July 2008
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Monthly Archives: July 2008


Botanical: Alstonia scholaris (R. BR.)
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae
—Synonyms—Echites scholaris (Linn.). Dita Bark. Bitter Bark. Devil Tree. Pale Mara.
—Part Used—The bark.
—Habitat—India and the Philippines.

—Description—The tree grows from 50 to 80 feet high, has a furrowed trunk, oblong stalked leaves up to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide, dispersed in four to six whorls round the stem, their upper side glossy, under side white, nerves running at right angles to the mid-rib. The bark is almost odourless and very bitter, in commerce it is found in irregular fragments 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick, texture spongy, fracture coarse and short, outside layer rough uneven fissured brownish grey and sometimes blackish spots; inside layer bright buff, transverse section shows a number of small medullary rays in inner layer.
—Constituents—It contains three alkaloids, Ditamine, Echitamine or Ditaine, and Echitenines, and several fatty and resinous substances- the second is the strongest base and resembles ammonia in chemical characters.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—The bark is used in homoeopathy for its tonic bitter and astringent properties; it is particularly useful for chronic diarrhoea and dysentry.

—Preparations and Dosages—Infusion of Alstonia, 5 parts to 100 parts water. Dose, 1 fluid ounce. Powdered bark, 2 to 4 grains.

In India the natives use the bark for bowel complaints. In Ceylon its light wood is used for coffins. In Borneo the wood close to the root of the same species is very light and of white colour and is used for net floats, household utensils, trenchers, corks, etc.

—Other Species—A bark called Poele is obtained from Alstonia spectabilis, habitat Java; it contains the same alkaloids as dita and an additional crystalline, Alstonamine.


Themes: Prosperity, abundance & love
Symbol: Blue

About Erzulie: This Haitian Love Goddess extends her beneficent
springlike energy whenever we need it, especially when our pockets or
hearts are empty. When life gets out of kilter, petitioning Erzulie
sets everything back on track, slowly but surely. Blue is Erzulie’s
sacred colour, and she’s sometimes called “the loving one.”

To Do Today: Use peppercorns somehow, of course! This festival began
in 1816 when the mayor of Bermuda was given use of the state house for
the annual rent of one peppercorn. This rent must be delivered
annually, and with all due pageantry, to preserve the island’s
prosperity beneath Erzulie’s watchful gaze. For us this might
translate into eating a peppercorn dressing on a green salad ( lettuce
represents money ) to internalize financial abundance, or keeping a
peppercorn in your wallet to safeguard your money and its flow.

Definitely wear blue today to catch Erzulie’s attention, and add blue
foods to your diet–blueberries, blue juice drink, or even blue coloured
water. You can also encourage Erzulie’s blessing through selfless
actions. Give a friend a hug, pamper your pets, take the kids out for
some quality time, and remember to kiss your partner goodbye in the
morning. You’ll feel better and find your heart naturally filling
with Erzulie’s love.

from 365 Goddess – A Daily Guide of the Magick and Inspiration of the
by Patricia Telesco

Goddess Affirmations

Goddess, we know you by so many names:
Ceres, Mother of the Harvest, you who in the joy
of finding your lost daughter gave a new diet
to our forebears, no longer acorns to eat but
nourishing bread raised in fertile soil; and Venus,
inventor of that clever way of luring us to procreation;
and Artemis, the physician who eases women’s birthing pains;
and Proserpine to whom the owl cries in the night.
We have many names for all of you, and all
are your true names. We have many rituals
for you, and all are your true rituals.
There is no end to you, Goddess, heaven’s queen.
~ Apuleius, The Golden Ass

On this day in ancient Rome, a ritual was celebrated to beg protection
for the sprouting grain. Subject at this stage in its growth to mildew
and other diseases that could devastate the crop, the grain was
vulnerable – and so were the people who depended on it. Propitiatory
sacrifices and prayers that the Goddess protect her children were part
of this festival, called the Robigalia. The Goddess, who could turn a
deaf ear to her children’s cries had to be encouraged to show her more
beneficent side.

There is no one way to honour the feminine, just as there is no one name
that defines all aspects of the Goddess. Over and over, ancient writers
remind us of her multiplicity – the many names under which people have
invoked her, the many images they have had of her, the innumerable
stories they have told of her. None is more or less true than another.
Finding her means being aware, in every moment, of her varying and
dynamic powers.

from The Goddess Companion – Daily Affirmations on the Feminine Spirit
by Patricia Monaghan

Dynamic Equanimity

How difficult it is to sit still with calm mind. We practice calming the
mind while sitting, because the stillness of body reduces distractions
of the mind. If you wanted to practice drawing a straight line or a
perfect circle, you would not do it on a bus. You would find a stable
surface to draw upon. So we meditate while sitting, because it gives us
a stable body in which to center the mind.

Life is not just sitting. We have to get up and move about also.
Ideally, we carry with us the clarity, calm and balance from meditation
as we work and play. Our friend Richard describes what he calls dynamic
equanimity as “keeping one’s calm center while in rapid motion,
including in the midst of chaos and complexity.” Equanimity is a state
of being balanced, and undisturbed by events. Dynamic equanimity is a
skill one can develop to remain calm, centered and relaxed while being
highly active.

