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Sexual Harassment on the Energetic Level

November, 2018

The week I wrote this article  the case  of Christine Blasey Ford was headlining. She is a university professor from California who has accused supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault that occurred when they were both teenagers (in the 1980’s). Dr Blasey Ford has been forced to go into hiding since the story went viral and her life has been turned upside down completely. Yesterday many people close to me were glued to their screens as she gave her opening testimony and explained how  the sexual attack has changed her life.

 

I am acutely aware that her story is upsetting and triggering many other women who have had similar experiences and are now experiencing flash backs or nightmares. (It certainly brought up some memories and issues for me personally). These women (as well as some men) may not have found the courage (or place of personal safety/support from loved ones/enough confidence or indeed faith in the public justice system etc.) to speak out. Or they may have spoken out (as I once did) and been hammered into the role of perpetrator for making allegations.

My shamanic teacher colleague Caroline Kenner helpfully shared a link about the concept “DARVO” yesterday:

DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.” The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim — or the whistle blower — into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of “falsely accused” and attacks the accuser’s credibility and blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.

Institutional DARVO occurs when the DARVO is committed by an institution (or with institutional complicity) as when police charge rape victims with lying. Institutional DARVO is a pernicious form of institutional betrayal.

-https://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/defineDARVO.html

I would like to take a moment of silence and contemplation to acknowledge the experiences of all people (women, children, men) who have lived through sexual abuse of any kind. Tragically this makes up a large percentage of the world population (the #Metoo phenomenon has certainly flushed that fact into our collective awareness, beyond any reasonable doubt).

Many authors have written beautifully and courageously about sexual harassment and sexual abuse. It is not my call to add to their words and testimonies. Instead, by means of this blog, I feel called to explore a more hidden dimension of this phenomenon. What seems to escape our collective awareness is the impact of sexual abuse or harassment that occurs on the energetic or astral (if you prefer) plane.

Now you may say: “What?! You mean sexual abuse that never actually happened?!”

Let’s take a step back and please allow me to explain what I mean.

As a shamanic practitioner (and teacher) I have heard more than my fair share of stories from people (not exclusively women) who woke up in a night sweat to the sensation of someone climbing into bed with them. From people who started to dread falling asleep because the same character would show up night after night tormenting them or interfering with them.

Let’s be very clear: I am speaking about a sexual/emotional/psychological/spiritual interference that does not take physical form, here. By this I mean that the perpetrator is not physically present in the room – but nevertheless there is an undeniable sensation of being touched, intruded on, violated or abused in some other way.

I am aware that victims of sexual abuse may well have flash backs due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Indeed, this could be one explanation for the phenomenon I am trying to describe, as trauma dissolves a person’s sense of time and space, meaning that past events appear to recur in the Here and Now.

I am also aware that many (if not most) people will experience dreams with uncomfortable or unwelcome sexual content from time to time (such as having sexual interaction with a person other than their current partner). Again, that may just explain some of this. After all we cannot really control our dreams the way we control our waking actions and choices.

There may be other explanations as well. It has been said that the human body does not forget and that our body holds the memories that our conscious mind represses or denies. I have certainly found evidence of this in my own body.

Therefore… yes… to all those possibilities. But still, my mind is not at ease.

Let me approach this issue from a different angle. I am aware that in some circles or circumstances (let’s say a group of friends out clubbing) it is considered acceptable to talk freely about other people’s physical attributes. E.g. “I would never consider dating her, she is way too fat!” – While the person thus discussed wouldn’t never even contemplate a date with the speaker. But that side of the story is not being acknowledged. There is the illusion that a physical characteristic allows us to make arrogant and severely imbalanced assumptions about someone: “I wouldn’t dream of dating her – but she would date me if she could!”

Recently I have found myself in a situation where one person keen to find a life partner has been eyeing up every possible “candidate” moving into their line of vision (here I mean walking into a public area), endlessly running a commentary on their physical attributes – while the person thus being commented on was engaged in a different task altogether (doing some gardening and her focus completely on her plants). I could spot absolutely no flicker of reciprocity in response to the obsessive interest and (for lack of a better word) “meat market approach”. This process has, I believe, also been called “undressing with the eyes”.

