Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sarah's Spectacular Gluten-free Granola

I'm making a batch of granola this morning and am reminded that I have been meaning to post the recipe here on my blog.  Well, it more guidelines than an actual recipe, since each batch is different depending on the ingredients I have on hand.  Sometimes I like guidelines better than recipes anyway - more room for creativity....

I start with gluten-free oats.  Bob's Red Mill sells some nice ones.  Then I add nuts and seeds, some spices, something sweet and coconut oil.  All of that goes into the oven until the nuts are roasted.  When it comes out of the oven, I add the dried fruit, and voila! Granola!

So, here's the version I am making today:

2 pounds gluten-free oats (about 8 cups)
2 pounds raw almonds, chopped in the food processor
1/2 pound pumpkin seeds
1 tsp sea salt
1 Cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder

Stir thoroughly, so that sugar, salt and spices are evenly distributed.  Then, in a small saucepan melt:

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Drizzle over oat & nut mixture & stir to coat evenly.  Spread mixture in a large roasting pan, & put it into the oven at 300 degrees F.  Stir about every 20 minutes until the nuts are slightly crunchy, about an hour and a half.

Remove from the oven and immediately add:

2 cups golden raisins
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

Stir to blend thoroughly again.  Cool, and store in a large glass jar.  Savor.  Mmmmm.....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Psyche's Journey: Ritual Priestessing Skills Workshop

With Sylvan Redbird (and guest facilitators TBA)

Sunday, Jan. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012
12:00-4:30pm at Radiance 

9 W Grant St., Lancaster PA  

We will be exploring the myth of Psyche, focusing on the challenges of her initiatory journey, developing trance techniques and diverse ritual structures to experience this story as we reclaim our own divine selves. 
This workshop is an opportunity to build on the trance and story techniques taught in a Reclaiming Rites of Passage class, but this is not a prerequisite for participation.  Participants should have taken an Elements of Magic or have equivalent experience with basic pagan circle casting/elements understanding.  If you are unsure about your experience, call Sarah at Radiance.

Cost is on a sliding scale: $95 to $75

Call Radiance, 717-290-1517, or stop in to register for this workshop.

Please review the myth of Psyche and Cupid (Hamilton’s Mythology or similar collection is fine), as we will not be working with the entire arch of the story.  Please attend both sessions, and there will be some personal work between dates.  

With his heart and his hands, eyes illuminating with light yet accustomed to the darkness, Sylvan weaves his art-filled life like a Faerie Spider.  In the center of his web, a healing spell of Love; his body a bridge between the Human and the Spirit World (especially the Fey and the Ancestors).  Sylvan, anchored by his daily recovery practices, now drinks deeply of ecstatic worship and quiet solitude, balancing the mundane and Mystery, embracing embodiment.  Originally of the Welsh Tradition, he is a teacher of the Reclaiming Tradition and a Feri initiate.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rose Body Glitter!

So, there I was, working away in my secret laboratory, making Rose Body Glitter, my slightly seductive shimmery powder.  It's perfect for dusting on your skin for a special date, or a holiday party.  Or attending a fairy festival...

Anyway, there I was, carefully measuring the ingredients into the mortar.  Then I reached in with the pestle to mix the powders and a cloud of shimmering light rose up and enveloped me!  Shimmering light settled all over my hair, clothes and skin.  A fairy kiss...

You can have some of this magical dust, too.  It on my web site.  Rose Body Glitter...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Elderberry Syrup Simmering Today!

About every two weeks, maybe more often in winter, I make a batch of Elderberry syrup.  As the brew begins to simmer, the deep, rich aroma fills the air.  In addition to Elderberries, I include Astragulus root, Ginger root and Cinnamon chips.  Everyone who comes into the shop wants to know what's cooking in the back room...

Elderberry makes such delicious herbal medicine, even small children like the taste.  And yet, it's truly an amazing remedy.

