeds
Different seeds will work well to grow different parts of the fort. For the walls, use taller variety of sunflowers like Giant Greystripe sunflowers. For the entrance, Teddy Bear Dwarf sunflowers are very inviting. Use the filler seeds (scarlet runner beans, morning glories) for filling in the gaps.

Step 4 Planting the seeds
Plant them on the outside of the string in rows of two to make the walls nice and thick. Read the directions on the package to see how deep each seed goes, and how far apart to space them.

Step 5: The three W’s
This is the hard part. Weeding, watering and waiting. Sit back, enjoy the summer and wait. In the meantime, don't forget to water and weed. In a few months, the flowers will be the perfect height, and the kids will have a sunflower fort in full bloom


Herbs For Protection
 
Ague Weed: This can be mixed with any incense and burned to break the power of a hex that has been placed on you.

Bay Leaves: One in the corner of each room of a house is believed to protect all who dwell there, as well as the house itself. If you carry it on your person it is reputed to protect against witchcraft.

Bladderwrack: To be carried by the traveler as a protection, especially when traveling by water.

Blood Root: Place on windows and doorways to protect against curses and evil spirits from entering.

Cinquefoil: Take an egg and cut a small hole in one end. Drain the contents and let the shell dry. Then stuff the shell with Cinquefoil and reseal the hole with tape. As long as this egg is kept in the home it will be protected from evil forces.

Clover: Soak one tablespoonful in one cup of vinegar for three days. Then strain and sprinkle the vinegar in each corner of every room. All alien spirits will leave the premises.

Elm Bark: To eliminate slander against you bury some in a box along with a piece of paper that contains the name of the individual who is speaking adversely about you.

Pearl Moss: Sprinkle this across the front doorway of the home to only allow good spirits to enter (this actually works well in conjunction with the below Sulphur one).

Sulphur: Burn at midnight near your back door to ward off evil. Make sure the door is open and room well ventilated.

HERBAL MAGICK

Herbs have been used in magick and religious ceremony for tens of thousands of years. As our ancestors evolved, they developed a complex system to understand and effect the world around them based on their observations of the natural flows of energy, the movement of the stars, the cycles of the earth's seasons and the waxing and waning of the moon. This widsom combined with their knowledge of the effects of herbs, both magickally and medicinally, forms the foundation of Herbal Magick.

Originally an oral tradition, this wisdom was eventually written down and codified by Paracelsus in the in a work known as The Doctrine of Signatures. He traveled extensively in the Old World talking with the wisemen and wisewomen of hundreds of villages about their uses of local herbs, their observations of the herbs' effects and the best growing conditions for those herbs as well as their best gathering times. As he traveled, he kept a diary of what he was learning and gathered it into a body of work called The Doctrine of Signatures. The way that Paracelsus used the term 'signature' meant the specific appearance, geographical location and effects of an herb.

As an astrologer, he codified his Doctrine using the system of the planetary energies to designate the effects and disposition of each herb. For example, herbs that effected the heart, were primarily golden in color, thrived in sunny areas and promoted a sense of well being, success and confidence in an individual or the magickal works of that individual were placed under the dominion or rulership of the Sun. Below is a breakdown of the Doctrine of Signatures and planetary energies, their effects and some of the herbs I use most frequently to access specific planetary energies for my magicks:

HERBS of the SUN promote self confidence and personal success. They impart a sense of purpose and help to develop a strong sense of identity and willpower. Sun herbs bring vitality, health, creativity, dignity, a sense of well being and of abundance. Look for yellow in your Sun herbs: sunflower, calendula, frankincense, celandine and safflower are some examples.

HERBS of the MOON affect the subconscious mind. They aid in the development of intuition and psychic gifts. As they help to access the subconsious, they are excellent for dreamwork, recalling past lives and in breaking old ingrained habits. Moon herbs are often white or pale in color. Some that I use often are white sandalwood, jasmin flowers, mugwort, cucumber and lily.

HERBS of MARS give vast amounts of energy to projects and health. Mars herbs promote independence and assertiveness and tend to stimulate the passions. Mars herbs can be used very successfully to protect one's person and one's home and are excellent in developing or maintaining motivation. When mixed with herbs of other planets they lend their immense energies to make the whole stronger and more vital. Herbs that are red and burn are often those with Martian tendencies such as red sandalwood, nettles, ginger, mustard and galangal.

HERBS of MERCURY facilitate clear thinking and eloquent communication. They aid in business success where a clear head is needed and in recovery from illness. Mercury herbs enable the conscious mind to communicate more easily with the subconscious thus facilitating memory and study. Many times using Mercurial herbs while studying the Tarot or other divination system which visually incorporates the use of symbols can be quite helpful. Mercury herbs tend to stimulate the central nervous system and brain. Some herbs are cinnamon, lavender, cardamom, licorice and gum mastic.

HERBS of JUPITER expand consciousness and opportunity. They bring growth on all levels and are very helpful in health matters as they expand the body's ability to heal inself. Herbs of Jupiter expand the mind allowing for a greater understanding of the workings of the universe, also thereby expanding one spiritually as the mind's comprehension leads to spiritual unfoldment. Herbs and plants of Jupiter tend to be large themselves such as oak, pine, magnolia but also include agrimony and meadowsweet.

HERBS OF VENUS bring joy, beauty, artistry, sensitivity, compassion and appreciation of the bounty and beauty of the Earth and all her creatures. Venus herbs activate love and a joie de vivre and can be used quite successfully by those engaged in the creative arts. Some herbs of Venus are rose, vervain, raspberry, columbine and cherry.

HERBS of SATURN give structure, foundation, grounding, stability and an understanding of how the physical plane of existance works. They are great teachers of self-knowledge and karmic debts and tend to slow down and calm situations. They teach that success comes through perseverance and patience. Saturn herbs are binding herbs and protect in a non-aggressive manner. Saturnian herbs are myrrh, wormwood, patchouli, cypress and solomon's seal.

HERBS of NEPTUNE are those of the mystic and are useful in dreamworking, trance and hypnosis. They intensify the imagination and lead to concepts, visions and ideas far beyond the physical plane. Neptune herbs can be used to good effect for those who are working with developing telepathy and astral projection as well as those artists who seek the Muse directly. Some Neptune herbs are orange blossoms, poppies, lobelia, peach and lotus.

HERBS of URANUS excite, energize and stimulate. They lend themselves to inspiration, practical idealism, genius and the development of telekinesis. They bring change and sometimes unforeseen results. Some herbs of Uranus are allspice, calamus, betel, guarana and ephedra.

HERBS of PLUTO transform and illuminate the shadow side of ourselves. They can bring about dramatic, sometimes traumatic, growth and promote insight into cataclysmic circumstances. Pluto herbs aid the sexually impotent and help to balance the physical self with the spiritual self. Some Pluto herbs are yohimbe, saw palmetto, damiana, rye and amanranth.

Typically when formulating a blend of herbs, the situation will be considered in its entirety and a mixture combining various planetary energies for a holistic effect will be employed. When investigating the effects of a single, specific planet you could certainly compose a blend using only the herbs of that planet, but in most cases the effect you are seeking would utilize a blending of several planetary influences. For example, you want to make an herbal amulet for the perfect job. You need to analyze the components of the perfect job for you - the right amount of money, the chance to learn new skills, people with whom you will be compatible, the potential for advancement could all be parts of what you see as the perfect job. Therefore, you would combine Sun herbs for abundance, success and personal satisfaction, Mercury herbs to be eloquent and clear sighted as you interview for various positions, Jupiter herbs for expanded opportunities and, perhaps, Venus herbs for compatible associates


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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:21 AM)

Wildcrafting Your Herbs 

  

Wildcrafting is becoming ever more popular as many people choose
wild herbs over ones that have been refined and developed for the
marketplace. Personally, I believe that herbs gathered from the wild
have more power and inherent healing qualities. Furthermore,
gathering herbs in this way is a productive step towards fostering our relationship with Mother Earth. It is essential, therefore, to perform this task in synchronization with nature and avoid further destruction to our ecosystems.

All around the world, corporate interests and careless individuals,
who see the value of the land only in terms of how it can be
exploited for its resources, endanger our environment.

The Earth, which once provided valuable botanical medicines
seemingly without end, is facing a serious crisis. Our natural
resources are nearing exhaustion from careless depletion. We must
act now to help preserve our natural resources before many rare
medicinal plant species disappear forever. I am also concerned about governmental agencies that, working hand in hand with major pharmaceutical companies, seek proposals to license all herbal
remedies. They claim this is for our safety. However, in my opinion,
the real reason for these laws is to protect corporate interest from
losing market share as more people turn to herbal remedies and limit
their, intake of pharmaceutical drugs.

Wildcrafting is the most direct way of getting in touch with the
healing powers of Mother Earth. Moreover, by learning to wildcraft,
you can be assured that you may always find the herbs you need in
nature, should the government step in and take away .our ability to
purchase these natural remedies.

Following are some simple guidelines to help you get started
wildcrafting.


l. Study the environment before you begin gathering any herbs. Does
it look pure and healthy, or is it diseased or polluted by chemicals?

2. Wildcrafting is a spiritual activity. Therefore, remember to ask
the plant spirits for permission before you take them. Also, it is
important to give something back in the way of an offering. For
instance, traditional indigenous people offer wild mountain tobacco
as a gift to the healing spirits of the earth. You may also offer
copper coins, seeds, or a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving while
you are harvesting.

3. It is best to never take more than you need. Keep in mind that
others may also require the herbs that you are gathering. Moreover,
please consider that animals and insects help with pollination and
seed distribution and may also rely on the plants you are harvesting
for food.

4. Handle the plants gently and respectfully. Never touch the plants
with metal, other than a knife or scissors to sever the plants or
the leaves and bark from the rest of the plant. It is best to wear
gloves and use your hands. Papers, or cloth made from natural fiber,
make the best containers for transport, and your cookware should be
constructed of wood, enamel, glass, or stoneware.

5. Be aware of the dangers of herbs. Misidentification, mislabeling,
misinformation, and self-medication without a diagnosis from a
qualified practitioner can place you in harm's way. Some herbs are
poisonous; others may make you deathly ill.

6. Learn to correctly identify the plants you wish to harvest. Your
local museum may have a herbarium, where many different kinds of
plants have been collected and pressed. You can choose to take a
course in botany at your local night school or college, or buy a
book that will guide you in identifying herbs and flowers. There are
also many websites that have pictures and descriptionsm of herbs.

Once you begin your wildcrafting, here are some additional things
you should keep in mind:

Collect your herbs in dry weather.Grow your herbs in organic soil.
Use crushed kelp or organic compost to feed the plants. Be sure to
include some well-rotted straw manure or shredded leaves in the mix.

