Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cultivating Mindfulness

In Western society, we are so busy running around trying to do or achieve something that we forget to live in the present moment.  Most of us either live in the past or in the future. The past has already happened and the future is yet to happen.  Therefore, this present moment is all that really exists.  Cultivating mindfulness is a way to keep the mind focused in the present.  By slowing down and being aware of everything that we do it can help us to become more mindful of our actions.  

Mindfulness also has many health benefits.  It assists with regulating mood swings and for treating depression.  When we are more self aware, we can accept things more easily and without judgement.  Here are a few techniques to get started:
  • Pay full attention to the food that you eat.  Examine what it is, how it tastes and smells.  Give your meal your full attention without distractions such as the radio or TV.
  • When walking, concentrate on your feet and how they feel on the ground.  Focus on the breath, look at your surroundings and feel the wind on your face.  Stay in the present moment.
  • Think carefully about what you do or say before reacting. 
  • Energy flows where attention goes.  When painful memories or emotions occur, don’t allow yourself to become attached to them.  It takes some practice, but eventually they will lessen with time.
The following story from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is a great reminder of the need for mindfulness. 
The Father of ‘As Famous as the Moon’

A very poor man, after a great deal of hard work, had managed to accumulate a whole sack of grain.  He was proud of himself, and when he got home he strung the bag up with a rope from one of the rafters of his house to keep it safe from rats and thieves.  He left it hanging there, and settled down underneath it for the night as an added precaution. 
Lying there, his mind began to wander: “If I can sell this grain off in small quantities that will make the biggest profit.  With that I can buy some more grain, and do the same again, and before too long I’ll become rich, and I’ll be someone to reckon with in the community.  Plenty of girls will be after me.  I’ll marry a beautiful woman, and before too long we’ll have a child…it will have to be a son…what on earth are we going to call him?”  Looking around the room, his gaze fell upon the little window, through which he could see the moon rising.  “What a sign!” he thought.  “How auspicious!  That’s a really good name.  I’ll call him “As Famous as the Moon’…”  Now while he had been carried away in his speculation, a rat had found its way up the sack of grain and chewed through the rope.  At the very moment the words “As Famous as the Moon” issued from his lips, the bag of grain dropped from the ceiling and killed him instantly.

This story never fails to bring my mind back to the present moment.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Herbal Lore - Rosemary

Rosemary

Gender – Masculine
Planet – Sun
Element - Fire

History

The Ancients were well acquainted with Rosemary, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies and in magical spells.

Culinary Uses

Rosemary has a strong, distinctive flavor and is best suited to poultry, beef and fish, particularly in their roasted forms.  It can be used to enhance tomatoes, spinach, peas, mushrooms, eggs and lentils.  Its robust character works well in bouquet garnis.

Herbal Lore

Promotes wound healing and acts as an antiseptic and stimulant.  Good for treating mouth ulcers, sore throats and abdominal pain.  The oil is used for treating arthritic pain, rheumatism, depression, memory loss and headaches.  Rosemary tea is said to act as a stimulate and to aid concentration. 

Magical Uses

It is used for protection, healing and to improve memory. It is a powerful cleanser and purifier and can be burned to get rid of negativity.  Add to purification bath sachets, love incenses and protection incenses.  Placed under the pillow at night ensures a good night’s sleep.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crystal Healing - Citrine

The healing properties of Citrine include happiness, prosperity, creativity, pleasure, protection, confidence, success, truth, goodness, digestion, enjoyment of life, spiritual growth.  It relates to the Sacral, Solar Plexus and Crown chakras.

