Tag Archives: Beltaine

The Wheel Turns to Beltane 2015……….

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet

and the winds long to play with your hair.

-Khalil Gibran

download (3)Merry Meet and Happy Spring on this beautiful April day.  I love April, always have. Not only because it’s the month I was born, but because it brings in Spring!  The weather is a bit unpredictable…we can have snow one day, near 80* temps another with lots of wind, rain, storms and tornado warnings thrown in for good measure.  The last few days it’s rained and stormed here a lot! But it’s been a good thing for Mother Earth as she is greening more and more every day.  I love the color green and it’s everywhere!  Our grass is really green and lush, trees are budding, spring bulbs and flowering bushes and trees are bloomed, and my summer plants have green sprouting up.  In my herb bed, cilantro and garlic are up already and my lavender is greening too!  I so love it!  Today, I woke up to a chill in the Air but it’s warming up to 60* and the Sun is shining so it’s a beautiful day!

I have been Spring cleaning like crazy as well.  The winter linens are put away, winter clothes being put away to make room for our Spring/Summer clothes.  My clothesline is back up.  I have taken each day a trash bag and gone around the house just pitching stuff.  Drawers, cupboards and closets are all checked for items no longer needed. It is so freeing to de-junk!  You’d be amazed what’s in your home that no longer serves a purpose. Whether it be paperwork, knickknacks, clothes, shoes, dishes etc…there are things in your home that can go I’m sure!  My home feels lighter and simpler with everything that goes out the door.  Add fresh flowers to mason jars on your window sill, open windows to air out your house and wash windows and you’ll feel like Spring has arrived INSIDE your home too!

11149291_877987718911305_7361478005164180667_n

My seedlings so far this year!

Beltane is approaching fast! One of my favorite Sabbats..probably because it’s one of the first ones that I can celebrate outside without being cold!  I’ve written in the past 5 years all the many ways to celebrate this Sabbat and for me, that hasn’t changed.  I still have an outdoor fire, weather permitting, and burn any of the last of my dried herbs that have grown old and dusty hanging in my kitchen.  The scent is incredible!  I plant my seedlings in their outdoor beds, make offerings to the Fae of honey and bread, set out new wards and protection for my home and yard, and spend as much time barefoot in the grass with my hands in the dirt as I can!  A wonderful feast of fresh veggies, fruits, and grains are had by whoever decides to come by for dinner. And I never forget to gather the morning dew to wash my face in…to bring youth and beauty to this aging face of mine 🙂

images (3)

My Coven will gather, if not on Beltane shortly after.  Last year we made up May baskets (in jars really) to distribute to our elderly neighbors and loved ones. It was a lot of fun and I imagine we’ll do it again this year 🙂  We then welcome the Sun God…rejoicing in the return of the longer days, warmer weather, and Mother Earth blooming forth in all Her glory.

Other things I enjoy doing in the Spring….walks are a must.  I now have a gathering bag, a wildflower reference book and a good knife for gathering wild herbs on my walks. It’ll also hold acorns, pinecones, feathers and stones and whatever else I might come across on my walk that calls to me.  A walk by a pond, in a woods, on a beach, in a meadow…..whatever place I can find that allows me to enjoy being under the Sun again, outdoors.  Attending a pagan festival or maypole gathering, drum circles which usually move outdoors now, picnics in the park, drives out into the country to find early farm stands, visiting a botanical garden or butterfly house, going fishing, planting a tree and whatever else you can think of to do outdoors will help you to celebrate the change in the season, the turning of the wheel….Beltane!

2463875500_7b6e892984_o

Remember too that Beltane is about the God and Goddess coming together in love and lust for each other.  Whether you have a partner or not, find a way to spread some love.  For yourself and others. Do something for yourself..whatever it is you need.   Be kind, be joyful, be peaceful and spread Love.  You will gain back much in return.  There is so much un-kindness in our online experiences and in our real life.  We see bad news everyday, people being mean, judgemental, non-accepting….that we can get discouraged from it.  But spreading LOVE starts with each of us.  I know so many of you do just that…all my friends do…or they wouldn’t be my friend! lol.

So my friends….Spring and soon, Beltane, have arrived here in the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s a beautiful time of year and I for one will be taking complete advantage of every moment!  Enjoy the greening, blooming, warming of Mother Earth.  Enjoy lightening up on your clothes and foods. Enjoy the Sun on your head and the grass under your feet.  Make love, grow flowers, and dance under the light of the Moon!

