Fantasy, Fiction, ireland, Lore, love, Magik, Nordic, Orkney Islands, scottland, Seals, Selkie

Romance of the Scottsh Sea: Selkie Lore

“As soon as the seal was clear of the water, it reared up and its skin slipped down to the sand. What had been a seal was a white-skinned boy”
-George Mackay Brown


Selkie
is the Orcadian dialect word for, “seal”. The word derives from earlier Scots, selich, (from Old English, seolh) So, selkies are a very common sight across Orkney. Heads bobbing above the waves, they are often seen  by the shore, watching  inquisitively with uncannily human eyes.

In the Faroe Islands there are two versions of the story of the Selkie or Seal Wife. A young farmer from the town of Mikladalur on Kalsoy island goes to the beach to watch the selkies dance. He hides the skin of a beautiful selkie maid, so she can not go back to sea, and forces her to marry him.
He keeps her skin in a chest, and keeps the key with him both day and night. One day when out fishing, he discovers that he has forgotten to bring his key. When he returns home, the selkie wife has escaped back to sea, leaving their children behind. Later, when the farmer is out on a hunt, he kills both her selkie husband and two selkie sons, and she promises to take revenge upon the men of Mikladalur. Some shall be drowned, some shall fall from cliffs and slopes, and this shall continue, until so many men have been lost that they will be able to link arms around the whole island of Kalsoy. Unlike the Finfolk, who retained their malicious tendencies  throughout the years, the selkie-folk have come to be regarded as gentle  creatures,  with the ability to transform from seals into beautiful, lithe  humans.

In the surviving folklore, there is no agreement as to how  often the selkie-folk were able to carry out the transformation. Some tales say  it was once a year, usually Midsummer’s Eve, while others state it could be  “every ninth night” or “every seventh stream”.

Regardless of how often they were able to transform, the  folklore tells us that once in human form, the selkie-folk would dance on  lonely stretches of moonlit shore, or bask in the sun on outlying skerries (rocks).

The selkie skin

A common element in all the selkie-folk tales, and perhaps  the most important, is the fact that in order
to shapeshift they had to cast off  their sealskins. Within these magical skins lay the power to return to seal  form, and therefore the sea.

If this sealskin was lost, or stolen, the creature was  doomed to remain in human form until it could be recovered. Because of this, if  disturbed while on shore, the selkie-folk would hastily snatch up their skins  before rushing back to the safety of the sea.

Amorous encounters

. The selkie-men were renowned for their many encounters with  human females — married and unmarried.

A selkie-man in human form was said to be a handsome  creature, with almost magical seductive powers over mortal women. According to tradition, they had no  qualms about casting off their sealskins, stashing them carefully, and heading  inland to seek out “unsatisfied women”.

Should such a mortal woman wish to make contact with a  selkie-man, there was a specific rite she had to follow. At high tide, she  should make her way to the shore, where
she had to shed seven tears into the  sea.

The selkie-man would then come ashore and, after removing  his magical sealskin, seek out “unlawful love”.

In the words of the 19th century Orkney folklorist, Walter  Traill Dennison, these selkie males:

“. . . often made havoc among thoughtless girls, and  sometimes intruded into the sanctity of married life.”

There is a folk song called, “The Maiden & The Selkie,”  that is a very lovely and tribal depiction of the romance of the Selkie-man to the women of the Orkneys, to hear it click the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om8LzIcFmbA

If a girl went missing while out on the ebb, or at sea, it  was inevitably said that her selkie lover had taken her to his watery domain —  assuming, of course, she had not attracted the eye of a Finman.

But while the males of the selkie race were irresistible to  the island women, selkie-women were no less alluring to the eyes of earth-born  men. The most common theme in selkie folklore is one in  which a cunning young man acquires, either by trickery or theft, a selkie-girl’s  sealskin.

This prevents her from returning to the sea, leaving the  seal-maiden with no option but to marry her “captor”.

The tales generally end sadly, when the skin is returned,  usually by one of the selkie-wife’s children. In
some accounts, her children go  with her to the sea, while others have them remaining with their mortal father. Tragic and connective the lore of the Selkie is a profound representation of the human connection and longing for the sea.

Literature

The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry or The Grey Selkie of Suleskerry is a traditional folk song from Orkney. The song was collected by the American scholar, Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century and is listed as Child ballad number 113.

