PBP2014: D – For Divination

Divination has played a large part in my pagan lifestyle.  When I first discovered Wicca (as we all do), the first thing I learned was how to shield.  But the second…the second thing I learned was how to divine the future.  I started with throwing stones in the playground, and it transformed into using the Ouija Board (until my mother found out, and banned it from the house).  And that transformed into quartz crystals, and finally, tarot cards.

I can still remember my first tarot deck – a sultry purple, kept hidden in my underwear drawer until I felt comfortable enough to come out with my first altar (and that, I remember too – a pathetic thing, with four candles and a mirror – it took me a long time to realize that the “Wiccan” way of doing things meant little and less to me).  The Mythic Tarot, a play on images of my favourite Grecian myths, which lead me and guided me through the bulk of my teenage years, and well into my early twenties.

I can still remember my trepidation, as I realized whenever I used the cards, they told me of ill fortunes to come – nearly all of which came true.  I remember pulling the Death card, and the Devil, more times than I can count.  I remember them telling me over and over, no matter how many different questions I asked, that my life would be a struggle, and I would come out stronger for it.  My first breakup: you will come out stronger for this.  My first surgery: you will come out stronger for this. The first time I failed a course: you will come out stronger for this.

I didn’t believe them.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t believe them.  Nothing could be worse than this, my young adult brain thought.  This is the end of you.

And I put the cards away. I hid them, sequoistered within the confines of my altar cabinet, collecting dust.  Coming with me move after move, and never being touched for years.

I became afraid of my cards.  They only predicted the bad things to come, and I didn’t want to know.  I wanted to live in the present, or be stuck in the past, but I definitely did not want to know the future.  The future was a problem for my future self (and in some ways, I still believe this.)

Finally, two years ago, I bought a new deck of cards.  And I finally have a new understanding.  They don’t predict the bad things in my future.  They don’t predict anything.  They are a tool which lets me know, that if I follow on the course I’m on, they are one of a thousand likely outcomes.  Now, sometimes my fortune comes true, and sometimes, in a rare while, I make a conscious choice not to let that future become true.  And just sometimes, a bad thing still happens, but rather than wallow in my own self-destruction, I look for the other reasons that the fates have led me here, and I try to find joy in it.

Now, I have one tarot deck, two Rune sets (both handmade, one by me, and one by a long-distance acquaintance), and I can read the Homeric Oracle*.

And now, I let the Fates guide me, but I don’t let the Fates control me.

*For more information, please see my guest post over at nuannaarpoq.wordpress.com 

PBP2014d

PBP2014: D – For Divination

Arnica Oil, Three Methods, and an Ointment

(this was meant to be posted a few weeks ago when I actually made the arnica ointment. sorry…)

Medicinal Oils:

Making infused oils with plants (fresh or dried) is an easy way to preserve their medicinal properties. This works because many plants contain oil-soluble components, such as essential oils, resins, basalms, waxes, and vitamins which can be extracted when placed in a carrier oil for a length of time. These infused oils can last up to one year, depending on the type of carrier oil you use. Olive oil is a classic example, because it has a long shelf life, and is readily absorbed by the skin, but many other options are available. Lighter oils, such as almond, jojoba, or sunflower oil can be used, or they can be blended together to utilize the benefits of multiple oils at once. Squeezing the gel out of a vitamin E (tocopheral) capsule, or adding tea tree oil can also help to preserve shelf life. Even hard vegetable or animal fats can be used, if heated with the herb.

A good list of the shelf lives of various carrier oils can be found here.

* If using freshly foraged herbs, make sure to let the herb wilt for a few hours to evaporate any excess moisture, which could cause mold and spoilage later on. A good preventative for spoilage is also to cover your jar, not with a tight-fitting lid, but rather with cheesecloth, or a paper towel and elastic, so that any excess moisture can escape.

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* When using dried herbs, remember the rule of thumb is to use half the dried amount versus the fresh amount. So if a recipe calls for 2 quarts of -insert herb here-, remember to use only 1 quart.

As a general rule, use 1 cup (250mL) fresh herbs (or 1/2 cup dried herbs) to 2 cups carrier oil. Add anywhere between 1mL and 5mL vitamin E oil as a preservative after straining.