I’ll be back soon with some recipes of course, along with pics of my gardens as they bloom and whatever else I find I’d like to tell you about.  I’ll have a new herb posting very soon too.  So for now, I wish you all a very Happy weekend! Make it magickal!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*All photos are either my own or creative common license.

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under Beltane, Cleaning & Organizing, Faeries, Family, Flowers, Friends, Garden, Gardens, God, Goddess, Holiday, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Protection, Quote, Seasons, Spring, Sun

How to Make Herbal Preparations……

Merry Meet everyone.  I hope that you all had a wonderful Beltaine celebration!  I know I did!  Today, again the Sunday Stew comes out and this article will be continued from there to here. (Here is the link for the Stew.  http://networkedblogs.com/WzCt4     Be sure to read the Stew in it’s entirety! It’s a plethora of Witchy info, articles, recipes etc. Here is what I wrote about this week 🙂

Today here on the Stew…I thought I’d post some basic information on how to make herbal preparations. I’m going to tell you how to make a tea infusion, a tincture, an oil and a salve/balm. They are all so easy to make and all wonderful ways to use herbs for medicinal or magickal purposes and some of them for culinary use.

 

We will start off with a bit about herbs in general. You want to be sure that your herbs..whether grown yourself or bought or wildcrafted….are organic. You don’t want to be putting chemicals in your body in any way! When using fresh herbs..be sure to use the parts of the herb that are useful….for instance the flowers and leaves of yarrow…but not the stalk or roots. That is where the good stuff is! Fresh herbs should be washed carefully. You can just rinse them well…or even give them a swish in half strength white vinegar water. Then allow them to dry well. You don’t want any moisture in your preparations…except for teas of course.

IMG_0896

 

 

Ok..we will start with TEA:   You can make a tea several ways.  In general, you want 1 tsp of dried herb or 2 tsps fresh herb to one cup of hot water. Most herbals will want to steep for about 10-20 mins. That’s all you need to know to make one cup of tea. Now of course, you can add more herb (as long as it’s a safe dosage) to your taste. Rosemary Gladstar, in her Herbal course “The Science and Art of Herbology” recommends that you make a quart at a time. Especially if you’re taking the tea for medicinal purposes. Two or Three cups a day of tea is recommended for most medicinal herbal teas. She says 2-3 TBS in one quart of water is good.

-You can infuse tea a couple of ways. One is to place the herbs in a jar with a lid, pour the boiling water over it. Quickly seal the lid to the jar. Allow to steep for 10-20 mins or so. Strain and drink.

-A stronger medicinal infusion can be made by placing the herbs in a pan of cold water. Place a tight fitting lid on the pan and slowly, over a very low heat, bring the water to boiling point. DON’T BOIL. This makes a stronger infusion medicinally.

-There are other ways to make teas too. You can skip the hot water part..fill the jar and make a solar infusion by sitting it out in the Sun for a few hours..I’m sure you’ve heard of Sun Tea! There are also Lunar infusions….so magickal for us Witches who use the Energy of the Moon!

Keep in mind that many herbs don’t necessarily taste good. Herbs are often bitter and can smell like dirt LOL.   Use honey to help sweeten them. You can also add teas to other drinks like juices to help. Also a tea infusion is wonderful to add to your bath or to soak your feet!

 

IMG_0899

 

The next preparation we’ll talk about is TINCTURES: A tincture is a concentrated liquid form of an herb this is easy to make and easy to take. Tinctures preserve and concentrate the medicinal properties of herbs making them more effective. By the way…save your glass jars! They are the best way to make herbal preparations. Ball or Mason jars are great to have around..so are pickle, mushroom, fruit, honey jars..etc etc. Re-use and re-cycle!

 

 

To make a tincture…get a clean jar (some people sterilize them) with a tight fitting lid. You will need to fill the jar with clean, dry, fresh herb (chopped).  Or you can fill it about halfway with dried herb. Pour 80 proof vodka, rum, gin or brandy over the herbs til they are covered well…leave a little breathing room in the top of the jar..and inch or two. Poke the herbs with a stick or end of a spoon to get all the bubbles out etc. Seal the lid. Now place the jar in a warm, dark place. Shake daily for about 3 weeks. I brew my tinctures for about 6 weeks. You can brew from 3 weeks to 6 months. When the tincture is ready…just strain out the herbs using a sieve or cheesecloth. Store it in colored bottles with droppers for ease of use. Keep it in a cool, dark place. Some people refrigerate them but in general, you don’t have to.

*You can do a tincture with apple cider vinegar following the same directions except warm the cider first.

