Category Archives: herbs

Seriously, Pagan Community…WTF!?

wtf by jason borreroI am seeing some very disturbing trends in pagan writings, communities and the like that seems to be spreading like an epidemic.  Some of it isn’t new. However, there are some really disturbing trends I want to address.

Lately, there has been loads of butthurt, overly sensitive, politically correct, anti-Christian, anti-intellectual hubbaloo of the most absurd pagan ghetto thinking and laziness that I have ever seen.  Whenever a debate on any subject happens, inevitably, someone decides that disagreeing with their viewpoint, even if there is nothing even remotely resembling an ad hominem attack, it somehow equals “bullying” or “hate speech”.

I have been reassured by others that it isn’t just within pagan communities, but throughout the world in general.

1) Expecting that all knowledge, books, artistic expression since it is on the Internet should be FREE. for the taking.  Whenever an author releases a new book or musical album, there are those that will want to get it for nothing. Getting this knowledge, according to these folks, is a right. Initiations, Degrees, and the milestones that indicate to the Community as a whole that you have achieved a certain level of knowledge and mastery is all just superfluous nonsense.  I blame Raymond Bucklnand’s Complete Book of Witchcraft that was put out over 30 years ago that is lovingly or not so lovingly referred to as Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book O’ Wicca. This book claims that after reading it, you will know just as much as  any Third Degree Initiate into Wicca.

Bullshit.

Gaining knowledge is not just perusing it in a book or online or in a Facebook group or on Usenet or something you can get like an online gamer racks up points.  Most of this kind of ‘knowledge’ is only gotten through hands on, heart in, mind on and DIRECT experience.  There are no shortcuts. No herbs to smoke, drink or ingest in order to get you there quicker.   It doesn’t come easier if you are living in a legal cannabis state or drop peyote with your friends on a weekend and yowl unintelligibly at the full moon out in the desert on a “vision quest”.  The skies will not open up with extraterrestrials, nor will the Star in the East rise, complete with wise men, foretelling the rest of us of your imminent arrival.  You get to lump your own luggage and do the actual work.  I am truly sorry if that bursts a few bubbles out there.

2) Professing to love Mother Earth so very much and then engaging in very bad, consumerist behaviors.   Seriously.  I am sick to death of hearing and reading everyone recommend “saging” or “smudging” away negative energies.  I used to work for one of the world’s largest natural foods co-operatives that supplies bulk herbs to just about every health food store and natural food store in the US and Canada.  There were years when because of drought and/or wildfires there was just no white sage to be had.   For a period of time, sales of this herb were suspended in the interests of being good stewards and ensuring the survival of the plants in the wild and as cultivars. It got so bad that some Indigenous Nations were begging us to sell to them so that they could do ceremonies with what they needed.  We had a bit on hand that had been set aside, and we were able to help them.  The situation involving sage has corrected itself over time, but the opposite reaction is also going through the Pagan community and we have people claiming the plant is currently endangered. Trust me. It isn’t.

Similar circumstances arose with Frankincense (Bosewelia carteri) because of overharvestation and crops of these precious trees have been damaged in regional conflicts.  The same was true of yellow sandalwood when the government of India, which technically owns all of the sandalwood forests in the country, suspended the sale of everything except sandalwood essential oil. Poaching during that time was rife.  We found similar sandalwood in Australia that helped in other formulas calling for the yellow species and it worked out well.  The ban has since been at least partially lifted, but we still have to be mindful of the resource.  Right now, however, the price of yellow sandalwood, regardless of form, has skyrocketed.

The point of this is that Pagans / Wiccans et al need to stop thinking so much about their own selfish, self-involved bullshit and think about the Earth that they claim to care about. There seems to be a real dichotomy with regard to what is good for the planet with increasing environmental challenges and the people who act out selfishly.   There are substitutions for any herb you care to name.  It’s time to pay attention and walk the talk or get out.

3.  Racism –  I have become aware of more racism within both the Pagan and Kemetic communities. For whatever reason, there are those that insist that it is ok to discriminate against someone on the basis of skin color, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual preference etc.  One Big Name Pagan or BNP who shall remain nameless because they have a large, if not sychophantic following, recently posted some of the  most racist vitriol I have ever seen within Paganism.  It was nauseating enough that I suspect that they lost at least a fair number of followers  because of it.  At least they lost a good number of people who  actually take them seriously.  I can only say that I was never impressed with this particular individual’s  arrogance in the past.  Their latest and decidedly bigoted posting just underscored that what my gut had been telling me all along.

