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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Meditation 101

 

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to think about a few ideas for setting up a special place for daily meditation sessions. Perhaps you have already taken the plunge, rolled up your shirt sleeves, and have immediately began clearing a space for your meditations.

Today’s lesson is about filling your sacred space with a few of your favorite things. In order to make your meditation place one of solace you will want to return means your comfort must come first. Few people enjoy meditation if they are forcing themselves to sit on a hard surface or are bent into an uncomfortable pretzel pose. Have a cozy blanket nearby to warm any chills, also a few soft pillows to cushion your physical body. Are you comfy yet? Time to turn your thoughts inward.

Using candles is a simple and inexpensive way to alter the ambiance of your meditation room/area. Replacing artificial lighting with candlelight will lower the intensity of energies that are not consistent with being intune with our spirits. Calming candlelight helps us go within and reflect more deeply on our lives.

Beginning and maintaining a daily meditation practice can be more pleasurable when we include some meditation devices and aids that are meant to help relax us and enhance our overall experience.

 

A Blemish Remover

1/4 cup water
1 tsp Epsom salts
4 drops Lavender essential oil

Bring water to boil and pour it over Epsom salts. When salts have
dissolved, add Lavender oil. Soak a small absorbent cloth in solution
and press this compress on any pimples. In a minute or two as cloth
starts to cool, place it in hot water again and reapply. Repeat this
several times.

from Herbs for Health and Healing
by Kathi Keville & Peter Korn

Olive Garden San Remo Dip Appetizer

Ingredients:
2  tablespoons  olive oil
2  tablespoons  flour
6  ounces  shrimp, canned, reserve liquid
6  ounces  crab meat, canned, reserve liquid
2  ounces  cream cheese, room temperature, cubed
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/8  teaspoon  garlic, crushed
1  teaspoon  prepared horseradish
1/3  cup  Asiago Cheese, grated
2  tablespoons  Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2  cup  half and half, up to 3/4 cup
1 1/2  cups  marinara sauce, Barilla, drained to remove excess
liquid
1/4  cup  Parmesan cheese, fresh, finely shredded for topping

Directions:
In a two quart sauce pan on medium low temperature, heat olive oil
and blend in flour. Add to flour liquids that were reserve from the
shrimp and crab, stir well. To sauce, add cubed cream cheese, salt,
crushed garlic, horseradish, and stir until smooth. Add Asiago and
Parmesan cheeses and stir until smooth. When the cheese have been
melted and sauce is smooth add shrimp and crab, blend well. Let
simmer until heated through. Finally add half and half a little at a
time until the seafood sauce starts to simmer and begins to resemble
warm pudding. Let sauce simmer for 12 – 15 minutes. Stir sauce so it
will not scorch on bottom. In a shallow baking dish 9″ diameter,
spray with non-stick spray and place drained marinara sauce and
carefully spoon seafood sauce on top. Sprinkle with freshly shredded
Parmesan cheese and place in a preheated oven at 325, for 10 – 15
minutes, until heated through. Dip should not brown on top. Serve
with bread.

This is a perfect appetizer for a party, you can make it ahead, and
heat it up when ready. This combines a rich cheese sauce, with
delicious seafood. Low-carb if eaten without bread.

Burdock

Botanical: Arctium lappa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
—Synonyms—Lappa. Fox’s Clote. Thorny Burr. Beggar’s Buttons. Cockle Buttons. Love Leaves. Philanthropium. Personata. Happy Major. Clot-Bur.
—Parts Used—Root, herb and seeds (fruits).
—Habitat—It grows freely throughout England (though rarely in Scotland) on waste ground and about old buildings, by roadsides and in fairly damp places.
The Burdock, the only British member of its genus, belongs to the Thistle group of the great order, Compositae.

——————————————————————————–
—Description—A stout handsome plant, with large, wavy leaves and round heads of purple flowers. It is enclosed in a globular involucre of long stiff scales with hooked tips, the scales being also often interwoven with a white, cottony substance.
The whole plant is a dull, pale green, the stem about 3 to 4 feet and branched, rising from a biennial root. The lower leaves are very large, on long, solid foot-stalks, furrowed above, frequently more than a foot long heart-shaped and of a grey colour on their under surfaces from the mass of fine down with which they are covered. The upper leaves are much smaller, more egg-shaped in form and not so densely clothed beneath with the grey down.

