January, 2014

Merry Meet

January, 2014

 

We wish everyone a blessed and healthy year!

We hope you enjoy our newest issue of PaganPages

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Interview with Julie, Spirit Heart, Dollman: A Modern Shaman

January, 2014

Julie, Spirit Heart, Dollman: A Modern Shaman

Julie Dollman, also known as Spirit Heart, is a graduate of the Four Winds Society, which trains others in the skills of Shamanism and Energy Healing. She is also the founder of one of the first ever high street Shamanic clinics, and the author of the book Living Shamanism, which sets about demystifying the role of the modern Shaman. Julie gave up some of her time to answer a few questions for me.

Mabh: What inspired the transition from Crime Analyst to Shamanic healer?

Julie: Initially, it was the work with The Four Winds Society… I became reconnected wholeheartedly to Great Spirit and the Divine Consciousness in the form of shamanism… and this changed me completely. Nearing the end of our training (three years), my husband and I underwent an initiation with two Qero Priests who had travelled over to Ireland.  The time spent with them, where none of us could understand the other due to language barriers, other than some sparse translation from the guide who had travelled with them; something magical happened to change everything that I had become used to, especially in the way I had been living my life. From that moment on, I distinctly knew that I was in the wrong job role. I had returned to work in late November 2005; attempting to pattern crime trends and profile the offenders and I immediately felt at odds with society; confusion reigned as all that I could see were victims of life… this applied to both those who were the victims of crime and those who had carried them out. From that point onwards, my heart and soul moved in mysterious ways and by the end of March 2006, I left my job and stepped fully into service as a shaman healer, a western medicine woman.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about your experience learning with The Four Winds Society? What were the biggest challenges, and the most rewarding moments?

JD: The time spent with the Four Winds was literally life-changing. Every time we turned up for our week long course we both felt excitement and anticipation deep within our stomachs. (My husband and I both completed the training at the same time). The experience of sitting in the presence of Alberto Villoldo was like being spirited away to a place between the veils. The personal work was incredibly challenging. It never failed to unearth that which needed healing and never failed to deliver the magic of core Peruvian shamanism.  The challenges were always connected to the challenges between the self and the self… and came in many guises. Sometimes they arrived in the form of the person that you were paired up to work with, as your shadow aspects were often mirrored back to you. Sometimes they came in the form of how one’s energy body was in chaos as it calibrated itself into a new form, usually this was experienced after the course had finished and you were catapulted back to the material world!  The rewards though were wonderful; as often as you were challenged, there was always the polarity offered in the form of gifts from Great Spirit. Moments like being fully present at fire ceremony alongside other course participants, all of us in communication with the Divine and the times spent in the presence of the Qero Elders, bringing with them the magic and mystery of the snow-capped mountains of Peru… to the times spent inbetween classes, laughing, singing, playing drums and relaxing with the other students, like-minded individuals who had travelled to Ireland from all over the world.

 

 

MS: Your book, Living Shamanism, sets about de-mystifying Shamanic practice in our modern world; do you believe anyone can tap the potential within them to become a Shaman?

JD: It isn’t purely about the potentiality of becoming a shaman that is wholly important. It is to tap into one’s own potential… full stop. As a western society we have become disconnected from having and experiencing faith, maybe in ourselves, others, The Divine and even the Planet. Anyone who has learned about connecting to faith will also know how to tap into their own potential; they go hand in hand. For some of us as human beings, we can be a somewhat fragmented being who, for whatever reason, seem to have forgotten that in order to be the best that we can possibly be, we need to harmonise the mind, the body and the spiritual. When we can do this, we have truly tapped into our potential. Shamanism, Druidism, Wicca and Christianity may be a few possible sources to rekindle the fire of our own potential once again.

MS: One of the aspects of healing you perform is dealing with ancestral wounds. Can you tell us a bit about this? How do ancestral wounds manifest themselves?

JD: Each and every one of us is a profusion of data… held in each cell, tissue and within our DNA… containing information of who we are, what we are and where we have come from. Being part of a genetic pool, the wounds, events and stories of our ancestors are held like an inactive computer file of data within our cells and DNA.  This watery gene pool of information becomes part of our make-up, behaviours and often our belief systems. This manifests into the way we do things, our characteristics, even the type of job role we choose; most importantly, however, it can manifest as a hereditary affinity to experiencing an inherited physical or mental illness. Putting it simply, the legacies from our ancestors, both good and negative, can resurface in us.

