Spring Cleaning

imageI can always feel my heart lift slightly when February comes to an end because I know then that the sun has more strength, the days are growing steadily longer and the cold weather, even if it has one, or two final encores, will soon lose its grip.

I am really not a winter person, I don’t enjoy the cold but if I am allowing myself to fully align with the seasons, I should learn to how to really appreciate that we need this time, knowing that seeds are being sown and germination is taking place deep within my being as it is within the earth.

So here I am at the start of February, not at the end no matter how much I might wish it could be so, and I fully intend to embrace this time of the year even though I may find it goes against all I would wish for.

A few years ago I discovered that Februarius was the original Roman name for February and that it was named after the Latin Februum meaning Purification. I also learnt that every year on 15th February, the night of the full moon in the old Roman Lunar calendar, a Purification ceremony known as Februa was held. February is also where we find the period known in the pagan wheel of the year as Imbolc which may have got its name from the old Irish Imb-tholc meaning to wash or cleanse oneself in a ritual cleansing. This may also of course be where our idea of Spring Cleaning came from. These discoveries gave me a way to approach the month that for me anyway, gives it a real purpose and helps me to both connect with it and appreciate it more fully.

So for me, using the month of February as a time of cleansing and purification makes complete sense and by doing so I know I am really preparing myself for the months ahead. In this way I am preparing the ground for the seeds of whatever I want to bring in during the year ahead. I have been doing this for the last few years but each year it takes a different form. This year I am much more drawn to a physical cleanse than I am to an energetic one which is what I would have been doing during previous years.

Now I’m not about to do as the Romans did and make the whole month a time of cleansing and purification, nor am I about to spring clean my whole house but I can think of a few places in the house and my healing room where I know I am holding onto books, papers and notes that I can’t ever imagine needing again, so probably this is a good place to start. I can already imagine a bit of recycling, a lot of re homing and of course some ritual burning to be going on with as well as the cleansing of the space that follows. It’s always nice to get guidance on the best way to do something like this though so I journeyed to gain insight into the most appropriate way for me this particular February.

I am sitting by a fire with my two teacher guides, around us the earth is covered in snow but despite this tiny snowdrops are in bloom, clusters of them, heads up looking cheerful against the cold snow. The fire is burning brightly and warming the ground around us creating a circle of heat, we are all wrapped up in blankets and I am told that even though I am looking to cleanse and purify I have no need to strip off and roll in the snow, I also need to keep warm and there is nothing wrong with this which I am delighted to hear. As we sit there I become aware of the sound of a horse and carriage and shortly one draws up nearby, a box is offloaded and handed to me. As I open it I see it is full of things that belong to me, photographs, notebooks, papers, files and so on. As I begin to take things out I am told to sort it carefully that it is important not to throw everything away. I begin to sort it into piles. One is of photographs; of me, my family and of my ancestors, some of whom are unknown to me. The next is of my notebooks, my journals, things that are important for they represent my journey here. The final pile is everything else and it is this pile I know I can release and recycle. I carefully pack up the things I am keeping, tying them up in small bundles with coloured ribbons. These I place back in the box and on the box I write the word Memories. I am handed herbs, pine and lemon grass and I place these in the fire breathing in the delicious cleansing fragrance as they begin to burn. I am then told to place the remaining pile on the fire, all the things I wish to clear out, but to do it one piece at a time so that I spend time with what I am giving away. I am told that it is important to do this with clear intention so I am fully aware of what I am doing as I cleanse and purify my life at this time.

As with all journeys everything here is symbolic and it is up to me to make sense of it, to interpret, not at face value only but to make sure that any deeper meaning is brought to light. Although this journey was for me I undertook it whilst writing this blog and so I am sharing it here as it may resonate with some of you reading this. If so then please put yourself in the place of the one cleansing and purifying, preparing the ground and feel free to interpret in a way that makes sense to you.

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doTerra Essential Oils

imageYesterday afternoon I went to a friends house to a talk on doTerra Essential Oils. While I’ve heard of essential oils of course, and have even been known to use the odd one or two, for example, lavender oil is made into a spray for the house, while Tea Tree oil is always my go to first aider of course, I had never heard of doTerra.

I spent a happy couple of hours, sniffing, tasting (yes really, these are said to be safe for internal use) and rubbing oils into my hands. I came home with the tiniest amount of Wild Orange in a bottle and one drop each kept hubbie and me happy for the rest of the evening.

