A Wise Word:

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

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. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hay is For Horses

Alfalfa Plant: Photo by the UofA Cooperative Extension Service


...every child  knows that!  Furthermore, growing up rural, just about every child knew that good  hay generally meant alfalfa.  It is high in vitamin C, protein, chlorophyll, and calcium to name a few.  Equine folks will swear that it is the number one choice for feeding horses and, in fact, the word alfalfa comes from the Persian word asparti which means "horse fodder."

On my river walk the other day, alfalfa was one of the plants I was excited to find growing nearby.  My first reaction was nostalgia as I picked a handful to pop into my mouth and transport myself back to childhood.  Ahh. One of those moments to get lost in time.   AHEM!  Back to the adult world...a baby fussing in the stroller does that. Beyond my childhood memories of idyllic alfalfa fields, there is a very real reason to get excited about this plant.  It is chock full of good things and is very useful to maintaining good health. 

In spite of the fact that the Arabs refer to alfalfa as "the father of herbs," I consider it more of a woman's plant.  It is high in calcium which is essential to women of childbearing age.  Has naturally occurring fluoride to help maintain teeth and bone structure (something that many women struggle with as they age).  Is full of vitamin K that helps battle the  morning sickness that many of us suffer with in the early stages of pregnancy.  Finally, because of it's high nutritional content, alfalfa is also used to boost lactation. 

Besides all of the lady specific uses I have mentioned, alfalfa is also good for numerous other herbal and nutritional applications.  It is revered by vegetarians as an excellent source of B-12 vitamins.  It is also an acid reducer and is used for various stomach and blood ailments.  Several years ago, when I was struggling with some allergy and asthma problems, I used alfalfa in my concoction of herbs to manage symptoms affecting my breathing. 

With all the benefits of alfalfa and its delicate flavor, it would be tempting to ask why we don't just set out a bowl full of it to eat like spinach.  Unfortunately, alfalfa is too fibrous to be digested comfortably by the human system.  The best sources of alfalfa are in the form of sprouts and dried leaves infused as a tea.  Adding it to an already healthy diet could be very beneficial for any of us. 

Any witch would be remiss not to explore the magical properties of an herb, but magically, there is very little said about alfalfa.  The only information I found on this front was in The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl where it is mentioned that alfalfa has been used as a ward against money anxieties and is considered by some as a herb of protection. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A River Walk

The Yellowstone River on May 5, 2014
To open with a bit of truth, I've been feeling blah this week.  Not bad, just kind of here.  Yesterday started out particularly slowly and it actually took a great deal of  mental coaxing to just pull out my yoga mat.  Duh, that's almost as pathetic as being too lazy to start a pot of coffee! 

So, with a bunch of excuses and feet dragging, I finally got my day started.  My case of the blahs  must have been more serious than I thought though, because when I read my cards I was told on no uncertain terms to get my butt outside.  Without arguing I'm proud of myself on that one I got myself together and when Miss Busy got up from her morning nap, we set out for a river walk.

The dike separating town from the river is topped by an unmaintained, gravel road that is used mainly by local fishermen and is a tough route with the stroller.  Fortunately, what I found was more that worth the effort.  Not only did I receive the energy and grounding I needed out in nature, but it was also my first chance to really see what useful plants were growing locally.  I was excited to find both Alfalfa and Plantain which are known respectively as the "father of herbs" and the "mother of herbs" and will be great additions to my stock.   I also found plenty of dandelion, wild honeysuckle, two aspen trees, a juniper bush on an abandoned home site,   along with countless cottonwood trees.  As an extra bonus, I found a rusted metal joint of some kind beneath the railroad bridge (it will be cleansed and saved for spells needing rust shavings) and five new stones. 

As exhilarating  as the walk was, it didn't take long before life started catching up with me again here at the house.  I sat down with the good intent to write this post and the phone rang, then Superman needed something at work, I ran out of milk, etc....  Somewhere in all that, the exhaustion of walking 2.5 miles pushing a stroller over rough terrain settled in remember I am 5 months pregnant and I was spent. 

Today started out quite slowly again and my cards for the day have warned me to get it together and find my passion.  I guess I should start working on that.