• Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Lilac     Lilac is a flowering shrub in the olive family, Oleaceae, cultivated in many parts of the world including all across Europe and North America. Robust spikes of delicate yet strongly scented flowers come in colours ranging from purples and pinks through to blues and whites. I’ve been writing Notes from the Apothecary for over 6 years now, and some months I struggle to think of a plant that’s magical, seasonal, and of interest to our readers worldwide. I had no such struggle this month, thanks to the wonderful fragrance that stopped me in my tracks as I was out playing with my 3-year-old…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Blackthorn   Prunus spinosa, literally meaning a spiny fruit tree, perfectly describes the beautiful yet oh so spiky blackthorn. Blackthorn is a familiar sight across much of Europe, and in Northern England where I live, the blossoms are one of the most impressive displays of spring. Blackthorn blossoms really stand out in the hedgerows because the flowers arrive quite some time before the leaves; white, delicate yet profuse blossoms perched on dark, spiny twigs. Blackthorn is also intertwined with folklore, otherworldly beings, and magic. It truly is a worthy addition to our apothecary.   The Kitchen Garden Many people will know the blackthorn for its beautiful…

  • Monthly Columns,  Spells & Rituals

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Bluebell     Tiny bluebells are, for me, a sign that spring is truly on the way. In the woods near where I live, they spring up, completely unannounced, sometime between the snowdrops and the wild garlic. It’s a “blink and you miss it” kind of phenomenon; Come to early, and the ground is just green and dormant. Come too late, and the flowers have already wilted, the plants getting ready to store their energy until next year. The most spectacular showing of bluebells is at a patch of woodland a little further afield, by the banks of one of our waterways. These bluebells arise and…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Jasmine     Jasmine, or Jasminum, is a sweet-smelling flowering plant related to the olive tree. Some jasmine plants grow as shrubs but the most famous are probably the climbing varieties. Some can grow as tall as nine metres! Jasmine flowers are white or yellow, with some holding delicate tones of pink or even red.   The Kitchen Garden Generally jasmine like partial shade and a warm setting, but there are some hardy varieties that grow happily in cooler climates – hence jasmine making it into our January issue! Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, tends to have solitary, yellow flowers and may bloom from November to March…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Primrose     Primroses are a hardy, perennial plant which means they’re tough and come back year after year. They’re also absolutely gorgeous and often around in winter, lending some welcome colour to gardens, windowsills, or containers. Originally a woodland plant, primroses or Primula vulgaris will grow just about anywhere as long as there’s drainage so the roots don’t get waterlogged. Finding primroses in the wild can be a sign that you’re on ancient woodland. However, some “wild” blooms can be escapees from folks’ gardens! Either way, even in November and December, their blooms make a gorgeous, colourful addition to the winter landscape.   The Kitchen…

  • Monthly Columns

    Of Medicine ‘n’ Magick

    Deep Autumn I love this time of year. The wheel turns in my hemisphere, and the dark of night claims sway in its dance with daylight. It’s a wondrous sharing. As I anticipate the arrival of winter, the enveloping darkness is comforting Medicine to me. The older I get, the more meaningful this deep autumn Medicine becomes. It’s hard for many, I know. It’s hard, even for me with my solitary ways and absolute love for the long nights, short days, and cooling temps. And this year such seasonal challenges are compounded for many – if not most – with the increased isolation offered by COVID-19. Nonetheless, with or without…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Relaxation Special There’s no getting away from it: things are pretty stressful right now. The pandemic situation is something we’re potentially stuck with until there’s a vaccine, plus on top of that, there’s a whole lot of unrest in the world. Finding time to relax and unwind has never been more important. That’s why I decided to dedicate this issue of Notes from the Apothecary to plants and herbs that help alleviate daily stresses. Remember, herbal remedies are a form of complementary therapy and should NEVER replace existing medication or treatments. You should always take advice from a medical professional, especially if you are already taking…

  • Monthly Columns

    As Above So Below (How the Stars Became Our Hearts)

    Non Traditional Models of Intelligence and the Gaian Mind     Where are you? Right now? I don’t mean your physical body. I mean, if you’re using your physical body as reference, where are you in there? The easy answer would be the brain. Maybe if you look a little deeper your answer may be the heart. If you look even deeper though, the question becomes hard to answer. In the dream state for example, you have no connection to your physical body, except the silver cord, a popular concept in metaphysics that ties you to the body during astral travel. Sometimes, in your dreams, you’re not even you, but…

  • Monthly Columns

    Notes from the Apothecary

    Notes from the Apothecary: Willow   Willows are a type of tree in the family Salicaceae. They’re deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves towards winter, and they love both moisture and sunlight. Striking weeping willows are often seen trailing their leaves across the surface of streams, while fluffy goat willow or pussy willow brightens up the spring with its soft catkins. While only the largest of gardens will enjoy a willow tree of their own, many people will have a green area or park they can visit to find one of the many species of willow which grow all across the northern hemisphere. Find your own favourite willow creek or…

  • Monthly Columns

    Gael Song

    A Druid’s Garden, Edible Forestry, Year Two A year ago, I wrote an article on putting in an edible forest garden when I was so excited to finally have enough outdoor space to plant one after waiting lots of years for it. And someone requested a follow-up on that first article, so here it is. Just to recap the basics: an edible forest garden is made up of three layers, trees, shrubs, and ground covers, all perennial and all edible in some way. Most of the examples of EFGs I’ve seen look a lot like a jungle, masses of plants scrambling all over each other. But I’m a druid and…