Martial artists learn this skill. Typically, sitting meditation is part
of the practice, but progress is made when the student learns to move
and react with a calm mind. In sparring, there is no time for the
observing mind to tell the body to block an attack. The body and mind
must be one. The response must be unified thought and movement.

It is the same in dancing and sports. When one is in a state of dynamic
equanimity a flow happens. Basketball players talk about being in the
zone. The ball moves as it should, and the player’s emotions, while not
precisely calm, are in harmony with the play. Artists paint or sculpt
for hours and time passes with little awareness of it. Something is
created while the ego is out to lunch.

What is absent in these states is interference from clinging and fearful
thoughts and the emotions that go with them. When we know our skill and
we get our fears and cravings out of the way, we have the potential to
act effectively and effortlessly. As we act with clear intention and
undisturbed mind we move into a frictionless state. The roughness and
resistance of emotional conflict no longer impede us. Rather than losing
energy we may be recharged by the experience.
So how to attain this ability to be in dynamic activity while
maintaining balance and composure?

Here are a few suggestions:
Start with a calm mind. Find out what that is and practice attaining it
through meditation.

Practice a physical skill until your body responds effortlessly. Martial
arts, dance, other arts, crafts or sports can give you a structure for
your practice. As you work on your skill, endeavor to bring your calm
mind with you. As you move, seek balance and fluidity.

Practice mindfulness in all that you do. Bring full awareness to the
little things you do. As you prepare food, be in the moment, attentive
to what you are doing. As you eat the food, attend to the eating. Smell
it, taste it, feel yourself chewing and swallowing. Bring yourself to
the activity wholeheartedly no matter how trivial it is.

As you go through your day and events unfold unexpectedly, practice
acceptance of what is, and limit the amount of energy you give to
complaining and worrying about things you can’t change.

Relax as you go. Remind yourself to breathe more deeply and calmly. Your
awareness of tension or negative emotions is a good trigger for the
intention to breathe and remind yourself to relax. If the people around
you are swept up in their emotion, that is their business, you can be
the calm in the eye of the storm.

Thanks to Richard Powers for his thoughts on this topic

All Purpose Anointing Oils

*These may be used alone or with other oils for just about any

French Toast with Soft Caramel Apples

Yield: 4 servings    
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch ground cinnamon
Caramel Apples:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large croissants, halved lengthwise
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Ground cinnamon, for dusting

Make the batter for the French toast by whisking together the eggs,
milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until evenly blended. Cover and
refrigerate. Pay close attention while you make the caramel apples –
put the sugar in a large dry skillet and place it over medium-low
heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and
begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Be careful; the sugar is
really hot at this point. Still stirring, add the butter, which will
foam a little. Once the sugar and butter become a caramel sauce, fold
in the apple wedges. Now, because the apples are cooler than the
sugar, the sugar may start to seize and harden, but don’t freak out —
keep stirring, once the apples warm up the caramel will smooth out
again. When the caramel sauce starts to form around the apples, pour
in the maple syrup. Give it a stir and simmer for about 10 minutes
until the apples are fork tender. Pull them off the heat and keep
warm until you are ready to serve.

For the French toast itself, warm the butter in a large non-stick
skillet over medium-low heat. You probably will only be able to fit a
couple of croissants in the pan at once, so prepare these in batches.
Take a croissant half and quickly dredge it in the batter. The key
word here is quickly; the croissants are very soft and will
disintegrate if soaked in the batter. Lay the croissants in the pan,
cut-side down, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip them over
with a spatula and brown the other side.

The presentation is like a caramel apple sandwich – take the bottom
half of the croissant and put it on a plate, spoon some of the
caramel apples on top of that, and cover with the top 1/2 of the
croissant. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve.

Citrus Cooler Lotion

4 T. glycerin
40 drops oil of orange
4 T. lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a clean glass bottle. Shake well and refrigerate.

Making Smudge Sticks!

Making Smudge Sticks!
by: Rhia

Making your own smudge sticks can be fun, interesting and a learning filled experience and there are several methods to choose from. They can be made of many different herbs in addition to the traditional sage or sage and cedar. In fact, some of the most common herbs yield the best fragrances. Herbs such as juniper, mesquite, lavender, sweet grass and tansy can make beautifully aromatic smudges. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to suit your needs. Mugwort while one of the most versatile herbs, magickally speaking, can also make a fine smudge on it’s own.

To begin making your own smudge sticks, gather the following:

1.) Fresh stalks of herbs approximately 8-12 inches long <You really need to pick the main portion of your smudge from live plants asit’s very unusual to find the length needed from shops and dried will flare too easily, however, you can combine fresh and dried. Ideally you should harvest your herbs during a waxing moon using your boline. Don’t forget to properly give thanks and leave an offering, such as tobacco.

