Thursday, April 21, 2011

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum

A common European wild plant, now a weed in many parts of the world; St John's Wort is an herb used profusely at Beltane, when it would be just beginning to flower. It was considered to have the power to heal wounds and down-heartedness. The herb contains hyperforin, a known antidepressant, and hypericin, which has shown distinct antiviral properties. St. John's Wort is considered a safe medicine currently used as a tonic for nervous exhaustion and prolonged anxiety. An infusion applied to a wound or burn can stimulate tissue repair. St. John's wort is a plant with yellow flowers whose medicinal uses were first recorded in ancient Greece. The flowering tops of St. John's wort are used to prepare teas, tablets, and capsules containing concentrated extracts. Liquid extracts and topical preparations are also used. Today, St. John's wort is used by some for depression, anxiety, and/or sleep disorders. The tops of the plant are picked in full flower.  It is easy to grow, but make sure you get the right species--perforatum has oil glands in the leaves which show up as transparent dots against the light.

I personally have been using St. John's wort in capsule form for about a year now for my depression that I have suffered from on and off most of my teenage and adult life.  I purchase mine from my herbalist/naturopath and find it has been more beneficial to me than the numerous pharmaceutical anti-depressants I have been off and on for many years.  However, I want to add strongly here, that I did not pursue this change without the consultation of my doctors as I have battled chronic depression for most of my life.  I react adversely to most anti-depressants, but do not suffer from using St. John's wort the way I was with the pharmaceuticals.

In my pursuit to find an alternative treatment for my depression led to my studying herbs and herbal remedies, which I am still working on and someday hope to become a naturopath myself.  I do not recommend you change any of your prescribed medicines without first consulting your doctor. 

A Magickal Perspective of St. John's wort

St. Johns Wort - a masculine herb, ruled by the Sun and its element is fire. 
·        St. Johns Wort is used for protection, calming anxiety and the hearing or auditory perception of spirits. Keep the dried leaves with you to rub on your wrists and temples when stress or anxiety begins to take hold. Sleep on a sachet of St. Johns Wort and Sage to bring on prophetic dreams.

·         What St. John's Wort Is Used For

·         St. John's wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders and nerve pain.
·         St. John's wort has also been used as a sedative and a treatment for malaria, as well as a balm for wounds, burns, and insect bites. (analgesic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory)
·         Today, St. John's wort is used by some for depression, anxiety, and/or sleep disorders.
·         Strengthens the nervous system and speeds healing.
·         In a tincture for shingles, cold sores and herpes.
·         In a cream for sore skin, inflamed rashes and cuts.
·         Infused oil as base oil for aromatherapy  back massage, and with lavender essential oil for neuralgia. (See recipe for St. John's Wort oil listed below)

How St. John's Wort Is Used

The flowering tops of St. John's wort are used to prepare teas, tablets, and capsules containing concentrated extracts. Liquid extracts and topical preparations are also used.

Skin Conditions

Oil of St. John's wort, applied to the skin, was a folk remedy for skin injuries, nerve pain, burns and hemorrhoids. Although the oil is sold in some herbal stores, creams are also available. Some are standardized to hypericin or hyperforin, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. St. John's wort also contains tannins, naturally occurring compounds thought to relieve skin irritations, such as those resulting from minor cuts.

Ear Pain

Some alternative practitioners recommend St. John's wort for ear pain due to an ear infection (otitis media). A combination herbal ear drop that contained St. John's wort, garlic, calendula and mullein is also as effective as conventional ear drops.

Other Conditions

St. John's wort has also been explored for conditions that can have psychological symptoms, such as insomnia, menopausal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome, seasonal affective disorder and attention deficit disorder. Further studies are needed before recommendations can be made.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns

In published studies, the most common side effects associated with short-term use of St. John’s wort supplements have included mild stomach upset; allergic skin reactions; tiredness; restlessness; anxiety; sexual/erectile dysfunction; dizziness; dry mouth and headache. If applied to the skin, St. John’s wort may cause a skin rash. St. John’s wort (both oral or topical) increases the sensitivity of skin and eyes to sunlight.

St. John's Wort Oil Recipe

Pick the flowering tops.  Put into a pestle, add a small amount of pure, light vegetable oil such as sunflower oil.  Pour just enough to cover, then pound together to crush, bruise and start releasing the oil.  Put into a large clear glass jar.  Cover with more oil so that all of the herb is well covered.  Shake well.  Then add another inch of oil.  Leave outside in direct sunlight for 20 days.  The oil will turn red when it is ready.  Use for skin, healing nerve damage, as a base for massage oils, or as a salve.

