Natural Healing for Coughs & Colds

Cold and flu season makes for busy herbalists!

I’ve been playing around with natural cold and flu remedies for a few years now, and I’ve finally worked out a few recipes I love based on classic natural healing ingredients.

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A few tips:

Use high quality ingredients.  As with cooking, your final product is only as good as your ingredients.  Local honey, first rate herbs and pure, medical-grade essential oils make for the best options.

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Don’t play around.  Know your body, and know your herbs.  You can overdose on natural ingredients, and you can certainly have allergic reactions to them.  Always start with the lowest recommended dose and work with a qualified herbalist if you’re still new to the art.

Try recipes one at a time.  Don’t mix two different cough remedies to treat one cold.  You’ll get sick again eventually!  It’s easier to figure out what works best if you tweak one recipe at a time.

Okay, here we go.

Honey, Ginger & Whiskey Cough Syrup

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*1 tbsp ground ginger
*1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
*4 Tbsp Honey
*1 shot top shelf whiskey
*splash lemon juice

Blend well until ginger is dissolved and black pepper is evenly distributed.  Shake or stir before each use.

Take 1/2 tablespoon every 3 hours.

Lavender Peppermint Sinus Headache Compress

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*15 drops peppermint essential oil
*10 drops lavender essential oil
*2 cups hot (but not scalding) water
*washcloth

Gently stir essential oil with water in a bowl.    Soak washcloth in the solution, then squeeze out excess water.

Lie down and apply compress to your head for sinus headache relief.

Eucalyptus Muscle Soak for Body Aches

*15 drops Eucalyptus oil
*1 cup Epsom’s salts

Fill a bathtub with hot (but not scalding) water.  Add oil and salts and stir gently with your hand or a wooden spoon before climbing in.  Relax.

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10 Magical Uses for Lavender

It’s everyone’s favorite herb.  It smells heavenly, it burns beautifully and it looks lovely.  And you probably have a ton of it just waiting to be used.  Here’s some ideas for putting it to work.

10 Magical Uses for Lavender

1.  Sew it into a sleep sachet to enhance dream work and promote relaxation.

2.  Use it in beauty and glamour spells to symbolize the divine feminine.

3.  Burn it during meditation on a charcoal disk for heightened psychic awareness and insight.

4.  Better yet, make smudge sticks out of it.  Rolling smudge sticks with 100% dried lavender stems makes for gorgeous smoking wands that smell amazing.

5.  Add to your ritual bath to induce a calm, otherworldly feeling before you enter the circle.

6.  Use it spells to calm a conflict.  Lavender promotes peace between “at war” individuals.

7.  Make flower crowns for festivals.  Best done with fresh lavender, this flower can be made into flower crowns and it dries really well.

8.  Boil it water during a house blessing to drive out negative energy and forces of turmoil.

9.  Use it in a kitchen witch spell.  Lavender is edible.  It makes a lovely cake topping, or is sometimes used in cookies.  Bake a batch for someone you aren’t on great terms with and bless them for peace and cooperation.

10.  Simmer it in coconut oil and use it as a dream salve.  Nice to rub on children who suffer from nightmares as a protection balm.

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10 Magikcal Uses for Peppermint

10 Ways to Use Peppermint

1.  Put it in a sleep sachet to encourage prophetic dreams.  Peppermint is known for its ability to enhance “third eye” awareness and peaceful sleep.  Pairs nicely with chamomile or lavender in this us.

2.  Dry it and keep it near your work space.  Its association with prosperity and financial success make it an ideal herb for raising the vibrations wherever you do what you do to earn a living.

3.  Put it in the cloth or bag you keep your tarot cards or runes in.  Its cleansing properties keep the energy clear and fresh.

4.  Hang over a sick bed.  Peppermint speeds healing and drives off the negative vibes sickness can bring into the home.

5.  Burn during funerary rites or at a grave site to help with grieving.  Peppermint eases raw emotion.

6.  Rub on temples to promote mental clarity.  Whether you are facing a tough decision or you just need to clear your head after life’s little upheavals, the scent of peppermint helps cut through the noisy mental chaos.

7.  Plant near the front door to protect the homestead.  But I recommend planting it in a pot!  Mint is invasive, and will quickly take over an herb garden.  The good news is, it’s super easy to grow, even if you don’t have a green thumb.

