aromatic

Notes from the Apothecary

February, 2019

Notes from the Apothecary: Cumin

Cumin is a fragrant spice in the apiaceae family, meaning it’s related to carrots, parsley, and the similar looking caraway. We use the seed of the plant in both cooking and magic.

Cumin has been used for thousands of years, and most likely originated near Syria, based on evidence from nearby excavation sites. Cumin was a table spice in Ancient Greece, a tradition which continues today in Morocco. The Romans adopted the use of cumin, and Spanish and Portuguese colonists eventually brought the spice to the Americas, where it is enjoyed in a range of cuisines.

The Kitchen Garden

Cumin is one of those mesmerising flavours that simply doesn’t taste like anything else. When I was first learning about cooking Indian food, I had not realised that cumin was such a commonly used ingredient. Adding it to my store cupboard changed my life. Most curries I cook now have whole cumin seeds fried until they pop and release their smoky, earthy goodness into the hot oil. Every chilli con carne is blessed with my kitchen’s holy triumvirate of cumin, coriander and turmeric, making the house smell simply divine.

Whole seeds and ground cumin are both readily available in grocery stores and supermarkets. I’ve found that the best value way to buy cumin is to visit an Indian or Mexican store or wholesaler, as shops that don’t specialise tend to bump the price up.

The Apothecary

Cumin seeds are used as a natural medicine all over the world. Alleged cumin medical properties include being an anti-inflammatory, diuretic, antispasmodic, carminative, aromatic, digestive, and an emmenagogue. In their book about healthy seeds, Danny Sarmiento writes that cumin helps prevent the harmful effects of stress on the body. That must be why I love a cumin heavy curry on a weekend after a hard week!

Sarmiento also states that cumin can offer relief for asthma sufferers as it may dilate the airways. There’s also some indication that the seeds may be effective for treating diabetes.

The seeds are filled with nutritious vitamins and minerals including iron and manganese, so they’re a great addition to just about anyone’s diet.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham lists cumin in his encyclopaedia of magical herbs. He states the spice is masculine, associated with Mars and fire, which makes sense when you think of how this spice is often used in hot curries and Mexican food! Heat is definitely linked to cumin. But I also find it earthy, and grounding.

According to Cunningham, the spice is used for protection magic, to ensure fidelity, for exorcism and to prevent theft. Bread baked with cumin seeds won’t be stolen by spirits, so if you follow this superstition, don’t leave cumin-spiced bread out for the fair folk! Cumin can be burnt with frankincense to create a powerful protective incense. Scatter cumin and salt to create a protective boundary. Carry in a pouch at handfastings to drive negative thoughts or energies away from the happy couple. Or add some to the wine later on, for an exciting wedding night!

Home and Hearth

Mix cumin seeds with fine salt. Walk the boundary of your home at Imbolc or the Spring Equinox. Sprinkle the protective mix while you visualise your home as a safe and special place. Imagine the sun’s returning light suffusing your home with a warm, comforting glow. The salt and spice mix will keep negativity at bay, whilst allowing love entry, and encouraging loyalty.

I Never Knew…

There’s an old superstition that you should curse and shout as you sow cumin seeds, to ensure a good crop.

All images via Wikipedia or Wikimedia commons.

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestorsand Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Aromatic Life

April, 2016

Spring Cleaning!

First a quick chant to get you in the groove…..Thanks to Mid-Stride Moxie!

sweep

 

What better way to start a new season then with aromatic, healthy, safe ways to clean and fragrance your homes.

Here are a few recipes to help you get started:

 

Mold Buster
2 teaspoons Tea Tree essential oil
2 Cups Water

Add to a spray bottle, shake before using.
Apply to mold and mildew, do not rinse off.

Nothing works as well for mold and mildew as Tea Tree.

 

Scented Sheets to Help Sleep

Sheets scented with Essential Oil of Lavender help to induce sleep.
There are a few ways to accomplish this.
Add Lavender to the rinse cycle while washing.
Add Lavender to Unscented Bounce dryer sheets.
Store sheets in linen closet with Lavender sachets.
Spray sheets with Lavender hydrosol or floral water.

 

Musty Basements
This is a great idea, get one of those socket type diffusers

Add some Bergamot Mint and keep it in your basement. With the rainy
Spring some of us have had we need something to help with the musty
smell.