MS: What’s the most challenging healing you have ever been involved in, and what was the outcome?

JD: There have been several challenges and some that have been presented where humanly you could see no hope for… that is if you subscribe to the fact of impossibility. However, as a medicine woman I hold firmly on to the belief that anything is possible… and I have witnessed some wonderful, transformational and joyous outcomes with many of my clients. I have seen cases of extreme sexual abuse, cancer and possession; I have even had women come to me desperately wanting to have a baby… each and every client arrives with a challenge. One of my happiest moments was when a lady arrived who had been in and out of psychiatric care throughout her life. She had endured long bouts of depression and anxiety… following around eight appointments, her psychiatrist discharged her as she had literally been healed… I am blessed and grateful for every man and woman who comes through my door and they have been some of my greatest teachers.

MS: Your husband is also a Shaman; do you work together in your practices or do you each follow your own path?

JD: My husband and I love to bring two sides of possibility into the healing arena. Often when we work together we each bring in the qualities of the masculine and feminine aspects required to balance the whole. Paul is an expert tracker; he can track the route of a client’s problem and see the limiting stumbling block that is blocking the client’s potential. He also holds the shamanic name ‘TruthSayer’, allowing him to wade through any smokescreens. We often work together on family and couple healing sessions and in ceremony. He spends the rest of his time in the creative arena of wood-carving, where he produces beautiful tribal art in the form of healing and ceremonial staffs, talking sticks and altar pieces.  He has a talent to transmute the qualities contained in a piece of wood and turn it into healing aids for his customers.

MS: What kind of goods would we find in your Peruvian Shamanic Supplies Shop? And what’s the most in demand product at your store?

JD: We founded Ayni Shamans Shop eight years ago while we were training, as we had found it incredibly hard to get hold of the Peruvian items needed for our courses, these included Textiles, Rattles, Agua De Florida Water and Palo Santo Wood Incense. We wanted to purchase the items from the Peruvian artists, never haggling down a price as a way of reciprocal Ayni. As more and more people have jumped onto the bandwagon of offering Peruvian shamanic supplies, this year we decided to grow and change the shop to become more authentic to whom we are both as shamans and purveyors of living energy.  The Ayni Shamans Store still stocks some of the Peruvian favourites such as Agua De Florida water, Palo Santo and we have a direct link with Peru offering bags, Chumpi stones and other artistry items. For us now, we bring our own essence to it… offering Sacred Ceremonial Incenses, Shamanic Healing Oils, Ceremonial Tools and TruthSayers and Wood Art.

MS: Do all the Shamanic practices you perform have their roots in South America? How well do these translate into our British or European society? Do you think Shamanic practices are relevant anywhere in the world and why?

JD: When I first started healing, I used core Peruvian shamanism as my healing modality. Now many of the processes I use include a mixture of South American as well as some that have been gifted to me from my ethereal teachers. The processes I offer have been tailored and defined to deal with the many requirements of my clients’ healing needs. They translate extremely well, as I am a medicine woman living in western society, and know full well the pitfalls that befall us as a society. I also understand that thorough healing is achieved on four levels… the psychological, the energetic, the soul and the literal. My healing processes always start and end by consulting with the client and there is often homework given, in order that the experience in the healing room is brought into both the literal and psychological areas of a client’s life, the place of mind and body.  Shamanic healing practises are relevant as there is a need for a healer who can safely travel to any level or dimension in order to attain healing for a client. Clients’ wounds can reside anywhere from the underworld, soul and power loss, the ancestral gene pool and also their past lives. We also understand that heavy energy, manifesting in the form of behaviours and addictions, may be affiliated to energy that has formed almost its own entity; and of course, there are entities out there that will latch onto a living soul in order to try and experience life once more. A skilled shaman will know how to heal, clear and cleanse all of these facets.

MS: You were one of the first people to set up a Shamanic healing clinic on the high street. Can you tell us a bit about how this works? Can people literally walk in off the street to discuss their needs?

