A Champion for Herbs!

Finally, after years of studying, planning and dreaming of becoming a voice for the herbs and plants we share our planet with, my first herbal health course went ahead on Saturday.  It was lovely for me to see how eager the participants were  to learn how herbs and plants can help prevent sickness and help us to recover from sickness.  Plants have been on this planet for 700 million years with flowering plants arriving about 140 million years ago and it is this group “...on which all terrestrial ecosystems today depend including the existence of humanity.” Peter Hochukin University of Zurich, Paleontological Institute.  Furthermore, in the journal SCIENCE Blair Hedges, evolutionary biologist claims “…that plants paved the way for the evolution of land animals by simultaneously increasing the percentage of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere and decreasing the percentage of carbon dioxide” So it is very reasonable to accept the latest science, that plants are intelligent and communicative.  Mother Earth provides all that we need via plants – food, medicine, clothing, shelter and tools; and according to W.H.O, (World Health Organisation) 80% of the world’s population relies on herbal medicine as its primary form of health care.

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I believe that Mother Earth lovingly provides all the plants we need to stay healthy and consequently to keep the environment healthy.

Everything was ready before the participants arrived, all the ingredients and utensils I needed, with some remedies I had already made to show them what to expect.

 

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I’ve got Thyme, lemons, ginger, onions, garlic, honey, various essential oils, organic apple cider vinegar, beeswax, fennel seeds and other vital necessities.

We began by tasting some Dragon Fire Vinegar which is a folk remedy shared by American herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar.  Equal amounts of organic onions, garlic, chilli peppers, horseradish and ginger are chopped and grated and placed in a large jar.  Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is then poured over these ingredients and left to infuse for a month. This is a very potent, warming, anti-viral and comforting medicine and can be taken by the spoonful each day as a preventative or added to hot drinks should the virus take a hold.  It can also be added to casseroles and stews as well as to salad dressings.  After trying this I took the participants outside for a walk around the garden to identify some kitchen herbs and some wild herbs that are very useful for combatting  colds and ‘flu.  One person said  he was very glad to have taken the vinegar before going out as it was a cold day and yet he felt warm from the inside.

DSC_0238I talked about the properties of Thyme. This is a kitchen herb with powerful healing qualities.  It is an anti–viral, anti-microbial, anti-septic, anti-bacterial and is also an expectorant and anti-spasmodic.

All herbs have many qualities  and can be utilised for different health issues.Thyme is no exception as the above qualities also make it useful in other kinds of infections.

We drank some Thyme tea, which is a very pleasant drink with that comforting, medicinal taste before going on to try some Yarrow tea which I had picked in the polytunnel.  Yarrow helps colds and ‘flu sufferers because it diaphoretic and astringent.  That means it helps you to sweat out toxins, which brings down high temperature, and as an astringent dries up the mucous membranes when there is a copious amount of mucous or phlegm.

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What an opportunity for me to demonstrate the power of herbs; and so especially fulfilling because people were interested.  After a tasty organic lunch, we went on to make a honey throat soother, a cough syrup and a chest rub and I also shared with the group how to make tinctures and tea tinctures.  I have a selection of herbal tinctures already made for my own use and as one of the participants was sneezing and sniffling, I gave him some Elderberry and Thyme tincture.

DSC_0235Garlic had already been used in the Dragon Fire Vinegar and could have been used in the cough syrup and throat soother as well as it so powerful and healing.  It helps with all kinds of infection as well as supporting various body systems such as the cardiovascular system.  A clove cut in two and rubbed over the feet is one way of getting garlic into a child.

I had a wonderful day and was glad to receive very positive feedback as well as some useful suggestions for the next workshop.  I wish I had remembered to tell them all about Raspberry Vinegar which I had sitting on the countertop but forgot to mention.  Raspberries infused into organic white wine vinegar and left to stand in a warm place for two weeks before straining, makes a tasty throat soother and brings a little sunshine during the dark days of winter.  It can of course, be used in any salad dressing or even drizzled over desserts.

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Doesn’t it look lovely?

At this time of year there is not a lot growing.  The Lemon Balm, Oregano and Chamomile have barely resurfaced although it was possible for people to taste some young fresh leaves of Lemon Balm and Oregano.  During the growing year ahead of us, there is plenty of time to grow and  harvest your own herbs in preparation for next winter’s viral attacks. If you suffer with chest infections or have respiratory problems such as asthma, maybe you will enjoy the next workshop!

OOps!

