Thursday, April 26, 2018

NEROLI: Essential Oil of the Month

The oil of neroli is produced from the fragrant white blossoms of the bitter orange tree. It was named in 1680 when the princess of Nerole perfumed her gloves, stationary, shawls and bathwater with the scent. For centuries, neroli has been added to cosmetic preparations, colognes and perfumes. Neroli oil helps to calm nervous tension, can relax hyperactive kids and promotes a restful sleep. It is mood uplifting and can help boost confidence so you can face emotional fears. It can also help to relieve menstrual discomforts.

by Kristy Baird

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Beltane: May 1st

Beltane is the name for the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on May 1, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It is widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature, and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire.

Holy wells were often visited at Beltane. Visitors would pray for health while walking clockwise around the well. They would then leave offerings; typically coins. The first water drawn from a well on Beltane was seen as being especially potent, as was Beltane morning dew. At dawn on Beltane, maidens would roll in the dew or wash their faces with it. It would also be collected in a jar, left in the sunlight, and then filtered. The dew was thought to increase sexual attractiveness, maintain youthfulness, and help with skin ailments.

People also took steps specifically to ward-off or appease the aos si (the Fairies). Food was left or milk poured at the doorstep as an offering. It was thought that dairy products were especially at risk from harmful spirits. To protect farm produce and encourage fertility, farmers would lead a procession around the boundaries of their farm. They would "carry with them seeds of grain, implements of husbandry, the first well water, and the herb vervain (or rowan as a substitute). The procession generally stopped at the four cardinal points of the compass, beginning in the east, and rituals were performed in each of the four directions".

Beltane is still observed by some Neopagans. As there are many kinds of Neopaganism, their Beltane celebrations can be very different despite the shared name. Some try to emulate the historic festival as much as possible. Other Neopagans base their celebrations on many sources, the Gaelic festival being only one of them.

CHRYSOPRASE: Gemstone of the Month

"The frequency of Chrysoprase reminds one of sunlight falling through fresh, new spring leaves. It carries an energy of growth and ripening promise. Chrysoprase brings hope even into the darkest regions of one's shadow self. It reminds us of our constant connection to the source of All-That-Is. Its energy expands the heart chakra and allows one to receive the infinite Love and Abundance of the Universe. It helps one to understand one's interconnectedness with all of creation and to heal feelings of separation and isolation. Chrysoprase is an excellent prosperity stone and a powerful Love attractor. It helps one prepare the heart for a new relationship. It allows one to overcome bitterness and past disappointment and to approach new relationships with the curious heart of youth. It can aid in identifying patterns and habits in relationships, clearing them before they create blockages." -The Book of Stones

STINGING NETTLE: Herb of the Month

Nettle is an herb that improves just about everything. Herbalists often say, "When in doubt, use nettles". Nettle improves the body's resistance to pollens, molds and environmental pollutants. It stabilizes mast cell walls, which stops the cycle of mucous membrane hyperactivity, and it nourishes and tones the veins' elasticity, reduces inflammation and helps prevent blood clots. It also helps curb the appetite, cleanses toxins from the body and energizes, making it a motivating ally for those who seek to stay on a healthy diet. 

Drinking nettle tea before and after surgery helps build the blood, promotes healthy clotting, speeds recovery and helps the patient reclaim his or her energy. Nettle leaf and root are known to tone and firm tissues, muscles, arteries and skin. Taken internally, they decrease uric acid buildup and increase circulation to the skin's surface.

Topically, nettle can be used as a hair rinse to treat dandruff and hair loss, a cleanser for oily skin, a sitz bath for hemorrhoids or a wash for hemorrhoids. Compresses prepared with nettle tea can be used to treat arthritic joints, burns, eczema, insect bites, sciatica and wounds. 

Nettle could be described as a superfood, being extremely nutritive, even more so than spinach. When stored with fruit, dried nettles can make the fruits last longer, be more resistant to mold and maintain their flavor better. 
***Pssst! Our Freeze-dried Stinging Nettle Capsules are 50% off right now!***

Garlicky Nettle Pesto

1/2 pound fresh nettles

4 large garlic cloves, smashed

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer for the nettles. Add the nettles directly from their bag and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. (This denatures their sting.) Dump into a colander to drain. When the nettles are cool enough to handle, wrap them in a clean dishtowel and wring out as much moisture as possible, like you would for spinach. You’ll have about a cup of cooked, squished nettles.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the paddle attachment, whirl the garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to taste until finely chopped. Add the nettles, breaking them up as you drop them in, and the lemon juice and whirl until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Add the cheese, pulse briefly, and season to taste with additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice.