Monday, 28 November 2011

Sensory Herbcraft- Rootz weekend

We Wild Witches wanna say a massive Thank you to all of our lovely apprentices - What a Full Earthy Weekend!
They shared, shed, dug, buried, tasted, discussed, flew, drew, wrote, designed, consulted, reviewed and created…full-packed witchi work.  From opening the Nu Moon Circle with shedding ol' unproductive bits n bobs through diggin deep whilst protecting our muscular skeletal saturnal bodies, thinking about what stresses our daily lives to Nigella n Delia in the Kitchen making Calendula Balms. 
Seeing the pure connection that’s coming through between the apprentices and their herbs is so brilliant, what a fantastic kru. Seeing the confidence to start talking to people candidly about their health and suggesting small ways in which herbs can enhance the lives of their nearest and dearest…bloody brilliant.   The main aim of this course when we laid it out was to connect folk to the plants in a grounded sensory way and through developing intuitive work and above all to instill confidence in people to use herbs.  This seems to be coming through…woop woop.
The raucous cackling and group dynamic, even through the intensity of the work and length of the days was so refreshing.
One of the Highlights for us was the individual Presentations on Trees…
Hatty introduced us to her mum, Hazel, the sustainer…the first arrival after the ice age and responsible for the survival of man in these regions!!!
Ingrid to her rosehip, sexy temptress of pain and pleasure with her puppy filled rosy bosom, the dagger in her garter.  Pure womanly medicine.
Yvette to her weeping Urtha Willow, used to bind sacred handles and weave the stories of the world with her bracnches.
Dan introduced us to his neighbour Birch, a delicately pressed leafy twig, a memory of the changing seasons, yellows and greens.
Trini took us on a journey through time next to her mountain Rowan, the feather blossom and compact orchard, feasted on by the local giant.
Sue brought us through the path of her ancestors and memories held in each conker from the horse chestnut tree.  Milky potion, driving connection.
Janice moved us to tears with her friend the Ash living in her back garden. Felled after neighborly abuse in the name of safety but to rise again to live happily ever after…phew.  Straight Ash twigs, foundation for our knot magic.  Thank you to Janice for the use of her wonderfully moving and funny plant dream of lavender. 
Margaret, also saying hello to Fraxinus excelsior told us of this fantasic Tree of Life and the Viking men of Ash.
Ame accidently found her naughty whisperer, the Poplar, with its thick skin and zest for life.  A tree with lessons for us all.
Joyce and her ancient Holly tree, feeling everlasting, when found in a hedge you know that hedge has been nourishing with its medicines for lang lang time….
Freya found Captain Walter Jupes, the walnut trees residing where she lives.  We heard of his swashbuckling adventures on high seas while we sampled his many fruits, wiled away from the squirrels.
Daisy found her sisters, the cradling hands of Lime blossom in her local graveyard.  Light emitting, honey nourishment, beauties.  And what was the name that came to you after your fabulous flighty dream?
Dawn found her yew and her intuition in the back garden just through the gate.  Her protective friend for birth and love, another tear shed in the class by us weeping witches…In birth and death our great protector.
And Michelle with her Elder world of magic and dark witch mayhem.  Fabulous drawings, photos, elder-bling, a whistle and sacred beads for us all to ware.
You wild, wicked, creative, wonderful witchi wonders…
Roots down, homework to go…big up witch wanderers everywhere, lets get making costumes!

Thursday, 6 October 2011


 I have been making ‘skin healing medicine’ with my three-year-old daughter Elektra.  It’s a herbal ointment we use for her dry skin that is a mix of the delightful sunny Calendula officinales also known as marigold, the intriguing Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wort), and the fragrant lady Lavendula officinales (lavender) with her famously calming blooms.

Harvesting the flowers from the garden over the summer months is a total joy.  Elektra is extremely observant of every plant and cuts each flower head so carefully (with her Hello Kitty scissors) all the while singing little ditties to the world.  Hypericum’s yellow flowers stain your fingers deep, dark, red as they are picked, we try to harvest as close to the full moon as possible on sunny dry days.

Once we have our floral crop they are individually placed upon newspaper in the airing cupboard to dry out for a couple of days. We do this because if we were to infuse them in oil straight away they can be more prone to moulding. Once dry we fill three glass jars with the flowers and cover them with organic Almond oil (that a friend sends from her yield in Southern Spain).  The herbs are then left for one lunar cycle.  We leave the Hypericum oil in the full sun of our south facing front garden so all visitors are met with the alchemical process, it is truely amazing to watch the yellow flowers colour the pale almond oil a deep blood red within days.

The Latin name Hypericum is derived from a Greek word meaning "over an apparition" and the plant was believed to ward off evil spirits.  This highlights its modern use as an anti-depressant since depression is often described as ‘being taken over’, ’loss of control’ or ‘feeling low’.  Perforatum signifies the perforations or little dots on the green leaves that you can see if you hold them up to the sun.