I’ve been looking at reviews of the oils on line and almost everyone loves them. They are expensive but what essential oils aren’t?

I don’t know what it is but there is something about these oils that has drawn me in a way none of the others have. I am thinking now of having a talk for friends and clients, see if their reaction is as positive as mine was. I’d also like the chance to spend some more time with the oils to see if I can make some sense of what it is that is drawing me to them so much.

I’m then thinking about ordering a few to use in my home, just to see if I feel the same way about them once I have worked with them for a while and to give me chance to get to know them of course. If I ever win the lottery though what I’d love is this….

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Book Review – A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Plants and Herbs

imageA Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Plants and Herbs by Rachel Patterson

This is a comprehensive look at how plants and herbs, those found in the garden as well as those purchased in shops, can be used in a wide range of ways to enhance your life. Rachel Patterson shares her ideas for growing, harvesting and storing herbs, working with plant spirits and energies, as well as ways of crafting with flowers and herbs. Through doing so she shows us the magic in the everyday. The bulk of the book though is made up of information about each individual herb or plant and includes general information for each plus the magical properties. In some cases there are spells, incense mixes or even teas that can be made from the herb or plant. There are also lists of correspondences for the plants and herbs in the book.

This is not a medicinal guide, not a how to grow book but rather a wonderful resource in which the author shares her love of herbs and plants and the magical uses that they can be put to. A must for the bookshelf of every witch, would be witch as well as anyone who loves plants and herbs.

Pagan Blog Project – Herbs

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Like many of us I have herbs growing in my garden. Some of them have a wonderful fragrance when their leaves are rubbed, some are used for cooking, some for healing, some go in teas or tinctures and some like sage and Rosemary have multiple uses one of which is to cleanse space.

Unlike a herbalist, as a shamanic healer I don’t worry over much about the scientific properties of any of my herbs for this information is not what I need when I wish to work with them. Instead what I need to know is the spirit of the plant and how it will work either with me or with my client. I am though sensible and do always Google a herb or plant to check there are no contraindications.

To connect to the spirt of anything I journey to meet it and herbs are no different. Then having met the spirit I take in all that it has to share with me. This might be what it can be used for, how it will work in this instance, how much and how long it is to be used for and how it is to be used which could for example be in a tea, a tincture or even in a bath.

The very first time I wanted to use a herb in healing I decided to journey to see which herb if any wished to work with me. I was shown a plant that I recognised as wild garlic. Within the journey I was told to work with the leaves, take them and dry them, that they were to be made into a tea which I was to take three times a day for three days. I was also told to make up a lot of the tea and store it in an airtight jar in the dark for then I would always have it when I needed it.

After journeying I looked up the medicinal properties of Wild Garlic as I knew nothing about it and found it is beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, respiratory failure, coughs and pulmonary tuberculous as well as having antiviral properties. It can also be used to help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, as a diuretic, a stimulant, a vasodilator and as a tonic. There are no contra-indicators although it can be confused with the autumn crocus which is poisonous.

As I am asthmatic and have to be careful when I get a cough I use this tea often. It has saved me time after time by making sure the cough doesn’t cause further problems for me.

The making of teas with herbs is easy and quick. All you really need to do is pick some, rinse it and then let it steep in hot water. For herbs that I use a lot in teas and which are only available for a short time such as wild garlic, I pick, dry and then store a dark place in air tight jars. There is nothing more wonderful than a pot of freshly picked herb teas and many herbs combine nicely so do experiment and see what you enjoy. One of my favourite teas in the summer is lemon balm.

Tinctures are also easy although they need to be left for around four weeks before being used. For a tincture herbs are picked and placed in an air tight bottle. The bottle is then filled with vodka and placed again in a dry dark place. It does need to be taken out and shaken every few days though. The mixture can then be taken as required.

Sage or Sage and Rosemary bundles for clearing space are also easy to make. The herbs are picked and bundled together. I often fold the bundle in two so it is quite thick. The bundle is then rolled back and forth inside a piece of carpet or similar which removes some of the moisture. The bundle then needs to be tied at one end with thread, the thread then should be wound round the bundle in a spiral to the other end. Here it is wound around a few times then wound in a spiral down the bundle once more and tied off. This bundle then needs to be wrapped tightly in newspaper held in place with an elastic band and then stored in a dry place out of sunlight. After a week the bundle should be unwrapped and rolled again tighter and then left until completely dry.