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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Herb of the Week- Aloe Vera


Aloe Vera is Mothers Natures medicine cabinet wrapped up in a plant.

Aloe acts as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and makes an excellent energy tonic

There are over 250 species of Aloes in the world, mostly native to Africa. They range in size from little one inch miniatures to massive plant colonies consisting of hundreds of 2 foot diameter plants.
Although most Aloes have some medicinal or commercial value, the most commonly known is the Aloe barbadensis... better known as Aloe vera.

All Aloes are semi tropical succulent plants, and may only be grown outdoors in areas where there is no chance of freezing (USDA zones 10-11). However, they make excellent house plants when they are given sufficient light. Container grown Aloe plants benefit from spending their summer outdoors.

GROW YOUR OWN ALOE VERA PLANT
Using pure aloe vera gel from its plant form is best, as its cellular activity tends to be reduced when mixed with other chemicals.
Growing your own aloe vera plant can be fairly easy as its only requirements are lots of warm sun and little water. It does not like cold temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cold, drafty areas. It takes the aloe vera plant about 4 years to reach full maturity of about two feet tall, which is when the gel from an aloe vera leaf holds its greatest benefits. Be sure to transplant it to larger pots as it outgrows it's current one.

Older specimens may even bloom, producing a tall stock covered with bright colored coral flowers.

The nectar from Aloe flowers is a favorite food for hummingbirds!


Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) Benefits

Aloe vera is one of the only known natural vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12, and it contains many minerals vital to the growth process and healthy function of all the body's systems.

Some of the minerals found in Aloe Vera include calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, chromium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. This is because the plant tends to grow in areas where soils are rich in these minerals and its roots are able to absorb them and deliver them to us in a very available form.

Numerous studies worldwide indicate that aloe vera is a general tonic for the immune system, helping it to fight illness of all kinds. Various research studies are underway to explore the potential of aloe vera components to boost immunity and combat the HIV virus, and to treat certain types of cancer (particularly leukemia). It may even have a role to play in managing diabetes by improving blood glucose levels.


The juice is said to soothe digestive tract irritations such as colitis, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. Aloe's ability to encourage the release of pepsin (a gastric juice enzyme necessary for digestion) when the stomach is full is a possible reason for its ulcer-healing effects (Journal of the American Osteopathic Society, 1963, vol.62).

In one study, oral use of Aloe for six months helped mitigate asthma symptoms in almost half of the participants. Eleven of twenty-seven patients studied who drank Aloe reported feeling better at the end of the study. Researchers think that results might be due to stimulation of the immune system, as well as naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents in Aloe vera.

In 1994, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Aloe vera for the treatment of HIV. On-going studies worldwide show that Aloe taken in highly concentrated doses can stimulate the production of white blood cells that may help fight viruses and also tumours.

Aloe vera contains protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, B12 and E, essential fatty acids and is naturally rich in:

Vitamin C which helps maintain tone of blood vessels and promotes good circulation and is essential to the health of the adrenal gland which supports our body in times of stress.

Amino acids which are chains of atoms constructing protein in our body.

Enzymes, which are the life-principle in every live, organic atom and molecule of natural raw food, rejuvenate aged tissues and promote healthy skin.

Germanium which is a mineral that some health authorities claim therapeutic benefits for: immunodeficiency, pain, cardiac disorders, circulatory disturbances and eye problems.

Aloe vera juice is said to be one of the finest body cleansers, cleaning morbid matter from the stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder, and is considered the finest, known colon cleanser. Studies have shown that it is healing and soothing in the relief of indigestion, stomach distress and ulcers. People claim relief from arthritis, bladder and kidney infections; leg cramps, constipation, hemorrhoids, insomnia, and for vaginitis, it is said to be an excellent vaginal douche.

It is also used to ease heartburn, ulcers, diverticular disorders, and other types of digestive upset. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and may be taken internally as a remedy for certain digestive complaints as certain compounds in Aloe vera reduce the secretion of stomach juices and the formation of lesions.

Animal studies and anecdotal reports claim that drinking Aloe vera juice or taking it as a tablet or capsule can reduce swelling and inflammation in arthritic joints.

In 1997, University of San Antonio researcher Jeremiah Herlihy, Ph.D., conducted a study to observe any negative effects of drinking Aloe daily. Rather than exhibiting negative effects, however, test animals receiving daily Aloe showed a remarkable reduction in leukemia, heart disease, and kidney disease. Dr. Herlihy concluded, "We found no indication of harm done to the rats even at high levels." In fact, the Aloe-drinking animals actually lived 25 percent longer than those in the control group (IASC Conference, Texas, 1997).

There is no single ingredient that makes Aloe vera potent and healthful. Researcher Robert Davis, Ph.D., an endocrinologist-biologist, explains that fifteen different compound groups of nutrients work together to make the plant effective. This means that Aloe vera's effects cannot be synthesized easily in a laboratory. On the upside, this makes the plant useful across a wide spectrum of circumstances. And because the various elements that make Aloe effective are nutrients rather than drugs, Aloe juice may complement medical treatments. In fact some cancer patients state that Aloe vera seems to reduce nausea, increase energy, and may help to minimize low blood counts caused by chemotherapy or radiation.

Aloe vera may help adults, children, and even pets receive more value from daily foods and supplements.

USE ALOE VERA FOR THE SKIN
Apply the gel from an aloe vera leaf directly onto skin abrasions, cuts, sunburns, scalds, blisters, cold sores, rashes, and insect bites to help fight bacteria and avoid infection. The gel also has the ability to soothe pain and regenerate skin cells to promote healing with no or little scaring. Apply aloe gel 2-3 times a day to the area/wound until it is healed.

Use aloe vera gel for general skin care. Use the gel alone or along with your favorite skin cream to help better soften and moisturize the skin. Because aloe regenerates skin cells it is also known to reduce wrinkles, eczema, acne, sun/age spots, and other blemishes. It is also gentle enough to use to care for the tender skin after radiation therapy.

The gel taken from the aloe vera plant can also be combined with wheat-germ oil and safflower flower to reduce bruising.

