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Book & CD Review – In The Light of Meditation by Mike George

July, 2018

Book & CD Review – In The Light of Meditation by Mike George

In Short: Helpful meditation primer – yes; authentic vedantic teaching – no.

Meditation was first introduced to the West from the yogic traditions of India. Even before The Beatles courted the teachings of Indian gurus, vedic philosophy had been brought to the Europe and America by Theosophists in the mid-19th century and yogis such as Paramahamsa Yogananda promoted vedic meditational practices (in the form of Kriya yoga) to westerners in the 1920s. However, a look at most literature on meditation today will reveal a strong dominance of a Buddhist or indeed a secular approach. Especially Eastern Buddhist traditions, with their focus on mindfulness meditation, are appropriately secular minded for the western audience. The de-emphasis on metaphysical doctrines such as reincarnation and karma allowed chan / zen traditions especially to be readily digestible in the West, so when scientific data started coming in on the benefits of meditation, the appetite for self-improvement boosted mindfulness meditation in particular to the status of a “mental workout”. As more scientific data has accumulated, over the last thirty years it has become the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of meditation practice that have become the reason to meditate. Even Buddhist journals such as Tricycle wax heavily on the neurological benefits of meditation and on secular Buddhism.

None of this is a bad thing, but it is what makes In The Light of Meditation stand out of the landscape. It teaches meditative practice from the yogic tradition of India. The secular is absent, spiritual development is central to the agenda and explicit in the teaching. The meditation taught by the book is from the Raja yoga tradition. The purpose of Raja yoga is to become aware of one’s spiritual nature and one’s connection with the divine (however one understands that for themselves), learning to recognize the divine flame within us.

So be warned – if you feel slightly allergic to chapters titled “Knowing and Understanding God”, “The Soul World”, and “Where do we go after death”, then this book will not be for you. While the book explains metaphysical concepts such as reincarnation and the workings of karma, it tries not to be necessarily religiously aligned and I don’t believe the exercises contained will necessarily contradict any other religious observances you might have. Rather than advocating offerings to any specific deity, the author has made an effort to couch the lessons with the Westerner in mind and direct the reader’s attention to the Divine, the language used sometimes even comes off as Christian.

In the Light of Meditation is designed to be a full 10-week meditation course in a book. I think this is well thought-out, since it is an appropriate amount of time to start noticing the benefits of a mind-body practice (it takes at least a month to make the relevant synaptic connections). Each chapter is an individual lesson designed to be read (and re-read) and digested over the course of the week. The meditation sessions start off gently at 10 minutes long, which is about the length that I started my meditation with, with instructional guides for you to read over before and while following them or preferably following on the supplied CD. Similar to many workbooks, additionally each chapter also has an FAQ, an encouraging personal experience testimonial, and various exercises such as visualization, ritual, or journaling prompts to help you integrate and reflect on your learning and to ground the meditating work in you life and psyche.

Something I found unique in the book was an email address provided for assistance for the beginner meditator. This address is staffed not by the author only, but by a number of experienced meditators at the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, with which the author Mike George is associated with. While I did not “test” the email contact myself, this seems like it could be an invaluable asset for the beginner who cannot get meditation teaching in person.

Overall the production value of the book is high. It is beautifully designed, every page has the detail and charm of small illustrations or patterns, while the layout is kept streamlined and readable, not too broken up like many educational or coffee table books. Some books lend themselves well for summarizing with bullet points and notes in the margins. I am a big fan of the free public library for this reason – browsing through books, writing notes down to reflect upon later. This book is not so amenable to this approach though. The narrative nature of the writing and instructions don’t lend themselves well for quick notes to be practiced later; the design of a self-study course requires you to follow along over time. That said, for a workbook – and it is assuredly a workbook – it has an eminently readable flow and even comes with a CD with 15 tracks of commentary and guided meditation.

