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Using unadulterated bicarb as a deodorant was a disaster, and resulted in me having very painful chemical burns everywhere the stuff touched. Although I’ll be looking into non-cosmetic applications later, I’ll be applying it with a pair of marigolds on, just in case.

Water saturated with bicarb worked about as well as regular spray deodorant, but without the ease of application. Which is to say – it lasted for about 6-8 hours, provided the temperature wasn’t too high and I didn’t do anything to energetic (like go for a brisk walk). In addition, it took far too long to dry to make it practical.

I’m not really temped to try the cornstarch/bicarb mix. getting the powder to stay on my (dry) skin was hard enough, and my bathroom floor was horribly gritty afterwards. Maybe there’s a trick to it, but everywhere says ‘apply to dry skin’, so I don’t really see it working. None of the other alternatives I posted up look particularly appealing or effective and I’m broke for the time being anyway, so I’m getting  experimental with whatever we have in the cupboards, which just happens to include lots of bees’ wax. This stuff sticks to your skin like no-one’s business, so I went looking for deodorants based on bees’ wax.

Crunchy Betty

Electroherbalism

Autonopedia.org – The Practical Encyclopedia for Sustainable Living

Squidoo.com

If I’m honest, looking for an effective, homemade deodorant has been a huge pain in the arse (although dwarfed by the difficulties in finding recipes that give measurements). I’ve not given up, but I’m not looking forward to doing the same thing with toothpaste.

Crunchybetty.com

Tammysrecipes.com

While we’re talking of toothpaste: what’s actually in it? Is fluoride good for you, and If so, how much is too much?

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My last anti-plastic post was a bit telling of my priorities, I expect. Trying to modify my diet has left me a little obsessed. Food is great, and it may well be the primary source of plastic in my life, but it isn’t the only one. The next big hurdle is personal hygiene.

First, a disclaimer. I don’t shave my underarms, nor have sensitive skin, I’m not allergic to anything that I know of and  I’m switching from a men’s roll-on anti-perspirant/deodorant (I seem to sweat a lot, and women’s anti-perspirants don’t seem to work for me).

First, I tried Lush’s aromarant deodorant block, which was a bit pricy (but evens out when you consider how long it lasts), but smells nice and works pretty well. I had no smell and no wetness while using it. Unfortunately, I used it for a week before an allergic reaction left me with with sore, red underarms and peeling skin. (it seems I’m not alone in this: [link]). The Lush website says ‘pat on dry skin’, so I may be doing it wrong.

I went back to my normal roll-on  to give my skin a chance to recover. I ordered a box of bicarbonate of soda (also called baking soda or baking powder, depending on where you live) from the internet and bought a soft brush for when the commercial stuff ran out.

My roll-on ran out yesterday, so this morning I applied the soda (or at least, tried to apply it) directly to my underarms – straight out of the box, with no messing about. I don’t yet understand how it works and, given the quantity of grit now on my bathroom floor, I’m inclined to think it hasn’t (I’m very gad I didn’t try this while standing on carpet). I think one of my armpits might have still been a bit damp, and it’s retained some of the soda, which is kind of scratchy and unpleasant, but we’ll see how it goes.

[EDIT] Badly. Very, very badly. People on the internet who claim to put this straight onto their skin are either masochists or misanthropic sadists. I’ll be thrice-damned and blind before put this stuff straight into my armpits again.

Other things to try with bicarb:

  • Adding cornstarch or cornflour to the soda, in a 6:1 mixture [link]
  • Adding essential oils (Patchouli, Lavender, Peppermint, Spearmint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Rosemary, Cinnamon and Clove) [link]
  • Mixing into a paste with with water (1/8 tsp soda dissolved in 1/4 tsp water; if water easily rinses away the “slimy” feel of sodium bicarbonate, you’ll need to use more. If water does not easily rinse it away, you’ll need less) [link]
  • Mix into a paste with 2 TB corn starch, 2 TB baking soda, 2 TB olive oil and a few drops of essential oils
  • Equal parts baking soda, cornstarch, and coconut oil

If the bicarb doesn’t work, I have a few backup plans:

  • 3 Tablespoons shea butter
    3 Tablespoons baking soda
    2 Tablespoons corn starch
    2 Tablespoons cocoa butter
    2 vitamin E oil gel caps (puncture and squeeze out the oil)
    Essential Oil (e.g.: ylang yang and orange)
  • The crystal deodorant I saw in the rocks and fossils shop. Apparently, this only works on clean, bacteria-free pits, and still contains aluminium (not sure if I’m worried about this at the moment, but it’s something to bear in mind).
  • The Aromarant seemed to work quite well, so I wouldn’t mind trying Lush’s sensitive skin deodorant Aromaco at some point.
  • Wads of sage under the arms is fairly unappealing, but misting a sage dilution into my armpits is a bit more promising.
  • Cider vinegar is right at the bottom of the list – I don’t have a lot of time in the morning to get rid of the vinegar smell.

