Category Archives: Summer

The Wheel Turns to Mabon 2014…………

applesMerry Meet my friends.  Can you believe it? September has arrived! I am so glad!!  We are going through a really hot and humid spell here as I know many of you are as well.  Summers last hurrah I think.  We are very quickly going into my favorite half of the year. I feel a quickness in my step, my energy level is shifting and my mind has turned to cleaning, cleansing and decorating the house, cleaning up the flower beds, harvesting the last of my herbs and veggies, and getting ready to celebrate Mabon.  The 2nd harvest festival!

 

“Mist blankets the morning garden and the empty fields; a last rose blooms slowly over the arbor by the backyard gate.  Paintbox leaves fall to the ground under galoshes and the wheels of slicker-yellow school buses.  Sweaters come out of cedar chests, soup pots simmer, and wild geese make their mercurial journey southward across the pale autumn sky.”

-from Simple Wicca by Michelle Morgan

  Mabon which is on September 23rd this year, marks the Autumn Equinox, the balance of night and day and the first day of Autumn.  It is a time for thanksgiving, and rest.  Our ancestors at this point were busy filling the larders with preserved fruits and vegetables, smoked meats, aged cheeses, flour, wheat, cider and wine etc.  The thanksgiving was for the bounty the Summer crops had given them (hopefully) and the “rest” was much deserved.  Great feasts were held with an abundant table of food and drink, dancing and enjoying the last warm days of the year.

 For us, it’s also a time to be thankful for our own little garden’s bounty, for what the farmers have grown and harvested for our grocery shelves or farmer’s market, and to know that all the hard work in our gardens is about done for the year.  Putting the garden beds to “bed” for the Winter, depending on where you live, may still be yet to come.

Mabon also means the Goddess is passing from Mother to Crone and the God is preparing for death and re-birth. The trees are starting to change into their Fall tapestry of colors, the nights are colder and longer, the Sun casts long shadows, woodfires are lit, blankets are aired out and thrown on beds and sofas, the oven has something made with apples and cinnamon baking, and the stove top has spiced cider and hot soup simmering.  Sweaters, picking apples, carving pumpkins, hot drinks, warm bread with preserved jams, critters gathering and nesting, birds flocking and filling their bellies, hay rides, corn mazes, nature walks, the Harvest Moon…everything you can think of that is most wonderful about Autumn is upon us!

autumn sunset

My celebration of Mabon is always a thanksgiving ritual, a feast with family and friends, an outdoor fire if weather permits, an offering for Mother Earth and the Fae for all their hard work, and reflection on my year that is ending at Samhain. It’s also about letting go and renewing, re-assessing, and thinking about how I’d like to spend the more quiet months to come in Winter.  And baking..did I say baking?  What is it about this time of year that makes me want to bake?  Breads, pies, cakes, cookies…..things made with spices, apples, pumpkin…..it doesn’t matter, I just want to bake! 🙂  How about you?  My Circle will gather as well for our celebration too. I’m thinking a soup and bread feast sounds wonderful!

I will be back soon with some recipes to share with you! Remember too that you can go to the Search box to the right here and type in Mabon for the past 4 years of recipes, rituals, information etc!  In the meantime, I’d love to hear how YOU celebrate Mabon!  Have a wonderful week!

Blesssings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Autumn, Family, Friends, Gardens, God, Goddess, Holiday, Mabon, Mother Earth, My Writing, Nature, Quote, Ritual, Samhain, Seasons, Spice, Summer, Winter

I <3 Herbs……Chamomile

Merry Meet my friends!  It’s hard to believe but our Summer has been amazingly mild here.  As a matter of fact, it has been so cool at night that leaves are turning and even falling on some trees already!  Birds and critters like squirrels and chipmunks have changed their patterns, my gardens are looking more like early fall then late summer, and we’ve had the house opened up for days instead of running the AC.  All of which I love! Even my herbs have slowed down their growth, gone to seed etc.  *Post…..I wrote this a few days ago…it is now HOT and Humid and 90’s all week! 🙂  Gotta love Ohio 🙂

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Speaking of herbs, for the Sunday Stew this week, I wrote about the herb Chamomile. A really wonderful herb in so many ways.  To read the Stew just click on the Cauldron on the right side of the page here.  As per usual, part of my post is there and the entire post is here.  At the end of this post here, you’ll find a link to again print out the info, if you wish, for your BOS or herb book.

