Monthly Workshops

Monday, April 8, 2013

Beauty

Beauty

Beauty is a tree - or a simple leaf with
its miracle of design...a hill fringed
with jade or bloom of columbine... Beauty
is a mountain of clean wind or a tumble-
weed, traveling free... a dew-spangled
cobweb or toil of a honeybee... Beauty
is rain, fresh from a laughing sky - or
silence, deep with untrodden snows where
frozen rivers sigh...Beauty is a chapel
with stained glass windows there...Beauty
is reverence in a softly whispered prayer.
MGB

This is a poem written by my Grandmother, Maude G. Booth. I will share often as her words are a treasured legacy and inspiration!




Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last of the Lemon Balm

I picked the last bit of lemon balm which survived well through and after the two frosts we had. This is one of my mainstays and every year it faithfully comes up and flourishes in most beds I prepare for it. I have always started my own plants from seed. I'll be drying it in my dehydrator for teas. Here is a compilation of information I shared in an article. The picture is of a bed in front of my studio and this was taken in 2007. I see that the Elderberry tree behind is very small. Now the Elder tree is about 8 feet tall. 



Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is an attractive herb with yellow or variegated leaves smelling strongly of lemons. It is a great addition to any garden since it is very attractive to bees. A tea made from the leaves is said to relieve tiredness, sooth headaches, and calm nerves.        
 
Culinary Uses                       
Use fresh leaves in salads and as a garnish for fish and other dishes. When candied, the leaves make attractive cake decorations. Chopped leaves can be added to fish and chicken dishes and sprinkled over fresh vegetables. Add the leaves to cooked dishes in the last few minutes. They can also be added to summer drinks and fruit salads, and make a good substitute for lemon peel in recipes. Make refreshing pesto made the leaves, Olive Oil, parmesan cheese and pumpkins seeds. Serve on crackers or add to cold pasta for a summer salad.                                      
Medicinal Use                   
Lemon balm is traditionally used to restore nerves. It helps relieve anxiety attacks, palpitations with nausea, mild insomnia and phobias. It combines well with peppermint to stimulate circulation, and can also be used for colds and flu.                

Other Uses        
An infusion of leaves makes a refreshing skin toner and can be used in rinse water for clothes. A stronger infusion makes a good rinse for oily hair. Use as a facial steam for dry skin. Dried leaves add a lemony scent to Potpourris.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'll be harvesting the wild rosehips this week. Once we have a good frost it's time to wild craft these nutritional goodies. When I first moved to the Homestead I started transplanting small wild rose bushes that were growing on our property to the front of the main house. It has been a very productive source for me and very handy. 
Besides the soup, I dry tray full of rosehips to use in teas. After they  are dried I put them in a coffee grinder so that they may steep well in the hot water.
Here is a picture of my group of bushes when in bloom. this year they were so late in blooming that I didn't get a chance to harvest them. Wild Rose Petals have many uses as well and I'll have to share that in another post. 



Rosehip Soup

This is the basic recipe and method for Jewish Rosehip Soup. It is also popular in Iceland and parts of Scandinavia, where, because of the cold temperatures, it’s often used for colds and sore throats.

1 litre fresh rosehips                               
2 litres water                                                 
For each litre, 1 liquid quart of rosehip pulp                   1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar                                         
1 1/2 Tablespoon potato flour                         
1/4 Cup almonds

Rinse rosehips. Crush dried hips. Boil in water till soft. Press through a colander. Strain the pulp again through fine muslin or coffee filter. Measure the pulp and dilute with water if necessary.

Bring the pulp to a boil and add sugar if it is too tart.
Mix potato flour with some cold water. Thicken the soup while you stir and bring to a boil. Add blanched and shredded almonds.

Hot soup is often served with vanilla ice cream and/or macaroons. Cold soup can be diluted to make a nice thirst-quencher.

The Icelandic recipe differs in that cornstarch is used to thicken it, not potato flour.

The wild rose, or ‘dog rose’, is a common shrub and can be found in woods, hedges and scrub land. Flowering from June to July the tiny fruits appear from late August to November. The fruits should not be picked until they have been softened by the first frost, but do not leave them past October. The seeds are covered with tiny hairs (children split open the rosehips and put them straight down other children’s backs—or grind them up into itching powder!) and care should be taken to strain the cooked hips through fine muslin, as rosehip hairs are not suggested for to consume. Rosehips are reputed to contain four times as much vitamin C as blackcurrant juice and twenty times as much as oranges.!
As I look through the archives of Gaia's Wheel Newsletters, I remember how much I had forgotten was there! I want to share this excerpt and the link below as this truly is what this blog is much about

Six Principles for Re-Connecting with Earth
 


  Here are six principles that are so fundamental and far-reaching that they can help us to become liberated from our industrial-growth society to create a society that is more life-sustaining.  Putting these principles into practice can transform our lives, and help to heal the world.    
They spring from insights into the basic miracle of our existence--from Buddhist teachings and other ancient voices--that have broken upon us in the very century that has brought us to the brink of  destroying our planet as a home for conscious life.
 
