TWH – Autumn celebrations are often designated as times to “reap what you sow” and for many Pagans, Heathens, and Witches that means harvest time for plants with both magical and medicinal purposes.
The Wild Hunt spoke with both amateur and professional herbalists to see what’s their favorite plant to grow and what’s an easy, beneficial plant for a beginner to grow.
Musician Bonnie Hanna-Powers says she grows calendula in her garden. She says it’s easy to grow but does prefer good soil.
“This year I grew my plants from transplants, in one garden, and from direct sowing the seeds in another,” says Ms. Hanna-Powers. She says that she had better luck with transplants than the seeds.
After harvesting the flowers, she dries them on a screen in a well ventilated room. Then incorporates them into topical skin preparations. “It’s a good all around skin herb because of it anti-bacterial and wound healing properties,” says Hanna-Powers.
She also enjoys the smell. “It gives any preparation a pleasant, homey scent. It also makes a beautiful flower for the cutting garden.”
Author Chas Clifton grows cannabis. It’s legal in Colorado to grow, and he says that CBD oil is available even at places like farmer’s markets. Clifton is interested in growing specific varieties for higher levels of CBD and to mix with other herbs like henbane and datura.
“I grow henbane for use as an entheogen, sometimes mixed with cannabis,” says Mr. Clifton.
He notes that author Dennis McKenna wrote in his memoir The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss that datura is a hallucinogen, but not a psychedelic. “I am still trying to decide if he is right or not, but cautiously,” says Clifton.
However, Clifton says that he is increasingly turning toward native, tougher plants like nettles. He cooks with them and also uses the roots to make a tonic that he says is good for male urinary systems.
Philadelphia Witch Karen Bruhin says she doesn’t have the gardening space that rural and suburban Witches enjoy. Her go to plants are horehound and chamomile.
She says both plants are easy to grow, with the chamomile reseeding itself and the horehound spreading like a mint plant.
“For the horehound I simply wash it and use it in a homemade simple syrup for cough medicine,” says Ms. Bruhin. The chamomile, on the other hand, is washed, dried in an oven, and stored in airtight containers to make soothing tissues.
Heathen Chuck Hudson forages, rather than grows, his herbs in New Mexico. He looks for Yerba Mansa and Osha root.
He says Yerba Mansa is a very old native medicinal herb, but it is becoming popular and harder to find. He dries the roots and leaves and stores them is a cool, dry place.
Mr. Hudson says that Yerba Mansa works as a mild anti-inflammatory agent and has astringent, diuretic, and anti-fungal properties. However, he also cautions that it should not be used internally by pregnant or nursing women. “Externally it’s a wonderful wash for insect bites poison ivy blister. The fresh leaves made into a poultice is great for sore muscles.”
Hudson adds that, when he harvests a plant, he leaves an offering for the Land Spirits and builds a little stone house for any spirits to live in in case her disturbed them by harvesting the plant.
“I along with some close friends are trying to revive the faith/health healing part of the Heathen faith,” says Hudson.
Minneapolis Witch Tasha Rose grows the plant that is her namesake. “I have, for my entire life, had wild roses everywhere I have ever lived. They follow me around. Roses are by far my favorite magical and medicinal plant.”
She says that wild roses are very easy to grow and will take over a place if you’re not careful to cut them back. Ms. Rose says that she uses every part of the plant. In spring she harvests the petals to make rose water. Currently, she’s collecting rose hips to make a tea that she says aids in absorbing nutrients.
As for the magical components of the plant? She turns the brambles into small wands and bosoms for her children and dries the thorns for magical workings. She uses the thorns for protective spells and for binding and banishing work.
Wild Hunt writer Liz Williams favorite plant to grow and use for its magical properties is one the UK is famous for, the rowan.
She says that, while many in the UK make jelly from the berries, she prefers to dry them and make protective charms. “The berries [are] strung on a thread and hung above a door, or bracelets and necklaces. We also sell the dried berries for use in protection incenses.”
Williams says that the Rowan berries are known to be a charm against negative magic, which is why they are grown throughout the Celtic fringe of Britain.
Minnesota musician and Volva Kari Tauring, like her fellow Heathen Chuck Hudson, prefers to forage for her magical plants rather than grow them.
She looks for hops and sweet woodruff. However, foraging for herbs rather than growing them can mean you come up empty some years. She says that the two herbs were abundant last year, but so far this year, they are no where to be found.
When she does find them, Ms. Tauring dries the herbs and uses them in dream pillows.
Hellenic Lykeia says her two favorite herbs wouldn’t survive the tough Alaska winters. Yet she values them so much that she grows them indoors in pots. Rosemary and lavender are fairly tough when grown outdoors in warmer climates, but are finicky plants to grow inside.
“[I] have to be careful to give them a lot of light, but not directly in front of a window where the direct light tends to scorch them a bit. Also I tend have to remind myself not to kill them with love. Scant water is best.”
She says both plants are used for purification and warding off evil. “Both are key ingredients in my Apollon incense, and the purification bath tea that I make as well as an anointing oil of similar purpose,” adds Lykeia.
