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Notes from the Apothecary

February, 2019

Notes from the Apothecary: Cumin

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

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

The
Kitchen Garden

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

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

The
Apothecary

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

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

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

The
Witch’s Kitchen

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

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

Home
and Hearth

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

I
Never Knew…

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

All images via
Wikipedia or Wikimedia commons.

***

About the Author:

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

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

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

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

A Spiritual Toolkit for the Exam Period

May, 2017

Revision Books

 

A year ago I started using some tried and tested  techniques from shamanism (the most ancient spiritual practice known to humankind) to support my eldest son through his GSCE exam period (those are general exams for all 16 year olds in the UK). I can’t be the only parent who is actively looking for a spiritual toolkit specific to the challenge of exams. In this article I will share some tried and tested things that work well for our family.

Powering up!

Our society has (largely) replaced religion with science. This means that most people roll out of bed and start their day without prayers, meditation or actively setting their focus and intention for the day.

In shamanism we greet every day as a wonderful gift, not a God-given right. Before we do anything else we power up! By this I mean that we greet our personal allies and helping spirits. We seek alignment with luminous beings more powerful than ourselves . My son knows how to do this for himself (for him this means calling in his power animals: e.g. his Clan of Monkey Spirits!)

 

Monkey Clan

(Clan of the Monkey Spirits)

As the exam period arrived, my son asked me to do some spiritual work on his behalf every day. At 8.45 a.m. on school days you will find me standing by my altar: drumming, rattling singing. (Not only for him, also for family members, clients, students and colleagues who have asked for spiritual support). Next I make the procedure a little more specific: e.g. my son had a poetry exam recently, so I call in the full ‘society of dead poets’ in the Other World and ask them to watch over his shoulder and guide his hands. For an exam in mathematics I call in the great mathematicians of all time. For the Newtonian type of physics 16-year olds study in the UK, I call in Isaac Newton. For the Quantum Physics my son is studying this year I do not shy away from calling Niels Bohr, Max Planck and of course and Einstein himself!

And so it goes…. I always get the feeling that these great spirits LOVE being of help. The essence of those great minds lives on outside time (one of shamanism’s great teachings) and you may call on them – in my experience there is always an instant response. – And isn’t that cool, seeing your son walk up the Hill in his school uniform accompanied by Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and a veritable society of long-dead poets? I love the limitless potential of creative shamanism!!

and that includes Calling In The Ancestors!

On a similar note: make a point of also calling in your child’s compassionate ancestors. We have an Ancestor Gallery in our house (where I have photographs of ancestors up and a special cupboard where I keep family heirlooms). I go there every day to light a candle, place a small vase with flowers from our garden and so forth. I talk to them and tell them what is happening in the family, who needs spiritual support. Then I ask them to watch over all our three children: to please walk with them, keep them safe, help them make good choices and so forth.

 

Ancestor Gallery

(Ancestor Gallery)

In exam periods I especially call on those ancestors who share the same talents and interests as my son. After all those passions were passed down the blood line, they didn’t come out of nowhere! I thank them for watching over him and nudging him in the right direction when it comes to choosing a profession later in life. And I have no doubt that they do this. They are only too happy to be asked!

In our society we have lost the concept of ancestor veneration but in any tribal communities this is seen as essential to the well-being of members of the Tribe and to maintaining the balance between worlds. (Take just one moment to think about how relatively short a human lifespan is: we are ancestors for a much longer period than our own “butterfly lifetime” on Earth!)

Revision Parties” + extra attention on your son or daughter’s emotional life

For most parents unconditional support is a given at any time in a child’s life. However, as they grow older (taller than us and very independent and opinionated!) there can be a tendency to get busier with our own personal and professional lives and miss those little hints that something isn’t quite right. That lovely boy who used to drop in three times a week – why hasn’t he been here for nearly two months now? Have they fallen out? Has something happen in their friendship group??

Our own son’s first serious girlfriend broke up with him (after 17 months together!) just before their exams started. He was feeling rough and in the end we hosted a Revision Party with unlimited supplies of chocolate and crisps. It was really a getting-over-the-girlfriend party but we couldn’t call it that! A posse of teenagers came around, dressed up in animal costumes (that I keep around the house for workshops), played four-handed piano and actually studied some physics. My son was his normal self after that. Equilibrium had returned, PHEW!

