Category Archives: herbs

On the Anniversary of Getting Back to the Land

This post  will probably come as a puzzlement tomailboxinfall those who are expecting me to hand out some profound post on Sekhmet. While the subject matter is a bit of a side jaunt, because Sekhmet is the very embodyment of personal power, self-reliance and personal sovereignty, I think that it is appropriate.   My journey with Sekhmet all but coincided with coming to this place; a small acreage with a log house and a ton of potential nestled in the woods that overlook the beautiful Wapsipinicon River Valley.

Many magicians, witches and the like make a lot of noise about Nature and getting back to it.  They tout the virtues of living in harmony with the land and the creatures and the spirits on it and living in rhythm with the seasons. Some of us actually get to potentially live that kind of a life.

Next week is the 25th anniversary of having completed the closing on this place.  The journey was difficult in that we sold a completely paid for home in the city to buy this property that had a mortgage.  The banks hemmed and hawed on the closing, and we were quite literally homeless for about a month. Sleeping on the stone floor of a fellow magician and her mate that is just a stone’s throw from this property.  Every tear shed, every frustration was worth it, however.

In that time, I have been divorced and have remarried my partner of 23 years. I’ve watched my son grow up and is now entering his final semester at college – majoring in the very industry that is what this place is about – horticulture and living in harmony with the land.  I confess, I have met the challenge that was set before me with varying degrees of both depth and success. Sometimes what we believe we want, what we need and what is possible are simultaneously at odds with one another.  Sometimes however, we get a glimpse, a sense that it will all work in harmony. We have been so close to he edge of losing it all, facing unemployment, drought, flooding and the potential of foreclosure. We had the triumph of refinancing and at last getting it completely paid off.  It has all been about focus and priorities.  For our family, it has been about being here.

The job is not done, the work is not done.   We are still doing repairs, making improvements, looking to more sustainable lifestyle with raised beds and the possibility of being able to get off the grid finally.  This place has always been an oasis and all of the members of our family tend to let out a grateful sigh of relief and a whispered “Thank you,”  when we get back home.

Fifteen acres is plenty of land, even that is mostly wooded, with limestone cliffs and a creek that runs through it.   There is a sense of peace here. Of course, lately that peace can be disturbed when looking around us we are seeing more houses dot the land that overlooks these beautiful woods It makes me feel a little bit of desperation to buy up as much of the land around us.   There is this notion that if somehow we can keep encroaching civilization out, we can preserve it.

I’d much rather have my neighbors continue to be the hawks, eagles, owls, foxes, turkeys and other wildlife that call this place home than hear the pounding of hammers and thrum of bulldozers as another foundation is dug in the subdivision up the road.   The problem is, because land prices have skyrocketed and surviving children who inherit the family farm see dollar signs and are not thinking about sustainability or preserving the land are parceling it out into plots. Whenever I see trees being mowed down to make room for someone’s future grassy yard, I shake my head.  What could have been more beautiful than looking out over the forest?  More houses drawing on the aquifer that feeds the deep wells for all of us out here are also going to further tax that resource.  Those are the kinds of things that are a source of concern for the future.  Even if you have your own well, water conservation should be a priority.

On this blog, I am going to be putting the focus on the subjects of self-sufficiency and sovereignty. Some of the things I post will be how-to’s, and other things may have more spiritual overtones.  I may decide to focus on writing, or any number of other things that catch my fancy. (Hey, that’s the fun of having adult ADD!)  The overall focus is really going to be about Wholistic living;  which is Mind, Body & Spirit and how to keep them all together.   In today’s world, that is becoming more and more of a trick and far more necessary than many of us may have done to date.

 

 

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Defending Myself Against An Unseen Assailant

I am not one to engage in what I call, “mystic woo-woo” for its own sake. In spite of being someone who follows Kemetic religion, who is an Initiated Priestess of Sekhmet and someone who has been around occult circles in one form or another for over 30 years, I am also someone who is deeply interested in science. I have spent a great deal of time being devoted to the historical record and am someone who values putting out good, solidly resourced material. I am not prone to histrionics, and I really prefer to analyze a situation so that I can effectively decide what to do in it or about it. Sometimes practical things are called for, while at other times, other sorts of precautions and ritual actions that reverberate into the Realms of the Unseen are needed. This was one of those times where the latter was called for in addition to the former.

Let me start at the beginning…

Over the last few months, several in fact; I have been dealing with what appeared to be sleep apnea. I admit, I am a couple of pounds overweight, I am going into peri-menopause, and sometimes the body does weird and not-so-wonderful things as we grow older. Being a “Woman of a Certain Age” can, quite frankly, suck. The situation of really bad sleep was I thought related to work, school and other stresses. I had done my best to correct most of them, mostly through natural therapies such as herbs, seeing my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, and begrudgingly, even my doctor – who is, in my view, merely a servant to conventional medicine. Thinking in traditional ways about health and well-being is not her strong suit, alas.