The book is not without its problems, however. As I mentioned above, the author is affiliated with the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. This is not Raja yoga from a traditional lineage. The yoga practices taught are based on the teachings of Dada Lekhraj Kripalani (1876-1969), a diamond merchant turned guru who founded the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in the 1930s. Some of the teachings of the organization definitely contradict standard vedantic teachings. Their profound misunderstanding of the yugas (vedic ‘ages’) as only 5,000 years long and each cycle repeating the last exactly, seems to be at the root of such mistakes as making specific predictions of apocalypse, predicting that Sri Krishna will incarnate onto Earth around the year 2036, or a vague skepticism of dinosaurs. After all, if history does not just repeat itself, but repeats exactly, and it is comprised of four ages 5,000 years long, how on earth does a Jurassic Period make sense? These claims are not made in the book, but they are why the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is on CenSAMM’s (Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements) list of Millenarian and Apocalyptic Movements. The Brahma Kumaris also have a troubling belief in revealed truth, wherein the teachings of the founder Dada Lekhraj Kripalani were the direct words of the Divine. All of these are red flags to me. On the other hand, the organization has been a very positive influence on the position of women in India, with many women in top leadership roles. And the meditation instructions in the book seem worthwhile to me.

Nonetheless, I think the book is designed well. I think ten weeks spent on this book will generally be a good way to find a spiritual focus in life and in your meditation practice as well. However, just follow it with common sense and know that not all the teachings are traditional Raja yoga. Don’t stop questioning; find that is worthwhile and discard the rest.

In the Light of Meditation: A Guide to Meditation and Spiritual Development, with CD

Notes from the Apothecary

May, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Honeysuckle

What a sweet name, conjuring images of bees and summer and jewel like flowers dripping with nectar, while butterflies gorge themselves on the sugary goodness. According to sacredwicca.com, honeysuckle is a Beltane flower, which makes sense as I remember the intricate blooms beginning to open in my grandparents’ yard around this time of year. We would sit in the pale English sun drinking in the smell of the nectar and the gently, bustling hum of honeybees. This exotic looking but fairly common plant holds a great deal of nostalgia for me, and the connection to my recent ancestors makes it an appropriate choice to write about at this other time when the veil is thin; Beltane, the opposite side of the wheel to Samhain, when the fae and their kin are strongest.

The Kitchen Garden…

Eat the Weeds tells us that honeysuckle is ‘iffy for foragers’, basically meaning that it’s one of those plants that has so many varieties, some of which are edible, some of which are not and some of which are downright poisonous. Because of this, if you are planning on cultivating honeysuckle for eating, you should ensure you absolutely know what variety you are growing. Lonicera japonica, or Japanese Honeysuckle, has leaves that can be boiled and eaten, and the flowers are so sweet and delicious they are enjoyed like candy. Lonicera villosa, or waterberry, has edible berries, but is often confused with variants which are not so tasty or even bad for you.

The upshot of this is, don’t eat any part of the honeysuckle plant unless you are one hundred percent sure that you have an edible variety. If in doubt, just don’t. Don’t be disappointed about the dubious edibility of this beautiful plant though. There are many great reasons to have a honeysuckle plant in your garden. As a climbing plant, it’s often used to hide unsightly walls or old fences, replacing urban grimness with nature’s treasure. As well as this, it attracts bees and butterflies, essential pollinators, filling your garden with colour and sound. This in will attract birds, and bats in some climates, so honeysuckle is a great addition to any wildlife garden.

Some species can be invasive, so it’s recommended to keep it away from fruit trees and the like as it can literally use their trunks as ladders to climb, which is not so healthy for your poor fruit trees. But with some liberal pruning when needed, honeysuckle is a beautiful, practical plant which brings a sweet fragrance and a splash of summer colour to any garden.

The Apothecary…

Mrs Grieve, in her Modern , tells us that there are over 100 species of honeysuckle but that only a dozen or so are used medicinally. She tells us that the fruits have emiticocathartic properties, a word which is not common in modern usage but presumably means honeysuckle berries can be used both as an emetic and a cathartic. Emetics cause the body to expel toxins, either by vomiting or defecating, and cathartic work solely on accelerating defecation. This sounds pretty grim, but emetics are often used if the patient is known to have ingested something toxic which needs to be expelled quickly. Of course, the berries cause vomiting because they themselves are toxic (some varieties; see above) so shouldn’t be consumed at all, really.

Other traditional remedies include using honeysuckle leaves or flowers as a diuretic, to ease asthmas, and to help with cramps and even bad skin.

The Witch’s Kitchen…

Honeysuckle is a climbing plant, and reminds us that we have to start at the bottom and work our way up. It is a symbol of perseverance, determination and hard work. Rev. Carol A. Ingle tells us that the plant is associated with the tarot card, The Chariot, allowing you to focus on having discernment, authority and mastery of any task at hand. She also recommends the use of honeysuckle in good luck spells and also bending others to your will. The plant is also great for protection magic.