 

Chamomile

I have hesitated a bit to write about Chamomile. I know several people who can’t drink the tea or even use external products with chamomile due to allergic reactions. So I’m going to start off by saying this: If you are allergic to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, or mums…you may not be able to ingest chamomile. You also may not be able to use it externally. So use great caution if you’ve never tried chamomile before ok? Allergic reactions can be a mild dermatitis or a full blown anaphylactic reaction. Now let me say this too, I have seasonal allergies due to ragweed and mold, but I have no trouble with chamomile. So again, be careful when and if you try it! Ok…warning done..so let me go on about all the wonderful things about chamomile for those of us who can enjoy this herb!

 

Alternative Names:

Matricaria recutita , Pinheads, Scented Mayweed, Sweet false chamomile, Whig Plant, Ground Apple, and Earth Apple

 

Growing and Cultivating

There are two types of chamomile…Roman and German. The German is used most often in the USA but if you buy chamomile essential oil it will most likely be Roman. Both varieties have the same effects medicinally and magically of course.

German Chamomile is an annual plant that will grow up to 2 1/2 feet high. The leaves are fern-like and the flowers look like small daisies..white flowers with yellow centers about an inch across. Roman Chamomile is a perennial plant that is wide spreading and only grows less than a foot tall. The leaves are slightly different and it has the same flowers. Roman Chamomile is often used as a ground cover. It can tolerate even being walked on!

These plants belong to the sunflower family Asteraceae . The flower heads are the primary plant parts used in herbal medicine. Commonly found all over Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America and Australia. You can find chamomile in the wild…. near road sides, around landfills and in cultivated areas as a weed.

Chamomile requires Full Sun, and doesn’t tolerate really dry or HOT conditions. It can be planted from seed, cuttings and, of course, seedlings or small plants. Chamomile is self-seeding so even if you plant the annual version, it may come back. You can harvest the flower heads (the parts used for medicinal purposes) about 6-8 weeks after planting. Harvest them in the morning and when the flowers look fresh and healthy. The flower heads can be used fresh or dried for teas and other herbal preparations. You can dry the flower heads in a basket or on a screen best.

 

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Medicinal Uses of Chamomile

 Chamomile has a wonderful taste of apples that most people find appealing. The scent of chamomile is sweet and apple-y is well. Chamomile has many properties. It is used for:

– Anxiety and stress

-For calm and sleep aid

-To help heal burns

-Anti-inflammatory

-Anti-virus

-Analgesic

-Safe for children who have stomach aches or are teething or for trouble sleeping

-For any stomach ailments such as sick stomach, ulcers, cramps or diarrhea/constipation

-Dental/oral care

-Depression

-Soothes skin ailments such as eczema, reddened skin, rashes and sunburn

-Hemorrhoids

-As a hair rinse for light colored hair

-Bath products

-healing balms

 

A cup of chamomile tea before bed is a must for many people I know..it just calms and comforts and helps you feel drowsy. But you can use it for so many things as you can see above. Put a cup of brewed tea in your bath to calm and soothe your skin and to let the scent calm your anxiety or stress. A bath in it will also help with hemorrhoids. Make a hair rinse using flowers brewed in water or apple cider vinegar. Make a poultice for cuts, rashes or sunburned skin. Make a cool compress to ease eye puffiness. Make a good healing balm or oil for muscle aches, swollen joints or a burn. Rinse your mouth with warm chamomile water or tea for sore gums. You can apply a drop of chamomile oil straight on an abscess in your mouth. A cup of chamomile tea with ginger added will aid nausea too. Just some of the ways you can use it!

 

Children can use chamomile too in small amounts as a tea. You can also buy chewable chamomile tabs to help them to fall asleep or ease teething and sore mouth. Works to soothe a child who is anxious or stressed as well.  My grandkids have used it with success.

 

Aromatherapy

Chamomile essential oil blends well with cedarwood, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, lavender, rose, marjoram, neroli, orange, rosewood and ylang ylang essential oils. It works wonderfully in a simmering potpourri and in bath salts. If you are sensitive to chamomile..you may still be able to use the essential oil if it’s diluted well with a base oil etc. But again, try it on a small area before bathing in it or slathering it on your skin.

