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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tea and Incantation

Once per month on the 4th Tuesday at 8pm, I host a Tea and Chanting session at my shop, The Sacred Well in Oakland, CA. For each session, I prepare an intention for the group to consider, a new tea recipe to try, and a mantra that we will all chant 108 times. We then settle in to our meditation space, sip tea, chant, and increase our overall wholeness, wellness, and quality of energy with this practice. There is something really satisfying about this ritual. It clears and opens significant channels of energy and healing via the throat chakra.

I extend this experience in myTea and Incantation class in The Witch's Garden series as an exploration of how the art of drinking tea and chanting can positively affect the body, mind, and spirit. The throat, an important gateway of speech, song, breath, and consumption of food and drink, deserves lots of warm, kind, honeyed love. How many times per day do you find yourself talking, talking, talking or listening, listening, listening, and longing for silence? How often do you feel like you can't even catch a breath because you feel overrun and overwhelmed? We all feel that way sometimes. Drinking tea and chanting can be a great antidote to a loud and stressful environment, job, or life circumstances.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Working with Herbal Allies

I live in an animated universe, where everything has a spirit. In my world, living things each have an indwelling spirit, or self-hood, as well as the collective spirit of the larger designations to which they belong. For example, in my home, each of my 5 cats has a distinct personality, color, body shape, name, and voice. Yet they definitely also all share certain qualities of 'cat-ness', including 'catitude', the love of chasing string and feathers, and wide, haunting eyes of doom that will bore into your soul when the food dish happens to be empty. So, when I think of the 'spirit of cat', I tend to think of those shared characteristics. And when I think about an individual cat, say my little Obi-Wan, I think of his particular version of catness: fluffy, opinionated, middle-of-the-night-singing, fetch-playing, prancing-with-joy-at-his-own-cleverness.

The same goes for my understanding of humans, other animals, crystals, and plants. Each has its own unique nature, but is also part of the great chorus of our kind in Gaea's song. The spirit of Willow has been an ally to me since I was a small child, and would swing in her branches with my friend Molly. Although I now live across the country from that Willow and she may even be gone from that yard by this point, I still consider her spirit, within the larger spirit of Willow, to be my friend. I have a good relationship with the whole family of Willow, wherever I go, with specific Willow friends in many cities and along country roads where I have pulled over and stopped the car, or departed from the footpath, to hug and greet these beautiful, gentle, healing trees. I made friends with the Willow on Allston Way in Berkeley when I lived near there, and would go visit her frequently, making full moon tinctures from the bark of her withes. There is a gorgeous willow above a gazing pool in Mountainview Cemetery in Piedmont where I go to commune with the dead water women and make wishes. There is one in the middle of a cow pasture in Occidental that I can't touch because she's on private property, but I gaze upon her each time I am on that lonely road and feel her comforting arms reaching out to me on the breeze. There is one in Avebury, England, that took my breath away, which I long to visit again.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe

Lingering cough: thou art my nemesis.

Whenever I catch a cold or some associated respiratory illness, it almost invariably moves into my lungs. Ten years of smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes per day earlier in my life have left my lungs more vulnerable than other parts of my body, and those germs just love to move in and rough things up. I developed this cough syrup recipe because taking commercial cough syrup for several weeks at a time is really hard on my body. I'm one of those people who gets jittery and uncomfortable from dextromethorphen hydrobromide.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Ancestral Recipes

This time last year, I was looking for somewhere fun to take my sweetie Albert for his birthday. We ended up heading up to Chico for the World Music Festival there. It was a really fun weekend and I highly recommend the event for those who like diverse music and don't like huge crowds. It's smaller and more intimate than other festivals I've attended, and I really felt like I got to connect more with the performers, vendors, and other attendees.

While we were visiting for the festival, an open-air market was happening just outside of town in the more rural farming community where the almond growers make their trade. This was a proper "Hoes Down" kind of affair that felt like a throwback to the festivals of my youth in upstate New York, with folks selling their handmade quilts and rag rugs and knit items, jewel-toned jars of homemade jam and pickles, whimsical yard decor, and a classic car show. I grew up going to events like these in the rural areas around my small hometown of Olean. It was fun to touch that country energy again. Urban farmer's markets in the Bay Area, with highbrow marketing, rapid turnaround, thronging crowds and long lines, are fun and exciting, but they are not quite like these homespun, slow-moving events. Different birds altogether.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Hendley
    Anne Hendley says #
    What a wonderful story! How special for you to honor his wife in such a way. I have found myself trying my hand at gardening and
  • Natalie Reed
    Natalie Reed says #
    Oh sure, make me cry at my desk at work!! Lovely story, thank you for sharing and for honoring the woman the way you did.
  • Amy McCune
    Amy McCune says #
    Are you originally from Olean , NY? I'm from Derrick City, PA; right over the hill!
  • Super User
    Super User says #
    Yes, indeed, Amy! In fact, I am headed that way next week for a visit. I'll say Hi to the Enchanted Mountains for you!
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    I wasn't blessed with a family food histor