Tuesday, December 9, 2008

All Good Things Come To An End - we are closing down

I've been putting this off for a few days, but it can't wait any longer.

I am sad to share with you all that The Blessed Thistle will be closing, after the first of the year. I don't think this will surprise people given the economy, of course. That is one important and unavoidable reason - but there are other, more personal ones as well. Suffice to say that the time is now, and so with a heavy heart, but also one with great clarity, we are closing our (virtual) doors.

I don't believe in saying never, so there is the possibility that you will see us again. I have a lot of faith in the value of these teas - both medicinally and energetically - so if somehow it all comes together in the coming years, I may launch a better and new version of this ol' herbal shoppe.

This blog may or may not continue, I'm not sure yet. I like being able to post about information, both inspirational and provocative, so ...we'll see. Check back and we will have updates about what is going on, most likely after the holidays.

The upside is that this means all teas and balm are on SALE! So jump over to our website and take advantage of your favorite blends, gift bags and tea strainers now available at WHOLESALE cost or even BELOW wholesale! Teas will last for well over a year in cool, dark and dry storage, so stock up! We have limited stock available, no rain checks - when it's gone, it's gone! You will note we have raised our shipping by up to $1.50 in some instances, and this is due to the rise in cost from the USPS to us.

Much love and blessings and
gratitude to all who have supported us over the years,
Be Well and Honey in the Heart,

Kimberely Arana

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's Goin' On: OUTRAGEOUS - Updated

Well, seems I can put my fist down. (Thanks Amy, from the HP List).

Quoted from the article above:
And Peter Shankman, a public relations all-star who knows everything and then some about new media, was giving the manufacturers some advice:

I’m not siding with Motrin. They messed up, granted. I’m ok with that. Companies mess up all the time. They fix the problem, and it usually doesn’t make the radar screen. The problem is, Motrin happened to mess up at the expense, and in the face of, one of the most vocal, quickest-to-blog, “strongest-to-band-together-and-form-one-opinion-like-the-Borg” collectives out there - The Mommy-Blogging community.

Now I am NOT slagging on Mommy-Bloggers. Not in the slightest. Nor, am I saying they’re over-reacting to the commercial, which, by rights, was stupid and patronizing. What I AM saying though, is that Motrin will pay a MUCH bigger price, as opposed to if they’d messed up in front of say, “Construction-Worker-Bloggers.” Mommy-Bloggers are not a voice to be messed with, probably because they’re one of the most clearly identifiable voices on the web. You have a kid? You blog about said kid? You’re a Mommy-blogger. You don’t need an advanced degree in particle physics to see what these bloggers have in common.

Or, as one Tweet put it:

note to self … never piss off moms … especially twitter moms … they can be a nasty bunch ;)

Yay! The power of Networking Mama's. Jump to the article, and see Motrin's letter of apology.


This was shared with me this morning, and outrageous commercial from Motrin (thanks, Dominique!):

I almost hate to show it here, I'm so furious. But I want you to see it, and to know the levels of coercion that some companies are willing to go to, in order to get you to use their product. Some companies will demean you, condescend to you... all the while trying to make it seem like they are the ones who really, truly get it.

Hey, Motrin? You don't get it.

I know from personal experience, that using the right sling means no back pain, no headache. My first baby, I carried her in a sling that didn't work for me. And yes, I had back pain. It was awful. I didn't hold her as much, and many times she needed me to. My second, I found another sling that worked wonderfully, and all was good. VERY good (It's the Ergo, people! At least for me. What worked for you?). And yes, it does mean a happier and calmer baby. If the sling didn't work, why has it been used since, I don't know, the beginning of time? This is a no-brainer.

But apparently if you use a sling, you will need Motrin. Underlying that however, is the sense that you shouldn't use a sling anyway. Unless you want to be 'official' (WTF?) or 'fashionable'. This, my sisters, boils down to this equation:
using a sling = being SHALLOW, being a sheep. Get it?
They are using our mothering instincts as ammunition against us, packaging it as a mere commodity to whine about.

If a mother chooses not to use a sling, please may it be because she truly doesn't need it, not because she has been influenced by some ridiculous ad cooked up by a pharmie company that attempts to present it's snarky attitude as the better, more hip choice. Pop culture, sadly, does influence people. Motrin should be ashamed. They could have done an ad that didn't play into the "hipster" mentality: they could have done an ad that calmly suggested if a mother was having a hard time, she might use Motrin (well, of course you all know I would say to try maybe some arnica oil first on those hurting shoulders, some oatstraw, motherwort and skullcap tincture to soothe the nerves... ). Instead they market the sling as only being used because it is FASHIONABLE. They suggest that a mother is tired and in pain from using a sling, and from (gasp) having to carry her child. As if we care for our children only out of shallow duty, dictated by Instyle magazine. Disgusting.

Why does it seem that the more we struggle to sift through the pyre of crap the modern MTV age panders to us, and nurture our selves and our children back to a place that is fulfilling and simply feels good and right, the more subliminal and insidious do these ads get?

There is a nasty trend in these ads, like the HFCS one (don't get me started!), that is bigger than just a wee ad about aspirin.

Its this creepy ME ME ME state of mind, which serves the most primitive aspects of our Egos, that sends a direct hit to our selfish desires, serving to push aside what we may feel and know is best for our children, our families. It's what is feeding the consumer culture, and we are all crashing in debt because of it: don't worry about anyone else, even your kids, just worry about YOU, and what YOU want. It's the new heroin for the masses.