 

Magical Uses

 ELEMENT: Water

GENDER: Masculine

PLANET: Sun or Venus

Chamomile can be used in Magic for

-Power or Energy

-Peace and Calm

-Healing

-Money

-Midsummer

-Sleep

-Love

-Purification

-Protection

-Divination

 

-Plant chamomile in your garden for protection

-Place chamomile in a mojo bag before doing something stressful such as taking a test or a doctor appt

-Take a chamomile bath to soothe and calm or to bring love and romance to your night

-Simmer chamomile on your stovetop with lavender to bring Peace to your home

-Drink chamomile tea or place some on your altar before practicing any divination

-Use it as an incense to smudge your house for purification and protection

-Use in a sleep pillow to aid sleep

-Place a few flowers in cool water to wash your face when you’re upset or stressed

-It is said that you can wash your hands in it before playing a game of cards or gambling to bring money to you

-Use with spells to draw money, to divine, to rid of negativity or to protect

– Sprinkle the dried flowers around your property to protect from spells or curses.

Anoint your healing candles with chamomile essential oil

 

I’m sure that you can come up with many ways to use chamomile in your daily Craft. Also, though I say that this is some of the magical uses for Chamomile….and for that matter with any herb I’ve talked about. The herbs may mean something completely different to you. That’s fine….use it for that purpose!!

 

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
William Ewart Gladstone

 

Chamomile is a very important herb in any Witch’s arsenal of supplies. Put it on your list of must have or at least must try!

You can print out this information for your BOS or herb book here:  Chamomile2

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Autumn, Flowers, Gardens, Herbs, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Protection, Quote, Seasons, Summer

Happy Sun Day!…………..

sunflowersGreetings my friends!  I’m hoping this writing finds you all doing well.  How is your weather?  Are you experiencing cooler weather?  Here in Ohio as I’ve said before, we are having an extremely nice Summer.  Hot days have been rare, and we’ve had many days that were Fall-like in temps and feel.  This last week has been wonderful with 70’s during the day and as low as 50’s as night.  This has brought on many changes already.

Along with the shorter days/longer nights we have leaves already changing on the trees and  bushes, some trees like dogwood and crabapple have their berries,  the birds, squirrels and chipmunks are preparing for cold weather already, the gardens have lost some of their flowering beauty and my husband is mowing a bit less now. The Sun casts longer shadows in the morning, A/C is turned off and there seems to be a constant soft breeze.  We could use more rain here but had some yesterday so that was great!  Part of being a Witch, is feeling the changes in the Seasons.  Feeling the Wheel turning.  Many of us I know, have felt the change happening since before Lughnasadh, and no wonder! as it seems to be coming so much faster this year!

“Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,
    Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;
Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
    Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.”
–  Michelle L. Thieme, August’s Crown

I’ve been really busy with writing for both The Sunday Stew and Samhain’s Sirens. I’m studying a book with a book club, working on my herbalist certification when I have time, keeping up with my herbal shoppe and of course all the things you all do too.  Family, friends, house, grocery, cooking, my Circle gatherings, reading, etc etc.  A busy Witch am I!  I have to admit that I’m feeling about done with working in my gardens etc.  I’m ready to just enjoy the coming Autumn season.  I’ve been burning my favorite scents of apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and such already! 🙂  I’ve also been in the mood to bake and cook!  How about you?  There is just something about this time of year I want hot comfort foods, sweet baked goods,  homemade breads and good things from the last harvests of the gardens.

Last week I made my amazing Red Hot Chex Mix and can’t remember if I posted the recipe here…so I’m going to share it with you now!   Quick and easy, hot and spicy…you’ll love it!!  It gets inhaled around here! This is NOT the one on the back of the chex cereal boxes!

 

chex mix

 

Autumn’s Red Hot Snack Mix

*This is one of those recipes that I honestly have no measurements.  But it’s easy to make so I’m passing it on!

*Preheat oven to 250*

In a large roasting pan (I buy one of those aluminum throw away ones..so easy and no clean up!) place a stick of butter or margarine and put it in the oven to melt while the oven’s heating up.

When butter is melted, add to pan any of the following to fill the pan full…not so full you can’t stir it up but full!

1 box wheat chex
1 box corn chex
1 box rice chex
1 box cheese crackers
1-2 cans or jars of peanuts

*Now…this is up to each of you to do as you please.  You can do different cereals (not sweet ones) like Cheerios or any other corn, wheat or rice cereal.  You can use other things besides the crackers or other kinds of cheese crackers like goldfish, or you can use bugles, pretzels, corn chips, sun chips, sesame sticks, melba rounds etc etc….it’s endless.  I use cocktail peanuts or dry roasted peanuts…you can again use as you want.  But fill up the pan!!

