Monday, July 25, 2016

5 Natural Ways to Tackle a Migraine


I had my first migraine at eight years old. At that age, I didn't have any understanding of migraines. Nor did my mother, who was never a headache sufferer. My father, on the other hand, knew all too well the sweet agony of migraines. But since my parents had already divorced years earlier, he was unaware that his daughter was clutching her head in the wee hours of the morning, crying uncontrollably no matter how her mother tried to soothe her.

Am I painting a clear picture here? My mother was terrified, as any decent parent would be if their child was complaining of severe HEAD pain! So off we went to the emergency room, bright lights and all. And there I learned my first lesson in migraines: There's not much anyone can do for you.

...at least not in traditional medicine. 

Now, before you get to composing an e-mail, I understand some people have great luck with certain medications or over-the-counter drugs, but as a child those never worked for me. Ever. 

As an adult, I choose not to use chemicals in my daily life, especially chemicals that never worked! But just because a person chooses to live a natural lifestyle does not mean they have to suffer through ailments! Here are my top five go-to alternative treatments when I'm suffering from a migraine. If you're familiar with the beautiful hell that is a migraine, I hope they offer you some relief!

Peppermint oil

You know that lovely throb you get in your temple when a migraine hits that sweet point? You know that point, the one where you'd promise to never eat ice cream ever, ever again if the pain would just flipping stop? That's when you need to whip out your peppermint essential oil. Now, I'm not going to lie to you. I use it undiluted, straight from the bottle, and massage it gently into my temple. Legally, I have to tell you not to do this! Follow the directions. Dilute in a carrier oil. 

.....

With that said, I use peppermint oil at the start of a migraine. Just be VERY careful not to get it anywhere near your eyes. Trust me on this! No one likes a minty fresh eyeball. Even just the fumes from it can make your eye burn (I speak from experience). So take extra precautions to keep away from your eyes! 

Taking deep breaths of the oil's fragrance can also help, as peppermint helps calm the mind (which is inevitably freaking out about how much pain you're in).

Acupuncture

If you're able to get to an acupuncturist, acupuncture is phenomenal for migraines. And, well, everything else. Sadly, I no longer live even remotely near one. *shakes fist at sky* But if you're able to find an LAc (licensed acupuncturist) near you, most offer free consultations which will allow you to get a feel for the practitioner. Like anything else, people are people. Some acupuncturists you just won't jive with (I've met a doozy or two). Others are the best, most blessed godsend to ever cross your path. (How I miss my acupuncturist in Arizona!!!!)  I highly recommend acupuncture to anyone with any ailment. And to answer the most common question I'm asked about acupuncture— No, it doesn't hurt. The needles are insanely small, a much smaller gauge than what's used to draw blood. 

Homeopathic headache treatment

The first time I tried a homeopathic treatment I was new to natural medicine and was expecting drastic, immediate results.

This is not how homeopathy generally works.

In my experience, homeopathic treatments are gentle and subtle. Therefore, it may take a few doses before you notice effects. But the advantage to homeopathic medicines is that they generally do not have side effects like traditional medications. I say "generally" because there is an exception to everything. If you're interested in more information, you can read about it here. Basically, the manner in which homeopathic medicines are made all but eliminates chances of side effects and drug interactions. But again, I'm not a doctor. So talk with your naturopath before trying any recommendations from this blog and all that jazz... 

There are several different types of homeopathic pellets for migraines depending on the exact symptoms. Personally, my migraines are generally caused by an old neck injury. Therefore, I use Hypericum Perforatum, which helps calm nerve pain. As a child, my migraines were caused by stress and tension. Kali Phosphoricum is great if you're experiencing stress-related migraines. If you tend to feel hot with migraines or get migraines due to heat/overheating, try Glonoinum. I know the names sound confusing and it can be a bit overwhelming if you're not familiar with homeopathy, but it's easy to do some research and familiarize yourself. Boiron, the brand I prefer, has loads of information on their site. I was confused at first as well. Don't be like me and let intimidation keep you from using these helpful products. It took me a couple of years before I finally took the time to educate myself, and I wish I'd done so sooner! 


Coffee (and water!)

For someone who practices natural medicine, I'm surrounded by an odd number of pharmacists, including a sister-in-law and a few family friends. When I was younger and in the thick of my migraines, a pharmacist friend told my mother the (not so) hidden secret to OTC migraine medication: caffeine. Don't believe me? Go take a look at what's in Excedrin Migraine. Go on. I'll wait here.

