Category Archives: Folk Medicine

Insane in the Membrane

By | Flying Ointments, Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Recipes | 37 Comments

It has been over a year since I wrote a blog post and I only wrote three blog posts total last year. It’s pretty unprecedented for me! I have been blogging for 15 years and never have I written so little. Granted I did write a few posts for my wilderness education website and I have been working on my book, but it’s still very little writing for this writer! I have never been the apologetic blogger, my policy has always been to write when I can and not worry about it when I can’t, but it’s gotten to the point people are emailing me to ask if I’m okay! What happened? Go read The Dark Year for perspective (in 2016 I was very ill and lost three people very dear to me all in a row). In the past four years I had two children, my little boys who are now ages one and four. My heart bursts with love for them and little ones are so freaking cute, but man does having children turn your life upside down! It is hard to run a business, write, and travel to teach when you have babies. You are a caregiver…

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On Flying Ointments as Medicine

By | Flying Ointments, Folk Medicine, Herbalism | 8 Comments

“I ha’ been plucking plants among Hemlock, Henbane, Adder’s Tongue, Nightshade, Moonwort, Leppard’s-bane And twice, by the dogs, was like to be ta’en.” ~ Ben Johnson I have been growing henbane, datura, and brugmansia plants from seed since late winter. I have been harvesting wild mugwort and wild lettuce. I have planted wormwood, belladonna, and datura inoxia in the garden behind the raspberry patch. I am waiting on a new crop of dried henbane leaf from my local supplier which should arrive from Toronto soon. I have been writing about flying ointments for publications and researching their solanaceous herbs of belladonna, datura, henbane, and mandrake to compose detailed monographs, I have been interviewed on flying ointments by a journalist, and I have been talking about them at local events and will soon talk about them at the Herbal Resurgence Conference in New Mexico. What I have not done is make any of this more up-to-date information available to the general public… time to remedy this! below: pallid henbane baby plants and a datura inoxia seedpod A Witch Who Cannot Curse Cannot Heal A poison that can harm is often also a medicine that can cure. Journalist Chas S. Clifton interviewed me…

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The Evolution of the Apothecary

By | Bioregional Herbalism, Flying Ointments, Folk Medicine, Herbalism | 8 Comments

Once upon a time I lived in the Pacific Northwest rainforest at the foot of a mountain, the city on one side, a sea inlet on the other. I could step out my front door into groves of impossibly tall red cedar, douglas fir, and western hemlock trees. I went into the woods every day and foraged often, making friends with the local plants and trees and leaving many offerings. I turned my wild harvested plants into magical and medicinal goods to sell in my apothecary. I loved my mountain, I loved my home, and I loved my business… but I left my partner at the time and consequently lost all the things I loved and had to move to an apartment in the city. I found that it was very hard to find the time to forage when the forest wasn’t right outside my door. I was only able to get back to my mountain a couple times a year to visit and harvest.  I ended up focusing on my flying ointments and my artwork instead. It was rewarding, but I missed foraging, I missed gardening, and I missed being cloaked in a mantle of green. I urban foraged for…

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Calendula and the Lily of the Valley

By | Cooking, Folk Medicine, Herbalism | 11 Comments

I’d forgotten about calendula. I used to grow it years ago. I buried grandmother crow under its roots and it flourished into a massive bush of fuzzy green leaves covered in the brightest orange flowers. I put it in my salves and magical oils. The flowers reminded me of gold coins so I used it to draw money in spells of folk magic. But then I lost my garden and I forgot about this plant many herbalists consider an essential medicine. And then, there it was again, growing by the door of my new house. It’s hardiness impresses me. We’ve had many frosts and snow three times now, but it still blooms. I decided to do something with it before the old winter hag finally kills it off with her icy touch. I plucked the flowers along with those of toadflax and evening primrose and combined it with sweet violet leaves in jojoba oil. Like many people, I get itchy dry skin in the winter and the plants who are supposed to help all happened to be growing in my yard. After a couple weeks the flowers and violet leaves are strained out and a little vitamin e oil and a few…

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Healing Through Spiritual Cleansing

By | Folk Magic, Folk Medicine | 10 Comments

I bathe thy palms In showers of wine, In the lustral fire, In the seven elements, In the juice of rasps, In the milk of honey — The Invocation of the Graces, Carmina Gadelica talk a lot about the spookier sides of witchcraft because those things to me are witchcraft and I am one among others trying to paint a full-bodied picture of an old word we too often use as a catch-all for anything smacking of magic. Dark moons, poisons, bones, and talking to shades are not the only sides to me and my practice, however. I am also an animist, a practitioner of divinatory arts, a folk herbalist, and a folk magician. These things to me are separate from my witchcraft but I do admit to occasional overlap. The roles of herbalist and folk magician have often put me in the role of healer as well. Those who have stuck with me through the years may remember my troubles of not desiring to follow the path of a healer. Well, life had other plans (as it often does). I keep being reminded of the saying “a witch who cannot hex cannot heal” which is really about the need for balance. Yes, I make spooky…

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