Annuals, plants that complete their growth in one growing season,
should be cut to the ground.

Biennials, which require two growing seasons, should be cut about
halfway down.

Perennials, which die back seasonally and produce new growth, should
also be cut about halfway down.

Leaves should be collected in the early morning on a clear dry day,
because this is when the fragrant oils are at their greatest
strength.

Flowers are best used medicinally when they have just opened.

Barks may be gathered in the spring or fall when the plant is at
least two years old. Age bark for about two years before using.

Seeds must be gathered as soon as they are ripe and fully developed.

Dry your herbs by tying them in small bunches and hanging them
upside down in a warm dry place. Or wrap the herbs loosely in
newspaper, tying a string around the middle of the paper, and hang
them in a warm dry room or closet. The herbs will be dry in a few
days.

Never store dried herbs in plastic. Instead use glass jars or
bottles, and keep them in the rerefrigerator or a cooldark place. Do
not use plants that have been sprayed withinsecticides or tampered
with in any way. Sprayed plants can poison you if used in teas or
ointments.

Mixing and Storing Herbs and Spices

Dried herbs are stronger in flavour than fresh leaf herbs. To
convert dry to fresh measurements, use approximately 3 tablespoons
fresh to each tablespoon dry. In most cases use 1/3 to ¼ the amount
of dried herbs as is called for fresh. In general ¼ teaspoon of
spice is enough for 4 servings.

Mixing Herbs - when seasoning with herbs and spices try to
complement your dish by not overwhelming the flavour of the food.
Cooking spices for too long may result in overly strong flavours.

For long-cooking dishes, such as soups and stews add herbs and
spices an hour or less before serving. For best results try crushing
the herbs before adding to your dish. For shorter cooking-dishes try
adding dry spices earlier in cooking. Fresh spices and herbs should
be added towards the end of cooking.

Unless the recipe specifically calls for it, don't use more than
three herbs and spices in any one dish. The exception to this rule
is East Indian cooking, which often calls for 10 or more different
spices in one curry dish.

Try replacing herbs and spices called for in recipes with something
different - such as Marjoram instead of Oregano, Savory instead of
Thyme, Cilantro instead of Parsley, Anise seed instead of Fennel.
Mixing herbs and spices will provide you with greater creativity in
food preparation by allowing you to create a variety of exciting and
uniquely seasoned dishes. You may just create a recipe that will be
one of a kind, beloved by everyone.

Storing Herbs - store spices in a cool, dark, dry place. Heat,
humidity, and excessive light will result in the dry herbs and
spices losing their flavour more quickly. A good way to store herbs
and spices is in small, airtight glass containers. If stored
properly, dried herbs and ground spices will retain their flavour
for a year. Whole spices may last for 3 to 5 years. To keep larger
quantities of herbs and spices fresh, store them in tightly sealed
containers in the freezer.

Do not store dry herbs and spices near any humid source, such as
sinks, dishwashers, kettles, coffee makers, on counter tops, stoves
or microwaves. Avoid storing dry herbs and spices inside the
refrigerator due to the high humid environment. Avoid storing near
heat sources such as stoves, top of microwaves and refrigerators.
For best results grind whole spices in a grinder or mortar & pestle.
If you want to enhance the whole spice flavour, try roasting the
whole spice in a dry skillet over a medium heat, being careful not
to burn them.

Drying Herbs - try drying herbs on racks, slats or upside down by
their stems. For best drying, place your herbs in a well ventilated,
dry, cool environment. Ensure that you have plenty of air space and
turn every few days. Another alternative to drying is using the
microwave by laying the herbs out on absorbent paper and cooking on
low for 3 minutes. A dehydrator is also another excellent option.

Harvesting Herbs - the best time to pick the leaves or flower buds
is when they start to unfurl. Try to harvest your herbs early in the
day and before noon at the latest, as the herbs are most potent
then. Seeds must be collected when they turn brown and brittle.
Never pick herbs in wet or humid conditions

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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:22 AM)

HOW TO WASH HERBS

Wash herbs when you are ready to use them. Wash smaller amounts
of herbs thoroughly under running water. Shake off moisture or
spin dry in a salad spinner. Pat off any remaining moisture
with clean paper towels.

If you're washing a larger amount of herbs at one time, treat
them as you would salad greens. Place in a clean sink or deep
bowl filled with cold water and swish around. Lift from the
water and transfer to another bowl so dirt and grit remain in
the water. Pour out the water and repeat the washing process in
clean water until dirt and grit are gone and the water is
clear.

NOTE: If you plan to harvest a large amount of herbs from a
home garden, consider washing them down with a hose the day
before to help remove any large particles of dirt or grit that
might be on the leaves.

Annual herbs can be harvested down to about four inches tall
and they still will regrow for use later in the season. For
perennial herbs, don't take off more than a third of the plant
at any given time

Trees, the Lungs of the  Planet
Trees

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Lungs of the  Planet
Trees are a very important  part of our landscape and lifestyle. We make  very good use of them in a  variety of ways. Shade on a hot sunny day to provider  of fresh fruit, lumber and  the basic material of paper, but did you know  they are considered the lungs  of the planet. They keep our air supply fresh by  absorbing carbon dioxide and  producing oxygen. Acting as an enormous "carbon sink", trees soak up carbon  dioxide from the air, producing life-giving  oxygen in return.
In one year, a single tree  can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven 26,000 miles. In a  tree, 'breathing' takes place in the leaf.  Chlorophyll (the substance  causing the green colour) absorbs the CO2 and uses it  along with water to dissolve  minerals taken up through the roots. After the  chemical reaction is  completed, the leaf releases oxygen and water vapor through its pores. One tree  produces nearly 118 kg (260 pounds) of oxygen each year. One acre of trees  removes up to 2.34 tons (2.6 tons) of carbon dioxide each year.
Defying gravity &  outperforming mechanical pumps There are two ways that a  tree can take in water: through the leaves and through the roots. They  absorb small amounts of moisture from the air through 
their leaves and their bark.  Most of their water, however, comes via the  roots. To carry the great amounts of  water needed to the leaves, a tree is equipped with a circulation system of  amazing intricacy that extends from the millions of root hairs  through the trunks and the branches to the hundreds of thousands of leaves. In the  case of the Giant Sequoia of California, this means that some of the water  collected by the roots must travel a distance of nearly 450 feet (this measurement  includes estimated root size! to get to the highest leaves of the tallest  trees.This seems to contradict a basic law of physics. 
To raise water that high  requires a pressure of about 420 pounds per square inch. However, atmospheric  pressure at sea level is only about 15 pounds to the square inch, and this  limits the height that a suction pump can raise water to a mere 33 feet. Not  only does the tree attain the tremendous pressure required, but it does so with  a speed of flow so great that in certain trees water rises at the  speed of almost 150 feet an hour. Trees improve water quality by slowing and  filtering rain water as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds. We need to  protect our forests, not just for their beauty and habitat for plants, fauna and  animals but the breath of life they give us.
Did You Know 
Trees are the longest living  organisms on earth General Sherman a giant redwood sequoia of California  is about 84 m (275 ft) high with a girth of 8m  (25 ft) The cottonwood tree  seed is so light, it can be carried on the air  for several days. The world's  tallest tree is a coast redwood in California, measuring more than 110 m  (360 ft). The world's oldest trees are 4,600 year old Bristlecone pines in  the USA. A mature birch tree can produce up to 1 million seeds per year.A  mature oak tree can draw up to 190 litres (50 gallons) or more of water per  day.
Amazing trees:
Africa has the Baobabs with  enormous trunks that are living water towers topped with a few wizened limbs. A  good specimen is capable of storing more than 25.000 gallons. Some are up to  three thousand years  old With age these great  trees will often become hollow and have been known  to be used as houses. There  was one famous tree, which was used as a bus stop and could shelter as many as  30 waiting people from the burning sun. The Ada Tree of Australia is 72 m  (236 ft) high and has a 15.4 m (50 ft) girth  and a root system that takes  up more than an acre. Australian Bottle Trees an withstands temperatures  of -10 C.(14 F) to +50 C (122 F) in it's natural habitat.
Diesel Tree
In the Amazon there is the  diesel tree Copaiba Langsdorfii, that produces a sap which is so similar to  diesel that it can be poured straight into a truck's fuel tank.
The Serendipity berry is 3000  times sweeter than sucrose. In spite of this it has a lower calorie  content.Africa's sausage tree smells like a mouse; this compels bats to  pollinate it.
Paper consumption
In Canada an acre of forest  is cut every 12.9 seconds. Trees logged from  Canadain a single year, would  fill more than 4.300.000 logging trucks; lined up bumper to bumper they would  be long enough to encircle the world 2½ times. Paper consumption in the 20th  century continues to increase. Do we really  want to shred up the lungs of  the Earth to receive yet more unwanted  junk-mail to our homes?
Think about this when you use paper

Finding The Age Of Trees



First measure the diameter of the trunk at breast height (in inches), and then multiply it by the number listed on the table below.
 

2 .5 for chestnut, white elm, and the tulip tree

3 for black walnut

3.5 for black oak

4 for birch, sweet gum, chestnut-oak; red oak, scarlet oak, and sycamore.

5 for ash and white oak

6 for beech, sour gum, and sugar maple

8 for the shag bark hickory





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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:22 AM)

Equipment You Will Need for Herbal Dyeing
From:  Growing Herbs & Plants for Dyeing
By:  Betty E.M. Jacobs
 
Equipment you will need:
 
1. Collect rain water.  If you can't collect rain water, use a water softener such as "Calgon."  Follow the directions on the water softener.  You can also use vinegar and then test the water using litmus paper to see that the water is "neutral."
2.  Enamel or stainless steel pans, large enough to hold 4 1/2 gal. of water AND the material you'll be dyeing (usually wool) with room left over for stirring.
3.  Buckets or bowl for rinsing.  These can be plastic because these don't have to be heated.
4.  Measuring spoons and measuring cups (2 and 4 cup sizes)
5.  A container that holds 2 gallons of liquid.
6.  Fine strainers to remove plant material from liquid dye.
7.  Sticks for stirring, preferrably smooth sticks so you don't get splinters.
8.  A thermometer that goes to at least 212 dgrees.
9.  Rubber gloves.
10.Accurate scales that will measure from the smllest amount of 1/4 oz or 5 grams.
11.Clothes line, in the shade.
12.Kitchen stove.  Or you will need some means of heating the containers in which you are dyeing.
 
 
THE MORDANTS

ALUM (potassium aluminum sulfate) is the most common mordant. If you are not sure what you want to do, mordant with alum, and use the others as additives. Alum does not effect color. It is usually used with cream of tartar, which helps evenness and brightens slightly. Three ounces of alum and one of cream of tartar is a good start; if you have heavy wool, use four ounces of alum. Too much alum makes wool sticky. Alum mordanted wool stores well, wet or dry.

