Herbal medicine Pt. 4

February 5, 2023

Comfrey/Plantain

I use some version of this every day!

Both Comfrey root and Plantain leaf are traditionally revered for healing.

Make infusions in olive oil:

—about 1/4 cup of Comfrey in 4 oz. oil —about 1/4 cup of Plantain in 2 oz. oil

—keep warm for an hour or so and leave in a sunny window for about 6 weeks. Decoct using a potato ricer or other strainer to squeeze all the oil out.

Mix the two together and store in brown glass. It will keep for several months, maybe longer, if kept in a cool dark place.

Variations: use almond or coconut oil, or a mix of oils if you prefer. For a quick oil infusion, heat the oil and herbs in a double boiler at about 125* for several hours. I sometimes infuse both herbs together in a single container, but I don’t think it works as well.

This basically a healing oil for bruises, strains, sprains and other joint or bone issues. (Comfrey is one of two herbs that are known as boneset.) It’s not recommended for open wounds but may be used on cuts that have partially healed. Another option is to add Clove, Peppermint and/or Lavender for pain relief. You can use essential oils or add them to the infusions. You may also make a salve with these oils.

Ensalvation

My recipe for salve is always evolving, and always a bit experimental, but this is a suggested mix: melt about 3 Tbsp of shea butter and 3 tsp of beeswax beads slowly. Add about 4 oz of the oil infusion (and about 45 drops of essential oil if using that) and stir together, put a little on a popsicle stick and stick it in the refrigerator… after 5 min. it should be slightly hardened. If not, add more beeswax or shea.

Please take these instructions as a starting point for your own research into herbal preparations. There are many variations and possibilities in the wide range of resources out there.

The Children, 2021

Posting this on February 5, 2023, based on journal entries from 2021.

January 2021

New sayings from June: “O-Tay!” like Spanky. And “Oh my!” Lots of complete sentences, like: “I used the blue scissors to cut it in half.” And lots of wing a stinker! She has such definite ideas about what she wants and what she likes!

Marvin and June did very well at the doctor’s office this week. No crying, very cooperative!

For June now, everything is “super!” Super hard, super cold, etc. Marvin has been very sweet with his babies lately— the stuffed Fox and kitten. He’s feeding them and keeping them covered up in a little bed at night.

January 31

Fascism

This is borrowed from an old post on the website ratical.org. It’s based on a study of fascist regimes, but it’s interesting how many of this aspects are found in current political movements. There are other similar examinations of fascism in the literature, and the website Orcinus.org has lots of information about groups and movements in the US over the past 40 or 50 years or so. It’s something people need to be educated about, because it’s coming.

“Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

“The 14 characteristics are:

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism 
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights 
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. 
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause 
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. 
  4. Supremacy of the Military 
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. 
  5. Rampant Sexism 
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy. 
  6. Controlled Mass Media 
    Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. 
  7. Obsession with National Security 
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. 
  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined 
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. 
  9. Corporate Power is Protected 
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. 
  10. Labor Power is Suppressed 
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed . 
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts 
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. 
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment 
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. 
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption 
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. 
  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.”

Copyright © 2003 Free Inquiry magazine
Reprinted for Fair Use Only. 

This article was based upon the article “The Hallmarks of Fascist Regime” by Skip Stone, at www.hippy.com/php/article-226.html.

Herbal Medicine Pt. 3

January 22, 2023

Continuing the discussion of Herbal Medicine and how to make some simple concoctions to keep your health in balance.

Just began reading a new book, Energetic Herbalism, by Kay Maier. Hope to share some of her amazing insights as I go along. But today I’m just laying down a few simple infusion recipes.

An herbal tea that is particularly good for congestion, especially for the kids, is Mullein and Catnip. I’ve been doing an infusion overnight in a quart jar with about 1/4 cup of each, sweetened with honey. Sometimes I add a bit of Tulsi (holy basil), Chamomile and/or Marshmallow root. Maybe a little Peppermint for flavor. Also can brew it by the cup.

Four Thieves throat spray

A wonder! Simply simmer a stick of cinnamon in 4 oz. of water for 30 or 40 min., add a couple of Tbsp of sea salt. Add about 15 drops each of four essential oils. I prefer Clove, Calendula, Eucalyptus, and Lemongrass. Rosemary is often used, as are others. There are many versions of this out there. Four sprays every couple of hours at first sign of a sore throat. The oils are readily available, but I made my own Calendula oil. Mountain Rose has nice little spray bottles for this.

