Friday, April 20, 2012

The Lovely Castor (Ricinus Communis)

I first made the acquaintance of the castor plant a few years ago when an older couple I know showed me the castor's they'd planted near their garden.  They said the roots were poisonous so they'd planted them there to control moles.  Whether that works or not appears to be a matter of debate, but I barely heard that assertion anyway because I was so taken in with the beauty of the plants!  They were all over 5 feet tall with glossy dark leaves, and rubbery pink seed pods.  I immediately asked if I could have some seeds from the plants when they were ready, and they agreed.  The next year was my first year of castor gardening.

                                                        My first castor plant. 

First off, I need to say that castor beans are poisonous.  Not slightly poisonous either, deadly. Don't mess around with them uncautiously.  That being said, the plant is a beautiful specimen.  The variety I grow has dusky purple leaves with a rubbery texture.  The pink of the seed pods is a beautiful brilliant contrast with the darkness of the rest of the plant.  It's beauty is so sensual, it whispers of guarding the darkened untrod sections of Eden.

The deadliness of this plant makes it highly useful in baneful work of course, but I've also found it to be a plant with a very protective quality once a relationship is established with it.  I have a rather large patch of it growing at one of the borders of my property, and I keep it's seeds in protective ritual containers throughout my home.  I only use it's seeds that I've harvested from the castor plants I've grown, I don't buy them. This isn't something I practice with all plants, but it's part of my relationship with the castor. 

Interestingly, I was born a few weeks overdue and my mother's doctor had her drink castor oil to move me along.  I understand that this practice is no longer recommended in the medical community, but I do enjoy knowing that this plant that I now work with so well was connected to my birth.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prosperity Blend

This is a work I devised to keep prosperity flowing in my home, and to honor the forces that bring it to me. 

Put these ingredients in your mortar (or bowl).  Amounts are open to your own interpretation. 

Yellow Dock
Allspice (whole, I used 4)
Cinnamon Stick (I used an inch)
Dogwood Petals
Brown Rice
1 dried Four Leaf Clover  (I find these all the time and press them to keep and use)

Grind this mixture with your pestle (or a rock or whatever) while meditating on the prosperity that's currently in your life and the additional prosperity you'd like to see.  When you're satisfied with it, put it in a plate or large pillar candle stand.  Start adding coins that you find when you're out to the plate, to represent prosperity that comes freely to you.  Dollar Bills could be put in the bottom of the plate under the spices if you like.  I don't usually use tea lights, as I prefer larger candles that can be carved, but for things like this I do use tea lights because they heat up the herbs and cause them to put off more of their lovely scent.  I put the tea light in the middle of the blend.  I also added a hagstone to my plate that I found in my front flower garden. 


A trip to the Graveyard

An old family cemetery is an amazing thing, and I'm grateful that my family has one.  It's located in the country, nothing but fields around it.  At least once per year I go with my Grandmas and Aunts to tend the graves.  We take new flowers for our beloved dead, and bring supplies to clean the stones.  The stones are gone over with a brush and the cleaning solution to prevent moss growth that would obscure the names and dates.  We have a lot of family there, so by the time we're done we're sweaty and pretty well covered with all manner of graveyard dirt.  This is something we've been doing ever since I can remember, and something that we've done since before I was born. 

For some families, visiting the graves of their loved ones on Memorial Day (in the US) is not all that uncommon.  Unfortunately it's getting to be less common.  What is unusual about my family (based on my observation of other families graveyard habits) is not that once per year we clean and care for the graves, but that we visit on a regular basis every time we get the chance.  All of us, and we are a very large family, stop by the graveyard to visit anytime we're near it and have a few minutes to spare.  There's an understanding that our dead know and hear when we speak to them, even among the fundamentalist-christian members of the family.  Of course, we don't have to go to the graveyard to speak to them, but that's a subject for another post.

There are some old graves that are not family members by blood (that we know of) and over the years we've adopted many of these into our care routine.  There is a Civil War soldier grave that I took on responibility for bringing flowers to and cleaning 18 years ago, and a few others.  They've become beloved dead as well.

It bothers me when people ignore death, or act as if it's something shameful to be avoided.  For me, my dead are as much recipients of love and respect as my living.  Seeing people recoil from touching a dead body is confusing to me.  I know that in our current culture people are not prepared to be comfortable with death in most cases, and the coldness of the flesh is shocking.  But still.. I find it confusing.  When one of my own go, I hold their hands as I say goodbye, or kiss their brow.  I feel that I would insult them if I were recoiling from their new state of being. 

So I'm just typing to say, remember your beloved dead.  If your family was the worst shit of the worst and you're glad they're gone then they're not beloved.  But beloved dead doesn't have to be 'family' in the most literal sense of the word.  Find your own beloved, don't be limited to your family tree.