IRON (ferrous sulfate) is called copperas. It will sadden or darken colors, bringing out green shades. Usually wool is dyed BEFORE mordanting with iron. Simmer dye-bath for ½ hour, remove wool, and add ½ ounce of iron and one ounce of cream of tartar to pot. Dissolve thoroughly then re-enter wool. Simmer ½ hour more. Rinse well (remember to cool slowly-see above); too much iron will harden wool and make it streak.

TIN (stannous chloride) blooms or brightens colors, especially reds, oranges and yellows. Almost always used with cream of tartar — ½ ounce tin and 1-2 ounces of cream of tartar for a pound of wool. Simmer for an hour and rinse in soapy water before dyeing. Tin is a good additive mordant. Store wool wet or dry. Too much tin makes wool brittle. It is caustic, be sure to handle carefully and clean up thoroughly.

BLUE VITRIOL (copper sulfate) saddens colors and brings out greens. It is a good additive. Used alone, one ounce will mordant a pound of wool. Rinse fiber well, store wet or dry. Blue vitriol is poisonous.

TANNIC ACID is a good mordant if you want tans or browns, or for cotton or linen (vegetable fibers). One ounce per pound of wool, simmer for an hour. Wool mordanted with tannic acid before dyeing tends to darken with age.

GLAUBER'S SALTS are a leveling agent, not a mordant. Add ½ cup to your dye-bath to prevent streaking. Color will change slightly. Wool dyed to slightly different shades with the same dyestuff can be brought to a more even color with Glauber's salts. Add one cup of Glauber's salts to your dye-bath, dissolve, add soaked wool and simmer for ½ to one hour, until the different shades have blended into uniformity. The final color will be a little duller.

© Earth Guild (You may reproduce this if it is unaltered and our name stays on it.)

 

MORDANTING FOR NATURAL DYEING

There are two kinds of natural dyes: substantive and adjective. SUBSTANTIVE dyes (lichens and walnut hulls, for instance) need no mordants to help them adhere to the fiber. ADJECTIVE dyes do. The mordant joins with the fiber and the dye to set the color permanently. It enters deeply into the fiber, and when the dye is added, they combine to form a color; since the mordant is thoroughly embedded, so is the color. This is the principle behind the process. Adjective dyestuffs are not able to penetrate the wool enough to keep from washing or fading away—unless a mordant is used.

CAUTIONS
Keep mordants out of reach of kids, animals and weird adults. Mordants are not all poisonous, but why risk trouble? Store them safely away when they aren't in use. Don't breathe in the fumes while you are mordanting. NEVER use the same pots for cooking and dyeing.

GENERAL RULES FOR MORDANTING
All recipes here are for one pound of wool. Wool is the easiest to dye; cotton and linen are possible too, but the process will be more complicated and the results may be less pleasing and/or permanent. Halve or double mordant amounts to prepare half or twice as much wool. Use a non-reactive pot—enamel (unchipped) or stainless steel. Brass, copper or iron pots will do their own mordanting, providing special effects you may not care for.

Wool is more easily dyed as fleece or as yarn wound in skeins. In either form it must be clean (commercial yarn usually already is); dirt will repel the mordant and later on the dye. Tie skeins (tight knot, loose loop) in four places to prevent tangles. If the loop is too snug, you will have tie-dyed yarn. It is possible to dye wool as fabric, but hard to do it evenly.

Soak wool for several hours, to ensure even take-up. NEVER put dry fiber into a mordant- or dye-pot unless you want streaks. Fill a large enough pot with enough water to not crowd the fiber. Add the mordant and dissolve completely, stirring with a clean stick or glass rod. Bring the bath to room temperature and add the wet wool.

Bring to a simmer and hold there for an hour. DO NOT BOIL. Stir occasionally VERY SLOWLY & GENTLY. (HEAT and AGITATION cause FELTING.

Remove pot from heat and let cool—preferably over night. Remove wool from pot. It is ready to be dyed or it may be stored wet or dry, for later dyeing. Some people think mordanted wool will take dye better after it has sat for a while. Wet wool has been stored successfully for up to six weeks. Ventilate it and turn it to prevent mold. If you store your mordanted wool dry, be sure to soak it well before dyeing.

Please see our "Natural Dyeing" instructions for further information.

 

 

            Alum Mordant Recipe




Weigh out the fiber.
Place the fiber in a pot of warm water with detergent and simmer for one hour.

   

Drain and rinse.

   

Weigh out 10% alum and 5% tartaric acid of the dry fiber weight.
Combine in a glass jar with warm water to dissolve.

   

In a large dyepot, heat enough water to cover the fiber to 120.
Add alum mixture.
Mix thoroughly.
Add the warm, wetted fiber to the dyebath
Bring the dyebath slowly up to 190 and simmer at about one hour.
Remove the dyepot from heat and let the fiber cool in the bath for one hour.

   

Wash and rinse.



 

Tips on mordanting:

 

 

 

Always pre-wash your fiber in washing soda to move any grease or sizing left in from the animal or the manufacturer. In a large pot of hot water, add one spoonful of soda, stir until dissolved and then add the fiber. Boil for about one hour and rinse thoroughly.

When mordanting, start with warm water and slowly raise the temperature to just below boiling. By doing this, air in and around the fiber is expelled and the fiber is softened. Make sure the fiber is thoroughly wetted before you immerse it any bath. This will ensure a smooth uptake of the bath and prevent splotches.

Always start your mordant or dye in a small jar of water then, when fully dissolved or after a overnight soak, add it to the pot.

Make sure that there is ample room in the pot. Move the fiber around several times to make sure the fiber is dyed evenly. Let the fiber cool in the bath, rinse then squeeze gently to remove excess water and hang to dry or while still wet, use the fiber immediately.

 

Chrome:

This gives wonderful deep, rich colors. You have to be more careful with it, than the alum, to avoid uneven coloring later on. Adding cream of tartar will help brighten the colors even more. Use 1/2 oz. of chrome with 4 gallons of water, to 1 pound of fabric or yarn. Heat the water to 160°, and remember to pre-dissolve the chrome in warm water first. Put your wet, washed fabric in the bath and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the fabric, add 1/2 oz of cream of tartar (pre-dissolved) stir thoroughly, replace the fabric and simmer for 1 hour. Be careful to keep the fabric totally under the water in the bath, or when you do dye your fabric it will streak..   Wash the fabric after mordanting in the chrome & allow it to dry slowly, before dyeing. If you're going to be dyeing the fabric lighter colors, you can use a bit less chrome. Too much will result in a harsher feel to the fabric. Chemical name:  potassium bichromate.

 

Tin:

The most difficult of all the mordants metallics to use. Too much will destroy your fabric or yarn. Its greatest use is as an aid to other mordants, with bright, crisp yellows & reds resulting.  As an actual mordant, use 1/2 oz. tin, with 2 oz. cream of tartar and 3/4 oz. oxalic acid - to one pound fabric or yarn in 4 gallons of water.  Heat the water to 140°, put in the wet, washed fabric and raise the temperature of the bath to 190°. Hold at that level for 1 hour. Do Not Boil. Chemical name:  stannous chloride, tin crystals. Oxalic acid is Oxalic wood sorrel, a bleaching or cleaning agent - very strong acid.



(Message edited by Autumn_Heather On 02/13/2009 06:24 AM)
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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:25 AM)

Iron - (ferrous sulfate)
Iron is referred to as a saddener, as it grays the color. It is also harsh on fibers, so be sure to rinse well when you are finished. It is directly to the dye bath near the end of the dying process. Use 1/2 oz. or less of iron and 1 oz. cream of tartar dissolved in boiling water for each pound of wool. At the end of the dye process, remove the wool, and stir in the iron solution. Return the wool to the bath and simmer for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the color you want. Allow dye bath to cool, then rinse thoroughly in several changes of water. Squeeze and press in toweling to remove excess solution, then hang in shade to dry. If you are storing the skeins for dying later, BE SURE TO LABEL with date and mordant used.

HERBS for DYEING A-Z
            From:  Growing Herbs & Plants for Dyeing By:  Betty E.M. Jacobs
 
AGRiMONY
The best yellows will be obtained from late fall harvested plants; gathered earlier tehy will yeild a yellowish-buff color.
Parts Used:  Leaves and stems
Color Achieved:  Brasy yellow (alum mordant)  Gold (chrome mordant)
 
Barberry
Bark and roots should be harvested in late summer and fall.  Leafy tips can be used, but the colors are not strong.
Parts Used:  Inner bark and roots
Color Achieved:  Yellow (no mordant)  Yellow (Tin with acetic acid)
 
Bedstraw
Parts Used:  Roots
Color Achieved:  Red (alum mordant)  Pruplish/red (chrome mordant) Plum (iron mordant)
 
Bloodroot
Roots should be harvested in fall, after the leaves die down.  They should be stored in a dry place, or they will deteriorate quickly.
Parts Used:  Roots
Color Achieved:  Orange (no mordant)  Rust (Alum/Cream of Tarter mordant) Reddish/pink (Tin mordant)
 
Broom
Parts Used:  Flowering tops, young shoots
Color Achieved:  Bright greenish/yellow (alum mordant)  BrightYellow (alum mordant)  Deep Yellow (Chrome mordant)
 
Calliopsis/Coreopsis
Parts Used:  Fresh flowers
Color Achieved:  Red/orange (Chrome mordant)  Yellow (Tin mordant)
 
Dhalia
Part Used:  Fresh or dried flowers
Color Achieved:  Clear Orange (Chrome mordant)  Brassy Yellow (Alum mordant)
 
Dyer's Broom
Parts Used:  Fresh or dried flowering tops, small leaves and stems
Color Achieved:  Light Yellow (Alum mordant)  Deep Yellow (Chrome mordant)
 
Dyer's Chamomile
Parts Used:  Fresh or dried flowers
Color Achieved:  Yellow/buff (Alum mordant)  Golden/orange (Chrome mordant)  Clear Yellow (Tin mordant)
 
Elder
Parts Used:  Fresh or frozen berries
Color Achieved:  Violet (Alum mordant)  Lilac (Alum mordant with salt in the dye bath)  Greenish/grey (Alum mordant with pokeberries added to the elderberries)  Blue/gray (Tin mordant)  Blue (Chrome mordant)  Dark grey (Tin mordant top dye the blue/grey with walnut)
 
Goldenrod
Parts Used:  the whole plant
Color Achieved:  Yellow/green (Iron mordant and the whole plant)  Yellow (Alum mordant with just eh flowers)  Old Gold (Chrome mordant with just the flowers)
Bright Yellow (Tin mordant with the whole plant)
 
Heather
Parts Used:  Fresh young, green tips; fresh flower buds; fresh open flowers
Color Achieved:  Yellow to lime (Alum mordant with young green tips)  Gold (Alum with fresh flower buds)  Light Orange (Alum with fresh flowers)
 
Hollyhock
Parts Used:  Fresh blossoms, fresh red blossoms, fresh leaves
Color Achieved:  Orange (Chrome mordant with fresh blossoms)  Pink (Alum with fresh red blossoms)  Lime (Alum with fresh leaves)

 

 

Lilly of the Valley

Parts Used:  Fresh leaves

Color Achieved:  Yellow/pale green (Alum mordant), Bronze (Chrome mordant), Bright Yellow (Tin mordant)

Madder

Parts Used:  Medium sized roots give better dye stuff than woody roots.  Use fresh ground, or dried and powdered.