TRY ALOE ON THE SCALP AND HAIR
Applying aloe vera gel to the scalp is a good treatment for dandruff, seborrhea (dermatitis), psoriasis and hair loss that has resulted from these conditions.

Use the gel from an aloe vera plant to substitute your commercial hair gel; rub or comb small amounts through your hair and style as usual.


USE ALOE VERA FOR PERIODONTAL CARE
Apply aloe vera gel directly to damaged or diseased gums to reduce inflammation, pain, and to promote healing. Include aloe gel in dental hygiene regimens to help fight tooth decay and reduce plaque.

TRY ALOE FOR EYE CARE
To create an eyewash, dissolve ½ tsp of powdered aloe gel in one cup of water. To accelerate the healing process add one teaspoon of boric acid. Pour the solution through a coffee filter before applying to the eyes.

TRY ALOE FOR STRAINS AND MUSCLE PAINS
Because the gel of the aloe vera plant is known to absorb quickly into the skin and reduce inflammation and pain, it also works well on sprains, strains, muscle pains and arthritic pain. Apply aloe gel along with a cold compress to the sore area 2-3 times per day.


USE ALOE FOR INTERNAL BENEFITS
Aloe gel is believed to provide relief from stomach disorders, kidney ailments, and headaches, just to name a few of aloe's internal healing benefits.

Using the yellow juice, called latex found just beneath the surface of the leaves can serve as a powerful laxative.

The gel from aloe vera also contains magnesium lactate that serves as an antihistamine, which may help to relieve sinus and chest inflammations caused by allergies.

Because aloe can have a strong laxative affect do not ingest the yellow latex found in the skin of the leaf or be cautious of the amount taken as a laxative. It is best to ingest aloe by gently blending the gel, taken from between the leafs, in a blender with juice or water.


Notes:

If you are using oral corticosteroids, such as beclomethasone, methylprednisolone, or prednisone, it is important not to overuse or misuse Aloe vera juice. A potassium deficiency can develop, and you may experience toxic effects from the medication.

Although it is removed, in practice Aloe vera juice may sometimes still contain tiny quantities of the laxative compound found in aloe latex. Should you begin to have cramps or diarrhea do not ingest any more of the juice.

Allergies to aloe vera are very rare. Yet any food can be a potential allergen. Test a small amount on the inner arm to see if any reaction takes place. If no irritation on the skin is observed then it is generally tolerated. If ingestion causes diarrhea, then reduce the amount you ingest, increasing use slowly over several days until the desired amount is tolerated.



General Safety Advisory

The information in this document does not replace medical advice.

Before taking an herb or a botanical, consult a doctor or other health care provider -- especially if you have a disease or medical condition, take any medications, are pregnant or nursing, or are planning to have an operation.

Before treating a child with an herb or a botanical, consult with a doctor or other health care provider.

Like drugs, herbal or botanical preparations have chemical and biological activity. They may have side effects. They may interact with certain medications. These interactions can cause problems and can even be dangerous.

If you have any unexpected reactions to an herbal or a botanical preparation, inform your doctor or other health care provider




Monday, March 29, 2010

Inspiration Mondays-Doors

I think doors say alot about a house. They can be formidable barriers to keep people out or welcoming portals to that which lies within. Here are some doors that I would like to have in my home.






I love these old screen doors, I definately want one of these in my house, squeaky hinges and all.


This one looks like a bookshelf but it is actually a bifold door, how clever is that.


If you like these bookcase type doors but can't afford the high prices to buy one, check out this DIY site that shows you how to build your own. I love the idea of making use of  the wasted wall space that doors are.
Secret Hidden Bookcase Door Plans

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Face Reading and Diagnosis

Facial Diagnosis
As almost every mother instinctively knows and has relied upon from the beginning of time, looking into a child's face can provide telling and quick signs of possible unrest or a form of illness. In the 1800s Wilhelm Schuessler, a German homeopath, created a new science stemming from this straightforward means of identifying symptoms. He used a probing look - "facial diagnosis" - to assess how a person was feeling. Schuessler believed that certain facial expressions, movements and appearances reveal moods, dispositions and disorders, especially to the physician with years of experience. By visually studying his patients' faces, Schuessler was able to diagnose a range of illnesses and choose the appropriate remedies. Building on his practice, natural medicine has since developed specific guidelines for using facial diagnosis. It is believed that practitioners following these guidelines can quickly and accurately draw conclusions about a patient's physical condition and ailments.

What The Facial Diagnostician Considers

· Shape, size, color and expression of the face
· Skin and hair color
· Skin wrinkles and lines
· Moles, spots, nodules and swellings
· Shape and color of the eyes, ears, and nose
· Shape of the mouth and chin
· Color, contours and shape of the lips
· Visibility of blood vessels

The Diagnosis: The diagnostician draws conclusions by means of careful observation and knowledge based on experience. Technical devices and laboratory methods are considered distracting. The practitioner also takes a complete case history, discusses it with the patient and integrates this information with findings from the facial diagnosis. Health-insurance funds do not cover the costs.

How Is the Diagnosis Made? Facial diagnosis is based on the long-established idea that many internal ailments express themselves in the patient's external appearance, particularly in the face. It is believed that skillful diagnosticians and experienced caregivers can read the face for these tale-tale signals.

The Viewpoint of Mainstream Medicine: Before laboratory technology and diagnostic equipment were developed, visual diagnostics was a relied-upon means of finding illness. Great physicians mastered this method and were often extremely accurate in diagnoses. Today, medical textbooks include descriptions of facial symptoms of certain conditions.

Extra Tip: Experienced facial diagnosticians can recognize signs of incipient illnesses, such as the early stages of cancer.

Signs and Symptoms
· Telltale Wrinkles: two furrows between the nostrils and the corners of the mouth are viewed as signs of gastric or other digestive disorders. They can also indicate excessive stress and anger.
· Lower Jaw Shape: A lower jaw that juts out sharply is a sign of physical and emotional energy that can be excessive and result in aggression in certain situations. People with this characteristic often have hectic lifestyles. A lower jaw that is very "pulled-in" can indicate suppressed emotion and a tendency toward depression.
· What the Eyes Tell Us: Facial diagnosticians believe that wide-open pupils reveal not only a life-loving disposition, but one that may be inclined to constant activity as well, which can lead to stress. Protruding eyes indicate an overactive thyroid.

