A Wise Word:

Witchcraft is all about living to the heights and depths of life as a way of worship. --LY DE ANGELES

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tis the Season

Like most modern pagan families we have had to ask,  "What about the holidays?!" 

Living in reverence of the natural world around us makes Yule an important day in our year, but it is closely followed by Christmas and New Year.  As the mama, three major holidays jammed into as many weeks seems like a nightmare.  If we celebrated them all with equal gusto and festivity, I would need a nap that lasted all of January.  To keep the most meaningful aspects of the season and still escape with our sanity, Superman and I had to examine the situation and do some slicing and dicing.

After a long year of struggling through a plethora of holidays, we came to a conclusion.   Religiously we are Pagan, but culturally we are American.  Ach!  Does that mean we have to celebrate everything?!  No matter how much we want to celebrate the Pagan holydays, we cannot bring ourselves to part with the holidays we grew up observing.  So...it is going to look like this at our house:  each Pagan holiday will be celebrated as a family sacred day, while it's American counter part will be celebrated a community based appendage. 

For example Yule was a quiet night at home with lots of candle light, a fake fire compliments of YouTube, a simple altar ceremony to welcome the longest night of the year, a warm hearty dinner, and just some good family time.  We were planning on fresh scones for breakfast, but after Little Bitty Baby woke up seven times over the course of the night I was doing good to slap some peanut butter on a slice of toast.  Christmas morning we will open gifts from our extended family, eat huge stacks of pancakes to celebrate the lengthening of the day light hours, and if there is enough snow spend the afternoon sledding.  New Years will be regarded about as much as the onset of daylight saving time.  Since we feel that the winter solstice is nature's new year, we feel that to celebrate both is redundant.  Plus, we aren't the party type anyway. 

We will adapt this through out the year to work with other observances such as Ostera/Easter and Samhain/Halloween.  We have a secular gathering at my aunts every year over Easter weekend and family camp over Father's Day weekend just before Midsummer.  Both of these traditions will be worked into our own Pagan holyday celebrations.  The details are still up in the air, but I'll let you all know how they land. 

Side note:  Permission to bring home the black fur ball in the photo was Superman's holiday gift.  This new member of our family is named Merlin and is a quiet, slightly more dexterous version of Miss Busy.  Notice the mess he made of my center piece. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Everyday Spirituality

Miss Busy likes to "help" me write rituals.

Since I am still fairly new to the craft, I am still working on making my path my own.  Last week, before the full moon, I decided to rewrite my circle casting and full moon rituals.  It sounded simple when I first hatched the plan, but it quickly spiraled into a hectic frenzy. 

Sensing that I was otherwise occupied, Miss Busy whirled around the house like a tornado yes, she looks sweet and calm in the photo, but seconds after I snapped it she was crouched on the tray shrieking like a banshee.  It was: write a couplet-got get Miss Busy out of the junk drawer, turn the page over-pull Miss Busy off of the kitchen counter, write another couplet-retrieve the pacifier Miss Busy snatched out of the babies mouth....On and on and on.  Nap time never comes fast enough or lasts long enough. 

Often, it feels as if motherhood is getting in the way of my spiritual life.  Then I have to remind myself that nothing is more spiritual than being me: a mother, a wife, a woman.  Learning to accept me and become the best me possible is the highest spiritual calling I have.  The fancy way to say it is enlightenment. 

I seek to be one with the world around me, communicate with the Elementals, hone my divination skills, and practice meditation all because my higher self will benefit the universe far more than my current self could ever imagine.  In my mothering role I practice patients, seek resourcefulness, and learn to put the needs of others before my own plans.  Each of the disciplines I learn as a mother furthers me as an individual.  They also work to give my children a solid base and a good example to work from. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Good Spell Book-Love Charms Magical Cures and Other Practical Sorcery: Gillian Kemp



The Good Spell Book was given to me nestled into a box of random books on divination and magick and I very nearly bypassed it as just another bit of frivolous writing.  Although my first response was to file it in the bookcase and forget about it, I kept finding myself drawn back to this book.  It's beautiful cloth binding and comfortable heft kept asking me to open it up and explore.  Once I did, I was delighted. 

This little volume is densely populated with bits of Romanie folk magick and spells.  It is fun and friendly to read and the handwritten notes in the margins give it a very personable feel.  The intent behind this volume feels very sincere and  accessible. 

The test of any spell book is of course it's spells and this one could almost be viewed as a simple primer on earth magick.  I have adapted a several of the spells and practices for my own use and been very happy with the outcome.  The simple folksy manner of these workings make them ideal for the magical mother looking to infuse her home and the lives of her children positive witchy energy. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wonderful Wyoming

Our "new" CJ7


Superman has been looking for a Jeep for the past six months.  Very intently looking for the past couple weeks.  With the sparse population in our area, it wasn't an easy task.  Last Sunday we were in Billing shopping and checking out yet another jeep when he announced that we would be taking a road trip down into southwestern Wyoming.  He had been in contact with a gentleman in that area who was attempting to sell what appeared to be exactly what we had been looking for yes, I was all in on the Jeep scavenger hunt.  As the mama I cringed at the thought of extending our road trip, but his logic was sound.  We were already three hours into the eight hour trip, so we might as well make a run for it.  If the vehicle didn't pan out, at least we could say we'd seen some country.  Thankfully, after driving that distance with Miss Busy and Little Bitty Baby, the Jeep was all we expected and more.  We brought her home and named her "Calamity" this girl will be a big part of some exciting changes to our world, I'll keep you posted,  but that was just the icing on the cake.  It ends up, Wyoming is more beautiful than Montana even in my native Montanan opinion and the scenery as so spiritually moving that I just have to share. 

Now, this was Superman's first adventure in Wyoming and I had only seen it from the interstate.  I have to say it was completely breath taking.  We didn't get as many photos as I'd like, but we've already made plans to load up Calamity and go back to explore further next summer.  All the photos of this recent trip were taken on Miss Busy's tablet through the vehicle window. 

South Central Wyoming, between Rock Springs and Lander

Red Rock Canyon Wyoming, just outside of Lander

My beloved Yellowstone River:
 photographed just north of theWyoming boarder near Belfry, MT 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pumpkin Custard

 

Ever since squash and pumpkin started showing up in the grocery store about a month ago and being handed out like adult trick-or-treat candy by local gardeners, I have been having fun playing with the preparation of these fall classics.   Usually I prefer to use savory methods to highlight the warm nuttiness of such vegetables, but occasionally I can go Americana as long as I add a bit of a twist.  Having already made a "proper" pumpkin custard once this year, I mixed it up a bit yesterday and came up with a truly decadent creation.  It's amazing what one altered ingredient can do! 
 