Sleepy time tea

Brew by the cup or do an overnight infusion of about 1/4 cup Lemon balm, plus 2 or 3 Tbsp each of Blue vervain and Tulsi. I pour a quart of boiling water over it and let it sit. I sometimes add some Hops or Raspberry leaf. For insomnia, this works better for me than Valerian or Skullcap, which are often recommended. I also make a tincture of Lemon balm/Vervain.

Turmeric & Ginger

For serious help with chronic insomnia, try this: mix about 2 cups of Turmeric powder, 1/2 cup of Ginger powder and about a teaspoon or so of Black Pepper. Put a heaping teaspoon of this in a cup of milk—warm is nice but not necessary—and stir it up well. Drink it a half hour or so before bed. I usually add my Lemon balm/Blue vervain tincture as well.

This drink is also serious help for inflammation and seems to help me just generally feel better. I first learned of Turmeric for joint pain from an Indian woman, Tara, whom I met at a Vipassana center years ago. It’s become one of my staples, and I keep learning more about its amazing properties for health and healing.

Herbal Medicine Pt. 2

January 13, 2023

My daughter got interested in herbal medicine some 10 years ago, and took a several-weeks long course on Appalachian herbs. Some time later—the details are a little unclear in my memory—she spent a summer visiting farms across the country, ending up in Oregon where she did a very intensive intern program at the farm connected with Herb Pharm herbals. She came home to Georgia really excited about herbal medicines and began making a variety of them in our kitchen. This all spurred my interest in the subject, and gave me a very solid introduction to the theory and practice of this artful science.

She also did evaluations on several of the family members and gave me a some prescriptive help based on my physical condition and medical history. Most of what I use today is based on those recommendations, with modifications as I worked with them and learned about other herbals. Having survived the worst of the COVID pandemic despite working as a reporter and being around lots of folks who’ve not been so careful about all the precautions recommended, I think my immune system is pretty strong for my age. I have been able to stay active and relatively healthy through some stressful times, and I attribute much of that to the herbs.

A quick list of some of the various herbals that I’m familiar with will suggest what I’ll be sharing info on in this series:

Ashwagandha, Reishi, Chaga, Lemon balm, Blue vervain, Turmeric, Ginger, Comfrey, Plantain, Tulsi, Nettle, Mullein, Catnip, Chamomile, Red clover, St. John’s wort, Astragalus, Eleuthero, Echinacea, Calendula, Raspberry, Peppermint, Marshmallow root, Hops and Oatstraw. There are a few others that I occasionally use, but this list is the ones that I most depend on. With most of these, I make my own infusions, tinctures or salves. Some I just use prepared versions.

I suppose it’s obvious, but to be clear, I am not an herbal professional and not trained in these things, except by my own experience, so this is focused on what I have learned from others and from trying these things for myself. I would like to start out by providing a partial list of the books and and other resources for really getting into this subject if you find it interesting.

Rosemary Gladstar is a primary source of information on American herbs, with many years experience and many books. She’s also online, and you’ll find her referenced by many of the other folks who are talking about herbals on social media.

A more recent book, one that I love and have found to be very inspiring and helpful — it’s really my favorite book on herbs! — is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Universally acclaimed and a literary masterpiece, this book is a treasure! Robin is a member of the Potawatomi nation and a botanist, so she brings an amazing and inclusive perspective to this subject, blending the scientific and the spiritual. It’s a book that I believe everyone should read, but especially anyone who is interested in herbal medicine. I capitalize the names of plants in accordance with Robin’s recommendation to honor the personhood of all beings, human or not.

A major reference, maybe the best overall herbal, is The Earthwise Herbal Repertory by Matthew Wood, which discusses the various approaches to herbal medicine, gives a comprehensive list of useful plants, and explains how herbs may be used for various conditions. The book is called “The Definitive Practitioner’s Guide,” and the diagnostic section is organized into herbs used to treat conditions in the different organs and organ systems of the body. He has many other books that I haven’t read that are revered by herbal practitioners, as he is considered a master herbalist.

Another excellent book that brings the indigenous perspective to herbs is Cherokee Herbal by J.T. Garrett. This book has an exhaustive list of plants and their uses. There are several books on Appalachian herbs — Southern Folk Medicine by Phyllis Light is recommended by Robin and Matthew, and I have used it to some extent. I primarily rely on Rosemary’s Herbs for Common Ailments and Herbs for Children’s Health when I have questions. They are reliable, basic and to the point.

And when I go online looking for an answer to some question related to herbs, it’s usually Rosemary I look for.