Now give it all a good mix to coat with the butter.

Now add these seasonings…heavy handed!!

Worcestershire sauce
Red Hot Sauce
Lowry’s seasoning salt
garlic powder.

You can’t really do too much of this LOL.  The more the better!

Now don’t stir it….pop it in the oven for 20 mins.

Remove from oven, give it a stir, add seasonings again…yep…again….and put back in oven.

Do this 4 times!  The last time I may or may not add anymore of any of the seasonings.  If it’s looking well coated it’s done except for oven time.  If it still looks like it could use more..go for it!

After 4 x 20 mins of baking…dump the pan out onto a brown paper bag to cool.

This will make 2 gallon sized bags full!!

 

There is enough to share with someone or a couple someones so DO!  I’ll be back soon with info about another herb and soon….Mabon!  Hope you all are having a Magickal Sun day!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

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Filed under Autumn, Flowers, Friends, Gardens, Herbs, Lammas/Lughnassadh, Mabon, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Quote, Recipe from my Kitchen, Seasons, Spice, Summer

The Wheel Turns to Lughnasadh/Lammas 2014……

Merry Meet my friends!  How are you all this fine day?  How has your Summer been so far? My Summer has been wonderful really.  We have had numerous days that stayed in the 70’s giving us a reprieve from the normal HOT and Humid days of July. We’ve had a good amount of rain, so lawns are still green and growing like crazy.  I’ve done two harvest on my herbs already and they are growing strong still…heading to a 3rd harvest.  Our garden beds and veggies have loved the rain and the cooler nights too so our flowers are still budding and blooming.  The SuperMoon was pretty amazing too…such energy!!

 

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Now…can you believe it…we are just 11 days from Lughnasadh/Lammas! The first Harvest festival!  Have you noticed that the wheel is turning to Fall?   The nights are getting longer again, the Sunlight has changed, the critters are gathering, even some of my bushes/plants leaves are changing colors already.  Corn is high is the fields, sunflowers are blooming, and yes, Halloween and Fall stuff are coming out in the craft shops 🙂  While we have a bit of Summer left…the subtle changes are there.

“The summer air is hot and still, the afternoon hazy; crickets call relentlessly from among the brown grasses, and ears of corn are the same heavy, burnished gold as the late-day sun. Hawks circle in the blue-white sky overhead, and seedpods ripen where flowers bloomed just a month before.

 But shadows begin to lengthen along the garden wall, and the nights come, just a bit cooler, perhaps; a settling begins in the Earth, a gathering, a slow, quiet turning toward the coming darkness.”

-Simple Wicca by Michelle Morgan

 

For Lughnasadh, I love to do a few things.  Harvest my herbs (which I’ve just done), make herbed oils and vinegars, and bake bread!!  Making breads from good grains to celebrate the harvest is a favorite thing to do for me.  And the scents that come from that put me in mind of Autumn immediately!  It won’t be long before apples and pumpkins will be everywhere and that just makes me want to bake too!

Magickally, I do a simple outdoor ritual to honor the first harvest, keeping in mind that our ancestors were VERY busy at this time of year to ensure that they had ample food for the Fall and long Winter that was to come.  Planting, tending, harvesting, and storing food took a great effort in order for them to eat when they could not just go to a grocery store like we do.  I love to do some canning this time of year too….this year I’m thinking apple butter, strawberry jam and I might try my hand at pickles 🙂  Seeing pretty jars of colorful goodness in my pantry just makes me happy..and reminds me how Blessed we are in our time.  Kitchen Witchin too makes this Witch very happy!

 

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Having said that, I know that some people aren’t as well off as others. There are people who don’t have enough food.  Keeping this in mind, donating to food pantries or your own neighbors who may need a little help, is a kind thing to do.  Share your harvest if you can.  I often pass tomatoes and fresh homemade bread over the fence to my neighbor, Jane.  No, she’s not hungry…but she lives alone and she is always thrilled to get something I pass over to her.  It makes me happy to do it too.

I thought I’d share a recipe with you for a muffin that is wonderful this time of year. I made them the other day, when we were cool and I was thinking about Fall all day 🙂  Filled with apples and cinnamon and crunchy topping..they are a huge hit at my house!