People commonly masturbate while calling up in their mind’s eye images of people they fancy. Pornography actively invites that – and to my mind there is no problem (and here I am only speaking regarding this specific issue, not other dimensions of the phenomenon) if the actors (or photo models) willingly participated and received a fee for their work. They then agree to, and actively invite that kind of attention. In other words: they are paid to carry the projections or obsessions of others.

I think that we all have understanding and compassion for a lovesick teenage boy or girl obsessing about their “love object”. Having said that, in my opinion there is more of an issue when mature people do this to others (in graphic detail!) without even stopping to meditate on the energetic ramifications of this. During half a century on this planet I have had three stalkers and I know how utterly unpleasant it is to be followed or obsessed about in unwelcome ways.

The suggestion I am posing by means of this blog is that all adults (certainly those with a degree of spiritual and emotional maturity!) need to do some shadow work (read serious soul-searching) on the role we ourselves all play in this larger phenomenon. It is easy and natural to get outraged by cases we follow in the global news – and I am horrified by the fact by some of the responses that Dr Blasey Ford has received for her courage to speak out and potentially protect other women from a man in a position of great power – what else could she have done?!

When I use my imagination and try to place myself in her shoes I sense I would speak out to mainly protect other women, knowing what this man is capable of. I would be acting from a place of knowing that no apologies or amends were ever made – therefore there is no evidence the man has changed.

Holding a position or office of power in society needs to be matched by exercising the muscle of moral integrity.

However, speaking on another level I also believe that an issue has now come to public attention and to my mind it extends well beyond the specifics of the Blasey-Kavanaugh case. All of us have inner work to do on this…None of us, who claim a degree of awareness or “evolved consciousness” can escape doing shadow work on this… To resolve this we need to “own” the fact that we are participants, not observers.

Imelda Almqvist, London UK, 29 September 2018

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist

(YouTube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

 

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages on Amazon

Never Again: School Shootings

March, 2018

About five years ago a man with a gun was arrested outside the inner city primary (US equivalent elementary) London school two of my three children attended at the time. I am a European. To put a very fine point on things: I am Dutch. Like most European people I have not grown up in a “gun culture”. The only people carrying guns I encountered during the first 20 years of my life were policemen and soldiers. People who carried a gun for professional reasons. It was understood that those guns would be used only by those trained professionals in truly exceptional (read emergency) situations.

Here are the facts about the most recent school massacre:

On Valentine’s Day 2018 a mass shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in the Miami metropolitan area. Seventeen people were killed and in addition fourteen people were taken to hospitals, making this one of the deadliest school shootings or massacres the world has seen.

The perpetrator, a 19 year old young man called Nikolas Jacob Cruz was arrested shortly afterwards. He confessed and was subsequently charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He purchased his rifle legally from a nearby store.

It appears that Cruz made death threats on social media many months before he committed his crime. Some of the students who survived this shooting have become advocates for stricter gun control legislation and they have founded the advocacy group Never Again MSD (also a hashtag phenomenon on social media).

As a mother of three teenagers my heart goes out to all people affected by this tragedy (students, teachers, emergency workers, police offers, their families and communities and so forth). Taking one step back from the incomprehensible horror of this, I believe that we urgently need to ask ourselves some very uncomfortable questions indeed.

Uncomfortable Questions:

1. What makes a 19 year old walk into a school with a rifle and shoot indiscriminately?

In part because he had legal and easy access to a weapon – but that is not the whole story (every family keeps knives in a kitchen drawer…)

Because he was troubled – but most profoundly troubled people do not go out and shoot other people. We need to dig deeper…

Because the authentic person Cruz was born to become was abused, bullied and violated for years to the point where he felt others “killed him” and he felt compelled to express his rage at this death no one stopped, no one observed and no one honoured. To me this feels like a possibility.

Before reading further I strongly suggest that you watch this video:

“I was almost a school shooter” with Kyle Clark – about a school shooting that never happened at Denver’s North High School:

https://www.facebook.com/Nexton9NEWS/videos/544982175885521/

2. What creates the phenomenon of repeat school shootings?

At least partly the massive publicity they receive. This follows the same principle as terrorist attacks – school shootings essentially are terror attacks. Knowing that a media circus will unfold gets others (read “future shooters”) hooked on the idea of committing the heinous deed. I have read research indicating that such people read all the media coverage and actively plan to kill even more people or add some shocking twist.