 

Revision Gorilla

(Revision Gorilla)

This is obviously a very tricky area: some teens want to talk and others feel the last person they’d ever speak to is the weird creature commonly known as a parent. The trick is to be available but not in their face. They will talk to you when it suits them  – not when it suits you!! In our house this means me settling down again for a long midnight conversation when I was just heating a mug of milk and headed for bed at 10.30 pm. Losing sleep (even daily, large amounts of it!) is definitely the lesser evil when compared to losing touch with the emotional life of a teenager…

 

Spiritual Principles for navigating Teenage Tempests

I have discovered that the general principles of shamanism (and shamanic healing) work perfectly well for the dilemmas that this age group runs into. With my son I make a point of reinforcing the following core principles:

  •  Fair Energy Exchange – in all of your relationships/friendships observe how energy is flowing. Does it freely flow both ways? Do you support your friend and does he or she support you back? When it becomes one-sided, something tilts out of balance. Perhaps a heaviness or lack of joy sets in. Time to renegotiate?!  Example: my son has been going to parties but he is very anti-alcohol at the moment (“I can’t afford to lose brain cells when I want to get into a good university long-term!”) This meant that at parties his friends get drunk and he gets involved in cleaning up vomit and seeing them home safely etc. He does not find this role entirely enjoyable. In the end I have said to him: when a friendship starts to feel like social work you may just want to reflect on the energy balance. He took that on board and made changes in his choices.
  • Reflection on what we can control and can’t control Change the things I can and accept the things I cannot change (the Serenity Prayer is very useful here, I will paste the first part below) – My son has a heavy dose of teenage idealism, meaning that he doesn’t always see clearly where we need to draw a line goes between “what we can control”, “what it not worth even trying to control” and “where we can actually make positive changes by shifting our own perception”. Lucky for me he has always been a talkative child. He processes things by talking them through. This means I am on an intensive course in understanding the world of teenagers (because I work in a professional capacity with them as well, meaning I see a wider range of expressions, boys/girls, all ages…)

God/Higher Power grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

  • Doing Inner Work with Noticeable Results Outside Us – When we cannot engage with something externally (meaning: in the world around us) we can always work on things internally. We can put focus on things, we can hand issues over to spirit allies for safe keeping or resolving, we can ask our power animals to go talk to the other person’s power animal and ease the way between us and so forth. There are always more options that we commonly realize when we get frustrated. (Teenagers often feel frustrated: they have the bodies of adults but not yet the freedom of choice, lifestyle or financial freedom that adults have).
  • You remain responsible for your own choices and actions, no matter what another person does! My son has been on quite a journey with this one. He is a little hot-tempered and has an over-developed sense of fairness. He gets upset when people break promises or mess around with the feelings of others in any way. On a few occasions I have had to invite him to express his anger (safely, without directing it at anyone) but then think long and hard: what kind of person do I choose to be? Do I choose to meet this person on their level of functioning or do I set my own code of ethics for how I behave and respond? On reflection my son will agree that he needs to actively choose his own actions. Meaning that he is acting, not re-acting to others the whole time.
  • When we set strong intentions, energetically speaking we set events in motion. E.g. my son felt he needed to talk to one person in private because she was blanking him in school. I helped him formulate a strong intention for what he actually wanted most of all: to meet up privately, after school, and discuss whatever is going on. My son didn’t believe for one minute that this would produce a result. He said: “OK Mum, we try this and maybe by the end of the school year something will happen” (this was in March). The next day he came home from school and reported that this person had approached him and asked to meet up after school.  My son was suddenly very impressed by “the stuff shamanic teacher mum peddles”!

Last but not least:

Teenagers are fully fledged sexual beings…

I could go on and on – but if I do this article turns into a book! However, one final thing I want to say is this: by the time young people are 16 years old, they are fully fledged sexual beings. The statistics tells us that young people are sexually active at an earlier age than we ourselves (perhaps) were. However you privately feel about this, it is a fact of modern life. As regards my own son I recently made some comment that my child-bearing days are in the past and that any babies arriving in our family might just be courtesy of son #1, one day. Oma (Grandma, my own Dutch mother, who happened to be visiting) was aghast and accused me of “promoting teenage pregnancy in my house” – am I mad or what?!

