Category Archives: 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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Filed under Book of Shadows, Family, Garden, Herbs, Litha/Summer Solstice, My Favorite Things, Nature, Photography, Ritual, Seasons, Smoky Mountains, Spells, Summer, Sun

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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Filed under Bits of Magick, Faeries, Flowers, Full Moons, Garden, God, Goddess, Herbs, Holiday, Litha/Summer Solstice, Mother Earth, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Protection, Quote, Recipe from my Kitchen, Ritual, Seasons, Smoky Mountains, Summer, Sun

I’m a Happy Garden Witch………..

Merry Meet friends!  Hope this writing finds all of you doing well.  If you live in the Northern Hemisphere..I’m guessing you’ve been enjoying Summer-like weather now! I know we have here in Ohio.  It’s been quite warm, we’ve had adequate rain, and the Garden Centers are booming with busy gardeners grabbing up flowers, shrubs, herbs and veggie plants.  I have made several trips there myself 🙂

This is only the 2nd Summer now in our new home and we are still planning garden beds and fine tuning what we did last year.  We lost some plants from the extreme Winter we had so we had to dig up some dead plants and decide what to do with the space.  I’m thrilled with what we’ve done.  I did most of the bed design and planting..while hubby helped me with the bigger pots and the I helped him with the mulching.

I have more I want to do yet…another bed would be great….but until I can talk hubby into it LOL….we will be planting some flowering trees like Pear and Lilac, installing a trellis or two against our fence and planting climbing flowers and putting in a big Maple tree in the backyard.  Here’s just a few pics of what we’ve done….they are newly planted but growing fast and I’m very happy with the results.  I kept in mind planting for drawing bees, birds and butterflies.  So far…it’s working 🙂

 

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As a Witch…..I have added Magick in many ways.  As I plant….I put my intentions and energy into each plant to grow strong and healthy..infuse it with Magick!  I draw runes and pentacles in the dirt, or even right on the wood of the raised bed of herbs.  I plant crystals in the soil, water with collected Moon Water and ask Goddess to bring Her energy and power to my home and gardens.  For me, working in soil…handling living plants, nurturing them, and watching them bloom and grow…brings me pure Joy, Grounds and Centers me, and allows me to feel one with Mother Earth.

I have many friends who don’t have yards or garden beds because they live in apartments etc.  I have friends who say they don’t have a green thumb..have no luck or desire to garden.   That’s ok too.  Not everybody is into gardening…I’m sure you have some other talent I wish I had 🙂   For those that want to but live in an apartment….it takes a very small space of balcony or patio or patch of dirt to plant a few things to bring you joy.  Pots are wonderful for growing flowers, herbs and even some vegetables.  The Joy is the same!

This time of year, I get such a thrill out of seeing my friend’s gardens posted on social media.  I get such great ideas and inspiration from others.  My friend Sunshine has a wonderful little balcony.  It’s one of the most magickal little places I’ve seen… with her pots of herbs and flowers and veggies, her Goddess statues and faeries….I get inspiration from her too! Though it’s a small space…it’s pure Magick!

It’s only 18 days until the Summer Solstice.  The Solstice is usually when I get to do my first harvest of herbs, and when I re-new my Witch’s Protection Bottles, wards etc around my home and yard.  I’ll be back to talk more about that soon.  In the meantime…get barefoot, go out under the waxing Moon (Friday the 13th She will be Full!) and just FEEL the warmth of the Earth, and the softness of the grass on your feet.  It will fix just about anything that’s ailing you!

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Blessings and Love, Autumn

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I <3 Herbs…….Lemon Balm

Merry Meet my friends!  Despite some cold weather..even some frosty mornings…Spring is in full swing here now!  I’ve started my plantings finally…herb bed is in and I’m working hard on the other 5 beds in my yard, replacing some dead plants that didn’t make it through the Winter  and putting in lots of new flowers!  I am a very happy Witch when I can dig in the dirt!