I don’t give a damn who you are, or what your tradition is.  Engaging in bigotry is flat out bullshit.  Racism, sexism, elitism, or any other ism you care to name is not how it’s done.  Rule number one where I come from is. “Don’t be a dick.” If you’re a racist or a bigot….well, draw your own conclusions on that.  I won’t tolerate it in my groups and I sure as hell won’t sit quietly by when it’s said or posted in my presence. We have one planet, one chance, one shot to get it right.  It’s time to celebrate the beauty of our diversity and appreciate and respect it without devolving into something that none of us wants.

 

 

 

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Filed under herbs, indigenous, mystic woo-woo, pagan, politics, rants

The Path That There Is No Map For

map-of-the-world-429784_640The only way to find the Path is to be on the Path.” – Maya Angelou

For as long as I could remember, I knew that there was a something that I was looking for.  The whispered,  possibly imagined and definitely real experiences from childhood into adolescence and throughout adulthood drove me to think about what it was I was searching for.  That Still Small Voice, the recurring dream, and the inner knowing is something that you let the world beat out of you, or you  hang on to it for dear life because you now that it is part and parcel of who and what you are.  You know in the deepest part of your Self that if you lose that, your Soul is truly lost.

All of that seeming psychobabble in the preceding paragraph is such an inadequate attempt of what it has meant to me to find my current Spiritual “Path”.  I don’t know that I even like that term.  I know what a “Pathworking” is, I was Wiccan at one time.  I had teachers and mentors along that “Path” and then  just prior to Initiation – I left.  I was pulled off that beaten path toward the acknowledgement of my own personal prayer since I was in my early teens.   I wanted to be led to the Truth about Ancient Egypt’s, otherwise known as Ancient Kemet’s religion.  I was sick to death of the made up b.s. that came out of Crowley, out of so many in authors in Western Occultism.  I wanted absolutely no part of it.

Sekhmet called.
I ran like Hell.
She caught me,  then  literally dragged me by the heels, kicking and screaming.

I surrendered.

I stayed for a bit.
I wandered.
I got my ass kicked by Her.
I came back.

I’m still here.

I realized that no matter where I went, my name Kemetic name of, NiankhSekhmet, which means that’ The One Whose Life Belongs to Sekhmet’ or “The One Whom Sekhmet Causes/Allows to Live’, pretty much sums up what my life has been for nearly three decades.   There is not one place that I can turn my eyes or my awareness and I don’t see Hers, or some other Name of Netjer’s hand.

What I did not realize over that period of time while I was doing the proscribed rituals, etc.  is that a lot of that training I got vis a vis  from Western Occultism, honed with the structure and awareness from antiquity is what  prepared me in terms of discipline, ethics, common sense and general safety when dealing with Inner Realms.  Dealing with certain aspects of life really does require you to be able to get out of the tunnel vision that one singular religious culture can slap over your eyes, ears, heart and every other awareness that we seem to take for granted.   Ancient Kemet did not exist entirely in a vacuum during it’s several thousand year history.  In spite of all of the best efforts to stick to Zep Tepi, foreign influences and interpretations slipped in.  Some of these foreign cultures and visitors adapted fairly well and knowledge and goods were traded.     This is what so many of us who live in Western society are faced with when being called to a polytheistic religion that we are having to piece back together.  We try very hard to be as authentic as possible, but sometimes, Netjer kicks our ass off the trail and sends us in other directions.

One personal example of this is something that I came up on with Sekhmet early-on and that was that much of what Her ancient priesthood, physicians, healers and others in Her service was absorbed into Vedic culture, particularly into Ayurveda.   When I first heard those words in meditation, it made absolute sense to me, though there was absolutely no proof of this – certainly no ‘map’ at all.  I was only going on the few clues that I  did have – and I was tracing plant substances found through flotation archaeology in Egypt and matching them to the same botanical substances used in Ayurveda.

If anyone really looks at the ancient medical systems of both Ancient Kemet and the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda and even in some aspects of traditional Chinese medicine, you cannot help but see it.  If I could turn back the clock 15 years, I would have gone after being an Ayurvedic physician.  In my herbal work, which is across Western, Native American, and Eastern disciplines, you can see the common threads of uses of various plants, treatments.  I would talk to Egyptologists on Usenet and at ARCE  and some would nod and smile, others would scoff at my ideas. and would tell me that the cultural exchange between India and Egypt was probably limited to the Ptolemaic or Greek and Roman period, or  he New Kingdom at the earliest.   It didn’t matter to me, but the macrobotanical analysis that I was seeing in the book, “Codex of Ancient Egyptian Plant Remains” by de Vartavan and Amoros (Triade Exploration, London 1997) over and over again was something had turned my Unverified Pesonal Gnosis (UPG) into Verified Personal Gnosis (VPG).