And Motrin is offering you stock in some of that.

I smell a Boycott being baked...

[shakes fist in the air]
edited because I can; and one more time at 11:32 AM because I'm more awake now. I swear, I won't edit this again!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

What's Goin' On: The Disappearing Male

There's a documentary coming out in Canada [waves], The Disappearing Male, that highlights a growing and scary trend: growing rates of infertility and birth defects, as well as health problems, with males.

I'll give you one guess what some suggest it is linked to.

Yup. Seems the issues run higher in 'industrialized' nations, and for instance in "Chemical Alley," a place in Canada right next to a petrochemicals plant. Go figure.

They have been studying the decline in the birth of male children in the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community located next to the infamous Chemical Valley, Canada's largest concentration of petrochemical plants, near Sarnia.

A paper co-authored by Keith and published three years ago in the U.S. journal Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that exposure to various chemicals produced by industrial plants surrounding the Aamjiwnaang reserve land may be skewing the community's sex ratio.

Read all about it here. This gave me serious pause this morning.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kindling For the Fire: A Prayer For You

From Dead Can Dance: Noble Prayer. (Thanks to SandraEgidio)

Thoughts that this kindled for me:
There is a lot of craziness out there today. It is so easy to forget what is important, to neglect the precious moments with those we love, to walk past the bounty and gifts that nature offers up everyday, there for the taking. No matter what race, creed, class or beliefs - we each are here for a reason. We are here to learn and evolve from each other, with each other. No one is truly ever alone, and in this truth we can pray for a better world for us all.

Life is a field of unlimited creation that we choose to manifest. We can choose to have compassion, to embrace an open mind and give room for the dynamic ways of being that this world offers us. Compassion is an action, it grows and flourishes the more that we practice it. Compassion is like honey; a gift from the heart of hard work and effort, unhurried and dense with sweetness when we savor it. It lingers in the heart once tasted.

The ways that we are connected, I firmly believe, are far more important and worthy of my intention (attention! ;>) than the ways that we are different. This is my prayer for you - for those of you struggling on your way, for those of you who feel left out in the cold, for those of us who may feel overwhelmed, misunderstood. For anyone out there that desperately needs a kind word, a sweet smile. Or simply a lucky break.

Breathe. Smile (even if it hurts.) Wake up at sunrise and whisper "Thank You."

May all beings find their honey... may we all find our feet on a path towards our personal best, towards being cherished.

"Walk in beauty, run in freedom."
- Cora Anderson

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Daily Dose: Mellow Me Tincture

I've meant to post this one for awhile: I had a friend who dropped by to help me with computer issues I had, and he was an absolute bundle of stress. His shoulders were almost visibly bunched up around his neck, he was talking rather fast (for him) and kept mentioning the work overload he had. His tension was palpable.

I grabbed the main tinctures that I had available to suit his needs - Motherwort, Oatstraw (avena sativa), and Pedicularis (p. densiflora). We've talked about Motherwort, and I will need to add to the Materia Medica about the other two, Oatstraw and Pedicularis (pictured at left).

For now, since the Daily Dose is meant to give you easy ways to use herbs daily, know that these herbs are each nervines, with different attributes about them. Oatstraw is a wonderful and gentle nervine, and will help to calm the stomach as well, bieng a gentle antispasmodic. Pedicularis is a great muscle relaxant and a strong sedative, so when you combine these both with the power of Motherwort, you get one mellowed out person.

I took about two full tincture droppers full of the Motherwort and Oatstraw, and then one of Pedicularis, squirted it into a clean fresh tincture bottle and shook it up. Then I gave him one full dropperful as one dose. I was ready to give him more, he was that tense - but he swears he felt it immediately 'melt' through his body (yeah, it can work that fast). I had wished at the time I had Skullcap instead of the Oatstraw (more potent in it's effects, I've found). But given the results, I'm glad that since I did not have it handy, I got creative and came up with what I share with you here.

He was visibly more calm, and a smile blossomed on his face.

Warnings: nothing too serious for these herbs, I would not use this blend in high doses or when about to drive a or operate machinery, as it could be highly sedative in large amounts. Pregnant women should look for something else to calm them, such as Lemon Balm blended with Oats and Chamomile (or just straight Chamomile, as long as you aren't allergic to Ragweed family).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Shoppe News: We have a new batch!

We are happy to share that we have a new batch of Breast Balm curing, and all seems good to go. We need to update our website that the large size is now available again. Yay!

Thanks for your patience, and as always - your support and positivity!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Spy: Yeah Yeah!

I’m somewhat of Quote Connoisseur, a Mistress of Pithy Passages (or not-so pithy). So I love stumbling upon a good quote. I get a rush from it. Truly. I do.

A few years back, while wandering around the annual North Coast County Fair, there was a cool booth with awesome handmade, block print t-shirts and clothes. It was the shirts that drew me in first: funky blockprint images of a colorful Buddha, or a forlorn dog waiting at the door, a dancing hula hoop girl or a funky guitar I’d love to play. While I was enjoying all the creations of the artist, Jodi Mullen, there it was. Casually on display in her booth was a quote that has stuck with me, the chord hit so hard:

Life does not accommodate you. It shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn't do it better. Every seed destroys it's container, or else there would be no fruition. - Florida Scott Maxwell

I didn’t have a chance to write it down at the time, and I've spent some time trying to recreate it in my head. This year I was able to make it to the fair again, so I thought I’d ask the artist, Jodi, about the quote.