 

Autumn’s Apple Crunch Muffins

1 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup soft butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced (or your favorite apple )

 

Topping

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

*Blend these ingredients in a small bowl.

 

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.  Cut in butter until fine crumbs form.  Set aside.  Combine milk and egg and add to dry mixture.  Blend well.  Stir in apples; blend well.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling about two-thirds full.  Sprinkle with brown sugar topping mix.

Bake at 375* for 25 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

*makes 12

**ok…it says it makes 12…I only got 8 nice big muffins.  If you want more….I suggest you double the recipe.  Then take some to your neighbor 🙂

 

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These muffins will put you in a Lughnasadh state of mind…I promise 🙂  I want to wish you all a very Blessed Lughnasadh.  I hope your Harvest is abundant, your Joys plentiful, and that Goddess Blesses you this day and every day!

Oh…don’t forget that you can find the past 5 years of Lughnsasadh/Lammas postings, recipes, info etc by typing it in the search box on the right side here 🙂

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*Pictures are my own.

 

 

 

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Filed under Autumn, Family, Flowers, Garden, Gardens, Goddess, Herbs, Holiday, Lammas/Lughnassadh, Making Jam, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Quote, Recipe from my Kitchen, Ritual, Seasons, Summer

Summertime!……………….

10357532_740761952633883_8781510162816551980_nMerry Meet my friends!  It’s a gorgeous Saturn day here in Ohio! We’ve had a few beautiful days of cooler weather….50’s at night and 70’s during the day.  This whole Summer has been fairly mild.  Sure, we’ve had a few days that hit 90* or near it, but we’ve had good breezes and enough rain and though Summer isn’t my favorite Season, I’ve enjoyed it.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Litha/Summer Solstice.  I know I did.  I was busy that day as we were leaving for the Smoky Mountains the next day, but I harvested my first harvest of herbs, worked in the gardens a bit, and had a simple Summer feast.  I made offerings to the Fae, and welcomed the Sun on the longest day of the year! It was a beautiful Sabbat.

 

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The next morning, my hubby, daughter Sara and our friend Shawna, left for the Smoky Mountains.  My daughter Kate, her hubby and my 3 grandbabies left at the same time as we were all vacationing together.  I booked a couple of wonderful cabins at our favorite resort area.  The weather was HOT, the traffic was terrible, and it rained every day….but it was a wonderful trip!! LOL.  Anytime I can be with my family, in the mountains that call to my Soul…..I’m a happy Witch!.  Ah the mountains.  They call to me and I never tire of seeing them, of being in them, and seeing how Mother changes the mountains with Her Seasons.   We even had the pleasure of seeing a momma bear and her very small cub learning to climb a tree 🙂  We ate well, spent some time by the pool and relaxed in our cabins while it was raining when it did.  We made some memories for the kids 🙂

 

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”

~Sam Keen

Now, Summer!  Everything here is still green and lush.  Gardens are blooming at full bloom, birds sing and critters scamper, the 4th of July was celebrated yesterday. Fireflies, butterflies, and bees are busy.  I have so many fond memories of Summer when I was a kid.  The adage….lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer..was true then.  I spent a lot of time playing with my friends in the neighborhood.  Kickball games, tether ball, riding our bikes or roller skating, going on hikes in the woods near our homes, fishing at Old River (not allowed but we did it anyway).  We only went home to eat or use the bathroom.  In the evening, the parents would come out to their porches, talk together and keep an eye on us….and we got a holler when it was time to come home…or we came home at dusk like good children. There were day trips to visit parks, fairs, drive-in movies, picnics etc.  Summer was truly a wonderful, memorable time.

Every Summer I spent a week with my grandma and grandpa who had 10 acres of apple trees, gardens, hammocks and endless fun.  I loved helping my grandmother snap beans and shell peas. I helped her bring in good things from her gardens, washed them, canned them, sliced them…whatever help I could be. I give my grandmother full credit for my love of gardening and cooking.  I learned at her side.   There was time spent on hammocks with library books that she made sure I had an abundance of… by taking me to the library herself.  There were 7 course meals..even for breakfast..mostly things from her garden. Early to bed and early to rise at her house.  I still can conjure up in my mind, the amazing scents coming from her kitchen early in the morning, windows open to let in any breeze that came, mourning doves cooing and my sense of contentment when I was there at her home. I eagerly jumped out of bed to be with her…usually standing in her kitchen in housedress and apron, stirring something amazing on the stove 🙂  It was pure magick!

