"The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within". ~ William C. Bryant
March's Full Moon is known as the "Full Worm Moon." The Vernal Equinox heralds the beginning of Spring and we will see the signs of the new season: the birds return from their southern sojourn and the tree sap begins to flow (which is why this moon is also called the "Sap Moon.") The days will continue to lengthen and the ground will begin to warm…..and we will notice the earthworm castings show up in our gardens.,,,,hence the name.
(Mercury goes Retrograde 2/6/14)
Full Moon 2/14/14 6:54 pmLast Quarter Moon 2/22/14 12:16 pm
New Moon 3/1/14 3:02 am
First Quarter Moon 3/8/14 8:27 am
Full Moon 3/16/14 12:10 am
Vernal Equinox 3/20/14 11:57 am
New Moon 3/30/14 1:48 pm
First Quarter 4/7/14 3:31 am
Full Moon 4/15/14 2:45 am
Sage Healing Practices
Someone told me that the varied weather patterns that we have enjoyed this spring are typical of a New England : snow, flowers, snow, flowers. The variety has made planning a bit challenging. It appears that either this spring is slow to arrive or the winter just doesn’t want to leave us yet.
Our podcast just prior to the Vernal Equinox covered spring health tips….and that pretty much focused on allergies. At my day job, I am seeing many people come in with strong allergy symptoms. The cold, warm, cold and warm again weather cycle is creating a scenario for an early and extreme allergy season. I recommend breaking out the neti pot. Just clearing away some of the allergens with the gentle rinsing actions can be comforting and can significantly reduce some of the allergy symptoms. A strong immune system is also a core component for the spring health challenges. Hopefully, everyone has kept their immune system primed all winter…spring is not the time to slack off! It would be wise to continue to take elderberry or olive leaf throughout the spring season. A strong, healthy immune system helps your body deal with the onslaught of uncomfortable symptoms brought on by allergic reactions.
As always, we have options from the herbal world as well. There are some lovely prepared formulas from reputable suppliers, but those of us who have a strong ‘DIY’ streak enjoy creating and customizing our own concoctions. If you are new to herbs, it is wise to do your research or work with someone who is experience to avoid herbs that might conflict with existing conditions or current medications. Some herbs that are useful for this time of year include:
You can take these herbs separately or try blending a few. Just pour boiling water over them, steep for 10 minutes then strain….and sweeten with a bit of honey. You can also purchase tinctures and mix them directly into hot water to enjoy a few times a day.
Aromatherapy is another option for minimizing allergy symptoms. Here are a few essential oils to experiment with this spring:
I think we all dread sleepless nights. Be it a dreaded phone call in the wee hours of the morning or a day that leaves our heads jumbled, we find ourselves looking for a way to put our lives back into balance once again..
I had one of those nights this past week. In morning’s light I tried to go about my plans for the day. On my way to a meeting, I found myself with a little bit of extra time and there was no question as to how I would spend it: I made a slight detour and went to one of my favorite labyrinths. Following the labyrinth’s looping pattern to the center and back helped restore a sense peace and being ‘centered’ to my mind before I went about the rest of my day. There are many benefits to walking a labyrinth, including stress reduction and the creation of a sense of hope and inner peace. The very act of walking a labyrinth is ‘doing’ something…even when one does not know what to do. And that was exactly what I needed that morning.
I ‘discovered’ this labyrinth over 10 years ago as I was driving along Old Georgetown Pike and noticed a small sign next to a church that read “It is solved by walking.” That labyrinth became one of my places of refuge during a series of life changes. I have walked it at morning and night, among the snowflakes and on sweltering summer days, barefoot and on crutches. Over time, I introduced various friends to my special place but I must admit that there times when I am glad to be by myself in the sacred space. Sometimes I bring my camera and indulge the creative side of my mind. The picture of sage that is on this website and my business cards was taken at the labyrinth on a summer evening.
Labyrinth walking is a form of moving meditation. Research at Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute found that such activities reduce anxiety and elicits the “relaxation response.” Long-term health benefits include lower blood pressure and breathing rates as well as reduction of chronic pain and insomnia. Meditation is known to improve one’s focus and ability to concentrate. Labyrinths are ancient symbols for healing and represent a path to renewal for good reason.
