Tag Archives: United States

Sage In America and the Native American Smudging Ceremony


fuzzy sage with blue larkspur
Sage is a lovely and important medicinal herb, also a sacred one. I grow several varieties and am always adding more. My garden is never without the traditional garden sage, salvia officinalis. There are some variations of this kind, the fuzzy leafed and tricolored sage, but I still like the good old standby that came to America with the early colonists. You may not realize how many varieties of sage are native to the New World, and their many uses, medical and spiritual. Scarlet sage attracts hummingbirds and is striking in the border, but there are many beautiful varieties. (*Sage and larkspur in our garden. Image by Elise)
Sage (Salvia) Common name: Wild SageMeadow Sage (S. pratensis) Scarlet Sage or Texas Sage (Salvia coccinea)Chia Sage grows throughout southern Canada and the United States, the very important chia (S. columbriae) in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California.
Meadow Sage
From Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier:

I love this book, given to me by my dear grandmother who lived to be 99 and a half. Mr. Angier has also written other volumes.
Sage is a fuzzy perennial with soft, downy hairs. One characteristic is that, when a bunch is wadded together, it clings to itself, remaining a compact mass. The erect stems are greyish with down and have, on pubescent stalks toward their bases, up to about 18-inch-long leaves.
Several wheels of tiny blue or whitish, and sometimes reddish, flowers grow in whorls of four to eight, depending on the particular species. The plants have an easily recognized strong, unique, aromatic odor.
Chia  Sage (S. columbriae)The chia variety, a distinctive annual springing up in the Southwest at the start of the late fall rains and an Indian standby, is a rough sage with deeply incised, coarse, usually hairy, dark-green leaves that grow mostly close to the ground. Three or so whirls of small blue flowers circle, mint like, in separated densities above prickly, dark-red, leafy bracts. These mature into seed-filled pods that remain like skeletons when the rest of the plant has withered, not giving the winds enough purchase to blow them free, and leaving them for the Indians to gather.
The seeds of the Texas sage (S. coccinea) are oblong, angular, or bowed, and 2 to 3 millimeters in size. Those of the annual scarlet sage take two or three weeks to emerge.
Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccineaThe medicinal part of the plant in general is the leaves, harvested during the flowering period in June and July. In the case of the chia, the vital part is the seeds, which are gathered from the then nearly dead annual in July.
Steeped like tea and in the same proportions, sage tea was slightly tonic and quieting to a disordered stomach. It’s peculiar but pleasant odor was retained in the beverage by the warmish, somewhat bitter aroma of the extracted volatile oil. It was said to benefit a ticklish and irritated throat, to quiet and expel bothersome gas, and assist the liver, kidneys, and gallbladder. Regarded in many regions as effective in treating sore throat, accompanied by fever, cankers, sore gums, mouth ulcers, and swollen tonsils, and as an effective gargle. The juice from bruised fresh leaves was credited with helping to remove warts, also pressed into service for sores, cuts, and wounds. The Indians made a salve of the crushed fresh leaves and edible lard for these purposes. Some tribes made salve from the roots of wild sage (S. lyrata).
A refreshing drink for hot weather was made by mixing chia seeds with cool water, each seed becoming separately suspended in its own white, mucilaginous cloudiness. The white, gray, and brown seeds are so nutritious that a teaspoonful was regarded as enough to sustain an Indian for a day on a forced journey.
JosephHenry Sharp-Making Sweet Grass Medicine - Blackfoot CeremonyNative American Smudging Ceremony:  The Smudging Ceremony
(The original link no longer works. I substituted a new one.)
“Our Native elders have taught us that before a person can be healed or heal another, one must be cleansed of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy – cleansed both physically and spiritually.,,Native people throughout the world use herbs to accomplish this. One common ceremony is to burn certain herbs, take the smoke in one’s hands and rub or brush it over the body. Today this is commonly called “smudging.” In Western North America the three plants most frequently used in smudging are sage, cedar, and sweetgrass.
Many varieties of sage have been used in smudging. The botanical name for “true” sage is Salvia (e.g. Salvia officinalisGarden Sage, or Salvia apiana, White Sage). It is interesting to note that Salvia comes from the Latin root salvare, which means “to heal.” There are also varieties of sage which are of a species separate from Salvin Artemusia. Included here are sagebrush (e.g. Artemisia californica) and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). We have seen both Salvia and Artemisia sub-species used in smudging.”
I’ve covered salvia officinalis (pictured below) in another post, but briefly: Salvia officinalis (called garden or common sage) is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. A member of the family Lamiaceae, sage is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world.
“Native Americans consider sage, cedar, sweetgrass and tobacco as the Four Sacred Herbs. Sage is found across North America, with white sage being the most potent and gray sage found in many northern areas where the gray will not over-winter. Cedar (Eastern red cedar) (Eastern white cedar) and sweetgrass also are indigenous to this continent. Tobacco can be found in many forms; however for this ceremony Nicotiana Rustica, or a similar dried tobacco leaf, native to America is preferred.”
sage herb