 
Pumpkin Custard
 
3 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
6 slightly beaten eggs
2 1/2 cups egg nog
1 1/3 cup milk
 
Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin puree until smooth.
 
Add wet ingredients and mix well. 
 
Pour into two deep dish pie pans and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. 
 
Serve with whipped cream and maybe a drizzle of caramel sauce. 
 
 

Miss Busy approved this recipe! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Growing Friendship

My beautiful friend the Crab Apple Tree. 

Making friends takes me a long time. I am friendly and I like people.  I also believe that people like me, but making friends is not something that comes easily for me.  In fact, we have been in this town for a little over a year now and I have made a grand total of two friends: the lady who owns the liquor store down the street Miss Busy charmed her our first day in town and the lovely girl I am going to tell you about today.  There is also a potential new friend I met today, but that is still to be decided.

So, just at the end of our block lives a very lovely lady.  I walked right past her many times through out the late fall and winter with out taking a second glace.  I said a customary "hello," but took no special notice.  Then spring came and this little lady started to take on some beautiful color that I just couldn't help but comment on.  She accepted my compliments quietly at first perhaps more accustom to being overlooked, but eventually begin to respond with a gentle nod or a smile. 

As her buds started turning to leaves and her pink blossoms turned into hard green fruits, I grew to love her more and more.  I looked forward to our warm greetings as I undertook my daily walk and watched with great interest as she continued to grow more beautiful.  I often thought that her progression into summer and fall, laden with zesty little apples, mirrored my own amply pregnant body. 



When her fruits were at the peak of ripeness, I could resist no longer.  For months I had wanted to deepen our relationship, but had often felt a reserved shyness about her.  One beautiful afternoon, just before Mabon, I had to take the next step. 

I gently laid my hands on her bark and begin telling her how glad I was to have met her and how much I appreciated all that she had quietly added to my live.  She received me which was a relief, I was honestly very nervous that I would frighten her and it almost seemed as if the air around us grew warmer as we spoke. 

After a few moments I was moved to ask her if she would allow me to pick a few of her fruits for my altar.  She responded with a rush of gratitude, telling me how sorrowful she had been that nobody had appreciated her efforts for many years.  Once, long ago she had been appreciated, but now the only ones who took any heed of her dainty little apples were the squirrels and birds and even they seemed to prefer the offerings in the nearby bird feeder. By this point Miss Busy was getting antsy in her stroller.  I wrapped my arms around her scarred trunk and held her for a few moments before taking all of the fruit I could carry.

Back at the house, I arranged the offering of fruit on the altar.  Having an abundance of the tart little fruits, I also set a few in the fruit basket for munching.  Crab apples are tart and drying, but I ate each of these little treasure with relish.  I found such joy in knowing that I had not only been given a gift, but at the same time had been able to give one in return.  Since that time I stop to chat nearly everyday and returned to take some photographs.  She absolutely adored the photo session. 



***When I started writing this yesterday, it was before our afternoon walk.  During our walk, an exciting event unfolded.  As we approached this dear friend, Miss Busy begin yelling excitedly and waving.  When we stopped under her now golden boughs, my little girl reached up lovingly as if to embrace her.  I pushed the stroller up close to her trunk and Miss Busy stroked her bark, jabbering excitedly for several minutes.  It is beginning to get colder and the breaks in our walk are kept shorter, but this was an experience I would not have missed for the world. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ceremonially Inspired

Embroidered Glacia Gown from Anthropologie

As of yet, I have not adopted a special ceremonial garb for rituals.  I practice most spell work in the kitchen wearing blue jeans and for special rituals I put on a swishy skirt that makes me feel "witchy."  Although I am usually very good at designing situational appropriate outfits it's what I studied in college after all this time I have been a bit stuck.  I didn't want cliché witchy, but I certainly want something to distinguish ritual times from the mundane.  Then I found this dress on Anthropologie the other day and I knew it was exactly what I wanted. 

This dress is nothing less than magnificent  the price reflects the fact.  Each piece of the tiled/tribal design is velvet that has been hand appliqued (the description calls it embroidery) to a polyester chiffon overlay.  Superman was all for tossing it in the shopping basket I'm spoiled like that, but a quick glace at the size chart ended up keeping a few extra bucks in our bank account.  Like many beautiful, higher end designs it simply doesn't come in my size.  Even if I wasn't currently up a few bra sizes due to nursing, in it's largest size this gown still would refuse to accommodate my bosom.  Oh yes, the reason why I usually avoid shopping and just sew what I want.  I had forgotten about that for a brief moment. 

There are both advantages and disadvantages to creating my own clothing.  The big advantage being that it actually fits.  The big disadvantages being that my time is a limited resource and I have to travel over 200 miles to find a fabric store.  Still, I'm going to hold on to this image and use it for inspiration.  I am thinking that maybe a more earthy pallet would be better for me and a simplified applique pattern or even substituting embroidery in a elemental design.  Plus, true to my personal design ascetics, I will use a natural fiber like a cotton lawn or handkerchief linen in place of the poly. It will be both easier to work with and wear.   

What do you wear for ceremonial garb?  I'll keep you all posted on the eventual progress of my own gown. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

From Stalled Out to On a Roll

Hunter's Moon altar 2014

Ever since Little Bitty Baby made her appearance nearly six weeks ago and the entire third trimester of my pregnancy if I were to be completely honest I really haven't been feeling very ambitious.  The wheels are turning and the ideas are there, but both the time and energy to execute them has been absent.  This lackluster feeling effected every aspect of my life from routine chores to art projects and spiritual activities. 

The Harvest Moon came and went.  I wrote a beautiful baby blessing, but just didn't have the energy to set up an altar or cast a circle.  Superman and I just took the little one out in the yard to meet Her and called it a night. 

Mabon was going to be my new start.  I planned a ritual, collected crab apples and leaves to adorn my altar, and then cared for a new born and a teething toddler all day.  Once the girls were in bed, I sat down on the couch and didn't move until I could respectably call it a night myself. 

The Hunters Moon almost snuck up on me, but the unperformed baby blessing was starting to eat away at me.  Two days before the big night I started making plans, but true to my nature didn't finish pulling together a ritual until the last moment. 

Once all my notes were in order I set up the altar, laid out my Elemental stones, and then nursed the baby to sleep.  Having come too far and put in too much effort to stall yet again, I prepared myself and cast the circle. This being the first time I had cast or participated in a communal circle I fumbled a bit.  I didn't raise as much power as I do in my solitary working circles due to nerves, but I am sure that will come with practice.  As comfortable as I am with my husband, I have to admit it felt a little odd having an audience while I worked. 

