Echinacea

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

September, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times September 2018

Autumnal Equinox

Bright Blessings,

It is almost the Autumnal Equinox!

We are thankful the weather is cooling off. Some of us nearly suffocate when it is so hot, but it’s also sad that Summer plants are winding down.

I got a head start and threw some mums in pots, and am eyeing more at garden aisles at local shops. I put my radishes in the soil five days ago, and they have already emerged tall and strong!

Next, garden cleanup begins! I have mint, zinnias, black eyed susans, echinacea, and a huge tomato plant that will need cleaned up by winter, and I start that this week. I have large areas of these plants, so it is imperative I do little bits at a time. I have learned over the years that working with plants is done best a little bit here and there almost every day. I see so many people saving all their yard work up for ONE day every month or so, and some complain bitterly about it.

As with all things in life, doing things in moderation in the garden is beneficial! This way, you also get to enjoy the seasons regularly, as opposed to feeling that touching the earth is a chore and a burden.

Besides that, being out there regularly with your plants means you are fully aware of what is going on with them. As we are aware of the poisons of modern chemicals, and how it is killing this planet, the best way to ensure you can manage pests with organic methods is to inspect the plants often. If daily is not possible, at least three times per week is helpful.

Not being aware of the goings on of the plants and the organisms that are interacting with them is one of the main ways a garden can fail. Catch the issues fast, and fix them faster!

The Autumn

As the wheel is turning, the days cool, the nights come sooner, and the sun rises later. It reminds us to enjoy the warmth and growing season for as long as we can, because the cold winter and short days are just around the corner.

Autumnal Equinox falls on the 23 of September this year, and on that day, the day and night are both equal, about 12 hours each. Already I miss the longer days thinking of it!

At Autumn Equinox, Pagans often celebrate a Thanksgiving and the focus is on seasonal food and fellowship.., and I really like this idea.

It gives opportunity to do so before the responsibilities with blood kin and the conventional Winter Holidays rolls around. It also gives opportunity to do this gathering out if doors before it’s just too cold.

It is considered by some to be a time to complete unfinished business before winter comes. This is actually a good idea because just around the corner are the conventional holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. There will be little time between running to and from shopping and festivities to do anything else.

Pagans further have Samhain, and Yule to add in to those other holidays. Busy busy busy!

Depending on where you live, snow may start fairly soon, and getting places is not as easy as it is during the warmer months.

For some, it is a time to reflect on the harvest or things accomplished during the growing season.

Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks

This month’s film falls in with that theme.

It’s called Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks, and here is its official trailer:

The film follows the death of illustrious doctors, both named Dr. Brinks who were a married couple. They were considered by many to be perfect people, and were touted as living saints with an almost cult-like following by some.

Unfortunately, some people who are married to their careers allow their family life to suffer. Not only did the parents fail to be close with their children, but they somehow managed to belittle, and shame their kids for not rising to greatness in the way they, themselves did.

The film begins with their son and daughter fighting bitterly following their parents funeral, and trying to squeeze a tiny bit of inheritance out of the parents who basically discarded them in favor of their careers.

The film shows how the adult children feel their own lives are lacking, and shows how both kids deny their own grief because they felt they lost their parents long ago, so their death is irrelevant. Why mourn somebody who basically dropped you?

Their son chastises his sister mercilessly, and she retaliates, and they even wrestle and scream at one another. Grief hits both kids when they least expect it, and in ways they struggle with.

It turns out, the parents were not the great saints they made people believe they were. Their perfect personas were a front for a horrible secret. Not only were they bad parents, but they were just bad people.

The son and daughter are able, with this shocking revelation, to pick themselves up, forgiving themselves of their imperfections, and repair their relationship with one another.

The Hidden Truth

The occult lesson this film teaches us is that belief does not always reflect reality, nor does it create it.

Our Pagan and New Age communities often want to teach us that we control all in our realities with the power of our will and belief, and yet that’s simply not how the world works.

Like being unaware of pests or diseases that can decimate your plants, the kids in Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks were completely unaware of the awful things their parents did. Everybody is unaware of these things, but they happen anyways.

Once the truth comes to light, we can either crumble, or pick ourselves up, and move forward, towards improvement.

Hidden truths still affect things.

Besides this, we oftentimes lie to ourselves, and we make it impossible to function in reality. We cannot imagine the world to be as we want it, and conjure that based on wishful thinking. We have to live in harmony with the way things actually are. We CAN change some things, but of the things we cannot change, being in denial is crippling, and hinders us as magical practitioners.

In the film, the Brinks kids were lied to, and they further lied to themselves. It held them both back from believing the beauty in themselves, and it pitted them against each other.

The truth was told, and poof! The spell was broken!

This was not a favorite film of mine, and truthfully, I don’t enjoy films that use sex and nudity to excite viewers, but it’s not a bad film due to the lesson it teaches. It moves a bit slowly for my taste, and relies very heavily on “cool” modern things and images to try to engage middle-aged folk who still want to live as they did in their 20’s. Both characters try too hard to act carefree, cool, and younger than they actually are. They want to be without responsibilities, but it turns out both of them are actually very reliable people, and in the end, they show they can count on each other. However, I really believe the over trying of the Brinks kids was just another illusion they maintained to make themselves feel better, and it’s very appropriate.

More on The Equinox

How this ties in with the Sabbat is at the time of harvest, we may find we are in a place in our lives we just don’t expect, or we may have some new revelation that has us reeling from the shock of it. I have written a ritual in years past for celebrating the unexpected harvests, that are a wonderful blessing we did not expect to get!

But what about when something not good happens we had not expected…something that is really not a blessing? Or what if it MIGHT turn into one with time, but we are just not thrilled with it?

What then?

How do we accept the way things are, and move forward?

The answer is to do a ritual breaking of our illusions, as a rite of passage, and ask for guidance. When hard work towards something falls apart, it can be beyond disheartening, and for some, ritual workings can aid in moving forward to the first step in the right direction.

An end of the old way of being at harvest time celebrates and honors where you have been, and serves to thank the gods for revealing what is to come. Sometimes, we harvest hard truths that are painful. We may ask “Why me, gods?” We can be in denial and mourning, and a time of processing this pain if crucial for processing change for some. The energy of the season can help with your process of accepting what is, and moving into what you actually DID harvest, and that is a new way of being.

Fall Equinox Moving Forward Ritual

This will be a three-step ritual and will entail travel. It does not need to be far, it just needs to entail walking away from the old, and going into the new, forward in the direction that you need to. You can even just walk from one end of the room to the next if it is appropriate, or you can do a trip if you like.

You will begin with either a new pair of shoes or a new pair of socks to take along.

You will start out with the old shoes or socks you wear when you set out, and end by leaving the old pair someplace, changing into the new pair, and leaving them behind to symbolize discarding the old illusions, which created the wrong way of being.

You will custom tailor this to yourself based on the basic structure.

What you need to do is three things

  1. Pick a starting place that represents where you were back when you still believed what was false. At this point, you should be in acceptance of whatever has changed, and the fact you have to adapt. If you want to say some words, or do a prayer, you can, but you don’t have to. An example would be. “I stand here where I was once in darkness, and I step away, moving towards the truth. I leave behind all illusions , and misconceptions here, and pray to my gods/esses for the guidance. The only way is forward. So Be It.” Leave some sort of a gift for the powers that be. Next, you move towards a middle location on your journey. You will be wearing your old shoes or socks, and take with you the new pair.
  2. Your second location will be a representation of the process of the change. You will next go there as the halfway point. This should be a place you find comforting where you can return in times when you need to recuperate and catch your breath. If you want to say some words, you can say something like.“ This is a place of light, healing, and growth. This is a place that will comfort me in the changes that are to come. I draw strength here, and renewed, move towards my new truth. Let this place be healing, and strengthening in times I am afraid, weak, or reluctant to keep moving forward. Let this place bless these shoes/socks that I will wear to carry me. The only way is forward. So Be It” Take the new shoes and socks, and lay them on the ground, and let the energies for this safe place soak in for a bit before leaving. Leave another gift for the powers that be.
  3. Choose a location that represents the new way of being and embracing of the new truth. If you would like to say some words, as you change, go ahead and say something like “ The truth is harder than the illusions, but living by illusions is unacceptable. Let this be as a reminder to me of how far from the darkness I have come, and he way forward in the light will be difficult at times, but nothing is better than freedom to walk in the truth. May my gods/esses bless and guide me. I will not go back. (Take off the shoes or socks, and put the new pair on) The only way is forward. So Be It.” Throw away the old pair of shoes and socks.

May your new change in light of the truth bring only good things. If there are difficulties in the transition, may you have the strength, and love and support of others to weather the struggles. May your new life with the new reality be the best life you have had yet, and may things get better and better.

Blessed Equinox.

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

 

Mugwort Chronicles

January, 2013

Echinacea

Several years ago I spotted a somewhat ragged Echinacea plant at our local nursery. It was toward the end of the summer when the nursery had deeply discounted its remaining plants to clear its inventory. This poor little soul lingered in her pot so sadly that I simply could not walk away. I brought her home and planted her in the part of my garden between Marshmallow and Rose, uncertain if I would see her next year. However, as winter warmed to spring then into summer, there was Echinacea small but making a vibrant comeback.

I had always wanted to plant Echinacea to use in making tincture.  Echinacea, more commonly known as Coneflower, is a member of the Asteraceae or aster/daisy family. It has a long history of indigenous use for treating sore throats, coughs, headaches and infection.  It is considered antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral as well as thought to stimulate the immune system. The three types of Echinacea most commonly used for medicine are Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Echinacea angustifolia (Narrowleaf Coneflower) and Echinacea pallid (Pale Purple Coneflower). A fourth – Echinacea tennensiensis (Tennessee Coneflower), is considered an endangered plant and should never be used. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is the one most often found in gardens as it tends to be less demanding to grow.

