Saturday, April 21, 2012

I pondered all last week what I might do to celebrate Earth Day,whether I might go to the neighborhood nursery , walk up and down the aisles just enjoying all the greenery and maybe deciding which herbs I might buy. I thought about participating in several  of the events published in our local paper as well.
But I discovered the best way that I could celebrate, Gaia, Mother Earth was to go outside and walk around my herb garden, touch the plants and smell their wonderful scents.
 It makes me happy and fills me with a sense of belonging and being a part of something greater than myself.
I will celebrate Her by being more mindful and respectful of how we use her gifts. Therefore I recycle, reuse and renew when and where ever I can.

Praise to Gaia!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hathor-Affection and Beginnings


 Mistress of pleasure
Queen of the dance, mistress of music,
Ruler of ecstasy, queen of flirtation,
You, oh Hathor! Intoxication!
Intoxication! Oh Hathor! You!

Over three thousand years ago, when these invocations were written in Egypt, one goddess was the most beloved. Other goddesses brought wealth, fertility and power but it was Hathor who brought love. From the moment we were born, she was one of the midwife goddesses, til we met Her at the sycamore tree in the west, where souls go after death, Hathor was intimately connected with our most treasured joys.
Hathor was beloved by the common people who sang songs and wrote poetry to her.
 Dancing was one of her primary forms of worship. People danced together in gender-segregated groups, expressing themselves in free form dance.
In ancient texts Hathor appears to have been a co-ruler of the Sun with Ra. But returning upon a journey she discovers she's been replaced. Demanding the sun back Ra changes her into a snake and places her on the crown of Egypt's pharaoh.
Hathor was connected to the gentle cat goddess Bast and to the raging lion goddess Sekmet suggesting that she had a dual identity; as a gentle protector and  as a fierce force of purification.
Her primary symbol is the mirror due to her ancient connection to the sun. Mirrors bring the sun's light right down to us, making them magical implements allowing her worshipers to connect directly with the solar goddess. Golden jewelry pleased her as did the color yellow in robes and other clothing.
Hathor also appeared in two animal forms, the winged cow of creation symbolizing protection and maternal love and the cat. Many depictions of Hathor in Egyptian art shows her having ears like the cow.
 Hathor's cat identity, like the cow, connects her as a vital protector of the stored grain, keeping it safe from destructive rodents.
Many festivals are tied to Hathor but one of the most important is celebrated on her birthday, September 17th.
The desire for love and affection is most associated with Hathor. She is the goddess of infatuation, the wonderful period when the lover's every action seems charming, joy bubbles up and one seems giddy and effervescent.   Hathor is the goddess of beginnings.
The basic framework of a Hathor ritual deals with pleasant company, flowers, attractive settings, music and dance.
An altar to Hathor should contain bright pleasing colors, flowers and jewels. There should be wonderful fragrances, incenses and scented candles. One should have a mirror to represent the goddess's solar identity and her connection to making oneself beautiful for love.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Herb Garden

Dwarf Irises


Lemon Balm
Due to our mild winter, my herbs are surprising me with how much they've grown already. Even my rosemary survived.
This will be my third year of planting and maintaining my herb garden. Just getting my fingers in the dirt, touching and smelling my herbs, listening to the birds sing and having the sun shine on my face has been  just like drinking a Spring tonic. It is so uplifting.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Creating Oils

The use of scented oils and perfumes is inextricably bound up with the Craft and magic.
Magical oils are used to concentrate the powers of an herb, flower, tree or root.  The greatest value of oils is that they retain the full scent of the plant. And scents have powerful reactions upon the human intellect and the body itself.
In the Craft , oil is a symbol of the element of Fire. The oils capture, draw out, and store the essential nature of the herbs and flowers the basic energies that the Wise Women called the fiery being.

There are good quality oils on the market today.  I have purchased many myself. But there have been times when I needed a certain oil and it was not readily available.
I did some research and found this simple recipe from Scott Cunningham's book Magical Herbalism, for creating your own oils.
 He writes the simplest method is known as enfleurage.  Fill a small clean bottle or jar with fresh flowers, petals and leaves of the herb you wish to make an oil from. Dried herbs will work if the fresh are not available.  Next pour your base oil,  such as olive oil, over the herbs with enough to cover them. Tightly cork or cap the jar and keep in a warm place ( Out of the sunlight) for three days. Shake the bottle thoroughly each day. On the third day strain the oil, fill the jar again with ,fresh leaves and flowers and pour the same oil back into the jar.. Repeat this procedure several times until the oil is saturated with the fragrance.
Finally strain the oil through filter paper or a piece of fine muslin. Store in a tightly stoppered bottle, opaque being best.
He also states that some herbalists add a few drops of benzoin tincture to the oils as a preservative.

Some of the sources I found recommend lightly heating the oil before adding it to your herbs and to stir the mix with a clean wooden stick such as a chop stick so that all the trapped air bubbles in the herbs are released.  I found recommendations that your jar should only be as large as the amount of herb you are working with due to the fact that you want the least amount of air in the jar to discourage any contamination. There were suggestions that your herb should be partially wilted or dried so there is less moisture in your oil and thereby making it less likely to go bad.
 I found various instructions that recommended  you should place your oil enfleurage in the sun for as long as three days to six weeks. I believe the differences are due to what kind of oil you're creating, whether it is going to be used as a food, beauty, magickal or ritual oil.

 I personally think that when you create your own, more of your inner magic is bound up in the oil and therefore it is more powerful for you.
As with everything read, research and in the long run do what works best for you.