Flowers

Broken Pots Turned Into Brilliant DIY Fairy Gardens | Bored Panda

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Broken Pots Turned Into Brilliant DIY Fairy Gardens | Bored Panda.

A new trend in gardening has gardeners creating all sorts of creative garden arrangements and fairy gardens out of broken pots, proving that even a broken pot can be useful and beautiful.

Such pots can be created either from the shards left from an accidental break or from a carefully planned cut. To cut such a pot, soak it and use a craft drill or file to create a weakened shape that can then be “broken” out with a hammer (be sure to use safety goggles and an air filter during this step). Then, fill the pot with planter’s soil and arrange the shards in the soil in any way you wish!

broken-pot-fairy-garden-8

SEE MORE HERE: Broken Pots Turned Into Brilliant DIY Fairy Gardens | Bored Panda.

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Lavender

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Lavender

Lavandula officinalis syn. L. angustifolia

lavender6

Common  & Other names

  • Alhucema,
  • Common Lavender,
  • English Lavender,
  • French Lavender,
  • Garden Lavender,
  • Huile Essentielle de Lavande,
  • Lavanda,
  • Lavande,
  • Lavande à Feuilles Étroites,
  • Lavande Anglaise,
  • Lavande Commune,
  • Lavande des Alpes,
  • Lavande du Jardin,
  • Lavande Espagnole,
  • Lavande Fine,
  • Lavande Française,
  • Lavande Officinale,
  • Lavande Vraie,
  • Lavandula,
  • Lavandula angustifolia,
  • Lavandula dentate,
  • Lavandula latifolia,
  • Lavandula officinalis,
  • Lavandula pubescens,
  • Lavandula spica,
  • Lavandula stoechas,
  • Lavandula vera,
  • Lavender Essential Oil,
  • Ostokhoddous,
  • Spanish Lavender,
  • Spike Lavender,
  • True Lavender.

Herbs have many uses and meanings,  from culinary delights in the kitchen, to aromatherapy scents for healing, to medicinal for health to spiritual meanings.

Every herb has spiritual meanings which have been handed down through the ages. In the past, herbs and plants were an integral part of life and therefore had meaning on all levels.

Some of the spiritual meanings have come through different spiritual groups that used herbs in their spiritual practices.

The Victorian Age in England took the language of flowers and made it into a wonderful way of saying things with flowers instead of words.

Flower lore is also another avenue for the uses of flowers and herbs in the past.

In their spiritual uses, herbs are not used internally but instead used in the bath, in rituals, perhaps just tucking a fresh herb sprig under your pillow.

When you rest your head on your pillow at night, just inhale and let the scent take you somewhere within to your spiritual center.

What is important here is, the intent that you put into your thoughts while your relax into the language of flowers and herbs.

Lavender is for:

Ecstasy – that’s what you feel when you inhale the fragrance of lavender!

  • Lavender connects with God awareness,
  • for meditation,
  • to help with fears of aging,
  • for fears in general,
  • acceptance,
  • helps facilitate altered states of consciousness
  • Wear lavender to draw love
  • It is a symbol of truth and parity
  • Pure joy

Herbs gallery - Lavender

 

The shrubby herbal plant called the lavender is a common sight in the South Europe. The lavender is also cultivated and grown in many other places, especially the southern and western regions of the United States, where it is also a common sight. The plant grows best at sites with a good exposure to sunlight; in general the lavender prefers dry and sunny places for optimal growth.

The lavender is multi branched and possesses a woody stem averaging in height from six and twenty four inches – it is thus, a small shrub. Lavender bears opposite placed leaves, each leaf is very narrow, and can range anywhere from three fourths of an inch to two inches in length, the leaves are gray green in color, and they tend to be tomentose in shape.

The flowers bloom from the month of June through September in the fall, however, the blooms of one variety persist a little longer – the L. latifalia – into late fall. The flowers are baby blue in coloration and are small sized flowers; the flowers have a strong smell. Each flower branch ends in spikes borne at the end of lengthy floral stalks. The best smelling of the flowers are the flowers borne by the L. angustifolia sub species. In general, all lavender varieties have flowers which contain a richly perfumed, colorless and volatile oil made from linalyle acetate and a hydroxycoumarin compound known as herniarin – these compounds find use in the perfumery and cosmetic industries.

The scent of the lavender has been prized for thousands of years and the plant has been valued as a scented herb in many civilizations of the past. The mind and the body can be relaxed and soothed down by the inhalation of an herbal infusion or herbal tincture made from the essential oil of the lavender, smelling the lavender flowers also induces this effect in the body.

 

The Meaning & Spiritual Meaning of Lavender

Lavender is well known as an aromatic plant that is used in perfumes and oils. Lavender is also used as an herb by culinary specialists to add scent and flavor to dishes. The plant belongs to the Lavandula genus. The word “lavender” is also used to refer to the color of the flowers that grow on the lavender plant, a pale purple that is lighter than lilac.

Lavender plants are often grouped by the region in which they grow. English lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) is the most heavily scented variety of the plant. Lavender originates in the Mediterranean, though it is grown around the world. The plant needs full sunlight and well-drained soil to grow. Lavender is a hardy plant that’s easy to grow in many different climates.

The Romans named lavender flowers, though the plant appeared in many ancient civilizations. In Egypt, lavender was used in cosmetics and embalming products. The Greeks used lavender oil as perfume for their bodies. In Rome, lavender was widely regarded as a healing herb. Included in insect repellents and bath water, lavender was taken internally and topical in ancient Roman societies. In the Middle Ages, lavender flowers were grown and used by monks as medicinal herbs. The flowers became popular in England during the reign of Henry VIII, where lavender was used to sweeten the smell of linens, the air and even furniture polish. During the Victorian era, lavender oil again became a popular perfume among women.

 

Looking at the spiritual qualities lavender is known for:

  • Spiritual Healing
  • Tranquility
  • Higher Consciousness
  • Release of Energy Blockages
  • Easing of Tension
  • Promotes Calmness
  • Purification

Lavender Color Meaning

The color lavender, a soft shade of purple, is strongly feminine. Because purple is the color of royalty, the color lavender also speaks of elegance, refinement and luxury. Lavender-colored flowers speak of wealth and wisdom when given as a gift.

Flowers that are lavender in color aren’t found on lavender plants alone. Some lavender-colored flowers convey their own special meanings when given to others. Sterling silver roses, which are lavender in color, convey a message of love at first sight and enchantment. Some types of catlaya orchids, delphiniums and freesia flowers also have lavender-colored blooms.Catlaya orchids send a message of calmness in the language of flowers, a code for flowers first developed by the Victorians.

True lavender flowers from the lavender plant also have their own special meaning. When given as a gift, lavender flowers represent purity, silence and luck. Lavender flowers also convey a message of devotion.

It’s flowerly, light aroma is pleasant and pleasing. Lavendar is a cool color, not so much in popularity but in tone. The yin-yang balance of lavender points to the feminine side, being very supporting of our ability to turn inward and increase our awareness.

Lavender and Love

Does lavender have special magical properties?

It has been used for centuries in the area of love, used to scent love letters, or used as a perfume to attract the opposite sex.

Back in the Renaissance days lavender would be combined with rosemary and used to secure the chastity of a woman.

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Health and Lavender

Natural Healing Properties of Lavender

Lavender is a component of compounds used for herbal and alternative medicine and aromatherapy. Its sweet essence has made its way into shampoos, oils, and lotions. However, that is not the best way to get its healing benefits.

It is best used in tinctures, as an essential oil, in teas, salves and other preparations.

Lavender essential oils are gathered from the flowers of the lavender plant. You can use lavender in a bath, diffuser, or mist. As with any essential oil use caution to avoid eyes and other sensitive parts of the body, and use sparingly.

One of the most common uses of lavender essential oil is for calming and rest, promoting peaceful sleep and a feeling of happiness. Lavender may help alleviate migraine headaches.

There are many levels of quality when we look at purchasing any essential oil.  The trick is to preserve the delicate life of the plant, the essential oils.  One of the best methods to extract the powerful healing properties of lavender is the method “steam distilled” to ensure high concentrations of the essential oils of lavender or Lavandula officinalis.

 Here are the facts about the natural healing properties of lavender:

Lavender is a lot more than just a pretty herb. Its medicinal properties have been known for centuries.

Use lavender today to heal everything from headaches to fungal infections and anxiety to insomnia.

Before using any type of natural healing therapy instead of or in conjunction with conventional medicines, consult your doctor.

Lavender oil has antiseptic properties.

The volatile oils in the lavender are a powerful antiseptic, and have been shown to have a good effect against pathogenic bacteria such as the strains responsible for diseases like diphtheria and typhoid, it is very potent against the streptococcus and pneumococcus strains of bacteria.

The oil of lavender is extracted from the actual flower and not the leaves or seeds. It is good for cleaning scrapes and cuts that may contain foreign material. Use lavender oil to clean surfaces in your home to lower your bacterial count.

The remedy made from the lavender herb is also very effective as an external disinfectant in the treatment of all kinds of cuts and wounds, helping heal all kinds of sores and ulcers on the body.

Linalol is an active substance in lavender that heals sores, burns and other wounds. Pain and inflammation are reduced at the site of pain.

