Mexican Mint Marigold

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

This very ancient herb goes by a variety of common, but somewhat confusing names. ‘Mexican mint’ marigold is the most common, but you’ll also find it listed as ‘Texas’ tarragon, ‘Mexican’ tarragon, cloud plant, Coronilla, winter tarragon, sweet mace, sweet marigold and ‘Spanish’ tarragon. It isn’t, however, related to ‘French’ tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus ‘Sativa’) at all.

Don’t confuse ‘French’ tarragon, which is used for cooking, with false or ‘Russian’ tarragon, A. dracunculoides, because it is somewhat invasive, grows well in hotter climates, and is grown from seed.

The Latin name, Tagetes Lucida, refers to its other Tagetes relatives, the marigolds. ‘Mint’ marigold is a perennial, native to Central and South America and has been used as a seasoning herb, tea plant and medicinal in native cultures for more than a thousand years.

The flavor is anise-like, a bit sweeter than ‘French’ tarragon, but used in some of…

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Spring’s Rebirth – Slavic and Balkan Pysanky

Elder Mountain Dreaming @gmail

Compilation by Phoenix of Elder Mountain –The Rites of Spring is about honoring our rebirth and the earth’s rebirth, this has specific rituals that are ancient and help us stay connected to our moon nature, our soul and our emotional nature in a positive way. Here at Elder Mountain we do the ritual of building the archaic Goddess Marzanna Effigy (at the autumn equinox and winter solstice) and then burn and throw her into the lake or river, on the day of the Spring Equinox to transform Winter into Spring (and the symbolism of the grandmother into the maiden once again.)

A Pysanka (Ukrainian: писанка, plural: pysanky) is a spring or easter (ostara) egg, decorated with traditional folk designs using a wax-resist method. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax. Many other eastern Europeans decorate eggs using…

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What to Harvest: March

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

There are useful plants to be harvested year round, if you pay attention to the land, the weather, and generally what’s happening outdoors around you. Here is the first installment of a series I’m going to try and maintain about what useful medicinal and edible plants are popping up throughout the year. Please note, this is based on the weather in Northwest Arkansas, so these plants may be delayed depending upon where you live.

**All medical suggestions are offered for educational purposes only and a trained medical professional should always be consulted before adding any herbs to your self-care routine.**

Wild Onions / Wild Garlic:

Sometimes also called “onion grass” this is a weed that everyone likely has in their yard (if you’ve ever mowed and thought, “Hmmm, I smell onions” you have it), but few know it’s completely edible.

Parts Used: Bulb, foliage

When to Harvest: Wild…

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Cabin Fever: You Get What You Ask For

Appalachian Ink ~ Home of Anna Wess (and Granny)

Every now and then, I get a glimpse of Granny’s wild spirit, the very one she’s kept hidden from the rest of us girls no matter how many times we’ve sat around the table in her kitchen. Sometimes, just sometimes, she lets that spirit out. And if there’s anything that’ll bring out her wild spirit, it’s cabin fever, sisters. Cabin fever and those bottled spirits in the china cabinet. And memories of them bitches, of course.

Granny turns on the radio and tunes it to her favorite station, WRIC-AM 540 radio in Richlands, Virginia, and she continues a’ singing the song in her head, some tune about Tom Dooley and his imminent demise, even while the announcer reads the local obituaries, forlorn organ a’ playing and all. Granny don’t know any of those dead people on the radio. And even if she does, she doesn’t let on. Lord, no.

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That Funny Little Spring Weed: Lamb’s Quarter

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Lambs quarter is one of the most common weeds in gardens, backyards, and fallow fields, following human habitation closely. If you add horse or cow manure to your garden you will have a steady supply of these tasty wild greens for most of spring and summer. Easy to recognize with its alternate, triangle-to-diamond shaped leaves which are coated on the underside with a whitish grey powdery meal resembling flour. This coating may sometimes possess a coppery-fuchsia sheen and is sold as a cultivar called “magenta spreen” in some garden catalogs. The coating is a natural part of the leaf and is fine to eat. Put a leaf under water and the meal will cause the water to bead up in a beautiful iridescent fashion. Lamb’s quarter grows to 3-5 feet and is a branching annual with a grooved stem which is often tinged with red, especially at the node, or…

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Symbolism of Violet: February Birth Flower

Good Witches Homestead

The violet has a charming and long history of mythology. Greek myth states that Zeus fell in love with Io. Zeus was afraid that Hera, his wife, would discover him and Io, so he made Io into a white heifer. Zeus created the sweet-scented flower that we know as the violet for Io to eat while she was a heifer. Hera placed an insect pest on Io as the white heifer, so she roamed all over the land trying to free herself from the pest.  Zeus finally caught the heifer and put his hand on her, and she turned back into Io. She gave birth to their child, who founded many nations.