Color Achieved:  Orange (Tin mordant), Lacquer Red (Alum mordant)  Garnet Red (Chrome mordant)

Marigold

Parts Used:  Fresh or Dried Blossoms

Color Achieved:  Gold (Chrome mordant), Yellow-tan (Alum mordant)

Meadowsweet

Parts Used:  Whole plant without roots for Greenish-yellow.  Roots for Rosey Red and Brown

Color Achieved:  Greenish-yellow (Alum mordant), Rosey Red (Alum mordant), Brown (Chrome mordant) Black (Iron mordant)

Mullein

Parts Used:  Leaves and stalks

Color Achieved:  Yellow (Alum mordant), Gold (Chrome mordant) Bright Yellow (Tin mordant)

Onion

Parts Used:  Red and yellow skins

Color Achieved:  Tan/brown (Tin mordant and red skins), Gold (Chrome mordant and red skins), Reddish Orange (Alum mordant and red skins), Dark Tan (Chrome mordant and red skins), Burnt Orange (Alum mordant and yellow skins), Brass (Chrome mordant and yellow skins)

Pokeweed

Parts Used:  Fresh & Dried Berries

Color Achieved:  Reds (Alum mordant and fresh berries), Browns (Alum mordant and dried berries), Red (Tin mordant and fresh berries)

Privet<

Parts Used:  Fresh leaves

Color Achieved:  Bright Yellow (Alum mordant), Gold (Chrome mordant), Dark green (Iron mordant)

Ragwort

Parts Used:  Fresh stems, leaves and flower heads

Color Achieved:  Green (Alum mordant and stems and leaves)  Rich yellow (Alum mordant with fresh flower heads), Brownish-yellow (Chrome mordant and fresh flower heads)

Safflower<

Parts Used:  Flowers

Color Achieved:  Clear yellow (Alum mordant), Brass (Iron mordant), Rust (Tin mordant)

Saffron

Parts Used:  Stigma

Color Achieved:  Yellow (Alum mordant)

Tansy

Parts Used:  Young leaves and flowers

Color Achieved:  Yellowish green (Alum mordant with young leaves), Greenish-yellow (Alum mordant with fresh flowers)

Tomato

Parts Used: Vine

Color Achieved:  Reddish brown (No mordant), Light yellow (Alum mordant)

Weld

Parts Used:  Leaves, flowers, and stalks

Color Achieved:  Lemon yellow (Alum mordant), Golden yellow (Chrome mordant), Yellow orange (Tin mordant)

Woad

Parts Used:  Young leaves

Color Achieved:  Blue, after exposing to the air (No mordant)

Yellow Flag<

Parts Used:  Fresh or dried Rhizomes

Color Achieved:  Grey/black (Iron mordant)

Zinia

Parts Used:  Fresh or dried flower heads

Color Achieved:  Bright yellow (Alum mordant), Greenish yellow (Chrome mordant)


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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:25 AM)

Signatures of Herbs
 
 
Many of the herbs have what are called "signatures," a system of of characteristics that help identify the herb and its functions.  It is important to understand what those signatures are in order to know what the herb can be used for.  You will become proficient in gathering wild herbs once you have an understanding of the sinature of the plants. (I want to mention here that with knowledge comes responsibility.  Many of theherbs are on the endangered list, so be aware when you do use nature's bounty.)
   Knowing the signatures of the plants will also help you in preparing and creating your own recipes.  Certain characteristics can be brokend own into categories.  These categories indicate what a particular plant can be used for.  Here are some general rules to help you understand signatures.
1.  The color of the herb's flowers is an important part of the signature.  The plants with the yellow blooms are generally used for liver, gallbladder, and all urinary problems and tonics that rid the body of toxins and infections.
   The herbs with the reddish flowers are all good blood purifiers and/or alternatives.  The color red indicates the astringency or the healing effect of certain herbs.  Herbs with this color can be used to treat skin disorders that are caused by blood imurities.  The active ingredient of many of the alternative herbs are considered to be antibiotic in nature.
   Herbs that have purple or blue flowers are without exception used as a sedative or relaxant.  These are good to add to a recipe when the patient needs to stay calm during an illness, or in treating muscle spasms. Most of our illnesses are caused by stress and most of the herbal remedies would benefit from the addition of a calmative or sedative.  They are also considered good blood purifiers, so they have their place as a tonic as well.
2.  The growing conditions of the herb is the second thing you look at to ascertain the signature of the herb.  Herbs that grow in an area with a lot of gravel indicates that the plant can be used in treating illnesses that have to do with stone or gravel in the body.  These herbs help to cleanse and remove harmful accumulations from the alimentary and bronchial systems.  They are used to treat kidney stones or gallstones.
   So-called stone-breakers are parsley, peppergrass, shepherd's purse, sassafras, and mullein.  Mullein will grow just about anywhere.  I find it quite often growing in gravel along railways and roadways.
   You would not necessarily use the same kind of plants or herbs if you found them growing in other conditions.  For instance, milkweed growing in sandy soil has twice as many active ingredients as the same species found growing in a good, rich soil.
   Herbs found growing in mucky, swampy, or wet ground are good to use in recipes designed to treat excessive mucous excretions, such as respiratoryproblems dealing with asthma, colds, coughs, and rheumatic disorders.  Willow, verbena, boneset, and elder are examples of this.
   Herbs that grow near fast-moving water are good to use as diuretics.  These help to clean the alimentary systems of toxins and harmful wastes.
Always be aware of the growing conditions when gathering herbs for a specific treatment.  A godo example of differences found in the herbs is the sage plant.  Sometimes a pink and a blue bloom will be found on the same species of sage growing right next to each other.   This would indicate to me that the blue-flowered plant would be used only as a sedative.  Because of the astringent nature of sage, both pink and blue-flowered sage can be used as a blood purifier, but I would choose the pink-blossomed plant, because the pink flowers indicate that it has blood purifying properties.
3.  Different textures indicate different uses.  Herbs that have a soft texture to them are useful for treating swollen or inflamed areas.  They can also be used in so-called wet colds or any chest disorders.  NO herbal remedy for internal use is considered complete unless one of these emollient herbs is included in the recipe.  Horehound, mullein, and hollyhocks are good examples of emollient herbs.
4.  Any of the herbs that have thorns or are prickly are used in disorders hwere there is sharp pain.  Thistle is used as a tonic for all the organs.  Hawthorn can be used as a tonic for the heart because it has sharp thorns and is indicative of sharp pains in the heart.  Hawthorn is also considered a diuretic and that is helpful in any heart treatment.  Wild prickly lettuce is used as a pain reliever and as a sedative.  It has blossoms that may be white, yellow, or blue.  The prickles are indicative of its usefulness in treating sharp pain.
   The epidermal hairs of some of the plants are suggestive of their use in internal problems where there are sharp or stitching pains.  Hops, nettle, and mullein are three plants that come to mind immediately.
5.  Any herb that clings to itself is believed to cling to an help remove any hardened mucus of the inner systems. Any of the herbs that have a "sticking to" propensity are good to use in ridding the body of toxins and virus germs.  Balm of Gilead is used in chest complaints because it has a stick substance covering it.  The ground-covering herbs are also considered good to use in ridding the boy of hardened mucus.  Examples of this are coltsfoot, sage, thyme, horehound, and mallow.
6.  Herbs that are also vines are considered good to use in remedies for the blood system and the nervous system because they resemble them.  The blood vessels and the nerve paths throughout the body call to mind the vines.  Another way to check whether or not the herb will be useful for these disorders is to check the root system of the plant.  If it has a vein-like root system, then the herb may be used to treat disorders dealing with the blood system or nervous disorders.
7.  The skin healers have signatures in several different ways.  They have thing, threadlike roots and stems.  Comqiefoil, gold thread, and septfoil are good examples of this.  The roots resemble the structure of the veins in the skin.
8.  Fissures in the back of certain trees are indicative of their use in certain skin disorders.  Cherry, white birch, and elder are examples of trees with healing properties for skin ulcers and sores.  Balsamic resinous exudations help to heal cuts and ulcers of the skin.  Moss, lichens, and molds are good choices when making preparations used to treat skin diseases (such as psoriasis) because these herbs resemble the apprearance of these disorders.
9.  Sometimes, just the name alone can indicate the use of that particular herb.  Heartsease, eyebright, pleurisy root, feverfew, cancer root, and throat root are just a few.  Many of the plants, such as eyebright and chamomile, are indicative for eyes because the floral parts resemble eyes.
10.  Many of the herbs that have a root structure resembling the human torso are used as aphrodisiacs, or as a way to overcome sterility.  Ginseng is  an example of this.
   Skull cap and walnut have forms that resemble the shape of the human head, and can be used in treatment of headaches and nervous disorders.
11. Another important herbal signature is aroma.  The stronsmelling herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, thyme, and rosemary are used as disinfectants.  Most of the aromatic herbs are highly antiseptic or germicidal and have antibiotic properties.  Sage, pennyroyal, all mints, tansy, and yarrow are good examples.
12.  Another good rule to remember:  Herbs that attract bees can also be used as an antidote for bee and insect bites.  Bee balm and basil are good examples of this.  Just crush several leaves and rub on the area.
    Some of the signatures will not apply in every case.  These are some herbs that have no signature.  Study the properties of the plant that you plan to use and become familiar with the signatures of that plant (or lack of signatures0 before using it in any recipe.
   Becoming familiar with the signatures of the herbs is a first step in getting control over our health.  When the ancint shamans and healers concentrated on just a few plants and became experts in the use of those few, their remdies were effective.  Diet played an important part in their treatments.  They realized that a helathy diet was linked to a healthy body and a healthy mind.
   We live in a world that has become dangerous to our health and we should start where we can do the most good.  Taking care of those we love and teaching them to take care of their body, spirit, and mind is the most important difference we can make.  By studying about the ways mother nature can make our life better, we also become more spiritually-minded.  We soon realize that we are all connected and learn ways to deal with our own excesses.  We learn to work with nature and not against it.  We learn that we are responsible for our own health and take steps to stay healthy.
~Jude C. Todd~