Lavender reduces anxiety and other nervous conditions.

prolonged anxiety, chronic and persistent nervousness, as well as in alleviating the physical symptoms induced by excessive stress such as tension headaches, persistent migraine, cardiac palpitations and sleep disorders like insomnia.

The emotions are said to be brought into balance by the application of lavender oil, it is said to elevate flagging spirits, helping in relieving depression and enabling the person to overcome inner disharmony and mental problems.

The stimulating effect of the lavender is another potent property of the herb, the remedy brings a tonic effect on the nervous system, and it helps to restore the vitality to individuals affected by long term nervous exhaustion and mental trauma.

Create a sachet with soothing leaves and tuck it into your drawer or under your pillow. Add essential lavender oil to your bath Water for a calming bath.

Use water infused with lavender leaves to soothe painful joints and muscles.

For headaches, apply lavender oil to a cotton ball or your fingertips and massage slowly into your temples. The smell will relax you as the oil eases your headache.

Lavender is used in aromatherapy massage as a muscle relaxant.

Massaging the oil into the skin unknots the muscles of the back and reduces a spasm, which can be helpful during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Lavender can be taken as a diluted essence. One or two drops of the essence in a glass of water can be taken internally for many conditions such as Depression, hysteria, and fainting.

Using lavender in an oil diffuser helps with insomnia. The sweet woody smell of the lavender oil helps you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Lavender has also been used as an expectorant.

breaks up the mucous from nasal and chest congestion that accompanies a cold. It is also useful in remedies for other respiratory conditions.

The herbal remedy can be taken in the form of an herbal tea, it can also be inhaled as dispersed oil or used as a vapor rub. Used topically, the lavender is capable of alleviating common colds, chronic coughs, problems such as asthma and persistent bronchitis, problems like pneumonia, the flu, persistent tonsillitis and laryngitis in affected individuals.

The disorders of the digestive tract

in particular are greatly eased by the relaxing effect of the lavender, the herbal remedy soothes muscle spasms and eases colic related to mental tension and anxiety. It is also very effective in helping relieve abdominal distension, in relieving persistent flatulence, spells of nausea as well as indigestion. The lavender herbal remedy boosts a flagging appetite, enabling the person to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from the diet.

A lavender herbal tea or tincture is also useful for the treatment of stomach and bowelinfections that are accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea as symptoms.

When prepared in the form of a hot herbal tea, the remedy made from lavender induces sweating and helps reduce the elevated body temperatures in case of fevers.

The body is also detoxified by the lavender remedy; the herb rapidly eliminates accumulated toxins in the body through the skin and the urine as a result of its mild diuretic effect.

The tissue repair and restoration process in the body is also stimulated by the herbal remedy resulting in the minimization of scar formation especially when the volatile oil is applied next to the burns.

The diluted oil is used in the treatment of disorders such aseczema, chronic acne and varicose ulcers in the affected person.

Lavender can be used as a tincture to treat fungal infections such as vaginal yeast.

Inhaling lavender oil can help with pain management, especially after surgery.

 

Bunches-of-drying-lavender-via-www.gardentherapy.ca_.

Interesting to note is that WebMD has more information on the uses of Lavender and also considers it to be a Vitamin or Supplement.

<<click the link above for more information directly from the WebMD site.>>

 herbs-lavender-PS

In the world of aromatherapy lavender must be the most widely known and used of essential oils.

50 Fantastic Uses for Lavender Essential Oil and Lavender Therapy

  Lavender-colored soaps (Photo: bars of lavender soap in the basket image by Elena Moiseeva from Fotolia.com)

 Feng Shui and Lavender

Feng Shui focuses primarily on the flow of energy, whether we are talking about architecture or home decoration. It is advised to use lavendar or any purple color sparingly. In Feng Shui and health it is thought that the color purple could trigger blood disease, but it is fine as an accent. The lighter purple shades like lavender is popular for meditation rooms.

The color purported is associated with the crown chakra, the energy center associated with higher purpose and spiritual connectivity. The crown chakra, or 7th chakra is located at the top of the head and the vibration of the crown is the highest vibration in the physical body. When we look into the world of gemstones and crystals a popular crystal is Amethyst, which is available in pink or lavender, and is a very powerful healing crystal.

lavender_jade_header

Lavender Jade Uses and Purposes – Overview

As a stone of spiritual purification, Lavender Jade is an excellent crystal to use on retreats or during meditations. It helps in releasing cynicism and suppressed anger, and to embrace an attitude of serene acceptance. [Simmons, 214]

Jade is the stone of calm in the midst of storm. Its action balances nerves and soothes cardiac rhythm. A piece of Jade kept in a pocket or on a pendant to stroke from time to time recharges energy, and traditionally guards against illness. Jade may also be used to temper the shock or fear of the very young or very old being cared for in the hospital or away from home and family. [Megemont, 99][Eason, 266]

Jade is excellent for healing feelings of guilt, and for extreme cases of defeatism. It also treats “pathological normality,” an excessive desire to adapt oneself to a group, even if it is sect-like, exaggerated militarism, a follow-the-leader attitude, or the compulsive desire to give in to general opinion to belong no matter the cost. [Megemont, 99]

As a professional support stone, Jade aids doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and all healers in making practical diagnosis and in their applications. It is a support stone for educators, and Jade, carved in the form of a faith symbol, is uplifting to military personnel. [Mella, 130-133]

FOR MORE please click this link: http://www.crystalvaults.com/crystal-encyclopedia/lavender-jade

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Growing, Caring For & Harvesting Lavender

Lavender Pot-Pourris - MSS

For almost anything you grow you will need to know what ZONE you live in.. there are 4 basic ways you can find this out online:

  1. For Trees

 

 

 

you could also check climate & energy zones, however they may not be of much help since they do NOT provide information for planting.

Short of copying the whole page of information to post here, I am directing you to Mountain Valley Growers who have one of the best informational sites on growing Lavender I have run across. They also cover the different varieties of Lavender & which ones will produce seeds along with the problems associated with starting your lavender from seed. Please click the following link.

http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/lavendercareandtips.htm

 

Labyrinth Hill offers classes that will show you what exactly to do ..

  1. Six-Unit Course
  2. Six-Unit Course
    With One-on-One Coaching

Download our popular brochure:
Ten Wonderful Things
You Can Do With Lavender

(without sewing, gluing, nailing or painting!)

VIDEO: Growing Lavender – Remove Dried Lavender Buds

 

Lavender Recipes

 There are so many different recipes for Lavender that I am going to only post the search link here for them

and you can choose whichever site you wish to visit for your specific needs.

http://www.bing.com/search?form=MOZMSP&pc=MOZM&q=Lavender+Recipes

Little Brick Ranch: The Ultimate GREEN House…

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Little Brick Ranch: The Ultimate GREEN House….

The Ultimate GREEN House…


In honor of Earth Day right around the corner I would like to share a little freebie project that you ALL can get in on. Although recycling is awesome (and you all should be commended for your efforts to do so)…how ’bout re-purposing something that some of us come across everyday…

 

What You Need to Know About Rosehip Seed Oil

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What You Need to Know About Rosehip Seed Oil

Rosa rubiginosa ~ Sweet Briar Rose

From this earthly gift of a plant, we obtain rose hip seed oil.  Ever heard of it?  Sometimes referred to as Rosa mosqueta, rosehip seed oil is kind of like a well-guarded secret…  Used by Chileans for centuries, the amazing healing benefits of rosehip seed oil have only relatively recently been validated.

Wild rosehips on the Downs in Bristol

Photo Credit: heatheronhertravels.com

Now gaining popularity with the general public, this cold-pressed, sensitive, “dry” oil has thoroughly impressed the scientific community at large.  Heather, from a Real Food Lover, accurately summarizes two important studies on rosehip seed oil:

The first major confirmation of its capabilities came in 1983, when the University of Santiago conducted research on 180 individuals.  These tests studied people with extensive facial scarring, acne scarring, deep wrinkles, UV damage, radiation damage, burn scars, surgical scars, premature aging, dermatitis, and other skin related problems.  In these tests, rosehip seed oil regenerated the skin, reduced scars and wrinkles, prevented the advancement of wrinkles and aging, and helped skin to regain its natural color and tone.  Since this time, other universities and labs have also completed studies, also yielding positive results.  Another well-known study in 1988 was conducted on twenty women between the ages of 25-35 with extensive premature aging to their skin.  Their skin was wrinkled, and had sun spots from overexposure to the sun.  After four months of applying rosehip seed oil daily, their wrinkles and sun spots had almost completely disappeared, and the skin had a fresher and healthier look.

With it’s amazing healing properties and ability to moisturize, this diversely capable oil is one you will want to be familiar with.  I have only recently discovered it in the past year, and I assure you–it’s brilliant.  I love it’s non-greasy, oil-free feel, and when I use it to moisture my skin; face and neck especially, it feels like my skin just took a big hydrating drink of water!

Most of the rose hips used for rose hip seed oil grow wild in the southern Andes although that is not the only habitat for the Sweet Briar, or Eglantine rose.  It is a deciduous shrub with delicious apple-scented leaves.  It is from the fruit, or “hip” of this plant that bears a tiny seed that is then pressed into rosehip seed oil that I (and others) so covet.

