No words

How do you write
When there is no light
Fighting an endless Dark Night
With no end in sight

The Muse, she left
I’m feeling bereft
My words have no heft

But still I battle through
It’s all I can do

Seeking the Darkness’s end!

This is where I, Glory, have been lately.  A lack of words, but no lack of ideas.  Fighting a bit of depression, or a Dark Night.  Is it really depression when it is as much spiritual work causing you to dredge up the past and ugliness to work through it?  I am a part of an online school but also a couple of spiritual groups as well.  One has me doing work on me.  Something I desperately need but don’t always WANT to do.  The current work has caused me to be in a bit of a funk off and on for the better part of this year.

Of course, life has thrown curve balls as well, but curve balls + Shadow and deep spiritual work = a long, ugly, hard to escape Dark Night of the Soul.  I am lucky that I have many wonderful friends and an awesome family to keep me going and not end up in a truly ugly place, but it is still difficult some days to do just the day to day.

I’ve been asked before, what advice do you have for someone who is battling a Dark Night of the Soul – be they a Solitary Practitioner or Part of a Coven my answer is always the same.  Just tell them you are there for them, will listen and help as you can, but most importantly number 1, you are there for them and they are not alone.  It is work they need to do on their own because they are growing, you can’t do it for them, but you can be there to help pick them up when they stumble and to shine a light to help them find their way home.  Support is what they need, and it’s something I have.  I just have to stop to see it.

When I started this post I thought I had no words.  None beyond the tiny poem the Muse interrupted my day with to start everything here off.  Now, I have a few words.  Not many, but a few.  It’s a start.  Especially as I’ve had none for quite some time now.

Dark Nights of the Soul suck.  They are hard to navigate and suck much of the joy from me, but I’m determined to work through the Lessons thrown at me.  I’m determined to do the work and continue to grow.  I refuse to give in or give up.  So I may continue to be quiet.  But Nettle and Hope have words to share, and ideas to nudge you and I along, so I’m glad I’m not alone on this Path.  🙂

Words.  Though they fail or elude me, they are there or will be when they are meant to be.

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Playing Kitchen Witch – Herbal Throat Lozenges

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Herbal throat lozenges

The seasons have started to change for us, slowly and as summer clings desperately to these last few weeks of the season’s allergies have hit our household hard. It is the week of sniffles, upset tummies and sore throats. When youngest spawn asked me to help her make some throat lozenges it was a great opportunity to put kitchen witch skills to the test. We made our first batch of herbal honey lemon throat lozenges and they are very tasty. If you have never given a try to such an experiment it’s well I was going to say “surprisingly easy and uncomplicated” but that would be a bag of bull shit. It’s a pain in the ass to make candy. It is one of those jobs made easier by experience and proper tools. As a kitchen witch, yeah I’ve got those. Someone not comfortable in the kitchen it will be a challenge. I suggest searching the web for recipes to get a better visual if that is your style of learning.

If you want to give it a try what we made gather your supplies:

Herbs: you can use hibiscus, anise, licorice root, marshmallow root, elecampane root, elderberries, chamomile, ginger, lemon, hyssop, sage, thyme, cinnamon, mullein, clove, slippery elm or echinacea just to name a few. Pick just three maybe four max. This is one of those times where less is more.

2 cups hot water
1 cup organic sugar
½ cup raw local honey

Heavy bottom pan
Candy thermometer

Powdered sugar
Cookie sheet or long thin baking sheet

First pick your herbs and make a tea we used:

Elecampane root: great herb for anything dealing with the lungs
Marshmallow Root: for sore throats and a dry cough
Chamomile: because we like the flavor
Ginger root: for its warming and aid in helping fight colds and sore throats
Lemon EO (essential oil): it’s rare for me to encourage ingestion of an EO, but if you can find a good quality food grade EO that is recommended for ingestion use it, if not then lots and lots of lemon peel

For the tea itself we used 1 TBS of the elecampane root, 1 TBS Marshmallow Root, 1 tsp of chamomile, a large slice of ginger root. If you are using lemon peel add at this time amount until you can taste the lemon. Let this sit for 20 minutes. This tea itself is very tasty with a drop of honey. I do recommend tasting your tea.

In a heavy bottom pan take ½ cup of your herbal tea, ½ cup raw honey, 1 cup organic sugar and bring to a boil. The heavier the bottom of your pan the less chance you have to burn your sugar base. You will need to boil this mixture watching the pan closely for somewhere between 25 to 30 minutes. You can on occasion stir the pot or even swirl it around. Be aware this is a pot of hot boiling lava that can and will burn you given the chance.