New Mystery Romance, The Heart of Constantine, With Barbara Monajem


Heart_of_Constantine_newI’m glad to have my friend, the talented Barbara Monajem, here to share more about her new release. She’s giving away an eBook or paperback, so be sure to leave a comment. I love the NA element in this story and the cover. Awesome owl.

Barbara: The Indian Mounds of eastern North America—remnants of early Native American civilizations—were part of the inspiration for my new mystery/romance, Heart of Constantine. This is the third book in my series about the funky little Louisiana town of Bayou Gavotte. I wanted a chance to put some Indian Mounds in one of my stories, because I’ve always enjoyed visiting them—there’s such a spiritual feeling, a sense of ancient civilization about the mounds. Although Constantine Dufray, the rock star hero, is half Navajo and therefore not descended from one of the eastern cultures, he enjoys the atmosphere and isolation of the mounds and the parks that surround them—although not when his enemy drugs Marguerite, the heroine, and leaves her on one of the mounds for Constantine to find.

Cahokia_Mounds_more_signsA few weeks ago, a business trip gave me the opportunity to visit the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois for the second time. It was particularly fun, because they reminded me of parts of the book—such as this sign, forbidding people to climb on the mounds. Both Constantine and Zeb (a teenager who is the third major character) disobey this rule.

It’s quite a climb from the bottom to the top of Monks Mound, the largest at the site. Watching one guy run up and down, up and down the stairs made me think again of Zeb and Constantine, who are both runners. (It was all I could do to walk up and down once!)

Cahokia_Grand_PlazaHere’s what historians think the mounds and surrounding area used to look like back in the day. There’s a great interpretive center at the Cahokia Mounds, but I didn’t spend much time there, as it was full of school children on field trips.

One of the warnings on this sign (posted above) really tickled me, but I can’t say why for fear of spoilers.

I don’t think anyone can see it well enough for spoilers, Barbara. 🙂

Monks_Mound (1)The mounds and the huge park around them are a great site to visit—and incidentally, they’re just across the river from St. Louis. It was a hazy day, but I tried to get a photo of the skyline. Can you see it, very faintly, in the distance?

***Yes. Image posted below. What a fascinating post. Thanks so much!

St_Louis_skyline_almost_invisible (1)Blurb for Heart of Constantine:

Native American rock star Constantine Dufray has hit rock bottom. His telepathic abilities have spun out of control, and destructive rumors about him run rampant. Some are true—he caused a violent cop’s suicide, and telepathy destroyed his marriage—but he didn’t poison his wife, and he couldn’t have caused riots at his concerts, killing his fans…or could he have? Now an unknown enemy is trying to frame him for rape and murder. Meanwhile, aura reader Marguerite McHugh finally gets a close encounter with the mysterious star, but it’s nothing like she expected. When Constantine finds her after she’s been drugged at one of his shows, Marguerite’s pulled into his quest for the truth. As danger mounts and murders pile up, Constantine and Marguerite are forced into an ever-more intimate relationship. Only by facing their fears and working together can they unmask the killer before more innocent people die.