Culpepper claimed it was a ‘herb of Mercury’. This plant, therefore, is often used in money magic, to attract wealth or new opportunities leading to better prosperity, such as luck for a new job interview. Mercury is also all about clear communication, so meditating on honeysuckle can allow you to open up your mind to allow the words you need to say to someone to come to the fore.

Named Féithleann in Irish, the plant is also known as the Irish Vine, so if you work with the Celtic Tree Calendar, honeysuckle is a great substitute for vine. Please note, I find the Celtic tree Calendar a thoroughly modern construct, as there is no evidence the Iron Age Celts followed a year split up into tree-based months, however it is a lovely construct and one that clearly means a great deal to many people. The magic of trees and plants cannot be disputed, and if this is a way that some practitioners connect with that magic, I have no problem with that. As long as it’s clear that it is not a reconstruction of what our Celtic ancestors followed it is inspired by their reverence for trees and plants, which in itself is a lovely idea.

Home and Hearth…

Irish folklore states that honeysuckle around the door of a home will prevent a witch from entering. Of course, the protective nature of the plant is actually that it will prevent negative energies from entering your house, so this is still great advice!

Bring honeysuckle flowers from your garden into the house to attract money. Keep the flowers in water, then as they start to wilt, immediately discard them, either in your compost disposal or in the eastern side of your garden if possible, to represent the manifestation of your desires.

I Never Knew…

Honeysuckle is much enjoyed by livestock, including chicken and goats. Indeed, the Latin name for one species, lonicera caprifolium, comes from the Latin for ‘goat’s leaf’.

Image credits: Lonicera x heckrottii ‘Gold Flame’ by Wouter Hagens, public domain; Lonicera caprifolium by Sten at Danish Wikipedia; Lonicera nigra by Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin (1727-1817), public domain.

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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 Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

Click Images for Amazon Information

Notes from the Apothecary

February, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: St John’s Wort

The first of February is ‘Time to Talk Day’, encouraging all of us to talk more openly about our mental health, and thus work towards removing the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. With that in mind, I thought I’d investigate an herb that has a long history of use within mental health: St John’s Wort. Do any internet search for St John’s Wort and you will be immediately inundated with ads for whole food shops trying to sell you ‘Nature’s Greatest Anti-Depressant’. But does it really work? And does the plant have more to it than being a crucial part of the pharmacopeia? There are differing opinions on the efficacy of this herb, but it’s certainly popular and not just among your traditional herb users. It’s even recommended by some ‘mainstream’ medical professionals, and shows no signs of losing its popularity.

The Kitchen Garden

As well as improving your mental outlook, this rather lovely plant can enhance the look of your kitchen garden, with its lovely yellow flowers and delicate leaves. Hypericum perforatum, the plant is distinguished from other hypericums by the tiny dots on the leaves, which look like perforations; hence the name.

I have hypericum at both sides of my house; a huge bush at the back which is a riot of yellow in summer. It attracts so many bees, and you can sit on the back doorstep and listen to the entire shrub vibrate with their activity. I have a smaller plant in a tub at the front of the house, which is the medical herb, but I want it to grow a bit bigger before I even start to think about pulling bits off it. A re-potting is in order I think, as I think it has outgrown its current environment.

St John’s wort is pretty easy to grow. It doesn’t like too much sun, so that shady spot where nothing else will grow is ideal. It does need a bit of light, but really not much at all. The spot my shrub is in gets about an hour of sunlight once a day, and the plant is thriving. It isn’t fussy about soil type, and once established doesn’t need much care. It can self-seed, and may spread further than you initially wanted it, so just bear that in mind.

For those with no gardens, the herb is readily available in whole food shops, herbalists and on the internet. As always, do your research, and don’t buy it if you aren’t sure what it is. This isn’t an herb I recommend eating or using as a decoction purely for refreshment, due to its strong impact on the mind. Keep this one for the medicine cabinet only, and only with qualified guidance.

The Apothecary

As previously mentioned, the key issue St John’s Wort is indicated for is depression. Depression is often called ‘the common cold’ of mental illness, but I really don’t think this is a fair description. Yes, lots of people catch colds. But you catch a cold, you rest, you take some paracetamol and after a few days you feel better. Depression is nothing like this. Depression can hit you like a stone, or it can creep up slowly. It can nibble away at you day by day, leaving you strung out and exhausted but still battling on, or it can knock you for six, leaving you incapable of anything. There are different levels of depression, all unpleasant and all needing different types of treatment. That’s why it’s extremely important that you don’t read articles like mine and immediately bulk buy St John’s Wort, as it simply may not be the right choice for you. Speak to a professional or a qualified person, and look at all the options available. Your mind is precious; be kind to it and make informed choices.