“The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry.”

An earthly nourris sits and sings,
And aye she sings, “Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairns father,
Far less the land that he staps in.”

Then ane arose at her bed fit,
And a grumly guest I’m sure was he,
Saying “Here am I, thy bairns father,
Although I am not comely.”

I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie in the sea,

And when I’m far frae every strand,
My home it is in Sule Skerry.”

“It was na weel”, the maiden cried,
“It was na weel, indeed” quo she,
“For the Great Silkie of Sule Skerrie,
To hae come and aught a bairn to me!”

Then he has taken a purse of gold,
And he has laid it on her knee,
Saying, “give to me, my little young son,
And take thee up thy nouriss fee.

It shall come to pass on a summer’s day,
When the sun shines hot on every stone,
That I shall take my little young son,
And teach him for to swim the foam.

And thou shalt marry a proud gunner,
And a very proud gunner I’m sure he’ll be,
And the very first shot that e’re he shoots,
he’ll kill both my young son and me.”

An interpolated 5th stanza has also been heard:

‘Twas weel eno’ the night we met,
When I’d be oot and on my way,
Ye held me close, ye held me tight,
“Just ane mair time ere the break o’ day!”
Phrase Key

nourris = nurse
ken = know
 staps = stops
bed fit = foot of the bed
 grumly = strange

The version I like best of this was done by Joan Baez. To hear it click below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zZy2Q3QY0Q&list=PL4593CF2488169FD8

Great books for more on Selkies:

  • Thomson, David. The People of the Sea: A Journey in Search of the Seal Legend
  • Katharine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Boogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures
  • Williamson, Duncan (1992). Tales of the seal people: Scottish folk tales
  • “The Brides of Rollrock Island” by Margo Lanagan

Source material: http://www.orkneyjar.com/index.html

http://www.stolaf.edu/people/hend/VictoryMusic/July-MusicTrad_SelkieLore.htm

Advertisements
Standard
All Halows Eve, American Lore, Ancestors, autumn, Beer, celebration, fall, Feast, Halloween, harvest, Hearth Fire, holiday, ireland, Lore, love, love lost, Magik, new year, poetry, Ritual, Samhain, Samhain Ritual, scottland, spirits

Samhain: A Night to Honour…

All Hallows Eve is a contemplative night for me and my household.

It is a time for joy and tears as the veil is now quite sheer. On this night we light candles and make a large feast of stuffed mushrooms, brown sugared carrots, rosemary potatoes twice baked, and roast salted pork, we throw open all of the doors and windows so that none may be left out, be they man or spirit. We wear masks for protection. We drink wine, mead, or beer, offer sweets for security, and most importantly we hail the honored dead.

This is a night of holy reverence to acknowledge the lives and deaths of those that came before us.

My extended family has let this tradition go for many years, giving into Protestantism, but the ways of our ancestors have come around full circle into our not so modern little house. The snake has bitten its tail, and so I will say the prayers long neglected, and light our hearth after midnight to usher in the new year to come.

As we light it I will say,

” Save. Shield. Surround,

The hearth, the house, the household

The eve, the day, the year.

We honor & thank you.”

For you see, as Celts, the onset of Winter is the birth of our new year, which is actually entirely optimistic. The hardest part is the beginning, Spring is born, matures into Summer, and before you know it, the year wanes…and you have come full circle.

So on your Hallowed Night, make a circle and say a few words of kindness, let it all go, tell raucous stories about family members present and past, for this is the heart of our wild selves and this is the tradition of our people.

I really felt like this poem by Fredrick Manning well represents my heart this season:

“Yea, she hath passed hereby, and blessed the sheaves,
And the great garths, and stacks, and quiet farms,
And all the tawny, and the crimson leaves.
Yea, she hath passed with poppies in her arms,
Under the star of dusk, through stealing mist,
And blessed the earth, and gone, while no man wist.

With slow, reluctant feet, and weary eyes,
And eye-lids heavy with the coming sleep,
With small breasts lifted up in stress of sighs,
She passed, as shadows pass, among the sheep;
While the earth dreamed, and only I was ware
Of that faint fragrance blown from her soft hair.

