Saturday, August 30, 2008

Join Me on a Tour of Morocco - 2009

As you may or may not know, I love Morocco. I first went there in 2000 and I went again last year with a group of herbalists. I decided I would put together my own tour, which I have named A Feast for the Senses. Click here to see the brochure. If you can't view it, leave a comment with your contact info and I will send it to you via email.

It combines sound, sight, scent and of course, taste and touch. There is so much to see and experience in Morocco and this tour will give you a tantalizing tidbit.

We will start in Casablanca made famous by the movie of the same name. Then go on to the Sacred Music Festival in Fez for a three amazing days and nights in the heart of the medina. Next we go to Marrakesh for a few days exploring the city itself and environs including Nectarome, a magical garden of healing herbs, where we will be pamperered with footbaths. Our next destination is Essaouira, once a Portuguese stronghold, now an artists and artisans colony. The last leg of the journey is a drive along the coast as we return to Casablanca for departure from the magic kingdom.

Everywhere we will experience the generosity and hospitality of this timeless land and its people. We will dine sumptuously and see things we have only dreamed of. Space is limited, sign up before October 15 to reserve your place on the caravan.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Issue of the Week - Aug 25 - Aug 31


I have been trying to make a decision that entails spending money. The money is available, but I am reluctant to spend it because I am in fear about the future. I have tried every tool I know to reassure myself. This morning I remembered a Sufi saying about the breath which says that every time we breathe in, it is a gift from God and every time we breathe out we surrender to God. We have no idea if it will be our last breath.

Most of us take it for granted that there will be a next breath - unless we are quite ill or close to passing. But if you think about it, how do you know that there will be another breath?

Many spiritual traditions say that we are but the out-breath of God. God's in-breath is our death. On a larger scale, God's out breath is the Creation, his/her/its in-breath the end of the world. From that perspective, what is there to fear?

Many phenomena in Nature repeat this theme: the tides, the seasons, the Moon phases. The wave-like motion that surrounds us. The yin and yang of existence at this level.

Fear blocks this in and out flow. It comes in usually when we are not being present and when we start thinking too much. It constricts the natural process. Trust 'greases the wheels' so to speak. It is following the heart's desire, believing our intuitive knowing.

To assist us in staying in trust are Cerato (from the original Bach repertory) and Crownbeard (from Desert Alchemy)

Cerato Ceratostigma willmottiana (blue)

Positive qualities: Trusting one's inner knowing, intuition, self-confidence, certainty

Patterns of imbalance: Uncertainty or doubt of oneself; invalidating what one knows, over-dependent on advice from others

There are times when the soul feels cut off from its own inner truth and therefore does not develop enough self-reliance. Cerato flower essence helps such persons to translate their already considerable spiritual abilities into active decision-making. This process requires that other spiritual being have less influence prompting the soul to develop independent judgment. At first this comes as a shock and such persons do not feel confident enough to make their own decisions, turning instead to others for advice and counsel. While seeking advice can be beneficial in many instances, it is regressive for those who need to develop a stonger sense of their own spirituality and wisdom. Cerato develops the ability to trust one's inner knowing, facilitating innate spiritual wisdom and strength. In this way, the soul becomes more confident and certain of its true Self.

Taken from the Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz
Photo taken from the website for the flower essence society.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Calendula and Lavender Salve

A healing salve that can be used for minor burns, scratches, cuts and abrasions.

1 ounce beeswax
1 1/2 ounce calendula infused oil
1 1/2 ounce lavender infused oil
25 drops lavender essential oil
55 drops tea tree essential oil

Melt beeswax in a saucepan which is in a water bath. (I prefer using glass pots when making herbal products). Add the infused oils and stir well. Just before you are going to pour the mixture in your salve jar, add the essential oils.

(I usually cover this jar with a paper towel and allow it to set and cool before I put the lid on, so that any excess moisture can evaporate. This helps it last longer). In the article they say to put the lid on before it cools. This is fine for a small batch that you will be using in your home. Since I make larger batches to sell, I must be more careful about spoilage.