She remembered it well, and we shared some words about our mutual love for quotes while she very kindly wrote it down for me. Thanks, Jodi! One of these days I hope to own a small gallery of her awesome creations – for now, you can check out her contribution to the beautification of the world here, at Yeah Yeah Designs.

Jodi’s shirts and clothes have a very wearable, funky vibe that you could dress up or down and wear almost anywhere. Check it out! And tell her we sent you!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What's Goin' On: BPA has it comin' (see end of rant for some info on where to get BPA free items)

"This is a human study that really calls into question FDA's assertion that BPA is safe," said Dr. Anila Jacob of the activist Environmental Working Group.

New information from studies reveal that not only do those poor rats in laboratories have horrible side-effects from exposure to BPA, but - get ready, here it comes: Surprise! - so do human beings. In an excerpt from the article, they note that the FDA was reliant on studies that pointed towards 'no serious adverse side effects' in rats.

Note the use of the terminology, because the FDA is famous for their parsing of words (how do I know? I watched my mother go through a Class-Action lawsuit against Dow over breast implants in the 80's.). It begs the need to request some kind of reference book we can refer to that makes clear what exactly they mean when they say "serious" and "adverse" in the same sentence. Like, say, um, cancer-causing?, or just systemic inflammation? (I'm hoping that some will note here that there is rising belief that inflammation can be cancer-causing.)

Even more disconcerting, note at the end of this quote that they have not done studies on humans because it was deemed inappropriate. Are you kidding me?! So we don't directly test a chemical out on those who will actually be using them, and therefore the most exposed. Especially our newborns, who have bodies that are still developing in crucial ways. I'm over the soft-handed approach towards not testing chemicals on our own kind - yes, I understand that this is an ethically challenged position to take. But what this really means is that WE TEST THEM OUT ON OUR CHILDREN. That is so much more ethically sound, yes? The logic of my own species leaves me in awe:

"BPA was first synthesized in 1891 and came into wide use in the 1940s and 1950s because of the durability and light weight of polycarbonates.

Some BPA remains intact in the plastic and leaches out over time, particularly when it comes in contact with hot liquids or acidic foods.

The chemical industry and the FDA have long relied on two large animal studies showing that high concentrations of the chemical fed to rodents produced no serious adverse effects.

There had been no previous large studies of the chemical in humans because researchers considered such testing inappropriate.

Read the full article and watch the video: Here

Looking for BPA free items?

Even better - don't use plastic at all! This is my choice for bottles: glass. I have found them at Target as well. So far I've only found Evenflo with glass.

And for stainless steel sippy cups, all the rage: Klean Kanteen uses Avent sippy tops.

Or you find that you need plastic (say, you've got a Slugger in your house who likes to chuck things against the wall? I do), here you can get BPA free baby bottles: Born Free

We used these for roadtrips, though I still prefer the stainless steel. I've found that the nipples don't last as long, and their sippies tend to leak - but, yes, I still feel it's worth it. I also see on their website that they have all kinds of new products out, so now there's no excuse. They also have glass bottles.

And here, Avent has now offering BPA free as well (they have some great sippy cups):

Press on!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kindling For The Fire: Rising Appalachia

photo by CHESS. www.chadhess.com

I've been meaning to get to this for such a while now... sometimes you hear a chord struck, or a voice released and you can't go back.

Back to thoughts that have no meaning, no purpose. Back to anger and frustration. Back to small and little thoughts that cause hurt and division to grow and fester. Back to the ping-ping of cheap music called Pop in today's shallow struggle.

Rising Appalachia creates the kind of music that makes my heart sing - makes me want to open and expand. Makes me want to throw all the mundane tasks of the day aside, get up off my seat and dance a jig. I hear the fiddle of my ancestors, the hum of my heritage in their efforts. And damn, I am thankful!

I was turned on to these two at Plant Journeys blog (the lovely Ananda), so drop on by there and give her a holler' of thanks. In the meantime, if you like good ol' fashioned harmonies and a vibe that embraces today while it glories in the times of old, check out these two sistahs at their myspace page.

Go, now!
Rise up and dance!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Shoppe News: Breast Balm Batch Gone Awry

I'm frustrated and sad to say that I am currently putting the production of Breast Balm on hold.

Our most recent batch did not cure well, even though we followed our rather precise recipe. As anyone who makes natural products such as salves and balms or lotions knows, sometimes you simply cannot entirely control the outcome. While the ingredients are all the same and from excellent sources or harvests, the consistency is not the usual; and therefore we do not feel this batch represents our usual high-quality product. We want you, our vendors and customers, to have only our best. So until we decide how to proceed, we are setting aside production of the balm.

We'll keep you posted as to when it may - if at all - return. Thanks for your support and encouragement, always good medicine!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shoppe News: Seasonal Teas, wherefore art thou?

Someone out there, we are sure, is wondering what happened to the Seasonal tea line. We hope in the coming year to pick this up again, but for now that line of teas will be put on hold.

With rising gas prices quickly causing a rise in cost to produce, as well as a lag in sales everywhere, we found that it was difficult to be introducing limited run tea blends. We are a small, 'mom and pop' type business, which basically means we are not able to absorb costs for such a crazy market right now.

The upside of this is that Lilith's Spring Equinox Passion Tea was a huge hit! We've decided that Passion needs to stick around for awhile, so this tea has been moved into a regular blend. That means you can get your delicious Passion Tea even now, as we watch the summertime wane into Autumn. Drink deep and enjoy!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shoppe News: Breast Balm

Excuses, excuses... we have many. But let's just move on to the important stuff, shall we?