This week for the Sunday Stew…I’m writing about Lemon Balm..one of my favorite herbs!  You can find the link to the Stew here:  http://www.networkedblogs.com/XaXZ5 Be sure to read the Stew for lots of wonderful bloggers, recipes, news and information!

I’m sharing what I wrote about Lemon Balm here with you!

 

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Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), is a perennial herb native to southern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It can be categorized under the Lamiacease (mint) family. Melissa in Greek means “bee”. Officinalis is a Medievel Latin word meaning “used in medicine”. The name is probably derived from its traditional use by bee keepers to attract bees and its high medicinal qualities. Lemon Balm is also known as… bee balm, honey-leaf, horsemint, garden balm, balm gentle, English Balm, common balm, sweet balm, balm mint and sweet Melissa.

Lemon balm exudes a very refreshing lemon fragrance when we bruise or crush its leave. For centuries, the bee keepers have planted lemon balm near the bee hives, even rubbing the leaves on the inside of the hives to encourage the bees to stay. Its strong lemon fragrance is believed to attract and to settle the honey bee swarms. This is why lemon balm is also commonly known as bee balm.

Cultivating and Growing

Lemon Balm likes Sun and will spread like crazy if allowed to! It can be successfully grown from seed. The plant reaches about 2-3 feet in height and produces masses of wrinkled, aromatic leaves. It’s deeply wrinkled leaves are about 2 to 3 inch long. The shape of lemon balm leaves is similar to mint leaves (oval or heart shaped) and are a bright yellow- green in color. Lemon balm grows relatively small flowers that can be white or yellow in color. Lemon balm is easy to grow and maintain. It’s a versatile herb and can tolerate severe weather conditions. Lemon Balm is a wonderful plant for all herb lovers to have in their gardens! It’s a favorite of mine and you’ll see why!

Medicinal Uses
Lemon Balm has many medicinal properties. It’s an Antispasmodic, Anti-Viral, Aromatic , Cardiac tonic, Diaphoretic/sudorific, Digestive, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge, Hypotensive, Nervine, Sedative, Stomachic, Uterine Tonic, and Vermifuge. Lemon balm is used to relieve Anxiety, Colds, Depression, Dysmenorrhea, Nausea, Sore Throat, Insect/flea bites and Sunburn. It will help to heal Herpes/Cold Sores. It can ease cardiovascular symptoms and Pregnancy/Childbirth.
Here are just a few ways Lemon Balm can be used…whether you drink it as a tea or use the leaves on your skin. You can make a tonic, an oil or a balm as well. Each preparation is conducive to a way to use Lemon Balm for healing.

-Lemon balm has been used as one of the important ingredients to treat Insomnia. It has the ability to promote sleep.
-Lemon balm is a calming herb. It helps to reduce anxiety, improve relaxation, increase alertness and overcome stress problems. (tea, room spray or used in bath)
-Lemon balm cream can effectively cures cold sores caused by the herpes virus (HSV).
-Lemon balm has been used as a folk remedy to dress wounds, to treat snake, animal or insect bites. It has also been said to be able to ease high blood pressure, headaches, toothache, earache, fever, influenza, menstrual cramps and vomiting
-Lemon balm helps to improve digestion, loss of appetite and stomach discomfort and flatulence.
– Herbal tea made from the lemon balm’s fresh or dried leaves is consumed to treat insomnia, anxiety, agitation, herpes, fever, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, colic, vomiting and poor digestion.
-Crushed leaves rubbed on the skin may help prevent insect bites or heal existing wounds
-a lemon balm infusion added to warm bath water may promote menstruation.
-Some medical studies have found that drinking lemon balm tea may help to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Research indicates that lemon balm can help to reduce agitation and improve cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer’s. The Georgetown University Medical Center cites studies that suggested that lemon balm can improve memory and decrease anxiety in people suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease
-Using lemon balm in aromatherapy has benefits as well such as to relieve a headache, nausea, calm stress, and aid in more restful sleep.
– The hot tea brings on a sweat that is good for relieving colds, flus and fevers and an antiviral agent has been found that combats mumps, cold sores and other viruses.
– Studies indicate that the herb slightly inhibits the thyroid stimulating hormone and restricts Grave’s disease, a hyperthyroid condition.
– Lemon balm’s antihistamine action is useful to treat eczema and headaches and accounts for the centuries-old tradition of placing the fresh leaf on insect bites and wounds.
– Lemon balm has antipyretic, refreshing, cholagogic and stimulating properties. Use a pad soaked in the infusion to relieve painful swellings such as gout.
– Use as ointment for sores, insect bites, or to repel insects.
– Use hot infused oil as ointment or gentle massage oil for depression, tension, asthma and bronchitis.

