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Flu Season Tips

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Merry meet all,

I know it’s been a few days since my last blog post. I have been brutally ill from a flu bug that nearly bit the very life out of me. It was the most horrid flu bug I have ever had. I ached all over from head to toe, and thought I would die. I spent 3 days in bed. I won’t go into more gross detail but I also had to go to a dental appointment first thing in the morning, first brutal day of the flu. I almost fell on the floor while I was there. I am here to give you some much needed survival tips on how to combat the flu and emerge a victor.

First things first…

Time. If you suspect you have the flu and feel the commonly known symptoms of the flu, cancel major appointments and important business meetings and travel plans. You can’t go anywhere if you are too sick to move and you risk infecting others with the same illness.

Provisions. Stock up on plenty of fresh ripe lemons, organic honey, toilet paper and Kleenex boxes, food that is sources of protein and vitamins such as colorful ripe vegetables, meat and shellfish, and beans and grains. These foods are rich sources of Vitamins A, D and B. These foods also contribute to boosting your immune systems. That is necessary to healing from the illness. Ginger and ginseng are also good for you.

Rest. I spent 3 shameless days in bed feeling like the world was going to end. I really did believe it. I was dizzy when I stood, my eyes burned, my back felt broken, I couldn’t help but sleep, and I sniffed and coughed uncontrollably. If that is not enough, I could only remain awake for 15 minutes at a time between long sleep intervals. So it is a good idea to cancel those meetings and travel plans and just stay home. No one else wants your cold. It is a hard cold fact of life.

Treatments. Get plenty of rest, don’t think you will be staying home watching videos or finishing your adult coloring book. If you have the flu as horribly as I did, this is the perfect time to take advantage of the sleep you need. Take the proper recommended doses of Tylenol or Ibuprofen at the right times. Stay hydrated. Take plenty of steamy showers to loosen up the mucus in your sinuses. Blow your nose often and keep the wastebasket near your bed. Extra tip: Line your wastebaskets/ cans with a plastic bag so it is easy to remove when full. Grocery bags are perfect for that. Keep a tray or a table near the bed but that is not in your way but makes it easy for you to access something if you need it in a hurry. Unplug the phone and internet, and close the curtains. I could barely stand so I welcomed the solitude. Fill the kettle early on in the day.

Health Boosters. I steered clear of Red Rose tea and only drank a bit of coffee. I drank a LOT of organic honey and lemon tea. Not Neo Citran- which is pure artificial sweetener, the real stuff. It was a savior scent from heaven, that concoction of awesome goodness. I cherished every drop. I lost my appetite but I still forced down a few healthy meals: an apple, pasta + brussel sprouts, seafood chowder,  lentil soup, sweet potatoes. These are the foods that give you your much needed health back.

A plan. Do go see your doctor. Your doctor can and will advise you if you have influenza, a viral infection or pneumonia. They can give you medicated pain and fever relief. If they do an x-ray, those will tell the doctors more about your condition. Try to take a cab or arrange a ride to and from the hospital. Try to avoid using the metro transit, if at all possible. People might be sick on the bus or you might infect them. 

Spoiling. This is the perfect time to spoil yourself. Go ahead and if you can handle it, have that spa day or staycation. I took hot showers. I also enjoyed a 20-minute soak in the tub. I added sage leaves I crumbled in my fingers, salt, Epsom salts, and clove essential oil. I exfoliated and scrubbed my finger and toenails. I made a natural mask for my skin of olive oil and honey, which I put on my face for a few moments than washed off after. I felt great. Go get lots of herbal teas for colds and keep them handy. Avoid alcohol and excessive amounts of caffeine. Read a nice health magazine. Recover in a clean apartment and bedroom. Change your bed linens once you are back on your feet. 

This is how I did it. I am finally on the road to recovery. For a while there, I wasn’t sure if I was going to live. But I must have some stoical endurance in me to have survived. With some luck, you will too. I hope you enjoyed reading my post and now have lots of ideas to guard your health. 

More tips: Do keep your room clean. Put some flowers in a vase. Dim the lights. Listen to soft low volume music. If you can handle it and won’t choke, sleep with a lozenge under your tongue as you sleep. Don’t choke. If you think you would choke, don’t do it. I managed to remain alert enough to not swallow the lozenge. Keep lozenges or a glass of water nearby instead as you sleep. Don’t have flashy lights or throbbing techno music booming in the background. Put off collecting the mail or throwing out the garbage. Just stay home. Your aching senses will thank you. Think Enigma, world music or Enya. Meditation can help as well as breathing exercises. Have plenty of Kleenex or toilet paper at hand. 

Good luck!

Blessed be, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Altar Decoration for Yule

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Merry meet all,

Winter is upon us. The chill of winter bites at us as we travel to work or holiday shopping. Be inspired by the winter colors for your altar decorations. Blues, silvers and whites as well as red, greens and golds correspond with winter.

