Monday, 11 December 2017

Petrified Wood by StormloverWolf

Petrified Wood by StormloverWolf

Now we have to think back millions of years ago for the original creation of this beautiful fossil. It was created when the forests were buried under layers of sedimentary rock, and the plant cells were quite literally bathed in minerals that replaced the organic structures in the original wood.  The final result still looks like a tree, even the rings of the wood are still visible.  However, the material has the weight and feel of stone, and this is because it now has a microcrystalline structure, often called agate, made of silicon dioxide.

One of the largest petrified forests in the world, that actually covers 93 square miles in area is on the Green Island if Lesvos.  There were found fossilized tree stumps still standing upright with root systems in the bedrock.  Approximately twenty-five million years old, they have been identified as types of trees now native to Asia and the Far East, showing how different the European climate was in that period.  Other petrified forests are found in Canada, United States, Australia, and Argentine, some of which are around 200 million years old!

The colours of petrified wood are mottled brown, black, reddish brown, almost a blue brown which all can depend on their mineral combinations.

Considering healing purposes, petrified wood teaches lessons of slow but inevitable transformation from one state being wood, to another becoming stone.  Petrified wood cleanses both the liver and the blood and can aid stiff joints and arthritis.  It can ease feeling stuck on old emotions around old issues that you need to let go of.  It can clear old patterns linked to a difficult relationship, especially of ancestral origin.  It is a symbol of slow evolution into new forms, so it helps to connect spirituality to the deepest history of our planet.

You can use on the pubic bone or over the base of the spine to stabilize the root chakra, and meditating with it can help to encourage the transformation of patterns that seem literally “set in stone”.

Jennie Harding “Crystals”

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Magic of Orange by Starlitenergies

The Magic of Orange by Starlitenergies

The Orange, beautifully fragrant, stunningly coloured, sunshine filled, juicy, feel good deliciousness that grace my fruit bowl, cupboard, and my fridge all year round! The orange is a type of citrus fruit (citrus x sinensis) in the family Rutaceae, a cousin of lemons, limes, tangerines and grapefruit. We’re talking mostly about sweet orange as opposed to bitter oranges (blood orange) who are citrus x aurantium.

Have you ever really looked at an orange? They typically have a stringy core that contains the seeds, followed by a series of segments that encase the juicy fleshy fruit, and then a thick skin protecting the flesh and seeds from damage. If you want all the scientific names for each bit of the orange check out:

Oranges are my favourite fruit, and apparently are just behind the apple in terms of fruits grown and consumed globally! Many people start their morning with a glass of orange juice, me included. And toast with orange marmalade holds fantastic memories of early mornings before school with my grandfather.

A Journey Across the Globe

Orange trees originated in India, it’s said the wild varieties are quite bitter, not inedible but not as delicious as the varieties that have been cultivated. Some varieties being found in the south east of India and possibly the island of Ceylon, whilst other smaller varieties may have originated in forests in the north east of the country of Bangladesh. Those smaller varieties seem to have been known to the Aryan people who were responsible for the Vedic scripts of ancient India. 7000 years ago orange was appearing in traditional dishes, mostly desserts but also the use of the peel and juice to flavour rice and add a citrus tang to certain vegetable dishes.

Historians believe that around 2500 BC Chinese farmers began setting aside land for orchards and growing oranges, apples, figs and a variety of other tree hanging fruits. It’s thought the nobility and royalty loved the orange so much that the farmers would compete with each other to grow ever larger, sweeter and more perfectly rounded fruit.

The first time an orange was seen in Europe can be traced to the Roman Empire, potentially around the time of the first century when Roman traders were in regular contact with the Persians and the Axum kingdom in present day Ethiopia, whose sailors were known to use the monsoon winds to trade with the seafaring Tamil kingdoms of southern India and Ceylon, this would have been around 150BC until the kingdoms collapse in 700 AD. Like in China, the orange became popular amongst the noble and military classes of Roman Europe who could afford such exotic luxuries.

Orchards began popping up in Northern Africa, from Libya to Morocco from the 1st century AD. Initially they were owned by Roman settlers and tended by slaves; the fruits had made it to the Mediterranean. The very wealthy of the Med would still import from India until after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 6th Century and the growth of the Islamic Caliphate in the 7th, when trading routes with the Tamil kingdoms were closed and the orchards in Africa which were now controlled by Islamic lords traded towards Baghdad and the lands of the Middle East.

During the 11th century in North Africa and Spain oranges were once again imported into Europe, and seeds from Persia planted in orchards throughout Al-Andaluz (most of southern Spain, southern Portugal and parts of northern morocco). These oranges contained more pectin and a thicker skin and are excellent for liqueurs, marmalades, compotes and extracting essential oil for perfumes. The Seville orange is born!

Sweet oranges from Indian weren’t imported into Europe until the 16th Century when Portuguese traders finally discovered a trading route around the Cape of Good Hope to India.

Within a few years of their coming back to Europe, those same sweet oranges were making the journey to the Americas with Spanish explorers and conquistadors.

Orchards sprang up in Hispaniola in 1493 and in Florida in 1513 the year Juan Ponce de Leon who discovered modern day Florida first sailed there so that future sailors would be able to protect themselves from scurvy which is thought to be caused by an insufficient intake of vitamin C or ascorbic acid which the orange is famous for!

To this day Florida is the second most productive orange growing region in the world. The top spot goes to Brazil, who account for just over half of all the world’s oranges, most of which are grown in the state of Sao Paulo.

Health and Wellbeing

We all know the proverb “an apple a day”, but equally an orange could be recommended. Ancient Chinese used orange in tea form to treat breathing difficulties and improve energy levels. An orange has over 170 different phytochemicals and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and strong antioxidant effects.

