Friday, January 31, 2014

Frankincense (2) What it's known for...

Frankincense is known for being useful for breaking down mucous, fighting anxiety, cancer, infections, depression, inflammation, and stimulating the immune system.

Here is the breakdown of how it works it's magic:

Skin:

  • Traditionally Frankincense has been used for skincare. It's known for helping promote healthy skin, reduce scars/wounds/stretch marks and reducing wrinkles
  • Can be used in treatments for warts, moles and skin infections

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Stomach:

  • Used for digestion and digestion related issues such as ulcers, vomit. 
  • Used to be ingested. If ingested, chew it like a gum and only pure forms should be used (please note that I am not advocating that you eat Frankincense!)
  • Also used for dysentery, fevers, leprosy


Lungs:

  • Inhaling incense or burning oils is said to help with bronchitis, laryngitis and asthma
  • Cleans respiratory tract
  • Sedating or cooling on lungs, thus helps with coughs
  • Helps with voice loss (see above)
  • Enhances immunity prevention in body

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Mental Health:

  • Helps relieve depression
  • Reduces stress/nervousness
  • Dispels fears
  • Relaxing/Rejuvenating


Spiritual:

  • Known as being sacred, used to communicate with the Divine
  • Promotes spiritual awareness


Other:

  • Has been used in compresses for hemorrhoids
  • Ayurvedic system uses it for strengthening female hormone system (not quite sure what that means though)
  • Helps with urinary tract infections
  • Oil pulling with Frankincense helps reduce gum disease
  • Relieves headaches and restless leg syndrome
  • Reduces aches and pains in muscles, bones and joints

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Monday, January 27, 2014

art journal: don't let your past

This morning Baby Faye let me take some time for art journaling:


I've been trying to get more time in to play with paint. I will never be some great artist, but man oh man does my soul need it's creative time. I've written about this before but I sometimes forget and lose sight of the habits that nurture me most.

I realize that life has changed with the arrival of Baby Faye, but I still need to remember to take time to take care of myself from time to time. So yay for naps and play time that give Mama Faye a much needed creative time out!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Frankincense (1) Plant, History, Harvesting

Plant:

  • Boswellia genus of trees.
  • Plant is dioecious (both male and female)
  • Grows in hardy conditions (arid soil, rocky terrain)
  • Slow growth (tree recedes and emerges several times before it really stays above ground)
  • Largest zones of production include Somalia, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia
  • Short tree, takes up to 8 to 10 years before ready for harvesting
  • Ideal plant management includes harvesting for 5 years then letting tree rest for 5 years

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Harvesting:

  • Resin is gathered by cutting a slash in tree, then gathering the resin that pools and hardens under the slash.
  • Once the resin hardens, slash is deepened. 
  • Harvested 2 to 3 times a year from May to Sept, for each slash made. Last collection is usually the highest quality as it is the most aromatic
  • The extra sap that pools further down the tree is gathered (not sure what they do with it.. lower grades?)

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Quality:
  • Resin ranges from clear to opaque, opaque is usually the best quality
  • Determined by colour, purity, age, aroma. 
  • 2 types: silver and hojari are considered the best but best is regional specific. Silver is better in hot, arid conditions, Hojari in damp, cold conditions.
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Scent, Essential Oil, :
  • Scent is spicy with a citrus and balsamic undertone
  • Essential oil is created from steam distillation of the resin
Ethical Issues:
  • Over-harvesting, deforestation, and poor crop management are endangering the plant
  • Tapped trees germinate less than a quarter of what a non-tapped tree produces
  • Tapping too much resin weakens the tree, thus placing tree at risk when over-exploited
  • Traditional areas where the tree is grown are subject to being taken over for agricultural produce, introduction of other species and deforestation due to climate or urbanization.

Textual information comes from: Wikipedia, MrsGrieves Herbal, How Stuff Works, BBC


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

diy toothpaste update

So I've been using my diy toothpaste for 2 weeks. I'd call it a success so far.

One thing to note though... baking soda is REALLY salty. I should have known this... you know the soda part should have given it away but honestly I just never thought about it. For the first week I was drooling, yes salivating/drooling, as I brushed my teeth as something about the saltiness hit my salivary glands and sent them into overdrive.