JD: When I left work in 2006, I had an inner voice that urged me to bring shamanism out of the closet and to be accessible for all. So we found appropriate premises and boldly offered shamanic healing as a modality that we felt was eminently effective within our modern society. People came… they started by peering in through the window and eventually their curiosity led them through the door. It was very accessible as we had a big sofa in the reception area and people could come in, sit down and ask questions or book healing appointments, whilst also exploring spirituality and shamanism. Today, as we live fast paced lives, disconnection to source and the way people establish their lives often after enduring many different negative experiences… a shaman offering them the sense of hope and shining a light for them was inspiring. Our clinic window also displayed the exact processes that we offered and the type of energy we dealt with; this resulted in people coming, experiencing the healing and leaving feeling lighter and brighter.

MS: When it first started, how was the clinic accepted by the other high street retailers? What sort of interactions did you have?

JD: It is quite funny, the other high street retailers continued going about their daily business, without interference or doubt… in fact, I welcomed a few of them as clients. The main reactions came from a surprising arena… that was the realm of other alternative practitioners. This included a mixture of those who were friendly and interested in what we were doing, to those who viewed us with suspicion; to some who were terrified that you would steal their clients…

MS: You’ve had some really positive feedback regarding your book and the way it has helped people find their path; what’s the most inspiring feedback you’ve had?

JD: There have been several that have blown me away and I am very grateful to its impact on people. There have been a couple that I have been delighted with; one came from a shamanic peer who said:

“WOW! WOW! WOW! Your book is absolutely fantastic. Well done, Medicine Woman, we are LOVING it since we retrieved our copies from the postman. Your writing voice is as strong and powerful and clear as your immense heart”

To one that simply said:

“I highly recommend this book. I learned so much to help me in my journey to become a shaman practitioner”.

MS: And what’s next? Any more books planned? Or are you planning to expand the clinic at all?

JD: I am writing a second book which continues on from Living Shamanism: Unveiling the Mystery. It delves much more deeply into some of the pitfalls of humanity on a grander scale, discussing subjects such as our human potential and the alchemy of living energy. Throughout the book I am establishing just why so many people are on the path of ‘constant healing’. The clinic is established and very busy, we do not wish for any more expansion as we have other facets to us, including the shop, writing and eventually the desire to take ourselves on the road across the world.

MS: As a Shaman and a healer, how do you continually stretch your abilities; where do you turn for your own spiritual progression?

JD: Ah yes, sometimes my abilities become stretched within the healing environment and I always ask for help from either my ethereal teachers or I seek counsel from my husband. When you are in the realms of healing living energy you are faced with a plethora of different energies in many forms… my husband is the ‘face of reason’, an excellent seer and also my sentinel. As far as my own spiritual progression is concerned that is always a matter for the aether; whether it comes in the form of visions, teachings and experiences, being in nature, or in the simpler form of the right book arriving at the right time. Most of all though, I must say that to progress we must ensure that we are always aware and open to the messages and opportunities that we are faced with; by keeping our feet firmly in the present, each and every day will teach us something about ourselves and our earth-walk in general.

MS: And who has been the most influential person on this journey?

JD: It would be hard to mention just one person as there have been several people along the way who have influenced my spiritual development in some profound ways. From my teachers Alberto Villoldo and Linda Fitch of the Four Winds, to several Qero Priests and even some teachers from the higher dimensions. But truly and constantly, it has been my family. My daughters and their incredible insights have often left me speechless; my husband and the information that he shares from his downloads have been great sources of wisdom and joy. I must mention a couple of authors who have literally opened up innate possibilities of transcendence on my current journey and they are: Jessie Ayani, author of The Codes of the Lineage of the Light and Brotherhood of the Magi; and Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret and The Magic.  These two ladies have filled in various gaps in my development and opened up my mind to the many incredible lessons of possibility.

Julie’s book, Living Shamanism is published through Moon Books and available through Amazon and all good book retailers. You can visit her Shamanic store online at aynishamansshop.co.uk and her healing website at www.aynishamanichealing.eu .

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Musings of a Hereditary Witch

January, 2014

Bringing the Witch to Work

This month I want to share how I bring my spirituality to work and maybe inspire some of you to do the same. It all begins before I even leave the house in the morning.

I’m up at 5:30 and by 6:00 I’m at my altar setting the intention for my day at work. I do this as part of my morning devotions.  I think about what I need to have happen in my day, like having clear communications with my coworkers, receiving pertinent information quickly, having clients be receptive to my collection calls, or other such work related intentions. I visually see myself going about my duties and set the energy for the office while I am still at home.

Before my drive to work, I sit in my car and recite a protection mantra for my journey to work and back home again. On the drive in, I chant or listen to XM radio. Once I arrive in the parking lot, I sit in my car for a few moments and centered myself. While walking from my car to the building, I am often greeted by hawk, crane, crow, coyote, or fox that impart messages and add another layer of energy to my day.

At the corporation I work for, everyone knows I’m a Witch. Believe me I know how fortunate I am. I still have to abide by the dress code but I have been given some latitude on what I keep on my desk. I have one drawer that looks like a mini magical shop.

As one of the first people at work, I am able assess the energy before anyone else arrives. Depending on how the energy feels I may sprinkle salt across the entrance of my cubical, or use a liquid sage smudge to sprits around my area. One of my coworkers asks that I do this for her cubical as well as she has a stressful job.

I have a small altar on my computer stand. It consists of an offering Goddess which holds some small stones, rose petals and shells; there is also a dragon, rose quartz, black tourmaline, a candle holder with an electric tea light, and pictures. Around my monitor, I have taped various interesting stamps that I rescued from the mail. These stamps are of people like Isadora Duncan, Mark Twain, Carman Miranda, etc., nature scenes, animals, and even one of Calvin and Hobbes that makes me smile. There is a paper Tiger Swallowtail (beauty & transformation) that hovers over my monitor. My pencil cup is a coffee mug that depicts The Birth of Venus by Botticelli. I have two greeting cards in my window; Amy Brown’s “Attitude” which depicts a Faery with her hands on her hips while standing in front of a dragon. The other card just says “Wicked” and was given to me by a dear friend.

I keep a few essential oils on hand. Lavender aids stress relief and relieves headaches. Sweet Orange to lift the spirits and aid in mental clarity. Both of these have become quite popular with my coworkers. Rosemary is my go-to oil for just about anything. I keep a variety of herbal teas, not just for drinking, but for their magical scent/intent as well.

My cubicle has become the Office of Camp Counselor. Here is where my coworkers come to vent. Usually, they just need someone to listen. Sometimes I help them look at their issue and ask a few questions. Then I give them something to visualize, or put a few drops of essential oil on a tissue for them to inhale on their way back to their area..

Often while I’m working, friends will text me asking for healing or energy to be sent for a particular need. I write the person’s name on an appropriately colored sticky note, use sigils to represent their request and anoint the paper. I empower it with my intention, stick it to my altar, and place the candle holder with the ‘lit’ candle over the paper. Every chance I get I’ll send energy into the spell. At the end of the day, I will then take this home and continue to work the energy.

Before leaving work I make sure my desk is cleared and that all pending work is in a drawer. Having a clean desk to come into each morning brings a positive and calming start to my day.

How do you bring your Witchy self into your work place?

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Nelland Living

January, 2014

Yule Fashion: Fireworks- outfit

In my calendar Yule extends up to the middle of January. Yule is the only Sabbat that includes two major, populist, holidays; X-mas and New Year. Both have strong, unique, individual styles.
  After X-mas I quickly start feeling uncomfortable in my red-and-gold colored clothes, and begin longing for New Year´s colors; electric blue and silver. It was at the turn of the Millenium, when I realized that those are the colors of my New Year. Sadly that era only lasts for up to three weeks (of each year, and year after year of course). But I feel it is important to include an outfit or two for post holidays, so I don´t look like I´m desperately still holding on to X-mas in January!  =)
  Here´s how I ride up until Imbolc:
Bottoms up! My favorite colors, just the way I like it. A bright electric blue is quite difficult to find, and this knit fabric has also metallic, multi-colored, fuzz all around it. Just like fireworks in the dark sky of New Year´s night! Could not be more perfect.
This bat-sleeved pattern, I used to make the sweater, is one of my favorites. It allows me to wear a skinnier pair of pants, as it balances out the top half of my (pear-shaped) body. Looking good is all about proportions. The jewelry is from a bunch of years back, but still works well because my style has not changed. That´s responsible consumerism. =)
The design. I guess I have not let the inner child in me die, because I love to use these printed pictures of Bratz dolls as motifs to my designs. They are exaggeratedly beautiful, and therefore perfect to use as my imaginary playground. Originally I wanted to make the pants out of fabric with print on it, but as it often turns out, there was none available. So I opted for a plain fleece instead (my favorite winter material!).
This is the darkest time of the year, so I need to be seen in the dark too. Therefore I added a few star-shaped reflectors to the leg hems.
A close-up of the reflective stars. In daylight they don´t draw much attention to them, but when noticed, I hope them to soften and uplift the feeling of this otherwise quite serious-looking outfit. I´m enjoying life, and I want it (the happiness) to shine through my clothes.
The makeup is as sketched in the design above. I like to match, and often repeat, the colors of the outfit in the makeup. Here light silver and royal blue are used on the eyelids as the focal point of the face. Cheeks are dusted with greyish beige to create a shadow mainly, and lips coated with sparkling light grey lipgloss for a frosty effect.