We've been having a lot of hiccups with the production of Breast Balm recently, as some of our customers know. (Apparently, we've also been having a lot of hiccups with blog updates, obviously!)

I'm pretty picky about the ingredients that I use for all our items. And this season I ran into delay after delay trying to get a hold of some good, fresh Dandelion Blossom oil. I prefer to make my oils myself, which means that you need to seek out the flowers at the right time, harvest and process them. For various reasons (you can take your pick - teething baby who decided not to sleep for a month, or not being able to find true Dandelion blossoms in a good, healthy environment far enough off any road areas, or needing to travel to visit ill family during a bumper crop of blossoms, I could go on...), I missed the window a bit ago, so I was sent searching for a good source of fresh oil. When I did think I had found some, it was not very good quality. More delays.

I now believe that I have found it! And so I am hoping to have a fresh new batch out for the pleasure of all this coming week. So, if you have been patiently waiting for your back-ordered Breast Balm (say that five times fast), then you are about to be rewarded! And as always, we thank you for your patronage and your support while we have worked through this.

Be Well - and Spread the Love!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's Goin' On: Screwy, indeed...

This was shared on the HP* list. Very interesting:


*worth checking out! Go here to Lauren's blog, info, and yahoo list

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Unbelievable... oh, wait...if you are a parent, you need to know this

Well, getting right to it (more on where I have been later) an amazing, incredulous agenda floated out there the other day that all parents should be warned about. Drugs that are peddled to adults are just as dandy for children! Here

There are a lot of things wrong with this. The first thing being that often the issues at hand that they claim these drugs (oh, and lowfat milk) could address can in most cases be handled with diet and exercise (or would that just be, I don't know, too easy?). We are indeed in a crazy world when we consistently look to drugs for the cures of things we create due to our own personal negligence. And before people start to claim that all the onslaught of obesity in this country is due to genes (yes, it is, sometimes), please take the time to read about the information that has been building explaining why the lowfat craze, even the trusty 'food guide pyramid' has been so bad for us. That, and the fashionable habit nowadays of sitting around in front of our computers all the time.

Luckily, some medical professionals are willing to talk some sense about it.
Read about here

The anecdote? Get outside. Run, walk, breath deep and maybe play hopscotch. Laugh until your sides bust as you ride with your kids down the slide. Eat in moderation, and consider that maybe you don't need the super-sizes, or the Red Bulls, or even (gasp!) grain. Educate yourself about the history of diet -- what our ancestors ate, what we are designed to eat, and why. And the revolution of agriculture, the industrial era, and how these things have effected our diets, our way of life. Seems like a lot, I know. There are a lot of books out there if you are curious. I'll make a list of some that are worth reading.

More info/comments to come...

Monday, April 28, 2008

What's Goin' On: Science finds a link between Mercury and Autism

This debate has been raging for awhile now -- some of you won't be surprised at all by this 'discovery'. I sure wasn't. Moms have been saying this for years.

Read about the landmark information here.

My concern with Mercury and Autism isn't cut and dry in terms of whether Mercury is the causative factor -- obviously there are some children that get vaccines, for instance, and are just fine. But as with many health issues in modern life (and by that I mean since the industrial era), some of us are more sensitive and some of us aren't. Some of us will smoke and never get cancer, some will. Some will eat wheat and feel ill, many won't. Some of us will get vaccines, and react to either the mercury, the high levels of additives, or just the overwhelm to our immune systems. And some won't.

The issue at hand, in my mind, is more so one of EDUCATION and AWARENESS. This means honest dealings from our corporations and government who make or support the use of the products and vaccines, food and what-not that we all consume. So that we know and decide for ourselves what is best for our family, for one another. As always, the bottom line?

Trust your instincts, mama's!

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's Goin' On: Canada, you rock!

This is old news by now, as it has been plastered all over the news, worldwide, since this morning:

Canada bans the use of Bisephenol A

The quote by Health Minister, Tony Clement, says it all: "We've concluded it's better to be safe than sorry," said Clement.

Wow. How I wish, how I hope that Americans will take these words to heart. Our health, our children and one another would be much healthier if we took this approach.

Carry on!
Ms Thistle

Shoppe News

Well, we are feeling rather embarrassed. We have been seriously slacking off lately.

But let me rephrase this, and hopefully shed some light on the reasons why: I use the term 'we' all the time because in reality, often my dh helps me pull off deliveries (even if it is only by watching our two beautiful daughters), and because without his support I could not make this business happen at all.

But in terms of the day to day grind of getting things done with The Thistle, it comes down to one person -- me. And as much as I love (!) creating the tea blends and designing the labels and creating the verbiage for the labels and keeping inventory and ordering more and more herbs to make the blends with and roasting the vanilla bean and shredding and grinding the roots and folding the boxes and bagging every single bag and printing the labels and applying the labels and dusting the shelves (nod to Rose! lol) and delivering the teas and debating about what to keep, what to phase out (be still my heart! I love all my teas) and don't even get me started on making the Balm! That's a whole other looooong process in itself -- all of this takes time. And time, people, is a precious thing in my world.

Now, I'm not complaining -- I'm whining. I'm kvetching. Because while I'm doing all of this, I'm also raising my two daughters. Let's just say they are a handful! I'm overwhelmed, I admit it. I used to be the Queen of Organization, the Duchess of Get R Done, the Priestess of Right On Time Perfection.