Beautiful to behold in nature, many plants have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Here are ten proven medicinal herbs that scientists have tested in clinical studies. Few people are aware of the multitude of scientific studies done on plants. This information should not be used as medical advice.
Garlic
"If we were to design a drug that had perfect properties according to what we know about heart disease and associated risk factors, we couldn't improve on garlic," says Amanda McQuade-Crawford, herbalist and director of the Ojai Center of Phytotherapy in Ojai, Calif. Regular use of garlic is associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease, she explains. Garlic raises protective HDLs (high-density lipoproteins) , while it lowers harmful LDLs (low-density lipoproteins) and triglycerides (blood fats). Garlic is also known to help lower high blood pressure, she says. Garlic aids in cancer prevention by raising the body's level of glutathione transferase, a liver enzyme known to detoxify the body of carcinogens, says McQuade-Crawford. In China, researchers found gastric cancer was reduced where garlic intake was high. Other researchers have noted improved helper/suppressor ratios of T-cells in AIDS patients who take garlic. Proven to work against various micro-organisms including bacteria resistant to antibiotics, garlic is known to be antifungal and antiviral, she adds.
Hawthorn
The berries of this flowering shrub are best used for the heart, says McQuade-Crawford. Hawthorn aids the heart's pumping action by opening the coronary arteries to nourish the heart muscle. The herb can also slow a rapid heart rate and strengthen a failing heart. Hawthorn usually lowers high blood pressure, especially a raised diastolic high blood pressure, and it benefits low blood pressure due to weak heart muscles with arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm).
"Hawthorn takes a long time to do its best -- six months or longer. In the style of a true herbal tonic, it can be taken safely and effectively over time for its best effects," notes McQuade-Crawford.
Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba extract from the ginkgo tree has been shown to benefit visual function by improving microcirculation to the eyes especially among patients suffering from senile macular degeneration, a common condition thought to involve free radical damage, says Steven Schechter, N.D., author of Fighting Radiation & Chemical Pollutants With Foods, Herbs &Vitamins (Vitality, Ink).
More than 280 scientific studies indicate standardized ginkgo extract prevents and/or benefits ailments such as vertigo, tinnitus, inner ear disturbances, memory impairment, ability to concentrate, anxiety, depression, neurological disorders, senility, circulatory disorders, edema and Raynaud's disease (a vascular disorder). Ginkgo extract improves the quality and increases the quantity of capillary circulation, thus increasing blood flow to the brain, heart and tissues in organs and glands, Schechter says. In addition, he notes, the flavonoids in ginkgo are potent free radical scavengers.
Ephedra
Also known in Chinese as ma huang, ephedra may be the world's oldest herb cultivated for medicinal purposes, dating back nearly 5,000 years, says McQuade-Crawford. It's commonly used in cold formulas as a decongestant.
"Ephedra is a great bronchial dilator," McQuade-Crawford says. It helps asthma sufferers by opening the sinus passages and has an antihistamine effect which aids chronic and acute allergies. Ephedra also acts as a circulatory stimulant to blood pressure and heart function; it elevates blood pressure. Ephedra's main constituent is ephedrine, which increases adrenaline secretion in our bodies. The boost you get from ephedra stimulates certain glands, muscles and tissue functions, while it suppresses others.
"In the long term, ephedra's adrenaline overdrive can lead to chronic stress and even to degenerative disease," warns McQuade-Crawford. She notes this is important for people using ephedra for dietary weight loss or "pep pill" purposes because the effects of ephedra linger in the body long after the herb is gone. "Ephedra shouldn't be used with drugs for the heart or for the lungs and never with antidepressant drugs. It's not for use with the weak or the ill and when used long term, dosages should be conservative, " McQuade-Crawford cautions.
Licorice
Licorice has been most recently researched as an antiviral and in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulceration, explains McQuade-Crawford. Its soothing, anti-inflammatory and relaxing actions help smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract on contact. "Licorice gets into a painful, contracted, tight digestive tract and coats the raw places, relaxes the clenched-up muscles and acts as a local anti-inflammatory, " she says. Licorice also increases bile secretion. Licorice is indicated for any gastrointestinal ulcers, including mouth ulcers. The root is indicated for chronic coughs and bronchitis as a soothing decongestant. It's also indicated in small amounts to reduce sugar cravings.
The Chinese often use licorice to improve the taste and the effects of other herbs in complex formulas. Japanese research has shown licorice to decrease high testosterone levels in women with ovarian cysts and to increase their fertility. Large amounts of licorice or long-term use raises blood pressure in some people.
Bilberry
A strong antioxidant, bilberry benefits your circulatory system, eyes, heart and brain, and helps generate overall good health, says Schechter. Bilberry fruit contains a type of flavonoid called anthocyanosides, which are responsible for increasing flexibility of capillaries and increasing blood flow.
Research shows that standardized extract of bilberry can enlarge range of vision and improve sharpness of images, enhance ability to focus, and improve blurred vision, eyestrain and nearsightedness. Bilberry extract also helps strengthen coronary arteries and helps prevent atherosclerosis and venous insufficiency, which causes swollen ankles and feet. "Since adding bilberry to my own health program, I've noticed my muscles seem to recover slightly faster, I experience less muscular pain and my vision has improved from 20/100 to approximately 20/50," says Schechter.
Echinacea
Decades of research prove echinacea's value for aiding the immune system, Schechter explains. Studies have determined echinacea's ability to activate white blood cells and stimulate the regeneration of the cellular connective tissue and the epidermis. Schechter notes that echinacea's infection-fighting properties stem from its ability to neutralize a harmful enzyme involved in the infection process. Echinacea also increases two vital components of your immune system that consume and eliminate invading organisms and foreign particles.
German studies have shown echinacea extract contains proteins that help protect noninfected cells against viral infections, one reason why echinacea is regarded as an influenza preventor. Another German study found echinacea effective in allergy treatment because it helps prevent tissue inflammation due to harmful foreign toxins.
Milk Thistle
"I consider standardized milk thistle seed extract the most beneficial herbal product for liver detoxification, regeneration and protection, and, in general, one of the most universally necessary herbal products for the 1990s," says Schechter. He notes that the stress of toxins from chemical pollutants, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco smoke, drugs and different forms of radiation have cumulative side effects that need to be addressed.
More than 120 scientific studies have shown that milk thistle extract regenerates, regulates and strengthens liver functions. Because free radicals attack the liver, primarily the fat tissue in the liver, the antioxidant qualities of milk thistle are extremely beneficial. Milk thistle stimulates your body to produce superoxide dismutase, which is one of two primary antioxidants the body can manufacture.
Astragalus
Astragalus has been used as an immunity booster in China for nearly 4,000 years, according to Rob McCaleb, founder of the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colo. Astragalus extracts can increase immune system efficiency by increasing immune activity. One study found that astragalus extracts could increase the impaired immune function of blood cells up to and sometimes beyond normal cell ability.
According to Planetary Herbology (Lotus Press) by Michael Tierra, N.D., astragalus helps strengthen digestion, raise metabolism, strengthen the immune system and promote wound healing. It can also treat chronic weakness of the lungs, shortness of breath, low energy, prolapse of internal organs, spontaneous sweating, chronic lesions and deficiency edema.
Ginseng
Ginseng is one of the most widely studied herbs, having been the subject of more than 3,000 scientific studies to investigate how ginseng helps improve a person's physical and/or mental performance, notes McCaleb. Studies have shown ginseng helps increase memory and learning by improving circulation. It's also been shown to reduce cholesterol and protect the liver from toxins. Ginseng, according to Tierra, is known to strengthen the lungs, nourish body fluids and calm the spirit. It may be used for shock, collapse and heart weakness, as well as for promoting longevity and increasing resistance to disease.
A Japanese study showed cancerous liver cells could be reverted to normal cells in a Petri dish culture when treated with Panax ginseng extract. Siberian ginseng has also been shown to stimulate the immune system

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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:26 AM)

Harvesting and Drying Herbs

Harvest time for an herb is best determined by the growing condition of the herb, rather than by a specific date or month. Most herbs are ready to be harvested just as the flower buds first appear. The leaves contain the maximum amount of volatile oils at this stage of growth, giving the greatest flavor and fragrance to the finished product.

To extend the use of herbs into the winter months, plan to harvest and dry various herbs during the summer and fall. Herbs should be harvested at the proper time of the day; early in the morning, just before the sun is hot. Their fragrance makes this early task quite enjoyable.

Annual herbs can be cut back quite severely during harvest. Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut just above a leaf or a pair of leaves, leaving 4 to 6 inches of the stem for later growth. However, if an annual herb is grown for it's seed, it should not be cut back and used for the leaves. In these cases, allow the plants to mature fully and then harvest them. Collect the seed heads when they are turning brown by cutting them from the plants and drying them on a tray made of very fine wire mesh.

Leafy perennial herbs should not be cut back as heavily as annuals. Only about one-third of the top growth should be removed at a time, and in some cases only the leafy tips should be removed. Careful pruning insures that new growth will be produced and a compact habit of growth maintained. Most perennial herbs will be ready to harvest just prior to or during the early part of July, with a second harvest possible in September in the cases of herbs such as tarragon and oregano. A sharp knife or pair of pruning shears are necessary tools when harvesting herbs. The herbs should be fresh and clean before drying and storing, regardless of the method used to cure them. To clean, wash stems in cold running water and drain on paper toweling. The easiest way to dry herbs is to allow the leaves or entire stems to air dry at room temperature.

When drying whole branches or stems: first wash and dry, then gather 5 to 8 stems together and tie them into a bundle. Place the bundle into a brown paper bag with stems extending out the open end and hang in a dark warm place (70 to 80 degrees F). Depending on temperature and moisture, drying time will take 2 to 4 weeks. Tray drying is usually used for short-stemmed herbs or for individual leaves; an old window screen or smaller drying tray fashioned from 2"x2" lumber and screening usually works as a drying tray. The trays should be kept in a warm, dark place until the herbs are dry.

Silica Sand Drying is the same process as is commonly used to dry flowers. Silica sand draws the moisture out of the plant tissues and leaves them in their original shapes. Any container will do, as long as it is big enough to allow all of the plant materials to be covered with sand. The leaves should be clean and dry. Place a shallow layer of silica sand in the bottom of the container, then arrange herbs on top so they don't overlap; then cover with more silica sand and place container in a warm room. It will take 2 to 4 weeks until the herbs are thoroughly dried and can be removed from the sand for storage in glass jars.