However, my son looked quite pleased to be acknowledged as capable of fathering a child but he said: “Not for years and years Mum! I still remember vividly what it was like when my baby brother (son #3) was born and I want to enjoy my years of freedom before I embark on any of that!” So he and I were in total agreement and he gave me a lovely smile. I knew that we had understood each other. Only grandma (aged 77 1/2) nearly had a heart attack. A different generation and in truth my mother has always been “elderly” in her approach to life. (My brothers says she was middle-aged by her late twenties). I doubt that this is going to change as she sails through her 8th decade on this planet!

If you like the sound of using shamanism in parenting and you want more suggestions or tools, I invite you to check out my book. Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages). It can be ordered from amazon (as well as any quality bookstore).Soon after publication it was listed as “a hot release in shamanism” and it even achieved best-seller status…. As my own son concluded: the stuff I teach must be effective – why else would people show up for my courses or read articles I write?!

I invite you to find me on Facebook and join my Closed Group NATURAL BORN SHAMANS where anyone can ask questions, start discussions or share interesting links and information for parenting and working with children. Welcome!

 

***

(Please note: this article was adapted and expanded from a blog by the same title I wrote a year ago).

Imelda Almqvist

 

***

About the author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in July 2016.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

A Moment for Meditation

August, 2016

Women & Goddess Meditation

 

It is an understatement to say that life for women is stressful.  

 

Every day, we are called upon to play different roles in our lives.  We are over-worked, over-stressed, pulled in ten different directions.  Everyone makes demands on our time, simply because we are women and it is *expected* of us.  As women, we also learn very quickly that the world is a dangerous place for us, simply because of our gender.

 

Daily, we experience a constant barrage of thoughts from without and within our own minds.  This is called “monkey mind”, the constant chatter to which we listen and, once again, as women, it has more of a tendency to be negative and directed toward ourselves.

 

Women are the healers of the world; the nurturers, the caretakers.  Unfortunately, we neglect to take care of ourselves.  We go un-nurtured by the most important person in our lives – our own being.   This needs to change.

 

Women are special and we have a unique perspective on the world that is not shared by men.  We are ten times stronger intuitively than males.  We are more in tune with our emotions, thoughts and feelings.  We tend to forget that we are also powerful in ways that men are not.

 

Meditation can help us in all areas of our lives.  It will help us to clear our thoughts.  It brings clarity, it calms our nerves and helps us to eliminate the negative thoughts and feelings that we wish to rid ourselves of.   As with any other spiritual path, it is a way of training our mind; and as such, it is not an easy or quick journey.

 

As a long-time teacher of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, as well as a Goddess-based Witch & Priestess, I tend to bring the Goddess into my meditation practice.  

 

Ideally, you should have a designated place in which to meditate, set up with a small altar, incense, a candle, a representation of the Goddess of your choice.  I change my Goddess altar depending upon my need.  For music, find something that speaks to your spirit, or a Goddess meditation.  

 

Let this be your time to nurture and take care of yourself.  This is your special time in a place of serenity.   The following can get you started with a beautiful and meaningful meditation practice.

 

Your candles are lit, incense wafting through the room.  Sit comfortably in easy pose, cross-legged on the floor.  If you are unable to sit on the floor, a straight-backed chair works well.  You want to be comfortable, but it is important that the spine be straight.   

 

You want to center yourself, to be in that moment, in that time, in that place.   Bring your hands into prayer position at your chest, or you may simply rest your hands on your knees.  Close your eyes and gently roll them up so that they are focused upon your third eye, that space between your eyebrows in the middle of your forehead.   Begin to slowly and deeply inhale and exhale.  Take your time, don’t rush through it.  Really feel each breath;  on your breath.   Breath = Prana = Life     Now, with each inhale, bring into your body a sense of peace, a sense of calm.  Let it infuse your entire being, beginning with the heart chakra and working outward.  With each exhale, release any stress, tension or negativity you are holding within your body, even that of which you may not even be consciously aware.  Allow yourself to let it go.  

 

If you are sitting with a particular Goddess, focus on Her and her attributes, things you might wish to bring into your life, or that which you may need Her help with.

 

You can continue this for as long as you are comfortable.  If unwanted thoughts come calling, gently push them away and continue with the breath.   The goal is to feel peaceful, stress-free.  When you are finished, take several deep breaths while stretching your arms up to the skies.   Be sure to thank the Goddess for her presence within your meditation.