The plant varies considerably in appearance, and by some botanists various subspecies, or even separate species, have been described, the variations being according to the size of the flower-heads and of the whole plant, the abundance of the whitish cottonlike substance that is sometimes found on the involucres, or the absence of it, the length of the flower-stalks, etc.

The flower-heads are found expanded during the latter part of the summer and well into the autumn: all the florets are tubular, the stamens dark purple and the styles whitish. The plant owes its dissemination greatly to the little hooked prickles of its involucre, which adhere to everything with which they come in contact, and by attaching themselves to coats of animals are often carried to a distance.

‘They are Burs, I can tell you, they’ll stick where they are thrown,’

Shakespeare makes Pandarus say in Troilus and Cressida, and in King Lear we have another direct reference to this plant:
‘Crown’d with rank Fumiter and Furrow-weeds,
With Burdocks, Hemlocks, Nettles, Cuckoo-flowers.’
Also in As You Like It:
ROSALIND. How full of briers is this working-day world!
CELIA. They are but burs, cousin, thrown upon thee in holiday foolery. If we walk not in the trodden paths, our very petticoats will catch them.
The name of the genus, Arctium, is derived from the Greek arktos, a bear, in allusion to the roughness of the burs, lappa, the specific name, being derived from a word meaning ‘to seize.’
Another source derives the word lappa from the Celtic llap, a hand, on account of its prehensile properties.

The plant gets its name of ‘Dock’ from its large leaves; the ‘Bur’ is supposed to be a contraction of the French bourre, from the Latin burra, a lock of wool, such is often found entangled with it when sheep have passed by the growing plants.

An old English name for the Burdock was ‘Herrif,’ ‘Aireve,’ or ‘Airup,’ from the Anglo-Saxon hoeg, a hedge, and reafe, a robber – or from the Anglo-Saxon verb reafian, to seize. Culpepper gives as popular names in his time: Personata, Happy Major and Clot-Bur.

Though growing in its wild state hardly any animal except the ass will browse on this plant, the stalks, cut before the flower is open and stripped of their rind, form a delicate vegetable when boiled, similar in flavour to Asparagus, and also make a pleasant salad, eaten raw with oil and vinegar. Formerly they were sometimes candied with sugar, as Angelica is now. They are slightly laxative, but perfectly wholesome.

—Cultivation—As the Burdock grows freely in waste places and hedgerows, it can be collected in the wild state, and is seldom worth cultivating.

It will grow in almost any soil, but the roots are formed best in a light well-drained soil. The seeds germinate readily and may be sown directly in the field, either in autumn or early spring, in drills 18 inches to 3 feet apart, sowing 1 inch deep in autumn, but less in spring. The young plants when well up are thinned out to 6 inches apart in the row.

Yields at the rate of 1,500 to 2,000 lb. of dry roots per acre have been obtained from plantations of Burdock.

—Parts Used Medicinally—The dried root from plants of the first year’s growth forms the official drug, but the leaves and fruits (commonly, though erroneously, called seeds) are also used.

The roots are dug in July, and should be lifted with a beet-lifter or a deep-running plough. As a rule they are 12 inches or more in length and about 1 inch thick, sometimes, however, they extend 2 to 3 feet, making it necessary to dig by hand. They are fleshy, wrinkled, crowned with a tuft of whitish, soft, hairy leaf-stalks, grey-brown externally, whitish internally, with a somewhat thick bark, about a quarter of the diameter of the root, and soft wood tissues, with a radiate structure.

Burdock root has a sweetish and mucilaginous taste.

Burdock leaves, which are less used than the root, are collected in July. For drying, follow the drying of Coltsfoot leaves. They have a somewhat bitter taste.

The seeds (or fruits) are collected when ripe. They are brownish-grey, wrinkled, about 1/4 inch long and 1/16 inch in diameter. They are shaken out of the head and dried by spreading them out on paper in the sun.

