Friday, November 22, 2013

Wassailing (The Origins of Caroling) and the Christmas Goat

  (Gloucestershire version) "Wassail, wassail all over the town; our bread it is white and our ale it is brown, our bowl it is made of the white apple tree, with a wassailing bowl we'll drink to thee.

1. wassail, waassail, all over the town; our bread it is white and our ale it is brown, our bowl it is made of the white apple tree, with a wassailing bowl we'll drink to thee.
 2. come, butler, come fill us a bowl of the best, we'll pray that your soul in heaven will rest; but if you do draw us a bowl of the small, may the devil take butler, bowl, and all!
 3. so here's to the maid in the lily-white smock, who skipped to the door and slipped back the lock
who skipped to the door and pulled back the pin,
for to let these jolly wassailers come in.
 4. come mother, and fill us a bowl of the best; we'll drink it down slowly and sing that much less.  but if you do bring us a bowl of the small, we'll wassail the night all here in your hall.
 5. and here's to the granny that sits by the fire, come make us some room and we'll sing you an hour.  we'll sing you and hour, and if you can hear, we'll drink to your health, and a happy new year."

I encourage you to check out a short clip on Wassailing in Norma Waterson's class on folk singing (#6)
 Norma Waterson's class on Folk Singing

Wassailing appears to have originated with farm workers, who would have needed extra food and money for this time of year (since they were out of work).  They went door to door, put black grease or paint on their faces, sometimes took their swords too.  I may be viewing this the wrong way, but there could be a threat there.  Gangs of men, going to door to door, with no way to tell who they were, some armed and demanding ale and food.  Sounds safer to me, to just give them what they wanted so they could be on their way.
The men didn't just beg for food however, they sang songs and performed Mummer's plays for the entertainment of their hosts, entertainment well worth the price in the cold, dark days of winter.  It would have been like a traveling party.
Julebukking in Norway

  Norway had it's own similar customs, but it was/is called "julebukking" (the word "Julebukker" literally meaning, "Christmas goats").  The oldest accounts have people dressing up as goats (complete with goat-skins), and researchers are unsure as to why it is this particular animal.  Some have hypothesized it has something to do with the God Thor, or scaring away any spirits that have slipped through the thin veil (in norway the veil is thinnest around the winter solstice.  Anyone listening to the cold wind howl in a bad winter could imagine why that might be). Later traditions left out the goat-skins and made their costumes from cloth. An 1890s memoir by Halvor Floden of Trysil in Eastern Norway stated that in his day "they took a white cloth and cut out holes for eyes and mouth, smeared on some soot and red paint, and that made a mask...when the time came for the bukkene to go to the table, their masks came off and the children would yell in the greatest amazement, "no was it you, Johanne!" The bukkene brought along their ordinary clothes and changed into them to become people again.  Now everyone joined in the ring-dancing that made the kitchen shake..." (Stokker, Kathleen.  Keeping Christmas, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1946.)
  Later traditions look more similar to America's Halloween, with the booze and adults being replaced by children and candy, the more scary looking masks being replaced with carnival ones.

  For a little more insight as to why this practice is so focused on goats see this:
An Asatru Blog

  A little research on "Krampus" which Kevin mentions in his blog does indeed strike a chord.  Could it be that the pre-christian Santa Claus of that region was actually a half-human Goat-god?  I am immediately struck by the similarities of the myths associated with Krampus and Lillith, or Holda, as the old God or Goddess became demonized by those in power.  Perhaps Goat, was the meat of choice this time of year...

 "During the 19th century the Yule goat's role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the giver of Christmas gifts, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule goat.[5] In this, there might be a relation to Santa Claus and the Yule goat's origin in the medieval celebrations of Saint Nicholas.[2] The goat was then replaced by the jultomte (Father Christmas/Santa Claus) or julenisse at the end of the century, although he is still called the Yule goat (Joulupukki) in Finland, and the tradition of the man-sized goat disappeared."

above paragraph found here
  It is interesting to me that the Yule goat gave gifts so late as the 19th century.  I wonder if this was a new tradition or a return to an older one?  The search continues...It makes sense to me that when the goat was slaughtered for meat, the people might want to give gifts to the spirit of it.  Our ancestors may seem to be callous to some, but there were no cafos (confined animal farming operations) hidden deep in the country to keep them from the reality of their food.  They were unable to keep their animals in such deplorable conditions or they would not even make it to butcher, milk or breed (no vaccines and antibiotics back then).
 Instead, they understood that the spirits of ill-treated animals would come back to haunt them, or that the nature spirits would make the land infertile.  You can explain this with science, saying that if you ill-treat an animal long enough, it will cease to be healthy and fertile, or you can say the "Nisse" is angry with you, in the end, it matters not.  Perhaps if we still had these superstitions our people, our land, our animals would be healthy, instead of learning the hard way, after the fertility of the land has gone, and the health of Her people and animals is in decline.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What's In Your Food?

  Just when you thought sugar couldn't be any worse for you...Introducing GMO Sugar!
I never heard until now that we have been growing GMO sugar beets.  Apparently that "natural" Pepsi with sugar is actually sugar from GMO beets.  Gets me to wondering what else it is in.  I would assume anything that doesn't directly say "cane sugar" could contain it.  The Organic Consumer Association has been reporting about a study done on hogs eating GMO corn ( )--it is apparently wrecking their guts. Honestly, we just don't know what this stuff does to people. 

  So anyhow, farmer's markets, CSA's etc. are my friends.  I just read a book "Gaining Ground" by Forrest Pritchard, which gave me some hope for the future.  He turned around his family farm, turned it organic, direct marketed, and now his farm is actually profitable and is able to support his whole family, mom, sister, etc.  I have to admit to being a bit lazy (until recently) about going out of my way to get the good food, but seriously, what I eat makes a huge difference in my health.  After years of having kitties around, even my mom has had to admit that whether or not she got decent, more expensive cat food vs. generic ash-filled varieties made the difference of several years of life (and more productive life) for the kitties.  I'd rather eat several meals a week of beans and rice and occasionally have grass-fed beef then eat lots of CAFO raised meat.
  I suppose I could spend all afternoon complaining about this stuff.  I hope you know what "GMO" and "CAFO" means, if you don't, please spend the next few seconds "googling" it .  Our food is so important, not just so that it keeps us alive, but actually does what it's meant to --provide vitality and healing.  If the food we eat isn't providing this, it is not performing one of its basic functions and ceases to be "food" in the proper sense.
  thanks for listening,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gut Health

Thinking about gut health again today.  It is so important for our immune systems (some people say as much as 75%).  I guess it's not that surprising, since digestion is how we assimilate nutrients.  If you're not able to get nutrients properly, how can your immune system function correctly?  I guess the Ayurvedics were right!
( "when diet is wrong, medicine is no use, when diet is correct, medicine is of no need"--Ayurvedic proverb)
 I just happened on a blog that has tons of entries about gut health, I thought I'd pass it along.

Since I added gut health, fermented foods and probiotics to the list of stuff to try if your health is shit, I thought I might add a good site to go to for more info.

If you are interested in that kind of thing, there's also a book you might like called "The Art of Fermentation" by Katz.  I think this book and I will get along famously.  I've been perusing it all week.  Like the above link, Katz isn't afraid to get down and dirty and write about things that are taboo in our culture.  Who (in our culture) would think to use fermented pee to put nitrates back in their depleted soil? And why would that pee be more disgusting than the chemical sludge nitrates we spray on the fields?  It's available and it's free. 
  As a woman that supports cloth diapering and cloth pads for a variety of reasons I find all this a breath of fresh fermented pee...(this is actually a good thing).
  Aside from fermented pee (actually this is just a very small part of the very large book). It gives great ideas for fermenting just about everything from kimchi, juniper berries to beer, kefir and grains.  Just what I needed!
  With all the crap going on in the world (I seriously need to stop reading the news), from unstoppable fracking oil leaks with gag orders being placed on 7 and 10 year old kids, whole neighborhoods being literally swallowed by corporate greed as they fall into salt pits, drones spying on Americans (and being made to look like hummingbirds and moths--see National Geographic), Even fermented pee is enough to make me happy at this point.  Our culture, our world, obviously needs to re-think just about everything, going back to some old ways, and inventing new ones.  I don't think we should leave any stone unturned, even if it smells like ammonia.
  Thank the Goddess, for the few sane people left in this world.
  May this entry find you in good health, if it does not, may it give you a bridge to find it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Post Weaning Problems

