Sunday, 21 February 2016

Lavender by Unity

Lavender by Unity 

Lavandula officinalis or Lavendula vera

Ruling planet - Mercury
Element - Air
Gender - male
Associated deities - Cernunnos, Circe, Hecate, Medea, Saturn, Serpent Goddesses
Powers - Love, Protection, Sleep, Chastity, Longetvity, Purification, Happiness, Peace
Actions - Carminative, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressant, rubefacient

Lavender is a woody shrub which grows up to 1 metre in height. It originated in the Mediterranean and was brought to Great Britian by the Romans. It now grows all over Europe and the USA. The Romans used it for bathing as did the ancient Greeks, and to clean and heal wounds. More recently it was used as an antiseptic swab for wounds by nurses in world war 2. It has been used for thousands of years for it's calming, peaceful and healing effects and it was a popular herb in the middle ages for strewing and keeping amongst the linens to deter moths. It's Latin name 'Lavendula' derives from the verb lavare which means 'to wash'.

In ancient times Lavender was used by the Egyptians and Phoenicians as a perfume and in the mummification process.

Queen Elizabeth 1 used lavender as a conserve and a perfume , and was said to have ordered her gardners to ensure it was available all year. Queen Victoria was another royal fan, she is said to have instructed her cleaners to use lavender water to wash floors and furniture, to freshen the air and keep it amongst the linens. She is also said to have been responsible for making it popular as a perfme amongst Victorian ladies.

Lavender was at one time used as a condiment, it can be used to flavour ice-cream, biscuits and vinegars.

Culpepper writes that Lavender is of special use for pains in the head and brain that proceed of a cold cause, as the apoplexy, falling sickness ( epilepsy) the drowsy or sluggish malady, cramps, convulsions, palsies and often faintings.

Pliny the Elder says it's blossom, called Asarum, sold for a 100 denari a pound in ancient Rome.
Today it is still a popular herb and is used for healing, bathing, perfume, relaxation, incense, pot pourri, and magically.

A mild infusion is good for relaxation, relieving headaches, depression, stress, dizziness, exhaustion and indigestion ( 1 tsp dried flowers to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 15 minutes, strain and add a drop of honey if desired.

The essential oil is very gentle and is one of the only oils that can be applied neat to the skin. Rub it on your temples or put a few drops on a tissue and inhale , to relieve headaches and migraines; dab it on spots, boils, cuts and grazes, mild burns, scalds and insect bites to aid healing.

For colds, flu and catarrh try adding 2 drops of oil to a bowl of hot water and put your head over the steam, covered with a towel for 5 minutes.

A hot compress is perfect for menstrual pains, arthritis and headaches: add 5-6 drops to a bowl of warm water, swish a soft flannel in it , squeeze out excess fluid and hold over the affected area until the flannel cools, repeat as needed.

A cold compress is good for sprains, bruises, burns, scalds, insect bites , stings and sunburn.
Add 3 drops to bath water to calm irritable children and to help them sleep.

Mix a few drops with a carrier oil and use as a massage oil for aches, pains, insomnia, anxiety and depression

Lavender has lots of folk and magical uses too:
Carrying or inhaling lavender was said to help you see ghosts!
A sprig of lavender and rosemary worn together was said to preserve chastity, and the fresh flowers can be rubbed on clothing to attract love. The scent is said to attract men and in the past it was worn by ladies of the night!
A small pouch or sachet of lavender flowers can be carried for love, peace and good health, and a few drops of the essential oil sprinkled on your pillow will aid sleep , it can also be added to baths for relaxation.
Lavender posies were often given to newly married couples to bring luck for the future.
Lavender was also worn as protection against the evil eye and disease.
Throw dried lavender onto Midsummers fires as an offering to the Gods.

Lavender can be used in incense mixes , or on it's own and a bunch of dried lavender can be tied up and used as a smudge stick, burn it to bring harmony, purification and peace in your home.

Bath bag
Cut out a circle of muslin, place some dried lavender in the centre and tie it up with a ribbon or string and throw it into a running bath, or hang it on the hot tap as it runs, for a relaxing and purifying bath. You can also make a strong infusion to be added to bath water or bowls for hand and foot baths.

Lavender Shortbread biscuits

makes 24
300g butter , softened
125g caster sugar
4 tbsp siften icing sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped lavender flowers
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 tsp grated lemon zest
325g plain flour
65g cornflour
1/4 tsp salt

In a bowl cream together butter, caster sugar and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in lavender, mint and lemon zest. Combine flour, cornflour and salt then mix into butter and sugar mixture until well blended. Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap in cling film and flatten to about 2.5 cm thick. Refridgerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 170c/ gas 3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 6 mm in thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place on greased and lined baking trays. Bake for 18-20 mins ,, just until shortbread begins to lightly brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking trays then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


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