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Black Elderberry Sambucus-nigraBlack Elderberry Sambucus-nigra

Juniper and I here at Elder Mountain, went into the mountains to pick Elderberries last month and she made her yearly herbal remedy for the winter and it tastes delightful as a medicine. I thought I would look up the Elder Tree after our two days with the trees. I had said thank you to the Elder Trees every time I cut the berries off the branch and felt it was very important to honor the tree that way. After I gathered the information about the folklore, I am lad I did. 

Elder trees in one of their oldest folklore is about the tree’s power to ward off evil like the Hawthorn, and also to give protection, while other beliefs say that witches often congregate under the plant, especially when it is full of fruit. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother…

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Gather Victoria

Halloween takes its roots in ancient festivals and feasts honouring the dead. Which makes it a perfect time to remember the Haliorunna, the oracular priestesses of the “underworld mysteries” whose rites of divination and ancestor veneration were demonized and extinguished by the Church.

It was Max Dashu’s wonderful book Witches and Pagans Women in European Folk Religion 700 – 1100 that introduced me to these women who communed with the dead and ancestor spirits through what the Anglo-Saxons called leód-rūne or “song-mysteries.”( See this excerpted link for the source material for this post and so, so much more.) I had never heard of them before!

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References in Old English, Germanic and Norse texts describe these haliorunna, helliruna, helrun, helrune, helrynegu, and hellraun as “witches” ”necromancers” and “sorceresses” who whispered and sung over the graves and barrows where the dead were interred “to make the dead speak or send…

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Traditional Halloween/Samhain was very different to what we know today. There were no candies but soul cakes, turnips were carved instead of pumpkins, and people used to wear scary costumes in order to fool the spirits of the dead wandering on the land.

And stories were told around the fire…Here I chose, read & recorded three French stories from Jean Markale‘s book “Contes de la Mort des Pays de France“. Enjoy…

La Mort dans une Bouteille (Bourgogne)

La Messe des Fantômes (Gascogne)

Le Charretier du Diable (Perche)

 

 

Ok…It came with The Guardian which indicates that I’m about to face a “life-changing” challenge which will lead to the happy ending of The World Tree. I’ve been lately foretold about the upcoming end of a cycle, and it is true that within the past few days I’ve become aware of quite a few new things that make a lot of sense and ring true to me but these same things also make my head spin…

Let’s focus on the World Tree, shall we?!

“No matter how long the journey of life may be, however many twists and turns the maze may offer us, in the end, if we persevere, we will reach the point of fulfillment.

This may relate to material gain and wealth or to spiritual happiness and emotional security but after the long process of learning, responsibility, and rebirth, it is now time to bathe in the light of renewal, attainment, and personal triumph.”

Brigit

October beauty and magic.

October brings shorter days, longer nights and a soft chill creeps onto the wind. I begin to search for warm layers of deep reds and browns and concoct warming fireside brews.

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The breeze whispers death, the earth smells of rich decay and the beings all around are dying, preparing to sleep, to dream and rest. There are signs of letting go everywhere I look. The leaves turn into yellows, browns and reds and are thrown onto the wind to dance a beautiful dance before feeding the earth below and around the roots of the soon to be slumbering tree, making nourishment for the seeds to come.

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Plants are putting their energy and magic into their roots.

This is the time to use and eat the bone like roots of the earth. Eating that which comes from the darkness, eating that which has not seen the light…

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Gather Victoria

rewildingwomen

Okay so let’s start by going back to the very beginning – women and wild food. Because once upon a time all food was wild – and it was the women who gathered it. But what we’ve forgotten today was that no aspect of food, from harvest to preparation to consumption, was left untouched by magical ritual. And because the banning of magic, the subjugation of women, the domination of the earth – and the birth of agriculture – all went hand in hand, I see rewilding and food foraging as a site for ecofeminist intervention.

Many ‘rewilders’ seek to return to a more undomesticated state, a time when prehistoric hunter-gatherers lived “in harmony” with the earth. Roaming over the land, these ancestors foraged the food freely provided by the fields and woodlands, rivers and oceans.  Men were mostly in charge of hunting and women were largely responsible for the…

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Gather Victoria

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about witches. Not just because top ten lists of hot tv witches and sexy Halloween selfies currently swamp my social media feeds, but because my tables and shelves are currently so laden with herbs, plants, berries, phials and bottles that if an inquisitor of old were to enter, I’d find myself quickly tied to the stake. And while this worry seems remote, it’s a plain fact that women in third world countries are still hunted down, tortured and set aflame for the crime of witchcraft.

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Sure, the witch is emerging from the world of taboo and shadows onto the world stage. Sure, she’s being touted as a feminist icon  – a “powerful feminine model free from male influence or ownership”. But I’m not so sure. Because how can it be that the witch, once associated with everything transgressive and beyond the realm…

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Morning by the Countryside

As far as I can remember tea has always been a big part of my life, probably stemming from my mom’s German heritage. There were always a few pots filled with dried herbs in the kitchen pantry, but my grandmother had even more…

This tea is a recreation of an herbal tea blend I used to buy all the time and enjoy back in France. It’s caffeine free and I like to reserve it for days when I don’t have to hurry but have time to enjoy the morning’s stillness & the song of the birds.

Some of these herbs may surprise you as you’d never think you’d find these in a tea but trust me the taste is very pleasant. I like it even better with a touch of honey ;).

“Morning by the Countryside” Tea Blend:

  • 1 part lemon thyme (thym citron)
  • 1 part sweet marjoram (marjolaine)
  • 1 part spearmint (menthe douce)
  • 1 part basil (basilic)
  • 1/2 part crushed rosehips (baies de cynorrodhon)

Blend all these herbs together and keep them in a hermetic jar, away from direct sunlight. I recommend that you use your blend within 6 months to a year. To brew a cup of tea: infuse 1 tsp of the blend with boiling water for about 5 minutes (adjust the ratio if you want to brew more than a cup). Sweeten (or not) to your liking.

Notes:

  • Please keep in mind that herbs are medicinal in nature and that they all contain active ingredients which may or may not interfere with medications.
  • Some herbs can also be unsafe to use during pregnancy (while others may be used sparingly) because they can overstimulate the uterus. Following the information that I found in “Conceiving Healthy Babies“, I would use the above tea blend cautiously.
  • I recommend using organic & pesticide free herbs (homegrown is even better). If you don’t know where to find these herbs I can suggest Mountain Rose Herbs, from which I’ve been buying herbs for more than a decade. They are a reliable source and you can now get whatever herb you need by the ounce.
  • Whether you choose to use a tablespoon, a cup, a jar or a bucket as a measurement unit for tea blending, be consistent. Altering the measurements and/or ratios will ultimately alter the taste of the tea (which might or might not be to your liking).