Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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The edges of the stones were mossy and slick. When we tried to climb on them we slipped into the rushing current of the river. We were carried swiftly downstream, looking for a jetty or an overhanging branch on which to cling. There were no helpful signs. The river had run away with us, and in our folly we had lost our way deep in the forrest. The adventure had turned into a nightmare without a map or a plan.
This little hike started out with innocent curiosity about where the source of this river . Some said the tributaries trickled down from the whole mountain range, naturally seeking the sea. Others told stories of a hidden artesian spring deep in a cave, which was the main source of all the water we found in between the river’s banks. It had been said in ancient times a hermit guarded the source of the spring, to keep the enemies from polluting it. The folk tales of the valley mention healing powers, even miraculous restoration of wealth and status, attributed to bathing in the river water. The hermits and the shamans kept the secret of the waters for themselves. They stopped healing the sick, and started selling miracles to those in power at the time. After a time the spring ran dry, and the flow of the river was diminished.
We found shelter under tall trees on the shore where we finally landed. We sat at the edge of the water and watched for the others. Our voyage of discovery had been ill-advised to say the least. We now found ourselves miles from our intended destination, wet and without a plan. As the afternoon shadows grew long we heard voices coming from the woods. Our shouts for help were finally met with the sound of our companions calling our names. Once reunited we felt better, but still had no idea where we were. We built a fire and told our individual stories of falling into the current and finding our way to this place until we all fell asleep.
After a long heavy sleep we awoke to find ourselves safe and sound on the shore where we had started our day. We all had strange dreams about the river which we recounted to each other on the way home. It was surprising how similar our dreams had been.
This story is in response to Sue Vincent’s photo prompt in her Echo. Each week writers interpret a photo to share. Join us to read, comment, or write your own piece.
There is a ghost swan that appears on the eve of Robert Burn’s Day on the Loch above the ancient castle. The apparition sails across the water following the course of the boat that sailed from the shore in 1235 with a small band of rogue fighters. The land was under attack from the neighboring clan, and the family honor was in dire straights. Survival depended on their ability to take the foe in the middle of the night by stealth. They had little ammunition left to defend their home, and food supplies were dwindling. They were desperate and hungry for victory when they quietly shoved off from the muddy shore, rowing quietly through the night. They were in pitch black darkness, no light to guide their way. Cloudy moonless skies hung heavily with damp and deadly signs. They wished for a miracle.
As the clan gathered strength to cross the loch to meet their fate a white swan appeared before them. They perceived the bird as friendly, a guide and advisor for the battle to come. The glow from the swan created streams of light in the water in front of the rickety little boat. Reflecting in the light the vessel looked bigger than it was. The enemy was afraid of being outnumbered by the crew being lead by a magical swan. They were scared that the swan itself was a monster with powers to drown or burn them to death. They packed up quickly and ran for their lives, never to return. Peace was guaranteed by the fear of they had of the ghost swan.
People say when there is an appearance of the swan these days is a reminder to stand up for what is yours. It is a symbol of protection and self defense. Magic helps them that help themselves.
Please visit Sue Vincent’s blog to see more submissions, and maybe write one of your own. Thank you, Sue, for an excellent image with which to begin.
I have been listening to the popular book by Marie Kondo, the life changing magic of tidying up. She is an expert in this field who has a very specific way to approach all possessions in consideration of the happiness of the objects, as well as the joy of the owner. Her technique is being adopted all over the world, but she is from Japan, a country where living space is much smaller typically than housing in the US. She has been kind of obsessed with organizing and tidying since she was a very young child. Her overview of the practices as well as the pitfalls of common elimination and storage strategies is brilliant. Formulas, as she demonstrates, must be simplistic, or they backfire.
She has helped me see the light about my yo-yo decluttering habits. Exactly like yo- yo diets, the system that does not holistically evaluate the perfect items to keep as well as the way to permanently let go of objects will end in rebound to the status quo. In the exact same way people buy weight loss products rather than making a permanent life style change, some of us buy organizing and storage products rather than just trimming down the volume of what needs to be stored. She has my number. I am addicted to the concierge pick up service offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. When they call I always gather a load for them to pick up in front of my garage. Since I began this practice I have significantly reduced my total volume of items that I own. It makes me feel accomplished every time. However, this temporary feeling of successful lightening of the load is always…I can admit now it is always….followed by more junk that creeps back up and fills my office desk, my closets, and sometimes my garage. I am too old to allow this to continue. This is just mastery over my space, so I am not sure what is so difficult.
