Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

The family and I were watching "Chopped" on the Food Network Sunday evening and one of the ingredients used in the competition was spoon fruit.  This is a rather deceptive name for, as Amanda Freitag explained on the show, any fruit or herb jarred in syrup.  It is essentially a quick preserve akin to jam or jelly.  In the case of Sunday's competition, the candied herb in question was bergamot.  I knew a little bit about it; for instance, that Wiccans carry orange bergamot leaves in their pockets or wallets to draw wealth. I was inspired to find out more, though, and then share what I learned with you.

In Wicca, as mentioned above, bergamot - and specifically orange bergamot - is thought to attract money.  Sometimes called lemon or mint bergamot, the leaves are literally rubbed on money, according to Scott Cunningham to ensure its quick return after it is spent. I know a very gifted witch, my friend Lisa, who has updated this working for our modern, paper money-less age.  She rubs a bergamot leaf on her debit card - with focus and intent, of course - before heading out to shop.  Per the Houner, as she was known in college, this "works like a charm."

Scott Cunningham also mentions wild bergamot in his must have Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.  I am not personally familiar with this plant, which Cunningham says it poisonous in opposition to the orange/lemon variety.  He notes that the leaves "bring clarity and good working order to any situation."  If you are familiar with wild bergamot, by all means incorporate it into your workings to such ends.  If not, it might be best to stick to domestic bergamot.

In hoodoo, the focus on attracting wealth with bergamot continues, but with a twist.  Bergamot is one of the main ingredients in Crown of Success Oil.  This is one of my favorite hoodoo oils - I dress my personal mojo with it regularly - as it inspires motivation rather than passive wish-fulfillment. It does not simply draw luck but encourages the effort to succeed in school, business and just about any endeavor that takes work.  Used with intent, it is probably the most useful and powerful oil in the hoodoo cupboard. I, unfortunately, do not have a trustworthy recipe for Crown of Success Oil. That said, authentic versions can be purchased online from reputable dealers such as Erzulie's Voodoo and New Orleans Mistic in New Orleans and the Lucky Mojo Curio Company in California (see sidebar for both).

Bergamot is also used in hoodoo to befuddle the law and draw clientele to illegal businesses.  If you are involved in same, HQ isn't here to help you out.  But you can always do your own research, I suppose...  Bonne chance ~

Header: L'Ete by W.A. Bougeureau via Old Paint

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vendredi: A Divinatory Diversion

To begin, I'd like to thank everyone for their support over the last few weeks.  As I noted at Triple P, things are progressing slowly but happening quickly, and the positive energies you all have been sending are helping tremendously.  Again, thank you. 

Now, a step away from Friday's usual dark stories of the Underworld; today we look at the left hand of Empress Josephine.

Napoleon's first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais, was a great believer in divination.  Even before accepting the crown of her husband's empire, she owned several one-of-a-kind tarot decks hand painted just for her.  As Empress, she frequently consulted a then renowned but now shadowy mystic known as Mademoiselle Le Normand.  In particular, Mademoiselle offered the Empress palm readings to help her in her day-to-day decision making as well as, one must imagine, her advice to the Emperor.

Le Normand kept notes and sketches of her readings for Josephine which she published in a memoir after Napoleon's fall.  One of the most intriguing illustrations is a sketch of the Empress' delicate left hand complete with palmistry notes.  The long fingers and slim palm, as well as the slender wrist, give a clear picture of a lady of breeding and life-long leisure, but Mademoiselle saw other things as well.

According to Le Normand, Josephine's over all outlook was amazing.  She was blessed with what the psychic called "multifarious lines" pointing toward "boundless glory."  Unfortunately, not all the news was good for the then Empress.  She would know rejection and bitterness, Mademoiselle proclaimed, and find a "premature end."

Now, of course, all this sounds perfectly believable.  Josephine is still celebrated as a lady of exquisite taste, a great beauty, a survivor and an influence in history.  All the same, she was mortified to be set aside by the Emperor in favor of a younger, more fertile, Empress and some say this tragedy led to her early demise.  What of all that, if any, Mademoiselle Le Normand actually saw in Josephine's palm remains an issue for debate.

Header: Main gauche de l'imperatrice Josephine from the Memoirs of Mademoiselle Le Normand via Look and Learn 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meta: HQ Hiatus

As I noted over at Triple P, things are happening pretty fast around my little cottage and in my life.  Though I had hoped to give you a nice Herbal~Wise post today, time will not allow.

I have been diagnosed with cancer and will be undergoing surgery to remove my left breast and ovary tomorrow.  What things will look like after that is still up in the air, so I will be putting HQ on hold, at least for a little while.

Thank you all for your support, comments and insights.  I love writing these posts and I learn so much every time I sit down to accomplish them.

Please keep my family and me in your thoughts and prayers.  Hopefully, I'll be back sooner than later ~

Header: Merida from Disney/Pixar's "Brave" via Entertainment/Disney/EW

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vendredi: Chthonian Histories

On Tuesday, I mentioned that the plant calamus can be used to ward off poltergeists.  These "noisy ghosts" have troubled human beings at least since the dawn of civilization.  There are written records from ancient Sumer and Egypt that hint at people being burdened by the loud, boisterous activities of what we now call poltergeists.  It is popular to imagine now that all this bizarre rapping, tapping, poking and throwing of objects is kindled by psychological rage.  Usually, I hasten to add, that of an adolescent girl. 

Just as many of us scoff at our ancestors' opinions on things like this, I feel it is important to realize that they would dismiss our opinions in turn.  In many cases, our ancestors didn't try to define what the cause of the trouble was, they just reported what occurred. 

That is the case in this interesting passage from the writings of the right Reverend Joseph Glanvill.  Writing in 1662, the Reverend describes an incidence of poltergeist activity in the town of Tedworth, England.  None of it, I will say, sounds very pleasant:

Having one night played some little tricks at the master's bed, [the poltergeist] went into another bed, where one of the daughters lay.  There it passed from side to side, lifting her up as it passed.  At that time there were three kinds of noises in the bed.  They endeavored to thrust at it with a sword, but it still shifted and avoided the thrusts still getting under the child when they offered at it.  

The night after, it came panting like a dog out of breath.  Upon which, one took a bedstaff to knock it, but it was caught out of her hand and thrown away.  The room was presently filled with a bloomy noisome smell, and was very hot, though without a fire, in a very sharp and severe winter.  It continued in the bed panting and scratching an hour and a half, and then went into the next room, where it knocked a little and seemed to rattle a chain.  

At no point does Reverend Glanvill refer to the cause of this dreadful disturbance as anything but "it".  Though he does call upon God's mercy to request relief for the troubled family, he is not pinning the poltergeist activity on the Devil, the dead or even the girl who is most troubled by the problem.

What the poltergeist might be remains an unspoken mystery.  It is certainly one we can delve into in the future, as well.

Header: Untitled painting of a ghoulish entity by Jeffrey C. Jones via American Gallery

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mercredi: Happy 4th of July!

The Marquis de Lafayette sends you greetings on this Independence Day and says "You're welcome, America."

Painting by Joseph-Desire Court via F**k Yeah History Crushes !!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

Today's herb is used widely both in hoodoo and in Wicca and Druid practice.  The uses are similar in all of these disciplines, but there is a bit of a different spin to the old root worker's way of using the plant known as Acorus calamus or calamus.

Scott Cunningham is very clear in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs that "several plants are sold under the name of Calamus and two of those are very dangerous to take internally, so we must recommend not using calamus internally."  This is an excellent and timely warning that must be followed and remembered.  In the larger sense, any herb not grown by the practitioner - in other words, purchased packaged - is suspect.  As our natural resources dwindle many unscrupulous "botanicas" will substitute one herb for another without much thought to the potential hazards to the user.  When working with herbs, then, the rule of thumb is to grow your supply yourself if at all possible.  If not, know your supplier and, as with anything, caveat emptor.

Old wives would string calamus seeds together to form a necklace.  This was then placed around the neck of anyone who became ill to encourage other remedies to speed healing.  The powdered root can also be used as a healing incense and in packets or sachets for the same purpose.

Scott Cunningham recommends placing little pieces of calamus root in the four corners of ones kitchen to ensure that no one in the household will ever know poverty or want.  Calamus is also considered a strengthening herb.  Added to other herbs, curios, etc. in spell work, it is said to improve the efficacy of the spell's intention.  Growing the plant in the garden is thought to draw good luck to the household.

Root workers say that dried calamus added to any love mojo will make your intended unable to resist you.  The dried root is also sprinkled around the house, or carried in a mojo bag, to turn away jinxes and calm unquiet spirits such as poltergeists. 

A very old conjure to remove sexual problems arising from jinxes advised boiling calamus root in whiskey and drinking a small amount of the strained decoction daily to restore sexual vigor.  As per Mr. Cunningham's recommendation, this one is probably a bad idea.  Maybe just a small dose of good whiskey would do the trick...  Bonne chance ~

Header: Do Not Lose Heart by Chrystal Chan via American Gallery

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lundi: Recipes

Independence Day is soon to be upon us here in the U.S., and nothing says 4th of July to most of us quite like grilling.  Indoors or out, we Americans tend to be boucaniers at heart.  It happens to be salmon season as well here in my home state of Alaska and salmon on the barby is good and good for you.  Here's an easy recipe for barbequed salmon with a Dijon glaze that will definitely take your grilling in an upscale direction.

1 to 2 pounds of salmon fillets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (you can also use a good brown mustard, if you prefer)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped rosemary or thyme or both
Lemon slices
Salt and pepper to taste

Season the fish with salt and pepper. 

Combine mustard, oil and herbs and rub this mixture on your fish.  Rub both sides of the fillets if your salmon is skinless or just the skinless side if not.  Pop these in a zip~top bag and leave them in the frig for a couple of hours or even overnight.

Cook on your grill of choice until a skewer easily penetrates the thickest meat of the fillet; usually about 5 minutes per side.

Serve garnished with lemon and perhaps a sprig or two of whole herbs.

This is a great recipe for camping as you can prepare the fish ahead and pop it in your cooler in the zip~top bag.  Yum!  Bon appetite ~

Header: Painting by Frederick Cayley Robinson via Old Paint