Warnings
Lemon balm may interact with certain medications, such as thyroid medications and HIV medications, explains the University of Maryland. Talk with your doctor prior to taking lemon balm to prevent any interactions with medications or health conditions

These are just some of the ways to use Lemon Balm medicinally! You can see why it’s an important herb to have in your Witchy medicine cabinet!

Culinary
In the culinary world, chefs prize lemon balm for its light, refreshing aroma and taste, often described as lightly lemon with a hint of mint. The fresh leaves yield the best results in cooking, though the dried leaves and stems are often used for making tea. The leaves produce a mild, lemony tea, and they’re often added to black or green teas for extra flavor. Whole or chopped fresh lemon balm leaves also add flavor to green salads, fruit salads, vegetable dishes, poultry stuffing and marinades for fish, and they provide a nice accompaniment to corn, beans, broccoli, asparagus, shell fish and lamb. I know from experience it is great on homemade breads too!

Cosmetic

The lemon balm plant reportedly cleanses the skin, and herbal steams containing lemon balm leaves are recommended for sufferers of acne. Cleansing herbal baths including the plant’s leaves may also benefit the complexion. Lemon balm essential oil is a common ingredient in homemade and commercial cosmetics formulated for oily or acne-prone skin. The essential oil has a slight drying effect and should not be used on dry skin.

Other Uses

Lemon balm was made into wine commonly in the early 1800’s. The leaves of Lemon Balm were also used as a furniture polish when rubbed directly onto the wood. Today, many commercial furniture polish manufacturers still use the herb in their product. It’s a wonderful plant to have in your garden to attract bees for pollination purposes. Roman author and naturalist, Pliny wrote “that bees like Lemon Balm more than any other herb.”

Magickal Uses

Lemon Balm can be used in many ways magickally. It’s said to be sacred to the Goddess Diana and was used in her temples.
Gender: Feminine
Element: Water
Planet: Moon
Deities: Diana, Venus and Jupiter

Lemon Balm is used in romance, attraction and love spells and charms. It can be used in lunar magick as its’ associated with the Moon. It can be used in Ritual work honoring the Goddess Diana as well. Lemon Balm brings mental clarity, calm, healing, health, friendship, fertility, and success. As a bathing herb it can help to attract romance, to cleanse before Moon rituals, and to aid sleep/dream and astral travel.
Lemon Balm helps to relieve melancholy, to balance feelings and moods. To me, this would be a wonderful herb to use to help ground and balance. Lemon Balm can help us to open up to receive the divine love of the Goddess.
A few ways to use lemon balm magickally:

-Use it in your bath before rituals..especially during Moon rituals.
-Add it to a dream pillow to aid in dreams and astral travel
-Place on your altar to help with your mental clarity during meditation or divining
-Carry some leaves in a mojo bag to attract love or romance
-Use it in incense..the aroma brings calm and balance and can altar your mood
-Plant in your garden to draw success and healing into your home

These are just a few ideas you can use to make the most of the Lemon Balm I just KNOW you’ll be planting in your yard right away….if you don’t have it already of course 

One more thing to talk about….Lemon Balm was one of the most important ingredients in Carmelite Water. Carmelite Water was invented in 1611 by Carmelite monks (some say nuns) in Paris who called it “Eau de Carmes”. Carmelite water was used as a perfume and toilet water, and was also taken internally as a cordial. The perfume was used to “cover” the smell of disease or just the fact that bathing was rare in those days. It was also used internally for digestive complaints and neuralgic complaints such as headache, pains etc. I’ve been looking at the recipes I’m finding in books and online and think it sounds worth trying. I’ll let you know next time what recipe I tried and I might share it too