The land lay steeped in peace of silent dreams;
There was no sound amid the sacred boughs.
Nor any mournful music in her streams:
Only I saw the shadow on her brows,
Only I knew her for the yearly slain,
And wept, and weep until she come again.” 
― Frederic Manning

Standard
herbalism, Lore, Magik, mythology, parrot, parrot lore, plants, plants, Tibetan Lore, tree of life, Uncategorized

Tibetan Story of The Tree of Life

If you do not quarrel you are safe–if you have no debts you will be rich.

  – Tibetan Proverb


ONCE
upon a time there was an old beggar dressed in rags and tatters, with wisps of gray hair about his face. He was so very old that it seemed he could have never been young, and never in all his life had he had a bath. This old beggar traveled everywhere asking for rice and *tsamba and receiving more rice than he could eat he spread it out in the sun to dry and went on begging.

One day as his rice was drying a hundred parrots came along and ate it all up. When he came home he was angry and said,

“Here I work every day, begging for a little food, and these old parrots come along and eat it all up.”

So he planned to be revenged and made one hundred snares of bamboo, put them all around in the reeds and went off to beg again. When he returned, sure enough, he had caught the whole hundred in his snares. Among them happened to be the king of the parrots, who, before the old man came home, spoke to his companions, saying:

“We are in a bad fix. He has caught us all and he’ll kill us every one. When we see him coming let us all hang down as though we are dead, then he will take us out of the snares and pitch us away. But the first one thrown must keep count, and as soon as one hundred are thrown he shall call out and we will all fly away. We must all lie perfectly still until the last one is thrown.”

Finally the old man came home with some rocks in the front of his gown to throw at the parrots, for he didn’t think they would all be dead, but when he saw them all hanging perfectly still he climbed up and began to throw them down. He had pitched down ninety-nine and was untying the string off the king’s leg when the rocks in his gown got in his way and he threw one of them down. As soon as it lit, away flew the ninety-nine.

“Huh, they were all fooling me, but I have one left and I’ll take a rock and kill him.” The parrot suddenly came to life and sticking up his thumb said, “Please don’t kill me, it is true we were very bad and did eat up your rice, but you are a good man, so don’t kill me, take me and sell me and you can get more than your price of the rice.”

So he tied a string around the parrot’s leg, took him to town and tried to sell him to a merchant. The beggar said he was a fine parrot and could talk, but he didn’t know what he was worth, so the merchant had better ask the parrot himself. The parrot answered that he was worth a lot of money and the merchant must pay the old man fifty *taels of silver for him. The merchant gave the money to the old man, who almost died of joy to have so much money. After the parrot had been with the merchant for two or three years he asked permission to visit his home and parents, as they were getting old. He said,

“You treat me very nicely here and I love you, and I will soon come back again and bring you
some nice fruit.”

The merchant took the chain off the parrot’s leg and let him go. He was gone two or three months, when one day he came, carrying some seeds in his mouth, and said,

“Plant these seeds, and when you are old and eat of the fruit of this tree you will be young again. Plant the seed care-fully, and in three years you will have plenty of fruit.”

The merchant planted the seeds and at the end of three years, sure enough, there was much fruit. One day he was in his garden and one of the fruits had fallen to the ground, but he was afraid to eat it lest the parrot had thought of this as a scheme to kill him. That night a poisonous snake coiled around the fruit and slept. The next morning the merchant called his dog and showed him the fruit, which he ate, and which killed him immediately. The merchant knew now that the parrot had schemed to kill him, and poured hot water on him and scalded him to death.

Now in this country were two old people, very frail and too feeble to go out and beg, so they were about to starve to death. So the old man said one day,

“Let’s eat some of this fruit; if it makes us young it’s all right, if it poisons and kills us, it doesn’t matter, as we are about to die anyway.”

So they got their walking sticks and went slowly to the merchant and asked him for some of the fruit. He said,

“You can’t eat that, for it will kill you at once.”

They told him it didn’t matter, for they were about to starve to death anyway, and it was easier to take poison and die quickly. He finally gave them one each, they ate it and grew young at once. They were much pleased and almost worshiped the man. Then the merchant knew that something must have poisoned the fruit as it lay on the ground and he was grieved to think that he had killed his parrot.

