dandelion

HedgeWitch Days!

July, 2015

That Tiny Patch of Lawn

Hi my lovelies!

July has a different meaning depending on whether you are still at school or not, don’t you think? For all children everywhere it signals the end of the school year, the square on the monopoly board that heralds the get out of jail free card, the endless sunny days of hope and wild abandonment, climbing trees (or playing computer games, whatever the modern equivalent is)and sleeping in, ahhhh what bliss!!! For parents and all child looking afterers July has a certain chill to the air…ahead stretch endless days to be filled, manic conversations and arguments to be had and the go directly to jail card, do not pass go, do not collect £200, do not plan a life for the next 6-8 weeks! Surviving the summer holidays with a child should come with a large rosette and an even larger glass of Gin as the prize at the end…thankfully my own 2 daughters have grown up now and flown the nest, however I do expect my 3 ‘Oh so beautiful and amazing’ granddaughters to be routinely visiting, expecting to be amused.

As I’m sure most of us that follow our path also feel, July, with its lack of any Solstices and Equinox’s can present itself to us as a little flat, a lull in the magical calendar can mean a loss of focus and magical doings too.

Our beloved Mother Nature as ever is right on point with this empty magical calendar, certainly here in the British garden and country side things our plants take a holiday of their own. All the showiness of June and midsummer make way for the lazy hazy days of rest before the Autumnal splendour bursts through. Walking along the Wiltshire lanes there is a definite feeling of hush and stillness. As the flowers seem to have lost some of their sparkle, the heat of the day, weather permitting hangs in the air, and the flora does the same…hanging its head waiting for the rain and coolness to indicate when to start the abundant bounty of autumn. The bees and crickets are the only continuous sound echoing through the air, our birds and mammals sheltering away from the fiery heat of the day.

July is the time when I, as a child, remember the smell of cut grass on the playing field at school and at the park. When I had the horror of school aged children the smell of cut grass still clung to the month, as I hunkered down to watch school sports day, or sat having garden picnics at home. Every weekend, row after row of households drag their lawnmowers out of the shed and set to work trimming the patch of green attached to the house. The scent of freshly cut grass will always be associated with July for me, when other flowers are pretty much spent from showing off at midsummer, the unassuming grass is still doing its job for us all, providing us a green backdrop to the start of the ‘calendar’ summer if not the witchy one. But is it just grass that we gaze upon?

I am writing this sat on the grass myself, the warmth of the sun on my back and the magic of Mother Nature in my heart. Before me, on first glances is a standard lawn, a little patchy (new garden syndrome) but none the less fairly green and welcoming.

But look closer…is it really all grass?

My lawn at home holds so many wonderful goodies other than grass that I can use in my magic and in my home remedies. Daisies, buttercups, clover, selfheal, dandelion, bedstraw, plantain are all cuddled together in the blanket of green. Even though the grass was cut yesterday the brave little daisies are still managing to bloom their little socks off, low enough to miss the lawnmower blade. In between all the blades and leaves of the lawn busy ants and money spiders are going about their daily business without so much as a glance from me, which I have always found a tad odd, I am sure we would notice if a giant came and sat on our lawns next to us! They are so industrious in their work, putting us humans quite to shame!

Tinctures and Oils

Tinctures are so simple to make, just remember the 3/4 herbs and 1/4 liquid ratio….vodka is normally the best liquid to use.
Put the herbs in blender or chop really finely.

Add alcohol to cover 1/4 inch over the herbs.

Blend or mix well to a soupy/mushy consistency and pour into a glass jar.

Screw on an airtight lid.
Leave herbs settle for a day or so to see how much liquid is on top, add more if needed.

Let it brew in the dark for at least 4 weeks, shaking weekly.

To strain, pour the entire contents of the jar through your strainer and press all liquid out of the soaked herbs with a wooden spoon.

Keep your finished tincture sealed tightly in a bottle or Jar as the alcohol will evaporate if left open.
Top Tip…Your tincture will be more powerful if made on the new moon and strained on the full moon!!!

Healing oils

Pack a jar with blossoms and top with a good oil, I like to use sunflower as it is a lighter oil, not as heavy as olive oil but you can use pretty much any oil you have to hand.

Allow to steep (love that word!) for 2-3 weeks and then strain and bottle in an airtight jar for medicinal or magical use.

Top tip…Use your oils for anointing your candles to perform powerful candle magic!

