To be a bee

Walking through the blooming landscape and foraging medicinal plants means to have an instant contact with bees. And I tell you, I admire them!

They live in society, where everyone knows the place and duty. Most bees belong to workers, that we meet humming around blossoms and collecting nectar into cups on their legs. Do you think they have time to chat how the queen is not so accurate or the drones are lazy?

I admire the logistic of them. Imagine how many flowers bloom at the same time and each of them hopes to be pollinated on time. And some blossoms are blooming for one day only! A small mistake in logistic could bring lack of fertility and loss in crop.

How do the workers know where to fly and keep the efficiency so high? Is there a structure of managers? Do they have plans and motivation meetings? I am curious to know.

The drones are specific group of bees in the bee society. They are kind of “macho” bees and I believe that some of male human beings will happily catch their job of dreams, to fertilize the queen and lay at home on eggs if they need to be warmed. Nobody force them to work and feed the family. Hopefully it doesn’t sound too feminist. I am aware that the job of dreams is compensated by a short life of drones.

And of course there is her Majesty the Queen! The biggest and very unique bee sits at home on the throne, letting the others work for her. Who wouldn’t change?

I wouldn’t. The queen is important with no doubts, but sitting at home all the time with responsibility to keep healthy future of the whole society? This is hard job in very limited space. I will likely change with the workers, flying cross the country and touching blooming flowers every day. Although they work hardly I believe they also have some fun and opportunity to watch the world.

With love and gratitude to bees,

Ivana

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Ugly soap with beauty inside

I have recently asked whether herbal soap without fragrance is acceptable because I found only two major groups of homemade natural soaps. There is either a large group of beautiful soaps with artistic look of many kinds, or a bit smaller group where the combination of interesting fragrances is emphasized. Briefly, the homemade soaps attack directly your eyes or nose.

I love to admire creativity of both groups as well as I admit that I don’t have enough capability to do anything comparable. Still I feel the necessity to wash my body with my own soap and fill it with herbs of my choice.

The last “soaping” post described my history from feeding wishes of the others to the understanding I need to follow my inner voice although the result looks so poor.

And here it is, unattractive with no additional fragrance. You hardly find anything less common to look at, although there are hidden treasures inside.

Among herbs, there is lot of violets inside. Some of them were infused together with plantain and strawberry leaves into Babassu and Coconut oil, some of them were distilled in water environment to get my own “floral water”, in which I then dissolved sodium hydroxide.

The rest of violets were dried and powdered, so they gently peel your skin while enjoying the bubbles. For the same reason I powdered a pinch of oatmeal, which also plays a nourishing role as well as range of high quality vegetable oils like hemp, almond, olive and castor oil, plus my lovely shea butter infused with plantain.

I count days until the soap is ready, looking forward to enjoy my ugly Cinderella in shower!

With love, Ivana

Does Veronica bring the rain?

Who has never met tiny dark blue flowers in summer green grass? It’s a widespread flower, growing abundantly and due to the color attracting attention. Common names usually indicate similarity of the flower with an eye, whether it be a bird’s eye, a cat’s eye or even a frog’s eye.

Locally, we call it “storm flower” perhaps because the shade of blue reminds the sky before storm. And there is a superstition that if you pick this flower, rain or even a storm will come. As children, we were careful not to waste this flower because the rain would ruin our holiday games. That’s why the storm flower was among the first plants I learned to recognize.

Botanically we talk about Veronica chamaedrys, the sister of Veronica officinalis. Both of them belong to the family Plantaginaceae, so we could expect some healing effects. Although Veronica officinalis is less abundant in my surroundings, I focus my attention on it. The mind says, that’s because it has stronger effects, but maybe the old habits from childhood work in the subconscious and I am just reluctant to call the storm 😋

Both Veronicas are diuretic, so they help in case you need to remove water from the body or just rinse the kidneys and urinary bladder. According to my experience, Veronica is a treasure in blood purification either solo or in combination with other plants. People appreciate the ability to decrease the cholesterol level. I like the feeling that my veins are getting necessary treatment. Veronica is safe and you can use it for a long time.

I am looking forward to gather Veronica soon!

With love, Ivana

Kissing under blossoms

My knowledge of traditions isn’t great, and I’m also not sure where the tradition ends and the superstition starts. But they say that May is the month of love and a kiss under blooming tree confirms the love of two. And maybe that’s why the wedding ceremony sometimes takes place under the blooming gate.

The truth is, that blooming trees in May bring splendid beauty that takes breath and touches heart. The blossoms are mostly white or pale pink which corresponds to purity and love. All together promise juicy fruit in the future and what else can we desire for our love.

From that point I understand the habit of kissing lover under blooming tree and the romantic part of my soul likes the idea. But it seems that everything is subject to evolution. And I met a shocking evidence of it yesterday.

At that time my heart and soul were filled with the beauty of nature, I was returning from the walk through the blooming landscape where butterflies of many kinds accompanied my steps and the herbalist inside me had a full bag of hawthorn flowers, pine sprouts, nettles, etc.

And then, on the parking place near my home, a car stopped and two young people stepped out, engine running. There was nothing but concrete and a thin tree with few blossoms that had been planted a week ago. The young lovers quickly kissed each other and left immediately. It took about 2 minutes, but I am still in shock.

It looked like a duty, as if they checked an item on their “to do list”: to buy a bread, to kiss a partner, to make exercise. Hurry to get it all. Suddenly I felt sad and old.

Is this picture of time? Is the life so accelerated that there is not enough time for beauty and love? Do we need to make important events up to 5 steps from the car?

Yet I wish to the two young people that their love would be stronger than the tree they chose.

Ivana

Trauma with Lilac

Lilac is now blooming in all shades of violet, spreading its sweet narcotic aroma far away. It would be easy to say that I don’t like the scent or that I don’t like the lilac as such. But the whole truth comes from the past.

I grew up in a socialist country during the Cold War, being in many ways brainwashed toward to the “heroic Soviet Union” and against the “imperialist villains of the West”. The top season of the campaign was always concentrated to the beginning of May. On the May 1st you should expect a huge demonstration in honor of the Labor Day, participation was a duty with no excuse. A few days later a magnificent celebration of liberation by the Red Army took a place. My mind already rechecked the memory of the past by the eyes of an adult person, but there still remains a symbol of these days which is Lilac.

I remember a number of pictures from the last days of the World War II, where people welcomed the RA soldiers with lilac bouquets. As a child I was forced to draw either lilac or red flags, boys were allowed to draw also tanks for the celebration. We created many lilac flowers from the paper and then used them like windows decoration or a kind of flags during demonstration. All possible and impossible places were decorated by Lilac in the beginning of May because Lilac was the flower of victory of the Red Army, the victory of the Soviet bloc.

On some point I’m still a small girl who does not understand why people kill each other. I don’t like to split the world for white and black only. Looking at beautiful lilac blossoms I know that I’m not fair to them. But even today I feel metallic and oily taste in my mouth, as if every Lilac grew from a tank instead of a garden. And the sweet aroma keeps me alert so I don’t adopt too much outside influence even it would promise the sweet future.

And so it happened, that Lilac in my memories suffers from a bad ideology, and I am sometimes too careful in my life. I hope I can dissolve the rest of my trauma soon. That’s why I tried, for the first time in my life, draw a tank! It was a big challenge for my pacifistic mind, but I did it like a therapy, like an attempt to go along with Lilac.

Ivana

Reading cards

I do tarot readings and I do it often, so I have a range of graphic versions of it. Some of them are more compatible with my intuition and some less. It might change with people and period of time, but it works pretty well. For more than 10 years, every Sunday I do a public reading card for the following week and I pick various pictures for the same card for better understanding.

However, it seems that thousands of existing versions are not enough for me. A few years ago I was tempted to draw my personal cards. I didn’t have the ambition to create a real tarot set with a fixed structure, I wanted to draw pictures according to my inner calling and watch what was going to happen.

And it happened. I was surprised how quickly I was sure what to draw. Although my pictures are naïve and people look strange, the biggest surprise was how well the cards work. The set is open, so I can add a card at any time, or even cancel the one that is not longer relevant.

In the beginning, I was ashamed and worked with them only when I was alone. Later I showed them to a few of my friends. And now I have decided to show samples to you! 😊

With love, Ivana

Is herbal soap without flavor acceptable?

I love to make soaps loaded by herbs. I love to experiment with various combinations, listening to my inner voice and remembering University knowledge. I’ve learned how to infuse herbal energy and active compounds into the soaps effectively and I am happy to apply them on my body. Each time in the shower my lovely soaps remind me the whole adventure from harvesting herbs to final bubbles.

I believe the desire to share passions with close people is natural. So I did and proudly offered my herbal soaps to friends. All of them did the same thing. They skipped a visual survey and immediately began to smell intensively. As if the smell could reveal everything about the quality. One by one they told me the same thing with the same disappointment: “It smells only like soap!”

Looking at my disappointment, they listened to my lecture on the effects of herbs and natural oils I had used, but it was obvious that there is nothing to compensate a lack of proper smell.

Next, I wanted to make the others happier, so I made a lot of various herbal soaps with various added flavors. I did my best and used essential oils labeled “natural”, considering it was a compromise. The others gave me compliments for innovation, but I felt somehow that I was moving away from myself.

Because I am not a big manufacturer, I only make a few soaps for a while, the whole process took a couple of years. I have to admit it now. I lied to myself in trying to be successful in the eyes of my friends. The truth is, that I need to have my soaps full of herbs but with no added flavors, doesn’t matter how much they are “natural”.

Today, I have a bunch of violets on the table ready to become a part of soap soon. They are so beautiful with hidden power for skin treatment and I finally know that I am not allowed to kill their uniqueness by added flavor. And just time will show if such decision is acceptable to more people than just for me.

What do you think?

With love, Ivana