Herbs are Magick

I used to always say, “Herbs work on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels of existence.” Later I came to understand that they also work on the magical level.  What this means is that they do not just change our person but that they can transform the environment around us.  They can actually cause events to occur.  Ultimately, what makes an event magical is that it is unexpected.  So, in other words, the herbs seem to get  a step ahead of us and create an event which we did not foresee but which corrects or enriches our lives.

Matthew WoodThe Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants As Medicine

It’s Always Tea Time Somewhere!: May Day Tea Time

We’ve started a new project at the Apothecary based on our firm belief that It’s Always Tea Time Somewhere!  We’ll be featuring monthly posts on tea time recipes as well as stories for discussion to feed the mind and soul as well as the belly.  Our first guest post is by K. Heron of Bloody Show who writes about her first experiences of activism by marching through the streets of Olympia, WA.  Her Gluten-free Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffin Recipe is a great one to have when planning a protest, a picnic, or a lazy springtime tea time.  

You, too, can join in on the It’s Always Tea Time Somewhere! movement.  Write up your own tea time musings and recipes and let us know about them via Twitter (#It’sAlwaysTeaTimeSomewhere! or #IATTS!), on Facebook, and below in the comments.  We would love to start a collection of tea-timer photos on Pinterest, too, so take photos of your tea time lovelies if you so desire! 

Enjoy!

☆ It’s Always Tea Time Somewhere: May Day Tea Time ☆
by: K. Heron of Bloody Show

Blessed Beltaine and Happy May Day to all! On May 1, we celebrated the ancient fire holiday of Beltaine. We had a very lovely and sweet time around the fire on the actual day of Beltaine and enjoyed the Supermoon on May 5, which also happens to be Lunar Beltaine. It is hands down one of my most favorite times of the year.

from Shelton Blog: Mason County Washington’s Progressive Voices

On May 1, we also remember the Haymarket Riots here in the U.S. In high school, I had an incredible social studies teacher who gave you credit for things like standing on a street corner in my small one-horse town, holding signs and advocating for the candidate of your choice. So it was a snap to get credit to skip school for a day and head to my very first protest ever, May Day. We (the marchers and critical mass bikers) met at Rainy Day Records, the coolest music store on the west side of Olympia. We gathered and marched, shutting down the streets and wending our way all over town. We handed out leaflets, danced, and had a great time.

source unknown – please let us know if this is your artwork!

It was exhilarating. It was also scary. It was just a few months after the WTO protest in Seattle and cops showed up in full riot gear. Doggedly, we boogied on down the street. At our final destination we shut down the busiest intersection in Olympia, barring hundreds of people from easy access to the freeway. Our goal? Take back the streets. Remind other people and ourselves that people are meant to come and gather, create community, and not just ride in cars as we drive to shop at big box stores that don’t care about the environment and treat their workers terribly. (Yes, I realize this is a gross oversimplification of the reality of things. But I was also 16 and idealistic and in my head at the time it really was that easy.) Basically, we had a big party. We planted a community garden in an abandoned lot (it got bulldozed later that week by the owners of the lot who just let it sit vacant and empty for another several years). We had music and dancing. There was naked mud wrestling(!) and stilt walkers and face painting. I stayed for hours and hours and still carry that celebratory spirit within me when I think about creating positive social change.

In honor of that, I bring you a recipe for Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins! They are completely delicious warm, great with a little bit of vegan butter (or non-vegan butter if you please), and they freeze well for a brilliant on-the-go snack (great for protests and marches!).

☆ Gluten-free Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins ☆
(Adapted from the Blueberry Corn Muffin recipe from the brilliant Gluten-Free Goddess herself)

Preheat yer oven. 350 degrees will do ya just fine. Either line a muffin tin or grease it with a bit of oil.

You will need the following:

Dry ingredients:
¾ cup cornmeal (I like to use polenta for grainier muffins, but feel free to use any kind you want)
¼ cup buckwheat flour
¾ cup brown rice flour
½ cup potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredient:
¼ oil (canola, melted coconut oil, etc. I tend to avoid extra virgin olive oil in baking for its
distinct flavor)
1 Tb honey
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tb Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with ¼ cup warm water until foamy
¾ cup warm water

And finally, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Here’s how you make these tasty gems:

Mix or whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of your batter and add the wet to that well. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until well-combined and sticky. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter into your muffin tins, pop them in the oven for 20 minutes or so. As with most gluten-free baked goods, allowing them to cool
for 5 minutes or so will help them keep their integrity. Eat them hot or let them rest on a wire rack until room temperature. Grab your sweetie (or mom or best friend or favorite puppy dog companion) and enjoy your tea time!

The “G” Word : Honoring the Roma


Today is International Roma Day which celebrates Romani culture and contribution to society as well as raising awareness of the ongoing issues that the Romani people face throughout the world. As herbalists, herb folks, herbal medicine users, and people who like Nettles, we have an opportunity to make our communities more inclusive, more kind, and more just by simply adjusting our language to honor a culture that many feel inspired by.

The term “Gypsy” is a pejorative and offensive word used to describe the diverse population of people known as the Roma / Romani / Romany / Rroma, depending on local Roma dialect.  While many folks on view “Gypsy” as just another descriptive term to be used to describe a situation, a person or to sell items it is important to recognize that words are the framework that hold together institutional racism. Words and their connotations are necessary tools of oppression, so they do hurt, they do matter, and they are worth questioning and hopefully dismantling.

As herbalists, especially those who practice Western herbalism, we have a particular responsibility to honor cultures that have perserved herbal knowledge through the centuries and that we now use today.  In my practice and devotional work with our plant kindred, I have watched how we become more like the plants we work with and the plants become more like us in turn.  So when there is a plant that plays particular importance within a culture or a remedy that is associated with a certain people, I pay attention to both the stories of the plants and of the people they are so closely intwined with.  There are many plants and remedies associated with Romani culture, from the mythic Queen of Hungary Water to “Gypsy” cold cures featuring Peppermint, Yarrow, and Elder, many herbalists have not only heard about these remedies, but make them as well.  What’s more is that there is so much romanticizing that goes on about Romani culture and the Roma themselves, that learning historical Romani herbal remedies can be a hard thing to do, especially since Romani culture is beautifully diverse.

As a humyn creature of mixed ancestry, I am particularly invested in changing the ways we talk about, around, and over Roma peoples, like myself.  In the United States there is not a lot of real information about Romani culture and it has been my experience that most Americans aren’t even aware of the Roma of an actual ethnic group, so sometimes it can be harder for folks to understand that Gypsy is a pejorative word used passively as a form of ignorance and actively as a form of violence.  For me, the foundation of changing language is wanting to more authentically describe the world and our experiences in it to better understand ourselves and each other.  So if you use the word “Gypsy,” I would ask for you to let it go, put it in the compost, allow it to decompose, be transformed, and fertilize your garden of knowledge resting in that noggin of yours.  It’s easy, honorable, and a whole lot of fun coming up with a new vocabulary to replaced outdated terms that no longer serve us.

Interested in learning more? I recommend the following article by Professor Ian Hancock. He is of Romani descent, teaches at the University of Texas Austin, and writes about the history of the use of the word “Gypsy” and why it is a term that is offensive and oppressive to the Roma people.

What’s In A Name?

As a final note, I hope that any conversations that ensue from this post are from a place of compassion, willingness to learn, and understanding that words hold power so we should celebrate that gift and use them respectively.

Opre Roma!