The rosehip seed is made up of 77% fatty acids.  High in linoleic and linolenic acids, vitamin C, and vitamin A (retinol); all essential for skin and hair health,  Rosa rubiginosa has been found to regenerate tissue and eliminate wrinkles, fine lines, scars, sun damage and stretch marks.  The essential fatty acids it contains when absorbed through the skin, convert to prostaglandins which assist in cellular membrane and tissue regeneration.

Rosehip seed oil in short helps prevent premature aging, soothes, heals and moisturizes mature skin, and prevents the formation of keloid scar tissue,  which is the characteristic thickening of the skin in scar formation.

It also helps to heal conditions such as:

  • Dermatitis
  • Age spots
  • Brittle nails
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Burns, radiation and sun
  • Dry and damaged hair

Rosehip Seed Oil

This amber-to-orange hued oil has a nutty scent and may be used ‘straight out of the bottle.’ It is perfect for use undiluted on the skin– even sensitive skin, but it is not recommended for those with acne or very oily skin, due to it’s high fatty acid content.  It is safe, inexpensive and effective.  It can also be used in many “kitchen cosmetics” recipes including creams, lotions, facial serums and massage oils.  It should be kept refrigerated due to susceptibility to oxidization, even though it has a shelf life of two years.  I buy it in bulk at my co-op, which sources it from Mountain Rose Herbs.  You can also buy it from them directly, but their smallest size is 8 ounces.  I like to re-bottle it into a smaller container and add carrot seed oil and vitamin E to improve it’s shelf life. (Carrot seed oil is also the best essential oil for rejuvenating skin).  Aside from preserving the rosehip seed oil, you’ve just made an easy DIY facial serum :)   There are many recipes out there where you can expound on facial serum creations, but with rosehip seed oil I prefer to keep it simple.  I truly subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke–why fix it” motto, and rosehip seed oil definitely falls into that category.  I usually take my rosehip seed oil ‘neat,’ but since you’ll likely already have the oil around, why not try these fun, homemade formulations:

Customizable Facial Serum Recipe
Bruise and Under-Eye Circle Serum
Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Rosehip seed oil has become key in my facial care routine.  Aside from its miraculousness, it’s simplicity and ease of use is something I truly appreciate.  I LOVE that I can toss a tiny amount in a small bottle and take it anywhere.

Where can you get this stuff?  Mountain Rose Herbs carries a high-quality, cold-pressed
rosehip seed oil.

Mountain Rose Herbs

Note: Cold Pressed is a method of mechanical extraction where heat is reduced and minimized throughout the batching of the raw material. This helps the oil maintain its original state, constituents, and depth. Temperatures are rigorously controlled to ensure that it does not exceed 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Although not a practical method of extraction for all vegetable oils on the market it is highly regarded as the extraction method of choice.

– See more at: http://www.sustaincreateandflow.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-rosehip-seed-oil/#sthash.rSa95nNv.dpuf

Poisonous/Deadly ~Nightshades & Others~

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Poisonous/Deadly

~Nightshades & Others~

 Although the mere mention of Nightshade (Solanaceae) family plants may evoke pictures of medieval sorcerers preparing poison potions of mandrake root or belladonna, a variety of attractive plants commonly found in many yards and gardens are poisonous.

Deadly nightshade is a flowering ornamental that is considered highly toxic, and placing this plant in your yard or garden is NOT recommended for those who have small children and pets that frequently spend time outdoors.

Consuming any part of the deadly nightshade can produce toxic effects.

These flowering plants are important to human beings because of their many uses and they include potatoes, tomatoes, some types of pepper and even eggplants.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, many nightshade plants provide spices and medicines.

Over 2,000 species of nightshade exist, all with distinct traits that affect the human body in varying ways.

It is interesting to note that although Belladonna is the Deadliest of  the Nightshades, it ranks #4 NOT #1 on the Top 10 Most Poisonous Plants that list is at the Bottom of this article.

 Alkaloids in Nightshades

The thing that sets nightshades apart from other types of plants is the fact that they contain special kinds of alkaloids.

Most plants produce alkaloids but the kinds specific to nightshade have effects on humans.

These include steroidlike alkaloids, tropane alkaloids, pyrrolizidine alkaloids and indole alkaloids.

The last three all have drug-like properties and can affect chemicals in the human body.

One of the more famous types of tropane alkaloids is the nicotine found in tobacco.

 Health Effects of Alkaloids in Nightshade Foods

The nightshades with which most people are familiar — common vegetables like tomatoes — are not harmful.

Although they do contain alkaloids (tomatoes actually have nicotine content in them), there is not enough of the chemical to have any significant impact.

One health concern that has been raised is the effect of nightshade foods on the joints. The steroid alkaloids found in tomatoes and potatoes, for example, can cause inflammation in the joints and should be avoided by people with ailments like arthritis.

  • Belladonna

The belladonna is a particular species of nightshade that is infamous for its poisonous nature.

Its name means “pretty woman” in Latin.

The name comes from the fact that women applied belladonna to their face and the plant would turn their cheeks red.

When ingested by humans, it is extremely toxic because of the atropine alkaloid.

This can be so toxic if enough is ingested that it can cause death.

Yet today, atropine is used in painkillers.

  • Jimson Weed

Another infamous and dangerous plant in the nightshade family is the Jimson weed.

It is a natural growing weed that can be found in many common areas — along roads and in cornfields and pastures.

Jimson weed can be poisonous if the seeds or juice of the plant are ingested.

It is also possible to consume the poison by smoking the leaves or making tea out of the leaves.

It is known to cause hallucinations, vomiting and even death.

The 17th-century settlers at America’s Jamestown colony suffered hallucinations after snacking on a Nightshade family plant now known as jimsonweed in their honor.

While it’s true that these plants contain toxic alkaloids, many other Nightshade species have found their way into home gardens as widely grown ornamentals or edibles.

 The Deadliest of these Nightshades is  Atropa belladonna

Illustration from Köhler’s Medicinal Plants 1887

The Name

Atropa belladonna was published by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.

It is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which it shares with:

potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, jimsonweed, tobacco, wolfberry, and chili peppers.

The common names for this species include:

  • belladonna,
  • deadly nightshade,
  • divale,
  • dwale,
  • banewort,
  • devil’s berries,
  • naughty man’s cherries,
  • death cherries,
  • beautiful death,
  • devil’s herb,
  • great morel,
  • dwayberry

The name Atropa is thought to be derived from that of the Greek goddess Atropos, one of the three Greek fates or destinies who would determine the course of a man’s life by the weaving of threads that symbolized his birth, the events in his life and finally his death; with Atropos cutting these threads to mark the last of these.

The name “belladonna” comes from the Italian language, meaning “beautiful lady”;originating either from its usage as cosmetic for the face, or, more probably, from its usage to increase the pupil size in women.

  • Description

    Atropa belladonna

    • A branching herbaceous perennial, often growing as a subshrub, from a fleshy rootstock.
    • Plants grow to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) tall with 18 centimetres (7.1 in) long ovate leaves.
    • The bell-shaped flowers are purple with green tinges and faintly scented.
    • The fruits are berries, which are green ripening to a shiny black, and approximately 1 centimetre (0.39 in) in diameter. The berries are sweet and are consumed by animals that disperse the seeds in their droppings, even though the seeds contain toxic alkaloids. There is a pale yellow flowering form called Atropa belladonna var. lutea with pale yellow fruit.
    • Rarely used in gardens, but when grown, it is usually for its large upright habit and showy berries.
    • It is naturalized in parts of North America, where it is often found in shady, moist locations with limestone-rich soils.
    • It is considered a weed species in parts of the world, where it colonizes areas with disturbed soils.
    • Germination of the small seeds is often difficult, due to hard seed coats that cause seed dormancy. Germination takes several weeks under alternating temperature conditions, but can be sped up with the use of gibberellic acid.
    • The seedlings need sterile soil to prevent damping off and resent root disturbance during transplanting.
    • This plant is a sign of water near by.

    Toxicity

    Flowers of belladonna

    Belladonna is one of the most toxic plants found in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    All parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids.

     The berries pose the greatest danger to children because they look attractive and have a somewhat sweet taste.

    The consumption of two to five berries by a human adult is probably lethal.

     The root of the plant is generally the most toxic part, though this can vary from one specimen to another.

    Ingestion of a single leaf of the plant can be fatal to an adult.

    The active agents in belladonna, atropine, hyoscine (scopolamine), and hyoscyamine, have anticholinergic properties.

    In humans, its anticholinergic properties will cause the disruption of cognitive capacities, such as memory and learning.

     The symptoms of belladonna poisoning include:

    1. dilated pupils,
    2. sensitivity to light,
    3. blurred vision,
    4. tachycardia,
    5. loss of balance,
    6. staggering,
    7. headache,
    8. rash,
    9. flushing,
    10. severely dry mouth and throat,
    11. slurred speech,
    12. urinary retention,
    13. constipation,
    14. confusion,
    15. hallucinations,
    16. delirium,
    17. and convulsions.

    In 2009, A. belladonna berries were mistaken for blueberries by an adult woman; the six berries she ate were documented to result in severe anticholinergic syndrome.

    The plant’s deadly symptoms are caused by atropine’s disruption of the parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to regulate involuntary activities, such as sweating, breathing, and heart rate.

    The antidote for belladonna poisoning

    is physostigmine or pilocarpine, the same as for atropine.