Now I am not advocating that the media stop reporting such events but I am trying to raise awareness of the fact that all of us (as viewers and people who buy the newspapers) carry a (small!) part of responsibility for this phenomenon. We need to give this more thought, collectively speaking. If we do not, the issue will keep coming to attention. Brutal fact: we are all co-creating that outcome by not doing our shadow work on this and not owning our part culpability in this.

There is a sick kind of overnight fame in becoming the next school shooter. For some young people – who feel that there are absolutely no positive opportunities open to them – this may appeal. We live in a world that rates fame and mass media attention.

3. Will the Never Again MSD initiative change things?

Starting an advocacy group called Never Again is a wonderful positive move. This is much needed and our young people are leading the world in a revolutionary way here and I applaud them. I thank them wholeheartedly for holding up a mirror for politicians making decisions about gun control. Will this really stop anything similar happening in the future?

This remains to be seen. Many survivors (of other traumatic mass events or private tragedies) have started charitable organisations to raise awareness – but their campaigns have not stopped such events recurring because we do not seem to have reached “critical mass” when it comes to collective awareness of the larger picture.

I have written many blogs attempting to raise awareness about the shadow manifestations of various phenomena in our world – offering a shamanic perspective – but there has always been another occurrence of the same thing.

***

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Today I would like to paraphrase T.S. Eliot’s famous words:

“Humankind cannot bear to do much shadow work”.

***

Now before we all sink into powerlessness and despondency, let us ask another tricky question:

Is there anything we can do to prevent these things?

All of us face a loss when so many people lose their lives prematurely, in an act of senseless violence. Their talents and unique gifts are now lost to the world. Incidents like this also feed the Demon of Fear: do we feel entirely safe going anywhere, with so many threats hanging in the air? The thought occurs that many of the young people  killed recently would have seen footage of previous school shootings and thought: “I am so grateful this was not me”. So this issue truly concerns all of us. Life on Earth is not meant to be a game of Russian Roulette.

In my first book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (published by Moon Books in 2016) there is a chapter titled “Spiritual Warriors With Water Pistols”. I appreciate that the title may sound a bit frivolous in the context of today’s events but in that piece of writing I attempt to provide a serious spiritual perspective on war, terrorism and the innate human need for fighting. I am not going repeat myself here but I will make a few points:

Take a step back from the shock and outrage you feel seeing the footage and hearing the reports. Observe the vibration of your response exactly right now: is the reporting moving you into anger, fear or even hate? Is that going to help the situation in any way? When we respond to any violent situation on the same level of consciousness, we add to the reservoir of violence held in our collective human consciousness. Take a moment to choose your response: what vibration (my youngest son would say: “What colour of the rainbow?”) do you wish to anchor and embody in this world? What response is this situation calling for? Are we as powerless as we (perhaps) feel right now??

The more people beam compassion at this situation, the more this place is held in light and the more it receives an energetic invitation to shift mass consciousness. People with the right shamanic training could undertake to do psycho pomp work, once an appropriate interval of time has passed. The families affected by this will need loving support, a listening ear and quite possibly financial support long after a new tragedy takes center stage in the world press. (Yes, I will call a spade a spade!) The land and building also hold trauma and will need healing work.

Now take another big step back. In the Western world we have freedom of speech and opinion and we have the free press. This is one of the reasons we feel so threatened by fundamentalist regimes. Observe how much attention this shooting gets. It is all over the papers, internet and TV. Beyond the need to know – what other energies do we detect in this mix? Are all of them honorable and in service to the situation?

Read for yourself how much is made of the fact that there were more victims than in any other school shooting so far. (so far?!) That makes this the worst school massacre (of this kind) in American history. Let’s read that again…. Is there some competition in progress? Well, we don’t like admitting it, but of course there is! Future gunmen and suicide bombers follow the media just as we do.– This is not a comfortable thought. Neither is the reflection is that people with jobs in journalism make money from disasters (and only rarely from happy events).  We are so much part of this that we choose to NOT see that every single one of us is a cog in a larger industry: the reporting industry, the media industry, the newspaper industry. This means that all of us together hold some collective responsibility for the next massacre that occurs. This is a sobering thought… I know.. perhaps it feels like a physical punch in the gut…. and it should.