If you’d like to have a copy of this information for your Book of Shadows or files…you can do that by clicking here:
lemon balm.docx

I hope that you all have a very Happy Memorial Day and a great week! Stay safe!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Beltaine Blessings 2014…….

thCA8K56D9Merry Beltaine Eve my friends.  It’s been a rainy few days here with afternoon hours of Sun and warmth and gentle breezes.  Really nice!  I am ready for my celebration of this fun Sabbat and almost ready for my Circle’s celebration on Saturday night.

I’ll start the morning off tomorrow greeting the Sun..I hope…then I’ll wash my face in the dew of the Beltaine morning to help me show a fresh face for the day and to bring light and beauty to my skin for the year 🙂  I’ll have coffee and a simple breakfast.  At some point of the day, I’ll take a walk and make offerings along the way to the Fae and the Goddess.   In the evening, a nice meal of fresh foods and a ritual to honor the Goddess and God as they meet and create and help the Wheel to continue to turn.  A simple way to celebrate the day in a solitary way.

On Saturday eve, my Circle gathers. We will feast, make May Day baskets, have a fire where we’ll burn wishes and herbs, and we will have a small, simple ritual.  The May Day baskets will go to elderly neighbors or family members to cheer them for the day. I can’t wait!

 

I thought I would share a wonderful salad recipe with you..perfect for Summer and warmer weather. Nice and light!

 

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

4 cups mixed greens/chopped lettuce

1 cup sliced strawberries

2 kiwi, sliced

 1 avocado, sliced

2 tablespoon sliced almonds

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

zest of ½ a lime

juice of 1  lime

pinch of salt

2 tablespoon honey

Arrange the lettuce, strawberries, kiwi, avocado and almonds in a salad bowl.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients to form the dressing and drizzle over salad.

*Serves 2

Whether you’re going to a Pagan Beltaine Maypole festival, gathering with friends and family, or spending it more quietly and solitary….Beltaine is a Sabbat to celebrate.  Officially….We are into Spring, and Summer is coming!  Think flowers, gardens, bare feet, less clothes, being outside MORE!!  For many, their favorite time of year!

‘But I must gather knots of flowers,
And buds and garlands gay,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother,
I’m to be Queen o’ the May.’
–  Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

I wish you all a very Blessed Beltaine!  May the Sun God shine upon you always and May the Goddess always dance with you!

Blessings and love, Autumn

*Don’t forget to type Beltane or Beltaine into the search box on the right to find the last 4 years of info there…recipes, correspondence, rituals etc.

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I <3 Herbs……Yarrow!

Merry Meet my friends. It has been a rainy, dark day today. Thunder and Lightning and I’ve done some dancing with Thor in the storms. I’m so thrilled that we had a couple of beautiful days here though. I got all our clothes washed and hung out on the clothesline to dry. (I LOVE that!) We got a few things done in the yard…some grass seed planted where a dead tree was removed last Fall….we got a birdhouse put up…a new birdbath put out and we bought a couple of hanging baskets of Calabracia to hang on our patio, a deep purple one and a yellow one. I pulled out the rosemary that isn’t coming back 😦 Added garden soil to my raised herb bed etc. All in preparation for planting! Which we can’t do yet! Ack! LOL. Another week or two I think. For sure by Mother’s Day!

Again, this posting about Yarrow can be found at The Sunday Stew here: http://mypaganworld.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-sunday-stew-beltane-edition.html. It’s the Beltaine issue so be sure and check it out!! It’s wonderful!

Beltane is almost here! As I was thinking about which herb I wanted to write about for the Beltane issue of the Stew…I decided on Yarrow. Yarrow is one of those wonderful herbs that grow wild…nearly everywhere! Usually from June thru September in meadows, roadsides, pastures, ditches etc etc. Easily found. Often thought to just be a weed LOL..but it’s so much more!!