Taken from The Herb Quarterly, Fall 2008.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Issue of the Week - Aug 18 - Aug 24

Soul Support

Many people are going through major changes such as losing jobs, having to move after years in one place, financial difficulties, deaths, illness and separation. At times like these, one's inner sense of stability can become compromised to the extent that they are at risk of accident or disease. With so much of external reality appearing to fall apart, one may feel there is nothing or no one they can count on.

I have been experiencing this as a problem with my balance and by having many small accidents around the house and garden, such as stubbing my toes constantly. When this happens, I know I am disoriented because the energy around me is so unstable.

This is the time for remembering our connection to God/Goddess/Spirit as well as the angelic realm.

In light of this, today I was called to select the blend from Alaskan Flower Essence Project called Soul Support.

It is formulated from Cattail Pollen, Chalice Well, Cottongrass, Fireweed, Labrador Tea, Malachite, River Beauty, Ruby and White Fireweed essences.

Soul Support brings strength and stability during emergencies, stress, trauma and transformation, while providing support to rejuvenate and restore balance on all levels. This formula is known to be helpful in the following situations:

* Accidents involving injury, shock and trauma
* Emotional catharsis and violent outbursts
* Fear of flying
* Motion sickness
* Before, during and after visits to the dentist
* After receiving "bad" news such as a death in the family
* Divorce, job changes and moving to a new place
* Post traumatic stress
* Before and immediately after surgery and during recovery
* For any transition, challenge, or initiation

The description above was taken from the Alaska Flower Essence Project catalog.
For those who cannot take essences directly, they can be placed on the temples and pulse points. Essences can be put in bath water. They can be sprayed in a room or bed.

There is also a Soul Support Spray which includes the scent of Lavender oil from Kashmir, or you can make your own scented spray using the flower essence, pure water, a few drops of your favorite scent and a little brandy or vodka to blend the oils in the water.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Burns and Bites Spray

Here's a simple spray you can make yourself to help alleviate the pain of sunburn and the itch of insect bites. Ravensara essential oil helps prevent infection as well. Avoid spraying in the eyes. If by accident you do spray it in your eyes, do not use water to wash it out because water will drive the oils further into the eye. Use oil such as almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil.

1 oz. aloe vera gel
1 oz. lavender hydrosol
1 oz. roman chamomile hydrosol
30 drops of lavender essential oil
15 drops of ravensara essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a 4 oz. spray bottle.
Shake and spray as needed.
Keep out of eyes.
Alleviates pain.
Promotes skin healing.
Diminishes itching.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Issue of the Week Aug 11 - Aug 17

Being Grounded

In order to create the life we want, we have to be here, functioning on the Earth. For many people, however, being here is painful and full of unpleasant memories. Negative childhood experiences might make us want to escape reality. Regrets or past failures, might have made us give up hope about the future. We cannot heal, change, or create, unless we are present in the here and now, grounded on the Earth.

Religious or spiritual concepts might make us wish for heaven or transcendance, convincing us that being here is unsatisfactory and we that we should strive to be somewhere else.

It might be difficult to see life on Earth as worthwhile and meaningful. We might seek heaven or higher states of consciousness at the detriment to our present life and relationships.

Often people on a spiritual path, prefer to be in 'higher states' or to escape this world altogether.

We are in a human body for a reason. It might not be clear to us what that reason is, but it is a fact.

Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? We tend to seek the answers elsewhere. In our mind, in our imagination, on other realms. While it is important to seek inspiration and to expand our consciousness, it is here on this earth that we must live our lives and act.

There is a Buddhist saying: before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.

