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Archive for July, 2012

 

On my two day trip I saw three great blue herons. I’ve always been a bird watcher/lover and I love it when I see the birds that I don’t normally get to see around my home. When I was getting my BS in Biology, Ornithology was one of my favorite classes.

Herons are wading birds. They live in marshy/wetland areas and wade through the water with their long legs, patiently hunting prey.

In animal totem symbolism, the heron stands for self-determination and self-reliance. A person with this totem makes her own path in life and lives a life less structured than other people. Her life is less stable and secure, but not always in a bad way. This lack of stability enables flexibility.

People with heron totems are not necessarily ‘people’ persons. They’re ok without large numbers of people in their lives and they don’t feel a need to fill traditional social roles. When they see an opportunity (and they’ll probably see it before others do) they strike aggressively and quickly, going after exactly what they want.

People with this animal as a totem should always follow their own path, their own wisdom.

 

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The last few days have been wonderful. I went on a little overnight trip with my husband Thursday/Friday and then had a fantastic book club get together and grilling on Saturday. Today the weather was absolutely beautiful and after being sick for just over a month with a summer cold (summer colds are worse than winter ones I don’t recommend you try one), I finally got back to running! This morning I ran three miles. I breathed in the fresh, cool air and felt the breeze on my skin. I breathed in positive energy and expelled the negative. I got my lymph system doing its job by pumping my muscles and I worked toxins out of my body. All through the run, I just kept thinking to myself ‘Blessed be.’ It felt so good to be running, but not only that, we’ve had rain on and off for the last few days! That has helped immensely! We’ve had a break from the oppressive heat and dryness and we’ve been blessed with rain and cool, sweet breezes. My plants all have a spring in their steps (so to speak) and there’s just a feeling of freedom with the break from the drought.

Life is good. Thank you, bright Goddess. Blessed be!

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Dionysus (known as Bacchus to the Romans) is the Greek god of wine and revelry, sexuality, and illusion. He was also considered a patron of the theater and a fertility god. He is often depicted as a man with a beard, robed, and carrying a thyrsus ( a fennel staff tipped with a pine cone) or as a young, sensuous, beardless man who is at least partially naked. He always has a retinue of women and satyrs drinking, dancing, and enjoying the pleasures of sex around him. He was thought of as being a protector for those who did not fit in with convention and so symbolized chaos.

Life was a party with Dionysus and he gifted his followers with freedom from self consciousness and the restraints of society through wine, sex, and ecstatic dance. It was believed that by indulging in wine and pleasure, you became one with the god. Religious and sexual ecstasy were one and the same.

His human female followers were called maenads and they often were driven mad by their god. In drunken frenzies, they would rip animals and people alike, limb from limb. The maenads would then feed the dead with blood offerings and Dionysus was their divine connection between the living and the dead. As you can see, there was a dark side to his worship.

Personally, I’ve always thought of the lighter side of Dionysus, the wine, the revelry, and the sex. He offers freedom from what society wants you to be and says it’s ok to be whatever you wish to be. Indeed, his festivals were notorious for being places where political conspiracies were formed. In some ways, he was a god of the revolution. He showed that it was ok to enjoy the pleasures of life.

The darker side of Dionysus shows the dangers of too much indulgence, in my opinion. Too much wine, too much sex, too much partying and you can spin out of control. There’s a dark side to pleasure and you must tread lightly.

Dionysus is a god of pleasure and excess, but he doesn’t invite you to it blindly. He shows you the consequences and lets you decide for yourself if you will follow him into divine madness.

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Echinacea, Echinacea angustifolia, is a lovely purple black-eyed Susan type flower that, indeed, is in the same family as the black-eyed Susan. The scientific name comes from a Greek word, echino, that means sea urchin and you can definitely see the resemblance in the spiky center of the flower. Often referred to as purple coneflower, they are a popular ornamental plant in many gardens around the country.

The magical uses of echinacea are few. Native Americans in the plains states used it as an offering to the spirits and used the juice to sprinkle on the coals in traditional ‘sweats’ for purification.

The discovery of the medicinal benefits of echinacea is credited to the Native Americans who used it for anything from treating burns to poisonous snake and insect bites. Over the years it has been used to treat rheumatism, strep infections, gangrene, eczema, and tumors, to name a few.

The real ‘magic’ of echinacea is that it is an immunostimulant. This means it stimulates the nonspecific immune system to go out there and kick butt. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I drink echinacea tea. I’ll warn you, though, it kind of tastes like old socks to me. 🙂 Throughout a cold, I’ll drink a cup a day to help my immune system rev up to do its job.

