Although I've been relatively lax when it comes to doing anything witchcraft related, I decided the other night to do something simple in order to get my mind back to where it needs to be. I love making things with herbs, I think I've probably mentioned this in my blog a hundred times. I've a curiosity about banes, walking the poison path is part of my journey as a hedge witch and also feeds the nature of the green witch. I've started growing my own and hope in the future to be able to use only my own herbs for any baneful needs (except mandrake...did I mention my love/hate relationship with the most stubborn herb in the history of herbs?). My journey into the world of differing ointments has been something I've been doing for awhile but without any true commitment or testing. I made the decision to truly dedicate myself to this path and truly connect properly on a spiritual level with the banes that I have. This lead me to making singular ointments for some of the banes I have: Belladonna, Henbane, Datura and Mandrake, and also an ointment combining all four.
The Datura I wildcrafted near to my home, the Henbane I grew, however the Belladonna and Mandrake I had to outsource. I have a Belladonna plant now and plan to get/grow more, so hopefully the next time I create a test ointment it will be of my own plant material - leaves and berries, whereas the one I've created for my personal experimentation is all leaf material.
I'll heat them through infusing all of that baneful loveliness into the oil and try them. This should give me a good indication of their strength and whether or not more herb material needs to be added. I am hopeful I can get it right, this way the experience with the herbs will be profound and enlightening yet not dangerous. Perhaps one day I will sell ointments and salves with these herbs, however that'll be a long way off yet as I really would love to make them all with herbs from my own poison garden.
Okay, so I didn't write the next day but I thought about - points for that right? But I'm back! And that is the totality of my enthusiasm for this migraine causing hot weather we're experiencing right now. It's supposed to cool down again by the weekend - hope it rains.
Anyhoo, in a prior post I mentioned my intention for a tiny house herbal studio as my place of work and the place where my dreams of being a traditional style wisewoman would have a chance to grow. I love the idea of it, and I think it will work brilliantly for what I want. But I'm not the only one who loves the idea, it's becoming a bit of a revolution. The idea formulated in my head when I watched 'George Clarke's Amazing Spaces', there were people all over England using small spaces for living, for business purposes and all sorts. A woman on there decided to turn a horsebox into a vintage clothing shop that she could take around different fairs, festivals etc. It even had a little living space in it. It got me to thinking. It wasn't until I actually saw a the tiny house online (mentioned in my prior post) that the idea struck me. It would be the perfect thing to have to create my own working space. A space that could eventually become my shop, my workroom and my consulting room.
I can't wait to get started on mine, it's going to be an exciting project. It also made me wonder if it would be possible to create my own home. I have a block of land, it has no power or water but if I could make an entirely sustainable tiny house to live in, it would be amazing. It would be a long term project but I think it could definitely work. I've even found my dream one (here), it's a good size but I think I would definitely have to price it down to work in my buget - probably a hell of a lot less wood, I mean I like wood as a design accent but not as much as is in the tiny-ish house.
But for practical reasons, I think I would be better off having one on wheels, so that should I ever need to move, I can take my tiny house with me. Probably something like this or this or this. It's a dream I have, I don't think I'll ever have kids, I've never had the desire to, but should I meet my soulmate and we decide to procreate, I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to put together another tiny house. One for the living, one for the sleeping or you could build another one on a big semi trailer truck (yep I'm full of ideas).
I actually like the idea of living small like this because it negates the need for clutter. You would really only have around you that which is most important to you (in my case, epic amount of books). It's a very simple way of living, one I think I could easily adapt to. But first, I shall see how I go with my herbal studio, I'm very excited for it. It's going to be an adventure!!
I'm thinking of ways to try and throw myself back into blogging. I used to do so much of it back in the day, some months I would average 15 or more posts a month. Now I'm lucky if I manage two. I think it came from wanting to put a particular image out there because I thought it was necessary to. Expectations and all of that, I've let go of that now, I am who I am. Since my great realisation a few months ago, I still haven't kicked my witchy patooty into gear and really got on with it, although I have been doing more herbalism things because before long, hopefully, I should be able to launch myself more full time into creating herbal products.
I've been considering trying to post more regularly, just to get myself back into the swing of regular blogging. Whether it's just a picture of a plant in the garden, a poem, herb profiles, a tarot or oracle reading or a general post on my practice or what I've been up to, I'm going to try. I don't I'll relive my glory days of posting every day but I figure I'll think of things to do. I'm even going to try and blog more on my herbal blog and get back to my tarot blog of which I have not posted on lately. Since I'm going to try to be more well rounded, I really should make the effort. Starting tomorrow I will actively try and post more often. At least three times a week -maybe four. :)
I've decided to begin trying new recipes for when I eventually create my herbal store. I've had an Etsy store for it for a really (almost preposterously) long time. Now that my herbal studio dream will be realised, I'm motivating myself to hammer down the details and just have fun with herbs and herb crafting. Last night I thought I'd give a go a couple of recipes that had been on my mind. The madness had begun.