An ordinary gas, electric or microwave oven can be used for quicker drying of herbs. Care must be taken, for herbs can't be dessicated too quickly at too high a temperature or much of the flavor, oils, and color of the herbs would be lost. When drying with a conventional oven: place the leaves or stems on a cookie sheet or shallow pan and warm at no more than 180 F for 3 to 4 hours with the oven door open. When using a microwave oven: place the clean stems or leaves on a paper plate or towel and set the control on high for 1 to 3 minutes; turn the stems over or mix the leaves every 30 seconds.

Store the herbs in airtight jars in a cool, dry place. If the entire stems were dried, remove the leaves and crush or crumble them in jars. The herbs must be completely dried or they will form mold. Keep the jars away from light and heat, as both will destroy the quality of the herbs.

There are many other methods of preserving herbs. Many herbs can be successfully frozen, and retain their freshness after being thawed. When freezing herbs, they must first be harvested and washed thoroughly. Blanch the herbs in boiling water for a minute or two, and then cool quickly in ice water. After draining, place the herbs in a package and freeze them. Some herbs, such as parsley, chives and basil can be pureed with a small amount of water in a blender, and then frozen in an ice cube tray. They can later be stored in plastic bags for use in flavoring soup and sauces.

Herb vinegars are an extremely popular use for home grown herbs. To make herb vinegar: place herbs in a jar or bottle and cover with white vinegar and secure with a tight lid, storing the bottle in a cool, dry place. After steeping for 4 to 6 weeks, the vinegar can be poured off into smaller bottles and capped.

Herb butter can be made with the addition of about 4 tablespoons full of dried herb leaves and a dash of lemon juice to 1/4 pound of butter softened at room temperature. The butter should then be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Herb mustard is a mixture of 8 tablespoonsful of dry mustard, 8 tablespoonsful of salt and a teaspoonful of sugar with just enough vinegar to make a smooth paste. The mixture should then be divided into four portions; into each portion mix one table-spoonful of desired herbs.

Potpourri is a mixture of dried herbs and flower petals that preserves the aromatic fragrances of the summer months. Most potpourris start with dried roses and lavender as a base, to which other dried herbs are added. The herbs used depends on personal preference and availability; some popular choices include: sweet basil, lemon verbena, sweet marjoram, lemon balm, scented geranium, rosemary, thyme and mint. To make a potpourri: begin by mixing 4 to 6 cupfuls of various dried petals and leaves in a large bowl. Add a tablespoonful of whole cloves, cinnamon, or ginger. To blend the herbs and to make them last, add a fixative such as calamus root, benzoin or orris root. Only one ounce is needed per batch. The mixture should be stored in jars with tight-fitting lids, and be shaken or stirred occasionally. After 4 or 5 weeks, the potpourri mixture should be well blended and can be placed in ornamental canisters or sachets.

Harvesting and Using Particular Herb Types

A=Annual B=biennial P=Perennial TP=Tender perennial

Anise-(A)- The green leaves can be cut off whenever the plants are large enough. The seeds are ready when they turn brown. Wash In warm water,drain thoroughly, and allow to air dry.
Use: The leaves can be used in salads, soups, beverages, meats, game, and poultry. The seeds are used to flavor cakes, bread, and cookies. Leaves and seeds also add a delightful scent to sachets and pot-pourris.

Basil, Sweet-(A)- For fresh use, harvest the leaves as they mature-about 2 weeks after planting. For dry use, harvest leaves just before the plant blooms.
Use: One of the most popular herbs, used mainly with tomato and egg dishes, stews, soups, and salads, but also with many vegetable, poultry, and meat dishes.

Caraway-(B)- The seeds are harvested after they turn a gray-brown color. Scald the seeds in boiling water, then dry thoroughly.
Uses: Use the seeds in breads, cakes, cookies, potato salad, and baked fruit (apples, for example). Also can be used in Hungarian-type dishes, coleslaw, sauerkraut, cheese spread, meat stews, and fish casseroles.

Chervil-(A)- For fresh use, pick the tips of stems once a month. For dry use, harvest leaves just before the blossoms open. Dry on trays.
Uses: Use fresh leaves the same as you would parsley, such as in salads, salad dressings, soups, egg dishes, and cheese souffles.

Chives-(P)- Leaves can be harvested any time during the growing season. Cut them off close to the ground. Can be pureed with water in a blender and frozen in ice cube trays.
Uses: Chives add a mild onion-like flavour to dips, spreads, soups, salads, omelets, casseroles, and many kinds of vegetables

Coriander-(A)- The leaves, which are only used fresh, can be cut for seasoning as soon as the plants are 4 to 6 inches tall. The seeds can be harvested when the heads turn brown.
Uses: Coriander seeds smell and last much like a mixture of sage and orange and can be used in baking, poultry dressings, and French salad dressing. Much used in Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Latin American cuisine.

Dill-(A)- The fresh leaves can be harvested as needed and used as seasoning. Seed heads should be harvested then the seeds ripen to a light brown color.
Uses: Leaves and seedheads are most commonly used in the making of dill pickles. The leaves also add a characteristic flavour to salads, cottage cheese, soups, fish dishes, omelets, sauces, and vegetable casseroles. Dill seeds are sometimes used in pasteries, sauces, sauerkraut dishes, and for flavoring vinegar.

Fennel-(TP)- The leaves can be harvested and used fresh. Fennel seeds are harvested when the seed heads turn brown. Dry in a paper bag. Florence fennel is harvested when the bulbs are large enough.
Uses: The anise-flavoured leaves and seeds of this herb are widely used in fish dishes, cheese spreads, and vegetable dishes. The leaves and stems can be used in much the same way as celery. Florence fennel bulbs are used in salads or as the main ingredient in a salad.

Lavender-(P)- The whole flower spikes are cut just before the florets are fully open and when color and fragrance are at their best.
Uses: Lavender is most often used in sachets, perfumes, and potpourris.

Lovage-(P)- Harvest young, tender leaves and use fresh. You can dry or freeze the leaves for later use.
Uses: Use the celery-flavoured herb in soups, stews, potato salads, meat and vegetable dishes. It can also be eaten raw like celery. Its seeds are sometimes used in salads, candies, breads and cakes.

Majoram, Sweet-(A)- Cut back to 1 inch above the ground just before flowering; a second crop will form for later use. Easily dried or frozen.
Uses: Use Marjoram leaves with meat, poultry, vegetable dishes (especially green beans), potato salad, and egg dishes.

Mints-(P)- Harvest before flowering and use fresh or dried. Cut off near ground level. A second cutting can be harvested later on.
Uses: Used primarily for flavouring. The leaves are often put into teas and other beverages, as well as lamb sauces and jellies.

Oregano
-(P)- Harvest and dry before flowering occurs.
Uses: Oregano imparts a sharper flavour than Sweet Marjoram. It is used to season spaghetti sauces and tomato dishes. Its flowers are attractive in summer arrangements.

Parsley-(B)- Snip young leaves just above ground level, as needed.
Uses: Use as a garnish in soups, salads, meats, and poultry.

Rosemary-(TP)- Harvest the young, tender stems and leaves, but avoid taking off more than one-third of the plant at one time. For drying, harvest just before the plant flowers.
Uses: A gourmet seasoning for meats, poultry dishes, and potatoes. Use either fresh or dried.

Sage-(P)- Harvest when just starting to flower and use either fresh or dried.
Uses: A commonly used seasoning for meats, stuffings soups, and salads.

Summer,Savory-(A)- You can gather young stem tips early, but when the plant begins to flower, harvest the entire plant and dry.
Uses: Used to flavor fresh garden beans, vinegars, soups, stuffings, and rice.

Tarragon,French-(P)- Harvest tarragon in June for steeping in vinegar. For drying, harvest in early to mid-July.
Uses: Often used in various sauces such as tartar and white sauce, and for making herb vinegar.

Thyme-(P)- Put leafy stem ends and flowers when plants are at the full-flowering stage. Use fresh, hang-dry, or freeze.
Uses: Used in combination with other herbs. Leaves can be used with meats, soups, sauces, and egg dishes.


SOURCE:
"Harvesting and Drying Herbs" by James C Schmidt and Dianne Noland Department of Horticulture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture HM-1

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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:27 AM)

Herbal Exercises

by Jeannette Morrone

Inspired by a passage from "Incense, Oils and Brews" by Scott
Cunningham. Adapted by Jeannette Morrone

One way to help become sensitive to Herbal energies is to take the time to connect with each Herb you are currently going to use. By handling the Herb, you can get psychic impulses and have strong feelings, while you touch it, and/or from the smell. This will help you in the future because you will be able to choose herbs by this method, allowing you to make substitutions if necessary (like you run out of something and can't get it) by matching how the herb "feels." I have had to do this on many occasions and for me have found that my workings have been just as successful as when I have followed " the recipe."
The below exercise is not only fun but also will help you learn to trust your instincts on many levels.
Tools;
6 bowls & one towel
5 different types of herbs & one bowl of cool water with a pinch of salt
Pen and paper (or tape recorder if alone)
Put each Herb in its bowl (don't use combinations for the first time!) Have your partner get paper & pen. Sit or stand but either way get comfortable. Pull the first bowl in front of you where you can easily put your hands in it, ground and center. Put your hand(s) into the bowl, move your hand(s) around in the Herb. Tell the scribe any feelings that your feeling or any images that are coming to your mind, no matter how insignificant they may seem, just let them flow, and your scribe will write them down. When you feel you are done with an Herb, put your hands in the water bowl and dry them off, precede with the next bowl of Herbs until all bowls have been felt.
Keep the records of your Herb feelings or start an Herbal journal as you expand this exercise with more herbs, or combinations of Herbs. It will come in handy in the future!

Herb Gathering Tips for leaves, flowers & stems


There are many ways to collect and gather herbs. To me the most important however, is gathering with respect. There is nothing worse then taking more then you truly need.
If you choose to gather your own herbs, it should be done with care. For example; if you find a field of wild Yarrow, gather only what you feel you'll truly use until the next growing season. You don't need 3 garbage bags of the stuff! Be mindful of not trampling other Herbs in your attempt to get what you do want! ALWAYS leave some for the future, if you need one of something and there are two plants, PLEASE only take just one. This will insure that there will be more next year!
I always, prior to gathering, give the area that I'm harvesting an offering, usually something of value such as money, milk, a valued gem etc. I then take the time to state my reasons for my gathering, what and why I need to have the herbs assistance. This can be done mentally but it's important to take the time to connect to the energy of the area and show that you are going to be respectful in your gathering.
Take the time to feel the plants energy before you cut from it, often the plant will physically make a change in a certain area of it's self, thus indicating where you should cut, this happens often in trees or other woody stemmed plants. (I have personally felt this happen, to me the spot gets cold, like the tree draws its energy away!) I know that this may seem like overkill but I truly feel that when you take the time to show respect to nature and it's individual life forms, your rewarded, often by coming across other herbs you need and so on.
Once you have gathered what you have needed, there are several ways to prepare your Herbs depending on the type and size of your specimens. Hanging in a ventilated area is one way. It's simply done by gathering the Herbs into a bundle and using a string or yarn. Tie it around the bundle leaving a loop to which you can hang it from a nail. If you don't have the space or the desire to have Herbs hanging around your house, you can either lay them on paper towels or on a screen in a single layer. You'll just have to remember to move them about a couple of times a day, so air can get to all of them. This still requires that you have sufficient room to do this. I have placed Herbs in the oven on a VERY low heat (about 200 degrees) and dried them out on cookie sheets. It's faster and I haven't found them to be less effective. Plus I can do several different types of Herbs within a day.