Carrying the power of the sun, Citrine is a powerful cleanser and regenerator.  It is warming, energizing and encourages creativity.  It absorbs and transmutes negative energy and is therefore an ideal stone for protection.  Citrine has the ability to cleanse the chakras, especially the solar plexus and navel chakras.  It activates the crown chakra and enhances intuition.
Citrine is also one of the stones of abundance.  It teaches how to manifest and attract wealth, prosperity and success.  It is a happy and generous stone and has the power to impart joy to all who behold it.  Use to raise self esteem and to dispel negativity.  The energising qualities of Citrine can help stimulate the digestion, spleen and pancreas.
Wear on fingers or throat in contact with the skin.  Wearing Citrine point downward brings the golden ray of spirit into the physical realm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Home Made Lavender Salve

Herbal salves are a great way to take advantage of the healing properties of the herbs. They are used to treat minor skin irritations such as dry skin, burns, bruises and rashes. As many herbs contain antibacterial and antifungal properties they make an ideal way to prevent infection in minor scrapes and cuts.

The advantage of making your own salve is that it contains no artificial ingredients, no synthetics and no petroleum products. Everything is 100% natural and organic. As an added bonus, it is inexpensive and makes a great gift.

Almost any herbs can be used to make a salve, depending on their use. You can use either fresh or dried herbs when but if using fresh herbs, crush them first in a mortar and pestle to release their oils.

For this recipe, I’m going to use lavender as it is smells wonderful and makes a great soothing salve to treat dry hands and skin. This recipe makes approximately ½ cup salve.

Lavender Salve

Ingredients
¼ cup dried lavender flowers
7 drops of lavender essential oil
6 tablespoons of shaved organic (unbleached) beeswax
½ cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil

Tools
Metal saucepan
2 Glass measuring cups
Clean and steralised jar
Muslin/cheesecloth
Rubber band
Tea towel
  1. Pour olive oil into the glass measuring cup and add lavender flowers. Stir to combine. Fill the saucepan with 2 inches of water and place the measuring cup in the water, double boiler style.
  2. Bring water to the boil and allow to gently simmer for approximately 1 hour, being careful not to boil dry. When the herbs look ‘used up’, remove oil from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Place cheesecloth over second measuring cup and secure with a rubber band. Strain the infused oil mixture into the measuring cup through cheesecloth, squeezing out any excess oil.
  4. Place the measuring cup back into the water in the saucepan and allow water to simmer. While the oil slowly warms, add 6 tablespoons of beeswax, stirring occasionally.
  5. When the beeswax has melted (approximately 10 minutes), remove from heat and stir in several drops of lavender oil.
  6. Pour into clean jar(s) and allow to cool completely before putting the lid on. This recipe is for a firm salve but if you find it is too hard reheat it and add a touch more oil. If it is too soft reheat it and add a bit more beeswax. Keep out of direct sunlight.
Congratulations, you have just made your very own herbal salve! This recipe can be adapted using different herbs but if you are wild harvesting your herbs, make sure you identify them correctly before using. If you are unsure, use dried herbs purchased from your local health food store. Happy salve making!



The finished product. This is my own recipe using Lemon Balm and Lavender. I love the vibrant green colour, it shows that it’s hand made.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Herbal Lore - Thyme

Thyme

Gender – Feminine
Planet – Venus
Element - Water

History


The name comes from the Greek word thumos meaning spirit or smoke. The Greeks attributed the properties of strength and courage to thyme, and Roman soliders bathed in it before battle. Later in the middle ages, Knights would have a sprig of thyme embroidered on their scarves by their lady as a sign of bravery. Sprigs of thyme were often placed on coffins as it was thought that the spirit would take up residence in the flowers of the thyme plants.

Culinary Uses

Thyme is a fragrant herb that works well with all meats, vegetables, casseroles, soups, stuffings and marinades. Excellent for use in herb bread and flavoured butters. Lemon thyme works well with fish and chicken. It has a strong flavour so use sparingly.

Herbal Lore

Thyme has powerful antibacterial and antibiotic properties and makes an effective tonic for the immune system. Used in treating coughs, rheumatism, acne, colds and infections. As a stimulate it helps eliminate waste from the body and acts as a diuretic. Great for use as an insect repellant.