 

I did my best to make those amazing kind of memories for my own daughters, and now I have the extreme pleasure of trying to do the same things for my own grandkids.  I want them to have those memories of the lazy days of Summer.  To know that Life can slow down in the Summer.  Kids these days seem to constantly need to be doing something…they enroll in every sport, go to camps, take lessons, need trips to malls and movies, play dates, etc etc.   There isn’t anything wrong with that..don’t get me wrong…but I think kids need to know how to entertain themselves, to slow down and be lazy, use their imagination…just BE!  Get your kids close to Mother Earth…let them dig in the dirt..gardening or making mud pies.  Lay blankets out on the ground and watch clouds drift by, or count stars at night under the Moon.  Take them to the library and encourage their reading over the Summer. Plan simple picnics, outdoor day trips and if you have a drive-in theater near you! Go!  Sprinklers, jars for fireflies or bugs, popsicles and s’mores, long walks in the woods, fishing….find things to do that don’t cost anything….teach them to find the simple pleasures of Summer. They’ll thank you for it later!

 

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.”

~John Lubbock, “Recreation,” The Use of Life, 1894

 

I hope that you all have an amazing July!  August 1 is Lughnassadh already!! The first Harvest Sabbat.  The Wheel is turning fast! Make the most of every day of Summer!! Oh and for a couple of delicious adult Summertime drinks, be sure to read the Sunday Stew tomorrow for my recipes using mint from your garden.  Just click on the Cauldron link on the right here tomorrow morning 🙂  Can I just say yummy!!  Cool and refreshing drinks! I’ll be back soon to talk about Lughnassadh!  Have a great weekend!  Now I’m going to go hang clothes out on the line like my grandma did 🙂

Love and Blessings, Autumn

*Pics are my own!

 

 

 

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Filed under 4th of July, Autumn, Books, Daughters, Faeries, Family, Friends, Garden, Goddess, Grandchildren, Herbs, Holiday, Lammas/Lughnassadh, Mother Earth, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Quote, Seasons, Smoky Mountains, Summer

I <3 Herbs……Peppermint!

Happy Sun day my friends!  I hope that you are all having a wonderful Litha/Solstice weekend.  I know I have been.  Today, as I said in my Wheel Turns to Litha blogpost,  I am actually on my way to the beautiful, magickal Smoky Mountains for several days with all my family.  I’m so excited to be in the mountains again…it always feels like I’m going home when I go there!

Today, this blogpost is again attached to my writing at The Sunday Stew.  You will find a partial posting there and the entire post and info here.  With my new blog look, just click on The Sunday Stew cauldron at the right here -> and it will take you straight to it.  Also, if you want to print out this info for your BOS or herb book…you will see the link at the bottom of this post to do that.  So here we go!

 

 

Peppermint

 

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While mint plants flourish all over the world, they are native to the Mediterranean and were spread by the Roman Empire. A Greek myth tells of an elderly couple taking the time to wipe down their table with mint leaves before serving a meal to traveling strangers. When the strangers revealed themselves as the Gods Zeus and Hermes, the couple was rewarded and the herb was then associated with hospitality! There is nothing nicer too, then visiting with friends over a nice cup of Peppermint tea.

 

People have used Peppermint for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks added it to meat dishes and wine and utilized the leaves as a decoration for special occasions. Peppermint oil has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities. Herbalists prescribe Peppermint tea as a remedy for chest congestion, stomach troubles and headaches….and recommend Peppermint skin lotion as a pain reliever. Peppermint oil also enhances the fragrance of potpourri, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps and perfumes. Its leaves and oil add flavor to salads, desserts, teas, and sauces, as well as breath mints, chewing gum, toothpaste and mouthwash.

 

Growing Mint

 

For the best leaf production, mint should be planted in full to partial sunlight. It will grow in most types of soil, but thrives best when it’s not constantly wet. The plants can be counted to reproduce on their own, but additional plants can be grown by stem and root cuttings. The mint plant is notorious for running rampant in gardens! Many gardeners choose to grow them in containers to prevent gardens from becoming nothing but dedicated mint beds! (So far, I’m controlling my mint ok….we’ll see what happens J) However, with containers, you have to be careful the pot is big enough so you don’t get root bound and the plant dies. That happened to me last year and I was so bummed! The spread can be kept to a manageable level by steadily harvesting the leaves of the plant. Peppermint plants grow to about 2 feet tall if allowed. Tiny oil glands in the leaves release volatile oils, giving the plants their wonderful fragrance.