1. Tsamba–   flour made from parched ground barley or wheat that is the chief cereal food in and near Tibet

2. Tael

  •  any of various Chinese units of value based on the value of a tael weight of silver
  • any of various units of weight of eastern Asia

 

“The Story of the Tree of Life.”  http://www.sacred-texts.com/asia/tft/tft43.htm

“Tsamba.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tsamba&gt;.

“Tael.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tael&gt;.

Standard
American ghost story, American Hauntings, American Lore, autumn, Bell Witch, Bell Witch Haunting, fall, Fantasy, Fiction, Ghost, Halloween ghost story, Haunting, Kate Batts, Lore, love lost, Magik, mischief, paranormal, Paranormal activity, Poltergeist, prophesy, spirits, Tennessee Lore, Uncategorized, Witch Ghost

American Ghost Story: Kate Batts, Witch & Poltergeist

THE ULTIMATE POLTERGEIST

So to prepare for the onset of All Hallows Eve, I have found for you a tale most intriguing. This juicy local lore hails from the south, deep in the history of Tennessee, from a small town called Adams.  It’s about a witch, whose name was Kate Batts, and about her grudge-match with the head of a family by the name of Bell.  The Bell family was comprised of what has been recorded and acknowledged as, “good folks.” The torment of the father, Ol’ Jack Bell, as the witch spirit called him, was shared by all of his loved ones on the estate, but especially his daughter Betsy, who was forbidden by the ghost to marry  the man she had planned on. It was said that the witch ghost, was a woman who had been cheated by John Bell, and was hell bent on revenge and planned to act as executioner.

The Goodspeed brothers wrote a local history in 1886, and it said the following:

“A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide-spread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the “Bell Witch.” This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The feats it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfort of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary.”

For four years the family of John Bell was forced to endure what has come to be called a “noisy spirit” or poltergeist of a type which was unique
when compared with similar events documented before or after it. Developing the ability to speak, the spirit soon began to call itself “Kate”, after an odd local woman named Kate Batts. People in the community  referred to it as “Kate Batts’ witch”, though its physical form, if any, was never truly identified. The center of the unseen entity’s activity was John’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy) Bell, a very attractive girl, who suffered from physical abuses brought on by the spirit which included merciless beatings, scratching, slapping, and constant mental anguish brought about by the spirit’s seemingly inexhaustible mischief and verbal harassment. It consistently ridiculed the choice of Joshua Gardner as her future husband, and induced in Betsy, and her father, a sickness, the symptoms of which included odd physical disturbances that eventually resulted in the death of John. The spirit could read the thoughts of those around it, describing in great detail the backgrounds of total strangers. It could accurately describe simultaneous events in other areas of the world within moments of being asked. Kate could move objects, sing, preach, and accomplish the most baffling pranks without detection. Its knowledge of the universe was astonishing, yet curiously incomplete in many details. Upon being exposed to both Baptist and Methodist doctrines, Kate began to display violent and contradictory behavior resulting, no doubt, from the many differences of those philosophies. Perhaps the spirit’s most astonishing manifestation occurred when four other spirits named Blackdog, Mathematics, Cypocryphy, and Jerusalem appeared briefly during the later years of the haunting. All seemed to be subservient to Kate and were invisible as well. It was during this period that the spirit’s mischief grew more intolerable with each passing day. Its evil hatred was often matched in kind with benign understanding and kindness, making it, in essence, a great paradox in the spirit realm, and an unwelcome guest in the intensely religious community it had chosen to haunt.
 (http://bellwitchlegend.blogspot.com/)

There were many superstitious people in the country who believed the witch was a reality, something supernatural, beyond human power or comprehension, which had been clearly demonstrated.  This is the way many reasoned about the mystery.  Kate arrogantly claimed to be all things, possessing the power to assume any shape, form or character, that of human, beast, varmint, fowl or fish, and circumstances went to confirm the assertion.  Therefore people with vivid imaginations were capable of seeing many strange sights and things that could not be readily accounted for, which were credited to the witch. Kate was a great scapegoat.
The goblin’s favorite form, however, was that of a rabbit, and this much is verified beyond question, the hare ghost took malicious pleasure in hopping out into the road, showing itself to every one who ever passed through that lane.  This same rabbit is there plentifully to this day, and can’t be exterminated.  Very few men know a witch rabbit; only experts can distinguish one from the ordinary molly cottontail.  The experts in that section, however, are numerous, and no one to this good day will eat a rabbit that has a black spot on the bottom of its left hind foot.  When the spot is found, the foot is carefully cut off and placed in the hip pocket, and the body buried on the north side of an old log.
(http://bellwitch02.tripod.com/index.htm)

