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!

Owl Post! ~ Hogwarts House Teas Have Arrived ~

image from the hp-lexicon.org

We are delighted to introduce our new line of Hogwarts-inspired House Teas to those lovely Muggles, Witches, and Wizards who shop the Apothecary.  It is no secret that we’re fans of the magical world of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and have spent many an hour dressed up as Professor Trelawney and dreaming of having a copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by former Hogwarts Headmistress Phyllida Spore.  Hopefully our new Hogwarts House Teas will inspire the student of magic in you! (more…)

Luxurious Locks: Herbal Hair Vinegar

Our Herbal Hair Rinse combines golden, raw apple cider vinegar with healing herbs that will help promote hair growth and beautiful locks.  Raw apple cider vinegar is an all-natural conditioner for the hair, aids in manageability of your luscious locks, and cleans the scalp of residue and build-up.  Vinegar is balancing and helps restore health to a scalp prone to dandruff and itchiness.

To use combine 1 – 3 tablespoons of our Herbal Hair Rinse with 1 cup water.  Generally, you’ll need 1/8 to ¼ cup of Herbal Hair Rinse per bowl of water.  After you’ve wet your hair thoroughly, slowly pour the Herbal Hair Rinse mixed with warm water onto your head, massaging it into your scalp.  Rinse and enjoy your majestic mane!

Our Herbal Hair Rinse includes the following scalp-nourishing, itch-reliving, hair-growing, highlight-enhancing herbs:

CHAMOMILE Matricaria recutita: Accentuates golden highlights as well as relieves an itchy scalp.

LAVENDER Lavandula officinalis: Soothing to the scalp and spirit while helping the hair to grow

ROSEMARY Rosmarinus officinalis: Prevents hair loss and promotes hair growth

PEPPERMINT Mentha piperita: Balances the pH of the scalp so hair is not too oily or too dry.

ROSE Rosa damascena: Nourishes and revitalizes hair.

BASIL Ocimum basilicum: Great for hair growth.

NETTLES Urtica dioica: Promotes the growth and regrowth of hair, reduces dandruff and helps thicken hair.

YLANG YLANG Cananga odorata Essential Oil

LAVENDER Lavandula officinalis Essential Oil

ROSEMARY Rosmarinus officinalis Essential Oil

Our Herbal Hair Rinse and other enchanted herbal goods

are available in our S H O P.

Quicken the Mind: Peppermint

Peppermint from iloveherbs.net

The crisp and recognizable scent of Peppermint Mentha Piperita brings money to those who carry its leaves and protection to the traveler.  Use Peppermint as an incense or floorwash to purify and energize a space. Tuck the leaves beneath your pillow to enhance dreams and visions or wear them about your neck to increase focus and drive.  Peppermint in the garden brings success to all endeavors.  The genus name of Peppermint, Mentha, is after that of a Greek nymph named Minthe, who after an affair with Pluto was turned to the Peppermint plant we know today by a jealous Persephone.  Or at least that is one version of the story… (more…)

More Stars for More Merriment

As with any part of the year, whether you are tired, invigorated, flabbergasted, illuminated, joyful, disgruntled or bursting with any other exuberant expression of emotional being-ness, we hope that you’ll always have time to drink deep the incredible (tea)cup of life that we’re all experiencing.

All that said, we are simply tea-sellers at the end of the day and we would like you to know that we’ve more stars to light your way.  Our Star of Yule Tea Blend is now available in our standard 3 ounce size in our little online shop. You can still find it in our Winter Remedy Kits, too, in a smart-looking 1 ounce tin (who doesn’t want to look clever?).

A Tea for Each Trimester: Herbal Tea Blends for Pregnancy

Consistency is good – and consistent variety even better!  When I began to create a blend to support the needs of a growing pregnant body, I created birthed three.  Triplets!  While each tea can be enjoyed at any time during your pregnancy, I crafted them to build upon each other and to address specific issues that tend to happen during different parts of pregnancy.  Budding pays special attention to building up nutrients in the body and relieving morning sickness.  Blooming brings in herbs that are especially strengthening and tonifying to the uterus, as well as calming herbs like Chamomile, to regulate and sustain energy levels.  Blossoming continues to tonify the uterus and also includes herbs to help bring milk and the development of colostrum.
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