Herb Lore: (Herbalism)

Good Witches Homestead

Hippocrates – ” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

For the purpose of this article, herbs are loosely referred to as the category of edible plants which can also be used for Medicinal, Spiritual or Magical purposes.

It seems that on every part of the globe where humans have lived, there has developed a body of herbal knowledge, something which has led to a special relationship developing between herbs and people. The foundation for this relationship is the fact that apart from herbs being acknowledged for their nutritional value, there has been a longstanding recognition that they also possess a variety of curative properties, being amongst the most important tools used by Shamen, Medicine men, Witch doctors, and healers, in general, the world over. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal…

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Doe, A Deer, A Female Reindeer: The Spirit of Mother Christmas


Oh wondrous headed doe… Amongst its horns it carries the light of the blessed sun…” Hungarian Christmas Folk Song

Long before Santa charioted his flying steeds across our mythical skies, it was the female reindeer who drew the sleigh of the sun goddess at winter solstice. It was when we “Christianized” the pagan traditions of winter, that the white bearded man i.e. “Father Christmas” was born.


Today it is her beloved image that adorns Christmas cards and Yule decorations – not Rudolph. Because unlike the male reindeer who sheds his antlers in winter, it is the larger and stronger doe, who retains her antlers. And it is she who leads the herds in winter.


So this season, when we gather by the fire to tell children bedtime stories of Santa and his flying reindeer – why not tell the story of the ancient Deer Mother of old? It was she…

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Sacred Tree Profile: White Pine’s Medicine, Magic, Mythology, and Meanings

The Druid's Garden

White Pine Towering in a Conifer Forest at Parker Dam State Park, PA White Pine Towering in a Conifer Forest at Parker Dam State Park, PA

In the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) legend, there was a terrible conflict between five different nations of people. This conflict was rooted in cycles of pain, revenge, and chaos. A messenger of peace sent from the Great Spirit, the “Peacemaker,” sought to unite the five warring tribes. After convincing them to unite, they came together to make peace, but they still carried their weapons. The Peacemaker uprooted a White Pine tree and had them throw all of their weapons into the hole. He then replanted the tree, and the underground waters carried away the weapons. On the tree, the needles grew in clusters of five, to represent the five nations who came to find peace. The roots of the tree spread out in four directions, to the north, south, east and west; the roots are called the roots…

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Lightning Goddess Perunika’s Daughter – Lepa Mara

Lepa Mara Slavic Goddess of Spring

Elder Mountain Dreaming @gmail

Lepa Mara means beautiful woman when she wakes up in March when the thunder god Perun, her father and the lightning goddess Perunika, her mother makes their first thunder and lightning together to open heaven’s gates in Spring for their daughter Mara. Mara and her Mother Perunika are symbols of feminine rebirth and resurrection of nature from its winter sleep into spring.

In the homes of the ancient Slavs there were small altars in the corner of the house with wax, amber or wooden figurines where girls and women used to offer sacrifices like flowers, ribbons, embroidered napkins, etc. A fire burns or candles here that could be put out only using your fingers, otherwise the peace of the house would be put out with it.

Mother and daughter also represent the feminine or female principle embodied of woman which are: The primal principles, the soul, the instinctual and intuitive…

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Ecoregional Druidry: Adapting and Localizing Symbolism

Elemental Wheel with Traditional Animal Symbols

The Druid's Garden

To follow up from two posts a month or so ago on ecoregional druidry and the wheel of the year  and celebrating rituals, observances, and activities, I want to continue thinking about how druids can adapt basic practices of druidry to their local ecosystems.  This is particularly important for those of us in diverse ecosystems around the world: part of nature spirituality is being with nature as she is in your region. Thus far in this series, we’ve explored a druid’s wheel of the year that is seasonally-focused on a local ecosystem as well as the different ways we might celebrate this wheel of the year with rituals, observances, and activities.  Also tied to these spiritual practices are symbolism associated with the elements and directions; framing symbolism that weaves its way into our practices in a variety of different contexts. And so, in this post, we’ll delve into thinking…