There are a wealth of sources online! As with anything these days, you need to be cautious, though, as not all of them can be trusted. I trust herbal suppliers Mountain Rose (in Eugene, Oregon) and Red Moon Herbs (in Asheville, North Carolina) as sources of herbs and basic information on an herb’s properties and use. I trust Jenn at @firebranchfarms on Instagram, and I really enjoy her Wildcrafting Wednesdays and other herbal posts. Fire Branch Farms also offers some herbal preparations on their website, though that’s currently on a pause, as the family just moved from middle Georgia to northern Maine!

There’s an herbal academy on IG that seems to be a reliable source of training for those who want to find out more about herbalism quickly. Their website theherbalacademy.com offers courses for people who want to do just their own medicinals, as well as courses for those interested in starting a career in herbalism. Mountain Rose, though sometimes slow, is the best source for raw herbs, as they have almost everything and it’s all top quality. Red Moon is a much smaller operation and has mostly herbs they harvest in the Appalachian area, plus the excellent preparations they make from those herbs.

In my next post here, I plan to discuss a little of the techniques for teas, infusions, tinctures and salves. And maybe some recipes. (I’ve recently reposted some of Jenn’s excellent info from her @firebranchfarms IG posts, including a recipe for a headache salve that shows how she does a quick oil infusion and a salve. Good stuff.)

Herbal Medicine

January 8, 2023

Herbal medicinals are probably as old as humanity, but they offer many benefits to modern life. They can help us improve our health, as well as help us be less dependent on the increasingly inaccessible medical system. Herbs also could be a way to reconnect with the traditional lifeways that may be our best path to recovery of our humanity and a sane, sustainable existence on this imperiled planet. Creating herbal medicine for yourself and your loved ones is also a very fun and satisfying experience!

In this series of posts, I will share some of my experiences with discovering herbs, figuring out what herbs are good for me, and learning to concoct some of the medicines for myself. I’ll also try to provide good advice on reliable sources for information about herbs and the herbs themselves. If all goes well, I will also provide recipes and instructions on the fairly simple process of making some of the herbal medicines that I use, as well as sources of other instruction.

Most of these things are fairly simple and don’t require much beyond normal kitchen equipment. They do require a lot of care and attention to detail. They also require that you be sure you’re getting medicines and information from good sources, because there seems to be a lot of questionable stuff out there these days, probably because of a growing interest in the subject. My daughter is a trained herbalist and a nurse, so I rely primarily on sources from her that are proven safe and effective.

(I am posting this series on my Instagram account — @hoyamajon. It’s being a challenge, as IG is not so easy beyond just posting a photo or video with comments. Also am reposting interesting herbal things there from others.)

Penetrating the veil

Dec 23, 2022

This youngest daughter is an unusual child. A conversation several nights ago continues to come up in my thoughts and push me Into consideration of things I’m not sure I understand.
Just before she went to sleep the other night — it was the night of the Solstice — June turned and looked at me, then said, very seriously, “Daddy. I been having bad dreams about people getting dead.”
I tried to comfort her, and asked her, “What people?”
“Everybody,” she said. “Even you.”
Again, I tried to stay calm and comfort her.
Then she asked, quietly and seriously, “Did you know that your grave is beside mine?”
I swallowed hard and said no, trying to be comforting and not asking more questions.
She didn’t say more and went to sleep pretty soon after this. I remembered then that she had crawled into bed with us early the morning before and said she was having bad dreams. She didn’t say what and I didn’t ask.
As I think of the conversation in light of her frequent stories about her “sisters” and her “first family,” I get this strong feeling that she penetrates the veil in both directions, seeing her past lives with her “fairy sisters,“ as well as the future. I get an image of her seeing our graves side by side. It’s chilling.
What can this mean?
How should I talk to her about these things?

The Children, 2020

Posted November of 2022, based on journal entries as dated below. Trying to catch up.

November 26, 2020

I had a real good conversation with Liana today. Our first since she called on my birthday. So wonderful to talk to her! I worry about her and the rift between us. We were always so good, so close. It’s been hard to be estranged!

We have messaged some the last few months, and she said we could talk. We did get into some real talk, and I feel better about how she is doing in general. She is talking about leaving Georgia, which is hard for me to think about… ugh. I think there are lots of painful times coming. To be expected, I guess.

She also told me some disturbing things about Lucy, so I need to talk to her soon. Life is complicated. I feel bad that I get so focused on my own issues that I don’t reach out to them.