 

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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) grows from 10 to 20 inches high, a single stem, fibrous and rough. The leaves are fern-like, dark-green, giving them a feathery appearance. The flowers are several bunches of numerous small, white flower heads. Each tiny flower resembling a daisy. Depending on the weather and where you live, the flowers bloom from May to September.

For you gardeners out there, growing yarrow is sometimes too easy, as it tends to take over a plot. It creeps along via its root system, while simultaneously reseeding itself. Yarrow prefers ordinary soil and a fair amount of sunshine. Some varieties of yarrow grow up to 4 feet in height. It comes in shades from white to pale pink…to ornamental yellow and red varieties!

Other Names: Milfoil, Old Man’s Pepper, Soldier’s Woundwort, Knight’s Milfoil, Thousand Weed, Nose Bleed, Carpenter’s Weed, Bloodwort, Staunchweed, Devil’s Nettle

Mythology:

Yarrow carries the name Achillea because the Greek God Achilles in mythology is storied to have given the plant to his troops to stop bleeding in battle. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop the bleeding when he hurt his own heel, and he died from his wounds. The modern terms “Achilles tendon” and “Achilles heel” originate from this myth.

Medicinal Uses:

Yarrow has been a well-known healing herb for centuries. It has a wonderful list of healing medicinal purposes!
Parts used….everything above the ground (leaves, stems and flowers)
Harvesting for medicinal purposes should be done while the plant is in flower.
Yarrow is used medicinally against colds and flu, cramps, fevers, stomach ulcers, kidney disorders, toothaches and abscesses, skin irritations, to regulate menses, and to reduce inflammation. It can aid digestion and increase appetite. Yarrow is a diaphoretic and helps to eliminate toxins and fevers. Yarrow’s astringent properties can also help stop diarrhea and dysentery. Other yarrow uses include coughs, sore throats, lowering blood pressure, hay fever, and more.
Externally, clean yarrow leaves can be used to stop a wound from bleeding. A yarrow infused oil or balm can be used to treat other topical skin conditions including burns, ulcers, and swollen and inflamed skin, and hemorrhoids. Inserting a fresh, clean yarrow leaf into the nostril can stop nosebleeds. Yarrow can also, conversely, start bleeding when needed…for instance, getting clotted nose blood, to un-clot.

 

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Medicinal applications:

An infusion (tea) of yarrow flowers can be prepared by steeping the flowers into boiling water for some time. This preparation is useful for upper respiratory illness. It may also be useful to heal eczema when applied externally as a wash. An infusion or tea is also great for reducing fever. To get relief for varicose veins, soak a cotton pad with the infusion and apply to the veins. The poultice will also aid hemorrhoids. You can also put the infusion in bath water to soothe hemorrhoids and skin issues.
Yarrow oil is useful for any external skin issues such as swollen joints, rashes, or bruises. Also great as a chest rub (add peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil) for congestion of the chest..colds, flu or cough.
Cuts and scratches on the body can be healed by wrapping cleansed, fresh yarrow leaves on the affected area. To clean leaves, place in a bowl, pour white vinegar over them…let stand for a bit. Strain off vinegar then rinse leaves twice to ensure all the vinegar is gone. You can also place a chewed leaf on a sore tooth.
A tincture made of Yarrow is useful for healing urinary disorders and menstrual problems.

Warning:
Pregnant women should not use Yarrow internally! Excessive use can cause headaches and skin irritations for anyone who is sensitive to it.

Culinary Uses:
Yarrow is bitter but used sparingly it works in cheese sauces, soups and salads. Has been used in place of hops to brew beer.