She also uses them in various charms “to protect doorways and to protect their wearer when made into a sachet.”
Plants for beginners
What if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs or your knowledge of herbalism is very light? Is there a plant you could start out with?
New Hampshire Herbalist Naomi Schoenfeld says a good first plant is Aloe Vera, both for how easy it is to grow and for its beneficial uses.
Rosemary Gladstar, one of the persons credited for the herbalism revival in the US, agrees. In her book, Medicinal Herbs: A beginner’s guide, she has this quote, “If you can’t grow aloe, then try plastic plants.” Ms. Schoenfeld says aloe soothes burns and speeds healing when you break off a leaf and apply the gel to the burn.
“Taken internally it can bring that same healing power to digestive irritations and inflammations, such as ulcers, and help with constipation,” says Schoenfeld.
Another reason Schoenfeld recommends the plant for beginners; it’s safe and there’s very little someone could do wrong with it.
Shelly Tomtschik, a Pagan Herbalist living in Wisconsin, suggests yarrow. She says it’s easy to grow in a pot and is very versatile. Tomtschik says that if you find some growing outside, you can just scoop some up and put it in a pot, and it’ll do well.
“I use it most often in a tincture for colds and flus, but the tincture can also be made into bug spray. My husband can’t wear DEET, so yarrow tincture works really well, combined with witch hazel,” say Ms. Tomtschik.
Another use for yarrow, says Tomtschik, is as a bandage, “Fresh, the leaves can be used as a bandage and stops bleeding quickly, even for, or especially for, deep cuts.”
Most herbalists will tell you to use caution in using or ingesting any herbs, especially if you are looking to self treat any medical conditions. They says that herbalism has different layers of skills and most people can learn enough to tend to the basic needs for themselves and family. They caution when in doubt, consult an herbalist.
Herbalists who have chosen it as a life focus can have incredible amounts of knowledge to share, experience with specific problems such as autoimmune disease, and time spent in apprenticeships or working directly in clinical settings.
In the U.S. there is no licensing body or government oversight of herbalists. But that, Schoenfeld explains, is a good thing.
“If herbalists were licensed, we’d be restricted to suggesting only very specific approaches permitted by the licensing bodies, much the way that medical doctors are finding their professional opinions coming secondary to insurance company decisions, and many traditional herb uses might be blocked,” says Schoenfeld.
The downside is that there isn’t a credential people can ask for in order to find a good herbalist. Schoenfeld says that most of the time people find good herbalists by word of mouth.
Another place persons can look, at least in the US, is through the American Herbalists Guild. They maintain a registry of members who meet training standards and length of time spent in practice.
Kennedy Sartwell and Jake Terry of Warrensburg, Missouri, are an adorable loving couple who recently adopted a precious puppy named Raven. Excited about the new arrival, the couple decided to skip the regular posting on facebook or sending photos to a group chat and to do something bigger to announce Raven to the world. The couple recruited a professional photographer, Kennedy's mother, Cristy Sartwell of Infinite Smile Photography, to shoot a sex reveal photo series. The results are so cute! Via: People
Mausi & Miseli are two adorable and fearless cats from Switzerland who love to fly. Their Instagram Account is taking off and reaching new heights (Over 20K loyal fans worldwide). Mausi is three years old (born 16th of May 2014) and Miseli is almost a half year old (born March 28th, 2017). Mausi is actually the proud mom of Miseli! Their owner, Sara, told the Purrington Post: "As the kittens were super playful and always jumped to get their toys, I just wanted to try and see how it looked in a photo. As their poses were so funny during their flight, I started to take more and more. I took my first photo of a flying kitty back in July of 2015. A year later, I had uploaded around five more flying kitty photos on Instagram. This year I've already uploaded more than 30 flying kitten photos and I think every one of them is super unique." Miseli is a professional jumper and Mausi just jumped once in a while during a photo shoot. Via: The Purrington Post
Imani wanted this cake for her wedding, only with bright lime green flowers instead of pink:
She got this:
And Meredith asked for this design with little pumpkins instead of apples:
... but she got this:
And finally, as a baker herself, Zoey decided to keep her wedding cake design SUPER simple to avoid potential wreckage:
No piping required! Just plain frosted tiers and colored sugar crystals!
Say it with me, now:
What could possibly go wrong?
Oooh, Sherlock, you so bad.
Thanks to Imani R., Meredith R., & Zoey K., who want to know if I seriously just turned this post into a SuperWhoLock love fest. And the answer is yes, YES I DID.
Republicans hoping to jam a last-minute Obamacare repeal plan through the Senate are confronting a rising tide of opposition as health care groups, patient advocates and even some red-state governors join forces against a bill they worry would upend the nation’s health care system.
The wide-ranging backlash threw the GOP’s repeal push into fresh doubt on Tuesday, even as White House officials and Senate Republican leaders insist they are on the verge of winning the 50 votes needed to dismantle Obamacare under a reconciliation bill that expires in two weeks.
Opponents of the proposal co-authored by Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina seized on its plan to overhaul Obamacare’s subsidized insurance and Medicaid expansion and replace those with block grants to the states — a mass restructuring they warned would sow chaos in insurance markets. They panned its new regulatory flexibilities as a backdoor route to undermining key patient protections — including safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions.