When the circle was cast, Superman joined me with our sleeping baby and we read her blessing while she slumbered.  It was a beautiful experience and I believe we both were a bit misty eyed before it was over.  Although we often discuss spirituality and have fully compatible beliefs, this was the first time we celebrated those beliefs together in an official capacity.  It was a bit unnerving at first, but the feeling of closeness and contentment that followed was exhilarating. We also found it quite fulfilling to know that we had finally started a new spiritual chapter for our family. 

Now that I have resumed a magical practice and we have taken a step toward family spirituality, I feel like we are on a roll.  In the past few days we have been sharing more thoughts about Paganism, witchcraft, and the deities who may be playing rolls in our lives.  Not surprising, we both feel a special affection for Hela.  Also, I have already started making plans for Samhain.  Maybe I won't be finishing up at the last moment this time. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mrs. Weasley Magic


I know it's Mabon and I should probably be posting something seasonally related, but today all I can think about is how much I envy Mrs. Weasley.  I am a witch who firmly believes in searching for mundane answers before turning to magic, but with a new baby and both Superman and Miss Busy being ill I could really use a bit of Mrs. Weasley's housekeeping magic. 

Here are is my top 5 wish list for magical housekeeping solutions: 

  1. I'm doing pretty well on keeping up with the dishes, but what about a magical washing machineMaybe washer/dryer/folder combo?  I could handle putting them away myself. 
  2. Those enchanted knitting needles?!  I know the boys hate the sweaters Mrs. W creates with them, but I am so envious.  If I knew how to make my needles do that, I wouldn't have one fingerless glove on the computer desk waiting for the creation of it's mate.  Also, I would absolutely have me a colorful witchy mama sweater...gotta love that! 
  3. A toy box that pulls scattered toys neatly back into itself.  This would really cut down on the number of bruised feet in our house.  Legos are murder to step on. 
  4. Grocery delivery by owl.  Running to the store to pick up a few things is such a chore with the littles.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to send the grocer a short note via family owl and have the trusty bird return with a paper wrapped parcel of essentials. 
  5. The epic Mrs. Weasley clock Luckily my "George" doesn't have a Fred to worry me as well, but it would be so great to know what everyone was up to in a quick glance. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rewriting the Script

Hindsight is 20/20
Broken window in an abandoned shack outside West End, NC

Last week while I was in the hospital having Little Bitty Baby I didn't get to birth at home, Superman just couldn't come to terms with the plan I had the chance to discuss Paganism with two of the nurses.  Living in a rural area with very little outside influence, neither of them really knew what a Pagan was beyond "not a Christian." 

The first to ask was "K" the sweet nurse assigned to my care.  She had seen the listing under my religious preference and about mid morning just had to ask,

"What is a Pagan?"  Having a strong community of Native Sioux in the area I responded, 

"Paganism is a nature faith similar to the Native beliefs and is based on a reverence and oneness with the Nature." Very basic and simplistic, but I didn't want to overwhelm her. When she appeared to understand, I went on to tell her a little about my belief in The Power or Universal Energy and the inner connectedness of all that is in the Universe.  All of which she related to the faith of a Scientologist family member note to self, look up what Scientologists believe

"Don't you worship multiple gods and goddesses?" 

"Some Pagan's do," I responded.  "I am Pantheistic, meaning I worship no deities.  To me, deities are a way to break down the different aspects of The Power into more relatable units or personalities.  I reverence The Power as a whole." 

To tell the truth, I was pretty proud of the conversation.  I held my end and didn't flub around for answers too much.  Later we talked about auras and how science can now see the electric and magnetic energy the body emits. 

The following day when I returned for Little Bitty Baby's weight/ bilirubin check I convinced the doctors to let us go home the same day I gave birth I had a second, less successful conversation with "D".  Apparently the listing of "Pagan" on my chart had led to quite a bit of discussion among the nurses and "K" had done some explaining on my behalf, but "D" still had some questions.  After reiterating what "K" had told her, "D" asked,

"What does Pagan mean?" 

"Really, Pagan is the umbrella term for all European based Nature faiths.  The word pagan itself really just means rural.  It was the country people of Europe who held on to their ancient beliefs the longest during the spread of Christianity."  It was an answer straight from a witch's textbook, but she still looked confused so I continued.  "Druidery and Wicca are both forms of Paganism." 

At the mention of Wicca, the light went on. 

"Oh, I use to work with a Wiccan.  She was strange, she even did magic."  Uh-oh, this is definitely not the time to announce that I'm a witch.  I pulled a quick answer out of my hat. 

"Witchcraft is a part of Paganism, but not all Pagans are witches."  She seemed satisfied with the answer and the conversation moved in a more neutral direction-the baby, but on my way home I couldn't help but start rewriting the script. 

What I wish I had told her was this. 

"Magic and witchcraft really isn't anything like what you see in movies and on TV.  You know how Oprah talks about releasing intent into the Universe to make positive changes in your life?  That is the basics of spell casting:  using your own energy to communicate with the Universe about what you would like to see happen." 

I imagine she would have looked quite shocked and I would have finished up with,

"Anybody can cast a spell, but not all spells are successful.  You've probably cast a few yourself with out even realizing it." 



How comfortable are you about explaining your beliefs to others?  Do you sail right on through or flub along as I do? 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

She's Here

For those of you wondering, Little Bitty Baby showed up a week ago today.  She was 8lb 11oz and 21 inches long...beautiful and healthy! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Making a Believer



Superman has been a bit slow into coming around to my herbal ways.  He has always been supportive of my beliefs and my use of natural medicine, but when it comes to using them himself he has been a bit reluctant.  That is changing slowly, but the proof is in the pudding and he just can't deny when my methods work. 

A few days ago, we were out in the yard and he was restringing my clothes line.  A sudden rain storm caught my towels out to dry last week and the weight of the drenched fabric snapped the already frayed lines.  Unbeknownst to him, the bees had built a hive in the pipe across top and as he pulled the rope through he disrupted the community.  Fortunately, it was a cool day and only one bee ventured out to investigate, but Superman ended up getting stung in the palm of his hand.  Since I was standing right over a bunch of Plantain I simply snatched up a leaf, gave it a quick chew, and spit it on the throbbing bite.  A few minutes later, he wiped the green goo off and continued his task with out pain or stiffness.  He is now a believer in the power of Plantain.  Add that to his acceptance of ginger for stomach aches and his positive reaction to my Achy Joint Salve...I'm making progress! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not Just for Pickling

Dill drying in my kitchen.