Is that all there is? Doesn't sound like any sort of accomplishment. Well, not having achieved enlightenment myself, I can't say. But I can say this. I have had times when just being here, doing mundane things has been totally satisfying and enjoyable. I like to think that I was being present and more conscious at those moments and so the experience of doing everyday activities became deeper. Every time that happened, I was here, grounded and present. Not thinking about tomorrow or rehashing the past. The attempt to be here now can also help us when we are confused, or feel that our life is empty. Attending to everyday tasks with attention and care, can move us out of a negative space and give us peace.

A famous book by Ram Dass, published in 1971 called "Be Here Now" gives information about using Yoga to improve your present life.

A truly spiritual life includes nurturing one's connection to the Divine as well as cultivating the quality of one's current life on Earth.

One of the keys to having a meaningful life, is being grounded, here on Earth, in the present moment. I'd love to hear what you think about this and how to achieve it.

Some flower essences from Desert Alchemy can help us stay grounded.

Camphorweed Flower Essence

Indigo Bush Flower Essence

Palmer Amaranth Flower Essence

Red-Orange Epiphyllum Flower Essence

Monday, August 4, 2008

Issue of the Week Aug 4 - Aug 10


We are living in challenging times, when we feel we must act, but may be confused about what is right. I am reminded of the Bhagavad-Gita a great epic of Hinduism. The warrior hero Arjuna, in the heat of battle realizes his kinsmen are among those he is fighting against and thus he might even have to kill his own brother. He knows murder is wrong, fratricide even worse, yet what can he do? Events are in motion that he has no control over. God in the form of Khrishna says to him - Your job is to do your duty. Act and leave the fruits to me.

Those of us alive today did not create the whole problem that is before us. We are the inheritors of generations of people who made poor choices. This does not mean we should do nothing - for we should do what we can. I believe we should do our duty toward Nature and humanity. Recycle, cut down our use of resources, change our habits. And then we must leave the rest to God however you envision him/her/it. Nature is much greater than we can imagine. Becoming emotionally or physically ill trying to do too much is not appropriate.

During the time of Transformation and upheaval, The Serenity Prayer used in AA is quite useful for us all:

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Khrisha also says: "You have the right to work, but for the work's sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working."

"In the purely physical sphere of action, Arjuna is, indeed no longer a free agent. The act of war is upon him; it has evolved out of his previous actions. At any given moment in time, we are what we are; and we have to accept the consequences of being ourselves. Only through this acceptance can we begin to evolve further. We may select the battle-ground. We cannot avoid the battle."

Taken from the Bhagavad-Gita - Song of God translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood.

At first, this might seem to contradict the "Law of Attraction" that is so popular these days. However, what it says to me is that while we may not necessarily be able to control events, we can choose to control ourselves and how we perceive things. Only then, can we hope to change the external world.

Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum morifolium (red brown)

Positive qualities: Shifting the ego identification from one's personality to a higher spiritual identity; feeling oneself as transpersonal and transcendent.

Patterns of imbalance: Fear of aging and mortality, identification with youth and lower personality; mid-life crisis.

The soul-spiritual part of ourselves is immortal; it chooses to continuously grow and evolve by incarnating in a particular body and expression of personality. If the soul loses connection with its true immortality, or if it over-inflates the importance of a particular life, there will be great fear and avoidance of physical death. Such a soul has a psychological need to firmly establish its personality in the world as a defense against death and mortality. He or she seeks fame and fortune and falls too deply into the forces of materialism. The spiritual part of the soul is often obliterated or blocked, although it will attempt to make its presence known through a strong awareness crisis (for instance at mid-life), through a life-threatening illness, or through death itself. The Chrysanthemum flower gives such souls the ability to contact the true spiritual ego, and to contemplate the impermanent nature of earthly affairs in the light of the Higher Self.