—Constituents—Inulin, mucilage, sugar, a bitter, crystalline glucoside – Lappin-a little resin, fixed and volatile oils, and some tannic acid.

The roots contain starch, and the ashes of the plant, burnt when green, yield carbonate of potash abundantly, and also some nitre.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Alterative, diuretic and diaphoretic. One of the best blood purifiers. In all skin diseases, it is a certain remedy and has effected a cure in many cases of eczema, either taken alone or combined with other remedies, such as Yellow Dock and Sarsaparilla.

The root is principally employed, but the leaves and seeds are equally valuable. Both root and seeds may be taken as a decoction of 1 OZ. to 1 1/2 pint of water, boiled down to a pint, in doses of a wineglassful, three or four times a day.

The anti-scorbutic properties of the root make the decoction very useful for boils, scurvy and rheumatic affections, and by many it is considered superior to Sarsaparilla, on account of its mucilaginous, demulcent nature; it has in addition been recommended for external use as a wash for ulcers and scaly skin disorders.

An infusion of the leaves is useful to impart strength and tone to the stomach, for some forms of long-standing indigestion.

When applied externally as a poultice, the leaves are highly resolvent for tumours and gouty swellings, and relieve bruises and inflamed surfaces generally. The bruised leaves have been applied by the peasantry in many countries as cataplasms to the feet and as a remedy for hysterical disorders.

From the seeds, both a medicinal tincture and a fluid extract are prepared, of benefit in chronic skin diseases. Americans use the seeds only, considering them more efficacious and prompt in their action than the other parts of the plant. They are relaxant and demulcent, with a limited amount of tonic property. Their influence upon the skin is due largely to their being of such an oily nature: they affect both the sebaceous and sudoriferous glands, and probably owing to their oily nature restore that smoothness to the skin which is a sign of normal healthy action.

The infusion or decoction of the seeds is employed in dropsical complaints, more especially in cases where there is co-existing derangement of the nervous system, and is considered by many to be a specific for all affections of the kidneys, for which it may with advantage be taken several times a day, before meals.

—Preparations—Fluid extract, root, 1/2 to 2 drachms. Solid extract, 5 to 15 grains. Fluid extract, seed, 10 to 30 drops.

Culpepper gives the following uses for the Burdock:

‘The Burdock leaves are cooling and moderately drying, wherby good for old ulcers and sores…. The leaves applied to the places troubled with the shrinking in the sinews or arteries give much ease: a juice of the leaves or rather the roots themselves given to drink with old wine, doth wonderfully help the biting of any serpents- the root beaten with a little salt and laid on the place suddenly easeth the pain thereof, and helpeth those that are bit by a mad dog:… the seed being drunk in wine 40 days together doth wonderfully help the sciatica: the leaves bruised with the white of an egg and applied to any place burnt with fire, taketh out the fire, gives sudden ease and heals it up afterwards…. The root may be preserved with sugar for consumption, stone and the lax. The seed is much commended to break the stone, and is often used with other seeds and things for that purpose.’
It was regarded as a valuable remedy for stone in the Middle Ages, and called Bardona. As a rule, the recipes for stone contained some seeds or ‘fruits’ of a ‘stony’ character, as gromel seed, ivy berries, and nearly always saxifrage, i.e. ‘stone-breaker.’ Even date-stones had to be pounded and taken; the idea being that what is naturally ‘stony’ would cure it; that ‘like cures like’ (Henslow).

Saoquing Niang

Saoquing Niang
 
Themes: Weather, harvest, hope
Symbols: Rain, clouds, stars (or light), brooms
 
About Saoquing Niang: Known as the Broom Lady in the Far East,
Saoquing Niang lives among the stars, sweeping away or bringing rain
clouds, depending on the land’s needs. From a spiritual perspective,
Saoquing Niang’s moisture fills us with refreshing hope when our soul is
thirsty.
 
To Do Today: A traditional rain ceremony in Laos, this festival is
very ancient and ensures a good harvest. It includes all manner of
festivities, such as fireworks that carry people’s prayers into the
sky.  In keeping with this, if sparklers are legal in your area, light
one or two and scribe your wishes with light for Saoquing Niang to see.
 