The reason many people do choose St John’s Wort, is that is clinical trials, when tested against a placebo and other anti-depressants, the herb was more effective than a placebo, without some of the undesirable effects of the ‘standard’ anti-depressants. St John’s Wort has a particular action on the liver; yet another reason why you shouldn’t take it without medical guidance. It is this action that makes it so effective, yet it also means that it can interact badly with other medicines. It’s a powerful herb, and one not to be taken lightly. You should also speak to your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or using oral contraceptives.

Having said that, the medical opinion overall (based on various studies, including the Cochrane Report) seems to be that research into the medical use of St John’s Wort is very promising, and anecdotally, many patients have had extremely positive results.

Traditionally the herb had other medical uses too. Mrs Grieve tells us that it as used for bladder complaints, including bedwetting in children. Applied externally, it was supposed to help ‘caked breasts’, which today we would refer to as blocked milk ducts.

Folklore

An interesting titbit from Grieve’s Modern is that the name hypericum is from the Greek hyperieum meaning ‘over an apparition’. My Greek is rusty (read: non-existent) so please feel free to correct this; I struggled to find anything to back up Mrs Grieve’s claims, and another source stated it actually means ‘over an icon’ from the tradition of placing the herb around religious statues. It was believed that the aroma of the herb was so strong and unpleasant as to chase evil spirits away.

Other traditional beliefs include the power to protect from lightning. I am not testing this one out. But, I have had St John’s Wort growing near me for many years, and I haven’t yet been struck by lightning… Draw your own conclusions.

The Witch’s Kitchen

An alternative name for St John’s Wort is Hexenkraut, literally German for ‘witchcraft herb’ or ‘magical herb’. This name is also sometimes used for mistletoe, one of the most powerful plants of the druids (see my article here), which gives you an idea of the potential magical power of St John’s Wort.

As has been suggested by the idea that it can chase evil spirits away, the herb can be used for protection. I believe this is why the herb often pops up in boundaries and hedgerows, as it creates a natural metaphysical barrier to protect the boundaries of one’s home or land. It can also be used to exorcise ‘demons’; generally, I find that the only demons hanging around are manifestations of negativity either from myself or those around me, and St John’s wort is excellent at banishing these. Even just having the bush outside the house makes it so much more cheerful; a very basic but very effective magic.

St John’s Wort is also used in prophetic magic. There is a tradition from Germany, of grinding the flowers between the fingers and examining the colour the oils left on the fingers. The more red the colour, the more likely the practitioner was to find love.

Cunningham tells us the plant is masculine, and associated with the sun, and fire. I wonder if this is mainly to do with its ‘sunny’ outlook and bright, yellow flowers. He also tells us that the plant is associated with the god Baldur, but I wonder if this association is actually a confusion of the German name Hexenkraut, which, as mentioned, also means Mistletoe, the plant that ended Baldur’s life.

The medical usage of St John’s Wort tends to focus around improving mental health, so it’s no surprise that the plant is used to banish negativity and attract happiness. It seems to act on this both in a physical (medical) and metaphysical (magical) way.

Home and Hearth

Strew the flowers around the boundary of your home for protection against visitors who mean you ill. A sprig of the herb and its flowers in a vase near the front or back door can help keep positive energy at a high within your home.

Remember…

Your mental health is incredibly important. If you feel low, or you are struggling, please get help. Speak to a professional, and don’t ever, ever start taking medication without getting some qualified guidance first. Just because something is ‘herbal’ does not mean it is automatically good for you, or the right choice for your condition. The following organization may be able to help:

USA

Samaritans USA

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The Trevor Project

UK

Samaritans

Young Minds

Mind

Image credits: Hypericum Perforatum, copyright Aelwyn 2007; hypericum-perforatum(Blatt), copyright Michael Gasperl 2005; hypericum perforatum, copyright Bff 2011. All via 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 Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

For Amazon information, click images below.

Giant Hogwort – Big Teacher

June, 2017

GiantHogwart1

 

My dream for summer 2016 was talking to wild plants and learning their names and magical/medicinal properties. The dream came true: I spent the summer in remote rural Sweden where an abundance of flowers awaited me.