More reading:

http://angrychicken.typepad.com/angry_chicken/2008/07/homemade-deodor.html

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Perhaps there’s something in the water (no pun intended), but a number of the bloggers and vloggers I read/watch have written about plastic waste, the impact it’s having on marine life, and the need to cut the volume produced. With that in mind, I’ve spent a few days becoming more aware of the plastics I use on a regular basis, and – frankly – I’m shocked at how much of it there is in my life.

The option to run off into the wild and start a homestead, living an entirely carbon-neutral, closed cycle existence isn’t available to me; I’m a suburban kid at heart and an inveterate geek, but I can and should do something to reduce the severity of my impact on the Earth. Plastic-free isn’t an option – there’s just too much of it in modern life (also: the lenses in my glasses are plastic, and I like being able to see), but a reduction amount plastic I consume is both manageable and desirable. Maybe I can work down to an almost plastic-free arrangement, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

I’m going to start by eliminating single-use plastic; it’s easily the worst offender as it can’t be recycled, and goes more-or-less straight to landfill.

  • Carrier bags: I have a couple of fold-away bags-for-life I can keep with me. Where I was using them as bin liners, perhaps paper liners are available
  • Cups from the watercooler: use ceramic mugs instead
  • Cling film: I’m going to start using Tupperware to take food to work in (replacing plastic with a different sort of plastic, but at least I’m not just going to chuck the Tupperware when I’ve eaten lunch)
  • Packaging: This is a biggie, but I’m going to try, as much as possible, to buy things and food that isn’t shrink-wrapped or overly packaged*

~~~

I’m going to be honest here, the scale of the problem has really shocked and overwhelmed me; I may be naïve, but I hadn’t realised how bad the problem really is in other parts of the world (see: Our Today is Forever, below), and the concept that this stuff never goes away is mind-boggling.
Saying things like ‘the maximum “plastic density” [in the gyre] was 200,000 pieces of debris per square kilometre’ is entirely academic. I can’t visualise a square kilometre – let along two hundred thousand pieces of one centimetre-square plastic – but show me a harbour with so many plastic bottles bobbing around it that you can’t see the water, or an albatross’ stomach packed full of binbags and bottle tops, and I’ve got a way to internalise that data.

More importantly, I’ve got an image I can call up next time someone asks “Do you want a carrier bag?”

———————-

TED: Tough truths about plastic pollution (trigger warning: dead animals)

YouTube: Our Today is Forever (trigger warning: dead animals)

BBC: Plastic rubbish blights Atlantic Ocean

Daily Mail: Killed by pollution

5 gyres

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* After two days, I’m finding this bit considerably harder than I thought it would be. No pre-made sandwiches or takeaway food (maybe pizza, possibly Indian), no convenience meals, no snacks except fresh fruit (unless I make it myself) and no treats, except individual Cadbury’s Creme Eggs (foil wrapping FTW).

Fizzy pop is possibly justifiable (in reduced quantities) because the bottles and tins are recyclable, and sweets or fast food in paper bags likewise, but any other junk foodstuff is right out. My diet will improve; my disposition not so much.

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Fungicide

My three year-old Canadian Maple is suffering from a touch of mildew, and I want to try making my own fungicide before trekking out to find a chemical version.

Baking Soda fungicide
Needed:

  • 1 tbsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tbsp Washing up liquid
  • Spray bottle
  • 1 gallon – 3.8 litres (6.5 pints) Water
  • Tablespoon measuring device
  1. Mix the baking soda, vegetable oil, and washing up liquid with the water.
  2. Shake solution to mix the ingredients. It is important to keep the ingredients mixed thoroughly so continue to shake the solution often while spraying.
  3. Spray on areas of your lawn or garden that is affected by fungus. The fungicide can be used on lawns and on vegetables, and ornamental plants in your landscape. One gallon of this home remedy fungicide will cover/treat approximately 1000 square feet.

Garlic and Mineral Oil Fungicide
Needed:

  • 3 oz minced garlic cloves
  • 1 oz mineral oil
  • 1 tsp fish emulsion
  • 16 oz water
  • 1 tbsp castile soap
  • Strainer
  • Cheesecloth or muslin fabric
  • Spray bottle

    Mix the mineral oil with the garlic in a glass jar, and let the mixture steep for at least 24 hours.

  1. Strain the mixture and discard the garlic. Pour the garlic oil back into the glass jar.
  2. Stir the fish emulsion and 2 cups of water into the strained garlic oil, and then add the liquid castile soap.
  3. Pour the fish emulsion mixture slowly into the garlic oil, stirring as you pour.
  4. Mix 2 tbsp. of the fungicide with 1 pint of water and put it in a sprayer to treat affected plants. Garlic and mineral oil fungicide will keep for several months if you store it in a sealed glass jar.

