Saffron Bread

Saffron Bread

In the Middle Ages, spices were a symbol of status and prosperity. Aristocrats’ meals were ordinarily heavily spiced, and saffron was especially favored. The attractive, bright yellow was used to color a variety of dishes.

It is believed that Welsh devas, also known as faeries, thrived on saffron. A twelfth-century story by Giraldus Cambrensis tells of a boy who was taken to a faery palace and found that the whole faery court ate nothing but saffron and milk.

The saffron crocus was first found in Greece and Asia Minor. Later, medieval people found that they could grow the flower closer to home. Spain, Italy, and England all produced large quantities of saffron.

¾  Cup Warm Milk

1 (¼-Ounce) Package Active Dry Yeast

1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar

¼ Teaspoon Saffron Strands

½ Cup Boiling Water

3½ Cups All-Purpose Flour

1 Cup Butter, Softened

½ Cup Superfine Sugar

½ Cup Raisins

½ Cup Dried Cranberries

½ Cup Chopped Candied Orange Peel

1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Thyme

Pour the milk into a bowl and dissolve the yeast and the sugar in it. Let stand in a warm place for approximately 10 minutes, until foaming. Steep the saffron in the boiling water for several minutes, then let the mixture cool.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add raisins, cranberries, orange peel, and thyme, mixing well. Gradually add the flour.

Strain the saffron mixture. Add the yeast mixture and saffron liquid to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth; it should look like a very thick batter.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 10-inch round cake pan. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, until the mixture rises to the top of the pan. Bake the bread for 1 hour. Let it cool in the pan.

Slice and serve with butter.

Natural Facial Cleanser & Exfoliant

This multitasking face wash acts as a cleanser, exfoliant and mask. Anti-inflammatory yarrow, chamomile and turmeric calm irritated skin, while green clay draws out excess dirt. The dried herbs and ground berries gently exfoliate to prevent blocked pores.

1 tablespoon finely ground oats or almonds

1 tablespoon green clay

1 tablespoon finely ground dried herbs – a mix of chamomile and yarrow flowers

2 teaspoons finely ground dried berberis berries or elderberries

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Combine all the ingredients in a jar. Seal. Shake. Label. Date.

Place a heaped teaspoon in your palm, add a few drops of water and mix into a paste. If you have dry or sensitive skin, add a few drops of glycerine or honey to the mix.

Rub all over your face and neck in a circular motion, leave on for 5 minutes and then wash off.

Shelf Life Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year or more.

Lovers’ Quarrel Massage Oil

Heal a lovers’ quarrel or learn to forgive yourself.

  • 1 drop angelica essential oil (Angelica archangelica)
  • 5 drops German chamomile essential oil (Matricaria recutita)
  • 3 drops rose geranium essential oil (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • 8 drops lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 3 drops lime essential oil (Citrus latifolia)
  • 1.3 ounces jojoba oil
  • 1 drop or 1 gel cap vitamin E

Mix all oils in a dark-colored glass

For massage blends, a dilution of 2.5 percent is recommended (15 drops of synergy per ounce of carrier oil). Vitamin E is a good preservative for your massage oils, 10 drops per 8 fluid ounces of carrier oil.

Lily of the Valley (convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley (convallaria majalis)

One of the most popular Victorian garden plants on account of its perfume, lily of the valley contains three glycosides; convallarin, convallamarin, and convallotoxin. Convallotoxin is one of the most active natural substances affecting the heart. It causes irregular, slow pulse rates and can cause heart failure. In addition, the plant contains saponins, which cause gastrointestinal poisoning.

There was a superstition that anyone planting a bed of lily of the valley would be dead within 12 months. Gerard recommended it ‘because it restores speech to those who have the ‘dumb palsy’ and is a treatment for gout. The flowers, put in a sealed glass jar and set in an anthill for a month, will yield a liquor which is an excellent ointment for treating gout.’

Magical propensities for drawing peace and tranquillity; repels negativity; empowering happiness; mental powers. Use in magical workings to stop harassment.

Golden Milk

This golden tonic milk is based on a traditional Ayurvedic recipe. Made with anti-inflammatory turmeric and sedative poppy seeds (these nourish the nervous system, aiding in a peaceful night’s sleep), along with cardamom and vanilla, it soothes and relaxes the muscles and mind. Drink a mugful before bed to slip into a deep slumber.

1 mugful of almond or oat milk
1 teaspoon freshly grated turmeric or turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground poppy seeds
½ cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
½ vanilla pod
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1–2 teaspoons honey or unrefined sugar


Heat the milk, herbs and spices in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, cover and turn the heat off. Leave to steep for 5–10 minutes, strain mixture into a mug and then stir in the coconut oil and honey or sugar. Serve, stirring between sips.

Mood Tea

In depression, it is important to take time for self care. Take a moment to make a healing, herbal tea at least once a day to help lift the spirits.

2 ounces dried rose

2 ounces dried skullcap

2 ounces dried St John’s wort

2 ounces dried vervain

Pour all the herbs into a sterilized jar and shake to mix them together. Seal, label and date.

Make an infusion with 1–2 teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and drink.

Drink up to three times per day.

Shelf Life Keep the dried herb mix in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Caution Check with a herbalist before taking St John’s wort with other medications.

Days of the Week & Phases of the Moon for Botanical Magic

Days of the Week & Phases of the Moon for Magic

Here are the best days of the week to perform each type of magic:

Sunday—personal empowerment, success, generosity, luck

Monday—spirituality, virtue, emotional security and well-being

Tuesday—drive, confidence, ambition, victory, vitality

Wednesday—knowledge, change, charm, communication

Thursday—luck, power, protected growth, accomplishment, money, honor

Friday—beauty, grace, the arts, love, fertility, bonding, sex appeal

Saturday—the law, loss, endings, transforming, banishings, interrupting”

To give your magic a boost, try timing it with the phase of the moon. For things that won’t wait, go with the day of the week that works best:

Waxing moon—growing toward full. Do magic for increase, prosperity, health, wellness, love.