While I am at it, another uncomfortable question: do we still think of the people who died in the recent plane crash in Moscow, on that beach in Tunisia, in Paris and Brussels a few years ago? I think that perhaps we do, because those tragedies received huge coverage. Do we think of the children dying in war zones right now, of 14 year old soldiers and 12 year old prostitutes all over the planet this moment? Of the people dying in floods in Bangladesh or of famine in Somalia? Often it is tempting not to think too much about these things but something is desperately trying coming to attention. If we won’t look, it will find other ways.

My first book is about using shamanism in creative and empowering ways with a group for children. I once did a session with my London group (The Time Travellers) titled Meet The Monster – All About Shadow Work. That title was chosen months in advance, but the session happened to be on the day of the Sandy Hook shooting. I took the children through many exercises owning their own shadow (the hidden parts of ourselves we all have but only few of us admit to). The children went on a tough ride finding many shadowy aspects lurking in their own psyche. Ultimately this work is liberating: what becomes conscious loses the power to “bite our bottom unexpectedly, like a rabid dog”. By the end of the session I asked the group: “This session is called Meet The Monster: WHO IS THE MONSTER?!” All of them shouted ME! No one shouted the name of the school shooter. –Result! Proud teacher!! If children as young as 7 years old can do this (and passionately so) – all of us can do this inner work. If all of us do this – a huge paradigm shift will occur because of it.

I think we have all read about the young girl on holiday in Thailand who had studied tsunamis in school and recognized the signs when a very serious one was on the approach. This dramatic example illustrates something I wish to hammer home relentlessly: incidents like this are an invitation to all of us collectively to pay far closer intention to our intuition. This is not generally encouraged in our culture. Our focus is on science, rational thinking, evidence and so forth. We almost “beat” this natural function out of children by constantly asking them to focus on the dominant mode of perceiving reality.

We send our children and teenagers to school assuming they are going be safe, that they are going to be taught be people who have their best interests at heart. However, we may be living in a world in such great turmoil and transition that we cannot afford to live like that just now. 

One evening many years ago I went for an evening walk in Stockholm, where I lived at the time. I stopped to look at the window of a jewellery store. A man stopped, too. He was doing absolutely nothing other than looking at rings and watches. Yet… my alarm bells started screeching: “This man has killed before and he is looking to kill again. GET MOVING!!” I have absolutely no evidence that I was right about this. There was no point alerting the police either. I made the quickest exit I could manage without showing fear and actually running. Nothing happened … yet … until today I remain convinced that I was in danger that evening.

We all have an internal alarm system. It is perhaps more finely honed in some of us than in others. I know that growing up in a family where I never felt physically safe did hone and fine-tune my “physical danger radar”. So perhaps a childhood spent living with violence now saved my life? (Quite a thought that!) Or maybe it attracted that man in the first place. – Both scenarios are perfectly possible. They may also be perfectly wrong!

Long before this young man, Cruz, committed this massacre, he may well have had friends/neighbors/colleagues/parents/siblings, who could have chosen to “read the signs”. Children who are brought up with a well-tuned spiritual compass and focus on listening to their instincts and intuition will be much better at reading such signs – but our society does not currently encourage this. My eldest son says that some YouTube personalities claim that one young man did contact the FBI about Cruz month ago. I have no way of knowing if this is true or not.

All of us collectively have a responsibility here: not to be too wrapped up in our own concerns, not to habitually ignore our instincts and intuitions, to find the courage to act on such hunches/hints and premonitions when they do occur, and to do our shadow work – so other people out there do not need to embody and express our shadow material for us.

So… are there things we can learn from this? I think so. We are all powerless and powerful both – but not always in the way our society has us believe we are.

Are there things all of us can do in response to this? Very much so! Start by asking yourself: when was the last time I thought (or said, even jokingly): “I could kill that person…”

When was the last time your teenager logged on to a computer game and tried to shoot as many “people” (characters) as possible in the shortest span time? The dark truth is that our young people are becoming addicted to those kinds of games.

When was the last time one teenager messaged another teenager GKY (Go Kill Yourself). I have been told the abbreviation has become almost a term of affection in some teen circles…

Are young people, our (grand) children, given a wide berth and not included in parties and social events because they are awkward or difficult to be around? Do we give those same people a wide berth when we see them walking down the street? Do we exclude them from community events, make them feel unwelcome? – This is normal human behavior in the 21st century but it actively contributes to tragedies like this.