The name Calendula stems from the Latin kalendae, meaning first day of the month, presumably because pot marigolds are in bloom at the start of most months of the year.  Early Christians named the flower "Mary's Gold" marigold and offered the blossoms in place of money at the foot of her statues.
Applied externally to the skin Calendula is primarily a wound-healer, but it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.  The yellow and orange flowers of our Calendula plants dye the oil a brilliant yellow. This one is also left for one lunar cycle.

The name lavender derives from the Latin lavare, meaning, “to wash”.  The Romans who brought this lovely herb to Britain used it to scent their baths.  As well as smelling fabulous it has wound healing, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.  We bury the lavender and almond oil infusion at the bottom of our garden in the vegetable plot – we found this technique for infusing oils in an old herbal and have had fantastic results.  The cooling earth energies are exactly what we wanted buried deeply amongst the roots of our Fig tree this infused oil took on a dark green tinge and a still quality – prefect to counteract itchy irritated skin problems – we left this on in the ground for 3 lunar cycles.

Once all the oils are ready we strain the herbs out and store the oils until we are ready to create our magic ointment

Equal amounts of each oil are poured into a Bain-Marie and then melted with beeswax and organic fairtrade Coco/Shea butter to form a creamy ointment.

The beeswax is from our local beekeeper, Michael, and it arrived as a big round cake of deliciously honey waxy smelling beauty – He cleans out his spent hives and filters the wax with rainwater.
 It was quite tricky chipping bits off this cake of wax to weight for the balm, as it is a very sticky consistency, so we used a little knife to literally chip away little flakes of wax. It is so much nicer than using mass prepared snow white pellets of wax than one can buy from wholesalers and some chemists.

Beeswax is the natural wax made by honeybees in the hive and its Latin names are Cera alba and Cera flava. A wide variety of cosmetics use beeswax as an emulsifier, emollient, and moisturizer.  After processing, beeswax remains a biologically active product retaining anti-bacterial properties. It also contains vitamin A, which is essential for human cell development.  Throughout time, people have used it as an antiseptic and for healing wounds.

Beeswax is added to the herbal infused oils to "set" them giving the ointment its consistency.

The Coco or Shea butter (both from Africa) give the ointment a soft creamy consistency.  Shea butter contains more vitamins and is said to have superior healing capabilities than coco butter.  In the past Europeans would have used lard or egg yolk.

50ml Hypericum
50ml Calendula
50ml Lavender
25ml Coco/Shea butter
15ml beeswax

It is a good idea to do a spoon test when all the ingredients are melted together to get the consistency perfect.  Drop a little of the mix onto a plate and leave for five mins, then mash it up with your fingers.  If it’s too hard add more oils, too soft add more beeswax.

As we dispense the ointment into jars we add lavender essential oil (about 3-5 drops into each 60ml jar).  A brilliant book that I have used constantly for recipies is Herbal Remedies by Chris Hedley and Non Shaw, full of useful creative ideas.

Since birth Elektra has had very sensitive skin with a predisposition to eczema. I was quite perturbed by this as I am not a sufferer myself and my eldest Harry has never had any kind of sensitivity reaction, but Elektra has a different dad to Harry and he is a classic allergy type, meaning he is prone to eczema, asthma and has sensitivities to dust, animals and pollen.

The healing balm has been amazing on Elektra’s skin really helping to clear the eczema.  We have also cut out all dairy and wheat products from our diets, mine whilst breastfeeding, and now hers.  She loves drinking almond, rice and sometimes soya milk.  I recently stayed with a friend with a hemp seed milk maker and I now want to invest in one, because I am concerned at the sugars and additives in the packaged ones.

The digestive system is where a lot of skin problems and allergies originate so I have always used Chamomile with both kids to aid digestion brewed from the fresh flowers out of the garden. Chamomile is a mild bitter and herbal bitters have profound actions on the guts stimulating appetite and digestive processes she happily drinks unsweetened chamomile tea and now eats the flower heads right off the plants!!

Chamomile is totally safe for Babies and young kids and it is important to get children into drinking herbal teas and use to the many diverse flavours so that when they are ill administering herbs is easy. As a herbalist I see many parents wanting to give natural treatments to their children for specific health problems and my advice for getting children to happily take their medicine is to make herbal teas your daily family drink, making a pot of different delightfully coloured, aromatic smelling herbs is magical and a form of healing in itself.

I am a Karen Lawton, a Green Witch living and working with plants in Hertfordshire, over the summers I tour with Sensory Solutions’ Witch theatre, dress up in Witchy costumes and teach folk about the joys of Herbs through practical sensory workshops around festival and fayres all over the U.K.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Witches Blog…

 What a delightful twisted and intense journey that led Us Witches to This Our first ever weekend of our Herbcraft apprenticeship.  

This has been in the pipeline for many years, and to realise sections of the Dream is so very exciting. There are so many of you herb-lovers, earth walkers out there who have energised us on our walk. Thank you for your support and love. 

