Okay, I said I’d start writing on plants, gardening and herbalism and anything else in that bucket that I know about.
First up: Herbalism. I’ve taken a lot of classes in herbalism and done a lot of research too when it was necessary and it’s always necessary.
Sooo the number one thing I’ve learned about Herbalism that most people seem to forget. ALL PLANTS ARE MEDICINES AND ALL PLANTS SHOULD BE RESPECTED BECAUSE OF THAT. And yes, I was yelling and I was yelling for a reason. One of my pet peeves is that if someone says it’s “all natural” it must be good. Uh, you might want to ask Socrates about the “all natural” drink they made him drink. And by the way the hemlock he drank is the not the same plant as the Hemlock that grows in North America.
That brings up my first point, the name may be the same in some places but it may not be the same plant so it’s safer to go with the Latin name to be exact. Hemlock in Europe in not a big coniferous tree. Skunk cabbage in the Eastern US is not the skunk cabbage in the West. And another problem is the name may be different but the plant is the same. California Bay Laurel is the same plant as myrtle in Oregon.Cinnamon sold here is not truly cinnamon but another plant entirely and oregano and marjoram in a spice jar are not the same as the plant at the nursery but a mix of herbs.
Number two, there is almost no herb that should be used every day. Remember? Medicine/drug? That includes coffee and teas. Black tea is camellia sinensis. Herbal teas sold at the stores are medicines too, read the label and know what you are drinking. Example: if you have high blood pressure and the tea has licorice of any kind, you should not be drinking it. Does the label say that licorice raises blood pressure, nooo, because they don’t have to. Are you diabetic and the tea has angelica root? Don’t drink it. It will raise your blood sugar. And for that matter, you can’t substitute agave for sugar, it’s actually sweeter and more concentrated than sugar and does worse damage. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are synthetic versions of salicic acid, the active ingredient in willow bark tea and while they all are pain relievers, they all make the stomach bleed. In the case of aspirin, it can be up to a tablespoon of blood per pill and to top it off, scientists have no clue how it works in the body, they just know it does.
If it ends in -ose, it’s a sugar, lactose, sucrose, fructose, all are sugars as well as anything with alcohol is a sugar as far as your body is concerned.
If you want to be sure of what you are using, grow your own. If you buy plants at a nursery, change the dirt if you aren’t sure how they were grown or get bareroot and then it won’t matter.
Even chamomile tea drunk every day can do damage to your stomach and that is a pretty innocuous plant.
Some herbs and what you may think of as spices are hallucinogens, it may be mild but it’s still a hallucinogen, things like nutmeg and mace. So is mugwort. The Hallows we drank mugwort tea still gives me the willies. I’m the type of medium that doesn’t take much to set off on her little pink cloud and all of a sudden I had someone in my head I had not invited in, a really pissed off demi-god that spoke archaic Gaelic and was really, really not happy no one had been talking to her in a very long time and she was very big and my head is not and she had a lot to say and was intent on saying it. The mother of all migraines and no way to kick her out but go with it. This was not amusing to me and not that much fun for the rest of the group except for the teacher.
Somethings are dangerous hallucinogens. I have a friend who is a nurse and also one of the most experienced herbalists I know and normally very careful. One Samhain night on the way home from work saw some datura growing wild by the side of the road. She thought it was alright to just take 2 leaves to add to her incense for the rite. She came to a few hours later in her car with no memory of anything after she picked it. She usually used gloves and assumed that small amount wouldn’t hurt. Uh No!
The number one most deadly herb here in the US, Nicotine from the lowly tobacco plant and it’s used in a lot of pest control and herbicides on the market. So if you smoke cigarettes? Guess what? Poisoning yourself everyday.
If a plant in a book says it stimulates cell growth like Comfrey never, ever, ever take it internally. If it stimulates cell growth it stimulates ALL cells. This would include cancer and tumour cells. If you are prone to things like skin tags or fibroids, you grow all kinds of other things too. If your body is the type to grow things, you grow all kinds of things like tumours benign and not benign as well. Sometimes that even includes hair. And the hair isn’t where you would like it to grow.
Some herbs do other things, rosemary is a great thing for shiny healthy hair but if you want to keep your blond or red locks use plain henna instead. Rosemary darkens hair.