And in the biggest blow, several Republican governors urged the GOP to abandon a plan that would force states to swallow potentially billions in funding cuts — and instead to focus on stabilizing Obamacare.
“The Graham-Cassidy bill is not a solution that works for Maryland,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of the half-dozen GOP governors to come out against the bill so far. “We need common-sense, bipartisan solutions that will stabilize markets and actually expand affordable coverage.”
The criticism from Republican governors adds another complication to an already fraught process for Senate Republicans facing a tight deadline to repeal Obamacare. GOP leaders — once skeptical of the Graham-Cassidy plan’s chances — are now all in on a bid to speed it through the Senate.
In a clear bid to boost the bill’s prospects Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House came out in opposition to a bipartisan plan to stabilize Obamacare being written by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash). The intention was to put pressure on Republican senators to back the last-ditch effort to gut Obamacare.
Alexander later announced he’d abandoned work on that effort after failing to find consensus. He has said he’d “like to” be able to support Graham-Cassidy and is still reviewing the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also backed the approach Tuesday, although he declined to commit to bring it to the floor.
“We’re in the process of discussing all of this,” McConnell said. “Everybody knows that the opportunity expires at the end of the month.”
All of which has amped up the pressure on GOP lawmakers who are eager to fulfill their seven-year repeal vow but who remain puzzled about what the bill would actually mean for their home states — especially since the Congressional Budget Office said it will not have details about the practical implications of the bill, including how many people could lose coverage and the impact on insurance premiums, "for at least several weeks."
“The kind of status quo on money, or more money to states and more control to states — that’s very appealing, very simple,” said Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, who added that he’s still poring over the bill’s effects. “What I’m very focused on as we speak is figuring out the dollar amounts, frankly, and the formula and how it impacts my state.”
Cassidy — the chief architect of the bill’s proposal to take Obamacare’s federal funding and redistribute it to states in equal amounts — has spent the past several days reassuring senators that their states wouldn’t see major funding cuts under the block grant plan.
But that rosy view has met with increasingly harsh pushback from policy analysts, industry groups and state officials — including some in the Louisiana Republican’s own state.
“The legislation you’ve introduced this past week gravely threatens health care access and coverage for our state and its people,” Louisiana Health Secretary Rebekah Gee wrote in a letter to Cassidy, estimating that the bill’s block grant system would slash $3.2 billion in health funding for the state over a decade.
That figure tracks with early estimates published by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, showing that only 15 states would end up better off financially under Graham-Cassidy compared with the current law — while those that have been most successful at enrolling residents in coverage would face tens of billions in cuts.
Another state-by-state analysis, set to be released Wednesday by health care consultancy Avalere, will similarly show most states losing federal funds through the bill.
“That is definitely the case,” Avalere Vice President for Policy and Strategy Caroline Pearson said. “The vast majority of states will get less money.”
The projected financial hit to states has pitted some Republican governors against their own Senate delegation. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval — in a break with bill co-sponsor Dean Heller — and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both signed onto a 10-governor letter urging the GOP to abandon Graham-Cassidy in favor of propping up Obamacare. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, opposed the bill too.
The state-level objections echoed the message from across the health community — a diverse group of industry, patient and public health advocates that have nevertheless remained largely united against the GOP’s repeated repeal efforts.
Sixteen patient and provider groups, from the American Heart Association to the March of Dimes, slammed the bill in a joint letter over worries it would gut Medicaid and undermine protections for those with pre-existing conditions. A raft of other powerful health lobbies, including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians, piled on throughout the day on Tuesday, each urging the GOP to abandon repeal in favor of bipartisan fixes.
Hospitals and insurers — until this week largely convinced the repeal fight was over — sprang back into action as well, criticizing the prospect of creating 50 wildly different state health care systems as unworkable and irresponsible, with minimal vetting of the bill’s merits ahead of time.
“Could you have imagined any other Senate in our modern history that would even consider this process?” one health care lobbyist vented, calling it the worst GOP proposal yet. “We’re talking about such a tremendous portion of the United States economy. Real people’s lives. The reverberations are just so huge.”
To date, not one major health care industry or advocacy group has expressed support for the Graham-Cassidy plan.
The hits are going to keep coming. Activist groups that Democrats credited for helping derail the last repeal bill are ramping up their efforts, targeting holdouts like Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine.
And comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who lauded Cassidy in May for his promise to vote against any bill that undermined protections for people with pre-existing conditions, is expected to go after the senator Tuesday night for breaking his promise. Graham-Cassidy would let states obtain waivers that allow plans to charge higher premiums based on individuals’ health status.
Cassidy has defended the provision by noting that states would be required to ensure “affordable and adequate” coverage options for sick enrollees.
The sudden scrutiny has heightened tensions in a Senate that last week seemed resigned to simply shoring up Obamacare for the short term.
“I have nothing to say,” McCain, a key swing vote, retorted Tuesday when asked about his position on the bill. “I have nothing to say, OK? Did you hear me?”
politi LET IT GO ALREADY