Have a beautiful, happy and creative year 2014!

-Nella-
Greetings from Nelland!

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The Mugwort Chronicles

January, 2014

Growing in the Green Craft

Lately I have been feeling the restless need to formally expand my herbal knowledge. After much consideration, I applied to an advanced herbal study program beginning early next year. Along with my acceptance into this program came the realization that I would not be able to competently juggle working a full-time job, keeping up with my herbal course work and contributing to Pagan Pages, so I have decided to take a hiatus from The Mugwort Chronicles for 2014. I thought what better topic for this last column than a discussion about available educational resources for the aspiring herbalist.

Today the abundance of books, websites, blogs, on-line and community-based classes available to herbalists is overwhelming, but not all those resources are equally helpful. So, how do you choose which ones are credible that will add to your knowledge?

There are many different traditions when it comes to herbal medicine. Some incorporate the botanical practices from other cultures, such as the Ayurveda from India and Traditional Chinese Medicine, also known as TCM. There exists within the United States a multitude of practices including Folk, Native American and Traditional Western herbalism, to name a few. For the individual just starting to learn more about botanical medicine, my advice is to read some of the really good basic books to help you determine which tradition appeals to you. Here are a few of the books I found really helpful in getting started.

I think the herbalist’s Way by Nancy & Michael Phillips should be the first book all aspiring herbalists read. The authors have done a great job of giving an overarching view of many aspects of herbalism and discuss not only which herbs to use and their preparation, but also advice on growing herbs and interviews with many of our leading herbalists from a variety of different traditions.

The second book I would recommend is Practical herbs by Henriette Kress. Henriette’s book is simple in its approach, but contains a wealth of information. Its uncomplicated format makes it a great book for novice as well as more experienced herbalists not wanting to thumb through a wordy book looking for information. Henriette also has a wonderful website filled with a ton of information, as well as some classic older books which she has made available on-line: http://www.henriettesherbal.com/

Rosemary Gladstar is one of our treasured pioneering American herbalists whose career has spanned decades. I have the original version of her book, The Family herbalist, which has been reprinted as Rosemary Gladstar’s herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. I like Rosemary’s approach to working with herbs which closely aligns with my own philosophy of practice. Her book contains practical, easy to understand information in a very readable format.

Healing Wise by Susun Weed is a great introduction to the Wise Woman Tradition of healing, using plants to help nourish and tonify the body. It’s a great book for new herbalists as the plants discussed are generally quite safe.

herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner, ND is a bit more of an adventurous read for beginners, but I like how Sharol’s formulations are listed by systems and how well she describes plant properties. She also has an on-line Materia Medica that is a great resource: http://www.herbaltransitions.com/MateriaMedica.html

 

The herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green gives lots of good information on processing plants for medicinal use.

 

There are many, many more wonderful books available, far too many to name. Some words of caution, though as older herbals (1900’s-1970’s vintage) may contain information that today we know to be harmful. One vintage book I read recommended storing dried roots in a glass jar with…moth balls to help preserve them! For those new to herbalism, please do not try this. Also, not all herbal books are equal in the credibility of the material presented. In other words, until you gain some solid knowledge, it is wise to stick with well recognized authors. In addition to those listed above, other authors to look for are David Winston, Michael and Leslie Tierra, Aviva Romm, Michael Moore, David Hoffman and Paul Bergner.

Besides conventional book stores and the public library, herbal books can be found listed on eBay, Amazon, and at yard sales and thrift stores. I recently purchased an updated mint copy of Michael Tierra’s book, The Way of herbs, for less than $4 at a local thrift store.

