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Of Oak and Ash year end! Merry Solstice!

As the calendar year comes to a close, I’m often reflective of accomplishments, but this time, rather more that needs to be done. I fear that people’s lives will be compromised, including education, living spaces, environment, civil rights, and very important, the right to wellness and healthcare.  We’ve already seen this happen in one event in recent days at Standing Rock. All in one area. There were many herbalists and healers present at Standing Rock. That action was important. There is more action there and even in your own community to be taken. One of many to do this is by supporting local organizations banding together that provide services for communities. Another is do-it-yourself! Take personal action. Your neighbor, friend or family or the person you *see* everyday on the street, make them a nice cup of herbal tea, if they are sick.

I’ve been treating myself and people around me as best I can within the confines of my income to make medicine and items for personal healing and energy.  I’ve operated on an online platform with little success, but I will continue forward. I do tend to do better with in-person events and appearances. One of those was the Peace Bazaar which Margarat and I have been attending for the past 5 years. Social justices and environmental organizations supporting gift giving from good causes.

It’s hard to maintain and be creative in this world, but keep at it! I know I am!  As a matter of fact, keep an eye out for some new herbal and plant based magical items in the new year at Of Oak and Ash. Only *we* can make things happen!

–Kim, Of Oak and Ash, Winter Solstice 2016

 

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Standing up…with Herbal Call-to-Action

Like Alexis at Wort + Cunning, I am compelled to share resources about supporting Standing Rock, now even more than ever before. The latest news from Standing Rock is (as of November 14, 2016):

CANNON BALL, N.D. – The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers today announced they are delaying an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline project until it conducts further environmental review with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The Corp noted that “construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement.

Seemingly, this seems positive, although if we relied completely on the efforts of bureaucracy, this would get us no where, idle and lost. I see much ‘outrage’ right now, as you should, you should see outrage always, then do something about it. It would be great to be passive and “see how this all works out,” however the reality is, that would be great if you find yourself in a position where your home isn’t being threatened, your source of drinking water, your way of being and your beliefs. This is what is happening at Standing Rock today and days before this.

Sharing resources is important, but fulfilling needs and outcomes with actual and tangible efforts is critical now. Many herbalists including the Free Fire Cider team are sending supplies and formulas to the front lines. Other items are in demand, as is monetary donations for the camp, as they are bracing for winter. As I speak, I think a snow storm is expected over the Plains. Please refer to the list of donations before sending herbal items to see what is actually needed: Monetary Donations, Medical, and Herbal Needs.

There is also an NO DAPL fact zine available here in case you are wondering what this is all about.  Solidarity is great, symbolism of solidarity is great, but I think it boils down to actual evidence of participation and allegiance, how do you align yourself through your actions?

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Samhain…is coming.

As we just passed the Fall equinox and give thanks for the harvest, the moon passes through a time of shadow and reflection.  The calendar year signals a closure and a steady march to symbolic death and renewal. I think about the elements more this time of year than any other time of year. It is a time when the self or at least for me, when I need the most protection. For some reason, our selves become more vulnerable in winter.  Of Oak and Ash is concerned with the cycles of the seasons and how we manifest all unwanted and wanted energies. I created an elemental line of amulets, otherwise in historical terms known as ‘witch bottles’ thinking about how one might use the properties of plant, object, and energy to best uses.

Witch bottles have their roots in folk magic history, particularly in England; the first recorded mention of a witch bottle was in the 17th century. In the US, witch bottles have been found hidden in walls or in archaeological sites, suggesting uses for healing, hexing, protection, and spell craft. The original intent was a measure against harmful witchcraft, but mostly in mystery.

Elemental Witch bottles: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Ether
Elemental Witch bottles: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Ether

The Elemental witch bottles from Of Oak and Ash are individually created bottles each with a distinctive elemental constitution. Each element corresponds with a plant and stone or object. These are not curios, nor do they have the intent to do harm and/or change the will of someone. These witch bottles although created with magick, rather use herbal healing as a source. It is up to the intended person to use them to their own benefit, much like the black salt. Each bottle is unique. All the bottles have absorbed the full moon cycle light. Cork is not sealed. Bottles are about 1oz.