See! Caffeine! Acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. So now when I get a migraine that I can't make go away, I have a cup of coffee. And it works quite often! Don't ask me the science behind it, I suspect it has something to do with blood pressure, but it works. And when I have a migraine, all I care about is what works. Dark chocolate can also be used for the same reason. Hey, if you have to deal with a crappy migraine, you should at least get some coffee and chocolate out of it!

Of course you'll want to avoid this if you're sensitive to caffeine. You'll also want to make sure you're drinking a lot of water. Otherwise you'll get dehydrated, which can cause a migraine!

Feverfew**

Feverfew is an interesting herb. I don't recall how I stumbled upon it, but I'm very glad I did. I personally take it when I feel a migraine coming on, but it can be taken daily for the poor souls who deal with chronic (as in weekly) migraines. It has a slew of other uses, such as allergies, fever, and arthritis, but I'll stay on topic for now.

As I said, I take a 455 mg capsule when I feel a migraine coming on. Generally, it does the trick and I'm fortunate to not have to mess with the above suggestions. My best friend, who suffers from migraines related to PMS, has also found it very helpful!

Before you pop a feverfew capsule, here are a few things you should know: Feverfew shouldn't be taken in conjunction with blood-thinners, those who have difficulty clotting, or within a week of surgery. It should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Those allergic to ragweed should avoid feverfew. 

Random (yet helpful) Tips:

-You're probably aware, but using ice packs can help combat migraines. I use homemade rice packs similar to these (which are super easy to make if you have basic sewing skills. Add lavender!!). I keep them in the freezer AT ALL TIMES (seriously, don't f@#$ with my rice packs!). The benefit to rice over ice cubes or a hard freezer pack is that it's soft and conforms to your head. You could also use a cotton sock filled with rice. A side benefit to these awesome cold packs is they are dual purpose! Toss one in the microwave for a minute or two and it can be used as a heating pad. Just make sure it's cotton fabric, as synthetics may melt in the microwave. 

-Lavender oil on your pillow can help you relax when you're trying to sleep off a migraine. If you're super sensitive to scents during a migraine, of course avoid this. But I've found just one drop is not only pleasantly fragrant but helps me relax and sleep.

In conclusion, migraines suck, chocolate is delicious, and don't ever touch my rice packs! =D

**Some information is cited from the wonderful Brigitte Mars, AHG. Check out her fantastic herbal reference guide, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicinefor more information!


Do you have a natural remedy you use to treat migraines?

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NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.

Monday, July 18, 2016

How to Honor Weekday Sabbats (Without Stressing the F@#$ Out!)


Pagans are pretty busy people. Aside from, you know, life, we have eight Sabbats, twelve full moons, and twelve new moons to honor every year. That's thirty-two annual acknowledgements. Thirty-three on a blue moon year! If you're keeping score, that means we have some sort of rite or ritual every other week on average!

Whew, my broom-riding butt is tired just thinking about it!

How can a modern day Pagan keep up with all that nature worship and spell casting? Let me give you a few suggestions!

Use your slow cooker

This may seem like an odd suggestion, but a slow cooker is a great tool to help you honor a Sabbat or Esbat when time is tight. If you plan your meal ahead of time, you can toss the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and have dinner ready by the time you get home. Pea soup for Ostara. Spicy chili for Yule. It's very easy to have a Sabbat feast without all the hassle. Not too shabby for a weekday! 

Reschedule

This year Imbolc fell on a Tuesday, not a particularly desirable day to host a bonfire. Would it be terrible to celebrate Imbolc the weekend before or after? Realistically, do you think our ancestors had the precise date of Sabbats a thousand years ago? I'm guessing (and I've read) they recognized Sabbats by seasonal changes. Keeping that in mind, does being a few days early or late make you a wayward Pagan? Cut yourself some slack and work within your schedule. Perfectionism is stressful. Just do the best you can. You're not a Stepford wife. (And if you are, you simply MUST tell me how you get your hair so shiny!).

Go to nature

If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you know I love me some simplicity (and Gilmore Girls...and tea...). It's easy to get caught up in the incense burning and gemstone collecting, but Paganism at it's finest is about nature. If you're too busy with sugared-up kiddos to cast a full circle for Samhain, or you don't have the bread making skills to make a loaf for Lughnasadh (AKA Lammas), spend some time in nature. It's that simple! Sit outside and watch the birds. Take a stroll and listen to the wind in the trees. Lay on the grass and watch the clouds. Moon gaze. Pay your respects to nature by taking a focused moment to appreciate it. It's not only enjoyable, but it's something we just don't do often enough in this chaotic life!