There is nothing like getting solid confirmation on what some would think you crazy for thinking.

Even after my years of being Kemetic,  even today I have with determination gone back and started at the basics that I got when I was so much younger.  Every experience, so far, has aided me in some way to either figure out what worked and why or reflect on why they didn’t.  Being Kemeticly focused is at the core of my being. I think it will always be that way.  However, on this path, for which there is no map, you meet others who can at least give other perspectives and things for you to consider.

Spiritual belief and practice are not fixed, even though there are good guidelines and areas that can entrap you and steer you off in wrong directions or even get you to give up altogether.   The key is knowing what you are looking at and navigate around these challenges successfully.  I have, at this period of time in my life, been very fortunate to have the right people show up at exactly the right time.   It is refreshing to know that when you are working on your own path and you want to steer clear the bullshit, it is indeed possible.   I am at that place now, and walking my path alongside other friends who are on their own as well.  It is refreshing to have that.  The friends that I have made here at the Kemetic Round Table as well as the work and friendship of Josephine McCarthy and others has been pivotal in that.

If you are working your own path and want at least a little structure, but not too much, and you don’t want someone yanking your chain and emptying the contents of your wallet in the process,  then the Quareia  School that she and Frater Archer have created may end up being a good fit.   It is always a good thing to have people who will bother to tell you the truth and treat you like a peer and still let you do the work on your own rather than hand you dogma.

None of us individually knows nearly as much as all of us collectively. Sometimes we may also be able to give each other a clue and help each other find a better route to where it is that we’re going.

 

Copyright © 2015, Christina Paul (Fanny Fae), Ma’at Publishing.

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Filed under herbs, kemetic, Kemetic Rount Table, mystic woo-woo, Quareia, Sekhmet, Uncategorized

Defending Myself Against An Unseen Assailant

I am not one to engage in what I call, “mystic woo-woo” for its own sake. In spite of being someone who follows Kemetic religion, who is an Initiated Priestess of Sekhmet and someone who has been around occult circles in one form or another for over 30 years, I am also someone who is deeply interested in science. I have spent a great deal of time being devoted to the historical record and am someone who values putting out good, solidly resourced material. I am not prone to histrionics, and I really prefer to analyze a situation so that I can effectively decide what to do in it or about it. Sometimes practical things are called for, while at other times, other sorts of precautions and ritual actions that reverberate into the Realms of the Unseen are needed. This was one of those times where the latter was called for in addition to the former.

Let me start at the beginning…

Over the last few months, several in fact; I have been dealing with what appeared to be sleep apnea. I admit, I am a couple of pounds overweight, I am going into peri-menopause, and sometimes the body does weird and not-so-wonderful things as we grow older. Being a “Woman of a Certain Age” can, quite frankly, suck. The situation of really bad sleep was I thought related to work, school and other stresses. I had done my best to correct most of them, mostly through natural therapies such as herbs, seeing my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, and begrudgingly, even my doctor – who is, in my view, merely a servant to conventional medicine. Thinking in traditional ways about health and well-being is not her strong suit, alas.

To answer the dietary questions: I only eat meat of any kind a few times a week. I cut out a great deal of dairy, swore off of absolutely anything that contained even a trace of either high fructose corn syrup or aspartame and hadn’t drunk soda pop in at least three months. If it’s processed, it’s suspect and left out as much as possible.

Anyway…

The ‘sleep apnea’, was becoming more and more consistent and more pronounced as time went on. It began about four years ago at a Temple event in Joliet. It was also at first only happening at night, and it was not every night. At first there was not so much cause for concern. Then it was happening every single night, sometimes several times a night. At its peak, it started happening in broad daylight when I took a nap as well. It didn’t matter if I slept on my back or on either side, or sitting in a chair, the problem was there and it was, to put it mildly, becoming rather frightening.

About a month and a half ago, I had the worst bout of this phenomena that I had ever experienced. It was as if my heart had not only stopped, but that ‘I’, my consciousness that was “me”, was literally being ripped from my body. According to my spouse, I woke up screaming, kicking and fighting. For me, kicking and screaming in my sleep was definitely not normal. I woke up from that night’s “sleep” absolutely shaken. Something had to be done; whether it was physical, or something unseen or a combination of the two was not certain. I just knew that things could not keep on going as they had been.

