Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rituals and Ceremonies -- Cleansing a space.

In most Pagan traditions it is very important to purify or cleanse a space prior to beginning any sort of ritual. Although there are a different ways of doing this, how you do it will depend on the tradition you follow as well as what you feel comfortable with.

Usually, when ritually purifying an area, most do it deosil and spiraling inwards to the center. There are times when moving in a widdershins direction is appropriate, most notably for Banishing Ritual.



These methods are some examples of common ways to cleanse a space for ritual.

Smudging


Smudging uses smoke, which will carry negative energy away from the area. Traditionally White Sage is used, however, other dried herbs can be added, such as Cilantro, Cedar, Lavender and Mugwort. The herbs are bound with string into a bundle, which is commonly referred to as a “stick”.

When lighting the bundle, try to make it flame for a moment if possible, then blow the flame out. This will leave you with a smoldering, smoking herb bundle. Once you have achieved the smoldering bundle stage it is time to smudge the house.

Now you don’t take the bundle and rub it on the walls and other things in the room, which would make a mess and probably ruin a few things and maybe even start a nice fire. What you do is this. Hold the smoldering bundle in one hand or in a heatproof object, like a shell. With either a fan or your free hand you waft the smoke to the edges of the room, making sure to get it into the corners.

When you have finished smudging you can either snuff out the smoldering end of the bundle by setting it into some sand or by crushing the end. An alternative method is to douse it under a bit of water, making sure to let it dry completely before attempting to use it again.

Sweeping
By long tradition, the broom is associated with cleaning and purification. The broom can be either a special one used solely for ritual cleansing or even your household broom. Use a broom or besom going around the edges of the space, with your intent being to sweep negativity away as you go. Here's a good idea. Start and finish near a door--that way, negative energy is swept outside, rather quite literally.

Asperging
Asperging is the sprinkling with a liquid in order to effect spiritual and magical cleansing. Most people will associate Asperging with the Catholic Church, however the practice is also widely used by pagans for cleansing prior to rituals.

It can be accomplished in many ways. The simplest of these is to have a premixed liquid of your choice and bundle of fresh herbs that you can dip into the water. Then you take the herbs, dip them in the liquid and with a quick flick you throw the liquid off the herb and into area or onto the object to be cleansed. You don’t want or need to have a lot of liquid being thrown though. Just small droplets are perfect. Herbs that are prefect to use are Sage, Lavender, Vervain, Hyssop, Pine, Rue and Rosemary.


Another option that can be used quite effectively to cleanse a space is the use of incense. This can be either in cone form, stick, or powder and charcoal. The incense should be for working with cleaning, purification and even protection if you want to add that bit into the cleansing.

During your cleansing and purification of your space you can also include a little chant to augment the process. There are many to be found on the Internet as well as in books. You might even have one in mind already, in that case write it down so you will remember it for the next time you want to cleanse a room.

In addition to the above, I also ensure that the space is physically cleaned as well. I try to use a non-toxic homemade cleanser to do this. How you physically clean is of course up to you.


I would be remiss if I didn’t do a shameless plug for our online store where we carry many items that are perfect for what I have just talked about. Stop by Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace today and order cleansing supplies.

Blessed Be!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Herb Day ~ MULLEIN ~ Just what the heck it is.

Mullein, I am sure many of you have seen this very interesting plant but never gave it a second thought.  I was in that arena as well until we started to sell it in our online store, Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.  We were selling pounds of it to people all over the country and even some overseas.  That led me to do some research to find out why it was in such high demand. 

I seached many sites and blogs and such to find that most all the information was the same.  I settled on one particular site, Botanical.com and the page on Mullein.  So here is what all the fuss is about.













Mullein's Botanical name is Verbascum thapsus.

Through history, Mullein has been known by many names.  Here they are - White Mullein. Torches. Mullein Dock. Our Lady's Flannel. Velvet Dock. Blanket Herb. Velvet Plant. Woollen. Rag Paper. Candlewick Plant. Wild Ice Leaf. Clown's Lungwort. Bullock's Lungwort. Aaron's Rod. Jupiter's Staff. Jacob's Staff. Peter's Staff. Shepherd's Staff. Shepherd's Clubs. Beggar's Stalk. Golden Rod. Adam's Flannel. Beggar's Blanket. Clot. Cuddy's Lungs. Duffle. Feltwort. Fluffweed. Hare's Beard. Old Man's Flannel. Hag's Taper.  It is quite interesting to see how people find names for things.  Many of the name are created because of how the plant looks.  The leaves are soft, felt-like and spongy so that explains some of them.  Other names originated because of the use as a torch. 

So where do you find Mullein?  That is quite easy.  Pretty much everywhere. 
From the Botanical.com - "the Great Mullein, is a widely distributed plant, being found all over Europe and in temperate Asia as far as the Himalayas, and in North America is exceedingly abundant as a naturalized weed in the eastern States. It is met with throughout Britain (except in the extreme north of Scotland) and also in Ireland and the Channel Islands, on hedge-banks, by roadsides and on waste ground, more especially on gravel, sand or chalk. It flowers during July and August."
Now this bit says that in North American it is a 'naturalized weed'.  While this is how most agencies view this wonder plant, it is far from a 'weed'.  Here in Colorado, it is found in pastures, open-space, along roads, along rivers and lakes, and even in some yards.  If you are looking for Mullein in your area just head to local undeveloped field or open-space, it just might be there. 