Garlic and Pepper Fungicide
Needed:

  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 700ml (1.5 pints) water
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 habanero or jalapeno peppers
  • 1 whole lemon
  • Strainer
  • Cheesecloth or muslin fabric
  • Spray bottle
  1. Place one large head of garlic in a blender or food processor.
  2. Add the water, vegetable oil, habanero or jalapeno peppers and whole lemon, and blend until the ingredients are finely chopped.
  3. Let the mixture sit overnight, and then pour it through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin fabric.
  4. Mix 4 tbsp. of garlic and pepper fungicide with 1 gallon – 3.8 litres (6.5 pints) – of water to spray on affected plants.
  5. Store any unused garlic and pepper fungicide in the refrigerator.

!! The garlic and pepper will also kill any insects on the plant

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Since my fiancé and I are going to be moving into our first house in a few months – assuming the building work goes well – I have been looking into various protective charms.
One of the charms I like the sound of is the Witch Bottle (not least because it’s local to England, has a historical record and doesn’t involve visualising ‘pure white sparkling light’ covering anything ;P).

History:
Witch Bottles have been found that date from the 17th-century, when they were buried near houses or in foundations as a way to ward of malevolent spirits [link].
They were commonly made from salt-glazed clay bellarmine wine jars [multiple sources] and, in one case at least, a glass inkwell [link], which was then filled with a mixture of ingredients, sealed and buried in order to protect the house and its occupants.

Making a Witch Bottle:
I have acquired a number of small (35 fl.oz) glass bottles, mostly empty sample bottles of vodka, which seem suitable for the task. I considered using airtight plastic jars but, to be honest, something about the plastic feels wrong, so glass it is.

What to put in them:
The research I’ve done seems to indicate that iron nails and/or pins are a staple of these bottles, as is urine, nail clippings and hair [link].
Others include a small heart-shaped piece of leather that had been pierced by an iron nail, a pinch of navel fluff, sulphur [link], small bones, thorns and bits of wood. Recently, rosemary and other herbs have become popular additions to witch bottles [link], chosen for their protective associations.

The iron is obvious – it has long been thought of as a powerful metal, offering protection from the Fair Folk and other supernatural beings in British and Irish folklore.

Nails and pins are suggested to serve the same function here as in Voodoo [link], whatever that may be.
I would speculate that their use might be to direct energy, but others have suggested that that they may be intended to impale the spell or spirit trapped by the bottle [link].
Thorns, broken glass, razor blades, poisonous plants and the like all seem to serve the same purpose [ibid, also here], but without the added potency of the iron (hawthorn thorns might afford some extra protection).
The pin-pierced heart is an old protective charm for livestock or protection from witchcraft.

Urine, nail clippings, hair (head and pubic), spit, navel fluff et cetera are always given as contents of the bottle. Although there are suggestions that they may have belonged to the witch who cast the curse, added to the bottle with the intention of returning the curse to the caster [link], it seems as though it would be very difficult to get the witch to wee into the bottle if they are the one wishing ill on the household.
More likely, in my opinion, the hair and fluff and urine was a form of sympathetic magic, either meant to mimic the person who was the target of the curse, or to turn the curse back upon the witch, causing pain to the areas associated with the bodily detritus in the jar (bladder, head, belly etc.). Sympathetic magic has a long history in the British Isles, and there may be a link to a possible reason bellarmine jars are so popular, since they have faces on them.

I have decided that I shall seal the lid with wax to keep it waterproof. For this I will be using ordinary (paraffin) candle wax.

Where to put them:
“The bottles were most often found buried under the fireplace. Other sites include under the floor, buried in the ground there, and plastered inside walls. The fireplace is, from a magical point of view, a security risk as it has a straight connection with the open skies above … Another security risk was the doorway, as doors are opened and closed several times throughout the day.” [e-cauldron]

The discoveries of a witch bottle in Greenwich in 2004 and a bottle uncovered in Pennsylvania [link] suggest that they should be buried upside down – or at least that it didn’t matter. If it was inverted on purpose, it would strengthen the ties with sympathetic magic and the intention to affect the bladder of the witch [link], or perhaps symbolise ‘the reversing or “overturning” of the witch’s intentions’ [link].