Here are the six basic principles of life-transformation for world healing.
  1. This world, in which we are born and take our being, is alive. It is not our supply house and sewer; it is our larger body. The intelligence that evolved us from star dust and interconnects us with all beings is sufficient for the healing of our Earth community, if we but align with that purpose.      
  2. Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined by habit and society. We are as intrinsic to our living world as the rivers and trees, woven of the same intricate flows of matter/energy and mind. Having evolved us into self-reflexive consciousness, the world can now know itself through us, behold its own majesty, tell its own stories--and also respond to its own suffering.
  3. Our experience of pain for the world springs from our interconnectedness with all beings, from which also arise our powers to act on their behalf. When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or treat it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished. This apatheia need not become a terminal condition. Our capacity to respond to our own and others suffering--that is, the feedback loops that weave us into life--can be unblocked.
  4. Unblocking occurs when our pain for the world is not only intellectually validated, but experienced. Cognitive information about the crises we face, or even about our psychological responses to them, is insufficient. We can only free ourselves from our fears of the pain--including the fear of getting permanently mired in despair or shattered by grief--when we allow ourselves to experience these feelings. Only then can we discover their fluid, dynamic character. Only then can they reveal on a visceral level our mutual belonging to the web of life.
  5. When we reconnect with life, by willingly enduring our pain for it, the mind  retrieves its natural clarity. Not only do we experience our interconnectedness in the community of Earth, but also mental eagerness arises to match this experience with new paradigm thinking. Concepts which bring relatedness into focus become vivid. Significant learnings occur, for the individual system is reorganizing and reorienting, grounding itself in wider reaches of identity and self-interest.
  6. The experience of reconnection with the Earth community arouses desire to act on its behalf. As Earths self-healing powers take hold within us, we feel called to participate in the Great Turning. For these self-healing powers to operate effectively, they must be trusted and acted on. The steps we take can be modest undertakings, but they should involve some risk to our mental comfort, lest we remain caught in old, unsatisfying limits. Courage is a great teacher and bringer of joy.      

Adapted from “Coming Back to Life”, by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.
              
  They spring from insights into the basic miracle of our existence--from Buddhist teachings and other ancient voices--that have broken upon us in the very century that has brought us to the brink of  destroying our planet as a home for  conscious life.
  Here are the six basic principles of life-transformation for world healing.
  1. This world, in which we are born and take our being, is alive. It is not our supply house and sewer; it is our larger body. The intelligence that evolved us from star dust and interconnects us with all beings is sufficient for the healing of our Earth community, if we but align with that purpose.      
  2. Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined by habit and society. We are as intrinsic to our living world as the rivers and trees, woven of the same intricate flows of matter/energy and mind. Having evolved us into self-reflexive consciousness, the world can now know itself through us, behold its own majesty, tell its own stories--and also respond to its own suffering.
  3. Our experience of pain for the world springs from our interconnectedness with all beings, from which also arise our powers to act on their behalf. When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or treat it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished. This apatheia need not become a terminal condition. Our capacity to respond to our own and others suffering--that is, the feedback loops that weave us into life--can be unblocked.
  4. Unblocking occurs when our pain for the world is not only intellectually validated, but experienced. Cognitive information about the crises we face, or even about our psychological responses to them, is insufficient. We can only free ourselves from our fears of the pain--including the fear of getting permanently mired in despair or shattered by grief--when we allow ourselves to experience these feelings. Only then can we discover their fluid, dynamic character. Only then can they reveal on a visceral level our mutual belonging to the web of life.
  5. When we reconnect with life, by willingly enduring our pain for it, the mind  retrieves its natural clarity. Not only do we experience our interconnectedness in the community of Earth, but also mental eagerness arises to match this experience with new paradigm thinking. Concepts which bring relatedness into focus become vivid. Significant learnings occur, for the individual system is reorganizing and reorienting, grounding itself in wider reaches of identity and self-interest.
  6. The experience of reconnection with the Earth community arouses desire to act on its behalf. As Earths self-healing powers take hold within us, we feel called to participate in the Great Turning. For these self-healing powers to operate effectively, they must be trusted and acted on. The steps we take can be modest undertakings, but they should involve some risk to our mental comfort, lest we remain caught in old, unsatisfying limits. Courage is a great teacher and bringer of joy.      

Adapted from “Coming Back to Life”, by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.
The Corn Dolly are a fun craft activity for any of the harvest celebrations. Now at the end of September the corn stalks are all drying and we have an abundance of material to make them from. Below is a picture of a poster with all the many variations of a corn dolly. I like to make a simple doll that takes but a little bit of effort to make.

Here is an excerpt from the Gaia's Wheel Newsletter of 2007.

The last sheaf of the harvest, dressed in a woman’s dress or woven into an intricate shape and decked with ribbons, is regarded as the embodiment f the spirit of the crop, the spirit of the growing grain itself. The safe keeping of this corn dolly over the winter insures fertility for the following harvest, provided that some portion of it is given to cattle and horses to eat, and some portion of it strewn in the field or mixed with the seeds for the next crop.

The practice of saving the spirit of the harvest is extensive throughout Europe.