I love systems, and think the end result must be heavenly. She promises that if you go through each and every item as instructed your breakthrough to minimalist living will be complete. I am sure she is right that dealing with your stuff is dealing with your past. If you only deal with part of it, you will never be finished. One of her points really hit home for me: You can deal with your stuff right now, later, or never. Right now is the only one that does anyone any good. The stuff contains that “emotional baggage” about which we hear so much. When you have properly dealt with the reasons you keep stuff, you have fully examined the past and put it to rest.
Do you struggle to stay tidy, gentle reader? Or are you a natural?
Marjoram has been used medicinally for centuries. The botanical name, Origanum majorana, is derived from Greek words meaning joy (oros) of the mountains (ganos). This culinary herb is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes to add a warm woody flavor. As an herbal remedy the tea made from dried leaves and flowers is used as a treatment for liver disease, vocal chord distress, insomnia, coughs, indigestion, headaches and migraines. The antispasmodic qualities of the herb are used topically in ointments and massage oils to relive muscle soreness.
The marjoram in my garden is highly productive, so I have looked into ways to use my large harvest. I do cook with it, but have not yet tried drinking the tea. On the new moon each month I do a clean sweep ritual. I clean and clear my home of stale energy, throw away or give away items no longer needed, then refresh the marjoram sachets in the 4 corners of my home. The bundles are symbolic as well as aromatic. I meditate on new beginnings and fresh projects while I dispose of the old herbs in the back yard and replace them with freshly harvested marjoram from my front yard. The process only takes about 5 minutes but it establishes a clean start attitude in my home. The fresh scent fades, but the mini ritual refreshes my creativity and wellness.
I have learned that the Egyptians dedicated this planet to the god Osiris, who ruled the afterlife. They used it on the graves of the dead as well as in medicinal preparations. In Greece both marjoram and oregano, cousins with different effects, were created by Aphrodite. Love potions were made with marjoram, and Greeks crowned the bridal couple with wreaths of marjoram at weddings to ensure happiness. Continuing the funeral custom, ancient Greeks believed that if marjoram grows on someone’s grave they are content in the afterlife.
I have been trying techniques to enhance my sleep lately. I developed a couple of small muscular strains yesterday, so I decided to try a marjoram bath in the evening. I have been using Epsom salts in my bath to put me to sleep soundly with great success. I have added ginger as a general tonic, so I thought I would compare that experience to marjoram bathing. I stayed in the first time for about 30 minutes, got out and sweated into my terry cloth robe for about 10 minutes, then soaked again for 20 minutes . The effect was very positive. Not only did I fall deeply and soundly to sleep, but this morning all the little aches had left my body. One of them had been hanging around for weeks, not too painful, just annoying. I have already brewed marjoram tea for my bath tonight, with plans to continue this simple and effective remedy from my garden. I have discovered my own version of the fountain of youth. All I need to do to erase minor pain and alter my level of stress is soak in my own tub. Tonight I may add a cup of tea internally to add to the sedative effects. Do remember that sedative and anti depressant are not the same. This herb, although mild, is used as a downer. If you want a lift try lemon balm in your bath.
Plants connect to us and each other in magical expressions
Subtle healing, warnings, prophecy, psychic communications
Signature of each season and offering can be read like a heavenly
Treasure map aligned with our purpose as well as the cosmic
Meditation with a flower provides insight into the fleeting moment
Petals form quickly then begin to fall, revealing seeds of the future
During the month of April please join us for poetic reading, writing, and good old down home enjoying right here.
When the Pope sprinkles holy water he dips it in a branch of rue. Ruta graveolens is used medicinally as well as ceremonially. In ancient Rome there were celebratory foods prepared with rue. It is poisonous in large amounts and should not be consumed by pregnant women at all. There is a homeopathic remedy that is very popular made with this plant. Mexican folk medicine prescribes leaves of the plant stuck directly into the ear to cure an earache. In gardening it is prized for its ability to repel insects from the area where it grows, making it a very good companion. I grow it at the back of my garden by the gate because it is a protector plant. It repels any unwanted attention, human, insect, or otherworldly.