This problem is not only “out there” in society, it is deep within all of us. And the problem will not go away until we realise that and make a commitment to working on this, all of us. – Are we willing to look in the mirror Cruz holds up?!

Imelda Almqvist

*Please note that I used an earlier blog as a starting point for this article. You can find the original blog here:

The Orlando Shooting: Blog About Shadow and Intuition

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-orlando-shooting-blog-about-shadow-and-intuition/

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where Art Meets Shamanism will be published in December 2018.

For Amazon Information Click Image

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86  (Year of Ceremony)

WiseWoman Traditions

July, 2009

Using Herbs Simply and Safely

Are herbs “dilute forms of drugs” – and therefore dangerous? Or are they “natural” – and therefore safe? If you sell herbs, you probably hear these questions often. What is the “right” answer? It depends on the herb! These thoughts on herbs will help you explain to your customers (and yourself) how safe – or dangerous – any herb might be.

To prevent problems when selling or using herbs:

1. Be certain you have the correct plant.
2. Use simples.
3. Understand that different preparations of the same herb can work differently.
4. Use nourishing, tonifying, stimulating, and potentially poisonous herbs wisely.

Be Certain You Have The Correct Plant

One of the easiest ways to get into trouble with an herb is to use the “wrong” one. How could that happen? Common names for herbs overlap, causing confusion as to the proper identity. Herbs that are labeled correctly may contain extraneous material from another, more dangerous, herb. Herbs may be picked at the wrong stage of growth or handled incorrectly after harvesting, causing them to develop detrimental qualities.

Protect yourself and your customers with these simple steps:

* Buy herbs only from reputable suppliers.
* Only buy herbs that are labeled with their botanical name. Botanical names are specific, but the same common names can refer to several different plants. “Marigold” can be Calendula officinalis, a medicinal herb, or Tagetes, an annual used as a bedding plant.
* If you grow the herbs you sell, be meticulous about keeping different plants separate when you harvest and dry them, and obsessive about labeling.

Use Simples

A simple is one herb. For optimum safety, I prepare, buy, sell, teach about and use herbal simples, that is: preparations containing only one herb. (Occasionally I will add some mint to flavor a remedy.)

The more herbs there are in a formula, the more likelihood there is of unwanted side-effects. Understandably, the public seeks combinations, hoping to get more for less. And many mistakenly believe that herbs must be used together to be effective (probably because potentially poisonous herbs are often combined with protective herbs to mitigate the damage they cause). But combining herbs with the same properties, such as goldenseal and echinacea, is counter-productive and more likely to cause trouble than a simple.  A simple tincture of echinacea is more effective than any combination and much safer.

Different people have different reactions to substances, whether drugs, foods, or herbs. When herbs are mixed together in a formula and someone taking it has distressing side effects, there is no way to determine which herb is the cause. With simples, it’s easy to tell which herb is doing what. If there’s an adverse reaction, other herbs with similar properties can be tried. Limiting the number of herbs used in any one day (to no more than four) offers added protection.

Side effects from herbs are less common than side effects from drugs and usually less severe. If an herb disturbs the digestion, it may be that the body is learning to process it. Give it a few more tries before giving up. Stop taking any herb that causes nausea, dizziness, sharp stomach pains, diarrhea, headache, or blurred vision. (These effects will generally occur quite quickly.)  Slippery elm is an excellent antidote to any type of poison.

If you are allergic to any foods or medicines, it is especially important to consult resources that list the side effects of herbs before you use them.

Understand That Different Preparations Of The Same Herb Can Work Differently

The safety of any herbal remedy is dependent on the way it is prepared and used.

* Tinctures and extracts contain the alkaloids, or poisonous, parts of plants and need to be used with care and wisdom. Tinctures are as safe as the herb involved (see cautions below for tonifying, stimulating, sedating, or potentially poisonous herbs). Best used/sold as simples, not combinations, especially when strong herbs are being used.
* Dried herbs made into teas or infusions contain the nourishing aspects of the plants and are usually quite safe, especially when nourishing or tonifying herbs are used.
* Dried herbs in capsules are generally the least effective way to use herbs. They are poorly digested, poorly utilized, often stale or ineffective, and quite expensive.
* Infused herbal oils are available as is, or thickened into ointments. They are much safer than essential oils, which are highly concentrated and can be lethal if taken internally.
* Herbal vinegars are not only decorative but mineral-rich as well. A good medium for nourishing and tonifying herbs; not as strong as tinctures for stimulants/sedatives.
* Herbal glycerins are available for those who prefer to avoid alcohol but are usually weaker in action than tinctures.