***The Heart of Constantine at Amazon

www.BarbaraMonajem.com

@BarbaraMonajem

www.facebook.com/barbara.monajem

Sleepy Hollow and the Persecution of Witches in America


Sleepy Hollow (TV Series)With all the TV shows featuring witches, like Sleepy Hollow, which is a fun show but its historical ‘facts’ are a hoot, (great costumes and dude, though) I want to clarify. No accused witches were ever burned in America. Hanging, dunking, drowning, pressing with stones, dying while imprisoned, lashing, banishment, and shunning were inflicted, but no burning. Also, some arrested for witchcraft were later freed and the charges dropped. And none of the poor souls hung or otherwise killed during the Salem Witch trials were practicing witches, but victims of an insane mania that overtook the people of that time and place whose madness is still begin explored today.

I did a post on My Ancestor and the Salem Witch Trials 

For historical records on the punishment and execution (or release) of various individuals accused of witchcraft visit:

http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/witchtrial/na.html

historicalromancenovelkiradaughterofthemoonMy fascination with the supernatural, whether real or imagined, played an important role in my historical romance novel, Kira, Daughter of the Moon. Murmurings against the unusual, young Scots-Irishwoman, Kira McClure, grow into accusations of witchcraft. Never a good thing, but especially not in the colonial Virginia frontier. Acceptance in a close-knit community could mean the difference between life and death. The highly superstitious Scots settled in the rugged Alleghenies on the heels of The French and Indian War were already wary. The dangers these dark woods held heightened their fear of the supernatural. Sick livestock, children struck down with illness, and other misfortunes might be blamed on witchcraft. Settlers were alert to anyone in their midst they could point to as the culprit. The farther people ventured from more civilized society, the deeper their superstitions ran. And taking the law, such as it was, into their own hands was often how they dealt with miscreants in the frontier .

veiled mountains

Late Shenandoah Valley author/historian, John Heatwole, put together a wonderful collection of accounts from valley and mountain people regarding their experiences with and feelings toward so-called witches. His book deals with beliefs lingering into the 20th century, but they’re still present among some rural Virginians today. Fear best sums up their sentiments. In his book, Shenandoah Voices, Mr. Heatwole says, “Witches have not been tried, jailed or executed in America since the early 18th century, but tales of their activities persist. During that period in our history, superstitious practices invoked for self-protection were considered prudent dabbling in the occult and virtually harmless. Powers or practices called upon for mean-spirited or evil purposes were attributed to malevolent people in the community who wielded demonic powers. Despite the perception of evil, people suspected of being witches, who were mostly women, were often tolerated in society because of their family ties or from fear of retribution—no one wanted to get on the wrong side of a witch.”

True. However, ‘often tolerated,’ doesn’t mean those perceived as witches were popular. He shares accounts, and I’ve read others, of outspoken or in some way unique females, perhaps even deformed, thought to be in league with the devil who were ostracized. Not being accepted and possibly even tormented by your neighbors was harsh, particularly for the poor and elderly. On the one hand, a woman might gain power over others, even men, in a historically male dominated society, through the fear she intentionally or unintentionally provoked, but the danger that people would shun her was always present–unless she was well-to-do. The rich were always better tolerated.

Spells and hexes were countered by witch doctors, usually men, although ‘Granny women’ were also known for battling the dark arts with magical incantations. I have friends who grew up ‘back in the holler’ and remember bringing in the Granny woman when home remedies failed. One common protection prudent mothers undertook for children was to sew little ‘acifidity’ bags filled with pungent herbs, garlic and asafetida,  to hang around their necks. “Oh my, did these kids stink,’ one friend told me. The stench was to drive away illness and evil. These stinky bags may be out of favor now, but the fear that lay behind them is still quite real among some folk.

Owl, Barn Owl, Tree, Hole, Bird, Animal, Bark, WildlifeYou may ask if any of the women, and occasionally men, thought to be witches actually were? Yes. And some of them sound pretty darn scary.

For my recent post on that visit:

One of the Scariest Ghost/Witch Stories Ever

The Wisdom of John Adams and The American Revolution


John Adams was an amazing HBO production.  Extremely well done and historically right on. This is a fitting time of year to watch, or re-watch, it.

I’m an enormous  fan of John Adams, a brilliant man, and his brave wife Abigail. A remarkable woman whose wit and resourcefulness I much admire. What John and Abigail Adams and their children endured for the cause of freedom is unbelievable. And to think how taken for granted it is today.

