Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Herbal Work!

They say that you should write about what you know. Lately, all I have been knowing is Boline and its projects! (And it makes me really happy.)

Three of my tinctures.
I have been creating new products and testing them on myself and others. In my medicine cabinet are protoypes of a deodorant balm, a body/baby powder, and some allergy tincture for seasonal woes. I have given the neighbor, who does not have dental insurance, a powerful antibiotic oil for a tooth infection as well as some clove oil for topical pain relief. I have given some my my myrrh slave to a friend with painful shaving rash. I get reports every couple days about the status of their conditions and so far so good.

I have also been making my tried-and-true recipes and offering them for sale on Poppy Swap and Etsy. I have several more in the works. Some are mid-process (making herbal remedies is often a multi-step, time consuming process) and some are waiting and on the "to make" list.

For folks unfamiliar with medicine making, here's an example of what I mean by "multi-step, time consuming process":

To make my herbal antibiotic salve, I first had to make three types of herb infused oils. I chose oregon grape root, goldenseal, and thyme.

4 types of my salves.
Step One: Create herbal oils. You must let the oil steep for many weeks, sometimes in direct sunlight, before they are ready and potent. You must choose the carrier oil that best suits the herb and the ultimate recipe you are making. I always choose carrier oils that are suitable for external as well as internal uses. You never know what you might want to make!

Step Two: Strain oils. I usually strain a couple of times- especially if the herb you used was a powdered preparation.

Step Three: Melt beeswax with herbal oils in a double boiler til liquified. Add vitamin E oil for stability.

Step Four: Package the product. I put this salve in 2 and 4 oz tins.

Steps Five and Six: Label (create cute label with ingredients, company information, and how to use the product and possible warnings.) Then, list in stores.

It has been taking a little over a month to create salves, balms, and oils. It takes double that to make tinctures, as the same plant matter needs to be soaked in alcohol and then water. Each liquid extracts different effects from the plant, so herbalists first soak in one, then the other, then combine the liquids for a whole plant medicine. I just strained the alcohol from my valerian and vitex, and now the plants are soaking in water for a few weeks.

Preliminary sketch of my new logo. It has a boline,
the full moon, and two medicinal herbs.
Many tinctures are not simples, they are complex blends with specific purposes or custom-made for clients. For example, my preferred digestive bitters blend is 4 different herb tinctures, blended together. My sleepy tincture is 2-3 different herbs and my allergy formula is based on the region and type of allergy.

I haven't gotten enough variety of herbs yet to create any old concoction that I desire at the drop of a hat. I have been acquiring ones as I can- and creating wither an oil or tincture from it as I get them. I have not been making medicines in Ohio long enough for that. I envy the stock that my old herb school had- jars upon jars of anything that you could ever imagine! I could easy create my own custom blends with everything they had. One day, I will have that! I dream of an apothecary room full of glass jars of roots, flowers, leaves, liquids and butters. When that happens, I will be able to make anything I need for anyone within a day.

In business news, I have been working with an artist on a logo (it should be finished this weekend- yay!) and I am designing a website and labels myself. Right now, the labels I am using are temporary until I get a real logo (and I love the look of this logo!)

Stay tuned for more Boline news, as it happens!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Booper Quotes

In the dog house again!
So my son Rowan is 27 months old and is speaking in more complex sentences now. He experiments with syntax, grammar, ideas, and verb tenses, but he can generally make himself understood without difficulty. Sometimes, he says adorably precious things, and a mama has to share!

Last week, we were explaining to Rowan that we go to church AND that mama and daddy are Witches. His response, "I grow up and wanna be Witches too!" (Heart melt!)

Mama: "Rowan do you want to have a chocolate cookie or a lemon cookie?"
Rowan: "I want BOTH, mommy. BOTH." (Looks at me like I am stupid and points to his hand.)

He has a purple tee shirt with a sparkly Witchlet on it (I got it cheap after Halloween in the girl's section) that he loves. Every time I put it on him he says, "It's Magic, Mommy." I have no idea where he got that.

In his room, next to his book shelf.
Rowan was overtired and was melting down at every last little thing that didn't go his way. On the way to his bed for nap time he said, "I Alexander, mommy."
At first I didn't understand what he meant. "No, you are Rowan, honey."
And he finishes, "I is having a horrible no good day."
(I read him Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day the night before.) We talked about how a nap would make everything better and afterwards he would be a happy kid again. Sure enough, he was.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life in Columbus, An Update

Life is settling in nicely here in Columbus. My Witch Mama told me that she could see moving here was following the flow and I agreed with her then and even more so now. My life is full of possibilities and promise here and the living is so much easier than in my beloved Bay Area.

In fact, I have been surprised to see other die-hard Bay Area folks moving or contemplating moving to unexpected places lately. I think we may see a mass exodus- one that I had no idea that I was a part of!

My partner was blessed with a transfer from his previous job in Appalachia to a facility here (he works taking care of seniors- this time with folks with Alzheimer's related dementia). So that stabilized our income a bit while we transitioned. But it is not enough to live on in the long term. So I have been hustling to make money while also trying to start a business (Boline). I have been selling things on Amazon and Ebay, and freelancing for some folks that I worked for back in California.

Rowan plays with a baby rhino sculpture at the Zoo.
I spend my days with Rowan, of course. Once a week we go to the library and adjoining playground and he is learning so much. We also go to the Zoo or COSI (where we were blessed to be given memberships for Rowan's birthday!) about every two weeks. The librarians and new friends are astounded at his age because of how verbal and obviously smart he is. Yes, I am bragging, but this mama is proud! My goals for his learning are that by the end of this year, he will not only know his alphabet but the sounds that each letter makes, he will be able to count to twenty, and he will be able to say his address and mama's name and phone number. I also am trying to model how to answer the question, "why?". So far he just repeats his original statement or just says "because". I am hoping to model reasoning to him so he can start putting his motives to words soon.

I also have fallen in with a few groups- The Helping Hands Community Garden, which raises food for the local food bank; Art Party Columbus, which is a social and event organizing group of artists. (They put on shows and events, have monthly social gatherings, and are working to increase the profile of local artists here in Columbus.); and Queer Behavior, a group of queer activists and artists who are working to make all kinds of events happen here in Columbus. Queer Yoga, Queer Cinema Nights, and my very own Crafternoons are but a few.

My very first table for Boline!
I also have made fast friends with our wonderful neighbors. We have a weekly potluck dinner and our kids play together regularly. And guess what?! Pagan Playdate is starting up THIS FRIDAY! I am very excited to meet other Witches. Pagans, and their kids. We plan on doing playdates as well as kids' sabbats.

My homestead is gearing up- I have plants sprouting indoors and we will be building raised beds and a brick oven from reclaimed materials soon. We have chickens that won't live here, but at a friend's and we will share in the chicken-y goodness by visiting often and sharing expenses and eggs. I will be building an herb spiral in the front yard and also using the front and back porches to grow things. I have created a fund that I am asking people to chip into- so we can afford beekeeping equipment. This will allow me to use honey and beeswax that I am 100% sure of the source and quality.

I am in the running for not one but TWO positions at Unitarian Universalist churches. I interviewed for a Summer Sunday School position this past Friday in Columbus and I am waiting to tell the Director there whether or not I can accept the position. I didn't say yes right away, because I am waiting to see if there is a *permanent* position at another church just north of Columbus. This second position would ease me into Religious Education (RE) work, help pay for credentialing, and is in admin, which is easy work for me and I can do much of it from home and stay with Rowan. But there are lots of possibilities with this second position to get my foot in the door of an RE position!

Calendula sprouting in the window,
on the land spirits altar.
My semester at Starr King is more than half over, and I am looking forward to finishing and having more free time in the summer. This semester I took a world religions class and did a class of my own making, writing RE and social justice curricula. Next semester, I will be volunteering at that second church I mentioned doing tasks a Director of Religious Education would do fo school credit and continue writing my curricula. All self directed work- woot!

