Thursday, April 27, 2017

Groovy Green Practitioner Series: Wapato, Duck Potato, or Broadleaf Arrowhead

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Time to get your feet a little wet. If you live near a shallow wetland, marsh, or even a soupy suburb with a good amount of juxtaposition with wet ponds, you may have seen this little fella. The Broadleaf Arrowhead, or Duck Potato is a good friend to the hungry forager.  Looking suave and pronounced, this plant has some heavy history here as a food stuff, medicinal remedy, and a bit of a folk lore as far as magickal usage.
WILD FLOWERS OF NEW YORK Memoir 15 N. Y. State Museum Plate 1
First, you may have noticed that this plant is known as a duck potato. No, ducks do not toss it around after it gets hot in the sunshine as a game. It is not that kind of potato. But it IS wild food.

But be careful. Looking for this food to eat could lead to you being food to eat. What I mean is, where there is water, there could be leeches. So be careful before you just go wading into the wetlands. I am drawn to this plant due to my Creek heritage making this a plant my ancestors probably ate. (No, I do not have a Tribal Enrollment. No, I am not trying to appropriate anything. My Grandmother is 100 yrs old, and if she says we are Creek, we are Creek. We have been Creek since slavery times according to our records.)


This plant produces a tuber that can be roasted and eaten. It is a perennial, so once you find a patch, you can balance your harvesting so that you can come back and get more next year. You can find it in Michigan and all the way down through Mississippi. Gosh, you can find it almost everywhere, actually.

Did you know you could actually dry it and grind it up to use like a flour? Hmm. I wonder how that would taste, and would a duck eat a duck potato pancake? Sounds like a children’s story to me. I found that out from Mount Pisgah Arboretum.
2004 à 17:59 fr:Utilisateur:Bouba
IT IS VITAL THAT YOU MAKE SURE YOU IDENTIFY THIS PLANT PROPERTY. MICHIGAN WETLAND PLANT MISTAKES CAN BE DEADLY. DO NOT MISTAKE ARUM FOR THIS PLANT. USE A GOOD GUIDE, LIKE AT THE USDA NRCS.

For our healers, this plant can be a storehouse of use. It has a long, respected application on this continent. In Curious By Nature’s entry, they share that various uses by different nations such as the Maidu, the Chippewa, Navajo, and Ojibwa. It has been used for topical treatment for fever, as well as an antiseptic and laxative. As always, though, get some education from a bonified practitioner of the herbal arts before just heading off and setting up shop as a duck potato expert. I WILL drag you for filth (that means I will talk harshly about you with great contempt).

Now, let’s talk about the murky part. No, not the water. I mean the legends behind its usage in magicks and mysteries. I cannot verify or really push the legends that this plant is a defense against witches. I cannot really verify it is used to make a witch by drinking its tea in conjure or in indigenous societies. Why? Because I have no one to verify this. I am just presenting that this is part of its folklore. I am not going to just run around talking out of the side of my neck like a twisted duck.

BUT, I will say this. I have been told unofficially that this may be true regarding its use in ceremonial rites. I cannot prove it. Do your own research and ask around. Don’t just repeat what I say. You could be quaking up the wrong pond.

Here is a song about duck hunting. Because I married a hunter, that’s why, and it is about ducks.

Dallas Davidson – Duck Blind

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Shepherd’s Purse or St. Jame’s Wort

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

An ever-present resident in most fields, in and around Detroit, is the indomitable Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). You may often walk across it when traipsing through a field in search of bottles to clear, or when laying back in the grass and watching the clouds. Children often see it near “itchy” patches of straw-like greenery. The cheery little pouchettes announce its presence loud and clear to those who know what they mean. Seen as a weed, it is found year round. It has multiple uses for the cook, the curer, and the cunning person.