Don't stress

I can't stress this enough (see what I did there? Did you see??!!). Getting overwhelmed is counterproductive to a Sabbat or Esbat. In a spiritual practice that focuses on energy, the last thing you want to do is get frazzled. Be realistic when planning for your Sabbats. If you know you're usually pooped after work, planning a full altar and a feast is setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. 

I do this to myself every year with Samhain. Pumpkin carving. Roasting seeds. Loads of cooking (and thus cleaning). A full circle. Our annual Treehouse of Horror binge. Annnnd I somehow expect to complete this all between 6-10 o'clock. It's just not possible, not without rushing. And rushing during pumpkin carving means blood and stitches. Not my ideal Samhain. I mean, appropriate, but not my ideal. So we scale back. Pumpkins get carved the day before. I don't plan the entire October issue of Food Network Magazine for dinner. I write the casting and spellwork for our circle a week ahead of time. And we enjoy our Samhain thoroughly. Because we're not stressed. Because we can savor the moment.

Cut yourself some slack. Not every Sabbat is going to be a full-on bash. Pick the ones that are most important to you and let the others be celebrated more simplistically. Above all, keep it in perspective. Sabbats are about honoring cycles and appreciating life. Do so by relishing the moment, not stressing about the details!


How do you celebrate weekday Sabbats? Do you focus on simplicity or go hog wild?

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Vehicle Protection Sachet Spell



Have you ever seen the show Dead Like Me? If you haven't, you MUST! It's about a young girl who dies and becomes a grim reaper. Like many great shows, it was only on for two seasons. During that short (but amazing) run, George (short for Georgia) makes a statement I find myself thinking about more than I probably should:

If people knew how close they came to death every day, they would never leave the house.

This statement is true. If you don't believe me, watch the drivers around you next time you're in the passenger seat. If you can go fifteen minutes without watching someone text WHILE the car is careening forward, I'll send you a doughnut. 

People make bad judgments. I learned that at 18 when a man in the opposing lane of a rural highway thought he had enough time to get across the road and quickly realized he didn't. His response? To stop dead in the road....in front of me....giving me just enough time to realize I was about to be in an accident and to hope I didn't piddle in my panties. I made it through the accident with clean undies, but not without a neck injury that continues to cause severe migraines and numb hands over twelve years later.

I don't have any anger towards that other driver. He made a poor decision. We're human. Stuff happens. It was an honest mistake. Even if it left me with a lifelong injury, he didn't decide to go out and hurt someone that night. It was human error.

What isn't a mistake is when people consciously take their eyes off the road to send texts, make a call, grab something from the glove compartment, etc. We see the public service warnings every day, but we've become desensitized to the truth: Driving while distracted is HORRIBLY dangerous. Yet almost everyone does it. It's offensive, really. Human life is not worth the risk. PLEASE pay attention while driving. Don't contribute to a despicable problem. 

But all the attentiveness in the world can't make up for someone's careless decision. My mother-in-law was stopped at a red light when a young woman—who was busy texting—hit her at SEVENTY miles an hour. Literally the only part of the car that wasn't obliterated was the driver's seat. Divine intervention at its finest. So how do you protect yourself from another's actions?

Magick. When in doubt, always choose magick.

Below you will find my personal Vehicle Protection Sachet Spell that I use in my family's vehicles. They have kept us safe, and I hope they will do the same for you!

I prefer a small sachet over a ritualistic spell because I'm guessing most people don't want to perform a full circle in their driveway to surround their car in protective energy. I'd love to SEE someone do that. I'd want to be your best friend if you did that. But even I, as brazen as I am, wouldn't feel comfortable casting in my driveway with cars and judgement rolling by. This is a nice inconspicuous way to protect your vehicle, and it smells fantastic! =D



Vehicle Protection Sachet Spell

Supplies:

Small charm bag or a piece of cloth and ribbon
Sage (dried)
Cedar or Rosemary (dried)
Pinch of salt (Course is better, but table salt works too)
3 pieces of Dragon's Blood (use a hefty pinch if powdered) 
3 Cat whiskers* and/or strands of wolf hair**
Small rock (or amethyst gemstone if desired)

*Please do NOT pull out your cat's whiskers! My kitty leaves me whiskers all the time, which I collect in a jar and save for spells. If you don't have a cat or your cat doesn't leave you whisker presents, simply skip this and replace it with something that resonates with you, like a small bird feather or a pretty seashell. Whatever embodies magick to you.