Full moon—alignment of moon, earth, and sun (sometime resulting in an eclipse), all purpose, use the extra boost for the metaphysical heavy lifting, court cases, protection.

Waning moon—shrinking toward the new moon. Practice magic of decrease; bringing things to a close; removing bad habits, negative people, debt, illness.

New moon—first light. New growth, beginning projects, set ideas in motion. Set goals for the month.

Dark moon—the absence of light. Do magic surrounding intuition, turning inward, cleansing, banishing or binding both people and addictions.

Blue moon—the second full moon in a calendar month. Do magic for wishes.

Black moon—the second new moon in a calendar month. Do magic for serious binding, banishing, stalkers, serious illness, addiction. Heavy lifting.

Moon Phases:

You may have seen a triple moon symbol; it looks like this )0(. It’s not just a clever design; this is the waxing, full, and waning moon depicted. So, if you look up into the sky and the moon is pointing to the left, it is waxing. If it is pointing to the right, it is waning.

Sources: Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic, The Homemade Apothecary

 

Cleansing Smoke

Regular use of cleansing smoke with a variety of materials is beneficial to an energetically healthy home. Too many folks rely solely on one cleaning method and one protection method. For example, many people enjoy the way white sage (Salvia apiana) smells, and though it is a good ally for clearing and cleansing space, it should not be your only ally.

Smoke Tools Hierarchy:

  • The weakest of the smoke tools is floral smoke. Lavender buds, for example, are very pleasant smelling. Flowers are well suited to brightening a space.
  • Leaves are slightly stronger and are good for refreshing the energy of a space. White sage is a common example. Since white sage (Salvia apiana) is largely wildcrafted (harvested in the wild) and used by native peoples, the increasing use of herbal cleansing smoke has led to skyrocketing prices and difficulty in sourcing the materials for the native peoples to whom white sage is sacred. The Salvia genus has many allies that can be farmed and don’t infringe on the beliefs and practices of First Nations and Native American people. 
  • The roots of a plant are stronger magically than its leaves. Roots will remove energies and entities that were not bothered by leaf smoke. Consider the strength of plant allies like ginger root, calamus root, and galangal root (Low John).
  • Even stronger than the root allies are wood allies. Palo santo is a popular wood-based smoke tool. This tree, native to Peru and the Yucatán Peninsula, has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Because of the popularity of this wood, the trees that take decades to reach maturity are over-harvested.
  • The strongest smoke tool of the plant ally families is the resin group. Tree resins are hardened sap structures like dragon’s blood (Dracaena draco), frankincense (Boswellia carteri), copal (Protium copal), and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha). If there is a problem that has not been affected by the lower energy signatures of the plant allies, a resin should do the trick.
    • Dragon’s Blood: This popular incense resin, resembling red chalk, commonly comes from two species, Dracaena draco and Dracaena cinnabari. Though there are more than the two varieties of Dracaena that produce this fragrant resin, many assume that all dragon’s blood is Dracaena draco. Both produce a similarly colored sap, with musky, warm notes with a hint of floral, though D. cinnabari has a touch more of the floral note than its cousin D. draco. D. cinnabari is the slower growing of the two varieties, though both trees take over ten years to produce their signature red sap. Due to over-harvesting and habitat loss, both species of Dracaena are on the threatened list.
    • Note: While no essential oil of dragon’s blood exists at this time, high-quality dragon’s blood oils can be sourced.

Sources: Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic, The Homemade Apothecary

John Muir

John Muir was born April 21, 1838 also known as “John of the Mountains”, was an American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books describing his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada, have been read by millions. His activism has helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and many other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is a prominent American conservation organization. The 211-mile (340 km) John Muir Trail, a hiking trail in the Sierra Nevada, was named in his honor. Other such places include Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College, Mount Muir, Camp Muir and Muir Glacier. In Scotland, the John Muir Way, a 130-mile-long route, was named in honor of him.

In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite National Park. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings has inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. Today Muir is referred to as the “Father of the National Parks” and the National Park Service has produced a short documentary about his life.

John Muir has been considered “an inspiration to both Scots and Americans”. Muir’s biographer, Steven J. Holmes, believes that Muir has become “one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity,” both political and recreational. As a result, his writings are commonly discussed in books and journals, and he is often quoted by nature photographers such as Ansel Adams. “Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world,” writes Holmes. Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political spokesman, and religious prophet, whose writings became a personal guide into nature for countless individuals, making his name “almost ubiquitous” in the modern environmental consciousness. According to author William Anderson, Muir exemplified “the archetype of our oneness with the earth”, while biographer Donald Worster says he believed his mission was “…saving the American soul from total surrender to materialism.” On April 21, 2013, the first ever John Muir Day was celebrated in Scotland, which marked the 175th anniversary of his birth, paying homage to the conservationist.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
~ John Muir

Kjeragbolten (Forsand, Rogaland – Norway)

Kjeragbolten (Forsand, Rogaland – Norway)

Kjeragbolten is a boulder wedged in a mountain crevasse, 3,228 feet (984 m) above the ground. It is a favored spot for BASE jumpers, who hurl themselves from the cliff toward the spectacular fjord below. Visitors without vertigo are welcome to step onto the boulder for a unique photo opportunity—there are no fences restricting access.

Source: Atlas Obscura