Elderberries have anti-viral properties, so they help us to fight colds and other viruses.  They seem to have the ability to prevent viruses from adhering to us - so that the viruses are unable to take up residence in our respiratory and digestive tracts, and are just carried out of our bodies in the waste stream.

Because Elder helps to strengthen our immune systems, I often add a teaspoon or two of Elderberry syrup to my morning smoothie.  It's a good precautionary measure, because as an herbalist, I come into contact with lots of people who have colds and flu.  I always take some when I travel, too, no matter what time of year it is. 

Elderberry syrup can help to alleviate congestion, too.  It gently opens stuffy air passages, dries up runny noses and makes it easier to breathe.  Elderberry is good for reducing fevers, because it is a diaphoretic, and encourages our bodies to sweat.

Do you have some Elderberry syrup on hand?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Infusing Oil for Boo Boo Balm

This morning I started infusing the oil for making a new batch of Boo Boo Balm.  I'm struck with the beauty of the herbs suspended in the olive oil...

Most herbalists make some sort of basic first aid salve, and this is mine.  I include Comfrey root, which you'll find in most salves for cuts and scrapes, and Lavender flowers to soothe the skin, but I include a number of lesser-known herbs, too.

I add Yarrow to stop bleeding rapidly and heal deep cuts - when I studied with Matt Wood he taught us that Yarrow can heal "cuts to the bone".  Years ago, I got a call from a panic-stricken neighbor who had just sliced the tip of her finger so badly that she was afraid would lose it.  She did get a couple of stitches, but the doctor didn't hold out much hope.  He told her she might still lose the tip of her finger, and that she would certainly never have any feeling in it again. Yipes!  Anyway, when she called me, I ran down the street with a jar of Boo Boo Balm.  She started applying it right away & continued to use it for a few weeks.  Her fingertip completely healed, she has normal feeling in it, and almost no scar!

Another herb I use in this formula is Balm of Gilead - a type of poplar bud.  Sticky with resin, and used in healing ointments for 3000 years, it helps to prevent infection and aids in healing superficial wounds and skin irritations.

And Usnea, one of my plant allies, which is actually a lichen.  Usnea is traditionally thought of as "the lungs of the planet" and grows on trees in the forest.  I gather Usnea on my visits to the Pacific northwest - actually, sometimes I sit on the ground under the trees and it falls into my lap.  Usnea has anti-viral, anti-septic, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Firing up the Logwood Dye Pot

Today feels like a good day to dye... silk long underwear with Logwood.  There's a new chill in the air, so layers of clothing are on my mind.  I started a Logwood dye pot last week for our Radiant Artisan Festival, and there's still lots of color in it, so I've restarted it and will be dipping silks all day.  Stop in if you are nearby and I'll let you peek... It's a beautiful purple - one of my favorite dyes.  I expect we'll have the newly dyed pieces available in the shop by the end of the week.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Argan Oil from Morocco

Recently, we've had several requests for Argan Oil.  So, we went searching.  And we found it.  You can find it in our shop in downtown Lancaster, or on our web site. Argan Oil

This is pure, organic Argan oil, sourced from a fair-trade women's collective in Morocco, employing 80 women. Sometimes known as Moroccan Oil, Argan oil is traditionally used for skin care and hair care.  

Argan trees are so important to the dry eco-system in Morocco that they are officially protected by the government.  They have a very deep, penetrating root system and help to stabilize the soil structure, as well as having the ability to draw moisture and nutrients from deep below the surface.

All parts of the fruit are used.  The outer fruit peels are food for livestock animals, the inner shells are used for fuel in homes and community bath houses.  The seeds are then roasted and ground, releasing the oil. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making Dragon's Breath or What Is That Stuff??

All through the Autumn and Winter, I keep huge jars of Dragon's Breath brewing in the back room.  I bottle it as we need to for the shop & start another batch.  We go through many gallons each year.  Whenever we allow someone to peer into the workroom, they immediately espy this jar & can't imagine what outrageous brew we might be working on.  Some of the reactions are really quite funny.

