Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category

Garlic

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Garlic (Allium sativum)

 

What is the difference between a food, an herb and a spice?  The answer you will get from a chef is that spices are roots, buds, berries, bark and seeds, while herbs are stems and leaves.  And, food is what nourishes us.  For our purpose as Pagans, I have to agree with Scott Cunningham when he says they’re all herbs.  The important part for us to understand is what their medicinal, magickal and health properties are, and their association to the gods.

I just came from a local organic farm where they were having a customer appreciation day and serving up three different types of greens (collard, mustard and kale) with cornbread and biscuits.  Everything was delicious.  I do like to support local farmers and when they are growing organic it is a real serendipity.  I bought some mustard greens and kale to cook up this week.  There were also bags of garlic the last of the season and I obtained a bag while they are still available.  All of this made me think about garlic.  I love garlic!  It is magickal, medicinal, nutritious and delicious.

During the cold weather I try to include it in as many dishes as possible as garlic is a great defense against the common cold, the flu and bronchitis.  As I have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, I was pleased to learn that garlic in my diet should lower my blood pressure.  Garlic has also shown to reduce serum cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides while raising the good cholesterol HDL, which will keep my levels where I want them.  I will definitely sauté some garlic with the kale (oh yum).  The fact that it is purported to increase libido, doesn’t hurt either.

Garlic, also known as “stinking rose”, has been protecting people all over the world for thousands of years. Using sympathetic magick one can relate the long hollow stem with the windpipe and related diseases.  This herb has been used as a defense against plague, the flu and hepatitis as well as foul weather.  It certainly has an undying reputation as a repellent against vampires. (I have noticed that since I eat a lot of garlic, that I am not bothered by vampires at all.)  Garlic has been used by sailors, soldiers and homeowners to protect against a variety of worldly and Otherworld evils.

Medicinally it was used by the British military as an antiseptic during both WWI and WWII.  They actually bought thousands of tons for treating wounds and preventing infections, and it worked.  Garlic contains selenium which is a powerful antioxidant, which many people take as a supplement, as well as germanium which strengthens the immune system giving garlic its ability to heal damaged cells and minimize infection.  In warmer weather it will help keep the mosquitoes from biting you as it contains thiamin.  Actually, you name it and garlic is probably good for it.

Garlic has an affinity to Hekate and has been used as an offering to her at the crossroads.  Magickally, garlic is masculine and ruled by Mars.  Maybe that is why it is able to fight so powerfully on your behalf.  Just be forewarned that if you eat or use a lot of garlic, your friends may keep their distance.

 

 

Garlic Cough Medicine

 

Peel and grind or mince (a garlic press can also be used) about a pound of garlic cloves and place it in a jar.  Pour in a mixture of half water and half apple cider vinegar so it covers the garlic.  Let it sit four or five hours and then drain the liquid and add an equal part of honey (or hot syrup of brown sugar) to the mixture.  Keep cool and shake well before using.  The garlic can then be used for other purposes.

Adults: a tablespoon full three or four times a day.

Children: a teaspoon or more depending on their age.

Hyssop

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Several years ago, Dragonfly and I were looking for a nice bush to put in the front yard.  We found this cute little bush with lavender flowers and planted it by the steps leading to the front door.  It has bloomed every year since.  The blooms smell like liquorish and the bees just love it.  When it is in full bloom, bees of several different species cover the bush (a little intimidating for house guests).  A little girl told me that if I wanted to pet the bees to do it while they are busy getting nectar.  I tried it and it worked.  It is so cool to do.  This bush turned out to be, a Hyssop, a very protective herb planted in just the right place.  I could not have planted it in a better place if I had known at the time that Hyssop has a reputation of being a plant of protection.

Hyssop has a very spiritual history.  The origin of the word Hyssop is Greek from the word “azob” and means “Holy One”.  It was used back in those days to clean sacred places.  Hyssop has been used as a cleansing herb for thousands of years and is mentioned in both the old and new testament of the Bible.  Psalms 51:7 says: Purify me with Hyssop and I will be clean.  John 19:29 says: A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the Hyssop plant, and lifted it up to Jesus’ lips. (New American Standard Bible)  Although some authorities say that Hyssop as we know it today was not native to that region of the world and could have been marjoram, the caper plant, sorghum, the maidenhair spleenwort or the wallrue.

Medicinally, hyssop contains essential hormone oils to build resistance to infectious disease. It is known to regulate blood pressure.  It does this by increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure.  It is also a very effective expectorant and stimulant.  As a tea, it is reported to be effective for asthma patients.  Caution should be used, however, when using hyssop as a tea as it can cause seizures in some people.  Pregnant women should also not ingest Hyssop.

Hyssop is used to quickly heal cuts or wounds.  When I was in Thailand, I was riding my motorcycle on a dirt road along the edge of the jungle one day when suddenly a water buffalo came into the road in front of me and I crashed.  I injured my knee and it was bleeding profusely.  An older woman appeared seemingly from nowhere and helped me by taking some leaves, chewing them up and putting it on my wound.  It stopped bleeding.  Could it have been some form of hyssop, I don’t know, but my knee still has a green place.

Magickally Hyssop is masculine, ruled by Jupiter and associated with the element of Fire. It is the herb used most in performing magick. Placed in a sachet it is a great herb to add to your ritual bath and can be hung in your home to protect against evil and unwelcome guests.  A hyssop mixture can be used as a solution to cleanse ritual tools and can be sprinkled around the circle before it is cast.

Hyssop Cleaning Solution

As it smells good and is expensive, it makes a great cleaning solution and can be used on just about anything (including adding it to your washing machine.  Add it during the rinse cycle to act as a mild bleaching agent.  I add a little pennyroyal to the mixture to help control the flea population in our home (I have three dogs and a cat).