Swedish Chai + Summer Deals

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I just spent the past weekend in the beautiful wilds of Oregon dancing the days and nights away with magickal creatures of all varieties at the amazing Faerieworlds art and music festival! I came back to my seaside city feeling inspired and with some extra dirt and glitter packed in my bags (and, to be honest, tangled in my hair and between my toes). As some of us celebrate the week of the First Harvest in the Northern Hemisphere and late winter / early spring fire festivals in the Southern Hemisphere, I’m filling up on summer’s glow as the promise of fall is just around the corner.

One of the ways I like to celebrate the early mornings and long, lazy nights of summer is with pots of chai. Chai is simply the word for tea in a number of cultures, though many of us are familiar with the Masala chai of South Asian fame. I love to make chai blends based on local flora, culturally-entwined spices, and my own take on whatever tea drinking culture I may find myself in. Some of my chai blends are created with longing-in-the-heart, as I dream of places I look forward to visiting. Sweden has captured my imagination in recent years and so I created a Swedish chai in exploratory tea anticipation of future journeys. The recipe is below along with some insight into the spices and herbs included in the blend. Enjoy!

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Books have been written espousing the greatness of healing spices and what many consider dusty kitchen condiments are actually earthy jewels of wellness delight. Spices are healing foods that are easy to add to any meal and act as a fragrant passage for medicine to find its way through our mind, body, and spirit.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is an excellent spice for indigestion and calming upset stomachs. Like many spices, Cardamom also has aphrodisiac qualities.

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum), like many spices, aids with indigestion, but also has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anesthetic qualities.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) is a delicious blood sugar balancer and is also heart-healing, promoting healthy circulation, reducing hypertension, and possessing anti-clotting properties.

You can learn more about Elder, the Tree of Medicine + fiery Ginger in previous posts!

Herbs for Times of Tragedy

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Hiya, everyone,

Given the recent events in Boston, I was reminded that I have wanted to start a community conversation about herbs in times of tragedy. In my own practice I work with lots of folks who are recovering from various levels of violence and trauma in their background, so I have certain herbs (including flower and gem essences) that I find myself reaching for often. In general, I reach for adaptogens (such as Tulsi Ocimum sanctum) and nervines (like Oats Avena sativa) for dealing with the impact of trauma. I think Bach’s Rescue Remedy is an excellent in-the-moment aid and I usually keep a small bottle on me. The remedies I use range depending on the circumstances as well as when I use them, but Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Elder Berry and Flower (Sambucus nigra), Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) have all been useful. For those who hearts are hurting right now, consider inviting Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) in as a tea, tincture, glycerite or powder.

For herbalists, street medics, birthworkers, social workers, and others who find themselves working on the edges, I always recommend knowing what plants are your allies – the ones who have your heart when things get really tough – and to develop a sacred relationship with them before the hard times come.

What other herbs have folks used? I look forward to learning about other folk’s herb allies and the way we support our communities when they are in pain. Join in the conversation here on the blog and over at Poppy Swap.

Be well, be tender, and reach out to those around you,
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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!

Polish Your Cauldron + Keep Away the Cold

A lovely night for a a bit of flying.
Woodcut dated 1579 in France.

The Witches be cacklin’ tonight!  As black as night with a purple glow, our Cauldron Polish Cold Care Elixir is your ally when it comes to charming away colds.  Take at the first sign of a cold or ‘flu and our Cauldron Polish’s anti-viral enchantments will prevent tricky colds and ‘flu from taking hold.  Cauldron Polish has a sweet taste with a bit of tang and just a bit of Ginger bite, making our Cold Care Elixir a delicious addition to your home wellness repertoire.

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Tree of Medicine: Elder

Elder from botanical.com

Lady Ellhorn, give me of thy wood,
And I will give thee of mine,
When I become a tree.