With great trepidation, I posed my question to an email list of folks that I am a part of. The moderator of the group, who is herself an accomplished author and teacher in her own right, did a reading for me. Actually, she did several. Without my needing to tell her a thing, she honed in on several issues that had been of concern. Her conclusions matched those of my TCM practitioner and my own gut instincts. She surmised that I was most definitely under an attack of some sort and that it centred around one thing in particular. She gave me several suggestions and advice, which I followed.

Even after doing a cleansing and sealing of the spaces of the home, the property and everything else that that needed to be sealed, I put up wards and guardians. With the liberal use of consecrated salt and natron and other protections, overnight the situation had noticeably improved. For the first five consecutive nights I did not have a single incident of “sleep apnea”. On the seventh night there was one tiny hiccup and after that there was only one on All Hallows Eve. That was an indication as well. When the Veil is the thinnest – that was the most likely time that someone will try to launch something. It was just a small little blip.

Since taking precautions and continuing to keep with my changes in diet, activity and practice, there has been no “apnea”, no screaming, no kicking or fighting anything off. There have been no panic attacks – no problems. L

All of this has given me the impetus to reaffirm in the ways that I had been doing before when I first came to Iunen Sekhmet: Working with land spirits that are a part of the Enchanted Forest that surrounds our home, and and continued, focused practice.

So why would I even mention this, or even publish it online? Certainly signalling whomever might be dong this and what I am doing to stop it could lead to my efforts being thwarted – especially when I am definitely not out of danger yet.

Ah….there is a method to my madness.

Even though I have not given specifics for the steps that I have taken, and have not outlined how I had at least momentarily gained the upper hand, I know that sometimes what seems a logical explanation to something isn’t the real explanation. Besides, anyone reading this post would certainly conclude that they had stuck their hands in my own special brand of crazy. Who really believes in any of this stuff, right?

That’s the problem with those of us who have an overly-logical mind. That is what happens when you flat-out dismiss what may very well be a knock on the noggin from the realms of the Unseen. Too many people cannot find a logical reason for something, and ascribing an incident to an unseen assailant or attack can seem really as if they have taken leave of their senses. Speaking only for myself, I have been in the business of being a Priestess and a practitioner of various forms of mysticism / Cunning Craft far too long. I have seen things that cannot be scientifically or logically explained. I fully admit there are just some brands of woo that I cannot even buy myself. For example, I have never met an extraterrestrial, I’ve never even seen one. I am not all too certain that I ever want to see one. if that were in the realm of possibility. I think that many within the the Love and Light Crowd, or the ones who spout off about conspiracy theories meant to keep humanity from their “birthright” as heirs to the ancient knowledge deserve to have a stack of decent books unceremoniously hurled at their thick skulls.

Few things are more maddening to me than someone who considers themselves quite an adept as an armchair magician or expert practitioner, but they have never actually performed any sort of solitary or group ritual. They do not, and by default, cannot understand the dynamics of what power or sekhem really is. They have no clear comprehension of how heka works, or even what Ma’at< is. For these folks, continually trying to rewrite the rules of the Realms of the Unseen and the subtle seems to be their hallmarks. Many of these folks don’t even believe that psychic attacks are possible, let alone that it could possibly happen to them and so they are, in my opinion, far more vulnerable to them. If they do believe in them, sometimes they simply “send it back”.

Wrong answer.

I am here to tell you that in some traditions, and especially in the Kemetic, that particular and popular ritual solution does not always work. In fact, sometimes it can make a situation much, much worse by acting very much like a Chinese finger trap or quicksand. If you engage it at all, or struggle with it in any way, then the action that is intended to thwart the attack, in turn becomes its own trap. Too many of the armchair magicians and even those who believe themselves to be hands-on adepts are not nearly experienced enough to know the difference. Others simply “don’t believe ” in any of this stuff. I will repeat what I am often heard saying in that, plants do not need to necessarily “believe in” photosynthesis either: They will still turn green.

Right now I intend to continue to follow my friend and fellow Priestess’ advice as closely as I am able or comfortable in doing. She and I are in close contact often and we verify things with each other. In my experience, when you are dealing with a situation that makes you uneasy or you are unsure, you need to get another perspective other than your own. It is always good to find someone you can trust to help you discern what is real and what are the phantoms of your own imagination and maybe offer a point of view that you may not have considered at all. Try to find someone who is grounded in reality at least a little and not prone to bullshit. Josephine, for me, has been exactly that. For that I thank her.

