Angelica

By Nione

Photo of Nione

Nione

Angelica is a genus of the family ammiacea, of which there are several species native to North America. It can be found growing in fields and damp places, as well as all around my property.  This is a beautiful plant, which really makes a statement in the garden. It is a beautiful backdrop for the color of the flowering plants. My neighbors think I am a little nuts to let weeds grow in my flower beds, but they would be appalled to find that most of those lovely flowers are actually weeds. Technically a weed is a flower growing where we don’t want it to.

This is a tall bright green perennial, usually reaching in height from 4 to 6 feet. The stem is stout, fluted and hollow with multiple small branches sprouting from about half way up the stalk to a full spread at the top. The leaves are finely toothed, and the flowers at the top are small and yellowish to green in color. The flower groups, which form in umbels, are similar in appearance to Queen Anne’s lace.  The odor of Angelica is peculiar though not unpleasant. Flowering occurs from July to August, when it begins to go to seed. This plant is easily cultivated in the garden; however, it can get out of hand if not controled. Because of its aromatic qualities, in France angelica is a cash crop grown on farms for use as a flavoring for liquors, candies and hops bitters.

This plant should be dried or candied quickly to retain its medicinal qualities. Once dried, as with all herbs, it should be stored in a glass container; plastic containers leech the flavaniods from the herb rendering it useless.

How Angelica is harvested depends on the intended use of the plant. Taken as a young plant it can be candied; the taste is mild and somewhat like anise. I generally harvest Angelica in early summer for candies.  Here is the process for candying Angelica if you wish to try it. It is a little involved but worth the effort.

Candied Angelica

Cut the stem into 4” pieces. I usually split the stem as well. Boil these in water until somewhat tender.  Remove from the water and strip off the outer skin, return it to the pot with fresh water and simmer until bright green. Remove them from the water and pat dry.

Using equal parts of sugar and angelica, add a layer of sugar, then angelica, then a layer of sugar until your container is filled or you run out of herb.  Cover with a towel or cloth and let it sit for a couple of days.

Next, put the contents of your container into a pot. There may be enough juice from the angelica or you may need to add a little water.  Slowly bring this mixture to a boil until the sugar begins to form syrup. Let it boil a few minutes longer and then strain through a sieve and scatter on a plate or a cookie sheet to dry. Sprinkle a little sugar on your plate to prevent the candy from sticking.

Angelica flowers are harvested for medicinal purposes and so are the seeds. Be sure to keep some of the seeds for reseeding in the spring.  The roots are taken in the fall after the plant has died back to the ground.

Illustration Angelica archangelica

Angelica archangelica

This plant is an astringent and generally used for menorrhagia (abnormally excessive menstruation), diarrhea, and dysentery. It is also good remedy for colic, gas, sore stomach, heartburn, angina and high blood pressure.   The medicinal properties are easily extracted in water. Dosing is one teaspoon of the dried herb to one cup of boiling water. Drink one to two cups a day.  Externally, angelica is used for ulcerations of the throat and mouth, the tea is gargled warm 3-4 times a day.

Angelica is an herb which should be avoided by pregnant women as it is a strong emmenagogue. (Induces menstruation.)  Diabetics should not take this herb due to its ability to cause weakness.

Magically, Angelica is an herb of Imbolc. It is either spread on the floor or used in incense to purify. According to “[amazon_link id="0875421229" target="_blank"] Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs [/amazon_link]”:

Its gender is masculine, Planet is the sun, its element is fire, and  the Deity is Venus
Powers: Exorcism, Protection, Healing, and Visions.

Magical uses: This is a plant grown for protection; it is used in all protection and exorcism incenses. Sprinkle the four corners of the house with Angelica to ward off evil or sprinkle it around the perimeter of the house. Added to the bath, angelica removes curses, hexes, and any spells that may have been cast against you. The root was carried in the pocket as a gambling talisman among some American Tribes. Angelica is also used in healing incenses and mixtures.

 

Basil

By Nione

Basil, of which there are over 40 different types, has been revered by many cultures throughout the ages for it’s culinary, medicinal and magical uses.

Basil originated in Africa and Asia, and it is believed that, Alexander the Great first brought basil to Greece. It was introduced to America in 1621 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony and has been a favored cultivated herb in America ever since.