Add solar symbols to your altar. The Solstice is about the return of the sun. Pine cones, evergreen boughs, sprigs of holly, a Yule log and or antlers. They all represent the Winter Solstice season. Candles in winter colors, antlers, mistletoe, a bowl of snow, bells and sun wheels reflect winter.

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Burn a Yule log. Be sure to supervise to avoid a fire. Check your smoke alarms that they are well functioning first.

Evergreen, fir, spruce and pine are popular woods to use for a ritual or altar decoration. Their scents invoke those fresh earthy scents. Cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg are earthy and spicy. Nuts and dried fruits can be added to an altar or a gingerbread house!

The altar cloth can be a white color or blue and silver. My altar cloth is sheer and has a snowflake print on it. It is reversible and switches between silver and gold depending on which side faces up.

Then once the altar is dressed and assembled, smudge it with sage and an altar cleansing potion. Be sure to clean the altar area beforehand. Enjoy your seasonal winter altar. Have a merry Winter Solstice.

Blessings, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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Spring Bling

Crocusfrom garden

Merry meet all,

Spring is here. I had a great time celebrating the Ostara Sabbat at the Universalist Unitarian Church on Saturday night. I called a quarter (West) and enjoyed the evening. The ritual was well-thought out and went smoothly. 

Tonight is the Full Moon of March. I spied sprouts emerging in my garden from the cold tough soil. I also planted seeds in a seed tray in my bedroom. They are coming up. Spring is an exciting time that embraces raw visceral change and fresh growth. Of course, being a gardener, I enjoy spring. I can’t wait to get to work on my garden. It is almost time to rake leaves back and tidy the garden. The parsley and rue I have been growing indoors, protecting from winter’s chill, have grown well. They will be happy to return to the soil this spring. Their roots can reach deep and the soil is worked by tireless insects. Plants always prefer to be outdoors. 

The next turn in the Wheel of the Year is Beltaine. I will miss the dark half of the year but it will return. For now, there are seed catalogues to peruse and a garden to clean. I wish you all a merry Ostara

Blessings, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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New Moon harvest

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Merry meet all,

Today I bound my garlic cloves from the garden with an elastic and hung them to dry. I chopped off the onion stems and stored the onion heads in a dry clean basket. I will leave the garlic and onions to cure for a number of weeks. Then I hope they store well for the winter. The bluejays steal eggshells I leave in the garden. I wonder why. I believe I shall harvest more rhubarb too. I do enjoy some raspberries from my garden too, though not as many as I’d like. 

The sky’s overcast here today. The sun’s trying to shine through the clouds. The oak seedling in my garden’s doing well. The garden sage is doing well. I can’t wait for another big harvest from my garden. I love to garden and I am sure it shows, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment and brings me peace. I love my garden. It’s been a lot of work and I am seeing the results of my labour, which is part of what Lammas is about. 

The New Moon shines tomorrow night. The New Moon phase is a good time for new beginnings and starting new projects. Cleanse your crystals and burn a candle to meditate or reflect on what you would like to do. I am seeing August as a good time to get my writing and sewing done and up to date. September always signals a change for me. 

Many New Moon Blessings, Lady Spiderwitch 

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A Garden to honor my ancestors

Seedling Magick

Merry meet all,

Tonight I’m sipping coffee and I occasionally peek out to my blossoming garden. It cheers my heart to see the plants grow. I also take pride in it for a different reason. 

I am carrying on the work of my ancestors. I am part Celtic and part Viking. My maternal grandmother is from Scotland. My maternal grandfather is from Cape Breton-French Acadian. My father was Norwegian. 

They would have worked hard in a garden to provide the food to feed their families. It was a produce or perish way of life then. They would have raised livestock. I don’t raise livestock but I do have two familiars. A garden was necesary. I also know how to fish, saw wood, gather and store wood, and operate a real wood stove. I know how to identify animal tracks, herbs and berries, and cook homegrown food- and ride horses. I often practice slow cooking, as opposed to eating processed food out of a can. Yes I do know to work a coleman stove. 

Allow me to elaborate here. One time in Pleasant Bay, my sis Niki harvested some root veggies from her garden. She cooked a pot of stew and it was cooked on the wood stove. I love the sound of a stainless steel kettle rattling on the wood stove- and a woodpecker pecking at the outdoor house walls. Then I was given the pot of soup and I held the pot of stew on my lap the way to the main house, where we all enjoyed it. I mean, it was delicious. Well it was made from totally locally grown vegetables and cooked on a wood stove. What was there to not like? 

I also can sew and clean. I know you may be thinking these seem like such domestic chores- especially since last fall, I was in the kitchen literally cooking all day. But I filled glass dishes with the plastic red lids with four different soups and I was able to feed myself all winter long. 