  So if you go online and look for problems post-weaning you are likely to come up with something like depression and/or mood swings.  What you won't see is all the other stuff some of us (many of us?) experience that is not recorded and has not been studied.
  Since I weaned gradually I did not have some of the symptoms you might expect (severe breast pain, engorgement, mastitis, fever etc.).  But about a week out I started having migraines, dizziness, nausea, bloating, feeling faint.  The migraines hit one day after another for over a week as my hormones adjusted.  I feel relatively normal now about three weeks later.
  When I did a little online research I got basically nothing until I found a mom forum.  The mom's were all talking about how after they weaned they basically felt pregnant again for a few weeks.  They too, could find no information about it.  About three weeks out now, I am having candida problems and have had to cut out sugar and start on a routine of coconut oil, pao de arco, and garlic.     
     Like many things regarding our reproductive organs or hormones, our culture has largely ignored these important parts of our lives, leaving us with little information with which to help ourselves.  I was completely incensed when I read Tony Weschler's book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" and found that girls were being prescribed antibiotics for perfectly normal vaginal fluid, it seems even the doctors can be misinformed about our own sexual organs,what they produce and how they behave.  It is up to us to be informed, and to inform our children so that they can avoid these health "pitfalls".
  I took pain killers that week for my head, and munched on ginger and sucked on lemonheads (my pregnancy nausea helper) and root beer candies.  Several times that week, my husband came home and took over childcare for the rest of the evening, while I either slept or just laid down, physically unable to do anything else (those of you with migraines can empathize/sympathize).  I am feeling better this week, but it is clear that my hormones have much adjusting to do, and I need to treat myself tenderly, eating healthy, taking supplements and getting lots of sleep while my body gets back to business as usual.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Toddler Weaning Final Phase--We're Done!

Well, we've done it.  I am filled with both excitement and sadness.  This was/is the final phase of weaning slowly, so if you'd like to see how I'd started, see my other weaning posts.
  We had been nursing in the morning only for some time, so it seemed to me the next step was to wean completely.  I noticed a hormone shift a few months back (you know that brown color you get in pregnancy? Mine stayed until just a few months ago!), then another now that he would try to nurse, then squirm around and just irritate me. I actually wanted to wean--it was time.  On a similar note, I have been told that if you are trying to have another baby, some people cannot conceive while they are breast-feeding, even if they are years out from doing it like I am.
  I thought the only way I was doing this was if we were separated till I dried up, otherwise I was afraid I might cave in and let him nurse and ruin the whole thing.
  We sent him to Grandma's for 1 week.  He went to the pool, played with his cousins, all the while I chewed fresh sage leaves, 1 leaf, 3x a day for 3 days.  The first day I pumped maybe a 1/4 ounce off each breast to make sure I was comfortable and didn't get an mastitis/complications from being over-full.  I only had a couple instances of sharp pains in my boobs (like I experienced when cutting bed-time nursing).  Then they just stopped making milk. I don't think I was making much more than a couple ounces in the morning anyhow.  It was very easy and my son's homecoming was easy as well.  I am pleased to say he has been back with us one week now and has still not cried about not being able to nurse.  For months now we have been discussing how little boys and girls get too big after awhile, and their Mommies' milk dries up, so he knew it was coming.  A couple weeks before I sent him to Grandma's I also mentioned that he was getting really close to being too big, that it would be soon.  He was a little worried, but not very.  Then  we talked a bit about weaning presents.  When he got home we explained my milk was gone, but now he was big enough to get a weaning present! We took him to the store and he got to pick his out--a batman car that shoots fans into the air that hover--I even think it's cool.
  I am so proud of my Little Man, and I am glad that everything went smoothly.  I hope this works for others.  Sending your kid away for a week certainly isn't going to be doable for everyone and I think that definitely helped us, because it got him out of the habit of thinking he needed it in the first place.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Babywearing Rocks

When you are thinking about how to raise/handle your baby and child, I encourage you to take a step back from the normal way you have (probably) been taught.  Babywearing, cosleeping etc. are all coming back into use because they have been practised for centuries and found to be not only useful to Momma but good for baby as well. I was going to write a rather broad entry today, but after I started, found it mostly centered on babywearing, so I'll focus on that for now.
  I think this post could be called "Moby Wrap and Ergobaby review", it's just my experiences with both of these carriers, plus a little extra thrown in--just a warning for ya...
     The Moby Wrap  ( ) was my favorite carrier from birth to around 9 months.   Just don't be put off by the fact that you have to do your own wrapping, your Moby will come with a book on the different ways to wrap and carry your child, and it really is quite easy.  There are also tons of places now like the cloth diaper store, Little Padded Seats (, that do free classes on cloth diapering and baby wearing, I'm sure they would be happy to demonstrate wrapping a Moby.You can even pull up a part of the Moby to support your baby's head while she's too little to hold it up.    The Moby is so comfortable, and secure, that little baby isn't going nowhere!
 You can technically breastfeed while wearing the Moby, and I would do so on occasion, but I found it uncomfortable for the odd angles it created while breastfeeding.  It was nice to do while hiking with it when my son was little, and I would just shift him to feed, then shift him back.  Only trouble is, when shifting him back sometimes in order to get a secure hold I would have to undo part of it and tighten it again, once I got the hang of it--not that difficult, just remember you don't have to undo the whole thing to tighten it.  During really hot weather hiking could be difficult with a babe, since there are several layers of fabric around them making them warmer.  My son also hated to have his feet inside the wrap.  Once he was strong enough to push against it, I absolutely had to use a hold that kept his feet out. 
  Eventually I ended up having to get the Ergobaby carrier ( ) for hiking, since my son started pushing his shoulders out of the Moby when he got older and I felt it ceased to be safe at that point.  The Ergo baby ended up being so handy for hiking (and back carrying) that I have not tried the hiking carry suggested by my Moby, I just leave my Ergobaby in the trunk and get it out and wear it until he is too tired to hike/walk anymore, then load him up.  Because I remembered how hot my son would get in the Moby during the hot summers here, I got the "performance" carrier that is extra breathable for hot weather--when you will be doing most of your hiking.  If it is cold, I have a wool army blanket that I cut two holes in, one in the middle for my head, and one a little further out for my son's head.  I sewed an old dickie into my head-hole and I have an instant turtle neck.  I have yet to figure out something to make my son's ride warmer since any turtle neck or hood would make getting the baby poncho on over both of us (by ourselves) difficult.  You can now buy very expensive baby wearing coats, but I did not want to spend the $300 + for a coat I wouldn't use that often.  If you have, or can justify the money, I'm sure the coats are awesome.  I've had good luck with my baby poncho though, but I do wish I would have thought of it earlier.  I've only had it since he was about 18 months old, and certainly could've used it when he was younger.  It was well worth the around thirty dollars from the military surplus store to get the blanket.
  You can technically get an infant insert for your Ergo baby and use it when they are an infant (the infant insert supports their head and makes the whole thins more sturdy for them), but personally I liked the Moby better for that stage of existence.  I think it more closely resembled the womb, and was more comfortable for both baby and Momma.  The Moby feels like wearing some sort of heavy tee-shirt, very comfy, and the Ergo baby is like wearing a backpack (comfortable for a backpack, but not all that comfortable in general).  I do love my Ergobaby for hiking but I only use it for loading him on my back. The few times that I tried a hip carry or something else, I found it way too annoying to have to re-adjust all the straps.  To me, the Moby was easier for many types of carries, and the Ergo baby excels at the back/hike carry position.  The Moby would be difficult to use a back carry with until your child was pretty old too, long after you'll probably prefer to hike with them on your back.  If your kid starts screaming and needs to nap while hiking, you'll need to have the napping hood already pulled out of its zipped pocket so that you can reach behind you and get it over their head, you'll want to adjust it ahead of time so that it is about as snug as can be, otherwise their head will still be at a really odd angle when they are sleeping in it.
  I recommend buying the cargo carrier to snap onto to the Ergobaby.  It is just big enough to carry a water bottle, and maybe a diaper and wipes--you'll need it.
  I can't really give you any tips on other types of carriers because I simply haven't tried them.
I can tell you my son's Grandmother got a cheap backpack style carrier from a big-box store, for when he came to visit, and it had thin straps and looked quite uncomfortable--not something I would buy to use full-time at my own house.
  The Moby is around $60, I do know people who have made their own Moby out of similar material.  I am unsure though, that you would be saving much money because of how long the wrap needs to be, and sewing parts together would make it less sturdy.  I think it's worth the money to just buy it.
  Babywearing helps to keep your infant happy, their digestion good, and their little brains stimulated, plus it frees your hands so you can more easily do housework or go for a walk, shop etc.  Babywearing is one of the many things that people used to do, that we have taken for granted, then rediscovered all the amazing benefits (

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Why of Buying Real Soap

Since I seem to be on somewhat of a toiletry bent of late, I thought it might be interesting to go into soap and soap-making.
  I dabble (or at least I used to when I had more time) in just about every craft I can think of.  I don't really get good at any one thing, but like having some rudimentary knowledge and ability at lots of things.  I decided many years ago to try my hand at soap making.
  For years I just made my own soap, and gave the extra away lavishly for birthdays, X-mas etc.  Then, thanks to the proliferation of meth-making in Iowa, I could no longer obtain lye, the necessary ingredient in soap making.  I suspect if you are a plumber or something you can obtain special dispensation. You may even be able to have it shipped (expensively) to you, where it can be monitored.  Basically, lye is used in making meth, and so they have banned it from store shelves here in some vain hope of stopping it from being my knowledge all it's done is keep me from easily or inexpensively making soap.

