Merry Meet and welcome to The Witch’s Cupboard. For the next year we will learn both medical and magical uses of herbs and oils we might find in our ‘cupboards’. We will also discuss naturopathic issues that are affecting our lives.
In our rich past, each town and village had its own “medicine lady”, shaman, or healer. At the time when these individuals walked our Earth, they were revered and respected for their knowledge, gifts, and abilities to save lives and cure aliments. From their cupboards they would bring out herbs, fruits, oils, and creams to aide in things such as easing pain, setting bones, and helping during child birth. Most were followers of the Old Ways and Old Religion and their knowledge came from teachings gathered and passed down from many generations.
But with the passing of time, much of their knowledge has been lost. The knowledge was lost partly because of the spread of newer religious beliefs and philosophies throughout the land, and also from “modernization”. Many of the medicine women and healers were killed during the spread of Christianity. Those who were not killed, were forced to either assimilate themselves into the new religion, stop practicing, or hide in the countryside. Many of our Pagan Brothers and Sisters who continued to practice the Old Ways of Healing were put on trial and sentenced as Witches.
The few that survived and continued to pass their knowledge on generation by generation, soon fell out of fashion with the introduction of what we consider “Modern Medicine” and drugs in the form of pharmaceuticals.
Many of you probably know of some type of home remedy that your Grandmother told you, or perhaps even used on you when you were a kid. Even though your grandmother was most likely of Christian faith, her home remedy, passed on from her Grandmother, came from the Old Ways and Religion.
In recent years more and more people have started looking beyond Modern medicines and drugs for alternative methods. Many with chronic or severe illnesses are seeing the limitations of drugs, while others find themselves becoming sicker. We are given one drug to ‘cure’ one aliment, only to be given another to counter the damage done by the previous drug. The surge to find alternative methods and remedies has recently increased as a realization, even by some of us in the medical community, that many of the drugs on the market do not work and are harmful. By turning to Herbology and Naturopathic studies, we can once again embrace the methods of our ancestors and use the wealth provided by our Mother Earth to live healthier lives.
As we forge ahead into the New Year, we are in the middle of the Flu/Cold season. Some very simple things that we can make to help ward off a cold or flu or even help shorten its duration are herbal teas. Herbal teas are easily made from herbs within our cupboard by simply brewing in hot or boiling water. They help soothe sore throats, stifle coughs, and aid in internal healing.
One effective tea that can be made is a mixture of ½ ounce crushed peppermint leaves, ½ elder flower, and 1 ½ boiling distilled water. Allow the mixture to steep on your stove for about 20 minutes, then strain. A wonderful sweetener would be to add honey to your tea.
Peppermint is often used in healing and purification workings. It can be burned or rubbed against objects to clear them of negative energies, or consumed as an elixir or tea to bring about healing.
Elder flowers are traditionally used to treat influenza, colds, mucus, sinusitis, feverish illnesses and other upper respiratory tract problems, as well as hay fever. The leaves and raw berries contain toxic cyanogenic glycosides and are poisonous. Care must be taken when using this plant for herbal remedies. Throughout Europe, it was widely believed that burning elder wood brings bad luck, but that elder sprigs hung in houses provide protection from witches.
One of the more effective remedies for colds/flu and its symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and sore throat is an herbal tea made from Red Raspberry leaves. It is simply a tea made from steeping the leaves. As a tea use 2-3 tsp of dried or chopped leaves in 5 -8oz of boiling water for 5 min, discarding solid particles. Red raspberry leaves have been used for centuries to aid in everything from the flu to wounds to ulcers to pregnancy. The branches of red raspberry were hung up at doors and windows for protection. This is also done when a death had occurred, so that the flu spirit would not reenter the house once it had left. Raspberry was served as a love inducing food, and the leaves were carried by pregnant women to alleviate the pain of pregnancy and childbirth.
There are many other herbal remedies that can be used to fight the flu and cold, but the main defense against the flu season is good nutrition throughout the year.
With this being my first column for PaganPages, I only did an ‘introduction’ to the future topics within ‘The Witch’s Cupboard’. I write professionally for Herbal and Naturopathic magazines and would like to cater this column more towards our readers. I welcome your comments and feedback. I would like to incorporate in the coming months our Holidays and what herbs are related to each. Would you like me to go more in depth on certain herbs? Would you like me to add scientific information about the herbs I mention? Ideal conditions for growing/harvesting? Are there certain illnesses you would like to learn possible herbal remedies for? Recipes? Or herbs used in Spell work?
I look forward to hearing from and “meeting” many of you.
Please note that we are not advocating that people stop using their normal medication, but would like to make people aware that some alternative therapies can be very effective to help treat problems and create a healthier, younger and more vital you. Also, it is not recommended to use most herbal supplements during pregnancy, or during breast feeding, or for small children. But then again, although these warnings must be provided, we must ask if the warnings come from experiences using herbs or from a medical community which is afraid we will cure ourselves.