Basil Leaves

In India basil was used in court to swear an oath, in Hindi it’s called tulsi which means “sacred basil.” It was found growing around Christ’s tomb and has been used to prepare holy water in the Greek Orthodox Church ever since. The ancient Romans believed that basil was a charm to ward off the basilisk, a fire-breathing dragon whose gaze could kill in an instant.

In Romania, if a man accepts a sprig of basil from a woman, he is officially engaged. In the language of the flowers, basil symbolizes love.  In Mexico, wearing basil will return the roving eye of a lover to you.

The ancient Egyptians used basil in their formulas for embalming a mummy.  A few cultures that believe that basil symbolizes hatred and some believe that it will draw scorpions. Whatever the cultural belief, basil is certainly an herb worth cultivating in a garden or a sunny window sill.

A very easy use for fresh basil leaves is to take a half of a chicken breast, cut a pocket in the side and line it with basil leaves. Then place in a raw shrimp or two, seal with a toothpick and marinates for a few hours in Italian dressing, then toss on the barbecue till cooked through. I cannot seem to make enough of these when giving a party; they always are a favorite and seem to disappear quickly.

Of the many types of basil, I will mention only a few.

Ocimun basilicum - Sweet Basil - several types being, genovese, dark purple and mammoth.
Most of these grow in an erect; many branched manner with narrowly ovate to elliptic, entire or toothed bright green leaves. They produce a small white tubular flower borne on whorls approx. 2cm apart. The whole plant may be used fresh or dried. Basil retains it’s scent and taste very well when dried in a shady area out of direct sunlight.

Medicinally, it is used for feverish illnesses(such as colds and flu) also it is a good remedy for gastrointestinal  upset, such as nausea, cramps and gastroenteritis.  Sweet basil is also good for migraine, insomnia, low spirits or anxiety. The genovese basil is  exceptional for use in pesto as it provides large fragrant leaves.

Ocimun Tenuiflorum - Holy basil is also a many branched erect plant. Its stem being softly hairy with a woody base. The stem is often purplish, the leaves are downy, toothed and purple veined. This basil produces small purple-pink flowers, borne in slender racemes in summer. This is also a very pungent basil which is native to Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia.

Medicinally the whole plant is used. Being pungently  warming it is often used to reduce fevers, to reduce inflammation, relax muscle spasms, and to strengthen then immune and nervous systems.

Ocimun gratissimum – East Indian basil tree is a shrubby, much branched perennial  which is woody at the base. It has purple stems and velvety, lancelet pointed downy leaves approx. 6” long that have toothed margins and a sweet clove smell.

Its properties are aromatic, stimulating, and antiseptic. This herb also aides in digestion, expels intestinal parasites and is diuretic. It has been used medicinally to treat urinary tract infections.

Many types of basil are antiseptic and have been used externally to treat skin and ear infections. Due to their pungent nature, many also make a very good insect repellant.

Basil can be found growing in the wild from New England to Virginia and westward. Usually found in the woods and thickets, S. Vulgaris is a very hairy species approx. 1 to 2 feet in height with erect stems that carry short petioles, ovate, pointed somewhat toothed leaves. You will find that it flowers from June to October with small pinky lavender flowers.

Magically, basil is used in love spells and to bring good fortune into the home. Basil is used in exorcism rites and is an herb of protection and cleansing. Try adding a little basil to your bath water before your next ritual. I am sure that which ever basil you chose you will find many uses for it. Even if the only thing you use it for is the wonderful scent blowing in through an open window on a warm sunny day.

Pesto

In a blender combine:

2c. basil leaves(approx. 42)
2 cloves garlic
½ c. olive oil
1 tsp.  salt
2 tbl. pine nuts

Blend until smooth. Once smooth, place into a bowl and blend in by hand:

½ c. freshly grated parmesan
2 tbl. romano
3 TBL. soft butter
1 TBL hot pasta water 
            (from freshly cooked Pasta)

Toss with hot pasta and serve. Serves 4-6.

This is a very rich recipe, a little goes along way.

Walk with Wisdom,
Nione

A Special Gift

By Nione

Nione

Nione

The season of gift giving has recently passed, but gift giving goes on all year. I would like to share something that I do whenever giving a gift to a friend or loved one. I frequently make most of the gifts that I give; generally, I find store bought gifts lack a personal touch. Though store bought gifts can be just as dear as handmade if one uses wisdom when buying a gift for someone dear.