I rented the John Adam series from Netflix, but it’s on sale at Amazon, so I just bought the DVD.  If you’re a fan of early American history,  this is for you.  But it ought to be viewed by every American to gain an appreciation of the sacrifices made by our founding fathers and mothers.  Sadly, many people don’t have a clue who has gone before them or what they accomplished, which is one reason I wrote Enemy of the King.  That and I’m passionate about the time period. Now, more than ever, Americans need to revisit their roots and remember what this country was meant to be. We need the wisdom of John Adams.

A link to the John Adams page at HBO.  Learn about the series and the history behind it.  For those of you who don’t know, Tom Hanks produced the series, and much of it was filmed in Virginia. In my own way, I feel like I’m still fighting for the Revolution, trying to keep the vital memories of it alive.

The theme song is glorious!

*For those of you interested in buying John AdamsAmazon has the DVD set.

Enemyoftheking_WebsiteMy historical romance novel set during the American Revolution, Enemy of the King, is at Amazon in print and Kindle. Also available from other online booksellers.

In writing Enemy of the King I spread beyond my Virginia home base and journeyed into North and South Carolina to research the Southern front of the Revolution. Enemy of the King is my version of The Patriot with ghostly flavors of Daphne Dumaurier’s Rebecca. Pleasant Grove, the home featured in my story, was drawn from Drayton Hall, the oldest preserved plantation in America open to the public, located outside the city of Charleston, SC. Part of the inspiration behind ‘Enemy’ came from research into my early American and British ancestors who fought on both sides of that sweeping conflict. One direct forebear five generations removed from me, Sam Houston, uncle of the famous Sam, fought in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, NC and kept a diary still used by historians.

“You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” ~Miracle Max–Beth Trissel


princess-bride-2

Big fan of The Princess Bride here, so I figure it’s time for a look back.

Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.

Buttercup: But how can you be sure?

Westley: This is true love – you think this happens every day?

****

The Princess BrideButtercup: We’ll never survive.

Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.~

[In the boat in the morning]

Inigo Montoya: He’s right on top of us. I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using.

****

fezzik-and-inigoInigo Montoya: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Count Rugen: Stop saying that!

****

Inigo Montoya: That Vizzini, he can *fuss*.

Fezzik: Fuss, fuss… I think he like to scream at *us*.

Inigo Montoya: Probably he means no *harm*.

Fezzik: He’s really very short on *charm*.

Inigo Montoya: You have a great gift for rhyme.

Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.

Vizzini: Enough of that.

Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?

Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.

Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.

Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?

Vizzini: DYEEAAHHHHHH.

****

The man in blackInigo Montoya: I donna suppose you could speed things up?

Man in Black: If you’re in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.

Inigo Montoya: I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.

Man in Black: That does put a damper on our relationship.~

Inigo Montoya: I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?

Man in Black: Do you always begin conversations this way?~

****

InigoFezzik: Inigo?

Inigo Montoya: What?

Fezzik: I hope we win~

Buttercup: You can’t hurt me. Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords.~

[after Westley rescues her from the lightning quicksand]

Buttercup: We’ll never succeed. We may as well die here.

Westley: No, no. We have already succeeded. I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One, the flame spurt – no problem. There’s a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that. Two, the lightning sand, which you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that too.

Buttercup: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.’s?

Westley: Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.

[Immediately, an R.O.U.S. attacks him]

****

Westley and ButtercupWestley: Can you move at all?

Buttercup: Move? You’re alive. If you want I can fly.

Grandpa: Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End.

The Best Advice My Therapist Ever Gave Me–Beth Trissel


Years ago, as a depressed young woman battling anxiety, I went–against my will but under strong advisement–to see a psychologist. Filling out the ‘why are you here’ form unsettled me with questions  like, ‘Do You Think You’re Christ?’ Or ‘Do You Hear Voices Telling you To Kill People?’

No! Does anyone else? I glanced around apprehensively at the other patients in the waiting room wondering, but not daring to ask, ‘What are you in for?’ And zipped past the closed-door where rumor had it they performed exorcisms on route to my therapist’s office, fearful I might catch something–or someone–and thinking I should have worn garlic around my neck and clutched a Crucifix.