Facial Symptoms
Trained diagnosticians can recognize these ailments by studying the face:
· "Mitral face": Red cheeks and paleness around the mouth indicates heart-valve (mitral-valve) disorders
· General Paleness: Indicates anemia, such as from iron deficiency or shock
· White Tip of The Nose: Indicates reduced production of gastric acid
· Red Face: Indicates a worsening of blood, heart and lung ailments and the presence of high blood pressure
· Red, Round ("full moon") face: Indicates Cushing's syndrome, marked by excess adrenal function; can also indicate treatment with cortisone.
· Brownish Pigmentation: Indicates Addison's disease, marked by reduced adrenal function
· Yellowish Skin (jaundice): Indicates liver, bile, or blood ailments
· Fleshy Growths on the Outer Ear or the Eyelids (gout nodules): Indicates gout, marked by excess uric acid
· Cracks at the Corners of the Mouth: Indicates anemia or allergies.

Face Reading

contributed by Phinxy

Face reading has been used for millennia in both the Eastern and Western civilizations. In the Western world it is called physiognomy while in China it is known as xiang mian (siang mien) and kan xiang. Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen and Chaucer all studied and wrote about physiognomy. In China, face reading has a long association with medicine. Skilled specialist practitioners diagnose illnesses from careful observation of the face.

Are you ready to find out what your face reveals about you?

First of all, take a good long look in the mirror. Don't judge! Don't be critical! Just look and take careful note of your facial features.

Are you already cursing your double chin? Well, don't! It means that happiness will come later in life but it will make up for arriving so late by arriving in bulk.

Do you hate the way your ears stick out? This reveals that you are an unconventional, original and independent thinker.

Do you wish you didn't have "crow's feet"? Enjoy them, because they show that you can see and appreciate the bigger picture. It also shows you are not easily fooled.

Do you curse a constantly shiny nose? According to Chinese wisdom, a shiny nose reveals good money luck. So check in the mirror before you place that next bet!!

FOREHEAD

Do you have permanent vertical worry lines between your eyes on your forehead?
These lines reveal that you drive yourself hard and don't like to settle for second best.
What about a single horizontal line between your eyes?
This shows you have the weight and responsibility of the world on your shoulders. You need to find a way to ease the burden you feel you're carrying.

EARS
Do your ears stick out?
This shows you are a non-conformist and an independent thinker. You are a scholar and a quick thinker but you are also stubborn.
Do you have pointy ears?
This reveals that you are not as kind-hearted and reliable as you like to make out. On the positive side, you are original and inventive.

EARLOBES
Have you got a vertical line on your earlobe?
Watch out for heart problems, you need to take better care of yourself than you do.
Are your earlobes attached to the side of your head?
Don't tell anyone, but this reveal just what a "bossy boots" you are. People often perceive you as superficial.

EYEBROWS
Do your eyebrows meet in the middle?
Stop worrying so much. Your mind is always on the go and you find it hard to relax. You also need to stop taking everything so personally or else you'll find yourself often feeling depressed.

Are your eyebrows always messy and unruly?
This betrays your often chaotic and unconventional mind. You can be tactless at times. You can see all sides in any issue which can embroil you in many unwanted arguments. After daydreaming through your early thirties, you finally get organised and find success.

EYES
Are your eyes set close together?
This reveals that you have a narrow and calculating approach to life. Although fairly intolerant, you can accurately assess the world around you and use it to best advantage.

Are your eyes set far apart?
You are very tolerant of others and far-sighted. However, you are also gullible and setbacks launch you on an emotional rollercoaster.

Are your eyes deep-set?
You are cautious and reserved. Although you are deeply romantic, you never let yourself become unrealistic in love. You usually become successful from your late thirties onwards.

Do your eyes protrude?
You are strong-willed and egotistical, and you hate being interrupted or left out of anything.

NOSE
Do you have a small ball at the tip of your nose?
You are an artist and appreciate quality and beauty.

Does your nose end in a bulbous shape?
You need financial security and often become a collector.

MOUTH
Does your mouth turn up even when not smiling?
You are prepared to always hear the best from people. You are a natural optimist and are rarely alone.

Or does it turn down naturally?
A natural pessimist, you naturally distrust most of what you hear. Ironically, this leads to less disappointment since when things turn out badly you are rarely surprised. Happiness comes later in life from mid-forties onwards.

TEETH
Do you have a space between your two front teeth?
It means you are a risk taker and a dare devil. But you have a habit of changing your mind because you lack a clear sense of direction.

Do you have two big front teeth?
This reveals that you are impatient, stubborn as a mule and need to be constantly reassured.

CHIN
Do you have a pointed chin?
You like to remain in the driving seat at all times. Intelligent and oversensitive, you can suffer from mood swings. You hate being ordered to do things without a full explanation.

Do you have a weak chin?
You are a peace lover and are very popular for it. You'd rather follow orders than give them. You avoid conflict at any cost. The danger is that your lack of ambition will leave you unprepared for retirement.

MOLES, BLEMISHES AND BIRTHMARKS
Any mole with a reddish gleam is always a sign of good luck, no matter where it appears.
Dark moles are more ominous, especially if they change shape or size.
If any mole at all ever changes shape or size, consult a doctor. It could be early sign of skin cancer.

Right on the hairline: Prosperity.

Between the eyebrows: Great wisdom.

On the tip of the nose: Your prosperity is constantly under threat.

On the inner ear: You have an above-average talent and will enjoy a long life.

Right cheek: Successful life.

Left cheek: You are studious and struggling.

On each cheek: You'll enjoy success after much hard work.

The same applies to blemishes and birthmarks.


Don't be fooled by plastic surgery!
When someone has plastic surgery, suddenly the features you are basing your conclusions on are false.

For example, someone with very thin lips (cool, reserved and slightly calculating) goes to a plastic surgeon and emerges with collagen-enhanced, overly large full lips (sensuous, physical and expressive). Their appearance has changed, people will now react to them and judge them according to their appearance, but the genetic blueprint has not changed one iota, so they are in effect two-faced now, with a private persona and a very different public persona.