It’s nice to read Culpeper and Grieves but you need to do much more modern research and not on websites pushing to sell those herbs. They might not tell you who shouldn’t be using it. Take some herbal classes from several teachers if you can. Get some good books like Paul Beyerl’s wonderful “Herbal Compendium” or “Master Book of Herbalism”. Scott Cunningham’s books are good for magical uses of herbs. I like the “New Age Herbalist” by Richard Mabey and Michael McIntyre. Paul teaches excellent classes up in the Seattle area and has the most glorious garden. And he’s good people.
So, I’ll get off my herbalist soapbox for now but please, please, please, do your research before taking anything internally and that includes incense and things that go up your nose like oils and perfumes.
Once upon a time BunniHoTep was walking up Temple Row. She had been spending the day with her sisters, Isis and Nepthys. They had had a lovely time at tea but now the sun was setting and BunniHotep was ready for a nice dinner of greens and carrots. She watched the sun set at the end of the row of sphinxes as she got closer and closer to her small temple.
She started to hear giggling. The light tinkling of a delighted child’s giggle along with a strange low sound she had never heard before. There was something familiar about that childish giggle. BunniHoTep was very curious. Who was that giggling coming from? She went around the corner of the vegetable patch and was met with a very strange sight.
It was Ammit and her little friend, Sesi. BunniHoTep leapt with happiness. Her friend from the North was visiting again? She hadn’t seen Sesi since she had showed them how to make turnip lanterns during the planting season a few years ago. BunniHoTep noticed she had grown a bit but looked like it was time for a new tunic and trews. They were getting a bit short.
BunniHotep smiled to herself. She had never heard Ammit giggle before. It was a very strange sound but she thought that she would like to hear it more often. Ammit had a very serious job that she took very seriously. She ate bad people’s heavy hearts. Some times it made her very sad. It was her job but that didn’t mean she was always glad to do it. Some people realized too late that going before Ma’at was a serious thing and that hurting other people to get their own way had real consequences. BunniHoTep knew how this hurt her kind friend. She was glad they had found something to be silly about.
BunniHoTep wondered what they were doing that was making them giggle. Ammit and Sesi were surrounded by two piles of straw. One full of bent and tangled pieces and a one that hadn’t been touched yet.
“What are you two doing?” BunniHoTep asked as she looked at the mess around them. Sesi even had straw in her hair. And Ammit had it stuck behind one hippo ear.
Sesi giggled harder and tried to catch her breath. “Remember the flames we lit for my Goddess when I got lost at sea and you found me.” Sesi smiled at BunniHoTep.
“Of course, we still have one lit over at Isis’s Temple and it’s spread to every Temple of Isis’ up and down the Nile.”
“Well, my family have been sailing down here to be in warmer places than our cold island and we thought we’d share our holiday again with you!” Sesi had a huge smile on her face now.
“What holiday is that and why are you covered in straw?” BunniHoTep was really confused now. What could a pile of broken straw have to do with a holiday? BunniHoTep looked at Sesi with one ear cocked and her head to the side looking very puzzled.
“Tomorrow is the birthday of my Goddess, Brighid and one of the ways we celebrate is to make these straw offerings to show our love for her. “ Sesi held up a three armed cross made with straw and tied on the ends with red, green and white threads. Some were tied with the straw. BunniHoTep thought they were really pretty. She also thought that now she knew why Ammit was giggling. Ammit was obviously trying very hard to make a cross but her hands were just not suited to this particular craft. She was glad Sesi wasn’t making Ammit feel bad about not being able to do it. She was having such fun trying.
Sesi had reached over and was guiding Ammit’s paws and that was helping a lot. When one is part crocodile, part hippo and part lion, one is not always suited to crafts. Ammit let out a cheer. “We did it!”
“We did!” Sesi cheered too and they both fell over laughing so hard they just wheezed.
“Okay, you two. Enough who is going to show me how to make these wonderful things? It’s time to celebrate a Goddess’ birthday and we have to be ready!”
BunniHotep sat down and reached into the fresh pile of straw and looked at Ammit and Sesi expectantly. “Well?”
And the three had a wonderful time making the crosses and pile grew higher and higher and BunniHoTep wasn’t tired any longer. She was having good time now.