Dragon's Breath is a tonic vinegar, most often used as a cold remedy, but I've known several people who used it in cooking - for spicy salad dressing and for a marinade.  It's a very healthy brew, fighting colds and infections, opening up clogged breathing passages, and warming you on a cold night.

Mix a couple of tablespoons of the vinegar in  a mug of hot water, perhaps sweeten with a bit of honey, and sip.  Mmmmmm.  Cold night are coming soon, so it's time to stock up!

And here's a sneak peek at some of what actually goes into the brew with raw apple cider vinegar... nothing to be scared of...

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Wonderful Weekend at the New England Women's Herb Conference

 photo by Susan Leiken

I've just gotten home from a wonderful weekend at the New England Women's Herb Conference.  This was the 24th annual conference, organized by Rosemary Gladstar and an amazing group of women.  I've been 6 or 8 times, and it's always fabulous.  More than 500 women gathered at a camp outside of Hebron, NH.  I tended my booth (shown here), took several classes, and had too many stimulating conversations to count.  I even managed to take a nap in the grass.  And, my Raspberry Beret cordial won an award!  You can see that the tester bottle for that one has been dipped into quite a few times... it's the third bottle from the right, on the table in front of me.  This photo was taken on Sunday morning - I was already sold out of quite a few things, and by the end of the morning I had none of the beautiful sundresses (which I dyed with Lac resin) either.  And I forgot to save one for myself, so I'll be setting up another dye pot soon...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moonlight from the Dye Pot

For the past couple of weeks, I've been dyeing silks.  Last week the colour was from Brazilwood, and I got a range of beautiful corals and pinks.  This week, I'm working with Logwood.  The first pieces out of the dye pot were a gorgeous purple with gray undertones.  The next group?  One of the most magical colours I've ever coaxed onto fiber.  It's soft plum with a silver shimmer.  It looks like moonlight.  One of our massage therapists started to weep when she saw it.  This photo can't really convey it fully, but you get the idea.  There are camisoles, chemises and scarves...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Luscious Night Serum

I'm working this afternoon, making a batch of Luscious Night Serum.  It's a gorgeous, breezy day, and somehow quiet, so my mind began to wander as I made the delectable concoction...

Several years ago, a longtime faithful user of my Luscious Face Cream came into the shop with a nearly-empty bottle and asked if I could re-create the contents.  A friend of hers had given her a nighttime moisturizing oil from an exclusive New York salon.  She had loved using it, but discovered the prohibitive cost (nearly $100!) when she called the salon to order another bottle.  So, she came to me.  And I thought I could develop something comparable for much less.  So, as you've probably guessed, Luscious Night Serum was born. 

Thanks, Jacqueline!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Really, Spring is Coming...

This morning I heard songbirds.  Really.  And a huge flock of robins covered the ground in front of my little house.  Listening for worms.  Which means, of course, that worms must be moving around in the soil.  And, when I walked out to explore a bit in the rain, I saw that the young Willow has put on her chartreuse.  New color!  And look, buds are forming on her branches.
While I was admiring the Willow, I noticed that something tall has been breaking and eating some branches nearby.  I'm guessing deer, but am not sure.  They aren't eating the Willow, though. 

I once learned that young Willow trees emit a substance that tastes offensive to deer, in order to protect themselves.  Once the trees are older and better established, they only produce the substance if they are under stress, which often is from overfeeding by deer...  They're willing to be food/medicine unless their own health or survival is threatened.  Then, the trees change the boundaries. 

Relationship is fascinating!

And, Spring is coming!  Really!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Power of a Seed

Here it is, mid-February, and even those of us who treasure living by the seasons are starting to daydream about Spring.  So, here in the throes of Winter,we've just scheduled a seed-starting workshop.  The timing is calculated so that you will have seedlings ready to go into the ground as early as we can safely do that here, without danger of frost...