As any mother out there reading this knows, the quickest way to learn what your weak spots are, or how much you need to let go of deeply-inbred Type-A control issues, is to have a child. For me, my Achille's Heel is sleeping. I need a lot, and small children and sleeping well or regular simply do not go together in one sentence. So I have become a rather drawn out experiment in sleep-deprivation and let me tell you, it works! You can watch a person completely unravel if you simply interrupt their sleep on a regular basis (don't try this at home, folks!). This means that it takes me twice as long to accomplish the most mundane tasks. So that's my excuse for slacking.

Before you doze off -- what I'm getting at here is that if it seems that my replies aren't quite fast enough in their turn around, if it seems like my website needs updating, if I'm simply not posting enough on my blog (well, you wouldn't know but my commitment is to post 2x a week, so I'm way behind), it's because I am swimming in tasks to get done on a daily basis. I'm having a hard time getting my dishes done, let alone dispensing the delicious teas & important pithy herbal and uplifting info that we all know and love.

And, tomorrow is my 40th birthday -- I'm thinking that maybe I have finally earned a break.

Drink deep, get out there and love your life!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What's Goin' On: the heart of consumerism?

At first blush this article may seem like another reason to get happy.

But I'm not one who buys into (pardon the pun) the idea that we should all 'get happy.' I think the current obsession with constantly being joyful is misguided and irresponsible, in fact. We are not designed that way, nothing in nature is. Emotions ebb and flow just like the tides, and we grow our character and value our joys from the learning how to ride the opposite (Goethe said something similar, this is not a new idea: “Only by joy and sorrow does a person know anything about themselves and their destiny. They learn what to do and what to avoid.”). Taking a pill to mask emotions doesn't deal with them, it merely masks them. They stick around, lingering like unwanted guests at a party. So you never fully really do experience joy or happiness anyway. That doesn't seem fair, does it? Or right. We need to address our emotions, to answer when something brings sadness to our door. Once the emotion is satiated, it will get up and leave. The party can continue.

That's all a philosophical discussion in itself, but what I'm wandering towards here is a vicious cycle that we may be caught in. A web of our own making:


This article suggests that we are more susceptible to over-purchasing when we are depressed. No surprise, but very telling. I don't know about you, but I don't recall there ever being a time like there is now: we consume ourselves to death every day, our children are now obsessed with status symbols and 'stuff', and there is talk that we are the more depressed than ever. (A great book argues that we are overwhelmed by choice and lack of hope: (link soon). So if this depression feeds the consumerism that feeds the depression -- how do we get off the rollercoaster?

Great discussion, worth having.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Shoppe News: New Seasonal Blend Goddess Tea!

Our latest seasonal blend has arrived ~ Lilith's Spring Equinox Passion Tea.

A delicious blend with hibiscus, vanilla bean, malva flowers and more. You can read all about it and place your order here. Enjoy it while you can, because this will only be available until the Summer Solstice!

Sometimes people ask me how I create the teas we have, and I have to say they really are inspired. The Goddess' are my muse, and I let them lead the way:

Usually, I start with a sense of the kind of tea I want to create. For instance, a tea that reflects what seems to be the theme for not only Spring in general, but what I hear people expressing in their day to day lives as well right now:

words like "Growth", "Metamorphosis", "Challenges" and simply "A lot goin' on!" This is no surprise given that it is Spring, and we all feel that cabin-fever tension to get out and spread our wings. But I also have a tendency to look beneath the costume of words, to unbutton the cloak and see what's hiding there.

Underneath the theme in those words, the common thread would be possibilities. And one cannot support what's possible without hope. The final knot tying it all together? Passion. The flower that breaks free from its shell does so, because it has an inherent passion to bloom. Change is not a question, but an inevitability. It does not consider the why's and the how to's, it simply turns towards what supports its passion, and unfolds. That is magic, people!

With this magic in hand, I set out to look into which herbs support this kind of transformation in life. Various flowers and roots, leaves and lichen came into play. From there, I begin to consider where there is a theme medicinally ~ the practical side to magic. Slowly, the true nature of the blend is coming together.

Finally, I begin to make small cups of variations on the blend, to see which flavors best enhance one another. Sometime I already know how some will marry. But this time, for instance, I had never worked with hibiscus so I wasn't certain. I had to play with how much to add, how much to remove, back and forth.

Then suddenly, you take a sip and something sings! I know it is complete.

The next stage ~ although sometimes this comes first ~ is to see which Goddess has an affinity for this blend's properties. Sometimes it has to do with the practical side (as with Skatha) and sometimes it has more to do with the magical (as with Lilith/Lamia). With our Passion Tea, I was really struggling with everything for the tea label (from the name to the copy), and the Goddess I had attempted to choose wasn't complying. Her attributes where correct for the season, but She wasn't fired up about it. I was talking with a friend at Humboldt Herbals, being my animated self about how passionate and wonderful this new blend was. I literally get tingles when I drink it ~ so delicious! It is truly sensual and stimulating. I realized suddenly that I needed to step outside the box, as they say. To stop trying to make a puzzle fit, and let the pieces come together.

Although I realize that many would not associate Lilith, an ancient and somewhat dark Goddess image with the light-heartedness of Spring ~ it was She who landed on my shoulder from that moment on. She refused to budge, and whispered sweetness in my ear about the current season. I'm not one to ignore a Goddess when She lands, and Lilith's Spring Equinox Passion Tea was born.