We don’t have a hearth or fireplace, so I will probably put it, upside down, under the patio or bury it next to the front door.
Another school of thought suggests burying the bottle a long way from the property to be protected, so that the curse doesn’t make it to your door but, given the locations that historical witch bottles have been found in, I – personally – feel safe disregarding this notion.

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Now we have the house, I’m looking into cleansing rituals.

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Jewellery can be cleansed by soaking the jewellery in water and a little bit of salt. The water and salt is prayed over so the divine blesses the jewellery and cleanses it. It should be placed where the sun and the moon can purify the jewellery with their rays of energy.
Jewellery can be buried so the earth absorbs the negativity that is left in the jewellery. I suggest doing it in a pot so the jewellery can be found easily. Prayer again is used to help the blessed energies of the elements to clear the energies. Occasionally there are objects that cannot seem to be cleansed. If you have an object where the energies will not clear up and it is jewellery never wear it.

Antique vases, bowls, and other objects that have negativity can have salt placed in them where it will not harm them. The salt will absorb the negative energies, as it is sacred earth. Furniture is a little more difficult. I suggest a mixture of water and Chinese Floor Wash. There are many voodoo washes for the floor. They all have different purposes but all of them can be used as a cleansing mixture. Herb teas of protective herbs can also be used for cleansing. A weak solution should be used so it does not stain or discolour the furniture or items to be cleansed.

The cleansing should be done with prayers being said no matter what is used. Prayer energizes and removes negative energies. Spray bottles can be used to spray the objects before they are brought into the house.

Herbs that are good for cleansing objects are rosemary, marjoram, thyme, dill, basil, and lavender. All of these may be made into a tea. Crystals that clear objects of negative energies are Selenite, Blue Kyanite, Citrine, and Black Tourmaline. All of these crystals absorb energies. Certain Flower essences are good for purifying the energies of objects. The list of things that can be used to cleanse energies can be endless.

All prayers should mention or have the person saying the prayers focused on cleansing and blessing the object and everywhere it is present.

————-

Salt water can cause damage to objects, so I’ve also looked into alternatives:

Suggested Methods for Cleansing Crystals, Gems, Jewellery, and Pendulums:

The Sun and Moon: Place your gems, crystals, pendulums, jewellery, all types of objects, in a place where they will be fully exposed to the energizing rays of the sun and moon. Even if the day is cloudy or you cannot see the moon, their rays will energize the stones as long as they are directly exposed to these elements of nature. They will normally be cleansed within 24 hours of exposure.

However, stones such as black tourmaline which are being used to deflect negative energies or help release negative energies in your physical and energetic bodies, may require up to 48 hours to become fully cleansed and regenerated.

Stones such as aquamarine and amethyst will fade in the sun so you will have to use another method for cleansing and regenerating these gemstones.

The Earth: Place your gems, crystals, jewellery, whatever, in the earth, either directly into the earth or you can place the gems and crystals into a cloth covering, preferably a natural fabric such as cotton or wool or silk. Leave the gem or crystal buried for at least 24 hours to ensure that they become fully re-energized. If possible, find a spot where the soil is not being spread with chemicals through fertilizers or pesticides. This cleanses all negative energies and re-energizes the stones.

Smudging With White Sage: Take some white sage and begin to burn it until a good strong smoke is coming from your sage. Hold the crystal, gem, pendulum, or piece of jewellery in this smoke for at least one minute and preferably three or four minutes. This clears all negative energies that have become attached to this stone but does not energize the gem or crystal. To re-energize the stone, place it in a window so it can be exposed to the rays of the sun and moon. Remember, they re-energize even when it’s cloudy.

White Sage is the only herb that I use to cleanse. Others may recommend other herbs but I find that White Sage guarantees that the cleansing will be deep and complete.

Cleansing By Using Your Intention: For those who are practised in using intent to make energetic changes, place the crystals or gems in front of you, focus your mental energies upon these stones, and ask the powers of the Universe to cleanse them of all negative energies and to re-energize your stones for their maximum potential. This method however requires much concentration and focus and you need to practice for some time to ensure whatever you are trying to clear is actually cleared. And please remember to thank the Universe for doing this beautiful work for you.