 

 

Hybrids

 

There is an amazing number of mint hybrids out there now. Peppermint and Spearmint are the two most traditional forms. Smooth-leaved peppermint has the most potent amount of menthol, while spearmint, with toothed and often curly leaves, has a sweeter flavor. Varieties with a hint of fruit flavor abound! Including apple, orange, pineapple, lemon, lime and even banana! And yes, there is Chocolate mint….it’s growing in my garden and it’s wonderful!

 

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In the front is Peppermint..moving clockwise is Pineapple Mint,

Then Spearmint, and then really wonderful Chocolate mint.

 

Drying Mint Leaves

 

The simplest way is to cut the stems down low on the plant….wrap a bunch of them together and hang them upside down to dry in a warm, dry place. I hang mine from hooks in my ceiling. I’ve also used a peg board and a clothes drying rack. If the leaves are removed from the stem, just spread out on a clean metal screen, a tray, a basket and let them dry. You can also dry them in a low temp oven.

 

Culinary Uses

 

Mint leaves can be added to mixed greens in a salad, can be candied or jellied, and can be made into a simple syrup. Mint is often used in sauces for lamb dishes and are a popular way to flavor peas. They can flavor homemade ice cream and granitas. One of my favorite ways to have mint is crushed into mint juleps or mojitos! They can also be made into wonderful herbed ice cubes that make tea, lemonade and just water so refreshing!

 

Medicinal Uses

 

Peppermint, in tea form, aids upset stomachs, flu and can be used to ease hiccups. Inhalation of the leaves in boiling water is recommended for head colds and asthma. Mint tea can be used instead of aspirin for headaches, especially menstrual –related headaches. Some headaches can be relieved if you lie down in a dark room with fresh peppermint leaves on the forehead or a bit of peppermint essential oil on your temples. (be careful your skin is ok with that first) Mint aids in respiratory and circulatory systems, it’s also an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic. It’s ideal for treating indigestion, flatulence, varicose veins, skin irritations, rheumatism, toothache and general fatigue. I, for one, find Peppermint spray brings me out of the “lazies”. Peppermint oil can help to relieve earaches when a few drops are placed in the ear. The oil or a mesh bag of the leaves in your bath is wonderful when you have a cold or need to soothe your skin, or to re-energize yourself!

Peppermint tea with honey soothes a sore throat. A few drops of the essential oil mixed with water and applied to a cloth, will help burning and itching skin, sunburn and relieve when you get overheated. As a lover of all things herbal, I love to add some peppermint, lemon and lavender essential oils to witch hazel…it makes a wonderful body/face spray to cool you too. Peppermint is a necessity in every Witch’s cupboard and garden bed! It’s in my top five!!

 

Magickal Properties

 

Gender: Masculine

Planet: Mercury or Venus

Element: Air

Deity: Zeus and Hermes

Magickal attributes: Money, healing, strength, augments power, luck, travel, cleansing, consecration, dreams, happiness, love, passion, prosperity, protection, psychic development, purification, release, renewal, rest, sleep, animals, divination, endings, energy, exorcism, grieving, spirit offerings, success and transformation.

 

To use Peppermint in Magick….these are just some of the ways:

 

-Mint is a premier healing herb and can be used in healing charms, baths and incenses

-For a bath, place leaves in a mesh bag and hang under the running tap, or add a few drops of the oil to the water before you get in.

-Use to increase the vibrations of a space or in spells and incense for purification and healing

-Place in a sleep pillow to ensure peaceful sleep and bring about prophetic dreams

-Use to anoint your altar, body and candles

-Burn in your home to clear illness and negative energy

-Use in magickal workings to provide to gear up the energy level

-Carry in a mojo bag to boost healing, love and abundance

-Make a tea and sprinkle the water around your home to bring peace, happiness and protection

-Drink it for its ability to enhance your power before doing a ritual, spell or meditation

-Carry a few leaves in your wallet to bring money and prosperity and success

-Use the oil in a burner, in room or body sprays or as a simmering pot on the stove to lift the spirit and energy in your home

-Grow it…for protection, prosperity, health, luck and abundance!

