Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Fever

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want- oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

-Mark Twain

Photo of spring buds courtesy of Di's Eyes on flickr.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Healing Spring Allergies

I've suffered from spring allergy symptoms for years, with the exception of two all-too-brief years when I was working with a healer from China who made me feel like I was superhuman and physically invincible (man, do I miss him). I really don't like to take any medicine, unless I'm practically dying and nothing else has worked, because I'm not a fan of chemicals and additives. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to ease the discomfort and the pain of seasonal allergy symptoms and not compromise your health in other ways to do so.

Butterbur has been used as an anti-spasmodic and to heal headaches and asthma symptoms since ancient times, making it ideal for allergy relief. A teaspoon of the root can be boiled in a cup of water and drank as a tea or drops can be used as a tincture. Much safer and easier to use, a supplement form of butterbur can be found in most natural food stores. Unfortunately, as most seasonal allergy sufferers are allergic to ragweed, be forewarned that this herb is in the ragweed and marigold family so use caution if you're sensitive to the plants in this family.

Extract of stinging nettle leaf (not the root, which is used to heal prostate issues) can be effective in reducing a runny nose and post-nasal drip, as can a supplement containing a combination of elderflower, sorrel, cowslip, verbena, and gentian root. Feverfew, ginkgo biloba, ginger, kava kava, and valerian have all been used to help heal headaches. Take a supplement of one of these herbs or use drops in a tincture. You can also make a ginger tea with fresh, thinly sliced root placed in boiling water and sipped.

Healing gemstones can be used as an adjunct to herbal remedies. Aventurine is an excellent stone for healing allergies. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on rashes, migraines and eye inflammation, as well as being effective in treating the lungs, throat and sinuses. A piece of polished amethyst can be held against the forehead to help heal a sinus headache, bringing soothing relief quite rapidly. It also calms the lungs and allergies affecting the respiratory system. Golden obsidian is a great stone for general allergy symptoms, as is clear blue sapphire. Fluorite is great for healing sinusitis.

Please note that if this is the first time you'll be using any of these herbs, it is best to be sure you are not allergic to them before you ingest them. If you are allergic to any similar plants, avoid those within the same family. If you are at all unsure, please consult a physician before using. As always, use common sense when working with herbs. Take nothing internally without being absolutely sure it's edible and safe and use nothing that you feel you may be allergic to. Always consult a physician if you aren't feeling well and remember: I am not a doctor and thus cannot diagnose nor treat any condition. Use caution and feel better soon!

Photo of butterbur plant courtesy of steb1 on flickr.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Moons and Totems 6

Everybody knows their western astrological profile and most people also know their eastern, or Chinese, astrological sign as well, but few know their moon profile from the Native American culture and the totems for each moon. As with the two more mainstream belief systems, the moon totem profiles are not only a very accurate read of an individual's personality, but they also add a rich dimension to who we are and where our weaknesses and powers come from.

Planting Moon
April 11-May 10

People of the Planting Moon are very hard workers who excel at preparing for each task and the start of new projects, working out every detail in advance and knowing exactly where they are going every step of the way. They're methodical and reliable and put a great deal of effort and enthusiasm into anything they put their mind to. Planting Moon people are people of the light, of new ideas and fresh starts but they can be stymied by their own abilities. They often tend to become overwhelmed by the task at hand, and no matter how carefully they prepare for it, can become lost in the details and confused about their ultimate goal. They aren't lazy, but without clarity they'll prefer to simply do nothing rather than forge ahead.

The element for this moon is air and the animal totem is the beaver. Like the beaver, the people of this moon can keep themselves very busy all day long and often well into the night, yet somehow never seem to finish the job they've begun. They're great at beginning new projects and working long hours, but being able to bring it all to a conclusion on their own is not their forte. The Planting Moon's plant totem is the dandelion, a strong and easily adaptable plant that's used for both culinary and medicinal purposes and its mineral totem is citrine. Citrine is a powerful stone used to channel the willpower needed to achieve one's goals, as well as granting courage and confidence and eliminating self-destructive tendencies. The color for this moon, vividly orange- yellow like its plant and mineral, is saffron. Worn by holy men the world over, this is the color of the rising sun and of a fresh spring day.

Everyone is most compatible with those people born under the moon opposite to their own and the opposite moon of the Planting Moon is the Harvest Moon (October 11-November 10).