Using Another Crystal: You can place the gems, crystals, jewellery, pendulums etc. you would like to cleanse on another crystal, preferably a large, and I mean large, quartz crystal cluster. This will clear negative energies and will re-energize your crystals. However, you must cleanse and re-energize the large quartz crystal cluster regularly to ensure it retains its cleansing and re-energizing powers. Some people believe that negative energies can be cleansed off pieces of jewellery by placing this jewellery on an amethyst stone. I find that this approach has very limited results, depending on the amount of negative energy on the jewellery and the energy of the amethyst.

Running Water: If you live where you have access to good clear well water that is guaranteed to be free of chemicals, or running water from a creek or river that you know is not polluted, place your crystals and gems in a small container, and let the water run over them, preferably for at least two hours. This will cleanse and re-energize your gems and crystals. Please do not use tap water, since it is full of chemicals. Be careful though because certain stones will actually dissolve in water, e.g. Red Selenite.

Salt Water: Some people suggest using salt water but I personally find this method to be a harsh and abrasive method and never would cleanse my gems, crystals, pendulums or jewellery in such a severe solution. Remember that your gems, crystals, metals, and even synthetic materials are alive and have an inherent intelligence. You need to treat them with tender and loving kindness. How would you like to be washed in salt water? Never do to a crystal or gem what you would not like done to yourself.

Source: Witchvox article: Cleansing Second Hand Furniture and Jewelry
and
M. K. Projects

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It is remarkable that many of us have trouble naming five or ten plants associated with smoke medicine. In my search through the ethno botany of Mesolithic Britain I was delighted to re-discover at least 120 species indigenous to that area alone.

Smoke is an area of medicine that is, to me, a practitioner’s dream. There are fires made from specific species for specific purposes. I found a surprising number that went to fire-making tools. The pallet of plants for smudging or smoldering was staggering, burned as remedies for everything from disease and injury to exorcism, good luck and purification. And nothing that I learned suggested that selections were random, coincidental, or based on availability. Remembering that each species invoked a distinct spirit that addressed a clearly specific value, I could only conclude that smoke medicine, although wholly spiritual, was hunter-gatherer science at its finest.

Our penchant to view information compartmentally rather than holistically, as a hunter-gatherer might makes divisions among plant species problematic, as there exists no clear lines. For example I could not delineate between objectives such as ritual, purification or magic. There was never a clear view of separation between medical, exorcismal or purificational. Even fire making presented issues as to where tools left off and fire began.

I asked, what divides protection against from the curing of illness, or the need to repel as opposed to exorcise? Where does the medical imperative of sleep leave the realm of casting spells for it? So you can see that the problem of classifying species by usage is quite a challenge. Should you refer to the essay appendix on my website http://www.verdasmedley.com please take all of this into account when studying the species organized by use.

Examples of species that crossed categorical lines were certainly not difficult to find. For example oak (Quercus) was not only burned on Summer Solstice for purification and endurance but was regarded as fuel for the sun as well. Ashes from the burn were spread on fields to empower growth and also placed on the tongue for sanctification. Smoldering oak coals were carried from home to home to both exorcise and bless the dwelling in the new season. Oak bark was used to carry fire from one place to another and its leaves were used as wraps in which other herbs were rolled for ceremonial smokes. The same leaves were braided into crowns worn by ritual lovers, fostering fertility of the Earth in spring. The smoke from smoldering oak pitch was inhaled for respiratory distress.

Acorns, recognized as sacred first foods, were believed to harbor the spirits of security and abundance and were left at gravesites during ancestral feasts. Those same acorns were used in divination and prophesying as well as stood as profound tantric symbols. As a keeper of lineage and history, oak was entreated for the resolution of disputes with the knowledge that it safeguarded.

Oak is linked to expansiveness even as it stands as a boundary marker between worlds. It counteracts loneliness, protects against lightning, and is handled in an array of crafts that include prophesying, divination, and ancestral invocation. Oak enjoys many other fine properties so it becomes evident that it can’t be placed in only one category of spirit handling.