 

Last week at the farmers market, a lady was selling huge bunches of dill for pickling.   Now, I love good homemade pickles as much as the next girl, but there just isn't going to be any of those coming from my kitchen this fall.  To start with, I opted out of the garden this year on grounds that I would be extremely pregnant come harvest time yep, guessed that right and even if I were to have a plethora of cucumbers on hand the flat topped stove in this apartment would not handle my canner.  Still, the dill smelled delicious I tracked the vendor down with my nose and I could just imagine how tasty the wispy little greens would be mixed in with a salad or flavoring my favorite yogurt sauce.  Since I couldn't convince her to sell me just a bunch of greens, I decided to buy an entire bundle and dry the seeds for later use.  My kitchen has smelled amazing ever since. 

Not being extremely familiar with dill other than it's many culinary uses, I had to do a bit of research on this herb.  To start with, it's medicinal properties are pretty blasé.  As a tea it is used to calm stomach upset and its name references that use having been adapted from the old Norse word dilla meaning to lull, but that's the extent of it.  Nutritionally and magically, dill becomes much more exciting. 

As a food, dill is just plain good for you.  It is high in calcium, fiber, iron, and magnesium, as well as in vitamins A and C.  That makes me feel really good about using it in my salads and sandwiches this week.  Superman wasn't crazy about it in the yogurt sauce to go with his falafels, but I thought it was amazing. 

Magically, dill seed is known for protection and love it gives an overall sense of wellbeing and is traditionally hung in children's cradles.  It is also included in protective sachets and used to bless homes and particularly kitchens.  Since I am now the steward of a goodly amount of these seeds, I am sure I will find many ways to incorporate dill into my practice.  A few of my initial plans include a sachet to tuck into the babies bed and including it in a protective incense. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Dangerous Mind

It is a generally accepted fact that thoughts, negative or positive, contain power.  Since witches frequently work with and rely on this power to make changes in the world around them, nobody should be more familiar with this fact than a witch.  One night last week I forgot and learned a valuable lesson. 

Maybe it all started because I don't get angry very often...or because I was tired...or because I am enormously pregnant...what ever it was, it was completely uncalled for.  In many ways, I hate to even admit that it happened because I did inflict harm on someone.  Someone I love very much and who would never consider harming me: Superman. 

Sleep has been a difficult issue at our house lately.  As my girth has grown immensely with this pregnancy, I have developed as serious case of insomnia.  That, combined with the fact that our bed is has a miniature version of the Grand Canyon running down the center of it, some times makes nights insufferably long.  I toss and turn trying to find a comfortable position and when I finally settle into something semi-suitable poor circulation causes my legs and feet to start twitching madly.  As bad as this is for me, I at least have the option of attempting to nap the following day.  My poor husband just drags his exhausted self through the day with the hopes of getting a few hours of sleep the following night in the same defunct bed with the same crazy, tossing, turning, twitching wife.  On the night in question, it just got to be too much for him to bare.

It was a particularly hot evening and I have to admit we were both already feeling a little off.  I had found a semi comfortable position and was starting to drift off when the twitching started.   Fatigue had me that evening and my body was determined to sleep, so I proceeded to head toward la-la land not noticing that the equally exhausted man beside me was about to bubble over.  Just before I was about to doze he nearly vaulted out of the bed, snatched up his pillow, and stormed to the couch muttering about his lack of sleep, the fact that I did have a nap option where he did not, and maybe that I took excessive advantage of those naps. 

A bit taken back and hurt by the mutterings, I followed him to the living room to try and make things right. When it was apparent that he did not want to return to bed and that he simply did not even want to talk to me, I returned to our bedroom wide awake.  Sleep was no longer an option so I decided to try and read, but found myself struggling with the comfort issue once again.  Sitting on the bed made my back hurt and it seemed like I had to reposition myself after every paragraph. 

I longed for the slightly elevated level of comfort the couch would have offered my awkwardly shaped figure. 

I struggled to focus on my book and instead dwelled on the comments he had made on his way out of the bedroom. 

I wished he were in the bed and I in the living room so I at least had to option of finding some dull show on Hulu to lull me to sleep. 

I imagined him sleeping blissfully. 

I got angry. 

Book open and forgotten in my lap, I begin to simmer.  Soon I was sending pointedly hostile thoughts in his direction.  I didn't think his attitude was fair and I wanted it gone.  Specifically, I wanted him to know just how uncomfortable I was...how uncomfortable I had been for weeks.  After all, it was his baby too and missing a little sleep was minor compared to all the discomforts that had seemed to pile up on me during this pregnancy.  Unkind and negative thoughts erupted from my mind and when I had exhausted my list of grievances, I started all over at the beginning.  Of course, they were petty grievances, but with the state I was in they grew like mushrooms in manure. It was a vicious cycle and who knows how long it would have continued had my overly pregnant self not had to make a bathroom run. 

On my way through the living room, I noticed that Superman instead of blissfully lounging in sleep, was laying in a somewhat contorted position on the couch.  He was also grumbling incoherently and moaning.  Urged by my stressed bladder, I continued on to the bathroom, but when his condition hadn't changed on the way back through I knew I had to wake him.  Physically distancing myself from the negativity I had created in the bedroom had caused my anger to dissipate and I sat on the edge of the couch and woke him as a nice, sane wife should.  I gently spoke to him and asked what was wrong.  His answer caused my stomach to heave.  Soon after moving to the couch he had developed a terrible headache and what sleep he had managed to get had been plagued by nightmares. 

For all the times I had sent him positive energy to calm a rough day or ease an illness, it had never occurred to me that my anger and it's negative energy would effect him on equal footing.   Of course, I wanted to right the wrong I had done and immediately set about surrounding him with healing power while easing him back toward sleep after bringing him back to bed.  Luckily, it was a lesson learned with minimal damage done.  He forgave me and all is well, but it is a lesson I will not soon forget. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Feeling Crafty: Elemental Stones

Hand Painted Elemental Stones

Making a baby takes a lot of energy and keeping up with Miss Busy takes a lot of time, so lately I have been focusing on keeping me well and sane.  With only two weeks until my due date, I am feeling a surge of energy and the desire to create.  Thus, my most recent project. 

I have been collecting nice palm sized stones for over a month now and finally settled on these four to represent the Elementals in my sacred circle.  A few quick sketches and a daub of acrylic paint and I had exactly what I wanted.  Even Superman who was initially skeptical of the idea loves them.  I love working in Aboriginal art, but my brushes are starting to ruffle and give less precision than I like so this will probably be the last go around for them.  Waiting for a trip to the "city" for replacements will give me time to really meditate on what to do with the cauldron of stones sitting under my shrine. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

From the Weed Patch

 
 
Sometimes our landlord just makes me angry.  So angry that I have been known to very verbally predict that with in five years he will be the local slum lord.  When I saw the mess starting to grow up underneath the clothes line last week he had the rest of the yard mowed, but neglected the area I use the most I was fuming at him once again.  
 
