Cleansing (Part 6) Ceremonial Fire

Yet another way to cleanse is a ceremonial fire. This is the way of fire and earth. Naturally fallen tree limbs fuel the flames and we meld our light for purification by fire. As we sit by the fire, fanning it with our breath and warming our skin with its touch, the dark places inside are burned away and the resentments and attachments disappear with the smoke. Sitting with fire is a form of communion in which the flames teach his secrets to those willing to listen. You can add aromatic incense to the fire, keep time with a steady drum, and connect deeply to the heartbeat of Earth.

Aromatic Fire incense

Frankincense Tears
Dried Rosemary
Dried sage
Pine needles

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Cleansing – Part 5 – Salt bath

Another traditional and very powerful way to cleanse is a salt bath. This is cleansing by earth and water. Salt is the sacred cleansing agent of the Earth who scrubs our wounds clean and when mingled with the waters of the bath pours itself into all the spaces that will welcome it. Sacred baths are ancient and powerful. When we literally wash off the residue of the day with a salt bath we are exfoliating the dead skin of the day to make ourselves fresh and new. Adding fragrant oils, flower petals, candles, and soft music makes the bath more evocative and purifying. Particular oils and herbs are chosen based on the needs of the moment. Lavender carries his precision of healing and balancing. Rose offers her noble purity and Rosemary her brilliant strength and intelligence. Cedar and the trees give their steadfast, unwavering protection. Sage steps in with his gift for stripping away and cleansing. Jasmine holds court with her sensual wisdom while Neroli brings her joy and laughter. The possibilities are endless and present themselves based on need. When we ask for help from an honest space of heartfelt desire Nature conspires to offer it.

A recipe for a salt bath

1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup epsom salt
1/2 cup baking powder
3 drops rose oil
2 drops lavender oil
1 drop sweet orange oil
a handful of rose petals and dried lavender

Cleansing (Part 4) – Floral Waters

Floral waters are cleansing agents directly gifted to us from the flowers of the Earth herself. The official term for these aromatic waters is hydrosols and they are byproducts of the distillation process that gives us the powerful essential oils used in herbalism and aromatherapy. Floral waters are one of my favorite ways to cleanse as they offer a cleansing by water and air. The flowers imprint their fragrant light onto the waters, gently blessing them with soft petal kisses. The main trinity of floral waters are rose, jasmine, and neroli (orange blossom).

Rose (Rosaceae) is the royalty of flowers. With her subtle, deep notes she evokes the magic of movement and the light of the sacred in all she touches. Rose offers transcendent peace and comfort and has been used throughout the centuries for everything from calming to offering to cosmetics. Rose evokes beauty and sacred purity. Many who experience apparitions of the Holy Mother smell roses in Her wake.

Jasmine (Jasminium) is the night blooming flower of mystery, moon- light, and wisdom. She is the full moon in the darkest night who reaches her vining fingers to those who adore her. Jasmine has been engaged for her aphrodisiac qualities and as an element in love tinctures of all kinds. She ever so subtly stimulates those who wish to stay up through the magi- cal night with her to learn her many secrets.

Neroli (Citrus aurantium subsp. amara or Bigaradia) or orange blossom has a musky sweetness evocative of earth and air. The optimism of citrus blends with the magic of florals in Neroli’s soft, sweet breath. Neroli is uplifting; she heals moodiness, and challenges us to brighten our lives. Neroli is kindness in a flower.

You can work with each flower individually or combine these floral waters into a spritzer to spray your space and clear yourself. I’ve found these flowers shift space quickly and with very little fanfare. Gently powerful, these evocative florals purify and bless our inner waters while clearing the clouds from darkened skies.

Cleansing (Part 3)

Each herb has its own character and brings with it a personality rich with flavor and nuance. Just as each human has personal light so does every plant. Sage brings strength, fortitude, and an ability to cut through the nonsense and get to the root. Its adaptability is obvious as it lives in many different climates including the most arid deserts. Sacred sage of- fers this power to clear and survive to those who are willing to share light with it.