Boline is shaping up too. I have about 5 more remedies in the works for the next couple weeks and managed to get some in the store already. I am making a natural anti-biotic/anti-microbial salve, a body/baby powder, some insect repellent, some first aid cream, and some face cleanser. I also hope to make a mouth wash soon. I have a logo prototype from the artist that I am working with, and I am excited to create real labels, business cards and the like once it is finished.

So things are shaping up to be great here. The move was exactly what we needed, I think. I still miss my  friends and kin in the Bay Area and I wish there was more dim sum, sushi, and artisanal bread in the supermarkets here. But I will find what I need and much much more.

Friday, April 13, 2012


One of the things that my regular readers know is that in moving to Columbus, I was hoping to get a homestead started that would produce food and medicines for my family and for a living. I wanted to grow  veggies, greens, fruit, and herbs as well as raise chickens and bees.

The yard I ended up with will produce quite a bit, and I am sharing the space and the work with my awesome neighbors. Sadly, my chicken dream did not seem like it was going to come to pass- because the yard is not fenced in and very slope-y. I also tried to foist chickens on the community garden that I volunteer for, but that didn't work, either. But magick has a way of manifesting in ways that you could not have expected!

Last week, my neighbor called me in a panic- her parents had acquired a baby chick for her daughter for Easter. Ugh. Living creatures bought on a whim and given to unsuspecting, unprepared people is never a good idea folks! (Well, to be fair- the chicken was not bought. The grandparents said that the strange "fortune teller lady" in their neighborhood had foisted the chicken upon them, insisting that it be given to their granddaughter. This lead to the chick being called "voodoo chicken"  by several observers of the situation.) But my neighbor took the creature in because she knew that she would do a better job of caring for it than her parents. But what to do with this chicken, given our yard?

Quickly, my neighbor reached out to several people and we found that one of her friends has wanted chickens and even built a coop last year, only to be saddened that she missed the timing for getting chicks. She was happy to share in the chicken-ness and provide space and share in the work and eggs. Huzzah! She lives here in the city, has a large fenced-in yard, and as I say- already has a coop. So she gave the green light, and my neighbor went off to the feed store to get more chicks. (They need to be around the same age when introducing them to the others, for best results). Turns out, in Ohio you can only buy chicks in lots of 6. So now there are 7 chicks, all incubating in my neighbor's dining room. Her daughter and my son are charmed by them and have named them.

So it seems that I will have fresh eggs and Rowan will have a chicken experience, after all! I have been pricing beekeeping equipment and keeping an eye out for deals on craigslist- because I want to get all the equipment this year to start a hive. It may not be until next year that I can fill it with actual bees, but it will happen! Fresh honey and beeswax for Boline!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'm An Herbalist Again!

Tinctures and Vinegars brewing.
After many years of only treating myself and friends and family, I can finally say that I am an herbalist again! In fact, I am more of an herbalist than I ever was- as I am starting to grow my own medicines as well as make them and sell them- and it makes me profoundly happy.

I have plans to put in an herb spiral in the front yard- I am so excited to replace boring useless grass (the patch is small enough that it isn't even useful for playing on!) with useful herbs and wildflowers!

Boline finally has some remedies in the apothecary, with several more on the way- and I have magicks in the works, too. So what have I been up to?

Elderberries simmering in
a thyme infusion.
I made some elderberry-thyme cold elixir. I don't know about where you live, but here in Columbus, there has been this awful respiratory thing going around. Elderberries are amazing, potent, and quite tasty- my son gulps down this syrup happily! They help boost the immune system while fighting off critters. Thyme also is a powerful anti-microbial (and one of my favorite herbs!), and I used raw local honey to finish it off. Because the honey was not cooked, this helps alleviate seasonal allergies, which always make these colds worse.

I set some tinctures up. I have valerian, vitex, and hops brewing, and I have Hydrangea, St. John's Wort, and a digestive bitter tonic available in the store.

My table at a local event.
I made Witch Dance Lip Balm- organic beeswax, virgin unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and organic peppermint essential oil. I intend on making another batch with essential oils of cinnamon and cardamom and calling the flavor "spice cookie".

