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Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Everything was ready for our trip to Muin Mound Grove and our Summer Solstice celebration.  We were going to make clay suns in honor of the sky fire.  I already had some ideas for my design.  We plucked herbs from our garden to place on the Arimid mantle during the rite.  Weretoad and I were excitedly looking forward to seeing two dear friends who moved back to the area, as well as a new friend from the North Country who recently joined ADF.

But… Summer Solstice with Muin Mound did not happen for us this year.  Sometimes it seems like the Kindreds have other plans…

There were things going on in the family that needed attending to.  There is much stress in my tribe right now due to someone’s health and others’ financial situations.  My mum basically begged us to stay for emotional support and help.  Furthermore, she wanted us to celebrate the Summer Solstice with them because she didn’t want us to miss out.  She wanted the family to be together and wanted to be a part of my spiritual life at last.  Although I was sad to miss time with my grovies, my tribe is very important to me.  I felt my ancestors guiding me to stay with them.  I’m glad I did!

Some of my mum’s lovely roses.  She actually gave one as an offering during the rite.

Preparing a very last minute ritual for family was an interesting learning experience.  To begin with, I had none of my ritual tools and no liturgical outline.  The only Pagan ritual my family ever experienced was my handfasting – and that was very much eclipsed by the wedding itself in that everyone kind of knew what was going on.  This would be different.

I briefly explained what would happen, the reason for the high day, and who the Kindreds are.  I made suggestions of offerings if they felt so inclined.  I then set about gathering offerings for the kindreds, vessels to hold them, and figuring out how to set up the fire, well, and tree.  I visited a favorite store from home, Peter’s Cornucopia, a health food shop and cafe.  I picked up some nice incense there. For other offerings, I used what my parents had in the kitchen – oats, olive oil, and salt. I brought some wine from my new home and my brother-in-law brought some beer.  My mum gave me an old silver bowl she had received as a wedding gift but never used.  This became the well.  My sister and father contributed some firewood. We used my parents’ fire pit for that hallow, and situated everything by the oak tree Weretoad and I planted a few years ago.  It’s growing strong and seems very happy.

I didn’t take a photo when everything was set up, but this is where we did the ritual.    A lovely green and brown spot near my beloved childhood forest and gardens!

I usually use a bell wand to open the gates and have a fancy, ceramic drinking horn for the return flow.  These were at home so I used my hands to direct energy and a wine glass for communal drinking.  The experience reminded me of how tools are, for the most part, only as useful as the user.  I need not rely on them and can be creative without them when necessary.  The greatest challenge was divination.  My ogham and animal oracle cards were also home.  I can’t count how many times I’ve brought them with me just in case, but this time I did not.  I fretted over how to take an omen.  I didn’t like the idea of flipping a coin.  It’s too binary for my liking.  My husband suggested looking into ogham apps on the iphone.  I’m not much of a technopagan during rituals; I much prefer feeling the cards or wood on my fingers.  I was seriously considering experimenting with augury.  Something about that seems very pure in that you are truly opening yourself and your trust to the natural world around you…but because storms threatened, and I highly doubted my family would ritualize out of doors in that weather, I opted to figure something else out in case there wouldn’t be any birds to spot.  I ended up making paper ogham disks.  Very cheap, easy, and almost laughable, but it worked for the situation.  The omens were very favorable and spoke of enjoying the here and now, taking action to bring about the fruition of goals, and a bountiful harvest.

I was worried to lead a ritual in front of family, but once things started, the role of priestess overshadowed that of wife, daughter, and sister.  I was still those things, but I was focused on serving the kindreds and not on how I looked or sounded.  Afterwards, my mum said she was very proud of me and that she was surprised at my poise and voice.  Once everything started, any feelings of awkwardness at acting preachy vanished.  Brighid certainly blessed me with a honeyed tongue that night.