Magical Uses

Assists with sleep, promotes psychic ability and healing. Used for purification and in healing rituals. Take a magical cleansing bath in the spring of thyme and marjoram to wash away the chills of Winter and to ‘spring clean’ yourself. It can be placed under the pillow to cure nightmares. Legend has it that thyme was an essential ingredient in a magic brew that allowed the drinker to see the fairies. It was also considered an aphrodisiac.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Autumn Equinox

Today we celebrate Autumn Equinox in the southern hemisphere. It is the first time of year when day and night are equally divided, the second being the Spring Equinox.

Autumn Equinox is a traditional time of gratitude and thanksgiving. A time of harvest, for gathering, storing and preparing for the coming Winter. Now is a time of transition, to celebrate that which is passing and to look joyously into the future. We are reminded once again that endings are merely new beginnings.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Herbal Lore

Welcome to my ‘green’ medicine cabinet. Aside from a deep interest in essential oils, one of my greatest passions is my beloved herb garden. With the growing interest in sustainable living more people are focusing on the gifts that mother nature has to offer. Over the coming months, I will introduce some common herbs that can easily be grown in any garden and discuss their uses.

Wise men and women who knew the land and understood nature and its powers have practiced herbal lore for centuries. All herbs have both medicinal and magical properties. In fact, in ancient times herbs were used primarily for medicinal and magical purposes rather than for their culinary attributes.

I have my own extensive herb garden and use it for a range of different purposes, including cooking. Not only do herbs taste great, but their healing powers can be used and tapped into for tinctures, rituals and cleansing. Apart from anything else, they smell wonderful when you brush past them in the garden!

The first herb I would like to introduce is Sage. I have Sage growing in a few different spots in the garden as it’s so versatile and one of my favourite herbs. I use it to make my own smudge sticks (more on that later), to consecrate sacred spaces and to cleanse my Tarot cards.

Sage

Gender – Masculine
Planet - Jupiter or Venus
Element - Air

Culinary Uses

Sage works best with meats, particularly poultry. It can also be used in stuffings, with potatoes, cheeses and tomato sauces. Complementary flavourings include onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaf and rosemary. Use sparingly as it has quite a strong flavour. Fresh sage has a milder flavour than dried, 1 tablespoon of fresh sage = 1 teaspoon dried.

Herbal Lore

Considered a ‘cure all’ Sage has a long history of use as a herb for healing. Sage is often used as a remedy for respiratory infections, congestion, coughs and sore throats. It is known to be an appetite stimulant, to aid indigestion and is said to have a beneficial effect on the liver. It is also given for fever, night sweats and urinary problems. Can be used as a compress on cuts and wounds or as a tea for gargling.

Magical Uses

Sage is commonly used to purify a sacred space often in the form of a smudge stick. It can also be used in rituals, as protection and to cleanse and purify an altar or magical tools. It is associated with protection, wishes and prosperity. It is said that if you want to make your dreams come true, put Sage leaves under your pillow.

Mr G enjoying the herb garden.
Cats love herbs too!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 – A Year of Freedom and Change

In 2012, we enter into Universal Year five in numerology. As the number five represents freedom, change and independence, we can expect 2012 to be a year of eventful happenings, both globally and locally.

The vibration of five urges us to expand our boundaries. There will be a sense of excitement in the air with the prospect of new challenges and opportunities with the urge to shake free from restrictions. It will also be a time of options and choices.

The energy of a five is dynamic and restless, so expect changes in areas relating to travel and movement. This will be a year of expansion so if any new projects are going to get off the ground, this is the year for it to happen. It is also a great year to take reasonable risks for any new projects.

It will not be a great year for finances as energies can be scattered. A certain amount of caution needs to be taken not to jump into things impulsively, especially where finances are concerned. Nevertheless, it is a great year to create and receive new business ideas.

A five year can be an eccentric year, with plenty of new and unusual ideas abounding. Keep in mind that any changes will be beneficial in the long term.

The key phrase for 2012 is ‘expect and embrace the unexpected'.