Another Greek myth states that Persephone, a young lady, was walking in a field of violets when Hades saw her and fell in love with her. Hades took her to his kingdom of death and the world became…

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Taking up the Path of the Bard III: Practice makes Perfect

The Druid's Garden

“You have so much talent” or “I’m talented enough” are powerful statements, statements I hear on a regular basis from those who long for a creative practice. The idea of talent can cause an incredible amount of inaction, of people not feeling they are “good enough” to even try.  I see this, in particular, with the visual arts. But the first time you put pen to paper, if you aren’t Picasso or Monet, you might as well forget about it. This larger cultural ideal, of course, seems at odds with the druid tradition where Eisteddfod and the channeling of Awen are central to our spiritual life. In the druid tradition, creativity isn’t about producing something of commercial value or high quality, its about the channeling of creativity for spiritual purposes. But for those coming out of mainstream Western culture with all of the cultural baggage, this can be difficult to…

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Primrose: The Flower of February

Good Witches Homestead

COMMON NAME:  primrose
GENUS:  Primula
P. denticulata-lavender, purple, or white flowers; grows to 12 inches. P. japonica ‘Millar Crimson’-flowers whorled around 24-inch stem; blooms May-June. P. polyanthus-best known; colors are red, pink, blue, gold, and white, all with small yellow eyes.
FAMILY:  Primulaceae
BLOOMS:  spring
TYPE:  perennial
DESCRIPTION:  Primroses form an attractive rosette of crinkly, light green leaves. The flowers are generally brightly colored and occur in tight bundles on individual stems above the leaves.
CULTIVATION:  Needing partial shade, primroses thrive in well-drained, rich soil. They are indigenous to cool, moist meadows and woodland environments  Duplicating these conditions as closely as possible will create the best growing conditions for primroses. The soil should not be allowed to dry completely. To retain vigorously blooming plants, divide clumps every four to five years. Seeds should be sown in midsummer for bloom the following spring.

primrose day

Primrose is beloved…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – P – Pawpaw

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Pawpaw – Asimina triloba

Parts used: bark, fruit

Traditional uses: Fruit used for food. Inner bark used to make strong ropes and string. Wood used in pegging for various illnesses. Fruit used in ritual associated with curing a man of drunkenness. Used in love magic and to prevent infidelity. A magical wood, associated with death and witchcraft. Used to protect from evil spells and curses. Seeds associated with death rituals.

Use in pegging against infidelity – “A hillman whose wife is ‘triflin’ on him’ is sometimes persuaded that he can make everything right by going into the woods at midnight and boring a hole in the crotch of a pawpaw tree. This done, he mutters a secret Biblical quotation, drives a stout wooden peg into the auger hole, and walks away without looking back at the tree. The hole behind the peg may contain a wad of human hair, dried…

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Verbena Lore

Good Witches Homestead

COMMON NAME: verbena
V. bipinnatifida-light purple perennial: 3 inches tall. V. rigida-purplish blue perennial; 1 foot tall. V. rigida-‘Flame’-red flowers from June through frost. V. canadensis-rose pink flowers from June through frost. V. venosa-purplish blue flowers; to 1 foot. V. hybrida-‘Amethyst’-lavender blue; annual. V.b.-‘Blaze’-scarlet; annual. V.b.-‘Sangria’-wine colored; heat tolerant; annual; spreads 1 to 1 1/2 feet.
BLOOMS: summer
TYPE: annual and perennial
DESCRIPTION: Low-growing verbena blooms profusely and adds great color to the summer perennial bed. Different species vary in height from 3 to 12 inches and in a spread from 12 to 24 inches. Flowers are small and borne on short stalks; the foliage is bright green and continuously attractive. Verbenas come in white and bright shades of red, pink, blue, and purple.
CULTIVATION: Full sun and well-drained soil are necessary conditions for growing…

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