25 April 2014

An update

Next to the herbal studies I am now in the process of starting a sustainability think tank together with a friend.
We're brainstorming walk-in meetings, workshops and happenings, with themes such as permaculture, local economy, local networking, crafts, healthy food and natural self care. Very exciting!

My seedlings are taking off, growing steadily and after a couple of weeks the first ones go into the garden.

In gratitude,

17 April 2014


As a child I loved to spend time in the woods and in the meadows, looking at plants, talking to them, listening to what they had to say, sometimes tasting them.
I wanted to heal with herbs. I looked in the kitchen cupboards of my mother - dried oregano, thyme...hmmm.
I got a book about Flower Fairies and tried to find them outside. Hmmm.
Later I got a book on withcraft and many books on healing with herbs. And a necklace with a calendula pendant.

And yet, it took a couple of decades for me to realise: this, herbalism, is what I'm supposed to be doing!

I wanted to find the best herbalist course there is, or, more accurately: the most fitting for me.

Pretty soon I found the online intermediate herbal course by the Herbal Academy of New England. After examining their (informative, abundant!) website and reading the reviews I decided to invest in myself, and thereby also on the health of those whose lives touch mine*.
I was particularly happy about the promise of high quality, in depth information and about the prospect of studying online, at my own pace.

Learn Herbalism Online with the Herbal Academy of New England

The herbal course consists of ten learning units, each consisting of chapters and a quiz - or, I would call it a test. Only after passing the test of the unit you have been learning you can move on to the next one. There is also an online community, and the people of Academy of New England are very helpful and friendly.

It was only when I started the first unit that I realized how solid this training would be! It is packed with in-depth information, full of useful plant portraits and liberally sprinkled with herbal remedy recipes. 

If you want to learn herbalism in depth, I recommend this course wholeheartedly!

* My personal motivation to practice herbalism is inherently connected with the life power of the plants. Nature is woven is such a infinitely intricate manner that for every problem there is a cure.
By returning to my roots - having a deeply meaningful relationship with the deva's of the plants - I'm closing a circle that was uncomfortably open... and now I can rise up this spiral again, helping those whose lives touch mine, with herbal medicine.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

At first I regarded the intensely orange calendula as a garden flower. It self-seeds readily, flowers through the summer and is an easy plant to grow. But as the years passed, my Very First Garden Ever turned slowly from a test field ("learn by trial and error" seems to be my preferred method) to a decorative-and edible garden and now the healing aspect is taking over. And healing is precisely what calendula does.

Calendula has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It promotes the healing of your skin, so it is great for healing (sun)burns, cuts and scrapes and soothes rashes.

Taken internally, as a tea, it calms heart palpitations, soothes the guts and heals wounds and irritations. It is even mentioned as an anti-tumor herb*.

Just by looking at calendula I can see/sense it is bursting with vitality and joy.
If you have calendula in your garden, you're lucky! Harvest the open flowerheads in the morning, after the dew has dried up. At the end of the season let calendula flowers mature and go to seed. Save seed or let your plant self-seed itself. As with all plants, treat calendula with respect and gratitude. Give it water in dry seasons, and a sunny spot were it can spread out. It will grow a long stem that lies on the ground with side stems and plenty of flowers.

You can make calendula oil by putting the fresh or dried petals in a jar and covering them with jojoba-, olive- or almond oil. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and put it in a sunny place for two to three weeks. Sieve through a cheesecloth and pour in a clear jar with a lid. Label and store in a cool, dry place.

This is a great base oil for any skin improving ointments you may wish to make, or use it as is.
If you are in a hurry, you can also warm the oil gently in a double boiler / au bain marie, sprinkle the petals in, let the water simmer (not boil!) on a gentle heat for a minimum of 20 minutes and allow to cool. Then sieve through a cheesecloth as above.

* V. Raipala-Cormier; Luontoäidin kotiapteekki (1997, Finland)

12 April 2014

Petition to the EU: save perfume's soul

This is our chance to let our voices be heard: please consider signing this well researched and formulated petition to the EU regarding perfume regulation
A quote from the end conclusion:
"In light of the highly manageable danger potential, we, the undersigned, wish to make our own decisions as to which perfumes, containing what ingredients, we shall use. There is no need to restrict freedom of choice for all consumers if the 1-3% affected by allergies are provided with sufficient information to enable them to knowingly avoid the risk of a skin rash. We want the variety of scent in perfumes to be retained, and to have a choice in the future."

8 April 2014

Wish scrolls - background story

"Wish scrolls. Or magic scrolls, from Ethiopia.
Containing a magic spell, or a blessing to cure someone who was severely ill. The contents of the scroll were cut to exactly the same height as the person who needed to be cured". That was roughly what I read, during my study BA Bookbinding, at Roehampton Institute (now Surrey University). The images I saw were long ribbons of vellum, with somewhat naivistic angels with big eyes, and text.


But I never saw the exterior of the scrolls, or the carrier of them. Now you google "Ethiopian magic scroll" and feast your eyes...but back then it was me and my imagination.

My adventurous husband went to the Sahara desert for a trek with camels carrying their gear, camping under the desert stars, singing with the nomads. I made a wish scroll for him to take with him, as a protective amulet, token of love, a talisman for great things to happen. He carried it against his skin for the trek, and when he came back I was amazed to find the scroll buffed to a high shine and darker of colour - but of course, leather is a porous, natural material and it will soak up the oils from our skin, thus becoming truly ours!

Since then I made many... you can find the ones that are currently available here.

Here's his scroll, now permanently living in the adventuremobile :

And mine, worn in times of intense wishing, here together with a wonderful Spirit Carrier-talisman from MiaIlluzia

PS. I found this blog post about Ethiopian magic scrolls, containing a little side-note to Indiana Jones (two reasons to add the link!) But seriously, it has a lovely written story and some inspiring illustrations, go check it out!

1 April 2014

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Meet my second plant-love, Lemon balm (the first would be the Oak, more about him later).

I was a very moody teenager. In a playfully written book 'for witches' I read that Lemon balm had an intriguing Swedish nickname: "hjärtans fröjd" ("hearts' delight") - and that sounded like a prescription to me! I talked about it with my mother and she got some fresh Lemon balm into the kitchen...of which I drank countless cups of tea*. And never had to suffer PMS again!

Much later I discovered this garden companion is an excellent remedy for herpes simplex as well. When you feel the tingling heat of a blister coming up, run to your plant - explain why you need its help - and very often she agrees you could use a leaf. Roll the leaf between your fingers to crush it and hold against your lip. Most often the tingling subsides, without an outbreak.

The flowers are a great source of nectar for many insects (including honeybees!), and with its bright green foliage it fills up a otherwise-sad corner in the garden very effectively.

* plain lemon balm tea can taste less pleasant. I'd recommend adding mint, honey or lemon to your remedy, or make a lovely brew with them all, adding some ginger root to the mix as well (adding the lemon juice as last).

lemon balm in my garden

Lemon balm is anti-viral (which explains its effectiveness with herpes simplex) and cleansing for the lymph. This makes it a great pick-me-up when you're feeling a flu or cold coming up.
It also helps to prevent cramps and windiness of stomach and guts. Lemon balm has a soothing effect on adults and children alike. Not everyone likes its taste though - a good alternative would be chamomile. 

I see the deva of lemon balm as a happy, content, generous woman, who is enjoying being an important part of the dance of life. Get in contact with her as soon as you can - she is always available for a meaningful chat.