Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dyeing with Stinging Nettle

Here is a 3 gallon pot of fresh Nettles. Early Monday morning, I harvested them by hand from my garden, and then gently tore the leaves to expose more of the cell walls to the water.   This will simmer for hours & eventually release its color so that I can dye with it. I, personally, don't use any synthetic dyes. It is necessary to use a mordant to make the color stay. Most often I use alum, but copper, tin and iron are sometimes used too.  For this dye bath, I'll use alum, but not yet.

Clothing dyed with Nettle is energetically protective to the wearer.  It is also magically transformative.  Do you know the story of the Twelve Wild Swans?  Rose must save her brothers by making each of them a nettle shirt.

After simmering for an hour or so, the water is beginning to show a hint of color.  

You might have noticed that I harvested these nettles at the height of summer.  Early in the spring, I love to eat tender young nettles.  they're deeply nourishing, but we can't eat them now because they would be irritating to our urinary tracts.  Once the dangling flowers have made an appearance, the time for eating nettles has passed.  These flowers have even gone to seed, and so I've put all of that - leaves, stems and seed heads - into the dye bath.

 Starting to see a little more color after 2 more hours.  I'll let this sit overnight and then return it to a simmer in the morning.

In the morning, I simmered for another 2 hours, and then let it sit all day.

By evening, 30 hours since I first started the pot of Nettles on the stove, there is deep color in the water.  I carefully strained out the plant material and gifted it to the compost pile.

This is when I added the alum, about 1/2 cup.  This method of dyeing is called Vat Dyeing.  The alum is added directly to the dye bath instead of soaking the fibers in mordant first.

I'm only dyeing silk pieces, and silk takes color very readily, so this method is very effective.

Sometimes the first piece from a dye bath is... um... less pleasing to the eye than the subsequent pieces. So I put in one silk camisole which I'll keep for myself in case the bath needs to be tweaked in some way.

This is after 20 minutes in the bath.  Sort of a golden glow.

And this is after about 45 minutes, rinsed but not washed.  I like it!  No tweaking necessary for this pot of color.

I like deep color saturation, so I turned off the flame under the pot, put in a silk sarong, and left it soaking overnight.  Beautiful gold.

This morning, after I took the sarong out, I added 4 more silk camisoles.  They'll stay in all day, and I'll take them out for rinsing and washing when I get home from the shop.

This photo shows you how there is nearly no color left in the water - it has all been taken up by the silk fibers.

Magical process...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mother Earth's Transition Team

Last weekend I was at Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts for a workshop with Starhawk.  As always, working with Starhawk is wonderful, and transformational work.  Here is a link to a blog post one of the other women who attended wrote, reflections on a dream...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lyme Awareness & Herbal Prevention

A workshop at Radiance with Sarah Preston &
Benjamin Weiss.
Tuesday, April 8th, 6-8PM

Tick-borne Lyme disease is a significant health risk for anyone who regularly spends time outdoors in central Pennsylvania. By early August 2013, there had already been 3 times as many reported cases of Lyme disease in Lancaster County as had been documented in all of 2012*. From 2009-11, the last years for which the Center for Disease Control has released statistics on Lyme, Pennsylvania led all states in reported cases. Nonetheless, this illness can be prevented through simple measures: understanding the disease’s life-cycle & its relationship with deer ticks, by knowing when and how to enter wooded and overgrown areas, and through basic herbal first aid. This awareness is essential to the health of individuals who love the outdoors. Please join Sarah and Ben for a brief & affordable evening workshop. Books on herbal Lyme prevention and treatment will be available for sale, as well as herbal products that may be used with guidance from professional medical help.

Sarah Preston is a consulting community herbalist, owner of Radiance and Herbs from the Labyrinth, LLC.  She says, “Being an herbalist is a natural synthesis of my life-long love of plants, trees and wild places, and my interest in natural healing.”  She has studied with Rosemary Gladstar, Matthew Wood and many other herbalists. She teaches locally and at regional herb conferences. 

Benjamin Weiss is a permaculture teacher, hiker, gardener, and forager who lives in Lancaster. As an avid nature-lover, he has dealt with his own case of Lyme disease and has supplemented conventional treatment with locally-harvested herbs using “The Buhner Protocol.” He has studied herbalism for 8 years in a mentorship with Sarah Preston. Ben teaches classes and workshops throughout the region.

To register, call Radiance, 717-290-1517, or stop in to 9 W Grant St, Lancaster.

Cost of the class:  sliding scale $30-$15

*”Uptick In Lyme Disease Cases Reported Here.” Lancaster Newspapers, 8/6/2013

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Elements of Magic: an introductory course in Reclaiming Tradition

Using the art of magic, we deepen our vision and focus our will, empowering ourselves to act in the world.

In the tradition of STARHAWK & Reclaiming, this class will explore the Elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit as used to develop a practice of Goddess Spirituality and Magic, sometimes called Witchcraft.

Working through each individual element, students will learn & refine techniques to include:  Creation of Sacred Space, breath-work, spell-craft, chanting, visualization & trance, and structuring rituals in an experiential format.  We will learn to sense, shift and move energy.  This is an opportunity to experience deep magic as we learn the skills on which to build our individual practices.  The concept of the triple self and its importance in this magical tradition will be introduced. Once aligned, we will open the whole of ourselves to the beauty and love around us, creating rituals and practices that can transform us and the worlds about us.