We all know a balanced and varied diet is good for us, too much of something can have risks to our health, but what are the possible health benefits of orange? According to Medical News today they may help with:

Stroke – eating higher amounts of a compound found in citrus fruit may lower Ischemic stroke risk in women.
Blood pressure – increasing potassium intake (found in orange) may be just as important as low sodium diets when lowering blood pressure.
Cancer – the antioxidant vitamin C can help in the combat against the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
Heart Health – high in fibre, potassium, vitamin C and choline support heart health.
Diabetes – higher fibre diets have lower blood glucose levels.
Skin – vitamin C when in its natural form can help to fight skin damage caused by sun and pollution, reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture. Vitamin C plays a vital part in the formation of collagen which supports the skin system.

Just the smell of orange improves my mood if I’m feeling a bit off. Some believe orange is like a natural anti-depressant, but I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend them to fight severe cases of low mood and depression! Citrus fruits like orange have folate present in them which helps the release of serotonin, which is like the brains happy chemical. Vitamin C and the natural sugars in orange are also proven to give us a natural energy boost which improves mood.

Colour psychology is being researched, it’s subjective but researchers think that colours in the red spectrum can promote feelings of warmth and comfort or hostility and anger in most people.

“Colours, like feathers, follow the changes of the emotions,” artist Pablo Picasso. 

The Colour Psychology of Orange for me personally:

  • Orange is a combination of yellow and red and is considered a warming and energetic colour.
  • Orange calls to mind feelings of excitement, enthusiasm, and creativity.
  • Orange is often used to draw attention, traffic lights are amber for prepare, traffic cones are orange so they’re seen.
  • I’ve seen a lot of sports teams around the world in orange.
  • Orange is in the flicker of a flame, the setting sun and falling leaves of autumn. The beauty of orange in the natural world speaks to me on so many levels.
  • Orange is heavily linked to Halloween and Samhain, probably another reason I love orange… 

I love the season of the witch!! 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Kyphi by Gypsy Willowmoon

Kyphi by Gypsy Willowmoon

One of our students found a recipe for homemade Egyptian incense, called Kyphi (Kapet). It was one of the most popular types of temple incense used in ancient Egypt.

Kyphi is the Latin version of the Greek transcription of the Egyptian word Kapet.
The first reference to Kyphi is in the Pyramid texts which date to the 5th and 6th dynasties of ancient Egypt. There is no recipe or ingredients listed, but it does state that it was a luxury enjoyed by Pharaohs in the afterlife.

The earliest recipe for Kyphi Ebers Papyrus in 1500 BC was used to purify the home and to give clothes a pleasant fragrance.

In the Papyrus Harris I, which records the donations made by Ramesses III to some temples. This included 6 of the ingredients from the Edfu recipe gifted to temples to make the Kyphi incense. The ingredients listed were mastic, pine resin (or wood) camel grass, mint, sweet flag and cinnamon. It is assumed that the recipe would also include wine, honey and raisins, but these items the temples would have been able to source these items. It does not list the recipe or preparation method.

Plutarch - The Greek writer and philosopher visited Egypt during the first century BC, He had access to a text by Manetho from the third century AD, called " Preparation of Kyphi - Recipes" there are no copies of this. According to Manetho the ingredients are not added at the same time and ground, but added one at a time as magical texts are read aloud.
Plutarch also confirms that Kyphi was drunk to cleanse the body and was thought to bring restful sleep and vivid dreams.
Plutarch said that ancient Egyptian priests burnt incense 3 times a day in temple: frankincense at dawn, myrrh at midday, and Kyphi at dusk.

In the temple of Edfu, built in the first century BC, there are two recipes for Kyphi inscribed on the walls of the temple, one of them includes synonyms for the ingredients and notes of explanation. The difference between both recipes is only the quantities used. There is also a recipe on the walls of the Temple of Philae - the same ingredients, but different quantities.

These recipes and preparation is very complex, with a lot of ingredients included. The mastic, pine resin, sweet flag, aspalathos, camel grass, mint and cinnamon are ground together in a pestle and mortar, the liquid residue is thrown away then the cyperus, juniper berries, pine kernels and peker are ground to a powder and added to the mastic mixture. To this combined mixture, they added wine, then left for 5 days. the mixture would then be boiled, until it is reduced by 1/5th, honey and frankincense are then added and reduced by 1/5th the mixtures are then added together, adding then the ground myrrh. This would then be made into small pellets to burn as incense.

The list of ingredients from the Edfu temple -

Raisins, wine, honey, frankincense, myrrh, mastic, pine, resin, sweet flag, aspalathos, camel grass, mint, cyperus, juniper berries, pine kernels, peker & cinnamon.

I was shown a recipe by a fellow student whom had made some Kyphi incense, so I decided to try it for myself.... 

Kyphi incense recipe:

4 raisins
1/2 tsp Frankincense
1 tablespoon red wine
1/2 tsp Benzoin
1 tsp sandalwood
1/4 tsp myrrh
1/4 tsp juniper berries
1/4 dragons blood
1/4 tsp orris root
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Soak raisins in red wine overnight.
Using pestle and mortar, individually grind sandalwood, juniper berries, orris root and cinnamon, place in a large wooden or ceramic bowl, mix dry ingredients together.

Using pestle and mortar, individually pulverise, the frankincense, benzoin, myrrh and dragons blood into small granules. Add the resins and gums to dry mixture.

Drain red wine from raisins, discard liquid, mash raisins in pestle and mortar. Add the raisins and honey to the dry mixture, knead thoroughly, with your hands, the form into pea sized balls. spread out on wax paper for two weeks turning every few days to aid the drying process. once cured store in a sealed bag or jar and smoulder over charcoal.