People in-the-know say that the plant you most need unfailingly grows near you. If this is so, perhaps I only need to step outside (wherever I am) for a unique perspective on my health, my future or my marriage?!

I developed the habit of walking around with a magnifying glass in my hand and field guide in my pocket. I was soon moving in a fog of linguistic confusion. I grew up in The Netherlands. One of my earliest memories is of lying on my back in the grass and hearing plants singing all around me. In my early twenties I moved to Sweden and then on to the UK. Today the Dutch names of plants are like faint echoes carried on the wind: fluitekruid, pastinaak, bijvoet…. And my Swedish mother-in-law insisted that I learn the names of wild plants in Swedish: gråbo, vitsippor, blå eld….

My father did a course in horticulture when I was a teenager. He had to commit the Latin names of hundreds of plants to memory. Latin was one of my subjects in school and I would often look at those reams of names. It almost seemed like a different kind of Latin because surnames from other languages are ‘Latinized’ so botanical Latin looks very odd if you actually understand Latin!!

One thing my own parents taught me was to keep a respectful distance from certain plants. Giant Hogwort most of all. It is called Bereklauw (Bear’s Claw) in Dutch. They taught me that some plants have ‘lethal lookalikes’, mysterious ‘doppelgangers’ or doubles that are poisonous. Just as we human beings have a shadow, a side to us we try not to show, plants too have a secret life and sometimes they have poison twins.

As my maiden name is Berendsen (son or child of a bear) the ‘Bereklauw’ exterted a peculiar fascination. I am tall but this plant can grow twice as tall as me! Those white parasols of flowers were always swaying everywhere in the winds that scour my native Low Lands (literal translation of The Netherlands)

On my walks here in Sweden I suddenly thought: I do not actually know the name of Bear’s Claw in English. I have no difficulties recognising the plant but I can’t name it in English, Swedish or indeed Latin. I looked it up:

Giant Hogwood (Heracleum Mantegazzatium)

It is also called Giant Hogweed. I am not sure if that might be difference between British and American English, or if it is a more modern version of the same name. Use the link below to see pictures and read an official warning:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/39809.html

When I tried googling the English name I found an article written by a Dutch mother. Her two sons had played in the vicinity of Giant Hogwort and their skin had erupted in great blisters. Once those blisters pop, they leave open sores that need dressing and cleaning. She gave a vivid description of the horrors of tending to her boys daily. My mother’s heart did ache for this family. She then proceeded to say that these ‘nasty monsters’ grow even in the very heart of Amsterdam, in Het Vondelpark (Amsterdam’s equivalent of Hyde Park in London or Central Park in NYC). She discovered that you can contact the local council who are then obliged to remove the plants. And why were they growing there in the first place, she asked, in a prime location for children and dogs to run and play outdoors?

GiantHogwart2

At that point my mother’s heart did a backflip and I thought: hang on…. We live in world where children aren’t taught the names of plants any more. I was told recently that cowslip has been removed from the dictionary to make space for cyber age words like broadband and wifi.

Could it be argued that one of our duties as parents and teachers is to teach children the names and properties of plants? That plants are not just decorative greenery on the fringes of our lives but powerful beings with magical properties. Beings we’d do well to cultivate a relationship with?

When my own three children were young (they are teenagers now) the shops were full of protective devices: electric socket covers, foamy u-shaped doughnuts that kept doors from slamming shut, padded corners to click on coffee tables etc.

And yes, toddlers need to be kept away from open fires and electric sockets! Children and pets definitely DO need safe spaces to run and play. But older children also need to learn about plants, their toxic doubles and their own shadow sooner rather than later!

The world has never been a safe place. We keep young people safe by teaching them how to recognise danger (in any form), not by removing all dangers.

And perhaps this is (or was) the teaching of the Giant Hogwort in Het Vondelpark?

Giant Hogwort – Big Teacher…

(Started at Kärrshagen, Sweden, Summer 2016 and finished in London, May 2017)

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Imelda Almqvist

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages was published by Moon in August 2016. 