Atlas des plantes de France. 1891

This green resident is a member of the mustard family. That family is everywhere, and is beloved and hated by landscapers and gardeners, depending on whether they are wielding a pitch, or salad, fork at the time. As an addition to the seasoning stores, it offer an unusual bite to dishes that is just unidentifiable enough to add an interesting stimulation to the palate.
When the seeds are ripe they have a fiery bite that can be utilized as a ‘wild pepper’ – StarChild
This member of the mustard family can be eaten raw or cooked. Add to salad, but do so before it bursts forth with flowers. Believe it or not, it will taste a bit like radish. So you could add it to the cream cheese in your cucumber sandwich spread to go with the dill. Just remember,  it contains alkaloids and glucosinolates, so do not try to make it a daily food. Try a tasty Korean dish called Naengi Muchim here at Walk the Peninsula’s blog.

As a side note of extra coolness for any young gardener’s into that sort of thing, it actually is a predator of sorts, as its seeds are photocarnivorous.



For our healers among us, this is a member of the Cruciferae family known to help with hemorrhages in its powdered form. Seek out training from a competent and experienced teacher to learn the proper applications of this herb so you can add it to your cache of remedy options.
“The decoction or infusion can be used in cases of hematuria, hemorrhoids, chronic diarrhea and dysentery. Cotton swabs dipped in the infusion and inserted into the nostrils have been used to stop nasal bleeding. Its anti-inflammatory actions are helpful in relieving pain in cases of rheumatism” – Home Remedies for you
Image: Alexandra Volovenco Pixabay
As always, use caution and good sense before you just go around applying any herb to anything. Don’t you have any home training? You do not just go shoving things into your face. Lord and Lady love a duck. That also goes for your Lady Garden. Pregnant persons mustn’t mess about with this lovely long leaved legend.

Do your research. Dr. Paul Haider – Master Herbalist has a good column on this plant’s uses at Om Times.

*Remember when I said you can find it near itchy plants? Well, some folks have been said to use it to help with our old friend Poison Ivy’s gift. Just saying, pay attention to where nature stocks Her cabinets.

Magickally, I suspect our good cousin the Doctrine of Signatures has been at play a bit.  It’s traditional usage to protect against poverty and use for employment might be attributed to its purse-like seed pockets being so close to purses. It is also said to help protect against maladies that induce bleeding, which is interesting since it has styptic qualities. Mother’s also can include it to help protect children against sickness during the year.

Gather the plant on a Thursday for this purpose, then, if you are doing your money making Macarena. Because it has a rosette at its base, I suggest dividing it for drying. The paper bag method, hanging from the hanger in a sunny window, would yield very good results.
Enjoy this song Shepherd’s Purse by MIKIKO A-LA-MATA.

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Pineapple Weed or Disc Mayweed



DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

This uppity garden visitor is the diminutive Disc Mayweed, better known as Pineapple Weed (Matricaria discoidea). It pops up all over the cracks and cracks of your local sidewalks in many places here in Michigan. It is also fond of meadows where chamomile would like to grow. Indeed, this is only to be expected as it is often known as wild chamomile. I have found it often to be not far away from anywhere a cottonwood tree grows.
Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 3: 521. Public Domain
This plant has some real gumption. It seems to grow through spots that it should not be able to command. It can be found in every county of this beautiful Michigan mitten. This spirit is such that it bucked the system and decided to jump the big water over to the older countries form these shores.
This is one of the few weedy American plants that has apparently spread to (rather than from) Europe. – Herbarium, University of Michigan
By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This groovy green visitor is good for munching, mending upset stomachs, and making money magicks. So grab your little linen sacks and start gathering them whilst most folks ignore the treasures in their own yards. Let us look at what this gem has in store for the teapot, the medicinal tisane, and the table altar.

Like a chamomile, it is best gathered in the earlier in the morning while it is still wet with dew. The younger the lacy leaves that you gather, the better it will be for your tastes. If you wait too long, it can turn just a might bitter. You know, like tax forms.