Thank you too to John P Rogers with your cementing and Inspiring Words which form a foundation for our work.

15 slightly frazzled, travelers arrived to the Cheshunt Youth Hostel to land and find their accommodation for the weekend while 2 excited witches waited in the Robinson lair, their base for the weekend. 

Listening to the introductions, seeing the openness, feeling the warmth was indeed nectar that we all enjoyed supping into .  

Where does conscious perception lie? (Our starting point ) 

‘In my skin’, ‘all over’, ‘I feel like a lightening rod sometimes’… 
Our Hearts are the seat of our perceptions here, dropping our attention down and being ready to receive.   

15 warm and open hearts relaxed into what was to be a busy, experience-filled time.  In these hearts, the processes of intuition and observation were being interpreted into some useful form of interpreting information.   Observation. Intuition. Interpretation - the key to all our work and movements -Grounded Healing deeply connected to the Source. 

It seemed right we start with the heart.  We looked at how to approach a patient with a heart condition and what may have led them to it in their lives, saw patients and shared our observations and intuitions to find out how we might approach them, designed questions to consider during a consultation. 

Sensory Herbcraft -Smell, Study, Taste, Feel, Sing, Dream, Create. 

Weave together and meet your Guides your Plant Allies. 

We had the blessing of being introduced to Hattie Hawthorn, Old Timothy, Mr Fit Guy, Emlyn Redfire, Maggie Crategy, Rex and the Craggy Crone, to name but a few.   

These personifications of the blood red-berried hawthorn all had common themes.  Loving, Tough, sharp talking, eccentric, hard to reach but nourishing if you dare to delve into its realms.   

Witches waiting to dance, waring a green leather coat that tastes of greenery.  Health in its fundamental self.  Hawthorn was our major heart herb, a masterful tonic.  

Always bringing it back to Movement -Circulation -Fire -Smash stagnation. 

Horsechesnut Gellified and Nettle Iron Tonic…mmm 

Saturday nightlife,

What does it mean to be a witch?
To study witchcraft?
Who are we all and what are we doing?
We’re here with this physical plane how do we work with it to blossom and become. We looked at practicing ritual in an intuitive way and moving away from dogma. We looked at the history of medicine and some lesser-spotted female influences on it….who was Lily the Pink?

 As the Moon Moved into Gemini on the Sunday we began with Seed --- Air 

The midpoint of it all, the space between life and death, potential, patience.   

What is seed?  Fertilised and ready.  How do we make seeds as humans and what conditions could get in the way of this process or what complications can arise from these complex and sensitive systems?  Rosehips and nettle root were the focus of the day.  And with the herbs we need get even more movement…get the circulation flowing through our loins.  Releasing our hips, opening, yoga and massage.  What old old stuff is lurking in our hips preventing that release… 

Stress is all around us, daily, we are in constant flux to try and regulate our position in the external environment.  It was clear that stress is a major factor in all dis-ease (looking at the heart and reproductive systems) and that we can help our bodies to be more adaptable by removing extra strains such as caffeine and nicotine.  There was a few caffeine withdrawals by Sunday which some felt got in the way of their studies.  It was a good challenge to be able to stay focused and a big lesson that something like caffeine or a lack of it can affect you so much and impinge on your enjoyment!  Our bodies relying on other substances to wake them up and get going…..lets be free from unnecessary constraints. 
What a pleasure to have walked this 1st weekend with such open, intuitive and up-for-it folk…a truly magical experience. 

We are Planets Earths Secret Service and we all need Costumes…..

We have a couple of witchy days coming up and a couple looking into the birth warrioress artemis, also known as mugwort...

Witching Herbs Workshops:
22nd October @ Crews Hill, HERTS


29th October @ Bowden House in Totnes, DEVON

Mugwort workshops:
Saturday 19th November in Bedfordshire

Saturday 3rd December @ 5 Penny Farm, DORSET 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Inula helenium/ Elecampagne New Moon Harvest

The Sept Nu Moon was exciting -I had been planning the uprooting of a particularly large patch of Inula/ Elecampagne for the past month. Waking up several times from dreams about this statuesque pungent beauty.
 She stood 9 feet tall at her highest and looked very junglefied indeed.
 It was a warm clear day and Dieter Elektra and I set off with buckets and large spades! Luckily the soil was very sandy and so the heavy digging back work was made considerably easier. I had read that the plant should be at least 3 years old to harvest the roots this one was 4 years old and Massive.