 

Many herbalists have blogs which contain wonderful information.  Some of my favorites are:

-Aviva Romm:              http://avivaromm.com/

-Kiva Rose:                      http://bearmedicineherbals.com/about

-Rosalee de la Foret:   http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/

 

herbalist 7 Song regularly posts really great information on his Facebook page. Find him under

Sevensong Sevensong

His website is: http://7song.com/

 

YouTube has some very good tutorials, but please be careful when searching for herbal videos. Stick to ones by well known, reputable herbalists (refer to the authors listed above) until you have some solid knowledge to help you discern what is safe, sound, reliable information. YouTube videos by Susun Weed, Rosemary Gladstar and John Gallagher of Learning Herbs are very informative and easy to follow along.

So, you have read a bunch of books but still feel like you are in the dark about herbal medicine? Consider taking an on-line or correspondence course. There are quite a few offered, many from notable herbalists, covering a wide price range. If you go to Mountain Rose herbs’ website and click on the Learn about herbal Education tab on the left, you will find listings for on-line and correspondence courses as well as actual schools throughout the United States:

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/herbedu/herbedu.php

When I was looking for a more formal approach to studying herbal medicine, I found Heart of herbs Master herbalist Education Program thru Mountain Rose Herbs’ website.  The course provided me with a solid basic education to build on.  I have also taken some great on-line courses from Learning herbs: http://www.learningherbs.com/

Look into what is available in your local and surrounding communities as far as workshops, gatherings, field trips and hands-on herbal schools of study. Sometimes it is difficult to ‘get connected’ to local herbal happenings, but once you start finding local resources, you will continue to find many more. Ask at herb shops, health food stores, food co-ops. Look in those small, local newspapers which advertise community events.  Ask friends and coworkers-you will be surprised what you may find. One of my coworkers handed me a flyer advertising a Portland-based herb school-one I never heard of. She found it at her local food co-op and the school advertised, Artctos School of herbal and Botanical Studies, turned out to have one of the best programs of study I ever took. Due to the high cost of advertising, some really wonderful programs and events are promoted solely by word of mouth or a flyer posted in a shop.

Although book-learning is important, getting out and ‘meeting’ the plants face-to-face is more important. Seeing how and where plants grow, especially how they change throughout the seasons is an invaluable part of your education as an herbalist. Look for local “plant walks” in your area. If you are having difficulty finding a group to go with, start by walking in your own neighborhood and learning to identify the weeds you walk past each day. You probably never realized the abundance of healing plants all around you, many of which, sadly, are considered pests and are sprayed with herbicides. Some easier plants to identify, depending on your geographical location, include Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Plantain (Plantago spp), Chickweed (Stellaria media), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), wild Rose (Rosa spp).  Invest in a really good field guide. I like Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar & Mackinnon. Michael Moore wrote several field guides covering different parts of the US which are considered to be excellent resources.

Always make certain of the identify of any plant you harvest. Many beginners mistake Cat’s Ear (Hypochaeris radicata) for Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)-a mistake that won’t kill you. However, mistaking Hemlock (Conium maculatum) for Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) will. Obtain a sketchbook and draw the plants you come across, noting their leaves, flowers, seeds and roots. You do not have to be a great artist to do this. Your sketchbook will help you remember important details about plants you find. Be sure to include the location of where you found them so you can find them again. Learn to use both common name and the plant’s botanical Latin name to avoid confusion. Since there are very few Latin scholars running around these days, you are unlikely to run into someone who will correct your pronunciation.

Be ethical in your wildcrafting, should you decide to gather wild growing plants. herbalist Howie Brounstein has an excellent article and checklist about wildcrafting practices on his website: http://botanicalstudies.net/wildcrafting/wildcrafting_beginners.php

If you are having difficulty meeting like-minded ‘green folks’, consider starting an herbal study group. You do not need to be an expert to do this. Pick one herb, have everyone research it independently, and when you meet again, share what everyone has learned.  You do not have to host this in your home. Our local coffee shop is a mecca for study group meetings, so be creative. If you have a local herb shop in your community, approach them about meeting in their space, reminding them that it will possibly introduce their shop to new clientele.