Grass – Psychic powers

Daisies – Love

Dandelion – Wishes

Plantain – Strength and health

Selfheal- Healing

Clover – Luck

Bedstraw – Luck

Buttercup – Happiness

I hope you have a wonderfully magical July, survive any bored child attacks and make it into August with your dignity intact, something new in your store cupboard and magic overflowing in your heart…Big hugs guys and as ever

bb*

The Neon Pagan

June, 2013

Neil Gaiman told me to be a dandelion.

My daughter went to hear Neil speak, and she asked him to inscribe a book for me.  “Buzzy,” he wrote, “be a dandelion!” (Buzzy is my nickname.)

I asked my daughter what Neil meant by that. She gave me a convoluted response about caring less about making money and replicating the species than sending seeds of creativity out into the world. This was amusing information, coming from a daughter whose college tuition requires payment so she is eligible to see Neil Gaiman speak at her school. Silly me, for replicating the species.

However, I am blissfully happy to be a dandelion. Gladly, Mr. Gaiman!

Is there anything that reveals the contradictions in the human condition more than our relationship with dandelions?

Dandelions produce the most vivid and beautiful spring flower in the landscape. They continue to bloom all summer long. When they go to seed, they’re still pretty, and then they’re fun to play with. If they’re living in a close-cut lawn, they bloom an inch from the ground. Unperturbed by overzealous landscapers, they can soar to a foot in height. Their leaves are edible: cooked, raw, or made into wine.

It therefore follows logically that dandelions are the most expensive and popular plant at landscape stores.

No, I’ve got that wrong. A whole industry revolves around chemicals created to eradicate the dandelion, to wipe it from the face of a verdant lawn, to eliminate it from cracks in the sidewalk, to keep it from intruding on the marigolds and begonias.

A friend of mine who spent his life farming told me that a weed is just a plant that grows where we don’t want it to grow. This is the whole crux of the dandelion conundrum. While they are beautiful to look at, and fun to play with, and undetectable in a salad of mixed greens, they won’t grow by demand in orderly clusters. Even if they’re purposely cultivated in a garden, they’re quite unruly when it comes to sending their seeds off into the world.

I’m very happy to be a dandelion, thank you very much. Pleased to meet you. I’m Anne Johnson, the weed.

For most of my life I tried to fit into the cultivated bed, but not once did I ever sleep comfortably there. My imagination has run amok since childhood. I’ve never taken a vow that I couldn’t, or didn’t, break. The minute I seem poised to take root in one religion, one opinion, one behavior pattern, whoosh! Off I go to a whole new crack in the sidewalk.

When he told me to be a dandelion, Neil Gaiman no doubt meant for me to send my creativity into the charming summer breezes to take root everywhere. The reality is that I’m a bright, flashy contrarian who takes pleasure in messing up the tidiest lawn. Cut me to the quick. I’ll still bloom. Leave me alone – all alone – and I’ll bloom just the same. Poison me with toxic chemicals, and I’ll … die. Oh, damn. That metaphor didn’t go as planned.

This is my first column for PaganPages. I promise to be as coherent in the future as I’ve been this time. Deities of Disorder adore me. Anne Johnson, as tidy and predictable as the dandelion.

The Witch’s Cupboard

May, 2011

Dandelion


Dandelion is a wonderful food as well as a beneficial medicine. It supports overall health by gently working to improve the functioning of the liver, gallbladder and urinary and digestive systems. It is excellent for cleansing the skin.

An old companion of man, it has accumulated many names. Blowball and telltime refer to the seeds, priest’s crown to the stem after the seeds have flown, and swine’s snout to the unopened flower. And dandelion itself? The ‘teeth of the lion’ (dent de lion) explanation, from the appearance of the saw edged leaves or perhaps the tiny florets, is found in many languages. But there is also a case made for an older link to the sun.

In many cultures the lion has been the animal symbol of the sun since antiquity, as the astrological sign Leo. Dandelions are yellow discs, like the sun and open and close along with it. So, perhaps the old name might mean ‘rays of the sun’ rather than teeth of the lion?

Use dandelion for:

It is high in minerals, especially potassium, and vitamins A, B, C and D. The young leaves boiled up into a tea or eaten fresh in salads are detoxifiers, clearing blood and lymph by increasing elimination through the kidneys and bowels. This in turn benefits overall health.

If dandelion says ‘think spring’ it also suggests ‘think liver’. It has a reputation as a safe liver herb, especially where there are toxins and heat in the blood. The plant’s chemicals cause the gallbladder to contract, releasing bile, stimulating the liver to produce more.