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Bubbling hot cauldron of lava

Always watch because cooking times will vary and this can go from perfect golden brown to burn in the blink of an eye. You can use your candy thermometer – your goal is hard ball stage. If you don’t know what hard ball stage is, read a book on candy making – oh sorry that sounds far too pithy. Hard ball stage is when once the sugar has cooled it is hard like a lollipop. An older method is to fill a glass with ice water and as you get to that 20 to 25 minute mark drop a small drop of your lava into the ice water. Then picking up the bit you dropped in the ice water roll it around in your fingers to see if once fully cooled is it hard or soft. If it cools to a hard little ball then it’s at the proper stage.

Meanwhile have your assistant spread the powdered sugar in a nice thick layer across your baking pan and make small indentations into the powdered sugar with the rounded end of a wooden spoon.

Take your pan off the heat.

If using add your Lemon EO about 5 drops

Being very careful because remember it is bubbling lava at this point gently pour small amounts of the bubbling brew into the indentions in the powdered sugar. This is an even more tedious job than watching the sugar tea mixer bubble up to 300 deg Fahrenheit. Have I mentioned before that I have the patience of a gnat.

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First batch coated with some extra powdered sugar on top what a mess! Good thing we like messes when cooking

Let cool and give your pan a shake to loosen any of your throat lozenges that may have stuck to the bottom of your baking sheet.

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Shaking off the excess powdered sugar

 

You will want to shake off any excess powdered sugar. If you like and want them to be giftable you can cut tiny strips of wax paper and wrap each one up by hand.  I don’t know anyone who has time for that.

I store mine in a jar in the fridge. They tend to be slightly stickier than what you can buy in the store. The sticky might be lessened if one used cornstarch rather than powdered sugar

It’s all about the taste and these are downright tasty and the help with that scratchy sore throat. The most important part

Floaty Tentacled Things

This occurred a few weeks ago. Just getting around to posting it because, well, it’s a little interesting and I thought I’d throw it out there, for what it’s worth.

Coyvere, Nettle, and the Youngest Spawn had driven over for a visit on Saturday. During the week Nettle had been complaining that my energy was giving her headaches. It was coming through my texts, very strong, panicky, and not happy. I thought it was because we might have to move from the park we’re currently in – and like – to one that, although physically nice and 10 minutes closer to Nic’s work, had an owner with a creepy vibe. Nettle insisted that it was something outside of me, feeding off my unhappiness and panic, like a giant leech (yuck!)

I couldn’t feel a thing. Neither could Nic. But I went through the whole taking down of the wards, cleansing, and re-establishing the wards, just in case. So Nettle et al arrived, and Coyvere, who can not see (very active imagination) these things, said it was a mostly transparent floaty thing, like a Portuguese Man O War, with it’s tentacles hanging down. Evidently it homes in on strong emotion and taps into the person experiencing it, sucking up the emotion and injecting something to encourage the continuance of the emotion. He burned the tentacles off of us, but this didn’t completely discourage the entity because it returned to try again.

In the end he had to call on bigger guns to destroy it and clean the area of the things. I don’t ward the entire park, and now that I know something about these creatures I need to incorporate protections against them into the wards around our site. They lay eggs on their victims as well, but a salt shower will kill them. Eggs, seeds, whatever you want to call it. Sounds like ‘Alien’, doesn’t it?

Icky! Makes me shudder with disgust just thinking about them!

I wonder if they only feed on negative emotions. (Nettle here – as far as I know or I have experienced just negative emotions they are apathetic to human life and do not want to nurture as would something that fed off positive emotions) I wonder how they find their prey – can they home in on strong emotions or do they simply float around hoping to run across someone having a bad day? Are they intelligent or just opportunistic? If they’re intelligent, can one ally with them? What benefit would that have?  How can we train ourselves to ‘see’ them, notice their activities, recognize when we’re being fed from? Where did they come from? Are they indigenous? Are they one of the reasons so many of us are stuck in a morass of depression, hate, fear?  Are these creatures addressed in any pagan religion? As usual, Hope has questions. What she doesn’t have is answers!

 

Elderberry Oxymel

Some of you may or may not be aware that our family has pets, lots of pets. Not an extravagant hoarding number of pets but enough that the battle with pet fur is daily. We have three cats – their names have been changed for their personal protection and as always with cat do keep in mind these are human translations of their true cat name.  They are ‘Diablo’, ‘Petit de la Mort’, and ‘F you all I hate you, wait is that food I love you, no don’t like THAT food hate you again’. We also have a dog, ‘Dog-us Minimums’. The other day Diablo in his attempt to teach youngest spawn and myself to hunt brought us a live mouse and left it in the hallway for us practice our hunting skills. Much comedy ensued. Petit de la Mort later in the evening dispatched said mouse for us. He was for the day our hero.

So… why is this even important or worthy of a post?