Not pretty, but really how pretty is brushing your teeth anyways?

I get why people add stevia to the mix. Before I was really perplexed by it. I haven't done it, but might try with the next batch. I always have such problems with stevia though that I'm loath to do it because I find it WAY too sweet, even with the most minute amounts.

All in all though, I find my teeth feel really clean. Like fresh from the dentist clean. I dig it. I'm used to the saltiness now, so I may leave it as is. Or maybe I'll add more peppermint?

Definitely a successful pinterest hack!


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

elemental working: art journal

One of the things I've been trying to work on lately is elemental connections, states of mind, and energies as they are at work in my life. During one of my meditations (one of those great mornings I was able to sneak in a full practice), I was struck with inspiration (I fracken LOVE it when this happens).

I'm going to art journal my elemental meditations. Over a week (possibly more depending on Baby Faye's attitude), I'm going to take time to meditate artistically on each of the four elements. Here's my first week (it was a rough week so it's pretty simple):


I opted to paint each element in it's very basic colour, thinking that I'd go back and spruce it up with extra layers. This week just didn't allow for it but that's ok, it still works for me. It's super simple and was done in stages as time allowed, perfect for this mama!

air/east: decided to focus in on the big realization/life lesson I feel like I'm working on at this point. This is something I've been really starting to see as a pattern in my life and am, now that I've had the lightbulb epiphany/awareness of this as a pattern, working on stepping back and being my own answer, my own instigator, cheering squad, and motivator. It's so simple and yet very profound at this point in my life as Mr Faye and I are hashing out spiritual identities in our family and how we are going to raise Baby Faye in a multifaith home. It's also super important as I am learning to let go of friendships that will never be what I want them to be, particularly now that there is so much distance (physical/emotional) between myself and said friends. Overall I feel like learning to stop looking for things in others that can't be is important because it speaks to recognizing their journey, their divinity, while also recognizing my own needs and expectations in order to have more honesty on my own journey. Does that make sense?

fire/south: I'm still working on anger. I've made some interesting realizations in my life about how my body has been storing anger. I am having gallbladder problems and going to have an operation to remove it in the, hopefully, not so distant, future. I weighed in on the option of monitoring the illness with diet vs the operation and ultimately, given how incapacitating the attacks are when they hit and the fact that I don't actually eat that much fat, opted to go the surgery route. What does this have to do with anger? Well recent research into aromatherapy and acupuncture has taught me that the body stores anger in the liver/gallbladder, both of which are problem areas in my health (jaundice, hepatitis A, and now gallstones). In fact, over the past few months, even before realizing this information, every time my anger, resentment, or frustrations really flared up, my gallbladder also acts up (sometimes acutely, sometimes minor flare ups). So I am working on my triggers, the biggest at the moment being sleep. There is only so much I can do about this at the moment but Mr Faye is stepping up a lot to help me rest more on the weekends/evenings so that I can work on mellowing out and balancing my internal fires.

water/west: Now is a time in my life when I feel particularly called to work on some of the family issues I have in my life. I've been suppressing them for ages because I can't change the family I have. And trust me, there are days that I really wish that I could. This family work that needs to be done on my part is messy but well timed as I am nurturing my own young family.

earth/north: Ironically for this particular element I spent time outdoors, walking north towards the river with Mr Faye and Baby Faye. We're thinking of taking up snowshoeing because there's a path right behind our house that we can venture on, as well as many in the village just a couple kms away. As someone who grew up out west, I don't do well with winter sports. I feel cabin feverish during the winter, so we're trying to get outdoors more on warmer winter days. I wish that I'd taken pictures because it was barren, cold, and beautiful (but alas, I was trying to be present in the moment).

Have you ever done elemental work via art journals? What did you do and how did you find the work?


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Monday, January 20, 2014

essential oils

Over the last few months, I've been slowly learning about essential oils really casually. I used to use them for aromatherapy. Nothing serious, never really paying attention to the quality of said oils other than if they smelled good or not.

To be frank, I was pretty much the same with anything scent based for a long time.

