~ Herbal Doings ~

~ Cold Busting ~

I have loved herbal medicine since before I was a teenager, so home remedies have always been my first choice. One of my favourite things to do is make my own infusions, decoctions, tinctures, creams, syrups and lotions, with our kitchen often being transformed into a working apothecary.

Whenever any of us show a hint of cold or flu, I make my cold busting concoction which I have evolved over the years to include:

:: A decoction made with fresh root ginger, cinnamon sticks and dried liquorice root.
:: Tinctures of Echinacea purpurea, elderberries, (this is one I make myself), and myrrh (we only need a few drops of this one - it's POWERFUL!), with mullein leaf if there is a cough present.
:: Freshly squeezed lemon juice, cider vinegar, honey and a small pinch of cayenne.

We find it potent, warming, comforting and it works so well.

It satisfies something old and deep in me to be able to help my family using our herb and essential oil friends. We control My Man's high blood pressure with a lovely herbal tea mix that I make up, as well as acupressure and the yogic alternate nostril breathing.....oh! and I give him craniosacral treatments too!

I am so glad that I have knowledge of healing. I am so glad that when Our Boy used to cough in his sleep at night, I knew to grab the nearest bottle of Lavender essential oil, (I have a few), and massage just one drop into the hollow of his throat and that in less than five minutes he would be cough free and sleeping restfully for the rest of the night. I am so glad that when he woke up one day and  complained of a painful shoulder, I knew how to first, massage the muscles gently with my choice of essential oils, often, Black Pepper, Rosemary and Lavender (it gets used for so much), and secondly, apply a hot compress with essential oils of Chamomile Roman and Lavender, finishing off with a light and soothing massage. I am so glad that when we have flu or colds, I know how to treat us.

I was fascinated by my thought process some years ago when Our Boy had a very bad flu and his tongue became dry, cracked and bleeding. It was like watching a film in fast forward as ideas flashed from the memory banks...to be rejected as not quite right until the aha moment of  ~ honey as a carrier....healing and soothing in its own right....with a drop of calendula absolute....so beneficial for healing inflamed and cracked skin. I was thrilled to bits when it had worked its magic by that night. 
It was the same when a friend, badly damaged his hand and the corrective surgery had left deep scarring, which needed to be kept soft and supple. It was a joy to me to be able to delve deeply into intuition and knowledge and produce a cream that was a great success.

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~ Tree and Plant Magic ~

Rowan  ~ a young tree I planted in our garden some years ago. It brings to our home
protection against enchantment, protection of ley-lines, highest pure

magic, healing and success.

Incenses made from the ground-up leaves and berries help to dispel

negative energies. I shall be trying that this year. The smoke from its fire

was used by the Druids to call up spirit guides and magical spirits.

Its bark and berries give a black dye,

most important of all
song birds adore its fruit.

Blackthorn blossom in the hedge at the bottom of our garden

~ where the faeries live.

As well as providing berries for making sloe vodka or gin, it
brings to our home a powerful means of cleansing and the purification
of any negative attitudes we may carry within us, working deeply
on the psyche and allowing us to be free to create.
(It grows just a few steps from the doors of my shed,
so I'm relying on it to live up to its promise).

Birch ~ a young tree I planted in our garden some years ago.
She is slowly gaining in strength and height.
She brings to our home a means of purification, cleansing
old stagnant habits and allowing a flow of new ideas.
I love that here in Wales, it was customary for a young 
man to present a birch garland to the woman he loved,
and she would give him one in return if she felt the same way.
The young leaves are effective in healing any urinary complaints, 
and giving relief from rheumatism and gout.
The bark of the birch is so beautiful, though our little one has
many years to go before we may use hers. It is like paper, and
its magical parchment was used to write on from ancient times.
Always ask permission whenever you wish to use any part of
 a tree (or any plant); and show respect to all trees, as
this 'Lady of the Woods' gets very angry if they are abused
and may whip you with her slender branches! 

Rosemary blossom ~ just outside our front door. 
 Its symbolism brings to our home love and loyalty, friendship and
remembrance. It is well known for its ability to strengthen the memory,
and is considered a wonderful tonic for the heart, brain and nervous
system as well as being useful in strengthening the immune system.
I have used it in its essential oil form for many years to help clients
with sore, tense muscles, arthritis and rheumatism, though never on
someone with high blood pressure (hypertension) due to its hypertensive
actions. Conversely, the herb as an infusion, is used to control a
headache brought on by....hypertension! The essential oil of any plant is 
a powerful powerhouse in a bottle and much more concentrated than the 
fresh or dried herb.
Recently, builders were working on the outside of our house and they
were not careful with our rosemary bush, breaking off several branches.
Of course I was upset that people are so uncaring and disrespectful of
growing things...in fact I growled...I'm good at growling, but the damage
was done, so I added sprigs of sage and made smudge bundles from them.

The smoke cleanses our living space and uplifts and cheers us.