  The regular soap you buy at the store is actually closer to a detergent.  It may be a straight up detergent--it's been too long since I did my research.  I just know I don't want to use it.  It dries my skin out, and I suspect it dries out pretty much everyone elses too.  That's probably why people buy so much lotion.
  Those body washes everyone loves so damn much are the same thing.  Any time something foams consider it suspect.  Foaming agents like Sodium Laureth Sulfate were supposedly added in the Great Depression to make people feel like they were getting more for their money.  Foaming doesn't actually equate with better cleaning or more cleaning, it does equate with more drying. Even natural foaming agents like too much coconut oil in a soap can dry skin.  To add insult to injury, all that soap scum on your tub comes from the crappy store-bought soaps too.  I have to say, since I made the switch years ago, we don't really get soap scum in our tub/shower.
  All that drying out isn't just an itchy or unsightly problem, it can cause skin issues too.
  When I was a teenager I had some sort of skin condition on my face, it was unsightly, and we went to many doctors to try to get a diagnosis.  After about a dozen doctor and specialist visits I just gave up.  Years later, when I started making my own soap and using that on my face instead of harsh "deep cleaning" products, it magically disappeared.  When I gave it to my friend her acne disappeared too.  My Mother-in-Law also had a skin condition clear up after switching to my soap. One would suspect that a soap made from real lye would be harsher than what's on the shelves, but obviously not. If the PH in the soap is right, it's just right.
  Beware of antibacterial soaps too.  Just like our guts have beneficial bacteria so does our skin.  The good bacteria can offer us some protection, but not if we kill it with antibacterial soaps.  If I was a doctor or nurse working around a bunch of staph infections etc. I would do a bit more research, but since I don't, my family doesn't have anything like that in the house, we are not high risk and simply have no need.  My guess is, the hands would be the only place even a nurse might need antibacterial soap most of the time.
  I don't make soap anymore.  I find it more convenient and satisfying right now to just buy it rather than make it.  So many people are hand-making soaps these days and I can find so many wonderful essential oil (and not fragrance oil)scents, colors and types there is little reason for me to do that until I have more time.  
  Those are my thoughts for tonight.
Good night folks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Busy Month of May

Summer is always on high speed around here, trying to schedule everything before winter comes again. I can't imagine what it is like for our friends up in Minnesota.
  We still haven't scheduled for this year all of our Esbats and Sabbats, and am trying to get everyone together to do that.  Everyone is so busy in the Summer, we need to get everything scheduled asap, or risk having no one around for ritual.
  May is particularly busy with mundane concerns on top.  Graduations, prom, birthdays and anniversaries are constant, I simply can't keep up with anything.
  The dishes and laundry are piling up, as we speed the pace of travel and socializing.
I am not really complaining but just commenting--May is busy for normal folk, but doubly so for pagan folk! Beltane is one of the most important celebrations of the year and it falls right in the middle of all of this other mundane fast-forward.
  I am feeling the need to just slow down, but the mounting house work means I really should tend to it instead.
 So I reckon today was just a short update, I have to get back to doing rather than sitting.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Phase 2 Toddler Weaning

Well, it took me awhile to get to phase 2, I decided against last week to cut out the next cherished morning nurse.  It was cold and snowy and depressing, I decided it was a bad week for us to have a battle of wills.  This week though, we don't really have any good excuses.  This morning I didn't tell him he could never nurse in the morning again, I just told him to wait till after breakfast.  If he nurses at that point, he will still be taking less milk (since he'll be full already) and we will still be on the road to weaning. He still whined and got up early etc. but he took it pretty well considering.  Proof that he is getting better at this weaning stuff.  He's been through it before, giving up the night time nursing was tough, hopefully everything after it will be familiar. 
  I dread cutting the last nurse though, I don't know how he's going to handle it.
  The reason I am leaving the naptime nurse there till last is I am hoping that it will slowly get cut out. He doesn't always have a nap during the day, or sometime it gets moved around because we are traveling or spending time with family and friends.  That will mean that sometimes the nursing would just happen every other day etc. until finally it just gets cut out (hopefully without being noticed too much).  Cutting out nursing at bed time or the morning though, is hard to make disappear without him noticing...

Beltane 2013

Another rainy day here.  I had a hunch this year might bring floods. 
  Beltane was nice, but spitting rain and cold.  We had a lovely enclosed shelter though, and a fire, despite wet wood, thanks to one of our very fire-saavy covenmates.  Left us thinking again about timing, and feeling like things were still too early.  The Hawthorne is definitely not blooming here (well maybe now, but not last weekend).  We thought about moving the date later, but complications with schedules came up and it was not possible.  Ritual was moving and meaningful despite all the roadblocks and distractions of the day.  I can only say it was the will of the Divine.
  We discovered that the Maypole isn't something to bother with unless you have plenty of adults to play with it.  Kids would have to rehearse far in advance, and many are just simply too little unless you want a tangled mess.  I've done the maypole with adults in 2009, with no practice, and it turned out great, so I know this is possible, just not with kids unfortunately! Lesson learned.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Natural Shampoo

All the MomBlogs are raving about it.  It's called "un-poo" which is perhaps a bit scary sounding to the unpoo-initiated.  It's just  one more way people are coming back into their own, casting off the need to buy Stuff, and getting their body healthier at the same time.
  I have to blog about it, because, hell, why not? I've tried it, it works, it's at least on the "natural" thread of this blog.
  It's been about a month now since I used any Shampoo or conditioner on my hair.  If you tell people what you are doing, they will think you a sick, dirty hippy, but the proof [that it works] is about to be in your hair.
  People didn't always use shampoo and conditioner and their hair was just fine.  Perhaps it started when we also put lots of products in our hair and needed something major to wash out the product? I don't know.  Once you use shampoo though, it completely washes out your hair's natural oils, since it's stripped, it produces even more oil, causing you to get really greasy hair again in fairly short order.  If you stop using the shampoo, eventually your hair gets back to normal oil production, and you can go for days without washing it and it getting greasy or gross.
  Interested yet?
I think for moms this is especially interesting since we are so damned busy, which is why this is spreading on Momblogs.
  To top it off, pretty much all the shampoos/conditioners we use just coat us in petroleum products which is undoubtedly bad for our bodies, so skipping the "poo" helps the environment and possibly our health as well, not to mention better hair quality and less shampooing.
  You could cut out the petroleum product and get a "natural" shampoo from the store to the tune of something like $8 + dollar a bottle, or you could "unpoo" and just use a little baking soda and apple cider vinegar (acv).
 Here's how you do it and here's what happened for me.

  Online recipes differ on how much baking soda or acv to use, I would try an amount then reduce it and see how much you actually need.
  1-2 T. baking soda in about 8 ounces water dissolved (increase or decrease as needed)
  2 t. acv (with one drop mild essential oil if desired) in 8 ounces water

  Rinse your hair, pour on about half the baking soda mixture and scrub your scalp for awhile, pour on the rest and keep scrubbing.  Rinse.
  Pour on acv mixture and let sit for 1-2 minutes, then rinse.

