Category Archives: Folk Medicine

Wild Harvest Moon

By | Folk Magic, Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Wildcrafting | 4 Comments

s I sit here sipping my fragrant fresh ginger-mint tea, sweet with honey, it is easy to reminisce about my recent urban foraging adventure with the Poisoner.  He has a different magical background than I. Where he delved deeply into Thelema, Satanism and Taoism, growing poisons like his beloved monkshood, I was getting my hands dirty with folk magic, green witchery and hedge witchery growing vegetables and medicinal herbs. The Poisoner expressed a desire to learn what I know, so on a hot sunny day I took his hand and off we went exploring the neighbourhood, its back alleys and hidden bits of untouched green, to harvest herbs. And what a treasure trove we found! We harvested flowers of ambrosial cabbage roses, sweet red clover, wild chamomile, and lavender, an abundance of mint and rosemary, and the potent healing herbs of comfrey, plantain, st. john’s wort, and selfheal. I also saw bittersweet and white nightshades (solanum dulcamara and solanum douglasii) and a good patch of beautiful and tiny ivy-leaved toadflax (cymbalaria muralis) – an ingredient in my toadman’s ointment. As we collected the herbs with garden shears, carefully putting them into soft cotton bags, we also saw many beneficial insects…

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Whiskey for An Cailleach

By | Folk Magic, Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Recipes | 14 Comments

I woke up early this morning and the Poisoner had made me tea. “Don’t look outside,” he said. So of course I did. The first snow of the season in this old town. Thick, heavy, fluffy snow, driven hard by a fierce wind, falls from the sky; contrasted against the ancient holly tree bearing its bloody fruits. The Cailleach has arrived, shaking her apron. Groggy with sleep, my first instinct was to light the candle in the kitchen window and pour her a glass a whiskey. “For the blue hag,” I said, and pointed at the Cailleach mask hanging on my wall. It’s always better to welcome and appease the fierce Old Woman. A Scot and a witch too, the Poisoner didn’t blink at my simple rite. There is fresh ginger root and lemons and cinnamon sticks and honey in my kitchen. Time for another Scots tradition since we’re both sick with a nasty cold: a hot toddy. 1 oz whiskey or rum 1-2 cups hot water 1-2 lemon wedges 1 cinnamon stick Soothes a sore throat, but only have 1-2 a day during your cold and drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic tea to keep yourself hydrated. I feel a very strong…

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Pilgrimage to Uncivilization

By | Bones & Blood, Ecological Consciousness, Ethnobotany, Folk Magic, Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Pacific Northwest Folklore, Storytelling | 18 Comments

Me and Little Red met Jan and Seb at The Gathering this spring and were lucky enough to hang out with them again at Freyfest in August. Much mischief and mead was involved (they seem to follow in my wake…).  Since then Little Red (aka the hot Asian schoolteacher in our local pagan community) got married to her love and Jan and Seb got engaged. Jan is a survival-skill/outdoors type with James Dean’s hair and looks, dressing all in black, and quick with a joke. Seb is part woodsy shaman and part sexy punk, shy but full of mischief. They both work for a wilderness school in Washington and invited us down for the thanksgiving weekend to visit and to hike to the Goldmyer Hot Springs with them.  Of course we said yes and drove across the border last Friday, excited for adventure with a sunny forecast ahead of us. The GPS tried to kill us by leading us into a stone quarry instead of Jan and Seb’s home, but eventually we found it outside a small town in a beautiful cedar and fir forest behind farming country. Little Red and I were a bit early and so we explored the…

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Herbal Tea Experiments

By | Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Recipes | 18 Comments

I managed to avoid all the plagues of my friends all winter so far, but I am apparently not so immune to the plagues of small children and finally succumbed to a cold. There’s nothing I hate more than a runny nose and a sore throat and I wasn’t about to put up with it for too long. My solution to almost every trouble is tea. Worried and stressed about something? Drink tea. Crappy day at work? Drink tea. Someone was mean to you? Drink tea. Get sick? You guessed it – drink tea! After three days of drinking copious quantities of homemade herbal teas, my cold was gone. They weren’t even fancy or exotic and they all tasted pretty good – especially with some delicious throat-soothing local honey stirred in. I love to make my own teas; to play with ingredients and flavours and see if they have any medicinal or emotional applications. They always make me feel better than drinking store-bought teas. To give them a try yourself I’ve included the recipes below. If you’re a vegan try substituting maple syrup for the honey. Elderberry-Cinnamon Makes 1 pot of tea, steep for 10-15 minutes 1 Tbsp elderberries, dried…

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Wild Berry Shampoo

By | Ethnobotany, Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Recipes, Wildcrafting | One Comment

Yes, you read the title right –you can make shampoo using berries harvested from the wild! The resulting shampoo doesn’t have the soapy lather or shelf life of commercial shampoos, but it gets the job done and you know for sure you’re only putting wild berries on your head and not any mystery chemicals, toxins, or preservatives. Even if it’s not something you’d do every day, it sure is a fun activity while camping. As usual, practice ethical wildcrafting! Devil’s Club – good for dandruff, dry itchy scalp, and lice Snowberry – good for blond or light-coloured hair Soapberry – good for red or brown hair To make wild berry shampoo you will need 1 cup of fresh berries or 1/2 cup of dried and 1 cup of freshly boiled water.  Pour the hot water over the berries and mash or put through a blender. If using dried berries, be sure to let the mixture sit for 15-30 minutes, or more if needed, to allow the berries to soften for easier mashing and blending. The mix will last 2-3 days in the fridge and will only last that many washes as well. You can always freeze the fresh berries or the shampoo mixture…

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