Down to Earth

By -- Julie Ann 1981

The word "Pagan" is Latin or "country dweller", presumably a farmer [i.e. hick ED]. The English world "Heathen" means much the same thing, much like "peasant" an Anglicised French word. So, it makes sense that plants and animals should have an important place in the [emerging] modern Pagan culture.

Pagan holidays reflect the farming culture that created them. Planting time Blooming time, Harvest Time and Time to pack it all up and go indoors for the Winter. In our modern city-culture [i.e. Civilization], its easy to ignore the seasons and go on with life as usual. We can live in homes heated to exactly 70 degrees, and work in buildings that are hot in Winter and cold in Summer. Who cares about the Seasons ? Pagans do. If our religion(s) are to have any meaning, then we should endeavor not to be deadened and isolated by modern technology, but to remain aware of life outside our sheltered enviornments. Here are some ideas for getting Down to Earth.

  1. Pay attention !!! Get into the habit of walking in parks or wherever you can find nature (in some cities, residential streets work just fine)

  2. Plant a garden. A mixed vegetable/flower garden will each you much about the ways of Nature. Celebrate you harvest season. Spring is the ideal time to start. [But since it isn't, we'll provide some Winter tips]

  3. Eat in season. go to the farmer's markets [or the local Co-op] in your area and find out what fruits and vegetables are available this month. Supermarkets scramble our sense of the Seasons by giving us tomatoes in January and cauliflower in August. These vegetables are shipped hundreds of miles from warmer or cooler climates to equalize the effects of the Seasons. In sum months you may be amazed at how much or how little is available from your local area.

Because of climate differences, you may find that your calendar is quite different from that of Pagans elsewhere. [The weather in] Massachusetts just isn't like California, and Brazil isn't like Canada You may have a local growing season anywhere from 5 to 12 months. Nature is wonderfuly diverse, isn't She ?

Editor's Introduction to Part II

Though planting is usually done in the Spring, this is a choice time to plant perennials, including the still blooming varieties. A healthy plant with an established root system in a large may be put in the ground as late as a first deep frost. Besides, the end of the growing season is a good time to discuss next crop whether you're a real farmer, or a dilettante like I am. [al-Shaiyk Sebir]]
These are Julie's favorites as of 1981.
Basil.
This is an easy-to-grow annual (you have to plant it every year). It grows up to two feet tall, and comes in Bush, Mammoth, and Opal varieties. Also called Sweet Basil, it grows well near tomatoes and repels flies and mosqitoes. this s an excellent cooking herb and is good for headaches and digestion (Many good cooking herbs are also good for this).
Chives.
This is a Perennial that you never have to replant. Its a member of the Onion family. It looks like a clump of grass about a foot tall, and the leaves may be cut and used as mild green onions. Plant it near Carrots.
Dill.
This is an annual that is about three feet tall. The leaves and seeds may be used in seasoning - try them in salad dressing. It grows well with cabbage, lettuce, and cucumbers; but it should be kept away from carrots. It has mild medicinal effects and is used against flatulence and to increase mother's milk.
Mint.
There are alot of mints: Apple mint, Corsican mint , pennyroyal mint, peppermint, pineapplemint, and spearmint to name just a few. They range in height form moss-like plants to plants over 30 inches tall. They all taste good, and are very aromatic, and have a variety of medicinal properties. They are all spreading perennial which can become nuisance if not confined [they take over your garden]. Pennyroyal used external around the house is well known for its flea repellent properties. Peppermint and spearmint are good for cramps and digestive upsets.
Oregano and Majoram.
These closely related herbs are well known for their seasoning properties. Oregano is taller and hardier than majoram, and is strong in flavor. In a cold climate, majoram should be protected in Winter/ They both have a variety of medicinal uses. Oregan is also called Pot Majoram.
Parsley.
Another well known seasoning is parsley, an easy to grow biennial (2 year).It comes in flat and curly varieties It's good for sweetening the breath, especially after a meal. [Most restaurants consider parlsey to be a useless decoration, but it's often better for you than some of the main course -- But don't feed it to parrots or parakeets -- its poison to them !
Rosemary.
Rosemary is a tender perennial (protect it from severe winters) that looks like a tiny palm tree. Buy a small plant, as the seeds don't sprout well. It grows slowly, but it eventually reaches 2 to 6 feet in height. It's an excellent flavoring herb, put a little in your spaghetti sauce.
Yarrow.
Another perennial that renews itself every Spring, yarrow is good multi-purpose herb; It can be used as flavoring, or it can be chopped and used in salads. Its good for the herbs it grows near, and it repels insects. Medicinally, it is said to reduce fever and stop bleeding.

NOTE: When I've mentioned a medicinal use for a herb, I mean only that it has been traditionally used for that purpose. I [Julie] haven't personally tested and proven all their uses, but I've relied on the most trustworthy sources i can find. The culinary herbs, on the other hand, I do use, and the descriptions are my own.

Herbal medicine is effective, but as with other medicines, you many encounter unpleasant side effects. NEVER take large amounts of any herb internally. Some herbs such as pennyroyal should probably not be taken internally at all! The other herbs mentioned are safe enough for an occasional cup of tea, or for regular use in cooking. [[Editor's Note: If you have medical problems then see a physician, don't substitute home remedies for medical attention.]]


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