Our Goddess Teas are a reverent offering, a mirthful dance with Mother Nature and gratitude for the gifts She shares. We hope you enjoy them ~ drink deep, get out and bloom!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kindling for the fire: Healing the Wild Within, and Without

Myth and storytelling, like ritual, have been with us since our first breath. Through our telling of tales, we connect and reconnect with one another and with our surrounding nature. Throughout the ages, as we connect the delicate strands of individual life together into common tales, we are reminded of how precious life is, how precious we are to one another. The journey is not so lonely. The burden not so great -- when it is shared. Each healing a tiny star, joining the one with many to illuminate the night for the next fellow traveler.

This is a lovely re-telling of the fairy tale The Girl With Silver Hands, wherein the author takes a look at her own journey through illness. She reconnects this to our refecltion of dis-ease in the wild, and our mutual need to heal. A star to add to our night sky, lighting the way: here

(Image is by Sulamith Wulfing)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rite of the Moment: Ostara

Hail spring! It is the equinox -- a time of balance, renewal, growth. The green good things are bursting out of their tight coats all across the fields, blossoms and beauty are everywhere we look. This is a wonderful time to stand in your center, to acknowledge the depths of wintertime's reflection before turning your face towards the illumination of spring.

Ritual has been around since our beginning -- it does not matter what your religion may be, or the path you consider to be on. We all have the ancestral history of ritual and its power pulsing through our collective bones. It was used and it still works, because ritual enables us to step outside our mundane every day lives and acknowledge what is unique, amazing or valuable to us. What do you consider a miracle in your life? And in your own way, how do you wish to acknowledge it and gives thanks for it? Ritual is the perfect vehicle for doing this.

We thought we would offer up a simple and easy ritual to symbolize the changing season within that is reflected in nature. And if you feel that ritual makes you uncomfortable, then we invite you to simply take a moment and breath deeply, and offer a prayer of thanks for the blessings in your life. Then state clearly, out loud, what you will tend to in the coming season, what you will nurture and take care of. It can be as simple as "I will drink more water," to "I will not yell at my child all the time."
Just make it something that really would make a difference in your life, no matter how small. The idea here is that we are going to take care of something, and help it to blossom in our lives in the coming days.

For those ready for the rite, here we go. You will need:

1 egg
a plant, or a packet of seeds and somewhere to share them

Sit wherever you can, and take a moment to close your eyes and just become aware of your breathing. See if you can slow it down, just a bit. Good. Now see if you can deepen each breath, just a little bit more.

Place the egg cupped in your hands. Think for a moment about what you have lived through during the winter that is now passing. Maybe it was a great season for you, no drama or illness --give thanks in your thoughts for these blessings. Or maybe it was a really trying time -- a family member passed, you made it through a tough battle with cancer, or maybe a child was just having a rough school year.

And here you are. You are breathing, you are alive--you made it through. Can you see the teachings within the strife? Take a moment and see if you can, no matter how small. Give thanks for the lessons that difficult times can present, and gratitude that you have made it to today.

With your last thought of thanks, breath in deeply and exhale slowly and with emphasis all over your egg. You can really go with this -- blow hard, moan and groan if you need to! Sing and holler if you want. You are charging this little egg with all that you just recalled.

Ideally, if you can -- go to the nearest body of running water and turn your back so that you are facing against the flow. Toss the egg over your shoulder and walk away. Don't look back; let the water carry away what is done. Let go, and move on. If you can't go to the river, or a stream, or even the ocean -- then you can still find a ready and willing flow from your sink down the kitchen drain. Ritual can be practical, too!

Now, go over and pick up that plant, or that pack of seeds, and once again sit for a moment and breath. Think about something, anything, that is your heart's desire. Something that you want to nurture and foster in you, that you want to see blossom. Maybe you want to learn how to play guitar, or maybe you wish you could be more calm with your child on a daily basis. You know you have this in you, you just need to put your focus and attention towards this something to nudge it along.

Pick up the plant, or the seeds, and again take a deep breath and then exhale, focusing on this promise to yourself. Let it out good and strong -- make this count! This is for you, and in turn for those you love. Then go and toss those seeds where they will grow, or place that plant somewhere that you can give it attention. End this by carefully watering your charge, and giving thanks for yet another season you have passed through.

As the days grow in light, take the time -- it doesn't take long -- to water those seeds, or that plant. Let them be a symbol of what you cherish in yourself, what you choose to let blossom. As you water the new growth, take a moment to again breath deep, and focus on your intention.

The time is now! Get out there and bloom!

Note: We feel the need to point out that this is truly more like a working, or a very shortened version of ritual. Ritual usually has elements in it that take a bit more time and focus, however we wanted to offer up something that was very engaging and yet wouldn't be too much to pull off for all you busy people out there.

(Tomorrow, we will have more about the shoppe and latest info, but for today we wanted to only give gratitude, and stir up some growth. )

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kindling for the fire: Anima Center

There is a wonderful place I have read about; and I have hopes of someday going there on retreat -- the Anima Center.

They have lots of events, workshops, etc coming up, you can check it out


One of the partners that sustains herself on the land, and assists in nurturing Anima, is Kiva Rose. You can find her blog down to the right under our "Health and Healing" blogroll, and in articles that she writes for SageWoman magazine. I find her to be wise, inspiring, inquisitive and kind...and surefooted, as she walks the land and learns from the green growing things. This woman lives off the land, and stokes the fires for living a life of passion and grace. She has a way of making you feel as if you sit right beside her, sipping a cup of delicious tea as she shares with you her understanding of herbs, her respect for the land she walks.