Inula is part of the Daisy family recognisable by her composite flower heads. I have used this plant for many years as my Son Harry was diagnosed with Asthma @ 2 years old. I put him on a mix of Inula, thyme, hyssop and liquorice and his asthma soon disappeared. This mix along with some others now forms the basis of our Lung Tonic Tincture. This tonic along with a Breathe Easy tea, has help loads of folks to get rid of their inhalers. Woo hoo.
Inula is a relaxant so is also indicated when there is a nervous component in a cough. Harry’s original cough was really persistant, I remember going to see a film with him and he literally did small half coughs throughout! The plant’s bitter tonic properties stimulate the appetite and digestion, increasing the flow of bile, so used in IBS and other digestive complaints as well.
.It is also an emmenogue promoting menstruation and can be used to treat anaemia
The Roots looked like Stone Aged Clubs and we had some fun waving them around!
We filled the bath with them and showered the excess mud off then began the mammoth chopping task.......

I think I need a shredder......

Monday, 8 August 2011

Artemis my love

A Waxing Lammas Moon, found me in obsessing over mugwort, everywhere I had driven over the past couple of months she was waving at me from the roadsides lining these highways and byways with her tall, willowy ways.

Us witches have found out that although all of our medicinal remedies are illegal due to not being licensed under the new regs, our smoking mix is perfectly legal -slightly ironic!

We have decided to try and promote and sell this product and fund our land project literally by smoke......Lady Artemisia Vulgar a.k.a Mugwort is one of the ingredients of this heady mix -she works her magic in our dreams, sending us, both coded and clear insights, to grasp onto as we wake from slumber.
Anyways I had an idea in my head where I had seen some Mugwort away from the road, Dieter and I made our way down there and by chance came across a whole massive patch of pure mugwort interspersed with a smattering of creamy white blossoming, yarrow-

I felt blessed and as though the universe had put it all there just for me. We spent about 20 mins harvesting, marvelling at the bounty and filling the whole back of the land rover with HERBS and probably countless crawlies too.

Today the logistics of how to create the energetic power of our dreams is hurting my head –there is too much death and destruction in the air, the only thing I am certain of is that I must keep walking forward on this path of mine and tell all who I know about my love for Mugwort.

Dem wise ol chatterboxes...

The chance of moment of tranquillity, a canoe trip to a wild camping spot, a chance to breathe and relax.  Met-check promises of steady rain didn’t deter us as we set out with Ziggy-May to a beach not so far away. 

The rain held off and after pitching up I wandered off to find the most exquisite moorland path of heather I think I’ve ever seen.  At east 3 or 4 different kinds all at varying stages creating a patchwork of pinks, purples, oranges and brown, magically lit in the fading golden light of the day.

As I trimmed this years 1st heather harvest off the tops of the mounds they became chattering women in the hairdressers.  Wisdom wrapped in humour they chatted as I trimmed their purple rinses, delighting at the scene.

Heather, Calluna vulgaris (one of Elektra’s lovely middle names) and the Ericas (including bell heather), are little used but powerful remedies.  She is indeed connected to the later years of life…to wisdom and moving into the crone phase of the moon.  She is loved by the bees and connected to all things related to community (even if its just a revealing chin wag down the hairdressers).

It is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, diuretic and has traditional uses for coughs and colds. The tops are infused and used as a tonic to treat consumption, coughs, nerves, depression and heart complaints. 

We use her dried in our Joint Juice and Piss Ease teas.  We also make an oil from her and use as one of the main ingredients in our Ache Ease Balm.   And the tincture we use in our Kidney Cleanse tonic and in our Clear Vision Drops which are for action not reaction.  For really seeing clearly what is going on in any given situation.

She is so magestic and useful as a herb we should all use some heather magic from time to time.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

day 31

So its day 31 of my noramlly 28 day cycle and I have gone well n truely premental -with the words ' stop eating the bread' ringing in my ears from my raw foodie mate Debz -all I crave in granary seeded batch loaves with cheese, jam and marmite n onions n chocolate n n n n

I know that I am not pregnant, not only from the fact that I am careful with my dates n mucous n sex time but also cause I got Dieter to stop n get me a late night test yesterday - he started lecturing me on that I should be drinking pennyroyal tea, I bit his head off.

I am drinking a strong mugwort infusion now it is murky green and reminisant of a sage n oinion stuffin mix that hasn't been mixed.It smells and feels like food -I have made it from the flowering tops of our protecctress Artemis (common as muck variety/vulgaris) She grauds our roadsides waving delicate blooms to the travellers passing by. She is on our waste grounds and is most prolific. I have big bundles drying all over the house. She is gonna help me bleed soon............................

this time for me is inverted -

I searched beautiful wombs on google images --n got loads of plastic women???????? freaky fuckin world we are in

Friday, 1 July 2011

Harvesting Madness

We went off on a wander around the lush fields of Northaw yesterday with Angie and our little girls -I packed 5 baskets n bags, Angie packed picnic stuff. An adventure, what would find? First we came across the wonderfully fragrant Tilia trees on the village green in front of the church. Accessibly a low branched tree so no aching arms! We collected 2 big bags full and on sticking our heads in the bags decided that it smelt of watermelon, fresh and clean.