When we take these sorts of precautions, we stand a far better chance of getting the best of both the Seen and the Unseen worlds.

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, herbs, kemetic, magickal alchemy, mystic woo-woo, pagan, traditional witchcract, update

For Service, Slavery, and Sex : Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

An excellent piece by Sarduríur Freydís Sverresdatter and definitely well worth the read. The subject of tattooing in Ancient Egypt. From slaves to Gods Wives of Amun, tattooing had special significance for certain sectors of society in the Two Lands.

For Service, Slavery, and Sex : Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, herbs, kemetic, reblogged

The Shelf Life of Herbs and Spices

In today’s world, there is an increased focus toward more natural ways of both eating and healing. This is especially true of using more natural herbs, spices and other natural ingredients for cooking and as supplements for wellness. Often cooks and herbalists are asked about not only how to use these natural ingredients, but also the best way in which to store them and their shelf life. Like the plants before they are dried, they can suffer from too much dryness or damp or even an infestation by pests such as insects or other animals.

The three keys toward maintaining freshness of herbs and spices are air, light and heat. Ideally, herbs and spices are best stored in glass, air tight containers kept in a cool, dark place. This does not mean that they should necessarily be kept in a refrigerator. However, keeping them in places that keep these three factors in mind is ideal. It’s best if the herbs and spices are stored in a place that is kept below 70°F. It is also best to store them in a space that is away from the furnace or areas that tend toward dampness such as a basement where there is no dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. Excess moisture will initially cause the herb’s taste to deteriorate and eventually this can also cause mold. Light will cause fading. When possible store your herbs and spices in dark amber or cobalt blue glass. If this is not possible, storing them in a cupboard or a drawer that is dark most of the time is fine. If you have nothing but sunlight penetrating every bit of space in your home, you can reduce light penetrating and damaging the herb by hanging up a curtain over your spice rack or cabinet.

The first thing to remember in purchasing any herb or spice is to check for freshness. Check the date that indicates when it was packaged or when is the optimal time for it to be used by. Is it well within the freshness date? You certainly do not want to buy something that will go out of date quickly. If you can, check the aroma of it sharp and fresh, or does it seem a bit mute? Is the colour of the herb faded or is it the colour it should be? Also, be on the lookout for webs, eggs, dirt or damage to the herb that might indicate an infestation of insects.

If you buy your spices and herbs in bulk at the natural food cooperative for example, and once you get them home, be sure to store them in clean airtight containers. Don’t use plastic containers to store your herbs in if at all possible. The reason for this is that plastic is porous and will allow the volatile and essential oils which are in the plant, even after it is dried, to lodge themselves within the plastic, While it might be nice to have a plastic container that smells of herbs and spices, not that it can be nearly impossible to remove. Make sure that the size of the container fits the amount of herb or spice that you have. Too much air left in a container will cause deterioration to colour, aroma and most importantly, flavour and efficacy.

The shelf life of an herb or spice is different for each type of herb, spice, tea or even for coffee. Most of the flavour of any of these plant materials comes from the volatile or essential oils that are contained within the plant matter. Volatile oils do have a tendency to oxidize or evaporate over time or when exposed to factors such as heat and light. When this happens, they lose their flavour than when they are in their whole form. When an herb is ground, the surface area of the herb or spice has been increased and therefore the chances of the volatile oils evaporating much quicker are increased. If you do find that an herb or spice has deteriorated in any of these areas, be sure to compost the old herb material and purchase fresher herb to replace it. The benefits to your cooking and enjoyment that you experience will be worth the cost.

Below is a guide for the estimated shelf life of various herbs, spices and teas.

Whole Spices and Herbs 1 year
Roots 3+ years
Seeds and Barks 2+ years
Ground Spices or Herbs
Leaves 6 months
Seeds and Barks 6 months
Roots 1 year

Teas
Black & Green 1 year
Herbal 6 – 9 months

Coffee 3 months
Ground (not vacuum sealed) 2 weeks

As you can see with coffee, pre-grinding it at the store is probably not a good idea unless you go through a great deal of coffee very quickly. Storing it in a freezer may slow some of the deterioration on taste, however, only grinding what you need as you use it insures the best taste.

When you use your herbs and spices, make certain to always use clean, dry measuring utensils in order to avoid introducing any moisture or contaminants into your spices. Use them to taste and enjoy your herbs, spices and teas often.

*(Note: This article has appeared before on Ezine articles under one of my other names)

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