I made Dream Well Tea, available loose or in bags- for dreaming. It helps get a person relaxed, asleep, and then invokes dreams with the triple whammy of hops flowers, lavender flowers, and mugwort. It smells divine.

I went wildcrafting. I found all kinds of great medicinal and culinary delights, right within walking distance of my house. I found turkey tail mushrooms, shepherds purse, and wild ramps, to name just a few. The ramps were delicious in a couple of breakfasts this week, and I am planning on harvesting the turkey tail soon. I have to wait for many of the plants to mature though- it is quite early in the season.

An example of an herb spiral.
I am making a batch of citrus-thyme vinegar- which is as germ killing as any bleach as a cleaner for my home.

I have been harvesting all my medicinal mushrooms as they come and drying them, so I can make a big batch of tincture when the time comes.

I am starting my herb garden for the year- and already have sprouts of calendula, parsley, sage, and rue coming up.

I have oils brewing of calendula, clove, thyme, comfrey, goldenseal, and oregon graperoot. With these I will be making  healing salves and anti-biotic ointments for first aid. They need a couple more weeks.

Elderberries in my compost! Woot!
Additionally, Boline has been keeping me busy in other ways. An artist is working on some logos, so that should be coming soon. Another artist is helping me with labels- the ones you see in the store are my temporary ones. I tabled at my first local event with my remedies and got to know folks. It was exciting to talk to people about their maladies and how they might go about working with me to set a path of healing in motion. Several people took cards or flyers for my Crafternoon series (which starts this month!)

At the event, I explained to several folks that usually just getting an over-the-counter medicine is not how herbalism usually works (usually an interview usually happens and an herbalist creates a remedy for them afterwards and it is tinkered with until it works perfectly). Most people in this culture are not focused on wellness, they assume a magic pill will restore them to "normal" when their normal was probably leading to their illness! They were intrigued and I hope that they seek me out for assistance.

Stay tuned for more remedies, more teas, more toiletries, and more magicks coming soon to the store!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Screen Free Week! (April 30-May 6)

Our home is participating in Screen Free Week April 30-May 6. This annual event, thrown by the Center for a Commercial Free Childhood is a way for folks interested in weaning off the electronic teat known as TV (as well as other types of screens, like laptops with Hulu or Netflix, DVDs, or video games) a small start, to see what it is like.

At the link above, you can get an organizing kit, look up screen-free events being held in your area, and much more.

In California, we had no TV. We would let Rowan see some short clips of Yo Gabba Gabba or animals on Youtube from time to time. When we first moved to Ohio, we lived with relatives whose home that had a TV as a main feature of the common space. It's what most American family rooms are like- it's what I grew up with, and after living that way again with my son I decided that I did not want Rowan to grow up that way. While living there, it was kind of inevitable that Rowan see plenty of kids TV- Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba, and the like. I did manage to put my foot down and insist that only the commercial free stations were on for him and absolutely no Disney.

But even the small amount he saw (compared to other kids his age) created zombie-like behavior while it was on (no more playing with toys and using our imaginations- it's time for TV!), begging for more incessantly, and turned my child into a consumer whenever we went shopping. These characters are licensed everywhere-clothes, food, diapers, toys, videos.

And can I say? Sometimes, even while I was being vigilant, another adult would turn on something adult that I did not want Rowan to see- namely violence and cruelty. It was a constant struggle. I am glad for a once-again TV free home, now that we live on our own in Columbus. The adults still watch programs and movies on my laptop, but Rowan is down to maybe 5 hours a week, total. (His latest favorite, checked out from the library, is My Neighbor Totoro.)

But the last week of April/first week of May, we are taking it further- screen free- all of us- for a glorious week. If you watch TV and movies daily, think of how much more you can accomplish by swapping some of that time for things that you have always wanted to do: crafts, games with your family, socializing, patronizing the arts, building community, raising a garden, or getting healthy!

Friday, April 6, 2012


There's always one square peg...
As part of my community involvement here in my newly adopted city of Columbus, Ohio (as well as getting my business Boline off the ground), I have decided to host a series of "Crafternoons"- events that are all about fun DIY projects in a single afternoon!