I had it in my head that I needed yarrow so we headed on the footpath toward Cuffley, where I was sure I had seen some yarrow before. What alot of Plantain we found mostly major but lots of lanceolata too. The Major has much rounder leaves but both varieties have similar medicinal properties of amazing mucous membrane restorative powers, a number one in my hay fever repertoire. I have used it for cuts and grazes whilst out n about, once my son came off his bike and grazed his palms up pretty badly -I chewed up a few plantain leaves and used them as a poultice on his hurting hands -the anti microbial action preventing infection, the anti inflamatory action helping the wound to heal all in all a fab remedy. Our next exciting find was the wood betony, with her distinct square mint stems covered in fine hairs and bursting with purple blooms her botanical name is Stachys betonica, and I think she tastes like porcini mushrooms, a flavour I find common to a few plants with nervine actions.

The Wood Betony was held in high repute not only in the Middle Ages, but also by the Greeks who extolled its qualities. An old Italian proverb, ' Sell your coat and buy Betony, ' and 'He has as many virtues as Betony,' a saying of the Spaniards, show what value was placed on its remedial properties. Antonius Musa, chief physician to the Emperor Augustus, wrote a long treatise, showing it was a certain cure for no less than fortyseven diseases.

Throughout the centuries, faith in its virtues as a panacea for all ills was thoroughly ingrained in the popular estimation. It was largely cultivated in the physic gardens, both of the apothecaries and the monasteries, and may still be found growing about the sites of these ancient buildings.

I use it alot with folks who suffer from nervous headaches, or thoughts that go round in circles causing high stress.

The tiny bright yellow agrimony flowers caught our attention next – it struck me as to how similar the foliage was to meadowsweet –but they are both in the rose family and must be closely related.

I have not used Agrimony much but –Bach says of Agrimony -Agrimony is a specific in any condition where the person holds the breath to stop the pain. This causes the release of endorphins – the body’s own opiates – which suppress pain. Agrimony people need to learn to ‘breath through’ the pain. As a consequence, the respiratory apparatus is affected. Agrimony is suited to conditions where the person is ‘tortured to capture the breath,’

And from Matthew Woods I got that Agrimony is a specific kidney pain remedy so I shall be trying it out on my next fitting patient…….

Finally found the yarrow but much of it wasn’t quite ready another day or two of sunshine to cokes the heads into fully opening.

I am drying all our precious treasures for teas.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Green n da Purple......

I love these 2 colours together the vibrant pale green-yellow hues of the Ladies mantle in flower and the deep purples of the Sage. I have been harvesting from my garden this morning - I caught a few rays of sun in amidst the clouds.

My mother-out-law is here staying from Austria, she has come to help my man whilst I run run away to Dorset to attend a workshop with The Sacred Trust -The Way of the Melissae -how excited I am. So I was getting in a harvest this morning because it will all be gone by the time I return.

The Sage (Salvia officinales) I love as a powerful pick me up real adrenal support in times of stress. Most folks know Sage as a fabulous throat remedy one of the aromatic plants with strong pungent scents great anti-septic actions so stops any bacteria quick smart! It is the thujone in the volatile oil that has an antiseptic and antibiotic action this compound is also found in wormwood, mugwort, oregano and tansy amongst others it is the thujone that has a vermifuge (a substance that expels or destroys intestinal worms (also called antihelmintic or anthelmintic) action.

Salvia also has an astringent action due to its relatively high tannin content so like tea or Oak galls it has this drying action very useful in diarrhoeas.

Because of an antispasmodic action that Sage also has which reduces tension in smooth muscle, it makes it a good remedy in combination for Asthma and it can be used in a steam inhalation for acute attacks, excellent for helping to remove mucous congestion in the airways and for checking or preventing secondary infection.

It may be taken as a carminative to reduce griping and other symptoms of indigestion, and is also of value in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea (pain-full periods). Its bitter component stimulates upper digestive secretions, intestinal mobility, bile flow, and pancreatic function, while the volatile oil has a carminative and stimulating effect on the digestion. There also seems to be a more general relaxant effect, so that the plant is suitable in the treatment of nervousness, excitability and dizziness helping to fortify a generally debilitated nervous system.

Salvia has a strong antihydrotic (reduces or suppresses perspiration) action, and was a traditional treatment for night sweats in tuberculosis sufferers. Its appreciable oestrogenic effect make it particularly beneficial for the night sweats of the menopause (it should never be used to suppress perspiration in fevers). Its oestrogenic effects may also be used to treat some cases of dysmenorrhoea and menstrual irregularity or amenorrhoea. It is effective in reducing milk production, and can be used during the process of weaning an infant off the breast.

 Ladies Mantle-Alchemilla vulgaris

The morning dew that sits so beautifully, held in the palm of the lady herself, gathers in spherical droplets, this dew has magical powers and has been revived for time immemorial, The Alchemists looking for the Elixir of Life held this plant is great esteem and that is why she is named after them. Her leaves were thought to be Mary’s cloak  her full name was –Our Ladies Mantle.