To answer the dietary questions: I only eat meat of any kind a few times a week. I cut out a great deal of dairy, swore off of absolutely anything that contained even a trace of either high fructose corn syrup or aspartame and hadn’t drunk soda pop in at least three months. If it’s processed, it’s suspect and left out as much as possible.

Anyway…

The ‘sleep apnea’, was becoming more and more consistent and more pronounced as time went on. It began about four years ago at a Temple event in Joliet. It was also at first only happening at night, and it was not every night. At first there was not so much cause for concern. Then it was happening every single night, sometimes several times a night. At its peak, it started happening in broad daylight when I took a nap as well. It didn’t matter if I slept on my back or on either side, or sitting in a chair, the problem was there and it was, to put it mildly, becoming rather frightening.

About a month and a half ago, I had the worst bout of this phenomena that I had ever experienced. It was as if my heart had not only stopped, but that ‘I’, my consciousness that was “me”, was literally being ripped from my body. According to my spouse, I woke up screaming, kicking and fighting. For me, kicking and screaming in my sleep was definitely not normal. I woke up from that night’s “sleep” absolutely shaken. Something had to be done; whether it was physical, or something unseen or a combination of the two was not certain. I just knew that things could not keep on going as they had been.

With great trepidation, I posed my question to an email list of folks that I am a part of. The moderator of the group, who is herself an accomplished author and teacher in her own right, did a reading for me. Actually, she did several. Without my needing to tell her a thing, she honed in on several issues that had been of concern. Her conclusions matched those of my TCM practitioner and my own gut instincts. She surmised that I was most definitely under an attack of some sort and that it centred around one thing in particular. She gave me several suggestions and advice, which I followed.

Even after doing a cleansing and sealing of the spaces of the home, the property and everything else that that needed to be sealed, I put up wards and guardians. With the liberal use of consecrated salt and natron and other protections, overnight the situation had noticeably improved. For the first five consecutive nights I did not have a single incident of “sleep apnea”. On the seventh night there was one tiny hiccup and after that there was only one on All Hallows Eve. That was an indication as well. When the Veil is the thinnest – that was the most likely time that someone will try to launch something. It was just a small little blip.

Since taking precautions and continuing to keep with my changes in diet, activity and practice, there has been no “apnea”, no screaming, no kicking or fighting anything off. There have been no panic attacks – no problems. L

All of this has given me the impetus to reaffirm in the ways that I had been doing before when I first came to Iunen Sekhmet: Working with land spirits that are a part of the Enchanted Forest that surrounds our home, and and continued, focused practice.

So why would I even mention this, or even publish it online? Certainly signalling whomever might be dong this and what I am doing to stop it could lead to my efforts being thwarted – especially when I am definitely not out of danger yet.

Ah….there is a method to my madness.

Even though I have not given specifics for the steps that I have taken, and have not outlined how I had at least momentarily gained the upper hand, I know that sometimes what seems a logical explanation to something isn’t the real explanation. Besides, anyone reading this post would certainly conclude that they had stuck their hands in my own special brand of crazy. Who really believes in any of this stuff, right?

That’s the problem with those of us who have an overly-logical mind. That is what happens when you flat-out dismiss what may very well be a knock on the noggin from the realms of the Unseen. Too many people cannot find a logical reason for something, and ascribing an incident to an unseen assailant or attack can seem really as if they have taken leave of their senses. Speaking only for myself, I have been in the business of being a Priestess and a practitioner of various forms of mysticism / Cunning Craft far too long. I have seen things that cannot be scientifically or logically explained. I fully admit there are just some brands of woo that I cannot even buy myself. For example, I have never met an extraterrestrial, I’ve never even seen one. I am not all too certain that I ever want to see one. if that were in the realm of possibility. I think that many within the the Love and Light Crowd, or the ones who spout off about conspiracy theories meant to keep humanity from their “birthright” as heirs to the ancient knowledge deserve to have a stack of decent books unceremoniously hurled at their thick skulls.

Few things are more maddening to me than someone who considers themselves quite an adept as an armchair magician or expert practitioner, but they have never actually performed any sort of solitary or group ritual. They do not, and by default, cannot understand the dynamics of what power or sekhem really is. They have no clear comprehension of how heka works, or even what Ma’at< is. For these folks, continually trying to rewrite the rules of the Realms of the Unseen and the subtle seems to be their hallmarks. Many of these folks don’t even believe that psychic attacks are possible, let alone that it could possibly happen to them and so they are, in my opinion, far more vulnerable to them. If they do believe in them, sometimes they simply “send it back”.

Wrong answer.

I am here to tell you that in some traditions, and especially in the Kemetic, that particular and popular ritual solution does not always work. In fact, sometimes it can make a situation much, much worse by acting very much like a Chinese finger trap or quicksand. If you engage it at all, or struggle with it in any way, then the action that is intended to thwart the attack, in turn becomes its own trap. Too many of the armchair magicians and even those who believe themselves to be hands-on adepts are not nearly experienced enough to know the difference. Others simply “don’t believe ” in any of this stuff. I will repeat what I am often heard saying in that, plants do not need to necessarily “believe in” photosynthesis either: They will still turn green.