Then I noticed what was growing up: Plantain, Dandelion, and Lambs Quarters.    Since I already know that he doesn't spray anything, I decided to make the best of the situation.  A few days ago, I harvested the Plantain and made a quart of tincture and a pint of slave.  Tomorrow, I am hoping to bring in some of the Dandelion to dry for use in teas.  The Lambs Quarters will be snuck into the salad green as soon as it gets a bit more growth on it.  Superman and I have an agreement that he doesn't always need to know what he's being fed as long as it tastes good. 
 
I am still not happy with the landlord there is a leak over my bed that he has known about for weeks and not even looked at, but the convenient wild harvest does make me smile. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Feeling Crafty: Wands

So, I wanted to make a wand and ended up making three.  It was just so much fun once I got started.  All of the wood was collected dead fall or in the case of the final wand salvaged from pruning sites.   Each was hand sanded then treated with three coats of coconut oil. 


 
This first one is just plain and unembellished, but the grain of the wood is so pretty I can't bear to cover it up.  It is made from Box Elder wood which according to multiple sources has no magical properties, but I really find that hard to believe.   Knowing where these trees grow and how much they have to overcome to grow there, I feel that the magic of this wood is strength and perseverance.  The marbled coloring on the wood is created when the wood is somehow damaged, on a branch this size the damage was most likely done by one of our fierce prairie winds.   



In the case of this second wand, I added the very simple embellishment by wrapping the handle with a length of raw wool yarn.  With this wand, we are looking at another "non-magical"  wood: Cottonwood.  One source I found went as far to say that Cottonwood was "junk" wood.  As you can imagine, I was indignant.  Cottonwoods are by far the most common tree here on the prairie.  They grow in stands along the creek bottoms and are often hauntingly twisted in form from being pushed and molded by the wind.  To me, the magic of the Cottonwood is resilience and adaptability.   Cotton wood buds are also used to make a healing salve and the pollen is used in gypsy magic to bring rain.

 
Finally, my fancy wand.  This wand is made from pine and wrapped in a strip of torn coral cotton embellished with a mid-frequency river rock, a barred feather, and re-purposed wooden beads.  Pine is known magically for the qualities of protection, prosperity, and fertility. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Southern Style Biscuits: A Bit of Kitchen Witchery

 
 
 
Although I do not consider myself a Kitchen Witch, I do practice a bit of Kitchen Witchery from time to time.  To tell the truth, I believe that any one who has ever whipped up special comfort food for a loved one has knowingly or unknowingly practiced this form of the craft.  Yesterday morning, getting ready for work, Superman was dragging his feet like a school boy with a history test he hadn't studied for.  The previous day had been particularly stressful and he was dreading a repeat.  There wasn't much I could do to ease his frustration, so I did what I could. I gave him something to look forward to-the promise of a batch of fresh, homemade biscuits when he came home for lunch.  Now Superman is all Southern and nothing says love to a Southern man like biscuits and sweet tea.  Since we are never without sweet tea, I was already halfway there. 
 
About an hour before he was due to arrive home, I smudged the house and started mixing up his favorite biscuits.  I started my milk to clabbering and mixed all my dry ingredients.  This is where the magic comes in.  Then instead of cutting the butter in, I used my clean hands to sift and squeeze, incorporating the two together.  While I mixed those ingredients, I silently focused my energy and love through my hands while envisioning a comfortable, content husband.   I saw him sitting at the counter, happily eating his buttered biscuits while all the stress of his morning flowed away.  After adding the clabbered milk my go-to substitution of buttermilk I lightly kneaded the dough, once again focusing on my husband and the relaxed state I wanted to evoke.  Finally, I shaped the biscuits and put them in the fridge to wait and be slid into the hot oven as my Superman walked through the door.   
 
The magic was a complete success.  Not only did my husband feel loved and happy eating his biscuits, that feeling of relaxation carried him into the afternoon.  He didn't have a wonderful day at work, but he managed to get through it with minimal frustration.  He was even able to shake off an incident that would usually have caused a confrontation. 
 
Even though I do say so myself, I have never found a biscuit recipe better than mine.  It is many batches worth of experimentation using various recipes as sources until I found just the right combination and technique.  The ingredients are pretty basic, but there are a few guidelines that come with this recipe. 
 
For the absolute best biscuits, use real butter and use it cold.  Also, make sure the shaped biscuits are cold when you put them in the oven.  I like to pan my biscuits ahead of time and put the pan into the fridge.  Then, just before we are ready to eat, I put my cold biscuits into a hot oven.  This technique is the big secret to tender, fluffy biscuits. 
 
Southern Style Biscuits
 
3/4 cup milk
1 TBL lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
 
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
 
Combine milk and lemon juice/vinegar in a cup or bowl and set aside to clabber.  If you've never done this, don't be surprised at the outcome.  The milk will sour and curd up.  That is exactly the result we are looking for. 
 
Mix dry ingredients and cut in cold butter cubes.  Stir in clabbered milk and knead lightly.  At this point, I sometimes add yummy extras to create fancy "steak house biscuits."  Fresh rosemary and parmesan or fresh cracked pepper and cheddar are two of my favorites.  Shape biscuits either in the traditional way by rolling and cutting or by hand like I do.  By hand keeps the working of the dough to a minimum and results in more tender biscuits.  In my home, biscuits are big and always eaten fresh from the oven: this recipe creates six, but doubles or even triples easily. 
 
Pan biscuits and allow to chill while oven heats to 475.  Bake for 12 minutes and serve hot with butter gravy, jelly, honey, plain, how ever you want. 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Exporing Pagan Music


Cottonwoods Growing In a Coulee: Eastern MT



Yesterday, I mentioned the music that creates ambiance in our home.  Since it seems to surprise some that Pagan music even exists, I decided to share a sampling this morning. These two play lists are the most frequently heard around here.   I hope they brighten your day. 

Omina


Witchy Music: Various Artists






Monday, June 30, 2014

Where the Witch Lives

Abandoned Home: Moore County, NC

Some times I just have to laugh at the people who insist that a witch is no different than anybody else.  I have read that a witch looks and dresses just like "normal" people and her home is no different than that of the Agnostic or Anglican next door.   Honestly, I just cannot believe that.  

To start with.  Can we define "normal"?  I am not sure how a "normal" person dresses or what an "average" home looks like.  Even when I go out in our relatively small town, I cannot find one style or kind of person to narrow down what is normal.  Everyone of us is slightly different and that difference is expressed in how we present ourselves to the world and the kind of environment we create in our home.  Which leads me to my second point...Since our personal style and homes are expressions of self, it only stands to reason that a witch would have a few quirks about herself and her home that others  might miss. 