New acquaintances are attracted to the person they first see, but they can get a shock, and almost feel deceived when they discover the true person deep down. Not that there is anything wrong with the true personality, it is just that what's inside doesn't match the packaging.

Face reading is particularly interesting in Hollywood where you are never quite sure if you are reading a "created" face, and therefore a "created" personality, or their true face.

Amazing Face Reading: An Illustrated Encyclopedia for Reading Faces by Mac Fulfer

This is a fun book written by a teacher/jury consultant. Presented in an encyclopedic style, this book contains 275 superb illustrations. There is no such thing as a poker face any more!

Friday, March 26, 2010

100 Things About Me

1.  I am addicited to shopping in thrift stores
2.  I love cats
3.  I have one cat named Casper who is the light of my life
4.  I love chocolate,.... hot chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, orange flavored chocolate,chocolate   cake, chocolate brownies....you get the idea
5.  Every year I give up chocolate for lent.
6.  I think this makes me a stronger person
7.  My favorite drink is water
8.  I'm allergic to coffee
9.  I've moved over 100 times
10. I speak French fluently
11. I am a Capricorn and proud of it
12. I love to read and have over 3000 books ( mostly reference books)
13. My favorite TV show is Survivor, I wish I could be on it
14. I've owned two horses
15. Summer is my favorite season but I also like the promise of Spring, and the mysterious nature of Fall
16. I can live without winter
17. I used to be a chimney sweep
18. I loved that job, I got to see the interiors of so many great home's
19. I used to be a bartender
20. I loved that job, I got paid to be at the party
21. I work as a Massage Therapist
22. I love my job, I get to help people
23. I lived in Europe for 11 years, I loved every minute of it
24. I've driven across Canada 7 times, the fastest time took three and a half days, the longest took a month
25. I've sailed across the Baltic Ocean
26. I'm a night owl, I have a hard time sleeping before 2 am.
27. I love having the night to myself while everyone else sleeps, I'm my most creative then
28. I want to live in a hobbit house
29. I lived on a boat for a year
30. I've dyed my hair everything from indigo blue, jet black, various shades of brown, pink and red, none of it sticks, my blonde always shows through
31. I don't understand most poetry, I take things too literally
32. My favorite flowers are scented ones, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Gardenia,Lilac, Carnations
33. My favorite houseplants are Scented Geranium, Varigated Philodendron and Peace Lily's
34. My favorite colours are pink and purple to wear and burgendy and sage green in my home
36. My first craft project was making a dream catcher
37. Mosquitos don't like me, I rarely ever get bit by them
38. Horseflys love me and will hunt me down at all costs to their life and limb
39. I am physcic when it comes to knowing what sport team will win
40. I hate watching sports, so I never use my powers
41. I used to play the steel drums
42. I still play hand drums
43. I tried to play bass and guitar but never got very good at them
44. I wish I could play the fiddle, banjo and harmonica
45. If I was rich, I would travel forever
46. My first thought upon waking up, is "must check email"
47. My biggest peeve is loud noises like leaf blowers, lawn mowers, car alarms
48. My greatest fear is being homeless
49. My favorite ice cream is Butter Pecan in a  waffle sugar cone
50. My favorite jewlerry is silver and garnet stones
51. My biggest regrets: not keeping a diary my whole life and not saving 10 percent of my income since childhood
52. I can roll my tongue in a circle
53. I have always wanted a tattoo but have never gotten one
54. I used to do airbrush tattoo's at craft fairs
55. I love cucumbers and relish and garlic and dill but I hate dill pickles
56. I love cooked carrots and raw carrots but hate carrot juice
57. I like the look of sexy high heels but can't wear them at all
58. I have never worn a bra that I didn't want to rip off after five minutes
59. I love sushi but only eat it plain with no soy sauce or wasabai
60. I love Thai coconut curry but can't stand East Indian curry
61. My favorite comfort food is macaroni and canned tomatoes
62. I have never been lucky in love
63. I have never won anything more than a free lottery ticket
64. I believe in magic
65. I've never broken a bone
66. I love lists, I make them all the time for all kinds of reasons, I have lists of lists
67. My weakness is sensitivity, I tend to take things to heart, it's easy to hurt my feelings
68. I was in a bad car accident years ago, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, my life changed in every way afterwards
69. The pain from that accident was the worst of my life, it lasted 7 years and was 24/7
70. I prefer sweet snacks over salty
71. I wish I lived in a society where I didn't need keys, I hate carrying keys around
72. I like vanilla flavored food but hate vanilla scented things like candles and pot pourri
73. Everytime someone buys me a scented gift, it is always vanilla
74. The chore I hate the most is vacumning
75. I never liked taking baths until I had a bathtub in my bedroom, now I love them
76. I'm not afraid of spiders or snakes
77. I'm horrified and disgusted by cockroaches
78. I learned to drive when I was 14 but didn't get my license until I was 18
79. I always wanted to homestead , be off the grid,and live off the land,
80. I could read very well before I went to kindergarden
81. I hate the colour orange unless it's food
82. I was healed of agonizing pain by someone playing the digereedoo over me
83. I have never understood people who put ketchup on everything  like eggs, I only use it on hambugers
84. I think I lived in Glastonbury England in a past life. I went there for a visit and felt like I was finally home after a lifetime of travelling
85. My 3 favorite songs are Lazy -Deep Purple, Do you feel like I do- Peter Frampton, Street Corner Talking- Savoy Brown
86. The song I hope I never hear again is Jump- Van Halen
87. I loved the 60- 70's, hated the '80's
88. I have been working since I was 13 years old, yet I have never had a job with benefits
89. I was born on one coast of Canada and live on the other. I hated living anywhere in the middle.
90. I wish Canada and the USA had been divided from top to bottom instead of across the middle so we could have a  southern climate too
91. I've cheated death 6 times
92. I'm not scared to die, but I don't want to suffer
93. I believe in reincarnation
94. I love Halloween, its my favorite holiday and I always get dressed up
95. I would rather host a home party then go out to a bar
96. I don't care much for alcohol, but if I am going to have a drink, I like a German Pilsner beer or Grand Marnier on ice. On very hot days , I have been known to have a frozen Marguarita
97. I love to dance but I suck at it
98. I was a pool shark in my 20's
99.  I don't like pop at all, never have, don't understand how people can drink liters of it
100. I am torn between wanting plastic surgery to look better and being terrified I'll end up looking like this

I think I will live with what I have!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Everything You Need to Know About Ritual

The Purpose of Ritual


Why are rituals important in life? Ritual helps to make your intent known to the universe so you can better manifest it. It also provides a time and place to make covenants with your-self and your higher power as well as creating time and space to mark special occasions. A ritual can be as simple as wishing on a falling star or as complex as a full- blown wedding ceremony with all its layers of traditions.