Yarrow (achillea) enjoys many excellent qualities too. Its flowers can be smoked or smoldered to repel malevolent spirits. The same smoke purges persons or places while setting up a formidable shield of protection. Yarrow juice has been applied by the intrepid before fire walking and its leaves chewed before fire eating.

Yarrow is believed to combat fear, promote courage and placate the spirits that impair vitality while it also enhances psychic awareness and ability. It is love medicine as well used to cast spells to attract love, repel undesirable attention and sooth unrequited love. Yarrow smudge revivifies during rituals. Clearly yarrow is not easy to classify either, demonstrating again the need for holistic rather than compartmentalized thinking.

Juniper (Juniperus) smudge is another with a wide range of applications. It can be used to exorcise the spirit of illness from a person and their home while preventing that spirit from returning. The same smoke is used to modify bad behavior. It can exorcise the malevolent spirits that cause bad dreams, protects newborns and mothers, and placates the spirit of grief after funerals. Juniper smoke is believed to remedy dizziness while its ashes have been used to appease the spirits that cause convulsions. Juniper smoke has countless other applications and all of its fine properties are brought to fire making tools such as torches, tinder, bases for fire drills and as a means of carrying fire.

All told I found nearly forty species, indigenous to the British Isles alone, associated with fire making tools. A remarkable number of magical species were used as fire drills such as holly (Ilex) , willow (Salix) and blackthorn (Prunus) . An array of mosses as well as alder (Alnus) , mullein (Verbascum) , and hazelnut (Corylus) made good tinder. Many more species went to pipes and pipe stems such as dogwood (Cornus) , rhododendron (Rhododendron) and ash (Fraxinus) .

It needs to be remembered that even in the most ancient times our ancestors had oil lamps simply by pouring a puddle of oil into a hole or depression in a stone and adding a wick. Thistle seed (Carduus) was rendered into lamp oil; thistle long known as a formidable agent in incantations that led to understanding the causes of spiritual pain. Another thistle (Onopordum) was used to fortify personal shields of protection and countered the effects of malevolent spirits. Its seed was rendered into lamp oil as well.

Fibers twisted or braided into wick included mullein (Verbascum) a caster of spells, a formidable exorcismal and a revivifying shield of protection. Sedge (Carex) went to wick as well. Its exorcismal spirit repelled malevolence believed responsible for stealing self-expression or robbing an individual of trouble-free sleep.

An impressive list of smoke medicine was found for casting spells of all types such as skullcap (Scutellaria) , mullein (Verbascum) and burdock (Arctium) . Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) were both used as smoke during descrying rituals. Some like thyme (Thymus) , samphire (Inula crithmoides) , and spikenard (Inula conyza) went to smoke that enhanced psychic ability. Ash (Fraxinus) fires were used for divination, juniper (Juniperus) smudge empowered incantations, and columbine (Aquilegia) smoke promoted courage and daring. Loosestrife (Lysimachia) smudge appeased strife (hence the name) while burnet (Sanguisorba) smudge preserved health.

I found almost thirty species that were linked to purification and ritual, loosely distinguished from sixteen exorcismals and thirteen repellents. Protection against malevolent spirits, injury or illness enjoyed a menu of about eighteen species with additional handfuls for good luck in general, prosperity, strength, and hunting savvy. Even love medicine could be selected from a pallet of about eleven species. Just building a fire from a choice of about fourteen species required knowledge and consideration as each of these species had profound magical properties.

I found smoke medicine to be absolutely amazing and as sophisticated as any group of species I had studied. It speaks eloquently to the exceptional and encyclopedic knowledge of the environment, both tangible and spiritual that our ancient ancestors enjoyed. My research was deeply validating for me, as I never believed that our ancestors, portrayed as confounded and unintelligent, could have even survived did they fit this errant description. I found them to be profoundly ritualistic, and magnificently beautiful in their frugality and love for our Earth.

I am relieved to have been able to re-construct to some degree a picture of their world and their intensely prayerful lives colored magically by humility in presence of the spiritual mystery all around them all the time. I came away holding the fervent belief that we, as a species, had reached our spiritual apex during the Mesolithic era. I am profoundly grateful to not only know our ancestors intimately again but also find some comfort in knowing as well our capacity for both spiritual lives and spiritual reverence for our planet.

Source: WitchVox essay – The Prayer of Transcendent Smoke

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