 

One of my favorite Goddess songs to meditate to is called “Adi Shakti”:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgTK1F677ig&index=1&list=PL_dIya2JbVnTkujuSpjPc-hZV6LbKSnTX

 

You can also try www.goddesshealing.com for some lovely Goddess Meditations by Mary Marzo, and www.spiritvoygage.com for Goddess-oriented meditation music, including the afore-mentioned “Adi Shakti”.  There is some lovely Goddess music/chants out there.  A quick YouTube search will bring up many from which you can choose.  You can also check out Kellianna, or Jenna Greene.

 

I wish you joy and happiness in your meditation journey.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions.  I would be more than happy to help.

 

Blessings

)O(

Stones Corner

October, 2015

Ten “Stress Stones”

Amethyst

amethyst
Having a cluster of Amethyst at hand is good for keeping negative energy away. Amethyst helps you think and act at your clearest. Wear an Amethyst pendant continuously for migraine prevention, tension headaches, and alleviating arthritic pain.
Citrine

citrine2
Also known as the “Success Stone”. Citrine encourages a bright outlook and promotes happiness. It attracts wealth and joy. It can help stabilize emotions and soothe family problems. Citrine is also good for improving stress-related digestive problems.
Clear Quartz

clearquartz
Quartz is an excellent general physical system fortifier and protector. It increases mental clarity. Hold a clear crystal at your solar plexus and breath evenly for several minutes to calm your emotions, to relax the body, to clear the mind, and to refresh your energy. Stare into the crystal to clear writer’s block and to increase creativity.
Fluorite

fluorite
Fluorite is a stone to unblock stuck energies. For digestive systems problems use the yellow/green color combination. For pains in the skeletal and muscular system, use the blue/white color combination. For head area complaints, use the purple/clear combination. For asthma, wear the green colored Fluorite. To help congested mental thoughts, use a purple cluster in your work area, or position a cluster at your crown chakra while sleeping.
Garnet

garnet
Garnet is an energy revitalizer. Excellent for strengthening the base chakra. It promotes sexual energy (for your self and partner). It helps increase circulation to the legs and pelvic area. It reduces menstrual pain when held or taped over the ovaries and uterus. Garnet can increase sexual stimulation and fertility, too.

Hematite

hematite
Dubbed, “The Anti-Stress Stone”. Hematite reflects back negative energies to the sender (so you don’t end up taking them on yourself). Hematite dissolves the issues when one meets with confrontation. Tape a small piece over the leg and back areas to reduce pain and to increase electromagnetic circulation. Hematite helps balance the meridians.
Malachite

malachite2
Malachite is excellent for Type A personalities and for those prone to heart disease and stresses to internal organs. It helps to detoxify the liver and to increase blood circulation. Malachite is excellent for breaking up old energy patterns. Use it with Rose Quartz to soften the effects of a broken heart! Due to the possibly toxic copper content of this stone, keep Malachite away from pets and children, and do not wear it against the skin for long periods of time. This stone is for external use only.
Rose Quartz

rosequartz
“The Love Stone” – Rose Quartz is very protective and soothing for many issues. Place a large chunk of the stone at your Heart Center for 15 minutes to relax after a stressful day. Rose Quartz helps to unblock anxiety and to promote healing of private emotional issues. It allows one to become more receptive and open to challenges.
Smokey Quartz

Smoky_quartz_01
Smokey Quartz is an excellent stabilizer for mood swings. It helps ground feelings of depression, and both absorbs and transmutes negativity. This stone is best worn at the solar plexus, the seat of the emotions. Smokey Quartz is excellent for PMS and cranky persons; and good for persons imbalanced due to extreme stress and burn-out. It provides a protective field for recovery.
Turquoise

turquoise2
“A Stone of Protection” – Turquoise is an excellent toner for all systems of the body. It helps prevent organs from absorbing toxins and breaking down. Wear this stone at the throat to strengthen your will and to communicate effectively. It helps to sweeten the voice and speak your truth. Turquoise helps reduce premature aging.

Spell-Struck

August, 2012

I AM SWAMPED WITH STUFF TO DO; NO TIME TO DO IT;

STRESSING OUT OF MY MIND “SPELL”

http://www.underthenewmoon.com

The title on this one truly says it all.  So, really, if we are to be honest, the last thing you need right now is ‘another thing to do;’ right?