1) Traditional Method

Begin by making sure every utensil you’re using is clean and dry (moisture is bad, if you haven’t gotten the message yet!)

Take your plants and break them up (called garbling) by hand. This helps bruise the plant and make it more readily release its volatile oils.

Pour carrier oil over top of your plant, making sure to cover it completely. Exposed plants can cause spoilage. Cover your jar with a piece of cheesecloth or paper towel and an elastic to secure it.

Place in a dark, cool location, and shake or stir daily for anywhere between 2-4 weeks. Make sure to keep an eye on your oil and watch for any changes – cloudiness, or molding. If this happens, strain immediately (if it doesn’t smell off, it should be okay).

After 2-4 weeks, strain through a cheesecloth, or muslin, or a coffee filter, and add vitamin E or other essential oils for preservation. Pour into a clean glass container (preferably dark) and label with the date and what the infusion is. Store in a cool, dark place out of sunlight.

2) Sun Infusion Method (my favourite)

Follow all the directions of the Traditional Method for preparation.

Store jar on a windowsill in direct sunlight, allowing the heat of the sun to infuse the herbs into the oil. Steep for at least two weeks, before straining, adding vitamin E or essential oils, and storing.

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* It’s especially important with this method to make sure not to put a tight-fitting lid on your infusion. The sun heats the oil, which causes condensation, which can ruin your entire batch if it’s left to mold.

3) Double-Boiler Method

This is a really good method to use if you need your oil faster than 2-4 weeks away, or if you don’t have the time to steep it slowly.

Fill the bottom portion of a double boiler with water (not too much though). Break up your herbs by hand into the top portion of the pot. Heat on low – if your heat is too high, you can burn your oil.

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Pour the oil over your herbs and bring water (in the lower pan) to a low simmer.

Heat slowly for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally (although I’ve read sources that say as long as 2-5 hours). The lower you heat your oil, the longer it can infuse without ruining the quality of your infusion.

Let the oil cool to room temperature, and then strain through cheesecloth. Add vitamin E or essential oils, and then bottle and store in a dark, cool place.

* I don’t own a double boiler, so I used an oven proof dish inside of a large saucepan.  It works, but be careful not to drip water in the dish!

* To make any of these infusions stronger, add a batch of fresh herbs to the infused oil, and repeat.

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Arnica Ointment, taken from The Boreal Herbal, by Beverley Gray

1 cup (250mL) arnica flowers

1 1/2 cups (375mL) sunflower oil

1/2 cup (125mL) olive oil

1 TSP (5mL) vitamin E

1 oz. (30mL) beeswax

Add beeswax to a double boiler on low heat (or use an oven proof dish inside of a pot filled with water). Stir often, until beeswax is fully melted. Add full volume of infused arnica oil, and stir until fully combined.

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I’ve since used it, and it works like a charm!

Sources:

http://whisperingearth.co.uk/2010/04/26/potions-group-making-herb-infused-oils/

http://www.anniesremedy.com/chart_remedy.php?prep_ID=30

http://mountainroseblog.com/making-herbal-infused-oils/

The Boreal Herbal, by Beverely Gray

Arnica Oil, Three Methods, and an Ointment

Wisdom from the Seventies

to die in the forest

cremate on a hot fire

so the smoke

goes straight to heaven

& the ashes

to the four winds

then a wake

the joy of liberation

*to cremate, make a pyre of wood, lay the body on top, pour on kerosene and lots of incense. Burning bodies don’t smell so good.

Alicia Bay Laurel, ‘Living on the Earth’, circa. 1971

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Wisdom from the Seventies

Life on a Commune: Wisdom from the Seventies

Last week, I found the most amazing book I’ve ever seen at the library. It’s called “Living on the Earth”, by Alicia Bay Laurel, and it is entirely handwritten.

Some of the book is definitely a ‘whoa, crazy hippies wrote this’ memoir. But some of it is spectacular. So while I have it rented from the library, I’m going to do a short series of posts called “Wisdom from the Seventies”, where I share those little gems.

The Moon rises when the sun goes down, when it is FULL.

The Moon rises with the sun, when it is NEW.

The Moon as she WAXES rises later and later in the day.

The Moon as she WANES rises later and later after sundown.

I see the moon, and the moon sees me.

God bless the moon and God bless me.

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Life on a Commune: Wisdom from the Seventies