Fawn Lily Erythronium purpuranscens (yellow with purple)

Positive qualities: Accepting and becoming involved with the world; sharing one's spiritual gifts with others

Patterns of imbalance: Withdrawal, isolation, self-protection; overly delicate, lacking the inner strength to face the world

Souls in need of Fawn Lily have very highly developed forces of spirituality, so much so that is is difficult for them to cope with the stresses and strains of modern society. Such persons are naturally inclined to states of contemplation, meditation, and prayer. It is easier for them to stay in these modes of spirituality, rather than to be involved with the world. However, the soul can become overripe and overdeveloped in its spirituality. Such persons need to disseminate the great gifts which have accumulated in their beings in order to evolve and progress; otherwise they become too introverted and spiritually cold, lacking the ability to draw strength and vitality from the physical world. Fawn Lily stimulates the natural healing and teaching capacities of such individuals, so that the soul evolves from its archetype of cosmic virgin to world mother, or world-server. (process of Virgo)

Impatiens Impatiens glandulifera (pink/mauve)

Positive qualities: Patience, acceptance; flowing with the pace of life and others

Patterns of imbalance: impatience, irritation, tension, intolerance

The souls who need Impatiens find it difficult to be within the flow of time; their tendency is to rush ahead of experience. In doing so, they deny themselves full immersion in life, even though they may appear very busy and engaged. In particular, these individuals miss the more gentle and subtle exchanges which can occur with others, or with the world around them. Their overabundance of fiery force flares up easily into irritation, impatience, intolerance, and anger. Although quite mentally agile and extremely capable, the great inner tension and excitability of such souls leads to various physical disease states or premature aging due to "burnout." the Impatiens type needs to experience not only the powerful flaming of life, but also its gentle flowering. Through the Impatiens essence, the soul learns to still the attention and deepen the breathing so that the inner Self becomes more receptive to the unfolding moment. The precious flower of life is then experienced in all of its fleeting fragilty and delicate beauty.

Scotch Broom Cysisus scoparius (yellow)

Positive qualities: Positive and optimistic feelings about the world and about future events, sun-like forces of caring, encouragement, and purpose

Patterns of imbalance: Feeling weighted down and depressed; overcome with pessimism and despair, especially regarding one's personal relation to world events

We live in a time of great uncertainty, transformation, and upheaval. These powerful conditions can predispose many souls to feel very anxious and depressed about their lives and the future of the Earth. Such persons may be morbidly attracted to apocalyptic scenarios of the future, or exposure to mass media portrayal of world events may arouse intense feelings of pessimism and despair. These feelings burden the soul with extreme emotional weight so that the soul becomes heavy and "deep-pressed." At the core of such illness is the feeling of "What's the use?" or "Why try?" The depression such persons experience is characterized not only by feelings about their personal lives, but about the world as a whole and their relationship to world events. Thus the soul is paralyzed in the positive use of its forces, unconsciously adding to the darkness of the "world-psyche." Scotch Broom gives tenacity and strength, enabling the individual to move from personal despair to impersonal service and concern for the welfare of the world. This essence helps the soul to meet the challenges of our times as opportunities for self-growth and for helping others. In making this transition, the soul shifts from its unconscious identification with world darkness to the vision of a more hopeful, positive world future.

Taken from the Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz

It is interesting to note that in California in the last couple of decades there has been a proliferation of Scotch Broom to the extent that it is considered a pest that must be controlled and eradicated. Perhaps, instead, it is Nature sending us the medicine we need to help us through time of Transformation.

All images are from The Flower Essence Society website

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hamida Won an Award!

I am so proud to say that I have been awarded this blog award given to "interesting, happy and sparkling style blogs". It is interesting that it came on a day when I was feeling discouraged, lonely and depressed. It certainly lifted my spirits. Thank you Rebecca from Create the Life of Your Dreams! You must have been reading my mind and knew I needed a 'pick me up'. Go over to see Rebecca who offers so many great articles on healing. She is truly an inspiration! She has ads for healthy organic pet food too!

Here are the rules for the next recipients of the Brillante Weblog Premio 2008 Award, established in 2005:

l. The award may be displayed on a winner’s blog.
2. Add a link to the person who you received the award from.
3. Nominate up to seven other blogs.
4. Then add their links to your blog.
5. Add a message to each person that you have passed the award on to in the comments section of their blog.