The act of walking a labyrinth creates a state of balance between the two hemispheres of the brain. Following the path engages the left side by utilizing cognitive functions while the right side prevails on the intuitive attributes of the mind. On a symbolic level, tracing the path into the center of the labyrinth then following it back again represents a spiritual journey and can become part of our journey to the answers we seek
It is possible to experience the many benefits of walking a labyrinth wherever you are by using a simple finger labyrinth. Just print on from on of the may resources on line. There are also small labyrinths that are designed for fingers or a stylus. There’s a small pewter labyrinth in my living room and the stylus that is used to trace the patterns has been worn smooth over the past years.
The noise from Old Georgetown Pike always fades away as I follow the path to the center of the labyrinth and my mind becomes more still with each step. Standing in the center, I am able to hear a voice that I know is not my own. As I slowly wind my way back out of the labyrinth and return to the ‘real world’ I find myself better place and more at peace….and that was exactly what I needed that particular morning.
Sage Healing Newsletter ~ February 2013
Years ago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study with Teresa Boardwine, a most wonderful and talented herbalist. She generously shared her wisdom with us and years later, I still find myself using this information everyday. My ginger honey and elderberry syrup are now staples in my life and every winter I find myself at the stove, making batches of her immune broth.
I have had many requests to share this recipe, so here it is….and I included some of the health benefits of each ingredient as well.
Create, enjoy and be well….
6 shitake mushrooms,
1 reishi mushroom,
1 ounce maitake mushroom,
6 pieces astragalus root,
1 piece kombu,
1 large yellow onion (skin and all),
1 bunch parsley,
1 gallon distilled water.
(Use disilled water only. Do not substitute tap, filtered or bottled water or you will be diluting the amount of potassium in the broth.)
There is room for substitutions with the mushrooms. I recommend fresh mushrooms rather than dried, as they are far more potent. Use what you can find. If I can’t find one of the mushrooms, I double up on another one.
You can add other vegetables but be sure to use the ones listed here as the base to ensure that you are creating a base for immune support.
How to prepare the broth:
Coarsely chop the ingredients and add to the water.
Bring to boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours.
Strain the ingredients from the broth.
Tips for enjoying the broth:
I love this broth piping hot with a dash of garlic powder and a little bit of Bragg’s Amino Acids, tamari or Miso. Himalayan sea salt also works well (and adds trace minerals.)
It can also be used for cooking quinoa, rice, lentils….use your imagination! It can even be used as a base for or added to other soups.
Storing the broth:
Refrigeration is required. I like to keep mine in Mason jars. When they cool, they create a vacuum seal (but it still needs to be refrigerated.)
Properties of the ingredients:
Shitaki - Improves immune function. Research indicates that the shiitake compound eritadenine may help lower cholesterol levels.
Reishi – Used for fatigue, high cholesterol, hypertension, and stimulating the immune system while providing strength and stamina and fighting viral infections
Maitaki - The Japanese word "maitake" means "dancing mushroom" because people in ancient times were said to dance for joy when they found these mushrooms, which were literally worth their weight in silver. Maitake mushrooms are used in traditional Chinese medicine for fighting disease and improving immunity while lowering blood pressure and cholesterol
Astragalus – This is found in healthfood stores and looks like a balsa wood tongue depressor. Astragaus is an adaptogen, meaning it has properties that protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. It has anti-viral properties and is used to protect and support the immune system, preventing colds and upper respiratory infections while lowering blood pressure and protecting the liver.
Kombu: Kombu is dried brown algae and contains calcium, magnesium, copper, selenium, iron and iodine and has anti-inflammatory properties. Kombu is also high in Vitamin C, making this a wonderful addition for skin (helps prevent the breakdown of collagen)
Carrots - Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, helping increase T-cells and boosting the immune system.
Onions – Onions contain natural immune system boosting and antibacterial properties.
Parsley - The Vitamin C found in parsley strengthens the body's immune system in many ways, benefiting bones and teeth as well as the body's ability to repair wounds. Parsley is also high in Vitamin A, which is beneficial to the mucous membranes of the body and helps the white blood cells (lymphocytes) combat infections in the body.