The Power of a Seed:

Starting Your Vegetable and Herb Garden from Scratch

Saturday, March 26, 2-6pm

Want to grow your plants from seed but don't know how to begin? Join Natasha Herr, co-owner of Homegrown Edible Landscaping Co., for this hands-on workshop. Topics will include starting seeds indoors using a grow-light, in an outdoor cold-frame, or in a greenhouse, preparation of seeds and soil, care of seedlings and transplanting. Discover how easy it is to start your plants from seed! Go home from this class with your own egg carton flat of starts!

Saturday, March 26, 2011, 2-6pm. $35 includes all materials and seeds.

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

Natasha Herr is co-owner of Homegrown Edible Landscaping Co., a company dedicated to helping people learn to grow their own food.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ice Valance...

This morning I looked out my window just in time to see this sheet of ice pause before sliding off the roof.  I had just enough time to step outside & take this photo before it crashed to the ground.  A lace valance of ice...

The ground is covered with gray, slushy snow.  The air is filled with cold, grey mist.  The sky is one enormous, gray cloud.  I'm thinking it's time for a pot of Spring in My Step tea... Holy basil, Lemon balm, St John's Wort & more - an herbal mood lift!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Snow, sleet and freezing rain started falling here overnight. I woke in the middle of the night to the sound of ice hitting the window. Ice. Beautiful and dangerous. A reminder that we are still in the grips of Winter.

Finally, Hafiz has something to say to me today:

O my heart, make a wish for the coming of Spring.
That in every field there will be a thousand birds and a hundred roses will grow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Earth and Straw

In the morning, as the light begins to spread across the meadow, I am delighted by the shadows and illuminations around the window in my sleeping room. I lie still and watch the walls move and breathe. The structure of this little house is so simple and organic – she lives.

The bones of the house are bales of straw, stacked like bricks for stability and balance. The outer walls are a lime plaster to keep the wind and wet at bay. The inner walls are sculpted of clay and straw. The scent of earth is always here. Sometimes I think I live in an earthen womb…

Hafiz is irritating me. I have read a dozen poems waiting for lines of joy and delight in the experience of being alive. Page after page hands me one critical thought after another. I’ll keep reading until I find something worth sharing…

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bridgid, Help Me Light This Fire

Only in the morning can a glass of splendid wine taste good
And throw its protective rays around the horizon of your house…
… the sun is coming up in the corner of the Winehouse.
Lift up your head. With the full moon on your shoulder.


In poetry, Hafiz uses imagery of the wine, wine-drinker and wine-house often. It’s not about indulging in alcoholic beverage. The wine-house is a metaphor for a sacred place, a place to pray and contemplate the nature of divinity. The wine-drinker is the one who is open in meditation. And the wine is the divine love received.

It’s cold this morning. My little house is chillier than usual because I was out last night & didn’t build a fire when I got home. By morning, the cold air from outside had fallen through the stovepipe, making it more difficult to light the fire. Cold air is heavy, and the little flames have to push hard to move that air back up through the pipe so that the stove will begin to “draw”. Only then will the tentative flames become a fire that can heat the stove and the house. Building a fire in a cold stove takes some patience and persistence. And some divine assistance is nice, too…

A fire-lighting blessing has been coming to me slowly. It’s a prayer to the goddess Bridgid, an ancient goddess from the land that now includes Britain (which is named for her – can you see that?). Some people say that Bridgid, Brigit, Bride is our Original Fire Ancestor.

Bridgid, help me light this fire.
Flames of heat are my desire.
Protect this house,
Keep it safe and warm
To shelter us from Wind and Storm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Living in the Tundra

There is a film I have seen many times, though not for quite a while, which comes from the depths of memory sometimes. Nanook of the North. It is a documentary, following a traditional, nomadic Inuit family in the early part of the 20th century. We watch them build an igloo from blocks of snow. Not unlike the structure of my house made from blocks of straw.