Important Notes About St. John's Wort

St. John’s wort may worsen symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other mental conditions; it may also lead to psychosis or mania.

People with diagnosed or suspected depression should consult a doctor to ensure that their condition is properly assessed and treated.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those trying to conceive, should avoid St. John's wort.

St. John’s wort should not be taken by organ transplant recipients, as it may cause organ rejection.

In one small study, St. John’s wort was associated with elevated thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels.

Do not stop taking prescription drugs without consulting your doctor.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap, Fabric Softener and Dishwasher Soap

Laundry Detergent

Each batch yields 16 ounces. I made two batches of this recipe and stored the 32 ounces of resulting product in a yogurt container.

* 1 bar of shaved bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha, Dr. Bronner)
* 1/2 cup of borax
* 1/2 cup of washing soda

thoroughly stir together for 5 minutes or until you have a powder consistency and enjoy the results! That’s it folks…seems too good to be true, but it is true indeed!
The listed ingredients can be purchased at your local grocery store:
·         1 – 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer® Super Washing Soda = $3.99
·         1 – 76 ounce box of 20 Mule Team® Borax = $4.99
·         1 – 10 pack of 4.5 ounce bars of Ivory® Bar Soap (**note** you can use cheaper soap, I actually had this on hand already.  Use whatever tickles your fancy – Other brands of commonly used bar soaps include Pure & Natural®, Fels-Naptha® and/or ZOTE®.  Both ZOTE® and Fels-Naptha® are made for and sold as “laundry bar soap.”)

(if you want to substitute the Ivory or such soap you could use Dr. Bronners scented or unscented baby-mild if you are sensitive, or you could add essential oils to the melted soap after it cools a bit) 

Fabric Softener

To make a natural fabric softener that works and smells the way you want it to.
First blend whatever essential oils that you like... be it for magickal properties or like me...scent.
Next take equal amounts of vinegar and baking soda.. the resulting liquid is PH balanced..your fabric softener, now add the oils to your nose likes the scent. Store in an old fabric softener bottle and use same as you would 'store bought'.
* I put mine in a spray bottle filled with half water half fabric softener and use it like-
*Febreze air freshner, furniture refresher
*Spray Carpets before vacuuming, helps keep it soft and smelling good
*Also works as a detangler for tangled hair...or fur.
*Instead of adding to the wash I spray the inside of the dryer really good before throwing the wet close wonderfully! OR if hanging out on the line hang up the laundry then give eack side a quick mist!

Dishwasher Soap

1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt

Mix together. Use a 1 Tbsp. per load. I put it in a labeled tupperware bowl under the sink. Use distilled white vinegar in the rinse / jet dry section.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Herbal Magic

In the practice of magical herbery, the collections of what might be considered “herbs” is far greater than in the study of medicinal herbology. Magic can encompass so many things; the possibilities are virtually endless.
The following are generally considered “herbs” when dealing with most forms of herbal magic.

All leaf varieties of plants, both edible and non-edible.
All fruits and vegetables.
Spices and nuts
Trees, shrubs and ground-level plants.
Weeds, both domestic ( lawn weeds) and wild (meadow weeds)

An herb, in the practice of spell-casting and magic, can be the single item which pushes magic to its purpose, if the practitioner is in tune with the herb, leaf, plant or fruit he/she is using.

Each herb has a different molecular vibration. This is not magic, but science.

Molecules which make up a thing, vibrate to maintain the bond with surrounding molecules. When that vibration slows dramatically and ceases, the thing dies. However, the energy (soul, spirit, essence, chi) that inhabited that thing leaves its residue behind and the item maintains the signature of its former inhabitant, but not its frequency. The frequency is the rate at which the living active molecules general vibrate. The frequency of a plant with its roots firmly and healthfully imbedded in the earth has a higher frequency of vibration than that of the dried herbs in the cupboard. In each case though, we can sense or “read” the signature regardless of frequency, just as we know that the dried basil in the cupboard is the same basil cut from the garden a few months ago.

Before human beings evolved, plant life maintained the health and healing of the beasts which roamed the planet. Animals instinctively seem to know which herb is necessary to make them feel better. They seek out that healing power by smell or recognition. Dogs will chew regular lawn grass. Annoying as that may be to the dog’s human, either in lawn care or cleanup after the animal, the dog only knows that the grass relates to his upset digestive tract and will relieve the pain or digestive block. Grass is a basic fiber (plant with heavier strings or strands of fiber running through it) and aids the dog’s digestive process.