Pray tell, what does it look like? 
Mullein has two growing seasons so it will look different depending on which season it is in.  Season one it will be close the ground and have only a rosette of leaves between 6-15 inches long.  In the second season the rosette of leaves will have a stem rise from the center.  The stem will have alternating leaves similar to the lower rosette.  As the stock reaches full height of between 4-5 feet tall a flower spike will emerge and this will house the many yellow flowers of the Mullein plant. 

So what can you do with this herb?  The Botanical.com as a wonderful piece on this.  I am posting it here for your reference.

The Mullein has very markedly demulcent, emollient and astringent properties, which render it useful in pectoral complaints and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. The whole plant seems to possess slightly sedative and narcotic properties.


It is considered of much value in phthisis and other wasting diseases, palliating the cough and staying expectoration, consumptives appearing to benefit greatly by its use, being given in the form of an infusion, 1 OZ. of dried, or the corresponding quantity of fresh leaves being boiled for 10 minutes in a pint of milk, and when strained, given warm, thrice daily, with or without sugar. The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous and cordial, and forms a pleasant emollient and nutritious medicine for allaying a cough, or removing the pain and irritation of haemorrhoids. A plain infusion of 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water can also be employed, taken in wineglassful doses frequently.


The dried leaves are sometimes smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe to relieve the irritation of the respiratory mucus membranes, and will completely control, it is said, the hacking cough of consumption. They can be employed with equal benefit when made into cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in general.


Fomentations and poultices of the leaves have been found serviceable in haemorrhoidal complaints.


Mullein is said to be of much value in diarrhoea, from its combination of demulcent with astringent properties, by this combination strengthening the bowels at the same time. In diarrhea the ordinary infusion is generally given, but when any bleeding of the bowels is present, the decoction prepared with milk is recommended.


On the Continent, a sweetened infusion of the flowers strained in order to separate the rough hairs, is considerably used as a domestic remedy in mild catarrhs, colic, etc.


A conserve of the flowers has also been employed on the Continent against ringworm, and a distilled water of the flowers was long reputed a cure for burns and erysipelas.


An oil produced by macerating Mullein flowers in olive oil in a corked bottle, during prolonged exposure to the sun, or by keeping near the fire for several days, is used as a local application in country districts in Germany for piles and other mucus membrane inflammation, and also for frost bites and bruises. Mullein oil is recommended for earache and discharge from the ear, and for any eczema of the external ear and its canal. Dr. Fernie (Herbal Simples) states that some of the most brilliant results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner ear by a single application of Mullein oil, and that in acute or chronic cases, two or three drops of this oil should be made to fall in the ear twice or thrice in the day.


Mullein oil is a valuable destroyer of disease germs. The fresh flowers, steeped for 21 days in olive oil, are said to make an admirable bactericide. Gerarde tells us that 'Figs do not putrifie at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein.'


An alcoholic tincture is prepared by homoeopathic chemists, from the fresh herb with spirits of wine, which has proved beneficial for migraine or sick headache of long standing, with oppression of the ear. From 8 to 10 drops of the tincture are given as a dose, with cold water, repeated frequently.
I have found the plant.  Now what do I do?
Well that depends on what you intend to make.  If you are going to make the ear oil, you just need to harvest the flowers from the plants.  This can be quite a challenge given that the flowers have no stems.  It is best to get the flowers that have fully opened and are near the bottom of the spike.  These are easier to remove.
If you are interested in the Mullein Tea then you will need the leaves of the plant.  These can either be obtained by removing them individually from the lower part of the plant (not the ones at the very bottom as they are usually damaged and don't do well).  Remembering to only remove some of the leaves and move to the next plant, this is done to ensure the plant survives to produce the seeds needed to self populate.  Another method is to remove the whole plant by cutting at the base just above the bottom leaves.  I would recommend this only if the area you are harvesting from has a large number of plants.  Once you have the entire plant, it can be hung like other herbs to dry and the entire plant processed as needed. 

More detailed information on the uses can be found at The Botanical.com.

If you aren't inclined to head out and harvest the herbs yourself we have this herb and many others available in our store at Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.

Next week is Hyssop. (a rush of ohs and ahs fills the room)

Blessed Be!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Healthcare ~ Will the Village Healer return?

A friend and I were having lunch the other day and we had broached a few varying topics during our discussions, but one peaked my interest.  The subject was; with the rising costs of health care and the somewhat lack luster attempt at reforming the nations health care policies, how long will it be before we see a return of the shamans, medicine men/women, and village healers. 
First let us travel back to the time before we had the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), government run health care, and expensive physicians.  It is known that in many settlements in Europe there was a person or persons whom you would visit if you became ill or injured.  That person knew all there was to know about the ailments and how to remedy them.  They knew which flowers made a person sleep peacefully. They knew which leaves of plants that grew wild in the forests and meadows would clear a cough or sooth an upset stomach.  They also knew which of these would cause harm and even death.
So...is there a place for this kind of person now?  I think it would be quite interesting to be driving down the street and see a sign for an apothecary run by a shaman or witch.  Of course there would be resistance from all different directions.  The FDA would surely raise a stick about the fact there wouldn't be any regulation by them.  But you know that not everything has to be under the watchful eyes of the government.  I bet there would be something from the religious groups opposing the non-traditional aspect of the shops.  But honestly what would be the harm.
Of course there will have to be some watchfulness to make sure that whomever is running the shop is doing so ethically and not harming anyone and selling baneful items.  That is just sensible responsibility. 
I have a huge book that has a bunch of herb listed as well as the healing properties they imbue.  I found a treatment for Herpes using a common garden herb, a treatment for coughs by using many different herbs that are found growing wild in many fields and many other ailments. 

This is just something to think of.  Another way for things to change in a time of change. 

Blessed Be.