 The Components of Ritual

There is a saying; “what you put out, comes back to you three times over”. If you are putting out negativity, that is what will come back to you, so it’s better to put out good intentions and gratitude to keep the cycle flowing in a positive way. Even if your ritual is for letting go of something, do it with love and respect.

An alter is used as an anchor for your intentions. It’s a place to focus your energy and to put representations of your gratitude, your desires and any deities or ancestors that you wish to call on and honor. It creates a place that transcends normal time and space to become sacred.

Many cultures maintain a shrine or alter in their homes and/or businesses and tend to them daily. They realize the importance of communicating with spirit on a regular basis. Like a plant, their bond with their higher power grows stronger with regular attention.


Most traditions leave an offering of water and food, usually fruit, to symbolically feed and tend to the spirits/ancestors. (Many traditions also take a small portion of each food served to them at every meal and place it aside with a prayer to feed the spirits and give thanks for the meal)

Also present could be a candle to light the way and focus attention along with a representation of your higher power (Buddha, Christ etc.) and any ancestors you wish to honor. Some form of incense or smudge is usually burned with the thought that the smoke is taking your prayers to a higher realm.


Movement of any kind is seen as a way to move prayer. The Tibetans write their prayers on flags that blow in the wind or on scrolls enclosed in a spinning wheel; whirling dervishes send their prayers through spinning dances. The Japanese send candles and prayers aloft with balloons to honor the ancestors. These are just some examples of how you can use movement to signify intention.


There is no right or wrong way to pray or conduct ritual but a few basics should always be adhered to.

First of all, stop and center or ground yourself. This is a sacred time and you need to be there fully and presently. Smudging with sage is a wonderful way to do this. It’s very grounding and the intent with sage is to clear negative energy. Sweet grass is another herb that is often used, but its intention is, to welcome in good influences after the bad have been driven out. Cedar can also be used as a purifier and to bring in good energy.


When burning herbs may be impractical or dangerous, you can use cedar branches and run them over your body to brush away bad energy and surround you with blessings. Its nice after each sweep of the branches to run them over a stone to hold the negative energy and not leave it for others to pass through.

If you don’t have smudge available you can just run your hands over your body symbolically washing away any negative energy and with a deep breath and outstretched arms, draw in energy from the universe and pull it down with your hands and place it in your heart.


Once you are grounded and centered, invite your higher power (Male and Female, Mother Earth that nourishes us and the Creator), your ancestors, the spirits of the four directions and all those who love you to be present and hear your prayers. Prayers should be said out loud, putting their intent out to the universe.

Start by giving thanks. No matter how bad things are in life there is always something to be grateful for.

Send prayers to those in need. Pray for others before yourself. Respectfully ask for your prayers to be answered if it’s in your best interest and the best interest of the universe. (Sometimes it seems as if our prayers aren't being heard. You have to understand that each of us are here to have our own lessons in life. It may be that we are going through what seems like a negative experience to learn a greater lesson. Don't ever look at adversity as a punishment directed at you but as an experience to learn from.)

Thank the spirits and guides for taking the time to listen and close the prayers with something that symbolically finishes the session such as “amen” or “all my relations” for example.

Prayers should come from the heart. They can be different every time. Better to speak from your heart than mindlessly repeating something you memorized. If you want to say a standard prayer, focus on the words and mean them.

As well as prayer, you can sing, dance, drum, chant or express yourself in any other way you wish to show thanks and give honor. This is also called “raising energy”. Perform your rituals, make your covenants, and celebrate your intentions.
When you are ready to wrap things up, ground the energy that you have raised.
One way to do this is to say

The roots of me go down and down
O Mother Earth in thee I ground

If you are in a group its always nice to form a circle and have a closing song or prayer.
Chanting OM together is a powerful way to finish.

Ritual can take any form you want, from extremely simple to outrageously elaborate. It’s your ceremony. Write your own vows. Design your own stage, costume and sacred objects to represent your intentions as seen by you.
There are many tables of correspondences to help you focus your intent. You can plan your rituals around the lunar calendar, the days of the week, or dates with meaningful numbers. You can use specific colored candles, crystals, animal, or deity representations to layer your ceremony with your specific intentions. Again there is no right or wrong, its all in your intention in the end, but by using agreed upon correspondences you can make your ceremony that much more powerful.

It’s always wise to have a healthy snack after any ritual to ground yourself.

Don’t forget to give thanks!

What kind of rituals or traditions are in your life? I would love to hear your stories.

Working With the Medicine Wheel

Using the Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel is a tool that can be used to check in with yourself and receive insights to problems. Think of the wheel as an onion, where you can peel away layers spiralling down into your center. The wheel represents the circle of life.It is a cross set in a wheel. The cross is the four directions. The circle represents the circle of the earth and the metaphysical circle of all creation. In each of the 4 corners, many groups of correspondances can be used to focus on different aspects of your life. This is not a finite list of correspondances ,but some examples to start you thinking. It is important to keep all our aspects in balance-mind, body, emotions and spirit. Work with the medicine wheel to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses

 Running Hawks representation of a medicine wheel
NORTH
Mental/Manifestation
Death
Winter/Night
White-snow , purity
White Buffalo-the spirit of the white buffalo gives totally of itself in order to sustain all in existence

 EAST
 Spiritual/Enlightenment
 Birth
 Spring/Sunrise
 Yellow-colour of the sun
 Eagle-the eagle soars high and sees the furthest

SOUTH
Physical/Transformation
Youth
Summer/Daytime
Red or Green-red-life in people, green- life in plants
Sacred Mouse-The sacred mouse looks onto the world with childlike innocence and openess

WEST
Emotional /Introspection
Adulthood
Fall/Sunset
Black - nighttime, dreaming
Bear-the bear represents hibernation and dreaming

The North is the path to work on for the perfection of any endeavor, to gain strength of will and clarity in ones intentions.