  Some people will experience a "grease-ball" phase where their hair will produce much more oil than normal for up to a month. I am unsure if I experienced this or not, because last time it seemed to go "greaseball" I simply upped the amount of baking soda I was using and now I'm back to normal again.  Especially in the beginning it seemed to look greasy at night and I would brush it a lot to distribute the oil, then, strangely enough, it would look fine the next day with no washing.  I think lots of brushing needs to be added to the routine.
  My hair has a ton more body now.  It's shiny again, and it smells good.  Which is more than I could say after using regular shampoo, which made it dull, flat, and need to wash every other day.
The acv acts as a type of conditioner, (balances the PH ?) and it does seem to make the hair softer, it definitely takes out all the crud from using regular shampoo.  The times I don't use it, I have a hard time getting a brush through my hair, I am no longer trying to cut out the acv from some of my washes.
  I just bought a vinegar rinse here at my local farmers market.  I thought those of you who really wanted something smelling yummy to put in your hair (like me) might be interested.  It wasn't that expensive and is a pre-made vinegar rinse with flower and herb essences infused already.  They don't appear to be selling it yet online, but I'll let you know how I like it.  Surely someone else is making them, or of course, you could make your own.
  So here I am about a month in to unpooing.  I just had to share my results. Hope you give it a try!
  An update here a few months later--I am now doing about two unpoos then I strip my hair with normal shampoo.  I've found if I go too long doing only unpooing I end up with a coating of sebum close to my scalp that annoys me. I think I like doing unpooing every-other-time or so, and I still think my hair is healthier this way, still ends up being shinier than it would otherwise.  Some people may get away with doing unpooing only, I imagine it depends on the person.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cold May Day Calendar Confusion

Merry Beltane Everyone!

"Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
  Or he would call it a sin;
But--we have been out in the woods all night,
  A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you news by word of mouth-
  Good news for cattle and corn--
Now is the Sun come up from the South,
  With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!"
 Excerpt from "A Tree Song" by Rudyard Kipling

I am not sure when you all celebrate, there are so many dates or times to go from besides the first of May.  Beltane O.S. (old style) comes to mind and is supposed to be May 5th (thus you would celebrate the eve. before).  There are other, more accurate, ways of determining the exact date, which you can probably find elsewhere on the net.
Our calendars are solar, and not the lunar ones of our ancestors, on top of that, the calendar dates have been switched around, so pinning down the actual date of any of the holidays can be tricky and is debated by many...

"The Julian year is, therefore, on average 365.25 days long. It was intended to approximate the tropical (solar) year.... the calendar year gained about three days every four centuries compared to observed equinox times and the seasons. This discrepancy was corrected by the Gregorian reform of 1582...The Julian calendar is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar; for instance, 1 January in the Julian calendar is 14 January in the Gregorian."

 (Julian Calendar )

In case there is confusion (and there probably is), we are currently using the Gregorian calendar.  You can see why there might be discrepancies.
  So why all the fuss? Does it matter when the actual date is (and is date the appropriate term)? And what is it we are celebrating anyway? Are we anticipating Spring, or are we celebrating its arrival? I think this would be less complicated if we were a less barbaric society, and had more holidays.  We know Christmas used to be a holiday spanning at least 12 days (now whittled down to just one day off work if we are lucky).  Why not a week or more of Beltane? If we had a week or more, we could use the knowledge we have of the Sabbats plus the natural signs around us, to begin celebrating, and finish with the biggest Bang at the appropriate time.  Some traditions dictate (and this obviously depends on where you live) that the Hawthorne tree in bloom be used as a definitive sign that Beltane has arrived. 
  I'm not really interested in telling you all the tales behind the holidays. There are other websites out there that have done this job quite nicely. Try the link below if you'd like to know more about Beltane traditions.

( Beltane Traditions and Associations )

Another good place to read about Holidays below

(Mike Nichols' Witches Sabbats )
 Note: Mike explains that witches in the U.S. may call Beltane "Lady Day" but that this has traditionally been appropriate for Ostara... good to know!

  For myself, I've never had the privilege to watch and see when the hawthorne was blooming (and if it was around the same time as the violets here in the Midwest), but I suspect that the violets bloom around the same time here.
  For myself, I like the little saying "when the violets appear, Beltane is near."  Note the wording "near" because violets on a more normal year, can appear many years in early to mid April.
  One of the older times to celebrate may have been the first full moon after May first.
  In the Orthodox church (which uses an older calendar system) Easter is figured in relation to the first Sunday after the First full moon, after passover.  This year, Orthodox Easter (our Ostara equivalent) is even later than usual, this coming Sunday...Interesting to note, since Spring this year, has been so long in coming.
  With all the calendar confusion, it seems we may need to make a rethink about our holidays.  Signs like the Hawthorne will be of particular importance because of climate change.

  But back to the question...why do we care when it is? Why did our ancestors care? My apologies if this is stating the obvious for some...
Our ancestors depended on very specific timing for the planting and harvesting of crops, saving seeds, birthing and culling of herds, and hunting/fishing.  All of these things had to go by the specific rhythm of the earth.  If they missed the timing, everyone could starve.  Farmers today still have to pay more specific attention to this than the rest of us, but since most of us no longer farm, we are separated from it.
  I feel it important to be in tune with the seasons, and to assess when the most accurate time for doing that is. Our job right now in keeping the holidays is largely psychological.  After Winter, we need that day (really we need a couple weeks!) to cut loose and tell ourselves Spring has arrived.  In the far future though, who can tell what our children's children may need? The timing for agriculture, or looking for eggs in the spring could be paramount to their survival. Anything we can pass on to our offspring, any knowledge is power and survival.
love and light,

Friday, April 26, 2013

Breastfeeding, Weaning, Introducing Solids

 I reckon you could call me a lactivist--it's an actual term, I didn't coin it.  However, that's not to say I don't recognize that there are many difficulties for a mother who wants to breastfeed her child and that this can lead to a short duration of breastfeeding or it not happening at all. At least we have formula now, my great Aunt was apparently fed a little cream and coffee in her bottle when her Mother's milk dried up.  Formula is double-edged, good when a baby can't be breastfeed, can be very bad otherwise (it can hasten the drying up of the mother's milk when her baby is fed too much formula).
  I also recognize that there can be mental and cultural baggage that keeps a woman from breastfeeding, and that can be valid too.  Those mental hiccups need to be recognized though and battled, not just for the purposes of breastfeeding, but for healthy body image and sexuality.  The extremely stressful and sleep-deprived period after birth, may not  be the ideal time to battle emotional/mental hang-ups, and some of these hang-ups will take a life-time to unravel.  I just want you to understand where I am coming from.
  It is okay to be human.
Everyone has hang-ups and baggage.
We should all try to keep growing, learning and fixing ourselves.
It's okay to fail at fixing ourselves.

Okay, that's my little addendum, that being out of the way, I'd like to get on to breastfeeding stuff.
I'm sure that this stuff is plastered all over the internet in other Mom-blogs.  I'm just going to give you my version and hope there's something original and useful in there.

  Breastfeeding is really good for your baby.  It's good for the mother (in some ways), breastfeeding assists in losing baby weight (remember all that fat you put on? It was put on so that you'd have reserves to feed the baby with, and it'll get used up first if you breastfeed), lays down new and stronger bones after you stop and has been shown to be protective against breast cancer (presumably because those mammary glands actually get some use and get cleaned out). It's even good for your toddler.
Here is the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on breastfeeding:

AAP basically says you should breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, followed by semi-solids and breastmilk up to a year, then continued breastmilk and food till whenever you decide it's more beneficial to quit.  Some people exclusively breastfeed for up to a year, especially if there are food allergy concerns.  I didn't need to do that, and I was having a hard time getting enough protein etc. to keep up with my six month old.  To this day, if he hits a growth spurt or nurses more than normal, getting enough of the right foods to eat is difficult for me, to keep me healthy and happy.  I have to eat very regularly, lots of protein and fat, plenty of water, and I still have low blood pressure episodes and hypoglycemic symptoms.
  It made sense to me though, that I should breastfeed exclusively until about the time the first tooth came in.  There is apparently some evidence for this, that certain enzymes develop for solid food digestion around the time of the new tooth--I cannot cite any study, but heard this from a health professional and is interesting to note at least the possibility.