You can put your dried herbs in storage containers (baby food jars work great!) and most will keep for about a year, if they are out of the direct sun and moisture free. Be sure to mark your herbs with it's name, the date gathered and with any other information you feel is necessary. Keeping a recipe box with 3/5 index cards is great to keep track of what you have in stock and save you from having to dig through your herb supply. I also have found it helpful to include some of the herbs basic information on each card, such as the Herbs basic properties, date and so on.
If you come across Resins (pitch or saps) you can gather these by carefully removing them with the tip of the knife or a stick. The sap is the result of an injury to the tree; think of it as its life's blood. (NEVER cut a tree to just get the sap!!!) Once you have the resins, you need to let them air dry. This can take a few weeks or more, depending on how thick they are. I have not found a faster way to achieve drying. Once they are hard all the way through, you can store them in containers or grind them up. Resins are VERY moisture sensitive so keep them in airtight containers! I think resins keep longer then a year. (I'm still working on ones I have gotten 16 mo. Ago! They still smell fresh and aren't gummy!)

A Brief herbal musing (a speculated history)



Through out history, man has looked to nature for everything. For food, clothing and shelter. It is only natural for man look to what the Earth has given them, for their health. The use of herbs may have been originally been found out by accident with their uses seeming to be "Magic" as ailments (Ones that may seam trivial to us now) where suddenly cured. Those with this knowledge where naturally sought out becoming the Village's Medicine Wo/Man, Shaman, or just plane Doctor. What they could do was considered Magic to those who didn't have this knowledge, thus putting these healers in the position of leaders or at the very least, as those who have a direct line to divinity making them priestess or priests of the villages particular deities. How else could these men or woman know or do such wonders!
Up until the time of "modern" pharmaceuticals and more controlled methods of dosing, there was bound to be problems of overdosing as well as under dosing any given patient. As well as the possibility of being blamed as causing the persons death, or further injury. The Shaman of old was held in awe, respected for his or her ability, yet feared because they seemed to hold the keys of life and of death.
There was a time that these healers where conceited Witches, more then likely when Christianity was in it's infancy. Those who where the Shaman healers and the like, where lumped together with the areas priestess and priests of pagan deities, in the Christian Church's attempt to promote there own. Thus terming any given areas healers and midwifes with those who practiced worship of the old Gods. In the Churches over zealousness of converting the Pagan people into Christians, any activity not approved by the new church and of those designated as approved "healers" where termed witches and theyre for their practices considered an act of heresy. Amongst all of the other misconceptions of the "Burning times" with anyone and everyone being a potential victim of accusation, many with the knowledge of herbal usage where more then likely included in the ranks of the accused.
With in the use of Magic, the use of herbs is long standing. Yes, Witches are notorious for being healers, many having a solid knowledge of how to use herbs to cure illness. But witches also used herbs in the Religious aspect as well. As incense in their temples and for offerings to their Deities is but just a few. The Pagan Priest and Priestesses of old recognizing the energies that where produced such as; purification for example.
The use of herbs in a Magical working probably stemmed from those who recognized the energy within herbs (priests and priestesses) and they would use this energy in its self or to add to what they were doing.
Everything has an energy field and there is then, a potential to use that energy within magic. So this leads me to believe that the Priests and Priestesses of old would use any and all energies that where available to them for whatever they at that time needed, aiding them in their workings.
In a modern sense, this still holds true. Many Witches use the energy of herbs to "boost" the spell, simmer for the smell and the element of air to produce a manifestation, burn to cleanse and purify sacred space and / or the home. The list is endless to say the least.
I should mention however, there are many that do not use herbs in any workings, which of course is fine as well. We are presenting the use of herbs to you, showing you how they can be of benefit and utilized in your practices as a Witch. Giving you a base to add too if you chose to continue or start to use them.

(C)2000, Jeannette Morrone

Storing Your Herbs

By Kathleen Fisher

Medicinal herbs have four enemies that can drain their healing power:  light, heat, moisture, and air.  When you store your herbs, the goal is to eliminate these factors as completely as possible.  Use sterilized, airtight, ceramic, or dark-glass containers.  Essential oils can dissipate through pourous plastic containers.  Containers should be filled to the top with the herbs you want to store.  If you do have air space at the top, stuff in facial puffs or cotton balls.  If the only airtight containers you can fid are of clear glass, store them in a dark cupboard that you rarely open.  Be sure that your storage shelves or cupbards aren't near the stove, raidiator, or other heat source.  Most herbs will reatin their potency for only a year, so don't hoard your precious harvest beyond that.  Make this a year of herbal adventure!

Check all of your stored herbs peiodically to see if they are deteriorating.  You'll know they have lost their effectiveness if they lose their characteristic aroma or crumble almost to a powder when you rub them between your fingers.  Plants that contain mcilage, like marsh mallow, are especially prone to absorbing moisture


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RE:Herb Info Articles
(Date Posted:02/13/2009 06:28 AM)

THE CUNNING ARTS OF HEALING

A gift works no evil,
Though to sell the sacred power
And mysteries of knowledge
For money would be fatal;
For then the Spirit of healing
That dwells in me
Would have fled away
And returned no more.

In Faery Seership there is a tale explaining how all the herbs of the earth
were created. It is a tale revolving around a sister and brother of the
Tuatha De Danaan. Upon the untimely death of the brother, Miach, the sister, Airmed, wept bitterly, for theirs had been a very close and special relationship.
Daily, Airmed tended Miach's grave, and one day shortly after his burial,
Airmed fell asleep on Miach's mound. During her sleep she dreamed of Miach, who came to her, saying he would give her the gift of healing, that upon her returning to the material world, she would find growing upon his grave all the herbs for healing, and upon waking she would know the cunning arts of Herbcraft and healing.
As promised by this OtherWorld ancestor, upon returning from the Land of Faery, Airmed woke to find all the herbs of the world growing upon her brother's mound, and in her waking, she knew the usage of each. Airmed became the greatest healer among the Tuatha De Danaan. Obviously, from this tale we can see that she was also a great seer.

The "Whole" Function of the Seer

From the beginning of time, our planet has been a planet of disease and
death, this is the karma of the planet. As Spirits learning to be human beings, we birth into this realm of existence to experience disease and health. We do a life-long dance with disease and health, striving to find the balance between the two.

The healing function of the Faery seer is to know the balance between the
two; for this balance helps the seer remember the great lesson of the planet:

We want neither to be diseased nor healthy, but whole.
This balance is a very delicate one.
If we are in disease we are generating "lack" in our consciousness and
lives.
Yet, if we are in health we are generating "excess" in our consciousness and lives, and are likely to forget about disease.
When we forget about disease, we begin to deny its existence. In doing so we make it our enemy.
Let me clarify what I mean by enemy. As a Faery seer, if I were to generate the excess of health in my life, living with the false premise that I am "above" disease, therefore untouchable, then I begin to live in illusion because sooner or later I will experience some form of disease -- at the very least, death.
As disease comes back into my realm of experience, if I have been in denial, then it will effect me far more negatively then if I had remained
consciously aware of it. When disease re-enters my life, most likely I will be caught by surprise, resulting in an emotional, mental or spiritual imbalance; thus, I would fear disease.
Fear is an enemy. Fear turns disease into an enemy.
But, if I were to beware the karma of the planet -- that of disease and
death -- if I continue to remember that there is a possibility that I will
periodically experience certain degrees of disease, and eventually die, then I will move into a position of balance.
As I dwell in health I will remember disease and death, and when disease
moves into my realm of experience I will remember health and death, and when death eventually moves into my realm of experience I will remember what I learned from both health and disease, knowing that I might possibly be moving on to a new realm in which disease and death will not be part of my karma.
This is the balance the Faery seer keeps.
No one wants to experience disease, but the reality is we will all
experience disease, albeit in different degrees, and we all will experience death. Now the question is - will we all experience the balance?

The Faery seer knows that everyone can experience balance, but first they must desire wholeness. The principle of the cunning arts of healing and
Herbcraft is focused on this wholeness.

The Cunning Arts of Healing

Interestingly enough, the cunning arts of healing is based on vibration,
energy; for healing must be enacted on all levels, visible and invisible. This applies, more importantly, to the connection between the body and mind and the soul. When there is a breakdown in one of the connections, dis-ease is often the result, whether of a mental or physical type.
One of our well-known philosophers was, perhaps, responsible for creating a division between the body and mind and soul.

In Plato's 'Phaedo' dialogue of Socrates, he wrote, "The soul of the
philosopher greatly despises the body, and avoids it. . . [it] thinks best alone by itself, . . . by avoiding so far as it can, all association or contact with the body."
In time, Christianity incorporated this teaching, and several thousand years after Plato's death, his mind-body-soul division has completely saturated main-stream religious thinking, as well as the medical profession. It is just in the last decade we are seeing an attempt made -- at least in the medical profession -- toward reconnecting the body-mind-soul.
Understanding the different levels of energy within the body temple, its
three esoteric divisions and how the psychic healing energy operates within each, as well as the universal energy field, helps bridge the gap created by this doctrine, as already discussed earlier.

An example of how this knowledge aides the seer when healing on any level (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), s/he would look first to the body temple and isolate the esoteric division in which the energy is blocked, access the associated energy center as to its condition (balanced, over-stimulated, under-stimulated) and work from there out into the subtle bodies, by stimulating the inner energy of the individual, sending her or his energy into the client's body. However, this procedure is a more advanced energy working, and better left to a time when the basic and necessary skills have been developed.

Energy healing can take years to develop through constant study and
practice. Becoming a healer is a great responsibility. The seer must become sensitive, develop connection with invisible realms, allies, and so forth, while at the same time undergoing a very pragmatic study of human anatomy and physiology.
Esoteric healing, which is what the seer performs, is a blending of
metaphysics and science. But as I've already elucidated, the seer does not become disillusioned by such time factors of committed study and practice; for the cunning arts of herbcraft and healing are part of their skill development. One such discipline of study and practice is that of fasting.