White Buffalo- teach me how to give away, to share what I have learned, to nourish others with the bounty of my being. Teach me to face the cold, to stand alone when I must , to take care of others in the true circle. Provide me with wisedom, knowledge and with the ability to share what I have learned.

The East is the path to work on to seek enlightenment, when starting a new project, or when looking for a fresh approach.

Eagle- teach me to take my vision to my higher self and to let the vision of my higher self down into my daily mind to revitalize my life. Teach me to prey upon whatever does not feed my higher purpose and to rid myself of false paths that do not serve me.

The South is the path to work on when seeking growth and development or when desiring to learn the lessons of change.

Sacred Mouse- teach me to trust , to find again my innocent eyes, my fresh vision, my childlike wonder of the world. Teach me to see what is right in front of me, so I may gather trust,learning and the power of touching others in gentle healing ways.

The West is the path to work on to seek transformation or evaluation and to prepare for new action , forgiveness and flow.

Sacred Bear- teach me to go inside all the winter of my life, into the darkness, to go inside and listen. Teach me to go without fear, with excitement. With your power Sacred Bear, I pray that I will learn to be quiet , to distinguish my voice of intuition from the false voices of fear, doubt and indicision.

Use this wonderful exercise by Lynn Andrews to see how balanced your life is. You may find that you are strong in one or two directions and weak in others. Seeing it laid out can help to realize where you need to focus in your life to bring balance .

Moving Around The Sacred Wheel - Lynn Andrews

The wheel is a tool for self-discovery. Explore the following list of questions and place your answers on the wheel to discover which direction is your home, the direction you feel closest to. Place a symbol of your choice in the corresponding direction each time you answer yes to one of the questions.

North-Mental
1. Are you a logical person?
2. Are you mentally disciplined?
3. Do you question "why" before acting on someone elses decision?
4. Do you question authority?
5. Do you enjoy shaking up existing structures?

East-Spiritual
1. Do you have a sense of oneness with all life?
2. Do you have a personal experience of your relationship to God or Spirit?
3. Are you aware of moments of inspiration?
4. Do you sense shifts in the energy around you?
5. Do you feel drawn to the mysteries of life?

South-Physical
1. Do you have a regular exercise routine?
2. Do you enjoy physical work and using your body?
3. Do you enjoy dancing?
4. Do you like to garden?
5. Do you like your body?.

West - Emotional
1. Are you an emotional person?
2. Are you comfortable expressing your emotions?
3. Do your emotions get you into trouble?
4. Do you remember your dreams?
5. Do you welcome change?

Now look back at your wheel. Do you find yourself drawn to one direction more than the others? How is the balance with the direction directly opposite? Consider this:

- People who relate to the South, love the physical realm and feel strongly connected to Mother Earth. They may also love having stones and crystals around them.

-Those drawn to the West , the emotions , are often dreamers both awake and asleep. West people are drawn to water and expansive open spaces with room to contemplate and dream. Dreamers can be incredibly productive when they understand how to manifest their dreams.

- North people can be very mental and seem to be without emotion ,trusting their mind and ability to figure things out. They can also move quickly from one thought to the next and may be a challenge to keep up with . They can appear very serious, deep in thought, and in an instant, can turn around and poke fun at anything important and serious.

- In the East we find the trickster and the wise one often in the same person. East people often have the ability to see energy in and around people and objects. They sense their own spiritual strength and connection.

 The following journal exercises are a wonderful way to explore more fully the aspects touched on in the previous exercise.

Journal Exercises -Anodea Judith/Selene Vega The Sevenfold Journey
We begin with an examination of where you are right now. Make it more of a scientific survey, than a judgement of your faults and virtues.

Spiritual
.What is your basic form of spirituality?If you don’t have any form of spirituality in your life, do you feel a lack or are you content? Do you think of spirituality as a waste of time?
. Is your form of spirituality inherited (i.e. your parents religion) or self-chosen? If self-chosen , what events led to this choosing?
. How satisfied are you with the spiritual aspect of your life?
. What portion of your life is spent in the practice of your spirituality? Would you like this to be more or less?
. What goals would you like to set for yourself spiritually, if any? Is there spiritual programming from a childhood religion that you would like to recover or remove?

Mental
. What portion of your life is spent in mental activities(reading, writing, thinking, reasoning, solving problems, daydreaming)? Would you like it to be more or less?
.How mentally stimulating is your work? Your friendships? Your home life?
.How many books do you read in a month? How many hours of TV or other entertainment?
. Are you satisfied and confident with your mental abilities?
. Are you satisfied with your level of education?
. What is your favorite mental activity and what do you get out of it?

Emotional
.Over the course of a month , what emotional states do you spend the most time in (depression, elation, fear joy ect.)?
.How emotionally fulfilling do you find your life, your relationships, your work?
. what goals would you choose for yourself emotionally (i.e. to feel more confidant, less angry, more patient)?

Physical
.Take time now to feel your body. Where is it chronically tense, numb, painful? Where does it feel good, full of energy and life, or pleasure? Go into yourself deeply, exploring without judgement. Write down the places in your body that comes to your attention and what you feel there-both the good and the bad.
. As a whole , how do you feel about your body? Do you pay attention to it? Are you happy with the way it feels and behaves? Is it pleasurable to be in your body? Does your body feel like excess baggage you have to carry around? Do you have chronic pain , or addictive disorders?
. How much time in each week do you give to your body (working out, getting a massage, going for a walk, making love ect.)?
.What are you goals for your body (teeth fixed, new clothes, weight loss or gain ect)?