Liver related conditions aided by the dandelion include jaundice and hepatitis, gallstones and urinary tract infection, painful menopause, PMT and menstruation, improvements are achievable in the pancreas, spleen, skin and eyesight.

It is the bitterness in dandelion leaves that makes them so good for your digestion. The bitter taste stimulates secretion of the digestive fluids, including stomach acid, bile and pancreatic juices. Dandelion promotes the appetite, and is recommended for those who have been ill or have lost their enthusiasm for food in advanced age.

Roasted dandelion root is a well known and caffeine free coffee substitute. The root can also be eaten as a vegetable.

The flowers don’t look very edible, but they are good eaten straight of the plant, mild and slightly sweet. Eating a few dandelion flowers often relieves a headache too.

The flowers also yield a refreshing dandelion beer and a face wash.

The sap or latex of the stems was once used in patent medicines, and was said to remove freckles and age spots corns and warts, to help hair grow and treat bee stings and blisters.

Dandelion is renowned for its diuretic properties, that is, increasing the flow of urine. What is less familiar is how well it strengthens the urinary system. It is effective in treating bed wetting in children and incontinence in older people. All parts of the plant have this effect, especially the leaves.

With most diuretic drugs potassium is lost from the body and has to be supplemented, but dandelion is naturally high in potassium. It can safely be used long term without causing imbalance. The leaves boiled with vegetable peelings make a potassium rich broth.

Dandelion’s diuretic effect makes it a good herb for treating swollen ankles for fluid retention and high blood pressure. It can also be used to alleviate shortness of breath in the elderly.

As a medicine the whole plant is invaluable for liver and gall bladder problems, and for skin complaints including eczema and acne. Its action helps reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol and the pain of arteriosclerosis and joints, digestive problems, chronic illness, viral infections and heart and lung irregularities.

Dandelion can form part of a natural cancer treatment, and taken regularly as a food and medicine can help prevent some cancers, especially breast cancer and other chronic illnesses by keeping the body clean, toned and healthy.

Uses:

Dandelion Sap for
Warts
Calluses
Corns
Rough skin

Dandelion salad for
Sluggish liver
Constipation
Urinary problems
Fluid retention

Dandelion tincture for
Skin problems
Sluggish liver
Constipation
Urinary problems
Fluid retention
hritis
Gout
Hangovers
Chronic illness

Dandelion flower infused oil for
Muscle tension
Muscle aches
Stiff necks
hritis

Magickal Uses

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Jupiter
Element: Air
Deity: Hecate
Power:

    • Divination

  • , wishes, calling spirits

    Drink dandelion tea or coffee to promote psychic powers. Leave a cup of this hot infusion by the bed to call spirits.

    Dandelion Coffee:

    Dig up the roots, trim off the leaves and stems and any small rootlets. Wash off the earth and scrub the roots well, leave them in a warm place to drain and dry. Cut any larger roots in half and into short lengths, spread the pieces on a shallow roasting tin and bake in a hot oven (400F, 200C, Gas 6) for 30 minutes until the roots are brown and dry all through. Allow to cool then grind. Spread the grounds on the roasting tin and roast them for 7 minutes in a moderate oven (350F, 180C, Gas 4). Put 5-6 tablespoons grounds in a warm jub, pour on 500ml/2 cups/1 pint boiling water, stir and stand for 30 minutes. Strain into a pan and re-heat.

    Dandelion Fizz
    Gather the dandelion flowers in the sun, when they are fully open. The drink is very mildly alcoholic, sweet and quenching.

    1 litre/5 cups prepared dandelion flowers
    1 1/2 litres/4 1/2 US quarts water
    1 kilo/4 cups sugar
    2 lemons

    Trim the stalks from the flowers, but leave the green sepals on and discard any overblown flowers or unopened buds. The prepared dandelions should fill a 1 litre/5 cups measure when gently pressed down.

    Wash the flowers in a colander and tip them into an earthenware, enamel or plastic container preferably with a well fitting lid. Pour the boiling water on to the dandelions, cover the vessel with a lid, board or weighted plate and leave to stand for 12 hours.

    Strain the liquid through a double thickness of muslin into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and the pared rind and juice of the lemons. Heat gently and stir until the sugar has dissolved, but do not allow to boil. Strain the liquid into jugs and leave to cool. Pour into clean, dry bottles with strong screw caps. Store in a cool, dark place. The brew is ready to rink in three or four weeks.