Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The call to protect the land from fracking

Like most of you who are reading this I am immersed in the challenges of daily life and trying to work towards living more sustainably.  But there is a bigger picture that we all need to take account of and respond to in our own way.  We are in the midst of an environmental crisis caused by our unsustainable society.  One manifestation of this is the development of extreme fossil fuel extraction methods such as fracking, coal-bed methane and underground coal gasification.   These cause contamination of the air, water and earth around drilling sites, which leads to severe health effects in people living nearby, as well as contributing to climate change.   Vast swathes of Britain have been opened up to fracking & other extreme fossil fuel extraction methods by the current government, so large areas of our precious countryside & the wildlife which lives there as well as many millions of people will be directly affected if this goes ahead.  See http://frack-off.org.uk/fracking-hell/ for details of the threat.

In August 2013 I was contacted by a friend who asked me to help with organising an anti-fracking ritual on Glastonbury Tor.  The intention of the ritual was to raise awareness and energy for the anti-fracking cause, particularly in the pagan community.   Reverence for the earth is a fundamental part of pagan spirituality so this was a call I felt I had to answer.  Several hundred people participated in the ritual along with hundreds more doing rituals elsewhere round the UK and round the world to send energy in support.   As a result of the ritual The Warrior's Call Pagans United Against Fracking http://www.warriorscall.org/ was created as an international network which encourages all of like mind to work both practically and magically to defend the land from fracking. The Warrior's Call has held 3 more international rituals over the past 2 years, in which literally thousands of people have participated.  The intention of the rituals has been to inspire and empower the people participating to work on an energetic level and in practical ways to help protect our land, water and air from the threat of extreme fossil fuel extraction.  

As well as the international rituals there have been many rituals and practical actions organised by local communities affected by the threat in their area.  I participated in a Winter Solstice ritual held last month at Upton near Cheshire on a piece of land that was ear-marked for drilling, that had been occupied by activists for the last 21 months.   As part of the ritual I and my husband called upon the powers of Oak and Mistletoe to protect the land.  We called to the ancient oaks that stood guard round the boundaries of the field and to the power of the bough of Mistletoe that I had brought from a ceremony held in Glastonbury earlier in the month.  Mistletoe has associations of good luck & protection from many ancient cultures, our custom of kissing underneath it is a dim remnant of these customs. 

 Winter Solstice ritual at Upton (photograph by Colin Gong)

Invoking the power of Oak & Mistletoe (photograph by The Chester Chronicle)

Very sadly the protection camp at Upton was brutally evicted by bailiffs accompanied by several hundred police officers last week.  But this does not mean that resistance at Upton and across the UK is over.  Far from it, a solidarity event was held at Upton last weekend, attended by 100's of local people and activists from around the country and there is an ongoing presence at the entrance to the lane leading to the site.  There are scores of No Fracking Way events planned across the UK for Sunday 31st January, to kickstart community resistance around the country in 2016.  Please try to support one of these or organise your own to add your voice to the many who are standing up to defend our land from short-sighted greed which will leave a lasting toxic legacy. 

As my blog is mainly about herbalism I especially invite my fellow herbwives and herbal practitioners of all kinds to answer the call to help protect the land with our particular knowledge and skills.  This may be by providing much needed healing & practical support for the well-being of frontline protectors such as at Upton, please join the group Herbalists Against Fracking to get involved.   Or it may be by doing magical work alone or in a group, calling upon our plant allies for guidance and assistance in our work to change consciousness and help bring about what is needed to stop extreme fossil fuel extraction in the UK and across the world.  Or by spreading the word about the threat of extreme fossil fuel extraction in your community both online and offline.  We can all do something.  Our land needs us all, will you answer the call?

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Herbal gifts & a cupboard full of goodness

Apologies for the long gap since the last post due to various circumstances including being responsible for co-running a week-long camp at  Samhain, at which herbs in various guises played a part including ritual offerings, Mugwort assisted dreaming, cold remedies & a talk about using herbs to help keep healthy over the winter.  I also had my 50th birthday in November, which feels like a major milestone especially as I am in the process of passing through the transition of menopause.  Then in December like many people I was busy with the lead up to the festive season.  I managed to find time to make some herbal gifts of creams & salves for family and friends, using some of the infused oils & tinctures I have made, which was a lovely way to share some of what I have been doing as a herbwife apprentice during the last year.

Skin Cream

I made some skin creams using Christopher Hedley's basic cream recipe:

1oz base cream
1 teaspoon infused oil
2 teaspoons tincture
4 drops of essential oil

- Add the infused oil or oils if using a combination to the base cream and stir until it is all absorbed.
- Then add the tincture or tinctures if using a combination and stir again.
- Add the essential oil & stir in.
- Spoon into small jars with screw top lids & label.

I used Olive Tree Rich Cream Base from Baldwins herbal suppliers http://www.baldwins.co.uk/olive-tree-rich-base-cream for my base cream.

I made a soothing skin cream with 4oz base cream, 1 teaspoon Rose petal infused oil, 1 teaspoon Calendula infused oil, 1 teaspoon Marshmallow infused oil, 1 teaspoon of Elderflower infused oil, 4 teaspoons of Rose petal tincture & 4  teaspoons of Elderflower tincture.  These are moisturising & soothing for dry skin.  I didn't use essential oils, just infused oils.

I also made Rose & Elderflower skin cream using just Rose & Elderflower infused oils & tinctures in equal proportions.

Cream, oils & tinctures for Soothing Skin Cream

Mixing cream

Soothing Skin Cream

Rose & Elderflower Skin Cream

Back & Joint Salve

I made some Ginger double-infused oil by chopping up a large Ginger root into small chunks then dividing into 2 batches and putting the first batch in a small pan covered with Olive oil and heated over a slightly larger pan of water on a very low heat for 2 hours, then removed the first batch of Ginger and put in the second batch into the same oil to heat for another 2 hours, the oil was strained through a piece of muslin over a sieve into a jar and labelled.

I made a salve for soothing back & joint pain using:

3 fluid oz Meadowsweet infused oil - which has pain-relieving properties
3 fluid oz St John's Wort sun-infused oil - which relieves nerve pain
2 fluid oz Ginger oil - which is walming & soothing for inflamed joints
2 fluid oz Marshmallow oil - which is lubricating & soothing
1 oz chopped beeswax - which makes the salve set & has healing properties

This was heated in a small pan in a slightly larger pan of water on a low heat and stirred until the beeswax all melted.  The salve was then poured into small jars and left to set then the lids were put on and the jars were labelled.

 Making Ginger double-infused oil

Root Ginger infused oil

 Back & Joint Salve

To mark the end of my first year of the herbwife apprenticeship and beginning of the next year I have taken stock of the remedies I have made over the past year and listed them all in an inventory.  This will be useful to help me keep track of my growing pharmacopeia of remedies and to plan for remedies I need to make this year.  I also made a list of the books I have read or used for reference over the last year.  I already have some books lined up to read to continue to deepen my knowledge and appreciation of herbs as allies for health & well-being over this coming year.

 Creams & salves in my bathroom cabinet

Oils, salves, flower essences & dried herbs

Herbal vinegars

Tinctures & elixirs

Tinctures, elixirs, glycerites & preserves

Herbal honeys

Herbal books

I look forward to continuing to share my learning and reflections on my journey as a herbwife with my readers over the next year.  Thanks for all the positive comments I have received over the past year, they are really appreciated.  Please do post a comment if you want to know more about anything I have posted, I am happy to share information with others who share my interest in all things herbal.