Right now I intend to continue to follow my friend and fellow Priestess’ advice as closely as I am able or comfortable in doing. She and I are in close contact often and we verify things with each other. In my experience, when you are dealing with a situation that makes you uneasy or you are unsure, you need to get another perspective other than your own. It is always good to find someone you can trust to help you discern what is real and what are the phantoms of your own imagination and maybe offer a point of view that you may not have considered at all. Try to find someone who is grounded in reality at least a little and not prone to bullshit. Josephine, for me, has been exactly that. For that I thank her.

When we take these sorts of precautions, we stand a far better chance of getting the best of both the Seen and the Unseen worlds.

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, herbs, kemetic, magickal alchemy, mystic woo-woo, pagan, traditional witchcract, update

For Service, Slavery, and Sex : Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

An excellent piece by Sarduríur Freydís Sverresdatter and definitely well worth the read. The subject of tattooing in Ancient Egypt. From slaves to Gods Wives of Amun, tattooing had special significance for certain sectors of society in the Two Lands.

For Service, Slavery, and Sex : Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, herbs, kemetic, reblogged

The Shelf Life of Herbs and Spices

In today’s world, there is an increased focus toward more natural ways of both eating and healing. This is especially true of using more natural herbs, spices and other natural ingredients for cooking and as supplements for wellness. Often cooks and herbalists are asked about not only how to use these natural ingredients, but also the best way in which to store them and their shelf life. Like the plants before they are dried, they can suffer from too much dryness or damp or even an infestation by pests such as insects or other animals.

The three keys toward maintaining freshness of herbs and spices are air, light and heat. Ideally, herbs and spices are best stored in glass, air tight containers kept in a cool, dark place. This does not mean that they should necessarily be kept in a refrigerator. However, keeping them in places that keep these three factors in mind is ideal. It’s best if the herbs and spices are stored in a place that is kept below 70°F. It is also best to store them in a space that is away from the furnace or areas that tend toward dampness such as a basement where there is no dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. Excess moisture will initially cause the herb’s taste to deteriorate and eventually this can also cause mold. Light will cause fading. When possible store your herbs and spices in dark amber or cobalt blue glass. If this is not possible, storing them in a cupboard or a drawer that is dark most of the time is fine. If you have nothing but sunlight penetrating every bit of space in your home, you can reduce light penetrating and damaging the herb by hanging up a curtain over your spice rack or cabinet.

The first thing to remember in purchasing any herb or spice is to check for freshness. Check the date that indicates when it was packaged or when is the optimal time for it to be used by. Is it well within the freshness date? You certainly do not want to buy something that will go out of date quickly. If you can, check the aroma of it sharp and fresh, or does it seem a bit mute? Is the colour of the herb faded or is it the colour it should be? Also, be on the lookout for webs, eggs, dirt or damage to the herb that might indicate an infestation of insects.

If you buy your spices and herbs in bulk at the natural food cooperative for example, and once you get them home, be sure to store them in clean airtight containers. Don’t use plastic containers to store your herbs in if at all possible. The reason for this is that plastic is porous and will allow the volatile and essential oils which are in the plant, even after it is dried, to lodge themselves within the plastic, While it might be nice to have a plastic container that smells of herbs and spices, not that it can be nearly impossible to remove. Make sure that the size of the container fits the amount of herb or spice that you have. Too much air left in a container will cause deterioration to colour, aroma and most importantly, flavour and efficacy.

The shelf life of an herb or spice is different for each type of herb, spice, tea or even for coffee. Most of the flavour of any of these plant materials comes from the volatile or essential oils that are contained within the plant matter. Volatile oils do have a tendency to oxidize or evaporate over time or when exposed to factors such as heat and light. When this happens, they lose their flavour than when they are in their whole form. When an herb is ground, the surface area of the herb or spice has been increased and therefore the chances of the volatile oils evaporating much quicker are increased. If you do find that an herb or spice has deteriorated in any of these areas, be sure to compost the old herb material and purchase fresher herb to replace it. The benefits to your cooking and enjoyment that you experience will be worth the cost.

Below is a guide for the estimated shelf life of various herbs, spices and teas.

Whole Spices and Herbs 1 year
Roots 3+ years
Seeds and Barks 2+ years
Ground Spices or Herbs
Leaves 6 months
Seeds and Barks 6 months
Roots 1 year

Teas
Black & Green 1 year
Herbal 6 – 9 months

Coffee 3 months
Ground (not vacuum sealed) 2 weeks

As you can see with coffee, pre-grinding it at the store is probably not a good idea unless you go through a great deal of coffee very quickly. Storing it in a freezer may slow some of the deterioration on taste, however, only grinding what you need as you use it insures the best taste.

When you use your herbs and spices, make certain to always use clean, dry measuring utensils in order to avoid introducing any moisture or contaminants into your spices. Use them to taste and enjoy your herbs, spices and teas often.

*(Note: This article has appeared before on Ezine articles under one of my other names)

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