Oh dear, I am sorry to say that my pledge to avoid buying disposable plastic has been thwarted at my first outing. Initially I pledged to stop buying water in plastic bottles – and I have stuck to that and I am using a lovely, vintage, French, lemonade bottle which I take in the car and to yoga. So I can give myself a gold star for that. However after watching this clip

I decided to extend my pledge to include all disposable plastic. On Friday I went into town to buy some groceries and, since I have also pledged not to buy any “stuff” for my personal use I have also become very frugal minded and have been checking prices to see how much I will save by the end of the year. This necessitates me travelling to an Irish and to two German supermarkets in my local town to choose my organic produce. One supermarket has more choice, one is less expensive and another is a variant of those two. With frugality in mind I bought the necessities and returned home. I happened to mention to my husband that I had discovered a brilliant Facebook page called ZERO WASTE IRELAND. It is a very energetic, positive page with people posting great tips and advice and positive news. Since I joined this group just a couple of days ago, I have already approved four new members so it must be growing rapidly if other members are approving an equivalent number of people. Here is the link

www.facebook.com/groups/zerowasteireland/

It seems that a large majority of people are concerned to know that plastic is such a pollutant and so damaging to health. There is a Change.org petition to ask Irish supermarkets to remove disposable plastic wrapping from fruit and vegetables. You can sign the petition here.

www.change.org/p/ban-single-use-non-recyclable-plastic-packaging-for-fruit-vegetables-in-irish-supermarkets?recruiter=295493185&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

My husband listened and was very interested and then nodded towards my purchases. I was aghast and horrified to discover that I had bought fruit and vegetables, from all three supermarkets, in plastic disposable wrappers. AAarrgghhh!!! Going into the supermarkets I had envisaged loose produce and I did buy loose aubergine and avocados and then I was on automatic pilot. How terrible is that! However, after this experience I have realised that I must be much more vigilant with myself. We are all creatures of habit and routine and this is perhaps why our best intentions fail. This was a wake up call for me to stay alert and it also made me realise that we are, quite literally inundated with, swamped with, suffocated by plastic. It was on a packet of organic tea, around a house plant and a couple of kitchen herbs, around the pack of cat food. It is so pervasive as to be invisible. I also realised that sadly, it is not something I can eradicate from my life in one go. This is going to be a big challenge which requires strategy and forward thinking but I am determined and confident that it can be done, especially with the help of Zero Waste Ireland.

I live in a very beautiful part of the world and I went for a walk later to better appreciate the winter light,
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the snow on the mountains
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and the stark winter landscape
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Here’s what else I saw
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Happy New Year from An Bhean Feasa

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We are still celebrating Yule here in Connemara.  Yule is also the season of the Winter Solstice and it celebrates the dark half of the year relinquishing its hold to the light half.  Each morning after the solstice on 21/22 December the sun rises a little earlier and stays visible a little longer, giving us something to celebrate – the “rebirth” of the sun.  One can easily understand how this festival of light was Christianised  – to celebrate the birth of the son (of God) by just a little adjustment of a couple of words.

Although Yule is a Germanic word there is little doubt that the ancients of Ireland also celebrated the Winter Solstice at least 5,000 years ago.  Newgrange is a megalithic construction oriented to the Winter Solstice and as the dawn light illuminates the passage, hitting the back wall at sun rise, one could say it brings the spark of life to the Mother’s womb.

 

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Our later ancestors celebrated the New Year after Samhain, Hallowe’en, but again due to Christianisation, many of the traditions associated with the Celtic New Year were transferred to the beginning of January.  So along with all the feasting, celebrating, dancing, drinking, gift giving and singing;  this is also the time for some introspection.  We can assess what we have achieved or harvested in the last year and plan what it is we want for the coming year.  Plans and hopes are nurtured during these dark days like seeds lying in the dark earth.  As the sun becomes stronger and the earth warms, the seeds sprout as do our hopes and dreams and best of intentions.

Most people make resolutions to change for the better in the coming year and I have, as always, also made some resolutions.  They are always for personal improvement such as more exercise, developing patience,  getting to bed at a reasonable time and so on.  This year though, I am also making two pledges.  One – to stop buying stuff.  I have enough clothes to last a life time.  I have enough books, cds and dvds to keep me entertained for ever and I am a member of the local library.  I want for nothing.  Buying things is something I am aware I am manipulated into doing and I have decided to take back my power, for me and for the planet.   This web-site  www.storyofstuff.org reveals what happens to all the stuff that I buy, where it comes from and where it ends up.  Most of the “stuff” is not doing any good at all and I do not want to be burdened with more stuff or see it go to  landfill. landfill-2

My second pledge, Two – to stop buying water in plastic bottles is something I have been thinking about for some time.  There is far too much plastic in our world and while some of it offers benefits almost everything plastic does can be catered for by other materials.  Plastic disrupts hormones, damaging people’s health and affecting the health of the environment and no one really knows to what extent.  Our oceans are awash with plastic and it makes me feel ashamed to think of the negative impact our excessive use of plastics has had.  In America alone, millions of plastic bottles go to landfill every hour!!!! My second reason for making this particular pledge is because of Nestle’s appropriation of water in various places around the world and its statement that water is not a human right.  It obviously is a human right and because I am lucky enough to have  water plumbed directly into my home, buying it pre bottled is telling Nestle I agree with them AND it is adding to plastic waste in the environment.

It is one thing to make a New Year Resolution, making a pledge in public, is, I think, a sacred promise.  I know it is not going to be easy but I will let you know about how I deal with temptations during the year.

Blessings of Peace to everyone for 2017 and may the abundance be shared among us all, may the Dagda’s cauldron overflow with kindness, compassion, good health, friendship and acceptance. Blessed be.