The medicine wheel is a tool you can use whenever you have a question about your life. Look at the problem from all four directions to find an answer that brings balance to your life.

Blessings,


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Miraculous Messages From Water

The Hidden Messages in WaterLove Thyself: The Message from Water III (v. 3)Water Crystal Healing: Music and Images to Restore Your Well-being (Book & CD)
A few years ago , someone sent me an email that changed my life.

I was introduced to the research of Dr. Masaru Emoto who was studying the power of focussed thought or intention.

The first time I saw Dr. Emoto's work, it really blew my mind. It vividly illustrates what the human mind is capable of... and definitely initiates questions on the power we have over our own environments.

The amazing research he conducted, was to freeze water and photograph the crystals using a microscope that was fitting with a camera. His theory was that when frozen, water would form crystals (like snowflakes), and that water from different sources would produce different types of crystals (depending on the location, contamination levels, and other factors).

So he set out to photograph water in as many situations as possible. Although he produced no two crystals that were exactly identical, he immediately noticed that the crystals within the same sample were all quite alike in structure. (This is to say, the crystals within a specific sample showed a distinctive tendency, called a "grid crystal / laminar crystal structure", which is used to identify crystals.)

Without getting too technical , the upshot is, he realized that not only pollutants had an effect on the crystal structure, but also other factors which were not as immediately obvious... he set out now not only as a scientist, but also as a philosopher open to discovering a whole new world view!

He played music to water samples before freezing them. Some samples were exposed to beautiful, classical, healing music and some were exposed to heavy metal.

He had people (individually and in groups) pray over the water before freezing it.

He had technicians write words of positivity or negativity on the vials of water, and even that showed an amazing effect. This study was also repeated in a double blind, where the words were written in languages that the technicians did not understand (to rule out thought interference).


The positive thoughts, prayers, music, and words (in whatever form they were expressed in) created very stunning and beautiful symmetrical crystals, whereas the negative or destructive thoughts, prayers, music and words created "mud" or formless blobs. (Some of these I find actually quite threatening- or sinister-looking, personally)

I can't help but make the connection that humans are at least 70% water.... Plus, our food contains a great deal of water... Our planet is covered in water...

Are the power of our thoughts determining our form on a physical level? Can thoughts, prayers, words, music, and other forms of human expression actually pollute or purify water ? Dr. Emoto's studies seem to indicate this.

And to take it one step further, water is the only substance that was studied here. How far could this "intent" thing conceivably go? How much effect do we REALLY have on our environment, our possessions, our food, and each other? I'll leave that for you to ponder.

I included some links below to look at some more research, interviews, and photographs. Of course, just typing "messages from water" or "Masaru Emoto" into Google or another search engine will get you tons of sites on Mr. Emoto and his amazing research!

Click here to see photographs of the amazing changes in water , you won't believe your eyes.


 Click here to read a facinating interview with Dr. Emoto


Years ago I studied meditation with a group that would not eat anything that wasn't prepared by themselves. Their theory was that if you prepared food while in a bad mood, that that energy would be imparted to the food and absorbed by the person eating it. After learning about Dr. Emoto's work, I can now see the sense in their thinking. I am much more concious now of my words, thoughts, the music I listen to and totally believe in the power of prayer to create positive change.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Answered Prayers

The MckLinky blog hop theme for this Monday is "ANSWERED PRAYERS". It's always encouraging to hear stories about how prayer was answered... sometimes dramatically, sometimes more subtle. Please join us and share your story, you might win a prize!

My story begins on the 21st anniversary of my Mothers passing. I was driving along and speaking to my Mothers memory. I shared with her my hopes and dreams. I wondered what she would think of all the changes in the world since she left. In closing I asked her that if she had any pull with the cosmos, if she could send me a nice guy that I could relate to. I had been single for over 10 years at that point and had all but given up on ever meeting anyone that I could connect with .

The very next night I attended a party at a friends house. The minute I walked in the door, I locked eyes with a stranger and before long we were chatting throughout the night. That was three years ago and we have been together ever since. We have so much in common, and he facinates me in so many ways.

The really magical part of this story, was that I had recently ( and for the first time) looked at the personal ads on craigslist and saw an ad that really appealed to me. I thought to myself, I think this could be the guy for me, but I never answered his ad. The party I went to was all my friends I had known for years. This was the first time I had met a stranger at one of our regular get togethers. I realized after our first date, that he was the guy in the ad. What was the chances that we would ever meet in this huge city and that we would hit it off as well as I knew we would. I have no doubt that my Mother pulled some strings for me.

* update.. this post was chosen to be included in an article about different peoples experiences with prayer  50 Beautiful Blog Posts on Answered Prayer . Check it out for more uplifting stories.
Blessings,

MckLinky Blog Hop

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Inspiration Mondays-Cob houses

My goal these days is to build my own floathome with little or no money. I have been collecting all kinds of stuff from the free section of craigslist and storing it in a 40 foot shipping container. In the meantime I keep searching for ideas and inspiration on how I want to design it and decorate. On Mondays I will be sharing with you some of things that have caught my fancy.

In reality, I should probably have half a dozen homes as I am interested in many different styles, from antiques, shabby chic, asian, morrocan decors and adobe, cob, wood frame or stone construction. I imagine my finished house will be quite an ecclectic mix of all of the above by the time I am finished.


The first time I saw this video, I died and went to heaven. This man created a house that far surpassed all my dreams. The house is built of cob or cobb which is a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth, similar to adobe. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and inexpensive. It can be used to create artistic, sculptural forms and has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements.



Unfortunately, cob is quite heavy to build with and would not be suitable for a floathome due to the weight factor, but I still like to look and drool over these pictures.



Some Other Cob Images




















Be Inspired


Herb of the Week - Arnica Montana

Arnica montana has tall stems, 20–60 centimetres (7.9–24 in) high, supporting usually a single flower head. Most of the leaves are in a basal rosette, but one or two pairs may be found on the stem and are, unusually for composites, opposite. The flower heads are yellow, approximately 5 cm in diameter, and appear from May to August.