Blessings, Kiva Rose, thank you for sharing!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kindling for the fire: Randy Pausch's last lecture

This was shared with me by a mother from my weekly playgroup (thanks, Elizabeth!). I had caught wind of this awhile ago, and had never made the time to sit down and look for it, play it, watch it- take it in.

I invite you to do so now.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

With great anticipation...

Spring is almost here-- can you feel it? Go out for a walk and bear witness to all the sweet budding of life everywhere! The earth is waking up, Mother Nature is opening Her arms wide in adoration of Her Sun.

This is a great time for taking herbs to cleanse our systems, to wake up and shake off that winter coat that carried you through.

Here's a simple recipe to help stimulate your liver and get things moving:

2 cloves garlic
1 oz organic olive oil
1 oz fresh squeezed, organic lemon juice

Blend this together and drink at once (use a blender or mini-food processor; if you don't have one, then you will need to very finely grate the garlic, or even press it first). I have seen different recommendations for this, but personally I do this one time every morning for 7 days. This helps to quickly move things through the liver, some may strongly feel this and some may not. I have found I get an intense burst of energy and alertness within minutes of drinking this.

It is helpful to follow this with a supportive tea infusion that you drink throughout the day, such as equal parts Dandelion Root, Burdock, Oatstraw and Nettles. Hmmmm...lovely!

If you would like to try an infusion like I mention above, it would be best to decoct the roots, or create a cold infusion. Here's how:

Decoction -- take equal parts of the Dandelion Root and Burdock, mix together and measure out a heaping 1 tbs for a quart of water. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes in a covered pot. Remove from heat, and add 1 heaping tbs of the remaining blend (equal parts Oatstraw, Nettles -- you can even add some Red Clover, yummy!). Cover again and let cool. Strain and enjoy.

Cold Infusion -- Equal parts of all herbs, measure out 2 tbs and place in tea strainer in your favorite quart jar (mason jars, wide mouthed, are perfect for this). Cover the herbs and let this sit in a cool dry area overnight. In the morning, remove your tea strained and enjoy throughout the day.

*edit to add information about decoction and infusions

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Herbal Materia Medica Terms

This list is in progress, it is by no means complete or comprehensive yet.

-- helps the body respond to stress, to adapt
Antispasmodic -- lowers muscle spasms, ie relieves cramping of muscles
Anti-rheumatic --
Astringent -- tones tissue internally and topically via restriction, can assist overall good health of tissues ( ie capillaries, organs)
Carminitive -- soothes gas and bloating; raises peristalsis action; warming
Diaphoretic -- can aide in the reduction of fevers; facilitates sweating and therefore release of
waste, toxins
Diuretic -- raises urine production, which helps to release waste
Emmenagogue -- assists in the regulations of menses
Nervine -- calms the nervous system via either stimulation or sedation
Tonic -- good for consistent use, tones and promotes overall good health

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Materia Medica: Motherwort

Latin name/family: Leonurus cardiaca, Labiatae mint family
Habitat & Appearance: moist, disturbed areas; often will volunteer in gardens and take over; hardy plant -- pink to white flowers above leaf nodes, leaves opposite w/ pointed lobes; resembles mugwort
Parts used: flowers, leaves and stems
Energetics: bitter, cold
Properties: carminitive, heart (cardiac) tonic, diuretic, antispasmodic, anti rheumatic, emmenagogue, astringent, diaphoretic, tonic, nervine
Folklore & Magical History: Not a lot, references to a plant of Venus, suggestive a use in the affairs of the heart, love; due to it's uses, I can imagine it being wonderful to use in workings for mothers or children, as a plant of protection and for uplifting the heart

I love this plant. I wrote about this much earlier in brief, and thought it was appropriate to be the first herb that we took an expanded look at.

Many mothers commonly use this plant -- also known as "Mother's Little Helper"-- to take them down a notch when things are stressful. It is highly effective for this use, however there is much more it is known for. How else could it win such a regal and powerful name, which translates into Lion Hearted?

So let's get to it. Starting at the core of what I call the "Sensitive Body" (as opposed to the physical one, this aspect of our body houses our intuitive nature and such), our heart, this herb works wonders on our 'mindsight' -- the mind/heart connection -- by virtue of it's ability to calm down one's thoughts, and thereby emotions, via the channels of the heart. Contrary to what you may think, our thoughts create our emotions, not the other way around. For those of use struggling with an overactive mind and emotional constitution, this herb is a powerful ally.

But before I start sounding too airy-fairy for y'all, it does this in part because this lovely herb contains alkaloids and compounds that have proven in lab studies to have heart-regulating effects, while also being sedative and hypotensive. So Motherwort comes with the data to backup her claims. This means that as it literally helps to calm the physical response to stress in the heart and nervous system, it then in turn helps to lower one's emotional response and effects as well.

When we are caught in a biofeedback of negativity, we no longer see where the tension begins -- in the mind with my thoughts? With my emotions, such as when I feel anger, frustration? Or in my body, when my pulse races and my heart feels as if its contracting with tension? -- and therefore how to best assist healing. By calming the heart and nervous system, this herb steps into the negative biofeedback cycle -- as the body calms down, the mind can choose to follow.

I say choose because I have found that in order to get maximum use of this herb's gifts, when possible I take advantage of that calming state and explore the negative thoughts that are contributing to my stressed out body. I consciously choose to ignore the negative thoughts in my mind, and replace them with very positive, supportive ones. Instead of "I can't handle this" I literally tell that thought to "STOP!" and in turn say to myself "I can handle this, and I will." By combining the action of calming the physical reaction in the body while also calming the agitated state of the mind, I have thwarted the negative feedback system's power over me.