The potent astringent properties of the lady’s mantle herb have been used by many generations of wise women healers in Europe and has been used in stopping both externally as well as internally.

 Extremely useful in conditions like fibriods and endometriosis in women a strong herbal tea can also be used as a douche to wash off excess vaginal discharge and bring rapid healing. I made Pessaries after having Elektra simply by chewing up lots of the leaves and inserting them vaginally whilst I was having a warm bath. Off to make some purple n green tea now x x x x

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


The Belle of the Ball really got into my heart yesterday - I was out preparing myself for an evenings Herbcraft Workshop on Daisy n Elder so I thought the best way to learn more was to go out into the fields and harvest. I found a delightful meadow covered in trillions of the little white pink n yellow, uplifted flower heads. Getting down on my knees I began to pick, first thing that hit me was the intense flora smell so distinct, drawing me in. As I heard the pop pop popping of the flower heads coming of the steams the sound brought a smile to my lips and I felt an exciting warmth in my core. She is pure JOY, innocences, childlike love. I began to sing and she spoke through my song - 

Put me in everything, 
right from the start, 
into the middle of it all, 
into the beatin heart

my message from her to put a drop into each n every potion I make for everyone.

She also spoke about finding the anger making it material and letting it go.

The daisy gets its name from ‘day’s eye’, opening when the sun rises and closing when the sun sets. Its common names reveal its association with innocence: baby’s pet, innocent, miss modesty, little star, open eye. Its Latin name is Bellis Perennis. Daisies have long been made into simple chains by children and used by young girls to play ‘he loves me- he loves me not’ pulling off the flower petals one by one.

In herbal medicine the daisy has been used for aches, pains, bruises, wounds, lumps, swellings, boils and eye baths. As it has a diuretic action, the daisy has been used to eliminate toxins, helping clear up boils, acne, eruptions and arthritic symptoms.

A signature of the daisy, noted in many texts, is that it is constantly being trodden down, but always bounces back, refusing to be defeated, indicating that it would be a good remedy for those who are tired by their labours, but who carry on in a good natured manner, just as the daisy springs back up from the lawn after a bicycle or heavy boot has crushed it down. Daisies grew in battle fields and were used internally and externally as a wound remedy for injured soldiers. Bellis-perennis is the British Arnica, and is used in homeopathy as a deep wound healer, especially wounds to the breast and abdomen.

The flower essence made from the daisy is given to clear and organise the mind and prevent mistakes being repeated by those who don't seem to be able to learn lessons from past experiences. This echoes the theme of repeated injuries which was seen in the signature and homeopathic use of the daisy.

She is femine and ruled by the Planet Venus  and has physical cooling and drying actions.

We use daisy syrup at the base of many of our potions -

the drops of courage -
These extremely supportive drops help to stay focused and upbeat through challenging times

Dandelion helps to ground and centre strengthening the emotional body, giving a clearer sense of self. It gives the ability to be strong in our convictions and through directly supporting the liver helps to dissolve confusing, often 'irrational' feelings that might arise from there.

Both Borage and Dandelion are ruled by Jupiter which has a creative, expansive energy. Borage is traditionally used for courage and supports the adrenal glands making all of life's challenges (those that happen inside as well) easier to face.

Daisy brings joy to those who take it and as a herb of the sun cleanses and lightens, they are constantly being trodden down, but always bounce back. It's diuretic action means the daisy is used to eliminate toxins helping to clear the skin and promote immunity.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ointment making workshop

I have had a really relaxing day making our Ache Ease Ointment with Su and Ingrid -we started by having a look at all the individual ingredients that go into making up our anti inflammatory healing balm.

The horseradish infused almond oil made on NU moon Oct 2010 still smelling extremely pungent - this heating herb is a strong circulatory and brings the bloody flow to any areas the balm is applied, Horseradish is one of those ancient plants whose origin no one really knows. Some consider that it originated in Hungary or other parts of Eastern Europe, as far east as Russia and as far north as Finland. It is mentioned by the ancient herbalist Pliny as being good for medicine but not used as food.

Both the root and leaves were used as medicine during the Middle Ages, and the root was used as a condiment in Denmark and Germany during that time. Gerard (1597) mentions it as an accompaniment to fish and meat, and also says that it doesn't grow well with grapevines: “. . if the rootes heerof be planted neere to the vine, it bendeth backward from it as not willing to have fellowship with it.”

Horseradish was one of the five bitter herbs (along with coriander, horehound, lettuce, and nettle) eaten historically during the feast of the Passover; in present times, horseradish is still commonly used in the Passover Seder. Horseradish is a member of the same family as cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.: the Cruciferae family.

The heather infused almond oil has an action on the kidneys so promoting the elimination of toxins and debris, the comfrey aka knit bone is a connective tissue restorative so perfect to apply to damaged joints and achy muscles.

