Tag Archives: magic

A Cauldron of Herbs

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A Cauldron Of Herbs by Christina Mercer

In honor of this Harvest/Autumn/Halloween time of year, I decided to stir up some magic for you. Plant magic, that is! Nature is quite amazing, and humankind has utilized its wondrous magic since our beginnings.  I became a Certified Herbalist many years ago, and when writing my first Tween/Teen books, I enjoyed weaving herb lore throughout them. In addition to herb lore, I had fun with Celtic tree lore to show the marvelous magic of trees. I used the (totally fun!) folk names for herbs and trees, and had my main character use plant remedies for wounds and ailments that she and her loved-ones endured.

A little trivia about remedies found in nature . . .

The Doctrine of Signatures dates back to ancient times, and was studied in depth in Western Europe. The idea was that certain plants resembled the body parts they healed. Also, the names given to certain plants correlated to their healing properties. Some examples:

Walnuts—resembles a brain and helps memory

Ginger Root—resembles a stomach and helps nausea

Kidney Bean—resembles a kidney and helps kidney function

Eyebright—helps with “pink eye” and other eye irritation

Bloodroot—has red sap and helps purify the blood

In addition, herbalists found that certain “cures” grew near “causes.” An example is Jewelweed, an herb used to heal skin conditions, which is often found growing near Stinging Nettles and Poison Ivy.

Folk names were the early names given to herbs, and often eluded to their healing function. Some names, however, are perplexing or quite silly sounding. In fact, some of these silly-sounding herbs were used in healing remedies and not at all the literal meanings that their names may have suggested. Here are a handful of some fun “Halloween-ish” herb names:

Lion’s Tooth—Dandelion

Graveyard Dust—Mullein

Bloody Fingers—Foxglove

Little Dragon—Tarragon

Bat’s Wings—Holly

So, this year, while enjoying the festivities, if you happen to hear, “In the cauldron, Toe of Frog; watch it bubble with Tongue of Dog,” you might just find a neighborhood herbalist brewing up an herbal remedy.

ARROW OF THE MIST (currently 99 cents!) & ARMS OF ANU

both books-BeFunky

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Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband, sons, pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit www.christinamercer.com

 

Showing Thanks

I love fall—the colors, the bite in the air, the smell of baking pies. There is something about fall that bri220px-Baum_1911ngs people together. It’s a time to snuggle up with a blanket and good book. Fall is also the season of thanks. The time we take to share with others what we are most grateful for. I want to express my thanks to a very special person who helped me as a tween.

I want to thank L. Frank Baum. Although he is long passed away, his presence is still strong in my home. I grew to love his books when I was a tween. Life was hard for me during those early years. I lived on my grandparent’s farm, miles away from friends or family. It was lonely and most of the time I wished I were far, far away.

One day I took my copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with me to the woods.Wizard of Oz 1015 I had created a fortress in a clearing next to a pond. As I read, characters would come to life and fill the empty spaces of those woods. Fairies would dance in the trees and munchkins would sing as they fished. Callidas would haunt the dark corners between evergreens. Magic existed. I had found my escape.

Every day I would sneak out to those woods and bury myself in another adventure. I was with Dorothy when she narrowly escaped the Wicked Witch. I was with her when she returned to Oz. I fought alongside Glinda as she rescued Ozma and Dorothy from the Skeezers. Tick-Tok, Scarecrow, and Jack Pumpkin Head became my imaginary confidants. They helped m02e deal with not living with my mom and the bullies at school. Baum created a world with his books that transcended the pages of reality and helped me in my time of need.

Today, I still have my collection of Oz books. When my wife and I became pregnant with our first child, I read The Wizard of Oz to my daughter every night before she was born. Since, we have read it numerous times. I am glad she has latched onto the love I have for Baum and his books. I hope as she grows up she can find lessons hidden in the pages. I hope she can find the magic and bring it to life.

L. Frank Baum is the first American middle-grade author. He struggled at first to 04get his books known, but once he did, he found they were loved by the old and young alike. Thank you, Mr. Baum for being one of the caretakers of children. You have truly written your words on my heart and I will forever be grateful.

Please take a moment this month to honor those authors whose books have helped you in some way. Take a moment to say, “Thank you.” Books can touch our hearts in more ways than one. I am certainly grateful for those that have touched mine.

-Mikey Brooks, author of The Dream Keeper