So goes the chant to be said when cutting a branch from the sacred Elder tree.  Inhabited with the spirits of Witches and Dryads, the chant warns them off so no harm comes to them.  Magic surrounds the legends of Elder.  There is a Sicilian tradition of placing elder in the home to protect against theft and a newlwed couple in Serbia would be given elder for good luck and a happy future.  Protecting against all forms of evil and dark magick, Elder is generous in bestowing good fortune.  But always remember to give honor to the Hylde-Moer as the the Elder tree mother is known in Denmark.  In addition to guarding the doorways between this world and the next, Elder has many practical uses for the health of the living.
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Our First Sale!

We are having our first sale in our S H O P in celebration of All Hallow’s Eve!  Our Witch’s Delight Tea Blend is 10% off and will be until November 1st.  Witch’s Delight is an excellent brew for the cold season with Elder Berry & Flower, Hawthorn Berry & Flower, and local Maine apples included in the blend.  With your tiny vial of green magic powder (Spirulina) included in every order, you’ll be able to practice your own potion making powers.

Witch’s Delight is made of:

HAWTHORN LEAF & BERRY Craetagus monongyna: Used as a living plant barrier, Hawthorn marks the permeable barrier between the mundane and the magical. A charm of resiliency, Hawthorn protects against lightening and storm damage, which is particularly useful for night flying! Medicinally, Hawthorn is a heart tonic and good for sore throats, anxiety, insomnia, indigestion, hypertension, and much more.

CARDAMOM Eletarria cardamomum: Strengthening to the heart and lungs, Cardamom improves circulation, increases energy, and induces states of joy and clarity.

FENNEL Foeniculum vulgare: A charm against accidents, Fennel is well known for sweetening the breath and improving digestion. Fennel increases energy in the body because it regulates digestion and assimilation of nutrients thereby stabilizing blood sugar levels.

ELDER BERRY & FLOWER Sambucus nigra: Revered in Celtic cultures as a sacred tree, Elder brings health and happiness to the household it resides in. Elder is an excellent tonic against colds, coughs, and the ‘flu, fighting infection and inflammation.

VERVAIN Verbena officinalis: Known as the herb of enchantment, Vervain, brings visions and the tears shed by Isis for her lost love Osiris were said to be the parts of the Vervain plant. Calms the nervous system, aids in assimilation of nutrients, and an excellent remedy for all sorts of grumpiness.

APPLE FRUIT: A charm of love, long life, and clever thinking. The fruit is cleansing, lowers cholesterol, and contains vitamin A, B, and C.

Vial of SPIRULINA Arthrospira platensis: Add a dash to your brewed cup of tea to turn your potion a glowing green! Spirulina is packed full of nutrients and if you’re interested in getting your daily dose check out our Super!Rainbows!Love!Go! Herbal Powder.

 

A Magical History of Herbs: Enchanted Names

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble…”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

Names of herbs shift and change through time, culture, and circumstance.  While many modern herbalists use Latin binomials to organize and distinguish herbs regardless of how they are known in separate cultures, common and folk names for herbs are valuable, informative, and often quite inventive.
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Come In and Sit a Spell: Witch’s Delight Tea Time


wikimedia.org

October has arrived carrying on her back a cloak of fallen leaves, steadying herself with the ever cooling dark of approaching winer.  To work in the tradition of Western Herbalism is to acknowledge the history of magic associated with our green friends and the bearers of their magical names and inclinations, Witches and their kin. Bringers of healing, gatherers of storms, and potion charmers, Witches, their ancient myths and modern manifestation, continue to walk the edges of society, trembling the web of change wherever they tread.

Though, really, I’m sure they’ve already taken to the sky.
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A Strong Brew: Making Medicinal Tea

There is more than one way to make tea.  Tea can be made with carefully heated water to the right temperature with a specific allotment of time for steeping.  Some teas are loose leaf, some are bagged; some left to steep for five minutes, others until the drinker remembers to remove the tea from cup or pot.  Making medicinal tea does not require any skills beyond making a regular cup of tea, except, perhaps, more patience and more tea.
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