The plant has a distinct pineapple smell when you crush or bruise it. The taste is a bit sweeter than chamomile. Yes, that is why it is called what it is. It can be added to salads for a mellow addition to fruit and nuts. Strawberry and blackberry mix well with this in a nice acorn leaf blend to refresh the palate. GrowitCookitCanit has a fabulous recipe for Pineapple Weed Tea to pick you up when you just need a little bit of sunshine in a cup. Honey should be local, if you can get it.

For our healing handyfolks, we have a good deal of usage that may be gained from the addition of this golden and green sweetheart. According to Sarah at Midwest Permaculture, its uses include

“include treating gastrointestinal upset and gas, infected sores, fevers, menstrual pain and postpartum anemia


Hmmm, that is quite a lot from a mighty mini. However, sometimes we ignore clues in our faces. But let us look a bit at the name of the plant itself for a revelation.
`Matricaria` stems from the Latin matrix meaning `mother` while `caria` is Latin for `dear`. This gives us `mother dear`.
This name refers to the medicinal use of pineapple weed for easing the pain of the menstrual cycle, as well as for treating colic in babies. –A Tea-Lover`s Soul Weed, by Jenny Harker
Prosperity magick is right up the alley of this plant you can find near the alley. Those golden heads can bring gold, so adding this to a prosperity working is a winner. It is also known as a plant that is good for domestic and familial harmony. So add to your floor washes to lift the home life. I would even consider weaving it into your early wreathes for your windows.

Now, I know we have had some good luck with finding songs about the herbs we are covering. But this time, we are just going to have to use the feeling and properties of the herb here for our inspiration for music. With that in mind, enjoy Katrina & The Waves, “Walking on Sunshine“.

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Ramps or Bear’s Garlic



DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Time to fire up the pan and take those yummy ramps into your hands. Ramps, ramsons, or Bear’s Garlic (Allium ursinum) is a tasty spring treat for foragers. This is equally true whether you are foraging in the woods out at Lakeshore or at the local farmer’s market. They are a fleeting treasure for munchers, tonic takers, and kitchen practitioners.


Jacob Sturm: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen (1796)
This wild allium pops up in sandy to loamy soil in the early Spring, usually around  April here in Michigan. They seem to coincide with morel season. They are not as elusive, but you won’t find them easily down the road either. Just this week, I cooked some in chicken broth, with some sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper, and a bit of oregano. Good eating.

A lot of folks swear by this little strongly scented wonder. Botanicseye give a good breakdown of the most common attributes sought after by its lovers.
Additionally, Ramson can be beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. A juice made from the plant can be used in weight loss programs. Used externally, Ramson can be helpful as a circulation stimulant in cases of rheumatic and arthritic joints.  – BotanicsEye


I really like this plant. So much so, that I am including another video for better identification.



Allium ursinum by Archenzo Cortenova (Lecco) 02 aprile 2005
 



Now, it is very important to make sure you are gathering the right plant. Smell it. It should smell like garlic. Again, be careful in identifying this plant in the field.
Since bear’s garlic has become so popular, many people have tried to collect the plant in the wild. Several cases of poisoning have been reported in recent years, as there are a few toxic plants with roughly similar leaves, particularly lily of the valley (Convallaria majus, Convallariaceae/Asparaginales) and autumn crocus (meadow saffron, naked ladies, Colchicum autumnale, Colchicaceae/Liliales). Both plants do not show even traces of garlic odour, and similarities are in the best case superficial, or even non-existent. – Spice Pages
You will die. And then you can use the nice little flowers on your grave site next to your cairn, I guess. Paying attention now?

For our healers, this plant is high in sulfur and rich in vitamins A and C. The body does not store vitamin C, so this is a great thing to eat after a long winter. Just remember, it will make its presence known in on the breath of the person consuming it, as well as other smelly ways. You have been warned.

As far as common usage for our kitchen witchin’ friends, it is a protective plant. Like many alliums, it is used to protect against general misfortune, as well as combined with other spell components for exorcism. Sniff it, you will see why it probably would be good to fend off most nasties.

