Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tangible Witchcraft: Healing, Medicinal, & Magickal Herbalism

Witches have long been known as the village healer. Many were also midwives. It should come as no surprise then that I am profoundly interested in herbalism, energy healing, holistic medicine and nutrition, and energy work.

I am a Reiki "Master" (which simply means I have all three attunements and can pass Reiki on to someone else via attunements), and also do another type of energy healing taught to me by my patron. It is also a laying on of hands, but feels different and works differently than Reiki.

I went to herb school for a year (and would love to return one day) and continue to study on my own. I treat my family and friends and make recommendations to others when asked. I sometimes wildcraft, although that is an additional skill that I need to work on- I am great with medicine making, less so with identification (although getting better!) Northern California, where I live, has some amazing healing plants growing here, some only grow here.

This time of the year means colds, flu, and malaise for many- and my family has caught a nasty chest cold like many people we know. Rowan, my partner, and I have been snotty and coughing up gunk for about a week now. Poor Rowan lost sleep due to waking up coughing (which means mama and papa lose sleep too). So what do I do?

For our particular malady, I have used a specific elderberry cordial with great results. In addition to elderberry, the cordial has mullein, echinacea, eucalyptus oil, thyme oil, honey, and alcohol. Each of these ingredients has been selected for very specific reasons and work together well:

Elderberries. Delicious!
Elderberry (only use blue elderberries, never red ones) is safe for pregnant women and children and is an amazing for bringing down fevers and helping the body fight infection. Because of its high vitamin C content, it is often used as a winter tonic to prevent illness. Magickally, Elder is a very important plant for protection, especially of home and children.

Mullein I selected for its expectorant qualities- we needed to cough all this gunk up and out! Mullein is excellent at most lung ailments- including asthma and allergies. While coughing is never fun, it has a specific purpose to make us well. Since Rowan cannot smoke the leaves (which is the most effective way to take it), in a cordial would have to do.

Echinacea is probably the most overused herbal remedy that I know- most people simply do not know how to take it. It is only effective if you take it at a maximum of two weeks then STOP. If you need to redose, you should wait at least a week. Yet so many take it all season-long, to ill effect. But used correctly, and echinacea is a powerful immune booster that gets you back on your feet.

Many use eucalyptus oil for coughs. It soothes irritated throats like magic!

Thyme, also delicious!
Thyme is my favorite herb, hands down. Not only does it taste great in everything (eggs, chicken, fish, everything!), but it has some of the most amazing anti-microbial properties ever. I not only use it internally to kill infection, but I steep thyme in vinegar for a powerful cleaner that is so much more effective (and cheaper and more eco-friendly) than store-bought germ killers.

Honey is well known for its amazing healing properties. While many say not to give babies honey before a year of age, that is a botulism scare. If you know that your honey is clean, it can help babies. Many cultures around the world give honey before breastmilk when a child is born! And it soothes scratchy throats and tastes great!

Alcohol isn't just a preservative. Grandmas everywhere know that to fight a cold, a little shot of whiskey or brandy is just the ticket (in my family, it was blackberry brandy for the kids).

What do you use to get you through the "sick time of year"?

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating read. So much healing knowledge! Boggles my mind. And echinacea has limited healing applications? What?! Must. Reboot. Mind.

    Garlic is my standby for colds. I crush the clove to release its whateveryacallit, pop it in my mouth and swish it around to burn there for half an hour. Then I repel viruses, people, and vampires! Your elderberry remedy sounds much more pleasant.

    Hope you're all healing well!


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