Comfrey has been used for centuries for its wound healing properties. Comfrey is mainly used externally to treat inflammation and to stimulate wound and fracture healing. The phytochemical allantoin is known for its stimulation of cell proliferation. The tannins and rosmarinic acid are responsible for the anti-inflammatory action of comfrey.
The bees wax from Michael Boki our local bee keeper is the hardening agent to make the oils into a  more solid consistency and the cocoa butter is an emulsifying agent and makes it all creamy -
Cocoa butter, also called cacao butter, is the cream-coloured fat extracted from cacao seeds (cocoa beans) and used to add flavour, scent, and smoothness to chocolate, cosmetics, tanning oil, soap, and a multitude of topical lotions and creams. Cocoa butter has been called the ultimate moisturizer, and has been used to keep skin soft and supple for centuries. It is one of the most stable, highly concentrated natural fats known, and melts at body temperature so that it is readily absorbed into the skin. Cocoa butter is often recommended for treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. When applied topically, it creates a barrier between sensitive skin and the environment and also helps retain moisture. In addition, cocoa butter contains cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP), a substance that inhibits the production of the immunoglobulin IgE. IgE is known to aggravate symptoms of both dermatitis and asthma.

Also essential oils of peppermint – known as an anodyne provides good pain relief when applied topically can really cool the area and rosemary I find very uplifting and also circulatory-

We combined all the ingredients together in a Bain Marie – 400ml of the combines oils, 200g of the cocoa butter and 100g beeswax.

As we poured the oil over the other ingredients which all looked good enough to eat we put our intentions into the mix –To heal and restore damaged muscular skeletal injuries and aches.

After about 15 mins all the while us in discussion about animal medicine –Su’s Sister works for the RSPCA – if the balm could be used on animals etc –I learnt that Cats wounds heal very fast –often too fast and the skin over the tops can heal before the inner tissue!

We then did a spoon / plate test to see how hard/soft our balm was –it was just right so we added 20 drops of essential oil per 100mls of liquid –this was guestimated much to my guests horror as they are more detailed than I!!

Poured in to Jars n Viola –Ache Ease mmmm

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


We came across a wonderful bank of pale yellow flowers whilst out walking near the Cerne Abbas Giant - it was a Beech copse with a truely magical feel to it. What a pleasure and delight it is to collect these delicate spring flowers and leaves. They tasted sweet with bitter, drying undertones and a hint of bitter at the end but overriding the taste for me was perfume -delicious delicate anti infectious perfume. As we ate the flowers and new leaves I feel extremely connected to the folks who had harvested these primroses through the ages past and how before the advent of supershops we would have eaten these as our salad leaves intermixed with dandelions, sorrel, rocket and a host of other -we still can -they grow plentifully, calling to us to eat them many spray free and it is healing experience in itself to harvest them.

Primula vulgaris is the primrose of the English countryside, the essence of spring for many people. It is a hardy perennial, preferring shady or sheltered conditions, but able to withstand dry soil, growing naturally as it does in woodland or hedgerows. These days, when so many of its natural habitats are gone, it is also found growing happily on motorway embankments, forming spreading colonies.

Plants form a dense rosette of large, crinkled, deep green leaves with prominent midribs, and in spring soft yellow flowers with deeper eyes are borne singly on pink stems. When you look closely at the individual flowers, you can see that there are two different arrangements: in some flowers, the round stigma is visible in the throat of the flower. These are called 'pin-eyed' flowers. Sometimes, the clusters of stamens are visible. These flowers are called 'thrum-eyed'. 

This is clever natures way to ensure cross-fertilization through pollunation by visiting insects.

Primula vulgaris has been used in traditional medicine as a remedy for muscular cramps, headaches and as a sedative. It was mentioned by Pliny as a remedy for rheumatism. It is definitely a cooling remedy and fantastic for the lungs and any infection of the lungs or mucous membranes -we are gonna dry them all out next to the fire and use them in a mix in our Breath easy tea.......

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Wild n Wicked Workshops N Walks...

We’ve just had 2 wonderful weekends of workshops, one in Herts and one down in Dorset.

In a YHA building set in the lovely Lea Valley Park and in a little industrial estate tucked out of the way in the back end of Dorchester in a room with fantastic views out over the hills we met to learn about Sensory Herbcraft.

Sensory Herbcraft is our way of working with herbs whereby you use your senses and intuition to determine the actions of herbs emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Each herb has a character and through connecting with the smells, tastes and observing how the plant grows we can get indications or notice signatures denoting to their actions. 

The groups studied (using their senses) 4 plants, one loosely representing each of the elements earth, air, fire and water and wrote down their feelings and responses.  What is always really amazing is the common experiences within the groups.

Yarrow left one group feeling heady and spaced, all found it bitter and therefore digestive and extremely aromatic.  Nettle was earthy, grounding and ‘fishy’.  We put this down to the high mineral content, like that that you find in the shells of shell-fish.  Cleavers was watery and peppery, for movement around the throat.  We use it a lot for swollen tonsils.  Dandelion leaf was light green and bitter, the root more sweet and earthy. 

