Feb 29, 2012

Green Magic Giveaway Winner

The winner of "Way of the Green Witch" by Arin Murphy-Hiscock is:


Please send me your mailing address (to rueandhyssop AT gmail DOT com) and I'll send out your book and seeds.  Congrats!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Leap Day today.  I am so very happy that March begins tomorrow! 

Welcome Spring!!

Feb 23, 2012

Green Magic Giveaway!

I'm back from my business trip, which was lovely but left me appreciating home all the more.  Because there were quite a few days on the trip that included snow, I was eager to get home to what I hoped was more mild weather.  The Valley did not disappoint.

Today the sun was out and the snow was melting fast.  There isn't much left on the ground except in the deepest shadows now.  While out in the backyard, I looked longingly at the raised garden beds, and decided I couldn't wait any longer.  Expecting to be met with a rather sharp vibration up my spine as I hit ice in the garden, I was pleased to find, instead, that the earth yeilded to my shovel eagerly.

I added compost and dug the raised veggie bed well, and rejoiced in all that rich, dark earth.  It is now raked smooth and waiting for the pea seeds I'll be depositing next week sometime.  This is the reason I choose raised beds for gardening - they can be planted early and harvested late.

While I've been dealing with a sick cat, a bullied niece and a business trip, I've forgotten about the February giveaway.  I'm happy to say that the kitty is at about 90%, the niece is happily starting a new school tomorrow and the trip was a wonderful success.  And so - on to the giveaway!

Because I'm knee-deep in Spring Fever, even though it's not yet Spring, I'm going to give away a book from one of my favourite authors about embracing the Green and staying connected to nature in your magical practice.

The Way of the Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

I'm a big fan of Arin's writing, and I know that one lucky reader will be receiving a great addition to their library.  I'm also going to throw in a few packages of medicinal herb seeds from one of my favourite seed suppliers!

As always, all you have to do is be a friend of the blog in some capacity.  Follow the blog by clicking the "follow" button up there to your right or follow me on Twitter.  You can also find me on FB, and now on Pinterest (as if I didn't have enough going on - but damn it's addictive!)  Leave a comment below and you are entered - just like that!

I'll draw the winner's name on February 29th.  Good luck!

Feb 16, 2012

Keep Kids Safe At School

Photo from: http://www.nobully.com/

I'm posting a letter here that I wrote to the editor of our local paper today.  I am not naming the particular school here, because it's not relevant, so the words in parentheses are edits.

"On Tuesday during lunch-hour, my niece was walking on (her) school grounds when a girl approached her and punched her in the face. A second girl stood by and watched. My niece went directly to the office and reported the assault, but unfortunately did not know the girls' names.

She was told to look through a year book, but my niece could not identify the older girls by yearbook headshots. She described their appearances in detail, including the exact clothes that they were wearing, but no action was taken to go into classrooms and seek out these girls.

What is really disappointing is that the school did not call a parent to inform them of the assault. After waiting 24 hours for a phone call from the school, her father contacted the principal.

Our schools are supposed to have a “no bullying” policy. This, unfortunately is not the case. My niece has been verbally bullied for months, leading up to shoving incidents and finally an assault, with no apparent action being taken by the school.

I understand that school is not a babysitting service. Children are there to gain an education and social skills and teachers are there to facilitate that. We try to teach our kids to “tough it out” and not to let others get them down, but what happens when our kids are no longer safe at school?

There is a startling epidemic of teen suicide and teens undergoing psychiatric care as a result of bullying across North America. Should we wait until we are at a funeral service before we talk to our kids about the devastation of bullying?

Please, if you have a child in (any school,) talk to your children about the destruction that bullying causes to a child’s emotional, mental and physical well-being. A child should not be full of fear and despair every time they walk through the doors of their school."

If you haven't talked to your child about bullying - now is the time.  If your child is experiencing bullying, make sure you contact their school about ANY inappropriate behaviour aimed at them.  Google "anti-bullying" programs in your area - there are so many out there now.  No child should have to face this.

Feb 13, 2012

Seeing Red

This week there are so many places you can read about the history of Valentine's Day or Lupercalia, the earlier Roman holiday, that I'm going to forgo a text-heavy post about hearts and love and all things gooey, and just post a few pictures from this week that have hinted at Valentine.

A tulip from a friend, fully opened, and sporting hearts on every petal:

The concert I was at last week, appropriately called the "Get Your Heart On" tour, shot off cannons full of red, pink and white tissue during the finale.

Red Willow beside the river.  I'm checking on its progress as I wait to harvest some for my smudge mix.

