I awoke early this first day of Autumn, 4 am to be more precise. I found myself welcoming this fog-filled morning on my front porch with a cuppa coffee in hand. It was cold … the first real cold morning I have felt since Spring. I greeted the morning stars, in particular, Orion. Soon that constellation will be dominating our night skies as we circle through the winter months. Orion is an old friend, one who has heard many of my heartfelt discourses in the early morn or late night hours….
The morning found me organizing the herbs I have been gathering over the summer months. Actually, my Hawthorn Tincture is created over a period of 4 months. I collect the flowers and the first emerging leaves in early June. I place them in a jar to tincture in alcohol until September when the berries ripen on the tree. I then add the crushed berries to the mixture and let it age another 4 weeks. Hawthorn is a heart ally, oxygenating and balancing the Heart as it ages.
Each year I tend to my own personal first-aid herbal cabinet in preparation for potential illnesses we might experience with the changing of seasons. I grow some of the herbs in my gardens, others I gather in the wild landscape. Most of my herbal preparations are safe to use for coughs, fevers, viral infections, anxiety, insomnia, salves for burns and rashes. I really didn’t think I had foraged very much this year, but when stripping leaves from dried twigs and filling jars with their aromatic gifts, I realized that I had prepared exactly what I needed. The scent and oil from stripping catnip leaves left me feeling quite euphoric….
I prepare a basic apothecary to dip into for medicinal teas and compresses. Many herbs are common weedy species and easy to grow in the garden or forage in the wild. My herb cabinet consists of 24 key herbs: Alfalfa (nourishing); Dandelion Root (diuretic); Catnip, Lemon balm, California poppy, and Hops (sedatives and nervines); Red Clover (tonic for blood and liver); Plantain (coughs, bronchitis, diarrhea, dysentery); Mullein (coughs, bronchitis); California mugwort (promotes vomiting); Mormon Tea or Ephedra (bronchitis, sinusitis); Yarrow flowers (common cold, hay fever, stomach discomfort, induces sweating); Feverfew (fever, arthritis, tinnitus, vomiting); Peppermint and Spearmint (used to treat so many ailments); German Chamomile (antispasmodic, sedative) and of course, dried Rose petals (cardiac tonic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-parasitic). They also have a delicate flavor when infused for tea…
My basic preparations: Goldenseal Tincture (antibacterial, antiviral); Hawthorn tincture (heart health); Black cottonwood salve (inflammation, arthritis pain); Chickweed and Plantain salve (bug bites, rashes, skin irritations); Lemon balm and Feverfew salve (for joint and muscle pain); and Elderberry with Chokecherry syrup (coughs, bronchitis).
For those of you who are relatively new to preparing and storing wild herbs, make sure to store them in airtight containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Label them clearly, making sure to post the year of collection. Herbs lose their potency over time … I try to replace their contents every year. All in all, a handy home apothecary to use for mild ailments.
Thank you Sara Steffey McQueen for you gift of the goldenseal root from your woods. It made an EXCELLENT tincture!
All Blessings to my friends in both the northern and southern latitudes….Namaste.
For any and all who have Irish roots….. just finished this little diddy. It is constructed from 16 layers of different kinds of paper.
Altar Bowl titled “Éire”. It’s name is taken from a LANDSAT photo of Ireland placed in the center bottom of the bowl. The dark purple/blue outer layer symbolizes the oceans surrounding the island, while the colors of the interior represent the green of the Island with her cities and landforms. Ibis feathers with vintage button and Swarovski crystal.
Not fishing? Then FORAGE! … Hawthorn berries for heart tincture, apples and crabapple from an ancient orchard, Hops for sleep, Choke cherries for wine, Mullein for coughs, Alfalfa for Vitamin K, and Amaranth for the birds…. a great afternoon!
I went to visit a very old orchard today, the same one I visited last Spring. These ancient fruit trees have not been tended to or even watered during summer for over 50 years. Their bark is split and portions of the trees are even dead… but the bucks snooze in the deep grass under their shade to escape the summer heat and to hide. I disturbed a 6-point buck when I wandered in to find some fruit. Look what I found!
Surreal day …. smoke from local wildland fires covered the sun. Glad we had a reprieve from such smothering smoke this summer. We had many bright days and starry nights to enjoy. Now comes the fire….fish were not biting today.
As early as the 1700’s, feverfew was used widely in Europe for headaches, as well as for tooth and stomach pains. Feverfew was also used for joint inflammation, especially in the early stages of arthritis. Feverfew was described as “surpassing anything previously used against headaches and as “the aspirin of the 18th century” back in the day….. It is well known to lower fevers and dilate blood vessels to induce sweating. That’s why I keep some in my cupboards for winter illnesses.
Feverfew is used today for the treatment of migraines and accompanying symptoms. It has been known to relieve cramps, relax nerves, and induce a soothing effect on the nervous system. In women’s health it is appreciated for its menstruation-promoting effects and is also used to regulate labor pains to ease the birthing process.