Because it’s a cute antidotal (IMHOP – hey I do use Nettle as my magical name it does imply a biting wit and stinging use of sarcasm at will) introduction to my post on dealing with allergies and fighting off colds.  I live and breathe pet fur which I’m allergic to both cat and dog, I’m allergic to grass and to trees and to ragweed. This time of year really all I want to do is to take a nice breath of air without feeling the struggle. I’m not against using western pharmaceuticals. In fact allergy meds are my friend. I use them, love them this time of year. I also enjoy using herbs to help back up and in conjunction with my allergy meds.

In the fall I start taking twice a day a teaspoon to a tablespoon of Elderberry Oxymel. I am not a huge fan of Elderberry Syrup at best it’s just too cloyingly sweet for me to deal with. An Oxymel on the other hand is a wonderful balance of sweet and sour because the base is equal parts honey to apple cider vinegar. The downside to an Oxymel is that unlike a syrup you need six weeks to three months to make an Oxymel.   I almost always have a batch stashed away in the dark recesses of my cupboard.

To make Elderberry Oxymel you will need:

Dried Elderberries

Ginger root slices

Elecampane root

Astragalus root

1-quart jar with a plastic lid or a cut square of parchment paper to fit between the jar and the lid

Honey

Apple Cider vinegar

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herbs in a jar

Fill your jar to the halfway point with the dried elderberries. Add about 2 TBSP ginger root, 2 TBSP elecampane root and 2 TBSP of the astragalus root.  Add equal parts of honey and apple cider vinegar and stir well.

  • I had someone ask how much honey and apple cider vinegar for this recipe. I used a quart sized jar and a whole pint of honey so roughly two cups. It will vary based on the size of your jar.

Cover top of the jar with your parchment paper or your plastic lid – this is rather important the reason is if you don’t cover or use a plastic lid the vinegar will react to your lid. After twenty-four hours you may need to add more honey and vinegar as your berries absorbed and hydrate.   Set in a cool dark space. Stir and check every couple of days for the first six weeks. Taste it can be used but I find giving it a few more weeks up to three months (I forgot about a batch once. Lucky I had gotten into the habit of dating the jar of when I first start the batch so I knew the start date.)

You will then strain through some cheesecloth – this will make a huge purple mess that might stain clothing.

Re-jar again with a plastic lid or that square of parchment paper and store in your fridge for up to six months or longer.

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Note the parchment paper under the lid – ready for its long six week nap.

Then enjoy a teaspoon to a tablespoon at a time. My usual method is teaspoon in a shot glass add some cool water and shoot it down. When I start to feel run down or the allergies turning into a cold I up the dosage to a tablespoon two maybe three times a day. I’ve also mixed this into sparkling water for a fun bubbly refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day.

 

It’s too quiet

I was chatting with Hope and Glory the other day and they both mentioned how quiet it was, magically speaking. No dreams, no gods knocking on the door demanding to be heard – it was this calm. Is it the calm in the eye of a storm or a lull before the next wave of storms hit? I don’t know. I remember being a newbie baby pagan and experiencing the rush of inspiration and adrenalin. It’s very much a high when you are in the middle of one of those download sessions with a guardian or deity. I also remember the sense of emptiness and how dull life became when it stopped. Was this it? Were they never going to speak with me again? Had I learned all that I was going to learn from them? I would worry had I done something to offend someone… Did I piss off my guardians? It was painful. I felt so empty, like a dull shadow of what I was when communing with a deity or chatting with one of my guardians. I was young and didn’t quite understand yet that gods are not bound by this linear time thing that we mortals are.

These days I have learned to cherish these quiet times.

I am blessed, and I must remember this at times like this, to have a coyote spirit mate and to have found yoga. Both of these gifts in my life often remind me that magic isn’t just speaking with the gods and helping them fight monsters or learning their secrets. It’s all about the internal work. It’s finding your own personal divinity within, whether you are making your way up the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, exploring your own chakras, or learning to find the soul seed and your Atman. This is the primary goal of magic: To help you grow as an individual and into your spiritual being, to obtain your own divinity.

As I type this Hope is not sitting behind me but I can hear her asking: “But how do you know what that is?”

The answer is still the same after all these years, Hope my dear.  When you are on the right path, learning yourself and connecting with that Atman (higher self) – life becomes easier. Sure we have our struggles, but it’s not the same struggle over and over again unless you have some really shitty Samskaras to work through. For those not familiar with the yoga term Samskara think of it as scar tissue of your karma, those past mistakes you keep making over and over lifetime to lifetime that you can’t break free from. Samskara work makes working with your dark/shadow side a piece of cake –but that is a post for another day. Going back to Hope’s voice in my head – we’ve had this conversation over and over – YOU JUST KNOW and life is easier. Learn to trust yourself, my dear. ❤ (Bah! to ‘you just know!’ Hope)

So, back to my post….