Consider starting your own herb garden. You do not need a huge amount of room and many herbs can be grown in pots, if you are careful to provide for their specific needs. I have some of my more delicate herbs in pots, such as Bay Laurel, Rosemary, and the Sages, so that they can be moved to a protected area when the weather begins to get cold. A warning here: herb gardens do have a way of taking over. Mine started out quite small and has tripled in size.

You will never learn everything there is to know about plant medicine. The more you learn, the more aware you will become of what you do not know. Do not be intimidated…just jump in: pick up a book, go on a plant walk, create a study group, or attend a workshop. You probably know more today about plant medicine than you did yesterday and will likely know more tomorrow than you do today. Remember to generously share your knowledge with others as others have shared with you. Plant medicine is our collective birthright, our global heritage for which we are the keepers for future generations. Help keep the circle of plant healing knowledge strong and unbroken.

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

Copyright© 2013 Louise Harmon   

All Rights Reserved

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Spiritual Seeker

January, 2014

I’m not a joiner. You could say that I’m a hermit forced by circumstances to socialize. And, to be honest, this has put me at a bit of a disadvantage during this spiritual search. In books like Man Seeks God, Devoted, and The Unlikely Disciple, the authors get out there and get involved. They take part in worship services and interact with the faithful.

I can’t do that.

I could blame it on crippling anxiety. Or, I could say I just don’t have time. Both of those are true. But, it mostly boils down to the fact that I don’t want to get involved with a faith in that sort of  significant way until I am sure that it is a path that works for me.

I am getting involved in little ways that allow me to stay within my comfort zone. I’ve written before about Christian-based online parenting seminars I’ve taken part in. I’m also reading holy books, and having some discussions with friends who follow different faiths. Also, because my son attends a Catholic school, I’ve been forced to brush up on some teachings from my (Presbyterian) upbringing.

One of my favourite ways of getting my toes wet in a faith is the Torah Stitch by Stitch project. Each participant is stitching four verses from the Torah, which will later be assembled into a large scroll. My verses are Genesis 21:19-22, which read:

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.  And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow.  He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.  At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do.

Now, to be totally honest, I don’t see myself converting to Judaism. I like bacon cheeseburgers too much. But, I am enjoying the meditative process of stitching a piece of a holy book. I consider myself a very proficient cross stitcher, but my knowledge of Hebrew is limited to the tiny bit I’ve picked up through tarot-related Kabalah studies. So, I’m having to pay very close attention to my stitching. It is refreshing and enlightening, and I’m also combining one of my favourite activates with my spiritual search.

I’m curious as to how Pagan Pages readers combine their faith and their hobbies. I’d love to hear about any projects you’re working on, especially wide-reaching projects like Torah Stitch by Stitch.

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Surrender

January, 2014

You hear the words,
but do you listen?
You see the signs,
but do you read?
You know the way,
but still you wander.
You get your wants,
forget your needs.
Then in the early morning lightness
when you wake still half asleep,
unwanted thoughts bombard your mind,
you try to decide which ones to keep.
You hear the stillness
in the silence.
You taste the freshness
in the air.
You close your eyes,
go back to dream time,
you know the answer’s
there somewhere.
Then when the darkness drowns you,
when there is no end in sight,
finally you can surrender,
realize there was no fight.
Kathleen Morgan ©
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Interweavings

January, 2014

  December in our Book of Seasons

 

Winter is my favorite season of the year.  Shorter days and longer nights are the in-breath of the year’s cycle.  Now we can pause amid the flurry of busy-ness and remember the deep connection to all of the elements as each can be clearly viewed at this time of year.  Pay attention to how earth, air, fire, water, and spirit show themselves to you in the dark of winter.

 

 

Affirmation for December

 

In the darkness of winter I stand and illuminate this place as a beacon for others to remember that the Light shall return.

 

 

Lights are everywhere in our environment.  Light pollution is an actual problem!  How, then, are we to fully experience the joy and mystery of winter?

 

A lovely way to honor winter’s solstice is to use candlelight.  Turn off electric lights and use oil lanterns and candles.  Allow the darkness to surround you.  Peace and quiet watching the dancing shadows is a nice way to spend an evening.

 

How does this season of winter show itself where you live?  What gift does it bring?  Create a collection in a basket or bowl of the gifts revealed by winter.  This can be used on an altar or as decoration.  How does the season affect your mood?  What joy can be found for you to illuminate?