Lesser Celendine (Ranunculus ficaria) leaves 

This is the very first herb I foraged, way back when I was nine or ten
years old. There is a story attached to it -

A wise farmer's wife who lived near where I grew up was visited by
a Romany lady selling pegs and lace. Mrs T. had no need of these
items, but wondered if the lady knew of any herbs that would get rid
of haemorrhoids. The lady duly went off, and came back with a
clump of roots that had a little of the shape of haemorrhoids to them 
(think Doctrine of Signatures here). Mrs T. was instructed to wash
the roots, and eat them raw in a sandwich once a day.

When the lady had been thanked and paid and gone on her way,
Mrs T. thought she would like to know for herself where this plant
had been found. She walked in the direction she had seen the lady
go and kept looking for disturbed earth. On finding it, she identified
the Lesser Celendine (Ranunculus ficaria) for future use, in case of
haemorrhoids.....which came in useful for my father when he suffered
this painful condition. He knew I was familiar with the wild plants that
grew in our fields and the bordering woods, so I visited with Mrs T.
for her to show me what to pick, and from then on, every Spring, I
would go and dig roots of this plant for my father to put in a sandwich.

Years on, I found out that it is not recommended to eat the roots raw!!
It has never harmed my father, who is still fit and well at, soon to be 84,
but I would not recommend anyone to take them without first checking with
a qualified medicinal herbalist.

Reference source for trees: 'A Tree In Your Pocket' by Jacqueline Memory Paterson

I love this little book. It isn't one I would use to identify trees....there are plenty of others for that....but not so many that delve into the folklore, magic and pure joy of these rooted friends.

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~ Nettle ~

How I love this herb. I use it as food, in soups, and steamed as a vegetable, and in healing, making a tincture out of its leaves, adding it to a Spring tonic tincture along with dandelion leaves and cleavers. I also deliberately sting myself with it in the summer, as I noticed one year, after accidentally stinging myself one day, that my hayfever was considerably less intense. I experimented, and found it to work very well...the only thing that has helped in many years of trying many natural things. I also use it to liquid feed our garden, and I leave enough for the Red Admiral, Peacock and Tortoiseshell butterflies to lay their eggs. One year, it grew in a corner of the greenhouse and it was a Red Admiral and Peacock caterpillar nursery :~)

~ Elderflower ~

Our Boy is happy,whenever it's the time of the Elderflower, when, for four days our house has the bewitching, dreamy, lazy~summer~evenings smell of this creamy exquisite flower curling around its rooms.

Every year I make twelve litres of cordial, which he almost single~handedly consumes over the next few months...it has yet to last him a year! 

I love the whole process of it.....wildcrafting from trees abundant with the blooms.....

saying a silent thank you to the Mother Elder

 ~ asking permission from each tree before beginning ~ 

Picking the flowers that shine out from the rest, as they let me know they are the ones I can take, then saying thank you and leaving an offering....I cut little pieces of my hair as that is what feels right for me.

I have been making this for the last twenty two summers and I love how the annual ritual has brought an efficiency to the process. Although I am mindful as I work, I do not need to think about what I am doing...my body has the memory of the practice deep in its bones...the same as when I give a massage.

It is ultimately satisfying to have fifteen green, ceramic~swing~top beauties ~ and one little clear one ~ filled with sweet, tangy deliciousness lined up in the cupboard.

The Elder is one of my favourite herbs and, as Our Boy used to get one bout of very high fever every winter (except when we home~schooled him for four years!), I always used the dried flowers in an infusion...along with yarrow and boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)....to help control the high temperature.
Early autumn brings the pleasure of making a tincture out of the Elderberries....

I love to make our herbal medicines and Sambucus is one I always keep in supply. It has the desirable action of disabling the flu virus. Apparently it makes the needle-like protrusions that the virus uses to pierce our cells, soft and jelly-like, thus rendering them useless. It has the added bonus of being warming and comforting when we are feeling ill.

On~going in the kitchen is Kombucha. It is like a fine pear cider at the moment.

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Evening Primrose

Moon magic Evening Primrose Flower Essence

Summer Solstice Sage flower essence

Welsh Poppy Flower Essence
Lady's Smock flower essence

Yarrow and Mullein Mother tincture Flower Essences

Borage flower essence

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In 2011 I wanted to make my own Virbascum thapsus (Greater Mullein)  Verbascum, is not all that common here, but my good friend who  I go walking with, told me of a patch of them growing at this place

We were in Cardigan visiting the dentist, so we made a short detour on the way home for me to go and harvest some leaves. I had phoned to ask permission first, and was so grateful that they were quite happy for me to do so. Thank you Nathan.

As I wanted to use them as fresh as possible, I had the equipment in the car ready for immediate tincture~making. 

The Mullein Moth Caterpillar

the Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) 

 had grown rather profusely in our garden....

so I harvested them....

and made another tincture....

as the liquid in the fresh leaves release into the vodka solution, the bulk reduces considerably.
The Plantago is freshly made here and the Verbascum has been shaken and mashed down for four days.

The Verbascum will help heal any coughs we may have in the winter, and the Plantago will provide a welcome blood tonic, and rich supply of the minerals potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as helping to heal those coughs along with the Verbascum.
The work I do with plant friends is what I need to do to stay centred.

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