**A particular wolf sanctuary in Colorado used to sell the wolf hair they collected during shedding season as a way to support the sanctuary. Unfortunately, they don't sell it any longer. I haven't found another source, though I am looking for you! If you decide to purchase wolf hair, please make sure it is humanely sourced! Nothing will ruin your spell like poached wolf hair!

As with any spell, go to a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. Make sure you're in a focused, good mood and not distracted or agitated. 

While visualizing yourself (and your family) safe and secure in your vehicle, add the above items to the charm bag, reserving the pentacle. Once you're done, pull the drawstrings closed or tie closed with the ribbon. (The pentacle can be tied into the drawstring or ribbon if you choose to use one.)

Take a few moments to hold the sachet in your hands and charge it with protective energy. You can do this by envisioning your vehicle in a blue or purple bubble, by quietly chanting the words "protection and safety," or by whatever means you find preferable. Just take a moment to feel the energy tingling in your palms and passing into the bag and its contents. 

Once you feel the bag is charged, take it to your vehicle. Here you have two options:

1. Leave it in a place where it definitely won't be removed.
2. Hang it from your rear view mirror where the sunlight will feed the energy of your spell. I suggest skipping the pentacle if hanging as it may refract sunlight into your eyes while driving, which kind of defeats the purpose...

Either way, you have one more step before the spell is complete. ;)

When tying it to the mirror (or you can simply tie it shut if you're leaving it hidden in the car), repeat these words as you tie THREE knots:

With each knot, I bind this spell
Safety, protection, all is well
Sheltered and shielded, this vehicle shall be
Three times three, SO MOTE IT BE!

Say that last part with conviction, always. ;)

Now remember, magick can only work when physical action is taken. Therefore, you can't be painting your toenails while driving and expect this bag to keep you safe. If you need to make a call, pull over. Texting can wait. Honor your family and the lives of those on the road around you. Focus on driving.

There's a lot of magick left to do. You don't want to leave the Pagan Party early. ;)

Do you have protection spells on your vehicle? 

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Pinterest Gone Pagan: Energy Cleansing Chicken Piccata

Pinterest has no affiliation with this post.


You know those times when you feel like some funky ju-ju is following you around like a miasma of stinky garbage-juice scented bad energy?

Was that too descriptive? =S

Anyway, we've all gone through periods when it feels like something is out to get us. Maybe you overdrew your bank account. Or you ripped your favorite pair of jeans...at work...in front of the hot intern...on laundry day when you're wearing unbecoming panties.

No matter how much meditation, smudging, and chakra balancing we do, occasionally we experience off-kilter periods that no amount of sage seems to fix. That's when you need chicken piccata!

Chicken piccata??? Why is this crazy loon recommending poultry after a bad day? Because magick is everywhere, including your kitchen! In this episode of Pinterest Gone Pagan, I'd like to present Jo Cooks' Lemon Chicken Piccata (The pin can be found here.

This tasty dish (one of my favorite chicken dishes!) is perfect for clearing out stagnant or negative personal energy. All you need to do is visualize feeling cleansed and rejuvenationed while preparing and eating this delectable entree (you can do this by imagining yourself feeling lighter, less burdened, and happier), and you'll be feeling better in no time! 

Here's how:

Parsley
Medicinally and magickally, parsley is used for purification. It's an excellent yet gentle detoxifier and is surprisingly tasty in smoothies! In this recipe, this garnish helps purify any negative energy lingering in your aura.

Capers
Traditionally used for love, this astringent little bud is used in my kitchen for its cleansing qualities. Ultimately, kitchen magick is subjective. If you see capers and think of money, then toss some into a prosperity spell. That's the beauty of magick, it's all about the witch's intent. For me, capers=cleansing. 

Lemon
Much like parsley, lemon is a great detoxifier in magick spells as well as medicinally. Lemon is such a bright, clean, fragrant fruit that it helps raise our vibrational energies, which is especially important if you're feeling a little ho-hum.

Olive Oil
Considered sacred in ancient Egypt and Greece, olive oil is classified as a spiritual food, linking us to our higher, spiritual selves.

Butter
Ruled by the moon, butter is another food that helps us connect with our spiritual energies (and it's tasty to-boot!).


Dinner and a spiritual cleansing in under an hour? Talk about double duty! THAT, my friends, is how you slip a little magick into modern day living. And your family doesn't even have to know! ;)


Have you tried your hand at kitchen magick? What's your favorite edible spell?

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