 

To print this out click on this link  Peppermint 2

 

As I say…Every Witch should have Peppermint in her top 5 (my opinion) of herbs in her garden and cupboard.  Oh and the essential oil too is a must!!  Have a wonderful day and continue to have fun, to feast,to dance, and celebrate the longer days…the lazy, hazy crazy days of Summer!!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Wheel Turns to Litha..the Summer Solstice 2014..

 

“it’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s Summertime!”
― Kenny Chesney

 

IMG_0918Merry Meet my friends. I hope this night finds you and yours well! The Full Strawberry/Honey/Mead Moon (whichever YOU call Her) was absolutely incredibly beautiful and powerful. After all, with it being Friday the 13th and Mercury being in retrograde…She had to be! I spent extra time under Her influence…still am!.. as She’s still beautiful tonight. The energy is palpable if you sit quiet and soak Her in. Crystals and tools have been re-charged, Moon water made and rituals done. House was smudged too. 🙂

The Summer Solstice, Litha, MidSummer….it’s just a week away on the 21st! The longest day of the year..but also the start of the days shortening. That’s so amazing to think about..especially since Summer is just starting! But at my age LOL..the Wheel turns fast, so I’ll be enjoying every minute of those daylight hours, Hot Sun, warm breezes, green grass, blooming flowers and herbs, lightning bugs, summer rain showers, etc etc. All the perks of Summer. Even though the HEAT is not my favorite thing..I will enjoy it 🙂

This year, Litha will be a quiet, solitary celebration on the day. My Circle won’t meet til the following weekend. However, my family leaves for the Smoky Mountains the day after..the 22nd. To know I’ll be in my favorite Mountains for the Solstice is just…well…Magickal to me. I can’t wait!! When I travel, I carry a portable altar kit..mostly candles, incense, small crystals to bury, my pendulum, lavender oil, etc. Whatever strikes me I might want or need. Taking a walk into the Mountain woods, results in a bit of Magick for me! My soul just sings when I’m in those Mountains and the woods there.

The Solstice is when I always put out new Witch’s protection bottles on my property, set up and re-fresh my wards and barriers, and make offerings to the Fae…though I do that ALL the time while gardening, I am always sure to do it again. Also, my herbs are usually ready for their first harvesting. That is one of my favorite things to do! Smelling, touching, talking to, harvesting, tying and hanging my herbs just makes me so happy. AND I know most of them…will bloom again one or two more times before the end of the season. They are growing leaps and bounds in our wonderful weather. It’s not been too hot and we’ve had good amounts of rain, which is sooo much better then watering with a hose 🙂 It will be a good harvest!

If you want information on how to do a Witch’s bottle..just type it into the search box on the right. It should come up with how I do it. Also, if you type in Litha and/or Summer Solstice..you will find previous years postings of recipes, correspondence and other info etc. I thought I’d share this recipe with you for now….it’s refreshing and uses healthy produce and herbs that are abundant this time of year!

 

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Strawberry Balsamic Salad

1 (7 ounce) package Baby Spinach or 1 (7 ounce) package baby romaine lettuce
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup goat cheese or 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Balsamic vinaigrette
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
crushed salt and black pepper

Whisk vinegar and olive oil in small bowl. Add basil and season with salt and pepper.

Combine spinach or romaine and strawberries in large bowl.

Add vinaigrette; gently toss to evenly coat.

Divide salad among 4 plates. Sprinkle each salad with cheese and pine nuts

*Personally, I’d double the the oil and vinegar for the dressing..leaving the basil in the same amount give….if you like  a bit more dressing.  But I like it with JUST balsamic too 🙂
This would be lovely with some crusty bread and a glass of wine..a perfect Solstice feast!
However YOU celebrate the Solstice, I hope you have a beautiful, longest day of the year and enjoy every moment of it. Be lazy, be active, walk barefoot, swim, catch lightning bugs, eat watermelon, take a long walk in the cool woods…Connect and enjoy the Sun! I’ll be back again soon!  Be sure to check out the Sunday Stew again (just click on the Sunday Stew Chef cauldron on the right column.)   My recipe for Carmelite Water..using lemon balm will be posted.  A great sipping drink to enjoy with medicinal value as well! Also lots of other great Solstice recipes and writings and info.  Have a great week and leave me a message about YOUR Solstice plans..I’d love to hear!!
swing-seat-in-garden-country-homes-and-interiors-housetohome-co-uk
It was June, and the world smelled of roses.
The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.
~Maud Hart Lovelace

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

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