     Atropa belladonna is also toxic to many domestic animals, causing narcosis and paralysis.However, cattle and rabbits eat the plant seemingly without suffering harmful effects.

    Uses

  • Cosmetics

    The common name belladonna originates from its historic use by women – Bella Donna is Italian for beautiful lady.

    Drops prepared from the belladonna plant were used to dilate women’s pupils, an effect considered attractive. Belladonna drops act as an antimuscarinic, blocking receptors in the muscles of the eye that constrict pupil size.

    Belladonna is currently rarely used cosmetically, as it carries the adverse effects of causing minor visual distortions, inability to focus on near objects, and increased heart rate. Prolonged usage was reputed to cause blindness.

    • Medicinal uses

    Belladonna has been used in herbal medicine for centuries as a pain reliever, muscle relaxer, and anti-inflammatory, and to treat menstrual problems, peptic ulcer disease, histaminic reaction, and motion sickness.

    At least one 19th-century eclectic medicine journal explained how to prepare a belladonna tincture for direct administration to patients.

    Joseph R. Buchanan, R.S. Newton (1854). “Officinal preparations”. In Wm. Phillips and co. The Eclectic Medical Journal (Wm. Phillips and co.).

  • Belladonna tinctures, decoctions, and powders, as well as alkaloid salt mixtures, are still produced for pharmaceutical use, and these are often standardized at 1037 parts hyoscyamine to 194 parts atropine and 65 parts scopolamine.
  • The alkaloids are compounded with phenobarbital and/or kaolin and pectin for use in various functional gastrointestinal disorders.
  • The tincture, used for identical purposes, remains in most pharmacopoeias, with a similar tincture of Datura stramonium having been in the US Pharmacopoeia at least until the late 1930s.
  • The combination of belladonna and opium, in powder, tincture, or alkaloid form, is particularly useful by mouth or as a suppository for diarrhea and some forms of visceral pain; it can be made by a compounding pharmacist, and may be available as a manufactured fixed combination product in some countries (e.g., B&O Supprettes).  A banana-flavoured liquid (most common trade name: Donnagel PG) was available until 31 December 1992 in the United States.
  • Scopolamine is used as the hydrobromide salt for GI complaints, motion sickness, and to potentiate the analgesic and anxiolytic effects of opioid analgesics. It was formerly used in a painkiller called “twilight sleep” in childbirth.
  • Atropine sulphate is used as a mydriatic and cycloplegic for eye examinations. It is also used as an antidote to organophosphate and carbamate poisoning, and is loaded in an autoinjector for use in case of a nerve gas attack.
    • Atropinisation (administration of a sufficient dose to block nerve gas effects) results in 100 per cent blockade of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors and atropine sulphate is the benchmark for measuring the power of anticholinergic drugs.
  • Hyoscyamine is used as the sulphate or hydrobromide for GI problems and Parkinson’s disease. Its side effect profile is intermediate to those of atropine and scopolamine, and can also be used to combat the toxic effects of organophosphates.Scientific evidence to recommend the use of A. belladonna in its natural form for any condition is insufficient, although some of its components, in particular l-atropine which was purified from belladonna in the 1830s, have accepted medical uses.
  •  Donnatal is a prescription pharmaceutical, approved in the United States by the FDA, that combines natural belladonna alkaloids in a specific, fixed ratio with phenobarbital to provide peripheral anticholinergic/antispasmodic action and mild sedation. According to its labeling, it is possibly effective for use as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (irritable colon, spastic colon, mucous colitis) and acute enterocolitis.

    Berries of belladonna

    Alternative-medicinal use

    Belladonna preparations are used in homeopathy as treatments for various conditions, although no scientific evidence supports their efficacy. Clinically and in research trials, the most common preparation is diluted to the 30C level in homeopathic notation. This level of dilution does not contain any of the original plant, although preparations with lesser dilutions which statistically contain trace amounts of the plant are advertised for sale.

    Recreational drug

    Atropa belladonna and related plants, such as jimson weed (Datura stramonium), have occasionally been used as recreational drugs because of the vivid hallucinations and delirium they produce. However, these hallucinations are most commonly described as very unpleasant, and recreational use is considered extremely dangerous because of the high risk of unintentional fatal overdose. In addition, the central nervous system effects of atropine include memory disruption, which may lead to severe confusion.

    Poison

    The tropane alkaloids of A. belladonna were used as poisons, and early humans made poisonous arrows from the plant. In Ancient Rome, it was used as a poison by Agrippina the Younger, wife of Emperor Claudius on advice of Locusta, a lady specialized in poisons, and Livia, who is rumored to have used it to kill her husband Emperor Augustus.

    Macbeth of Scotland, when he was still one of the lieutenants of King Duncan I of Scotland, used it during a truce to poison the troops of the invading Harold Harefoot, King of England, to the point that the English troops were unable to stand their ground and had to retreat to their ships.

    Folklore

    Leaves of belladonna

  • In the past, witches were believed to have used a mixture of belladonna, opium poppy, and other plants, typically poisonous (such as monkshood and poison hemlock) in flying ointment, which they applied to help them fly to gatherings with other witches.
  • Carlo Ginzburg and others have argued that flying ointments were preparations meant to encourage hallucinatory dreaming; a possible explanation for the inclusion of belladonna and opium poppy in flying ointments concerns the known antagonism between tropane alkaloids of belladonna (specifically scopolamine) and opiate alkaloids in the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum (specifically morphine), which produces a dream-like waking state. This antagonism was known in folk medicine, discussed in eclectic (botanical) medicine formularies, and posited as the explanation of how flying ointments might have actually worked in contemporary writing on witchcraft. The antagonism between opiates and tropanes is the original basis of the Twilight Sleep that was provided to Queen Victoria to deaden pain as well as consciousness during childbirth, and which was later modified so isolated alkaloids were used instead of plant materials.
  • The belladonna herb was also notable for its unpredictable effects from toxicity.

Solanaceae

The Solanaceae, or nightshades, are an economically important family of flowering plants.

The family ranges from herbs to trees, and includes a number of important …  but I’ll let you look this information up if you are interested.

It’s helpful for people with sensitivity to alkaloids to familiarize themselves with common fruits, vegetables and other  products that belong to the nightshade family.

Nightshades include fruits and vegetables that contain alkaloids.

Individuals, who suffer from gastro-esophageal reflux disease, arthritis, or acne can possibly see improvements in their condition if they eliminate these foods from their diet.

Some members of the nightshade family are culinary vegetables, culinary fruit, spices and sauces.

Vegetables

A basket of chile peppers.

  • Potatoes,
  • Italian pepper,
  • eggplants,
  • green peppers/bell pepper
  • chili/chile peppers
  • tomato
  • tomatillo

are culinary vegetables and are all members of the nightshade family.

Although, this list appears straightforward and easy to avoid, individuals on a nightshade-free diet, also need to avoid these foods in modified forms. For example, potatoes are present in potato starch, otherwise known as modified food starch, a common ingredient in many processed foods and a common filler in medications and vitamin supplements.

This means that many common foods contain alkaloids. , such as

  • French fries,
  • potato chips
  • potato salad,
  • Many species of peppers, both sweet and hot,
  • including the pimentos found in pimento cheese
  • and some olives.

Sweet potatoes are commonly mistaken for nightshade plants, but they actually belong to a different family.

Common Fruits

The most common fruit in the nightshade family is

  • Tomato

Those trying to avoid nightshades should avoid products like ketchup and pizza sauce.

  • Huckleberries
  • Ground Cherries, which grow inside a husk.
  • Goji berries, which are growing in popularity in the United States, are nightshades.

Exotic Fruits

List of Nightshade Vegetables & Fruitsthumbnail      

A group of tomatillos that contain nightshade & A close up of sliced tamarillo cherries

Many fruits that are more common in Latin America also belong to the nightshade family, such as

  • Tomatillo, a small green fruit enclosed in a husk that is often used in green salsas.
  • Tamarillos, which are grown primarily in the Andes and are also known as “tree tomatoes,” are nightshades as well.
  • Pepino melons, sweet melons that grow in shrubs primarily in South America, are another variety of nightshade.
  • Gooseberry The gooseberry is a fruit that can be used for culinary purposes, such as desserts. But, it also has medicinal purposes and features prominently in homeopathic remedies.

Goji berries are antioxidant berries that have more recently become used in goji berry juice, a popular health drink.

The pepino is an exotic fruit, often used as a dessert

the tamarillo is a relative of the tomato, usually eaten as fruit.

Spices Derived from Nightshades

Many widely used spices are derived from fruits or vegetables in the nightshade family: most notably

  • Cayenne,

  • chili powder,

  • curry/curry powders

  • paprika,

is made from the common red pepper, cayenne pepper and ground chili peppers.

These spices and sauces are commonly found in Mexican cuisine, and are present in many popular soft drinks and snack foods.

These spices and sauces can also be found hiding out in breading and seasoning for meat and are common ingredients in many

African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian and Caribbean spice blends, so if you’re sensitive to nightshades, pay attention to ingredient labels and menu items.

Annuals

Only impatiens outsell petunias (Petunias spp.) as garden annuals, notes the Missouri Botanical Garden.

These bushy or trailing Nightshade family plants typically reach between 10 and 14-inch heights. They spread as much as 2 feet.