Not to worry. As it turned out, my sessions were with a kind older woman who served herbal tea and simply spoke with me.  A wise, motherly soul. Apart from the treks down memory lane and repeated urging to  take care of myself physically and soothe the inner child, the single most important thing I gleaned was this nugget of wisdom: ‘Find what it is you most want to do and give yourself  permission to do it.’

Wow. Powerful stuff. Would you believe that’s what gave me the courage to throw myself into my writing? It all began as therapy and in many ways, still is. Which is why I’ll always write as I feel led, by dreams, spirit guides, my ancestors speaking to me, Divine inspiration, and whatever calls to my heart. I will not and never have gone after what’s popular in the current publishing world.  To sell out in that regard would be to betray the muse. And I’d wind up back at the therapist’s office.

More tea, anyone? Oh, and she advises naps. And eat your vegetables.

Mystical Press Editing Service’s Grand Opening–Beth Trissel


Greetings and Salutations!

Many thanks to Beth for hosting us on her blog today! We’ve got some really exciting news to share with everyone so grab that cuppa and let the blogging begin!  Welcome ladies. Glad to have you.

September 1-15th marks the official Grand Opening of Mystical Press Services!!!

This means 50% Off all our classes and services through September 15thhttp://mysticalpress.com

In case you haven’t yet heard about our website, allow me to introduce you to a place where you just might find the fulfillment of your dreams. That’s right! The talented folks at Mystical Press want to help you reach your publishing goals!

How do we do that? I’m glad you asked!

Mystical Press is the culmination of an idea that came from two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—where we help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.”

At Mystical Press our primary goal is to help writers. As authors, we understand the frustration of not receiving constructive and useful feedback, the aggravation of navigating the murky depths of the publishing industry and that, sometimes, authors just need a place to vent. Well, we’re here to tell you, the insanity can end!

Like-minded individuals can gather online at Mystical Press to work one-on-one with professional editors who help authors prepare their manuscripts for submission. Whether you are looking for a Manuscript Evaluation, Submission Evaluation, or a full story edit, we will give you honest, encouraging feedback and work diligently with you on your story to make sure it’s ready to land on an editor’s desk. No project is too big or too small and all receive the same precise attention to detail.

Perhaps your submission is ready but you need assistance with smaller editing projects like a query letter and synopsis? Have no fear! Mystical Press is here! We offer a full edit of query letters and synopses with comments and suggestions that come directly from AN EDITOR! TAH-DAH!

And don’t worry! If your goal is to write your very own dynamite synopsis, at Mystical Press we believe in “teaching a man to fish”. Our Power Class, How to Write a WINNING Synopsis, is designed to easily guide you through the process of crafting your very own synopsis! Yes, that’s right. I used “easily” and “synopsis” in the same sentence!

The self-paced course curriculum at Mystical Press can assist in tackling those pesky problem areas as well (e.g., show vs. tell, POV shifts, realistic character and story development, etc.).

If you’ve read books, articles and/or taken workshops and are still in search of that elusive contract offer, perhaps Mystical Press can help. Take one class or take a whole series—our online classes are designed to meet each writer’s individual needs.

Is your next project of the self-publishing variety? Mystical Press has a selection of pre-made covers we guarantee will only be used once! No one will have the same cover! Or, if you’d like, we can design a cover specifically tailored to your vision—you will work one-on-one with our talented cover artists! We are also happy to edit your baby and can even format the document to meet the specifications of most popular self-publishing platforms.

Remember to mention Mystical Press to all your friends and fellow writing pals – here’s why. Mystical Press offers a free Referral Program. Just register on the site and we will assign you a Referral ID. If anyone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you earn a referral fee! Whether you choose cash or a credit for products or services on the site, consider this our thank you for helping us spread the word.

Oh! And before I forget…we offer a wide range of gift certificates designed specifically with the writer in mind. Tired of searching for the “write” present for your author pals? Maybe that next birthday calls for an eGift from Mystical Press!

So now that you know all about us, please tell us all about you! Head on over to Mystical Press and register free on the site. Everyone who does will be entered into our drawing for fabulous gifts and prizes! Join our celebration and together we will strive to get your voice heard!