This picture does not do the view justice.  The sky was bright and foggy this morning.  The bottom edge of this photo is actually a lake, the middle is a fog bank covering a hill (there's a little town under there somewhere) and then the fog clears as you head up the mountains, which received a nice dose of fresh snow last night.  The pink cloud cover burned off fairly quickly this morning, and it's been clear and sunny all day!

Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day tomorrow.  And if you don't have a sweetheart, be good to yourself!

Feb 10, 2012

Wildcrafting - Red Willow

I had wanted to go evergreen picking this week, for use in some salves and incense, but with the hoar frost still sticking to the hills, I've had to rethink my late Winter wildcrafting projects. Luckily, down here on the Valley floor, the snow is nearly gone and there are a few plants that are available to pick at this time of year. Red willow has become a favourite of mine.

Red Willow is a tree that grows primarily in Western North America near streams. In my area of British Columbia we don't see red willow “trees” as the plant grows in such close proximity to each other that it appears as a shrub, or a wall of shrubs among the other plant life, like a hedgerow.

The bark of the red willow, is in fact red, and remains so even when the leaves fall off the tree in the Winter. This tree/shrub then becomes a favoured food for the elk population during the lean Winter months.

The branches of the red willow were used in earlier times in many ways by the local indigenous peoples, such as making baskets and other tools. I was part of a group that created a traditional sweat lodge and the frame was made of freshly cut red willow branches.

The reason I use red willow, is its bark. The shrub has two layers of bark. The red outer bark and a green inner bark. The inner bark is collected and dried as a smoking herb used in Native American pipe ceremonies. It can also be used as a cleansing ingredient in tea. The outer bark is often discarded, but it has a sweet smell when burned, so I add it to my smudge mix.

Red willow bark, as well as other willow barks, contains Salicin which, when converted by our bodies to Salicylic acid, becomes a pain reliever - most commonly found in aspirin.  If you have any allergies to aspirin - it's best not to use red willow internally at all.

Red willow is traditionally picked close to the Spring Equinox, before the buds open up to form catkins.  Here in the Valley, we would pick sometime between Imbolc and the equinox, as Spring can sometimes come early.

Magically, red willow has the same properties as other willows.  Love, protection and healing all correspond with willow, which is also associated with water and the moon.  Being that Valentine's day is approaching, weaving a heart or wreath of red willow, while concentrating on love in your home, or bringing more love into your life, would be a great project or gift to a loved one.

Red willow is a lovely plant, and one you'd be fortunate to be aquainted with.  Take a walk out by your local waterways (especially if you live in the West) and see if you can spot some.  Don't forget - if you are going to harvest some for yourself, leave a little offering behind as a token of gratitude.

Happy late Winter harvesting!

Feb 8, 2012

Where In The World

Here is where.  I've been here.  Yes, it's beautiful.  But after weeks and weeks of grey, punctuated by brief sunlight, even the beauty can be lost on you.  I'm still walking by the river, still dosing with herbal infusions and still getting out to hockey games, and even a concert tomorrow.  The wheel turns - but ever so slowly this time of year.

It's snowing now, as I type this, but I know it will stop soon.  It is February now, and even here in the high Valley, Winter doesn't last much longer than the first few weeks of February.  I've been fighting the first real cold that I've had in a long time.  Garlic, St. John's Wort, salt-water gargles and ginger honey have been my best friends these last few days.  I can't even talk about how wonderful these herbal remedies are.  I remember my Nyquil days, and that drugged feeling was never fun.

I took a drive up the hill last weekend to observe Imbolc and leave a few (natural) offerings.  The groundhogs in Canada seemed to report that Winter was ending, but I'm thinking Punxatawney Phil was right.  There's still some Winter left - at least up on the hill.  I took a few photos of the hoar frost that covered everything up there.

On the Pine needles:

On some scrub brush:

It's really something to see frost like that, growing almost an inch out in every direction.  Nature is wondrous.

I wanted to take a moment to give some belated thanks to Aw from My Life As I Know It, Keltik from Keltik's Korner and The Witch of Howling Creek for tagging me/giving me awards this past month.  I've not done the required homework on these, I'm afraid.  After several years of blogging, I figure you know more than you might wish to know about me already.  But thank you for the lovely thought!

Also, The Witch of Howling Creek is also the creatrix behind Pagan Living, an online home and garden magazine.  She is releasing the next issue in March and I have a small article within.  It's a very beautifully done magazine - do stop by the site and check out the past issues and I'll let you know when the new issue is released!

Thanks so much, as always, for sticking with me through the great blog drought of 2012!  I have another giveaway coming up this month and am geared up to start working on more herbal goodies and getting down to some serious garden planning.  Hang in there - things are starting to wake up!