All Crafternoons are about doing it ourselves, sustainability, creativity, and community building. I hope that all will be fun and create amazing projects that people will remember. When Boline is eventually a brick and mortar store and community center, I hope that the Crafternoons will continue in that space as well- bringing the pagan, herbal medicine, and sustainability communities together under one roof.

I am hosting my first Crafternoon on Sunday, April 22nd. It being spring and all, I figured making seed bombs (also known as Earth dumplings) was a great first activity. I hope that the attendees will make their seed bombs, then go out and make Columbus a better place by disseminating them in places of blight and neglect.

Heart shaped bombs.
I am trying to build community and also exposure for Boline here, so I am keeping the fees very low. Fees cover materials, space, and marketing and not much more (so people from all income levels can participate). The materials fee for this simple April Crafternoon is only $15 and should sell out pretty quickly as space is limited to 10 people (so if you want to come, do not delay!).

Future 2012 

Crafternoons will host several sessions this year. This spring and summer, we will be making beeswax candles, making lip balms and other toiletries, and pasta making. This fall, we will be using a bouteous harvest to can tomatoes (and tomato products!), pickle and make kraut, and make sugar skulls for Dia de Los Muertos. Come explore new things and learn with us! Check out the site and register for one of the first three events!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men

Keeping with the theme of racism in the pagan/polytheist/pantheist ("triple P") communities, I wanted to post the documentary, "White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men" here.

While this deals a lot with the New Age communities (whom to me want to purchase their spirituality and are not religions like many triple P traditions), it also impacts and touches folks in our communities as well. I am a firm believer in "owning your shit". This is something white triple P people need to address, so here it is, in my blog.

Part One:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Manifestation Spells

Miscellaneous old spells.
As I have been unpacking here in the new house, I have found several old spell remnants of mine. One dates back to 1992! Back then, I was living in Boston, MA and my landlady was an old hermit-y Witch whom I adored. On secular New Year's Eve that year, we did a spell where we burned away the old things we did not want in her fireplace and wrote and kept things we wanted to cultivate in our lives.

I have come across these ragged pieces of paper several times since originally packing them away in pouches and am astonished at how my young Witch self had the foresight to cultivate these things (I was a mere babe back then of 22). This is why I have kept these scrawled-in-the-dark-on-the-back-of-old-tax-forms-spells. Here were my life goals back then:

1. Be satisfied at the end of each day.
2. Work towards my perfect world, one step at a time, starting with myself then with others.
3. Work towards my ideal life.
4. Appreciate others more.
5. Look towards my spirituality and take time for it.
6. Love and be loved.
7. Stay healthy!
8. Make my home wherever I am.

I think that I have been moving these ways in my life since that moment. I needed to move from Boston to San Francisco to Oakland to Columbus- but I made my home in each of those places, fully. I have been a spiritual seeker in all these places, finally finding a spiritual home in Faery Witchcraft, Cunning Craft, Conjure, and Unitarian Universalism.

Found these spells packed in my manifestation cube
which is a tool of mine. It is shown here with a
spell available for purchase at Boline.
My ideal life is an integrated one- and my seeming disparate interests of religion, herbalism, urban homesteading, the Craft, working with kids, homeschooling my son, and community building are all coming together in my new home and with my new store, Boline. Living this life does indeed make me satisfied at the end of the day. It also keeps me and mine healthy and creates the kind of world that I want to live in.

It's not all done and checked off my list, though. I still work to be in right relation with others in a loving way. This is my struggle. I am gruff, blunt, and often misunderstood. I am a "do-er" that offers advice and assistance when folks often just want a sympathetic ear (to me, that just feels like not doing anything about a problem and wallowing! My baggage, I know.)

I also found two other spells which I cannot print here, as they are more private (ahem). I also found two sigils that I created that I would meditate upon first thing in the AM- a simple self spell where I would envision the sigil written in fire across my third eye. Witch meditation is so unlike my Vapassana practice!

Do you keep old spells around? What do you do with them?