My husband was a huge help to me.  He felt strongly about staying with the family as well and encouraged me to take up my mother’s offer.  I told him that if I did that, I would need his help.  Since he recently joined ADF, I thought it would be a nice way for him to learn more.  He assisted me in choosing an appropriate incense offering, made offerings to the sea and Nature Spirits, helped me purify the ritual participants, and tended to the fire.  My sister also helped by praising the Earth Mother.  I felt it was an appropriate role for a newcomer and she was happy to oblige.

Everyone complimented me on the ritual.  My mother and sister said they felt so calm afterwards; that they needed something like that.  The healing work was very much appreciated and they seemed to like taking an active role in attempting to help someone else when everything seems so out of their control.  Amazingly, they would like to have more family rituals!  Weretoad and I suggested the Winter Solstice as a good possibility.

My potluck contribution.

Having already made a greens, strawberry, almond, and feta salad for the grove celebration, my family agreed to have a potluck following ritual.  It contributed to the feelings of togetherness and support as everyone helped.  Mum and dad supplied pizza and cookies.  My sister made a delicious pasta salad while her husband brought the beer.  Weretoad and I had our salad, wine, and veggie patties.  We talked and laughed throughout the night.

I definitely plan to be with my grove for Lughnasadh (barring any emergencies; Gods forbid), and missed them this past weekend.  I’m so glad I stayed to support my family, though.  They clearly needed it and the ancestors were watching out for us all.  It helped strengthen our bonds as well as my own beliefs in myself and my path.  Although we’re still concerned for that very sick family member, and other loved ones are dealing with some tricky situations, this was my favorite Summer Solstice so far.

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Sore Throat Tea

Herbalism is something I’ve been interested in for a long time.  My grandmother used to be an avid gardener and herbalist (age has slowed her down a bit).  As a child, she wowed me with homemade creams, herbal teas, and sachets.  Despite her strict Catholicism, she would always laugh when I called her a witch doctor. She still shares her knowledge with me, whether through specimens she’s pressed, books she’s passing on, or walks through the garden.  She’s really inspired me to study the art myself – albeit in a different direction than she ever imagined.  She would probably blame my genealogists grandfather, with all his talk of ancestors and Ireland, for my conversion to Druidism.

At this point in my life, I’m still very much a novice herbalist.  I’m just becoming comfortable growing some of the basic varieties and am starting to branch out into some unknown territory.  Over the past couple years I’ve experimented with making oils using extraction, salves using beeswax, smudge sticks, and herbal steams.  Tea, one of the first herbal skills I learned about, continues to be one of the main ways I work with the plant folk.  It took my old friend and kitchen witch Imagickat to teach me how to turn tea into a magical practice.  It’s a loving process of learning the medicinal and magical properties of the herbs, mixing them in pleasing ways, then utilizing them practically – often with prayer and intent.

I posted yesterday about my poor sick husband.  He’s very rarely sick, but when he is I get a chance to practice using my skills on another.  Today I made him some tea specifically for sore throats.

I used white pine needles for their many healing properties.  I added some sage which is known for fighting sore throats.  Finally, l used some dried lavender to help relax his headache.

I placed them in my great, great grandmother’s tea ball and put that in my favorite teapot.  I poured water over it, let it steep, and voila!  My sore throat tea.  The liquid will be a light green to clear depending on how many herbs you use.  The lavender gives it a subtle, spicy kick.  For further flavor and healing, I added a spoonful of local, raw honey and some lemon juice.

 

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My poor husband has come down with something. It’s unusual for him to get sick – especially this bad.  Generally he still feels up to playing video games or watching tv.  The last two days he’s opted to curl up on the couch and sleep.  As usual, we have a busy weekend coming up.  I wonder if our plans will have to change…

In the meantime, I’ve been doing my best to be a healer.  I made some herbal tea for him after work and included some white pine in the hopes that it will expedite the healing process.  Just now I made him a bowl of veggie broth.  That always makes my throat feel a bit better.  All the while, I’ve been praying to Brighid for healing and trying to send curative energy into his drinks.  