In the home front—June is continuing to spout new words, sentences even, and her grasp of emotional nuance is truly amazing. “It’s just me!” she shouted to Marvin tonight. And she’s been saying, “That’s mean!” We spend a lot of time together, and she can be so sweet and sensitive to my emotional state! I put on the nice Guatemalan shirt that I seldom wear. She looked at it intently for a moment, then said, “I like that shirt!” She sounded just like her mom.

December 4, 2020

June loves “fly-flies.” Her name for butterflies. She’s been catching the slow o es for a while now as they feed in the flower garden. We try to get her to let them go quickly, and I don’t think she’s hurt any. Now it seems she’s into bees! She had one light on her finger briefly, and Taylor told me today that she coaxed one onto her finger and fed it icing from her cake! Pretty astounding! Never saw a kid play with a bee!

Her sentences are too many and varied to keep up with now, and they are getting longer and more complex. “Wait here, I’ll be right back!” is one of my favorites. She is really excited about the Christmas tree!

December 15, 2020

Tonight in the bath, June said, “I can swim! Check it out!” She also asked for a washcloth and soap to wash her face, which I usually have to persuade her to do. Another perfect sentence, with perfect diction and construction: “Mommie needs to use your knife.”

We had a great and happy Christmas season!

Fairy sisters

November 10, 2022

Anna June has for some time now — I think more than year — been telling us about her ‘first family.’ We have humored her, and the stories have grown wilder. Usually, she talks about her sisters who lived or live on Cake Street, and occasionally mentions her first Daddy or first Mommie, with some reference to what they did or said or taught her.

Often, when asked where she learned something, she says it was from her sisters. Usually, she says that her sisters died, and it’s often from something that we’ve recently talked about as dangerous.

The latest version of the sisters, I think last week, is that they were fairies. This helps to explain some of the amazing things they’ve done. Although Taylor and I take her seriously and never tell her it’s not true, Marvin always laughs at her and says they’re just imaginary. It doesn’t seem to bother her that he says this, or deter her seriousness in talking about them.

In fact, we have considered that she may be remembering a past life. The level of consistency and seriousness she has about them does make us wonder if it’s just imaginary friends or if there may be at least some elements of remembering in it. It is mostly I suppose just part of her very imaginative story-telling — which is pretty astounding. She has always loved my “little Johnny” stories about things that happened to me, and for a while now, she’s been making up her own versions of these and getting me to repeat them to her. Especially if I say I don’t want to tell one, or I can’t remember any new ones.

She also engages in story-based play with her dolls, stuffies and small characters. I wish I had recorded some of her storylines, but usually I don’t remember. But they are often quite involved. She does have an astounding imagination.

In fact, it’s proving challenging to teach her the virtue of truth, because she’s so good at just making things up that it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not! We’re working at it!

Anna June 2022

(A few more current entries from my notes on life with Anna June.)

July 23, 2022

Oh lord! June’s pretending to talk on a phone (one of her dominoes), and she tells me that her pretend brother called and wants to go on a date. I tell her she can’t, because she’s too young, plus no dates with her brother!

She calls him back and says, quite emphatically, “I’m not going!” Then she tells me that he’s not happy and is threatening to have her arrested! Oh lord. She’s four.

Aug. 2022

The kids are in school now. Things are going well so far, though the run up was hard! Getting ready and being emotionally prepared has been stressful for us both. June was doing “pretend school” tonight, and came out of her room in a skirt and wearing her backpack. She struck a pose and asked, “Don’t I look cute!!?”

June has been sick and missed a few days this month … we’ve all been sick off and on. I guess stuff they’re picking up at school. I got a negative on a COVID test, so I guess it’s not that.

June is loving school and Marvin’s hating it. Everyone else seems to be doing okay, though I don’t hear much from the other kids. Lucy went on a tour out west with a circus group, had a great time.

Sept. 2022

June continues to amaze us with her learning — and drive us crazy with her stubborn willfulness. She loves playing with scrabble letters and dominoes and is learning letters and numbers. She also has the concept of adding! She loves trying to write her name, and other letters and numbers. She uses very advanced words and phrases such as “a gust of wind” and “illness.” And she’s forever asking “Why?” or “What does that mean?”

October 2022

June and Marvin loved our Eden family gathering at Gene’s. Baby Hugo was the cutest thing, and June and Sophia loved playing with him together. Eight kids in their generation there.

November 2022

We were playing with the TicTacTony toy, which has red and blue discs. June arranged them as a flower and said, “It’s called the red and blue flower, written by James Carolina!”

She’s learned the concept “equal.” And, amazingly, she read correctly all the numbers in the table of contents in one of our books! I had to help her a bit with 109, but she got the other hundreds correct.