  Still on the topic of breastfeeding, but from the weaning side, is a really interesting article by Kathryn Dettwyler (PhD) that states:
 "The minimum predicted age for a natural age of weaning in humans is 2.5 years, with a maximum of 7.0 years."
( )

Check out with whole article, it is quite fascinating.  Anyhow, a woman may need to stop breastfeeding much earlier than this for all sorts of reasons, and she should not be judged in any way, but she should be made all accommodations possible. Many jobs, especially state and government jobs in the U.S. require that accommodations for breastfeeding mothers be made including lactation rooms, breaks to pump on and sometimes even a breastpump.
  I've come across articles that poo-poo the science behind breastfeeding. They simply cast doubt on just how much better breastmilk is vs. formula.  Honestly, I can understand wanting to wean, especially if those other Moms have felt as crummy as I have.  I have had an extremely understanding and supportive family and job,which helped immensely.  There I times I wanted to wean earlier, but something always stopped me, those hormones/instincts told me to keep going, and honestly, I've been helpless against that. 
 However, this is my son, aside from those instincts to continue, I figured, if there was any chance that those antibodies were helping him through this last, aweful, flu season, I should continue.  We know breastmilk has antibodies that help your sick kiddo,  it doesn't really matter to me how much they help him, but that they do.  By next flu season, he will be on his own.
  Make no mistake that breastfeeding causes a woman to be "more tied down" to her child and that she will be getting up more at night. 
  It seems to be the consensus among breastfeeding mothers that their children seem to get up more at night than formula fed babies.  Who really knows if this is true? Formula doesn't break down as fast as breast milk, it is possible that formula fed babies don't feel hungry for longer.  However, something I and some friends noticed is that if you pump before bed, and bottle feed the baby expressed breast milk, they seem to sleep longer too.
  Perhaps the baby gets too cozy and falls asleep before they are full when they are latched onto the breast, or perhaps it is simply easier to get the milk from a bottle and they drink more at a time (and thus sleep longer).
  Something important to note.  If you're having huge sleeping troubles, try the expressed breastmilk bottle before bed.  Just note, if you just bottle feed expressed breastmilk and never put the babe to breast, you will probably dry up your milk supply eventually.  Every woman is different, but this seems to be most common outcome.
  Bottle feeding expressed breastmilk is part of what I mean by accommodations for the Mother.  You might as well try and see if it helps.  On the other hand, if you are a single parent and you have to be at work the next morning and you find out your baby sleeps when they get formula, really, who can blame you?  Mom has to be able to function, and while I had the luxury of stumbling out of bed and being able to fumble around the house during the day, some people are expected to think and function at a higher level, and bring in income. But before you call it quits, if you have the opportunity, why not give it a shot?
  Enough for today, I could probably spend all day writing on the topic.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weaning A Toddler

I've been thinking about weaning for some time now, but I admit to not being fully on board until very recently.  I just wasn't ready.  I don't think my son will be ready for a long time.
  I do really believe he would wean himself in another year or so, most kids do.  Really though, the point is that I am done with it.  I'm done with the constant drain on my nutritional resources, the sudden feeling that I might pass out if I don't eat something that very instant.  I cannot seem to stuff enough food into my gullet on a regular basis to make up for all that extra energy expenditure.  Others seem to do fine, but my constitution has never been that great.  There are all sorts of theories as to why by different practitioners,  poor liver function, leaky gut, sub clinical hashimoto's.  I've never been able to handle the exercise-load that I should, and I don't build muscle for crap, exercise seems to just break me down rather than build me up, especially the past few years. Which sucks, because I actually enjoy moving my body quite a lot.  It seems to me, my body isn't really functioning well on it's own when I'm not breastfeeding, and putting the extra load on it just makes it that much weaker.
  I would have weaned a long time ago if not for the extreme instinctual urge to continue.  It's actually weird to me now that I want to quit, I was starting to wonder if it would ever happen.  Then it did, like switching off a light...which leads me to assume my hormones are really at work here (and why wouldn't they be?)!
  I remember spending just a couple of nights away from my baby after a year or so, and I would get this intense urge to be around him, a type of anxiety tied to his hunger and well-being that happened about the same time he would normally breast-feed and my breasts were starting to get full.  Hormones are weird things...
  So I've read up on the subject of weaning.  Weaning a toddler is different than weaning a baby though.  The baby can't vocalize the way a toddler can, the intensity of his emotion regarding this very tender subject.
  I'm not particularly happy with the things I've read, so I'm just doing things the way I personally think is best, and am hoping for it to work out.
   I decided to cut out 1 feeding at a time, seperated by several weeks, with the length of time between depending on his reaction. He has had three for a long time now: just before bed, just before nap and just apon waking in the morning. Just cutting out one feeding was really tough on my Little Guy.

  The first night I told him he was too old to nurse for his bed-time nursing he cried like never before.  It wasn't a fake cry to get what he wanted, it was a real emotional loss, like losing a loved-one.  Then he wet the bed that night.
  This is clearly very stressful stuff and needs to be handled carefully.
I've thought before about doing it cold-turkey.  But I don't think that's going to be good for him or me quite frankly.  After cutting out the bed-time nurse I had mild, but sharp pains in my breasts (a few times a day) for about three days, as my body adjusted to suddenly making less milk.
  A few weeks later he's come to terms with no bed-time nursing, and has adjusted by cuddling the breast like a stuffed animal, or prides himself on covering it with his blankie to "keep it warm" ("keeping it warm" came about as I tried to think of a good reason why women have to cover their breasts in our culture--he's ask me about it, and I say their boobs get cold....more advanced explanations to follow...). Cuddling the breast or taking care of it by covering it has been a huge coping mechanism for him.  Each night he asks if I can "take the nipple out" so he can "cuddle it", I find this to be satisfactory and moving in the right direction.  Eventually, when all nursing has ceased, the "cuddling" will go too, but that can wait longer.  In the mean time,  there are two more feedings to cut out, and I am contemplating which one to cut next, I believe it will have to be the morning.  By next week I will decree nursing only after breakfast/ in the afternoon before nap.  If I do that, my milk will slowly dry up, as he doesn't always even take a nap or get the idea to nurse in the afternoon.
  In our culture, breastfeeding is a lost art.  My mother's generation and the one before, they were told by their (undoubtedly male) physicians that their babies woke in the night because "their milk wasn't satisfying" and were given formula.  Breastfeeding began to fall out of favor, and so did all the "tricks of the trade".

  I've been successful because I did my research, had a state job early on which allowed me time and a place to pump my milk, and plenty of support from my immediate family and friends.  I know many moms already who wanted to continue, but gave up before they even started, usually citing latch-on difficulties, followed by pumping and bottle feeding only.  I'm not really sure why or how this happens, I've tried referring them to La Leche League ( ), with no luck. The help is free, and the organization will send out a volunteer to help you if you are having trouble breastfeeding. 
  So many girls are assuming if they just pump and never put the baby to breast, they will keep making milk.  They do, for a couple months.  I'm sure there are some that will keep making milk regardless, but I haven't met one yet.  I can only imagine that they don't want to keep their milk. They may not have the luxury of a job with a lactation room, or breaks to pump on, or their parents may be entirely against it (because it's "dirty" or whatever).  For those that have dried up while they were on strong antibiotics or other meds, I have suggested trying re-lactation, but usually the moms aren't interested.  It remains, however, a viable option.  I've never done it, but I know it's possible.  As far as I know, you just keep putting your baby back on the breast and letting them try to nurse each day until the milk just comes back.  It may not for some people, but if you want to continue it's worth a shot.  Again, La Leche Legue would probably be a good contact for info. about this.  For those interested, here is an article in Kellymom ( ).
  It is difficult for me to understand how anyone could think that breastfeeding is dirty.  That's what boobs are quite arguably for! The sad part, is women often need the help of their mothers or others after birth, and that generation was often taught that breasts were shameful, dirty and are not to be touched by an infant because it is "sexual".  This can make it difficult, and even impossible for a woman to breastfeed in that crucial time after birth.
Even in the pagan community, I've had comments of surprise and shock about breastfeeding during a circle.
There's a post in the works about body image in our culture and how we need to get over our problems with our bodies.  The shame we associate with the nude body is a hold-over from our Christian ancestors, and has nothing to do with the modern Pagan, or the ancient ones. Do I sound preachy yet? I am, and I feel very strongly about this.
  I need to get caffeine and get my kid out of the house on this beautiful day.  My apologies for writing before coffee, things may be a bit dis-jointed, but hopefully the rambling makes some sense.
love and light,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wicca Con and Contra Dancing

Spent a lovely weekend with good friends, coven-mates and wonderful dancers.  Something I have really needed after this crummy winter filled with death, too many moves and unfortunate surprises.
  The UU church sponsored the event in Des Moines, Iowa.  UU churches are awesome.  The UU Church in Des Moines has just started a CUUPS group there.(  About CUUPS)  I really like CUUPS groups.  Until I had my son, I was just too damned busy with coven events to go.  After having my son, I really needed the ability to get out and about.  Coven outings for the first year or so were not really possible with my son (for some people they probably don't find it that difficult, but it entirely depends on the kid and the parents).  We found a UU church about 35 min. away that had a CUUPS group and started going.  Goddess bless her, the founder always brought her older kids so that we would have childcare available.  We would not have been able to attend any spiritual events without this crucial element.  If you are pagan, and there are no groups in your area, I would suggest you check your local UU church (if you are lucky enough to have one!).
  Not all UU churches are completely open to pagans.  We have been held at arms-length before at one UU church for this reason, until the old reverend left, and a new, more open and loving one took over.  I am happy to say that that particular parish now has a CUUPS group as well =).  We were never told not to come there, but members of our pagan community noted that the parish was "cliquish" and our community members did not feel welcome (and did not go back).  Later I found out why we felt we got the cold shoulder.  Really, as far as "bad" experiences with a church goes, I'd pick that any day.
  The concept of the UU church is really great, it seems to me, to be the future of religion.  If any religion survives, it will be something like that.  All-encompassing, loving, accepting, with an emphasis on helping and supporting eachother and not on forcing specific concepts or assuming any "one way".  Atheists are welcome as well, and many parishes have a high percentage of them.
  Wicca Con happens every year in Des Moines so check it out next year.  We had lovely music, childcare, workshops, great meals and wonderful new and old friends to talk to.
  Afterwards I got the privilege of dancing at Contraindications .
Contra dancing is kind of like square dancing, but don't let that put you off (if indeed, it does).  It is important for pagans to learn to dance these types of social dances.  If you want to learn something ancient that pagans did, community dances like these are the way to go.  Remind me to write on folk dances another time.  For now, just know you should check it out.  Many cities have contra dances if you can find the local calendar, and if you are willing to travel, sometimes you can go to one a week.  It is a great workout and amazing fun.
Gotta run,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wildcrafting Bloopers...

It's another dreary, unusually cold, rainy, April day here.  Perhaps we should have put a little more oomph, into that Ostara celebration!
  Perhaps thinking of warmer days will help on this seemingly extended winter...

Wildcrafting is the practice of sustainably harvesting plants from their natural habitat for food or medicine.  It's just another nifty little label that gets some of us weirdos/enthusiasts on the same page.

  It was warm in 2009 in the fall when my friend and I wildcrafted ginko nuts.  Somewhere on a distant hard drive are pictures of that day (does anyone else have extreme difficulty keeping things safely in digital format?? We always lose them...).
  Ginko trees are fascinating.  They call them "living fossils".  Ginkos have pretty much outlived any diseases or insects that would have preyed on them, they are "recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years"(  I cannot remember now where I read it, but male trees have been known to suddenly change into female ones.  This is unfortunate for some, since they planted the males to keep from having the ginko (or "stinko" fruit as my husband calls them) fruit all over their yard and/or sidewalks.  According to that same article on Wiki, the trees are so hardy, a few trees were still standing and continued to survive after the blast at Hiroshima, when the other trees and plants had all been destroyed.  Some of the lore I read said that you should not eat more than a few nuts at a time (I think the article said 8), but some articles are saying children should not eat more than 5.  Honestly, I don't like them well enough to bother again, but I am probably a bit jaded on the subject.

  We knocked on a neighbors door, asked if they minded if we picked the fruit off the ground (of course not! why would they want anything to do with those nasty fruits!) We picked a ton...mistake number one.
  Took them home, and we did have the wherewithal to get latex gloves to get the fruit off.  I did not anticipate, however, just how much of a reaction you can get from the substance in the fruit related to urushiols (just like the sap in poison ivy).  We washed off the fruit around the nut in warm water (probably allowing my skin to absorb even more of the irritating substances) and it splashed over the the gloves and onto my wrists.  We processed a lot of the fruit, a whole afternoons endeavor, not knowing yet, that you can only eat a few at a time.
  Within a couple days I had what I can only refer to as the worst poison ivy rash all over my wrists that I've ever had,and it started at a direct line of where the gloves had stopped protecting my hands/wrists.
  I had my wedding a few weeks later, and I counted myself lucky to be wearing long gloves...
Before all that itchy, oozy suffering, when I ate the nuts I felt a little "off".  I honestly can't tell you what it felt like.  I just got the intuition I shouldn't eat too many of them at once.  When I looked it up online, I found the lore saying you should only eat a few at a time, and I concluded they were mildly poisonous in some way.  One would expect that from the way the pulp is so toxic.
  The nut itself isn't bad, and reminded me a bit of edemame. I concluded however, with my extreme loathing of poison ivy, and the extreme similarity of the ginko fruit rash to poison ivy rashes, that it was only worth it if I was starving.
Perhaps if I covered myself in a body suit of latex while processing the fruit know the nut wasn't delicious enough for any of that...

  My friend's blooper was no less ridiculous. 
 I reckon everyone that enjoys wildcrafting has a blooper to tell, but I don't know enough of them to get a clear picture of that.
  One of the people I know enjoys hunting for morels and other edible mushrooms.  He also just enjoys identifying them (it's like finding a rare animal or flower, if you can imagine enjoying that sort of thing).
  One day he came across  a destroying Angel mushroom.  It's tall, slender, pristinely white, it looks like some sort of enlightened little being.  I have certainly never seen one in person and neither had he.  It was beautiful. A picture of the same type...

Destroying Angel picture

 Overcome by it's beauty, in child-like admiration and play, he dryly, kissed the top of it.  The Destroying Angel mushroom is very toxic, but I don't think he could imagine how toxic until a few hours later when his stomach was rolling.  I do not now remember if he actually began vomiting or not.

The sad thing is it's not like either of us were unknowledgeable, but both underestimated the potency of the plants/fungus we were dealing with.  Is there a lesson to be learned here? ;)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another Way--Herbal Nervines As Smoke

Just to clear things up from the start: by smoke,I don't mean marijuana or tobacco.
People have sometimes assumed from my pipe or tobacco papers that I was a "smoker" of either of these substances.  My mom actually burnt a very lovely hand carved wooden pipe I used for catnip; yes, you read correctly, catnip
  One of the down-sides to tobacco substitutes or herbal smoke, is that others will assume I am smoking something illegal.  This is something I always keep in mind.  It is prudent to keep all herbs well labeled and I understand that if I get pulled over in my car with mullein cigarettes, I could end up in jail until it gets sorted out.  I've personally never had this happen, but it could, and it is good to keep in mind.
   I actually smoke herbs because I like smoking, find it relaxing, but don't want the problems of being addicted to tobacco.  I've tried many a time to get friends off of cigarettes and onto mullein or something more soothing to their lungs, but often times once someone is truly addicted to cigarettes, they are not helped by the substitute, it just makes them crave tobacco worse--or at least that's what I'm told.
  I am one of those strange individuals who occasionally use tobacco, but have never become addicted.  One of the reasons I am not addicted is because I don't smoke it very much.  I usually buy about one pack a year (and no I don't bum cigs from others either).  It is impossible for most people to believe.  Often times when I want to smoke something it is in the car, and I will roll up some mullein and take it with me.  It helps keep me occupied on long trips.  Sitting by a fire, or just in your home to smoke and think, has been a part of pretty much everyone's culture for generations.  If you like to smoke, it is a shame to have to quit, just because you don't want the problems associated with tobacco.  There are so many alternatives!
  Some of my favorites:
Mother's Wort leaves (kinda taste like tobacco but relaxing)
Mullein, lavender and rose petal
mullein, lavender, rose petal and mint
blue vervain, lavender and mullein (Note:Vervain may cause one to be sleepy)