Indirectly this plant assists blood pressure, again due to its talents with the heart. It helps to allow the let-down of milk in nursing women, I suggest once again, due to its ability to calm and center a possibly tense body (any mother knows that breastfeeding is a learned art!). This herb is fantastic to use for those with anger, depression or grief issues. I have found in various books many references to all kinds of maladies that it helps: stomach aches, headaches, convulsions, etc etc. When you consider that so many of these issues can stem from tension and stress, again it is no surprise the efficacy of this herb for such issues. Meanwhile, it also is effective in the treatment of rheumatic issues; as well as edema of the heart.

Moving down in the body, we come to the uterus: because of Motherwort's talents with heart and tension, it is no surprise that it works wonders for PMS and particularly for menstrual cramping and slow-starting menses in women. This is because this plant is an emmenagogue and assists bleeding, as well as being antispasmodic to smooth muscles. Rosemary Gladstar notes in her book, Herbal Healing For Women: "concentrations of leonurine and stachydrine, chemical constituents that promote uterine contractions have been found in motherwort..." (p.248) This is also why it is not recommended during pregnancy by many herbalists, for obvious reasons; however, it has been used traditionally by midwives at the last stages of pregnancy to assist birth.

Wrap -up: Due to it's nervine and sedative properties, this herb can best assist heart-centered issues such as stress, depression, grief, anger, insomnia, indigestion, headaches, cramping, muscle spasms... to name only a few. Great for PMS, menstrual cramping and slow-to-start menses; can assist slow labor and raise uterine contractions; can help to lower blood pressure; may be used to lower hyperthyroid conditions.

Use and dosage: One dropperful of tincture, up to 4x a day

Contraindications: Not for those who have heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles; not recommended during pregnancy; caution for those with hypothyroid; have seen references not for use with endometriosis, fibroids.

Disclaimer: Herbs are not FDA approved, nor or we implying that anything here should or can replace the recommendation of your health practitioner. You are reading this on the internet--educate yourself, never assume, and check with your health practitioner before using herbs.

Herbal Healing for Women, R. Gladstar
Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, S. Foster and C. Hobbs
Private notes from Northwest School of Botanical Studies
Plantetary Herbology, M. Tierra
A Modern Herbal, Grieve, M.

(I will be editing this to create links for book ref's, as well as a link to a list of descriptions for terms, and a formal disclaimer because we live in a highly litigious society, etc)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Shoppe News: We are up and running!

Thanks to our local computer dude, Dimitri, for getting us back on track!

Our Lady is back and right as rain so far . Orders are no longer being delayed. Thanks to everyone for your patience while we muddled through this. As D said, it is "never a convenient time."

This did highlight for us a few things that have been on the burner for awhile that we hope to address in the coming year: we need a new website, totally updated. We're going to be slowly working towards this in the coming months. There's a learning curve to wrangle with in the new program, but we love a challenge.

And we need to transfer all our labels from our limited graphics program to a better one (I've wanted to do this for years; but it takes time, which I don't have much of!), and also -- my secret dream! -- get them mass produced. Right now, I do everything myself. If I had multiple labels already printed, it would streamline production so much. This sounds like a small thing, however every little item I can streamline means that I have more time to dedicate towards the aspects of the company that I don't want to have to skimp on -- the mindful creation of the tea blends themselves, the personalized effort we put into the packaging, to name only a few.

I would also like to have more and more info here on this blog -- I'd love to see this become a place people share and converse about herbal health, WAHM's, children's herbal health, recipes, small business support for women...what would you like to share? If you are checking in , please feel free to leave comments now and again. We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hard drives and files, OH MY!

Well, it happened. Our beloved link to the outer world from our nest here in the Redwoods of rural California has been severed: our hard drive crashed this week. At least it is only temporary. At least we have backed up pretty much everything.

But this means that we are currently in a holding pattern while our Lady of the Perpetual Internet is fixed. So if you place an order, please know that we will fulfill it ASAP, however it may be delayed depending on what you order. Currently, we cannot access labels for our teas, so in particular we are limited in teas right now.

This issue is being addressed as we speak, and hope to be up and running at the top of the week, at the end of the week at the latest. We will be checking our emails as much as we can, but it will be intermittent.

Thank you for any good vibes of Happy Computerness you can send!

Press on!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Shoppe News

Whew. Well, the holidays are over. It was a hard season this year, but I made it through. Next year, I am clear that I absolutely must have some elves to help. I can't do this alone anymore. We aren't a big operation, but we are big enough that doing it myself has become a challenge.

Some updates, and a shout out to patrons who have been trying to reach us by phone:

~ From now on I will be posting News here at the blog,
instead of at the website with its own page.

~ Recently, I've had a hard time retrieving and hearing messages from our phone. For instance, I received a text message almost a month after the send date. Not sure why this has happened; I only know that this has resulted in a lot of very delayed brochures being sent out, for which I apologize. We couldn't be here without you, our customers -- but sometimes there are glitches in the program, so to say. My messages the last week have been coming in what seems to be a timely fashion, so hopefully this won't be a problem in the future.

If you are someone who has left a message and not received a brochure yet, please do call
again. Remember to speak slowly and clearly so that I can be sure your address, or call back
number is correct. And as always, thank you for your support!

More later-- press on!
Ms Thistle