8.  Brew into a tea for divination.  Makes a nice divination tea for tarot reading.

9.  Or, use the dried leaves as you would for tea leaf reading.  Ask a question, drop them into a cup of water, and see what the leaves have to say!

10.  Place on the altar after ritual to clear the energy and promote a fresh perspective.

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5 Magickal Ways to Use Roses

Now that Valentines and Lupercalia are behind us, I’m betting at least a few of you have some roses to spare.

If they’ve begun to wilt, don’t throw them away!

Roses have lots of traditional power in the Craft.  Here are a few ideas to put your wilting flowers to use.

5 ways to use roses in wicca

1.  Make rosewater.  Making rosewater is an easy, satisfying 20-minute craft project.  There are lots of tutorials on how to do it (check out Pinterest).  Once you’ve made it, you can use it to anoint yourself with its protective properties.

2.  Make a natural blush.  Dry your roses by hanging them upside down, then use a mortar and pedestal to grind them into a fine powder.  As you grind them, say a chant or incantation for love and wear the powder as a blush to attract a new romance.

3.  Add them to an attraction bath.  Draw a bath, add rose petals, a few drops of rose essential oil, a cup of fresh milk, and light some red or pink candles for a simple glamour spell to cultivate attractiveness.  If you don’t want to deal with the mess of cleaning them out of your tub, wrap the petals in cheese cloth and let them “steep.”  Divine!

4.  Make an offering to Aphrodite.  Toss the petals on a body of water (the ocean is traditional, but a lake or river will do) as an offering to the love goddess, Aphrodite.

5.  Use the petals to stuff a love poppet.  Like making poppets?  Dried roses are a perfect addition to a love poppet.

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10 Magickal Uses for Cinnamon

Spicy, aromatic, cheap, and versatile, there’s no reason to go on a mission to the herb shop a hundred miles away, because this one is probably already somewhere in your kitchen!

10 Uses for Cinnamon

1.  Burn it for purification.  In powder or stick form, cinnamon is a powerful aid in purifying negative energy from a home or other space.

2.  Steep it into an infusion.  Have a cup of cinnamon tea before divination for heightened psychic awareness and clairvoyance.

3.  Use it in a money sachet.  Check out this mojo bag for inspiration.

4.  Hang it over the entryway.  A bundle of cinnamon sticks over your front door protects your home from negative energy and the bad intentions of outsiders.

5.  Use it in erotic love spells.  Cinnamon is notorious for “heating up” cold romances and igniting passion.

6.  Place it on the Yule altar.  This spice has strong associations with the Yule season.

7.  Use it in food magic for a love spell.  Bake it into a dessert, bless it for lasting love, and serve it during a romantic meal.

8 Burn it during your Esbat or moon ritual.   Enhance your sacred space with the powerful spiritual vibrations of this exotic spice.

9.  Include it with your tarot cards or runes.  Throw a stick into the bag that you keep your runes in, or fold in your tarot cloth to charge your divination tools with clairvoyant energy.

10.  Steep it in olive oil for an enhanced experience in the bedroom!  I saved the best for last.  😉  Don’t make this infusion too strong, and definitely test your skin for sensitivity before you uh . . . go there.  But this can make a lovely addition to a homemade kama sutra oil.

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Make the Most of Your Smudge Stick

Your smudge stick is bored.

Let’s be honest.  You bust out the old girl once or twice a month for ritual and then lay it to rest on the altar or in a drawer somewhere for a few weeks.

But your poor smudge stick has so much more to offer you!

10 Ways To Use Your Smudge Stick

I’ve compiled a list.  Here are some ways to use smudging that you may not have thought about before.  Of course, I wouldn’t suggest doing all of then.  That’s a little too much smoke!  But I invite you to chose one or two and try it for a while.

I don’t want anyone to get stuck on the correspondences.  You can use any type of smudge wand for the following purposes, but I have included some suggestions about herbs to try in each case.
1.  After a nightmare or bad dream.  There are few things more spiritually unsettling than a disturbing dream.  A series of them can even interfere with sleep and contribute to insomnia.  Clear the air.  Light protective rosemary smudge bundle to heal the sacred space of your bedroom.

2.  Before meditation.  We are often told that smudging brings us into the “right frame of mind” for ritual.  Use this state of mind to contribute to your meditation practice.  A lavender smudge stick can be especially effective for this purpose.

3.  Before yoga practice.  Similarly, if the smoke doesn’t bother you, smudging your practice space with sage before a yoga session can aid concentration.