Be a responsible gatherer when you harvest it. Just cut off the tops and leave some root. That way it will be there next year.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Buttering my popcorn and my candles as I watch the Shea Moisture denoument

Well, it finally happened. The final show of what was foreshadowed has revealed itself. Shea Moisture has opened wide its entire figurative mouth in order to firmly shove its foot deep therin.

You see, the reason this is in this column is because lookism is a thing, and the circles where colorism and lookism occur are just as relevant in magickal communities. It is a real thing when the hair atop the priestess's head is not contributing to her confidence. And before you come for me with the whole "the Gods do not care how we look" banner, you can pack it up and put it in your altar box. As a real human, I know it DOES matter how I feel about my appearance when I do rituals.

Source: Pixabay


The faith and hope placed by African American practitioners in their personal products are just as germane to ritual attire as any bracelet or robe. The company that many of us turned to as a part of our Black Pagan Liberation Theology cache of supplies is particularly poignant in its betrayal. Their marketing campaign has made it very clear that the very people who helped the original brand grow, before it was sold, have been made extraneous to their demographic.

I do not use their products on a regular basis. My hair is a hot conglomeration of curls and bad decisions. But my daughter's hair has benefited from it at least a couple of go rounds. Especially when we were going out in public and "people were looking" at us. It was important to be able to trust a product that I knew had been borne of a dream by folks who understood what an important role hair can play in our psyches.

So, I am watching this mess and shaking my head. Candles are burning but they are not reflecting light off any one's hair in this home that would have this product on its strands. Why? Because the gods don't like ugly, and neither do I.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Oh my stars, here comes chickweed time again


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stellaria_spp_Sturm5.jpg


DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

This little star in the mist is known and loved by many a homesteader and natural food grazer, of course I am talking about chickweed. Our little Stellaria media is popping up almost everywhere here in Michigan. Chickens love it, healers dig it (see what I did there?), and tasty foods include it on the tables. Kitchen witches, raise your forks and your pestles and prepare to get to know this treasure in your midst.

You will find your prize located near wetter areas usually, although some folks have it as a ground cover. It is usually seen as a weed, since it is a very fertile annual and likes to increase its number, kind of like taxes and incense collections. It will pop up again if it was there last year, barring unnatural interference and prevention. But why prevent it? It has many uses.



Primarily, eat it. This plant, unless near a toxic area, and if identified properly, is usually perfectly same to eat. Yum yum, eat the little darling, but only in moderation, as its leaves contain saponins. While they are not necessarily harmful to us in normal amounts, no need to go overdoing it.
Unlike many wild edibles, the chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. It does hold nitrates and people with allergies to daisies might want to pass it by. Only the Mouse-ear chickweed has to be cooked.  – by Green Deane

This is the wonderful time of year when we are experiencing the pop of crocus and the songs of birds all around us, and this is a great time to enjoy a nice treat on your table from the garden.

Understanding that we can eat in season to vary our diet is important to good health and keeping in harmony with the turning of the Wheel of the Year. There is a lovely recipe for chickweed bread at Eat The Weeds.

For the healers out there, time to get your snippers out and ready your collection satchels. This is a useful contribution to your salve cabinet. It has a virtual buffet of uses for remedies.

Try to wait until after Beltane to gather it. Remember, always take a modest harvest of any wild growing things. Be mindful and respectful when you gather, and leave something for thanks. I always encouraged my students in the Black Moon Grove to do this, and they are very good about leaving plant spikes (a thank you to our Grove Leader for that lovely innovation over just cornmeal or silver).

To explore its magickal properties, keep in mind that it is usually associated with lunar energy. Mysteries and workings with relationships, fertility (seeds are prolific, so yeah….), and birds love it, so if you are working with them this is the plant for you.

Incenses made with this plant draw in those energies as well. Dry a bit for your incense cabinet. Hang upside down for easiest uniform results.

You can find some seeds here at Alchemy Works, if you cannot find it wild. A little patch in grown in a corner, or even in an old cracked teapot, can give us just the right amount of space for this bit of tiny-petaled joy.

BONUS:

Enjoy this song, “Chick Weed.aif” by Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues.