Smudging with Mugwort

For years I fully appreciate healing skills of Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), especially in the area of digestion and hepatic activity. Mugwort is warming, astringent and bitter herb, one of those that helps women and knows their secrets. And perhaps this is why Mugwort belongs to the basic herbs used in magic and witchery.

There is a lot of Mugwort growing wild in my neighborhood, so I had a great source for tincture, vinegar, salve and even capsules every year. But until last week I closed my eyes before its magical power.

Generally, I am on guard for rituals because I know how much power they have and how easily they can be misused. And even a good intention may not protect us from disaster because our Ego is masquerade master and likes to present itself as a pure heart.

But I got into a situation where I needed to call my herbal allies into a gun, ask them for protection from evil. I used other options before.

Mugwort volunteered first and I didn’t hesitate for second. Bitterness was our common language and I knew it had to be burned. Despite tiny living space and high temperature outside, I decided for smudging. With no previous experience, I succeeded!

I wanted to make safe smudge sticks, producing minimum smoke but accomplishing the purpose. With a lot of patience, I reached the goal and got Mugwort smudge sticks, looking like homemade cigarettes with burning time nearly one hour per stick. So I was cleansing my home, feeling the move of an old energy out.

I also feel a necessity to do similar procedure inside of my body. I mean kind of burning therapy to cleanse my body before Mugwort starts to protect. I am sure my “cigarettes” might be used for moxa treatment, but is it safe if I don’t have enough knowledge of the meridians etc.?

I’ll keep you updated, in the meantime I welcome any advice or recommendation.

With love, Ivana

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How does your inner goddess look like?

I was pretty sure that the inner goddess is a beautiful lady in many variations, but always with kind of dignity because she is a goddess! But recently I draw a picture for my friend, trying to sense her inner goddess, and I was surprised by the picture that appeared to me.

The goddess really enjoyed inline skating, having the rest area in the middle of lotus flower, fueling the strong OOOOOOHHHHHHMMMMM.

My attempt to draw it doesn’t reach the atmosphere of the original perception, but I tried. Happy birthday, Jitka!

And how about you my friends, how does your inner goddess look like? What is she wearing and what is she doing now? Does she look happy? Does she need you to play with her?

Oh, my goddess is sad at the moment, I have to come back to her, so goodbye for now! 👋

With love, Ivana

Sleeping runners

While we anticipate movement of animals, we expect plants sit quietly in one place. But there is a group of plants that hide running shoes. They mostly grow in steppes, where the open space provides the right atmosphere to enjoy cross-country running.

As the average temperature rises and rainfall decreases, steppe plants appear in my area as well. One of them is field eryngo (Eryngium campestre), currently looking like a regular green plant, maybe like a kind of thistle. I have met many on my walk along the path and in the middle of it. At the moment, they looked satisfied and settled, full of fresh juice.

You wouldn’t guess that in a few months, the green splendor will develop a big thorny air ball, running for freedom with the support of wind.

I understand that growing and reproducing in steppe conditions is difficult, so the running capability is a gift to make it easier. On the other hand, I am a bit nervous how much field eryngo I have met. What if local plants don’t survive in the competition? Obviously, I will have an opportunity to watch evolution step by step.

Until then I can imagine the full shelf of running shoes that field eryngo hides in the roots 😊

With love,

Ivana

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

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