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Muses are inspirational Goddesses in Greek mythology. There is some confusion as to the true number of Muses. I have seen as little as three and as many as nine. The confusion comes from Alexander the Great and his generals making true wisdom nonsense, so the average person would not understand. Muse comes from the Greek ‘mousa’, which is a type of Goddess and literally means art or poetry. Solon says Muses were a “key to a good life”. Pindar says “to have a Muse is to excel in arts”. Muses became associated with temples, springs, fountains and caves, but later the sites were all redirected to the Apollo cult.

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Ozark Encyclopedia – G – Goldenseal

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Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Goldenseal – Hydrastis canadensis

Parts used: root

Traditional uses: Infusion used as wash for local inflammations and skin complaints. Generally alterative, anti-catarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, bitter tonic, laxative, anti-diabetic and muscular stimulant.

“The action is tonic, laxative, alterative and detergent. It is a valuable remedy in the disordered conditions of the digestion and has a special action on the mucous membrane, making it of value as a local remedy in various forms of catarrh. In chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum, injections of Hydrastine are often of great service, and it has been used in haemorrhoids with excellent results, the alkaloid Hydrastine having an astringent action. The powder has proved useful as a snuff for nasal catarrh. It is employed in dyspepsia, gastric catarrh, loss of appetite and liver troubles. As a tonic, it is of extreme value in cases of habitual constipation, given as a powder, combined with…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – F – Frogs and Toads

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Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Tied around neck for asthma – “Otto Ernest Rayburn reports a case in which asthma was cured by tying a live frog on the patient’s throat. The frog ‘completely absorbed the disease’ and was left in position until it died.” ~Randolph OMF 135

“To get rid of asthma tie a live frog to a patient’s throat and frog will absorb disease and die.” ~Parler FBA II 1423

Toad killed and used to cure warts – “Or one may kill a toad, rub its intestines on the wart, then bury the entrails under a stone. All this must be kept secret, otherwise it won’t work. The boy who acquainted me with this method still had several large warts; when I asked why the toad’s guts hadn’t cured them, he explained that he had told his mother what he was doing, in order to escape punishment for killing the toad. The mother…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – G – Ginseng

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Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Ginseng – Panax quinquefolius

Parts used: root

Traditional uses: Root used for headache, colic, colds, as an expectorant. Chewed for thrush. Decoction used for palsy and vertigo. Poultice applied to wounds and bleeding cuts. Decoction used as a febrifuge. General tonic.

“In China, both varieties are used particularly for dyspepsia, vomiting and nervous disorders. A decoction of 1/2 oz. of the root, boiled in tea or soup and taken every morning, is commonly held a remedy for consumption and other diseases. In Western medicine, it is considered a mild stomachic tonic and stimulant, useful in loss of appetite and in digestive affections that arise from mental and nervous exhaustion.” ~Grieve MH

*** Cautions: Plant is listed as “vulnerable” and may be illegal to gather in your area outside of a certain season. Ginseng gathering is legal in Arkansas, but the plant is hard to find and has almost been…

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Druid Tree Workings: Working with Trees in Urban Settings

The Oak Grove in the Morning Light

The Druid's Garden

Maples growing up through grate--been there for years! Maples growing up through grate–been there for years!

I walk down the sidewalk of a street in the small town that I call home.  As I journey, I see a crabapple friend with ripening fruit, her leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. I reach out to her, and tell her I look forward to harvesting some in the fall.  She is pleased, as her fruit is largely ignored, and delighted that I will return.  I see others along my walk: horse chestnuts, lindens, mulberries, serviceberries, balsam poplars–many trees that are different species from the forests where I often tread.  Finally, I walk across a grate and wave to the maples growing up from below, in the four foot space below the grate and the drainage channel and into someone’s driveway. These urban trees are often shaped by humans in ways forests are not: an odd growth habit becuase of pruning…

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