As the story grew in popularity people would come to visit the witch and people would travel hundreds of miles to come and see the effects she had on the Bell family’s life. Until one day in 1820 when the witch spirit accomplished her task! John Bell died.
At his funeral it was aid that she danced, laughed, and made quite  spectacle of herself. It took a while for the strange things to end though, and it is still said that her spirit took up residence in what is now referred to as the Bell Witch Cave. Others believe that it is the point from which she entered the world.  Regardless, after John’s death, she said she would be back in seven years….and she was.

In 1828, Kate Batts reappeared. She visited the home of John Bell Jr. She conversed with him about the past, present, & future as well as making some predictions. She also said that there was a reason for John Bell Sr.’s death, and that she would return once again in one-hundred & seven years hence. That places a re-occurrence in 1935, of which nothing that I know of has been found. But there are those who say that after her second return, that she never really left, that her spirit, mischievous, still lingers on, and that if you go to the Bell Cabin site or the Bell Witch Cave, that you are certain to get a little pinch!

Movies made based on the lore:

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Bell Witch Haunting (2004)

An American Haunting (2005)

Bell Witch: The Movie (2007)

The Bell Witch Haunting (2013)

For more information on the Bell Witch lore,  you can check out these sites:

http://www.bellwitchcave.com/

http://www.bellwitch.org/story.htm

http://bellwitchlegend.blogspot.com/

Standard
Beer, Beer Recipe, Brewing, herbal remedy, Herbology, Herbs, Home Brew, ireland, Lore, mythology, Nettle Beer, Nettle Tea, Nordic, Norse Gods, Orkney Islands, plants, Thor

Nettle Beer: Homebrew, Lore, & Medicinal Usage of Nettles


Stinging nettle
 or common nettleUrtica dioica, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant, native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, and is the best-known member of the nettle genus Urtica. The species is divided into six subspecies, five of which have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals. The plant has a long history of use as a medicine and as a food source.

LORE:

There is a telling of the Norse God, Thor that after arranging some bones
on goatskin before a cooking fire, that He returns the animals to life by raising his hammer, Mjollnir, over the bones and blessing them. I perceive this revivifying action as a metaphor for urtication and suggest that this is why nettle is sacred to the Thunder God. Indeed, the Norse believed that when Thorr flung Mjollnir across the sky, lightning flashed. Certainly a nettle thrashing is a “fiery” experience! Further, in Holland, young boys would go out early in the morning to gather bunches of nettles to tie to the doors of the village houses. Grimm notes that this was done on the “Zaterdag before Pentecost”, suggesting that it was a Heathen fertility custom which survived the conversion—perhaps an ancient remnant of flogging (birch branches were used likewise in the saunas to bring blood to the surface).
It should also be noted that Thorr was a god of fertility of both Earth and womb. Bunches of fresh Nettles were also laid across vats of beer to prevent thunder from turning and spoiling the beer. Young nettles were boiled and eaten with meat on Grün-donnerstag (Maundy Thursday). Depending on the author in secondary sources, stinging nettle was called Wergulu or Stithe in the Nine Herbs Charm, which was a charm used by Odhinn for protection against the “flying venom”(one of four causes of disease in Teutonic etiology). The Anglo-Saxons used purple dead-nettle in butter based eyesalves and “holy salves” against disease; red nettle was used in salves against rash or “elf-shot”, another cause of disease within this etiology (note that many of these texts were written prior to the establishment of the binomial nomenclature developed by Linnaeus; so identification of herbs based on folknames is imprecise at best).

Edibility: This is a highly nutritious plant, high in iron, calcium, potassium,
vitamins A, C and D. When cooked, the harmful ingredients are neutralized and the plant can be treated like a spinach for spring greens or used for tea. Young plants prior to blooming should be used as older ones become fibrous (see below) and after blooming the leaves develop cystoliths which irritate the urinary tract if eaten in large amounts. Nettles were widespread as a foodstuff. Sir Walter Scott discusses them in Rob Roy, Pepys refers in his diary of 1661 to eating Nettle Porridge which he thought to be very good. Victor Hugo included some discourse on Nettle usage in “Les Miserables”. Grieve gives recipes for Nettle Pudding and Nettle Beer. ( I will share a recipe with you for this further down!)


Medicinal:
 As species of Urtica (such as Urtica dioica) grow worldwide, there is considerable old literature as to folk and medicinal use. There are 17th century Russian tracts on its use. The most common medicinal use was as a diuretic, an astringent and a tonic. It is also a styptic – something which checks the flow of blood from the surface (acting very quickly); by the use of powdered root or softened and bruised leaves, Nettle has few equals in that regard. It was recommended for nosebleed that a small piece of fine cloth be moistened with Nettle juice and placed in the nostril. Several references list a use of the fresh leaves or stems as a “counter-irritant”, that is, it is applied to the skin where there is another painful irritation such as arthritis. The best explanation for that effect is that the nettle sting took ones mind off the other pain. However, the juice of the Nettle is a complete antidote for its own sting. Likewise, the juice of Dock, particularly Yellow (Curly) Dock, has the same effect. Grieve reports on the old English Saying “Nettle in, dock out. dock rub nettle out”. Densmore reports its use among the Minnesota
Chippewa for dysentery and for stoppage of urine.

There are many references to Nettle preparations involving the seeds and the flesh of the plant for a hair tonic – i.e. “restorer”; so many references that one could assume one might have had some success with it prior to today’s preparations. The presence of formic acid, mineral salts and carbonic acid was the key.


Practical Uses:
 Besides beer as mentioned above, the most practical use for Nettle is as a substitute for Cotton. The fiber of Nettle is similar to Hemp and Flax and thus it can be used for making cloth, sacking, cordage, etc. Nettle produces less fiber than Flax. It’s fibers varying from 3/4” to 2 1/2”. The upper sizes equal the best Egyptian Cotton. Plants that grow in good loam, such as near ditches and other moist sources produce the best fiber. Nettle is so effective for making cloth that when Germany and Austria were short of Cotton in 1916 – 1918 during the Great War they resorted to collecting huge quantities of Nettle. In 1916 alone 2.7 million kilograms were collected for cloth production. In 1917 The British analyzed some German overalls and found they were made of 85% nettle. It does not take dye the way wool does because of its microscopic structure, but there is nothing else close to it for making cloth when you are short of Cotton.
Hans C. Andersen refers to coats being woven of Nettle in the story, “The Princess and the Eleven Swans.” As does Juliet Marillier in her interpretation of the same tale, “Daughter of the Forest.”
If humans can like to eat them, so can the animals. The plant makes great fodder once it has been allowed to wilt and begin to dry. Then the stinging effects have dissipated (although in some species dissipation is not complete). While a number of insects may feed on the plant, it is distasteful to flies and a bunch of Nettle near foodstuffs can keep flies away. It is also an important host to a number of butterflies. A decoction of Nettle produces a permanent green dye – widely used in old Russia.

Alright! So! On with the BEER!!!

A refreshing Spring or early Summer Country Drink which can be enjoyed after three weeks.

What you’ll need

1.0 kg of nettle tops (approx. 50 nettle tops with 4/6 leaves)
450gms of brown sugar
1 gallon (4.5 litres) water
2 lemons
25gms Cream of Tartar
6gms of beer brewing yeast

How to make Nettle Beer

  1. Wash the nettle tops to clean off any insects and dust.
  2. Put in large pan and add 4.5 litres of water.
  3. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain into a food grade plastic bin and add the brown sugar, lemon juice and rind (not the white pith), and cream of tartar. The brown sugar adds a little colour to the beer.
  5. Stir well and allow to cool to about 20 to 25 degC. Then sprinkle the yeast over the surface and cover with a cloth.
  6. Leave in a warm place for between 5 to 6 days to allow the fermentation to take place. If a scum forms after 2 or 3 days it can be removed. A hydrometer can be used to check that the process has finished. The SG reading should be approximately 1.000.
  7. Strain again through a fine mesh bag or muslin so that it’s ready for bottling.
  8. Using clean strong swing top bottles or similar, add half a teaspoon
    of sugar to each bottle and then syphon the beer into bottles. You should have enough for 8 pint bottles or 9 bottles 500ml size.
  9. Leave the bottles in a warm place for 2 days and then move to somewhere cooler to allow the beer to clear.
  10. Nettle beer doesn’t have a long life, so once the beer has settled it is ready to drink in about 2 weeks.
  11. Enjoy! Try it with a little bread and cheese as they did in the old days!

http://www.friendsofeloisebutler.org/pages/photosubpages/photoinfopages/stingingnettlelore.html

http://www.herbshealing.com/herbal_ezine/march04/wisewoman.htm

http://www.hopsandvineshomebrew.co.uk/page.asp?id=101

Standard
aboriginals, Australian, bacterial infections, cold, DIY, diy cleaning, earache, flu, fungus, herbalism, Herbology, Herbs, home remedy, infection, Lore, melaleuka, muscle ache, native lore, pain, plants, plants, sebborhea, september, sinuses, sore throat, Tea Tree, tonsillitis

Herb Lore: Tea Tree or Melalueka Alternifolia

Tea tree oil is derived from the tea tree plant, Melaleuca alternifolia, and is native to Australia. “Bundjalung Aboriginal people from the coast of New South Wales crushed tea-tree (or paper bark) leaves and applied the paste to wounds as well as brewing it to a kind of tea for throat ailments. In the 1920s, scientific experiments proved that the tea-tree oil’s antiseptic potency was far stronger than the commonly used antiseptic of the time. Since then, the oil has been used to treat everything from fungal infections of the toenails to acne.”

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/10-most-common-aboriginal-bush-medicines.htm

 The usage of tea tree in the form of an oil has become internationally popular. So much so that herbalist or not someone you know probably is using it on their dog or their dandruff.  I today I hope to show you some incredibly traditional uses of this amazing plant, that might just change how you view it.  “The oil (and even rubbing natural leaves on the skin) has been shown to have several different useful antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, some proven better than others,” says Jessica Krant, M.D., M.P.H., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City.

1. Bacterial Infections: Use topically, either massaging into the reflex points of the feet, adding several drops to a bath or cautiously applying over an infected site.

2. Cold Sores: Apply a drop or two of oil directly to the sore with a cotton swab. Re-apply 2 – 3 times daily.

3. Earache and Infection: Add 2 – 3 drops of oil to 2 tbsp warm olive oil. With a dropper, drop a small amount into aching ear, tilting head to one side for a moment. Use cotton swab to absorb oil. Repeat 2 – 3 times daily.

4. Household Cleaning: Can be used aromatically or added to vinegar with a few sprigs of
lavender,  to kill germs and prevent the spread of colds and flues. You can make a general tea tree cleaning spray at home:

1 teaspoon of tea tree oil

handful of lavender

3 cups of water

1 cup of vinegar

combine in a spray bottle. Shake it up really well and use liberally as it is non-toxic! =)

5. Seborrhea: For skin: Add 5 drops oil to 1 tbsp of carrier oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. For scalp: Add 5 drops of oil to 2 tbsp shampoo. Massage into scalp and hair, leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse. Repeat. Bath: Add 5-10 drops of oil to bath.

6. Air Freshener: Keep a supply of cotton balls soaked in tea tree oil packed away in a plastic bag or tin.  When confronted with foul smells from cooking, musty orders from dampness or even the medicinal smell in a sick room, take a few out the freshen the air and remove the nasty smell

7. Muscle Aches and Pains: Depending upon the purity and potency add 5-10 drops of oil to half cup Epsom salts, and dissolve in your  bath water. Do not use if you are pregnant. If you have sensitive skin reduce by 1/2. If you have a candida infection use on a nightly basis for a week.

8. Toenail fungus: Rub the tea tree oil directly onto the affected toenail and underneath the tip of the nail. Apply 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil. Apply the oil once a day, preferably at bedtime.

9. Tonsillitis: Inhale from steaming water with tea tree, gargle, and massage into neck and soles of feet.

10. Colds and sore throats: According to the Mother Nature Network, tea tree oil,“One of the best things I use tea tree oil for is when I feel
sore throat or anything else cold-like, coming on, I start to take a couple of drops of tea tree oil on my tongue every hour or so,” says Ingrid Perri, an aromatherapist in Melbourne, Australia. “More often than not, after two or three doses, the symptoms disappear.” You can also try gargling with a few drops of tea tree oil in a glass of warm water, then spit. Heads up: the taste is not pleasant. Generally tea tree oil is not for oral consumption as it can be toxic in large quantity to the central nervous system when consumed liberally.