I do have to admit that walking into my apartment, there is no shock value.  It looks fairly close to what one would expect when entering a modern home.  Unfortunately, it is not nearly as charming as these lonely old homes I love to photograph.   There are two computers, a great kitchen, and brightly colored baby toys scattered about randomly.  The first "oddity" one might notice would probably be the lack of a television...or maybe the random decorative "skulls" about the room.  Superman and I are both long time collectors of skull emblems and nic-nacs.  Initially, they were just something we liked and maybe a bit of rebellion, but now that we know more about how more primitive cultures view the symbolism of the skull we find them to be fun and encouraging accents to our home.  Around the corner in the kitchen, a few more surprises await.  The shelves above the sink are dotted with 32oz tincture bottles waiting to be filled and on the other end of the room sits my shrine to the Elementals.  Next to the shrine (hidden from first glance by the refrigerator), is probably the biggest shocker in the whole place: a life sized plastic skeleton named Chubbs.  I wanted to buy him for Halloween, but wasn't about to shell out $50.  Superman found him on clearance for $9 around Thanksgiving and brought him home for me.  I couldn't stand the thought of putting him in storage, so he has his own seat year a round.  After that, things look pretty much as expected unless one goes perusing our bookcases or poking around in our magical cabinet.  Our home is a bit quirky, sometimes messy and always busy, but fairly mundane. 

Far more than it's visual appearance, smell seems to be the element that sets this witches home apart from others.  Coming down the stairs into the apartment, the aroma of herbs and incense seem to waft up in greeting.  Besides those that I burn on the shrine, there are always aromatic candles or incense sticks in various parts of the living space accompanied by the scents of whatever herbs I am currently working with.  Underneath all that is the smell of wholesome, made-from-scratch cooking and good, old fresh air from the open windows.  Then, if I have been cleaning, the aroma of vinegar adds a few twangy notes.  Superman often walks in at the end of the day and declares, "This smells like a witche's house!"  It sounds like a lot going on, but it all blends into a warm homey smell that invites you to sit down and chat over a cup of coffee.  To me, that says a lot. 

The final touch that sets my home apart from others is music.  Superman and I both love music and for a good part of everyday there is some kind of lively Pagan music coming through our speakers.  Omina and S.J. Tucker are two of my favorites.  Going about my daily tasks to a good play list, makes the work a lot lighter.  If I am doing divinations or magical art, I create a proper ambiance with more meditative music or nature sounds.  YouTube plays like the radio in this home. 

No, my witchy home is not dramatic like the ones seen on television, but it certainly carries a unique vibe.  It truly speaks of who we are and close attention is paid to keeping a positive energy to the space.  As our refuge and sanctuary, this little apartment does a big job and we are truly grateful to have this place to just be ourselves. 

 
 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

RX Coffee



Three weeks into allergy season it started late this year, I am sitting here enjoying my favorite seasonal remedy: coffee.  Although it is still considered a folk remedy and is debated hotly on the internet, I will always stand by this tried and true favorite.  Nothing clears up the seasonal sickies like a mug of hot coffee. Oh, there are herbs that do the job and I have a recipe for allergy tea that works like a charm, but for minor symptoms coffee cannot be beat.  It works quickly, is easily accessible, inexpensive, and as a dietary supplement, I am completely comfortable taking it while pregnant.  Even the nutritionists I spoke to recently said that two cups of coffee a day during pregnancy is completely harmless.  In this instance, I go a step further and say that it can be beneficial.

I know I keep saying "coffee," but the beneficial element that we are really talking about here is caffeine.  For someone who has not built up a tolerance by using this stimulant regularly , it can be just what the doctor or the naturalist ordered when the cottonwood pollen is flying and the rag weed is blooming.  For many people, like myself, minor allergic reactions to these natural substances can include congestion, headache, fatigue, itchy eyes, runny nose, etc.... Caffeine helps by relaxing the swelling in the airway allowing congestion to leave the body and relieving the headache caused by sinus pressure.  Also, since fighting off threats is exhausting the caffeine gives a little jolt of energy that facilitates the body in it's fight against it's otherwise harmless invader.  Some studies, like this one published by BBC News, even suggest that caffeine goes a bit further and acts as a natural antihistamine.  Of course, the study has it's nay-sayers, but conventional medicine is always slow to accept a natural or folk remedy. 

Now, I'm not advocating that anybody throw out their Epi-pens.  The Changeling carries an Epi to combat severe reactions from bee/wasp stings.  What I am suggesting is that before running out to buy a box allergy caplets, try drinking a hot cup of coffee.  You may find that you can cross that trip to the pharmacy off your to-do list with out even leaving the house. 



Friday, June 13, 2014

Creating, Nesting, Simplifying (Not Necessarly in that Order)

Oh and sleeping....lots of sleeping.  This pregnancy is really starting to catch up with me.  I am absolutely enormous and although I feel good, I am tired. 

A Few Recent Sewing Projects

Creating:  Baby/Toddler wardrobes, Birthday Gifts, Maternity Clothes, Wands, Father's Day Gifts (I am planning a full post on my new wand creations once they are fully embellished). 

Nesting:  Creating, Cleaning, Simplifying 

Simplifying: Assessing what we really need and what should be donated,  Streamlining daily schedules, etc... 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ethical Wild Harvest

Along the Yellowstone River: May 2014

Since I have been talking a lot about local plants I find growing wild, I thought it was probably my responsibility to make a post about the ethical harvesting of such plants.  Even though the plants I find along the river do not belong to any human, they are a living part of our world and come under the protection of the Others nature spirits, fairies, divas, elves... however you wish to address them.  One cannot simply go in an snatch up a plant or part of a plant and expect it to simply be alright.  Perhaps the Others won't find ways to fill your life with torment like the old stories say, but they will be offended and it will impact your future dealings with them negatively.

Before you even start thinking about harvesting a wild plant, you need to know a bit about where it grows.  Is the area maintained?  Will any human care if you harvest from the area?  Have any chemicals been sprayed on the area in an attempt to control weeds or insects?  Once you determine that the area is a good harvest location by human standards, then start thinking about how to harvest while maintaining a respectful relationship with nature.  Of course, we like to say in witchcraft that there are no set rules, but in all aspects of life good manners should be the first and foremost.  Following are my own personal guidelines.

  1. Before harvesting from a plant, use your energy to communicate with the plant and obtain permission.  A plant that is struggling will tell you "no."  Respect that. 
  2. Harvest no more than 30% of the plant.  The idea is to work with and borrow from the plant, not to destroy it.
  3. Leave an offering to show your gratitude.  Many older books suggest a dime buried near the roots of the plant, but The Changeling (age 14) insists that a quarter is more appropriate if leaving money.  A sip of milk or honey water at the plant base is also appropriate and appreciated. 
  4. Overall, just listen to your intuition and respect your position.  When out in nature, you are a guest.   