 

 

I send each of you Light and Love as the darkness enfolds us this winter.

 

Brightest Blessings!

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MoonOwl Observations

January, 2014

Trees and Their Spirits

 

Tree spirits are nature deities relates to a tree. They are loosely connected to their physical bodies because they are multidimensional and enjoy freedom. Some tree deities are the dryads, hamadryads, Meliae, hathor and rakapila. It is Also believed that sometimes ghosts use trees to hide in while on earth, and that some trees can be haunted by bad spirits

 

Trees are connected to the Underworld through their roots. Their trunks and lower branches are in our world, and tall trees and branches connect to the upperworld. they can connect to other realms as well. The aura of a tree has seven layers; four of those ate outside the tree. The fifth is in the bark and the last two are inside the tree. Each element of a tree has meaning. Their leaves help them to express themselves through different shapes and colours. Also, when leaves are green it represents healing, vitality and abundance. Branches help trees teach and expand. They help find freedom and sunlight. Their hearts belong in their trunks as trees are renewed from the inside out. And, lastly their roots can be seen as anchors to mother earth.

 

Trees are some of the oldest life forms on earth and we share a special relationship with them since trees provide us with oxygen and we provide them with carbon dioxide. It is important to develop relationships with the spirits in the woods Where you may do magick work.

 

ask the forest to guide you to a tree willing to work with you and follow your intuition to find it. Not all trees like people as many have be hurt or damaged in the past. You can try to work with on, but if they are not willing – do not force yourself upon it. Move onto another tree. Sometimes they just want to be left alone.when you find a friendly tree, ask permission to sit with it. You should always introduce yourself and tell them the purpose of your visit. If you’re in need of healing you can ask the tree to heal you while you sit with it. Sometimes trees need healing too. We can draw energy from a tree by giving it some of our unwanted energy in exchange. Also, meditating under a tree can help you feel grounded and help take away negative energy.

 

It’s very important to remember to have respect for trees and the spirits within them.

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A Shamanic View

January, 2014

Rites of Passage and Social Acknowledgment

Our family stays up to keep an all-night vigil for the longest night of the year at the Winter Solstice. We drum in the sunrise and then have a breakfast feast. Our children tried their best to stay up all night with us. Inevitably they crashed, one on the floor and one voluntarily taking to bed. But they were both too tired to get up and join us at sunrise. Next year we’ll have to remind them that they’ll have to go to sleep sooner if they want to participate in the morning.

But I think what it came down to it they were wanting to do what the adults were doing. I certainly can’t fault them for that.

In a recent conversation, a friend pointed out that other than alcohol, there’s only so much that really marks a social acknowledgement of adulthood. There are fewer and fewer things that create clear social distinctions of adults from children. At eighteen we can vote. But not everyone does, and generally that only matters once a year at most. At sixteen or so we start driving, but we’re still in high school and people don’t treat us differently just because we can drive (except maybe some younger siblings…). But, “when you’re an adult you can drink.” It strikes me as both odd and disappointing that that seems about all most youth have to look forward to as distinguishing events.

There are some cultures that still have important rites of passage into adulthood. Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are the examples that come to my mind, at least. These are really cool events, attended and acknowledged by friends and family. These are ceremonies that, from my outsider view, seem to be taken pretty seriously.

So how do we, as Pagans, mark when adulthood begins? Do we? Do we treat our adults differently because they are adults? Personally, I tend to think we should. I believe that children need more nurturing than adults do. Note I say more. I certainly don’t mean to imply that once adulthood starts the nurturing switch gets turned off!

But I know my expectations of adults are different. The responsibilities, in my view at least, are different or should be. My children are ten and seven, so I do have some time to figure it out for me and my family. But Winter is a time for introspection, for figuring out what to do differently in the coming year, and therefore in the future. So now seems like a pretty apt time to be discussing it.

If you’re a Pagan parent, maybe you have a path with some built-in rituals for coming of age. Maybe there are some you’ll choose to borrow from another path. Maybe you’ll invent something.

But even if you aren’t a parent, there’s the question of do we treat adults differently? How do we recognize or identify that difference? Maybe we need to start by recognizing it for ourselves, and holding ourselves to a standard of adulthood. I’m sure it’ll be different for every one of us. But if we haven’t taken the time to think about it, I think we all should. What you decide is for you, obviously.

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