The harshness of the landscape is striking in contrast to the comfort of the home, and the warmth of the hearth.

This morning, Hafiz says:

I heard the rumor You were coming, so I have been busy saying prayers.
I needed this respite of joy for my aching heart.
O Beloved, knock hard on the handle when you finally come to my door.
I have left the light on in the window, and this house is meant for You.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Illusion of Alone

I awakened this morning in the quiet of a snow-covered meadow. It will not be easy to leave my house today. Perhaps I will embrace the offer to stay home alone. It wouldn’t be easy for anyone to come visiting today. Probably no one will.

And yet…

The meadow is full of life. Feral cats watch my every move. I give them food and goat’s milk, croon over them and tell them how lovely they are. Some of them let me stroke them while they drink the milk. Hundreds of Juncos are wintering here. They perch precariously on the tall grasses. Juncos live in the Arctic during the warmer seasons, so they are under the impression that it’s warm here. Foxes cavort in the meadow and hunt along the stream. Hawks and owls and turkey buzzards soar overhead. I’m sure mice are hiding in the meadow, but I rarely see them. I think all of my predator neighbors make them nervous.

From Hafiz this morning:

The seas and oceans all come from the source of a very small stream.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Bucket of Ashes, A Bucket of Wine

O Winebringer, bring us a bucket of wine,
For, it is morning and the dew is falling from the sky.
Friends, drink all the blood from this bucket…


In the pre-dawn light this morning, I carried a bucket of ashes out to the place where the new labyrinth garden will be. Snow is arriving here later this afternoon, and I wanted to spread wood ashes over the newly prepared beds to add nutrients to the soil. There is no wind today, so the ashes will stay until the snow covers them. Then as the snow melts, the water and ash will become part of the soil – nourishment for the plants that are not yet here…

This new garden is a gift to Hecate. An offering to a Goddess who watches over us during the times of our Underworld journeys, our Winters. She knows more than most about the richness of ashes. And then, She holds Her lantern aloft for us when we are ready to emerge…

Monday, January 10, 2011

Morning Metaphor

This is the third morning when I find myself sharing a small part of my daily devotional practice, which at the moment includes meditating on a poem of Hafiz.

Hafiz was a mystical Persian poet who lived from 1326 until 1390 CE. The poems are full of love and longing for union with the divine. They are written in metaphor, in beautiful code, making them rich with imagery and mystery. Perfect for contemplation.

The lines this morning include:

O morning breeze, bring your happy face as soon as you can
To the Beloved’s Street!

I find the experience evoked by the lines to be so accessible – the joy of feeling the gentle morning air on my skin…and yet it means so much more.

Today I am reading it to say something like:

O divine messenger, O muse, touch me with sacred inspiration
In this place where I sit to pray and meditate!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Divine Devotion

This morning I lit a stick of Radha incense to begin my meditation time. Radha is the beloved partner of Krishna. Friends of mine who are part of the Ramakrishnananda Ashram told me once that they had been taught, “Krishna is Divine Desire. Radha is Divine Devotion.” Inseparable. Reflection. Paradox.

From Hafiz this morning:

Oh pilgrim, come and look into the mirror of this glass of wine! …

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter Mornings with Hafiz

Winter is naturally a time for going inward. The cold and dark keep us close to the comfort of the hearth. The quiet offers us a space for contemplation.

For many years, I have maintained a private, daily personal spiritual practice. It changes as I change. It’s an organic practice because I am an organic being. There are aspects of my daily practice that are similar from one day to the next, one month to the next, even one year to the next. Meditation. Movement and Stillness. Singing and Silence. And yet, sometimes I am working in the garden as part of my practice, or preparing herbal medicines, or knitting. It changes.

This winter, part of my early morning practice is reading translations of the poetry of Hafiz, and I am feeling called to share some of the words I am pondering. Perhaps daily. We’ll see.

Here is a line from the poem I read in the darkness of the early morning today:

No one knows in which shell the precious pearl does hide.