Each bottle contains:

Earth: Comfrey, Eastern Red Cedar, Cleveland Sage, Lichen from Pacific Northwest, Jade, and Lake Michigan lake glass

Air: Rose, Lavender, Mistletoe, Hops flowers, Amethyst, (1) bone, (1) crow feather

Fire: Witch Hazel bark, Hawthorne berries, Dragon’s Blood, Cinnamon, Agate

Water: Passionflower, Sea Moss, Red Raspberry leaf, Honeysuckle, Turquoise, Lapis, Topaz

Ether: Salt, Calamus root, Stinging nettle, Mugwort, Yarrow leaf, Selenite, trinket

I take great care in the process of these items, as a practicing witch for over 30 years, part of the process is in the ritual of making and the good intention for the user. All stones and beads were cleared and the process space cleared. All plants are from organic sources or ethically harvested.

 

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Herbalism and DIY Zines

Just a head’s up for those interested in not only zines, but also herbalism zines, we (Grrrlzines-a-go-go) have a few available for download on our WordPress site.

Download our zines!

From the Ground Up zine
From the Ground Up zine
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Numen Naturae: The Magician’s Wand – Book review

NNPromoNumen Naturae: The Magician’s Wand – Exploring the relationship between Herb, Image, and Archetype
[ed. Casanda Johns]
House of Hands
2016
houseofhands.net

In Michael Maier’s brilliant work on alchemy, Atalanda Fugiens, we see the figure of “Numen” of divine nature leading the way with her light, while the alchemist follows behind intently in her footsteps. The caption speaks: “To him/who is dealing with chymics,/ let Nature be reason / experience and reading/ like a guide/ staff/ glasses/ and lamp” I find myself constantly cradled by this idea of energetic influence in my own work as an herbal practitioner, but also provoked by the archetypes in my life, the scholar, the clairvoyant, and the empath. While esoteric devotees of such spagyrical influence emoted on their once ‘radical’ Renaissance notions of balancing the ether with medicine, in the contemporary, it seems to be sown on familiar lands. I would say, what is difficult is translating the tongues of old without sounding like a musty and antiquated archaic.

In Numen Naturae: The Magician’s Wand, herbalist Casandra Johns collects a selection of voices from the plant and magick community navigating the conscious divinity of nature. The scope is part of a larger gnosis to be continued to investigate the relationship and cognition between our herbal allies and the established praxis of archetypal imagery. Specifically, the essays explore the correlation of the plant yarrow [achillea millefolium] and the archetype of the Magician from the major arcana tarot. Yet, the text is more than just a dissection of the ceremony of opposites and similarities. I’m reminded of something noted herbalist and naturopath Dr. Jody Noé said during a lecture once, emphasizing plant medicine as an “energetic bridge” between the actual plant and the intuitive discipline of our mind and body. Numen Naturae seeks to ‘activate’ our approach to plant medicine and stimulate the need to resonant a practical, spiritual significance in our own environment.

Coming from a strong zine making background, I also feel personal narrative is so important. The stories and rituals of the book complete for me, the trajectory of the Ouroboros. Many times, we in the herbal community we get sided on certain tracks of either clinical and empirical academia or on the verso, unrelenting spiritualism that spends too much time in the ether to prepare us for actual grounding. I suspect, the magick community also grapples with a similar ego. I found the humor and mention of this notion in Eric Purdue’s interview mentioning academia significant. Furthermore, a discussion on any of these aspects that does not mention privilege and cultural appropriation is troubling; in my opinion, so I was grateful to see Jennifer Stickley mention cultural appropriation, as well as Scott Kloos’ bipartisan connection to yarrow. We enter the space humbly, with absolution, a perception gracefully promoted here.