Use Nourishing, Tonifying, Stimulating, & Potentially Poisonous Herbs Wisely

Herbs comprise a group of several thousand plants with widely varying actions. Some are nourishers, some tonifiers, some stimulants and sedatives, and some are potential poisons. To use them wisely and well, we need to understand each category, its uses, best manner of preparation, and usual dosage range.

Nourishing herbs are the safest of all herbs; side effects are rare. Nourishing herbs are taken in any quantity for any length of time. They are used as foods, just like spinach and kale. Nourishing herbs provide high levels of proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenes, and essential fatty acids.

Examples of nourishing herbs are: alfalfa, amaranth, astragalus, calendula flowers, chickweed, comfrey leaves, dandelion, fenugreek, flax seeds, honeysuckle flowers, lamb’s quarter, marshmallow, nettles, oatstraw, plantain (leaves/seeds), purslane, red clover blossoms, seaweed, Siberian ginseng, slippery elm, violet leaves, and wild mushrooms.

Tonifying herbs act slowly in the body and have a cumulative, rather than immediate, effect. They build the functional ability of an organ (like the liver) or a system (like the immune system). Tonifying herbs are most beneficial when they are used in small quantities for extended periods of time. The more bitter the tonic tastes, the less you need to take. Bland tonics may be used in quantity, like nourishing herbs.

Side effects occasionally occur with tonics, but are usually quite short-term. Many older herbalists mistakenly equated stimulating herbs with tonifying herbs, leading to widespread misuse of many herbs, and severe side effects.

Examples of tonifying herbs are: barberry bark, burdock root/seeds, chaste tree, crone(mug)wort, dandelion root, echinacea, elecampane, fennel, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, horsetail, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, milk thistle seeds, motherwort, mullein, pau d’arco, raspberry leaves, schisandra berries, St. Joan’s wort, turmeric root, usnea, wild yam, and yellow dock.

Sedating and stimulating herbs cause a variety of rapid reactions, some of which may be unwanted. Some parts of the person may be stressed in order to help other parts. Strong sedatives and stimulants, whether herbs or drugs, push us outside our normal ranges of activity and may cause strong side effects. If we rely on them and then try to function without them, we wind up more agitated (or depressed) than before we began. Habitual use of strong sedatives and stimulants – whether opium, rhubarb root, cayenne, or coffee – leads to loss of tone, impairment of functioning, and even physical dependency. The stronger the herb, the more moderate the dose needs to be, and the shorter the duration of its use.

Herbs that tonify and nourish while sedating/stimulating are some of my favorite herbs. I use them freely, as they do not cause dependency. Sedating/stimulating herbs that also tonify or nourish: boneset, catnip, citrus peel, cleavers, ginger, hops, lavender, marjoram, motherwort, oatstraw, passion flower, peppermint, rosemary, sage, skullcap.

Strongly sedating/stimulating herbs include: angelica, black pepper, blessed thistle root, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, licorice, opium poppy, osha root, shepherd’s purse, sweet woodruff, turkey rhubarb root, uva ursu leaves, valerian root, wild lettuce sap, willow bark, and wintergreen leaves.

Potentially poisonous herbs are intense, potent medicines that are taken in tiny amounts and only for as long as needed. Side effects are common.

Examples of potentially poisonous herbs are: belladonna, blood-root, celandine, chaparral, foxglove, goldenseal, henbane, iris root, Jimson weed, lobelia, May apple (American mandrake), mistletoe, poke root, poison hemlock, stillingia root, turkey corn root, wild cucumber root.

In addition, consider these thoughts on using herbs safely:

* Respect the power of plants to change the body and spirit in dramatic ways.
* Increase trust in the healing effectiveness of plants by trying remedies for minor or external problems before, or while, working with major and internal problems.
* Develop ongoing relationships with knowledgeable healers – in person or in books – who are interested in herbal medicine.
* Honor the uniqueness of every plant, every person, every situation.
* Remember that each person becomes whole and healed in their own unique way, at their own speed. People, plants, and animals can help in this process. But it is the body/spirit that does the healing.  Don’t expect plants to be cure-alls.