Most of what I read about Echinacea indicated that although the seeds, flowers and leaves have some medicinal value, the plant’s roots contain more potent medicine. Purple Coneflower has small roots whereas Narrowleaf Coneflower and Pale Purple Coneflower have long taproots making them better suited when using roots for preparing medicine.

If you do not grow your own Echinacea, I very strongly caution you against wildcrafting it as Echinacea spp (spp is the botanical abbreviation for all species in a genus) is listed as an ‘At Risk’ plant by United Plant Savers. If you purchase dried Echinacea to make medicine instead of growing your own, please, please, please help protect our at-risk and endangered plants by making certain your source was grown organically for harvest and not taken from the wild.

As fall rolled around and the Echinacea plant in my garden held onto her last few summer flowers, I just did not feel right about sacrificing the entire plant to harvest her roots, so I just left her. The following summer, Echinacea was beautiful with many more flowers and obviously enjoying her garden home. Again, fall came and I chose to simply do nothing with her roots.

I began reading Henriette Kress’s wonderful book, Practical Herbs, and was fascinated by her discussion of Echinacea. Henriette noted that the above ground parts- the leaves, flowers and seeds are all effective medicinally as is the root. I began planning how I could use Echinacea without disturbing her too badly.

When Echinacea sprouted her new leaves the next spring, but before her flowers began to open, I harvested enough leaves (when chopped) to loosely fill an eight ounce jar. I added enough 65% alcohol to cover the leaves, capped it tightly and allowed it to sit in my herb cupboard for about six weeks, shaking it twice daily for the first two weeks, then every so often afterward.

I strained the tincture and returned it to the cleaned jar, this time adding several newly opened flowers (cleaned and chopped). I topped off the alcohol to cover the flowers, capped it tightly and proceeded as before, waiting another six to eight weeks.

By this time, the Echinacea seed heads were beginning to ripen. The ripe seed head of the flower has a prominent ‘cone’ shape with the petals drooping downward as opposed to the more flat center and daisy-like appearance of new flowers. I picked several of these ‘ripe’ flowers and chopped them up, attempting to crush the seeds (a little more difficult to crush than I thought). After straining my tincture, I added these chopped seed heads to the jar, again topping it off with more 65% alcohol to cover the flowers, capping it tightly, shaking it periodically and allowing it to ‘brew’ for another six weeks.

As we head into the last few weeks of December, I am convinced that my Echinacea tincture has helped ward off some of the nasty ‘bugs’ I seem to catch this time every year. I work in an office building, “The Land of the Gray Cubicles”, where colds and flues tend to spread rapidly among employees. This year, at the first sign of a scratchy throat, a dry cough or just feeling achy and tired, I took a dropperful of the Echinacea tincture in the morning, and sometimes in the evening, and continued taking it for at least a week. So far, so good-I seemed to have escaped almost all my co-workers illnesses and the one I did have, was quite minor and short-lived.

During a severe cold or flu, Echinacea can be taken with other herbal preparations, such as Elderberry ((Sambucus niagra) or Oregon Grape root (Mahonia spp) to boost its effectiveness and there are several companies which offer Echinacea tincture combinations.

There seems to be differing opinions as to how and when to use Echinacea. Some sources say it should only be used at the onset of cold or flu symptoms and for no longer than ten days. Others indicate that taking Echinacea on a daily basis can help boost the immune system, especially for those individuals who are prone to illness, preventing many colds. There is some debate as to whether Echinacea should be avoided by those with an autoimmune disorder or HIV. However, this does not appear to have been well-studied or well-supported by the current literature.  I have also read that once you have an active case of the flu, Echinacea will do little to help.  All pretty confusing, isn’t it?

As with many things in life, how you choose to use Echinacea will be up to your own unique needs.  Research the available literature and make your own well-informed decision of what is best for you. If you are allergic to ragweed, use Echinacea with caution. If you are pregnant, as with any herbal or botanical preparation, do not use without first discussing with your healthcare provider.

This information is offered for educational purposes and is not intended to take the place of personalized medical care from a trained healthcare professional. The reader assumes all risk when utilizing the above information.

Copyright© 2013 Louise Harmon

All Rights Reserved

 

References:

- Encyclopedia-Echinacea. Retrieved from

http://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com/echinacea/#sthash.JbfXebDA.dpbs

Accessed 11/19/2012

 

-Kress, Henriette. (2011). Practical Herbs. Finland: Yrtit ja yrttiterapia Henriette Kress.

http://www.henriettesherbal.com

Accessed 11/118/2012

 

-Materia Medica Echinacea. Retrieved from

http://www.herbaltransitions.com/materiamedica/Echinacea.htm

Accessed 11/17/2012

 

-United Plant Savers. Retrieved from

http://www.unitedplantsavers.org/

Accessed 11/19/2012

 

Wikipedia. Echinacea. Retrieved from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinacea

Accessed 11/17/2012