To administer a tincture…well, do your research. A lot of tinctures will say to take 1/4 tsp in water, tea or juice 2-3 times a day for a chronic illness. For acute illness, you can take 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp until the symptoms (such as headache) pass. I know many people do the under- the- tongue administration too. I prefer mixing it with something, so it’s not harsh on my mucous membranes.

*You can also use tincture as a rub or liniment.

 

IMG_0849

 

Now on to HERB-INFUSED OILS: This is basically infusing a carrier oil such as Olive, Sunflower, Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed etc etc….with herbs, to use for multiple reasons. Pick the carrier oil depending on the usage. If it’s for culinary purposes…pick olive, sunflower or grapeseed. It it’s for making lip balms or bath products..almond and Jojoba are wonderful. Use what you like..they are all wonderful.

 

There is a couple of ways (and more) to do this. One way is just like making a tincture, except to use Oil. Just fill your jar full with fresh herbs, and halfway with dried herbs, cover with the oil, stir, seal the lid, label and store in a warm, dark place. Shake daily.   Again, several weeks makes for a good strong concentration. Strain when ready and place in bottles or jars appropriate for what you are using it for. For example, a pretty tall dark bottle with a cork will work great for culinary purposes and a small blue or amber bottle will be great for massage oils.

Another way to infuse the oil faster (I use this method all the time for my Verbena Lane Botanicals products) is to let it infuse on the stove or in a slow cooker…keeping it warm but not too hot. You can infuse the herbs for an hour this way or more. I usually warm it for at a couple hours..very low. Then turn it off, cover it, and let it stand til completely cool. Strain, jar, label and store the same as above.

 

*Again, you can also make a solar infusion..there is nothing prettier then jars of herbs in oil, slowly infusing in a sunny windowsill in your kitchen. Just be sure that fresh herbs are really dry…water and oil don’t mix!

*There really aren’t any measurements for the amount of herb to oil. If using a jar method, just again, fill it well with fresh, chopped herbs and halfway with dried. Leave an inch or two of space at the top when you pour in the oil. For the stovetop method..I generally use a cup or two depending on the herb, then cover to two inches above the herb with oil.

 

IMG_0845

 

Lastly, we will talk about SALVES or BALMS.   Now some will say what is the difference between a salve and a balm? Some will say the words are used interchangeably and I can agree with that. For me, I think a balm is a bit firmer textured where a salve is a little softer and creamier..but that’s just me J

 

To make a Balm or Salve….you need about a cup of that herb-infused oil you make above. Let’s say we are making a Yarrow salve since I just posted about Yarrow last week here on the Stew. This is a good basic recipe for a healing balm.

You’ll need:

1 cup of herb –infused oil

1 oz of good beeswax (slightly less if you want the balm/salve softer and creamier)

1 tsp vitamin e oil (helps to preserve the oil and good for your skin!)

40-60 drops of essential oils if you like. (I use more!)

 

When using the stove to make balm or salve…you want to use a double boiler. A double boiler helps to keep you from burning or over-cooking your oils as you warm them. My method is to bring water to a simmer in a metal or glass pan….then I place a large glass measuring cup right in the water..that works well too. Don’t burn yourself removing the glass cup from the pan!

Place the cup of yarrow-infused oil in the pan or glass measuring cup. Start warming it. Grate or chop the beeswax and add it to the warmed oil. Stir occasionally until it melts all the way. Remove from the heat and add the vitamin e oil and essential oils if you wish. For healing, lavender, rosemary, and tea tree essential oils would be a wonderful combination. Pour into containers of your choice. A cup of this oil will make several 2 oz tins, a couple of 4 oz jars or one big 8 oz jar. Let cool. Label and use.

 

If you would like to copy this info into pages for your Book of Shadows or Grimoire…you can do that here.   How to Make Herbal Preparations 2

 

When I talked about Yarrow last week…I told you all the medicinal uses for Yarrow. Now you know some of the ways you can make a preparation to use it. These recipes work with just about every herb you can think of! I hope as Summer comes and we are planting our herbs…that you try them in some way medicinally. You’ll be happy you did!! Here’s to your health!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Beltane, Garden, Gardens, Herbal How To, Herbal Recipe, Herbal remedy, Herbs, My Favorite Things, Photography, Seasons

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.

8 Comments

Filed under Beltane, Family, Flowers, Gardens, God, Goddess, Holiday, Mother Earth, Nature, Poem, Ritual, Seasons, Spring, Summer

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!!

 

th

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.

 

thE7EXNP8G

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

6 Comments

Filed under Beltane, Discussion, Garden, Gardens, Herbs, My Favorite Things, Nature, New Moons, Our Yard, Poem, Seasons, Spring, Summer