But then a woman in one of my mom's groups started up an offshoot group for essential oils because she had a relative who used oils for health. I'd never really heard of using essential oils to prevent illness before so I was super intrigued.

At first I was a bit skeptical. While I am pretty crunchy, I'm not sure that I would rely solely on oils for healing, you know? But the more I investigate, the more I find the science behind oil use to be fascinating. That said, learning all the oils can be pretty overwhelming but I'm trying to take the time to learn about them slowly but thoroughly.

I thought I'd share what I discover here, as I have time to do so. I'm actually looking forward to creating a book on herbs and oils that heal as part of my practice. I'm trying to read up about the oils in relation to their traditional uses and their magical uses. It's interesting to see some of the overlaps between science and magic in some of them. Any of you using essential oils?

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Friday, January 17, 2014

around here lately in fayeland

Lest you all fear that I have disappeared, rest assured I am still alive and well.

Here's a little of what's been going on around here lately:



I've been working on making real foods, like homemade dijon mustard. Or bread:



I kind of love making bread. I find it soothing and meditative. I love kneading the dough. I love, love, love, the little squee of glee that I get from watching the dough rise. All in all, it's just all about the love.


Drinking water, working on getting back into my daily practice, however that may look these days.

Celebrating another turn around the sun:


Want to hear something fantastic? I totally got my wish from my birthday cake candles. Oh yeah baby, how super awesome is that? Yeah, it's kind of totally amazeballs!   :)


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Sunday, January 12, 2014

daily gratitudes

What kind of gratitude practices do you have in your day to day life? Or do you have any?

Over here in Faye land, we're trying to infuse a little more gratitude into our daily routine so we've started a new tradition: at dinner saying one thing we are grateful for during that particular day. It can't be something like I'm grateful for my family or for the love in my family. No, it has to be from something that happened that day, so for example: I'm grateful for the funny birthday card I received because it totally made me feel like that person got me and took the time to find something that totally is me. It was sweet and totally awesome.

Want to see? I know you're curious:

outside
inside

It's totally a little thing but it's funny to me and it made me thankful to have people in my life who understand my lit geeky humour.

Mr Faye and I have talked a lot about what types of traditions we want to bring into our lives and why, and this one sort of fits the bill the best. He grew up in a home where they prayed before every meal but it became meaningless because it was the same prayer every day and it was done without thought. Within my Wiccan tradition there is a prayer before meals that we could do, but honestly I worry it would become the exact same thing: by rote ritual, which is something neither of us wants as a tradition.

So we like the idea of taking a family gratitude moment because it changes every day, makes us have to reflect back on our day, and remember something positive in it. We hope that as a tradition it'll help both us and Baby Faye remember to be thankful for what we have and to have a more positive outlook on our daily lives. It's so easy to get bogged down in the complaints and negativity. And while they have their place, we'd like to work on fostering happiness and a sense of peace in our lives through gratitude.

What do you think, do you have suggestions on ways to grow the practice or things that you do differently that you'd like to share.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

diy toothpaste

This year I decided I would try to make my own toothpaste, so I did:


Lately it seems like everyone is on the coconut oil bandwagon and I guess I've just joined them? Making the toothpaste was pretty easy. Here's what I used:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • 15 drops Young Living peppermint essential oil
I tried a little taste on my tongue, to see what to expect when I use it tomorrow, and it seems good. We'll see how I enjoy using it. If I like it, I'll be pretty stoked because honestly I was spending WAY too much on eco crunchy toothpastes and have been for years much to Mr Faye's chagrin! 

If I like it, I might dabble in using a remineralization product in the paste to help fight cavities as well as maybe (not sure yet) peroxyde (obviously high quality, safe for teeth stuff) to whiten my teeth a bit.

I'll keep you posted. Anyone else out there diy toothpaste? Any tips you'd add to my mix?



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Thursday, January 2, 2014

online community life cycles & letting go to nurture spiritual self

Community.

I've spent most of my adult life longing for spiritual community. I've wandered from the public pagan community, to Reclaiming, to solo, to a coven. I've done online communities, Unitarian, and small tight knit communities.