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

Notes from the Apothecary

February, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: Lovage

It is an herb of the Sun, under the sign of Taurus. (Culpeper, 17th Century).

lovage

 

Lovage is a tall, beautiful, leafy herb in the same family as Angelica and carrots. Similar in aroma to celery, this herb is just as edible if not as popular in our modern kitchens. It is native to Europe and Asia, so may be harder to find in the Americas, however you can certainly buy seeds online to grow your own. The name may originally have been ‘love-ache’, which actually means ‘Love Parsley’, which is understandable as the leaves have a similar shape and smell to flat leafed parsley. The ‘love’ part is simply an Anglicisation of the original Latin name, Levisticum, which may be derived from ligusticum, which means ‘Of Liguria’, a place in the north of Italy where the herb was prolific.

Lovage may have an emmenagogue effect (may encourage bleeding from the uterus) so please don’t use when pregnant or trying to conceive.

The Kitchen Garden

The first thing you have to think about when growing Lovage is ‘Do I have room for this?’ as the stuff gets massive! Growing up to 72 inches tall, it has a wide spread of up to 32 inches so needs a good bit of space. It also needs sandy or loamy soil, so might struggle in claggy, clay filled soils. It needs to be started indoors, and can be moved outdoors once there is no risk of frost. You could keep lovage as a ‘cut and come again’ plant on the window sill, but you’d miss the opportunity to harvest the thicker stems that can be used like celery, and even the roots can be used once the leaves have started to die back.

Lovage leaves make an excellent, flavoursome addition to a salad, or as a stuffing for meat and poultry. Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall raves about the stuff, recommending it mixed with summer veg, scrambled eggs, new potatoes and all manner of soups.

The seeds and roots have been used in the flavouring of candies and sweets.

In Joanna Asala’a Celtic Folklore Cooking we learn that the roots and seeds of lovage were often used as a substitute for pepper, to add a piquancy to dishes.

The roots can be cooked like potatoes, in stews or casseroles. This is truly a diverse culinary plant.

The Apothecary

Culpeper tells us lovage is the remedy for sore throats, poor digestion and ‘gripe’ (bad or trapped wind). He noted that it ‘mightily provokes women’s courses’ which rings true with the modern research that tells us lovage stimulates the uterus.

Culpeper also noted that dropping a decoction of the herb into the eyes removed redness and dimness, however I wouldn’t recommend this without more modern advice!

Mrs Grieve’s Modern tells us that the herb was widely used in the 14th century, predating Culpeper’s works. It seemed it was taken as a general ‘cure all’. She advised the herb has a carminative action, and especially useful in dealing with colic in children.

The Lab

Modern research backs up the use of lovage as a ‘GI’ drug (gastro-intestinal) as the herb gently encourages natural processes such as saliva production and gastric juice production, improving digestion.

Lab tests also proved that lovage can dissolve phlegm in the respiratory tract. There are also reports of the plant having sedative and diuretic effects.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Any reputation lovage has as an aphrodisiac or love tonic is purely a case of mistaken identity. As mentioned previously, ‘Love Parsley’ actually meant ‘Parsley from Liguria’, and it was because the English mistakenly included the word ‘love’ that people assumed the herb would be useful for love potions. In other words, the name came before the use!

Asala tells us that lovage was brought to Celtic lands by the Romans, and that travellers would place the leaves in their shoes to relieve fatigue.

The stem is hollow and you could use this to represent a pipe or musical instrument on your altar.

As an herb of the Sun, you could also use the leaves or flowers to represent the cardinal direction of south, or the element of fire.

As expected with these correspondences, the herb is masculine so bear this in mind if using in incense or poppets. I always try and balance my concoctions, unless I am going for something that is particularly masculine or feminine.

Home and Hearth

To bring balance to a volatile situation:

Pick fresh lovage leaves if possible. If not, use some dried seed. Tear the leaves or sprinkle the seed into a metal, pot or glass bowl. Add to the lovage about the same amount of jasmine, either fresh or dried. I like to use the dried flowers, which I order from my friendly online herbalist.

Stir the mixture deosil (sunwise/clockwise) with your finger chanting

Male and female

Sun and moon

Bring me peace

And balance soon.

Repeat this several times until the words and the aroma of the herbs fill your mind. As your mind begins to calm, visualise the outcome to the situation you want. Thank the herbs and any spirits or deities you may have involved.

You can repeat this as often as you like until the herbs lose their potency. This is either when they lose their aroma, or when there has been a full cycle of the moon.

I Never Knew…

Lovage was eaten by the Scandinavian people most now refer to as Vikings, and is even thought to be a favourite herb of Lofn, handmaiden of Frigga.