4.  After recovering from an illness.  If you’ve been battling a bad cold and you’re finally on the other side of it, smudging is a nice way to realign yourself with good health.  Pine works well for this.

5.  To bless a sacred meal.  If you’re cooking for a sabbat, dry one of the key ingredient herbs and burn it as an incense offering on the table before breaking the bread.  If it’s comfortable, have everyone hold hands around the table while it smokes.

6.  After arriving home from work.  The simple act of smudging yourself between work life and home life helps ease the transition and center your focus.  Ceder smudging is nice for this.

7.  Before or after you bathe.  Whereas a shower is more utilitarian and mundane to me, a bath feels like a sacred experience.  Your mileage may vary.  But if you feel similarly, once a week or so, light some candles, put in a few drops of essential oil and smudge before or after for a relaxing treat.  Try a peppermint bundle to refresh and sooth.

8.  After a household argument.  Every healthy marriage has them.  Every healthy family has them.  Living with other people means occasionally disagreeing and not necessarily with grace.  Smudging the the two (or three, or more) parties involved in a dispute after it’s resolved helps to seal reconciliation.  Lavender is also excellent to restore peace.

9.  In the midst of general chaos.  The school called to inform you that your child threw his shoe at the birthday clown.  The dog tore apart the trash can.  Again.  Your husband is staying late to make a deadline and he will not be home in time to help you with dinner.  Or bedtime.  Which is especially unfortunate, because you can’t remember the last time you slept yourself.  These days happen.  You may not think so, but taking even five minutes to settle your nerves helps immensely.  Try something with a little chamomile in it.

10.  Whenever you’re starting something new.  Going back to school?  Starting a new job?  Moving across the country?  Mark the occasion with floral smudge wand to “reset” life.

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Mushroom Hunt

This summer, I took you on a nature walk and a wildflower hunt.

Now that we’re midway through the season, I wanted to show you the joy of mushroom hunting.

Personally, I think mushrooms are one of the weirdest, most otherworldly of nature’s creations and I love finding them.

Wild mushrooms have many magical associations, especially with woodland spirits in European pagan traditions.  They are endlessly featured in fairy tales and folklore.

It’s easy to see why.

Unlike a flower or a tree, the progress of which can be observed incrementally over weeks, months or even years to anyone paying attention, mushrooms seemingly appear out of nowhere, and then disappear just as quickly. There’s a mysterious quality to the “magic” suddenness of their arrival and departure that makes any woodland feel enchanted and mystical.

Next time it rains, go for a walk in the woods and make yourself familiar with the local mushrooms.

(But for goodness sake, don’t eat them if you don’t know what you’re doing!  Some are extremely poisonous.  If you are lucky enough to know an experienced herbalist, ask him or her which ones are safe to use.)

I am new to mushroom identification, so if any of these are misidentified, please feel free to let me know!

Chanterelle Mushroom

(Above)    With its brightly colored, striking sunset hue, these mushrooms jumped out at me right away. I am pretty sure they are chanterelles, which are very common on the East and West Coasts.   If they are chanterelles, they are supposed to be a culinary delicacy and have anti-inflammatory properties.  But I’m not confident enough to fry them up and eat them.

Because they could also be highly toxic jack-o-lanterns.

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This white one is pretty weird looking with the warts and all.  I would really like to know if someone can tell me what this is for sure.

I’m almost positive it is some kind of amanita, but that doesn’t really narrow it down.

My best guess is amanita cokeria, which are inedible at best.

But they kind of look like amanita muscaria var. alba, which are hallucinogenic.

We won’t be eating them to find out, though.

Because they could be Amanita pantherina, also called Death Angels, which are fatally poisonous.

Are you noticing a pattern here?

Mushrooms either seem to be useful, medicinal and super fun, or extremely toxic and deadly, and it is really hard to tell if you’re not careful.

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This next one I am actually pretty confident about.  The pinkish red color is distinctive.  There aren’t too many like this in the region.  I think these are russulas, but I’m not sure which kind.  Some russulas are edible and have anti-oxidant properties.  They certainly are pretty!

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I’m 99% sure this is Lactarius piperatus or milk caps.  Milk caps have anti-viral properties.

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I have no idea what these are.  Feel free to take a stab if you know.

Sources:

Mother Nature Network

Eat Fungus

Rogers Mushroom

Windows on the Natural World

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