Magickal Uses:
Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Air
Yarrow is used magickally for Courage, Love, Psychic abilities, Divination, Perception, Protection and Purification.
Some ways to use Yarrow for magick are:

-When drank as a tea, Yarrow is said to increase psychic powers and powers of perception.
-When flowers or leaves are burned, if the smoke goes up, it’s a good omen, but if it goes down, it’s a bad omen.
-Use Yarrow flowers in love sachets and charms.
-Place Yarrow flowers under your pillow before sleep and your lover will appear in your dreams.
-Hang flowers over your bridal bed to insure love that lasts at least 7 years. Or place them in your bridal bouquet
-Grow Yarrow near your door for protection or hang some over your front door.
-Carried in the hand or placed in a mojo bag….it is believed to ward off fear. Also to reverse negativity and protect from hexes
-Add to the bath to protect from evil or harm.
-Throw Yarrow flowers across the threshold to protect the house from evil.
-Tie to an infant’s cradle for protection from harmful forces. (an old belief too)
-Place the flowers on your altar to aid in divination
-use it in loose incense for protection, purification or divination

These are just a few ways to use Yarrow in Magick. I’m sure you can find many more. Next time you take a walk, look for some yarrow and bring it home and put it to good use!

A sensitive plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
and closed them beneath the kisses of night.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant,” 1820

 

I hope that you all are enjoying both the Stew and learning about herbs. I know I learn more and more as I study them and use them too.  I’ll be back in a couple of days to wish you all a very Blessed Beltaine and maybe a recipe 🙂

Blessed New Moon to you all!
Blessings and Love, Autumn

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I <3 Herbs……Rosemary

Merry Meet everyone!  Hope that you are having a beautiful Sun day in your neck of the woods.  Here in Ohio, we woke up to heavy Frost and freezing temps…but it has warmed up since to the 50’s, Sun is shining and it’s a gorgeous day!  We are yet warm enough to do any planting here….tradition states not to plant til Mother’s day to be safe from late Ohio frosts.  I however am biting at the bit so to speak to dig in the dirt!

 

As I told you before..I am most thrilled to be a writer..the Herbal Witch…for The Pagan blog The Sunday Stew.  Here’s the link again  The Sunday Stew.   If you haven’t read it…please do and support it as well.  For this week, I wrote about Rosemary….and thought I’d go ahead and share it here on my blog as well. But go and read everything else the Stew has to offer by some of my favorite people!

 

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 “I plant rosemary all over the garden, so pleasant is it to know that at every few steps one may draw the kindly branchlets through one’s hand, and have the enjoyment of their incomparable incense; and I grow it against walls, so that the sun may draw out its inexhaustible sweetness to greet me as I pass ..”
–  Gertrude Jekyll

 

Rosemary or Rosmarinus officinalis is one of my very favorite herbs. I believe I find a use for it most days! It has a long history of uses…medicinal, culinary and magickal! Rosmarinus officinalis means “dew of the sea”. But you don’t need to be near the sea to grow it.

 

Rosemary is a beautiful ornamental plant that takes very little attention to thrive. It’s a hardy, bushy perennial plant that comes back bigger each year. It can grow quite large in the right conditions. It looks much like an evergreen with a sweet, pungent scent. The leaves are needle- like…..dark green on the top, and grayish green underneath. It gets pale blue flowers around the stem when in bloom. Rosemary likes Sun and some room to breathe, and water when too dry. Pruning is perfectly acceptable, not only so you can use it but to spur on more growth.

 

Ancient Uses:

Rosemary has long been the herb of Remembrance…to this day. It was the herb used at funerals and to honor the dead after they are gone from the home. The tradition of laying sprigs across the coffin or upon tombstones dates back to ancient Egypt. Personally, I honor this tradition to this day. When visiting a grave of a loved one, I take a small wand of rosemary or plant rosemary where allowed. I also put rosemary on my Dumb Supper table at Samhain. To remember.

 

Rosemary was also associated with memory.   Scholars of ancient Greece wore wreaths of rosemary on their head, to help recall while taking exams. It was used widely at weddings..in the bride’s bouquet, given to the wedding guests to wear and put in the wine the couple drank to help them remember their sacred vows. Rosemary was planted in every newlyweds garden, but the adage “where rosemary flourished, the woman ruled” caused this practice to fall out of style when husbands kept plucking them from the ground to prove that they were the “ruler” of the home.

 

During the Middle Ages, rosemary was thought to dispel negativity and promote prosperity. It was thought to encourage happiness of home and hearth. It was kept in the home in some way, under pillows, hung on the mantle or hearth or by the door. It was even burned in homes to prevent the black plague! To me, many of those traditions stand true today.