  • Petunia

flowers may be single, funnel-shaped blooms or densely petaled, double ones. Their color palette ranges from pure white and pale yellow to multiple shades of pink, red, salmon, orange, blue or purple.

Bicolored varieties are common.

These spring-to-frost bloomers thrive in full sun to partial shade and nearly any well-drained soil.

  • Poor man’s orchid (Shizanthus pinnatus)

butterfly-shaped, white, pink, red, yellow or purple blooms top 18- to 22-inch stems of pale green, fernlike leaves.

The striking, spring-to-autumn flowers often have contrasting yellow centers.

This Chilean native annual thrives where summers are cool and damp.

It loves moist, well-drained soil in full sun.

Perennials

  • Bush violet’s (Browallia speciosa)

white-eyed, blue-violet, 2-inch flowers bloom between early summer and early fall.

The flowers open beneath the light-green, oval leaves lining the upper portion of its woody, 2-foot stems.

Bush violet grows as a perennial where winter temperatures remain above 20 degrees Fahrenheit

  • The Black Pearl ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum)

cultivar, a Missouri Botanical Garden Plant of Merit, has a 1-foot to 18-inch mound of glossy, black 3-inch foliage.

Its summer clusters of tiny, purple blooms give way to pearl-sized, black fruit that mature to brilliant red.

While technically edible, they are exceptionally hot.

Black Pearl is hardy to minus 30 F.

Both plants perform best in full sun to partial shade and moist, organically rich soils.

Vines

  • Brazilian potato vine (Solanum jasminoidesis)

pairs yellow-stamened, white or lavender blooms with slender, twining stems of deep-green to purple foliage.

The fragrant, star-shaped flowers bloom in numerous clusters from spring to fall.

Where winters are mild, sun-loving 10- to 25-foot potato vine may flower all year.

  • Chilean potato vine (Solanum crispum)

typically reaches 6 to 12 feet, with up to 5-inch, dark-green leaves.

Clusters of large, yellow berries follow its fragrant, deep-blue flowers.

All its parts are toxic if ingested.

Miscellaneous Places to Find Nightshades

Nightshades are also found in other various places.

  • Tobacco is a nightshade.

Therefore, cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco could be harmful to individuals on a nightshade-free diet.

  • Several drugs and pesticides also contain nightshades. Some of these are belladonna, atropine, and scopolamine.
  • tell your pharmacist of nightshade sensitivity prior to taking prescription medication,
  • over-the- counter drugs,
  • vitamin supplements or
  • mineral supplements

Top 10 Most Poisonous Plants

Using Deadly Plants as Medicine

It seems counterintuitive to put deadly plants to work at saving lives. But some of the most deadly plants are used in the medical arena. Jimsonweed, for example, has been used by hired assassins to kill people and by doctors to treat epilepsy. Other contenders? Castor bean plant is used in Paclitaxel, a chemotherapy drug, in Sandimmune, a drug for immune suppression, and in Xenaderm, a topical for skin ulcers. Scopolamine, found in deadly nightshade, was combined with morphine as early as 1902 and used to induce “twilight sleep” during childbirth. And quinine, the long-standing treatment for malaria and internal parasites, is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree. It’s deadly if consumed in large amounts.

Poisonous Landscaping

You may be surprised to find that poisonous plants could lurk in your own backyard. Foxglove, a perennial common in landscaping, is particularly dangerous: If ingested, it causes severe nausea, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea and possibly even fatal heart problems. Other common garden plants — azalea, black locust, colchicum, daphne, hellebore, hydrangea, lantana, lobelia and yellow Jessamine — also have the potential to trigger mild to severe toxic reactions.

 

In fact, the following 10 could actually kill you.

Killer Houseplants?

It’s important that children and pets be taught not to eat the flowers or leaves of plants around your home, because some may be poisonous.

Popular houseplants that can trigger reactions, both mild and severe, include:

  • the peace lily,
  • English ivy,
  • philodendron,
  • dumb cane,
  • ficus tree,
  • pencil cactus and
  • Christmas cherry.

 

1. Oleander

Oleander flowers are beautiful, but the plant is deadly.

The oleander, or Nerium oleander, is considered by many to be the most poisonous plant in the world. All parts of the beautiful oleander contain poison — several types of poison. Two of the most potent are oleandrin and neriine, known for their powerful effect on the heart. An oleander’s poison is so strong, in fact, that it can poison a person who simply eats the honey made by bees that have digested oleander nectar.

The oleander is an attractive plant, and despite its deadly reputation is often planted for decorative purposes. Although native to the Far East and the Mediterranean areas, oleander has been introduced in the United States, where it grows easily. It’s tolerant of poor quality soil and dry weather. The plant grows as a dense shrub, and is typically 6 to 18 feet (1.8 to 5.4 meters) tall at maturity. It has thick, dark green leaves, and the flowers, which grow in clusters, can be yellow, red, pink or white.

Even in barren areas, the oleander produces lovely flowers and fragrance. Animals instinctively avoid the plant, and it grows rapidly, so it’s often used for highway barriers and other areas that require screening from noise and pollution. Its rapid growth also makes it a popular choice around new construction zones, as it prevents erosion.

Unlike some toxic plants, the oleander is poisonous to most animals as well as humans. A single ingested oleander leaf can kill a child. Ingestion of oleander results in diarrhea, vomiting, intense stomach pain, drowsiness, dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, and often, death. If the victim survives the initial 24 hours after ingestion, his or her odds of surviving increase dramatically. For successful treatment, the patient is induced to vomit, his or her stomach may be pumped, or he or she may be fed activated charcoal to absorb as much of the poison as possible.

 

2. Water Hemlock

IMG_1710WaterHemlockWater Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

When Plants Attack

It seems impossible that a plant, rooted to one spot, could attack. But several species of stinging trees, indigenous to rainforest areas of Australia and Indonesia, certainly make victims feel that they’ve been assaulted. These plants, which range from overgrown shrubs to full-sized trees, have glass-like hairs covering their leaves and fruits. When a person brushes up against the plant, those hairs become dislodged and imbedded in the person’s skin. The hair, once under your skin, releases a pain-inducing neurotoxin, a poison that works specifically on nerve cells. The pain gradually subsides but can reoccur intermittently for several months. There’s one confirmed death due to stinging tree and other anecdotes of victims — particularly World War II soldiers — shooting themselves to escape the pain.

The water hemlock, or cicuta maculata, is a very attractive wildflower with an upright growth pattern, purple-striped leaves and small white blooms. But the water hemlock’s white roots are sometimes mistaken for a parsnip plant — a potentially fatal error. The poison contained in the water hemlock, cicutoxin, is present in the entire plant, but is most concentrated in the roots. Anyone who confuses the plant with parsnips and decides to take a bite faces a violent death.

The water hemlock, which is native to North America, is considered by many to be the most deadly plant on the continent. The wildflower, which grows to 6 feet (1.8 meters), thrives along stream banks, in marshy areas, and in low-lying, damp meadows.

For those unlucky enough to taste the water hemlock, the onset of illness is rapid. The cicutoxin contained in the plant causes violent and painful convulsions, nausea, vomiting, cramps and muscle tremors. Those who survive the poisoning experience long-term health conditions, such as amnesia. No amount of water hemlock root is considered safe to ingest.

3. The Rosary Pea

rosary_pea

The rosary pea, or Abrus precatorius, has very pretty seeds. Two-thirds of the seed is red, and the top third is black. These decorative seeds are often used to make jewelry, and that jewelry is imported to other countries. In fact, these seeds are especially popular for rosary prayer beads.

But rosary pea seeds contain the poison abrin. The seeds are only dangerous when the coating is broken — swallowed whole, the rosary pea doesn’t present any danger. But if the seed is scratched or damaged, it’s deadly. The rosary pea poses greater danger to the jewelry maker than to the wearer. There are many reported cases of death when jewelry makers prick a finger while handling the rosary pea.

Rosary pea plant is an aggressive grower and can take over an area if not kept in check. One rosary pea vine can grow and climb more than 20 feet (6 meters) in a single season. The plant, which is native to Indonesia, has spread across the world, in tropic and sub-tropic climates. It’s even located in several states in the United States, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Hawaii. The plant has long leaves with off-shooting leaflets and red flowers.

Abrin, the poison found in the rosary pea seed, is more deadly than ricin. Less than 3 micrograms of abrin in the body is enough to kill, which is less than the amount of poison in one pea. In the human body, abrin bonds to cell membranes and prevents protein synthesis, one of the most important duties of the cell. Symptoms of rosary pea inhalation poisoning are: difficult breathing, fever, nausea and fluid in the lungs. If ingested — and the seed coating is broken — rosary pea seeds cause severe nausea and vomiting, which eventually leads to dehydration, and ends with the kidneys, liver and spleen shutting down. Death usually follows within three to four days.

4. Deadly Nightshade

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Bright Eyes

Legend has it that women in Italy put deadly nightshade juice in their eyes to brighten them

.

In fact, one of the common names for deadly nightshade is belladonna, which is Italian for “beautiful lady.” Today, doctors rarely perform any type of eye surgery without using atropine, one of the poisons in deadly nightshade, to dilate the patient’s pupils.

The name says it all.

Deadly nightshade, or Atropa belladonna, contains poisonous atropine and scopolamine in its stems, leaves, berries and roots.

