Thursday, September 18, 2014

Witches Are Healers

Yesterday morning I woke up and went straight to the kitchen to begin to prepare a brew. My youngest child developed a rather nasty cold, full of congestion and coughs and the day before I had prepared a batch of tea using elderberry and elderflower, lemon balm, echinacea root, peppermint, mullein, and a couple of other herbal goodies. After giving him three or four cups throughout the day I started to see a significant improvement in his congestion and coughing, and that night he slept fairly well. So I was motivated, and first thing in the morning set myself to making a new batch of the same wonderful tea.

Healing tea a'brewing!

Fortunately my son loves tea, and didn't mind drinking so many cups of "the same flavor." So I began my day yesterday by preparing a second round of healing tea, during which my husband laughed and said "te ves bruja de verdad!" (You really look like a witch!) I suppose it was seeing me standing there surrounded by herbs, roots, and berries, hand-mixing a special concoction into a muslin tea bag, the steam of boiling water curling around me. I smiled. He likes it when I get "witchy."

Straining arnica oil

Later in the morning he set out to the store to pick up some groceries and I asked him to buy some lemons and garlic for an anti-cold drink I was planning to make for myself that day (after tending to the little one, I was starting to get that "feeling" in the back of my throat - the one that tips you off that you might just get a cold, too, if you're not careful). I remembered that I wanted to apply more oil to my High John pocket piece, so I sat down for a moment to tend to that. My husband had been gone for a while when I suddenly realized that I was missing an ingredient for the arnica salve I wanted to prepare to help him combat some shoulder pain he was having. As I settled down to pick a Halloween Oracle card-of-the-day (focused on the question "what will the predominant energy of my day be?") I phoned him quickly to ask him if he was still at the market. He was, thankfully. And as I was telling him what I needed him to purchase and where he could find it, I pulled…the Witch! Yes, I laughed at that!

Halloween Oracle - Stacey Demarco

On page 70 of the accompanying book Stacey Demarco writes: "Through spells and rituals and even through herbal recipes (yes, often brewed in a cauldron!) they weave the powers of this world and the next in synergy to solve problems and heal." Talk about fitting! I work with herbs (and other things) regularly but yesterday I spent quite a bit more time than usual on my own brews and healing applications, so it was a perfect reflection of my day thus far.

Eventually I prepared myself for teaching, and set off for an afternoon of guiding, directing, and instructing a group of adolescent males (fun, but I usually leave those sessions rather hoarse!). As I left class and was standing outside waiting for Jorge to swing by to pick me up, I was scrolling through my favorite app, Zite, and found an interesting article about the survival of the American indigenous midewiwin society, the shamanic healers of the Anishnaabe and other Algonquin peoples of the northeastern region of the current-day United States. I remembered studying this society when I was probably 13 years old, and drawing a picture of what a midewiwin ceremony might have looked like. I hadn't really heard anyone speak (or write) of this society very much since then, so it really brought me back in time. The article was focused on how the midewiwin practices suffered but were not completely lost when Christianity spread through northern parts of North America via the French settlers and jesuits.

By the end of the day I was sprawled across the couch watching the latest episode of the Lifetime show "Witches of East End." Silly, kind of soap-opera-ish, but somewhat entertaining all the same.

In multiple ways that Witch card was wonderfully apt, with many relevant themes having been woven throughout my entire day, from start to finish. And while I don't have a particular label for myself in terms of what I do and how I practice ritual, or work with plants, I realize that much of what I do is in line with how many people describe witchcraft (and hedge witchcraft is a pretty accurate self-description, I suppose). Perhaps I prefer more benign-sounding names like "root worker" or "healer." In the end, however, they all share a common source, and in some way or another any of those titles may be correct. Witches are healers. Shamans are healers. Root workers are healers. And I was perfectly happy being a witch for a day ;)

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