My lovely echinacea didn’t get very big this year, but she’s hanging in there!

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Light and love to the victims of the Aurora, Colorado shooting and their families.

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The last post on lavender put me in a purple mood, so I thought we’d talk about amethyst.

Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz and the birthstone for February. The ancient Greeks thought amethyst gems could prevent intoxication. Medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets for protection in battle, believing that amethysts could heal people and keep them cool-headed.

It is a receptive stone whose planetary rulers are Jupiter and Neptune. Its element is Water and the deities associated with it are usually Bacchus/Dionysus and Diana.

The main attributes of amethyst are peace, happiness, and healing. Other attributes are psychism, courage, and dreams.

Place an amethyst crystal under your pillow to help you fall asleep and to ward off nightmares. It may induce prophetic dreams, however, so keep that in mind if you choose to use it this way.

Amethyst is a stone of peace and, in my opinion, incredibly effective. It can calm your fears and lift your spirits.

Set a piece of amethyst in front of a lit white candle. Burn a high vibrational incense like sandalwood and meditate.

It is said to sharpen your mind and wit and to improve your memory.

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Lavender is one of my favorite plants. It smells beautiful, looks beautiful, and the bees love it!

Magically, lavender is considered to be a masculine plant, ruled by the planet Mercury and the element of Air.

It offers love, protection, sleep, chastity, longevity, happiness, peace, and purification.

It is said if you carry lavender it will enable you to see ghosts. I carried it on a ghost hunting trip as an experiment once and, well, let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed!

The scent of lavender is said to promote long life.

Of course, lavender has been used in love spells and sachets and is said to be particularly attractive to men.

If you burn or smolder lavender it will help cause sleep and rest. (Just make sure it’s in a safe spot so nothing catches on fire!)

Scattered about the house, it will help maintain peace.

I have used lavender mostly for protective, purification, and peace magic and also for its health benefits. According to the ancient Greeks and Romans, it is antibacterial and antifungal. Whenever I have a cold, I try to fill the house with the scent of lavender (even if my nose is plugged!) and I sip on lavender tea.

I like to use lavender in house protection/purification magic because it has a strong protective feel to it and because it smells better to me than sage. To protect and or purify your home with lavender there are a few different things you can do:

Smolder the lavender and carry it through the house so that the smoke reaches the corners of every room

Make an infusion of lavender (aka tea), let it cool, put it in a spray bottle, and lightly spritz the house (You can also use lavender essential oil in some water, instead.)

Sprinkle lavender in the corners of your rooms

Sprinkle lavender around the outside of your house

 

 

Whichever protection/purification method you choose, make sure that while you do it you visualize your home free of negativity and protected from it. Your visualization and energy is more important, even, than the proper herb for the job.

 

 

 

 

Now that we’ve magically used lavender, let’s cook with it!

I found two different recipes for iced tea with lavender.

Chamomile Lavender Mint Iced Tea

1 cup fresh mint leaves (loosely packed)

2 tablespoons dried lavender

1 ½ tablespoons dried chamomile (roughly 4 tea bags)

Crush the mint leaves and put them into a 1 gallon jar with a lid.

Add the lavender and chamomile.

Fill the jar with a gallonish of water and cover. Refrigerate 6 hours before straining the herbs from the liquid.

Serve!

Lavender Mint Iced Tea

4 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried lavender

¼ cup loosely packed mint sprigs

Honey to sweeten

Lemons and/or lavender sprigs to garnish

Pour the boiling water over the mint and lavender and allow to steep for five minutes before straining.

Sweeten with honey, if desired, then refrigerate until chilled.

Serve over ice garnished with lemon and lavender sprigs.

Lavender Martini

2 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin

½ oz. dry vermouth

½ oz. lavender simple syrup

2 dashes orange bitters

Sprig of lavender for garnish

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake it well.

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lavender sprig.

Lavender Simple Syrup

1 cup water

3 tablespoons fresh or dried lavender

2 cups sugar

Bring water and lavender to boil.

Stir in sugar until fully dissolved.

Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before straining out the lavender.

Pour into a bottle and keep refrigerated. This will last about a week.

Quick note: these are not my recipes, I am not taking credit for them. I found them over the years.

Over the centuries, lavender has been used for a great many things: embalming corpses, repelling mosquitoes, and as a flavoring for snuff. The oil has been used in varnishes and lacquers.

What do you like to use lavender for?

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