Deadly nightshade is a perennial plant that grows between 2 and 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters) tall. You’ll recognize it by its dull, dark green leaves and bell-shaped purple, scented flowers, which bloom from mid-summer through early fall.

Deadly nightshade berries are green when they form and turn to a shiny black as they ripen. They’re sweet and juicy, which makes them tempting to children. The plant requires rich, moist soil to thrive, and it grows wild in some areas of the world, but in the United States is limited to cultivation. Not all animals are affected by deadly nightshade. While it’s deadly to humans and some animals, horses, rabbits and sheep can eat the leaves without harm, and birds feed on the berries.

The poisons contained in deadly nightshade affect the nervous system. Taken in sufficient doses, the deadly poison paralyzes nerve endings in the involuntary muscles of the body, such as the blood vessels, heart and gastrointestinal muscles.

Symptoms of deadly nightshade poisoning include dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, headaches, confusion and convulsions. As few as two ingested berries can kill a child, and 10 to 20 berries would kill an adult. Even handling the plant can cause irritation.

5.  The Castor Bean

castor beancastor-plant-bean

This plant has several different looks so I am adding a search link so you can see all of them.

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=The+Castor+Bean+&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=the+castor+bean+&sc=0-0&sp=-1&sk=

All-natural Murder

Well-known Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov defected from Bulgaria in 1969, when Bulgaria was still a Communist state. Once he settled in England, he took a job as a journalist and broadcaster for BBC World Service and Radio Free Europe. Bulgarian government officials were not pleased when Markov developed a broadcast titled “In Absentia Reports” about life in Communist Bulgaria. So they made arrangements to silence him for good. As Markov stood at the bus stop one day, he felt a sharp jab in the back of his leg. When he turned, a man apologized for poking him with his umbrella. Three days later, Markov was dead. During an autopsy, physicians removed a metal pellet the size of a pin head from Markov’s calf. The pellet was hollow in the center and contained traces of ricin

.

The castor bean plant, or Ricinus communis, is widely cultivated for its castor oil and is also used as an ornamental plant. Neither of these uses would clue you into the fact that this plant has deadly contents: ricin.

Castor oil is a mild-tasting vegetable oil that is used in many food additives, flavorings and in candy production. It’s also available to the consumer as a laxative and to induce labor (though no scientific evidence shows it’s successful in inducing labor). Castor oil comes from the plant’s seeds, which are 40 to 60 percent oil.

The castor bean plant probably originated in Africa, but is now found throughout the world. This large, shrubby plant is popularly used in gardens because of its hardy nature. It grows well in barren areas and doesn’t require special care. It’s fast-growing and can reach 36 feet (11 meters) in a season. The flowers of the plant are yellowish green, and the centers of the flowers are red. The leaves are large with toothed edges.

Ricin is present in low levels throughout the plant, but it’s largely concentrated in the seed coating. Seed poisonings are rare and usually involve children and pets, but they can be deadly. As few as three seeds, which are green with brown markings, could kill a child who swallows them.

Symptoms of castor bean poisoning include nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, internal bleeding, and kidney and circulation failure. Many people suffer from an allergic reaction to the dust from the seeds and may experience coughing, muscle aches and difficulty breathing. Exposure to the dust is most common in areas where the beans are processed for commercial use. In ancient times, the castor bean was used in ointments, and allegedly, Cleopatra applied the oil to the whites of her eyes to brighten them.

6. English Yew

The toxic English yew tree has come to represent both death and the immortality of the soul.

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images

Given the English yew’s highly toxic nature, it’s fitting that the tree is commonly found growing in church graveyards across Great Britain. Some scholars believe that this tradition started when early Christians incorporated the trees — which already had spiritual value to the pagans — into their new religion. Today they stand not as symbols of death, but of the immortality of the soul.

The English yew (Taxus baccata) is an evergreen tree with needlelike leaves and red arils, or fleshy seed-coverings. It grows to a height of 60 to 70 feet (18.3 to 21.3 meters) and is found throughout Great Britain, but is also cultivated in the southern United States. Every part of the tree is toxic due to taxine alkaloids, except for the aril flesh. Consumption of the leaves, and to a lesser extent the seeds, can lead to increasingly serious symptoms, including dizziness, dry mouth, dilation of the pupils, weakness, irregular heart rhythm and possibly death.

Despite its harmful qualities, English yew has been used for a variety of productive purposes. Its wood was valued across Europe for bowmaking as early as the Neolithic period, which lasted from approximately 7000 B.C. to 2500 B.C. Later, the Anglo-Saxons explored the tree’s medicinal qualities, including yew berries in a 10th-century formula for the treatment of “water-elf disease” (probably measles or chicken pox). More recently, researchers have studied the English yew for its potent antitumor qualities. Today, yew extract is used to formulate the drug paclitaxol, or Taxol, which slows the growth of ovarian, breast and lung cancers.

7.  White Snakeroot

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Most people know that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, but did you know that a plant killed the president’s mother?

The culprit: white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum), a shade-loving weed native to the forests of the eastern and southern United States. This shrubby plant grows to a height of 18 to 60 inches (46 to 152 centimeters) and boasts leaves that are serrated around the edges. Its flowers, which emerge from the ends of the branches in late summer, are small and grow in white clusters. Don’t let these beautiful blooms fool you, though; the plant contains high levels of tremetol, a powerful toxin.

White snakeroot causes “milk sickness,” a condition that afflicts people who consume milk or meat from a cow that has grazed on the highly poisonous plant. (Snakeroot is also poisonous to the cow.) Those affected can experience a variety of symptoms, including bad breath, loss of appetite, listlessness, weakness, vague pains, muscle stiffness, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, severe constipation, coma and possibly death. Milk sickness was common until the 1920s when farmers widely recognized white snakeroot as the cause, eradicating the weed from their pastures and fencing them to prevent cows from wandering into the woods to graze. Unfortunately, this discovery came much too late for Lincoln’s mother, Nancy, who fought milk sickness for two weeks before passing away on Oct. 5, 1818.

8.  Aconite

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Pretty flowers, sure. But laced with toxins. The yellow are the Winter flower & the White are Aconite-leaved buttercup (Ranunculus aconitifolius)

Aconite (Aconitum napellus) is commonly referred to as monkshood because the top of the flower resembles the monastic head covering. But there’s nothing holy about this plant. A perennial, it stands 2 to 6 feet (0.6 to 1.8 meters) tall and produces blue, white or flesh-colored bunches of flowers at the tops of its stalks. Every part of the aconite plant is laced with the toxin aconitine, making it dangerous to consume or even touch.

Poisonings from aconite are rare but typically occur when gardeners or backpackers mistake its white carrot-like root for horseradish or some other edible herb. Consuming the plant causes burning in the mouth followed by increased salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, a tingling sensation in the skin, blood pressure and heart irregularities, coma and sometimes death. Just touching aconite can cause tingling, numbness, and in severe cases, heart problems.

People have used aconite in the past to intentionally harm people or animals. Nazi scientists used the plant’s toxin to poison bullets, while shepherds in ancient Greece laced bait and arrows with aconite to kill wolves that preyed on their stock. From this latter use came another common name, “wolfsbane.” Fans of the Harry Potter series will recognize this as the plant Professor Snape brews to help Remus Lupin turn into a werewolf.

9. Jimsonweed

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With pointy leaves and spiky fruit, jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) definitely looks the part of a poisonous plant.

Its toothed foliage emits an unpleasant odor and branches from reddish-purple stalks, which grow to a height of 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters).

The plant’s fruit is particularly wicked-looking. The green spheres, measuring about 2 inches (5 centimeters) across, are covered with long, sharp spines.

Even the nectar and petals of its beautiful white or lavender trumpet-shaped flowers are dangerous.

They, like the rest of the plant, are tainted with the toxins atropine and scopolamine.

European settlers in the New World quickly discovered the potency of jimsonweed, which grows throughout Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. The plant was plentiful at Jamestown, where some colonists made the mistake of having it for dinner as early as 1607. They would have experienced horrific symptoms, including dilated pupils, racing heartbeat, hallucination, delirium, aggressive behavior and possibly coma or seizures.

The plant has been linked to darker arts, like witchcraft and voodoo, because of its delirium-inducing and hallucinogenic properties.

For most people, though, jimsonweed is a dangerously poisonous plant that’s best avoided completely.

There’s a tree so poisonous that you don’t actually have to touch it to be harmed..

It’s called the manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella),

found throughout the Florida Everglades, Central America and the Caribbean.

10. Manchineel

  • Inhaling sawdust or smoke from the 30-foot (9.1-meter) tall tree may result in a variety of uncomfortable side effects, including

coughing, laryngitis and bronchitis.

  • Some reports suggest that simply standing beneath the tree during a rainstorm and being splashed by runoff may result in rashes and itching.
  • Your car isn’t even safe from this toxic tree: Park under its low branches, and dripping sap can seriously damage the paint.

Direct contact with the manchineel tree is far more hazardous.

  • Its milky sap can squirt from the tree when twigs are snapped off, painfully irritating the skin and eyes.
  • Ingestion of the deceptively sweet, crabapple-like fruits is known to blister the mouth and cause the throat to swell shut, then inflict severe gastrointestinal problems. These harmful effects result from the toxin hippomane A and B, which are present in every part of the tree.