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is also known as holy grass. It is a plant of offering whose smoke carries our prayers and blessings forward. Some say sweetgrass is the blessing breath of the Mother herself and so when she is woven into braids and baskets we weave our blessings with Hers. When paired with sage sweetgrass fills the cleared space with the blessings of the cosmos.

Cedar evokes the protection and power of the ancient trees whose root structures support the great forests. The great trees offer the security of boundaries, protection against the unpredictable winds, and the shelter of their green arms over our fragile heads. The great cedars: sequoia, juniper, cypress, and redwood are among the most ancient living inhabitants of the earth and many have guarded the forests for centuries.

Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) is a beautiful purple plant with incredible cleansing properties. It is antiseptic, antimicrobial, and evoc- ative of a summer day. The word lavender comes from the Latin lavar, which means to wash, and is used effectively in soaps to wash the outer body and teas to wash the inner body. Lavender is a medicinal adaptogen. This means it will adapt to our physiology. If we are in a high stress state it will calm and relax. If we are lethargic and depressed it will uplift us. Lavender works to lovingly balance our physical and energetic systems.

Rosemary (rosmarius officianalis) is a fragrant green shrub that has mythological associations with the goddess Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary, both of whom are evocative images of the sacred feminine in patriarchal traditions. Because of its hardy and resilient nature rosemary offers protection and blessing. My household keeps rosemary plants in front of each door that we may be always protected with the understand- ing that we will extend that protection to others in need and that we may always be blessed that we may share that blessing with others. Rosemary is used clinically to sharpen memory, invigorate, and strengthen weak- ened systems.

Any of the herbs can be engaged individually or combined for smudging. Pre-made smudge sticks can be purchased or you can weave your own. If you do not have an actual stick it is fine to burn the leaves of the dried herbs individually or as loose incense. In smudging you are bathing in the smoke of the herbs who share their blessings. This is a way of communion with the people of the Green places through the elements of fire and air.

Cleansing (Part 2)

The use of aroma to purify and cleanse a space is ancient. The Bible tells of frankincense and myrrh, both aromatic resins, as gifts to Jesus. The tomb of King Tut in Egypt had essential oils and resins buried with- in. The burning of sacred herbs has been used multi-culturally for cleans- ing and medicinal purposes. The Catholic Church uses thuribles filled with aromatic resins such as copal to represent prayers lifting toward God. Moxibustion in Chinese medicine involves the burning of the sacred herb mugwort to clear Chi. The olfactory effect, scent, is the most primal of our senses. It bypasses the conscious mind completely and automati- cally lifts us into another space. In the rituals of purification by fire and air (the burning and breathing of herbs) we honor the Earth from which

the herbs were born, bathe in their fragrant power, and share our light with theirs.

Burning resinous incense is one of the most ancient traditional ways to cleanse. Frankincense (Boswellia thurifera) is a resin that looks like golden tears fallen from the trees. It has a warming quality and is used medicinally as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Frankincense evokes the Sun in splendor and is considered a masculine botanical and as such is

a fitting gift for a newborn king. In the Catholic Church frankincense
is used to purify in much the same way as sage (see below) is in Native American traditions. Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) is a tonic for the female reproductive system and considered a feminine botanical. It is also used for tooth and gum care, in cosmetics, and to calm the energetic and physical systems. It was used in funerary preparations and embalming. When Mary Magdalene went to wash the body of Jesus she was surely carrying myrrh. So while frankincense celebrates the birth of the Sun
so myrrh solemnizes the death. These resins, along with benzoin, copal, and amber, were used by the Hebrew people, the Egyptians, and are still used in the Catholic Church as ceremonial incense. The simplest way
to burn these resins is by lighting a charcoal tablet and letting the resins smoke. Inhale deep breaths of the smoky resin and wash yourself in the fragrance. Send your light and intention into the soft smoke and feel yourself lifted, cleansed, and loved.