I've participated in women only and mixed gender communities. I've participated in spiritual communities, artsy communities, cultural, academic and mama based communities.

In the end I've always found that it comes down to the same thing... communities live and die by the natures of the people within them and the members' willingness to work together to build something bigger than themselves. More often than not I've found that this is only able to be sustained so long before politics, egos and/or human nature gets in the way. A strong community will find a way to rebuild because its members value what it offers them collectively whilst weaker communities will inevitably tumble because the center cannot hold on a community without something worth fighting for.

Truth be told, I find this evolution of community to be quite fascinating. Each and every community that I have participated in, to some extent, has followed this pattern. Each and every one of them has brought something beautiful or necessary into my life.

As we ring in 2014, I am saying goodbye to a few communities in my life while welcoming in a few others, namely leaving a bunch of my online communities in favour of in real life communities. The process is sad but necessary. I am starting to feel like my online communities (facebook most significantly) are eating into my daily existence at the expense of real life. While I am nostalgic and thankful for the communities that have brought so much into my life, I am excited about dedicating the year ahead to following my own heart and listening to my own voice.


Too much time online has left me feeling a bit empty (even while also feeling fulfilled) because I spend more time reading the comments and lives of others instead of going out and living my own life. Instead of doing yoga, I'm facebook chatting. Instead of doing artistic endeavours, I'm in a forum getting caught up in others' dramas. All of which dampens my ability to be present in my own life, to hear my own spiritual guides and truths.

Since slowly weaning and then going cold turkey on some of my online communities I've been feeling like my inner voice is going strong and I'm happy to reconnect with her. Letting go of all the surfeit of voices has definitely been part of the process of me being able to hear her more clearly and me being able to reconnect with some of the creative practices that nourish my soul.

So I'm welcoming in 2014 with the goal of engaging in my own life and building in real life communities. It probably won't come as a surprise to you that I'm going to kill the Aradia's Cauldron facebook page (I hardly use it anyways) and my Faye Dewell page.

Ironically I suspect that this will also mean that I'm able to be here in this space more than I have been of late because I'll actually be creating a practice and art to reflect that practice. I won't lie. I'm pretty excited about that!


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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

the art of detachment

Listen.

Image Source: Google Images

Can you hear it?

You're reacting right now. Thinking about what I've written, how I've written it, and what you think of it.

Stop.

Image Source: Google Images

Look. Examine the reaction. Is it positive, negative, judgemental, defensive, other? (No need to tell me by the way, I'm good not knowing)!

When you think about the last thing you said or did, what was that action or reaction based on? When you examine it closely, are you happy with the reaction? Surprised? Does it nurture you or spread toxic energy? Is it necessary? Or is it based on fear, hurt or shame?

Every day, every moment, we are reacting. Learning to detach from an event or reaction in order to understand it's root cause is one of the great works of meditation.  When I was younger, learning about Buddhism, for the first time, I remember learning about this concept of detachment and thinking that it was totally not for me. I wanted to live a life full of passion, energy, love -- not detachment. The idea seemed off to me and honestly, was one of the reason why paganism appealed to me more -- because it was more actively engaged in the world.

Now, through the lens of reaction, I understand the concept of detachment much better than I did then. And I appreciate the nuances and complexity of detachment in ways that I didn't then.

And I think that one of the greatest things I've taken away from my meditation practice is learning to stand back every now and again and realize that I am busy reacting based on anger or hurt and not based on who I want to be or what I want to manifest in my life. Don't get me wrong. More often than not, I react because I react, but every now and again I remember to stop, listen, and hear my inner voice before reacting.

The beauty of it is, the more I learn to stop and reflect, the easier it gets and the more I see how the God/Goddess are with me all the time, offering signs/advice if only I'm willing to see them. When I stop and listen, the signs are everywhere and things seem clearer than they usually are.

Now if only I could remember to stop and listen more often before reacting.

One day I'll get this detachment thing down. One day. Maybe in the next lifetime or in the one after that! Eventually.



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30 day resolutions

Since it's the season of resolutions, I thought I'd share this (cause I find it funny but totally on the ball):




Wishing you all the best in 2014

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