This fragrant herb has similar medicinal abilities like aspirin, and its’ anti-inflammatory properties can help ease the pain of sore muscles, joint pain, and/or arthritis. One of the best ways to use Feverfew for joints and muscles is in a homemade herbal salve in combination with other inflammation herbs. I make mine using feverfew with plantain (Plantago major or P. lanceolata) or lemon balm.
To make feverfew infused oil for salve, mix together four ounces of fresh chopped leaves with one pint of olive or vegetable oil. You can heat this over a medium heat but do not boil (this is probably best done in a double pot if you have one) for one hour. Let the mixture cool and strain, squeezing out as much of the oil as you can. This can be applied to inflamed areas. It can also be turned into a salve by adding between one and one and a half ounces of grated beeswax to warmed oil which should be stirred to blend thoroughly.
To use in tinctures or as a tea, all parts of the leaves or flowering tops can be used either fresh or dried. Fresh young leaves can be added to salads, but sparingly. A dosage of no more than 3 to 5 leaves a day is recommended for treating pain and headaches.
Feverfew has a cumulative effect so it works best when taken in small does over longer periods, especially in treating migraines. A decoction or infusion of the leaves can be used as a wash for skin lesions and sores.
To make a tincture, fill a pint sized canning jar with fresh or dried feverfew. Cover the plant material with vodka to cover. Put on a lid, shake gently and place in a cool, dark place for 6 to 8 weeks. Shake the jar gently each week. Strain through cheesecloth squeezing the material gently. Place tincture into a new jar. Take 20 drops twice daily for effective treatment.
I found myself in a very dangerous situation the past few days, created from my own ignorance and deep willingness to help. Last week, I attended a close friend who died. I simply wanted to be a support person for him and his wife and sat near or next to him during his transition. Emotionally and spiritually, I opened myself wide to be available for whatever was needed. It never occurred to me that it would have been better to have entered the situation shielded.
I need to explain something here…. I’m a woman who is familiar with the “current” of dying and have assisted other friends in their transformation. I have first-hand knowledge of the process, having experienced two near-death episodes of my own (NDE), and a spontaneous shared-death experience (SDE) with my grandmother. In each of these circumstances, I saw and felt my physical body attached to this world through a “silver cord” which is comprised of hundreds of fine thread-like energy filaments attached to “nadi” centers in the body. In death, one travels along these filaments and cord until distance itself causes them to disengage from ones physical form.
I am not, and never have been, a student of yoga. I simply know what I saw and experienced during my NDE’s. The only explanation I have found which describes these energy filaments comes from yoga theory. Nadis carry prana, or life force energy. In the physical body, the nadis are considered channels that carry the frequency and nature of air, water, nutrients, blood and other bodily fluids. They energetically work with and are similar to the arteries, veins, capillaries, , nerves, and lymph canals of the body. In the ethereal body (or subtle and causal body), they work a bit differently. The nadis are channels for so called cosmic, vital, seminal, mental, and intellectual energies and vibrations. Different yoga texts agree that the number of nadis contained in the human body are in the tens of thousands.
So much for the lesson on nadis….. now back to the process of the death experience.
After my friend died, I experienced a strange disconnect with my own body. I felt like I was dying myself, or that my own death would come soon. I felt cold….my feet, hands and core were icy to touch. I laid in my bed fully clothed, with a fleece jacket on and under a heavy sleeping bag. That is all I wanted, to lay under my heavy sleeping bag. I cared little about what was going on around me. I could not get centered and even felt tendrils of energy filaments floating freely in front of my chest….kind of like the tentacles of a jellyfish in ocean waters. This went on for a period of 5 days.
A friend called yesterday and invited me out to sit and visit on Ash Creek for a while. I told her what I was experiencing. She recommended that I create a grounding necklace for myself and then take off my shoes to ground with the earth. I did as she recommended, looking for anything that would help me feel better….. and it worked.
There was a deep lesson for me to learn in this experience. My own ethereal body or aura “knows” the transition of death, and I got “caught” in the currents and eddies of my friends dying process. I had to “call” my own prana or life force back to myself, using the grounding of the earth both directly and in her “stoned frequencies” of rocks and gems. I know that it is not yet my time to leave. I simply got pulled into my friends transformation through my love for him….
I will continue to walk barefoot on the earth and the necklace will remain around my neck for a while. I really do believe that rocks and stones have metaphysical properties that can assist in balancing our auric field. The semiprecious stones I used to assist me to “ground” include:
Red Jasper – A Supreme Nurturer.
Labradorite – Stone of the Northern Lights.
Snowflake Obsidian – Protection stone. Forms a Shield.
Sardonyx – Stone of Protection and Strength.
Agate – Stone of Inner Stability.
Smoky Quartz – Stone of Power and Grounding.
Hematite – Protection stone, Grounding.
Garnet – Stone of Health.
Mexican Fire Agate- Stone of Spiritual Perfection
Black Jade – Power of Stillness.
Yet another strange tale to tell…..