The prophet Mohammed blessed this herb and none other. Early Christians used it to exorcise evil spirits. During the Middle Ages it was hung in the doorway to repel evil, the plague, and witches. Italians had a custom of adorning a silver amulet shaped like the top of rue plant, a cimaruta, with symbols of fertility. This magical charm was used to protect the user against the evil eye. Medicinal uses as well as magical ones have been recorded for centuries, but the way I like to use it is in the bath. Make a sachet of rue and create a strong tea in the bathtub by brewing in very hot water for 10 minutes or so before adding water to hit the bath temperature you desire. To add an extra helping of magic to this bath I spread honey on my face and leave it on while I soak in the tub. After rinsing the face feels very soft and the entire body, as well as the aura, is clean and clear. These baths are great before a meditation session or a creative project. Clearing and protecting are positive ways to influence your moods, your focus, and your ability to rest and relax. If you need protection from evil, or just from too much stress, try a rue bath.
Color has magical qualities. Color plays a role in ritual, in design, and in folk medicine around the world. In Feng Shui customs, cures, and auspicious building sites are color coded. Color and love are symbolically entwined, intrinsically related. Emotions are influenced by color. What do your colors say about you?
Look around today to learn more about your sensitivity to your surroundings. An interesting exercise to try is choosing one color, then noticing how you encounter it during the day. Notice if it is in your food, your work, or your fashion. Pay attention to the way you feel when you run into this color. Does it throw you off balance in some emotional way? Does it have meaning of a symbolic nature?
The reunification of opposites in alchemy is called Coniunctio Oppositorum. The material is separated in the distillation process. In the collective consciousness imagery and music exist as powerful actors. The opposites can be soul and spirit, Republican and Democrat, or just black and white. Our individual dreams and psyches are influenced by all the opposites in the universe. It is an act of magic to distill your thoughts and ethical boundaries. It is an act of wisdom to recognize that we are each as magical as the other.
Poppies have been cultivated since ancient times. Poppy seeds are used in magic as well as in cooking. They are associated with rest and remembrance. It was mythically created by Ceres while she was in search of Persephone, as a symbol of grief. Death and pleasure are symbolized by red poppies. The bees are very active on them, although red flowers are typically pollinated by hummingbirds. I think they are being sedated.
The first time I saw Cachora he was sitting in the shade using a needle and thread to thread tiny seed beads. He was about 85 years old, wearing no glasses. The sight of him actually able to do this made me laugh hard out loud. He commented without looking up, in Spanish, saying he was just another Indian doing handicrafts. I had been told that he was Don Juan. He spreads this rumor himself, but it is not hard to figure out that he isn’t.
I asked him if he was a shaman, to which he responded negatively. He said he was a man of knowledge. He then began to tell me his entire cosmology. He began with his birthday and place, then his parents birthdays and place. He and his father were born in Rio Yaqui, Sonora, like Don Juan. Cachora’s mother was from Oaxaca. His parents had met while collecting plants for medicine. He told me his parents had never used pesos in their lives, but had traded medicinal plants for all they needed. This was their craft and way of life. The vest he shows here belonged to his father, and was worn for healing ceremonies. That is the case, if Cachora is telling the truth about this vest. He is what is known in the world of medicine as a coyote. He lies a lot, misleading and amusing himself with the confusion of others. So I took the birthday information and went to a book store to buy and reread A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda. The first fact given about Don Juan is this birthday, many years before Cachora’s.
This man of knowledge became my friend. I called him on the Don Juan thing on my second visit. I also remembered to bring him what he wanted rather than money. This practice made me a favorite. His first requests were for some specific stone beads, some hummingbird feeders, and some reading glasses. I returned with his wish list items about three months after we had met. I used to hang out and joke with him, learning a little about plants. He told me that I am a siren.
I spoke with a friend in Tijuana last year and learned that he was still alive and kicking. His much younger wife, Josefina, had died, but he was in the company of a young girlfriend from Spain. He is not Don Juan, but, as he puts it, there is some of him in all those books. South of Tecate, in the valley of the sorcerer, a Yaqui hombre de conocimiento named salamander (that is the translation of Cachora) is still in the business of knowledge.