Animal Wisdom

March, 2009

Keeping Your Familiar Safe in the Garden

Ostara is a time of fertility; many of the rituals that take place are based around blessing the seeds for this year’s crop of plants. We look around us and nature is awakening, birds, animals and plants are all awakening around us. We are coming out of our own winter stupors. It is a beautiful time. The old Sabbats were all based around the planting cycle. In that vein we are going to talk about how to keep your furry friend safe from common plants and chemicals that can have severe even lethal effects on him or her.

Most animals (like us) have very sensitive digestive systems. I know it is tough for me to keep plants in the house, as my cats love things to munch on especially foliage or thin branches. Even though a plant may not be toxic it could cause a bout of indigestion. There are plenty of common plants that can harm or even kill a beloved pet so let’s review them.

Courtesy of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center 1

Marijuana – Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and in coordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.

Sago Palm – All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Lilies – Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs – The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Azalea/Rhododendron – Members of the Rhododendron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

Oleander – All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Castor Bean – The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

Cyclamen – Cylamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.

Kalanchoe – This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

Yew – Taxus spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, in coordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

Harmful Common House Plants

While there are harmful plants we need to be aware of, there are also many other beautiful but deadly plants that are kept inside (or outside) of the home that can negatively affect our animals such as:

Aloe Vera

Seven Barks

Tomatoes – The fruit can cause anxiety.

Pothos – can cause severe mouth pain

Lily of the Valley
Red Maple (only to horses though)

White Snakeroot – all parts are poisonous most highly to dogs, rabbits and horses though

Bleeding Heart – extremely toxic to cats

Common Safe Garden Plants

There are some beautiful safe plants for cats and dogs, as well as edible flowers that can be placed in the garden or home and will flourish! Here is a list of some safe plants.

Carnations (pink petals)

Johnny-Jump-Up Petunias Dandelions

Hollyhocks

Snapdragons

Impatiens

Pineapple Sage

Zinnia

Pansies

African Violets

Nasturtiums

Sunflowers

Hibiscus Flowers

Magnolia Miniature Roses

Geraniums

Fern

Lavender

Spider Plant

Grape Ivy

Bamboo

Primrose

Orchid

Cast Iron Plant

To see a full listing of pet friendly plants  http://www.cfainc.org/articles/plants-non-toxic.html

Pet Friendly Pesticides

One of the most important things we need to consider is how you take care of your garden there are a ton of pests that can infest and threaten not only the beauty of the garden now but the potential harvest later. So lets look at some very easy to make, organic pesticides, using things you have around the home!

Clove Water:

Good for aphids and spider mites

1 Tbsp Cloves crushed

1 Spray Bottle filled with water

Directions: Put crushed cloves into water bottle, screw on cap and shake to mix. Spray on top of and under leaves once a day for three days or until all pests are dead. Be sure not to spray buds or flowers.

Salt Spray:

Good for cabbage worms and spider mites

2 Tbsp Salt

1 Gallon of water

Directions: Mix and Spray

Spearmint-Hot Pepper-Horseradish Spray:

Good for many different types of insects

½ C. hot red peppers

Water (read below)

½ C. fresh spearmint

12 C. horseradish root and leaves

2 Tbsp. non-toxic liquid detergent

½ C. green onion tops

Directions: Mix all vegetable and herbal ingredients in a big jar or vat, and then put in enough water to cover everything. Let sit for a couple of hours then strain. Add a half-gallon water and the detergent. To use this solution dilute it by using a half-gallon of the solution with a half-gallon of water. You can use it to spray pretty much any plant safely. Store the mix for a few days in a cool environment.

For more pet friendly and organic pesticides check out these sites!

http://www.riverhouse.com.au/recipes/pest_control.html

http://www.essortment.com/all/homemadeorgani_renu.htm

It’s great to have your cake and eat it to. With a wide variety of plant options, and some old farmer’s tricks for bug care you can have a marvelous garden in your home or outside. Just remember to hide the catnip!

ASPCA

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/17-common-poisonous-plants.html