Whipped Body Butter
It smells delicious as it sounds! And surprisingly easy to make. The recipe I used was from one of my favourite herby sites Wellness Mama. I halved the recipe and still ended up with a rather sizeable batch of body butter. Because the coconut is cold pressed and not refined, the butter has a wonderful coconut scent.
Getting it all together
It's all melted together
The finished product.
The finished product is fantastic, I love it. It's a little hard to beat because it goes hard, so you may have to hold the bowl (carefully - this idiot managed to whack her fingers with the beaters) so it doesn't spin while you loosen it up. Or alternatively, as I am considering given I am the world's greatest klutz, you could use a bowl mixer instead.
Activated Charcoal & Clay Face Mask
I read about the benefits of activated charcoal and after perusing several different recipes, decided to massively simplify and use charcoal and clay with water in a face mask. I just did a couple of capsules with just under a teaspoon of clay, added a teaspoon of water and mixed it together. My skin felt fab when I washed it off but be warned, it does take a bit to clear the face of it. I used charcoal capsules from the chemist (and yes, I just realised that 'flatulence' is blazoned across the front of the bottle - photo fail Stacey), they're not exactly super cheap but it was convenient.
I've been trying out some new test tinctures to get a feel for different herbs, my newest victims were Chamomile Flower, Liquorice Root and Whole Echinacea plant. I've been doing a bit of research and came across an interesting idea on Wellness Mama of adding a bit of hot water to the herbs to loosen them up (dry herbs) before putting the alcohol on them. I thought I'd give it a try this time and see how it went, I figure it'll either work or it won't.
So there you have it, my Saturday night herbal adventures. This is just the tip of the madness iceberg. I have so many different recipes I want to try out - lip balms, herbal smokes, soaps (I'm going to do using a crockpot - should be interesting). I'm also going to be doing a Holistic Skincare Products course in order to broaden my knowledge base. I'm looking forward to it, the next few months should be a definite learning and experimenting time for me.
As Mercury in Retrograde passes to its end, I find myself planning new and exciting ventures. Some time ago, I mentioned my dreams of pursuing the wisewoman path. It had seemed almost impossible, I had not the space nor did I truly believe I could do it. Now things are coming together in a fashion that will finally allow me to begin building my dream. First stop, my own little herbal studio. I’ve a mind on how I want the outside to look; I’m going for the old Victorian style. It just looks adorable and it suits me. My inspiration is the picture below, I think mine will look pretty similar by the time it’s done.
This little studio will be my workshop, my sanctuary and the place where I can bask in the herby love. I’ll have my herbs all in jars in a bookshelf, labeled and ready to go, a small kitchen for crafting and creating remedies, and a sitting area that perhaps one day will become a consultation area. I’m very excited and I can’t wait to share this part of my journey with you. I think from time to time I will post things that catch my eye, that I think would be a fantastic addition to my new space. The project won’t be started for a few weeks yet, but I am hoping that once construction starts, it all comes together quickly.
Oh how I hate that saying, that cold, dismissive, ignorant statement. The minimising, the acceptance of suffering as though it is normal, a part of the road, par for the course, something we’re expected to not complain about. I rage at the idea women are supposed to suffer in silence because it is part of ‘being a woman’. I’m sick of the expectation that we need to ‘just get on with it’ because it’s ‘only while you have your period’. I’m over it, I’m here screaming from the mountaintops that it is not acceptable to expect women to not vocalise their pain, it is not acceptable to expect women to just get on with it, and it is sure as hell not acceptable to act like it is normal. Excessive period pain is not normal.
I’m writing about this now because I was inspired by Magaly’s posts to share something of myself, especially this part of myself because I know I am not alone in the suffering. Thankfully for the most part, in my life, it hasn’t had to be silent. I’ve had the luxury of being able to vocally rage against the pain, the agony without having some one treat me like I’m being unreasonable but I know this isn’t the case for all women. I was twelve when I got my first period. They were heavy and painful, and at twelve, even with family support, it can be very difficult to deal with. It’s not something, at that age I found, your peers can relate to, it seemed I got mine quite early compared to most of the other girls in my grade. I struggled with a cycle that was never regulated until I was 16 and the doctor put me on the pill. It regulated my periods but the pain was unending. Missing near on an entire week of school during that time of the month wasn’t unheard of for me, I would spend most of that week in bed taking various forms of painkillers, coupled with an exceptionally hot hot water bottle in order to try and manage the pain. The unfortunate thing is as I got older the pain got much much worse.
You see, I was born with a disease called Endometriosis. Now while the instant thought of some will be ‘that only causes pain when you have your period’, I can assure you that is not the case. I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was 18 but my mother had it, so my disease is hereditary. My mother suffered for years until she had her hysterectomy, but the thing is that didn’t actually solve the problem of endometriosis growing outside of the reproductive organs. Yes, you heard me right, endometriosis isn’t strictly reproductive, it can and will spread outside of the uterus to other organs and areas of the body. And it is incurable, it can be managed, but there is no cure for endometriosis. It affects about one in ten women if it isn’t hereditary like mine. But what is endometriosis exactly? The Endometriosis Care Centre of Australia defines endometriosis as:
“Endometriosis is defined as the presence of normal tissue in an abnormal place. The endometrium (lining) of the uterus spreads to the pelvis through the tubes and settles most commonly in the pelvis. Like the lining of the uterus, the endometrium grows under the influence of the major female hormone oestrogen. The most common sites in the pelvis are on and below the ovaries, and deep in the pelvis behind the uterus, called the Pouch of Douglas. Here the endometriosis grows on the ligaments behind the uterus and on the vagina and rectum. It also may grow on the bladder, appendix, abdominal wall and even sometimes in the upper abdomen.”
It sounds unpleasant, and it is. It is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Because I have a compromised immune system, it is just that much worse. It also puts into perspective the issues I had as a child with my immune system since those who have hereditary endometriosis are generally born with it. Endometriosis affects your entire life, not just the part of it when you menstruate. I suffer with lower back pain, migraines, chronic fatigue and even vertigo (although that could be unrelated). As Wikipedia states:
“Other symptoms include diarrhea or constipation, chronic fatigue, nausea and vomiting, headaches, low-grade fevers, heavy and/or irregular periods, and hypoglycemia. In addition to pain during menstruation, the pain of endometriosis can occur at other times of the month. There can be pain with ovulation, pain associated with adhesions, pain caused by inflammation in the pelvic cavity, pain during bowel movements and urination, during general bodily movement like exercise, pain from standing or walking, and pain with intercourse. Pain can also start a week before a menstrual period, during and even a week after a menstrual period, or it can be constant. The pain can be debilitating and the emotional stress can take a toll.”
And all of it true and a lot of it me, I remember times curled up in bed hugging my hot water bottle crying because nothing was helping the pain. The emotional toll is real because sometimes it just gets to be too much to deal with. Heavy duty medications like Codeine or Endone are used to manage it because of the intensity of the pain. Surgery is another option though not always successful. I had my first surgery at 18, then another at 19 and was told by the second surgeon that I had a lot of endo for some one of my age. I recently had my third surgery. I imagine I may end up having more. My mother had 11 in total and it never solved the problem. I’m sitting here right now in pain because I got sick of lying in bed. However, because the Universe just loves to torment me on occasion, over the past twelve months I have developed something that is called ‘Umbilical Endometriosis’, essentially the endometrial tissue pushes up through my belly button causing bleeding and pain – this usually the week after my period. Umbilical Endo is actually really rare; it affects maybe 1% of women that have endo, mine I suspect has occurred because it is near to the site of scar tissue. My gynecologist told her trainee during my consultation that she would be lucky if she saw this once in her career. She said to me ‘this makes you unique’. Personally I’d rather have something else that made me unique.
I wanted to share my story because there are a lot of women and young girls out there who suffer with excruciating pain during their periods, and probably have no idea why. There are those, like myself, who probably experience severe cramping, chronic fatigue, nausea and headaches outside of the time of their period and have no idea why. And there are those who are expected to suck it up and get on with life no matter how much pain they’re in because no one cares enough to truly understand what they’re going through. You can tell a person you have bad period pain and you get that condescending ‘we’ve all dealt with that love’ attitude, so women are left thinking it’s normal. If you find yourself coming to on the floor because you’ve passed out, if you find yourself vomiting or experiencing headaches when you have your period or find you have to medicate yourself to near catatonia in order to function then it really is not something that most women have ‘all dealt with’. If any of what I have written sounds like what you experience then go to your doctor and be checked over. I know in some countries, medical treatment isn’t free (like my surgeries have been) but if you can get correctly diagnosed, you will have a better chance of treating it or at least managing it.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that what you’re experiencing is normal because it’s not. As I said earlier, excessive period pain is not normal, passing out, vomiting, migraines, severe cramping and heavy periods are not normal. It is not something every woman goes through, regardless of what people or religion say. Rage against the pain, scream from the mountaintops, but never let anyone minimize what you’re going through. Ask questions of your family and find out if any other women in your family have experienced this, and even if they act as though they dealt with it or it was normal you should still be examined and find out for sure. Endometriosis is a serious and debilitating disease, even if it is not widely recognized as such by the general public, and you shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. It affects your entire life, and for those who are keen on having children, it can affect your fertility.
So please anyone who thinks this could be them, suffer no longer, find a way to be heard and be treated. Even if ultimately it may not do any good in the long term (such as my case is proving so far) at least you will know and no longer question the whys of the pain.