Photo courtesy of Dan Newcomb Photography.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Higher Consciousness is a Beautiful Thing

Even those of us who are fairly well tuned into the energy out there: our own, that of others, the earth's, sometimes experience those moments we all occasionally have of a sort of hyper-awareness of all that is and all that has been. When it's on a personal level, Gurdjieff referred to these fleeting feelings of acute self-awareness as true self consciousness (as opposed to that awkward feeling we get when we need to do something in front of others that makes being in our own skin uncomfortable). But sometimes this feeling is more akin to universal consciousness, where the whole shebang becomes radiantly clear for just a moment or two.

The other night I built a big, beautiful outdoor fire. It had nothing to do with any sabbat or esbat, nor was it intended to be of a spiritual nature at all. It was, in fact, merely a way to clean up some spring yard waste and destroy quite a bit of old paper files that I finally cleaned out of the old filing cabinet in the cellar. (It was pointed out to me that this wasn't exactly eco-friendly, but it was efficient as hell and quite lovely to sit before, so sue me if I enjoyed it).

So, as I sat there on a chilly night before this gorgeous fire, I couldn't help but think of all the people through the ages who have sat before fires on dark and cold nights for various reasons. This thought warmed my heart and was just the beginning of my mind making a great many spiritual and philosophical connections (sometimes it doesn't take much for me to get rolling). And those feelings that occasionally overwhelm us all with such emotion, such joy and such awe rocketed through me for a moment or two and were gone, leaving in their wake that sweet feeling one feels when truly experiencing the inter-connectedness of all that is.

There is nothing on earth quite like experiencing this and it can be felt in the smallest and most humble of moments. It doesn't require being in a majestic place, though that would be sure to trigger these feelings. No, it can be felt anywhere, anytime. And it's in these moments that simultaneously emphasize the enormity of the universe and the incredible interconnectedness of everything within it (ourselves included) while also making us painfully aware of just how small and insignificant we are, that really gives the soul an energy charge it needs to continue on its journey towards enlightenment.

"Stars over the Church of the Good Shephard, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand" courtesy of petatt on flickr.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Goodbye Sorrow

There are times in our lives when we experience great sadness (for a variety of reasons) and during those times it's important to be gentle and allow ourselves to heal at our own pace. For some of us, this is a fairly quick process, but for others it can linger on, never fully dissipating and making our day to day life more difficult than usual. If you feel it's about time you got back to business, but are having a bit of trouble actually making this happen, perhaps a quiet energy releasing ritual is in order to take that last step to reclaiming your heart.

What you'll need:
nine very small white candles
one large red Goddess candle
a glass or small chalice of red wine
a few borage flowers
a sheet of paper and a pen
a cauldron
sandalwood incense

This ritual is best done at night, outdoors beneath the dark of the new moon, to facilitate a new beginning and new inner strength. Write on your paper all your feelings you wish to purge. It can be long or short in length, but pour the pain of your heart into every word and fold it up into a small square. Place the white candles in a small circle around your cauldron and place the red candle to the right of it and the incense to the left of the cauldron within that circle. Cast your larger circle first if you wish and call the quarters, or simply start by sitting before your candles and meditating, grounding your energy with the earth's. Light the nine healing candles deosil beginning at the top and then light the incense. Light the red candle and call upon a Goddess you feel comfortable working with: perhaps Athena for wisdom and strength, or Laetitia for happiness. Ask her to help you find your inner strength, the joy you've had trouble reclaiming, or to show you the clarity needed to see the wisdom of your experience.

Recite this spell (or write your own to chant):

No more sorrow, no more pain,
My heart is free to live again.
I release those bonds that held me tight
and embrace my spirit's powerful light.

(Chant until you've raised enough energy to release your sadness, then conclude with)

By the power of three times three, As I will it, so mote it be.

Light your square of paper on fire with the Goddess candle and let it burn to embers in your cauldron. Take a few borage flowers and place them in the chalice of wine. (If you don't drink alcohol, grape juice is a perfectly fine alternative). Drink half the wine and save the other half to make an offering to the Goddess. If you've cast a circle and wish to pour it away from where you are, offer it into the earth once the circle has been broken. If you have chosen to not cast a circle, you may pour the wine into the earth whenever and wherever you wish. Cast the ashes of your note to the earth as well.

When you're ready, snuff out the Goddess candle, thanking her for aiding you in your work, then snuff out the white candles widdershins. Allow your incense to burn down. Break circle if you have cast one and begin to feel yourself healing at last.

(As always, use common sense and the utmost care when working with fire. Use caution with your dish or cauldron of choice, your hair or your sleeves. Never leave a burning item unattended and when discarding anything burned back into the earth, be sure it is fully burned out and cool. Never discard a burning or smoldering object where it can cause damage.)

Photo courtesy of MatgorzataW on flickr.