The manchineel tree sometimes grows near the beach, giving it another of its common names, “beach apple.”

Hapless tourists vacationing on the warm coasts of Central America and the Caribbean often encounter its poisonous boughs with unfortunate consequences. So if you’re heading to that region’s beach resorts, make sure to avoid the manchineel tree or else your dream vacation could turn into a nightmare.

Bee Keeping & Apiaries in Tennessee–What you need to know

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Bee Keeping & Apiaries in Tennessee

–What you need to know

You’ve heard about the dangers of the world loosing it’s bee population and want to help in some way, maybe even start your own.

But Where do you begin?

You could jump right in and do things the hard way, and face HUGE fines, OR start with the basics.

Here is what you need to know.

The honey bee is the official state agricultural insect.

Honey bees perform a pollination function that is essential to the propagation of many species of plants in Tennessee.

The mission of the Apiary program is to protect this valuable resource.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture maintains beekeeper registration files, works through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program to offer cost share opportunities and performs collaborative research and educational seminars with the University of Tennessee.

  • The University of Tennessee *UT* offers Beekeeping classes.

Here is their link if you would like more information on what they do & the specifics on their classes: http://bees.tennessee.edu/

The Tennessee Beekeepers Association Has information & PDF files and documents that you will need to look through as well.

A good site to save for further reference on Tennessee Beekeeping!

Healthy productive colonies of bees not only produce more honey, they also provide better pollination for our nations food supply. Proper pollination yields larger, more uniform shaped, marketable fruits and vegetables.

The Department provides a list of local honey producers for consumers and retail outlets looking for sources of local honey.

Contact TDA Marketing Division for more information.

To receive apiary applications or a pollination list by mail, or for more in-depth information, call Michael Studer, State Apiarist, at 615-837-5342.

  • ***Important Important Important!!***

If you are in Tennessee, ALL NEW Apiaries MUST be registered with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture!!!

The Apiary Act of 1995 includes a section on registration of apiaries.  In the Apiary Act, new apiaries are required to be registered with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.  These apiaries are required to be re-registered every 3 years.

The list of registered beekeepers and apiaries is maintained by the State Apiarist and upon registration, the beekeeper receives a unique registration number.  This number is the beekeeper’s personal registration number and can be used to brand hives and equipment.

Registration cards are available from this office, County Extension Agent offices, your local beekeeper association or this website.

There are a number of benefits to registering your apiary:

  • E-mail notification of disease outbreaks and updates from the State Apiarist.
  • E-mail and postal notification of aerial spraying of pesticides in your area when we are notified of the spraying projects.
  • Free inspection of your colonies if you are selling them, moving them or you feel you may have a bee health problem.
  • Registering your bees helps to protect your bees and your neighbor’s bees in the case of an American Foulbrood (AFB) outbreak or other regulatory pest.
  • If your colonies have to be destroyed due to American Foulbrood or other regulated pest or disease you will be compensated if they are registered.  There is no indemnity paid for the loss of unregistered bee colonies.

What can happen if you do not register your bees or your apiary?

  • Failure to register you bees or comply with the provisions of “The Apiary Act of 1995” may result in the confiscation your bees, beekeeping equipment and a $500.00 fine.
  • If your colonies have to be destroyed due to American Foulbrood or other regulated pest or disease you will not be compensated if they are not registered.

Please remember that by law all honey bee colonies in the state of Tennessee are required to be registered with this office.

All honey bees and used equipment transported into, out of, within or through the state of Tennessee are required by law to be inspected.

Here is a list/links for the DOWNLOADABLE Apiary Forms, Applications and Permits you will need:

  • World of Beekeeping from WA has a FREE Basic Bee Keeping Kit (your first email will be an interview or whatever they are offering at the time)

just fill in your name & email.

They also have a Step-By-Step DVD you can purchase. Here’s the link: http://www.worldofbeekeeping.com/get-started/

These websites all recommend JOINING a Beekeepers Club, or organization of some type, and is probably the single most useful thing you can do.

It provides an invaluable source of information, instruction, advice and assistance, as well as having some of the equipment

– such as an extractor – which can be borrowed or rented when necessary.

Even if the club itself doesn’t own any equipment, there is often a member who is prepared to lend you something.

Often there will be talks and demonstrations which will help clarify some of the confusing things one reads about.

If there are no Tennessee beekeeping associations in your area I strongly advise you to consider starting one.

It’s surprising how many people are interested once the word gets around.

For convenience I am including a list of known Beekeepers for the State of Tennessee.

  • Columbia Area Beekeeperrs Association
    Contact: Jack Wohlfarth, President
    Tel: 931-215-5389
    E-mail: jack.do@charter.net
    Web Site: http://www.columbiaareabeekeepers.com
    Culleoka Tennessee 38451
    We typically meet on the first Sunday of each month at 2pm in the Conference Building at the Tennessee Agriculture Experiment Station in Spring Hill. The general public is invited to attend.
  • Clinch Valley Beekeepers Association
    Steve Parks
    Email: clinchvalley_beekeepers@yahoo.com
    URL: http://clinchvalleybeeclub.org
    Phone: 865-661-7079
    Sneedville TN 37869
    We have 149 very active members.
  • Aaron Burns
    E-mail: The_Lorax@animail.net
    Knoxvile TN 37917
    Phone: 865-235-8553
    Free removal of swarms in and around the Knoxville area
  • Montgomery County Beekeepers Association
    Keal Madsen
    Tel Number: 931-645-3110
    E-mail: newgfarms@gmail.com
    Web Site: http://www.mcbaonline.ning.com
    305 Pageant lane
    Clarksville TN 37040
    The Montgomery County Beekeepers Association meets the first Saturday of every month (excluding January)in the public library at 10:00 am and is open to the public.
  • WASHINGTON CO BKPRS ASSN
    Wallace Putnam
    247 Cain Dr
    Blountville, TN 37617
    Phone 423-323-1629
  • MEMPHIS AREA BKPRS ASSOC
    Bill Hughes
    250 Leonard Lane
    Brighton, TN 38011
    Phone 901-475-1918
    Fax 901-767-9350
    Email bhfarms@prodigy.net
  • JACKSON AREA BKPRS
    Freddy Smith
    7030 Shaw Chapel Rd
    Brownsville, TN 38012
  • RUTHERFORD COUNTY BKPRS ASSOC
    Keith Elrod
    7119 Hutson Rd
    Christiana, TN 37037
    Phone 615-274-3725
    Email selrod@bellsouth.net
  • ANDERSON CO BKPRS ASSN
    Carl Barnett
    632 Pine Ride Rd
    Clinton, TN 37716
    Phone 865-435-6591
  • CUMBERLAND COUNTY BKPRS ASSOC
    Kenneth Bryson
    711 Genesis Rd.
    Crossville, TN 38555
    Phone 931-484-6646
  • NW GEORGIA BKPRS ASSOC
    Dave Reed
    6807 Cedar Wood Court
    East Ridge, TN 37412
  • BEEKEEPERS OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE
    Dwight Tew
    509 Ellington Dr
    Franklin, TN 37064-5013
    Phone 615-406-5164
    Fax 615-791-1578
    Email dwighttew@comcast.net
    www.bomtn.org
  • SUMNER COUNTY BKPRS ASSOC
    Wayne Vantrease
    285 Vantrease Rd.
    Gallatin, TN 37066
    Phone 615-452-6675
  • DAVY CROCKETT BKPRfS ASSOC
    John Flanagan
    3785 Kelley Gap Rd.
    Greeneville, TN 37743
    Email flanmail@earthlink.net
  • KNOX CO BKPRS ASSOC
    Earl Seay
    6729 Ottinger Dr
    Knoxville, TN 37920
    Phone 865-577-2811
  • CAMPBELL CO BKPRS ASSOC
    Adrion Baird
    1064 Davis Chapel Rd
    LaFollette, TN 37766
    Phone 423-562-6963
    Fax 423-562-2232
    Email adrionb@aol.com
  • LOUDON CO BKPRS ASSN
    Jim Goodman
    8633 Hwy 11 E
    Lenoir City, TN 37772
    Phone 865-986-8360
  • CHEATHAM COUNTY BKPRS ASSOC
    Paul Carter
    1241 Substation Rd.
    Pleasant View, TN 37146
    Phone 615-746-5398
    Email plcj3@aol.com
  • CHEROKEE BKPRS ASSN
    Steve Postell
    1211 Mayflower Rd
    Sale Creek, TN 37373
    Phone 423-332-4266
  • SEVIER CO BKPRS ASSN
    John R Kelley
    613 Sandy Point Lane
    Sevierville, TN 37876
    Phone 865-428-1272
    Email kelleyjohn@bellsouth.net
  • DUCK RIVER BKPRS ASSN
    Elaine Holcombe
    PO Box 303
    Shelbyville, TN 37162
    Phone 931-684-0826
  • WILSON CO BKPRS ASSN
    Carey Mitchell
    3900 Rock Springs Rd
    Watertwon, TN 37184
    Phone 615-286-2529
    Fax 615-286-4388
    Email petrabee@hotmail.com
  • ELK VALLEY BKPRS ASSOC
    John Ferrell
    406 Joyce Lane
    Winchester, TN 37388
    Phone 931-967-2741
    Fax 931-962-2536
    Email jferrell@ext1.ag.utk.edu

There are pages upon pages of videos on YOUTUBE about beekeeping, but after talking with a friend & doing some research, I would not recommend jumping into Bees until you have the basics & done the other research from the links provided on this blog and talked to someone in your area that already has an Avery. This really may NOT be for you!