We looked at yarrow, dandelion, cleavers and nettle in Saturdays workshop and saw them in their natural habitats the next day.  
We decided to focus the walks on making herbal vinegars because they capture the essence of spring and all of the minerals from the spring greens so well. There was lots of delicious fresh greens to tickle our taste buds and fill our vinegar jars and best of all the sunshine came out.

Some of the herbs we saw apart from the magic 4 in Lea Valley, Herts were daisy, horseradish, burdock, coltsfoot, comfrey, willow, snowdrop, blackberry, hawthorn, plantain and rosehips amongst others.

And in Dorset in the lovely Weymouth Lorton Meadows we saw bittercress, pilewort, chickweed, horsetail, wild carrot, alexanders, rosehip, sloe, blackberry, ground ivy, brooklime, hawthorn, sheep sorrel, dock, horehound, daffodil, plantain.  And we learnt not to taste lords and ladies because it burns your tongue.  We ate Ian's druid bread in the sunshine and chatted vinegars and aching joints over a picnic.

These workshops offer us all a chance to learn more about connecting with the world that grows around us so that we can learn how valuable it is and therefore how much it is worth protecting.  They are a forum to inform people and discuss the politics of herbalism in the current climate. How, more than ever it is important to take responsibility for your own health, to make simple home remedies and harvest from natures bounty in a sensitive way.

We have to protect ourselves and nature through learning about the plants and using our knowledge, passing it on to friends, family and children alike, enjoying and appreciating nature.

Thanks for making it so good everyone that was there and for being so enthusiastic. 

Monday, 7 March 2011

Digging up Dandelions

The weather has been glorious -and I have been out there making the most of it digging up dandelions roots on the nu moon -these extremely long resiliant tap roots came out easily from the damp soil, just breaking off and leaving tiny sections that will grow into more of this valuable herb in the future.

A perennial, the Dandelion is a member of the sunflower family, the name comes from the French, 'dents de lion' ("teeth of the lion") due to the shape of the leaves.

 As a herb of Jupiter  - it has to do with growth and expansion.

Elementally I have it as an Earth plant -because of the impressively long tap root...

Dandelions are popular with beekeepers as they are an early source of nectar.

Dandelion leaves also known as 'piss the bed', are of course diuretic but spare potassium unlike their chemical counterparts -often prescribed in hypertention. -these leaves are grown commercially for salad greens tasting a little bitter -go pick some n have a try- they are high in vits and iron and calcium.

Dandelion root is a fantastic liver tonic especially at this time of the year, when our livers need a bit of a cleanse from the winter riches of heavy fatty foods and sweets. Medicinally the root can be used for gallstones, constipation and other toxic conditions such as chronic joint and skin inflammations.

The white sap may be applied directly to warts.

All parts of the Dandelion plant give off ethylene gas which can have an allelopathic effect on surrounding plants. Some fruit producers grow them below the canopy of their trees to promote even ripening. The leaves and flowers can be placed in a bag with fruit to help it to ripen.
I was diggin em up thinking happily to myself that no law or legislation can ever stop me from doing this

-muddy fingered wide smiling witchi brew making hehe

I took em into the kitchen washed the roots well and then grated them into a jar and covered with Vodka -next nu moon I shall strain them out and have my wonderful dandelion root tincture..

This tincture is one of the ingrediant in our Drops of Courage -
These extremely supportive drops help to stay focused and upbeat through challenging times

Dandelion helps to ground and centre strengthening the emotional body, giving a clearer sense of self. It gives the ability to be strong in our convictions and through directly supporting the liver helps to dissolve confusing, often 'irrational' feelings that might arise from there.

Both Borage and Dandelion are ruled by Jupiter which has a creative, expansive energy. Borage is traditionally used for courage and supports the adrenal glands making all of life's challenges (those that happen inside as well) easier to face.

Daisy brings joy to those who take it and as a herb of the sun cleanses and lightens, they are constantly being trodden down, but always bounce back. It's diuretic action means the daisy is used to eliminate toxins helping to clear the skin and promote immunity.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

March Course

Herbcraft Day

Saturday March the 5th 2011 2-4pm cost £15 payable in advance

Herbcraft workshop with us Wild n Wicked Witches @ Triple Moon Apothecary, Crews Hill-

Would you like to connect more with your local Herbs?

In this 2 hour workshop we shall be introducing Sensory Herbcraft -

We will be using intuitive skills and all our senses to determine herbal medicinal actions, working in groups, you shall study 4 common plants in depth, focussing on their individual qualities and their corresponding elements.

Bring Paper and pens, open hearts and minds.

Plant Walk

Sunday March the 6th 11-1 cost £5

there will be a plant walk on the Lee Valley meeting @ the car park near chestnut YHA (Cheshunt Hertfordshire EN8 9AJ)

we shall be collecting  to make herbal vinegars.