Monday, June 27, 2011

Witch in School

This Hidden Witch is in school.  For the past year, I've been studying Family Herbalism at the Florida School of Holistic Living.  It is a wonderful program, but is taking me forever to complete.

Luckily, Emily, the school's director is offering an Intensive this July.  If I can really apply myself over the next month, I will finish the Family Herbalist Certification & enter the Community Herbalist program!

I'm excited & also a bit anxious about the volume of work. 

So, I guess I'm saying - that's why I've been a bit absent from the blogosphere lately & will be just dropping in occasionally over the next few weeks.

As I complete this intensive program, my eyes are further opened to the magic of our plant allies.  I hope to be able to share some tips when I return (but may be so over the herb thing that I pick totally different topics).

Wild & Bright Herbal Blessings,


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

As I watch my garden melt under the hot, Florida, Summer sun I am reminded of the importance of planting appropriate species in harmony with nature.

The closer we come to mimicking our natural environment, the easier it is to garden & the more our gardens improve our local ecosystem.  By planting native species, we avoid the need for fertilizers & excessive watering.  We also support our local wildlife, especially the local pollinators.

Our gardens are currently about 50% native.  Flowering plants are more like 90% native.  We learned the hard way that Florida has freezing temperatures & the typical tropical plants cannot survive without serious intervention.  As we moved more & more towards natives, we automatically invited in more birds, butterflies, bees, & other beneficial wildlife (and the armadillo family as well, but sometimes things just happen).

Our medicinal & edible plants are all organic, but not all native.  Many are suffering in the intense heat of this year's early Summer.  Does this mean I'm giving up on them?  Is my palate & medicine cabinet going to go all native?  Probably not.  I will continue to baby these plants with organic matter, shade & extra water, hoping they survive the heat.  Some plants will be grown in a more forgiving season next year.  Plus, we are adding some native medicinals  that have been ethically wildcrafted.

The closer I connect with plant spirits, the more I am in awe of the complex relationships between plants, insects, animals & humans.  We truly are all connected.

Wild & Bright Blessings,


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dinner with the Green Witch

One of the wonderful things about living in Central Florida is the community here.  We are blessed with a large group of witches & other pagans who meet regularly.

Last night, through the Orlando Witches Meetup group, I was blessed to spend the evening with one of my favorite authors, Ann Moura.  Ann is best known for her Green Witchcraft series.  She is a witch of heredity, a witch of power! 

I've known her for almost a year now, but just as a customer of her shop, Luna Sol Esoterica.  I clearly remember the first ritual I attended at Luna Sol with Ann, as she directed her athame around the circle, I felt power surging through my chest.  I knew from that moment that she had IT.

Last evening, we listened to Ann as she told stories about growing up in a witch's household.  When she spoke of her mother, her eyes glistened.  She told family stories that made us laugh & gasp.  At one point, she spoke of an experience of de ja vu where she knew her brother would have a cherry pit in his piece of pie & how she knew her cute remark about it would cause a family rift; she avoided the fight by holding her tongue.  Later, in front of all of us, as she began to eat her dessert, she announced "my brother will leave a pit for me".  A few minutes later, as she was nibbling, she FOUND A PIT in her piece of cherry pie!  She carefully wrapped the cherry pit in a napkin to take home, honoring the message of love sent from her brother.

Words cannot express how much I enjoyed this evening.  I am honored to have the ability to learn directly from one of our elders.

I have known Ann as the proprietor of one of my favorite shops & through her writings, but now, I feel I know her as a person.  She is simply LOVELY & FULL OF KNOWLEDGE!!

So, here is a little advice:

Check out Ann's books, especially her New History of Witchcraft,  Which is the very next book on my wish list.   As a credentialed historian, Ann has a very interesting perspective on world that every witch should hear.

And, if you happen to be in the Central Florida area, swing by Luna Sol Esoterica to meet one of the most wonderful witches I know.

Finally, if you can, attend a witch gathering in your area.  Meet people!  Share! You never know what you may discover.

A special thanks to the organizers of Orlando Witches Meetup, Star & Quiet Pagan for hosting such a fabulous evening. 

Through this group & local classes & festivals, I've met some of the people dearest to my heart.

Wild & Bright Blessings,


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chocolate Chia Power Pudding

Chia seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids - essential nutrients that are terrific for our hearts & minds.  Omega 3's are helpful in reducing heart disease & in improving the symptoms of depression.  They've been used for thousands of years, but are relatively new to Americans.

I've been using Chia seeds on & off for years & really notice the difference in my energy & emotional wellbeing when I slack off.

Today I created a yummy, light dessert from chia that I thought I'd share:

Chocolate Chia Power Pudding

2 cups Almond milk or other nut milk (if you must use dairy, go for the low fat version)
2 Tbsp cocoa powder 
1 Tbsp goji powder (I just ground up dried goji berries from the health food store)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp honey 
2/3 cup chia seed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Stir all ingredients together & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  The mixture will appear too thin until the seeds soak up the liquid, but after about 30 minutes, it should be the consistency of pudding.

Top with berries for an especially yummy treat.

Wild & Bright Blessings!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Herbal Shampoo & Conditioner

Using this wonderful template from Mountain Rose, yesterday I created my own herbal shampoo/body wash.

Not only is this healthier & less expensive, the scent & feel is so wonderfully luxurious that I thought I'd share the recipe:

HiddenWitch Herbal Shampoo

8oz distilled water
3oz Castile Soap
1Tbsp dried Nettle
1tsp dried Sage
2tsp dried Basil
2tsp dried Rosemary
20 drops Rose Essential Oil
10 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
1/4 tsp Olive Oil

Make an infusion of the herbs & water - almost boiling water poured over the herbs, cover & allow to sit overnight.  Decant herbs (strain & squeeze out all the goodness from the herbs).  Compost the herbs & reserve the tissane.

Add to the tissane the castile, oil & essential oils & pour into an old shampoo bottle that has been well cleaned. 

Shake before using.

This produces a liquid, not a gel-type soap.  It is very bubbly & smells amazing!

I don't use commercial conditioners, but instead use Queen of Hungary water from the recipe in Rosemary Gladstar's book as a rinse.  This step is really important, because the shampoo opens the follicles of the hair shaft & your hair will feel really dry (clean) & is more fragile in this state.  The vinegar rinse closes the shaft & brings the amazing softness & returns the strength of your hair.

When I'm done, I rinse my hair with lukewarm water & it feels so thick & soft!  Much nicer than any commercial product.

Wild & Bright Blessings,