In Northumberland, the corn dolly is attached to along pole and carried home to be set up in the barn. In some communities it goes home on the last load. Sometimes it is fairly small. In parts of Germany, the heavier it is, the better.

On the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, the corn dolly’s apron is filled with bread, cheese and a sickle. In other parts of Scotland, the reapers hold races. The man who finishes reaping first designates his last sheaf the corn maiden; the one who finishes last makes his last sheaf into a hag.

In some localities, the corn dolly is made by the first farmer who finishes his harvest and then passed from farm to farm as each farmer finishes his harvest, ending up with the farmer who finishes last. In this case, no one wants the dolly as it is a sign of procrastination.

In Wales, others try to snatch the dolly from the reaper who carries it from the field. If he gets home safe, he gets to keep it on his farm for the rest of the year.

French, Slavonic, and some Germanic regions use the last sheaf to create a Kornwold, believed to hold a wolf-like spirit that resides in the last sheaf and provide the same life force for the next season. This is a fiercer version of the corn dolly and is sometimes use dot scare children.                                             
Historically the word corn was applied to the small hard grain or fruit of a plant. It was used generically to refer to the leading crop of the district. In England, corn was wheat; in Scotland, oats; in the U.S., maize.      
Today, Corn Dollies are seen as emblems of abundance.     
Visit this link for a step-by-step instruction on making a corn dolly.      

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Harvest Time an Ancient Custom and Celebration

In celebration of Gaia's Autumn Equinox I have been a canning fool. The tomato harvest has been amazing this year. Already I have about 110 pints of salsa made. Here is a bit of history. Mabon as it is known in the Pagan Community, is the second of the three Harvest festivals.

This excerpt is from the Gaia's Wheel Newsletter of 2007.


   The first festival is Lammas, the second is Autumn Equinox and the last is Samhain or Sawain.  In older text, this time of the year is called Autumn Equinox and the word Mabon is a recent addition to The Wheel of the Year.  Mabon is used mostly by American Wiccans while in Britain and Europe it is still most commonly referred to as Autumn Equinox.

   Another name for this holiday is Harvest Home or The Feast of Ingathering.  Harvest Home is a festival that has been celebrated since before Anglo-Saxon times much as we celebrate Thanksgiving. This is the time of the year where families gather, celebrate, and give thanks for the crops. Many villages in the British Isles have records of festivals and localized customs that were practiced during the festivals of Harvest Home. Often times a special beer or ale was brewed to use in village celebrations.
    In some villages, a corn maiden, made from the last corn (a term also used for barley) was made with the last swath cut from the field.  The corn maiden was taken to a family who took care of her and honored her throughout the winter so she could be replanted in the spring. Some villages had a corn man who was honored in much the same way. Many historians believe that this was a custom left over from days when a real human life was offered to make the crops grow.  Sensational movies such as the Wickerman and many books have used this type of theme in modern times.
  Songs traditionally sung at this time, such as John Barleycorn, talk about the sacrifice of a man to make the crops grow.  However, after careful listening one learns of how to make ale or beer instead of hearing of murder and sacrifice.
   Mabon is a time also of balance since the night and days (in theory) are equal in length.  For many, this is a time to begin working on plans that were started earlier in the year.  Our fore-mothers and fathers also understood that this is a natural time to socialize, celebrate and work together and accomplish these types of endeavors.  Culturally, this is the time when we head back to school, finish up the garden and set aside food for winter, and start to look forward to the holidays.  Projects for winter are started.  Animals prepare for winter, and this is time of year when they are hunted.
  I personally like the term Harvest Home and the images it conjures up of bonfires, cider and spending the evening in celebration with friends. Harvest Home also acknowledges those who have passed and in which ties us to the past as we talk and remember friends and family. This keeps alive stories for the next generations to come. Many cultures practice a custom of setting aside a plate of food, often called a spirit plate, for the ancestors (or fairies) so that they may celebrate with everyone. In many cultures this plate was taken and placed  in a cemetery on the oldest ancestral grave to be shared by all those who had died. 

 This compilation by Wyldrose.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gaia the "Dirtbox"

Gaia is our "dirtbox"...you know like a "sandbox". Well that's how I like to think of it.

She provides it ALL in such simple ways. A place to play, work, grow, learn and share and....
I feel so grounded and connected when I am in the dirt of our Great Mother. I am a gardener and my raised beds are like a grown-up version of the sandbox I played in as a child.

Remember playing in your sandbox when you were a child? For me, it was as if I became "one" with the sand and the box and nothing else mattered. I know I was content for hours there. It's that same feeling I get when in Gaia's "dirtbox".

I think that we should be more mindful while we play or work in our "dirtbox".  Lets become revitalized, rejuvenated with Her energy. And like in our sandbox where we played as children, lets create. Lets build something together.

From this "dirtbox", this place where we live...our home... is the perfect place to tap into and access all the gifts Gaia has to offer...for all that we need.

Ok, so what is this all about? Everything and anything.
Lets pretend that each and every grain of dirt in our "dirtbox" is something hugely important. Something so special and important that we will want to add it to our collection of "wise ways".