 If I am going to try any herb, I do this in my own home, where I can safely gauge the affects before I venture out.  Herbs are usually pretty mild in the way they act, but every person, and every herb, is different.
  It has been many years since I tried mother's wort, so I cannot say anymore if it would make me sleepy, my guess is that it would, depending on the amount, it should be relaxing, based off the herbs other uses.
  I don't personally notice much of anything with catnip, it has a pleasant, slightly minty (it is a part of the mint family) taste, and sometimes I notice that my mood seems elevated and I am slightly relaxed.  Some people have noted that their tongue feels a bit numb after smoking it, I don't personally notice anything.
Mullein is good to mix with lots of stuff, it has a pleasant taste, is easy to gather and identify in the wild, and is easy on the lungs.  Supposedly used by Native Americans for lung infections, it is about as soothing a smoke as one can get while still inhaling smoke.
  Blue vervain is harsh on the lungs and has to be mixed with something as a result, but I find it to be quite relaxing, I find it difficult to get up afterwards and want to be very active.  The herb is a muscle relaxant, and I find that to be true of smoking it as well.  However, I find the taste of this herb abhorrent in tea (I suppose the small amount you'd take in a tincture would be fine) and I'd rather just smoke it to get many of those affects.   (Blue vervain used to be used as an herb for the plague according to lore, I used the tea this year after a particularly nasty adeno-virus and immediately noticed my lungs functioning better--it was quite a relief.  Smoking it may help for this virus as well, but my lung function was already compromised, so I did not want to smoke anything for weeks) The store-bought herb is usually mixed with a lot of stems, and this may be the problem with how harsh the smoke is, purchasing all leaves, or collecting it myself would be ideal.  The others I always gather or grow myself, I honestly can't imagine smoking most of the catnip I see available in the store, it also has tons of stems that would probably be very unpleasant to smoke--fine for you cat though =).
  Gathering herbs ones-self has a modern term "wildcrafting".  I certainly enjoy it, but I also carefully do my research, and when possible, take along someone who knows the herb I'm looking for and can positively identify it.
 Anyhow, I cannot suggest to anyone that they smoke or take herbs for all sorts of reasons.  To each their own, and to each their own responsibility.
love and light,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Actually Practicing Magick

By the title I mean both "practice" as in using magick, and "practice" as in doing it at all.
  I know lots and lots of folks in the pagan community that are forever reading and absorbing and never doing anything.  The most important thing is to actually practice.  All the reading is supplementary and should be secondary to your own experience and input.  If you practice, when you encounter others' practices, you will know what works for you, and can compare.
  I remember a time when I was young and I didn't yet have any label for what I was (or, more correctly, what I most closely identify with).  My best friend and I made potions, experimented with Ouija boards, went to cemeteries and old houses, or just out in nature.
   Because of my life experiences and old (and haunted) house that I lived in, I was more naturally drawn to experimentation with the dead than nature spirits (I wish I had known about nature spirits back then!!).  I've said it before and I will say it again, to the normal American, talking with spirits sounds crazy and grisly, but I can't tell you how comforting it is to occasionally catch a laugh from my grandmother after she passed, to know she is okay and happy... The most interesting thing about my childhood experiences to me though, is that we did all of these things before we knew what Wiccans were, or had any label for what we were doing.  We were under the age of 9, and already compiling a book of recipes for various potions. Our ingredients consisted entirely of things we intuited.  We did not drink them, but applied externally (although there was no particular reason we never drank them, many consisted of spices from the cupboard).
  Back then, even spices from the cupboard were magickal.  They really still are, but by the time you are an adult, things have lost some of their mystique.  It is important to note that just because we know some of how certain things work, does not negate their magick.  Many acts of magick are merely acts of changing our own perception so that we can actually see more of our options, that's okay, it's still magick, and it's not silly to believe it works...
But back on topic:

  When I look back on it, I do not feel that I had a choice in my path.  I was born a witch. When I was little, things came easy to me.  My play was a witch's play.  Talking with dead folks, making potions, and imagining other planes of existence, making runes for fun etc. 

  As time to myself became limited and mundane concerns mounted, intuition began to shut down and I have had to work hard to keep myself magickally active.  I have watched others I knew on the Path, leave it, either forgetting what they experienced and caving to peer pressure, or left, disillusioned, as they never experienced enough proof to keep them going.  Those that never experienced, did not reach for it as I know it.
  Magickal experiences don't just pop out at everyone.  You can't expect them to knock you over the head.  You have to strive for them, and put yourself in the places where they can manifest.
  How can you experience speaking to or seeing a spirit if you are parked in front of the TV or video game, or your i-phone? "Unplugging" and sitting without distraction will be one of the hardest things to teach our youth, let alone ourselves...

  Being a part of a coven, circle, or magickal working group of some sort, can be part of that striving to stay magickally active.  It can help one stay on track to work with others who are also striving.  As I worked with covens, I was sometimes given assignments.  Many were reading-related, but my experiences have taught me that practice was more important for working magick.  Much of what we read for Paganism or Wicca, helps us to understand how to create and perpetuate the norms in our traditions. Those norms help us to work together more efficiently and are certainly important.  I'm not telling you if your High Priestess/Circle Elder says "do this homework" you should ignore them or tell them you'd rather go meditate.  I'm just asking you to remember that much of your homework may consist of things like what to say during a circle, and less about how to feel the energies around you.  If no one is telling you to learn how to feel those energies, take it upon yourself to practice--it is extremely important.
  However, while I still feel that the under-lying energies of magick in Wicca are ancient, I do not believe (nor does anyone else I know) our ancient ancestors would understand or recognize pretty much anything that we do.  What we have been handed down has been cobbled together and was largely put together after many of our ancestors were long underground, and our truly ancient traditions forgotten. I like many of our current traditions, don't get me wrong, but I think what is left to us to do, is to rediscover and add them back carefully.
  I encourage you to explore your own intuition first. Play with stones or whatever you fancy, and do magick, and then go back and see what the books and covens and traditions have to say.  By then, you will know what it is that works for you and you can compare. No one has the time to explore the thousands of options for stones (or trees, or colors etc.) that are out there, which is why it is so beneficial to work with others! Books are sort of the last resort, and it is okay to go there when you have to.
  While I hate giving homework, here is an exercise just so you can get an idea of what I am talking about.  This is basic shit folks, so don't get bored with it, make your own exercise exciting to you.
  I know I can't say this any better than Stuart Davis!

As (Buddhist) musician/artist Stuart Davis says in his song "Deity Freak":

"party like a pop star make a lot of love
detonate the deity keep it feeling freaky
party like a pop star make a lot of love
detonate the deity keep it feeling freaky
deity is freaky
keep it feeling freaky
deity is freaky"

 Music video of "Deity Freak"

Stuart pleases me so much!! So witty, so sarcastic, so good at being enlightening, funny and right-on-spot at the same time!
Anyhow here's the exercise...

Practicing intuition with stones:

--Sit down with a variety of stones and close your eyes, pick up each stone one by one, and try to "feel" the energy within it.  Is the energy hot or cold? Does it come with a color or an emotion?  Carry a the stone in your pocket and pay attention to your energies and those around you that day.  Does it seem to attract certain energies for you? Write down any intuitions about it, then try looking the stone up in a magickal correspondence book and see what the book says, is it the same or wildly different? Why might that be?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why Be Wiccan If You Don't Experience Magick?

  It's been years now, but I went to a Wiccan Festival with an older coven-mate of mine.  While we were there he was astounded because he finally found a technique that produced a different mental state for him.  Perhaps true trance state, or just relaxation or elation, I don't know.  In any case he said it was the first time he had ever felt anything remotely magickal.  He has since passed into Summerland.
  I was astounded myself.
I came to Wicca because I had had these experiences I couldn't explain, things I knew were proof of a different plane of existence.  Experiences I could not deny.  I realized that people come to this path for different reasons.  I guess this is a "well-duh" moment, but I had never considered it before.  I couldn't imagine staying in a religion for any other reason than reaching for the experience of the Gods themselves.
  People come to Wicca to be accepted because of different sexual orientation, or because the Divine Feminine is actually honored and they believe this is important.  They come to socialize with people that hold similar values (lay-Wiccans).  Sometimes I think a large portion of pagans come to paganism/Wicca simply because they are not Christian and need and/or want somewhere to be.  I think some come for a positive image of the body and sexuality, where no one needs to feel ashamed for being who they are or what body type.  I'm sure there a million different reasons each unique and beautiful person comes to Wicca.
  What I want to underscore here though is this; we are a magickal tradition.  This can get lost for different reasons I won't go into here.  This magick stems from the same space that Christians reserve for miracles, chanting and prayer (since many of us originally come from Christian backgrounds, you'll see me use many comparisons this way).  It's not evil or wrong or unnatural to work appropriate magick, and it is our responsibility to seek that "liminal" space anthropologists speak of-- "The Inbetween".
  When we are Inbetween we can experience the God*dess and our prayers will be more likely to be heard.  Imagine trying to call someone on the phone but not having the right number.  You simply won't reach them.
  Different mental states are extremely important, and increasingly difficult to attain.  For me, the older I've gotten, the harder it is.  Imagine trying to achieve a meditative state with a toddler screaming at you.  Or even a sleeping baby in the next room that may need tending to at any moment?  How about working 3 jobs and/or being a single parent?
  I don't think this is a good reason to give up altogether during certain phases of our lives.  It means we have to strive and adapt in new ways to attain our goals.  In the end, it should mean a better witch.
  It's important to have a good foundation in attaining and maintaining trance states.  It is so important, for all the reasons I just stated.  Why be a part of a magickal tradition if you can't experience magick?  And how can you experience magick if you don't have the tools to do so?  I encourage everyone, myself included, to take a step back, and re-train on trance states, it can only make us better!
  Some words to digest...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


We now live in tiny little family units.  Lucky to grow up with two parents together if we have them (sometimes unlucky even then if the fighting is too bad!).
  At no other time in known history have we been so alone, and felt so divided from each other.  While I fully advocate helping all people regardless of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation etc. there comes a certain point where we need to form communities of like-minded individuals to help pass on our values to our children and to help re-enforce our beliefs.  Our community has much need of extra help.
  People go back from being Wiccan all the time.
They get tired of being persecuted and having their children persecuted and isolated.  They fall back to the family Christian religion so that they can have contact with (now extended) family, community and acceptance.
  We witches have to stick together.  While it is fine to me that others are Christian, it is not for me or my family.  My values are entirely different.