Also, if you find an unexpected treasure and believe it to be a gift, it is appropriate to leave a gift in return.  I carry small lengths of biodegradable ribbon in my pocket for this purpose.  Although it would be very rare indeed if the Others physically took your gift, they will know it was left for them and will accept the spirit in which you gave it. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions: Starhawk/ Baker/Hill


Holiday traditions and meanings are something most of us learn a little at a time as we grow up.  The holiday is celebrated every year with little variation and in true child's form we soak it up and make it our own.  We don't question what these special days are or why we celebrate them, they are simply a part of our life and we believe that we understand them almost instinctually.  So when the world changes and we are left to discover a whole new tradition on our own, books like Circle Round are essential. 

I originally bought this book as a parenting tool, but have found it to my personal favorite to facilitate my own learning on the topic of Pagan holiday's and celebrations and believe me it is one of many books I have that address the topic.   Trying to implement a new celebration into the life of a family can be frustrating and awkward at times, but the ideas and activities given in Circle Round really make it fun and easy.  As an adult, I have gained so much better understanding of the celebrations by reading the holiday section of this book, I sometimes forget that it contains a plethora of other information as well.  It has chapters on basic traditions (circle casting, centering), a full section on activities to teach about the Elementals, and another section covering a child's growth and the rites of passage between infancy and adulthood.  Well written stories and songs (with music) accompany many of the topics to help facilitate memory in a positive way. 

To be completely truthful, I have not sat down and read this book in its entirety and I doubt that I ever will.  For me, it is more of a reference book to be returned to again and a again for ideas and inspiration.  I am really looking forward to using it frequently with Miss Busy and the new baby when they start to explore the natural world and their own place in the grander scheme. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Trust Your Cards



Those of you who read my blog frequently know that I still have a lot to lean.  You may have also picked up on the fact that some days I am behind the learning curve- way behind.  This past week I made a stupid mistake not once, but three times in a row.  I asked my cards a question and despite getting the same answer in slightly differing vocabulary all three times, I still doubted my reading. 

It  all started last Tuesday morning when my dad tried to call.   I was home and I did hear the phone ring, but I choose not to answer.   I just didn't feel like I had the strength to deal with him, in fact just the ringing of the phone felt like an emotional attack.  My entire childhood was spent trying to be good enough not to bring him shame and in the process I became someone I absolutely did not enjoy being.  The journey to where I am now has been long and hard, but it still only takes a few moments for my dad to toss all my confidence on the ground and remind me what a disgrace I am.  I have the wrong haircut.  I have defaced my body with tattoos and piercings.  I endanger my children by treating them with herbs and having homebirth.  I married a man who is so irresponsible that he dares ride a Harley.  It goes on and on and on...  To make it even worse, he doesn't say it to my face.  He says it to other family members who relay it to me, so I can try to remedy the situation and pacify our ranting patriarch.  It seems that I am the only one who even tries to live without of his approval. 

So he calls and without even hearing his voice, my anxiety level goes through the roof.  I consult my Oracle deck and three readings told me to relax, be happy, everything is just fine.  I simply couldn't believe it.    I felt like a little girl trying to hide all over again.  Superman offered to call out to the ranch and deal with it for me, but that would have set off another chain of events that I didn't want deal with either, so I just let it ride for the rest of the day. 



The following morning, the phone woke me up and I answered without even thinking.  Of course, it was my dad and he was shockingly pleasant.  We spoke of general things like calving season, weather, and Miss Busy's new teeth.  I kept waiting for the tide to change, but it never did.  We actually had a pleasant conversation.  When we hung up, I felt like I had dodged a bullet. 

Then exactly a week after it all started, I ran into him and my stepmom at the store.  They had come into town to sell some calves and were grabbing a few groceries before heading back to the middle of nowhere.  My first response was to cringe, but he was grinning like a little boy and happy to see me.  We chatted for fifteen minutes or so while they passed Miss Busy between them.  So far, nobody has called me with a list of his complaints, so I am considering it a successful encounter.   

My cards really did know the right answer, I just wasn't willing to accept it.  Maybe I was afraid of being too optimistic about the situation, or I doubted my new found skills; either way I refused to trust what I was told.  Skepticism can often be a good form of self defense, but it can also be a hindrance and detrimental to a healthy relationship.  When I ask The Power and my cards for answers, I need to have the respect to take their answer for truth rather it makes sense to me at the time or not. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lessons for a Magical Mama

 


There is nothing like a cantankerous child to ruin a magical moment.  You have slipped out for a nature walk, young one in tow, and just when you found what you thought you were looking for the child in the stroller turns into a banshee.  It only takes one wild yell to chase off every living being in the area and completely destroy your newly found center.  Yep, that is exactly what happened to me today. 

Superman and I had Miss Busy down by the river and in all fairness, we should have known better.  It was past naptime, but it was such a beautiful day- how could we resist?!  All was pretty well at first and she happily rode down the path perched on her daddy's shoulders.  It was when I paused and exclaimed, "Wild Sage!" Prairie sage/Wild sage is native to this region and can be used like white sage. More about the in a herbology post, this is a parenting ramble.    Things started going downhill.  Of course, this is one of the local plants I have been on the lookout for and I was all ready to harvest a bit.  By the time I had procured permission and left a small gift, all hell had broken loose.  We left quickly with a screaming little girl and one small branch of sage.

I have to admit that I was really disappointed to walk away from the potential smudge sticks just waiting beside the trail.  I had already envisioned the beautiful sage tied into pretty little bundles, drying in my pantry.  It was tempting to let my failed harvest become a sore spot in the day, but when I scrolled through the days photos on my camera I knew that no time had been wasted.  Not only do I now know where to find sage I'll go long before naptime in the future and arm myself with snacks, but we also enjoyed a beautiful walk, found an abandoned birds nest, picked out a campsite for later in the season, and made a few memories. 

Also, the older children have taught me just how fleeting the baby stage really is.  It will not be long before Miss Busy is no longer available to join me on daily walks.  She will have school and friends and activities clamoring for the moments that are currently all mine.  Then I will have all the time I need to gather herbs, commune with nature, and just be...but I will miss her. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chocolate Mishap


Yesterday, I got it into my head that I was going to make some lotion.  I didn't have any coco butter, so Miss Busy and I dashed into our local health food store to grab some.  Somewhere between greeting the friendly owner, browsing the used book table, and picking up the yeast I had forgotten last week, I grabbed what I needed.  Or at least what I thought I did.  It wasn't until I opened the container to grate some into my already hot oils that I realized I had purchased cocoa butter instead.  As if  I could have missed the smell once I opened it.  Feeling like I was at the point of no return already, I added a tablespoon to my oil mixture hoping that the infused rosemary could cover the aroma of chocolate flavored Lip Smackers. 