I have a fresh stash of lentils and beans. I know what to do with them. Performing this work is satisfying because I feel like I am carrying on a tradition. I have occasionally gone camping, maybe not as often as I should. Spending so much time in Pleasant Bay has helped me appreciate going for a simple walk. Well today was rainy. I also know how to make candles, make crafts like candles, jewelry, and bind books But my main pride and joy is my garden. I fail to understand why no one started a garden in the backyard here before me. Oh well my job. And I love it! I bought a celtic cookbook to also honor my ancestry. 

I am studying the different gods and goddesses in the Celtic pantheon. That is just fascinating to me. I do have a hard time getting my hands on books and information on the Vikings so I could honor that side of my family. I hope to learn more about them. 

I plan to make good use of the raspberries in my garden in jam and maybe eat them with pancakes. I plan to grow tomatoes, kale, lettuce, carrots, beets and radishes, potatoes, chives, garlic, rhubarb, and onions. For someone who lives on a meagre budget as I do, this is a lot of food. This includes the herbs and flowers I shall also harvest in the fall. The Witch Hazel will be cool. I haven’t planned on what to do with that yet. I can also harvest roots, seeds, and flower petals for various magickal uses. 

I let my Samhain pumpkins compost in my garden all year. The orange pumpkin was closer to the house. The white pumpkin composted over the tulip and garlic bulbs. When I raked the leaves this spring, I didn’t find the white pumpkin. I guess that is how well it composted. But the soil, bulbs and bugs would have benefitted from the nutrients from it. I did find the dried crumbling remnants of the orange pumpkin. I know it helped the soil. 

I planted snowdrops because I read they were sacred to Brigid. This is one of many ways I hope to explore and deepen my connection to my ancestors.

Blessed Be, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

 

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How to make Elderberry Jam

Merry meet all,

Today I am sharing a recipe with you. When I was visiting my sister in Pleasant Bay, we made organic elderberry jam. Is it ever delicious! It may seem like lots of work to gather four cups worth of elderberries, but it is worth it. Note: Elderberries are poisonous until cooked. Do not ingest them until the berries are thoroughly cooked. Do not eat elderberries found in the wild. Now, that said, the wild is the best place to gather them. Ask the Elder Tree Mother for her permission to gather the berries from the tree.

Elderberries are made into jams and wine. Hippocrates called the elderberry tree his medicine chest. Folklore comes with this fruitful tree. People still creep around the tree, rather than risk earning its wrath. It is believed that a spirit dwells within the tree. She comes to reclaim her sacred wood. Folkard, in Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics, tells us:

“The pith of the branches when cut in round, flat shapes, is dipped in oil, lighted, and then put to float in a glass of water; its light on Christmas Eve is thought to reveal to the owner all the witches and sorcerers in the neighbourhood.”

Hylde-Moer, the Elder-Tree Mother, shares a history with witches:
“The word ‘Elder’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word aeld. In Anglo-Saxon days we find the tree called Eldrun, which becomes Hyldor and Hyllantree in the fourteenth century. One of its names in modern German – Hollunder – is clearly derived from the same origin. In Low-Saxon, the name appears as Ellhorn. which meant ‘fire,’ the hollow stems of the young branches having been used for blowing up a fire: the soft pith pushes out easily and the tubes thus formed were used as pipes – hence it was often called Pipe-Tree, or Bore-tree and Bour-tree, the latter name remaining in Scotland and being traceable to the Anglo-Saxon form, Burtre.”

How to make Elderberry Jam

The recipe is in the book The Joy of Cooking. You will not need to buy pectin for this recipe. You will use apples which contain natural pectin. You require sterile clean glass jars and screw top lids. You will need a kit for making jam. The jars are hot and the tools prevent you from burning yourself. You will need a stainless steel pot with a flat bottom. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture as a wooden spoon will not contain chemicals from a plastic spoon that could leach into your mixture.

The recipe is as follows:

4 cups elderberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water in pot
2 chopped and cored apples. Cut the apples into fine pieces.
If the berries are tart- remember, they are poisonous until cooked, use s scant cup of sugar to 1 cup of fruit. These are not high pectin fruits. Add lemon juice or one to two apples, chopped and cut into fine pieces. Apples have a natural high pectin content.

Measure the fruit, put into the pan, crushing the lower layers to provide moisture. and cook over low heat from thirty to forty-five minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer and stir frequently from the bottom until sugar is dissolved to keep jam from sticking. Cook until a small amount of jam dropped on a plate will stay in place. Mix well and keep stirring over medium heat. Simmer the fruit in the uncovered pot. Bring the fruit mixture to a boil and continue to stir, until no sticking occurs. Reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, and allow for additional thickening as it cools.

Pour the jam into the jars carefully. Keep a damp cloth to clean the rims of the jars nearby. Also, wait to hear if the jar lids ‘pop’. That will tell you the jars are sealed. Fill the jars to 1/8 inch of the top.

Once cooled, store in the fridge. Enjoy your organic elderberry jam!

Sources Cited: http://elderberrylife.com/history-folklore/hippocrates-called-the-tree-his-medicine-chest/

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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