 

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Out on the Town

A local man, who happens to offer psychic services, suffered a debilitating injury in an accident.  As he is beloved by the community, several friends decided to help him with his medical bills and throw a weekend-long bash.  Last night they had a dinner and a local band performed.  Today, in honor of his talents, local healers, tarot readers, and shamans came together to throw a holistic fair.  They donated their services and the money they made to their rehabilitating compatriot.  I felt this was wonderful.  Many of the practitioners lowered their prices significantly to encourage people to try out something new and to insure that they would have some money to give to their friend.

There were numerous local practitioners there – some I had never met before.  Whispering Angel was present from Watertown.  She was doing cleansing foot baths and selling locally made runes.  We chatted briefly about them and how thrilled I was to see and learn about so many like-minded individuals in the community.  I had a ten minute chair massage which was absolutely divine.  I also had a chakra cleansing and reiki session with Lisa Smith of Magic Touch Healing and Energy Work.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had reiki done and this is the first time by a grand master.  The heat and energy coming from her was intense but very soothing.  She felt a lot of energy about my jaw where I had my teeth removed.  We also talked at length about my reproductive organs and having children in the future.  The most interesting thing to happen occurred when she was opening and cleansing my chakras.  As she passed over my third eye, it started to pulse.  That happens to me from time to time – usually just before entering a deep meditation or starting to trance.

I was interested in having my cards read by the shaman but she was busy and I decided to call it a day.  I went across the street to an antique store to browse.  I left with these lovely brass bowls which I plan to cleanse and use on my altar for offerings of incense.

From Altars

Tonight, I’m looking forward to an evening with some crafty gals at a cafe in Watertown.  I’ve been experiencing some heavy cramping and menstruation this week, so I could really use the feminine bonding.

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Tonight, a recipe perfect for wintery nights! It uses an ingredient native to my home in Upstate NY –  pinus strobus – The Eastern White Pine.  If you live around the North Eastern part of America, you’re probably very familiar with these trees.  They should be especially recognizable to anyone who has ever spent time in the Adirondack Mountains.  They’re very common there!  In fact, the word “Adirondack” is Iroquois for “bark eater” – a reference by the Mohawks of the Algonquins.  They would eat the nutritious inner bark during difficult winters.  The White Pine is also culturally important to the Iroquois as the Tree of Peace.

Cultural significance aside, this tree is packed with vitamin C.  Sources claim it has as much as five times the vitamin C in a lemon.  It is a great drink to boost your immune system and fight off a variety of ailments.  Thus not only is it fun to drink an evergreen tea during the Winter Solstice, it’s exactly the sort of thing to drink as “flu season” gets underway!

Just a couple notes of caution: You want to make certain you are harvesting white pine.  This site has some good photos and information about poisonous conifers to keep in mind. Get a tree field guide and research.  Really, if you’re on a Druidic path this should be something you’re doing a lot of anyway!  Second, many sources insist that pregnant or potentially pregnant women should not consume white pine as it has abortive qualities.  Other sources say the tea is fine, but let’s just play it safe, ok?

I harvested some well-known white pines from my parents’ back yard.  I’ve grown up with these trees.  My father transplanted them as wee saplings from a family camp.  Before cutting a small branch, I told the tree of my intent and asked for permission.  Anyone who works with trees should definitely get in the habit of doing this.  Also keep in mind that a gift calls for a gift  and make an offering.  When actually taking cuttings from trees, I’ve made a practice of offering bits of myself – usually hair but sometimes blood.  (You can give other offerings in addition or in substitution of these).

Wash your pine needles thoroughly before using in your tea.  Pine trees are a favorite haunt of many creatures including blue jays and squirrels, after all!  Begin to boil some water.  You have a couple different options here.  Many boil water in a pot or pan then add a handful of needles to steep for 10-20 minutes. You can also put several needles in a tea ball or muslin sachet and pour boiling water over it in a cup like I did.  You definitely do not want to swallow those pricky needles!

The tea will be very mild.  It has a slight but pleasant pine and citrusy flavor. You may sweeten it with honey or mix with other herbs.  There are many magical possibilities for this tea. Sing or chant healing words before serving to an ill loved one.  Meditate on its healing properties as you drink it.  Envision yourself staying healthy throughout the winter as the white pine stays green.