How does one start on this path of internal work and study? Well, here is the catch – we are all individually unique with a wide variety of experiences. The path is different for everyone, but your differences are all going to work to your advantage in finding the path that works for you. We also carry with us baggage from past life, this life that affect how we learn and connect with divinity. It’s my personal thought that one of the biggest crimes committed by Western religion was to convince people that they needed someone more “holy” or “pure” than themselves to connect to deity, to be your go between and to speak for you and to you on the god(s) behalf. No one needs a priest or a priestess to speak with their god(s). That is the one advantage I’ve found in studying Eastern religions.  In Eastern religions we are told from the start we have this seed of divinity inside and it’s up to us to learn to hear that voice, not wait for someone else to interpret that voice for us or to act as a go between. It is what resonates about paganism and the path of the magi for me.

And because I know my darling Hope will ask: How do you “start?”

First find something that calls to you that has some form of physical movement. Movement is a key to quieting the body, when you can quiet the body you can quiet the mind. When the mind is quiet, you can listen easier to your heart and your gut. You can focus on learning your own personal intuition and insight. Get out in nature, take a walk, ride a bike, take a tai chi class, a yoga class, blast the tunes in your house and dance like no one is watching. Perhaps you are already an Olympic athlete and maybe then there is something more physical if it calls you mountain climbing, kayaking or running a marathon. Our bodies are not meant to be static they are meant to move.

Second discover your ruts – for example I need three cups of tea in the morning before I can fully function. I have my favorite tea cup and a set ritual for making tea the way I like. This is my morning routine. I got my first cell phone a few months ago and it has become my new addiction it lets me check in with my spawn daily if not hour by hour. Some of these ruts are okay to be in. We need this time to heal to regroup and to regenerate ourselves. But other times these ruts are one of the many things that could be holding us back from trying something new. Ruts are safe; they are comfortable and they are the same. But routine holds traps in the illusion of safety. None of us evolve in a comfortable swaddle. Trying new things can suck. It’s scary and intimidating but it breaks you out of your normal routine, your rut, and offers new insight. Getting out of your ruts lets you look deep inside yourself and discover new parts of you that were once hidden. Learning your ruts takes you deep into your own psyche. It shows you your motivations and your traps.

Third, learn to nourish your body with the food it needs. Now I’m not advocating a set diet. There is no need to run off and become vegan or pure carnivore, I am an everything in moderation kind of gal with strong leanings to being vegetarian and some days vegan. Coyvere is an omnivore and youngest spawn has issues with dairy and for her personal ethics has chosen to eat a vegan diet. This child has never enjoyed meat even as a young newly hatched fledgling she never wanted meat. Children are pretty good at listening to what their bodies want and need. When she eats meat or dairy she is physically in discomfort. Physical pain and discomfort make it hard to meditate and to listen to those inner voices. What we put into our bodies should feed us physically and spiritual. Look at what you eat and notice if it affects you positively or negatively. BTW – tea in the morning makes me happy. No tea in the morning…. *shudders*. Some days I work out and want a huge slab of chocolate cake – I might try to see if I’m really craving magnesium first if that doesn’t help then well maybe I really do need a slab of chocolate cake and it does make me happy. Most days I don’t crave meat, but once in a while the tasty flesh of an animal seared over heat is what my body is craving and needs. The more in tune with what my body craves and needs food/energy/fuel wise the more balanced I feel and the better I feel. Happy tummies do lead to a happy heart. Happy hearts lead to hearts that can speak clearly.

Four – practice your spirituality. You don’t always have to do high holy ritual but for us as humans we do enjoy spirituality and ritual. It can be something as simple as lighting a candle and watching the full moon rise. It can be watching the sun set or a sun rise or preparing a meal for a loved one. You can volunteer, work in your garden, or build a home, lighting a stick of incense at your altar but do something that helps you find a connection to your deities, something that feels worshipful to you. These are all acts of devotion to yourself, to your loved ones and to your deities and guardians

Fifth – be gentle with yourself. Most of us fear judgement or ridicule from others, but in reality it is often our internal voice that is the most damaging. I’ve found (as with most things in life) that my biggest and worst enemy is myself. I bully and ride my own ass far harder than I would ever do to anyone else. I’ve been working on learning ahimsa (nonviolence) to myself. I’ll be honest – it a challenge and I’m glad someone reminded me the other day that we call it a practice. So I try to practice ahimsa on myself first now and then others.

The sixth step or thing you should think of doing to help find your spiritual path and work on the self is to nurture your mind. That saying of “You should learn something new every day” is so very true. Our minds love to be stretched and filled and exercised. There are so many ways to give this a try: gaming, reading a book, watching a movie, writing, going to a museum, taking a class and even speaking with someone always opens you up to learning new things and ideas.

To recap on how to work on your own magical path: Move, know your ruts and step out of them, nourish your body, practice your spirituality, be gentle with yourself and nurture your mind.

Be gentle to yourself!