This information above is meant to be informative and should not be used in place of seeing a healer, homeopathic doctor, or regular physician. For more medical information on tea tree oil and its uses, I defer to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Here’s the link for what they say on the subject: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/tea/treeoil.htm

Standard
Fantasy, Fiction, greek, imps, ireland, Lore, Magik, mischief, scottland, Uncategorized

Imps In The Pantry: LORE OF THE MISCHIEVOUS


“We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. … It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow, and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. … [Then] The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies—disappears—we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!”

–Edgar Allan Poe

The Imp of the Perverse is a metaphor for the urge to do exactly the wrong thing in a given situation for the sole reason that it is possible for wrong to be done. The impulse is compared to an imp which leads an otherwise decent person into mischief. So to further understand these creatures, let us explore the definition of them:

imp noun \ˈimp\
: a small creature that plays harmful tricks in children’s stories

: a child who causes trouble in a playful way : a mischievous child

Full Definition of IMP

1.obsolete : shoot, bud; also : graft
2. a : a small demon : fiend
2.b : a mischievous child : urchin

Origin of IMP

Middle English impe, from Old English impa, from impian to imp
First Known Use: before 12th century

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imp

“The creature known as an Imp is a sentient beast not more than two fores tall that is said to resemble a thin lizard-like goblin with wings. Additionally, the Imp has an unusual looking face that resembles a smooth, bone-like mask with glowing red eyes. Imps have been favoured as intelligent and loyal familiars among many archmages over the centuries…” -Santharia

Originating from Germanic folklore, the imp was a small lesser demon.

It should also be noted that demons in Germanic legends were not necessarily always evil. Imps were often mischievous rather than evil or harmful, and in some regions, they were portrayed as attendants of the gods. Imps are often shown as small and not very attractive creatures. Their behavior is described as being wild and uncontrollable, much the same as fairies, and in some cultures, they were considered the same beings, both sharing the same sense of free spirit and enjoyment of all things fun. It was later in history that people began to associate fairies with being good and imps with being malicious and evil. However, both creatures were fond of pranks and misleading people. Most of the time, the pranks were harmless fun, but some could be upsetting and harmful, such as switching babies or leading travelers astray in places with which they were not familiar. Though imps are often thought of as being immortal, many cultures believed that they could be damaged or harmed by certain weapons and enchantments, or be kept out of people’s homes by the use of wards.

Imps were often portrayed as lonely little creatures, always in search of human attention. They often used jokes and pranks as a means of
attracting human friendship, which often backfired when people became tired or annoyed of the imp’s endeavors, usually driving it away.
Even if the imp was successful in getting the friendship it sought, it often still played pranks and jokes on its friend, either out of boredom or simply because this was the nature of the imp. This trait gave way to using the term “impish” for someone who loves pranks and practical jokes. Being associated with hell and fire, imps take a particular pleasure from playing with temperatures.
To this end, it came to be believed that imps were the familiar spirit servants of witches and warlocks, where the little demons served as spies and informants. During the time of the witch hunts, supernatural creatures such as imps were sought out as proof of witchcraft, though often, the so-called “imp” was typically a black cat, lizard, toad, or some other form of uncommon pet.
Imps have also been described as being “bound” or contained in some sort of object, such as a sword or crystal ball. In other cases, imps were simply kept in a certain object and summoned only when their masters had need of them. Some even had the ability to grant their owners wishes, much like a genie. This was the object of the 1891 story The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson, which told of an imp contained in a bottle that would grant the owner their every wish, the catch being that the owner’s soul would be sent to hell if they didn’t sell the bottle to a new owner before their death.

Imps can be found in art and architecture throughout the world, usually carefully and painstakingly hidden under the eaves of a church or the foot of a ceramic cup, so they can only be found by the most interested and observant of people.
Imps may be described as an evil spirit or demon. They frequently appear in children’s stories such as ‘Silvia’ in which she is followed by a black Imp. Since their time, they have become more overlooked as not many people actually know what they are.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imp

Standard