Although there is no Druidic lore (that I’m aware of) connected to pine, it is a native tree in the land I call home.  In my opinion, it is very important to learn the lore and science of traditionally Druidic trees as well as those in the land you live in.  Be mindful of the cultural significance of the tree to Native peoples, and try to connect to its spirit respectfully.

References:
Pines - Not Just For Breakfast Anymore
The Amazing All-Purpose Pine Needle Tea
Frequently Asked Questions About the Adirondack Region
Pinus strobus - Wikipedia

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I’m still healing from my recent oral surgery.  I feel as if I might have some temporary (I hope) nerve damage in half of my face.  The right side of my lips and chin are very numb.  I also can’t open my mouth very far.  I attempted to eat some more solid food today but that turned into a difficult affair due to the chewing.  I’ll stick with soups, yogurt, cottage cheese, and mashed fruits.  The solid food I tried to eat was a chocolate brownie my husband brought home for when I’m ready.  It was really tasty, but having not had anything too sweet and rich for several days, I’m wondering if my body wasn’t prepared.  My stomach feels a bit off again.  No puking, thank the Gods, but I’m not as comfortable as I was earlier.

Despite all that, I ventured out of the house for the first time today.  One reason was because I made my very first Etsy sale and wanted to get the tree spirit in the mail right away!  Hubby and I also wanted to go to the craft store.  I bought more felt for another tree spirit as well as some Samhain prints for a quilt.  I made a block today in what I hope will be a table runner/altar cloth.  It’s really colorful and features skulls, witches, and spiders.

 

Weretoad’s Pokeball and my Samhain themed quilt block.  From Arts and Crafts

On our way home, I stopped at a local farm to buy some herbs.  Last year I had quite the collection but, alas, they died …  When plants die, I always feel so guilty…    The chives, of course, survived, as did the parsley, rosemary, pineapple mint, and silver sage.  I’m very proud of my sage, actually, as I started it from seed.  Anyway, I picked up some new plants for my patio.  I hope I’m a better caretaker this time!

Mint  From August 18, 2011

First, I once more have mint.  I was very sad to lose this last summer.  I had tons of it around my parents’ home when I lived there and I miss it.  There’s nothing quite like fresh mint for tea.

Lemon balm  From August 18, 2011

I also grabbed some lemon balm.  This little guy smells amazing!  Also great for tea … and insect repellant.  Nice, huh?

Lavender and Italian Oregano  From August 18, 2011

Also purchased some lavender and Italian oregano.  The oregano is, of course, great for cooking.  I grabbed the lavender for magical purposes.  It has many uses, not just for inducing sleep and pleasant dreams.  According to Harold Roth of The Alchemist’s Garden (also a fellow Upstate NY Pagan), lavender can be used for aspurging, “sharpening vision,” and attracting the sidhe.  It’s also useful in love magic which is excellent since my sister is using some in her wedding.

With the addition of these new herbs, my garden is looking lovelier and more robust.  My neighbor recently complimented me on it, saying that she loves how alive my patio looks.  It makes me happy to know my neighbors aren’t bothered by the explosion of green.  There are so many stories of neighbors complaining about veggie gardens.  My neighbors are super cool.  🙂

From August 18, 2011

Growing pumpkin.

From August 18, 2011

My first year growing large tomatoes.  Or rather…my first successful year of it!   These are going to be amazing in sandwiches… They’re an heirloom variety called Brandywines which delights my husband and I, Lord of the Rings fans that we are.

From August 18, 2011

More developing eggplants!

From August 18, 2011

Finally, my two sunflowers, gifted by the birds, were wilting. This meant it was time to cut off their heads for drying in the hopes of harvesting seeds. They’re currently hanging in the art room with some other herbs I harvested around the full moon.  Thankful for their appearing in my garden at all, let alone doing so well, I gave an offering of thanks to the Nature Spirits immediately following harvest.

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