 

Well not to worry… this spell is quick, easy and works.  I have to admit that I am a notorious ‘over-achiever, over-extender of myself and my days.  I am an herbalist, an aromatherapist, a massage therapist, a practicing; every-day witch, own my own business that I work 7 days a week (well, I try hard to take Saturday afternoons off [yeah, right!]), have 3 dogs, a grown son who lives with us, more craziness in our household (lots of love though!) than what most could probably deal with, I am a moderator of a pagan board on one forum; co-own another forum that I work; write this article each month, and am a member of two metaphysical teams that I work diligently with/on for advertising and communication… so, needless to say, you get the picture.

 

I am sure many of you have similar types of schedules and I am ALL for quick, easy, but meaningful and heartfelt spells that truly work.  I have learned in the practice of magickal arts and having a grandmother who was a witch (a very true Celtic Druidic Witch from Glasgow, Scotland) who I learned things from, that magick is in the mind and TRULY WILL AND DOES AFFECT THE PHYSICAL REALM IN WHICH WE LIVE.  Now, I wasn’t shouting at you all with the caps, but really wanted to stress that it’s not just a cliché saying that “think good thoughts” type of thing… but yeah, it is truly “think good thoughts and those good thoughts happen for real” type of thing.  Read The Secret anybody?  Than that gives you an idea of just how powerful the mind is.  In addition to the power of the mind and thoughts, the power of the spoken word is amazingly magickal also.  Spoken words have power!  Anyone ever see “What the Bleep Do We Know?”  If so, then you may be aware of the Japanese author, Masaru Emoto that claims that positive changes to water crystals can be achieved through prayer, music, or by attaching written words or speaking loving, positive words over a glass of water.  There is, as with all things that science has difficulty with, a lot of controversy about this in the scientific community, however, in my humble opinion, and in many others around the world and throughout time, there is no doubt that words matter.  Spoken, thought of, or whatever.  They matter.

 

So, saying all that, I want you to know, that even the simplest of spells (which is truly a mind OVER any matter in your life… thoughtform to change the energy of what IS to what you WANT IT TO BE) WILL work!  Just put your heart, your mind, your spirit, your thought-form and your will into it.  Do this, and it works.

 

To allow yourself the stretch of time you need to accomplish the tasks you have to do, here’s a great easy spell that will work.

 

Items needed:

  • Rose* & Chamomile* Essential Oils
  • Your Shower

Take your shower as you normally do.  Now, after you have done your scrubbing, etc… (we won’t get into personals here, J), BEFORE you turn the shower off to step out, take an extra two to three minutes and do the following.

 

  1. Step back from the shower head just a bit, add 1-2 drops of the Rose oil and 1-2 drops of the Chamomile oil to the bottom floor of the shower (but make sure that the shower head spray does not hit this particular area so it is not instantly washed away) OR if you prefer add a drop or two of each to the shower door in front of you or the shower wall.
  2. Let the stream release the plant essences and meditate and relax your mind and body (you may step back under the shower spray to keep warm at this point), keeping your eyes relaxed, mostly closed, but slightly open so you don’t lose your balance (or please feel free to sit on a shower chair if you have one).
  3. Say the following spell (memorize it before you go in or tape it to the wall just outside your shower door/curtain so you can open it enough to read it—just relax, relax, relax as you read it) as much as you feel you need to.  Get into a rhythm with it so you mind does it’s magick…

 

I have enough time; I always do –

To get the jobs done; and make my way through –

Today I’ll accomplish ALL on my plate –

And tomorrow I’ll start with a brand new, clean slate!

 

Any things that linger and do not get done –

Were not meant to be on today’s list of fun!

I’ll relax in the knowing that I am guided to see –

That God and Goddess are guiding me,

harm it none, let it be.

As you say these words, feel the water washing away all your negative thoughts, feelings and emotions…(especially feelings of any dread you may have about a certain task or tasks for the day) and know that each task you face for the day is truly an opportunity for something magickal to happen (even the most mundane!).

 

Know that the God and Goddess are working everything out as it should be for you today.  Everything is falling exactly into place just as it should.  Now, go start your day on a clean, fresh note!!

 

‘Till next month,

Blessings and Blessings—

http://www.underthenewmoon.com