The Native American smudge stick is a fabulously elegant way to cleanse. While many different cultures over the centuries have used dried herbs to cleanse and purify when we use the word “smudging” it is a nod to the Native Americans tribes and their sacred herbs. It is of utmost importance that when we learn from other cultures we work from a place of respect and not greedy appropriation. There is much to learn from the practices of others but there is oftentimes a seemingly utilitarian disrespect that sadly goes along with it.

A smudge stick is a bundle of herbs burned to purify and cleanse a person or space. White sage (Salvia apiana) is the most common herb employed in smudging but it is often blended with cedar and sweetgrass for a balanced synergy. Sage (salvia) has a chemical constituent called thujone, the active ingredient in absinthe’s wormwood, which causes heightened clarity and vivid dreams in small doses, and hallucination and even death in higher dosages. The potency of white sage gives the recipient a sense of being stripped and scrubbed clean. Nature abhors a vacuum and so once the sage has cleansed us we must put something in its place or that vacuum will be filled with something else, perhaps not to our liking. Therefore another herb is used to fill the cleansed space with something positive. We cleanse with the sage and then we bless with the cedar, sweetgrass, lavender, or rosemary.

 

Cayenne Pepper flu remedy

Cayenne pepper (Capsicum minimum) is one of my favorite culinary and medicinal herbs. The word Capsicum is derived from the Greek “to bite,” which is a well-earned name. Cayenne is extremely spicy and a little bit goes a fair way towards warming even the coolest constitutions.

Although cayenne is sharp to the tongue it is very gentle and nutritive to the body. It is a wonderful flu preventative. My favorite cayenne remedy is from Dian Dincin Buchman’s Herbal Medicine (p 22).

2tsp cayenne pepper
1.5tsp sea salt
1 c boiling water
1 c apple cider vinegar

Add cayenne pepper and sea salt to boiling water. Steep and cool. Then add vinegar. Take 1 tbsp every half hour to assist the symptoms of a sore throat or general flu-like malaise.

This particular recipe is highly effective. When a sore throat and pressure headache looms I eat bowls of garlic/onion soup with basil, parsley, and cayenne. And take shot glasses of anti-flu preventative every 30 minutes. 

Enjoy!

Source: Buchman, Dian Dincin. Herbal Medicine. Wings Books. New York. 1979

Herbal First Aid Kit

Herbal/Essential Oil First Aid

 

First Aid Kit

Aspirin or white willow bark (High fevers, pain)

Bandages & Compresses

Colloidal silver (cleansing, prevent infection)

Rubbing alcohol to sterilize tweezers

charcoal tablets

 

Carrier oil of choice (grapeseed, sweet almond, jojoba blend)

Aloe vera gel for burns (add lavender, chamomile, and witch hazel for spritz)

Arnica infusion oil for bruising and pain (use only externally and on unbroken skin)

Castor oil – Compresses for localized healing

 

Essential oils

Lavender – Burns, prevent infection, bug bites, heal skin and nervous system (OK to use neat)

Eucalyptus – Sinus congestion, colds, flu

Clove – Antibacterial, analgesic for tooth pain

Peppermint – nausea, cramping, analgesic

Tea tree – anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial preventative for colds/flu (OK to use neat)

Wintergreen – analgesic for severe pain (use with discernment)

 

Herbs

Chamomile – Insomnia and anxiety, good for upset tummies

Peppermint – Drink for nausea & upset tummy; Cold compress for headache/sinus)

Garlic – Antimicrobial! Start eating (make a soup) at first indications of a cold; helps with yeast infections

Ginger – Chew on ginger root or take as tea for upset tummy; soothes menstrual cramps; Ginger bath to reduce body/muscle aches (Add the tea to your bath)

Cayenne pepper – Stops bleeding, flu preventative, systemic tonic