While I am constructing the gift, I try to imagine a protective white light entering each component as I assemble the gift to protect the recipient. A protective gift can be any object you desire, it can be as complicated as a quilt, clothing, or a simple stone hung on a cord. Your imagination is your only limit. Whatever the gift might be make it personal, make it a part of you.

Once the gift has been completed I frequently will hang it out in the sunshine and the wind to clean it of anything negative which might have entered during construction, and trust me there have been some negative energies flowing during a particularly difficult making. Sometimes many words are used and not all of them are good words. Once I am sure that the object has been cleaned thoroughly it is time to bless the item.

I generally bless the gift during the Mistletoe Rite, since it is a healing rite I feel this is a most appropriate time, but you do not have to wait for the sixth night of the moon for blessing an item, especially if the item is to be given before the sixth night falls. When performing any rite it is a good idea to mix your own incense. That way you are assured that all of the herbs in the mix are appropriate to the workings. There are several herbs, which add a protective value to the blend, such as the following:

  • Sage: Very cleansing and purifying.
  • Juniper Berries: Purifying, protection, enhances psychic abilities and draws love.
    Frankincense: Very spiritual, purification, protection.
  • Violet Leaf: Protection from all evil.
  • Mountain Ash (Rowan): A small cross of the wood hidden on oneself provides protection.
  • Chamomile: An herb of the sun, it brings light and power to spells to protect the home, protects the home form all dark influences.
  • Figwort: Smoked in the summer fire and hung in the home provides protection.
  • Fiddleheads: From ferns, if dried over a midsummer fire can then be used as a protective amulet.
  • Mugwort: Protects travelers from fatigue, wild animals and evil spirits
  • Mistletoe: Sacred, strengthens magical workings, especially for healings and protective magic
  • Oak: Provides strength, perseverance, and protection

The herbs listed above are only a few of the choices available to you, I would suggest that you find the book  A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year by Ellen Evert Hopman I have found this to be an excellent source book for herbal uses for many circumstances.

As for the wording when requesting assistance from the Gods, Nature spirits and the Ancestors to aide in infusing protective magic into an item, that is up to you. I would suggest that you choose your words carefully so as not to obtain an undesired effect.  The only example I can think of now is one that I had read a few years back.  A woman after having her house broken into and robbed several times, had placed protective magic around her home and it worked well for many years.  When she went to sell her house, no one could get in when she was not home. The realtor told her that the front door key did not work or they could not find the house. She needed to rework the magic to allow the realtors in. Once she reworded her spell,the house sold without further problems. The magic she had originally worked was too strong. Generally protecting someone from harm or illness doesn’t need a heavy hand. Most people don’t have a particularly dangerous job nor delve into dangerous places or practices.

Many crystals and stones have a protective nature as well and can be used as amulets. Turquoise and quartz crystal are only a couple of the many available. Quartz crystals buried at the corners of your land or placed at the outer corners of your house or apartment form a protective cage keeping safe all within its borders. You should choose these carefully. Pick each one up and hold it for a few moments, you will be able to tell which ones give off a good feeling, a feeling of life. Be sure to cleanse these as well and then charge them with the specific magic needed. As far as protecting things and people, your house is always a good place to start. My daughter rents and I lways cleanse and bless her apartment before she moves in.

The Henge of Keltria House Blessing Ritual is a very good ritual to perform if you wish to bless and protect your house from a myriad of things, from criminals to angry spirits.  If you do not already have this ritual, you can write to the Henge office and request a copy. It is always a good idea to cleanse and bless a new house or apartment when you move in.

I also made little bags from cloth or leather to place in a car, carry in a purse or pocket. These little bags contain crystals and herbs that carry a protective nature. I gather the ingredients for these bags and assemble them during the Mistletoe Rite as well. Our Native American bothers and sisters have made this type of “medicine bag” for centuries with great success. Though the contents remain secret, there is no reason that you cannot come up with a satisfactory combination that suits your needs.  Certain colors are useful as well, adding their special attributes to the mix. There are many books available in bookstores, occult shops and on the web to help you with your choices. The best advice I can give is to read and learn all that you can and learn.

Whatever you intend to bless with protective magic be sure to do it with sincerity. You are protecting those that are dear to you.

As Always,
Walk With Wisdom
- Nione