For weather magick, tradition says that if you need Saoquing Niang’s
literal or figurative rains, simply hang a piece of paper near your home
with her name written on it ( ideally in blue pen, crayon, or marker
). Take this paper down to banish a tempest or an emotional storm.
 
To draw Saoquing Niang’s hope into your life, take a broom and sweep
your living space from the outside in toward the center. You don’t
actually have to gather up dirt ( although symbolically getting rid of
“dirt” can improve your outlook ). If you like, sing “Rain, rain, go
away” as you go.  Keep the broom in a special place afterward to
represent the goddess.

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

Goddess Meditation

Oh, I love Mother, I love her power,
I know it helps in every trying hour.
Help me to shake off, help me to break off,
Help me to shake off every bond and fear.
~ American Shaker Song
 
In nineteenth-century America, a new religion arose called the Shakers.
Its founder was a woman of great spirit, Mother Ann Lee. Her followers
lived in communal groups, worshiping the divine through dance and song,
and celebrating the great power of simple life. It is a gift to be
simple, they sang, a gift to be free. And, singing, they created that
simply abundant life.
 
Today many yearn for such simplicity, but often forget to recognize the
deep feminine – and feminist – power Mother Ann wielded. Judged a
heretic by some, a crazy woman by others, she followed the calling of
her heart and created her own religion. There was nothing simple about
the actions of the Shakers’ founder. It was her profound belief that we
are, as children of the divine, unable ultimately to do anything but
what is good. “By turning, turning, we come round right,” her Shaker
children sang. As we turn through today, let us pray that Mother Ann’s
sure and generous vision can come true.

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

An Aztec Prayer

“Totonal ye omotlatitzino, Totonal ye omixpoliuitzino, iuan zentlayouayan
tech pelikan.
Mach tikmati okzepa mo maluikaz, okzepa mo kizaltiz, iuan yankuikan tech
tlauilikiuh.”

The sun has dissapeared, the sun has been hidden from us, and left us in
total darkness.
But we have the certainty that once again it will rise, once again it will
come to shine for us all.

Invigorating Bath 2

3 drops Bergamot oil
3 drops Petitgrain oil
2 drops Lemon oil
This bath is helpful for Winter blues.

How to Harvest and dry your leaves and flowers for crafts

There are lots of ways to dry botanicals for craft use. Let’s look at harvesting them first. The best time to harvest these materials is a in the dry weather. Humidity plays a big factor in your drying time, high humidity can double your drying time and also increase the chance of developing mold and mildew.

When choosing blossoms, pick those that have not yet reached their full bloom. This helps to ensure that fewer of your petals will drop off when dried. Choose foliage that have good color. Flowers that have an intense color retain their colors better than ones with pastel shades.

Keep the plant material that breaks or doesn’t dry as perfect as you wanted for potpourri or even papermaking.

To Air Dry, simply strip of the lower leaves. Gather the stalks into a loose bundle with the flower heads at different levels to help with air circulation.  Tie the base with string or raffia. Hang them with the heads down. The best place is out direct light with good air circulation available. Attics are usually very good for this. I don’t have an attic but we have an area that has a high ceiling and we’ve installed a wooden type rack that runs the length of this area with different hooks here and there to hang items. Drying make take anywhere from several days to weeks. Remember to check your bundles as needed and tighten the ties as the plant materials shrink.

Oven Drying is also a great way to dry leaves, grasses and flowers. Simply spread them on cookie sheets covered with paper towels and put into an oven set with the low temp of 125-150 degrees Fahrenheit. My oven’s lowest setting is 170 so I always make sure I leave the door ajar to encourage air circulation. The easiest way I found to do this is too use a small round magnet that is about 1/2 inch depth to keep the door ajar.

Now the next step is vital to getting leaves to lay flat. Lay  a piece of wire screen over it prevent curling of the leaves. The weight of the screen is all that is needed.

The tricky part of this is timing of different items. The more fragile leaves should dry quickly in about 5-10 minutes. The thicker flower heads and thicker leaves may take longer so you’ll need to watch them.  You want them to be crisp and dry.

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