Assuming that the first cognitive human beings watched animal behavior very closely, they would naturally try the same herbs and plants, leaves and shrubs that the animals used to heal their ills. From that practice evolved general use and experimentation with plants.

The Earth in its pure evolution, was a balanced world of equal components. For every illness or condition there was a cure, through plant life or minerals. Pollution, erosion and overpopulation have knocked that delicate balance off kilter.

Almost instinctively, humans attune themselves to the vibrations of herbs and use them in an automatic way. As an example, basil is an herb which strengthens love, lust and feelings of romance and closeness. Have you ever wondered why romantic dinners often involve a pasta dish? Basil is most-often a key ingredient in Italian cooking.
In using herbs for magic, you must become aware of the aspects of the herb itself. Awareness is the ENTIRE key. It is vital that you take the time to look and really see, feel and really experience, smell and really recognize. With practice these are very possible.

An herb’s potential in your magical work is endless. It will interact with your key vibrations based on your intent and effort. It will expand with you as you fill with energy. Once you begin to recognize and experience the herb as a unique thing, your magic will naturally grow more powerful.

Your Responsibility In Magic

In any action, there is a reaction. This is a basic universal law. What you do with your magical work has a direct effect on the world, in some form or other. Good intent creates strong magic. An herb’s signature is neither positive or negative, but just IS. It is the intent which you place in your work that steers the energy to its intended goal.

Be responsible in your magic. Care for all things. Herb magic, nor any other form of magic should be used in the harming of others. What you send out, WILL return to you, in a different form and with a different face. You can ensure positive return if you maintain a positive intent.

Be happy in your work, take joy in your interaction with herbs and be content that you have done your best.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Working on a Herb Journal Tutorial

I have been thinking about having an online tutorial about starting your own herb journal for quite some time.  I have so many ideas that would be both educational and fun and want to share them with you all so much.  I'm working on getting the materials together and trying to figure out the best way to do it.  My video camera is not working (I seem to be repelling technology this year) and I'm not sure what is wrong with it.  I'm considering taking it in and having it looked at for repairs as it isn't that old and a very good camera and miss having it.  I've also thought about video taping it on my laptop but I don't have a separate camera so that poses a problem.  I may just have to start off with pictures and instructions.  I work with herbs so much and find that having a journal is vital for me.  Does anyone have a preference as to how they are able to watch/use the tutorial?  I am open to any suggestions you might have.  Many blessings.

In Love and Light,

Circle of Fire - Protection

Have you ever been momentarily overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness? Heed the warning and look
to your enemies. A strong possibility exists that you have been ill-wished, "overlooked" as the
elders would say. Witches are commonly blamed for casting evil spells, but in truth very few indeed
care to risk a Three-Fold Return. This conviction that a curse sent forth will return thrice to haunt
you is a doctrine bred in the bone and one as old as the craft itself.

 Keep in mind that psychic attack is often the work of an amateur with latent power enlivened by envy
 or rage. Hate is a strong motivation and a sharp weapon. However, a malevolent thrust from the mind  
of a novice is over in a flash. An untrained will cannot sustain the proper degree of concentration needed to do real harm. Nonetheless, it is only wise to identify the perpetrator and protect  
yourself from further negativity.

 Visit the ocean (or any free-flowing body of water) to fortify confidence with an ancient Irish pagan  

     I bind to myself this day
     The swiftness of the wind,

     The power of the sea,
     The hardness of the rocks,

     The endurance of the earth.

 Cense the air of your home to purify the space and comfort the spirit under siege. Frankincense and  
myrrh are incenses notable for driving away the forces of evil intent.

Of all the earth's herbal gifts, none affords more effective protection than rue, the "herb of grace". Hang a fresh bunch over your doorway and carry a dried sprig to shield against harm from the ill-

One of the simplest means to defeat psychic attack is the Circle of Fire.

 In privacy and complete darkness, light a candle. Take a deep breath and stand as tall as you can.  
Face east and raise the candle high above your head for a moment. Bring the flame down to eye-level and  
hold it there while you turn slowly deosil three times. Concentrate your full attention on the blue  
of the flame as you rotate in place. Raising the candle high again, salute the east as you complete  
the final circle. This erects a barrier through which no evil thought can pass.