Rossman Apiaries in GA, also has some very valuable information worth checking out, as well as the ability to purchase your Bees & the Queens!

Hope this has helped some…. Enjoy your Apiary & Thank you for helping Save our Bees! Smile

Yule (pronounced EWE-elle)/Winter Solstice Lore-December 20-23

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Yule (pronounced EWE-elle)/
Winter Solstice Lore-December 20-23

beautiful-christmas-trees

Firstly, Yule, or the Winter Solstice, occurs when
 the Sun enters the sign Capricorn, 
and is at 0 ° Capricorn. 
Thus, Yule is a "minor" Sabbat because it is at 
zero degrees, the beginning of the energy. 
This is the longest night of the year, at the 
darkest time of the year. 
In ancient times, it was believed that the 
Father Sun needed our help to return, so the 
people would light bonfires both to strengthen the
 Sun through sympathetic magic and also to show 
the Father Sun the way back to the Mother Earth. 
Lighted candles in windows and lights on houses 
and trees (Christmas tree lights) are the leftover
 symbols of these bonfires, and are meant to 
symbolize and aid the return of the Father Sun.

This was also a season of the year when the herds
 were culled, as there was only enough food to 
feed the strong and young who would be needed to 
breed in the spring. 
Weak cattle who may not survive the winter anyway
were sacrificed, or just slaughtered, and used 
for feasting, or salted and saved. 
They were also traded, along with many other 
items, for this time of year, many people had 
time on their hands. 
The hunting was harder now because of the weather,
 and there was no agricultural concerns going on 
in the northern areas, so people had time to 
create and make things.

The main focus of most Yuletide celebrations is 
the rebirth of the Father Sun, as this is when 
the Mother Earth gives birth to the baby 
Father Sun. In addition to the theme of birth, 
we also have the theme of death, symbolized by 
the Yule log. 
Known as Winter Solstice Night, or the longest 
night of the year, much celebration was to be 
had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the
Father Sun, the Giver of Life that warmed the 
frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from 
seeds. 

The garland represents the circle of life, 
the never-ending cycles of the Mother Earth, 
and also the Tortoise, which is a sacred animal
to the Mother Earth. 

The lights, as discussed above, add energy to the
Sun, and are an encouragement for the Father Suns
return. 

Glass balls were to reflect evil, thereby 
protecting against the "evil eye", and also to
reflect the lights on the tree 
(originally candles on the tree) and increase the
effectiveness of their light. 

Candy canes are a reminder of the renewal of all
life as they are symbolic of the maypole, with 
their red and white colors, which stand for the 
blood and the milk of the Mother Earth and 
Grandmother Moon, the ancient waters of life. 

Ti1nsel and icicles are fertility magic also, 
representing the rains which will come to 
fertilize the earth in the spring. 

Bells were used to purify the air, and to summon
the friendly spirits for protection. 

The star at the top of the tree is our own 
pentagram, representing the four elements of air,
earth, fire and water, overseen by Spirit. 

Holly and Ivy were seen as the male and female 
principles (respectively) and were believed to 
bring good luck and fertility to men and women. 
Holly, berries, pine cones, and acorns were all 
used to signify the God aspect at this season, 
while the wreath symbolized the Mothers Earths 
aspect. 

As a complete circle, the wreath symbolized the 
circle of life, the wheel of the year, and the 
sacred cycles of Grandmother Moon, and was 
usually decorated with the holly, berries, 
ribbons, etc. of the Father Sun, and so combined
both aspects in one decoration.

Of course, mistletoe has come down as the plant 
most associated with the Yule season. 
Being a parasite, it only grows high in trees, 
where the seeds land after being borne on the wind. The Druids therefore believed the plant was put there by the Gods, probably by lightning bolt, or put there by the Sun. It was believed to have miraculous healing powers, be very strong good luck, and have many other magical and mystical attributes, and thus was referred to as "the Golden Bough". In Scandanavian countries, enemies would often be reconciled underneath boughs containing mistletoe, and any contract thus made could never be broken. Thus comes our custom of kissing beneath the mistletoe. 

There are many other customs from many cultures, 
as was mentioned earlier, and these are but a few. 
The Yuletide season was celebrated in almost every
known civilization, and many traditions have 
survived in altered forms from many different 
cultures. 
Researching these customs is both informative and 
fascinating, and will enrich your knowledge and 
understanding of both your own Pagan roots, as 
well as the roots of other religions. 

Symbolism of Yule: 
Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year,
The Winter Solstice, Introspect, 
Planning for the Future. 

Symbols: 
Yule Tree, Yule Log, Light

Herbs: 
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, 
frankincense, holly, laurel, mistletoe, 
oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar. 

Foods: 
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, 
Yule Cake, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, 
eggnog, ginger tea, mulled wine, spiced cider.

Incense: 
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon. 

Yule Incense Recipe

2 Parts Frankincense

2 Parts Pine needles or resin

1 Part Cedar

1 Part Juniper Berries

Grind the Pine needles, dried juniper berries and
Cedar together with a pestle (in a mortar), 
add frankincense and mix well before burning on
charcoal in a fireproof container. 

Colors: 
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange. 

Activities: 
Caroling, wassailing the trees, 
burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, 
exchanging of presents, 
kissing under the mistletoe, 
honoring Kriss Kringle - 
the Germanic Pagan God of Yule 

Spell workings: 
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness, 
Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Deities: 
At Yule a time when the weather is at it's 
coldest and the Father Suns is reborn of the 
Mother Earth, and the Father Sun's birth is 
symbolized by the return of the Sun, as from this
day forth the Sun's power is no longer in decline.  Symbolically the Father Sun grows along with the Sun, growing as the Sun gains in power, staying above the horizon longer and warming the planet more each day. Mother Earth goes into a deep sleep. Yule is a time of celebration, when we begin to see an end to Winter and it's hardships, and can now look forward to the soon to come Spring and the return of life!

The Yule Tree 
Therefore they represented the eternal aspect of
 the Goddess who also never dies. 
Their greenery was symbolic of the hope for the
sun's return.
Decorated the evergreen trees at Yule with all the
images of the things they wished the waxing year
to bring. Fruits for a successful harvest, 
love charms for happiness, nuts for fertility, 
and coins for wealth adorned the trees. 
Candles were the forerunners of today's electric 
tree lights.
Yule trees were brought inside to provide a warm 
and festive place for tree elementals who 
inhabited the woodland. 
This was also a good way to coax the native faery 
folk to participate in Solstice rituals. 
Some believed the Saxons were the first to place 
candles in the tree.
We realize when we plant a tree we are encouraging
the Earth to breathe. And when we decorate our 
evergreen trees at Yule, we are making a symbol of 
our dream world with the objects we hang upon it. 
Perhaps a chain or garland, reflecting the linking 
of all together on Earth. 
Lights--for the light of human consciousness, 
animal figures who serve as our totems, fruits and 
colors that nourish and give beauty to our world, 
gold and silver for prosperity, treats and nuts 
that blend sweet and bitter--just as in real life. 
The trees we decorate now with symbols of our 
perfect worlds actually animate what we esteem and 
what we hope for in the coming year; as from this 
night, the light returns, reborn.

Decorating the Yule Tree
It's best to use a live tree, but if you can't, 
you can perform an outdoor ritual thanking a tree, 
making sure to leave it a gift when you're 
finished (either some herbs or food for the 
animals and birds). 
Start a seedling for a new tree to be planted at 
Beltane.
If apartment rules or other conditions prevent you 
from using a live tree indoors, be sure to bring 
live evergreen garlands or wreaths into the house 
as decorations.

* String popcorn and cranberries and hang them on 
the Yule tree or an outdoor tree for birds.

* Decorate pine cones with glue and glitter as 
symbols of the faeries and place them in the Yule 
tree.

* Glue the caps onto acorns and attach with a red 
string to hang on the Yule tree.

·  Hang little bells on the Yule tree to call the 
spirits and faeries.

·  Hang robin and wren ornaments on the tree. 

* Hang 6-spoked snowflakes on the branches of the 
tree. The Witches Rune, or Hagalaz, has 6 spokes.

* Hang sun, moon, star, animal totems, faery, or 
fruit decorations.

* String electric lights on your tree to encourage 
the return of the Father Sun.

Consecrating the Tree
Consecrate the Yule tree by sprinkling it with 
salted water, passing the smoke of incense 
bayberry, pine, spruce, pine, spice, cedar, or 
cinnamon) through the branches, and walking 
around the tree with a lighted candle saying:

By fire and water, air and earth,

I consecrate this tree of rebirth.

Our celebrations may peak a few days before the 
25th, we nonetheless follow many of the 
traditional customs of the season: 
decorated trees, caroling, presents, Yule logs, 
and mistletoe. 
We might even go so far as putting up a 
'Nativity set', though for us the three central 
characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother 
Earth, Creator and the Baby Father Sun. None of 
this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows 
the true history of the holiday,of course.