 

 

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used:   leaves

Preparation: infusions, teas, oils, salves & balms, vinegars, and culinary use.

Healing properties of Rosemary are:   pain relieving, restorative, stimulating, anti-bacterial, decongestant, diuretic and anti-fungal. Rosemary is used in the treatment of muscular pain, rheumatism, circulation problems, mental fatigue, nervous exhaustion, cellulite, arthritis, colds, bronchitis, fluid retention, sinusitis and is suitable for dry, mature skin and acne.

Excellent tonic for those who suffer from burnout or chronic fatigue syndrome

 

Encourages the production of bile thus aiding digestion

 

Helps to relieve the symptoms of Bronchitis, Asthma and Flu

 

Vision tonic

 

Nervous system tonic

 

Emmenagogue (induces menstruation)

 

Antidiarrheal

 

Relieves migraines and headaches caused by stress

 

Encourages hair growth and scalp health

 

Relieves vertigo caused by inner ear problems

 

Enchances memory

 

Mouthwash for bad breath

 

Stimulates the brain for memory and recall.

 

 

Make Rosemary tea for digestive problems, as an expectorant, to relieve cold symptoms, and as a relaxing beverage that may be helpful for headaches and low moods.

Externally, its oil made into an ointment has been said to treat rheumatism, sores, eczema, bruises, and wounds. Rosemary tea or vinegar used as a hair rinse promotes hair health, hair growth and healthy scalp.

 

Aromatherapy: Use rosemary essential oil in your salves, balms, and bath products. Rosemary oil blends well with LOTS of other essential oils… Lavender, Citronella, Oregano, Thyme, Pine, Basil, Eucalyptus Radiata, Peppermint, Elemi, Cedarwood, Petitgrain Bigarade, Cinnamon Bark, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Ginger Root, Bergamot, Frankincense, Juniper Berry, Melissa, Celery Seed, and Fennel Seed. I use it in many of my Verbena Lane Shoppe products. It’s extremely healing!

 

In Cosmetics, rosemary is used often in shampoos, conditioners, lotions etc.

 

Culinary Use.

Rosemary has a strong and pleasant aroma and piney, earthy flavor. In cooking, it works well with dishes of beef and lamb, fish and bread. It’s excellent in stews and casseroles, roasted and grilled foods, pizzas, soups, vinegars, and herbed butters. Don’t be afraid to try it!

 

Magickal Uses:

 

Planet: Sun

Gender: Masculine

Element: Fire

 

Rosemary works in magick to rid negativity, to protect, to heal, to banish and to bring luck and prosperity. It’s used for mental clarity and cleansing. It’s associated with Love, friendship and memory. There are many ways to use Rosemary for magick. Here are a few!

 

-Burn rosemary to rid your home of negative energy

-use it in incense to meditate and clear your mind

-use it in mojo bags for multiple reasons ie: before a test, for healing, for protection

-Hang bundles by your front door for protection

-Add it to a healing poppet

-use rosemary to substitute for other herbs

-put it in a dream pillow to ward off nightmares

-add it to bath water to cleanse and heal

-keep a plant in your garden, by your front door or in your kitchen..use it’s scent when you need to be uplifted, use it in your cooking, use it to make vinegars and herbal preparations

-Use in potpourris and sachets

–plant it at your loved ones graves, or take them a bouquet

-keep it on your Samhain table or altar

-Make rosemary infused Moon water to cleanse your hands before spellwork

-Add to your recipes to add protection and healing for your family

These are just a few ideas…I’m sure there are many more! I’ll be back to post a recipe or two using rosemary in the next couple weeks.   Be sure to add it to your “must have” garden plant, kitchen herb, and Witch’s cupboard.

 

This is the post in it’s entirety on the Stew.  I will be back here on my blog as well with recipes, more herbs and will post pictures along the way as I’m planting…soon!

Blessings and Light and Happy Sun day!

Autumn

 

 

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