Preparation:  Read the first six chapters of The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk.

This class is considered the first of the Reclaiming Tradition’s core classes.  Sarah, an initiated Reclaiming Tradition priestess and teacher, and Beth will facilitate class.  Please be committed to attending all 6 classes.

When:   Thursdays, March 20 thru April 24, 2014, 6-9:00pm
Where:  Radiance, 9 W Grant St (across the cobblestones from Central Market)
    Phone 717-290-1517 for more information
Cost:   $195 - $155 sliding scale, includes a copy of The Spiral Dance.

Stop in to register, or send a $50 non-refundable deposit with your registration & contact information to Sarah Preston at Radiance, 9 W Grant St, Lancaster, PA  17603.  Balance due at first class unless arrangements have been made.  Stop in to pick up your book.  If you have previously completed Elements with Sarah, you are welcome to join the class at no cost, but will be expected to assist when asked.

About the Cost:
In Reclaiming, we try to balance the need to be justly compensated for our labor with our commitment to make our work available to people of all economic levels.  By using a sliding scale, we hope that those who can afford to do so will pay on the higher end.

Goddess traditions are growing in our culture. It is a call from and to the ancient Goddess and Her immanence. It is a call to know ourselves in all of our parts, so that we can create the powerful magic that changes all of the worlds. While we live in a culture of domination and control, sacred worlds full of desire, beauty, love and grace surround us and the Craft of the Wise opens them to us.  Witches honor the cycles of nature, the earth and the goddesses and gods that live within each of us.  Reclaiming is an ever-evolving tradition that is rooted in Eco-feminism and the Feri Tradition. It is dedicated to personal empowerment, teaching and unifying spirit and politics.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Let's Make Fire Cider!

 Let’s Make…
 Fire Cider!
With community herbalist,
Sarah Preston
Saturday, March 8, 2014, 1-3:30pm

Fire Cider is a traditional cold remedy with deep roots in folk medicine. Almost every herbalist makes a version of this tasty combination of cider vinegar infused with powerful immune-boosting herbs and vegetables. Fire Cider is especially pleasant and easy to incorporate into your daily diet to help boost the immune system, stimulate digestion, and get you nice and warmed up on cold days.

Because this is a folk preparation, the ingredients can vary slightly, depending on when you make it and what’s growing around you. The standard base ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers, and we will discuss plenty of other herbs that you might want to include in your own Fire Cider.

Cost for this class is $30. Bring a half gallon of raw apple cider vinegar to class, all other ingredients will be provided.

Class will be held in the classroom at Radiance.  To register call Radiance, 717-290-1517, or stop by the shop at 9 W Grant St, in downtown Lancaster, right across the cobblestones from Central Market. 

Sarah Preston is a community herbalist in Lancaster, PA, and is owner of Herbs from the Labyrinth, LLC.  She says, “Being an herbalist is a natural extension of my life-long love of plants, trees and wild places, and my interest in natural healing, which was instilled in me by my mother.  I see herbalism as a lifelong learning process.  My spirituality deeply informs my work with herbs, just as my work with herbs informs my spirituality.   I see the Earth as the living body of the Goddess, and all living beings as parts of her body.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Elder: Magic, Myth and Medicine

Elder: Magic, Myth & Medicine
With community herbalist, Sarah Preston
Saturday, January 18, 2014, 1-3:30pm

Elder (Sambuccus nigra or canadensis) has long held a place of importance in herbal traditions of both North America and western Europe.

In this class, we will look at contemporary and historical uses of Elder, and explore some of the mythology surrounding it. Elder is a wonderful remedy for colds and flu, as well as a daily tonic to prevent those viruses from invading our homes. We will discuss the history and healthful properties of Elder, and we will make a batch of Elderberry syrup together. You will go home with a small bottle of Elderberry syrup and recipe ideas, and the confidence to make syrup yourself!

Cost for this class is $30.

Class will be held in the classroom at Radiance.  To register call Radiance, 290-1517, or stop by the shop at 9 W Grant St, in downtown Lancaster, right across the cobblestones from Central Market. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Plant Spirit Botanical Sketching

Plant Spirit Botanical Sketching
Do you love plants?  Would you like to draw them? 

Led by local artist, Elisabeth Weaver, we will view plants in their dormant winter state, and portray their form, personality and spirit through drawing.  Join us in the classroom at Radiance as Eli teaches a variety of ways to observe, draw and document plants as a way of building deeper relationships.  All levels are welcome; the class will be geared toward beginner to intermediate skill levels.

All classes will be held at Radiance, 9 W Grant St., just across the cobblestones from historic Central Market in downtown Lancaster, PA.  To register call Radiance, 717-290-1517, or stop by the shop. 

Wednesdays 5:30 – 7:30pm
          January 15, 22 & 29, 2014
Bring to class: your sketchbook (5x7 or 9x12), pencils, erasers, colored pencils, markers or crayons.

$ 70.00 for the series of three classes or $25 for each individual class.

Elisabeth Weaver is a community-based artist, educator and plant lover.  She is co-founder of Lancaster Farmacy, a local medicinal herb farm.  She has taught art in schools and community settings, facilitating mural painting, block printing and botanical drawing.  When not busy at the farm or making herbal medicines, she enjoys playing music and spending time in the woods with her partner and new baby.  Check out some of the work she has done on her web site