Arnica is currently used in liniment and ointment preparations used for strains, sprains, and bruises. Commercial arnica preparations are frequently used by professional athletes. The thymol derivatives concentrated in the plants' roots have been clinically shown to be effective vasodilators of subcutaneous blood capillaries. Arnica preparations used topically have been demonstrated to act as an anti-inflammatory and assist normal healing processes by facilitating transport of blood and fluid accumulations through a dilating action of subcutaneous blood capillaries. If ingested internally, the toxin helenalin produces severe gastroenteritis, and internal bleeding of the digestive tract if enough material is ingested.

Arnica gel is a constant product in my medicine cabinet. It works wonders for bruising, sprains and strains. If you apply it as soon as you are injured, chances are, you won't get a bruise at all, or the one you do get will be much less severe and fade much more quickly. A word of caution..... only apply it to unbroken skin, don't put it in open wounds as it is toxic in the bloodstream.

General Safety Advisory

The information in this document does not replace medical advice.

Before taking an herb or a botanical, consult a doctor or other health care provider -- especially if you have a disease or medical condition, take any medications, are pregnant or nursing, or are planning to have an operation.

Before treating a child with an herb or a botanical, consult with a doctor or other health care provider.

Like drugs, herbal or botanical preparations have chemical and biological activity. They may have side effects. They may interact with certain medications. These interactions can cause problems and can even be dangerous.

If you have any unexpected reactions to an herbal or a botanical preparation, inform your doctor or other health care provider

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ostara, Eostre, Easter

The Sabbat of OSTARA (Spring Equinox) March 20 or 21


Ostara, Estro, Easter - The origin of the word Easter is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring.

Eostre - goddess of fertilty - Each vernal (Spring) equinox she is celebrated for going to to the underworld, dying and being reborn to bring new life to the world. Her symbols are the egg (union, fertility), the moon (cycles of life, fertility, feminity), and the hare or rabbit that many cultures see in the moon. This ancient celebration surives today with the colourful and cherished Easter bunny (Eostre's hare) tradition.


Ostara (also known as Eostre) is the beginning of the agricultural year. It is time for the Earth to "spring" into action and for us to initiate and celebrate new beginnings. One of the most universal symbols of this sabbat is the planting of seeds and the sprouting of new life from the womb of the Earth Mother. The Vernal or Spring Equinox marks the beginning of the 'light' half of the year, when day gradually becomes longer than night. From now until Autumn, the power of the Goddess dominates our festivities, bringing light, warmth and fertility to the earth. The courtship of the God and Goddess commences with this sabbat and this is an appropriate time to focus on the balance of male and female energies within ourselves.

The word "Easter" is derived from the word "Eostre" and the symbols used to celebrate Easter have pre-Christian origins. The Easter bunny reminds us of the hare, the animal most sacred to the Goddess Diana and the eggs that the hare brings symbolize new beginnings, rebirth, continuity and growth. Have you ever wondered why Easter changes dates and months from year to year? Interestingly it is always the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox!


Some folk customs associated with Ostara are: spring cleaning (new beginnings); sunrise observances (to celebrate the growing light of the sun); sowing and planting done ceremonially; ashes from the Ostara eve bonfire mixed with the planting seed as a fertility charm; eating of cake and cider in the planting fields, burying a piece of the cake then pouring a cider libation to show the earth what it is expected to produce; moon cakes which are round cakes marked on top by a cross dividing it into quarters or 'farls' symbolizing the quarters of the moon and the four elements - they are the original hot cross buns; tree planting. Have fun with your traditions!


A tradition that my Mother passed down to me was the creation of an Easter Tree.
 
To make your own, cut a few branches of spring flowers and put in a vase or into some florists foam in a pot. Decorate the branches with symbols of Easter; small chicks, rabbits, eggs etc.
 
I just love these egg shaped bells I found the other day. A few branches from the garden and a cross shaped piece of driftwood complete my Easter tree for this year.


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Here is a ritual you can do to release your burdens or bad habits, utilizing the four elements


The Earth renews herself in spring and so can we. If you have a habit you want to release (like smoking, compulsive eating, or chronic complaining, for example), or if old emotions are weighing on you, the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air–and the power of your own focused intention–can help you to transform these burdens from the past so you can feel lighter and ready to begin anew.

These simple, effective rituals practiced by people from all around the world can help us to let go of our old issues. You can do any or all of these four simple elemental ceremonies. They have worked for thousands of years to help people feel free.

1. First, give some real time and thought to the things you want to release.

2. Now write them on one very small piece of biodegradable paper for every element you want to ask for help. (Really stuck stuff may need all four!)

3. Choose one or more of the following rituals. As you perform each one, be sure to ask the element for help and thank it when you are finished.

Earth
The all-embracing Earth takes everything back into herself, slowly transforming all things into the essential elements of which they are made. Bury your paper, marking the spot with a stone, if you like. When you see the stone, be reminded of the process going on underneath it. Earth is slowly helping your issues to transform.

Water
Flowing Water is a wonderful purifier, cleansing and making things new. Take your paper to a river or stream and tear it into tiny pieces, then offer them to the water. If you don’t have moving water nearby, you may flush the papers down the toilet. (Be sure your paper is really small!)

Fire
Lively Fire changes everything into itself with lots of lovely light and heat. Burn your paper in a safe receptacle (with proper ventilation and water nearby), watching as the transformative power of fire turns your paper into flame and smoke and ash.

Air
The Air carries our intentions outward, bringing in new hope like a fresh breeze. Take your paper to a high place and tear it into tiny pieces, then release them into the air. Watch as they flutter and float downward.

(By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2001).


MckLinky Blog Hop


The Birth of a Blog

Hello and welcome to Wyldestone Cottage. Please go here to find out more about me and my blog.

 I specifically chose to launch Wyldestone Cottage today as it is Spring Equinox, the first day of spring and all the new beginnings that spring  represents. I have been pondering how to best share all my knowledge for a long time and  I believe this blog will give me the most flexibility to do so. I look forward to meeting you all and sharing our stories.

Please join me by adding yourself as a follower by clicking on the followers button in the right margin so others can meet you as well.

Blessings,