Along those lines, as Katharyn Waterfield reminds us to literally ‘pay attention’ to consciousness, as archetype links instinct and cognitive patterns, we also need to be aware that “archetypes are more than a direction or goal, they also provide profound motivation or drive” (Waterfield, 62). This for me has always important, as practice of intention with herbalism. While I find strength in my own inner Magician, the individualism that drives me, I also would not exist without the collaborative experience of perception and dialogue. While I agree our culture “has become disconnected from our sensory experiences, from our somatic experiences” (Stickley, 8), I also know that not every one shares the same experiences, as I, to be mindful, is also to be wise, but to recognize individual narrative and personal privilege is crucial.

Yarrow is in my experience is a plant of synchronicity like many of the authors mentioned. I love that. I can remember listening to Matt Wood speak of the specificity and action of yarrow and later in the day, tripping and falling into a patch of yarrow in the high desert of Arizona. Michael Tierra’s “Herbal Tarot” similarly speaks of the illuminations of yarrow, but represents yarrow with the divine hand of the cosmos clutching the Ace of Wands. In this representation, yarrow reveals insight and simplicity, and in harmony. Admittedly, I am neither a Jungian nor cartomancy scholar, but think readers of Numen Naturae will thrive on the layers of analysis spent with the Magician. The beauty of the community is valuing diversity and interpretation of divinity. “The wealth of the world’s cultural heritage includes myriad means for answering precisely these questions, including the rich tapestries of myth, various rite of passage ceremonies, and the kinds of sacred games collectively known as divination” (Edwards, 121). I think Numen Naturae leaves many discussions open for analogy and builds upon a continuum of thought many will invoke throughout their own practices and mysteries.

I cannot stress enough the power of story and the power of listening, the power of participating. I have immersed myself with the stories from many herbalists and magick practitioners, but to plunge yourself into the matrix of direction, is the ultimate extension of action. It lifts your heart and provokes your mind, and importantly, for some puts the self into action. Scott Kloos mentions yarrow, as the arrow of love. This is the perfect example of how the plant is metaphor for all things; we must challenge ourselves with knowing the likeness, the narrative, and the action of the plant.

Like the school of thought set in motion by the Arab and Greek physicians, the action of the herb is critical to balance the system (mind and body) of the physiology, as in magick, “May your speech and your words be aligned with your actions and intention” (Ciacchi, 23). Numen Naturae is much like the beginnings of a wondrous ‘alchemical wedding’ to borrow a phrase from a friend. It is both poetically aware and significantly consistent throughout representing variables of intellectualism and practice. We not only need to have the four (or more) sensory relationship with a plant, we also need to embody the experience rationally, respectfully, and transgressively against oppression and with empathy. I am sated with the words permeating the pages in Numen Naturae to cultivate these ideas.

Kim Schwenk [ofoakandash.com]

 

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Of Oak and Ash Botanical(s) – Black Salt

I’ve updated the shop with the Elemental Black Salt! I’ve been remiss not making any for a while.

There is a gargantuan amount of literature, published material, musings, and narratives on the uses of salt in magick.  While I won’t go into an explanation of the actual salt, I will say, I made these salts with the intention to include an inter-connectedness of praxis and exercise.  Meaning, I want people to use the salt as an extension of their own practice and connection with and for plants.  I will not “instruct” on the uses of the salt, it is not a ‘curio’ either. I will say, while my own extensions are present, my intention allows for individuals to access their own needs and uses.

I want to address and promote the work of a luminary woman, Catamara Rosarium who operates Rosarium Blends. Her products are produced with deep sense of investigation, wisdom, and heightened transgression. I have used her products, as part my process of making the elemental salt [specifically: Air], as I feel she has a particular sensibility for the relationship to the elements of air: love, aroma, and effectual bonding. Please support mindful herbalists!

Please email me with any comments or questions!

Elemental Black Salt [Set of four] also listed individually.

 

 

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Square! Both online and in-person at events

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Biggest update, as of 8/1/2016, I now accept Square for payments! That means credit and debit cards. This will make vending easier. I happen to do a lot of in-person business and this will make it easier.