That damp, musty odor most basements get can be safely eliminated
with Bergamot Mint. Botanical name Mentha citrata
This unusual oil is actually a mint!
Soft with floral notes and touches of citrus it is similar to
Bergamot,this oil will brighten your mood and lift your spirits.
Unlike the mint oils it is not stimulating but actually de-stressing
like Lavender.
High in linalol and linalyl acetate (like Lavender) it is much safer
on the skin than other mint oils. Used in proper dilutions, it is
neither irritating, sensitizing, nor photosensitizing, much safer to
use than either Bergamot or Peppermint alone.

 

Tub and Shower Scrub
This recipe helps to remove and prevent mold and mildew buildup.
1/2 Cup Baking Soda
10 drops Tea Tree essential oil
10 drops Lavender essential oil
10 drops Geranium essential oil

Combine all ingredients and using a damp sponge or cloth, scrub
bathtub and/or shower.
For serious mildew buildup areas, combine 20 drops of Tea Tree and
water in a spray bottle,
and spray area everyday for 5 days, then 2x a week.

 

Washing Floors

Next time you’re mopping the floors, try a combination of Murphy’s
oil soap and pure essential oils,in a ratio of 20 drops of essential
oils to 2 gallons of water. Recommended oils to try are: Eucalyptus,
Lavender, Lemon, Patchouli, Pine, Rosemary, Sweet Orange. Use singly
or in combination.

 

Refresh Your Pillows

To rejuvenate and fluff up pillows, place them one at a time
in the dryer on a warm setting for 10 minutes with two clean tennis
balls.
For a pleasant scent, sprinkle three drops of an essential oil, like
orange or rose onto a cotton ball, tie it into a handkerchief, and
add it to the dryer along with the pillows.
Enjoy!

 

The Scented Bath/Powder Room
An easy way to freshen the bathroom.
Place several drops of essential oil on the cardboard
of the toilet tissue roll.
Each time it is used the scent
will diffuse into the room.

 

Carpet Cleaning

Add 10 drops of Lemon Essential Oil for each gallon of water when
cleaning your carpets.
You’ll notice the fresh smell!

 

Laundry Tip

Kill dust mites and other allergens in the laundry

Add a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to the
final rinse water then dry clothes in the dryer.

 

Closet Tip

Here is a fragrant blend that will keep fabrics safe and smelling
fresh.
Mix two cups each cedar chips and lavender buds with 3 drops lemon
oil and 5 drops each cedar and lavender oils. Place this mixture in
a basket with a muslin covering. Keep the basket in a storage trunk
or in a linen or clothes closet!

 

Mothballs: The common mothball is made of paradichlorobenzene, which
is harmful to liver and kidneys. Cedar chips in a cheesecloth
square, or cedar oil in an absorbent cloth will repel moths. The
cedar should be ‘aromatic cedar’, also referred to as juniper in
some areas. Cedar chips are available at many craft supply stores,
or make your own using a plane and a block of cedar from the
lumber yard.
Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made with lavender,
rosemary, vetiver and rose petals.
Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent – simply toss
into clothes chest, or tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet.

 

Room Spray to Cleanse & Freshen the Air

With all the colds going around perhaps
you need to take this spray to work with
you.

1 drop Tea Tree essential oil

6 drops Bergamot

8 drops Lemon
in
1 oz. of water

 

Germ Buster Wipes

Mix equal parts of Lavender, Thyme and Eucalyptus.
Use in a spray
bottle to wipe down surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom.
Moisten paper towels with this blend and wipe over surfaces.

 

Lemon Mint Window Wash
For the shiniest windows ever!
Ingredients:
Juice from one fresh Lemon

2 Cups water or Club Soda

1/2 teaspoon Peppermint essential oil

1 teaspoon Cornstarch
Mix all ingredients and pour into a plastic spray bottle.
Shake before using.
Try using sheets of black and white newspaper, it
shines without streaking. An old home remedy.

 

 

Spring… a new beginning

The following essential oils are uplifting, help promote creativity,
and a sense of renewal. Geranium, Coriander, Rose and Nutmeg
Try placing 3 drops on a tissue and inhale.
Diffuse using any room
diffuser.