2.) String or twine. <I don’t suggest embroidery floss because it doesn’t always burn well.
Definitely NO synthetics>.

3.) Sushi mat, piece of newspaper or soft piece of leather about
12in. x 18 in. with which to roll.

To Start:

– Gather your stalks of herbs together. If using a combination of fresh and dried, place the fresh herbs on the outside of your bundle and the dried inside.

– Select the number of branches you wish and squeeze them together a little to estimate the size of the finished stick.

– Take a length of string and measure about two and a half times the length of the branches.

– Holding the bunch of branches so that the ends of the branches are facing upward and the tips downward, wrap the string around the base of the branches tightly to hold them together.

– Fold the tips over to meets the ends.

– Begin, in a downward motion, to wrap around the branches. Keep your string tight but not too tight, just be firm.

– When you get to the end, reverse direction and start wrapping back toward the tips, it should look like a zigzag pattern.

– When you get back to the end, wrap the string around again then tie the two ends together. Tuck in any stray pieces as you go along.

– Take your wrapped branches and place them about a quarter way up your mat or piece of newspaper folding the short end of the mat up and over your bundle.

– In an upward motion, roll the mat over the stick so that inside the bundle is rolling. You don’t have to roll the bundle hard, just firmly and keep an even pressure. If your sticks are rolled too tightly they won’t dry properly or evenly and will be hard to burn. Too loosely, and it will fall apart when dry.

– When you run out of mat take your bundle, use the remaining string, and tighten it around your bundle. Your stick is now ready to be hung and dried. Trim the ends to neaten them up the flatter ends usually light better so I always trim those neatly>.

– Place them on a screen or flat basket to dry <it can take up to two weeks to dry thoroughly
depending on how tightly they are wrapped and moisture or humidity>. I prefer to hang them in a dimly lit and dry place <basement or attic>. If it’s a bit dusty where you’re drying, take a brown paper lunch bag and punch holes in it then hang it over your bundles as they dry.

Herbs You Can Use For Smudge Sticks and Properties:

– Sagebrush: Though confusing, the `sage’ most commonly used
in smudge sticks is not culinary sage but `sagebrush’. Its uses
are purification, aid in transforming energy and bring change, exorcism.

– Sage <Salvia officinalis>: Calming, brings wisdom, healing,
protection, grounding, banish negativity, purifying self and

– Cedar: Healing, protection, purification, aid in drawing positive energy to a space or self, prosperity, money matters.

– Lavender: Protection, purification, restores balance, creates a peaceful atmosphere, wisdom, cleansing, happiness, harmony, grounding, cleansing, attract loving energies and spirits, fidelity, friendship.

– Mugwort: Healing, protection, aids psychic awareness, prophetic dreams, banish negativity/evil spirits, consecrating sacred space/self/objects, spiritual cleansing, divination.

– Mesquite: Healing, health.

– Tansy: Health, longevity.

– Juniper: Protection, purification, cleansing, health, aid in
creating sacred space, anti-theft, love.

– Rosemary: Healing, protection, purification, sleep, aid in bringing clarity to problems.

– Sweet Grass <often found braided>: Cleansing, protection, healing.

– Yarrow: Courage, increase psychic power, love, exorcism.

– Yerba Santa: Purification, protection, healing, set and protects boundaries.

How and Why to Smudge:

Smudging is an ancient tradition that finds its roots in many
indigenous cultures around the world. There are many ways and
variations on how to do this. The one commonality is that the smoke from the herbs used can aid in protection, purification and spiritual preparation. We can also smudge as a way to clear and ground our intentions and selves before a ritual, initiation or healing. We can also smudge to clear and cleanse a room and create a sacred space. Smudging can also be done to give thanks and aid us in our prayers and meditations. As with all things, trust your own inner judgment and feelings.

There are many different ways to smudge. One way is to start by
drawing on the power of the elements by burning your smudge in an abalone shell. The shell
represents the element Water and the flowing and filling power it affords us. The herb itself
represents the element of Earth and her gift of strength as well as creativity to us. By lighting the herb we bring the element of Fire and the resulting smoke that represents the element of Air, which carries and releases our cleared intentions. By our deliberate actions, we bring the fifth element of our life’s spirit or energy.

Next we can offer the smoke to the seven directions, being East,
South, West, North, Up, Down and Center. By returning to the Center we are now ready to purify ourselves. You begin by holding the abalone shell in front of you while gently fanning the smoke up toward your heart. Next, pass the shell up along the center of your body then encircling your head. Pay attention to how you feel during this process; is there an area you feel the need to clear? An area you would like to pay particular honor to? It’s important to follow your inner guidance and awareness.

To cleanse and clear tools or crystals, pass them through the smoke in a spiral or figure eight motion. Both of these movements are sacred and symbolic. The figure eight, on its side, represents infinity. A spiral motion represents the focusing and expanding energy. To cleanse and create a sacred space, pass the smoke around the room moving Deosil <Sunwise>; East, South, West and North.

Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them; may they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you be in the gentle nest of belonging with your ANAM CARA.
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