The Practice of Fasting

Fasting is very good for the body's system. If the system is cleansed on a
regular basis the energy vibration naturally raises. When the body's
vibrational rate is increased the dense matter begins to rejuvenate itself.
In the cunning arts fasting is recognized by the seer as a valuable tool in
healing. Fasting was learned from the animals, who always fast when sick or injured.
Throughout medical history, fasting has been regarded as one of the most dependable curative methods. Hippocrates, Galen, Paracelsus, and many other great doctors of medical antiquity, prescribed fasting. In the last one hundred years world-wide study has been given to fasting by such specialists as Drs.
Are Waerland, Ragnar Berg, Otto Buchinger, Jr., and Paavlo Airola.
From their studies we have learned that one of the main causes of disease and aging are to be found in biochemical suffocation, the systematic disorder that interferes with the normal processes of cell metabolism and cell regeneration. Disease and aging begins when the normal process of cell regeneration and rebuilding slows down. This slowdown is caused by the accumulation of waste products in the tissues which interferes with the nourishment and oxygenation of cells.
Paavlo Airola tells us that "each cell of our body is a complete living
entity with its own metabolish. It needs a constant supply of oxygen and adequate nourishment in the form of all the known nutritive substances, such as proteins, minerals, fatty acids, trace elements, etc.... During fasting, while the old cells and diseased tissues are decomposed and burned, the building of new, healthy cells is speeded up."

Here are several scientific-medical facts to consider with regards to
fasting as a tool for healing:

1. Ninety-eight percent of the atoms in the body were not there a year ago. 2. The skeleton that seems so solid was not there three months ago.
3. The skin is new every month.
4. The stomach lining is new every four days, with the actual surface cells
that contact food being renewed every five minutes.
5. The cells in the liver turn over very slow, but new atoms still flow
through them, making a new liver every six weeks.
6. Even though brain cells are not replaced once they die, the content of
carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and so on is totally different every year.

In this self-transformation the body undergoes within its own time-table,
the seer fasts to help ensure as optimum a level of purity within their system as possible. Fasting rejuvenates and enlightens the body, which has a vital physiological and mental effect. Fasting can help to normalize the body and mind because glandular chemistry and hormonal secretions are stimulated and increased. However, most importantly, through fasting, one achieves a greater degree of spirituality, allowing the heart -- the emotional body -- to be affected as well.

In certain classical shamanic practices, fasting was used to "suffer" so the grandmothers and grandfathers would take pity and give the sufferer the
'staff of knowledge'. In such cases, the seer would approach fasting with serious intent, usually preceding a major event, one that was of spiritual value.
If through fasting a seer could contact spirit beings, enacting her or his
own healing, they would not only be rejuvenating mind and body but adding the energy of the spirit to the entire process, which is the main intent behind esoteric healing: combining mind, body and spirit.
Without this Trinity, a holism of healing cannot take place, which means, on some level -- if one of these functions is not being effected -- there still
exists an imbalance, allowing for continual, albeit different degrees of,
disease to exist.
However, fasting is not a method of healing to be used by everyone. To
practice "safe" methods of fasting, one must be willing to consult a nutritionist, healer or holistic practitioner to learn how to fast. I mention it here as an example of how the seer transmutes their body energy, thus enacting vibrational transformation.

Faery seer healers -- and all others for that matter -- have a large
responsibility. Whether one consciously chooses to become a healer or realize they have been chosen by the Ancient Ones to be a healer, as is the case within shamanic practices, the individual will encounter a great burden: that of the welfare of keeping themselves healthy; for unless a healer maintains balance of energy, health of body, and spiritual attunement to the land and all living creatures, they will find it quite hard to enact their greatest responsibility -- which is to help to heal.
The practices discussed, thus far, in this volume are the disciplines of the
Faery seer healer, and are rigorously practiced on a regular basis. In
addition, the Faery seer ingests nutritional, whole foods, undergoes a regular form of physical activity, allows time for restful periods to recoup the body's energy, and takes a regular sweat bath.

The Practice of the Sweat Bath

The practice of taking a regular sweat bath, traditionally known as the
sweat cloghan (house), is remarkably similar to the sweat lodge used by Native American Indians.
In ancient Ireland the cloghan was the most effective custom used to cure
'the bones of pains, and the body of feverish disorders'. The seer used the cloghan to connect with the right side of their brain, which often resulted in a powerful opening of their psychic ability.
The traditional sweating cloghan is made of rough stones, with a narrow
entrance, through which the participants would creep on all-fours in a manner of humbleness and connection to Mother Earth.
Many of the cloghans were actually subterranean, making them the symbolic dwelling of the gods -- the sidhe under the hill.
Once inside the dwelling, a leather flap would be pulled down over the
entrance, sealing off all light and the outside world. All clothing would be
removed and the participants would lay flat on a stone floor. A peat fire was then kindled. The womb-like structure would be heated-up like a baker's oven to produce a profuse perspiration. The leather-flap would occasionally be opened for a brief period of time to allow ventilation.
A ceremony was attached to the using of the cloghan. Once the seer, or
participant, was inside, a singer would stand outside the structure and sing the ancient Faery song -- "The Distant Waterfall." The song would be sung nine times, with the intent of connecting the occupant with the thread of their true origin.

Today, this part of training is rarely practiced because of limited space
available to construct a traditional sweating cloghan. However, we are
fortunate to have local health clubs, with both steam-rooms and sauna-baths available for our use. Such facilities do come in handy, for not only physical balance, but for purging oneself through the baths as well, especially prior to any ceremony

Introduction to Herbs

Herbs have been the main source of medicine throughout human history. That they are still widely used today is not a throwback to the Dark Ages but an indication that herbs are a growing part of modern, high-tech medicine: about 25-30 percent of today's prescription drugs contain chemicals derived from plants. Some 119 chemical substances from 91 plants are now used in Western medicine. Of these, 74 percent were folk medicines brought to our pharmacies through scientific research. Researchers today examine folk or historical uses of plants to find new drugs for cancer, AIDS, and even the common cold.

In Western countries, contemporary herbal medicine is based on European phytomedicine. Derived from plants or plant parts, phytomedicines are not isolated chemicals but preparations from an entire plant or from its root, leaf, flower, or fruit. Thus, such well known compounds as menthol (from peppermint), or digitoxin (from foxglove) are not considered phytomedicines. The European phytomedicine market is estimated at over $8 billion in annual sales, 70 percent of which are made in Germany, a country with a rich tradition of herbal medicine. One survey revealed that 76 percent of German women drink herbal teas for health benefits, and more than 50 percent take herbal remedies in the early stages of illness. Germany also has a favorable regulatory system that permits well-researched, well-documented herbs to be sold as drugs. Herbs widely used in Europe for many years are now becoming popular in the United States as dietary supplements.

Many Americans are now taking greater responsibility for their own health and are consequently seeking alternatives to conventional medicine such as prevention through attention to diet, exercise, and the use of dietary supplements and herbs. Millions of consumers, frustrated with the cost of medical care and the not-so-wonderful side effects of wonder drugs, are turning to these health-care alternatives. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans spent $13.7 billion on alternative forms of health care in 1990. As we move into the twenty-first century, herbs will no doubt be increasingly important in the maintenance of health and in the prevention and treatment of disease.

In the United States, herb products are regulated as foods rather than drugs, unless a product has been approved as a nonprescription (over-the-counter) or prescription drug. Most herb products are now designated as dietary supplements. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA, popularly pronounced D-shay) laid the foundation for federal regulation of dietary supplements, including herbs. DSHEA seeks to guarantee availability of products; allow truthful, nonmisleading scientific information to be used in conjunction with their sale; and give consumers some information on the product's benefits, as well as appropriate cautions. While DSHEA preserves existing safety standards in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it offers additional safeguards to protect consumers from. unreasonable risk or injury. The bill also places the burden of proof that a dietary supplement is adulterated or unsafe on the government, which must now present its evidence that a dietary supplement is unsafe in court. Formerly, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could simply order a manufacturer to stop selling a questionable product.

DSHEA also permits third-party information such as publications, articles, chapters in books, and scientific reports to support the sale of dietary supplements. The information must not be false or misleading, nor may it promote a particular manufacturer or product brand; it must present a balanced view of the scientific information and, if displayed in a store, must be physically separate from the product and free of any appendages such as stickers.

The bill allows product labels to describe effects on general wellbeing or on structure or function in humans, but drug claims may not be made. For example, a manufacturer may claim that a garlic product helps to reduce cholesterol-but not that garlic helps to reduce cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Dietary supplement labels with structure or function claims must also carry a disclaimer: This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. When this disclaimer appears on a product label or in advertising, a structure or function claim is being made, and presumably, the manufacturer can substantiate it. The manufacturer must also notify the Secretary of Health and Human Services within thirty days of making such a claim.

DSHEA has also established an Office of Dietary Supplements within the National Institutes of Health to conduct, coordinate, and collect data on dietary supplements and to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services. A separate Presidential Dietary Supplement Commission has been formed to study and make recommendations on dietary supplement labels and is to issue a report of its findings


Psychic Reactions From House Plants?
 
 
Adapted from Plant Spirit Shamanism by Ross Heaven and Howard G. Charing (Inner Traditions, 2006).
 
What mind boggling information can a lie detector and interrogation expert tell you about caring for your house plants? A lot, it turns out. He found that plants can read your mind, for one thing: They know your intentions for them, both good and bad. And they react to you emotionally. They might even love you!
 
Learn more about your house plants from this unlikely source: a scientist whose job was to teach policemen how to use polygraph equipment.
 
Cleve Backster, the scientist working with the police, decided one day to attach the electrodes of a lie detector to the leaf of a dracaena plant to see if the device was sensitive enough to pick up reactions from a nonhuman subject. After the device was attached to the leaf he thought maybe the reaction would be stronger if he burned the leaf. As soon as he had this thought there was a dramatic peak in the polygraph chart, a trace signature that Backster recognized as fear.
 
Intrigued, Backster continued his research and the results were always the same: The plants always reacted to his intention before any action was taken. Backster concluded that not only are plants as sensitive as human beings, but they are able to read emotions and intentions, because there is a form of psychic connection, or affinity, between plants and people.
 
Backster’s other results show that plants have memory, emotions, and very humanlike reactions, as well as psychic abilities. In other experiments, Backster demonstrated the love or empathy between a plant and its owner. One day he accidentally cut his finger and noticed that a plant being monitored was demonstrating a stress reaction of its own, as if it was experiencing Backster’s pain and shock at the sight of his blood.
 
Using this perceived affinity for the basis for his experiment, Backster walked to a different building some blocks away and directed loving thoughts toward the plant. The polygraph recording showed a heightened trace as the plant picked up his intentions


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