No such luck.



My resulting lotion is beautiful, creamy, and absorbs well.  I would be completely happy with it, if it didn't stink.  I am not a big chocolate person to start with and choco/rosemary does absolutely nothing for me except make me grimace every time I open the jar.  Yes, we will be using up this batch of lotion.  I can't stand waste, but I am done with the cocoa butter.  Maybe I'll try it with orange or raspberry in a lip gloss for the maidens. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Feeling Crafty: Decorative Broom

In it's original state, complete with thrift store price tag.


A few days ago, I spent a whole quarter and picked up a little decorative broom at the thrift.  Superman teases me about being such an over spender.  The décor on the broom was dated and definitely out of season, but it had so much potential I had to bring it home.  For a quarter, how could I resist?! 

Yesterday, I carefully removed the old embellishments and started sprucing up my find.  Spring and the coming summer were definitely on my mind as I wrapped the handle with my favorite variegated ribbon.  I am going to be so lost when I use up the last of that, it's been my friend through so many projects.  I painted two miniature wooden spoons from the free table at our other local thrift store with a light wash of sunny yellow and then glued on a random assortment of beads and buttons I gathered from my stash. Finally, I constructed a bow.

Abracadabra!  I assembled it all with hot glue and a new broom was born!    

Newly dressed and ready to go!  I also anointed it with protection oil.

Originally, I had planned to hang this besom by the front door where it is pictured, but since then I have changed my mind.  I just can't stand the thought of it out in the weather loosing it's bright shiny. Something a little more weather proof would be appropriate by the door and this piece will find a place in my kitchen. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thoughts On Motherhood

A Recent Photo of Miss Busy and I

There is a lot to be said for the stages of a woman's life.  Unfortunately, in our society the Maiden stage is idolized and moving on to the more mature and productive stages life is often feared or shunned.  Oh, being a Maiden is beautiful!  I love to hear the joy and optimism in my young Maiden's voice, but I also have no desire to be fourteen again.  A Maiden has troves of wonder and untouched beauty, but she also has a lot of learning to do and much of it will be painful. 

As a Mother, I feel I have come into my own.  I am currently carrying my sixth child and find myself to be more beautiful and confident than ever.  When I hold one of my children some of whom are now bigger than I am, I see how powerful and yet how small I can be at the same time.  I am the one who will provide the love that they need to grow and meet their potential, I am the measure by which they will gauge good and bad, and I am the one who's strength they will draw on.  Yet, with in all that power, I will still be unable to give them a perfect life and I am far from capable of  being  the perfect Mama I feel they deserve.  In my children I find both my honor and my humility.

As a Mother, I have learned that my body is amazing.  Before having babies, I had a body I was very proud of.  I was tall and lean, nothing except legs and boobs.  I never felt very beautiful, but I loved my figure.  When things didn't bounce right back after my first child, I felt somewhat like a failure and worked hard to get my shape back, but the babies just kept coming.  Then about the time my oldest was four he asked me, "Mama, why is your tummy so ugly."  I told him that the saggy skin and stretch marks were just the natural results of having children and he started to cry.  As he clung to me and apologized with his little heart absolutely broken over the damage he had done, I suddenly knew it didn't matter one bit.  I told him that he and his siblings were worth every single stretch mark  and I would not trade even a moment with one for them for my pretty tummy back.  That was the day I begin to make friends with my body.  Sometimes I still have a moment of insecurity, but then I remember that creating life is no easy task.  My body has worked hard and never failed to nurture and protect those I love the most.  My figure isn't perfect, but my body is. 

As a Mother, I learned to pick my battles.  My children are not here to be little reflections of me, make me look good, or to define my success as a human being.  My children are here to grow and learn and become the individuals they are meant to be.  It is very easy for many parents to view their offspring as little accessories and want to position them in whatever manner they will be the most flattering.  Sorry, but being a parent is not flattering.  It is often tiring and messy, but so very rewarding.  As long as my children are not behaving in a harmful way or being immoral, I see no reason to control their choices.  So what if Sassafras prefers camo to lace or Mr. Man chooses to wear long johns under swimming trunks to kindergarten?  They might not be following the status quo, but they are following their hearts.  By respecting them as individuals, I keep their hearts and minds open to my influence in the areas that really matter. 

I guess, over all it just boils down to...I love being a Mama.  Yet, as much as I love being the center of my children's world, I know the day is coming when they will move on.  G.I Joe keeps reminding me that he will be enlisted in a scant two years.  Then I will move on.  I will be the grandmother, the wise one, the crone.  It is a phase of life, I look forward to.  All in due time. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

What A Weed!

Broad Leaf Plantain: Photo by the UofA Cooperative Extension Service
(This is one variety of Plantain, do some research to find what verities grow in your area.)



 
The other day while walking I found a few exciting plants growing along the river.  Going right along with my "discovery" of alfalfa was plantain.  A beautiful pairing if not in just their grand usefulness, but also in their colloquial names.  Where alfalfa has been known as "the father of herbs," plantain is know by the Navaho as "the mother of herbs."  A common little plant, found all across the North American continent often conspicuously in the middle of a perfect yard, the leaves and seeds of the plantain both contain some serious healing properties. 

When I first learned about plantain several years ago, I was living in the rural South and learned to use the leaves in the old backwoods tradition.  To ease the pain and swelling of a insect bite or sting pop a fresh plucked leaf into your mouth, chew it up into a bright green blob, and then slap that sucker onto the affected area.  It may sound a bit nasty and seem primitive, but it really works.  Plantain leaf is a well know antidote for skin aliments of all kinds ranging from snakebites to burns and abrasions.  When used as a poultice it is also known to promote the healing of wounds, sooth the itchy rash caused by poison ivy, and prevent infection.  Incorporated into a salve, it is an excellent all purpose ointment. 

My recent plantain find moved me to do further research on the usefulness of this plant and I was pleasantly surprised.  The seeds that grow in a tubal spray from the center of the plant, the arching growth top-center of the photograph, contain a mucinous sap that is used extensively for internal healing.  One of the most exciting being for the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.  The seeds themselves are used similarly to psyllium in treating irritation of the bowls.  One source also suggested that plantain root can be chewed to ease the pain of a toothache. 

Since many of these uses for plantain are new to me, there is very little I can do other than relate the findings of my research.  As I continue to explore and learn about this herb, I will share more of my personal findings.  For now, I can assure you that in skincare it sits right among slippery elm and aloe in my estimations. 

Magically, I can find no mentions of plantain in a context that does not support or refer to it's known medicinal properties.  Perhaps in healing this humble, intrusive weed finds it's own magic.