And my nominees are:

Herbs 'n Oils
for being a loyal reader, dropper, buyer of ads and supporter. I feel like we have been friends for years.

Mermaids Treasures Musings of an Antique Little Girl
for being one of my first and my most loyal reader, I feel like I know you. When you move, I'm coming to see you.

Stir the Cauldron
for the free tarot readings and the fascinating layout of the blog.

Blooms and Blossoms
for her incredible photographs of flowers.

Robin's Woods
For the photography and being a regular dropper.

Make Every Day Your Lucky Day
for being one of the first to buy an ad from my first blog.

Azure Island Designs
for being another one of the first to buy ads from me on my first blog.
Encouragement is an important thing!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cooking with Lavender

If you have never used lavender in cooking, here are some ideas and recipes to try. It is important to use organically grown, culinary lavender for obvious reasons. There are some types of lavender that taste "soapy". Make sure you have one that has a more "floral" or "fruity" taste, especially if introducing lavender-laced foods for the first time, to family and friends who may already be skeptical. Basically, there are three ways to use Lavender in cooking:

1. Lavender Sugar

Leave lavender in sugar for 1 week, strain and use sugar in other recipes

2. Lavender Infusion

Steep in water, oil or vinegar, then used infused liquid in other recipes

3. Lavender as Dried Herb

Substitute in recipes where you would normally use herbs such as
Rosemary or Thyme

Easy Recipes:

Lavender Lemonade
Lavender Lemon-Ginger Dressing
Lavender Roasted Beets
Lavender Roasted Potatoes
Lavender Scones

Lavender Festivals occur all over the country. A couple of them that I know about are:

Here in Sonoma County, California, Sonoma Lavender will have its Lavender Festival Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15. It's a small festival put on by one grower, but I've been going for years and I always learn something new. That's where I had Lavender Lemonade for the first time and it was sublime. It not only refreshes, but relaxes you. You feel like you've had a glass of wine, but no alcohol so no need for a designated driver, Ha! ha! I do make a Lavender Rosemary Cordial, which contains vodka and brandy, but that's another story.

In Sequim, Washington, the Lavender Festival will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 18, 19 & 20.

This post was moved from one of my other blogs.

Calendula - 2008 Herb of the Year

I moved this post from my other blog. When I first posted it, Hamida the Herbalist did not yet exist.

Here's an example of a page from my website: The website also features my hand-made herbal products, astrological services that I provide, and information on subjects, such as the healing qualities of sea weed and black cumin seed.

Every year the International Herb Association chooses an Herb of the Year. This year it's Calendula officinalis. Calendula has so many uses, both culinary and medicinal. It has been used to color and flavor soups, cheese and butter - thus the name "pot marigold". Traditionally the dried leaves were used as a saffron substitute.

Medicinally, Calendula officinalis is anti-inflammatory, astringent, anti-fungal, and it promotes wound healing. Calendula may be used safely whenever there is inflammation on the skin whether due to infection or physical damage. It may be applied for any external bleeding, bruising or sprains. It is of benefit for slow-healing wounds and is an ideal first-aid treatment for minor burns. Since it is in the Asteraceae family, it may be an allergen for those with that kind of sensitivity.

Taken from: Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, by David Hoffmann.

Calendula is featured in two easy to find and informative magazines: The Herb Companion which has a great article. Here are some of the recipes:

calendula cornmeal crisps
banana cake with calendula
maple cream cheese frosting
egg salad with calendula and chives

The other great magazine is: The Herb Quarterly

A great little book that is all about calendula by Mindy Green is: Calendula, one of the series by Keats Publishing, Inc. 1998. One from the series is called: A Keats Good Herb Guide.
Some great recipes from the book:

simple calendula rice
calendula cheese ball
calendula salad dressing
calendula ice cream
calendula cardamom custard
orange whipped cream