 I don't believe the Earth is here to use and abuse as has been interpreted by some from the Bible.
I don't believe that there is only one god.
I don't believe that anyone else could or should make choices for me on my religion or how I worship.
I don't believe people should judge others for sexual orientation, dress, self-expression--pretty much anything that doesn't hurt others.
I don't believe in the concept of "mercy" because I don't believe in the concept of "sin".
 I believe in personal responsibility.
I have been told before that God is Merciful and will forgive the "gays" their sins, or even my cold little witch heart of my evil sins.
I do not believe I need forgiveness.
I think it contradictory that a God who is Merciful would allow someone un-baptized or ignorant of Jesus to go to hell.
I don't believe that sex or our bodies is in any way dirty, wrong or shameful.
I believe that we should question everything--we are not sheep, we could be,  but why would you want to be?  Question everything.
I believe in the Horned God, who is the personification of nature and sex and love (and that nature, sex and love is not wrong or dirty). I also understand that this half-human, half-animal image is merely my own projection to help wrap my mind around something so vast, and I am okay with that too.
  I understand that the Horned God looks surprisingly similar to images of Satan--especially the God Pan.  I believe that of the many things Christians co-opted to force conversion, was that of the our own ancient Gods, to slander their name and image and kill until no one remembered any different.  I also understand that the people who did this are long dead, and I hold no malice towards Christians in general, but ask to be left alone, not judged and not proselytized to.
  I know from a class at the University of Iowa and a lovely professor named Holstein, that the term (notice I said "term" not "name") Satan is a term meaning "adversary".
 I know from this same professor that the early translations of the book of Genesis go something like this "In the Beginning, Within the Principle, The God (feminine-plural form), created The Gods"
  Meaning that The Multiple Goddess who created the world as we know it worked within certain laws and was not all powerful, was female and created other gods.  

There are so many, many more things that I could put down here. So many reasons that we need to have community.  Yes, we are ostracized and it would be easier to just go back to sleep and follow as has been taught.  Questioning is exhausting, depressing, and leads to isolation from a society that discourages it.  By giving that up our values and beliefs we give up our very spirit, and the spirit of our children.
  If the Christians say that the Horned God is their Satan, then I say that perhaps they have something right.  My God*ess' and beliefs often stand at complete opposite to theirs.  Witches need to draw that line in the sand and stand tall, gather together.  Our future in so many ways depends on it.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

We're Here Again With Our Stuff

So according to some, moving is one of the most stressful things in a person's life.  It's right up there with death and divorce.  We have now moved four times in one year.  But we have arrived.  Add a toddler and a sluggish, under-productive thyroid into the mix and you have even more trouble.
  We've been without most of our things now for about a year as they have been packed and never unpacked, or packed and re-packed. I am amazed at how good it feels to just have my stuff again in one place, even if a large portion of it still is packed away. It makes me a little sad that I need that stuff. I wonder if that means I identify with the stuff...?
  Having been without it for some time, I think it's more that all of those things make life more enjoyable, that's why we get them.  Knitting needles and yarn, paints and paintbrushes, old books, cast iron waffle irons.  None of them are necessities or they wouldn't have stayed packed away.  But they are those things I'm always trying to get back to.  A lot of hobbies etc. suffered immensely after my son was born.  They were stuffed away with no time and no energy to touch them. A combination of poor health and an extra colicky baby, and then a very active kid who has needed lots of adult engagement.
  How I would love to be one of those SuperPaganMoms somehow managing the energy for artistic endeavors, life-fulfilling work and Coven-leading all at the same time.  The way my life and energy work, I have to parcel out the energy and time commitments to just a few at any given moment.  I would love to be able  to burn the candle at both ends without simply burning out, or just have the energy and health to do all those things and still feel great.  It is something to strive and hope for.  It is why I am constantly looking for new techniques for health. I want to feel really great. Here is to move number 4, may it be our lucky number!
So Mote It Be.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I'm All Out of Bullsh*t

I realized today that I may be shooting myself in the foot by posting things on herbal nervines, or by admitting that I am having anxiety problems in the first place.  I'd like to say a bit on that.
  I am getting too old, too tired, too busy etc. to worry about selling myself properly.  Either you like me or you don't, on my good days and bad, bad years and good.
Everyone has problems, and I am no exception.  I am a real person with problems just like everyone else.
I like to look good, I like to feel good, I like to be very spiritual and spiritually minded, but right now, I don't have a lot of energy to put into certain things.  When I settle down from this move those things will improve again, but in the mean time I just am who I am.  I hope my readers can understand and sympathize.
love and light to all,

Herbal Nervine Part 3

Okay, so my package finally arrived and I've been experimenting.  Still haven't managed to steep valerian root for the 24 hours in tepid water, but I have learned to heat water to almost boiling and steep for about a half hour and that seems to work well.
  I have to admit, valerian seems to work for me, but not in the way I have come to expect from western meds.
It won't knock me out, but I do manage to sleep anyway and it seems more restful.
  I bought a tincture of California Poppy I keep with me for emergencies or when I don't have time to brew anything, that seems to work well, seems to make my head hurt a little, but still calms me down.  All of them make me a little light sensitive and sleepy, but I am that on a good day anyway.
  Valerian also works well to calm me during the day.
Okay, there's the update I need to get going!


  We had another lovely dawn Ostara ritual.  Same place, same time and pretty much same people now for about 13 years!  This was the first year it actually snowed...however, we didn't do it on Ostara proper, but a few days late.  Shit happens, and this year it was not possible to do on the Spring Equinox.  I am okay with that, you pretty much have to be if you are pagan, since our holidays aren't exactly recognized nationally and your job, school etc. doesn't actually care. It's a sad state of affairs, add it to the list and move on!
  Isis (hereto recognized as a conglomerate Goddess representing the Great Mother) had more beautiful eggs this year at her feet and some lovely eggs made with sand with stones in the middle too. Some years she has flowers, sometimes money or food too.
  I am hoping that someone else will take over the ritual in our absence if we can no longer get there someday.  I think it is the perfect place and time for Ostara.  Who knew that such a beautiful statue of Isis existed in Iowa (I didn't until about 2001)?  The picture is from many years ago, forgot a camera again this year.
She is truly gorgeous.
Hail to the Great Mother!

p.s. a song we sing every year that seems appropriate, and a pagan chant just in case you want to use them:

as the sun comes up sing "Morning Has Broken" (Tune is from the Cat Stevens song with a few changed lyrics)

Morning has broken, like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.  Praise for the singing, praise for the morning, praise for them springing fresh from the world.
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlight from heaven, like the first dewfall on the first grass.  Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden, sprung in completeness where her feet pass.
  Hers is the sunlight, Hers is the morning, born of the one light goddess gave play.  Praise with elation, praise every morning,  Goddess’ creation of the new day.
  Morning has broken, like the first morning, black bird has spoken like the first bird.  Praise for the singing, praise for the morning, praise for them springing fresh from the world.

Also "She's Been Waiting"
   Sing "She's Been Waiting"
She's been waiting,waiting
She's been waiting so long
She's been waiting for her children
To remember to return ( repeat chorus)

Blessed be and blessed are the lovers of the lady
Blessed be and blessed are Maiden, Mother, Crone
Blessed be and blessed are the ones who dance together
Blessed be and blessed are the ones who dance alone

Perhaps you can find the tune to "she's been waiting" on youtube? it's also a lovely chant! =)